It was the night of the ball and Morgaine, Sosona, and Joan were stuffed into too tight dresses, caked with makeup, and sent to announce Danielle’s entrance to the ballroom.
Titan generals Hydus and Megdam were poised to execute their plan. There was a secret room Hugo had been guarding. It was where the mind specialists were. Hydus and Megdam met there to discuss the plan of action for the night.
“Are the bombs in place?” asked Hydus.
“Yes,” answered Megdam, “and ready to detonate tonight.”
“What about the soldiers?”
“They won’t be a problem. There are only three of them.”
“Perhaps we should go ahead and kill them.”
“No,” said Megdam, “we don’t want to alert Danielle. She will want them by her side tonight.”
While the generals discussed their plan, Garnet gathered the Ocean Team for the night’s mission. “Thanks to everyone’s tireless efforts, I think we’ve found our candidate,” said Garnet. “Prince Najime. He’s staying close by, he’s young, he didn’t bring many guards and he definitely has an invitation. We’ve seen him show it to two people.”
They knew where he was staying and they knew how to find him. The plan was to break into his room and lie in wait. Garnet sent Halberad, Ethelmore and Thomas out on the mission.
It was relatively easy to take out the guards. And it was just as easy to break into Najime’s room at the inn. The startled prince didn’t know what hit him. Halberad managed to knock him out with one hit. They tied him to his guards and left them in the room. Halberad took the clothes he’d need to fit in tomorrow night.
Garnet seemed surprised when they returned. “Nicely done guys,” he said.
“You didn’t think we could do it,” said Halberad.
“No, I didn’t think you could do it.”
“But I did.”
“I still think it was a mistake. Are you ready to do this for real?”
“Yes,” answered Halberad.
“You need to get into the shield and bring it down. We’ll be waiting at the western entrance.”
They waited until it was dark out, then they left together. Halberad split from the group to go to the main entrance. The palace guard asked for his invitation and Halberad gave it to him. He was allowed inside without much hassle. To his surprise, the shield was down.
Garnet, the shield is down, messaged Halberad. I’m in and there aren’t a lot of guards.
That’s weird. Keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
“What’s going on?” asked Whirlpool.
“Halberad says the shield is down. And he was able to brain-message me so it must be true.”
“What do we do now? Do we charge?”
“Not yet. I’m going to try to brain-message Morgaine.” Garnet touched a finger to his temple. Morgaine.
Garnet? she responded.
The shield is down. We’ve got a guy on the inside and he says the shield is down.
Yeah, I’m not surprised.
It’s a trap.
It’s a trap? What kind of trap?
They’re inviting Alliance loyalists in and I guarantee it’s so they can blow up the palace.
What makes you think that?
I have a feeling. Why else would Hugo have a party and invite Alliance members into Titan territory?
He’s invited Alliance members?
Ok, said Garnet, one thing at a time. First thing, we need to get you three out of there.
No, we have to stop the bombing.
How do you know it’s a bomb?
They relied on bombs during the Great War. And I’ve been watching them carefully. I followed them to the basement. They keep going down there for something and it’s right underneath the ballroom.
Listen, your mom isn’t here, which makes me your commanding officer. I order you, Sosona and Joan to evacuate.
We can’t just leave people here.
That’s an order.
He stopped messaging and addressed his team. “Morgaine says this is a trap. She thinks the Titans are inviting people here so they can kill everyone in one fell swoop. I’m going to go in with Whirlpool and Quest and see if we can find the bombs.”
“Bombs?” asked Shiner.
“Yes, bombs. That’s what Morgaine said.”
Garnet sent a message to Halberad. I just talked to Morgaine and she thinks this is a trap. She says they’re going to bomb the palace. You need to get to Hugo and get him out of there.
Got it, answered Halberad.
“What should we do?” asked Ethelmore “Should we go in and start evacuating people?”
“No. Wait here for my next command.” He took his sons and they entered the palace. “Quest,” he said, “I need the power.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. If there are fire bombs then I need to disable them.”
“Dad, no offense, but I think I’m better with the power than you are. I’ve had more time to train with it.”
“Fine,” said Garnet, “but be ready to hand it off to me if we get stuck.”
Under cover of darkness, Garnet flew to the top of the palace with his two sons. Security was surprisingly relaxed. As they were descending the stairs, Garnet got a brain-message from Vivienne.
How are things going?
Glad to hear from you. Morgaine says there are bombs in the palace. We’re trying to figure out what to do next. She thinks they’re going to bomb the place tonight.
Do you need backup? Morgeth is with me and she can teleport.
Yeah, we’re going to need a teleporter.
Garnet told them where to meet. Morgeth teleported them in shifts. She took Vivienne and Hobtrot first, then went back for Thane and Brandie. They appeared beside the Ocean Team.
Meanwhile Halberad searched the crowd for the Emperor. He wasn’t hard to find. Hugo was at the center of attention. Halberad stood by him. Hydus and Megdam were nowhere in sight. Then he had an idea.
Morgaine? he asked.
Halberad? I’m a little busy at the moment.
Really? That’s what you have to say to me after two years?
I don’t have time for this.
Morgaine, wait. I’m in the palace. I’m here in Alden.
What in the name of Rago Kon are you doing here?
I’m here to rescue you.
I don’t need rescuing. I’m looking for Hydus and Megdam Get out of the palace. It’s a trap.
I know. I’m in charge of the emperor. I have to get him out. Garnet is looking for the bombs. What about Sosona and Joan?
They’re already out.
Morgaine sent a message to Vivienne. Mom, Halberad is in the palace.
We’d better get in there, answered Vivienne. Garnet is there too.
Morgaine? Are you still there? asked Halberad
Vivienne and the Jupiter Team met Garnet outside of the ballroom. They burst through the doors.
There, to the surprise of all the partygoers, stood a motley crew of dragons, human, an elf and a creature most could only describe as a wolfman. Some recognized Garnet and Vivienne, heroes of the Alliance, at the front of the pack. Garnet addressed the room.
“Sorry to interrupt, but the party’s over.” The emperor and his guests were paralyzed with a mixture of confusion and fear.
“You all need to evacuate immediately, this party is a trap and you’re all going to die,” Vivienne said. No one dared to question the general and at once the party erupted into chaos as everyone began to flee. Most rushed for the doors that lead to the outer gates.
But Hydus and Megdam fled in the opposite direction. Garnet and Vivienne pursued, but their path was blocked. A platoon of soldiers rushed into the ballroom to give Hydus and Megdam enough time to escape. Thane and Joan stepped forward. Without another word they engaged.
Thane focused his rage, every betrayal, everything this war had taken from him, every hardship he had faced. As he let his anger build within him his fists began to glow in flames. He ran towards the soldiers and unleashed a volley of fireballs from his hands. Several fell before they had time to react.
Joan charged into the fray, sword in hand, cutting through the weakened and distracted soldiers. As she matched swords with the enemy she saw a soldier attempting to flank Thane. Without dropping her sword she placed two fingers to her temple and focused her mind. She attuned herself to wisdom and channeled it. Instantly she entered the mind of the soldier and interrupted his swing. He missed Thane and instead struck a member of his own platoon. Before he could swing again Thane turned and pummeled him with a fiery blast.
The ballroom had become a battleground. Vivienne and Garnet followed Hydus and Megdam further into the palace. They ran through the palace halls throwing fireballs whenever they caught their target open. Hydus threw a rogue fireball back at Garnet as he disappeared around a corner. Vivienne focused her hatred and created a translucent wall around Garnet. The fireball dissipated as it crashed into the Deshtue shield.
As the fighting continued in the ballroom Halberad made for the exit, Shiner stopped him.
“Halberad, what are you doing?”
“I’m going after Morgaine.”
Shiner shot Halberad a puzzled look.
“Come on, Shiner, you didn’t think I was running away, did you?” Before Shiner could react three lightning specialists attacked. A bolt caught Halberad’s shoulder and he cried out in pain. Shiner turned to face them.
“Go, I’ll hold them off,” Shiner yelled to Halberad. Halberad was worried for a moment, but as Shiner charged the enemy Halberad began to worry for them instead. Shiner tore at them with razor sharp claws and fangs. Shiner stood eight feet tall and was able to pick the soldiers up with a single hand and slam them into the ground. He wasn’t as skilled with casting as the others in their platoon, but it hardly mattered.
Halberad looked back once more as he left the ballroom, his friends were winning the battle, but he didn’t have time to stick around and celebrate. He had to get to the top floor, where Hydus and Megdam were holding Morgaine.
Meanwhile, Garnet and Vivienne had finally cornered their targets. Hydus and Megdam had rushed into a room on the top floor and barred the door. Doors provide little resistance against skilled casters and especially little resistance against a dragon. Garnet and Vivienne burst through the door only to find their worst fears realized. Megdam stood near the back of the room holding the sword of Nordath and Hydus stood next to him holding Morgaine by the throat.
“Morgaine,” Vivienne cried, “I swear to Rago Kon I’ll skin you alive if you hurt her.” Fire began to build around her as well as metal, the element associated with Fear.
“Now, now, now,” Megdam said in a deep booming voice, “let’s not be too hasty. We don’t intend to harm Morgaine, but if you take one more step we can change those plans.” He took a few steps towards Hydus and put the sword to her neck.
Morgaine was gagged and her hands tied behind her back, but she didn’t seem afraid. The look on her face was unmistakably one of contempt.
“Let her go,” said Vivienne. “You’re outnumbered and outmatched.”
“Are we?” sneered Hydus. “Why don’t you go ahead and cast fire and see how outmatched we are.”
Vivienne could not contain her rage. She threw fireballs at both generals.
Hydus swung the sword and deflected both shots easily. But he didn’t just deflect; he extinguished the attack completely.
Vivienne and Garnet glanced at each other.
Halberad entered into the room. He pushed his way forward. “Let her go,” he cried. “Take me instead.”
“They don’t want you, idiot,” snapped Garnet.
Halberad began to cast fire, but Vivienne stopped him.
“They have the sword of Nordath,” she hissed. “That won’t work.”
Hydus and Megdam began circling, still holding Morgaine captive. They were trying to back out of the room, but Vivienne, Garnet and Halberad held their ground.
“Let us pass or we’ll kill her,” said Hydus.
Suddenly and arrow pierced Hydus’ shoulder. He cried and released Morgaine.
She fell to the floor.
Ethelmore was in the doorway and he was preparing to fire off another arrow. This time looked as if he meant to kill.
Garnet and Vivienne took advantage of the distraction and charged. Garnet went for Megdam and Vivienne went for Morgaine.
Megdam swung the sword and stabbed Garnet in the stomach. Garnet crumpled.
Ethelmore fired another arrow.
Hydus cast fire and burned it. He and Megdam pushed past Halberad, casting as they went.
Megdam swung the sword again, narrowly missing Ethelmore.
The elf was forced backwards, allowing the generals to escape.
Vivienne knelt at Garnet’s side.
“I’m all right,” he said. “I need Sosona, though.”
Vivienne sent her a brain-message.
“We need to catch the Titans,” said Garnet.
“We’ll find them, but we have to heal you first,” said Vivienne.
Ethelmore and Halberad untied Morgaine.
“Thanks,” she said, somewhat reluctantly.
“Are you all right?” they asked in unison.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
Ethelmore kissed her cheek. “I missed you,” he said.
Halberad pushed him away. “What the hell?” he asked.
Morgaine pulled Ethelmore back and kissed him deliberately. “We’re dating,” she said.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Halberad asked Ethelmore.
“You didn’t ask,” he answered.
Sosona found them and healed Garnet with her Strength specialized keeltose.
“Let’s move out,” said Vivienne, unaware of the drama unfolding with Morgaine. “I don’t know where Hydus and Megdam went,” she said.
“We’ll find them,” said Garnet. “We have to.”