I always hated the academy meeting chamber. Something about it caused an echo and it was always hard for me to tell where people are as a result. There was also the scent, mildewy soil, it was nauseating. The first time I was brought here I thought it was a cave, until I was corrected.
“So Illyana, do you accept?”
Mum’s voice interrupted my reverie. Somewhere overhead I could hear Drake flap his leathery wings. Mentally, I ordered him to return to my shoulder. When he had landed I reached up and scratched his chin. “I will take the position if you need me to. But, where are you going?”
Her familiar arms came down on my shoulders and I felt the warmth of her robes. Drake flew into the air, screeching in protest at being forced to move. He settled back onto my shoulder once the robes were in place. “There’s trouble in Het Wald. I have to return and do what I can to help. After the trouble has passed I may return to reclaim my position.”
“If you choose to do so I will return your robes gladly.”
I felt her hand rub my cheek. Her fingers were long with well-trimmed nails. It was warm. “I will miss you… daughter.”
I felt my cheeks flush. She never called me daughter in public. “Headmistress…”
“Illyana,” she interrupted me. I heard a rebuke in her tone, but also sadness. “When I refer to you using familial terms I expect to be answered back in kind.”
I smiled. “I’ll miss you too, Mother.”
She reached down and hugged me. I heard her staff hit the stone floor. I hugged her back. I heard her bend down and pick up her staff. On her way out I heard her tell someone—Professor Mord, judging from the way he constantly tapped his staff against the floor. “I’m counting on you to aid my troublesome daughter.”
“It would be a pleasure.” The voice confirmed that it was Professor Mord.
I retired to my room. The only mother I had ever known was leaving and she had given me a great responsibility. Watching over the entire Academy. Was I really the most qualified? I needed time to think. I used my command over the earth and wind to make sure that I was alone. At around midnight I heard the wind pounding my window. At first I ignored it, but then Drake began screeching, something was out there. I opened the window, and the object glided into my room with a sharp gust of wind. It landed in the palm of my hand. It was circular and almost smooth. It felt cold and metallic. My probing fingers quickly found a recess. I put my finger into it and felt a switch give. At that moment I heard a voice say:
“Illyana, I regret that I have neglected to send you any news for these past years. I have mastered a multitude of swordsmanship techniques. Soon I will face my enemy in combat and have my revenge. I trust that you have learned much of the ways of magic. I thank you for keeping my existence a secret. For the time being I plan to return to Drahaven and forge a suit of armour. I will send you another message once that is complete.”
I returned to Drahaven. There were footprints in the ground. I could tell that they were fairly recent. These people had probably arrived five, perhaps six, days ago. I felt a burning sensation. How dare they attempt to loot my people’s home. When I looked closer I noticed that the ground had been heavily worn. A great number of people had come through here, probably looking for our technology. The star probe had been mostly gutted. All that remained was rust and a few broken circuits. It was of no consequence, the parts had already been rendered inoperable by Sadow’s attack. Even had they been salvageable, only a draconian would be capable of constructing anything with them. For any one else, they would serve as a curiosity.
Calming myself, I flew to the summit of the mountain directly south of the city. I located the crater immediately. It was in a flat area near the peak. Summoning a breeze I cleared the dust from a small area of the north-eastern wall. The cleared area looked like a flat sheet of rock with a slight recess to the left. I proceeded to put my left hand into the recess. The scanning device took a sample of my blood. While the analysis continued, I verbally entered the access code: “j73wb8kf4ne6i76je6jvgn56nfd56h6nold4y”
The door slid open and I entered the compound. It took ten seconds for the entrance to seal itself. I walked to the end of the corridor and felt my entire body being scanned. A mechanical arm emerged and took my pulse. I squeezed the knuckle of its pinky finger. The floor beneath me opened. My wings spread out with room to spare. Using them to slow my decent, I reached the heart of our compound. I moved past the museums where machines and other important objects were enshrined and into our laboratories. The first door led to the mechanical area, across from that was the chemistry area. Past them was the metallurgy laboratory, where I needed to go.
Fortunately, my people had learned blacksmith techniques from the dwarves. It was their way of showing gratitude for a mining device that we had given them. It took me two tries before I managed to successfully forge a suit of armour. Somehow I was unable to make my hands accomplish the perfect forging that I could see in my mind. The armour was mostly silver in colour with violet trim, the colours of our banner. Violet was chosen to represent the mind and silver to represent technology. It had to be light so that I could fly while wearing it without being slowed too much while still offering a great deal of protection. I included hatches just big enough for my tail and wings. Once my wings and tail were through, the hatches would close around them, allowing them freedom of movement without leaving potential entrance into the armour. Once the hatches closed the only way to take advantage of their existence would be to completely remove my tail or wings. For the chest emblem I used a dragon descending with its talons outstretched. My helmet contained two openings that perfectly matched the circumference of my horns.
As an after thought I built a messenger device. When that was complete I flew back up to the opening. As I hovered, the scanner checked me again and opened the floor above me. I exited the complex and flew from the crater. When I had landed I programmed a message into my device and sent it to apprise Illyana of my status. I held it out in my palm. “Wind, carry my message high so that it will not be intercepted and carry it fast.” Before letting it go I visualized Illyana’s room in Wicadia, then Wicadia itself from an aerial view. The wind responded and carried the orb from my hand. After that was complete, I constructed a crude altar to the Goddess and made an offering of incense and mule deer fat to her. “Sweet Nemesis, guide my hands.” I offered the short prayer. It was time. I simply had to make the journey to Strecner and then I would put an end to everything.