Chapter 16

Little daylight spilled into the temple ruins.

Jowy held up his hand and willed the True Fire Rune into action. A small flame appeared in the air beside him.

There wasn’t much left of what must have been an impressive temple. It was a shame to see such a splendid edifice brought low, but he’d been through too many ruins during his travels to give it much thought.

He switched to his magical senses. Powerful individuals had been here, obviously. But they had apparently left too long ago for him to discern their individual auras.

Had Ghaleon come here?

Jowy couldn’t say.

There didn’t seem to be anything of interest in the soaring main hall, so he picked his way through the rubble to the one archway which wasn’t blocked off.

The passage beyond extended deeper into the mountain, but he could just make out the end. It seemed to be just a long alcove.

Curious, he sprinted to the end and looked around. There were no doors or archways leading off, nor, in stark contrast to the outer hall, were there any carvings or decorations.

“Do you have any idea what this is for?” he asked the Star Dragon Sword.

“I wouldn’t even begin to wager a guess,” it said. “But it is certainly most odd.”

Jowy put his hand on the wall at the end of the passage. There had to be something here. It certainly wasn’t in ruins, and even on another world, he doubted that this was a shrine. After all, the rest of the temple must have been fantastically ornate at its prime.

Could it have been an unfinished passage? If so, why smooth out the walls so perfectly? The marble, although undecorated, had clearly been shaped by human hands.

If this hallway had no purpose of its own... perhaps it hid something which did.

Jowy focused his will onto the Rune of the Gate. He placed his hand against the marble wall and closed his eyes. He imagined the stone barrier, no longer before him, but behind.

His eyes opened.

Beyond the stone was another wall.

A wall of metal.

“Fascinating,” the Star Dragon Sword said. “The marble would seem to have served as camouflage for this inner wall. I would suggest removing the rest, so that we can better inspect the actual barrier.”

Jowy nodded.

The rest of the marble wall spread away from his hand.

What he had at first assumed was a wall, was nothing of the sort. It was a door. When he placed his hand where the handle would have been, it slid open without a sound.

He took a step back.

Beyond the door was another passage, this one of bare metal. He stepped into it. This area seemed to be lit, so he dismissed the fireball which floated beside him. Yes, the passage had its own kind of blue-white light, although he couldn’t say for certain where it came from.

Unlike the marble hall behind him, this one had clearly marked doors. He opened the first of those doors in the same manner he’d entered the passage. It slid away, revealing a chamber fashioned from the same dull metal. Strange, box-like devices filled the room.

He entered and looked around.

Across one wall, there was a large flat panel raised from the surface. Other than that and the boxes, there were no distinguishing features.

He walked up to one of the boxes.

The Star Dragon Sword floated down beside him. It hovered close to the box. “I believe I can activate this,” it said.

“Do you know what it does?” Jowy asked.

“Absolutely. Well, I am almost certain.”

Jowy considered. Whatever these things were, they might have some clue as to Ghaleon’s whereabouts. Failing that, they might even answer some of his questions regarding his purpose.

Why was he tasked to gather the Runes? The question had never been far from his mind, especially since he had come to this new world.

If he could get answers... “Go ahead,” he said.

A small bolt of electricity arced from the sword’s mouth and into the box. For a moment, nothing happened. Then, the large panel on the wall flashed to life.

“Just as I suspected,” the sword said.

Jowy wondered if it really was what it had thought would happen. He decided that, all things considered, he really didn’t want to know. He turned to the panel.

It was covered with strange symbols, black on a white background. Jowy had never seen anything like them. No, that wasn’t quite true. There had been something of their like in Leknaat’s tower.

A female voice, itself not unlike Leknaat’s, said, “The Absolute Homeworld Time is C-31:00 hours. Your current rate of passage is 5/23 with F-Primary. Please make a request.”

Jowy blinked.

“Please make a request,” said the voice again. It was something about the accent, he decided, that reminded him of Leknaat. This one, however, had a tone that reminded him more of the Star Dragon Sword.

“Where is Ghaleon?” Jowy asked.

A flood of symbols filled the screen.

The voice said, “I’m sorry, but that is an invalid request. Please try again.”

“Perhaps I might make the attempt?” the Star Dragon Sword asked.

“I hope you’ll have better luck than I did,” Jowy said. He rested his hand on the pommel of the King Dragon Sword. He had seen many strange things in his time, but never anything quite like this.

The Star Dragon Sword said, “My compatriot is in need of an accurate description of his role as the Bearer. Certain unfortunate events prevented that information from being given to him by the usual source, and it is outside my area of expertise.”

“Request accepted. The Bearer is one of the four Destined Ones,” said the voice. “His primary role is a precautionary one. Should any attempt be made to deter the Seeker in recovering the -Heirs-, it is the duty of the Bearer to render aid. In his secondary role, the Bearer must employ the System-27 Emergency Response Unit, should the -Heirs- encounter difficulty in completing the Convergence. The Bearer’s tertiary role is to constrain the Player, should that individual become uncontrollable.”

“Did you get all of that?” the sword asked Jowy.

Jowy shook his head. “I think I’m going to need to hear more.”