Return to Britannia

by Sergorn Dragon

Chapter 1

“What just happened? Where’s the Avatar?”

For a second Shamino could not seem to remember whom this voice belonged to. His eyes were still locked upon the Wall of Light. A moment before, the Avatar was standing in front of it, next to the gigantic statue of the Great Earth Serpent, armed with the Serpent Sword Xenka had provided him. He had struck the statue with it; and it collapsed leaving rubbles everywhere, and then there was suddenly like a flash of light. And he was gone. The Wall of Light had closed and the Avatar had simply disappeared.

“Hello? Guys!? What happened?”

Wilfred. Yes, that was his voice. The voice of the young and bully Monitorian Knight that the Avatar had befriended during the holocaust they each caused. And Iolo was there too, with his wife Gwenno. Shamino turned toward his old friends. They were shocked too, just like he was. The Avatar was gone. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Or was it?

“Do you think we know, young fool?” Iolo suddenly snapped back at Wilfred.

“Hey calm down! I mean no disrespect, but did we save the world? That’s what we came here for, right?”

“We did,” said Gwenno. “Balance has been restored, I can feel it.” Iolo gave his wife a quizzically look. She smiled. “I can’t explain it. But everything just feels… right.”

Iolo still looked puzzled for a moment, but suddenly widened his eyes. “Actually, yes… Now that you mention it, things does feel… well… not so… wrong anymore.” He winced when he realized that what he had just said didn’t made any sense.

“I can feel it as well,” said Shamino, “there’s no doubt about it. Balance has been restored.” He smiled.

Wilfred stared in turn at each of them, frowning. “Hmm. Well I certainly don’t feel any different. Are you sure you guys are all right?” His tone was more of curiosity than actual concern.

“The banes,” said Shamino pensively. Iolo and Gwenno both nodded in turn. Wilfred looked even more puzzled than before. “We’ve each in turn been possessed by a bane of chaos. I assume it has something to do with this. But yes, Wilfred. The world - the entire universe even, is saved.”

Wilfred clasped his hands together. “Great. So that means we’re heroes now,” he grinned.

Iolo shook his head, while Gwenno chuckled. They had spent quite some time with Wilfred, but Shamino couldn’t quite figure him out. He knew than there was more to him than the bully and proud warrior they had first met in Sleeping Bull so long ago. He continued to act like him, but Shamino felt it was just a mask - he had lost so much during this ‘quest’.

“But still... where is the Avatar?”

And though he tried to hide it, there was actual concern in his voice. Shamino glanced back toward the Wall of Light. “The Void. He passed through the Wall of Light and entered the Void. Whether it was meant to happen or not, it seems the Great Earth Serpent took him along with him. He’ll be fine.” His smile tried to be comforting, but deep inside he was very worried. The Avatar might have used this opportunity to return to Britannia, or even Earth, but many things could have happened.

“You’d think these cursed snakes could let us know.” Iolo frowned. “That’s all Dupre, now that I’ve become a big cosmic snake; no time for the old friends!” he grumbled.

Shamino smiled. It wasn’t the same without Dupre around; he could feel Iolo’s heart wasn’t at it either. Of course Dupre wasn’t really dead, he became one with Chaos Serpent. But that didn’t make the pain disappear, it merely eased it. He was gone. And now the Avatar was gone as well.

“Hmmmf. Well he’ll handle himself,” grumble Wilfred. “Now what are we going to do?”

“Well obviously ‘sir’ Wilfred, we need to find a way out of here,” said Gwenno sarcastically. “Maybe you have some idea some idea how to do so?” She smirked. Wilfred didn’t bother to answer. “And I’m afraid, leaving this place might be easier said than done...”

Shamino eyed the floor in front of them. “Or maybe not!” The blackrock serpents were still there, scattered over the floor by the rubbles, but intact. “Maybe we can use the Wall of Light!”

Excitedly he took the blackrock serpents, and placed them in their respective place on the floor, not far from where the statue once stood. Nothing happened.

“Or maybe not.” Iolo simply noted. Shamino gave him a dark look.

“Why doesn’t it work?” Gwenno asked. “That’s odd.”

“Maybe the rumble damaged the Wall of Light. Or maybe the Great Serpents doesn’t want us to use it.”

Iolo glowered. “Well if that’s the case I’m going to find a way there anyway, and kick Dupre’s bottom, almighty cosmic snake or not!”

“And risks another Imbalance? Come on dear,” softly responded Gwenno.

Iolo widened his eyes, and laughed. Shamino chuckled.

“Wait a minute...” Looking at the rubbles Shamino noticed something odd. “His backpack...” He whispered.

Near the left base of the former statue, Shamino could see the backpack of the avatar was still there, crushed beneath some heavy rubble from the statue. He came close to it and cleared them with the help of Iolo and a reluctant Wilfred. Beneath it, the backpack was crushed and most of its content scattered around but…

“It’s intact!” said Shamino as he grabbed the Serpent Jawbone. “Most of the teeth are missing but the jawbone is intact.” They spent quite some time looking around and beneath the rubble for any remaining tooth. They rapidly found themselves with a half-complete serpent jawbone. Some of the teeth had been crushed to dust; others were nowhere to be found. There was nothing else of interest in the remaining belongings of the Avatar, no traces of even the hourglass of fate - which for all they knew could have been taken to the Void with him.

“Well, at least we have our way out of here now,” said Iolo. “For a moment, I have to admit I thought we were going to be stuck here. I must say: I am relieved.”

“I am as well,” answered Shamino. “I’d much prefer we had a full set of teeth, but it is better than nothing. I have no idea what gates the remaining teeth will open though. I’d very much like to get back to Monk Isle for now.”

“Anywhere will be better than here,” commented Wilfred. “And somewhere hot. I’ve had my share of the frozen north for a lifetime. Bah I hate the cold.” He growled.

“Stop complaining, Wilfred.” Shamino scowled. “Come on everyone. Let’s go.”

Thankfully, it was much easier going back from the Temple, than actually trying to enter it. The doors were opened, and the flaming bridge appeared for them to pass. In all appearance, they were being guided to the exit. They reached the Serpent Gate in no time, and with the Jawbone, entered the gate nexus within the void…

Three weeks had passed since their arrival on Monk Isle - thankfully one of the remaining teeth was leading there. The monks had been aware already than balance had been restored, although they were also alarmed by the disappearance of the Avatar, and disheartened by the apparent loss of the Hourglass of Fate. Xenka had promised them all the help she could offer, but unfortunately that meant very little. The monks were focusing all their resources on undoing the chaos the banes had wrought upon the land and their people. Many of them had been dispatched all over the world to help the many victims of the Holocaust in the various cities and elsewhere - tending their wounds, helping them to gather their strength, to rebuild and sometimes, when it was not too late, trying to bring them back from the dead.

But the point was that Shamino and his companions were still stranded on the Serpent Isle, without any knowledge of the whereabouts of the Avatar - the place of Visions didn’t help - or how to return to Britannia. In all likelihood, the Wall of Light was out of the question - they had in fact left the Blackrock Serpents in the custody of the monks. No, Shamino could only think of one other solution. There had to be on the Serpent Isle an equivalent to the Serpent Pillars. There had to be a reason for their existence on Britannia in the first place. Obviously there was still a connection between Britannia and the Serpent Isle; even though they were somehow separated during the cataclysm unleashed by the death of Mondain and the shattering of the Gem of Immortality. When that land was still called the Land of Danger and Despair. His land. He clenched his fist, and closed his eyes, trying to pry out these thought from his mind. These thought he often had ever since he learned at Sleeping Bull’s Inn that the Serpent Isle was once his former kingdom. Now was not the time. He had to focus on getting back to Britannia. That was the priority.

“Is there something wrong milord?” said a soft voice in front of him.

Shamino opened his eyes, and gazed into the eyes of Cantra, the young girl from Monitor. There seemed to be little left in her of the cheerful girl so intend on becoming a knight he had first seen upon their arrival in Monitor. In spite of her apparent youth, gazing into her eyes revealed some form of wisdom beyond her years. She had traded her monitorian garments for a more humble monk robe. Shamino didn’t know if she intended to become a Xenkan Monk, but it certainly looked like so. She spent most of her time trying to be of help to other people, making herself useful to the monks in every possible way; whether it meant gathering berries or tending to the wounded. She also spent a lot of time with either him or Gwenno when she could, and decided by herself to help them in their research. For research is pretty much all they had done since they came back to Monk Isle. Looking through all the books and scrolls available in the library for any mention of Britannia or Sosaria. Surprisingly even Wilfred agreed to help them, while everyone expected him to return to the main land. But Shamino still felt it was all pointless. He knew what he wanted to do: Speak with Erstam the Mad Mage, but with no access to either Moonshade or his Isle - for both teeth had been lost in the rubbles - it wasn’t an easy thing to do. Shamino sighed; Cantra was still staring at him, puzzled, expecting his answer.

“Oh don’t worry Cantra. It’s nothing. I just have a lot in my mind.”

“I understand.” With a nod she returned to her book.

They were both alone in the library. It was night already, and only candlelight was providing some glow in the room. Everybody else was probably asleep already. Shamino stood from his chair closing the tome in front of him.

“Enough for today.” Cantra raised her eyes toward him. “It really is late; you should go to sleep Cantra.”

“I guess. I didn’t realize it was this late already.” She stood and came closer to him. “I’m sorry we didn’t found anything today.”

“It’s all right, if there is anything to find, I suspect it’ll take a lot more time to do so. They have so many books in here. Good Night Cantra,” he said with a smile as he headed for the door

“Ah…” she said extending her hand. Shamino stopped and raised his eyebrows. “Where are you going?”

“Just taking some fresh air outside, under the stars. Want to join me?” he asked. She nodded. “Come.” He added with a smile.

Shamino was sitting, leg crossed, near the coast line. Staring at the sea, the stars and their reflection in the water. The sound of the wave was soothing, relaxing - suited for meditation. He often liked to sit calmly, and meditate under the stars. He had done that for as long as he could remember.

Cantra was lying next to him, eyes looking up at the shining stars. “Tell me of your moons again.” She whispered.

Shamino chuckled. “I’m sure not what else to add. They’re like… big, round, and light the night with their pale glow.”

Cantra laughed lightly “I heard of moons before of course, in stories, tales. But Serpent Isle never had any moons. A shame.”

“It did. It was a very long time ago, but in that time it did.”

“I wish I could see them. I wish I could see your land too.” Cantra had showed a great interest in Britannia and its history, almost as much as she did for the Serpent Isle’s. “It sounds like a wonderful place.”

“And it is. But who knows? Maybe someday, you will.”

She smiled. “I always liked the stars. So beautiful, so mysterious. My father used to say that a knight had better things to do that dreaming about the stars.” She chuckled, and for a second Shamino could see in her eyes, the young girl he had first met in Monitor. “But mother… I used to watch the stars with her; she always said you could read many things in the stars if you tried to uncover their secrets. She…” She paused, and a sudden sadness filled her eyes. “I miss her. I hope she’s still alive.” She simply said.

Shamino’s face darkened and he lowered his head. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t.” Cantra sat up and look toward him. “I was not your fault, to you or your friends. You shouldn’t feel guilty for what the banes have done when they possessed you and your friends. I was possessed too; I know you lived every second of it…But it wasn’t you.”

“I am well aware of that but…”

Cantra stood up and put her hand on his shoulder. “I understand your feelings. But the truth is: it was our own fault.”

Shamino looked at her, surprised by such an assessment. “Our forefather settled centuries ago on these shores. And yet… never did they once try to understand the mysteries of the Serpent Isle; they only sought them as a way to increase their own powers. They were too involved in their own intestine wars to even care about the land they settled in. Even I… a few month ago, I was but a little girl with no other desire than to follow the footsteps of my father in the Way of Arms and fight the goblins, and with little knowledge of what laid outside the walls of Monitor. And for what?” Her eyes were blurred by tears. “Now everything our ancestors have built has been reduced to ashes, by an ancient evil buried within the lands that none of us was even aware of. Because we were fools. All of us. You and your friends didn’t cause the destruction of this land. You saved it. Never forget that.”

They both kept silent for a while, and then Shamino chuckled. “Where have I stepped in now? If you start to lecture me like a small child.” Cantra let out a thin smile. “I know we were not directly responsible for all this. But it doesn’t make the guilt go away. It never will. This tragedy could - and should have been avoided.” He looked at her. “I didn’t realized you had matured this much.”

She shrugged. “A lot had happened in the last few months. And I learned a lot here. The monks have taught me the true value of life - but more than anything I have learned the true value of knowledge. The only thing that our people didn’t sought even though it could have saved us all.” She staid pensive for a moment, and then smiled softly at Shamino, putting a hand on his shoulder. “If you’ll excuse me Milord, I will go to sleep now. I feel tired. Good night.”

“Good Night, Cantra”

He looked at her while she left the beach behind, and he kept meditating for a long time before going to bed himself; still pondering the words Cantra had just said.

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