The Cald Magi, flanked by Saladarits, moved into position above the Vault. They saw arrayed below them a large group of Orothe Magi, Mobis swimming at the center.
"Woah," said Magam to Barak. "That's a pretty big force, Warlord. You think maybe Rayje was right after all?"
"He wanted us to believe that the Core was behind Bria's theft," growled Barak, "and that everyone else in Orothe was innocent. But if the Core has control of Bria, they have control of the whole region, and we have all the more region to take Orothe down. And if the Core doesnít have control of Bria, then Mobis does, and Orothe has to pay for the theft."
"So do you think the Core has infiltrated Orothe?"
"I donít know. But the Moonlands canít take even a chance that a region like theirs has been corrupted, and anyone who hears such a rumor owes it to everyone to crush that region utterly. We're doing the right thing."
Mobis swam forward from his army, Karse and O'Qua at his sides. "Barak!" he shouted. "We knew you were coming! We have been told that you have let the power of the Shadow Geysers corrupt you, and that the spirit of Agram sets your mind to war! You may deny this, but the Moonlands canít take the chance that a region like Cald has been corrupted! We will crush you utterly!"
Magam snorted. "Well, doesnít that sound familiar?" she asked Barak.
The Warlord merely furrowed his brows in thought.
Valkan leaned in. "Hey, maybe Rayje came down here and told them the same lies he told us," he whispered. "Wait, that didnít sound right?quot;
"Shut up," said Barak.
The Warlord paused, thinking hard. He'd thought that the Core had infiltrated Orothe at the highest levels. Now Mobis thought the same was true for Cald. Certainly Mobis had been told a lie; perhaps he, too, was wrong. It would be just like the Core to get two decent regions fighting each other while the real culprits escaped.
"Mobis," called Barak, "we don't want war?quot;
"You should have thought of that before you set foot in the water!"
"We just want the Scroll of Fire back! Give it back, and we'll leave in peace!"
"You'll leave in PIECES!" bellowed Mobis, and the Orothean Magi began their assault. Waves upon waves of wellisks, bwills, iximin, and weethans swarmed to the Cald lines, while a pair of great megathans attacked the flanks. The Cald Magi responded in kind. Their saladarits held off the initial assault while magical fireballs hissed through the water. Soon the entire battlefield was filled with steam bubbles, obscuring all vision.
* * * * *
While the fight raged, Ven and Grega circled around behind the Vault and crept up from the rear. The crawled across the roof of the Vault, eventually reaching the edge and peering down. Beneath them, the great Vault door lay open. They watched as Orlon, flanked by a pair of wellisks, swam rapidly into the Vault and emerged a few moments later carrying an Orothean Horn. He swam back up to the great steam cloud that concealed the great battle.
"Now!" said Grega, jumping over the edge and swimming quickly for the Vault door.
"Last one in's an ugly gragling," said Ven as he swam alongside, as hard as he could.
The two Magi swam in the door and quickly hid within the shadows. The Vault was huge, but as large as it was, it was packed with items of every
sort, all carefully arranged in rows upon rows of neat, carefully labeled display cases.
"Wow," said Grega.
"Double wow," said Ven.
"How do you suppose it's organized?"
"I have no idea," answered Ven. "Let's ask someone."
"Let's not and say we did," growled Grega.
The two continued to glide quietly through the Vault. Periodically, an Orothean Magi would dart past, grab a relic, and then dash out again, causing the two Magi to hide for a few moments before resuming their search.
"It can't be that hard to find," said Grega, "I mean, it's on fire. It should be making some hot water or bubbles or something."
"Well, you know me," said Ven, "I can't find a needle with both hands."
Grega rolled her eyes.
The two carefully searched the area, until they
found a section labeled, "
"This looks like the place," gloated Grega. "Say, do you see a glow over there?" The two swam closer to the source of the light, and abruptly a tropical current flowed over them.
"I'd say we're getting warmer," said Ven.
"Ha. Ha. Ha," retorted Grega.
"You donít think we are?" asked Ven, confused. "That looks like it right there."
Grega paused to stare at him. "You are either the driest wit I have ever met, or you are incredibly dense."
Ven just shrugged.
The two moved in to the scroll. With a little squeal of mischievous glee, Grega picked it up
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