Great [Monster] Journey 32

RSanon May 17th, 2014 1,520 Never
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  1. “Woah!”
  3. Galen stood as close to the edge as he dared, his face reflecting the boundless wonder coursing through his body. Beneath him lay miles and miles of cliffs along a harsh coastline. While he had explored plenty of the coast back on Nox, he had never seen anything like this.
  5. “I told you there’d be a nice little surprise when we got here,” said Seira, walking up beside him.
  7. He was too busy gorging his eyes to reply. The flat cliff faces before, hundred of feet wide, were not the dulled black or grey he was used to. Instead, they were a stark, resonating blue. With each wave that crashed in, the base of the cliffs shimmered like a thousand sapphires, their light scattering in the mist around them. As the cliffs went up, their color shifted lighter, though still a shade of blue that would dazzle even the ocean. Galen knew not how long he stared.
  9. “So… where is it?” he said.
  11. Three eyebrows raised at the question.
  13. “That information trader told YOU where Poseidon was, didn’t she?” said Seira.
  15. “You didn’t expect Poseidon to advertise her location to anyone who might wander near, did you?” said Sybyll.
  17. “You can’t tell?” said Mino.
  19. Averting his gaze, Galen grumbled, “Well, I was expecting it to be a little easier to find. No need to gang up on me.”
  21. Seira chuckled to herself, then took another look over the cliff. After a moment, her brow furrowed, ridges forming between her eyes. “You can tell where she is, sl--Mino?”
  23. “Y-yeah!” Mino spoke cautiously, then pointed to a darker area at the base of the cliffs. “It’s kinda hard to see, but there’s a lot of slime movement down there. I’d guess Poseidon would be nearby.”
  25. “Are you sure?” Seira squinted harder. “I can’t really see anything.”
  27. “I, umm, I guess I know what to look for.”
  29. “Hmm.” Seira crossed her arms. “I suppose--“
  31. “Let’s go!” yelled Galen, pumping a fist into the air. “Not gonna do anything standing around here.” Without waiting for further comment, he bounded off, following the cliff’s edge toward the spot Mino had pointed. An eager Mino was right behind him, though Seira took a moment to follow.
  33. It wasn’t long before they found something. A trench--so sharp and sudden it looked like a giant sword cut it out of the cliff--offered a jagged but sure path down to the beach. Looking straight down the path, Galen could make out two figures at the base, definitely not human from their silhouettes.
  35. “Guards,” said Sybyll, her gaze aligned with Galen’s. “A scylla and a crabgirl from the looks of it.” She turned to Galen. “This must lead to Poseidon. Subtle enough to miss if one wasn’t looking for it, but at the same time easy to guard. I do not know the area, but I would guess there is no safe way down the cliff face but for right here.”
  37. He nodded. He’d been wondering how such a significant monster like Poseidon had been able to keep her location relatively hidden. Surely lots of people and monsters wanted to know where she was, whether to visit or attack her. While he couldn’t see any other soldiers or guards, once they made their way down there, there’d be more, assuming she was as powerful as he’d heard.
  39. “Let’s head down,” he said, though he walked without the bounce his step had earlier.
  41. He hadn’t realized exactly how strong the wind had been until the sides of the ravine were over his head. It was like someone had suddenly clamped their hands over his ears, sapping sound from the very air around him. The wind was little more than a whistle to his back. Keeping a hand on the ravine wall to his right, he walked down the rocky path toward the beach. Each step let out a soft crunch and the ground gave a little under his feet. Any sort of fighting down here would be on unsure footing, surely catching anyone trying to storm the place off-guard. Poseidon was very clever about choosing her lair.
  43. “Halt,” said the scylla as they approached. She slithered atop a mass of tentacles toward them. Galen noted the spear in her hand as well. “What brings you here?”
  45.  He could make out the sounds of the rest of the group stopping behind him. In front of them, just outside the ravine, the howling wind beckoned. “I want to talk to Poseidon.”
  47. “What for?” asked the scylla.
  49. “I want to know why she’s preventing anyone from Nox to sail to the mainland, and ask if she might allow passage.”
  51. The guards exchanged glances, quickly scanned his party, then looked back to him. “Who do you represent?”
  53. Galen swallowed. Represent? “Me, I guess.” Sybyll jabbed him in the side with her elbow. “I’m from--Nox. I represent Nox.”
  55. The guard took a moment to size him up before saying, “Very well. Poseidon will want to speak to you, then.” She stepped forward, brandishing her spear. “But know if you so much as reach for your weapon, you will be dead before it clears its sheath.”
  57. He nodded without a word.
  59. “Follow me.”
  61. The crabgirl guard watched closely as everyone filed behind the scylla and followed her out of the ravine. When they hit the open beach, the wind made itself known again, hitting Galen with such force he stuttered in his step. A paw was on his shoulder instantly, keeping him steady, but when he looked up to Seira, he found her attention still forward, expression stoic with the severity of the situation. What would’ve been a smile faded quickly and Galen resumed his march.
  63. To his left, the towering, massive wall of sharp cliffs, glistening with azure beauty, stood as a sentinel against the sea. The roaring, shifting ocean, spraying the air thick with its scent, encroached on the beach in constant waves as if to test how far it could reach. Galen’s nose burned at the ocean’s salt, making him wriggle it back and forth in an effort to keep from sneezing. The scylla in the lead showed no such vulnerability, and why should she? She’d probably lived here or in the sea her entire life. Looking back and forth, Galen found no other monsters on the beach. Surprising. Maybe they were very well-hidden?
  65. He had a feeling he’d be seeing plenty of monsters soon enough, though.
  67. The sound of footsteps in sand mixed with the whistle of wind and sloshing of waves. Galen watched the scylla, taking interest in how she walked with her tentacles. It was hard to follow with all eight--at least, he thought he counted eight--tentacles in constant motion, only four or so holding her up at any one time while the others pushed her forward. Instead of distinct footsteps, she left swirling lines behind her, like someone had run across the beach dragging a bunch of sticks behind them.
  69. “There! See?”
  71. Galen’s head spun around at Mino’s statement, finding her pointing at the cliffs. When he looked where she was pointing, he saw a mass of shifting, squirming blobs, moving almost like the surface of the sea, but on the cliff side, instead. That must’ve been what she saw earlier. Huh. If he hadn’t been looking for it, he never would’ve noticed, maybe not even at this distance. The sea spray kept the nearby cliffs wet and water was constantly flowing down their blue faces.
  73. So enamored was he in the flow upon the cliff that he almost ran into the scylla. She’d stopped near the cliff, waiting for the group to catch up.
  75. “From hence we are entering Poseidon’s dwelling. You will show respect. Do not disturb anything while you are here.”
  77. With that, she waved a hand at the cliff, and the spot she waved at shimmered, then disappeared. Galen gasped and heard Mino do the same right next to him. The entrance had been hidden by magic.
  79. “Woah.”
  81. “You act like you’ve never seen magic before,” said Seira, smirking.
  83. “Hey! It doesn’t have to be original to be cool! And I’ve never seen this kind of magic before.”
  85. She shrugged. “If you can think it up, magic can probably do it. Now come on, I don’t want to spend all my time here waiting for you to get over yourself.” Grabbing Galen’s shoulder, she dragged him along inside the newly-revealed cave.
  87. The cave quickly opened up to a massive cavern, one so tall Galen was surprised it fit inside the cliffs. The moment he could swallow the breadth of the cavern his eyes soaked in more detail. Spread out along and built into the walls of the cavern were smaller buildings, likely houses from the looks of them, with just enough room to fit a small family. Away from the walls were larger buildings, maybe shops or meeting halls, and straight down the middle laid a wide path, clearly marked with stones so pale they seemed to glow. At the end of this path sat the most grand building in the cavern, reaching from the floor to the ceiling and covered in intricate carvings of mermaids, scylla, slimes, and other aquatic monsters. The gaps in the carvings made for windows into the main cavern, through which Galen could see patrolling guards. Though hardly bustling, Galen could make out activity in the houses, flickering lights in the windows, a couple monsters traveling between buildings, going about their business.
  89. Poseidon’s domain was a village.
  91. “What did I JUST say?”
  93. Galen was yanked out of his ogling by a paw on his shoulder, causing him to nearly fall on his face before stumbling forward to regain his balance. Throwing a glare at Seira, he fell back into pace behind the scylla.
  95. “You can’t tell me this isn’t worth at least a little staring!” he said, gesturing to the cavern.
  97. “It’s neat, but not THAT neat. I’ve seen more interesting things before.”
  99. “Really? Like what?”
  101. She rolled her eyes. “For one, the monster lord’s castle. The king’s castle outside Uuluth isn’t lacking, either.”
  103. “Well,” he said, soaking in the detail of the carvings as they approached, “just because those things are neat doesn’t mean this can’t be, too.”
  105. Seira scratched her head, the beginnings of a growl rumbling in her throat. “Whatever.”
  107. Galen pumped a fist. “I’m totally right.”
  109. “Keep gloating and you’ll wish you weren’t.”
  111. Clamping his mouth shut, Galen turned away from Seira. She could keep her grumpiness to herself.
  113. The closer they came to the magnificent building at the end of the cavern, the more eyes he found on their little group. While he could see some of the observers--a couple mermaids, a slime, a scylla--he had the feeling there were many more within their homes or other buildings. Poseidon probably didn’t get many visitors. At least, not many human visitors. He straightened his back and forced his gaze back to the carvings in an attempt to take his mind off it, but now that it had come to his attention, there was no dislodging the thought he didn’t belong.
  115. He stuck a hand down the back of his shirt, trying to give his back some air. His hand came away damp with sweat, and staring at his hand, he found he had no idea what he was going to say to Poseidon. He knew what he was here for, of course, but never thought about how to put it to words. Poseidon was an old, wise, powerful being of the sea, with experience beyond his imagination and probably a thousand more important matters to attend to than what some random human from far away had to say. What if he offended her? What if she had some hatred of humans? Galen crossed his arms, holding them tight to his chest. Why had they allowed him in here, anyways? After hearing he was from Nox, the guard let him through without trouble. Was there something special about Nox? Did it have to do with the blockade?
  117. “Kid.”
  119. Galen’s head snapped up, finding the scylla stopped just in front of a pair of grand doors, engraved with similar monsters to what he’d seen from far away.
  121. “This is Poseidon’s throne. You will be respectful. You will be courteous. You will speak only when spoken to, and when she asks a question, you will answer. As her guests, no harm will come to you while you are here unless you revoke that privilege. She is a busy monster, so I suggest you take no more of her time than necessary. Do you understand?”
  123. “Y-yes.” Part of him wanted to turn around and leave. Come back with a plan, maybe find some confidence along the way. He knew, however, that if he turned back now, he’d never muster the courage to return. Besides, adventurers didn’t run from a little fear.
  125. “Very well.” The scylla opened the one of doors, exerting visible effort in doing so. It groaned and scraped against the ground as it swung open. Holding the door, the scylla waved them inside. “I will return to my post. Poseidon is just ahead.”
  127. Galen timidly nodded. He tried taking his steps as casual as possible, but couldn’t help but feel they ended up more stiff and fake than he meant. The footsteps of Seira, Sybyll, and Mino rang out behind him, but he didn’t want to look back. They might not like what they saw on his face, and as the leader, he had to appear confident to them.
  129. Torches lit a single passage before them, as wide as some of the houses Galen had seen outside and the ceiling so high up the light from the torches hardly touched it. Pillars lined a central walkway, guards posted next to each. Some kept their eyes forward, passive but intimidating, while others had begun to watch Galen. Every surface was the same brazen blue he’d seen on the cliff walls outside, like the ocean itself had stained the rock from which the palace had been built. A palace; that’s what this was. Sure, the guards didn’t use the word, but for its size and splendor, it could not be anything less.
  131. Galen swallowed. Maybe he’d been underestimating when he said ‘a little’ fear.
  133. Footsteps echoed throughout the chamber as he and his companions neared the throne. Four torch stands, all at different heights, illuminated the great seat and the monster upon it. While Galen recognized many of the monster’s characteristics, he had never seen them all together. She was closest to the Kraken, but her skin didn’t share the same shade of skin as her tentacles. Though the Kraken was one of the larger monsters Galen had encountered, Poseidon was larger still. He’d wanted to tell himself that the throne added some to her height, but if he was honest with himself, it probably detracted. He tried counting the number of tentacles beneath her human half, but couldn’t keep count through their constant, liquid movement. Some hid others, and some seemed larger than others as well. At least five were as thick as Galen himself and certainly longer. Others weren’t much thicker than his arm, but splayed out many feet beyond the larger ones. From her waist scattered an explosion of red, solid at first but devolving into splotches the further Galen’s gaze went down her tentacles, eventually replaced entirely by a pale blue.
  135. His eyes were then drawn upward toward her human skin--a slight shade of brown unblemished by scar or tattoo. Due to her size and the breadth of the writing mass of tentacles beneath her, her hips held an impressive width, curving upward to a smooth, flat stomach. A slick covering, maybe a natural oil, reflected the flickering torches around her. When Galen’s inspection finally reached her face, he froze in his spot, crippled by a realization quite obvious to anyone else.
  137. She could she him, too.
  139. The sight before him was a feast which his eyes could not consume fast enough. Her eyes laid in stark opposition to Seira’s; where Seira’s were striking and vibrant in a blazing red, Poseidon’s gaze seized his heart and held it with a cerulean which put even the ocean to shame. Galen saw no severity or mischief in her face, but a brutal intensity that required the full of his attention. Round cheeks flowed gently into her jawline, a small smile upon rusty-red lips forming dimples he would call cute had her presence not screamed magnificence. A fiery blanket of hair reached down to her nipples, waving about with each subtle movement of her head. Only when she raised a hand to point at Galen did he snap out of his trance.
  141. “What brings you to my realm, adventurer?”
  143. Galen blushed, immediately lowering his head. Should he bow? Kneel? She was sort of a queen, wasn’t she? He ran his fingers over his palms, finding them smothered in sweat. “I, uh, uhh, I’m not really an adventurer, ma’am. Miss. Poseidon. Sorry.”
  145. Whether she frowned, smiled, scoffed or shrugged at his response, Galen couldn’t tell. His stare was fixed upon the ground before her.
  147. “What shall I call you then? A lost traveler? A boy? A monster by another name?” If he had dared to make a presumption, he might say her voice carried a touch of playfulness.
  149. “J-just Galen, ma’am. A traveler.”
  151. “Then I would have you call me Poseidon, and answer my first question.”
  153. He risked a glance upward. Was she upset with him already? Her face revealed nothing but that cursory smile he’d seen before.
  155. “I’m f-from Nox, Poseidon. I was asked--I told someone I would come here t-to find something out a-and maybe argue on h-her behalf.”
  157. “Did you? And who might this person be?” Five fingers tapped on an armrest, one at a time.
  159. “Not person, Poseidon. Monster.” Gathering all the strength he could, Galen raised his head. Poseidon may have still held his heart in a cold, solemn grip, but there was more to him than heart. “The Kraken, who patrolled the seas near Nox.”
  161. “The Kraken asked you for help?” Her head tilted to the left the tiniest amount. “She must’ve been in quite the spot to ask someone, especially a human, for help.”
  163. “I-I guess she was.”
  165. Silence hung in the air a moment, Poseidon staring down at Galen expectantly.
  167. “When I say ‘she must’ve been in quite the spot’, I am saying I do not believe you, and it is to you to convince me otherwise.”
  169. “Oh. It is?” Galen scratched the back of his head. “Uhhh…” How was he to say it without offending her? “She was stuck when I met her. She couldn’t leave where she was, but she wanted to.”
  171. “And where did you meet her?”
  173. He wracked his brain trying to come up with another clever response, but he was spent. Thoughts spilled from his head without ever reaching his mouth. “On the way to the mainland. From Nox.”
  175. “Ah.” She leaned back in her throne. “So she was preventing boats from making it to the mainland as I ordered. Tell me then, Galen,” she said, putting emphasis on his name, “how did you make it past her? Did you harm one of my subjects?”
  177. “I… convinced her to let me pass.”
  179. Poseidon raised an eyebrow. “Forgive me for not taking you as someone who possesses a way with words. How might you have changed her mind?”
  181. Sucking in both his lips, Galen rasied his head. “I said I’m come here and argue on her behalf in exchange for passage.”
  183. Poseidon regarded his tertiary courage, her eyes flickering over his frail form before waving his reply off. “Argue on her behalf?” A corner of her mouth curled upward. “She is awfully bored, isn’t she?”
  185. He nodded. “I want to know why you aren’t letting ships from Nox travel to the mainland, and request that allow them once again.”
  187. Several of her tentacles shifted as Poseidon sat up, leaning toward Galen. “An expected question, given your place of origin. I disallowed passage from Nox to the mainland because Medusuub convinced me it was prudent.”
  189. Galen’s eyes widened. He could practically hear Seira’s ears twitching like mad behind him. “Medusuub?”
  191. “Of course. Does it not make sense that I collaborate with the current monster lord? Besides, even if she had not been a monster of station, I likely would’ve blockaded Nox anyways. Her arguments were sound.”
  193. “What possible arguments could she have for cutting off Nox?”
  195. Crossing her arms, Poseidon lifted her chin to look down at Galen. “You truly cannot guess? Or is that ignorance I see in your eyes? Fitting, perhaps. But it was not only Nox I cut off.”
  197. “Not only Nox?” He took a small step forward, leaving most of his fear behind. Curiosity and indignance had taken the reigns.
  199. “Nox is only one of many islands off the south shore of the mainland. Almost all that could be populated, were, about… hmm, thirty years ago now? You would know better than I, of course.”
  201. “And that’s how long the blockade’s been in place!”
  203. “It is no coincidence the village on Nox was established at around the same time.”
  205. Galen’s head was spinning. He squeezed his left shoulder, once against wreathed in a fiery pain. His father had told him almost everyone in the village had come there from the mainland thirty years ago at the same time. He’d said they were pilgrims, searching for a new place to live free of monsters and the other brutalities of the mainland. For some reason, at the same time, Medusuub had decided that they should be stranded there.
  207. Why was a simple group of pilgrims so important? And why had he never heard of the settlements on the other islands?
  209. “It seems some of this is new to you.”
  211. “Yes!” he blurted, immediately stepping back. Was it that his father--no, the entire village--thought it wasn’t important enough to tell him why Poseidon may have stranded them? Or did they have other motivations? Galen was one of them, wasn’t he? Why keep such a secret?
  213. “Shall I tell you why Nox has been kept isolated for so long?”
  215. He searched her eyes for a trace a deceit, but found none. All he saw was curiosity with a touch of… something else. Was it amusement? Concern? What even were her motivations in this? So many questions barraged Galen he couldn’t come up with one to ask, or even figure if Poseidon was the one to be asking. As an influential monster, her interests lay with her kind, not humans, and from the sound of it, she had no fondness of the humans from Nox. His left hand curled to a fist, still damp from the sweat of fear. If only his father was here. He would know the answers to Galen’s questions. Surely his father would talk to him about it if he returned home.
  217. Yet they hadn’t told him anything of this supposed significance of Nox or the people living on it, and Poseidon was offering that information on their first meeting. And how was he to return home without fulfilling his promise to the Kraken? It wasn’t her fault he’d been left in the dark, or for any of this, really. Besides, Poseidon could be deceiving him. He had no way to verify what she said about Nox was true.
  219. He jumped when he felt a cold touch on the shoulder than burned so much. Turning his head, he found Mino resting a hand on him, concern creasing a face he so often saw free of it.
  221. “It’ll be fine, Galen,” she said.
  223. He caught himself breathing far heavier than normal. Nodding to Mino, he took a deep breath, as if he might release all his worries with it. At the very least, it might help him feel better.
  225. “Don’t fear words or the truth behind them,” she said. “Whatever you were or weren’t told, does it really matter? You know the people back on Nox better than Poseidon, better than anyone here. You know if they’re good people or not. Trust yourself, that much I’ve learned.”
  227. He gave her another nod then turned to Poseidon. “Alright. Tell me.”
  229. “Every man who left for the islands thirty years ago was a soldier. Not just front-line grunts, but officers and even some generals. A fleet of men who lived war and chose to rid themselves of it.”
  231. “Then, the blockade…”
  233. “Was to prevent them from returning to the battlefield once again, and to prevent the king from calling for their aid.”
  235. Galen stared at the ground, his jaw hanging open. Soldiers, all of them. The village chief. His teachers. Men who harvested in the fields with him. His father, too. They seemed so peaceful. His father had always been so adverse to killing; yet he himself had made a life out of it. Is that why they all left the mainland? Because they were tired or it? Or scared? Galen had always wondered why his father had been so stringent on learning the sword on such a peaceful island as well. Was that because he worried for Galen? Or did he want Galen to become a solider like himself? Galen gritted his teeth. If he could just ask why!
  237. In the side of his vision, he saw a crimson paw step forward. “If you want to keep those soldiers away from the mainland, does that mean you were planning on fighting humans once again? You know what happened last time monsters went to war with them!”
  239. “Of course I know, Khertaleon.” She shook her head at Seira’s shock. “Oh, don’t be so surprised I recognize you. You share many of your mother’s features, especially that fiery glare of yours.”
  241. He looked up to see Seira swallowing whatever words had been rising up her throat. Her voice came out timid. “You knew my mother that well?”
  243. “Yes, I did.” Poseidon’s eyes wandered around the room, as if taken by a fanciful memory. “Our first meeting was not much unlike this, in fact. A human, an arachne, a harpy, and Gladiel herself approached me with her plans and a request for support. I did not give it to her right away, but I did promise it should she defeat Buisuub.”
  245. “And yet you did nothing when she was attacked!”
  247. “I am a partner to the monster lord, not a servant. And my support was promised to her as the monster lord, not as a corpse.”
  249. Seira took another step forward. “Do you feel no sense of loyalty?”
  251. Poseidon’s eyes narrowed. “I suggest you hold your tongue before I decide to take offense to your accusations.”
  253. Before Seira could shout her reply, Galen threw an arm up in front of her. “Please. Don’t.”
  255. She snarled, but held her retort back. Galen lifted his head once again to face Poseidon. “Seira did mention one thing you didn’t answer. Why prevent human soldiers from returning to the mainland unless you saw a battle coming?”
  257. “Until both humans and monsters know peace for many generations, battles will always be on the horizon. The fewer methods of war available to one side, however, the lower chances of such a battle breaking out.”
  259. Galen cocked his head. “So Medusuub wanted to keep the soldiers on Nox to prevent fighting?”
  261. “She told me as much. I do not presume to know her true motivations, however. She keeps much to herself.”
  263. “Then why is she marching an army north?”
  265. “You would have to ask her.”
  267. Seira scoffed. “I saw this coming. She’s been gathering allies, building armies and armor, and, on top of it all, keeping secrets from you. She seeks to cripple her enemies before razing the land with war.”
  269. “I would not make such a judgement without knowing more,” said Poseidon.
  271. Seira opened her mouth to reply, but Poseidon raised a hand.
  273. “However, her intentions may not matter at this point.” Her eyes locked onto Galen and she spoke her next words directly to him. “A small fleet of ships broke through my blockade three days ago. They reached Uuluth last night. I do not believe Medusuub is aware of this. None of my scouts have been able to deliver the message.”
  275. “How did…?”
  277. “The blockade was never meant to hold such a force. Its purpose was to discourage travel and communication. Should I have reinforced it, I would’ve done nothing more than started the very fight I wished to avoid. It is no coincidence no one who ever attempted to leave Nox died. I ordered no one be killed.”
  279. Galen glanced at Seira. Her face was as flooded with shock as his. “If there’s a human force at Uuluth, and Medusuub’s army is headed that way, then there could be an actual battle!” he said.
  281. “And I would not count on it ending there,” said Poseidon.
  283. “Can’t you do anything? I mean, you have forces, don’t you?”
  285. She somberly shook her head. “Unfortunately, that is exactly what prohibits me here. Any action I take will be interpreted as one with force behind it, whether I mean to fight or not. Even if I were to personally head to Uuluth to negotiate, there is little chance I would be heard, and Medusuub may take it as a sign of treachery. Should I travel directly to the monster lord, the humans will assume I have reinforced her army and seek to attack with it.”
  287. “But you could convince her to retreat, couldn’t you?”
  289. “Another gamble. As I said, I do not know her true motivations. Perhaps she anticipated this, perhaps not. But either way, it would take time to convince her, and time is sorely lacking. From my reports, the army will finish gathering by tomorrow, and is likely to attack the day after. Just getting to her would take a day, then I would need to make my plea, and assuming she changed her mind, the orders themselves would take hours to reach the army, assuming the monster delivering them isn’t killed on the way.” Poseidon clasped her hands together. “The king has not been ignorant to the movement of the monster lord’s army. He has soldiers watching her castle.”
  291. “It’s possible, though!” Galen’s voice was on the verge of cracking.
  293. “Possible, but it leaves another problem in its wake. How do you think the king will view monsters after such a close call? What’s to say he won’t want to take down the monster army himself?”
  295. Everything was crumbling around him. He’d just left to go on an adventure, that’s all! He wanted stories to tell his father, something to make him proud! “I, I don’t--“
  297. “Medusuub has sent the world of monsters on a collision course with the world of humans. If blood does not come of it, then fear and anger certainly will. The fragile truce between worlds is breaking.”
  299. Galen’s legs shook, and he would've collapsed had Mino not rushed to grab him. His limbs turned to jelly, his eyes glazed over, staring at the ground with an emptiness only known by dead men. Humans and monsters were going to war again, and his father was already on the front lines. There was no Nox to go back to. Every man he knew back there was probably already in armor, ready to fight, and every woman scared for the lives of those they cared for most. Galen could see his mother trying to bake with shaking hands, his father looking outward with a grim face as he placed a helmet upon his head. All this, while Galen was playing at adventurer.
  301. “But there is a way to stop it.”
  303. Galen immediately jumped to his feet, clutching his hands into fists. Every last drop of hope bled into his question. “How?”
  305. “One side must lose its leader, and the other side must be assured of its safety.”
  307. Gears churned in Galen’s head as he considered the statement. “Then, you want Medusuub gone?”
  309. Poseidon closed her eyes, a touch of that curious smile from before returning to her face. “I did not say that. But tell me, do you know of someone to replace the king? And how to do so without sending human society to chaos?”
  311. “N-no.”
  313. “Then your options are limited. Besides, I believe you have one with you who intended this from the beginning.”
  315. Seira smirked. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.”
  317. “So, if Seira takes Medusuub’s place and tells the king she won’t attack, we can avoid this war?”
  319. Poseidon’s smile grew while Seira spat out a laugh. Galen’s face scrunched up in confusion as Seira slapped a paw on his shoulder.
  321. “The king isn’t going to believe a single word from any monster’s mouth after this. Me telling him I don’t intend to attack would mean nothing to him. It’s going to take more.”
  323. “W-what else is there?”
  325. Seira turned to Poseidon, crossing her paws. “Something tells me you have this planned out.”
  327. A pause laid silence heavy on the air between them. Poseidon’s smile vanished, in its place a grimace as cold as her eyes. She stood from the throne, moving toward Galen until he had to hurt his neck to look up at her.
  329. “Medusuub must die, but something as simple as a sword to the heart will not be enough. She must die in a fashion so magnificent and grandiose that the king himself will know it the moment it happens, a method so powerful and resonant the citizens of men will shudder.”
  331. Galen swallowed. He knew what she was getting at, why her eyes now moved to the sword hilt on his waist.
  333. “You must unleash Toneruth, fill the sky with Scarlet Lightning, and create the second Scar of the World on her corpse.”
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