“You must promise me, Izzar, that you will avenge me once you are strong enough to take back what is rightfully yours. She has taken your father, and now she wants to take me; she dare not kill you, for you are a mere child and of her own flesh, posing no real threat to her and her plans. You have a special purpose, and in time you will come to understand it as I do.”
Thanatos was recording himself, hoping that Izzar would see this recording and do as he requested if Thanatos did not survive the attack.
Behind the splendorous throne towering a few paces away from the west wall of the throne room, Thanatos opened a hidden door and led Aargon into the small dark space meant for the Epsimus to hide during times of attack, all the while handing him a sword with strange engravings on with a blade made from an alien crimson metal.
“Master, this is for you to give to Izzar, not me!”
Aargon began to cry, realizing the situation's weight as the door closed before him and the small space grew dark and silent. Beyond the door, he knew what was going to happen to Thanatos. The darkness pulled him back into the moment he woke up alone in the forest, remembering how Izzar left him there for dead. Darkness filled his eyes with black hatred.
Fighting continued, Thanatos could feel the building shaking and the sounds of weapons firing and swords clashing. His hands were sweaty, and his legs grew evermore tired; he sat down on the throne to rest. It was the same throne his father used in the Morningstar; it reminded him of where he came from. However, this was the first time he was seated since he took mastership over the order.
Thanatos thought back to the days under his father. He was a brutal man, not scared to break a child as he would a grown man. He would look down on Thanatos with disgust like he was a failure. Then, for a moment, his father was there in the room with him, giving him that same look.
“I told you the Order will fall with you being its last Epsimus.” The ghost of his past was stern; its eyes were glowing red with anger and regret.
“I have failed you, father, just as you predicted. Now leave me to die in my failure.”
His father left the room; he was alone. The day was not going to end for him with the sun setting; he looked up at the ceiling, thinking about the two who laid in their tombs far up high in the Citadel.
“I have failed you too.”
Moments later, the throne room door was forced open with a tremendous explosion; it blew to pieces scattering all over the floor. Thanatos did not move or flinch, the room filled with heavily armed men, and in front of them, the ever-present Iphis Velix, the mother of Izzar and Sorath, walked in a fury of anger towards Thanatos.
Beyond the throne room, he could hear fighting in the halls of the Citadel, sadly he thought to himself, the monks were not going to make it. He stood up from the throne and positioned himself to attack, not strong enough for hand-to-hand combat; however, he was unprepared for this battle. Everyone else in the room seemed to be calm and paid no attention to this display of defiance. Seeing Iphis not ready to attack, he allowed the pain to take over; he sat back onto the throne, tired and weary.
“Your time is up Epsimus Thanatos the Wise; we have come to a stop your idleness and end this destruction of this most sacred Order. Surrender to us and come peacefully so you can stand trial before the new council.” She walked closer to Thanatos; he was not able to get up.
“First, you shall bow before your new Epsimess and always remember who rules over you, then you will serve me by sitting by my feet for the rest of your days.”
“I am the Epsimus of the Grand Order of the Ipsimus; I shall bow before no one but feast tonight on the chest of your corps, showing all who defy the laws of the Order how treason is dealt with.” Thanatos knew he had lost; he had to show one last spectacular show of defiance.
“And how do you plan on doing that?” She placed her hand by her ear and listened. “Do you hear that, Thanatos? It is growing silent within your fortress; your monks are all dying.”
“If they are all dead, you have killed the Order. You need me now. You will not be the Epsimess unless you have found a way to resurrect the dead. Only I can now make you the leader, and I won’t, not even over the dead body of Izzar.”
A familiar voice echoed within the halls of the throne room, one Thanatos had longed to hear for years.
“It is time to give up.” The voice echoed; Iphis turned around in surprise, she was expecting her, but she didn’t expect her to enter while the battles were still raging.
“Yoreal,” Thanatos said with great anguish.
“Thanatos,” Yoreal replied without any emotion.
“You’re dead… Your body lies within a crypt at the pinnacle of this building. How-?”
She grimaced; she knew Thanatos would tremble before a ghost.
“I thought you died with our son?” Tears filled his eyes; the hope of an old man vanished; he no longer feared death; he desired it.
“Without Thanatos or even a single monk, you will not be made Epsimess of the Order.” Yoreal said, not removing her gaze from Thanatos.
It was a minor detail Iphis had forgotten; she needed the monks to be named the Epsimess.
“No need for them or Thanatos. If a new Order is born here today, I will be the only one to name the new Master.”
“And what shall you call this order? You forget, not everyone is loyal to you. Good luck fighting a civil war by yourself.” Thanatos shook himself from the daze of seeing his wife still alive.
Not a moment after he had finished his words, a sword with a crimson blade came out of his chest; Thanatos looked down in horror; the pain was immense, his heart was not there anymore. He pushed himself forward to dislodge the sword from him, and he fell forward onto his knees before Yoreal; she smiled, not knowing that he was stabbed through the chest.
“I thought you would finally see things our way.”
He looked up at her, his face paler than before, there was little life left in his eyes, but he managed to smile and say one last thing: “The price of my betrayal has been paid.” He fell forward onto his face, a pool of blood formed around him. From behind the throne, Aargon appeared with the sword dripping with Thanatos’s blood. Yoreal’s eyes widened with horror; it was not in her plan; this was not supposed to happen.
Elsewhere in the forest, not too far from the Citadel, Izzar was rushing towards the fortress engulfed in smoke and flame, it was in sight, and he could see the smoke billow into the air. He was determined to reach the Citadel in time to save his grandfather. But at the moment of Thanatos’s death, he stopped dead in his tracks; all life and color left him as he sensed his grandfather’s essence disappear from the planet. Then, the fog around them cleared up, everything was clear for the first time, even the temperature rose a few degrees.
“What have you done?” She shouted; it was a heavy shout, her emotions took over. She raised her arms and summoned a thunderous storm from above them in the room; Aargon was surprised; he thought he did what she was planning to do. He ran for cover as bolt after bolt rushed past him, missing him by mere inches. There was no way of escaping the room; the secret room he came from had no other exit; it was only meant for hiding and not running.
“I needed him alive!” She shouted, her voice was as deep as a man’s. Aargon had never heard something like that before. But, watching from the shadows, he was almost certain this was her plan and that he would be rewarded for his actions.
“This galaxy is lost! Thanatos was the only one with the keys to maintaining order. You fool! What have you done?!”
Her anger spiked, the thunder and lightning stopped, she focused her powers into her hands. Behind her, Aargon could see Iphis, and the rest of her people was shocked at what they were witnessing. They, too, didn’t know that this mysterious old lady possessed such powers.
Somehow Yoreal came in possession of the Nihil; she had mastered many of its powers and had complete control over them. Aargon had indeed touched the stone in the cave and began his journey down the path, but he possessed no force strong enough to counter that amount.
From her hands, two bright beams of pure energy shot out, destroying everything in its path; Aargon was in real trouble. The old woman followed him as he tried to find cover towards the door, to his surprise. His loud voice would echo in frustration as he tried to escape.
Finally, he reached the blown-up door but was met by a ghost of his own. Izzar.
Izzar saw what the mysterious woman had done; he also saw Thanatos lying in a pool of his own blood. The anger within him sweltered. He was nearing boiling point. Then, from deep within him, a bright light appeared. He groaned with a godly groan, and a massive wave of energy escaped his body, throwing everyone to the floor. He took out the Sword of the Ipsimus and ran towards the old lady, now trying to escape Izzar.
“What have you done?” He asked in a loud voice; she looked at him. Izzar could only see darkness in her eyes, the same as what Thanatos had.
“It was your friend who murdered him with the crimson blade.”
Izzar looked back and saw that Aargon was gone; he would deal with him later. He turned back to the old lady but found that she wasn’t there anymore, he looked around and saw that there was no one there with him in the room. Somehow everyone escaped.
Her voice resonated from above him; he looked up and found her floating high above him. She raised her arms; it seemed to bring about an earthquake. The Citadel shook violently, and it began tumbling down. Izzar rose his hands in an attempt to summon a power to counter this, but nothing came. So he lowered his head and focused very hard, forming a shield around him.
Izzar felt the building collapse; he could not feel any stone hit him or the dust entering his nose, though he didn’t want to open his eyes. The mysterious woman spoke again; this time, Izzar wondered how he could hear her under all the rubble falling all over the place.
“I will return for you.”
The building around them was collapsing; Iphis could not find an easy way out. There was no time to think about what she witnessed back in the throne room; the only important thing for her was that Thanatos was now dead.
Most of the soldiers who had entered the hall with her fell behind and fell victim to the collapsing building; there were maybe a handful or less still keeping up to the fast-moving Lady White.
Iphis reached the main entrance; the dust was filling the Grand Hall quickly; she looked back a final time to see if she was followed. There was no one but three soldiers who survived. Making their way out onto the spaceport of the Citadel, they stopped dead in their tracks. Before them stood Viha and Tarium, Iphis smiled broadly.
“The Order is not dead.”
Tarium drew his sword, Viha too.
“Shoot them, but don’t kill the monk.” Her order came swiftly; she remained standing where she was, fearing nothing.
The three soldiers fired upon the two, but their bullets did not seem to meet their target. They ran and dodged most of the shots. Iphis realized that this fight needed martial expertise. She drew a sword of her own; it was a blade made from the same material as the crimson sword Aargon ran off with. This meant nothing to the pair running to attack.
“Stand down, leave them to me.”
Iphis was confident; she knew most of the monks did not have the level of sword fighting experience she had. She ran forward, meeting them both halfway. Two swords clashed with her blade; it was strong enough to withstand the pressure. With great strength, she pushed them both back with ease. She did not allow them to recover, jumping straight at them with a hellish fury.
Beneath Iphis’s white robes, she wore thick armor; she was prepared for a fight. Though Viha’s blows connected, it did not penetrate the vital armor; Iphis could see she was in trouble. She swung around with her sword after Viha missed and landed a blow on Viha’s shoulder, this caused her to fall to the ground in agony, Tarium lept from a stack of crates in hopes of landing an aerial blow, but she anticipated it and managed to cut into his legs, causing him too to fall to the ground. Iphis smiled, out of breath. She straightened he robes and concealed her weapon once more.
“You thought you could get best an Epismess?” She snarled then turned to Viha.
“I recognize the clumsy form you use; you are a thief from Gandron.”
Iphis walked closer to Viha; Viha pushed herself back against a wall.
“I am no thief.” She spat back.
“Then we shall call you a Champion then?”
Iphis drew her sword once again, pushing deep into Viha’s wound in her shoulder, screaming from the top of her voice she could not bear it any longer.
“Mercy!” Viha was on the verge of passing out.
“A champion begging for mercy? This cannot be.” The sarcasm in her voice was thick.
“I shall have mercy on you, girl, only because I have use for you.”
A ship landed on one of the landing pads; Iphis smiled. So that was their way off-world, Viha and Tarium were her prisoners now, and she had exactly what she needed to claim the title of Epsimess. The monks were not dead.
The transport ship left not a moment too soon. The entire Citadel came down in an impressive show of destruction; whoever found themselves stuck in the fortress was indeed dead. But, to Iphis, the fall of the Citadel brought about freedom, chains were now broken, and those slavers were no more.
Though the mist was gone, the jungles were now engulfed in smoke and dust; the plants and the trees too were covered in white dust, making it look like it snowed. Aargon was looking around; he too was full of dust; the transport ships he just saw fly off into the sky were far out of his reach now. The sky above was covered in smoke and rising dust clouds, making it extremely difficult to see where they had flown off to.
He looked down at the crimson blade in his hands; the dry blood of Thanatos was still on it. Regret filled his heart; there was no redemption for him. He will never return to his father or show his face in public ever again; he understood his actions would have far-reaching consequences. But, unfortunately, getting off the planet was also something that would be impossible.
Aargon looked back into the forest, trying not to focus on the dust still lingering in the air from the collapsed Citadel. There was only one place left for him to go if he wished to survive the harsh jungles of Dessix. It was his own destiny to form; only The Nihil was now able to save him from his exile on a world he didn’t know where in the galaxy it was.
The news of the death of Thanatos spread across the galaxy like wildfire; in some places, it was welcomed and celebrated, and others caused anger and retaliation. Nevertheless, the Archons still loyal to the Old Order did not give in and fortified their sectors against Iphis.
The news had reached Sorath too; he was indifferent. Prion was now his main priority, and he was preparing a war of his own. The High command granted him full authority over the Prionnian armed forces, and mobilization was well underway.
The news had also reached Earth and their Council; they were loyal to Thanatos but found themselves unsure of their next moves. Earth has always been the most loyal sector to the Order since its founding. Iphis was hoping to gain their trust, but only time will tell.
The rest of the galaxy felt a slight weight drop from their shoulders; no one understood what it meant or what dark age it would bring with it.
Chapter 25 concludes the events of the first installment of Fables of the Void. The Second part in the thirty-three part Epic will start its free release run form 6 February 2022 where the Patreon release will start its run from the 9th of January. In the meantime a supplementary series called Fables of the Void: Adventures of Diggix beganits free run on 15 December 2021 to fill the gap to the next release. Adventures of Diggix has currently completed it's release run on Patreon.
Fables of the Void I: Origin is also now available on Amazon.