Ice Elemental, as portrayed in heroscapers.com (Tentative Image)
Iris, Kyflynn and other elves now arrive in a completely different room than before. Now the wall, the floor and the ceiling of this room are made of ice. The atmosphere in this room is chilling all over, as though they are now in the northern end icelands or inner Val’shka. only thing that is not ice in this room is a stone epitaph, with the same shape and size with the ones in the chambers of nature, wind and earth. There are four beautifully carved ice statues of the Goddess of the Sun and Earth Enia around it, so perfectly made as though the statues are alive except that they are transparent.
‘Let me try and decipher it,’ says Orlevant the elf guide, volunteering. ‘Hmm, what does it say?’ After examining it for a while, Orlevant reads the riddle aloud to his fellow elves.
Sun Mother keeps honesty in heart
Though not always so in others’ eyes
Be always cautious and observant
To see what lies behind lies.
Iris says, ‘Right. I’ll leave it to you to decipher the meaning while I’ll tell my friends in the Earth Chamber.’
Orlevant looks at Iris from the edge of his eye. ‘Since when did you get very friendly with humans, Iris?’
‘I’m not sure, commander,’ says Iris. ‘Since I know Carolyn, I guess. She’s been a great friend like a sister to me, although we quarrel a lot.’
‘Carolyn, the half-elf? For whom our queen gave her name? How many times did I tell you, Iris? Stay away from that mortal! If you befriend her, all you’re going to get is misery! Either she’ll betray you or she’ll die first!’
‘With all due respect, commander, we elves are also capable to lie, to betray and to get killed although our lifespan is tenfold than theirs. And one more thing, it’s better to be left for death than be hated for eternity!’
Orlevant falls silent, thinking, I think she gets a point. I’ve witnessed so many cases of betrayal by elves in our everyday life. Although we don’t have much to quarrel about, but it’s mainly about idealism and rivalry. I hate to admit it, but I hate that human Adler for being in charge of our group, not me. But I must keep my grudges to myself. Because he subdued Dar’gum and everybody respects him for that, I lost my chance to lead.
To save his own face, Orlevant turns away from Iris and walks back towards the Earth Chamber where the hunters are resting. The badly hurt Hernan and Kyflynn are still under the treatment of the Viavitali spell. And it seems that no one has taken any initiative to lead the whole group. Robert, Sheena and Dar’gum are more concerned about the mission itself, they obviously are not interested to lead, although they sometimes came with useful solutions and rouse the hunters’ morale.
Robert’s friends, Carolyn and Andreas are more concerned about Chris who is nowhere in sight, fearing that something bad might befall him because of his carelessness. Desmond and Agustina help treating Kyflynn, assisted by Akh’mal the minotaur shaman. Baxter and Ellephar are the most relaxed, they’re enjoying their rations with Sheena Mekh’ta.
Seeing this, Orlevant thinks, now it’s my chance. And he immediately shouts, ‘We have deciphered the rune and the riddle, so now it’s time to press forward! We go now!’
‘Just wait a minute, will you? Let them rest first. The Deathblade can wait.’
Orlevant turns to see the speaker. It’s Adler.
The elf high commander is enraged and scolds Adler. ‘Are you trying to override my authority again, Lord Adler? Me, whose title is higher among elves than you among men? I’m the host here, for Enia’s sake! And we are here to guide you! Not the other way around!’
Adler answers with a sinister smile on his face. ‘But you said you and your fellow elves only know the way INTO the sanctum and understand the runes, and not how to solve the puzzles, the right way through the mazes, and how to defeat the monsters! Or maybe you know, but you wouldn’t tell us! What are you playing at, eh? Are you trying to get us all killed, so the heir gets killed too in the process? Or it’s simply reducing our number to increase the probability of finding the heir?’
Some hunters are influenced by Adler’s words, and stare at Orlevant in distrust. A dwarf hunter raises his war-hammer and responds, ‘Aye! By Joldin, they are traitors! Let’s get rid of them before they get rid of us!’
A hobgoblin headhunter also shouts, ‘Yaa! Yethink ye can lead us ‘cause you’re superior than us, mon?’
Daiel Orlevant the elf lieutenant-general and commander of the elven elite army is now very angry with those absurd words, readies his sword and shouts aloud.
‘SILENCE! I can’t accept that statement that we are traitors, because we are not! And the so-called “evil plot” has gained on us too! Two elves and one night elf have fallen so far. If we did make a plot, at least we won’t harm our own brethren! Don’t listen to him! Be reasonable, for Enia’s sake!’
Iris also speaks up in defense of her fellow elves, ‘Yes! In fact, it is HIM we should worry about!’ She points at Adler. ‘Look, he uses two-hand swords and fights best with them. He comes here for the sword, he’s a collector! No wonder if Vordac will choose him as his heir!’
‘That’s ABSURD!’ says Adler, stomping on the floor so hard with his iron-plated armored boots. He has lost his temper at last.
‘That is yet another proof of the elves’ schemes! The heir can be anyone, either me or each and every one of you! And my intentions are as clear as you are, protecting the sword from the heir and these maggots!’ He points at Dar’gum, his fellow orcs, and a group of dark hunters nearby and they stare back at Adler with great loathing. And someone scolds Adler with a very loud voice.
‘Human! We sons of Adair have also sworn to protect Kraal’shazar just like you are! We’re here to make sure none of you claims the sword and unseals that blood traitor Vordac’s spirit!’ That speaker is Dar’gum.
Sheena also cuts in, ‘Yes! He’s right! We’ll take whatever treasure that lies there but we won’t let anybody including ourselves touching the sword! I swear it by a pirate’s honor!’
Orlevant snaps, ‘Pirates and bandits have no honor! They’re just degraded creatures like orcs, goblins and monsters!’
Sheena, Baxter and Ellephar don’t wait until Orlevant finishes talking. They draw their weapons and point them towards the elves, as the response of their commander’s insult. Not only them, but also Adler, Dar’gum, the orcs and all other hunters draw their weapons and point them at each other. A chaos is about to erupt – again. Only Robert, Carolyn, Andreas, and a few others seem to move away from the scene.
‘My oh my. What have we here?’ A voice comes from another room. It’s a man’s voice, obviously loud and powerful enough to penetrate the thick stone door. Then the stone door from the previous stone chamber opens. Some hunters go through the door in hurry, but they all give way for three men. The three men enter the great earth chamber like generals returning from a war triumphantly.
The first man is a rough but tough-looking knight. He is bald with no eyebrows. The only hair that grows on him is only his brown beard. He is fifty-three years old, and scars of experience scattering all over his face and head shows that he has partaken in many battles, and he never wear any helm. His head is his helm. Spikes and horns are all over his shoulder pad, making him look absolutely impressive – or like a walking-talking cactus. He talks again, ‘What a shame. I thought I’d met more mature people here. But apparently your differences are very much the most important matter to you, so you’re willing to die for it.’
Orlevant is really irritated by the bald man’s comment and scolds him, ‘Well, your words are as heavy as your hammer, Lord Paliades.’
The bald man doesn’t protest Orlevant for shouting his name aloud. He raises his great hammer, Terra Nakroβ – Earth Divider, bigger and more menacing than Desmond’s broken maul with spikes on every side.
Paliades answers, ‘It’s partly true, noble elf. I seldom waste my breath for useless, meaningless comments and let my hammer does the talking – to my enemies.’ Then he swings his overlarge hammer threateningly with only one hand, and continues.