• Chapter 23: Entering the Trideconese

    The boat soon arrived on the docks of the southwest side of Archapalaia.
    The party soon disembarked and soon hiked up the trail to the large city of Archapalopolis.
    The city of Archapalopolis is a large city, and is the only known settlement within the Trideconese Islands. It is a high tech metropolis not unlike Olympalantis, the imperial capital. The only known difference was it being much smaller. In the heart of the city was the temple to Hermes, who protected those willing to do commerce there.

    “Well, we’ve arrived,” said Valerius.
    “Now we just need someone to point us in the right direction,” added Galina.
    That request was soon answered, when a group of people approached the party.
    The group consisted of some guards and government officials, of human, elf, and dwarf races.
    The one leading the group was the prince of Archapalopolis. He was an elf of gray-tan skin, blue hair, and green eyes. He wore attire that looked like a modern Greek government official, but with a fantasy twist, as well as it being a bit jungle green. This prince also wore a gold and silver crown shaped like a laurel crown of antiquity. His name was Prince Palamedes Archapalas.
    “Welcome, travelers,” said the prince. “I am Prince Palamedes Archapalas. I have heard you were coming this way.”
    The party of heroes knelt before the prince.
    “Yes, Your Excellence,” replied Valerius.
    “I have heard also you are pursuing that scofflaw Erebus, are you not?” continued Prince Palamedes.
    “That is correct, Your Eminence,” replied Nauplius.

    “Then surely you can help us,” said the prince, “because that villain has been giving my island grief as well.”
    “Has he?” asked Rouvin.
    “Yes,” answered the prince. “Please, follow me to my palace and I’ll explain more.”

    The palace of the prince looked like a large crystal pyramid with four slightly smaller crystal pyramids near its corners. Yet there were special designs to allow privacy for those within. Inside was more of the high technology gadgets and gizmos that were about in the city, but ones befitting the ruler and his followers within.
    The party joined the prince and some of his officials in the grand hall. Prince Palamedes cleared his throat as he sat down on his throne, and explained:
    “A few days ago, before you arrived in these islands, Erebus had entered the Crystal Cavern northeast of here.
    “Now, this cavern is known for a very fine grade of colored and clear crystals that we use in the construction of our gadgets—as well as the fine jewelry—but there were monsters growing in numbers there lately, no doubt because of that warlock’s meddling. And just yesterday, there were rumors of a blue crystal dragon!”
    “What?!” gasped Nauplius.
    Valerius added, “Part of the Forbidden Ritual is the heart of a Blue Crystal Dragon! Perhaps—”
    “Forbidden Ritual?!” the prince said in horror. He too knew of the legends of that rite. He then continued, “This makes things all the more dire. We kind of have a Catch-22 situation. If we slay the dragon, Erebus might go to collect its heart. But if we let the dragon live, it will have the cavern for itself, and we might end up in a depression similar to Magnisi island a few days prior.”
    “No matter what happens,” said Valerius, “I WILL stop Erebus and save my beloved Delphinia.”

    “You are brave and determined,” Prince Palamedes marveled. Then he clapped his hands and said, “Soldiers, escort these heroes to the Crystal Cavern. I have faith the gods will protect them and aid in their victory.”
    Some human and elf soldiers soon joined with the party and led them to the entrance to the Crystal Cavern.
    The outside looked like a regular rocky entrance, but the party could see the crystals forming inside, and they knew even more would be discovered further down.