For the past two months an enormous, wide, snaking march of people, wagons, and beasts of burden made their way east across the vast Plains of Sorrow.
Their march was like a swarm of locusts, devouring everything in their path. Anything that was edible was either hunted or gathered and added to the increasingly growing pool of supplies.
“It is important that we gather as much food as possible. The Kingdom of La’Gun hasn’t even been able to produce enough food for their own people, nevermind an additional 100,000 Demihumans. We won’t be pillaging the land once we arrive there so it is extremely important that we continue to hunt and gather as much as we can beforehand. We will need at the minimum, a year worth of food. Once we occupy La’Gun, we can make use of the underutilized farmland to boost food production and we can put our non-combatants to work on the farms.”
Every Khan was currently present to discuss important issues regarding the clans. They would meet at least once a week to review their goals and address grievances.
“Don’t worry Great Khan, we will meet that goal soon. Our hunters and gatherers have been working day and night and our wagons are growing increasingly full. It’s a good thing we have enough wagons with all the clans gathered.”
Khan Rhaegnar had been placed in charge of overseeing the acquisition of food supplies since the Wolfkin were considered the best hunters of the clans.
Fayde sat on his so called throne and listened to the reports from each Khan diligently as the meeting dragged on. He was no longer just an office worker attending an office meeting, but a Great Khan who was the leader of a nomadic nation.
“Good. Now onto our last topic, the dungeon. Obviously, the number of people who can enter the dungeon will be limited since this is not a battlefield type dungeon. There are 20 clans as well as the Demonkin. I want each clan to select five of their greatest warriors to enter the dungeon. As for the Demonkin, only Accadeas and Laila will be entering as my party members. My party will consist of Reia, Accadeas, Laila, Tris and Allein. As for the others, once you have gathered your greatest warriors, they will be split up into appropriate groups. These warriors are going to be exploring the dungeon and eliminating any and all monsters within. We will need supplies and also wagons for transporting resources obtained in the dungeon. I will be bringing thirty Foxkin to handle resource gathering and transportation from and to the dungeon.”
As Fayde spoke, he could see uncomfortable looks on the faces of the Khans. This was to be expected though. It wasn’t too long ago that it would be unimaginable for Demihumans to consider exploring dungeons. However, he didn’t care how they felt, as long as they went through with it.
The Khans mumbled their agreements and nodded their heads despite their apprehensiveness. They had already accepted the fact that they would be exploring a dungeon even if they hadn’t fully come to terms with it.
“I spoke with the diviners and this is a large dungeon with ten floors. It appears to be an ancient dungeon and from what our scouts have reported so far, it is inhabited by undead type monsters which are weak to fire. Each party must have a magic caster with an affinity for fire, so make sure you take that into consideration when selecting participants and forming groups. We will need to set up a large base camp once inside which will function as a headquarters and resource distribution center while we explore the dungeon. Also, any necessary communication will be coordinated from this base camp as well. Any questions?”
Fayde’s mannerism had become quite blunt and there wasn’t much room for dissent in his words and actions. The Khans had only known him for a short time, but they all knew that something had changed ever since Fayde returned from the old imperial capital. Nonetheless, they didn’t give it too much thought.
“It will be as you say Great Khan.”
With the meeting completed, the Khans made their way back to their own tents. Fayde leaned back in his chair and put his hand to his head. His head was pounding and he had been struggling to keep the pain from being noticeable, but now that the Khans had left, he couldn’t hold the pain in anymore.
Reia, Laila and Accadeas had remained and looked on with concern. They knew he was having strange headaches due to the influence of the ‘Void’ and only Laila’s ‘Demon Eyes’ were capable of aiding him.
Laila and Reia quickly made their way to Fayde’s side and Laila immediately used the power of her eyes to diminish Fayde’s pain.
“Will these headaches never end?” Reia asked.
“I don’t know… My brother doesn’t have this problem so I have never experienced anything like it. There is no way to know for sure, Fayde has unique circumstances.”
Laila wished she could provide an answer to Reia’s question, but too little was known about the ‘Void’. Out of all of them, only Allein, and perhaps Nes, possessed knowledge of the ‘Void’. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get any information out of them no matter how they tried.
“Now that he has calmed down, let’s let him get some rest.”
Accadeas walked to his sister and rested his hand on her shoulder. He knew his sister was suffering greatly because of Fayde’s condition. His sister had never loved or respected any man other than Accadeas in her life, but the love she had for Fayde even dwarfed her love for him.
Accadeas didn’t mind, though, because Fayde had become much like a brother to him. He could fully understand why his sister felt that way since they were a people who respected absolute strength.
Laila turned her head to look at her brother with moist eyes. She still hadn’t returned her eyes to normal.
“You’re right, let’s go out for a bit. Sister Reia, will you come with us for a walk?”
Reia was most likely suffering more than she was. She had known Fayde the longest and had loved him first. Reia was also much more emotional than Laila.
Fayde’s pain had finally subsided, but by that time, everyone had already gone. His servants would be close by of course, but he was left alone sitting on his throne. He had heard the words spoken by his wives, but he had been unable to respond due to the pain. He wanted to tell them not to worry, but he couldn’t even do that much.
“Will they still love me even when they know the truth? I still haven’t told them that I am not even real, just a fake. I don’t even know what I am, nevermind being Human or Demihuman. What the hell am I?” Fayde sighed.
His life, if one could even call it that, had been short lived and filled with ever growing burdens. He was currently doing his best at pretending and trying to fulfill his duties as Great Khan, but he was greatly troubled by the words the ‘Void’ had left him.
There were a few close to him who were truly concerned for him. He could feel their love, but he had also felt Allein’s love and she had still betrayed him. He could still feel Allein’s torment, her regret…. And her love.
Fayde thought of breaking the connection between them, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
“Is it guilt? I still don’t understand her and she won’t tell me anything. It’s as if she can’t, is it the ‘Void’s’ doing? For all I know, she may have even been controlled by the ‘Void’, just like I was.”
Because he couldn’t decide what to do with her and because he couldn’t even trust himself, he did his best to bury his head in the sand.
“Tomorrow we go into the dungeon. I need to bring her with me to keep up appearances, but it’s going to be difficult facing her. I will have to see her daily until the exploration is complete…”
This thought was troubling him. He wanted to see her and be close to her, but it also brought him immense suffering.
Strangely, Fayde found himself thinking back on his memories of Earth. They weren’t his memories, but someone else. They were the memories of a man called Peter Wright. He had a daughter that he loved very much, but due to circumstances, he wasn’t allowed to be near her.
“Even though she wasn’t my real daughter, I still have these memories and feelings in my mind. It doesn’t matter now though, she is long dead and buried. That goes for the real Peter and everyone else in my memory, even the Earth itself must have vastly changed. I can’t even imagine how thousands of years would change things.”
Fayde continued to brood, unaware that someone close by was watching him.
It is still possible to save your family. He will eventually lose control, and when he does, he will be mine.
No! I don’t want that…
Are you saying you don’t want to save your family? This is the only way.
How do I know if what you say is the truth? How do I even know if my family is still alive?
They are alive, but trapped between the dimensional barrier of the shattered world. I have the power to save them.
Please… I don’t want to hurt him anymore. I can’t bear it.. I can feel his pain. Please don’t make me do it.
It’s not as if he will disappear, he and I will just become one. You will be together with him forever.
No… Not like this…
Allein shook her head and her eyes once more rested on Fayde from behind a makeshift wall within the Great Khan’s tent. Even though they were so close, Fayde wasn’t aware of her presence, he was too distracted by his own thoughts.
Allein desperately wanted to go to him because she could feel how much he was suffering, but she didn’t move from her spot. She had no right to approach him given her actions and he would only again ask her the questions she wasn’t allowed to answer.
Even if she could explain to him what the ‘Void’ had told her, would it matter? It wasn’t as if she expected Fayde to give up his life and let the ‘Void’ take over his body. Allein didn’t want that either, but if what the ‘Void’ had said was truth, it was the only way to bring her family back.
What exactly was the ‘Void’? Even Allein didn’t truly know. She wasn’t alive yet when her parents had become Demihumans. They were the first to be changed by the ‘Void’ and the ones who were closest to it. Because of that, they had a unique relationship with it. They could hear its voice and in some ways, were forced to follow its will.
Perhaps in a way, she was the one most like Fayde because of their connection with the ‘Void’. So, she could understand the conflict that must be going on in his heart and in his mind, but there was nothing she could do for him. He no longer trusted her and she didn’t know whether she could trust herself.
In the end, all she could do was watch from a distance, unable to move closer, but desperately wanting to.
“Father, what should I do?”