Chapter 27: Gifts From Ener Keep

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    The groups landed on a small hill, and down below them, in a valley filled with dead, black grass and decrepit old trees. The ground itself seemed to be alive and dead at the same time. It rose and fell making small bumps, and though the grass was dead and black, the ground was a sickly red; blood red. Spiky red and black matter rose from the earth and cold lava flowed around aimlessly. Silver, Gold, and Amber statues of Chaos Ghouls, Hellhounds, and demons were scattered around the keep arbitrarily. Alex returned to demon form. Hecate reached for her hand out of fear. Her fingers intertwined with the goddex's. Sapphirus put a hand on each of their shoulders. All three had the same fearful thought- the area around Ener Keep resembled the Underlands. Fearfully and yet bravely, the group of three stepped forward first down the hill. Malum sprung for Hecate's shoulder and the other four fairies lept into the air after him. They flew off, scouting. Hecate's breathing grew shallow and she refused to walk several times. Prometheus, Eris, and Alex coaxed her forward a few steps before Myhrra eventually picked the goddex up, flung her onto her back, and began walking. The valkyrie general wrapped her wings around Hecate, shielding her senses. Alex and Sapphirus were more accustomed to the Underlands, and did not feel as much fear from it. Hecate however, even though curious while in the Underlands, was frightened by death.
    "If you absolutely have to, tell me to stop." Myhrra whispered gently, "But we need to get to Lord Khronos. You can do it, kiddo." Hecate squirmed slightly, but made no noise or movement to make Myhrra stop. The others gazed at Ener Keep; It was made of large stones, and was made up of two central square towers, connected by a metal bridge. Rooms jutted out from different sides, and the entire complex was raised up on rocky stilts. On top of the larger tower, a glass dome winked in the daylight. Alex transformed back into a fairy as the others walked across the disgusting, foul smelling ground. The demon-fairy landed on Myhrra's wings and whispered support to Hecate. Sapphirus trudged through the muck, keeping her eyes on Ener Keep, and trying not to think of Niflheim or the Underlands while Prometheus held her hand and coaxed her forward at points. After what seemed like hours, the group reached what appeared to be the front doors. They were large and made of steel. The group of vagabonds waited for the fairies to return, and once they did, Prometheus rapped the giant copper knocker on the door. It gave out a loud CLANG as it hit the door. Prometheus stood back, and everyone waited. Myhrra unfurled her wings, and Hecate slipped off her back. The goddex thanked her quietly, and held Alex in her arms. In a few moments, the door was flung open. A wild looking god stood in the entry hall. His skin was the color of tilled earth, and his hair was white and grew in tufts from his scalp. He wore wire-rim glasses that magnified his kind hazel eyes. He smiled, showing a few teeth. He wore a long tunic that went just below his knees and a long shirt over that, not unlike the one Prometheus wore, except this one was longer, white and stained, and had several pockets.
    "Welcome!" he boomed, "Welcome to all of you!"
    "Lord Khronos," said Prometheus, bowing. The others did the same, with the exception of Iris.
    "Now, now," chided Khronos, "There is no need for that!" He leaned down, and picked up Lizar, who screeched.
    "Are you behaving yourself, Lizar?" Khronos asked the fairy.
    "Yes, Father Khronos." squeaked Lizar, and Khronos put him down. Lizar flew up in the air, and away from Khronos slightly. The god then turned his eyes to Hecate and Alex.
    "Ah, Hecate and Alex You two have been through so much." Khronos' voice filled with kindness and warmth, masking the sadness.
    "Please, all of you, come in." Khronos stepped aside, allowing everyone to enter. He stopped the fairies, then summoned water and fruit for them to eat while they waited outside Ener Keep. Alex transformed back into a demon so she could enter. The entry hall was small, and Khronos led the group into the main laboratory room. Lights flashed on and off at random intervals, and made Hecate, who used her staff as a cane again, dizzy. Papers were strewn about, and desks were filled with flasks, beakers, potions, and weapons.
    "Sorry to leave the fairies outside, but I have learned my lesson." Khronos spoke aimlessly, "They have wrecked these rooms more times than I can count." He then scrambled to a dangerous looking machine that was squeezing out drops of a colorless liquid. The liquid filled half of a beaker, and then Khronos added some brown colored liquid from another table. He swirled the mixture around, then peered at it through his glasses. He returned to the group, and gave the solution to Eris. The godling held it and stared at the strange liquid.
    "Drink it." urged Khronos. Eris took a tentative sip. She smiled, then drank more.
    "It tastes delicious!" she exclaimed.
    "You really think so?" Khronos beamed, "I call it a soda." He giggled, and Prometheus stepped forward.
    "Lord Khronos," he said, "we are here because of-"
    "Oh I know why you are here. God of Time and all that. I predicted your arrival centuries ago." Khronos said simply, waving his hand. "By the way, I am perfectly capable of fighting Aeolus, thank you very  much." Sapphirus smirked and let out a soft laugh under her breath.
    "So do you know everything?" Iris inquired.
    "Not everything, but most things." he winked to the godling.
    "Can you tell me my future?' Iris squealed.
    "Can I? Yes. Will I? No." replied Khronos. He strolled off into a side chamber, and the large group followed, Itis with a huff. He had entered a cramped room with many boxes and tables. He grabbed several vials and handed to them to Sapphirus.
    "Take two of those every day, one in the morning, and one in the evening, for eight months. You know what they do." Sapphirus smiled at him, almost in disbelief.
"Thank you Lord Khronos." she beamed happily. Khronos smiled, then found a small box. He gave it to Eris.
    "Do not open it until you are ready." he warned.
    "How will I know when I am ready, sir?" she asked
    "When the time comes, you will know. By what I can see, perhaps two years one month six weeks and twelve days." Eris stood there shocked, yet Khronos kept finding things to give. Myhrra received a portrait of her mother, who had secretly visited Khronos for help long before Myhrra was born. The valkyrie teared up, and thanked Khronos immensely. Alex was given a sheet of paper, which after reading, she would not share with the others. Khronos gave Iris a small jar of some of the soda. Khronos handed Hecate a large needle.
    "This will heal your Invidia, but it will sting and you will be unconscious for a few hours afterwards." he said softly. Hecate nodded, and tucked the needle away for after the visit. Khronos gave Aoife a rusty gold dagger with the name Hoppernicus carved into it. Aoife bowed, and thanked him. Khronos smiled and Aoife put the dagger in a small pouch she carried.
    "Now Prometheus," sighed Khronos, "I must make sure you are ready for your gift."
    "I am ready, my lord." Prometheus insisted and Khronos chuckled.
    "So eager." he said. Then, he handed Prometheus a satchel that contained six small dolls. They were made of wax and clay and resembled godlings.
    "Take care of them." Khronos said, and Prometheus looked at the arcane god, confused. Prometheus picked up the six dolls, and his Invidia flared. The others backed up to the walls as Prometheus' orange Invidia crackled and sparked. The six dolls hovered in front of him, and his Invidia seemed to be going into them. They took more shape, and began to grow. Prometheus' Invidia grew brighter and stronger, and fire was beginning to roll off of him. The six dolls fell to the ground, and absorbed more of Prometheus' Invidia. He fell to his knees while the dolls gained more and more of his Invidia. The others wanted to call out, to rush to his aid, but Khronos held them back. Then, in a flash of orange, Prometheus regained control, and his Invidia faded. He looked exhausted. The others stared at the ground at where the dolls were. Now, six toddlers sat on the floor and looked up at Prometheus expectantly. He stood.
    "Lord Khronos-" started Prometheus.
    "Take care of them, Prometheus. These are your children. Those five will become the five elemental mages." Khronos pointed to five who stared at Khronos now.
    "And that boy will become the first mortal." Khronos explained. Then, he began to walk out of the room.
    "Where are you going, Lord Khronos?" Hecate asked.
    "Well my dear," said Khronos, picking up a large staff of what looked like solid blood and shadows, "Your father is here to pay me a visit."

Whoaaaaaa! Big battle coming up! :) I hope the chapter was enjoyable and as always, votes and comments are always very much appreciated!

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