The sun was just passing its zenith when the three dragons got the observatory in their sights on the horizon. It lay upon a plateau in the landscape, though as they approached it Gravi could see that half the plateau seemed to have collapsed, laying as a pile of stone and dirt on the western side of the plateau.
Gravi could see what seemed to be a few pillars and walls sticking out at the edge of the rubble. As they got closer, he could see that it was weathered and clearly quite old, but it was unmistakably ruins.
“The ruins…there was a city here?” asked Gravi slowly as he looked towards Cyril, well aware what likely had happened.
“Yes, there was,” said Cyril in a solemn tone, his eyes falling upon the rubble far below.
“Malefor?” asked Gravi.
“Malefor,” confirmed Ravina in a grim voice.
Gravi simply nodded in response as he looked down upon the ruins. It was one things to have read and been told about Malefor’s reign of terror and quite another to have experienced Malefor’s power first hand. Put things like this into perspective for him.
They slowly descended towards the Observatory, little more than a pile of rubble. A vaguely dome shaped ceiling still stood enough to be recognizable, but several holes revealed where it had collapsed.
They were on guard as they landed, almost immediately spotting a path a cleared path through the rubble towards the main building.
They followed, no sign of movement around them at first, though suddenly a loud shrieking sound of metal grinding stone sounded just to right of the observatory entrance.
Ravina moved in front of Gravi and Cyril watched their back, but even as they watched a large iron statue stood up from the rubble, a dim red glow emanating from the crystal in its ribcage like chest. It stretched its massive arms and turned towards them, speaking in a voice like metal grinding against metal. “Guess I overslept,” said the iron statue as it watched them.
“Infernio,” said Ravina simply.
“Do you even need sleep?” asked Gravi confused as he watched the statue.
“Obviously,” said Infernio in a matter of fact way. He then moved in front of the observatory entrance.
“I thought Demetrius only requested you to come here, Ravina,” said Infernio firmly, “not that I think he will mind seeing his son. But a guardian…”
“Well if he does not like my presence he better just get over it,” said Cyril with a snarl, “we are all trying to figure out what Malefor has done and as much as I hate it I am willing to hear what Demetrius has to say on the subject so that we might work together.”
“Also I do believe that Demetrius would already be gone if he did not desire to see all of us,” said Ravina smugly, “am I wrong.”
The iron statue chuckled, like the banging of a hammer on an anvil in rapid progression, “that is correct, Ravina. Let us go, he is expecting you.”
The headed inside the crumbled building, though as they quickly found it was a lot tidier than the outside would have you believe. Most of the rubble lay pushed against the corners of the rooms with only the largest pieces still blocking their path, but even those had if possible been moved just enough to create a clear path through.
They passed through the first few rooms like that before entering the main room, a vast circular chamber which would have no doubt been impressive in its glory, but which now lay in ruins. A large pillar rose up in the middle of the room, cracked and with several empty sockets set in its side, only one yet containing a circular white gem.
All around the room moved several iron statues, tirelessly shoveling the wreckage away from the main pillar and placing it in piles and among all of them, directing the whole thing, stood a familiar black dragon.
“Demetrius, your guests have arrived,” said Infernio In his usual grinding voice as he walked forward, the rest of them stopping, keeping near to the exit as they carefully watched the iron statues.
However, the iron statues did not even react as Demetrius turned towards them, a smile on his face.
“Welcome, my child,” said Demetrius happily, as he walked towards Gravi, “you have no idea what a pleasure it is to see you again so soon.”
Before Gravi could even react, Ravina stepped in front of him and snarled at Demetrius who took a quick step back and looked a bit hurt as his gaze went to Ravina.
“Can I not even welcome my child as I should as a father?” he asked with an overly dramatic saddened frown.
“Save it, Demetrius!” snarled Gravi as he pushed himself up alongside Ravina, meeting Demetrius gaze without flinching. “I am here for my own reasons and none of those are because I wished to see you again.”
Demetrius seemed hurt for a moment, though he soon broke the frown into a large grin even as he strode over to the pillar.
Infernio was leaning against the pillar and even as they watched Demetrius, he slumped over completely, sitting down with his back against it. Even so the crystal remained turned towards them even as Demetrius turned around.
“I must apologize for the mess, I have yet to finish repairs on this place, but I hope it will suffice for our meeting,” said Demetrius even as his gaze turned to Cyril for the first time since they had arrived, “especially since I have a Guardian visiting me today.” Demetrius then made a slight, bow grinning all the while, making it clear it was nothing but a mockery.
Cyril snarled, but did not say anything. While he would love to bring Demetrius down, the iron statues made him cautious. Neither the situation nor the location was good for a fight for them, too cramped to avoid the iron statues.
“Why have you called me here?” asked Ravina firmly.
“Did Gravi not tell…” started Demetrius in what sounded sorrowful, but Gravi cut in.
“I did, so if we could just get to the point?” he asked firmly.
“I see, all right then,” said Demetrius as he turned to the pillar once again. “I would assume you know what this is, Guardian?”
“The observatory’s most important part, the crystal pillar. The crystal on top caught the star sky above and the crystals on the side projected the image of each area on the wall for easy study,” said Cyril and then snarled in annoyance, “but I don’t see what you are getting at?”
“Patience, I would think you Guardians at least have that,” said Demetrius with a small confident smile as he turned around again. “At the very least appreciate the fact that I repairing it for you, free of charge.”
“You think Malefor’s final words could refer to something coming from outside this world?” asked Ravina.
“I am not leaving out the possibility, especially since we have yet to see the effect of the elemental energy unleashed from the tower,” said Demetrius, his smile slowly vanishing as he became more serious and he started pacing back and forth in front of the pillar.
“While I may not have been there to experience it, I have read up on the Destroyer’s activation and the subsequent battle to try and stop it and my own knowledge of Malefor’s journal, as unspecific as he may have wrote it to avoid giving away information, also identified the Destroyer as his primary plan,” told Demetrius.
“But he had other plans, some of which involved out things from outside our world?” asked Gravi, deducing where Demetrius was going with this.
“Malefor had many plans as to how he could destroy this world and rebuild it,” told Demetrius, “I would guess the Destroyer was chosen for two reasons. It only required activation, not continued focus from his side, leaving him free to prepare for any complications and it was, relatively speaking, fast.”
“He could have ripped the world apart by his own power, but if he was attacked during the process he might have found himself vulnerable or worse yet, unable to rebuild the world,” continued Demetrius, his expression dead serious, “or he could get some outside object to do the destruction for him, but that requires preparation and time.”
“And Malefor was anything but patient,” said Ravina slowly.
“Not entirely true, he was plenty patient, until he felt he knew exactly how everything would go. Once the goal was in sight he always tried to accelerate his plans, deal with everything at once…his pride denied him to just sit by and let everything play out slowly,” said Demetrius with just a hint of a smile now, before he shook his head, “never found a good way to exploit that though.”
Cyril stepped forward a bit, looking at the pillar. “So what you are saying is that we should turn our gaze to the sky for any signs of change?” he asked somewhat skeptically, “I don’t suppose you could give us any more details than that?”
“I would not be rebuilding this place if I could,” said Demetrius, though he soon smiled devilishly, “well, I do have a few ideas, but they need confirmation and…well I always need a bit of leverage.”
Cyril snarled again, taking one-step closer to Demetrius and Gravi noticed Infernio shift a bit, half rising to his feet and the other Iron Statues around them also stopped their work.
Seeing this Cyril stepped back again, walking back beside Ravina.
“Is that all you had to say?” asked Cyril firmly.
“Not entirely,” said Demetrius as he looked up at the pillar, “while I can clear out the rubble here I still need replacements for most of the crystal lenses, primarily the main one at the top. I know Warfang keeps a storehouse of spares for its own, smaller observatory.”
“You just expect us to hand them to you?” asked Cyril in disdain.
“I could pay you if you want. Information on Malefor, information on his experiments, the secret to my Iron Statues?” asked Demetrius firmly, “make your choice, I will pay.”
Gravi, Ravina and Cyril all watched Demetrius with no small amount surprise at this statement.
He only chuckled for a moment as he looked at them before his expression became serious again. “You may all hold different negative thoughts about me and in many ways you are probably right, but I am not my father.” His expression hardened as he met Cyril’s gaze with a piercing stare, determination behind his eyes as he spoke. “This world is my world and I will protect it!”
None of them spoke for a moment, before slowly Cyril took the word. “I will discuss the possibility of trading with you with the Guardians and what price we might ask. I will also instruct people to steer clear of this place, but I hope you don’t mind if I post a few scouts to watch this place from afar?” said Cyril firmly.
“Not at all, though I wish to reserve the right to choosing who will deliver the lenses,” said Demetrius and Gravi watched as his eyes went to him.
Before anyone could utter word, Ravina stepped in front of Gravi. “I shall deliver any packages that may be agreed upon,” she said firmly, “you will keep Gravi out of this!”
“He can speak for himself,” said Demetrius firmly as Gravi stepped up beside Ravina.
“I can,” said Gravi, “but I differ to Ravina’s decision on this. I have no desire to interact with you any more than necessary,” said Gravi.
Demetrius head lowered a bit and he sighed loudly, before focusing on Gravi again, “yet, you sought me out now?”
Gravi stepped up in front of Ravina, meeting his gaze unflinching. “Yes, to tell you to not involve anyone when trying to meet me. I am the one you wish to meet, don’t drag anyone else into that if you really have to.” said Gravi firmly, not breaking eye contact and continued confidently, “and the next time I might just feel tempted to test my might against you.”
“That would be interesting,” answered Demetrius with just a small smile, though he soon turned away from them, heading towards one of the side corridors even as he spoke. “But I understand, even if it pains me. Now, if that was all, I believe you know the way out already.”
Cyril looked after Demetrius. He hated how calm he seemed, how in control of the situation he considered himself. All the atrocities, the death at his claws stood clear in Cyril’s mind and yet he was not in a position to do anything…
He turned around in anger and walked towards the door, Gravi following, though he soon cast a look back to see Ravina still standing there.
Ravina also noticed and smiled. “I still have something I need to discuss with Demetrius.” Her expression hardened, “do not worry about me, I will be all right.”
Cyril stopped hearing this, looking back for a moment. However, it was just for a moment before he snarled and kept walking, Gravi slowly following him.
Ravina watched them leave and then followed Demetrius, Infernio rising to follow her as she headed down the side corridor. She soon reached a small, cleaned chamber containing a simple bed and a few supplies.
Demetrius stood inside, only slowly turning to look at her as she entered. He looked tired, his head hanging low. It was strange to see him like that and it did not change as he slowly spoke.
“You could easily have destroyed my guards,” he said slowly as he looked at her.
“Would not necessarily mean we would have captured you,” answered Ravina having made the considerations.
“Gravi could have stopped me from escaping,” continued Demetrius, just a hint of a smile on his face, though it soon vanished in a frown and he sighed. “Please don’t stop coming by…”
Ravina looked at him surprised by this statement and Demetrius seemed to realize what he had said as he soon turned away.
For just a moment Ravina was back in the darkness, the presence of Malefor always looming over her and the only place she could turn was to the one person still alive, the one who understood exactly what they had been through.
“Brother,” she said slowly and Demetrius turned to look at her, smiling a bit.
She was surprised herself that she had used that word once again, but no matter what she did she could only see herself reflected in him. He could have walked her path just as easily as she could have gone down his path…
“You can still turn back,” she said slowly and she watched as his eyes widened before he slowly chuckled.
“I can’t turn back, we both know that,” said Demetrius, but without his usual confidence. “And what would I turn back to?”
“I turned back and even though I live as an exile I work to try and help my child and his children, you could do the same,” said Ravina gently walking towards Demetrius.
Demetrius raised his tail threateningly and Ravina stepped back surprised, but Demetrius soon lowered it again. “He doesn’t even want to talk to me,” said Demetrius slowly, “the heir to my power, the only leftover of…of what I once had…”
“Does that matter, I was not certain if my son would accept me when I revealed myself,” said Ravina firmly. “If he is your heir, if you care about him, then you can start by giving him a world to inherit and then go from there…”
“Maybe,” said Demetrius and slowly Ravina watched as his expression brightened again and he repeated with more confidence, “maybe.”
He then raised his head, the confident from before restored as he watched her with a smile. “Now, what did you want because I doubt it was just to pep talk me?”
Ravina smiled a bit. This was the Demetrius she knew, but just a for a moment she felt she might have gotten through to him, that perhaps there was hope for him…