Jase listened intently as Gideon spoke to the Core, even though it was information he
already knew. The sense of urgency in the Dymas' voice cast new light on the situation and
caused Jase to wonder if there was more the aged warrior-prophet wasn't telling. If nothing else,
it made him realize that Gideon would rather be out fighting the evil directly instead of acting as
a diplomatic advisor to Randle.
Not me, he thought. For him this time of diplomacy, boring as it may be, was valuable. It
was giving him time to think things over. And the fact that no one was trying to kill him at the
moment was an added bonus. Yes, he felt a sense of urgency about the upcoming conflict, but for
an entirely different reason. Where Gideon seemed anxious to attack, he was nervous to even
think about embracing the Power. He needed to gain control of his abilities with Ta'shaen before
his fears came true and he killed any number of his friends and associates. He fingered the bulge
of the Talisman beneath his shirt and wondered again at Gideon's words concerning it.
It can protect the world from you.
It can protect you from yourself.
It knows who the enemy is.
From the three statements came two unsettling prospects. First: he was as dangerous as
the enemy. Second: he was his own worst enemy. If both were true, it meant a third prospect
might be true as well: if he didn't learn some control soon, the Talisman might consider him an
enemy as dangerous as those he was fighting against. The thought tied his stomach in knots.
He was wrenched from his musings by Croneam's question. "Do we have a Talisman of
"No," Gideon answered. "And that is the heart of our problem."
"What do we do?" the image of General Crompton asked.
"With the council's permission," Gideon replied, motioning for Elison. The captain
withdrew five more Communicator Stones from a leather bag and placed them in front of empty
Gideon waited until Elison returned to his seat before continuing. "I would like to contact
the Kings of Zeka, Chunin, and Elva. As was the case twenty years ago, we need their help in
fighting this war. Shadan and his armies threaten them as well. I realize that ambassadors are
here from all three nations, but for this first meeting I think it wise to involve the Kings directly.
After today, Thorac Shurr of Chunin, Emish Kaitan of Elva, and Benin Jizo of Zeka will speak
for their countries." He turned to the three and bowed appreciatively. "Thank you, once again, for
answering the call."
Thorac dipped his head in a bow. "It is our privilege to be here," the little man answered.
Beside him the Elvan and Zekan ambassadors uttered their agreement.
Jase felt Gideon draw on more of the Power and watched the Communicator Stones flare
to life, filling the empty chairs with images of blue light.
"Can you all hear me?" Gideon asked. When they nodded, he turned back to the rest of
the council. "Let me introduce Tohan Nanda, King of Chunin's Southern Kingdom," he said,
indicating a young-looking man with a closecropped beard. "And this is Luas Olwen of the
Middle Kingdom, and Prad Moirai of the Northern." The stone-faced Kings inclined their heads
"Orais Reiekel, King of Elva," Gideon continued, and the slender image inclined his head
"It is a pleasure to see you once again, Dymas," the Elvan King said.
Gideon acknowledged the greeting with a nod and gestured to the last image. "Salamus
Pryderi of Zeka."