This fiction references individuals and events from "The Path Forward" and the "No Laughing Matter" story arcs. It is a continuation of the current story. ~~~~~ “Jeffrey…Jeffrey…Do you hear me?” “Yes. Who…your voice – it sounds familiar.” “As well it should, my friend. Listen carefully. The Pentad is not merely a collection of powerful artifacts.” “Yes, so I’ve heard. The Keeper in Winter Spur said as much to some of my people.” “She was right, deranged as she may have been. If the artifacts are brought together as one, Chaos will finally be free.” “I know, I heard the prophecy. The King doesn’t seem ta be worried about the prospect. Is he…” “Behind it all? No, he is not. Though in another time I despised him with all my being, at present I must confess that he acts only in a way he thinks is best for his Kingdom. Yet, he is mistaken to take this threat lightly – it is not his Chaos that will be let free.” “What is it then? What will happen?” “I do not know. I now only see the slightest glimpses of what may come to be.” “What do we do?” “Return to the beginning. Deep in Benambra’s Vault, something was missed. Find it, and then find her.” “Her? Who?” “She…is the…key…” “Who!?” “She…” Jeffrey woke from his dream with such a start that he fell from his bed, landing with a soft thud on the stone floor. “What’s the matter!?” A voice cried from the bed, clearly startled by the sudden movement. “Nothing, just a dream,” Jeffrey replied. He glanced at his bed for a moment, longing to climb back into it and leave concern for his dream to tomorrow. No. This couldn’t wait. “I need teh talk teh Thorpe. I won’t be long.” ~~~~~ It was past midnight, but Detective Thorpe was still wide awake. Sitting at a desk in one of the King’s study rooms, he flipped through stacks of notes by the light of a small lantern. He read the reports from the latest mission – the one that brought an artifact back from Tokuno. This made at least twenty times now that he had read these same reports, and yet he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was missing something. This read yielded nothing more than previous ones. In a rare display of frustration, he tossed the mission log in his hand across the room and banged a fist on the table in front of him. Almost immediately, he felt embarrassed by this action - even if nobody was present to see it. He rose from his chair with a sigh, and walked across the room to pick up the log book. Halfway there, he rubbed his hand. “Stupid. I hope I don’t need to explain this to a hea…” he said, a thought suddenly occurring to him. He rushed to a nearby bookshelf. The pain in his hand forgotten, he quickly pulled another log book from the shelf. He sat down at his table and flipped through the pages until he found what he was looking for – an account of the King’s wanderings across the land shortly before he took the throne. The trip was largely uneventful, except for one encounter just outside of Britain. Demons. Thorpe returned to the bookshelf and grabbed another log. This one was written before he was given his position, but he was somewhat familiar with it nonetheless. He turned towards the back until he found the page he was looking for: As he neared his final moment, Lian Vinre, Janus, spoke of a prophecy to be fulfilled. His final words were as cryptic as they were worrisome. “I am but a servant of a greater Master! He comes! My name…is his. You…will BURN!” In a sudden inferno, the traitor’s body was consumed. No sooner had the great flame faded then cries of fear and surprise called out across Britain. A legion of demons had appeared, and a great battle begun. Thorpe stared at the final words of Vinre. He pushed papers aside on the desk until he located a quill. Dipping it in a small bottle of ink, he began writing in the margins of the report. He wrote and rewrote a sequence of letters, filling the page. When he found the right sequence he leapt from his chair, knocking the desk over. He knew what he had been missing – he knew who sought the Pentad. No. It can’t be. The door to the study swung open. Already on edge, Thorpe jumped, and reached for his dagger. Jeffrey was already talking as he stepped through the doorway. “I need teh talk teh yea. It’s imp…” Jeffrey said, stopping midsentence as he took in the scene before him. His eyes widened as though he had seen a ghost. A lantern swung above an overturned desk, causing light to chase shadows across the room. The floor was littered with pages upon pages of notes and reports. In the center of it stood Thorpe, half-crouched and brandishing a dagger - as if expecting to be attacked. He wore a look of fear that Jeffrey didn’t think the man was capable of. Most worrisome though, and the thing that made a cold shiver run down Jeffrey’s spine, was the Detective’s shirt. It was dripping with ink.