Chapter 9: Making Promises

    The hero stood there a moment, trying to wrap his mind around what he should be doing. Myriad curses were hurtling through his head. It wasn’t until Sera came over and whistled as loudly as she could into his right ear that he snapped back to planet Earth. “For the love of… Was that entirely necessary? You could’ve just poked me a few times, tapped me on the shoulder, or put a 12-guage slug in my chest. Damn it, now my ear is going to be ringing for the next three or four days…”
    Sera just looked at him with a sort of vacant gaze. He quickly mellowed and remembered to simply ignore the pain. Picking her up by the waist, Kadmon took off in the direction of his apartment. By the time they reached his door, she was at least speaking again, and with a fair amount of coherence. With a turn of the key, the door opened before them. Until Kadmon was two steps inside the apartment, he had forgotten about the runic spell on the “Welcome” mat. With a hefty degree of force, the dazed singer was pushed back and away from the apartment until she hit her head on the opposite wall. This, depending on your viewpoint, could have been either very good or very bad, but both for the same reason – Sera had regained her senses.
    “My bad,” Kadmon said, removing his hat and scratching at his short white hair, “I forgot that I put a little something together to keep out unwelcome guests.”
    Sera rubbed the back of her head, then advanced on the apologetic hero angrily. The runic doormat did its job a second time and sent her staggering backwards before she got within striking distance. With a huff, she calmed down a bit. “May I come in?” Sera asked as politely as she could muster.
    “Yes, Ms. Sera Dalton, you may enter.” Kadmon looked down as he said this. The runes on the doormat stopped glowing. “It’s safe for you to enter now. Well, as safe as it ever is for someone untrained in the magical arts to enter my apartment.”
“Kadmon, I have an associates degree in Magical Arts and Detection,” Sera stepped past the doorway that barred her entrance mere moments earlier, “I’d hardly consider myself ‘untrained’.”
    “Comparatively,” Kadmon said as he removed his sunglasses and cape, “You are about as experienced in the arcane arts as…” He could see that this was only going to go badly if he kept up this way. “Never mind, forget I said anything. The bedroom is through the first door on the left, there is a bathroom adjacent. If I sleep at all, it will be on the couch. Kitchen is over here, help yourself to anything in there.” He thought for a second or two, “You can feel free to use the TV as you see fit. If there is anything else you need, don’t hesitate to ask me.” Kadmon removed his upper armor, revealing the complete and utter lack of remaining wounds from the battle earlier, and the glowing green Rune of Recovery embedded in his chest. Across his upper torso and left arm were embedded no fewer than fifty other runes. He sat down on his couch and began to read one of the many books he’d borrowed from Jack almost four months earlier.
    While he did this, Sera looked around at some of the other books strewn about. Covering almost every flat surface of the apartment was some magical tome or other. She didn’t know how or where one man would accrue such a large amount of ancient books and artifacts. Sera had to admit, at least to herself that compared to the hero in the room with her, she knew next to nothing of magic. On the kitchen table were assembled a number of books exploring one particular kind of magic. “Kad, what’s the deal with all of these books on sound magic?”
    “That’s something I haven’t been able to figure out myself. Sonics, that is.” He called back, “I’ve been researching it for a little over three weeks now and I haven’t been able to manage the slightest bit of progress in understanding how to make the magic of sound work for me.”
That answered one question at least. Sera looked at another book on the table. This wasn’t a magic book, though. It was an encyclopedia, Volume M to be precise. “Masked shrike, Lanius Nubicus. Classified as songbirds, they’re related to… Is this somehow related to what you’re researching?” She asked, although she had a fair idea of the answer already.
    “It was. It didn’t exactly pan out,” Kadmon put the book down and walked into the kitchen, “I was trying to study songbirds in hopes that somehow it might help me figure out sonics. Suffice it to say, it hasn’t worked for me.” He looked at the clock. It was quarter after 2 AM. “Sera, you should get some sleep. It’s been a taxing day for you, I can tell. I have created something comfortable for you to sleep in, if you so choose.”
    “Thanks Kad. I really owe you one after today.” Sera wrapped her arms around Kadmon’s chest. She stayed there for several minutes before he noticed that she was crying on him. Cautiously, he placed his arms around her and let her stay there until she got it out of her system.
    Silently, Kadmon closed his eyes. When they opened again, his glow filled them. “I promise you this, when I catch up with Ombra, he will pay for everything he’s done, and everything he planned to do, Sera.” He now held her shoulders at arms length, “He will regret ever coming to our Earth. I will make him wish he had never even heard of magic.” Sera looked deeply into his eyes. Kadmon was never this determined, at least not during the times she had seen him. Something had happened here that had brought his normally somewhat scattered brains together on one purpose. When he blinked, the glow was gone. With all the gentleness his near-infinite strength could muster, he wiped the tears from Sera’s eyes. “Rest now, Sera. I have a lot of research to do, and you need to get some sleep.”
    Sera smiled at him and nodded, “Thank you again. I’ll do my best in that.” Now exhausted entirely, she walked over to Kadmon’s room, closed the door, and plopped down fast asleep on top of the soft, baggy clothing that Kadmon had laid out for her. For several hours she slept dreamlessly. At some point in the night, she could swear that she heard Kadmon’s voice cursing in astonishment. When she woke up, the clock on the wall was reading ten-something AM. Or it could’ve been something-ten AM. Possibly PM. Either way, it was several hours later than she normally would get up. Sera walked from Kadmon’s room and into his kitchen, failing to note the fact that he was presently not moving. Two cups of coffee and a freshly baked blueberry muffin later, the still-groggy singer sat down next to the totally immobile hero on the couch with a third cup and a granola bar.
    There were now several dozen more books sitting on the table, Sera noted. There was also an odd sound coming from her right. The morning blur only just clearing from her eyes, Sera took a sidelong glance at the source. Kadmon’s face was firmly planted in one of twenty or thirty books he’d, at some point in the night, liberated from Oranbega, the MAGI vaults, and potentially Jack Zodiac’s own collection of tomes. Apparently, even as untiring as he was, the previous night’s battle had worn him down, as was quickly apparent from all the snoring he was doing. He was mostly in-costume, save for his mask, boots, and hat, the first hanging from the corner of the couch, and the last upside-down a foot and a half from his head. The boots were a different story entirely, sitting at unusual angles on the bookshelf, of all places.
    His superior weight took some coaxing to move, but after a few minutes Sera managed to at least get his head off the table and onto the couch. She decided, at this point, that however many hours of sleep she’d gotten probably hadn’t been enough, and carefully laid herself down on the other half of the couch, using Kadmon’s cape as a makeshift blanket.
    She wasn’t asleep more than a few minutes before someone knocked loudly at the door. Before Sera’s eyes even opened, Kadmon sprang up and answered it. “Max, what are you doing here so early? It’s only… err…” He formed a circle in the air with his hand. Two small points of light appeared halfway between the twelve and one positions and between the seven and the eight positions, “Oh… 12:38 PM…”     He scratched his head, “How long have you been standing out there?”
    “Two hours.” The undead soldier responded, “You’re lucky I’m as patient as I am, otherwise I would’ve kicked the door in.”
    “And would have been promptly launched back through Aidan’s wall.” Kadmon stretched his arms as he looked back to the couch. Sera was sitting up now, still using the cape as a blanket. “Sera, I’ve scheduled a bit of a training session for you with Max here. He may be a zombie, but I don’t think there is a single martial artist in Paragon that can match his skills.” He said, and then thought on that for a second or two. “Well, if nothing else there isn’t a single zombie in the city that can match him. Either way, I’ve arranged for a spot in the Arena for you.”
    Sera looked at him somewhat drowsily for a moment, then, with a yawn, responded, “’Kay.”

Chapter 10: Just a Golem?

    The singer found herself standing in what appeared to be a very high tech laboratory. Kadmon had been kind enough to stop at Icon and pick her up some bracers for the coming exercises, stating that she would more than likely need them. Across the room, a tall armored man in black appeared, goggles giving off an otherworldly red glow. There was an obvious dent in his helmet from long before, when a hero had long before struck it with a great deal of force.
    “Now, we’re going to start off slow, then gradually speed up.” Max went through the motions with his student. When he felt that she’d gotten the hang of what he was doing, he stepped it up a bit. Before too long, he was moving at a speed that was much faster than one would expect from the undead. “Come on now! You’re young and alive yet, you should be at least able to keep up with me!”
That evening, Sera returned to Kadmon’s apartment with a few more bruises than she’d originally anticipated. Still, it was better than the previous night. Her tour was put on indefinite hold because of that event. Still, it wasn’t all that bad staying at Kadmon’s apartment. The company was interesting, to say the least, and he was a surprisingly good cook. She stepped in, found Kadmon doing exactly what he’d been doing when she’d left earlier in the afternoon, but also found dinner waiting on the table for her. “Thanks Kad, this is exactly what I need right now.”
    “You sound tired,” Kadmon said, not even looking up from his research yet, “Would I be correct in assuming that today was productive?” Sera was a bit busy eating to actually respond, but Kadmon could gather the answer from the thoughts closest to the surface of her mind. He put the book down and walked into the kitchen. For a minute, he dug through one of the deeper drawers before finding what he was looking for. “I expect Max left you stinging a bit,” From the drawer, he produced a portable Medic device, commonly used by heroes who wished to be able to assist their allies with more than their fists, “I’m not licensed to use one of these things on the field anymore, but I don’t see any harm in fixing up whatever bumps today may have left you with.” With practiced precision, the hero moved the device over the visible bruises, quickly clearing the darkened marks and the pain that accompanied them. “Feeling much better now?”
    “Very much. Thanks again, Kad.” Sera said, putting down her silverware, “I’m not even entirely certain what all you had set out for me, but it was very good.”
    Kadmon smiled at this, a warm radiant smile of appreciation, and took the plate over to the sink where he set it on top of the pile of dishes waiting to be cleaned. “I live to serve, Sera.”
    Sera sat for a moment watching as the plates floated around in midair, followed closely by the cloth that was cleaning them off. Though by most accounts a Scrapper, Kadmon’s mastery of magic extended well beyond its use for self-defense. Telekinesis and telepathy were, to him, as easy as moving and speaking to a normal person. The singer couldn’t fathom such ease of use of magic. Though a descendant of Mu, her magical ability was somewhat limited. “I meant to ask you something, Kad.” She said as she stood up from her seat, “What exactly have you been researching?”
    One of the plates exploded, but its shards didn’t travel any farther than a foot from where it had floated moments earlier. “Ombra said something just before we drove him off. He said that we were constructs. Essentially, nothing more than golems made to look like humans.”
    “Oh…” Sera cringed a bit. She hadn’t meant to strike a nerve. “I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have…”
    “Don’t worry about it. So far, I’ve found very little evidence one way or the other. More than likely he was hoping to surprise me enough that he could get past me and reach you.” The shards of the plate quickly and noisily floated themselves over to the garbage can, but did little to cover what anyone with half a brain could tell were hollow words. Kadmon turned as though to speak, but found Sera standing right there with a finger up.
    She shook her head, then said, “I don’t care what anything in history might say. Those books may say you aren’t really human, but your action says otherwise.” Her hand came down before she spoke again, “No mere ‘golem’ would go out of its way to do the things you’ve done, Kadmon. Remember that.”
    With an almost visible air of relief about him, Kadmon let the breath he was holding go. “Thank you for your faith in me. I have to wonder sometimes if it isn’t I who owes you, and not the other way around.” He chuckled a bit as he thought about it, “Honestly, I may have saved you from Ombra, but you’ve done the same for me, just from a far more dangerous enemy.”
    “Oh? And who might that be?” She asked, stepping over to the books on sonic magic.
    “Why, none other than the most dangerous enemy I have,” Kadmon responded, “Myself.”
    Sera shook her head and sighed audibly at the terrible cliché. In what could be called the most blatant change of subject in recorded human history, she picked up one of the books and said, “You said before that you didn’t understand these. I know at least two of these spells, and they aren’t that complex.” The hero stepped over, allowing the dishes to continue washing themselves, “Like this one, it’s really nothing much more than whistling at the right pitch and frequency. Here, I’ll demonstr-”
    “No, no, that’ll be fine.” Kadmon put his hands up quickly, shaking them back and forth to display that it really wasn’t necessary. He knew exactly what THAT spell entailed, and his ears were still ringing from the last time, “You said you knew two of them. What’s the other one?”
    “This book calls it Sonic Siphon, but everyone I knew always called it ‘Glass Breaker.’” She considered offering to demonstrate it, but she really didn’t want to destroy every glass and plate in the room, let alone the window and the television in the next room over, “There’s a good reason for that, but you’re a smart guy, I think you can figure it out.” She looked down at the book again, “There’s another one in here that I’m pretty sure I can do, but won’t because it would damage the entire apartment complex.” Her finger landed on one of the lower spells on the page. It was a rather nasty one at that, known as Liquefy, “Mother insisted that I learn some of these for self defense. So far, I’ve never actually had to use them.”
    Kadmon grinned a bit at this, “You mean you haven’t bothered to use them. If I’d known that you could do that, I would’ve asked for a bit of help back there when Ombra cut me in half.”
    The sheer strangeness of that statement coming from anything even remotely humanoid, even in a city of heroes, was too much for the singer. She burst out laughing, even though she knew he was being serious. “Sorry, sorry. It’s just that outside of this city, I don’t think anyone, anywhere has ever had reason to say that.” After she calmed herself down a bit, she continued, “Beyond that, you’re a mind reader. You could’ve taken a peak into my head and asked me to fire off anything I had at my disposal. Not that I don’t appreciate you not doing that.”
    “You make gathering information from someone else’s brain sound easy. A skull does more than keep your head in its proper shape I hope you realize. Admittedly, when I’m focused on someone, it IS easier to know what’s going on in their heads,” Kadmon stated, “But, in the case of my little skirmish with my own Praetorian, you could hopefully understand that, while my primary concern is your safety, my main focus during the fight was, of course, the guy in front of me who had just cut me in half.”
    Sera shook her head, “If we’re going to keep discussing this, could you please stop saying that? It was kinda funny the first time you said it, but looking back on it just makes it creepier and creepier.”
    “Err… Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause any unpleasantness,” He scratched his head while searching for something more to say, “If it helps any, unlike some heroes I’ve met, I have a good bit of control over my mental telepathy. Here’s a fun trick for mucking around with people who don’t control it so well – If you notice that there’s someone snooping around in your mind, start thinking of the strangest, most inane thing you can. That’ll usually get them to stop for a little bit at least.”
    “That doesn’t really have anything to do with what we’re talking about, but it is helpful.”
    “It may not have had anything to do with anything, but it did get your mind off of a potentially difficult conversation topic.” Kadmon grinned, then frowned a bit, “I… I probably shouldn’t have bothered to mention it again…”
    Sera stopped him before he could go any further, “Never mind, lets just leave it at that and move on. For example, lets move on to what’s on TV right now.”

Chapter 11: Dethkick!

    The next week passed relatively quietly for the hero and his guest. There were few, if any, sightings of Ombra’s minions in Paragon City. A couple times, going between the Arena and Kadmon’s apartment, Max was certain he saw the quick armor he’d done battle with before following him. It wasn’t until Thursday of the following week that one side finally took action.
    An hour into the day’s martial arts training, someone else entered the ship where Sera was working with Max. This was someone who was itching for a rematch after his previous battle. Rather than attempting to sneak up on the deceased fighter, the armor simply sat atop a pile of crates in plain sight of both teacher and student. When they stopped for a break, he descended to the ground. Reaching up, the armor removed its helmet, revealing a white mask with red markings and a long mane of blue hair. The eyes of the mask burned with a nether worldly flame. “Good afternoon,” He said, his burning orbs focused on the former 5th Column soldier, “I am named Garlanus, and called The Ordinator by most. It is my duty to maintain order among Lord Ombra’s soldiers, and to bring swift death to his enemies.” His eyes dropped a bit, “Err… You wouldn’t happen to know a way past the ward on your friend’s door, would you?”
    “It’s not possible for either of us to get in there.” Max responded, loosening his arms and legs as he did so, “I assume that destroying Kadmon wasn’t the only reason he sent you here.”
    “You would be correct in that. I was sent to secure Ms. Dalton there and destroy anyone who got in my way.” Garlanus’ eyes fixed on the undead soldier, “Would it be safe to assume you-“ He was cut off by a titanium boot to the head that catapulted him back through four steel cargo containers. “I’ll take that as a yes.” The armored man appeared in a flash of light in front of his opponent again, this time with his sword drawn, “To the… err… death? Does that even apply in this case?”
    Max put his robotic hand through a cargo box, “Lets just get on with it, shall we? I still have a lot of work to do here before I can return with Sera.”
    Garlanus audibly sighed, “Very well, I’ll dispense with the pleasantries and we can just pound on each other like brutes then.” The wraith soldier vanished again, reforming behind his enemy. He stabbed his sword right through where Max had been standing. Unfortunately for him, the soldier in black had leapt into the air before he reappeared, and was now in the process of planting his foot squarely in The Ordinator’s head. Understandably, the kick made Garlanus wish he hadn’t removed his helmet. In spite of his recent head trauma, the wraith wasn’t about to simply roll over and return home empty-handed. He picked himself up and launched himself at Kampfer, slashing through the air with his katana.
    Max was a far superior hand-to-hand fighter. A deft turn and another swift kick sent Garlanus catapulting through the outer hull of the holographic ship. It was, to his dismay, a very solid hologram. Reaching under his helmet, the zombie soldier produced his cell phone. Before his opponent could get himself back into the ship, he tossed it to Sera. “Give Kadmon a call. Tell him we have an unwelcome guest in this session.”
    “I’ve noticed something,” The Ordinator said as he flashed into existence on top of another crate, “You really don’t use your arms for much of anything with your martial arts style.” He leapt down, striking plated floor rather than undead soldier, “I’ll grant that your kicks are strong, VERY strong in fact. I didn’t think it was possible for a ghost like myself to have broken bones, but you, my dear friend, have proved otherwise.” Every one of his calculated swings met only air. Max may have been remarkably durable, but not even someone like him would simply take a hit that was that easy to avoid. “I must ask though, what purpose does a robotic arm serve if your arms aren’t used when you fight?”
    Though it was impossible to see, behind his mask, Max grinned, “Dramatic effect.” He responded simply. Garlanus took only a moment to consider this before repulsing a flurry of crates that had been flung at him using his somewhat-underused magic. With inhuman speed, Max Kampfer dove at the assassin. He dodged just as the zombie’s robotic arm smashed through the deck plating. However, before he could move to strike, the Ordinator found himself looking at the ceiling, then the wall behind him, and finally the ground just before he face planted on it. “And distraction for my other attacks. That one was Dragon’s Tail.” He hopped back a bit and got into a more proper combative stance. “I have to ask you something – How did you get past the Police Drones at the doors?”
    “I can render myself invisible,” Garlanus said, “A simple trick for one like myself,” He casually lifted himself to his feet. “It really helps when taking care of business for Lord Ombra.” He vanished into thin air. Instinctively, Max turned on the thermal setting on his goggles. The burning orbs were moving to capture Sera. Max laughed heartily at this, causing Garlanus to stop in his tracks. He turned his head to see why, and quickly found his chin being impacted by a cybernetic foot. As his feet left the ground against his will for the fourth time in one fight, he felt his spine take a heavy hit and his face crash against the wall.
    “You don’t really show up on my thermal goggles.” Max said, removing his boot from the Ordinator’s back, “But your eyes are very hot. If you want to try sneaking around near me, you should do something about that.”
    Garlanus took a moment and got his bearings. There were two new holes in the hull where his eyes had been. “I’ll take your suggesting into consideration. However, it would appear that my time here is running short, so I’ll be moving along in a moment.” A glowing, pulsing aura appeared near his feet, “But not without my objective.” Max tried to get close enough to place another kick into his ribs, but found himself facing a solid wall of kinetic energy. Nearby crates were catapulted into the walls, shattering, splintering and pancaking as they hit, “Do send my regards to Kadmon. He has done an incredible job of making my job hard.”
    A wave of black energy struck the assassin, sending him hurtling away. “Consider your regards sent, Ordinator.” The brown-cloaked form of Kadmon appeared from nothingness, “And please accept my humblest apologies for all the trouble I’ve caused you. It’s nothing personal, really.”
    Sera tossed Max his cell phone then looked at Kadmon, “Just in time. Do you heroes practice that or something?”
    “Practice what?” He asked, not paying attention to the twitching form of the armored assassin that was currently lodged inside of a steel cargo crate. It seemed, to him, that he was no longer a viable threat. A bright flash proved this wrong.
    “I will NOT be denied the master’s prize!” Garlanus appeared momentarily on top of the crate he was only moments earlier lodged in, “You hear me?! I don’t care what you are, I WILL complete my mission!”
    It wasn’t four seconds before Kadmon was in his face with his fist. “You talk entirely too much. If you want to take Sera so badly, get past me.” His eyes burned with an intense emerald glow. “That is, if you think you’re capable.”
    The burning orbs met his emerald glow, “I am capable. More so than you might realize.” He took two steps and vanished in a flash of light. “It has been terrible fun, gentlemen, but I have to leave you now.” The hero turned just in time to see Garlanus vanish with Sera struggling to break herself from his grasp, “I do hope you’ll come to Lord Ombra’s citadel to watch his victory. You know where to find it.”
    Kadmon appeared, to anyone who might have had an observer camera in the arena at the time, to be totally calm. Max, however, could see a vein in his forehead preparing to burst. There was a look in his eye, though, that said that he already had a plan. “Kadmon, what are you-“ He was cut off by his fellow hero vanishing from the arena floor, “You bastard…”

Chapter 12: Questions and Answers

    Azuria dropped under her desk quickly as the main door to MAGI’s offices shattered in a hail of splinters. “You could’ve knocked. I’m assuming you need something.”
    “I need to talk to Akarist.” Kadmon rubbed his chin through his muffler, then decided that wasn’t enough, “Now, if it isn’t too much trouble.”
    “He’s in the same place he always is, and he’s been waiting for you for about an hour now.” Kadmon walked off, an air of urgency about him. With an audible sigh, the seeress walked over to the phone. “Yes. He was here again. Yes, I know the door is supposed to stay open. You know as well as I do that oak alone can’t stop him when he gets like that.” She was silent for a moment, “That doesn’t change the fact that we need a new door.” She exhaled in annoyance, “Yes, I’ll hold.”
    Akarist removed a book from the shelf and turned directly to the page of relevance to what he was about to say. A brown-clad hurricane entered the study mere moments later. “Tell me exactly what you need. Nothing more, nothing less.”
    “Answers. I need to know about Mu’s constructs, what they are, why they were made, this armor, everything.” His eyes wandered to the clock, “And I need all of that about half an hour ago.”
    “Read.” Akarist said simply, pointing one of his long fingers to the book. Kadmon looked at him quizzically. “I said read. If you want to get this done in any timely manner, you will follow my instructions and read!”
    Kadmon looked down at the book. It, like every note he’d received from the ancient wizard, was written in his thin, web-like handwriting. The passage he was reading detailed a battle during the war between Oranbega and Mu. Akarist had been present at that battle, which, until the arrival of one of Mu’s constructs, had been a decisive victory for the followers of Ermeeth. The next paragraph described the construct as a silver-haired monster in the form of a man. His eyes shone like green hellfire, and he was covered with more weapons than any one man should ever need. Akarist’s fellow wizards made a valiant effort, according to the text, but in the end were taken down before they could do any real damage. During the fight, he had noticed that the construct took no joy in doing its work. When he reached the Oranbegan, he sheathed his swords and left the injured and helpless wizards, stating that he would show them the same mercy they showed the women and children.
    “Has that been informative?” Akarist took another book from the shelf, “It shouldn’t answer all of your questions, but it should answer the one nagging you so totally well enough.” The book in his hand was one of ancient Oranbegan artifacts. “In case you haven’t figured it out, you were that construct. The armor…” He stopped a moment, looking down at the book in his hand, “You already know that it’s a limiter. We forged them as a means to fight you and your kind. Your power was able to exceed ours thanks in no small part to the runes your goddess created for you. We’ve spent millennia studying them ever since the war, and we still couldn’t replicate them. The best we could do was seal them off. And seal we did. We had no regrets about what we did to constructs, aside from you they were nothing but mindless monsters.”
    Kadmon’s anger had worn away now, replaced by cold realization. “We were created for slaughter.” He said, quite certain he didn’t want to believe himself, “They had us made to kill, nothing more. Why was I different? And tell me, why shouldn’t I complete my old mission here and now?”
    “Now, as then, my fate is in your hands. Knowing you as I do, you care more for knowledge than mindless murder,” A smile crossed the face of the ancient Oranbegan, “Beside that, if you killed me, you’d never get the answer you want in time. As to why you were different…” He turned his cold eyes to the hero sitting at the desk, “It’s because you were the first. You were created, trained, and then replicated without that troublesome learned moral code. I must applaud the researchers of Mu, they did create a near-invulnerable army, but it had one flaw. Its progenitor was more than a mere golem.”
    "How was it that I ended up in the middle ages without knowing who and what I was?" Kadmon asked, "It doesn't make much sense in my eyes."
    "You were given the punishment of traitors and cowards for letting us go," Akarist responded, "Our spirits found you, frozen in a crystalline prison, around the year 1130 AD. We remembered your kindness, so we set you free. Your composition, in addition to your runes, would have prevented you from aging with or without the prison."
    Slowly, silently, Kadmon stood from his chair. “Thank you, Akarist. You’ve been immensely helpful,” With all of his urgency drained from him, the hero walked to the door.
    “One more thing.” Kadmon turned, “When the time comes, do not be afraid to let your limitations fall away. In so doing, they can become a block for your enemies. Remember that.” He nodded at the sage advice of the wizard, “Now go, how would those on the streets put this… Give them hell.”
    Kadmon grinned, and the energy returned to his step. He had a job to do, and he wasn’t going to fail. He was going to go to Praetorian Earth, even if it was a restricted dimension. Portal Corp wouldn’t help in such an endeavor. He needed to retrieve something from a friend, and then he would be able to get there under the radar.

The Shadow Shard, 1930 hours

    The Chantry was as quiet as a non-zombie-infested tomb. Faathim was being unusually silent when Jack walked in for one of his visits. A luminous emerald glow leaning against the wall and looking agitated was the most likely culprit.
    “Kad, you look like you just lost Knifey or something.” He commented, “I take it there is a problem?”
Kadmon’s green eyes fixed on his younger friend, “I need back that rune I entrusted you with.” Slowly, he brought his left hand up, “I need to get somewhere faster than I could fly there.”
    Jack shrugged and removed his left glove, “Your rune. Happy to have been of service.” The Rune of Portals vanished from the wizard’s hand and reappeared on Kadmon’s. “So, where are you head-“ Kadmon vanished before he even finished asking the question, “Bastard.”
“Your friend has a bit of a problem presently.” Faathim the Kind said, looking down to the six hundred year old wizard, “And he was a little angry when he got here and you weren’t in. I would’ve asked more questions, but I wanted to keep my eyes. You understand that, correct?”
    “Yeah, Kadmon can get downright nasty when something doesn’t go the way he planned it.” He scratched his head, then asked, “Any idea where he was headed?”
    The Kind One looked at him again, weighed the potential loss of eyes over the chance that Kadmon might have been going in over his head, and decided it was worth the risk. “He’s headed to the world your scientists dubbed ‘Praetorian Earth.’”
    “Praetorian… Oh hell… I’d better get the others then.” Jack flew back out the way he’d come in faster than Faathim could’ve agreed with him.

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