Author's Notes: Please please PLEASE go to the Secrets Series help page (for ff.net readers, the address is located in my profile) and vote in the poll for what couple you like. Your vote will make a difference as to where this story ends up! Also, I apologize for the brevity (and the belatedness) of this chapter. I tried my best not to be rushed with it, but I'm having a few problems with the planning stages of the story.
Dungeon Keepers I and II belong to Bullfrog, not to me. I am not making money off of this story, so please don't sue me.
Subtitle for this chapter: More Backstory on Doryll, and Another Unexpected Meeting.
Warning: This story contains slash (male/male romance). If you object to this, please don't read it. Keep in mind that if you flame me, not only did you ignore your fair warning, but you were stupid enough to go through and read something that disgusted you.
For notes on this story and this series, please go to this site for reference. (Note: If you are reading this on fanfiction.net, you will not be able to use that link. Please see my profile for the link to that reference page.) (Also note that this page is not the same as the one linked to in Dungeon Secrets; this one is more complete and contains the entire series.) Ramasha's picture is now up!
If anyone would be interested in beta-reading for me and you think you are capable, please contact me at kagedtigerhotmail.com. Also contact me if you have any information as to what happened to Vagabond. Did she just, die or something?
This is my story. If you would like to archive it, please inform me first. I will almost definitely say yes.
In case you didn't notice, I have formed an update schedule. New chapters, if I have them, will appear on the first of each month (possibly one or two days later on fanfiction.net). Thank you.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge one of the many people who give me the determination to keep going on this monster of a fic. Thank you to Inferno719 and again to Vick330, both of whom read one or both of my stories despite not being particularly fond of slash! You guys are inspirational. Thank you.
On with the fic.
There's really not much of this Realm to explore. Its dominant feature is the enormous white globe of the shield in the center. Other than that, there's the edge of the lake, the other end of the swamp from the previous Realm, and a thin strip of land between the two that is covered in most places with at least an inch of water.
I decide to fly my reconnaissance, rather than walk, to avoid getting soaked. As I scan the terrain, I try very hard not to worry about Tarkasas. I could tell that he was more wearied by that possession than he wanted to admit. It was a close call with the fight; if Kaelay hadn't accidentally discovered that she could still go through the Realm Portal, he probably would have died.
That thought leaves me more than a little shaken. It doesn't help that I know I'm keeping things from him. Ever since we heard of the Phoenixdown, I've been unable to stop thinking of Kethian. I love Tarkasas, truly I do, but I can't help thinking, if I could have Kethian back, wouldn't I want him? Kethian was my first true love. I cared about him at least as much as I care about Tarkasas now.
I sigh, unable or perhaps unwilling to resolve the conflict in my mind. I must deal with first things first. We will be unable to do anything with the Phoenixdown if the other Keepers in this Realm get to it, or to us, first.
My wings are beginning to tire a bit, and I search around for a dry place to land. Unfortunately, the entire area around here seems to be completely underwater, and I'm forced to get my feet wet; next to the barrier, the water rises slightly above my knees.
I'm surprised to find myself breathing hard. I suppose my emotional distress must have translated itself into physical energy. I have come quite a distance from our dungeon.
I start to lean against the barrier to catch my breath, but nearly fall over when I encounter no solid form. My eyes widening, I turn to the barrier and attempt to place my hands on it. They go right through!
Well this is unusual. Cautiously, I step forward, hands outstretched, and - yes! I can pass through the barrier. Once inside I can see clearly to the small island of impenetrable rock in the center. I can also see the movements of scaly bodies under the surface of the water between here and there. From the look of it, there are quite a few large and undoubtedly nasty creatures protecting the waters around the island.
I take a step back, and pass through the barrier once again, in the other direction. I'll wait. There's no need to get the Phoenixdown immediately; as far as I'm aware, no one else can pass through the barrier. I should have some sort of reinforcements with me, or at least a better weapon.
Come to think of it, why can I pass through the barrier? What's so special about me that I can do it when no one else can? Perhaps it only yields to Dark Angels?
I'm about to head back and report my findings to Kaelay when I hear the splashing sounds of someone approaching. I put my hand on my sword hilt; we may wish to ally with the other Keepers here, but that does not mean that they have accepted it. Or perhaps it is not another creature but simply a denizen of the Underrealm, something similar to the creatures I saw beyond the veil.
The splashing becomes louder as the creature approaches, and I begin to be able to make out a form in the shadows. It's difficult to see what it is in this dim light; the only illumination is a faint glow cast by the barrier. I hold out my other hand, the one not readying my sword, and mutter the words to a familiar spell. A small globe of light appears in my palm.
The newcomer gasps, shielding his eyes momentarily, his person now completely visible. As he lowers his arm, his eyes adjusted to the light, my breath catches is astonishment and my hand falls from my sword hilt.
No. No, it's impossible. He's dead. He can't possibly be... I lean hard against the barrier, the only part of my brain that is still coherent registering that I can, in fact, do so now, and try to come to grips with this. How is it possible? How?
I push myself off the barrier and take a step forward, looking closely at the stranger. There is surprise in his expression, but no recognition. Does he not know me? But, Kethian...
But as I finally get close enough to see all his features, I realize that there are small differences. His eyebrows are finer than Kethian's, Kethian had a bit of a stronger jaw. No, no this isn't him. But Dark Gods, they looks so similar that it's painful. Who is this Angel?
When my eyes adjust to the sudden flare of light, I lower my arm and find myself face to face with the most beautiful being I've ever seen.
The Dark Angel facing me with a poleaxed expression is tall, lean but muscular, and blond, with beautifully fine features. The surprise on his face makes him look innocent, but I can tell that he's an experienced fighter. I hope it doesn't come to a battle; I have no doubt he could kick my ass.
I must have him.
For what may be the first time in my life, I actually feel a need of someone, more than just a want. It's incredible, and I'm not sure what exactly brought it about, only that it's there.
"Who are you?" I manage when I eventually find my voice.
"Ah..." He too seems unsure, and has to clear his throat before he can speak. "My name is... Ramasha."
Ramasha. "Quite a beautiful name. I'm Dimitrus. It is quite a pleasure to meet you. You are from one of the other Keepers' Dungeons, I take it?"
He nods, his eyes still fixed unbelievingly on my face. What is it about me that surprised him so? Can he possibly be feeling the same desire as I am feeling?
"Kaelay, Keeper of the Red Darkness, is my master," he says.
"Mine is Tharian, Second to the Blue Darkness. We bid you welcome to this Realm."
"Ah." He says nothing, still staring at me. It is almost a full minute before he finally snaps out of it. "Oh! I have to go back. I must see Kaelay."
No! Don't go! I step forward and grab his arm. "Wait, please. Uh..." I try to think of a good excuse not to let him get away. "Why don't I come with you. I'm supposed to be proposing an alliance. I should meet with your Keeper."
"Alright." He nods, turning to go, but I can feel him still looking at me out of the corner of his eye. "It's this way," he says.
He flaps his wings, rising into the air, and speeds off back towards his dungeon. I'm right behind him. I purposefully fly at the same speed as him, not trying to catch up. It's not exactly a bad view from back here.
Being the Second of a Darkness is not without its responsibilities. For instance, it is my job to deal with the truce, now that I've been trained for it.
We meet in the center of the Realm, the white shield glowing softly below us. I adopt my usual form, a winged Salamander in the robes of a Warlock. I like this form; it's powerful, intelligent, while not being overly threatening. The other Keeper's is similar, a Triton, the male of the mer-race. He looks young, but not one to be trifled with.
You are Tharian, then, I begin.
Yes, he affirms, and you are Evain. Welcome.
We eye each other defensively, like two Demon Spawn meeting outside a Training Room, neither wanting to fight, but both completely wary should the other make a move. Neither of us really wants to be the one to start the negotiations, but someone has to. Since they were here first, I decide that I should make the first move.
We have come here to offer you an alliance. One must use the plural in these situations; I am representing more than just myself.
He nods. And ourselves, as well. Perhaps, for start, simply a cessation of any hostilites between our two sides?
I try not to smile, since it would be inapporpriate. "Cessation" indeed. None of us have made any hostile movements since we arrive. All parties are treading as though on eggshells. But let him use the words he wishes.
Indeed. And perhaps we ought to meet, along with our superiors, at a later date? Say, the darkest hour? It is just past the lightest hour now.
He nods. Agreed. We each tentatively offer our hands, and shake on the agreement.
I head back to Kaelay's dungeon. Well, that was painless. Edgy, full of tension, but painless. If only all negotiations could be so easy.
Well, time to give Kaelay the good news.
I head back to my Lair, needing to rest. I find myself slightly shaken by my meeting with Garreth. Of course, it makes sense. I knew he was a Rogue. I just never bothered to connect that with the Underrealm.
I knew Garreth a long time ago, back when I lived in the Overrealm. He was living there as well, if you can believe it. Rogue's often do; of all creatures, they find it easiest to move between the two worlds, living in whichever they choose. Garreth was a thief who lived in the small town where I was born.
I was shunned by my people as I grew up. Those in my village were wary of violet eyes to begin with; it's supposed to be the mark of a demon. But once my powers began to manifest, they became intolerable. I hardly remember my parents; once it became clear what I was, they left me on the steps of a church, hoping that the clerics there would either purify or kill me. I was of walking and talking age by then, but they told me to stay there and wait. They said they would return. They left town that night.
Garreth knew what would happen to me if I was left at that church. He came, and talked me into leaving with him. Together we lived in the shadows of that town, stealing for our livelihood. He taught me how to do it, though I was never very good. Mostly I just used my powers to find for him things that were valuable, or to warn him what to do to avoid being caught. He was grateful for the help, and I was grateful for the companionship.
He never treated my unkindly. I never felt used by him for my abilities. I know that he valued me as a partner. Which is why, when he simply disappeared one day, I was rather distraught.
It was three days before I found the letter he had left me. He had hidden it away, to be sure that I was the only one who would find it. In it, he explained that he had been called to return to the Underrealm. There was a Keeper there whose services he was eager to join. He apologized for leaving me, but said that he was sure I had what it took to survive on my own. And he had taught me the skills I needed. What he underestimated was my need for company, a need for someone who could look at me without loathing. Without him, I had no one like that.
I survived as he had meant me to for perhaps another two years or so. That's when the Keeper of the Blue Darkness began to terrorize our village. I was searched out, hunted through the streets. For a few days I managed to evade them, but they were determined. Eventually I was captured, and brought to the Lord who ruled our village, in his keep nearby. They told him that I was a theif and a demon, and offered to send me to the Keeper in order to appease him; perhaps he would be content with a sacrifice of one of his own.
The Lord felt that he had nothing to lose by trying, and so I was sent. I was petrified at the time, but it was, in the end, perhaps one of the best things to ever happen to me. Certainly they didn't believe so. But they thought I would be killed, or worse.
I learned much later that Zannos had destroyed that village. After capturing and torturing the guards who brought me, he had sent a mob of Dark Mistresses to pillage and loot. They killed or captured everyone, including the Lord in his keep. I hear he went down fighting, never giving them a chance to torture him. Seeing a Dark Mistress fight tends to bring out that sentiment in one.
And now... Garreth has returned. I don't blame him for leaving me. I know it was hard on him, and I know that he believed I would be alright. But seeing him again has been... strange, to say the least.
I clutch his scroll to my chest. After I rest, I will have to go to the Library and analyze it. He said it was a shielding spell. That could come in handy. Not that I'm one-hundred percent sure that that's what it really is. Garreth has never been known for his expertise at analyzing his loot; he's much better at acquiring it. But nevertheless, I'm sure it's valuable. He always had a keen eye for that.
So then. Garreth. I smile, feeling myself begin to drift off. It will be good to see and speak with him again. I do wonder what he's been up to since he left.
Oh God, that was hideous. Take me back.
Oh God, that was hideous. Let me complain to the author.