The Shadows Chapter 17
By Keith Adams
Roger was enveloped in pure, blinding, white light; the light utterly surrounded him for what seemed to be an eternity, enlightening his naked body as it ripped through the coruscating blue waves of time. After what seemed to be an eternity, the light simply vanished.
Roger found himself on a small wooden stage, no more than one foot off the ground, whose wood was rotting. The sole illumination came from a lamppost in front of him, casting a dim light over the wooden stage. In front of the lamppost was a small podium made of black rock, with the purely black aside from a blood red center flag hanging vertically down from the podium.
At the podium was a huge, vaguely human mass, clad in pure darkness, with a grim, fixed, black steel mask coovering it's face. The High Shadow, thought Roger in astonishment.
The High Shadow made no movement other than a slight twitching of the lips. Roger looked beyond the stage, and saw a huge mob of black masks reflecting the pale flickers of light that reached beyond the stage.
Roger knew where he was. He was at the place of eternal judgement, beyond the end of the Universe. where every Shadow from every world gathered to pass judgement, never remembering it, yet always being present at the judgement. It was a powerful detterent, and the High Shadow always found time to pass judgement on traitors. Roger knew what he was now; a traitor, in the eyes of the High Shadow. This was a mockery of the justice Roger had been taught in Guardia - the High Shadows judgement always prevailed.
"Brother Roger of Truce," boomed the High Shadow, his lips unmoving as his voice filled every direction "You are being charged with treachery to the goals of the Shadows. How do you plead?"
"Not guilty," answered Roger, who was in no hurry to die.
"Very well," boomed the High Shadow "Then you are charged with lying to the Court of Shadow as well. For you have betrayed everything the Shadows have stood for. In exchange for eternal life, for never meeting the cold embrace of death, you agreed to be a Shadow. To be a Shadow means to embrace order, to choose the correct course to ensure the future. You have failed. You engaged the ... anamoly," the High Shadow expressed a certain contempt with the word "and failed. The anamoly could destroy everything every Shadow has ever done to ensure the future of humanity. You were given the honor of guarding the Shadow Base .... and you failed. While your comrades were engaging in combat, you were falling to the reaper. Shadows that are unwilling to sacrifice themselves to kill an anamoly of that nature ..... will be annihalted. You were given everything .. now the time for the due of the Shadows have come. You are denied healing of your wounds. Your eternal ressurections end here."
Roger felt his stomach open. A long, thin gash appeared in his stomach, and blood began to pour out. He remebered this; this killed him once. And it would again.
Marle was unaware of the true realities of her situation, decided Janice. The Chancellor had just overtaken all her responsibilities. She was giving no protest. Perhaps she didn't care about Guardia, about what she could give to it. Perhaps she believed she had nothing to offer Guardia. Whatever the case, she had just been desposed. The same Chancellor who sought to end Guardia's line by prosecuting the King himself was now in control. Janice shook her head.
"Porre stood on it's own in the Shadow Wars 398 years ago. We stopped the advance of the Shadows into the southern continent," claimed the Mayor of Porre "If we could do it once, we can do it again."
"Were you there when the Magus docked, Mayor," answered Crono "It is, in a word, invicible. From what I've seen it could blast Porre's Navy to floating strips of wood without much effort. And your victory nearly cost us the war. And you were on the defensive, and had time to prepare."
"He's right," answered the High Priestess of Fiona "To involve ourselves in Mystic affairs would be ..... suicidal. We do not fight wars we have no chance of winning."
"Fey," said the Mayor of Porre "The imps are our allies, our friends. We shall not leave them to the mercies of the same villians who devastated the Southern Continent, who killed some of our greatest hero's, such as Gaston. We do not give up on out allies, and we shall not give the Shadows free rein over the Mystics. That folly once cost us the entire Kingdom. Never again. If the Shadows announce that they have secured victory, if they blockade Sun Keep, will we still sit here? Choras is just a stones throw away from Mystic, and if they are blockaded, will we respond? Or will we sit here like cowards? We must stop the Shadows, and we must stop them now. Anything less dishonors us."
"Cool heads must prevail. We've 6 airships of the Falcon class nearly ready," argued the Chancellor.
"In 6 months, when they are ready, the Shadows will already have secured Mystic," interrupted the Mayor of Porre.
"And then we can protect Guardia," continued the Chancellor "And respond. But without the airship, we have no way of entering Mystic without engaging the Mystic Navy. One ship of the Magus's size is worth dozens of our frigates."
"We shall engage the Shadows," brooded the Mayor of Porre "with or without the Kingdom's support."
"You cannot engage in military activities without the support of the High Council," snapped the Chancellor.
"Watch us," answered the Mayor of Porre.
"If you engage the Shadows with Alliance Forces, you'll be starting a civil war," yelled the Chancellor.
"Then we leave the alliance. Porre has stood on it's own before. It shall again," and with that, the Mayor of Porre, followed by the Chief of Choras, walked out of the room.
"You're dividing our forces," yelled the Chancellor at the departing executives, who ignored him.
"Well," said the Chancellor as he sat down.
"Well nothing. Without Porre's support, we have to try and stop the Shadows before the engagements get out of hand," said Crono with a streak of seriousness.
"You cannot be serious ... it would be suicidal to engage the Shadows," said Chancellor, his eyes nearly popping out of his sockets.
"If you will not sanction anti Shadow measures ..," warned Crono.
"I cannot at this time," replied the Chancellor.
"Then it's done. Truce withdraws from the Kingdom of Guardia," answered Crono, who, followed by Lucca and Janice, left the room.
"It's over," said the Regent "After a millenium, the Alliance of Guardia is done."
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