“Welcome back, Emel…”
The collection of Ksa had traipsed through kilometers of forest, looking for a single tree house. They had expected to see a very basic home run by six Rethans. What they instead found was a small mansion of a tree house, which mainly acted as a cover to a large, black portal. A portal that Kayel was standing in front of.
“Woah! You look amazing!” Ayel could hardly contain his surprise. “I mean, wow! You look so cool! And like, fifty years younger!”
Behind the few L-Class Ksa were a group of N-Class Ksa. The same Ksa who had originally offered the L-Class a life of pleasure. They had split the L-Class in two. It seemed none of them expected the group who got left behind to have done so well for themselves.
“Thank you,” Kayel smiled. “Really though, it’s Veeyel who has improved the most. Why are you all here?”
Emel glanced back awkwardly at his half of the L-Class, then at the N-Class. The two main groups were there, the Rank 1 and Rank 2 Ksa. Everyone knew that only the Rank 3 Ksa had been kept on as guardians of the Rethan government. Nine months later and that embarrassment still lingered among the higher ranks.
“Spit it out, dear…” A second voice came from the black portal. Out of it walked more beings, all looking like Kayel. “We have a society to build and you’re holding us up.”
A large number of whispers echoed around among the Ksa. Some of them asking whether that was really Veeyel. Many of them asking who the other being standing with Ksiel was.
“You’re… All doing very well for yourselves…” Efel admitted. “Like, really well.”
“Thank you,” Psivee-En smiled as he wrapped an arm around Ksiel. “We have, as you say, got our piss together. We are building a new society where we are all equals. No matter who we once were.”
“Nothing major currently…” Ksiel was also smiling. Arel nudged Efel and asked whether Ksiel looked pregnent or not. “But we have food, running water and plenty of beds. I can see why you would all come back here after what happened with you and Photeianos…”
Emel swallowed nervously. They were hoping no one would bring that up. The betrayal of the former High General was still fresh in their memories. “Yeah, about that… When we split, we said that you all could join us if things… went badly for you… We were wondering whether that offer goes the other way…”
“Of course it does!” Veeyel grinned. “There are… some strings attached, though. You wanted us to all become N-Class Ksa. Brainwashing and all. We want you to become like us. Renewed, reborn and upgraded. We will give you all of this for free, as long as you remain with us and treat everyone here equally.”
“It is a requirement to be like us if you wish to live in the Umbric Realm,” Kayel explained. “Do not worry though. We have streamlined the process to becoming Shadowborn. It is not painful, just a little disorientating.”
The Ksa all looked at each other, silently trying to make up their minds. Many of them already felt likd outcasts, no longer wanted by normal societies. They all just wanted to belong, to feel at home, to have proper family.
“We’ll do it…” Ayvee-En finally announced.
“And of course we’ll do it too!” Ayel exclaimed. “I kinda feel dumb that we didn’t stick with you lot in the first place.”
“Don’t worry, we forgive you!” Veeyel beamed. “Just… We have to tell you, this is a one-way process.”
“There is no going back, though!” Kayel warned. “You become one of us, you remain one of us. Not a part of any other race or society. You take part in the rituals, you become part of our social structure. You live, breathe, eat, sleep and breed as one of us. You become Skiavok forever. If you wish to become a Skiavok, step forward. If not, then turn away now.”
The Skiavok waited patiently for a response.
One by one, the Ksa stepped forward, their hesitation fading away.
“You will become Skiavok?” Ksiel asked one last time.
Kayel clapped his hands. “Good. Now come with us. Your new future awaits…”