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

“My army of Wild Cats is surrounding the Anthill as we speak. Their own scouts unavoidably are aware of my army, but our scouts also know something of their doings. They tell me there is now an Adami among them.”

“An Adami? Here?”

“Yes, he appeared in a flash of red light. He is tall for his kind and has black hair, black armor and a red cloak, and bears a long sword meant for two-handed combat. His cloak bears a sigil: a dragon with seven heads. Is he trouble for us?”

“Show me what you know.”

Keely rose and put one hand on Aven’s forehead, and Aven stared off into space. “He is more than he appears to be,” Aven said after a moment after a flick of twin membranes cleansed his eyes. “How much more, we cannot know as yet. If he interferes all the same, he will face my wrath.” Aven’s eyes took on a sharp, cruel look.

“What if he is a realmwalker, as we are?”

“Then I will kill him myself. Even realmwalkers die.”

“And that includes us, beloved.” Keely gently embraced her partner. “We do not know either this man or his power.”

“Already I know more of his power than I like. But the Genesis Ring will soon be ours and soon we will have an army no one can face.”

“We have to get past those insects first. And if this man has the power to help them…”

“We shall soon see. Our army will attack soon. If this new red-cloaked man truly is on the side of the insects, he will show it soon enough.”

“You think he knows of the Genesis Ring?”

“I think not. The one who created that ring told only me of its location and its power. Not even the insects know they have it.”

“You still have not told me who created the Ring.”

“That is my secret, dear one. Trust me, for the secret is for your own protection.”

“I do not understand.”

“I could not tell you his name, even if I wanted to. Though I no longer serve him, neither can I defy his command in this. As the appointed Guardian of the Ring, only I may speak to him on the matter.”

“You left his service, yet he speaks with you still?”

“Rarely, yes: every few years at most. It is almost as if he is pleading with me to come back, by his mere presence. But I will not. I know my punishment and I accept it.”

“He allows you to seek the Ring and guard it, and yet you and he are opposed? Can you tell me nothing of him at all?”

“Only this: he appears as an Adami hooded and cloaked all in white, and bearing a shining sword. If ever such a one appears on this world and you see him, flee from him at once; you have no way of countering his power and I must deal with him alone. Will you trust me in this?”

Keely would’ve liked it to be otherwise, but she believed that her partner’s demands for her sake were always well-founded. “Yes, love. I will.”

“Then I must also tell you this. If ever he sends his servant here… then know that my punishment has come.”

“You think this red-cloaked man is his servant?”

“No! If this were he, then I would know; I could detect his master’s light in him, from anywhere in this Realm. This red-cloaked man is filled not with light, but with chaos.”

“Together we will deal with that red-cloaked man. And if that ‘servant’ seeks to kill you, then I will oppose him with every power and every ally in my possession.”

“If you do, then you will doom yourself and your people to destruction for no good reason. I know that truth beyond all logic. His master’s light will be in him. Do not oppose it on your mortal peril.”


“You must carry on the Path after I am gone, if he comes for me. If we are both dead, then the Path will die with us.”

“A Path that you set for me and all my people, when you granted me your symbiont.”

“Remember that well, Keely. I am Young, you are Younger, and your people worship us both. For their sakes and yours, I guard what secrets I must, and only because I must.”

Keely stepped into Aven’s embrace and cried as only a felinoid female could do: with a caterwaul that might awaken the dead.

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