A Different World Chapter 9

All was perfectly silent and calm as the group ascended the final staircase. At the top was a large set of double doors, crafted from pure silver, but other than that plain looking. Michael shook off his anxiety. For the last five years of his life he had worked hand in hand with a god. Dealing with a dragon was nothing to get worked up about.

Taking the lead position Michael pushed the doors open and stepped into the Star Dragon’s chamber. The room looked nothing like what he had expected. He expected the room to be as ornate as the Hall of Heroes with rows of priceless art surrounding the tower’s owner. What he saw was a plain room, circular, without any art, the ceiling was made from some transparent material that gave a full view of the sky. The room even appeared smaller than the other floors, though at the end was another smaller doorway, and in the far left corner was a large green statue of a dragon.

The statue was different than any other statue he had ever seen. He realized at once why. This was a living statue. It was the Star Dragon himself.

The whole group filtered into the chamber. Lash and Nyreo laid Ghaleon by the left wall and joined Ruby and Nall at Michael’s side. Next to them stood Lucia, Kevin, and Ryan. Michael stepped out in front of the group and said, “I am Michael, Dragonmaster of Ghaleon, servant and protector of Lunar. The time is dark and we are in dire need of help, thus is why we sought you out.”

For a moment the only reply was silence. Then the Star Dragon spoke. His voice did not come from the statue like Michael had expected, but it came from everywhere at once. It sounded as if the tower was talking to them. “I know who you are, Dragonmaster. I also know the troubles of Lunar.”

“Then you know how desperately we need your help. Please, we beg of you,” Michael pleaded.

“Dragonmaster, you do not understand the full depths of Zophar’s power. there is nothing I, nor anyone, can do for you,” the Star Dragon replied.

They stood in shocked silence. Of all the things they expected the Star Dragon to tell them this was not it. “Their has to be something you can do,” Michael pressed, struggling to keep the desperation out of his voice.

“Zophar has amassed to much power to be stopped now, even if I was able to return Ghaleon to his full power all would still be lost,” the Star Dragon said.

“No,” Lucia said, stepping forward. “If Ghaleon used his true power Zophar could be destroyed.”

Michael looked puzzled and turned to Lucia. “His true power? What true power?”

The Star Dragon answered before Lucia could reply. “She speaks of the strongest of the godly powers. The Power to Create.”

“To create?” Michael asked, “How would the power to create destroy Zophar?”

“In order for the new to be created,” Lucia said, “First the old must be destroyed.”

After a stunned silence Kevin was the first to make any noise. “Huh? But that means if Ghaleon destroys Zophar he’d kill us too.”

“That is correct,” the Star Dragon confirmed. “Althena had no choice but resort to such means when Zophar attacked the Blue Star millennia ago, but when her powers reacted to Zophar there was a side effect. The Blue Star was badly damaged and left in an unlivable condition. That was why she moved her people to Lunar.”

“And if Ghaleon did the same thing now there would be nowhere left for us to go,” Kevin said, “Lunar would be as damaged as the Blue Star, and its not like we could just move back. The Blue Star’s still unlivable.”

“The Blue Star will be capable of supporting life again someday, but that day is still far off,” Lucia said, “Zophar has us in checkmate.”

“Impossible!” Michael yelled, “ There is no way that I’m going to give up now! Do not tell me that Zophar is too strong or that we are too weak! There has to be a way to defeat him. I just know there’s got to be a way.”

Ruby laid a comforting hand on Michael’s shoulder as he trembled, overcome with anger and determination. “Michael’s right. Zophar must have some kind of weakness. No one is invincible, not even Ghaleon or Althena.”

The silence that followed was the longest yet. Everyone in the room waited in anticipation for the Star Dragon to respond. Finally his voice returned. “You are right. Zophar does have weakness, and there was once a way to forever end him. Althena made her play to defeat her age old nemesis one thousand years ago. If not for the Magic Emperor she would have been successful.”

Michael shook his head. “I don’t understand. What does the Magic Emperor have to do with Zophar? Are they in alliance together? Is the Magic Emperor still alive?”

“Yes, the Magic Emperor is still alive, but he is no friend of Zophar’s,” Nall said to Michael. Then he turned to the Star Dragon. “Why would he stop Althena from stopping Zophar? And more importantly how did he stop her? There was no Althena when the Magic Emperor first appeared.”

Michael turned to Nall, thoroughly confused, “That makes no sense at all. Of course there was an Althena when the Magic Emperor attacked. He’s the one who killed her.”

“Yes he killed her, but he had to bring her back before he could kill her. That’s how he took over,” Nall explained hurriedly before turning his attention back to the Star Dragon, “You have to tell us. How did Althena plan on defeating Zophar?”

“Wait!” Michael shouted at Nall. Now he was exasperated as well as confused. “The Magic Emperor did not take over. Obviously not, sense we are being ruled by Ghaleon.”

Nall turned to respond, but the Star Dragon’s voice boomed throughout the room before he got the chance. “Silence! It is obvious that most of you are ignorant to the true history of Lunar. Out of all those standing before me only the White Dragon knows the truth, and even he does not fully understand everything.”

“Then what is the truth?” Michael demanded.

“Patience,” answered the Star Dragon. “Before I tell you, I must warn you. What you learn you will not like. You will try to deny it. You will doubt me, even though you know my word to be true. Would you still hear me?”

Michael nodded. “I would.”

“So would I,” said Kevin. The others all chorused their affirmatives. The Star Dragon began to speak.

“A millennium ago a great crisis threatened Lunar. In this dark time four champions rose to the challenge and saved Lunar and the goddess. These were the Four Heroes of Althena. Mel de Alkirk, Lemia Ausa, Dragonmaster Dyne, and Ghaleon. In the aftermath of the crisis Dyne went missing. The world believed him to be dead.

“This was not true. Only two people knew the truth. Dyne himself, and his best friend…Ghaleon. They were the only two witnesses to Althena’s request. After the Four Heroes had saved the world she secretly summoned Dyne and Ghaleon. She told them that she had decided to give up her godly powers and become a mere mortal. Ghaleon objected, but Dyne loved Althena with all his heart, and he trusted her judgment. By sacrificing his Dragonmaster powers he caused her transformation: From goddess to human.

“Althena was born again as a baby girl. A human baby. Dyne named the girl Luna and gave her to a close friend from his hometown to raise. Dyne vanished from the view of the world, and life on Lunar went on as it always had. The people were oblivious to the fact that their goddess was no more. Everyone save for Ghaleon. He did not understand why Althena had chosen to become a human. He believed that Althena had abandoned them, and he thought Dyne a fool for helping her.

“Over the years his resentment grew. He was angry and scared. In his eyes her act would ultimately lead to the destruction of the human race. He took it upon himself to remedy her error. Under the alias of the Magic Emperor he forged ties to the Vile Tribe. A group of people who had turned against Althena long ago and were exiled into the wasteland known as the Frontier.

“Fifteen years after Althena’s transformation Ghaleon made his move. He kidnapped the girl Luna, brainwashed her, and forced her to revert back to goddess form. With the goddess under his control he raised Althena’s Fortress and had her drain Lunar of all magical energy.

“A group of heroes lead by a new Dragonmaster, a boy named Alex who was in love with Luna, tried to stop Ghaleon. They failed. Luna absorbed all of Lunar’s energy back into herself. Ghaleon then had her channel the power into his own body…and became a god. His first act as ruling deity of Lunar was to use the Power to Create. All life was wiped off of Lunar and remade anew. A thousand years have now passed under his ruling.”

When the Star Dragon finished his story all the faces in the room were pale. All except for Nall who had known the truth all along. Michael wobbled a little, and for a second it seemed that he might collapse. Ruby tried to steady him, but she felt as weak kneed as everyone else. “No,” Michael said after finding his voice, “I don’t believe it. Ghaleon would never have done what you say.”

“He’s right,” Kevin agreed, “Ghaleon loves his people. He’d never do those things.”

Lucia was shocked as well, but for different reasons. “Why would Althena become human? Ghaleon was right, without a god or goddess humans would be lost.”

“You’re a fool!” Nall snapped at her, “Althena knew what she was doing. She had faith in the human race! Ghaleon had no right to step in. All that he accomplished was the slaughter of millions of innocents.”

“That’s not true!” Michael roared at Nall. “Ghaleon didn’t do any of those things!”

“Yes…yes I did.”

Michael spun at the sound of the voice. Next to the wall Ghaleon had pulled himself into a sitting position. He was pale and still looked exceptionally weak, but he had regained his conciseness. The Dragonmaster stared at his god for a long moment. The sting Michael had felt for failing Ghaleon was lost. Now all he felt was betrayal. “What did you say?” Michael asked. Hoping against hope that he had somehow misheard.

Ghaleon took a shaky breath and stood up. He placed one hand on the wall to steady himself. For a moment he said nothing as he caught his breath. Then he looked Michael in the eye. “What the Star Dragon told you is all true. Althena did not give me godhood. I took it by force.”

At that moment Michael’s spirits were crushed. His eyes dropped to the floor, his shoulders slumped, he let out a long and tired sigh. Dragonmaster Michael suddenly looked much older than twenty five. He opened his mouth to say something, but no words came. He closed his mouth and stood silent.

Ghaleon turned his gaze to the Star Dragon. “Tell me…,” he began before a fit a coughing stopped him. The Star Dragon statue emitted a soft glow that passed to the sickly god. When the glow faded Ghaleon still looked weak, but he now stood unsupported. “Tell me how my actions in any way hindered Althena’s attempt to destroy Zophar. I made no move against Althena until she abandoned the human race. Before that I supported her with all my heart.”

“When Althena decided to become a human she did it for the good of all mankind,” the Star Dragon answered, “She told you that she wanted humans to be able to fend for themselves and not have to rely on her so heavily. You disagreed with her.”

“I did then, and I do now,” Ghaleon said.

“Zophar is very powerful, but he has one glaring weakness,” the Star Dragon said, “His underestimation of the human race. This is a foolishness that you and him share.”

Ghaleon scowled. “What are you getting at?”

“When Althena chose to become human she was looking to the future. She knew Zophar had survived and would one day come to Lunar. She also knew that if she was gone when he arrived he would underestimate how much power it would take to conquer Lunar. Faced against a goddess like her, or a god like you, he would bide his time and build his power until he became unstoppable. But against humans he would be weak. He would not count them as a threat and would not prepare himself as well as he should.

“She knew that after a thousand years without her aid humanity would be much stronger. It would be a long hard road for them, but one that they would survive and gain from. She sat humanity up so it could prepare itself for Zophar, and she sat Zophar up so he would not prepare himself for humanity. At a weak state like the one Althena envisioned, Zophar could be destroyed.”

The simple genius of Althena’s plan hit Ghaleon like a ton of lead. “Why? Why didn’t she tell me this?”

Nall locked Ghaleon with a gaze of pure hate. “She told you enough for you to understand. Dyne understood just fine.”

Ghaleon stared at the White Dragon at a loss for words. Nall was right. Dyne had believed in Althena and trusted her. It all made so much sense now. Everything was clear. He had been blind all along, and now his foolish arrogance would cost the world dearly.

Over head the sun vanished. Storm clouds bellowed in at impossible speeds and swallowed up the sky. Within minutes the only light came from the daggers of lightning that tore through air. Zophar had found them.

Chapter 10

All That Glitters Is Cold 2 Fanfic Competition

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