Everyone in the cathedral’s main chamber gathered around the central table that, before the Ancient One’s attack, had been reserved for Grand Master Ora and the other high ranking members of the church. Now, though, the discipline and organization that Cato had previously seen among much of the lower ranking members of the church’s army was gone. It had only been a few minutes since the fight and bodies still littered the floor, but everyone was focused on the tome resting on the table.

“The priests were able to decipher the contents very quickly,” Anica motioned to the book, “It’s a history. The history of those creatures.”

Kyros leaned in to look at the nondescript book they’d pulled from a cave weeks ago, “A history…their history told you how to kill one of them?!”

Anica didn’t bother to look to Kyros, instead she looked over the entire room of people, all of whom seemed to have the same question in their eyes, “Not directly. But it does talk of a time, eons ago, when they fought the Gods. The priests were able to direct similar energies into the creature to deal with it.”

“Great!” Kyros, apparently, was now speaking for everyone, “Now we can actually kill those things reliably! Let’s take the fight back to those creatures and their little cult!”

One of the priests that had come in with Anica, an older, white-beared man, shook his head, “It is not that simple, sadly.”

“Explain,” Grand Master Ora did her best to take control of the room with one word. It worked fairly well. She had a way about her that told Cato exactly why she was in command. One word, and all eyes were on her…then back to the priest. Even Kyros didn’t interrupt this time.

“Despite what you saw, Grand Master, it is unlikely the creature was killed,” the priest looked over to the tome again, “We cannot hope to channel the energies of creation like the Gods can. Yes, we can fight these creatures. We can banish them, for a time. But it would take every single member of our order to definitively destroy only one of them. The effort would claim all of our lives.”

Silence hung over the cathedral’s chamber. Most of the individuals looked around, defeated and seemingly helpless. Cato couldn’t help but feel the same. But, looking to his side, he noticed that Grand Master Ora had a steely look in her eyes. In fact, Maeira did, as well.

They were considering the cost.

It was a terrifying thing for Cato to realize. He didn’t have any idea just how large this church was, but he was certain it wasn’t small. And here were two leaders that had to at least think on the idea of sacrificing all of them to kill just one of the Ancient Ones. He understood, on an academic level, why it had to be considered, but Cato was still unable to wrap his own brain around such a staggering decision.

But in thinking on it, he realized something. The moment the thought came to mind, Cato found himself speaking it. Proof that he and Kyros truly were related, “But I killed one of them on the ship…”

He and Anica locked eyes across the table. There was the slightest break in her expression, and Cato knew she was thinking about Pel’s death. For a moment, he could see all of the anger in Anica’s eyes again, and Cato braced himself. But then it was gone, and Cato saw her fight back tears as she shook her head, “You may have injured it, but your sword couldn’t have killed it.”

Cato looked down at the table, resisting the urge to punch it. That had been the one major victory in his mind. But no. No, she was right. If these creatures were so powerful, why had he allowed himself to believe that his sword had actually killed one of them? It was foolish. It was…a way to feel better about Pel’s death.

“Princess Maeira,” the voice of Grand Master Ora was less forceful now, but the silence in the room made it no less difficult for anyone to hear, “I apologize for your earlier treatment. You have all done a great service in bringing the knowledge of these creatures to us. I have seen enough today to know you do not exaggerate when you say these Ancient Ones are a far greater threat to us all than the Mad Lord.”

Maeira nodded politely, “Thank you. You will help us, then?”

“We will,” Grand Master Ora looked back to the priest that had come with Anica, “Learn everything you can from this tome. We will use the knowledge within to devise a plan of attack.”

The priest began to reach for the tome, but Anica snapped his hand away before he could touch it. As all eyes turned to her again, she spoke firmly, “Everywhere we have gone with this tome, the Ancient Ones have found us. They must be able to sense it. If they fear us having it so much, they will begin to send more than one at a time to retrieve it. This isn’t how we win against them.”

Anica took a deep breath, then looked across the table to lock eyes with Cato again. She was dead serious and more determined than he’d ever seen before, “We have to destroy this book.”