I kept reaching for more power levels, further and further down. They came more and more easily. The Sea of Grass, The Temple, The Sun, and The Matrix opened up. Each time I reached a deeper level, my access to my higher, weaker levels broadened. Now, with the Sky powering my force fields, I was probably bullet proof. OK, I did not forget to call my shields. I might have a reception committee, someone who thought it was easier to steal the Namestone from me than from the Maze. Before I reached the top of the Stairs, I was sort of back to normal. I could touch all the power levels I can usually reach. I just couldn’t tap them for very much. Not yet. Not without taking a lot more damage. I could go way deep into my gifts if I had to. I hoped I didn’t.
At the top of the Outer Stairs I had company. Waiting for me were Valkyria, the super-heavy combatant of the League of Nations Elite Strike Team, and the Screaming Skull, himself. Alas, they weren’t fighting each other, so I couldn’t smile once, duck twice, and flee their island paradise.
“Where is she, little girl? Where is the bearer of the Holy Namestone? I’m here to take it for the League!” That was Valkyria, shouting at me. Valkyria? Six feet tall, impervium-plated battle armor, heavy duty body field, not to mention a flaming sword that was mostly a special effect shrouding a pointblank range plasma attack. Yes, there is also an endarium blade inside the flames. Her explosive throwing katana remained in its scabbard, over her back where her other arm could reach it. There is a tradition of people in plate mail being idiots. At the moment Valkyria was living up to the tradition. Her long blonde hair fluttered in the ocean breeze. Bad form. Mum always said Valkyria should wear her hair short or mound it under a helmet, failing which someone would grab it and spin her head over heels into the ground.
I suppose I shouldn’t’ve been surprised. For thousands of years the Namestone has been the Key to Heaven, the artifact that will transform the World into the Millennial Kingdom. All you needed to do in order to use the Key was to get your hands on it. That was easier said than done. To take the Namestone, you had to solve the Maze. Vast numbers of people have tried and failed, with fatal consequences for them. The League of Nations has passed decree after decree claiming the Namestone for themselves, just so soon as someone else does their work for them and removes it from the Maze. Now I had the Namestone, so they wanted it. I’d removed it from the Maze, so they were going to give me a chance to hand it over voluntarily. Their idea of ‘voluntary’ is a bit strained.