Bishop’s statements: They took us at midday. While the sun was shining. When you’d think everything was going to be all right. We had reached the walled city of Dunduine. Led there by the Witness in his final moments, we were treated with courtesy and hospitality. We were welcome behind her protective walls.
For the citizens of Dunduine protected a dark secret. Long ago, a race of monsters known as the Kith began raiding the town... though not far riches of the monetary sort. The Kith hungered. And the people were their food. The citizens had few options as they could not fight these monsters. And trapped behind the great walls of their city by a dangerous stretch of plains, running was out of the question.
They would pay a Tithe... sacrificing some of themselves so that the rest of them might live another day. Or, at least, until the next time the Kith came looking to feed. The giant Nom had stumbled onto this secret. And so, Nom had been taken by the Kith. Hoping to rescue him, Bishop and his team offered themselves to the Tithe next...
So, the adventure continues...
The dark Kith creatures roost in aeries high in the mountain peaks. This is where they brought Bishop and his young team of mutants. As some Kity fly into their home-made cave, it would appear the Kith also have a king.
The Kith king, the largest of the creatures, glares at his newfound “food.” He realizes that Bishop and the others are nothing like the rest of the Dunduine citizens they took earlier. He thinks this meat comes with a purpose. With Scorch, Link and Jinx standing behind him, Bishop takes the word and confirms the king’s thoughts. He admits they aren’t citizens of Dunduine, and that they took no part in the Tithe arrangement between the Kith and the town. They allowed themselves to be taken here, and thus came willingly. Bishop wants to seek... a bargain with the king.
The king snorts, laughing a bit at what Bishop said. He proudly introduces himself as Kalin Karth Kith, second son of Kol. He is the heir and rule of the Kith throne, and founder of the Tithe. And also, a devourer of men. But, he does want to hear more about this bargain. Bishop explains they came to barter for the life of their friend with hope, for the king’s sake, that Nom is safe. They also came to warn the mighty Kalin that there’s a threat that threatens them all.
Kalin doesn’t really believe that. He tells Bishop that, though he came to barter and to warn, he can see Bishop tremble, like all the other men who’ve come here and first thought themselves to be brave. Kalin reveals that they are the last of Kith creatures alive. Kalin himself has no sons, meaning that no new Kith will fly through the skies. They take brave men... whatever they want, because the Kith have nothing left to lose. He wants Bishop to tell him more about this so-called “threat.”
Bishop agrees that the Kith are a mighty race. But, he noticed that the skies are threatened by the menace they fight. He explains that the Kith’s lovely stacks... his mountain air... his father’s legacy and the Kith’s last days on Earth are endangered by a man known as... the Chronomancer! The Chronomancer is a madman, preying on a disjointed world not readily equipped to resist him. But together, Bishop believes that they can defeat the Chronomancer. That they can fight him. He wants Kalin to join their team, since their threat will become the Kith’s threat as well!
At the back of the room, Scorch whispers to his teammates that the Kith stink worse than anything else. He asks Link if, while Bishop distracts the Kith, she can read anything. Link tries to do that, and receives something. But, it’s from... below. Jinx wonders if that comes from Nom. Link can’t perfectionize it. She’s reading the king, and learns that things aren’t as they seem. She discovers that all of Dunduine’s citizens are still alive, but after discovering that, Link screams horribly!
Kalin prevents Link from further using her telepathic powers, and wants to know what kind of tricks she can do, and why she uses them on him. Bishop tries to convince Kalin to let Link go. Link drops on her knees, not able to bear the pain in her head. Kalin tells Bishop that, even though they came there, thinking they were so different from those of Dunduine. Now, Kalin believes that Bishop met his match. Kalin thinks he also found a better offer to make Bishop, and warriors holding staffs and who are ready for battle appear behind him.
Meanwhile, at Dunduine...
Michael is scared a bit, and doesn’t really like being left alone in the city. The mayor, Jericho, promises Michael that his friends’ bravery will not be forgotten. And, should their rescue attempt prove foolhardly, he wants Michael to know their sacrifice should prove a lasting one. Michael stares at the huge platform his friends disappeared from, realizing that, whenever somebody stood on it, they never returned. Jericho invites Michael inside the city and wants him to enjoy it. He thinks there should be at least a weak before the Kith hunger next... and the selection must begin again.
Michael walks through Dunduine through the city, like everyone else. The difference is that he is alone... without hope and direction. And wondering what would come next. As Michael continues to wander the city, he doesn’t notice that he’s being watched by a mysterious, hooded person with a sparking eye. The person walks over to Michael and simply says “he.” Michael tells the person that he doesn’t have any money, is new in the city and doesn’t want a shadow already. So he wants the guy to back off. Another hooded person appears, surrounding the poor kid. This person says “with he.” Michael wonders where they came from. The two men say the following words “with me.” and “is trickster.”
The two mysterious men lock their arms around Michael, and feels something creepy coming around his leg. After that, the two men, including Michael, teleport away!
The Kith cave...
Bishop and the others are surrounded by the king’s warriors. Scorch powers up his fist and is ready to fight and wants to destroy the cave. Bishop tries to calm Scorch down, explaining to him that, if he does that, they’ll die as well. He tells Kalin he made a mistake. Kalin disagrees with the X-Man. He explains that since they are the last of the Kith, they’ll go out on the winning side. And, he states, it is Bishop who made a mistake.
Jinx attacks Kalin and runs behind him. But Kalin is fast as well and slaps his wings against the girl, knocking her out. Kalin further explains that for so long, the Kith have ruled the skies over the plains. They will not just fade away. He reveals that the Chronomancer made them a deal: if they help sack Dunduine, he will leave the skies to the last of the Kith. The Kith think they’ve made a pretty good deal in that. Kalin grabs Jinx and wants to eat her! Jinx asks Bishop for help.
Bishop picks up the staff Jinx dropped near his feet, and absorbs its energy. He threatens to fire it on Kalin and wants him to reconsider his proposal. Kalin mentions he can read Bishop’s thoughts, and learns from it he can “rechannel” energy. But he wonders what will happen if Bishop’s shot misses. Another Kith sneaks up on Bishop from behind and tackles him down. Bishop loses control over his energy and fires it on the ground, causing a small avalanche. A cave-in starts. Kalin calls Bishop a fool. He proudly states that for so long, the aeries have been home to the Kith, and now the last will fly to glory. Kalin and the Kith fly up, leaving Bishop and his friends behind alone. The ceiling and floor start to break apart, and none of the mutants are able to maintain their balance. They fall into a deep hole, though Bishop bounces off against some rocks and lands away from his friends.
After landing on the ground again, Scorch, Jinx and Link try to get back up and luckily are still in one piece, though they have no idea how that’s possible. They notice that Bishop is gone, and discover something else. Something startling. They discover people in red stasis bags, and it seems the Kith are slow eaters. Jinx thinks they just found the lost citizens of Dunduine. Scorch mocks that, so, the legend of the newest would-be heroes grows. And this part of the aeries stink even worse. He doesn’t want to know what other secrets are creeping around in this place.
Elsewhere, Bishop, alive and well, crawls his way out of the rocks. He hears chains making noises and calls out, wanting to know who’s there. A dark voice asks who’s there, in the dark. Bishop tells the big person he doesn’t mean no harm, and wants him to stay back.
Link discovers that the minds of the Dunduine citizens are weak, almost non-existent. She tells Jinx they’re locked in far. They’re still alive though... but just barely. Scorch, using his flame powers to light up the place, wants to look deeper into the cave. He thinks Nom is somewhere here as well. Jinx wants to rescue these poor people, but Scorch wants to rescue Nom first. Jinx reminds Scorch that there are kids trapped in those bags! Link tries to get a read on Bishop, but Scorch tells her to try to find Nom instead. He can feel he’s down there. Link tries, but there are so many people. The more she tries, the more they feel her presence. The people are calling out to her, from beneath it all. It’s so soft and loud, all at the same time!
Eventually, Link finds Nom in one of the stasis bags. Scorch walks over to him, and asks Jinx and Link to count the others. They need to be sure not to miss any of the people, because somehow they will come back with them. This madness needs to stop. He uses his powers to form a knife over his fist and wants to use it to slice Nom out of the bag.
Meanwhile, Bishop, holding a torch to see better, tries to talk to his newest companion, who sees Bishop looks lost. Bishop can’t argue with that. The creature can smell the ire of Kalin on Bishop and thinks he just found a comrade. Bishop wants to know who the creature is and where he is. He tells the being he picks his friends carefully, and entering his mind uninvited is hardly going to be the wisest thing to do. He asks the creature in the darkness to step closer. The creature tells Bishop of the X-Men to come closer himself then, and he’ll do the same.
Bishop does so, and finds a huge Kith creature chained! The Kith introduces himself as Kinlan Karth Kith... the first son of Kol... and rightful heir to the Kith throne! He knows Bishop seeks to stop his brother and that is enough reason for him to help out. Bishop explains to Kinlan that his friends are somewhere lost in these caves as well, and asks Kinlan if he can find them.
Kinlan claims he can find much, and says mostly pain and fear are in these caves. Pain because of Kalin’s doing, and fear for Kalin’s rage. Kalin reveals that his father led this place with pride. And, with their father’s passing, Kinlan sought to do the same thing. But Kalin saw the chance for dominance, and Kinlan calls him a fool. He explains the Kith are a long-lived, though poorly propagated species. He knows this world is blooming and re-making itself. And Kinlan knows the time of the Kith is nearly done. He sought to leave a legacy of awe, but was cast out by his brother’s jealousy. Now, the Kith are moving toward extinction. And Kilan’s mad brother will leave a legacy of scourge and shame.
Bishop admits that’s a sad story, but it looks like Kinlan is the one in need of help here, and calls him “friend.” He tries to break the chains, but Kinlan tells him the chains are old and heavy. He knows they won’t be able to break them alone. He wants Bishop to head through the dark tunnels behind him, so he can go find the help... they both seek.
Elsewhere in the cave, Scorch succeeds in freeing Nom. He asks Link to see if he’s alright. Link uses her powers to comfort Nom, and knows he’ll be fine... in time. She telepathically reaches out to Nom, telling her friend she can feel his pain, but they need his strength. She wants him to take it slow and let his strength return. She stops talking for a while, and later tells her friend Nom he’s welcome.
In the meantime, Jinx has freed all of the kids out of the stasis bags and promises they’ll get them out of here. One of the other kids wants to know how they’ll be able to go home, because the Kith told them they will find them there. Jinx doesn’t know what to say. Scorch thinks they’d be heroes were anyone to know what they have done here today. Instead, they’re all martyrs now. And he thinks the Kith will find them on an expedition, sometime.
Suddenly, the hooded men from before teleport behind Scorch, Jinx and Link, but Michael isn’t with them! The two men say, “With he. Task completed. Next task to come.” One of them fires his powers on the three mutants. Scorch wants to know who the hooded men are, but don’t gain any answers. Jinx feels something crawling up her legs, and it feels like they are... being unmade! Link tries to read their enemies’ minds, but they’re blank states! She wonders about the Dunduine people, but before she can do anything about it, Link, Scorch, Jinx and Nom are teleported away!
On that moment, Bishop appears and just heard Link’s voice, but can’t see her anymore. He asks the people around him who they are. One of them explains they are from Dunduine and have just been rescued, and just want to go home now. Bishop asks where the others like him just went. A woman called Justina Jericho mentions Bishop’s friends rescued them, but then just vanished. Bishop recalls that’s Duncan’s daughter’s name. Justine calls her father a good man, and asks Bishop to take her to him. Bishop tells the citizens he knows they are tired and knows what they have been through. He doesn’t know the fate of his friends, but does know the people of Dunduine have been freed by them. And he promises to bring them home, but needs their help in rescuing his friends. He asks them how strong they all feel.
Meanwhile, back at Dunduine...
Scorch, Nom, Jinx and Link materialize somewhere and wonder where they are. Link thinks it smells like they’re in a sewer. Jinx stares around, noticing that the two who brought them there are gone. Link finds some red letters on a wall. She can hardly make out the writing, but it looks like the words say “Hellfire Cl...” The four want to know where Bishop is.
Suddenly, Michael appears behind them... but isn’t alone. Michael tells the others they told him his friends would be back soon, but said Bishop would be with them as well. The man standing behind Michael laughs, thinking Bishop will join them soon enough. Scorch recognizes the man... it’s the Witness?! The Witness thinks Bishop is going to be glad enough seeing all of them there, assuming he gets done what needed to be done. Link wants to know how the Witness can be alive, because they assumed him to be dead.
Scorch demands to know where they are, and how they got there. Three hooded men, two people wearing grey hoods and another a red one, appear behind the Witness. The Witness believes they got Scorch and the others out of the cave just in time, and adds answers will be coming soon enough. Scorch demands answers, as they left people behind in those caves. The Witness reveals they’ve got people around there who need to be rescued just as much. He asks Scorch to stop yelling at him.
The red hooded person, who appears to be a woman, tells Scorch he’s got a city to defend. She also calls Scorch a would-be X-Man in a world that has forgotten. She reveals that the Chronomancer would take everything were it not like Bishop and others like him to stop him. They led them here with that in mind. And now, Clan Hellfire will see how soundly its bets have hedged!
Michael looks out of the sewers and sees all of Dunduine’s citizens running around like crazy! He explains that he was told Clan Hellfire’s legacy went back a ways. Outside in the streets, it was like the sky had started falling. From high above Dunduine, shadows fell like nighttime in the middle of the day. These people’s worst fears are coming true. The Kith are attacking the city. And the Witness thinks they should do something about it.
Above the city, Bishop, riding on Kinlan’s back, tells him to go faster as they reach the devastated city...