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Chapter 2 A Construct

 

Brimir’s sigh consumed the regal chamber adorned with dragon-tailored seats and podiums, echoing out into the rest of the marble palace where the Dragon Crown convened. “This feels hopelessly awkward for me.”

Jakyra could only shrug at the reddish-purple gleem dragon with his claws clasped in front of him. She stood at the center of the room next to Ulm, her head circling around as the familiarity settled in. Surrounding her was a raised platform with slanted tables and stony, flat chairs reserved for each member of the Crown. Besides Brimir and Ulm, four out of its twelve members were present, owing to their regular duties as leaders in their own towns.

Past her right shoulder, two respective wyirms of dark yellow and green peered at each other’s angular, uncertain faces, while an iron-colored metallik was shooting Brimir a get on with it glare, a sentiment Jakyra shared. Though her blank face didn’t change at all, Her tail flicked impatiently, pointing on each end of its swing at the two guards behind her.

And on her left? Fumnaya, a short coairse dragon whose luster-less brown scales and wrinkly skin testified to her age. Jakyra avoided eye contact with her, squeezing her claws when her hoarse voice cried out, “Ulm, do get into your seat. You shouldn’t be just standing there next to the child.”

The child, Jakyra muttered to herself, throwing a questioning look at Brimir to cover for her frown. Ulm chuckled, staying in place. Beyond a silent snort, Fumnaya chided the metallik no further, eyeing Brimir too.

The king of Wynn and main authority of the Crown grimaced, mulling over the situation. “Well, at the very least, greetings to you Jakyra,” he finally managed to say. “I didn’t think that Ulm would locate you, a nomad in your own right, never mind convince you to accept our summons.”

“Mhm.” Jakyra’s expression didn’t falter. “A nomad. Subtle way to call me brutish, rough, and—”

The iron metallik interrupted her with a cough. “Oh, please don’t start,” he said, the nearby wyirms giving slight, pleading nods.

“You’re a coairse, child, take it as a compliment,” Fumnaya added with her horrid voice.

Jakyra nonchalantly rolled her eyes at the aged coairse, who failed to notice it. Brutish, rough, and downright uncultured, she finished in her mind, before deciding to get to the point. “So then, what exactly am I wandering into, Brimir?”

Brimir’s claws seemed to interlock even tighter, until at last he put them level with his sore hind legs. A contorted smirk etched its way onto his face. “A trap,” he said.

“What?” Ulm said, his eyes darting around.

“What?” Fumnaya repeated, the other three Crown members saying likewise.

“What?” A guard nearly said when the other guard forced his mouth shut.

Jakyra tilted her head, then suddenly forced out a tiny laugh as she figured out who Brimir was smirking at. “You’re being self-deprecating.”

Brimir sighed, scratching his horn as the others expressed relief. “In a way. What you’re here for is something capable of causing upheavals in your life as well as ours. That something could put us in, sheesh, closer proximity than usual with you.”

Everyone froze up at that, with the already stiff guards becoming further rigid. “What?” Jakyra blurted, before mentally slapping herself for comedically reusing the word. Something told her that this wasn’t something she could just walk away from, much unlike how she could always worm her way out of this palace. Something she probably wanted no part of too.

“For everyone’s sakes, I should explain,” Brimir went on. “Again, excavators at Scal stumbled upon a worn-out jewel and, thinking it an ordinary treasure from the fallen capital, sold it to a family here at Wynn. And again, we came to learn that the gem is actually some kind of artifact that caused strange events for said family, thus bringing the tool under our possession.

“I’ve personally dealt with the object along with a few magic experts. Its magic falls into the elements of fire and psychic. It seemed to be all but drained of energy, so we had it fed with a few drops of raw magic from Wynn’s corresponding pool of pure fire mana.

“Since then, the gem’s begun to give off a reddish luster. It’s apparently ‘alive’ in its own sense, so it’s likely we have the fortune of stumbling across not an object with raised magic but a forgotten, revered magic artifact. However, It refuses to work for me and the others testing it, requesting it be given a proper intermediary. In its own words, one with unparalleled fierceness, strength, and courage.”

All wide-open eyes instantly fell upon a startled Jakyra. Guh, was the only thought she could muster, her chest tightening. For once, concern enveloped her.

Battlewise, she was amongst the top dragons. Not only did she have a powerful tanky physique, but she was capable of formulating tactics on the fly, using literally everything she could to her advantage. Size, terrain, not even numbers mattered. And if she was outmatched, she had a knack for scurrying away like an untouchable cockroach.

The Dragon Crown understood this better than anyone else, besides her moon elf friend Sauda. And now that might be used to drag her away from her roaming and lazy life.

“We have a revered magic item,” the lime green wyirm whispered, having separate concerns.

“You sure you want her controlling something like that?” said Fumnaya, almost making Jakyra want to accept whatever role she was being given to spite her.

Brimir shook his wrist. “I don’t know, and I can see Jakyra doesn’t know either.”

“Well, you haven’t explained enough if you ask me,” Ulm chimed in. “Sure, it’s inferrable that Jakyra may be taking on an odd position within your own city, Brimir, by being in charge of this revered magic item. But why does the object seek someone like her? What’s its purpose? How will this exactly affect us and her? Is there any compensation for doing this? Is this an actual trap or not?”

Those last words made Brimir’s eyes bulge out. “Fair point,” he said, flapping his wings once to jump over his table and then striding past Jakyra and the guards. “Come then, we may as well have this properly sorted out. Interacting with the artifact will sort out our concerns.”

The dragons followed suit, moving through the halls of the marble palace. Jakyra, anxiety flooding her heart, went back to observing the palace she had become accustomed to. As a draconic building, the structure had large corridors, open passages that let in fresh air and dragons seeking entry, and high ceilings with sparse chandeliers. Red-black carpets lined the rooms. Guards and government officials popped up from time to time. Unique tapestries bearing the history of dragonkind hung above, fluttering from the breezes.

Jakyra’s eyes instantly aimed at her favorite tapestry. It depicted a massive battle, with all the myiths living on the continent of Fantasmyth woven at the edges. Elves and dryads appeared at one side, nereids, sea serpents, and kappa in another, goblins, orcs, and trolls in a third, and so on. In the center of it all were the dragons and dwarves, assisting each other against the rival parties.

The Nightmarish Clash, she recalled. Never was there a war that involved all the many intelligent races, the myiths as they collectively called themselves, and there likely wouldn’t be another.

Which made her turn to the adjoining tapestry depicting a strange scene. In the starry sky were multiple veins connected to a glowing, multicolored orb. Out came rays of light that tethered to each race, with the dragon race in front and their dwarven comrades in a transfixed state, faces turned up in anguish. In the background, the other races were similarly depicted, appearing as hollow as the dragons and dwarves.

The Purge of Anima. How the various creatures of Fantasmyth and beyond at that time could cope with that event’s effects, she didn’t understand.

Eventually she arrived in the underground, dungeon-like halls of the marble palace. Dark blue bricks built its gloomy walls, with dark smooth stone serving as the floor. Torches flickered at each section, bringing an eerily tranquil vibe to it all.

This wasn’t the dungeons — though she had never come here before, Jakyra knew that.

No, this was probably where various magical items were stored. At another portion of the underground area were what appeared to be laboratories, a confidential archive at a secluded corner, and other unknown rooms. What their actual intentions were, she wasn’t sure.

What she was sure of was the iron gate with two guards on either side of it, with a nearby cord dangling from the ceiling — an alarm system. That gate had to be a direct entrance to the ever-important mana pool of fire beneath Wynn.

A minute passed before Brimir stopped at a doorway. Ulm encouragingly nudged Jakyra, who forced herself in with butterflies in her stomach. She may as well get this over with.

A few cabinets stood on the side along with a table smeared in dust, but Jakyra only paid attention to the dais in the middle. Ingrained into it was a thick black rod that ended in a claw-like shape, with a large gemstone in the center. Shaped like an icosahedron, half of it was arbitrarily covered in pink faces, the rest being red. From those red facets came that reddish glow Brimir was talking about, while the pink ones appeared dull.

An icosahedron, Jakyra thought to herself dryly, bemused that she could identify the shape. More importantly though, why would any wealthy family dare buy something that looked so priceless? Unless they could afford security, an item like this outside a government’s restraining hands was begging to be stolen.

And now I’m supposed to interact with it or something.

She looked up hesitantly to Brimir, who signaled to wait. Putting his claw upon the gem, he closed his eyes and began to speak. “Greetings—”

His head shook, veins popping out. “Hold, hold,” he wheezed, his eyes twitching as if from pain. “Now, please — if you’d — I brought you an intermediary, stop!”

Jakyra scrunched up her face at Ulm. “Sorry?” the elder said.

Fumnaya and the iron metallik came beside Brimir as he retracted his claw, hissing to himself. “Do you need anything, our king?” croaked Fumnaya.

Brimir shook his horns, a wavering smile on his face. “A little tidbit, Jakyra. The jewel’s disgusted at me for some reason, which is why it’s only given enough mana for it to do its basic functions without posing a threat in any way. In turn, it refuses to cooperate. Since it also seeks someone like you, however, you’ll probably be spared of its anger. Try to figure out what it is, what it does, and what it wants. Remember, you need to be touching it to hear its voice. Don’t push yourself.”

“Thanks, I’ll be sure to pull out if needed,” Jakyra muttered, placing her claw upon the gem and holding in her breath. How would interacting with this unknown force feel?

A harsh warmth coursed through her hide, either due to nervousness or the gemstone’s rippling emotions that rubbed her mind. Jakyra found herself lowering her head, feeling a watching gaze tower over her. Who is this? The gem grunted in her head.

The male voice resembled the kind of scaly voice Jakyra would imagine the most fearsome, ferocious dragons to possess, laced with a roughness hinting at his meager patience. At least my dealings with the Crown taught me how to speak, she reminded herself.

Well? The voice continued. Speak, you. I asked a question.

Jakyra settled on a complacent yet assertive tone. “Jakyra. Unless you mind, I’m supposedly your ideal intermediary.”

The gem’s glow waned, foreign amusement and distaste flooding her mind. You? You’re the one? I ask for a true-blooded warrior with a tactical mind, and I get some incompetent child?

Jakyra frowned, turning to Brimir. “I don’t think it’s — er, he’s telepathic?” To the side, the two wyirms of the Dragon Crown whispered to each other.

“It — sorry, he possesses psychic magic,” Ulm mentioned. “No one specified how he uses it, though.”

Brimir’s teeth bit his upper lip as he peered into the hallway outside. “Shouldn’t matter. Since we only gave him a twinge of raw fire magic, his psychic abilities should be latent at best, and nothing close to mind reading.”

That said a lot. The gem would otherwise have known who she was, that she was a young adult, and that she was a powerhouse in battle. Thus, she’d be welcomed, not rejected.

“You can’t even tell what I look like, do you?” she told the gemstone for confirmation, tapping on it once.

The magical jewel shimmered a blood-red as she tapped. AGH, YOU DARE?

“Did that hurt? Apologies, although there’s no harm in me daring. What more can you dare do in your situation nothing than make my head throb, after all?” Her free claw rose, signaling the alarmed dragons around her to bear with her word choice. If she was correct, this artifact couldn’t threaten her right now.

And considering how silent it became, she felt it was indeed all bark and no bite. A seething glare seemed to crush her forehead, but why mind it? It needs more raw magic to do anything much to me.

“Nothing?” At this point, Jakyra was mocking the gem, resisting the throbbing in her head. “You won’t dare speak, will you? Well, call me a daredevil, but your daring, defiant demeanor strikes me as dangerous. Are you to be trusted if given power? It seems wiser to rebury you in Scal’s ruins instead.”

“Jakyra,” Brimir warned.

But she didn’t hear him, listening to the deflated gemstone’s words as her head spun. GYAAH! Y-YOU DID NOT JUST SAY THAT! NO NO, NEVER AGAIN! Sounds of grunting followed, but the gem only wobbled in place, pathetically stuck.

Despite her headache, Jakyra raised one of her talons and feinted another tap, causing the artifact to stop with a whimper. Please don’t. Having my heart stabbed like this is painful. You cruel soul, to humiliate me so — at the very least, you should apologize.

Jakyra uttered a sincere apology to placate the artifact, engrossed in thought as her headache vanished. A heart. This was the heart of something? Obviously no race on Fantasmyth had a gemlike heart, even the golems. And besides, this was a raised — no, revered magic artifact.

“A construct,” Jakyra concluded aloud, causing a stir amongst the others. Brimir’s gloomy expression vanished, replaced by enlightenment. His eyes fell upon a giddy Ulm, who took the news with his usual bout of laughter. The wyirms again whispered amongst themselves.

Yes, a construct. A few pink facets of the gemstone reddened, the pink color reappearing at some formerly red spots. A draconic construct constructed by the gleems, obviously in their conceited image. Call me Ismat. I understand this is an unusual inquiry, but are you a female coairse?

Jakyra suppressed the urge to facepalm. For how long was this ‘Ismat’ buried within the ruins of Scal? “Yes.”

Should’ve known, it’s been so long. I can’t even distinguish male from female anymore. It doesn’t help that my abilities are all lost. My memory feels hollow, my hunger for raw magic tremendous. To conserve myself to this point what year is this?

Ismat was rambling at this point. Not exactly what Jakyra wanted. First came the question of why she was summoned by him in the first place, and on a side point, what he did anyway.

When Jakyra relayed this to Ismat, his heart of a gemstone twisted a little. I recall this. I’m a sensory of threats galore and also Scal’s forgotten weapon of defense. Its last king — THE COWARD! Scal’s gone because of him and his council’s incompetence! They discarded me for no reason and left their already weak, unstable city on a path of ruin! Gah, gleems. All beauty and no fight in them!

Jakyra chuckled darkly. Well, that explained his animosity for the current king and his Dragon Crown. She relayed what she could to the Crown as the artifact kept ranting, and as expected, all of them tensed at the information.

Finally Ismat calmed down. Well, it’s a new era. Maybe that Brimir’s better than his ancestors. But hear me, Jakyra, my supposed intermediary, I distrust your government. However I’ve served dragons long ago, I scorn resuming that position. Still, I will serve in some way once I am given back my magic, and as a sign of goodwill, let me warn you with what remains of my psychic abilities to be wary.

Something wormed into her mind by that point. Pitch-black darkness, the feeling of stone, bat noises, it had to be something underground. There, Ismat’s voice rasped.

“What is it?” Jakyra asked, her breath heavy.

In spite of my unmagical state, I think I understand. Do the dwarves still reside under the mountains? Something down there gives me a premonition, a strange feeling of foreboding.

 

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About the author

SaadTheConjurer

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Bio: Peace be upon you.

You've met a madman with a fondness for ducks, striving to write high-quality stories.

Currently writing a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon fanfic on fanfiction.net and AO3 (not posting it on Royal Road just yet). Needs to write more original work sooner or later.

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