I concentrated on the Key of Water and what I had done to plug Undir’s wound. I couldn’t keep it up forever in its current state, eventually I would need to sleep and that would dispel it. I spent a couple of minutes toying with it until I got something that I liked. It was now bound together so that it wouldn’t instantly dispel.
It wasn’t quite the work of are we had made for the base but it was sturdy enough. My rough estimation was that it would last a day or two before it would need repair. Good enough for amateur work with a power that I was inexperienced with.
Once I was done with that it was time for me to rest. I had broken yet another god into Keys and each time was exhausting even if they were easier then it was for Zillk. I returned to my bed and slept for a long while. I returned to that dream state where I could decide what happened in my dreams. The Slayer was not there to begin with but she joined me for some time during it. Now that she was no longer just tied to me she could do something other then dream while I was sleep.
After some time it was the Slayer who arrived again and said, “Itina needs you to wake up. There is new news and another mission that needs to be done. She wants to deliver the instructions personally so she is going to wake you up.”
I nodded and willed myself wake. Moments later I was laying on the bed again. The Slayer materialize next to me and I began to get up. There was a knock on my door and I said, “Yes, I’m awake. The Slayer told me what is happening. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
“Told you what was happening? How could she wake you?” Asked Itina from the other side of the door.
“I’m not certain if I mentioned it but she is capable of entering my dreams and speaking with me there. It was there that she told me and then I woke myself up.”
“I see. At least your awake. I would like you in the meeting room in a few minutes to discuss things.”
“I’ll be there soon.” I said and then Itina was gone. I got out of bed and looked at the Slayer. It really didn’t matter but she graciously disappeared while I changed my clothes. Once I was done I left the room and found the Slayer outside waiting for me. Together we walked to the meeting room.
Everybody was already there. Risgar, Undir, and Drarak were wearing their mission equipment already. I didn’t have anything special on but I realized that at this point I didn’t need anything else. Not needing a conduit and having many Keys at my disposal made it very easy for me to be ready anywhere without anybody realizing it.
I took my seat near the others and turned to look at Itina who was standing near the head of the table. Once I was there she clapped her hands to signal that the meeting had begun. “Alright everyone. We have a mission and some news.”
She looked at me and then continued, “The news is good. I’ve received reports about Apostates, there is some news that some Apostates are beginning to lose their powers. In particular Apostates of Quell have lost there powers and I spread a rumor that our Apostate of Tistral has lost her power too.”
“So making Keys does deprive Apostates who use that power from the ability to access those powers.” I said.
Itina nodded, “Yes indeed. Also your experiment with Undir made us know that at least one person who is capable of using the powers of an Apostate can also learn how to us the new Keys after you create them. That will let us be more aggressive at converting the powers of Apostates into Keys. Also the Keys seem to individually be more powerful then they were in the hands of the gods.”
“I believe that is because they are more pure.” I said.
“Yes, that is likely the case. This gives us an unprecedented advantage against the Betrayer. The second piece of information is that another cell of the Loyal has identified one of the Betrayer’s High Priests.”
Drarak whistled, “A high priest. How long has it been since we have last identifies one of those. Do you think it is for real or do you think that it is a trap?”
“Actually I think it is both. I think the Betrayer has an inkling of what we are doing and wants to stop it before it becomes a problem. So he is sacrificing one of his High Priests as bait to lure us into a trap.”
I raised my hand, “High Priests? I know that the word used to mean those that served the gods before they were killed but what does that mean in this age.”
“Priests of the Betrayer are those people that he directly communicates with. They know who he is and exactly what they are serving. Some of them are just Apostates who think it is better to cast in their lot with the Betrayer then to try and fight him. High Priests are something different entirely. You can think of them as Apostates to a Living God. He has imbued them with a lot of power and they are his main pawns. Only they know real information about the Betrayer’s real hiding place.”
“So if we captured the High Priest we could force him to tell us?” I asked.
“Not that simple. The High Priests are usually absolutely loyal to him. Simply capturing one won’t be enough to identify his hiding place. However the Loyal have several Apostates who specialize in forcing people to devulge information even if they do not want to. But yes, capturing him alive would be the best that we could hope for. It might not be possible however because the last High Priest that we captured, three years ago, killed himself before he could be questioned.”
‘Then capturing a newly discovered one might be difficult.”
“Indeed, but even if we fail to capture him it is still an advantage. As far as we can tell the power of the Betrayer is limited and he can only empower so many High Priests at a time. It also seems to take time for him to train a replacement after one of them is killed. Even if we can not capture the High Priest killing one will temporarily weaken the Betrayer.”
She turned her gaze toward me, “I still think that trying to kill the Betrayer is an extremely difficult task, even if we do now have the Ghost of the Slayer on our side. Locating the Betrayer will be the first important task for us, something that we have failed to do for a thousand years. If you really think that we can kill the Betrayer then you need to make sure we capture the High Priest. We may not get another chance like this one for years.”
“So who is the High Priest that you discovered.” I asked.
“It was the one that organized the rebel army. A noble named Lord Slinder.”
I made a startled sound of surprised, “Lord Slinder? That Lord Slinder.” I paused trying to figure out the repercussions. If he is a High Priest then he must have been at least partially responsible for the orc invasion. He was one of the nobles that guarded one of the banks. I talked with him just before I was attacked by an orc Apostate. So, everything that happened on that bank was his doing.
“You know the man?” Asked Itina.
“A bit, however if he is a High Priest of the Betrayer he must have been one of the organizers behind the orc invasion as well.”
“The problems we are dealing with right now are probably commands he is doing at the whim of the Betrayer.” Said Itina, “Since he had failed at the rebellion against the king he must have become more expendable. Perfect bait for a trap.”
Drarak nodded, “Indeed, the Betrayer must know how much we would want to stop the High Priests.”
“So where is he located?” I asked.
“His own estates. My intel says that he had been located near the city and indirectly in command of the rebel armies. Now that that has failed he has returned to his estates. He may not even know that his identity has been compromised but other of the Betrayor’s agents certain do. I wanted us to begin the journey immediately so that we can get there before he knows we are on his trail.”
We all nodded in agreement, even the Slayer. Itina then told us that we would be leaving in the hour and that anything you wanted you should grab quickly. It took me little time to pack, mainly a bag full of clothes. When I was done I met the others across the street from the shop. Itina was joining us, at least for the journey and she had purchases some horses.
It would take us a few days of hard riding to get to Lord Slinder’s estates. My main duty on the journey was to finish the conversion of Apostate’s into Keys. With an Apostate nearby I was able to channel the broken Keys into them after I was done and they could learn the Keys they were most familiar with.
Itina was first because her Wellis, the Hoarder of Knowledge, was instrumental in giving us information. With several successful processes already complete it was difficult but not dangerous to deal with her’s. Bruko and Osumu followed after the next day and that last day of riding was exhausting for me. That last night I was allowed to sleep without having a guard duty because of my exhaustion.
Then we had arrived at Lord Slinder’s estate.