“You can’t be serious” Ashlei asked.
“I’m afraid so. I’ve known it since we first arrived, Carlene has too.”
Ashlei looked around at Carlene who was silent for a few seconds.
“I had my suspicions I’m not gonna lie. I’m sorry Ashlei love, but from the vision I saw, if we let them go through with their plan, they’ll release the Kardons.” Carlene said with regret.
“The Kardons have been letting them perform their experiments.” The Circus Master interrupted.
“It’s the only thing that makes sense. There is no way the Rysteians could hide from the Kardons for as long as they have. The Kardons have obviously tried to smash their way through the Angels forcefield, but brute force isn’t enough, so they’ve had to rely on more subtle means for once. The natural forces that govern this world. The Kardons are an intelligent race, but they know nothing of the natural forces of this world. Why would they? They’re gods, normally they can bend a world to their will. Still like I said earlier, sometimes natural forces can counteract the supernatural. It would seem the Kardons have allowed these Rysteians to tinker away until they’ve stumbled on a natural element that can create a rip in the barrier. That’s why that Demonic Octopus was driven away by those pitiful magics Denika. It along with every other animal the Kardons have corrupted in these filthy oceans is monitoring the Rysteians progress for their masters. Now and again they’ll attack them to keep up the pretense, but the Kardons don’t want this experiment to fail. As soon as the portal is ready, the Kardons will swarm this base and use it to escape to the surface and then.”
“Then what?” Ashlei asked.
“There will be no stopping them. They’ll ravage the entire cosmos and beyond. We have to sabotage the Rysteians machine now or else all is lost.”
“Trap them in here? With those monsters?” Carlene asked.
“You saw the vision. They’ll die either way . At least we’ll be saving the world above. Besides if the Rysteians are smart and listen to us, we can take them away in our Tent.”
“They won’t all fit in there. Besides I’m not sure they’ll want to listen to us love after we’ve buggered their one and only chance at escape.” Carlene said.
“Well then tell me Carlene what do we do? We can’t fight the Kardons. Those Demons have power beyond most Gods. We also don’t have the time to try and make the Rysteians listen to us. That machine is almost ready. Probably within the hour they, or rather the Kardons will escape.”
Carlene was silent for a few moments before Ashlei interrupted.
“You’re not seriously going to go along with this Carlene? Any of you.” Ashlei said in shock.
“These people have been suffering for centuries and we’re going to lock them in here with those things? Tell me honestly, Circus Master, how many of the Rysteians will die if we sabotage their machine.” Ashlei asked?
“In all honesty, we’ll be lucky to save any of them. As soon as the machine is sabotaged, the Kardons will attack this place. We will be lucky to get out. It’s possible we can get some of the Rysteians vessels to the Tent, but given how powerful the Kardons are.”
“Then we can’t trap them here.”
Keptis interrupted. “You’re new to this Ashlei. You don’t understand that sometimes in order to preserve the correct timeline we have to, to do bad things.”
“Like murder? No not murder, genocide? The Circus Master and Carlene are clearly being influenced by those monsters out there, what’s your excuse. I don’t know what happened to your people Keptis, but from what I’ve heard they were wiped out by monsters too and here you are.”
“Don’t you dare talk about my people. You know nothing about them or what I went through for them!” Keptis said.
“I can assure you that my decision is not being influenced by the Kardons. I’m doing everything I can to stop them.” The Circus Master said in a furious tone.
“The Rysteians are doomed either way.”
“No I don’t believe you’d do that. Not after all we went through with the Vampires and Hylexans. What you’re saying doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t those Kardons or whatever you call them just turn the Rysteians into those Demons out there and make them obey them that way?”
“The Ishika are simple beasts. They lose their intelligence a few days, weeks, months at the most after they are turned. Sure they can have some higher functions, like obeying basic orders to hunt and kill, but that’s it. They’re not as sophisticated as Vampires and Vandals not to sound big headed. We were created by the most intelligent Kardons to retain our higher functions. These creatures in contrast are just crude Demonic caricatures. We don’t have time to make the Rysteians listen to us. Besides the Kardons will know if there’s any delay. They’ve been speeding up the process with their attacks on the final facilities to push the scientists. The fact that some of them know us, surface dwellers are here means they’ll be suspicious. We have to act now. Who is with me?” The Circus Master said to Carlene and Ashlei.
Carlene couldn’t bring herself to say it, so she simply walked towards the Circus Master much to Ashlei’s shock.
“Well Ashlei? You can stay here and die, or you can come with us and most likely die, but at least save the world above, and countless others.”
“Or I can help you carry out a genocide.”
“I’m not going to ask again Ashlei. What is it” The Circus Master said more firmly.
This time Carlene stood beside Ashlei. Carlene knew deep down that the Circus Master was right. Though Ashlei had not exactly lived the most sheltered life before meeting Carlene, the beehived Vampire was still more experienced with the supernatural to know that there wasn’t always an easy way out. Nevertheless Carlene would never leave the young urchin’s side no matter what.
For a few moments the Circus Master paused. He didn’t want to have to fight or abandon Carlene or Ashlei, but he couldn’t wait much longer.
Eventually they both stood beside the Vandal much to his relief. Ashlei had been the first to do so, more for Carlene’s sake than anything else.
“Denika I hate to have to ask you to do this but.” The Circus Master said.
Without even responding Denika ripped the doors off of their cell with her magics. Denika could have done this from the beginning, but she had only waited around to see what the Rysteians were doing. Much like the Circus Master she had a feeling that they would have to stop the Rysteians as soon as she heard about their plans of escape.
The Rysteians magic and defenses were puny. From a practical point of view it would be an easy victory for the Circus Folk.
Denika hurled several Rysteian guards away with her magics, whilst the Circus Master similarly overpowered another three, whose weapons didn’t even slow the Vandal down. Florence meanwhile was able to calm several more with her hypnotic singing, whilst Keptis took down more guards relatively easily even though he was unarmed.
The Strange Boy meanwhile didn’t take part in the fighting at all. The influence of the Kardons was still too great on the young Jiang Shi, he didn’t want to give into his bloodlust for a second. Carlene carried the Strange Boy throughout the fighting. Neither Carlene or Ashlei helped the other Circus Folk to fight the Rysteians either. Carlene was still conflicted. She knew deep down the Circus Master was right, but as she looked at the Rysteians fighting for survival against the Circus Folk, she couldn’t help but wonder if the Kardons were influencing them after all.
Across the green, corrupted oceans meanwhile, the Kardons had actually begun to panic at the news of outsiders in their filthy waters. The Kardons leader, once one of their most fearsome warriors, Garishikar had had sensed the presence of the Circus Folk’s magic from the start. His evil ran right through the oceans to the extent that they had more or less become a part of him. However Garishikar had not detected any breaches to the barrier. He would know if there were, as the Demon had spent so many centuries throwing all he could at the barriers.
Garishikar assumed these new magics were simply experiments from the Rysteans. It made no difference he thought. Those puny magics could never possibly hope to harm us.
“What do you mean they weren’t Rysteians?” Garishikar barked to one of his underlings.
“It is true oh lord.” The lesser Kardons said cravingly as it bowed before its master.
“There was a Rysteian scout ship. We thought we’d have some fun with it before our ascension, but there were other strange creatures. They looked like the surface dwellers we had encountered all of those centuries ago before our imprisonment, but.”
“There was something about some of them, something familiar. For a moment I thought I could sense… Khastran!”
“You think he has come to rescue us?” Garishikar said, almost barely able to contain his laughter.
“Khastran would never wish to help us. That monster never cared about anything but himself. Also have you forgotten how he punished those who failed him? The only good thing about being sealed down here is that we are free from his reach.”
“The children of Khastran were not here for us oh lord. They were helping the Rysteians to escape from us.”
“What are you saying?”
“It seems likely that Khastran sent his minions to sabotage our attempts to escape.”
“No, no, he was defeated. The Angels let us know from above or have you forgotten. They assured us that no Kardons would ever be able to free us, not that it mattered as they wouldn’t anyway. Even after all this time those fools still didn’t understand us.”
“What if he escaped? What if he finally managed to triumph over the Gods, what if his servants still walk the earth.” Another Kardon said in panic.
“Do you question me!” Garishikar said more out of fear than anger.
“I tell you there is no way that Khastran is plotting against us. Even if he was, he wouldn’t ever leave lowly minions to do it.”
“Maybe they are just there to let us know he is coming, oh lord what if.”
“Khastran will never escape. He will be forced to watch as we go on to conquer all of the realms. Still, it seems that the Rysteians have tricked us. Don’t you see they know about Khastran too. It’s their last desperate attempt through some puny magics.”
None of the others were convinced.
“We need to send some of the Ishika to investigate.”
“My lord we need to keep the last of the Rysteians under thumb.”
“I told you not to question me! We could never force the Rysteians to obey us. Even with the torture, they would rather die than help us. If we turned them into the Ishika they would become nothing but blood thirsty monsters like us. We needed them to think they had a chance. If we attack now they could destroy the machine and then that’s it. We need to show restraint now.”
“Why are they doing this” Kile said.
“They helped me escape?”
“I told you its the Kardons way, to let us think we have a chance and then take it away from us.” Mascia said as he grabbed a large weapon.
The Circus Folk had easily fought their way through the Rysteians without causing a single death, though in some ways it would have been more merciful to finish them now. Florence and Denika had done most of the work, with Florence’s singing voice subduing most of the Rysteians peacefully.
When the Circus Folk arrived in the main hall Mascia and Kile were among the last people standing.
“You monsters. You tricked me, you lied to me.” Kile said.
“I’m sorry Kile believe me. I don’t want to do this. We have no choice. The machine you’ve built is brilliant. It will do exactly what you want it too. Unfortunately the Kardons are counting on that. They’ll use the portal you create to escape to the world above and destroy it.” The Circus Master said.
“Is that the best you can do?” Mascia said in disgust.
“He’s tricked you once Kile, don’t be a fool a second time.” Mascia continued.
“We’ve already made our way through your guards without breaking a sweat, do you really think you could stop us? I’m trying to appeal to you for the last time. We can get you out of here. It won’t be easy, and not all of you will make it. Still it’s your only chance.”
“I’ve worked on this machine for my entire life. I’ve seen so many of my people die, or worse be turned into those monsters. I swore that in my lifetime we would escape this hell. You’ll have to kill me to get anywhere near that.” Mascia said whilst raising his weapon.
Denika in response effortlessly knocked Mascia out with a harmless spell.
Kile raised her weapon, but the Circus Master tried one last time to reason with her.
“Kile please you know I could have let you just die, but I saved you. I want to save as many of you as I can, but if you open that portal you’ll all die with the rest of us.”
“If what you say is true, some of us can stay and try and hold those monsters off whilst others escape through the portal.”
“It’s not that simple. They have eyes and ears all over the place. They’ve been influencing that machine since the beginning. Those Demons outside. They’ll have some control over it in some way via magic to keep it open for the Kardons. We have to shut it down now.”
“Please, I don’t know what your game is, but we can’t come this close. We can’t” Kile said whilst almost in tears.
Whilst the Circus Master and the others were distracted, Ashlei who couldn’t bare it any longer grabbed one of the fallen Rysteian soldiers guns and hit Keptis over the back of the head with it, knocking him out.
“STOP” Ashlei shouted to the others.
“I don’t want to have to do this either, but I can’t let you condemn these people.”
“Don’t be stupid Ashlei.” The Circus Master said.
“I mean it, I’ll kill him unless you back down.”
To Be Continued