A/N: I've been struggling to end this for months…as you all well know if you have been waiting for the end! I decided to end it here, with Alex returning to Ayuthay with the Tuaparang after thirteen years. This is right before they begin their war plans with Kaocho and the rest of the continent.
Here we see Alex, aiming to light the tower in Belinsk, with a new ally on his side. He's even more cold and calculating than before. We also see Chalis and Blados together as two young, mischievous warriors who are preparing to take on a massive duty…and maybe are a little afraid.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think!
The airship had landed on familiar territory, a place Alex remembered even though he hadn't seen it in nearly fourteen years.
Thirteen years, ten months, and fifteen days, actually. He had kept a mental calendar.
The Adept had just woken and dressed himself.
How funny that they were at the place where he first got this mask.
He repressed the other memories that came flooding back. It wasn't hard. He had become even harder, his heart even more chilled than when he was here before. Then, he didn't have a plan. Now, he was on his way to global domination. Nothing could stop him.
The ship had stopped. The soldiers were most likely stocking up on food and weapons, and gauging the political climate. Young Chalis was going to Kaocho soon. He guessed she and Blados had left the ship to visit Paithos.
The young king was good for his people.
A pity he would lose all his power in a few short years.
A knock came at his door, and Chalis and Blados came in, laughing at something. For two of the Tuaparang's best warriors, they certainly spent a great deal of time joking around. They were still young, just past their teenage years. But their skills were frighteningly advanced despite their youth. Blados collapsed in a chair as Chalis draped herself over Alex's couch.
"It lives!" cried Blados with glee as he caught sight of Alex. "The sleeping monster has woken at last…hide your children! Hide your wives!" With a theatrical gesture, he pulled his cape over one side of his face. "The masked man has landed in Ayuthay!"
He and Chalis collapsed with laughter. Alex shook his head, annoyed. They enjoyed making fun of him. He supposed all the time spent traveling and not fighting had given them cabin fever.
"Shut up," he barked. He was in no mood for their games. "And just how many men did Chalis seduce while I was asleep? Has the town been infected yet?"
Blados roared with laughter as Chalis snorted.
"We weren't there very long, just enough to see the palace," she said with a shrug. "And that king is too old for me. The prince, though…oooh." Blados coughed.
"Chalis, he's a teenager!"
"So? I can corrupt him early." A wicked grin curved her face. "Are you sure our plan is for me to infiltrate Kaocho's palace? I like Ayuthay MUCH better." She licked her lips and waggled her eyebrows at Blados, who dissolved into laughter again.
"Wait." said Alex. "King Paithos has a son? You must have mistaken one of the servant boys for a princeling." He thought that Paithos's wife had died in childbirth. The king must have remarried.
But Chalis shook her head. "Nooo, it's his nephew!" She sat up, crossing one leg over the other. "And according to what the townspeople believe, it was a virgin birth. His sister was apparently a powerful Adept, and the gods bestowed a child upon her!" She waved her arms dramatically.
"We all know what that means," said Blados. "She fell in love with some fellow who just screwed her and left her. And Paithos couldn't just announce to the public that his sister had sex with some random man who didn't love her."
"Sounds like something I would do if I had the means!" Chalis crowed.
Blados shook his head. "Nah, this guy really must have regretted it. And the poor woman died right after she had the boy. What was the kid's name? Started with an 'A…'"
"WHAT?" Alex's heart had begun racing at the word "nephew." It couldn't be…
The two warriors looked surprised at the older man's outburst. He calmed himself as quickly as possible.
"I just wasn't expecting there to be an heir to the throne," he said. "I was hoping Wo's army could just take out Paithos and move on. Then we could have full access to the Alchemy Well."
"We can just eliminate the brat, too!" Blados shrugged. "Not a big problem, Arcanus." He stood and offered a hand to Chalis. "Come on, Challie. Let's go shopping."
"Wait!" said Alex. "We don't have time for games, Blados. We need to move on." He didn't want to be in Ayuthay any longer than he had to.
Chalis shook her head. "You may have been asleep, Your Highness, but this ship has been moving all night. Our fighters need to rest." He locked eyes with her, and she raised an eyebrow defiantly. The young warriors enjoyed tormenting him, because they knew he couldn't do anything about it. He hated to admit it, but he needed them. For now. He sighed.
"Fine. Do what you will. But make it quick."
Chalis stood and turned to Blados. "Will you really take me shopping, Blados?"
"I'll buy you anything you want," he said, fluttering his eyelashes at her. "You've got to look your best for King Wo. Come on, my little Kaocho dumpling." She giggled at his joking flirtations.
"Oooh, you are such a sweet-talker!" The two left, arm in arm. Chalis curtsied to Alex before she left, mockingly. She shut the door. Two seconds later, Blados reappeared and curtsied, too. He fluttered his eyelashes again and slammed the door. The Adept could hear them laughing all the way down the hall.
They could joke all they want, but Alex knew that Blados was going to miss his partner while she was in Kaocho. They had been best friends since birth.
Too bad for them that they were such a dispensable part of his plan.
He was glad they had gone. His heart was pounding so quickly, threatened to burst out of his chest. He felt…cold. And anxious.
Veriti…had died? And she had birthed a son?
Alex wouldn't have wanted to see her, even if she was alive. He was getting so close to putting the final plan in motion. He needed no distractions.
The boy must be an Adept, he realized suddenly. Just like him. The Adept gene was strong, and Alex…well, he was the strongest Adept of them all. So of course his son would have the powers.
And the boy was a prince, too! Growing up thinking that his mother had birthed him as a gift from the gods. Well. That certainly was quite the life to live.
Alex smiled. He DID fancy himself as a god…and the plan he was going to enact would bring him to a status even greater than godliness.
No mistakes this time.
His thoughts returned to the boy.
An orphan, and a teenager. Could it be his?
…there was no question. It had to be.
He had never imagined having a child. But it didn't change anything. He had no connection to the boy whatsoever.
He rose, suddenly. An idea was creeping into his mind.
One day, that boy may want to know who his father is. He would inevitably find out that no virgin birth occurred. And when he discovered his father was a powerful Adept, he would naturally be very curious. His uncle may point him to the Luna Mask, and to Barai Temple.
Alex would leave a note for the boy. A clue. A way to show the kind of man his father truly was. The power held.
He swept from his room, a thrill possessing his body.
The boy would not know the truth, but he would know who his father was. That he was still out there. That he knew about the well and its power. Perhaps one day the boy would find him. But for the moment…
Truth would have to wait.