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COMPONENT 00: PHILOSOPHERS
The minotaur did not understand where he was. Everything was dark. He thought he the beating of his own heart, but when he placed a hairy hand upon his chest—nothing. What had happened?
A dark truth fell upon Azteron Zirnoff. The last thing he remembered was being stabbed and bleeding. A mortal wound; he was dead.
"This is but an intriguing turn of events..." his voice trailed. He lifted his eyes. A red glow coming from a distance away, things became even more intriguing. "I-I can see?"
The once blind beast man could see again.
Azteron watched the glow flash in and out, in tune with the rhythmic beating. Never one with much fear, and such was his haphazard manner, he walked toward the light. Before a score of steps, he slammed into something hard. He stumbled back, grabbing his muzzle.
"What do we have here?" Azteron reached and found a cold steel bar. With his other hand he grabbed a second bar. It didn't take his brilliant mind to realize he was in a cell.
Azteron snorted, feeling more than annoyed. He wanted the reason for his imprisonment. And who his captors were.
He tried to bend the bars, but they held strong, even against a mighty minotaur. "I demand you let me out of this cage!"
Azteron didn't expect an actual answer, but a voice came from near the red glow. "So you awaken, good alchemist."
The minotaur narrowed his eyes. "My title is Artificer. And to not introduce yourself, is quite rude."
A dry chuckle followed as a silhouette appeared, standing against the red light. "Forgive me one thousand times over, Azteron, you may address me as Lord Kelliko."
"Intriguing...you realize who I am."
"That I do. We have been watching you for many Dark Moons. Ever since you first obtained it."
"Obtained what?" Azteron raised a brow. "Tell me why I am here!"
Another dry chuckle. "Impatient. A trait I detest. Do not fret, no harm shall befall you here. At least not yet."
"You are a foe."
Kelliko groaned. "What was your first hint, fool?"
Azteron snorted, as anger boiled within his belly. To annoy a minotaur, often meant death. The only thing saving this Killeko, was the cell bars.
"Oh, fine, I don't like suspense." Kelliko sighed, a raspy sound. "You are here because I need your help."
Azteron gave a low growl. "Why would I help you?"
"Because if you do not, I will obliterate your mechanical son."
The brave minotaur's will wavered. "You know of Angon?"
"I do. I was scrying on you when you used your Philosopher's Stone infused weapon on him; that poor, terrified child."
"You son of a honkmule!" Azteron gripped the bars. "You will leave my son alone!"
"I did not return you to the mortal realm to suffer your empty threats." Kelliko clicked his tongue. "If you do not aid us, I will deliver you to the Nine Abysses. Does being tortured for eternity sound better? I'll even force your son to watch. Is that a better option?"
Azteron could take no more. His steam gone, he fell to his knees and shook his head. "I... will help you. But you will not harm my son."
"I am a man of my word, dear Minotaur. The Philosopher's Stone is no more. You implanted it into Soul Rupture and passed it to your son. With the imprint upon your scythe, you used that power again and again before leaving the weapon hidden in Triden's Gate."
"You seem to know a lot," Azteron muttered. "What can I do to assist someone with such knowledge?"
Red pinpricks of light appeared, not so far from the cell. The minotaur tilted his head, wondering what magic was at play. He sensed something wicked.
"Mr. Artificer." Lord Kelliko used his title. "Does the name Blood Tomb ring a bell?"
Azteron's eyes widened. It was before his time, in the Century of the Counted Stars. They were a great threat upon the Nine Lands of Anhsook Del Iris.
"I know of them...." The minotaur swallowed hard.
"I am one of the four lords of the Blood Tomb. Well, three lords. Your Soul Rupture destroyed my brother."
"What a shame."
Kelliko cackled. "Oh, my dear furry fool, it was a favor, believe me."
Azteron climbed back to his feet as the red pinpricks came closer. "Just tell me what you want!"
"We have the Ouroboros."
At that, the minotaur trembled. The Ouroboros was the ultimate alchemical catalyst. He'd seen it destroyed after stealing the Stone from the Philosopher's.
"That isn't possible." Azteron grabbed the bars. "That is not possible! No one can use it! The Philosophers left!"
"There is one who can manipulate its power..."
The minotaur took a step back. "No!"
"Azteron Zirnoff, you will use the Ouroboros, and create for me a weapon. One even stronger than the Stone. One that can manipulate the fabric of our mortal realm."
"To what end?"
A bright green flame burst to life, and a face appeared inches from Azteron's. The Artificer landed on his behind at the horror of the rotting lich's rotting flesh. The undead grinned ear to ear. "To reforge the pantheon as I see fit."
Azteron set his jaw. "You're mad! My son will stop you!"
"He is busy... And even if he learns of my plan, it will be far too late."