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The cloaked figure moved silently through dark hallways, only the sound of flickering torches echoing as he passed. At his approach, the doors at the end of the passage slowly pushed open with the heavy grinding sound of metal on stone. As he passed through the doorway, his hand made a small gesture and the doors slammed shut behind him with a deafening thunder.

"Exodus," he spoke in his deep voice, "it seems your lack of understanding of the humans could very well cost us this entire campaign!" His arm shot out and knocked a small statue across the room like an arrow. The small lights on the far wall began to sparkle like firelight through gems.

"Calm yourself. The humans have yet to even discover our security measures." The voice droned on like a constant buzzing of insect wings. "Ver Lor Reg remains under my complete control. The workers have started construction on even more of my overseers. The control device is protected."

"One of my spies managed to bring me a report this morning from Britain. It seems the King's old lackey Nystul has one of the power crystals and is examining it as we speak." The figure began to pace slowly, his cloak drifting behind him slightly.

Exodus paused and the lights flickered for a moment. "The mage could not learn the secrets of the devices we have scattered over Britannia."

"No, but he may learn enough! You underestimate the humans at every turn, Exodus!" He turned and faced the wall of lights, drifting closer as he spoke. "I warned you this man might cause us trouble. You chose not to concern yourself. I warned you that the humans might discover our lair. Again, you did not show concern. Now, not only does this blasted wizard have a power crystal in his laboratory but his search party, although now dead, did discover us and now your very name is being whispered by every human!"

"You believe we will fail?"

"I believe I understand humans better than you." The figure resumed pacing. "Was it not my understanding and knowledge of this world that made you approach me?"

"Yes it was. And the fact that you were human. A human whose diligence for ruling this world would compare to my own. And a human with ideas greater than those of the king who stood in power above him." The lights glinted for a moment. "That is why I gave you power. I have been away from Britannia for too long."

"I would suggest you begin to acclimate yourself by not underestimating the world we are trying to conquer. Had I not suggested you orchestrate the confusion with the savages and orcs, the humans might have found you before a single golem had been built!" The figure pointed angrily towards the source of Exodus' voice. "We risk the loss of the gargoyle slaves and our golems! What then? Since I have joined you I have yet to hear you speak of how we shall conquer Britannia without an army!"

"I assume you have thoughts on the matter?" Exodus replied calmly.

The figure lowered his arm and regained his composure. "I have been studying the records you gave me. I believe we may have other options should we lose the gargoyle city." The dark figure turned away from the lights and slowly drifted towards the doorway. "I have business to attend to. We shall discuss it when I return."

"As you wish."

The cloaked figure moved his hand and the heavy doors swung open slowly. He turned back to Exodus' voice. "As I said before, I will not be satisfied until victory is absolute."

"You will have your vengeance on Britannia, Exodus said. "Soon all humans will know you as Lord Blackthorn, ruler of Sosaria."

As Blackthorn turned and moved out of the chamber, he could not help but smile.

From the Britannia News Network - The Journal of Ultima Online, October 31st, 2001.