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Diego’s Dragon


Book Four: Mazes, Monsters, & Mythical Heroes


Kevin Gerard

Chapter One



Acalan stood on a high outcropping looking out over the burnt forests around Tenochtitlan. The smoke had long since drifted away, but his nose still bristled. Whatever the strangers had used to burn their lands, it was as foul as them. Everything in the valley around their great city had been set aflame. It looked almost as though Huitzilopochtli had turned the invaders away by blasting them from every direction, his own breath an overpowering inferno.

But that hadn’t happened. Other than the small group with him and those with Chimalli, everyone had been slaughtered. All of his people, gone, and with all his training as a commander of men, he didn’t know what to do. The path hadn’t been opened to his eyes; he’d received no wisdom from his gods, if they even existed anymore. Perhaps the strangers had brought their own and overwhelmed them as well.

He scanned the city also, looking for any sign of life, anything that might warn him to stay away or ease his worries and allow him to lead the people back to their homes. For over an hour he’d stared, covering every canal, every shop, every temple. One thing he felt certain about, none of the strange men that had attacked his people remained. He saw nothing that would make him believe otherwise. A few remnants of the battle lay strewn about, a steel helmet here, an iron chest plate there, but the men had hurried away, called back to the ocean by their leader.

Acalan had seen the dragons filling the sky as they battled the soldiers and their ships. His heart shattered when he saw so many fall. Even as far away as he stood, he could hear their cries and the rough sound of the water when one of the massive creatures crashed into the lagoon. He wondered again what sort of weapons the strangers used to fight an army of flying, fire spitting monsters.

Blinking his eyes, he wondered again about the dragon and the boy who commanded him. He remembered the first time he saw the black god. He’d been afraid in battle, but never had he seen his life flash before his eyes. If the dragon had opened his mouth, he could have walked in standing to his full height. It could have snapped him in two easily, and Acalan remembered seeing the boy jump to his shoulders and ride as though he’d been perched there since the day he was born. He didn’t know if they’d died, he couldn’t know about any of them, but he felt a connection with the young man and his powerful companion. They hadn’t returned, and Acalan had been a warrior long enough to know that that meant injury or death in battle. He repeated his silent prayer, asking again for their safety.

He turned and looked at the great mountain Popocatépetl. He wondered if Chimalli had reached the halfway point of his journey. He knew Chimalli possessed good hunting skills, with a few of the other warriors they would keep the people fed. There would be enough water, but Acalan hoped the collective spirit of the group would not falter. Even he felt defeated, physically and emotionally drained, but he would never show that face to the group he led. He knew Chimalli wouldn’t either, but when the people got frustrated, would he be able to rally them?

“Acalan,” said a delicate voice behind him.

He turned and saw Izel, a wise woman from the inner circle and mother to one of the warriors that ran with Chimalli. He glanced down at her knee, scraped and bleeding, as was her wrist.

“Izel,” he said, jumping from his lookout point to the rock where she stood. “You’re injured.”

“It is nothing,” said Izel, “an old woman’s inability to keep her balance during the climb.”

“Please, sit,” said Acalan. “Let me tend to your wounds.”

“With what, a rock, or some dust blowing up the cliff face from below? There is little left with which to heal ourselves.”

Acalan again felt the sting of shame, an overwhelming sense that he’d let his people down. He tried to hold eye contact with Izel, but found he couldn’t. His chin fell. “I am sorry.”

“You have saved all of us, Acalan. Take pride in that and stay strong. If you falter, where will we be then?”

“Our people, Izel, all slaughtered. And Moctezhuma, killed like an animal along with the nobles and priests.”

Acalan raised his head to look at Izel. A single tear traveled passed his nose, over his cheek, halfway to his trembling jawbone.

Izel reached out but did not wipe away the tear. Instead, she cradled Acalan’s head in her soft but strong hand, as a mother would do to her son. “What’s happened is truly horrible, but let us not allow our pain to consume us. We that remain are important, both here and at Popocatépetl. We must make for the mountain and join Chimalli and the rest of our people. We’ll build a new city somewhere, after we’re sure that the evil that descended upon Tenochtitlan is gone forever.”

Acalan mashed his palm against his cheek, pressing the tear away. He held it in his hand for a moment, a reminder of what he’d seen and felt. He had to lead his group to the great mountain of fire. If they could find Chimalli, perhaps a new life could be forged. The woman’s words rang true.

“Thank you, Izel,” he said. “You have found my missing strength and returned it to me. Let’s go tend to your knee and wrist. Then we’ll talk about following Chimalli to Popocatépetl.”

Acalan picked the woman up, carrying her as he would his mother. Izel protested, but when she realized the warrior would not be put off, she relaxed in his strong arms. Carefully, he hopped from rock to rock, making his way down the hill.


“Another day at least,” said Chimalli to his small pack of hunters. “We’ll need a dozen more kills tonight and tomorrow to keep our people fed.”

“The pace keeps everyone hungry, Chimalli,” said Matlal. “Perhaps if we slowed, took three days to cover the remaining distance instead of one. We’re pushing too hard.”

“Matlal speaks wisely,” said Tochtli. “If we are tired and sore, think of how much pain our elders feel.”

“What do you think, Iztli,” said Chimalli, “should we keep running, or should we slow our pace so the others can rest?”

Itzli stood, looking back in the direction of Tenochtitlan. He wrinkled his nose as if he could still smell the stinking flames that raged through their beautiful forests. His eyes showed every speck of fear and anguish tearing at his soul. They never blinked, even when he turned back to look at his friends.

The four of them had scouted every step of the way for the people that ran with them. Any one of them could have led the group, but Chimalli had been chosen by Acalan, and that’s all the rest needed to see. Matlal, Tochtli, and Iztli followed his commands without question. They hunted in parties of three, always giving one a chance to rest during the night.

“Iztli,” said Chimalli. “Tell us what you think.”

“The gods have left us to die,” he said. “Our temples have gone dark, our people are scattered, and we run to a place that may or may not be safe.”

“Should we continue to run?”

“If I were alone,” said Itzli, “I would never stop running. The strangers who came and attacked us, they did not act like normal men. Their eyes showed uncontrollable rage, and they never tired, no matter how many of our people they killed. They seemed to grow stronger as the battle wore on. We need to reach the mountain and seek Popocatépetl’s guidance. Perhaps Huitzilopochtli will be there with him, plotting to avenge his people. The god of war and sun is the only one who can defeat the strangers’ wicked magic.”

“Matlal?” asked Chimalli.



“I agree. Let’s feed the people and rouse them for another day of travel.”

“Thank you, my brothers,” said Chimalli, “your counsel means much to me.”


Acalan set Izel down gently next to a healer in their group. The woman immediately began attending to the sores, humming softly as she washed the wounds. She glanced once at Acalan, a signal he could go about his business without concerning himself with Izel.

The warrior turned and walked among his small group of fifty or sixty people. He asked two of the stronger men to craft a stretcher in order to carry Izel. She would need to stay still for a few days to recover.

“Hear me,” he said to the others. “I have spent much time looking at our city and I believe no life exists there. No one moves within the borders of the canals. I see no sign of any spirit either, but I don’t believe it’s dead, or that it has left Tenochtitlan.

“I know you’re all tired, as am I, but we must eat what we can and make our way to Coatepec.”

“Why Coatepec?” asked one of the hunters. “We should run to Popocatépetl and join with Chimalli. If the strangers follow us there, surely the god of the mountain will bury them in liquid fire.”

“A wise plan, Quauhtli,” said Acalan. “It is good to know that belief in our gods still remains strong. But we must not join with Chimalli, not yet anyway. Until we can be absolutely certain our enemy has left our lands, we cannot give him a single target to strike.”

“We hear your words, Acalan, but if that is your plan, then splitting our group again might be wise. Let me take all who would travel to Popocatépetl with me, while you protect the rest on your way to Coatepec.”

“I lead our people only as a servant, Quauhtli. If it is your wish to find Chimalli, I won’t stop you. But I warn you, if the dark spirit remains in Tenochtitlan and it senses you on your way, we might lose all but a handful of our people.”

The two hunters stared at each other without emotion, without envy or hatred, their eyes searching for ways to convince each other that theirs was the correct choice.

“Please stay, Quauhtli,” said Acalan. “I beg you. We need your hunting skills, and I need your help. If we get to Coatepec and find a safe place to conceal ourselves, then you may go with my blessing. I leave it up to you, my friend.”

Quauhtli looked at Izel, and at the healer’s gentle hands. His eyes moved from person to person, and he saw how lost they felt.

“I’m sorry, Acalan. I acted selfishly. We will all travel to Coatepec together. The safety of our people is all that matters.”

Acalan walked over to Quauhtli and grabbed the man’s strong shoulder. He shook it, smiling. “I am glad, Quauhtli. Let us hunt together now and bring a fine feast for our people.”

Quauhtli nodded once. The two warriors grabbed their bows and spears and trotted into the brush.


Chapter Two

The Forest of Forever


Diego stared into the golden eyes of the giant cougar. He couldn’t believe Conor stood so calmly within a group of giant cats. The smallest of them, the smiling cheetah, could rip him in half with one blindingly fast swipe of his hardened claws. The lion stood stone still, a gigantic monolith pressing the broad-leafed ferns aside with his massive bulk.

Conor stepped forward and crouched, holding a hand out to his friend. “C’mon, Diego, get up and I’ll introduce you to Ajur’s friends. They’re wild cats, but they can talk, and they all wield powerful magic. They’re from a different dimension called the Crossworlds.”

He grabbed Conor’s hand. As he felt himself rising from the ground, he looked at the jaguar. Ajur stared blankly, giving no indication of his feelings. He had rescued Diego, brought him to safety on a different world, but Diego couldn’t tell what the cat’s next move might be.

“Diego,” said Conor as he grabbed the cheetah’s ear and shook it, “this is Eha.”

“Hiya,” said Eha, stepping forward and pressing his forehead into Diego’s chest. He rubbed a little too hard, causing Diego to stumble backwards.

Conor grabbed Eha around his shoulders and held on. “Lay off, you big dope. At least let him get used to you before you start goofing arou…”

Eha rolled over before Conor finished his sentence. Clutching him with all four paws, he licked Conor’s ears and tickled his belly with his hind legs.

“Stop i…” Conor tried to protest, but fell into fits of laughter along with Eha.

“Quite a disgusting display if you ask me,” said Surmitang, a stunning Sumatran tiger, his British accent highlighting the comment. “Not dignified in the least.”

“Entertaining, though,” said Therion. “Under different circumstances, we might all join in the fun.”

“Yes, under different circumstances,” called a voice within the brush. The leaves parted and a wise looking, large black and white tabby housecat walked into the middle of the group. He stood upon ferns, moss, and thick brush flattened by the giant paws of the big cats. Therion busily rubbed a scruffy tree, ridding himself of a nasty itch. Bark and burl, raked off the trunk by his movements, flew everywhere.

Eha immediately righted himself. Conor stood, brushing himself off as quickly as he could. “Maya,” he said, bowing slightly. “I had no idea you’d followed us.”

The Lord of the Crossworlds champions ignored Conor. He looked at Diego, as if sizing him up for a battle against one of his cats. Finally, he sat, sphinx-like. Instantly, the other cats took their protective stances around him.

“The Lady of the Light is not happy with our decision, Conor,” said Maya, still gazing at Diego. “The first warrior has disappeared. The creators are quite alarmed.”

Maya sat quietly for a while, daring Diego to speak. When he didn’t, Maya knew they’d made the right decision. He peered deeply into the boy’s soul. He found important qualities, similar to those they’d seen in Conor.

“We’ve come to help you, Diego, if we can. Your enemy is powerful, perhaps more powerful than all of us combined. But we’re going to find Magnifico, and if he’s alive, we’ll do our best to see that you’re both reunited with Sol.”


Chapter Three



Jenna slowly moved along another chilly hallway. She’d been down so many staircases and crisscrossed so many paths, she hadn’t the slightest idea where she was in the temple. One thing she did know, she was discovering depths unknown to any modern day explorer.

Even though encased in total darkness, she knew she’d been inside the temple for days. Every time she turned another corner, she walked carefully, sliding her delicate fingers across the carvings in the walls. From floor to ceiling she felt the intricate work of the Mexica people. Once or twice she thought she’d discovered a row of symbols that might lead her out of the temple. Each time she followed the posted path she ran into another corner, or at times a dead end. In these instances she’d have to cautiously retrace her steps in order to find her way again. Her biggest fear was failing to remember where she’d walked and backtracking instead of moving forward. She felt certain that as long as she stayed her course, an exit would eventually be revealed.

She knew nothing of Nathan’s whereabouts. Once the wall sealed itself behind her she’d hadn’t heard a sound. She’d screamed his name as loudly as she could, but after yelling until her throat burned she determined that Satadon had placed a spell on the wall, or even moved her to a different temple altogether. Crumpling to the ground, she cried for the better part of an hour. The thought of Nathan, alone, at the hands of the Dark Lord, forced her to scream anew and weep convulsively all over again.

Eventually she’d gathered herself and started her long trek through the temple. At first her feet fell mindlessly one in front of the other. As much as she wanted to give in to her pain and die, she willed herself forward. Satadon had no doubt taken Nathan, why not give herself to him as well? In the end, her love for Racquel and Estrella strengthened her heart and spirit.

And so it went, day after day, hour after starving hour, with no water except what she could draw from the damp stones.

She stepped lightly across the hallway, switching hands and dragging her left palm across the faces of the Aztec Gods. She went by one while thinking of Nathan and almost missed the slight difference in the stonecutter’s creation. Passing two more before she realized it, she backed up a step, carefully retracing her fingertips.

It was different, she hadn’t touched this combination before anywhere within the temple. She knelt, closing her eyes even though it made no difference in the inky darkness. She felt better doing so, drawing her powers of concentration to a finely tuned point. Starting with the bottom stone, she caressed the sculpture, sketching a mental image of the carving. Balancing her kneecaps against the rough, uneven dirt floor, she brought her right alongside her left. Using the fingers of both hands, she worked her way up and around the wall of images.

After many mistakes trying to find the correct sequence, she grabbed a small pebble, flinging it to her right. She listened, finally hearing it softly bounce against more dirt. Frustrated, she grabbed another, a larger stone this time. She turned and after bracing herself by pressing her palm against the ground, she threw it as hard as she could. The stone finally clacked against another wall, signifying the next turn in the maze.

There must be dozens of carvings along this wall, she thought. Maybe hundreds. She looked straight down, ready to quit trying. Then she smiled, almost laughing at a thought. She had nothing but time, and if it took a week or even a month to decipher the secrets the wall held, she would spend the hours until she solved the riddle.

She stood, slowly, stretching her limbs and giving her mind a moment’s peace. Certain she hadn’t moved from the spot where she’d discovered the first few stones in the sequence, she sat, facing the wall. Crossing her legs, she took time to make herself comfortable. She reached out with both hands and began gliding her fingers lightly along the carvings.

“Don’t give up on me, Nathan,” she said. “I’ll find my way back to you, I promise.”


Chapter Four


The trembling of the cavern walls worried Misterioso. Cracks appeared from nowhere, sending showers of pebbles raining down on the two dragons. The floor rippled underneath Misterioso’s massive paws, daring him to take a wrong step. The largest of the Sun Dragons draped his body over his lord’s, spreading his thick, tightly scaled wings from Magnifico’s nose to his tail. He waited, calling silently to Sol.

He’d forgotten how long he’d been hiding in the cave. Many times he’d nearly passed out from hunger. Now food seemed like something from another life, or a dream. Sleep had become a luxury. Whenever he fell into a deep slumber the cave would wake again, jarring him back to his duty. Magnifico’s life came before his, he knew this, and at times he would repeat the short phrase for hours just to hold himself together.

The rumbling ceased, leaving the cave silent again. A tear fell from the tiny scales around Misterioso’s eye. He couldn’t remember how many times the walls had come alive, but he knew what the sound represented. Satadon was searching for Magnifico. Every time the caverns trembled, the Dark Lord’s fingers stretched a little farther beyond the Aztec city, deeper into every lake, every canal, every structure, trying to sense his enemy’s life force. Twice the shaking frightened Misterioso so badly, he’d left his lord and crept toward the mouth of the cave to investigate.

Peeking through a crack in the fragile stone, he’d seen a sickly spirit slowly snaking its way around the vast lake surrounding Tenochtitlan. The eerie form looked completely clear, the only way he’d known something had been there was by watching the leaves and brush momentarily move aside. A shiver had run the length of his body as he realized it was Satadon in yet another form, and when a finger of the shimmering spirit turned in his direction, Misterioso almost bolted from the entrance to save Magnifico. The desperation of fear caused him to vanish without consciously summoning the spell.

As quickly as it seemed to spot him, it turned away again. After holding his breath longer than he wished, Misterioso turned his massive bulk and walked through the maze of tunnels, backtracking to where he’d left his lord.

Magnifico’s condition worried him even more than the unstable cave. If Misterioso didn’t believe in Sol’s mystical powers, he might have given him up for dead long ago. Every once in a while he’d nudge Magnifico’s jaw gently, or peel an eyelid up to try and find a sign of life. When the temperature in the cave dropped, he would nestle his huge body close, cuddling his lord, hoping that his fire might ignite something within Magnifico’s soul.

It pained Misterioso to look upon Magnifico, so powerful and capable, and yet here, completely lifeless. He couldn’t stand seeing him splayed out like a hunter’s trophy. He’d manhandled Magnifico’s body, pushing the legs, head, and tail into positions they’d normally assume if a dragon were merely sleeping.

The lack of food and sun had taken a terrible toll on Misterioso’s mind. During times of extreme hunger and exhaustion he discussed battle plans with his lord. Even though he heard no response, he felt better pretending to talk with Magnifico. Sometimes the giant dragon would play both roles, speaking Magnifico’s parts as well as his own. He would try anything to keep his mind on his duty.

“Estrella,” he said to a rock wedged into the wall of the cavern. “Magnifico needs you, and so do I.”

He reached forward with one curved, bony claw and plucked the rock from its perch. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold on. I will stay to the end, but if you can hear me, make your way here as quickly as you can.”

Misterioso exhaled a stream of potent dragon fire, heating the cavern wall behind Magnifico. He waved his mouth and nose around, baking the thick rock until it glowed brightly. Small portions fell away from the wall, followed by molten dribbles of liquid stone. He withdrew his fire, watching Magnifico’s back and tail smolder.

He walked the length of his lord’s body. Grabbing the tip of the tail in his massive teeth, he pulled it taut and reshaped it so it curled around the body in a regal fashion. Next he checked each paw, turning a toe or a claw an inch or two one way or another so all four lay in perfect sequence with each other. He crossed the two forepaws as his lord always did when relaxing with Estrella or receiving counsel from his generals. Finally, he repositioned Magnifico’s head, just a little, laying it across the top forepaw.

He bid the master dragon a good night’s sleep before stoking the walls one last time. Closing his eyes, he whispered a personal plea to Sol, once again asking the sun to use its greatness to revive the lord of the Sun Dragons. Then he looked up at the cave’s ceiling, through the thick rock, to the stars above.

“Please, my lady,” he said. “Please hurry.”

The last dragon of his kind laid his head next to Magnifico’s forepaw and pressed his cheek against his lord’s. He heaved a great sigh and settled into what he knew would be another night of troubled sleep.


Chapter Five

The Forest of Forever


The mention of his dragon’s name shook Diego. He recalled the last time he’d seen Magnifico, just before Ajur had convinced him to run. Unmoving, with no sign of life, and not a single breath, Diego had left him outside the walls of Tenochtitlan. The memory brought tears to his eyes. He looked down, quickly wiping away his embarrassment.

He loved Magnifico, every single sharp-tongued part of him. Yes, his dragon harassed him at times, sometimes even acted downright rudely to him, but Diego understood, and he loved him all the more for it.

In the time before the first sun, Magnifico and he were destined to be paired as dragon and guide. As the leader of the Sol Dragones, it would be Magnifico’s task to train him, toughen him up, and force him to become a man well before his time. He’d done his job impressively, sometimes with a little too much spirit. Their fight at the quarry hadn’t been an act; Magnifico might have killed him if Estrella hadn’t shown up and surprised them both. Thus were the ways of dragons, it wasn’t his privilege to understand the ancient code.

The reason for his tears suddenly shifted. He remembered how fast he’d run to his dragon after he’d been brought down by his mate. The look on Magnifico’s face when Estrella began scolding him brought a smile to Diego’s face, but just as quickly the pain of his loss returned. He looked around at the giant cats, at Conor, and at the strange, thickly forested world they inhabited.

“We have to go back,” he said, looking at Maya. He knew by the tabby’s wise composure that he led this small army of capable warriors. “I want to be there when he wakes.”

“We will return, Diego, but at the appropriate time. The Dark Lord may not be able to see everything, but I fear his presence can touch every square inch of that city. When I’m confident we can access a corridor that will place us beyond the boundary of his senses, I will draw it forth.”

“But Magnifico…”

“He understands,” said Purugama, extending a wing over Diego’s shoulder. “We all appreciate your feelings for Magnifico. He is a cunning warrior and a brilliant leader for the Sol Dragones. The two of you have bonded in a way only other dragons and guides will ever understand.”

The cougar’s golden eyes shifted, and he paused momentarily. “Or perhaps in a way Conor and I will always comprehend.”

He blinked once, returning to the task at hand. “But we must be cautious, because Satadon may not be our only concern.”

“Maya,” said Conor. “When did the first warrior disappear from the Crossworlds?”

The Lord of the champions shifted his gaze. “He vanished the instant Ajur passed through to this world. He left word with no one, least of all with the Lady of the Light.”

“Who’s the first warrior?” asked Diego.

Every cat sitting around Maya turned their eyes in his direction. Maya looked down, shook his furry head.

“It might be kinda tough to explain,” said Conor.

“Try me,” said Diego. “After everything I’ve seen in the last few years, I think I can handle it.”

“Tell him, Conor,” said Purugama. “Tell him exactly as you’d wish to be told.”

“Yes,” said Maya. “Exactly.”

“He’s me,” said Conor.

“Órale,” said Diego.

“The first warrior of the Crossworlds is the mightiest champion ever to fight for good in the worlds where all these cats live.”

“So, what do you mean, he’s you?”

“When I was eighteen years old,” said Conor, “I fought…”

“Espera un minuto,” said Diego. “What do you mean, when you were eighteen?”

“I told you it’d be weird.”

“Bueno. Keep going.”

“I fought the most horrible creature you can imagine, and after defeating it, I had only seconds to turn back a gigantic weapon that would have destroyed our world. I decided to accept a reincarnation, a transformation that allowed the first warrior to re-emerge in my body.”

Like a damp blanket dropped onto a bed of flowers, silence fell over the forest of forever.

“So the warrior lives with these big cats?” asked Diego.

“Yea,” said Conor.

“And you disappeared from the earth when you were eighteen and just showed up in my little town as a twelve year old, is that right?”

“Pretty much. I guess the change happened to both of us at the same time. The first warrior took over my body when I was eighteen and I transformed into a younger version of myself.”

“Nada,” said Diego. “No way.”

“Nevertheless that is how it happened,” said Maya. “All souls have a right to continue, Diego, whether they take form in another life or live eternally in a blissful existence of their own belief.

At first the creators of the Crossworlds didn’t agree with our decision about Conor. They’d waited twenty thousand years for their champion to return. They felt no connection to the young boy Purugama had found, and they showed little faith in his choice.

“The Lady of the Light chose Conor, Diego. He fought beside us for eight years before finally yielding to the creators’ plan. He gave his life for the woman he loved, for every person living on your world, and for the Crossworlds.”

“¡El espíritu! The spirit on the soccer field,” said Diego, looking over at Conor. “The day everyone started disappearing. You knew it was a dark spirit from a different place. That’s why you told me to run after you said it hadn’t come for you.”

Diego paced a few steps, then suddenly stopped and looked up. “That’s why Magnifico and Estrella treated you the way they did at the horse club.”

“All dimensions are interlinked, Diego,” said Maya. “All mystical creatures are aware of each other, of the good and evil surrounding them, of each other’s struggles, battles, and triumphs.”

“And yet you came here to help Diego,” said Conor. “After what Purugama told me, about the danger to everything in the Crossworlds.”

“No,” said Maya without changing his expression. He looked at his champions, then back at Conor. “We crossed over to save Magnifico.”

The tension slid off Diego’s shoulders like melting ice from a cliff. “Órale. Gracias.”

Therion and Surmitang both chuffed silently. Eha smiled. Ajur’s granite face gave away nothing. Purugama withdrew his wing from Diego’s shoulder.

“Your appreciation is unnecessary, young man. We are here to try and save one of the greatest creatures dimensional space has ever known. You are his guide. For that reason you’re important to him and to us. In the end, after everything has been accomplished, after everyone attempts to revive him, it may be up to you. You could be the only person with the ability to draw him out of the darkness.

“Conor,” continued Maya. “I believe you were in the middle of introductions. Please continue. I must go and try to establish contact with our Lady.”