Chapter 3
The First Step

            Sentri and the Avatar gave their farewells to the last of Britain and set off to Cove. A week later they were only a mile away; during the whole trip neither of them said a word in conversation and were surprisingly undisturbed throughout. It took the Avatar by surprise when Sentri broke the silence.
            "Avatar, there is no need for such silence. Tis seven or eight days since we left Britain. Ambushs are quite rare since all the monsters united. They usually focus on where the Guardian wants them to." he said.
            "That is exactly why we need to be on our toes." said the Avatar. "The Guardian is our mortal enemy... My mortal enemy. And vice-versa, with the power he hath gained since the Black Gate he couldst wipe me out very easily. But why he hath not makes me uneasy."
            The party continued moving. The Avatar was wearing the same garb as before, but had his cape removed. Sentri was fitted with leather leggings and helm, along with plate boots, a chain tunic, and the sleeves of his red cloth tunic worn underneath were the only things as armguards. The Avatar had a single two-handed sword strapped to his back, Sentri carried a morning star in his right hand and a worn wooden shield in his left that was missing a plank.

The Mountains Near Cove

            Two winged gargoyles and one wingless gargoyle (Forskis) observed the remaining people of Cove, watching for the Avatar.
            "To think he went to Skara Brae." said a winged. "To not be here. To have waited over eight days. To never be here!"
            "To be comming!" said Forskis. "To have guaranteed his arrival. To not insult God!"
            "To start questioning God." said the other winged. "To not have provided the promised yet!"
    The gargoyles continued arguing, which resulted in a free-for-all fist fight. The two winged gargoyles were in a wrestling match which forced one into Forskis, knocking him out cold.

Lock Lake

            The Avatar and Sentri stopped at a bridge extending across Lock Lake.
            "'Twas not here when I was last here." said Sentri. "It doth look safe, though. Shall I go first?"
            The Avatar shook his head. He didn't like how a bridge was built accross such a polluted lake. If anything went wrong and somebody fell in, the results could be disasterous if not life threatening. The lake wasn't that long. A half hour travel around the lake and then a few more minutes and they would be in Cove.
            "I believe we may speak freely now Sentri. Not even rats would dare venture near this toxic pool let alone the Guardian." said the Avatar.
            "Ahem, well... Is the reason we're going to Cove the... Girl?" asked Sentri hesitantly.
            "Well... Yes. That AND Rudyom seemed to know a lot about Blackrock last time. Maybe he can tell me how Caddellite could have achieved the same result without proper planet alignment."
            "Damnit Avatar! Don't change the subject, the reason we're going to Cove is because thou dost want to see if Nastassia is alright! There is a VERY high chance that she did not survive the riots. So do NOT expect good news. In fact we'd be lucky if even Rudyom survived."
            "If he didn't survive, he does keep a logbook. He will no doubt have at least tried to figure out the strange occurances about the monsters. And if he's alive he will have probably recorded the whole key to the quest. And I'll bet that I'll overlook it again, like how I found Rudyom's Wand to be a waste and left it behind last time."
            "And it ended being the only item that could save Britannia..."
            "Yeah, it was... This time, remind me to take anything Rudyom made even if it only makes people tap dance."
            Sentri chuckled and nodded. When they finally reached Cove they were met by a worn out Guard wearing an old blue royal guard tunic over a full suit of chain armor. He was only wielding a stubby broken down sword.
            "Who goes there?!" shouted the guard.
            "This may be hard to believe, but I am the Avatar. And this is Sentri." said the Avatar.
            The guard let out a forced laughter. "Hah! Thou doth expect me to believe that? Thou must not only be stupid, but a fool! Claiming that thou art the Avatar in these times is ridiculous! Everybody knows he died on his way to the Serpent Isle. Not only that, if thou wert the Avatar I believe thou'rt supposed to be saving the world!"
            "And that, I shall do. But I need passage into Cove. Please, let me pass."
            "Okay... AVATAR... If you are who you say you are. Then who am I!?? And don't play dumb!"
            The Avatar took a closer look and recognized the guard almost instantly.
            "Abraham!!!" shouted Sentri in anger.
            "Haha! Thou doth remember! Avatar, where wouldst thou be without thy companions?"
            "I thought... I killed thee! I swear it! I saw thy remains burn the day after I destroyed the Black Gate!" said the Avatar.
            "The Guardian is more powerful then thou dost think. When he came through the Caddelite Gate a massive explosion occurred that killed anybody present. As a reward he resurrected all Fellowship members for his army!"
            "Damnit Abraham! What thou art doing is wrong! Thou knowest that! The Guardian will kill thee again when he is done with thou!"
            "Dost thou not think I know that!? WHY DOST THOU THINK I AM LIVING LIKE THIS!!! When I was resurrected I knew of his REAL plans! I refused to have any part of it! And as repayment I am forced to live out the rest of my life knowing that I was responsible for the Guardian's reign!"
            Tears began to fall from his eyes and his voice faltered. "They would never have found the Caddelite if it wasn't for me..." Abraham dropped his sword and fell to his knees. "And now... I see thee, Avatar. And I think of how the Guardian's plans may succeed now..."
            Both the Avatar and Sentri felt a slight pity for Abraham. If it wasn't for Abraham, Batlin may have never founded the Fellowship. And many people would not have died.
            "It's alright Abraham. What is the Guardian's plans?" asked Sentri.
            Abraham wiped his face and tried to stand up again. "The Guardian wants the Avatar... And he will stop at nothing to have him feel more pain than anyone has ever felt. And he would even erradicate every last piece of existing matter in the universe slowly."
            "Are you saying the Guardian's going to destroy the multiverse?" asked the Avatar.
            "No, thou wilt do it. His plan is to make thee destroy everything."
            The Avatar looked to the ground and instantly remembered Pagan. If the Guardian can force the Avatar into destroying an entire world, the multiverse doesn't seem as doubtful.
            "How wilt he do this?" demanded Sentri.
            "I-I don't know. But I don't want to die for such a pointless cause. And I feel guilty for asking but... Avatar, I want to join thee in thy quest to rid the Guardian. Forever..."
            The Avatar was wary of Abraham. The Guardian had no use for a spy because he could obviously see everything the Avatar did in the past. And if the Guardian wanted to kill the Avatar now, he had more than enough power to do so.
            "Abraham... You may join us." said the Avatar. "Sentri, keep an eye on him. If he does anything suspicious, slit his throat."
            "I thank thee Avatar. Thou wilt not regret this." said Abraham.
            The party entered Cove and were expecting far worse than what they encountered. Two or three buildings were ruined or destroyed. But the rest were merely worn out.
            "'Twas once the city of Compassion." said Sentri. The party was interupted with the familiar tune 'Stones' comming from a smaller building. "Dost thou hear that?"
            "Yes." said the Avatar. "It doth sound like Iolo's old song."
            "Stones," said Sentri. "Indeed, 'tis Iolo's song. But he's still in the Serpent Isle."
            The Avatar approached the building and the music stopped abruptly as if the player heard him comming.
            "Rudy?" asked whoever was in the house. "Is that thee?"
            The Avatar opened the door and found a bard holding a dagger in one hand and a lute in another.
            "Who art thou?" asked the Avatar.
            "I should ask thee the same question." said the bard. "But thou doth have me at a disadvantage, so, my name is De Maria."
            "De Maria. I remember you! If I hadn't met thee I would never have met Nastassia. De Maria, dost thou not remember me?"
            "No... From the looks of thy costume I'd say thou art Sullivan."
            "Heh heh, close. I am the Avatar. And thou'rt the bard I owe much to."
            "The Avatar? Hah! If thou'rt the Avatar why didst thou not help us when the riots came? Hell, thou wert the reason they came!"
            "I'm sorry if I caused any trouble. I never meant for this to happen!"
            "Sorry? SORRY!!?? Everybody I knew... friends, family... All were burned to death because they supported thee!" De Maria threw his lute to the floor and raised his dagger. "I HATE THEE!!! THOU DIDST DESTROY ALL I LIVED FOR!!!" He charged at the Avatar with his dagger aimed directly at his chest. The Avatar teleported behind De Maria using his Ethereal power. De Maria was confused at the moment but quickly figured the situation. Sentri and Abraham ran to the Avatar's aid immediatly, surrounding De Maria. The Avatar held out his hand and De Maria's dagger flew into it handle first.
            "De Maria please!" shouted Abraham. "Forgive the Avatar. Wouldst thou have done the same thing in his place?"
            De Maria calmed down. "Yes... But in different manner. Why shouldst he have kept a secret like that? Why didst he waste time with other things!?" he turned to the Avatar. "WHY THE HELL DIDST THOU NOT TELL US THE TRUTH! IS HONESTY NOT A VIRTUE!?"
            "De Maria, if I told thee what was happening, what difference would it make? From what was already happening with the Fellowship everybody would have died a much worse death at the hands of Batlin!"
            "That's funny... At least the Fellowship made most people happy, if thou didst tell us of the Guardian we wouldn't have sat by idly! Lord British is shirking his rule by keeping secrets like that from the public."
            "And yet, now that the Guardian hath entered Britannia... Thou doth not do anything..." said Sentri. "Except attack the only person who can help thee."
            De Maria fell to his knees. "Avatar, I supported the riots that were against thee. But secretly, I always knew that thou didst the right thing by not telling the public... I just couldn't admit it to myself."
            The Avatar dropped De Maria's dagger next to him. And signaled for his companions to lower their weapons.
            "De Maria... I... I know that I cannot understand thy pain. But, I am not the one thou shouldst be enraged at. Think a moment. If someone told thee, about a year ago, that this happened, dost thou think thou or any anybody, wouldst have acted in the same manner."
            De Maria raised an eyebrow. "Strangely enough, I think not. If we were told of a similar situation, I guess we would have shrugged it off... But I don't know why we took the news so badly."
            "De Maria, Thine anger was amplified by the Guardian himself. Why else would Cove go against the virtues and destroy the town so easily?"
            "I..." De Maria started to speak but was interupted by creaky old voice.
            "Bard!" it shouted. "Thou shouldst cease speaking to shadows and help me with the blackrock prism! 'Tis nearly complete!"
            "Who goes there?!" said Abraham.
            "'Tis alright!" said De Maria, rising to his feet again. "'Tis only Rudy." He turned his head to Sentri. "Thou wert wrong knight. I am doing something about the Guardian."
            "Damned people! I save the world TWICE and all of thee treat me
like a crippled Rotworm!"
            The Avatar looked over his shoulder and spotted an old man shrouded in a flowing brown robe holding a gnarled staff in his left hand that was practically the only thing keeping him standing.
            "Rudyom!" shouted the Avatar. "'Tis good to see thee!"


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