If you missed the last episode, you can find it [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/224471744/0/0]here[/url], or if you need to find a previous episode, you can find them all in the [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/220441594/0/0]Master Post[/url]. Please give a bump, upvote, or leave comment if you enjoy this and any other chapter!
* [i]Listen, and hear well![/i] * the Dreg herald cries as he stands before the delegation of Exiles. * [i]To the Gospel of Dra Ge, the good news of our inevitable victory, and the rise of all Eliksni![/i] *
The Exiles growl and roar, some from agreement, others from agitation, while the remainder stay silent, watching the finest Wolf warriors lining up behind the Dreg herald for our demonstration.
Anixias reaches for my hand behind our backs to comfort me, but I slap it away, hissing as quietly as possible.
* [i]Not now![/i] *
Anixias doesn’t show her disappointment, though I know it’s there. What we’ve begun is reckless and dangerous, and will likely end both our lives. I try to think about it pragmatically while avoiding Anixias’ eyes – as soon as I look in them I know all rationality will abandon me.
* [i]And now tonight, a demonstration of the Wolves’ might by Dra Ge’s finest disciples, to prove to all that the future belongs to Dra Ge, and to all Eliksni who join the All Banner![/i] *
We raise our arms in triumph, roaring loudly in a show for the Exiles, our cries echoing around the large chamber on their ketch. I gaze at the collected faces, and see a shrewd, grumpy-looking Baron watching me closely. I recognize him immediately as Beloks from the briefings we received before leaving on this mission, and hold my chin up proudly as he continues to stare.
Dregs to the sides of the chamber begin beating drums as the first of the Wolf warriors take their positions for the demonstration. The Dreg herald falls to the back, shouting loudly for all to hear him over the sounds of battle.
* [i]In the wake of the Cybele deception, before he was Dra Ge, Skolas the Rabid was laid low, sent beyond the System to the strange creatures that rule the outer darkness. But clever Skolas knew how to deceive them, and returned in a blaze of glory, fighting his way out of the darkness and back to the embrace of his enslaved House![/i] *
The Captain playing the old Skolas fights the Vandals set against him viciously, smashing the black, Jovian masks they wear to symbolize his escape. Anixias and I join the rest of the Wolves in the demonstration, encircled by more Vandals wearing blue masks to symbolize the Awoken.
* [i]There were many who believed in Skolas’ return, but only two disciples were there to see his return from the Jovians –[/i] *
Anixias and I step forward.
* [i]Anixias, Forever Faithful, and Solis, daughter of Hatiks, Kell of Kings and niece of Dra Ge![/i] *
Anixias and I roar and raise our weapons to the crowd, falling into position behind the Captain playing Skolas.
* [i]They were the first to see that the Skolas who returned was no longer the Eliksni that had been captured in the Cybele deception – no, they saw a new leader arriving, a great leader: for Skolas spoke to them of a grand dream, an astounding idea, that would lead to the unification of all Houses and the destruction of all our enemies![/i] *
We bow as practiced before the Captain, who pantomimes the great speech that Skolas himself never gave – when we arrived to meet him, the Nine had let him go voluntarily, and he was in no mood for speeches. His mood was dark, murderous, and his grand conquest was motivated only by rage and revenge – the altruistic goals that have become part of his legend were added afterwards.
* [i]Thus did Solis and Anixias know that he was no longer Skolas, but something greater – he was Dra Ge, the savior of all Eliksni![/i] *
The Captain playing Skolas commands us to rise, and we do to join him in facing the crowd of blue-masked Vandals surrounding the remainder of the Wolves –
* [i]Thus did Dra Ge set his sights on freeing the first of his people, the Wolves who’d been enslaved by the evil Reef Queen. But though they despaired, the Wolves never lost hope, for they knew that one day, Skolas would return to free them –[/i] *
Behind the blue-masked Vandals, the Wolves kneel to pray to Dra Ge to save them, and I have to fight to stifle my snicker. [i]Even for a story meant to sway the Houses to Dra Ge’s cause, this “gospel” is taking a lot of liberties…[/i]
But I nevertheless brandish my weapons along with Anixias behind the Captain as we all rush forward, engaging in battle with the blue-masked Vandals, tossing their bodies around the chamber as the Exiles dodge the flying bodies –
* [i]And in one fell swoop, the Wolves were liberated and the first great blow was struck against the evil Reef Queen. The Wolves were reunited, and with the growth of his legend, Dra Ge grew, too…[/i] *
The giant doors to the ketch’s chamber bang open behind everyone, and the Exiles turn to see the real Dra Ge, Skolas himself, sauntering into the chamber, his horned head scraping the ceiling, his giant scorch cannon held menacingly in his hand –
* [i]Behold, Dra Ge![/i] * the Dreg herald cries as we all kneel before him. * [i]Liberator of Wolves, Uniter of Houses, and prophesied Lord of All Eliksni![/i] *
The Exiles seem conflicted as some clap politely and others scowl, though some kneel in deference to such a lauded leader. I catch Beloks’ eye again, and see him standing, eyes darting quickly between Anixias and I –
[i]He couldn’t suspect,[/i] I think, heart pounding. [i]He couldn’t…[/i]
But as Dra Ge spreads his arms wide in a gesture of acceptance to all Exiles who would follow him, I see Beloks resolutely staying still, and I wonder what ambitions we may have inadvertently stumbled across.
Hours later, in my room onboard our ketch I sit with Anixias as she sharpens her shock blades, pointedly looking away from me.
* [i]Why are you acting like this? You’re the one that was being stupid by trying to hold my hand in front of Dra Ge![/i] *
* [i]It’s fine,[/i] * she says calmly, still not looking at me. I scoot closer to her, arms draping around her waist – she pulls away, though, and I scoff unconsciously.
* [i]Really? You want to act like that now? *
* I’m concentrating,[/i] * she replies curtly.
I sigh and shake my head.
* [i]Fine,[/i] * I retort, throwing my hands up and walking away.
* [i]I’m not stupid, you know,[/i] * she says quietly as soon as I’m across the room.
* [i]Oh, NOW you want to talk,[/i] * I reply sardonically.
* [i]Yes,[/i] * she counters with a slight snarl. * [i]I wasn’t trying to give us away, you know. I was trying to comfort you because you looked terrified. *
* I wasn’t scared![/i] * I growl back angrily. * [i]I was nervous! You’d think after being around each other so long you’d know the difference! *
* And you’d think after so long you’d know that I wouldn’t be dumb enough to do anything in front of Dra Ge, and would give me the benefit of the doubt instead of snapping at me or slapping me away![/i] *
We glare at each other for a few moments, then both of us simultaneously look away.
* [i]Sorry,[/i] * Anixias grumbles, muttering under her breath, * [i]’Cause I know you won’t say it first… *
* Oh, look who’s –[/i] * I start to retort, but stop myself. * [i]You’re right, I’m sorry, I’m just….we can’t even let Dra Ge suspect, if we were ever…[/i] *
I trail off, whining in the back of my throat. Anixias quickly rushes over to hug me, and I return the embrace, hugging her close.
* [i]Don’t worry,[/i] * she says. * [i]We’ll be o–[/i] *
But suddenly the door to my room bursts open, startling us – we jump apart, but not soon enough.
The Exile Baron Beloks walks in, smirking at us, a detail of Wolves behind him, all weapons pointed at us.
* [i]Ladies,[/i] * Beloks bows his head. * [i]The esteemed Dra Ge requests your presence. Immediately. *
* And why do you speak for Dra Ge and come on his behalf?[/i] * I ask angrily, growling at Beloks. * [i]If my uncle wishes to speak to me, he would – *
* He sent me,[/i] * Beloks retorts, smiling wider as the Wolves behind him raise their weapons. * [i]Now, if you’d please – *
* Wolves![/i] * I shout. * [i]Why have you come with this Exile?[/i] *
But they don’t respond – they merely watch me cautiously as Beloks continues to smile at us unfazed.
* [i]Please,[/i] * He repeats. * [i]Follow me. Dra Ge is waiting, and you would know better than I how he does not like to be kept waiting.[/i] *
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