Chapter 19

Jowy leaned back in the austere metal chair he’d seated himself in. He blinked.

“Request complete,” said the female voice which seemed to emanate from all around the strange room. “Do you require any further information?”

He shook his head. “I think that will be enough.”

“Thank you,” said the voice. “Please ask if you have any further requests.”

He took a deep breath. He’d been listening to that voice for hours, now. He wasn’t sure just how much time had passed, but it had to have been quite a lot. And after all that, he still wasn’t sure he understood.

If anything, he understood less now than he ever had.

The Prophecy, the Cetra, Homeworld, -Heirs-, -Menace-, the Sundering and the Convergence. It was all too much.

“Ruling a nation at war was a lot simpler,” he said.

“I can imagine,” the Star Dragon Sword said. It floated down in front of him. “Do you understand what is going on now?”

“No,” Jowy said. He got to his feet and looked around the strange, uncomfortably clean metal room. “I don’t understand what’s going on, not really. Until a few days ago, I didn’t even know that multiple worlds existed. It was only a little more than a month before that when I first heard of the Prophecy from Leknaat. This... is too much.”

“Ah,” said the sword.

Jowy looked down. He had to understand, though. If he didn’t, he couldn’t fulfill his role. And, as far as he could discern, the Prophecy nowhere said that he would succeed.

It was quite clear on what would happen if he didn’t, though.

If they didn’t.

He didn’t even know who the other three Destined Ones were. That was no failure of understanding - he didn’t think that any of their identities had been known at the time of the Prophecy.

“Well, to be quite honest, Bearer,” the sword said, “even I don’t understand it. I’ve had all of this in my mind for ten thousand years, and in all that time it never did make a great deal of sense.”

“It still doesn’t,” Jowy said.

One thing he did understand, though. He had best figure it all out, and soon. And he had best get the remaining True Runes while he still had time.

“Let’s go,” he said.

“You have come into some supernaturally granted information regarding our destination?” asked the sword.

Jowy shook his head. “I don’t know where we need to go. But I know who will.”

He strode back to the ruined marble sections of the temple. It should be a large enough space for what he intended to do, and it would give him some measure of protection from any prying eyes outside.

He looked around the chamber. Yes, it would do.

The guardians of Althena were, according to the records, draconic in nature. They were also supposed to know of the Prophecy. If that was the case, perhaps he could persuade them to aid him.

He focused his thoughts first on the True Dragon Rune, then on the Rune of the Gate. They began to glow. “Bring before me the mightiest wyrm on this world,” he said.

There was a flash of pure white light. It expanded to fill the entire hall, then began to contract. For an instant, it seemed to form the outline of a huge dragon. Then, it passed.

Hovering in the air before Jowy, its wings beating furiously, was a small, white, winged cat.

“That was... rather disappointing,” the Star Dragon Sword said.

“Who are you calling disappointing?” asked the cat. It fixed its red eyes on the sword. “For that matter, just who are you?”

“My name is Jowy Atriedes,” Jowy said. A talking, flying cat was certainly a magical creature. Perhaps... “And you must be one of the Dragons of Althena.”

The cat landed on a piece of rubble. “It’s about time somebody guessed that right,” it said. “I’m Nall, the white dragon.”

“If that is a dragon,” the Star Dragon Sword said, “then I must humbly request that I be rechristened simply the Star Sword. And with all possible haste.”

“Very funny,” Nall snapped. “But I’m kinda busy at the moment. You two think maybe you could explain what I’m doing here, and why?”

“I must find Althena,” Jowy said. He wasn’t sure what to make of this dragon. Not only was it about as far in appearance from the great dragons of Jowy’s homeworld, it’s attitude wasn’t what he would expect from a sacred protector.

“That’s a popular request these days,” said Nall. “But it’s not one I’m just going to jump up and agree to for no good reason. Why should I let you see Althena?”

Jowy pulled back his cloak. He held up one palm. At a thought, the True Runes inscribed on his body began to glow. “Because I am the Bearer.”

Nall cocked his head. “Somehow, I had a feeling you were gonna say that.”