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Author: DenigoddessMMI

Addy: Denigoddess2001yahoo.com

Fandom: Gargoyles

Saga: The Sentinels of Midnight

Episode: The Stone King

Rating: PG-13 (intense battle scenes)

Date: April 27, 2004- May 10, 2004

Author's notes: Anything appearing in brackets [ ] indicates character's thoughts or telepathic communication.

The Stone King VI

Dear Reader, there is much left to tell you. As our heroine found a place of peace with the most unexpected of allies, Utakku, much was amiss in the grand metropolis of Amor. Let us reverse brief time prior, at once following Halmu's premature departure from this world. A saga is by no means inclusive unless all sides are reveal themselves to the reader. So, find your answers and read on as the chronicle unfolds....

Immediately following the Coronation of Ashatsinu...

The plump Grand Vizier goggled gleefully the scene unfolding before him when the Guards roughly escorted Ashatsinu from the dining hall to the dungeon. He motioned to others of Halmu's elite guard to gather the dead king's body and remove it, taking the body to the All-Father's temple for preparation for a grand funeral. He watched Kenan; broken in spirit, weep like a woman as he sentenced his daughter to execution.

"This is treason of the highest order, Kenan." Borak's complaining utterance resonated heavily with exultation at the turn of events. "Protocol demands that I, next in line to the throne, avenge my brother's death. I am an equitable man, Amorite, and I will not put all Amorites to the sword, as is my right. Rather, my armies will occupy this city and shall take tribute from it for the glory of Sodom. After all, one cannot exact tribute from corpses."

Kenan wailed loudly, mad with grief and dementia, as he ripped his royal robes from his frail body. He buried his wrinkled face in his hands and wept bitter tears of defeat. Niza stared agape at the unforeseen turn of events. A foreigner was stealing her birthright, yet again. [Borak, you have made an enemy this night. By Tiamat's will, you will burn in the Abyss for this atrocity. You will not decimate my family.]

Niza quietly slipped into the shadows and cast her spell so that she no longer remained in the dining hall. She swiftly made her way to her chambers, locking the heavy wooden oak door behind her. Letting her nimble fingers trace along the smooth mortar of the wall, she found the one loose brick concealing her most precious secrets. With her strength of rage, Niza lifted the cumbersome granite stone from its resting place in the wall. Before her lay a small scroll case and a leather-bound tome. She withdrew the large book from the space and set it on the altar near the wall. She sprightly flipped through the pages of parchment, scanning the hieroglyphs and ancient runes until her eyes spied the summoning spell she so desperately needed.

Picking up the bone-handled lancet in her right hand, she drew its silver blade across her left palm.

"Goddess of endless night

Dragon of the Abyss

Tiamat, hear my cries for vengeance

when fate becomes amiss.

Bring to me your darkest warrior

In my greatest hour of need.

I summon Utakku, Ahl-Kemehn,

With every drop I bleed."

Only silence filled the chamber.

"You need must be great if you summoned me so abruptly from my sanctuary." A dark voice murmured behind Niza. "I am not a slave to be beckoned at a light whim."

Niza hurriedly turned and faced her lord and master, Utakku. She knelt before him and kissed his feet. "My lord, not everything has transpired according to plan. I assassinated Halmu as you bid me to do so, or so I thought, never had I the opportunity of giving him the poison prepared for him. My Lord, it is my belief that Halmu's brother, the Grand Vizier, has aspirations complete dominion. He assumes his place as ruler of Sodom as we speak. He had Kenan sentence Ashatsinu to death and, at this moment, the guards take her to the dungeons. I beg you, Lord Utakku, do not let my birthright be stolen from me."

"Rise, Niza." He rolled his eyes in disdain of her fawning and groveling. "This changes things. My power is weak here so far from my sanctuary; my native soil rests elsewhere. What do you demand of me?"

"Please, my Lord, save my sister." Niza's bloodstained hands grasped the cowl of his cloak. "Tizir will be woeful if she knows that I have failed her. Borak has summoned Sodom's armies to lay waste to Amor."

"I knew not of this."

"Neither did I, Lord Utakku." Niza took him by the hand and led him to a large silver bowl filled with water atop the altar. The sorceress waved her hand over the still waters of the bowl and let three drops of her blood fall into the clear liquid. The water rippled and colors erupted within the bottom of the basin. The ripples shimmered and danced, reflecting brightly off the argent surface of the precious metal. She pointed to the clear images flickering in the scrying bowl. "The vision shows 10,000 of Sodom's finest warriors are within morning's march of Amor. When they arrive, they shall reduce this glorious realm to rubble."

"I can do nothing. I am too far from my sanctuary, you must go this alone, Niza." Utakku shrugged.

"No! There is a way. Rescue my sister from the dungeon. As long as she is alive, Borak is not truly king. She is a creature of reason, Utakku, and sound mind, aside from her arrogance and conceit. Speak with her and she will put a stop to this."

"Why prevents you from taking action?"

"I make potions and cast spells, but my power will not stop an entire army." Niza spoke curtly. "I am a witch, not a warrior. Your power, even in its diminished state, will be enough to free Ashatsinu."

"The sun will rise soon and it is my bane." Utakku bluntly reminded the crimson-clad enchantress. "As I weaken, she and I will never make it past the guards Borak will have posted."

"Yes, you will." Niza returned to the cubbyhole in the wall and withdrew a small scroll case. She pressed it urgently into Utakku's slender, pale hands. "This is a traveling scroll blessed by a DeMahri Priestess. It holds great power and will take you wherever you need to go."

"DeMahri Magick repels me as much as sunlight, witch! Are you oblivious to this fact? To cast such a spell means my death." Utakku spat vehemently.

"Ashatsinu can cast it." Niza quickly reassured her dark master. "Have her remove it from the scroll case and cast the spell. Get her out of there. She holds great favor with the DeMahri goddess and basks in her blessings...damn her to the Abyss. If anyone can rally an army to stop Borak's minions, Ashatsinu is the one to do it."

"You mean she will call upon her faithful clan of winged beasts?" He rose a brow in grudging admiration as Niza silently nodded. "Oh, you are a clever one, Niza, letting your innocent young sister and her brutes do your bidding."

"Please, Milord, go quickly." Niza pressed her fingers lightly into another stone near the cubbyhole. The grating of granite upon marble filled the bedchamber, revealing a doorway where prior had been none. "This corridor was placed her by my father's greatest architects and will lead you directly to the dungeon. Merely descend the staircase for three thousand steps and you press your fingers upon the ruby set in the stone wall when you rest upon the bottom stair. The wall will slide away and you will find a secret entrance to the guards' quarters in the dungeon."

Clasping the small scroll case tightly in his hand, Utakku gave Niza a curt nod. "If all is lost, you shall be my first sign of retribution."

"I understand and obey, Milord." Niza bowed deeply before the Soulless One.

"If all fails, then we will need a distractions." Utakku stroked his black goatee in contemplation. "Do you have a vial untouched by any Magick?"

"I do, Lord Utakku." Niza nodded eagerly.

"Bring it to me."

Niza rushed over to another table next to the altar. She lifted the gray coarse cloth covering the table and reached beneath it, pulled out a stone box inscribed with several hieroglyphs. She returned to her master, knelt before him, and presented the simple clay vial. "Will this do?"

"Perfectly." Utakku's smile chilled Niza's soul so much that a white streak appeared upon a stray lock falling across her brow. He pushed back one of the long dark sleeves of his robe, exposing his pale, ashen forearm. A low roar erupted from him Niza watched in silent terror as his eyes became lost in scarlet gleam that illuminated the room in a sea of unholy brightness. A choked gasp escaped the sorceress as his bared teeth exposed elongated canines. His lips snarled revealing piercing teeth; his skin distorted as though it were wet clay read for a sculptor's hands. Halmu's jaws extended almost to his chin giving him the appearance of a distorted caricature of his former self. He sank his incisors into the tender skin of his forearm, a deep crimson pool formed upon his white skin. He held the clay vile to the bleeding wound and let the glutinous mass pour into the small vial. He corked it with a chuck of his ripped skin and handed it to her.

"Where is Halmu's body?"

"It is in the funeral chambers in the lower sub-levels of the palace." Niza shrugged, confused. "Why?"

"Pour my blood upon Halmu's lips before Kenan's priests mummify him. He wished for Tiamat's legacy. I shall have need of his particular talents soon enough."

"As you wish, Lord Utakku." She took the vial from him and placed it near her bosom.

"No go!" He ordered. "Be quick. For if all fails, then he will be our last resort."

Mardok spoke with the remaining witnesses in the great dining hall, gathering accounts of what passed before their eyes. Arana paced about the large room, using her natural sensitivities, seeing if Magick were the culprit responsible for Halmu's assassination. Jubah and Hectus summoned the other palace eunuchs to clean up the mess amongst the mayhem and chaos. Gesham ordered two of his best warriors to the dungeons to guard Ashatsinu. He practically trampled two servant girls busily scrubbing the dais to remove the blood from the polished marble floor of the dais.

[The blood.]

"Stop!" Gesham's bellow echoed loudly off the barren marble walls of the dining hall. His tail twitched in contemplation as a myriad of thoughts bolted through his mind. His wings unfurled as he stared at the remaining droplets still on the stone. He knelt down and wiped some blood on one of his talons. He sniffed it; an acrid miasma filled his keen senses. It was a bittersweet scent resembling almonds, roses, and cobra venom.

"Nightbane." His low, primal growls meshed with the resounding thud cracking the marble beneath him. His eyes became luminescent refractions of his scarcely constrained wrath. Any Human making the same discovery would have slammed a fist through a wall.

Arana watched her son's amber eyes flash with unholy white fire. She made her way to Gesham's side. He looked sideways at her and held one of his blood-covered talons beneath Arana's delicately flaring nostrils. "Smell this. This is the poison Amorite warriors' dip their arrows in to press their advantage in battle. Only three in this know the formula for this toxin."

"You, myself and Niza." Arana finished for him.

"Aye." His brow ridge furrowed in barely contained fury and rage. "If I but see Niza, her life will be forfeit."

"This entire occurrence is but one consummate travesty." Gesham shook his head in contempt. "A blameless woman will die for someone else's crime and Kenan is beyond cognizance. Borak is running amok issuing orders and Niza is nowhere to be found."

"If only Kenan had a son." Arana sighed heavily. "Our beloved city is going to be shortly within the hands of a madman hell-bent on conquering every Amorite."

"I will save Ashatsinsu's life, by the Goddess, I vow it."

"What can you do, Gesham?" Arana's talons laid gently upon his broad shoulders to comfort and calm the frenzy DeMahri. "Are you going to die in her stead?"

"Nay, Shaman." He growled. Gesham cloaked his shoulders, the sienna and caramel folds of his wings draped around him as royal robes befitting a compelling sovereign. He strode confidently

toward the middle of the dais, deftly reaching for the large mallet resting before the brass gong still positioned on the dais. "It is time that all be made right in this city. I grow weary of this clandestine farce gone awry."

Gesham took the gigantic wooden mallet in hand and rang the gong. The clamorous peal shook the very pillars holding the plaster roof above them. A strident roar filled with rage and fury filled the hall. All eyes of Kenan's court turned to the clan leader standing in his glory on that stage. His tawny wings unfurled to their entire length, spanning the several cubits of the dais. "I am Gesham of the Clan Ahp Druingra and trusted advisor to our beloved king, Kenan. He has no sons to aid him in this time of tribulation and distress. Until he is afresh with sound mind, as he has so deemed me before all of his court twenty seasons past, I take the duty of Lord Regent and will reign over Amor in his stead until such time Kenan assumes his duties."

The hushed crowd burst forth into a boisterous cheer. Barok sputtered in indignation. "You commit treason. By the marriage contract, Kenan swore fealty to Sodom in exchange for Halmu's benevolent protection."

"If you have not noticed, Borak, Halmu is dead." Gesham's roar thundered so loudly that Borak screamed in terror and scampered back several steps. "With his death, that marriage contract is void. Ashatsinu is Sodom's queen and free from any man."

"You have no right to sit upon Kenan's throne, Beast." Borak found enough bravado to rush forward and poke his pudgy finger several times in Gesham's broad chest. "You are not Human."

"Borak, you make me thankful to the Goddess that I am not."

Borak's chubby arm made a sweeping motion toward the crowd of stunned, silent aristocracy and courtesans. "These people are cattle, Gesham, and cattle are frightened by those creatures who make them their prey. How long will they pledge loyalty to you? Ultimately, their hatred of your kind will consume them and they will shatter you as they sleep one night."

"Nevertheless, tonight is not that night." Gesham gave the Grand Vizier a grim smile.

These people will not answer to a winged demon who practices Magick."

"I will not let you draw your armies through those city gates."

"They will be here in by morning's time." Borak gloated. "Whatever you do to me will determine your city's fate. I advise you surrender. My elite guards outnumber your city guard five to one. Even if you were to win, they are no match for you."

"So you say, Borak. Let me bring the truth to you. Clan, to me!" Gesham raised his tightly clenched fist in defiance. Within the dying echoes of his war cry, nearly fifty dozen DeMahri warriors filled the hall. "One DeMahri warrior can slaughter ten of your best. I need only give the word and your so-called 'elite' guard will be remnants for the scorpions and the jackals by sunrise."

Five warriors surrounded the short little man. Borak cringed and a meek squeak escaped his throat.

Gesham leaned forward, canines flashing in the firelight, eyes gleam with argent flame. "Do not tempt me to take your life here and now. We WILL find the underlying cause of this crime and while we do so, my warriors prepare for battle. You will remain our honored 'guest' for the remainder of his stay here."

A clear, liquid golden stream trickled down the Vizier's leg, staining his pristine white robes with a deep saffron, forming a pool beneath his jeweled sandals.

"Mardok, escort our . . . guest to the dungeon where Ashatsinu resides. Assign guards to his door day and night. If he tries to leave without an escort, kill him."

Mardok's canines contrasted sharply against his midnight indigo complexion when he smiled. "Yes, Lord Regent, I am most happy to comply."

"Oh, and how will you stop me during the day?" Borak taunted the blue Gargoyle as the five warriors dragged him kicking and squealing like a wounded boar. "You will never get away with this, Gesham. I will be victorious."

Borak's screams faded as the DeMahri warriors carried him from the dining hall.

Silence filled the room. Gesham turned to the mute spectators. He pointed in the direction of where the squat, rotund man had been taken. "Does he speak truth? Will you stand by while our beloved city becomes fodder for his armies. Will you let all Kenan has built crumble to dust. If you are not with me, then be cowards and join the women and children in the caverns beneath the city. Who is with me?"

Again, silence filled the room.

"The Amazon nation has two hundred warriors within Amor's walls." A booming feminine voice came from the crowd. In all her statuesque splendor, Zillah stepped forward. "Gesham, as Queen of the Amazon Nation, we hereby formally recognize your sovereignty as Lord Regent of Amor. My warriors and I will gladly guard this pompous your clan as you sleep and we will fight to save this city. We will fortify your force and join you in battle."

"We much appreciate your alliance, Zillah." Gesham clasped her forearm in a warrior's handshake. "Wellmet."

"I pledge my personal guard and all twenty of our chariots here to help you in battle." A high tenor echoed the heroic sentiments of the Amazon Queen. Inhokomen, King of Eridu, stepped forward. "I recognize your right your regency until such a time Kenan will assume his rightful place or his proper heir rules in his stead."

Gesham met the Simianites gaze. The tawny Gargoyle clasped the lad's forearm in a strong grip.

"Then Amor and Eridu will be allies in this great campaign." He turned to Mardok. "Take two dozen of our finest warriors and fly patrol along the southern perimeter. Direct your lieutenants to round up any Sodomite and coral them in the dungeon."

Mardok's argent locks veiled his face as he bent forward in compliance. Indigo wings draped elegantly around wide, solid shoulders. "As you wish." He looked up and gave his leader a sly wink, "My lord."

"Arana, you are with me. We follow the guards and free Ashatsinu."

"And then what, Gesham?" Arana tilted her canine head to the right, obviously perplexed. She diligently scratched behind one pointed ear.

"Subsequently, she will become my mate before the clan and my wife....if she will have me." Gesham finished with a heavy sigh. "May Skylaris forgive me, but I love Ashatsinu with all that I have in me."

"Well, no lightning bolt has struck you down and turned you into a particularly crispy Gargoyle." The elder shaman chuckled. "So I think my Mother favors the match."

"Your mother and you are both sly tricksters." He grumbled. "You females vex me thus."

"Get your tail out of you ass, Gesham." Arana's elliptical eyes gleamed their eerie jade and amber glow. "If you would think with the brain inside your head rather than the one residing in your temper, you would do well to go with Mardok and ask for her to be your mate."

He acquiesced with a terse nod and strode swiftly from the dining hall leaving Arana to oversee the bringing of order to the night's chaos. Through corridors and stairwells, the immense warrior made his way through the narrowing, winding passages until he rejoined Mardok and his lieutenants. As he arrived, he found the door to Ashatsinu's cell open, the human guard ordered to watch her fast asleep against the cold stone wall.

Gesham's heart hammered loudly inside his broad chest with each step he made toward his Beloved Ashatsinu. He flew past the younger Gargoyles accompanying Mardok and made his way into the narrow, damp cell. His mind called out to her in an eddying amalgam of exultation, steadfast devotion and vibrant adoration. The argent fire of his arduous emotions blazed within his amber eyes. He entered the cell and his heart shattered into a thousand jagged, anguished shards.

The cell was empty.

He rushed back to Mardok, grasping him roughly by his upper arms. "Where is she?"

"Gesham, I do not know. She was not here when we opened the door." Mardok motioned to the sleeping Human slumped against the wall near the door snoring raucously. "He does not wake and all endeavors to do so fail."

Gesham's brow ridge rose in terse contemplation as he strode the short distance of the confining prison cell. The acrid stench of drying blood flooded his acute olfactory senses with its tomblike aroma. He noticed the tanned leather wineskin lying haphazardly upon the drab stone floor with glistening burnished ocher globules coagulated in a gelatinous puddle upon the cold, gray granite floor. The strapping warrior let tawny and flaxen wings drape around his broad shoulders, resembling a flowing cloak for a sovereign, and let his talons trace a indolent path through the ruby pool. He tentatively brought his sanguine-drenched talons to his nostrils and deeply inhaled the blood's essence. A low, discordant rumble erupted from within Gesham's chest and exploded into a deafening roar, its ferocity and intensity making change rattle and manacles jangle.

"This is Ahl-Kemehn blood." He growled through clenched canines. "One of the Soulless took her."

"My Leader," Mardok discreetly motioned around the small cell. "There is no sign of struggle; no other blood stains the floor but from this wineskin."

"Vampires are masters of mesmerizing and enthralling their victims with but a glance." Gesham turned and faced his most trusted confidant and lieutenant. "Ashatsinu is a valuable bargaining chip since being crowned Queen of Sodom. Many will pay a high price for her in their bed or for her safe return. She is a pawn in such a way I never contemplated."

Mardok knelt down and traced his fingers along the mortar between the stones in the floor. A jagged gasp escaped him. Gesham saw Mardok's jaw agape and azure eyes grand with incredulity. The indigo gargoyle said nothing, only letting his index talon point to the intricate Draconic runes deeply etched into the cold granite floor stones. "Gesham, The Princess partook of her escape without restraint or coercion. No Ahl-Kemehn stands well against DeMahri Magick; it is their bane and death."

Gesham carefully studied the runs engraved within the cobblestones, charily tracing each scratch with his talons. He closed his eyes tight, commanding his bewildered mind to remain free of thoughts of betrayal and treachery. "No Mardok, something is amiss. I know her writing well from the notes we exchanged when she was but a budding lass; these marks came, indeed, from her hand. She is adherent of the Gargoyle Way; she will not embrace the Way of the Abyss."

"Are you so sure, My Leader?" Mardok dared ask the challenging question yet unspoken between he and Gesham. "Whatever Soulless filth took her probably has addled her mind with spellbinding sorcery. She is probably not herself."

"Aye. Though only a Human woman, she is skilled in the ways of war and is dangerous even to our warriors. Take ten of our warriors and scout the city's parameter. If you find her, render her harmless and bring her to me." Gesham sighed heavily. "I pray Goddess keeps her and all of you safe."

"Have trust that the Great Lady cares for all of her children." Mardok's calm voice quietly assured the resigned clan leader. "We will find your mate, Gesham."

Gesham nodded silently, a hint of thankfulness in his amber eyes for his friend's spoken support. He turned to the young kelly-skinned warrior to his left flank. "Lott, now is the time for you to be a true warrior. Gather the Human women and children and take them into the caves beneath the city. Take ten of your rookery brothers and guard them with your lives. If you hear not from me again and the worst happens, take them to Eridu. Tell them not to look back."

"I do not understand, Leader."

"Do not question me!" Gesham roared. "If we fail in saving Amor, then Sodom and Gomorrah will fall next. Arana shall cast her Magick that no being, alive or undead, will be able to look upon the city without turning to stone for eternity. Dragonspeed to you."

"As you command, Leader." Lott quickly bowed and quickly left the prison cell.

"Seti, to me." Gesham motioned to the Dame standing directly behind him. He studied the young lavender Dame barely past her first right of passage, scarcely an adult in the eyes of the clan. "Summon Zillah and our allies to the rookery, for we are to have a council of war."

"At once, Gesham." She left to do his bidding.

Niza listened several feet beyond the corridor just out of sight of the DeMahri's keen vision. She heard their conversation and took mental note of all she heard. Waving her hand over her face and muttering a few words, she stood plastered against the wall. The hems of her crimson veils fluttered, and a slight wind blew through the corridor. Niza watched as the red silks slowly darkened until they became a murky black. She felt the subtle breeze blow through her rather than around her and she smiled knowingly. Holding her arms out before her she watched as the inky blackness consuming her veils poured like ink over her skin until she stood as a flat black shadow against the wall. Flowing like water over sand, the living and thinking shade made her way along the wall and skimmed along the ceiling over the exiting DeMahri party.

For several minutes, she glided over the damp granite stones of the corridor ceiling until she came to a barred door at the end of the hall. Descending until she was a flat silhouette along the floor, the shadow made its way into the next room by passing through the space between the large wooden door and the stone floor. Once inside the mummification chamber, the inky pool rose slowly into the air and began taking a form resembling that of a woman. Niza hovered several inches above the floor and made her way to the lone body lying across the room on a stone slab.

Letting her feet touch the ground, she leaned over Halmu's still, lifeless body. "My Love, our Master has other uses for you this night. What you couldn't give me in life, I shall take in your death."

With a flick of her thumb, the dried skin corking the clay vial flew and fell upon the floor. Niza slowly brought the clay vial to her lips and swallowed some of the brackish fluid. "Why should you alone receive Tiamat's gift of immortality when it was I who brought this glorious scheme alive?"

She paused, wondering if she was next for Death. Nothing happened. The room remained silent and there was no spectacle of lightning or clap of thunder. Rage swelled within the sorceress with the realization that Utakku's blood carried no such gift of immortality. Then, a cramp in her stomach twitch, causing Niza to collapse. Tremors wracked her body and she lost grip of the clay vial. As she fell to the floor writhing in agony from the burning churning in her stomach, she watched the vial soar through the air and land on the edge of the stone slab where Halmu lay. She watched the ooze seep from the broken vial and inch along the stone until it touched the corpse's cheek. Like a scorpion coming in for the kill of its pray, the dark red ooze slithered along Halmu's cheek until it found his pale, blue lips. Claiming possession, the blood seeped into his mouth.

The pain overwhelmed the sorceress and unconsciousness was her release from the torture she endured.

As the darkness claimed her, Niza mentally chided herself for doubting Lord Utakku's word. She saw Halmu sit upright on the stone slab, stare at her and smile. Her last thought flowed through her mind as the darkness took her. [By the gods, what have I done?]

Within the thick, mighty stone walls of the rookery, located deep beneath the city, the rulers allied with Gesham met and contemplated their situation. Sodom's armies were nearly ten thousand strong, and as Borak had gleefully informed Gesham, outnumbered Amor's city guard four-to-one. Even with too hundred of Eridu's Amazon city guard, six hundred DeMahri warriors, and two thousand Amorite guards, and forty of Eridu's finest charioteers, the odds remained bleak for Amor.

Strategies planned became swift reality. Gesham ordered Kenan's cache of Phoenician fire used upon Borak's advancing forces. It was a horrible weapon of destruction, no water extinguished its flames. Archers lined around the city's entire perimeter and ready for attack. The Amazons under Zillah's command fortified the walls with every large, massive thing within the city, ranging from logs and stones to heavy furniture. Another warrior confirmed that Lott successfully escorted nearly six hundred women and children deep within the subterranean levels beneath the city. Gesham decided the best and heaviest attacks executed shortly before sunrise was the best strategy. The group of rulers planned an air offensive with the gargoyles as the first wave, fired by Phoenician Fire launched from the catapults and then followed by cascade of arrows let loose by the archers. Arana cast her spell with the other wizards, witches and Magi in the city so that all three cities become salt and stone should Amor fall to Borak's approaching army.

Gesham made his way to the walls with the other DeMahri warriors for the impending Gargoyle onslaught upon Sodom's ground troops. With sword in hand, he silently prayed to his beloved Dragon for blessings and victory.

"Beloved Lady, you are my guardian.

For nothing I yearn, yet bring victory for my clan.

You bid me good flight in clear, moonlight skies.

You renew me with the Waters of Life.

Strengthen my innermost heart and lead me to

The path of the Gargoyle Way, bringing forth

The Greater Good.

Aye, when I glide in darkest night where the Abyss reigns,

Let bravery dwell within and remain my companion when

Facing the darkness falling upon me.

Abide within me always, Great Lady. Remain

Steadfast and devout to this humble servant of the Way.

Let your wings shelter me from the elements.

Let your breath warn me. O Goddess, bless me

With bountiful plenty within sight of my adversaries.

Bestow upon me your blessed kiss of fortification.

You humble me with your kindness.

Surely love and compassion will embrace all those of

clan and all of your children. Should I meet

Death in Battle this night, let me welcome it

fiercely and well without hesitation or reservation.

Then, I shall know Paradise, drinking of the Sweet

Waters of Life from the blessed Isles as long as time

endures. Therefore, mote it be. Be with me always."

He clutched Ashatsinu's signet ring that hung around his neck and thought of his Beloved Ashatsinu. Gesham longed to see her, hear her voice, and embrace her within his wings only one more time. No news of her reached him and he feared the worse.

"Oh, My Heart." He murmured softly. "May Goddess keep you well. Know that I love you and that you are my true mate."

Without a second thought, Gesham pushed sentiment aside and led the first formation of Gargoyles into the darkened skies to meet their enemies.

The clan leader led his regiment of winged warriors in the skies against the black dragons blasting Amor with columns of fire. With calculated determination, Gesham and several of his lieutenants took down three of the winged reptiles. The second bombardment of arrows came from the Amazons and the Sodomites returned fire. Gesham felt bolts of scorching agony rip his unfurled wings. The battle raged on in the chaos, no one saw the great leader descend with a dull thud to the ground below him.

Ashatsinu and Utakku flew upon the wings with speed greater than a desert storm toward Amor. With his powerful arms around her, Ashatsinu's ancestor kept solid hold of her as strong, steady winds propelled them to their destination. Hints of rose and gold lined the eastern sky as they made their way toward home.

"We have little time." Ashatsinu whispered gravely to her ally.

"I see the sun rising in the east, Queen." He looked at her and flashed her a quirky grin. "You have a talent for stating the obvious."

"By the Dragon, many thanks." Came her caustic reply. "Be glad that you are no enemy tonight."

"You know the old adage, Queen. 'Keep your allies close and your descendants closer."

She stared at him as though Utakku had gone stark-raving mad. "Did you just wink at me?"

"What do you think?"

"Just a few hours ago you wanted to drain me dry."

"It's my prerogative to change my mind. Moreover, my opinions of you have heightened. You not the typical hairless ape that is suitable only for food."

"And you are not the undead rotting son-of-the-Abyss that I thought you." She quipped.

"I am a son-of-the-Abyss, but an honest son-of-the-Abyss."

"Hardly." Ashatsinu scoffed at his glib statement.

"This could be the foundation of a delightful and entertaining friendship." Utakku winked at her.

"Don't push your luck." She said in the common speech of her people. "So why the sudden change of mood?"

"For the reason that, my dear Ashatsinu, your Dragon gives me some I forgot existed, even in a heart as unbeating as mine."

"And what, pray tell, is that?" One delicately arched brow rose in sardonic skepticism.

"Hope." He gave her a peaceful smile that unreservedly stunned her.

"You just might be redeemable after all."

"I would not say that just yet, Queen." Was Utakku's cryptic reply.

"You have awakened, My Love." A deep voice filled the burial chamber.

"Halmu?" Niza groggily replied.

"Yes, you have returned me to life." He extended his hand to her and helped Niza to her feet. "I am Immortal as are you and we have Tiamat's power at our command."

"Utakku saw fit to make good on his promise of extending her legacy to you." Niza dusted off the scarlet veils of her robes. "Now what do we do?"

"We bring Amor to the ground." His ominous laughter echoed hollowly off the stone walls. "Take my hand, Love, and let us commence as we planned."

"With pleasure." Her wicked smile delighted the Ahl-Kemehn. "The best place to do that is from the highest vantage point in the city."

"Then, take us to Kenan's palace."

With a wave of her hand, dark smoke seeped from the mortar beneath them. It swirled around the two Soulless Ones and enveloped them in a column of acrid black vapor. With a flash of crimson light and fire, they left the chamber behind them. Within a breath, they stood upon the balcony of the palace's highest tower. Halmu leaned over the stone railing and watched the troops gather into formation. He pointed to the East.

"See Niza, I knew my armies would arrive on time. Even now the war begins."

The two held one another in a strong embrace as they watched the first onslaught of flaming arrows soar through the twilight sky, striking at the Sodomite troops. They watched as regiments of DeMahri warriors sweep down upon the unsuspecting Sodomites, attacking from the air with talons and tails. Spears met many DeMahri warriors and they fell like angels from the sky. Niza became nearly entranced as she watched Amorite catapults launch boulders blazing with Phoenician Fire fly over Amorite's walls and strike several squadrons of Sodomite warriors.

For minutes, they two Soulless Ones watched in awe as the power and fury of two armies clashed. Halmu motioned to the battle raging below them. "Now, use your power that Tiamat has given you. Bring forth the powers of the Abyss."

Niza stepped away from Halmu and raised her hands skyward. Chanting, she drew forth from the malevolent energy flowing through her. Thick, dark clouds covered the moon and black sand in the form of a great sirocco blasted the ground between the Sodomite troops and Amor's granite walls. The flying granules took on forms of creatures, all with wings. Some became raptors on the ground while others formed wings and took to the skies.

"Look, My Love, the black dragons of the Abyss now launch their attack upon the city." She turned to her lover. "Are you not pleased?"

"I am very pleased, Niza." Halmu kissed her deeply, nipping so that a drop of crimson appeared upon her lips. His tongue licked away the glistening drop. "Now, you and I are one."

A column of ruby came from the sky and a large boulder landed behind them. Niza screamed as the impact of the blazing meteorite sent her flying several yards across the balcony. Halmu felt the debris hit him squarely in the back. He focused his gaze skyward and saw two black dragons circling overhead.

"Damnation! Control them!" He bellowed to the injured sorceress.

No answer came. He dashed around the flames and found Niza lying on her back with glazed eyes and a long, jagged shard of boulder impaling her through the chest. He knew she was in Tiamat's realm now as another tormented soul.

Halmu's scream of rage filled the fire-filled night.

The pointed bantering brought Ashatsinu some relief from the impending disaster she knew awaited them. She had no time to do anything but scream as streaks of fire streamed across the skies in a lethal weave of fire and flame. Another scream fell from her lips when fire rose to meet them. With a deftness defying the natural laws of ken, Utakku rode the currents of the powerful winds and avoided the tower of flame without difficulty.

"It's too late!" A wail escaped her. "It has started."

Ashatsinu and Utakku watched in stunned silence as Gargoyles below them descended upon Sodom's armored troops. Larges blazing globes of stone and Phoenician Fire flew through the murky sky, making it brighter than midday in the desert. A torrent of flaming arrows arced gracefully in flight, impaling numerous Human warriors beneath them. Spears flew with violent fury, piercing many Gargoyle's hearts and wings. Ashatsinu fury swelled as she saw many of her beloved clan fall like banished seraphim to earth, only to meet their demise at the ends of Sodomite swords and spears.

"Utakku, do something!" She screamed hysterically. "You have to stop this."

They landed at the highest point in the city, the balcony of Kenan's palace. The sycophant grasped her roughly by the shoulders. "This was not the fate I had planned for your city, by your Goddess, I swear it."

"You lie." She screeched.

"You are so right." He clicked his tongue in mock dismay. "Temper, temper, Queen. You should know by now that I am a Son-of-the-Abyss."

"May you burn for this."

"I won't, but you shall." He pointed over her shoulder. "I think that there is someone who has unfinished business with you."

She looked over her shoulder and saw the hulking, flaming mass of Halmu only a few yards away. "You can't be alive! I watched you die!"

"I did, but your sister has a way of bringing out the best in me." Halmu chuckled. "I asked you to bring me to life, Ashatsinu, but Niza did what you refused to do."

"I'll leave you two lovebirds to get reacquainted." Utakku took to the air. He nodded to Ashatsinu. "Halmu, do with her as you will. She no longer serves my purpose. Enjoy your reunion."

Utakku raised his arms into the air and chanted in a language as ancient as Draconic. He called upon the names of desert elementals and commanded them to do his bidding. Seven massive columns of lightning, sand and wind descended from the sky, dancing a deadly path across the dunes toward the oasis. Had Ashatsinu turned her attention to the skies behind her, she would have seen the seven cyclones tear through Sodom's garrisons, devouring soldiers and Gargoyles alike within the coils of those devastating winds. Black dragons erupted from the swirling sands, brandishing scorching breath of acid upon two thousand troops. More black dragons came from the fires within the cyclones, incinerating any and all in their way.

Asatsinu watched the scorched corpse levitate above the fire; his robes became tinder for the flames licking the hems of his robes. With arms outstretched, he slowly brought his palms together. As he did, the trails of fire moved in closer, corralling the Queen in a circle of heat and blaze. He gazed at her from his lofty position and shook his head. "Poor pampered Princess, now you really are in a quandary."

The shards of exploding boulders rained down upon them. She looked skywards and knew that Death wanted her demise by impalement or combustion. Without weaponry, Ashatsinu knew victory against Halmu was impossible. Crouching low to the ground, she used the strength in her legs and hurdled through the wall of flame. She rolled onto the hot stone floor, smothering the flames eating her skin. She shed the veils that confined her and saw that Halmu pursued her with a relentlessness that terrified her to the depths of her soul.

The armory was only a minute away, but she knew that it was a gigantic firestorm and impossible to reach. She glanced quickly at the balcony and knew that being several stories from the ground jumping over the edge was not an option. As Halmu cornered her, she grasped one of the long burning shards lying on the ground. Sheer rage made her aim strong and true as she hurled the makeshift spear at her approaching enemy. It pierced his left shoulder, but missed his heart. She knew only two ways of killing a Soulless One. Obviously, fire was not working due to Tiamat's protective Magick.

Ashatsinu muttered under her breath. "I have to behead him."

[All right, you want me, come get me.] With that, she let her primal instincts consume her. Ashatsinu ran.

She jumped over burning wood timbers and dodged falling granite blocks. The smoke burned her lungs when she breathed, so she fell to a crawl in the hellish corridor. Her only objective was to find a sword and fight valiantly before he killed her. The desperate Queen heard his malevolent cackle ricochet off the walls even though the sound of the crackling fire was deafening. Through the smoldering haze, she saw his silhouette settle to the ground. She knew Halmu could not levitate through all of the debris in his way.

Ashatsinu passed the massive oaken doors to the dining hall lit with crimson tongues burning away at them, engulfed in a sea of hellfire. Smoke billowed as rich fabrics of silk and velvet became fuel for the hungry blaze. She turned and found that a wall of flame moving behind and steadily toward her blocked her way. Ashatsinu fearfully peered around the corner and saw his face take form in some form of smoky wraith. The cloud formed into a likeness of his features as he hunted her. She jumped past the flames into the great dining hall and saw a large onyx statue of Ptah standing against the wall. Halmu had brought it as part of the bride price he had paid Kenan for Ashatsinu's hand in marriage.

She squatted behind Ptah's polished black icon. "Hear me, Ptah, the one that Gargoyles call Zendrazane. You are the crafter of weaponry and metal. Let me have a weapon in my hand so that I can destroy that lunatic. My people suffer from this and I need help. Let me kill him or let me die with honor."

"Ashatsinu!" A baritone voice quietly beckoned beckoned her. The smoke rolled, heavy and thick through the corridor making it difficult for Ashatsinu's sight to see who called to her. "Ashatsinu."

"Please, do not let me die a coward. Let me do one thing to save my people." She fought back the sheer desolation of her impending fate.

"Ashatsinu, look UP." The commanding baritone voice demanded.

Her eyes burned from the toxic fumes made by the burning inferno surrounding her. She let her eyes follow the length of the statue. Yet, instead of hematite feet, there were ebony feet clad in black sandals. Her eyes met not with a gold and pearl sarong, but one of white and gold linen. Somewhere within the chaos and the mayhem, Ashatsinu noticed that his skin was akin to burnished hematite and not the hue of the Nubians as she first thought. In place of a head with amethyst gems for eyes, she saw twinkling lavender looking down at her. Her eyes traveled upwards and she saw a warrior armed with two gleaming silver scimitars. Long argent locks, frosty and brilliant as starlight crowned the onyx-skinned warrior in a halo of moonlight. She noticed in his left ear dangled a platinum hoop with an amethyst bead adorning it.

[Just like the one Gesham gave me!] Her hand touched her ear in silent acknowledgement.

"Open your eyes, Daughter of Earth." A gentle, masculine voice commanded her. Ashatsinu attempted so and found that the stinging sensation left her. He sheathed the scimitars, offered her a strong hand, and brought her to her feet.

She stared into the billowing clouds of heavy, black smoke and saw a man with ebony skin standing in front of her. She studied him again, rubbing her eyes against the sting of the vanishing smoke. He was not a man, but a Dark Elf. With pointed ears and highly arched white brows, he could not be mistaken for Human. He was Kiari.

"Who are you?" Ashatsinu asked the Dark Elf standing before her. [No Kiari dwell within Amor's walls.]

"I am Zendrazane."

As she rose to her feet, Ashatsinu realized that he wore an ankh with a dragon entwined around it. She knew the ankh was a symbol of everlasting life. "Are you here to take me from this life?"

"No, Ashatsinu. I am here to save yours this night."

"You're Zendrazane!" She shook her head in bewilderment.

"The last time I check." He said with mirth.

"What in the seven heavens are you doing here?"

"A righteous warrior called out my name and I came."

"Gesham?"

"No, Ashatsinu, you." Zendrazane dusted some ash from her shoulders.

"Women are not warriors-" She started.

"A warrior is more than her fighting ability or her sword." He gently chided her. "So get that Human thought out of your head right now."

"What about Gesham and my father?"

"Let Gesham fight his battle, now let me help you with the one awaiting you."

"I can't defeat a Soulless One like Halmu." Ashatsinu sobbed in utter defeat. "He is far too powerful."

"You fought two of his kind in the desert and destroyed them. You have won a Gargoyle's heart. Only a brave warrior can do such feats." Zendrazane let the silence fall between them. He held out his palms and two copper and mithral sais appeared. "I crafted these for you long before you were conceived. Skylaris thinks you worthy to wield these, as do I."

"They are not bladed."

"Nor need they be, Ashatsinu." Zendrazane ran his dark slender fingers along the blunt shaft of the sais as they floated in midair. "You bear Skylaris' blessing, you retain all of Zillah's knowledge of warfare, you know all of Arana's wisdom, and you have Gesham's love. These sais are for you and all of your descendants for as long as time endures. Your blood has touched their hilts and they are bloodbound to you and your daughters, and your daughters' daughters for the rest of time. Use them wisely and well, Daughter of Earth. Go do what must be done."

"Where is Skylaris?" Ashatsinu babbled hysterically. "Where is she?"

"Currently, she is dealing with some exceedingly livid black dragons that Utakku and Niza summoned from the Abyss to deal with the Amorites."

"Menash Kah!" The expletive fell from Ashatsinu's lips in complete bewilderment.

"Profanities are not very ladylike or becoming of a warrior." He tenderly smiled. His hair seemed unscorched by the flames surrounding them. In fact, his thick tresses were of the brightest silver, nearly frosty white in their brilliance.

"You are the god of craftsman!" She blubbered and fell to her knees to worship him.

"No time for that now." He kindly rebuked her. "Deal with Halmu."

"I will."

"You will make me proud." He nodded approvingly. "No go."

"I shall. But the flame blocks my way."

"Not when I am with you." Zendrazane waved his hand and parted the blazing wall blocking her path.

Ashatsinu's training possessed her faculties as she scouted the corridor. She saw the fire part for Halmu as he walked to the corridor. From where his eyes traveled, Ashatsinu knew that he had not yet spotted her. She rolled into the corridor and lie flat on her back with sais clenched in both hands.

He stopped at her feet and called mockingly through the smoke. "Come out, Princess. Let us not make this any more painful than it has to be. You cannot fight fate. Where are you?"

"Look down." Ashatsinu smirked.

His gaze fell to the floor. With a move learned from sand-fighting with Arana, she brought her legs to his legs to her chest and then kicked out so that they crashed into his knees. With a scream of pain, he fell upon his shattered joints.

"So, you do feel pain." She hissed. "I thought Ahl-Kemehn were impervious."

His taloned hands clawed at her throat. Ashatsinu felt his long claws dig into her tender flesh and his supernatural strength strangling her. The world swam about her as Halmu squeezed the oxygen from her body with his crushing grasp. "Do you feel pain, Ashatsinu?"

"Go to the Abyss." She choked on the words as her sais pierce his unbeating heart. Their eyes locked for a moment. Ice blue clashed with lucid topaz. He stared down at the sais embedded in his chest and gave her a crooked smile.

"Oh Princess, these cannot hurt -" He never finished the sentences as the fires of his robes licked his skin.

"Oh yes, they can. They were forged in Dragon's fire by Zendrazane. Draconic Magick makes them unbeatable. Go to the Abyss, Halmu and give her my regards you see Tiamat." Ashatsinu snarled at her fallen foe. She watched as his skin became molten and liquid, steaming from within. It became pale and aged like frail parchment and began burning like paper in flame. Portions of ash fell to the stone floor and a hollow scream filled the hall. Soon, the flames consumed the pile of cinders that had once been Halmu.

Zendrazane's voice bellowed inside Ashatsinu's mind. [GO THROUGH THE DOOR AT THE END OF THE CORRIDOR AND MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE CITY WALL. GESHAM HAS FALLEN IN BATTLE AND THE SUN WILL NOT RISE SOON ENOUGH TO SAVE HIM. ARANA'S SPELL OF DARKNESS KEEPS HIM FROM BECOMING STONE. BECOME ONE WITH HIM IN BODY, MIND AND SOUL, ASHATSINU. FOR TODAY, YOU SHALL BECOME AS THE STONE KING."

"Huh?"

"Do not just stand there, girl, like a blithering idiot." Zendrazane shouted as he vanished in a bolt of lavender fire and damson smoke, the scent of lilac lingered in its wake. "Find Gesham."

Ashatsinu needed no second urging. With all the strength she possessed she ran though the valley of parted flames and made her way to the city wall facing the east.

Singed and burnt, Ashatsinu felt no pain as she made her way from the palace and through Amor's streets. She saw them laden with fallen comrades and burning debris. Large masses of white stone, now scorched black by the fires, fell from the skies as she scampered through the avenues toward the city walls. Screams of fear and agony filled her ears as she swiftly passed those struck down by fire and battle. Leaping over bodies of dead Sodomites, she deftly made her way to what was left of Amor's city wall.

[GESHAM!] Her mind reached out to him. There were no words in reply, only an urgent beacon of primal instinct guiding her footsteps. For what seemed an endless eternity, Ashatsinu let their psionic bond guide her to her fallen mate.

Gesham lay just outside the city gate with three Sodomite arrows embedded deeply within his tawny chest. His amber eyes no longer gleamed with brilliant fire, but were glazed with a murky yellow layer that dimmed his sight. Ashatsinu sobbed at the sight of her mate, dying alone in the ruins of a lethal battle. She knelt by his side. "My Love, I am here."

Gesham turned in the direction her voice made hoarse by smoke, flame, and tears. "Is all well?"

"Halmu is dead." She smiled through a flow of fallen tears. "I love you, Gesham."

"You are a Dame in word and deed. You are a warrior of my clan."

"Now you tell me that." Ashatsinu cried and laughed at the same time.

He raised his bloodied hand to cupped her sooty face. "Did he set you on fire?"

Ashatsinu choked back a laugh at the Gargoyle's dry humor. "He tried."

"Ashatsinu, will you have me as your-?"

She pressed two fingers to his lips. "Hush, we can talk soon. You need rest." She withdrew the sais stashed in the torn, dirtied, soiled rags she wore. Thinking that only a few days prior, they had once been silks and velvet fit for a princess. Remembering Zendrazane's words, she wrapped Gesham's bloodied talons around the hilts of her weaponry. "I will be your mate without hesitation or reservation. I will love you fiercely and well. Let our love endure longer than the mountain stone. But, if you dare to die on me, you winged imbecile, I vow that I will follow you to the Blessed Isle and kick your proverbial ass for dragging me through the Abyss, So help me Skylaris!"

Ashatsinu remembered those fateful words not so long ago that Arana spoke to her regarding the Kiarite stones embedded in the hilts of those divine sais. "...."The stones are from the Kiari homeland from the distant stars. Part of their land felt to earth in a fiery shower upon the Kiari and DeMahri's arrival. The stone is unbreakable. No iron shall cut it and no hammer can shatter it. No fire can scorch it and no DeMahri talons can scratch it. Ptah of the Azazelites is the only one able to manipulate it in his apothecary. It is said that any warrior who has possession of such a stone is invincible. On rare occasions, Ptah bestows outstanding DeMahri warriors with the Kiss of Stone. That allows them to became Kiarite by day. Than means that they can never be shattered by normal weaponry......"

Ashatsinu felt tattered folds surround her and her tears felt upon Gesham's burned cheeks. She brought her lips to his and kissed him as she had yearned to do so for many seasons. "Oh, Zendrazane, please grant us what you have promised through these sais."

Had she looked upwards, she would have seen clouds part and the first rays of morning burst through the smoke and flame. Had she been aware, she would have seen an emerald-hued dragon soaring in the heavens above them, singing in the Draconic tongue, and beckoning heavy rains. Nothing mattered then to Ashatsinu but to be in the arms of her beloved warrior, Gesham. Stone sleep fell upon the Stone King and the Fire Queen.

Epilogue

"Fire shall reign from the balcony of Amor

Engulfing the Fire Queen

Kissing her love, she shall become as he

Joined for all time with the Stone King.

So shall he rule on in the realm

All creatures shall bow in his name

Wielding and embracing fire

All surveyed shall be his domain."

-Ancient DeMahri Prophecy

The Epoch of Twilight, the Age of Taurus guided an archaic world. Before to the Tower of Babel or the time of the pyramids, fantastic creatures ruled in the night and walked amongst men. The eons of an antediluvian era have long since faded from the remembrance of Simianites. Long thought lost to History's memory, recollections of those times survived only in obscure fragments of legends and fable......

Amongst the rubble and the debris, the survivors surveyed their wounded city and rejoiced. For at last, the tribe of Kenan was free of Utakku's tyranny. Kenan, made sane by the Waters of Life, passed his scepter to his beloved heir, Ashatsinu. In turn, she held it in hand and placed her husband's talons along its golden shaft. "We are one now and always. Let these words be said from my heart and all hearts for all time. Where you go so shall I go. Where you lead so shall I follow. What you are so shall I become. What you endure so shall we transcend. You and I are one, now and always, Gesham."

"My Love." He cradled her bronzed face in his gigantic taloned hand. His amber eyes were bright with unshed tears.

"My King." She kissed his palm and smiled. "I love you."

Hence, on the night of the full moon, the Stone King reigned over all he surveyed. With Fire in his heart, he reigned as a wise and just sovereign for a century. The allied rulers of Eridu, Ur, Amor and Gomorrah signed a treaty and became the mightiest alliance in the region. DeMahri, Simianites and Humans mingled freely with one another and knew each other body and soul. They took mates from amongst themselves and produced heroes and heroines of old, men and women of great renown. In tribute to those fallen, which gave of themselves in great sacrifice, a mighty obelisk made of the finest granite, some say crafted by Zendrazane, memorialized and celebrated the Victory of Amor.

All of the rulers signed a treaty and became a great and mighty nation. DeMahri, Simianites and Humans mingled freely with one another and knew each other body and soul. They took mates from amongst themselves and produced heroes and heroines of old, men and women of great renown. Under the light of a full moon, Gesham the Stone King and his Queen of Fire were coronated as sovereigns of the realm. In tribute to those fallen, who gave of themselves in great sacrifice, a mighty obelisk made of the finest granite memorialized and celebrated the Victory of Amor.

What became of the great warriors and heroes of this saga, you ask, Dear Reader? Jubah became Gesham's grand vizier. Ancient hieroglyphs on Skylarianite temple walls tell how Hectus became Skylaris' first Simianite high priest. Zillah and her army of Amazons led the war against Sodom, causing its fall. She died a valiant heroine in battle in those later years. Arana faded into the annals of history and became a shamaness of great legend. It is said that she traveled to the kingdom of Chin and brought the Gargoyle Way to the humans of the region, but no one knows. (Zendrazane, also known as Ptah) the god of metal smiths and craftsmen, and one of the greatest deities of what later was known as Egypt. The ancient tales of Gargoyle legend state that he dwells in the Shadowlands, protecting the souls of slain gargoyles. It has been prophesied that he shall walk the earth again someday, reunite with his beloved Skylaris, and they shall return the DeMahri to their former greatness.

However, as all things must, the season of change falls upon all and eras end. Amor became the center of trade, and the DeMahri ruled for a century before the gods' fell and a new age came to pass. Ancient legends still speak of how Sodom and Gomorrah fell, how Lott's mate looked back and became salt and how fire rained from the skies that fateful night. The heroes and heroines of great renown angered a young, jealous deity and he flooded the realm with waters of wrath rather than Waters of Life. It is thought that over two hundred thousand DeMahri were lost in the Deluge, but once more, the mists of time and legend mask long-lost truths.

Ashatsinu and Gesham gave the world many children that became champions of the Greater Good. One of their line settled in Nubia and became the first of many in a grand Matriarchal line of Queens. It is whispered amongst the Linoma clan that this is why Elisa Maza-Wyvern is so favored by Skylaris. Perhaps the good detective is a direct descendant of two fierce, proud warriors. It would also explain why she is so sweet on Goliath. Only Goddess knows. It is also stated that the eldest of Gesham and Ashatsinu's progeny, a DeMahri warrior named Apsu, made his way north and east beyond the Red Sea and the Western ocean with his mate and several of the Clan of Ahp Druingra. Tales of the Ancient Celts say that winged beings from the east settled on a small island and lived in the northern tors of a land the named Cale Eden. The Romans later integrated the name into their own language and it became known as Caledonia. Still curious, are you, dear Reader? Caledonia is the Latin name for Scotland. It is my humble theory that the Scottish clans that I know and love come from that brave, ancient bloodline of Ashatsinu and Gesham. If Skylaris tells me, it will be our little secret.

The Sais? What became of the Sais, you ask? They were, indeed, found in a temple of Skylaris during an archeological dig sponsored by David Xanatos. They now rest in a display case in Xanatos' castle near the Tome of Tacitus and the Grimorum Arcanorim. They await the day when a daughter from the lineage of Gesham and Ashatsinu shall again take them in hand to vanquish evil in the world.

Until Twilight descends, my friends, may Skylaris bless you and keep you in the Gargoyle Way.

Your most humble servant,

Daria Damson

-Fini