The Eternity Core

Four races, four warriors and four mounts. One huge army that threatens to wipe everything out. What could be better?

P.S. There will be no mature content - but there will be scenes of violence. That's why I rated it yellow, but other than violence, there is nothing that you shouldn't read!!! ;) This isn't your average happy fantasy story for three year olds. This is a full blown war with a lot of crazy and awesome involved. Thanks for reading!!!!! XDXDXD
P.P.S. Only the first three chapters have been submitted as it was for Young Movellist 2013.

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2. 2 ~ Frostbite

Before, this dash through the woods to reach our hill had been an exciting matter, but, with the phantoms chasing us, it was terrifying. I knew that one stumble would be enough to finish us all. My heart was hammering against my chest, my powerful legs carrying me as I sprang forwards, desperately trying to gain ground. This forest had been a safe place to us all, but, with the phantoms persuing us, it became nothing less than a scene I didn't know. My sorrow had corrupted my mind; I no longer knew where we were. As long as Sapphyre could make her last stand on the hill, and Carnelian lived to fight another battle, I no longer cared. Why should I, when all I knew was being destroyed, crumpling my heart as if cruelty was what it thrived on? And then I remembered my promise to Sapphyre. I had to try to survive, if not for myself but for her. For her and Carnelian.

"We're almost there." Carnelian muttered in my ear, his voice thick with fear and bitterness. I gave a sharp nod, glancing behind me.

Good.

They were not right behind us, as I thought they would be. Perhaps I overestimated their speed through my own terror and sorrow, perhaps I was just extremely fast, or perhaps it was a mix of the both. Either way, we were almost at the hill, and they were not.

I broke through the trees, bursting through the green of the forest to the open meadows before our hill. My paws barely touched the ground as I ran. Carnelian and Sapphyre clutched at my fur. At one point, I think Carnelian slipped, but Sapphyre managed to grab him and haul him back up. I slowed a little to ensure that he stayed on my back, but, when he regained his grip, I picked up my pace again and continiued to run. The dewdrops that had before glinted joyfully now seemed to be sparkling with a terrible sorrow, as if they were tears from the skies, mourning for Sapphyre. The grass we had played in would soon be trampled upon by the phantoms. Everything - gone!

The hill was just up ahead. I opened my wings to try and fly, just one last time for Sapphyre. They beat frantically, trying to lift me up into the air.

"Save your strength." Carnelian said softly. But I couldn't let Sapphyre die without a last flight up the hill, like we had always done for years before. I leaped up into the air, but found myself too tired to fly. Again, I tried. Again, in vain. I had to fly! My friend was as good as dead, and I couldn't even fly! Frustration filled me, and I launched myself into the air one last time. My wings whirred desperately, trying to lift me. The pain was returning; the strain I was putting on my wings was overwhelming. Gritting my teeth, I somehow managed to ignore it as I gained height. Sapphyre's gentle laughter, mixed with Carnelian's, rung through my ears like the sound of angels. I couldn't help but smile. They were laughing! They were laughing together! One last time... One last time...

I found my wings tiring, and I knew I had to land. I was about level with the summit of the hill, so I soared forwards. Gliding on the breeze, I remembered all those happy times I'd done this on our free day, every week. I remembered all those happy times we'd sat on the hill and just talked, played, laughed. It had been so happy... And now look at us.

Half crashing, half landing on the turf on the hill top, I wondered how I ever could have been bothered by grass stains on my fur. Now, it was stained with blood and covered with scars. And scars, as I had unfortunately learnt, were more painful than grass stains.

"Thanks, Frostbite." Sapphyre smiled at me, dismounting. "That last fly was fun."

I nodded in acceptance. There was a pause in our discussion as we all looked out to the forest, waiting for the phantoms to appear. Sapphyre was unsheathing her throwing knives, and Carnelian was notching an arrow.

"This is where I make my last stand." Sapphyre smiled. "Thanks for getting me here. Thanks to both of you - you've made my life so happy. I'd be nobody without you. And now, I'll die with you beside me. I couldn't choose a better fate." The blue skinned Lithralyden told us, looking to us both with a sad smile on her face. Neither of us made a sound. We knew that if we did, we would burst into tears when we could least afford it. Instead, we both nodded and gulped. Sapphyre whirled round at the hissing sound of a phantom.

"So," She said softly, midnight blue eyes glinting, identical to mine and Carnelian's. "This is it. This is how I die."

Carnelian's arrows darted through the air, striking down the first phantoms to emerge from the forrest. Sapphyre's knives didn't have enough range to hit the first to come through, so, at first, it was only Carnelian's knives that would be able to take down any of the phantoms. A few arrows came flying towards us, but, with my control over ice, I managed to freeze anything that came too close. Fear tried desperately to grab at me, to terrify me until I was paralysed from horror. Somehow, I escaped it, freezing arrows and crossbow bolts so that they fell from the wieght of the ice. More and more were coming from the forest, meaning that Carnelian's arrows could not pick out any who entered the meadow. Soon, they were close enough for Sapphyre's knives to start killing them, slaughtering each one she struck with the deadly weapons. I kept freezing each of the deadly weapons to come towards us, but it was growing tiring, and each knife or spear seemed to be replaced by another to come at us, with only one purpose: to kill. They were soon charging up the hill. Although Carnelian could shoot fast and well, he wasn't able to slaughter each advancing phantom, and niether would Sapphyre. From somewhere in the oncoming swarm, a cry yelled out,

"Ready!"

All of the oncoming phantoms started to draw their next weapons, but none of them actually launched them. Confusion filled me - what were they doing? Indeed, this was a strange action. I was too tired at the time to realise what they were planning.

"Shoot now!" a phantom called out, and I suddenly realised that they were all going to loose at the same time. An entire fleet of arrows, spears and other long ranged weapons flew towards us. Leaping forwards to intercept them, I used my fear of failing my riders to fuel my newfound abilities, and summoned a huge power from within me. Instantly, it seemed as if my entire body had errupted in a freezing, agonising pain. I roared out in pain, but I kept the power growing larger and more deadly. Then, when the weapons were almost upon us, almost piercing our skin and slaughtering us there and then, I unleashed a blizzard from my fangs. It blasted from my jaws, intercepting the weapons, and, somehow, turning them so that they faced the ones who had origionally aimed them at us. Then, with a last outburst of strength, I sent the weapons hurling towards the phantoms. A vicious snarl echoed across the sky; it took me a few short seconds to realise it was my own. The weapons collided with the phantoms, piercing their ghostly forms and slaughtering them instantly. I collapsed on the spot; my outbusrst of power had slewn many, but it had also weakened me. As I sunk down, the screams of agony echoed through my mind, and one thought passed dizzily through my head.

Scream. Scream, so that I can hear my revenge. Scream, as you made the villagers scream when you killed them all...

And then, it dawned on me that I had redirected every one of those weapons. Not one had hit my friends. I had not failed...

"Wow..." Carnelian muttered, staring, wild eyed, at the phantoms as they tripped over their dead commerades in their charge.

"You... You killed over half of them!" Sapphyre exclaimed. "That was amazing!"

Groggily, I looked up at them, my eyes catching the meanacing sunlight. Did they really think that highly of me? After I failed to save Sapphyre from deathglare poison? Indeed, I could see it in their eyes. The love, the amazement. I gave a weak snort of pride, trying to get to my feet. Instantly, I collapsed again. Using that much power seemed to have sapped the strength from me. Panting, I glanced at the phantoms. They were advancing, though slowed by the dead bodies of my victims. They would soon be here. Pathetically, I thrust my nose in the phantom's direction, reminding them to shoot. They understood me as only friends would, nodding and turning, with Sapphyre launching her knives and Carnelian loosing arrows.

"I'm out of arrows." Carnelian said suddenly. "But... But I think I can see the one who's in charge of them. If I had one more arrow..." he muttered, eyes wide with fear. They were almost up the hill, and, any minute, we would have to fight. If, that was, I even could fight.

"Here." Sapphyre said suddenly. She reached into her jacket, and pulling out a long piece of cloth, wrapped tenderly around something. "It's my lucky arrow." she said, handing it out to him. I gasped - this was the arrow that Sapphyre always used when she needed an amazing shot in archery training - the arrow Carnelian had given to her for her fourth birthday.

"But -" Carnelian started, as surprised as I. I didn't even know that she had been carrying the arrow, let alone letting Carnelian loose it, probably loosing it forever...

"No 'buts'. You gave it to me, and now I'm giving it back. Besides, you'll do better with this than I can do. Make it count, Carnelian. Take out their leader." She told him, a fiery look of trust and defiance in her midnight blue eyes. For two precious seconds, Carnelian looked at the arrow in surprise. Then, he replied.

"I promise. I'll make it count, don't worry." He told her firmly, clasping the arrow as she unwrapped it and gave it to her, smiling. He notched the arrow, knowing that this one shot could turn the phantoms into complete confusion, helping us win. Breathing deeply, he aimed, eye locked onto his target.

He loosed.

The arrow sailed through the air, seeming to slow time down just to taunt us. And then, it hit the lead phantom. But we didn't have time to celebrate, for one reason that chilled me to the very bone, froze my heart with fear and dried my mouth with terror.

The phantoms engulfed us.

Clashing metal was all I could hear for the first few seconds. I struggled to my feet, but to no avail - the powerful blizzard I had used to save me and my friends had sapped every last ounce of energy from me. Carnelian and Sapphyre stepped in front of me, their weapons flashing valiantly in the sunlight as they prepeared to protect me. I made a low, whining growl to tell them not to protect me with their lives, but they were too busy defeanding both themselves and me to notice my pathetic pleas. Both fought with the strength of sixty Lithradylens, battling so well for ones so young and inexperienced in real war. But they were natural. Carnelian slashed at whatever foe he could with his katana, the blade glinting with a meanacing light. Sapphyre wielded her poleaxe as if she had been born to do so; her skill was clear and obvious. But the phantoms kept coming. And, however good Carnelian and Sapphyre were at fighting, they couldn't win this fight if I didn't stand up and help them. I struggled again to stand, as yet more phantoms swarmed over to us. They grabbed Carnelian, dragging him deeper into the oncoming army, every one of them trying to slash at him.

"Carnelian!" Sapphyre screamed, trying urgently to reach him. She sliced through the phantoms, cleaving through them, piercing them and puncturing their skin. But I knew, watching, that she would be too late. His scream echoed over the hill, penetrating my ears. Filled with newfound rage and anger, I pushed myself heavily to my feet, eyes burning with hatred. They had already taken Sapphyre from me. They would not take Carnelian as well.

Leaping forwards, swaying slightly, I charged through their ranks, my exhaustion only barely conquered by my strong will. As I passed Sapphyre, she managed to swing herself onto my back, using a technique that she had been taught in our training. She was light - light enough that she did not weigh me down so much that I collapsed again. Carnelian's scream rung forwards once again, only a few metres in front of me. Shoving the phantoms out of the way with my body, I pushed forwards towards him. The first glimpse of orange I caught was when Sapphyre leaped from my back, slicing at everything around us. I slashed with my claws, killing every phantom I could get at. Carnelian had been pinned down, and had a knife to his throat. The phantom holding the knife looked up, saw us, and staggered back. For a few precious seconds, nobody moved. Carnelian, lying on the floor, had numerous cuts - minor but still painful. He had an arrow in his left arm, and an axe dug deep into his thigh. It was his swift movement that snapped everybody out of their tense stillness.

Carnelian threw himself up, lashing out with his foot at the one who had held the knife to his throat, sending it staggering back. Carnelian leaped backwards to stand beside us as everyone suddenly jumped forwards, moving so quickly that I hardly had time to register it. before I had to slice and bite at everything for my very own life. I was briefly aware of Carnelian's sharp intakes of pain every time he moved too quickly - his wounds were still hurting him. But at least he was still breathing. At least he still had a chance.

I was still too weak to use any of my ice powers; twice I tried to use them, and twice only a small trickle of cold air escaped my mouth. So instead, I just attacked everything with my panther-fangs and claws. Killing was all I knew in that fight. I cared nothing for my enemies - they had no heart, no soul. They probably cared nothing for anybody, lived to kill and destroy. If they had been caring creatures, I might have taken a little more mercy on them. But these creatures had killed Sapphyre. And, as far as I knew, that was unforgivable. Every crunch of bones under my fangs, every scream that echoed across the sky as my claws drew blood, was for Sapphyre. For the Lithralydens they had heartlessly murdered, for the skycats they had mercilessly killed. For the forest they had trampled that we had played in, for the buildings they had destructed. All of this, but mainly for Sapphyre. One of my only two true friends. And each death that came because of me, well, that just had revenge written all over it. Indeed, it was cruel to take a life. But this was a war, and it was all I could do. Several injuries slowed me down further, but I did not roar in pain; I used the agony, the rage, the sorrow, to fuel my slashes that killed so many. Beside me, two blazes of glory, were Sapphyre and Carnelian, fighting more bravely than any other I had ever known. So young, yet so strong and so brave. I was proud to fight alongside them. But this was the last time all three of us would fight together. We had to make it count. I suddenly realised that we were standing on the top of a hill again, exactly where this fight had begun. As if on instinct, all three of us moved back to back, right on the summit of the hill. The fight had taken us down to the bottom of the hill, but it had taken us back up here again. And this was where we were going to make it count. This was the end of Sapphyre's final battle.

Indeed, the phantoms were many in numbers, but we were strong, and they could not all attack us at once. With no leader, they had none to give them commands and organise them so that they did not just foolishly attack us as soon as they could slash at us with a sword, meaning that fighting them was easier for us, since they were all busy fighting both us, and themselves, for a chance to injure us. With a leader, they would have obeyed their orders, instead of scrapping with each other to try to get to the front of their army for a chance to attack us. I cleaved right through the shield of a phantom, then, in it's surprise, clamped my jaws on it's skull and ended it's miserable life with one crunch. I cleaved through another two with my claws, slicing open their stomachs and killing them both. This, I realised suddenly, was battle, what we had been training for our whole lives. Indeed, we weren't fighting the other kingdoms, but the phantoms. Different but yet so similar. And, though I despised it for killing Sapphyre, there was a thrill to it that I knew was helping me to fight. Slicing out at any who approached me, I risked a glance behind to see how Sapphyre and Carnelian were doing. Both were fighting well, though Carnelian was trembling from his wounds. He was obviously using some of Sapphyre's battle knives; his katana was probably too heavy for him to use whilst he was in so much pain. Slashing wildly at everything, he parried, stabbed and sliced at the phantoms, eyes narrowed with concentration. All of this I observed in a swift second, before my glance flitted to Sapphyre. She was fighting as only she could, swinging her poleaxe and destroying every phantom she could. Pride swelled in my chest as I turned back to my own fight, giving a low growl of encouragement. Then, hissing at the phantoms, I started fighting again, not letting them use my concern for my riders to my disadvantage. I jerked my head back as a sword sliced right before my eyes. I retaliated by lunging forwards, snapping at the phantom's shoulder. It fell to the floor, limp, as I moved onto the next foe. No time to celebrate over my victories - any pause for celebration could cost me my life. They would pay for harming Sapphyre. They would pay...

It took us over an hour before we managed to claim our victory. Both Carnelian and Sapphyre killed the last phantom; it found itself with a knife and an axe-head potruding from it's chest. And then, her poleaxe slipping from her fingers, Sapphyre collapsed onto Carnelian. He grabbed her, eyes wide with alarm.

"Sapphyre!" he gasped. I darted to her side, my coat soaked with both my own blood and that of my enemies. I snarled in frustration - she had a huge cut on her side, which was obviously the main source of pain - as well as the deathglare venom.

"I'm dying." she whispered to us, letting Carnelian craddle her head in his arms. "You have to let me go. Take my necklace. Here... Look... Look after it." she told Carnelian, fumbling to take off the necklace at her neck. The necklace - the neclace that had been left with her when she had been abandoned at the orphanage.

"You can't." Carnelian whispered back, tears falling down his cheeks and onto her face.

"Yes, I... I can. Please look after... look after it." She smiled weakly at him. Reluctantly, he took it from around her neck, and slipped it over his own. He paused to look at it.

"I will." he replied. It was a silver chain with a small sapphire hanging from it, the only thing that ever remained of Sapphyre's past. She nodded weakly, gratitude in her eyes, as the sapphire gleamed brightly, as if it were accepting Carnelian as it's owner. I knew, watching him close his fist around the sapphire, that he would look after it with his life.

"Thankyou." she murmured softly in reply, her eyes closing slowly. "D-don't ever forget me, will you?" she said to us, her breathing shallow.

"We won't." Carnelian replied in a choked sob. A miserable whine rose in my throat. She was dying! She was dying, and it was my fault... I should have looked after her better, I should have protected her, I should...

I should take her for one last fly. I owe her that much, at least. Opening my wings, I growled softly to Carnelian. He looked up, his tears glinting. Instantly, he understood. Lifting Sapphyre up in his arms, Carnelian gently placed her on my back, and mounted up behind her, carefully holding her in place.

"Go." he told me. "Fly..."

Upon his words, I spread my wings, lifting myself into the air. I was exhausted. I was injured. I was tired. But Sapphyre was more important that any of that, and this was for her. Behind me, I could hear Carnelian gently crying into Sapphyre's shoulder, whispering pleas in her ears for her to hang on, to just stay with us for a few more minutes. I listened to him, begging her to stay awake, and tears formed in my eyes. I no longer cared that I couldn't cry; I no longer cared that I should hold it together and be brave for Sapphyre. There was no way that I could hold in the tears that wanted to flood out, to show how sorrowful I really was. There was no word to describe my sorrow - I could not find one sincere enough. The first tears started to roll down my face, freezing as they fell through the sky. Why her?

My wings beat gently, carrying us across the meadow, showing Sapphyre the last few beauties of her homeland that she would ever see. I could feel her leaning over slightly to look at it all. She was too young to die, to innocent, too pure. The dewdrops on the grass seemed to look up at us as we passed over the meadow. The trees of the forest approached, and we flew over them, looking down at the plants and the wildlife that we had spent so much time with. Now, it was all over. Her life, destroyed. I could feel Sapphyre resting her head on my neck, breathing in the scent of my fur. I knew that I'd have to land soon, so I wheeled back around, carefully making sure that my body didn't tilt too much. My tears were still falling, freezing, and shattering on the ground below. Shattering, much like my heart. Breathing in deeply, I tried to stop crying. It felt almost impossible to stop the tears - how could I, when Sapphyre was going to die?

Her breath seemed weak on my neck, and I knew her life was fading fast. Flying above the meadow, I eventually managed to stop my tears, but my sorrow was not ever going to leave me.

"Th... Thankyou, for the fly." Sapphyre whispered in my ear, her voice as soft as fresh snow. I nodded silently, landing gently on the top of the hill. Carnelian swung himself from my back, lifting Sapphyre down and laying her down on the grass, on the very summit of the hill.

"Freeze her." Carnelian spoke suddenly. I looked at him in surprise.

"Yes... Please do it." Sapphyre murmured. Looking to both of them in bewilderment, I wondered why he would ever think of that. And then, I understood.

If I froze her in eternal ice, she could never truly die.

Nodding, I stepped forwards to say my final farewell. She put a pale blue hand to my face, tenderly running her fingers through my fur, one last time. With her other hand, she grasped Carnelian's wrist, as if she wanted to hang on, to stay with us forever.

"You'll stay in our hearts forever. You'll always be part of our soul. We'll never forget you." Carnelian whispered.

"I know." she replied in a pained voice, her eyes slowly closing. Carnelian swallowed tears, laying her poleaxe beside her.

"Keep it. And keep the knives." she whispered, too weak to even give it to him. He nodded without protest, taking it with his free hand.

"You still have the... The battle knives?" she checked, and Carnelian once again nodded, too upset to speak. Sapphyre's hand was warm on my face. I wanted to stay with her forever. I didn't want to let her go. Why did she have to die?

"Thank you for being... For being great friends." she told us slowly, the sad smile on her face mixed with pain. She was only smiling for us. For Carnelian. For me. For me who had failed her. We nodded in acceptance, neither of us able to keep our tears from falling.

"And... And thank you for being the best... The best friend we could ever have." Carnelian replied, embracing her one last time. She smiled at him weakly, then at me. I pushed my head against her chest, so desperate to keep her alive.

But not even the most powerful of skycats could reverse the past. That didn't stop me wishing that I could have saved her, though. If only I had run a little faster, then the knife may not have hit her...

And now, she was on the door of death, because of me.

"It's time." Sapphyre murmured softly, as me and Carnelian stepped back. I knew exactly what she was refering to - I now had to freeze my friend. I had to freeze her in eternal ice so that she could never truly die. There were two problems that burdened me. The first: Sapphyre was one of my two closest friends, one of the only beings with whom I would entrust my life to. How was I supposed to intentionally freeze somebody as close as her? And the second: I wasn't sure if I even could make eternal ice. Normal ice, yes, but eternal ice? I was unsure, but I had to at least try. I owed Sapphyre that much at least.

"Goodbye." Carnelian whispered in sorrow, stepping back slowly. My eyes said my farewell, telling Sapphyre that I'd miss her, and that I was sorry.

"Farewell." she murmured back as I opened my jaws. "I'll always be there with you... In... In your hearts. Farewell, my friends. Farewell..."

And then, ice started to cover her. The power I had experienced before when summoning the huge blizzard returned again, only, this time, it wasn't my entire body that was engulfed in the freezing pain; it was only my heart. And this pain was far, far, worse. It seemed as if my heart was going to explode as the ice shot from my jaws, covering Sapphyre. Somehow, I fought back the urge to run over to her and break the ice, to free her, to try desperately to revive her. My small tears had become gushing waterfalls of devastation, freezing as soon as they hit the ground. I roared in anguish as the ice finally fully covered Sapphyre, freezing her entire body. I concentrated on the power of the ice, trying to make it as strong as I could. I had to do this, for Sapphyre. She had been poisoned because of me - and I could not let her fully die. The ice, as I increased the incredible power inside of me, became stronger and stronger, as strong as rock, as strong as steel. My midnight blue eyes blazed with effort, fury, sorrow and pain. I would create a shield of eternal ice. I would freeze Sapphyre so that she could never truly die. The power inside me came to one last, final outburst, one last desperate power surge to ensure my success. The powerful beam of freezing ice exploded from my jaws.

The next thing I knew, Carnelian and I were standing in front of Sapphyre's body, frozen in a sheet of transparent ice. Eternal ice.

I stared at it in shock, my eyes widened with surprise. Next to me, Carnelian had his hands up against the ice, crying silent tears onto it, mourning Sapphyre. Her eyes seemed to be thanking us, thanking us for being there. I had been there, but I had never been able to save her. But she had been everything to me. Everything. Her and Carnelian were the two being who I lived to protect. And I had failed her...

"She's gone." Carnelian mourned in a choked sob. "She's really gone..."

"Wake up." Elder spoke in my ear, arising me from the most terrible nightmare I could possibly have. As usual, a flashback nightmare. Tears had sprung in my eyes as I remembered when she had died - how I hated that memory with all my living soul. And yet, I knew I had to remember it. Beside me, Carnelian was awoken by Elder, his eyes flickering open, sad and distant. The look told me that he'd had the same nightmare as me.

"There is an important meeting of the Infinity Core." Elder informed us. "You are required to be present."

Elder - one of the only forty-seven surviving Lithralydens - had pale grey skin, with dark, narrow eyes and bedraggled grey hair. She was known to be the wisest being in the entire realm; the wisest of Fendaryss, Wolveria, and Drakynor. The leaders of the other three kingdoms respected her. Me and Carnelian stood, locking eyes with each other to show sympathy for the other. At least we had each other. Without Carnelian, it would be unbearable. He was twice as old as he had been before; his age was now fourteen. I was an adult skycat; I could fly with ease, and carry full grown Lithralydens. But I never wanted to - the only one I would ever let on my back was Carnelian. He was the only friend I truly had. We followed Elder through the door of our little hut, which was located right next to her's.

"We're going to the Infinity Core's meeting room." she told us, striding off to the large, dome shaped building in front of us. She may have been old, but she was fast for her age. Indeed, she remained fairly healthy. Carnelian walked beside me, speaking in a low tone,

"It was never your fault."

If Elder could hear us, she said nothing. She knew about our frequent flashback nightmares, and she knew how much it pained us. I looked away from Carnelian, making no sound of protest, yet no sound of agreement. He sighed, his handsome face clearly pained.

We entered the large building, following Elder into the grand, gold doors that had been adjourned with jewels. Tapestries were hung on the walls of the corridor inside, showing proud scenes of battle. Since Lithradyle had been destroyed, the survivors had been moved to what was called the 'Infinity glade'. It was a huge clearing in a large forest, at which point the kingdoms of Fendaryss, Draakynor, and Wolvaria, and the destroyed kingdom of Lithradyle met. The meeting place of the four leaders was located in the Infinity Glade - the dome shaped building in which they were meeting now. Elder had brought Carnelian and I along. I knew not why, but there must have been an important reason for it - Elder had never brought us along to an Infinity Core meeting before. Finally, Carnelian asked the question that had been lingering in my mind.

"Elder, why are you bringing us with you?"

"You'll see." came her answer. It was typical of Elder, who was always mysterious. Even her true name was unknown - the reason she was simply called 'Elder'. She finally opened a door, pushing it gently open. She entered first, with me and Carnelian trailing after her. I gave Carnelian a swift glance before we entered, and he returned it with a small smile. And together, we padded into the room.

The first thing that struck me was the completely grand and luxurious interior of the room - the chandelier hanging from the cieling was made from expensive jewels, and the chairs and table were made of rare metals and woods. Carefully carved details were engraved into the furniature, and tapestries, even more carefully woven than any I had ever seen, hung magestically from the wall. And, sitting around the table, were the leaders of each kingdoms. I gasped in surprise - they were all sitting here, right in front of me! The Drakynaal, the Fendarien, the Wolverian, and, finally, Elder. The Lithralyden. She took the last seat, then gestured for us to stand behind her. Still slightly dazed, we moved forwards as if in a trance. The Fendarien smiled at us; the Drakynaal and the Wolverian seemed to be too occupied with glaring at each other.

"Welcome, Infinity Core." Elder spoke, her eyes slowly looking over each of them in turn. "I am sure you know why we are here - to discuss the matter of phantoms." She told them. I froze. Phantoms? Why had she brought us here if it were to talk upon the matter of phantoms? She knew how much it pained us after... After they killed Sapphyre! Surely, it was unwise to call upon us if this were anything to do with phantoms...

"Now, we all know that the phantoms destroyed my knigdom, Lithralyde. They killed all but forty-seven, whom you allowed to live in the Infinity Glade, since our homeland has been destroyed. For this, I thank you, though I know I have already done so in the past. I also take this opertunity to thank you again for not finishing off the remaining Lithralydens, for we had been fighting for centuries before. But today, I bring forwards to you a new topic. The phantoms invaded the kingdom nearest to their land of Akaten, and that, unfortunately for us, happened to be Lithralyde. But they will soon come forth again, and destroy another of your kingdoms. You will not be able to destroy them if your kingdom work alone." She said, looking around at each of the members. I wasn't sure what to make of the meeting. What was the reason we were here?

"Please, just get to the point. What is it you are asking of us?" The Drakynaal leader asked Elder. She gave a grim smile.

"Let me finish, Decimus, or we shall get nowhere. I am telling you, that, if you do not want to end up like Lithralyde, you must unite."

Instantly, arguing broke out; the three other leaders, obviously not keen on the idea, started protesting. They were soon yelling at each other. Elder waited patiently for them to quieten down, but it was obvious they were not going to.

"Frostbite, if you please. Quieten them, please." Elder commanded me. Reluctant to offend the leaders, I gave a low growl to break up their fighting. They all stopped arguing to look at me, standing as if ready to pounce. They sat back down into their chairs, not content but at least not yelling.

"As I was saying," Elder started meaningfully, "I am asking for you to form an alliance. Now, I know it was an incredibly big step when the Infinity Core meetings were created thirty years back, where, once a month, the leaders call a tempory truce and all meet up to discuss important topics. But, if you do not want to die, you must form an alliance. Consider it carefully. For years, we have fought for land, for control, for material, supplies, for many things. Surely, an alliance would reduce the number of deaths, and ensure that the phantoms do not slaughter you all? You could trade your supplies, and be content with your land. Surely, an alliance would make this realm a better place? Can none of you see this?" Elder questioned.

"No, I cannot see it. An alliance with the Drakynaals? Forget it; they are too stupid. I refuse to form an alliance with the Drakynaals." The Wolverian queen stated, her cold blue eyes boring into the Drakynaal king, whom Elder had called 'Decimus'.

"Oh, so it is us who are stupid? No, you slug-brain, I think that you shall find that you are the stupid ones. Any who turn down an alliance with the Drakynaals are stupid." Decimus scoffed.

"Wise, more like." She retorted. The Fendarien king, around the age of eighteen, though perhaps a little older, pushed back his chair and stood up.

"Stop arguing; this matter is serious! If we do not make an alliance, your entire kingdom will be destroyed. Elder is right, and, although I do not like any of this, I shall agree to it all the same. We need this alliance to survive. If we do not make our peace, then we are all going to perish. Do you want that? And don't think your mounts will be spared, either. Because they won't be." he told them, his voice firm. Both leaders turned to him, then glanced back to each other. I was surprised; he was younger, yet far more mature that the Drakynaal and the Wolverian. He sat back down, waiting to see the other leader's reactions.

"Well, I'll consider it." Decimus said reluctantly. A glare from Elder made him rephrase himself. "Fine. I'll agree, if it keeps you happy." he growled. The Wolverian nodded.

"I guess I can agree to the alliance as well, then." she sighed, with an angry glance at Decimus. I looked between them all. Indeed, they did all have a regal air about them, but they were, at least, forming an alliance. Relief seeped into my bones. They were finally making an alliance! I looked to Carnelian, who was smiling with relief - it was obvious to me that he, too, was happy to see the alliance being made.

"Good." Elder sighed. "I thought you'd never agree. Now; about the phantoms. I am unsure whether or not you are informed that the phantoms can place fear in the minds of any older than the age of around seventeen, therefore causing them to loose all their fighting skill. You are aware of this, yes?"

The leaders nodded. "Good. Now, because of this, we are going to send in younglings to destroy the phantoms. A small party shall be able to sneak into Akaten, and destroy their leader and his mount. We know that the phantoms life force is tied to their leader and his mount - if the leader and his mount were to be killed within the timespan of about ten minutes, then every single phantom, in Akaten, Fendaryss, Wolveria, Drakynor and Lithradyle alike, would fade away as if it never existed. If the younglings were to kill them, then the war would be won, and your kningdoms saved. Oh, and of course, each of the younglings would take a mount with them." Elder explained. For a few long minutes, the leaders sat and considered it. I wondered about it myself - could a group of younglings really destroy the phantoms? Four different races, uniting? And... Could they really kill the Akaten leader, and his mount?

And then, I suddenly realised why we were here.

Elder wanted us to go to Akaten.

Instantly, I made a quiet hissing sound, cutting through the silence. I would not endanger Carnelian. I would not risk his safety. And yet, he was the only Lithralyden young enough...

"It's okay." he whispered to me, but every eye was already on me. "I... I'll go."

I stared at him in surprise; he was willing to face those who had killed his best friend? He was brave enough? Carnelian smiled gently at me.

"Elder's right - I'm the only one young enough and if I don't go, the three races will be destroyed. I don't want anyone else to suffer like we suffered, Frostbite." he said softly. I lowered my head in guilt. Why had these thoughts not been my first? Sighing, I gave him a small nod. I would go with him.

"You're both going? You decide - just like that?" the Fendarien muttered in awe. Carnelian nodded and smiled.

"It is as I expected." Elder spoke, her expression never wavering. Had she already anticipated this reply? I could not help but wonder if she had already planned everything out. The Fendarien nodded his head in respect.

"In that case, I'll agree. Your bravery is inspiring, Lithralyden." he praised Carnelian. Then, turning to face me, he spoke again. "And you, skycat, are brave as well. Because of both of you, I shall agree to your idea, Elder. If only I was a few years younger, I would go myself. But, alas, I shall send in another, astride one of the best phoenixes in my kingdom. Consider it a deal." he said to Elder, nodding at me as he complemented me. I felt pride rush through me. One of the four leaders had paid me a complement? I bowed my head in honour.

"I agree, as well." Decimus added. "Gold shall choose the dragon they ride; and you, as I am sure you fully intend to, may choose the Drakynaal themself."

"Indeed, I shall choose the four. Each kingdom may select their mount as they wish, but the stars will tell me which youngling of each kingdom will go on this quest." Elder informed them. I couldn't help but letting my mind wonder. Indeed, the stars may be choosing the others to accompany us, but, what would they be like? Strong? Fast? Kind? Cruel? By glancing at Carnelian, I could see from his midnight blue eyes that he was thinking of this quest as well. He was wondering if we had been right to accept Elders offer. Because this quest would be deadly dangerous.

"Well, since all of you have agreed, then I shall accept this offer as well. So long as the Drakynaal youngling does not get in the Wolverian's way, I believe that we stand a chance - perhaps only tiny, but a chance at least." The Wolverian queen smiled, settling the deal.

"Excellent." Elder said, a tiny trace of a smile playing on her lips. "Then it is settled. We are now putting the fate of our realm in the hands of eight beings. And we shall know them as... The Eternity Core."

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