"I must leave this place, with haste.", the desperation in Bastian's voice cut through the silence.
Isabel and Saiyin were busy preparing a purification ritual to rid the dungeon of the evil Zaron had wrought. Saiyin paused what she was doing to look at Bastian, concerned etched on her face. She had never seen the timeless one so troubled. "Go, we have work to complete here, and once done, we will venture forth to the village to help the people. They will be glad to hear of the necromancer's demise."
Bastian gave a curt nod before striding out of the chamber through the tunnel network towards the surface. The gloom outside helped his eyes adjust quickly, and before long, he could see his tower looming in the distance. A sixth sense made the hair stand up on the back of his neck, automatically thrusting him into a cautious mode. Weariness from the previous battle disappeared as he prepared spells for a potential conflict. Bastian's concerns eased when he recognised the figure standing near his tower. The staff was unmistakable, and there was only one being he knew that caused flowers to bloom and brushes to grow wherever she walked instantly.
"Gendris", Bastian called once he was within earshot. The mighty minotaur druid continued to caress and whisper to a flower for a few moments before looking up at him.
"Is the deed done?" she inquired.
"Yes, the necromancer is no longer of this world...well in his human form anyway.", Bastian replied.
Gendris' eyes glazed over for a moment as if she saw something from afar, before breaking the silence. "We have more significant problems than the machinations of a power-hungry necromancer. I am sure you know of what I speak."
"I do", Bastian answered. He sensed something with Gendris he had not before. There was a new power within her as if she had gone through some transformation. A brief smile passed her lips as if to confirm his suspicions.
"We must act, lore keeper. The undead stir in Between and the demonic horde has turned its gaze towards our world. The old gods can only hold them off for so long. It is the new gods who we must place our faith." Gendris spoke confidently. However, her face was etched with concern.
"Do you speak for Grul?", Bastian asked.
"I do, and she, like the rest of the new gods, seeks an allegiance with Torin. We must work together if we wish to save Between and Athien."
Bastian pondered for a moment, mulling things over in his head, before replying. "There is a way, and with it, hope. Come with me, we have much to discuss".
Gendris gently brushed her hand through the bushes and trees that had visibly grown in the time since Bastian emerged from the necromancer's keep. They leaned towards her when she began to walk towards Bastian's tower, eager for a final caress from their master. Gendris turned to look at the foliage one last time before entering the tower. She new much danger and adventure lie ahead, and the druid was not sure the next time her hooves would feel the sweet soil of Athien beneath them again.
Gendris was never totally at ease surrounded by stone walls. She distracted herself by concentrating on the impressive model Bastian presented to her, a model that mapped vast areas of Between. Gendris recently discovered that Bastian was not an Athien native, that his home was Between. Today, she got to see, first hand, the depth of his knowledge of the shadow plane.
"What am I looking at?", Gendris asked with some interest.
"This map shows the location every Effigy ever made on Between. The amount of magical energy required to summon heroes to the shadow plane is immense. Even the very first Effigy, forged by Krognar, retains a lot of its energy despite being dormant for many years. I am still working through the details; however, Torin believes we can use the Effigies to form an arcane network of sorts. A magical shield that draws on the inherent power within each Effigy to provide a barrier, perhaps strong enough to repel the demon invasion." Gendris was transfixed while Bastian explained.
"This is incredible. Who knows of this?" she asked.
"You are the first to know outside of Torin, Vujasha and myself."
Bastian replied. "You are our direct line to Grul, and we will need the cooperation of all the gods if this is to work. I assume Grul will be a reliable participant; however, some of the others...let's say getting them to cooperate will be a challenge." Bastian paused, giving time for Gendris to take it in, before continuing. "You must speak with Grul and let her know of our plans. Torin will request a champion of each god attend a conclave, in physical form, on the shadow plane. At that conclave, I will need allies to help convince all that the very existence of our world is under threat."
"I will commune with Grul on this." Gendris offered. "How much time do we have?"
"A matter of days". Bastian replied. "The old god's power is waning, their destruction is imminent and once they are gone, Between is all that stands in the way of the demons and the destruction of Athien and our entire world."