Modryn’s words made everyone stare at him. “1000 years ago, the warlord Krono united the Demon Territories, and waged war with the rest of the continent, intending to conquer it. Everyone knows this. What everyone doesn’t know is that he intended to bring peace to the continent. In fact, it was this intention that he had in common with a certain Dok Alv. My grandfather. The two differed only in how this was to be accomplished. Grandfather believed that the best method was to change the way that the many countries were run from the inside. That’s why he consented to be the servant of Clan Sonadis. Krono on the other hand believed that there were too many differences and prejudices between the races for them to see eye to eye without being forced to.”
As Modryn finished, Rom spoke up, obviously shaken by what he just heard. “How do you know this?”
The Strong Horns knew that Rom was a veteran of that war. Modryn looked to him, and said, “Because Krono’s last words were telling my Grandfather, the man who killed him, his dream. Grandfather never figured out why he chose to tell him this. Perhaps he saw Grandfather had the same dream. Perhaps he just felt the urge to tell someone before he died.” Modryn finished with a shrug.
Gretchen had a pensive look on her face as she asked, “If your grandfather thought that a peaceful method was better, why are you planning on using Krono’s method?”
“Because, experience has taught me differently. Grandfather’s method might work for the kingdoms ruled by short-lived races. But it can’t work with the races whose lifespans are longer than a couple centuries. The Shee especially are too certain of their superiority to even consider the other races as equals. The only way to bring them to the table is to show them that they are no different than anyone else. And that can only be achieved by bringing them to their knees.”
“And you feel that you can succeed where Krono failed?” Cu’thar asked incredulously.
“There were two factors that caused Krono to be defeated. The first, is that he couldn’t get the Dok Shee’s support. The only reason that the war was in a stalemate was because the Dok Shee followed the commands of Clan Rashee, and stayed out of the fighting. If they had chosen one way over the other, even without the Rashee, the war would have been decided quicker. The second reason, is that Clan Rashee joined Sonadis. Grandfather always said that if the stalemate had continued as it was, the balance would have eventually shifted to favor the Demons.” Modryn rattled off these reasons as if they were common facts. “The only Rashee who can use the power that shifted the flow of that war is in this room. And once I show the leaders of the Dok Shee this, they will follow me if they are still loyal to my father.” he finished as he dug a Memory Crystal out of his pocket.
The Strong Horns stared at the Crystal as if it were a primed Mana Bomb. “Is that, what I think that is?” Gortuk muttered.
“It’s the truth. But it isn’t time to play that card yet.” Modryn then pulled out a map of Drinaris. On it was labeled the countries and even the various warlords who ruled the Demon Territories and their lands. “Before the Dok Shee can be approached, the Demon Territories must be united. We’ll have to wait until then before we can plan any further, but I have ideas on how to deal with the Dwarves, and the best way to deal with the Humans and Shee is to separate them. To do that, we’ll need to take advantage of both races’ vices to effectively do that.”
“Before we start talking about strategies,” Tristan interrupted, “you still haven’t told us why you want to do this. We know you well enough to know that you’re not going to do this because of a couple of dead men’s ambitions. And this isn’t about revenge. If you wanted that, you would have already been on your way to rip Sonadis apart at the seams. You wouldn’t bring anyone who isn’t an Alv or a Shee into this. So what is it.” Tristan finished with an expression that promised violence if he didn’t like the answer.
Modryn gazed at him, “I’ve lived in the Demon Territories for 3 years now. I’ve seen the state of it. If something doesn’t change, everyone on this peninsula will be starving in less than 10 centuries.”
“So you noticed.”
“Yes. As it stands, the Demon Territories are not a very fertile area. The crops are sparse, and getting worse every year. If the trend keeps up, the entire peninsula will be a desert in a matter of centuries. Even the fishing in the coastal areas is difficult and unproductive. That is why I want to do this.”
“Even if you get all of them to gather under you, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to win. Even the Dok Shee, why do you think they’ll go with this?” Tristan asked. “Why are you even wanting to help races that have nothing to do with you?”
“The Dok Shee had always been discriminated against, even with Clan Rashee protecting them as best they can. Now, with my brother managing the Dok Shee’s affairs for the kingdom, it’s almost assured that it’s worse than ever. He was always more of a High Alv than a Rashee. As for the people of the Demon Territories, they are all proud and strong. They would not just want to fade away quietly when they have a chance to survive by fighting.”
“When the rest of the continent learns of this, they will invade and seek to exterminate everyone.” Rom cut in.
Modryn shook his head. “They won’t hear of it. At least, not till it’s too late.”
“How do you know?” Asked Angela.
“Because for reasons known only to themselves, the other races never bothered observing the Demon Territories. They probably thought that they were too broken after Krono’s defeat to mount any substantial assault, or they are so sure of their power that it’s unnecessary. Either way, not even the Dwarves have eyes here. I remember Father saying that there should be some form of observation, but the king always laughed and said that the great Clan Rashee was afraid of insects.”
Everyone stared at Modryn dumbfounded. “You must be joking. No one is that foolish. And for a king to be like that.” Rom said.
“I guess the reason the Dwarves never sent anyone is the same as the Rashee. If word got back to other countries, they would have appeared weak, and that would have invited trouble.” Gretchen said thoughtfully.
Modryn nodded, “And Humans are fools that trust the High Alvs too much. If they say there’s no need, then the humans will believe them.”
“Okay. Let’s say that we are willing to follow you with this. What is the first step?” Tristan said, looking like he had come to a decision.
“The first step is the mercenary bands.” Modryn replied without hesitation. “Collectively, the mercenaries are the strongest force within the Demon Territories. We get most of them, and we outnumber most of the warlords’ forces.”
“That’s going to take a lot of money. We aren’t hurting for it, but we wouldn’t be able to buy them all indefinitely.” Gortuk put in.
“I know.” Everyone saw a sadness cross Modryn’s face as he answered. “I know a place where we can get everything we need. Not just money, but resources and knowledge that no one else has access to.”
Angela asked what everyone else wanted to, “Where?”
“The secret base of The Black Knights. Where we stored all of the treasures and knowledge we found in the depths of the 5 Ancient’s Dungeons. The ones we decided were too valuable or dangerous for everyday use.” Modryn replied, as he pointed to a place in northern Hopewell Kingdom.
The 5 Ancient’s Dungeons were the five oldest dungeons on Drinaris. They were marked on their entrances by ancient writings that was largely indecipherable. Only one sentence had ever been puzzled out, and that was only because someone who knew a little known dialect of Ancient High Shee was there by chance. The sentence named the dungeons as ‘The Citadels of the Ancients’. They were the deepest of the dungeons, and the most dangerous. As far as anyone knew, nobody has entered past the 50th floor, and returned. There are many theories about what the dungeons are. Actual strongholds as the translation implies, or the tombs of the so called Ancients.
The thought that a party of 6 had gone through all of them within 5 years was more than most could believe, but the Strong Horns had known Modryn long enough to see that he was not lying.
“H-how-?” Gretchen stuttered out.
“It’s impossible for you to have done all of that in only 5 years.” Rom said, not wanting to believe it.
“5 years. It took 5 years to both clear one of those monstrosities and learn all of the magic and combat techniques stored in the Ancient’s Mausoleum in the last floor. After that, we used a teleportation circle to leave, and we took everything that wasn’t bolted down with us. And some things that were.” Modryn replied with a wry smile.
“But if you were only adventurers for 5 years, how-?” Cu’thar started to ask.
“Oh, gods above and below. Distorted time and space?!” Angela suddenly exclaimed.
Modryn smiled, “Exactly. I don’t know what the Ancients were, but whatever energies their bodies radiated were something else. Their energies flooded the place after the 50th floor. That’s why the creatures that lived there were horrifyingly powerful. Most people would come across a monster they were familiar with, only to have it be several magnitudes stronger than they were used to. We had planned on retreating after that first battle, but circumstances forced us deeper and deeper. At the time, we thought we were lucky to survive, but it’s likely that the energies were working on us as well, as we went deeper, we grew stronger.”
“When we finally reached the bottom, we found a separate space. It was like a grove. With a forest and a small house. There was a stream, and fruit trees. And finally, in the center of the clearing, was an alter, with a perfectly preserved body lying there. If we didn’t know any better, we would have thought that he was asleep. Arthas, Gawain, and Lance actually did think that. We searched the house, and found the most amazing library we’ve ever seen, some of the books had magical secrets, some crafting and smithing techniques, and others fighting techniques, we also found massive amounts of gold and other precious metals, including Mithril and Orichalcum. Jewels, weapons, and clothes. And when we finally used the magical array to teleport out, we found that no more than two weeks had passed since we went in. We decided two things then. Everything would remain secret, and we’d hide all of the loot at the place we had decided would be our base of operations. And we would go into the other four dungeons, and claim everything they had to offer.”
As Modryn finished, Gortuk asked, “And it’s all still there?”
Modryn nodded, “The guardian we created to protect the place should still be there. Unless someone extraordinarily powerful stumbled upon our base and was able to destroy it.”
“And you want to use this power to become the Demon Lord, and conquer the rest of the continent. That’s how strongly you believe in this?” Tristan asked.
The five founders of the Strong Horns looked to one another. Finally, Tristan looked back at Modryn with a smile on his face. “We’re in. What do you need us to do, Commander?”
“I’m going to the base to gather everything. I need all of you to spread the word to the mercenary bands. Have their leaders gather so we can talk.”
“Hold on, you’re not going alone. You know better than we do that it’s dangerous for a lone Alv in a Human country. I’m coming with you.” Angela cut in.
“I can’t take any of you with me. None of you can leave the Demon Territories.”
“That’s why I’m the one going.” Angela responded, and with a snap of her fingers, her horns, wings, and tail vanished within the illusion she constructed. As far as anyone could see, she was completely human.
“Hehe. Don’t worry Modryn, it’ll be fine. We’ll gather the mercenaries. You and Angela just go and get everything.” Tristan said with some amusement.
“Hah. Fine. You’re coming with me, then.” Modryn replied.