Kruul breathed the black smoke in and out, letting the visions play around his head. The marking of Zhonyja had been far harder than he'd expected. The potent inks derived from the new crystals were harder to work with than anything he'd tried before. They resisted his efforts, though hopefully, Zhonyja wasn't a good indicator for the rest of those he would mark. For her, he had needed something different, more potent than anything he would have entrusted on any other body than his own.
For his grand plan, though, he would need to do more work. If the ink fought that hard, every skin marker would notice. He would have to change the plan, it would need to be something more insidious than the spell he'd initially planned. Kruul's work today had proven that direct spells were too tricky, he would have to use the ink as a conduit, an anchor to a more considerable spell, rather than the spell itself. This should work, although he would need the anchor spell to be incredibly strong which, in turn, would require an immensely strong conduit, particularly if he expected it to last a thousand cycles or more.
Kruul's gaze wandered to the black stone of the effigy, wreathed in his sight by a horde of visions, creatures dancing around it that had never seen the light of Torin on Athien.
Kruul knew he wasn't mistaken, the effigy could hold the power he needed. It could do that and much more, mainly if there were, as he suspected, more of them around the world, hidden in dark and secluded places. The task before him was was to locate them. Only then, once he had secured more than the single effigy he had today, was he sure his plan would work. Finding the first one gave him the confidence to know what to look for and more importantly, where to look.
The risk lay in him have to leave his homeland to discover the effigies. Kruul's power among the Orcs was high, but there were a hundred witch doctors that would usurp him and a hundred shaman to undermine his authority, should he be absent for any length of time. This was a risk he had to take.
Kruul's plan was beyond ambitious. He sometimes questioned where it had even come from. Kruul quickly shied away from the suspicions that floated in the deep recesses of his mind lest his doubts overwhelmed him. Without a doubt, finding this effigy had planted the seed. Could it really be Edarr, or the shadow of her, that had started him down this path?
He had pondered this question a hundred times in the dark of night, but he couldn't identify the benefit she could possibly gain. A common belief was she was dead, obliterated, but common knowledge was so often wrong. He could feel her presence still in the effigy, could see evidence that she existed in some form by the presence of her children, the demons that he'd seen summoned in Between so often now. No, some fragment of her remained, though he had no idea if it was still her or just some lingering aspect of her power. He hoped it was the latter since his plan was considerably riskier if Edarr was in any sense still alive.
The massive amount of energy Kruul planned to gather from the mortals on Athien, could only be contained in the one thing that provided a possible link to Edarr. The effigies. Once there, Kruul had no way of knowing whether he could stop Edarr from taking the energy for herself. Even if a mere fragment of her remained, such a powerful being, she once was.
As the smoke curled in the air, Kruul fancied he could briefly see a figure of a female minotaur staring at him, her expression inscrutable.
Kruul rose, shaking his head to clear it, the visions swirling back to meaningless patterns. If Edarr was still here, if she was guiding him along this path for her own reasons well, perhaps he could still surprise even her.