She unbuttoned her sleeve once the door had closed with a dull groan behind her, and as her fingers nimbly rolled the sleeve to her shoulder, she glanced over the motifs carved into the walls again. How far back, she wondered thoughtfully as she reached out and ran her fingers along the carvings again…how far back? She pinched some of the sand and dust out of one of the cracks and sniffed it tentatively, before rubbing it again through her fingers and letting it drift towards the floor.
Her enclosed arm was enshrouded in a temporal hex gauntlet; not only was it far beyond the present day temporal tech of her people (and that was truly saying something) but she had made it herself. It extended from her wrist up to the skin right before her elbow; at the wrist and elbow were two thin bands with blue eminations bleeding out as they opened and began spooling to power. Between these two bands was a series of overlapping metal plates, which were now beginning to loosen and spin slowly around the length of her arm. They gradually spread out farther and farther from the skin which the normally covered, and as they spun up to speed-a gradual process, as she wasn’t in a hurry now- until they revolved rapidly at perhaps six inches distance from her arm.
And then without further ceremony, she vanished. There was no flash of light, crack of thunder, or any noteworthy effect of any note beyond that. Had she not been alone in the room, other occupants might have felt a brief breeze, but it vanished before they would have thought much more of it.
She had arrived at her destination, or at least what was left of it. For miles there was nothing but rubble and debris. Cries of horror and pain filled the air as survivors found what was left of their homes, their families, and their world. The sky was pitch black without a cloud in the sky, even though it was only mid-day. As she looked on, where the great throne room once stood, she could see a black crystal spear jutting straight from the ground almost 50 feet high, and impaled at it's point was the head of a royal drake, a look of terror upon his face, looking down upon the wasteland. At the base of the spear stood Helios, much younger than before, watching as two wind drakes work to remove the grizzly display.
The plates spun slower and slower around her arm as they descended again to their regular locations, but she paid no attention to returning her sleeve to its original place as she looked over the desolation. It was a terrifyingly awesome sight; banners lay impaled in among the debris with irregularity, and the corpses stretched to the horizon. There were many bonfires dotting the scene, and their black fingers of smoke stretched skyward like dozens of hands were grasping at the heavens. They were burning the bodies, she realized as she glanced over her shoulder. This was the entry way to the palace, and she could imagine where those great carvings would go, and where in future days buttresses and arches would reach towards the heavens. The far wall where the mosaic would be was crumbled, but from her spot in the antechamber she was facing the back of where it might be, so she quietly moved towards a better vantage point for it.
Whatever battle had been fought here seemed almost spiritual in scale; the artifacts of war lay scattered all about the floor, and as she glanced up at that unnaturally dark sky, she wondered if her quarry would have visited this point. His was a malevolent spirit, and days like this must feel like home to him.
A squad of earth drakes moved past her, paying no attention to the strange visitor, instead looking to the ruins. As they passed, the rubble began to shake and move, eventually taking to the air and settling on top of the remains of the walls, crudely repairing them. Several more drakes flew high over her head in all directions, watching for survivors no doubt.
She moved quietly through the dark, ignoring the scene around her. She entertained for a moment the notion that her foe might be circling above, but disregarded it; she would have felt his shadow and recognized it in her sleep. The havoc of the hour was preoccupying the drakes, and her presence was not registered among them as they busied themselves with repairs and the dead and dying.
Her expression shifted as the smell of burning flesh, acrid and unappealing, wafted through the air around her. The wind was shifting, and smoke laden with the scent of burnt hair burned her eyes slightly, causing them to water as she came through the destroyed doorway and entered the center chamber. She eyed the massive skeleton and spear, but avoided them for now to investigate the mosaic.
As she waited, the wind drakes had finally dislodged the remains of their previous king from the great spear and dropped it to the ground with a thud. In disgust, helios turned away from the dreadful sight, finally noticing the strange creature waiting in the rubble for seemingly nothing. Helios drew his sword and approached the strange creature wearily. "Who are you?! What are you doing here?" he cried out as his blade set itself on fire, ready for battle.
The Bald Woman froze for an instant in surprise, but her posture didn’t shift at all. “Kings do not slay guests in their courts. Not good kings, anyway.” She turned away from the ruined wall to face her eager challenger, and looked back at the battle-postured drake with an almost amused look on her face. “Is there hope left at this hour for you, Helios?”
confusion took hold of helios at the bald woman's reply, the flames circling his sword dying down."A guest of the king? Is this some sort of a cruel joke to you, creature?" His expression a mixture of confusion and anger. "Look around you! If there is any hope for myself or my people, it is not in your sick comedy!"
She frowned. “But there is no longer no hope, is there?” The double negative was a conscious effort on her part, despite its grammatical awkwardness. She gently kicked a piece of gravel across the floor as she turned to face the drake, his sword still drawn. She met his gaze with an equally blank face. The drake smelled funny; not in the conventional way though. As a Heraldic, she could smell the hormones in his blood; and they were things of fear and anxiety. Coming from a drake though, it carried a strangely salty scent as well, almost bitter, but still readable.
“If you intend to threaten my life, will you permit me to defend myself?” She asked politely. It was an ironic statement, and with any luck the civility of its tone would contrast just what Helios was threatening to a great enough degree that he’d come to his senses before she’d be forced to do something forceful about it.
The flames around Helios' blade had completely died down. His face almost expressionless as he sheathed the sword. "No,there will be no more fighting. too many have died this day." he moved closer to the bald woman with slight limp in his step. "Please forgive me. I have lost much in the last few days, and ive not seen a creature such as yourself before. I can’t help but be cautious, my people do not need another disaster."
She saw the weight on his shoulders and grinned an old, soft grin with true sympathy. "Caution is wisdom well displayed. It shows your spirit well." She looked inquisitively towards the body by the throne. "Who committed this?" She asked earnestly. Chaos of this sort surely bore relation to her purpose here. The damages stretched on to the horizon, and likely a great ways beyond.
He paused for a moment before answering; taking a deep, pained breath, his expression unchanged. "The monster that did this called himself 'Nagaetros'. Such a terrible word, but all too appropriate for such a nightmare. "
She mouthed the word silently in repetition, before turning back towards the wasteland.
"Has it been contained?" It was a simple question, and one she did not ask without proper care. There was a degree of apprehension to it, but it was all in all rather pointless to foster such emotions. She would be tracking Nagaetros to the point at which his timeline ever so briefly intersected with her target's, or rather shortly thereafter. But at present, she could easily imagine the fear involved in this world; chaos was reigning still.
"Yes, but at a great cost. I’ve lost almost all of my family. Almost every royal drake in existence, and all we could do was make him a prisoner in his own body." he directed her to a crater in the center of the city's ruins. at the crater's center was a massive black and red crystal in the shape of a jagged star. Even from where Helios and the bald woman stood, they could feel the energy radiating from it. Lying on the ground next to it rested 2 smaller and more circular and smooth crystals of red and blue." I had to seal him and what's left of my family away just to stop the chaos. The monster just wouldn’t die." A tear ran down Helios' muzzle. "They don’t deserve to awaken to a world in destruction" he said to himself quietly, almost as if to hold himself back.
She made a mental note, two actually, and looked away from the stone. It was a very malicious looking thing, suitable for a prison to a terrible creature no doubt, and quite frankly as facts came together she was glad she would not have to be the one to release it. Someone would do that before her, that much was evident. Shaw wouldn't be given his powers had Nagaetros remained solidly in his tomb of crystal.
"You may want to guard it heavier than you would forsee," she mused as she looked back at where the mosaic would be, and at that moment she realized that it and the crystal far away lined up perfectly. It was a map of sorts. Regardless of the guards, the stone would ultimately give up its occupant at some point in the next hundred million years or so. "Evil tends to have a long memory, and a longer life." She was considering many things at this point; with the knowledge of a name and a particular location where that name had been, she could locate anyone without all too much trouble. She felt a misplaced sense of relief in that she knew she could find the creature who had aided Shaw, but it was with great reservations: for she could see just how fearsome Nagaetros would be. She would have to deal with him...carefully.