Chapter 4

Vivienne touched two fingers to her temple. If you can hear me, can you come here? she asked. I’m at the Jupiter Team base.

Athena appeared in front of her. “You called?”

“Yes. I need your help. Morgaine is trapped behind enemy lines in Alden. A large group of Titian soldiers are there. They’re controlling Emperor Hugo.”

“I’m aware of the situation,” said Athena. “My sister is there with her.”

“Right,” said Vivienne. “I’m sorr—”

“I’m afraid I only have seconds to spare. Ulysses is determined to take up my time.”

“Could you knock out the mind specialists controlling Alden?”

“I will if I get a chance.” Athena squinted. “Sorry,” she said, “Ulysses is taunting me. I must go.”

Vivienne didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye before Athena teleported away.

Athena didn’t go far. Unfortunately Ulysses knew where the Jupiter Team was located and he was threatening to attack them.

“You said you’d only be a moment,” said Ulysses. “I counted. You were gone much longer.”

Athena raised an eyebrow. “Thank you for being so patient.”

Ulysses grinned. “Where were we? Oh, yes.” He created a cast and Athena was immediately thrown into a projection inside of her own mind.

“You’re going to attack me on my own turf?” she asked. “I’m afraid this isn’t going to be a fair match.”

“You’re right,” said Ulysses. “It won’t be very fair at all.”

Suddenly copies of him surrounded her. They scurried around her mind, all taunting and laughing at her.

She cast and destroyed them one by one until the real Ulysses is left standing behind her. She spun around.

“Boo,” he said.

She cast Wisdom and suddenly they were in his mind.

“A projection inside of a projection? Bold move,” said Ulysses.

Athena began tearing through his memories without care or aim.

Ulysses stopped her and forced her out of his head. They were back in Athena’s mind; her memories were at stake. But Ulysses didn’t attack her memories. Instead, he laughed and tore down the projection, then teleported away.

Thankfully, gods with opposing powers (like Madness and Wisdom) could scan for each other. Athena cursed under her breath and followed after him.

***

Danielle made an announcement a week later. Morgaine, Sosona, and Joan helped her address the public. They knew they were going to die. Now the entire city knew about the party.

Meanwhile Vivienne thought she might have a lead on the location of Nordath’s power. The Jupiter Team, without Ethelmore and Thomas, now consisted of Brandie, Vivienne and Thane. They had to be careful.

The god powers tended to travel within the realms until they found a host. She and Garnet were almost positive it was a god power, but the power of what remained a mystery. Athena said she felt something[1] around the same time Nordath came into power. The fact that she felt anything was what led the Alliance to believe it was a god power to begin with.

 Vivienne was afraid the power had gone to someone else. They couldn’t risk another Nordath and they had no way of controlling where the power went[2].

“Maybe the power will go to an Alliance member,” said Brandie.

Vivienne bit her lip. “Maybe,” she said. “But it found Nordath. I can’t help but feel that it will go to someone similar again.”

“We have to hope.”

“We can only hope,” said Thane.

***

“We still need to get inside that shield,” said Garnet.

“Let me take another crack at scoping out the palace,” said Halberad.

“You’re just going to run up to it again?” asked Garnet.

“Yeah,” said Halberad. “Let me look around, search for a weak spot.”

“A weak spot? It’s the capitol of Alden. There isn’t a weak spot. But,” he paused. “Let me think about this. If you go and you get caught, they can torture you for information and that would lead them back here. If you go and you’re killed—” He trailed off. “No, they’re going to be on high alert. You stay here.” He turned to Thomas. “Why don’t you go take a look at the palace?”

“I would, but I think they’ll recognize me.”

“Ethelmore?” asked Garnet.

“I can give it a shot,” he said.

“Let me go,” said Halberad. “I can do this.”

“Isn’t that what you were doing before?” asked Garnet. “And Shiner had to save you?”

Halberad nodded reluctantly.

“So what makes you think it’s going to go better this time?”

“Because I’m not going to cut a hole in the shield this time.”

“You were trying to cut a hole in the shield?” exclaimed Garnet.

“Yes,” answered Halberad.

“Ok, if you were trying to cut a hole in the shield, absolutely no.”

“Why not?”

“Because they saw you. Now they know you’re not some would be celebrity watcher. They know you’re trying to get in. If they find part of their shield messed with and they figure out you tried to cut through it, they’re going to know you’re trying to break in.”

“What about a disguise?” asked Whirlpool.

“I could go in disguise,” said Halberad.

Garnet shook his head. “That’s been our problem all along, right?” He was ignoring Halberad. “A dragon in a cloak still looks like a dragon.”

“I could wear a mustache,” said Halberad.

“You could use some of my hair,” said Shiner.

“No,” said Garnet, “no.” He sighed. “I wish Athena was here.”

“Give me a shot,” said Halberad. “I can do this.”

Garnet thought for a minute. “Thomas, Ethelmore, which one of you can move the stealthiest?”

“Ethelmore,” answered Thomas.

“All right. Ethelmore, how confident are you that you can follow Halberad without being seen?”

“Confident.”

“Good. All right. Halberad, I’m going to give you another chance. You’re going to go the palace and look for any possible way in. Ethelmore is going to cover your back. If you’re found out, Ethelmore is going to kill you so you don’t give information to the other side. We’ll keep Luth with us so we can know if you get caught.”

“No,” shouted Halberad.

“Yes,” said Garnet. “Both of you can go. Ethelmore, if you have to, take Halberad out.”

“All right,” said Ethelmore.

“Whoa, whoa,” said Shiner. “I think I should be the one to cover Halberad.”

“Yeah,” said Halberad.

“No, I don’t trust your ability with a bow and arrow,” said Garnet.

“But we trust Shiner not to kill us,” said Luth.

“That’s why I’m sending Ethelmore, because I want you killed before you can spill information.”

“Are you sure about this?” asked Halberad.

“Yes,” answered Garnet. “Besides, Morgaine would love this kind of heroism and the fact that you’re willing to die for us.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah, of course. I know Morgaine, she’d love that.” Garnet clapped him on the back. “All right, good luck boys.” With that he shoved Halberad toward the door.

The two made their way toward the city center. It was dark out and not many people were around.

“Can you warn me before you shoot me?” asked Halberad.

“I’m not going to warn you,” said Ethelmore. “Stop talking to me. It defeats the purpose of me following you.”

Halberad glanced back at him. He could hear Luth whimpering in his mind.

“Stop that. I’m not going to shoot you unless you give me a reason. Just walk normally.”

Halberad did his best to act natural, but fear gave way and instinct kicked in. He broke into a run.

“Quit running,” said Ethelmore. The elf had no trouble keeping up with him.

Halberad calmed himself and started walking again. He couldn’t run through the market without gaining suspicion and then Ethelmore really might kill him.

Go ahead and check out the palace, messaged Ethelmore.

I don’t want to get close to it.

You have to get close to it if we’re going to find a weak spot.

If I get close to it and get captured, you’re going to kill me, so no.

If you don’t do your job, I’ll shoot you anyway and tell Garnet you were captured.

You wouldn’t dare.

Want to bet?

Halberad cursed under his breath. He didn’t argue further. It took them several hours to complete the mission. They made it back to the hideout without incident. Garnet looked almost disappointed to see Halberad return unscathed.

The next day proceeded in a similar fashion. Halberad and Ethelmore went out again and again Ethelmore’s orders were to shoot him if he were captured. They went out during the day this time on the off chance this provided some new insight.

The market was humming with energy. It was easy for Halberad to blend in with the shoppers. He lost track of Ethelmore in the fuss.

Are you still behind me?

Yes, answered Ethelmore.

Great.

I heard someone mention a ball. I think Hugo is throwing one. That might be our way in.

Halberad listened. Ethelmore was right. It was all anyone was talking about. People were clumped together talking excitedly about a ball.

“Excuse me, ma’am?” asked Halberad, “I couldn’t help but overhear. You said Emperor Hugo is throwing a ball?”

“Yes he is. Folks are coming from all around. It’s in two weeks. Should be very exciting.”

“Thank you.” He nodded to the group and walked away. This is perfect, he messaged to Ethelmore.

It is. This is exactly what we needed. Let’s report back to Garnet.

They made their way back to the Ocean Team. Once they were sure it was safe, they entered the building.

“Hugo is throwing a ball,” said Ethelmore.

“That’s perfect,” said Garnet. “This presents an interesting opportunity. If we can get an invitation to the party, we can get in.”

“We don’t need an invitation,” said Luth. “We’ll just dress up as a prince and walk right in.”

“And how is that going to work?” asked Garnet.

“The night of the ball, we’re going to kidnap a prince,” said Halberad. “I’ll dress up as him then walk right in.”

“You want to kidnap a prince?”

“Yeah.”

“We don’t even know who will be invited to this thing.”

“It’s a ball at a palace,” said Shiner. “Every ball has princes. That’s just how it goes.”

“Yeah,” said Halberad.

Garnet was silent for a moment. “I’m thinking if I want Thomas to do this instead.”

“No,” said Halberad. “Let me do it.”

Garnet was silent again. “All right,” he said finally, “we need to keep an eye out for visiting dignitaries and royalty. Then the night before the ball, we’ll kidnap someone and then and only then will we decide who gets to impersonate them.”


[1] Gods can detect other gods. They can sense when their opposite power is assigned and when it leaves a host.

[2] It’s rumored that god powers have minds own and chose a host based on personality.