It seems that Nicholas Blackthorn isn’t the only Archon or the only Realmwalker on Arthropodia after all…

Nicholas marveled at the height and the size of the “buildings” within this anthill “city”. The city itself, large though it was, seemed designed to complement the jungle rather than to destroy it. These “insects” dwelt in harmony with their surroundings.

All wasn’t well in the arthropod paradise, though. Male and female “cockroaches” wearing green clothing stood at their posts at high points along the city wall. Obviously they were meant for defense, but as they bore no weapons, just how they defended the city was unclear. But if the city needed defense, then Nicholas would be glad to aid in it – not out of being helpful but out of seizing any strategic advantage available to him.

“What are those guards up there for?”

“You find them unpleasant?”

“If you can read my expressions and my voice that well, then I’ve underestimated you. Yes. Where I come from roaches are, shall we say, less than loved.”

“They are needed and that is all that matters to them. They are the ‘Earth Summoners’ who form a force shield around the city, preventing the Two Walkers from teleporting in.”

“Aven and Keely can teleport?”

“They claim to be able to travel beyond our realm, into something they call the Metacosmic Sea. But we have very little understanding of what they speak. Such language sounds magical to us. We prefer a simple life.”

Nicholas thought to tell them that he too traveled through the Metacosmic Sea, but thought better of it. Shock and awe were powerful tools, but only when applied rightly. Better to wait and present that particular datum at the right time. Besides, he didn’t exactly travel to Arthropodia under control. If this Aven and Keely could, they might be powerful allies to him – or dangerous enemies.

“Why do they attack your city?”

“We know not. Keely arrived first years ago; she has outlived many of us. She is not very clever, though, so our clerics long kept the balance of power between her and us stable.”

“Then Aven arrived and swung the balance to their side?”

“Yes. He is powerful, clever and patient. His beak, as he calls it, has killed many.”

“Beak? He is a bird?” How ironic that a “bird-man” would be the mortal enemy of these “insects”!

“Yes. Aven Goldbeak walks and talks as we do, and as you do. But he calls himself an ‘eagle’, and he has a yellow ‘beak’.”

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