Mors Funebris Ch 1 P 2
The great trade city of Cynosure holds many secrets within its bosom. The vast majority of them are of the mundane sort. These are the kind that those with the ability to pay to keep them hidden, often do. Often enough because if they did become general knowledge, much innocent blood would be spilt. The City Gods are well aware of those secrets in their entirety.
Cynosure also holds a handful of other, more arcane secrets: Hidden libraries filled with ancient tomes of secret lore. Forgotten caches of ill-gained royal treasures. And at least one active portal to a parallel world. Most of those the City Gods, and the Chief God Herself, turn a blind eye to their existence.
Yet, there lies underneath Cynosure one Great Secret, that not even the current Chief-God herself is aware of.
This Great Secret, has remained hidden because of geology. For you see, Cynosure lies upon a bedrock of a yellowish limestone that was deposited in ages so far remote, that even the eldest of the Chaos Lords can scant recall them.
Like all-natural things, these limestone deposits developed a series of imperfections over the years. As a result of erosion over strange aeons, deep within those layers of rock a series of natural cavities began to form from the natural cracks and fault lines. These cavities formed painfully slow by human standards. But they occurred nevertheless.
Eventually, some of the chambers became large enough to allow mind-boggingly large columns of flowstone to cascade down from their ceilings to the floors. While other chambers remained painfully small over the countless years. Yet at the center of all those caves, lay the Artifact and its protective chamber. That chamber out of all of the caverns that radiated out from it, remained the same size as the Artifact’s creators had intended.
That Artifact was there, when the Original Chief God first descended from the firmament. It was still there when the first Dragon pushed her head out of her birthing shell. And it was there when the Old Gods died their hideous undeaths that allowed the first demons to spawn.
Eventually, proto-Dwarves discovered those ancient caves and chose to carve them out into a series of interconnecting chambers. This is after all what Dwarves do. Once they discovered the central chamber and the Artifact, they reversed course and blocked all access to it and the caves. They then abandoned the Hills that would eventually become Cynosure, never to return. When they did this, they emulated the actions of every single other non-human civilization that had stumbled across the Artifact before, and since.
Of all those innumerable ancient civilizations that predated humanity. Nearly all had stumbled across the Artifact. But once they managed to get so much of an inkling of its intended purpose, they chose to hide it away and to strike away nearly all knowledge of it from their records.
Why? Because it was deemed to be so dangerous, that not even the most insane of gods was willing to trifle with it.
So, for all of those countless aeons, the Sword-like artifact has remained untouched, wrapped in its protective field. Endlessly twirling around, suspended in the air and modifying its form into appropriate sword-like weapons. Its surface constantly changing with its ever-shifting maleficent runes. Waiting patiently for the hand that could wield it.
Not too long ago by non-human standards, the first humans arrived at what would inevitably become the trade city of Cynosure. Even with the sweet-water that flowed out of the caverns, it was a hardscrabble existence.
But, humans always have had a certain pig-headedness when it came to remaining in even the most marginal of living spots. So, those humans stayed there, and eventually Cynosure was founded.
Strangely enough for reasons unknown, the first residents of Cynosure made digging deeply into the limestone hills, a capital offense. Thus, their awareness of the ancient caverns, and the antiquated Dwarven tunnels within, never became common knowledge.
It was only within the last century, that a handful of Order adherents had re-discovered the Dwarven tunnels. The Orderites, as they are known, had wisely chosen to flee the vengeful hordes of Cynosure citizenry who had tired of the endless pogroms against Monsters and their sympathizers.
But even as desperate to remain hidden as they were. The Orderites never managed to stumble across that unholy Artifact hidden deep beneath the teleportation Pagoda.
It was only within the last ten years, that one of the two remaining priests of the Order in Cynosure, had discovered that Artifact’s chamber: Father Heilar de Skalos. He had managed this feat, but only at the cost of what little humanity had remained to him. For he had sacrificed countless cats, no few humans, and a couple of Mamono to gain it.
But even he, with all of the Magical Studies under his belt, remained stymied by the protective field that enveloped the Artifact. Try as he might, none of his researches allowed him, or anyone else, to safely access it. Every attempt made, invariably resulted in that person ceasing to exist in whole or in part.
Increasingly of late, he retreated to one of the dwarf-carved chambers that he had commandeered to use as a private prayer room. It was his wont to attend to his prayers to the Chief God, after a period of appropriate self-mortification. As per usual, the Chief God had paid the prattlings of this one solitary priest scant mind.
Why should She, after all? Everywhere She cast her gaze, that damnable Demon Overlord gained even more power and converts to her cause. Whereas the Chief God could do nothing but watch, with an ever-growing sense of helplessness, her own forces be whittled away. It was enough to drive even such an entity as Herself, into a paroxysm of Divine Ennui.
The events of this day, would soon change that morbid outlook of Hers.
Father Heilar de Skalos was a middle aged, yet still muscular man. If he chose to not shave his scalp, his hair would have been grey. The only sign of his age, was the carefully groomed grey goatee he kept on his receding weak chin.
“Father Heilar!” shouted a voice from outside the darkened chamber. “Father Heilar, something happened!” the voice cried eagerly, as a much younger man came into view. Elis, was a man in his early twenties, a mop-headed fellow with much faith, but little ability.
Kneeling in his standard painful prayer position, Father Heilar visibly flinched as the sound of Elis’ voice disturbed him from his chanting. He then jerked his head up and glared sidelong at the intruder.
“What is it, Elis?” he replied acidly. “I assume you have good reason to disturb my morning prayers?”
“Yes Father, I do! You gave strict orders, for anyone on Artifact watch, to report directly to you if anything out of the ordinary occurred!”
Upon hearing these words, Father Heilar forgot his anger and turned his attention fully over to Elis.
“Tell me what happened, leave nothing out.” He quietly ordered, as he rose to his feet silently. Standing upright enough to loom over the younger man. Elis hesitated only a second at the sight of the Priest over him, then he began.
“I was on watch just a few minutes ago, attempting to find some pattern to the runes on the Artifact, that floating sword you’re concerned with, when it happened.” Elis recounted, looking at the Padre. Father Heilar patiently nodded at him to continue.
“That queer light that surrounds the sword?” Elis licked his lips, then continued. “It went out.”
“What?!” Heilar hissed. “It went out?! Is it still that way?!”
“No Father, it stayed that way for only a few seconds. Also, the sword stopped twirling about, and the runes on its surfaces stopped shifting.” Elis reported nervously, then looked as if he were about to say something else. The Father, as keen on catching such details since the days of his youth, caught it instantly.
“What? What else happened. Spit it out Man!” Heilar demanded.
“I touched it.” Elis said quietly, his eyes cast to the ground, nervously.
“I’m sorry milord!” Elis stammered fearfully. “I know it’s not my place to do such things…!”
“Wait! Wait! I’m not angry with you for your touching the sword, Elis!” Heilar said, attempting to soothe his henchman. “I’m,…I’m… surprised.” He continued quietly, feigning a concern he never felt. He then grabbed Elis’ hands, and drew them up to where he could see them better.
‘I’m more surprised that you’re not dead or altered, like all of the cats that I’ve thrown at that thing.’ He said to himself.
“You’re not injured?” Father Heilar asked, incredulous. As he continued to inspect Elis’ hands and not noticing anything out of the ordinary. Elis shook his head quietly.
‘Fascinating.” Heilar spoke, dropping them.
Two years of observing the Artifact’s protective field, and never once did it so much as flicker.’ Heilar thought to himself. Then he spoke his thoughts aloud.
“Something must’ve happened.” He began, talking mostly to himself. “Something unusual. But what?” Heilar’s eyes focused on Elis, who started fidgeting under his leader’s gaze.
“Elis.” he spoke. Who then gave the father his full attention. “Start making inquiries, and get the rest of our teams to do so, as well. Find out if anything happened up at Fort Eequor.” Heilar ordered.
“What should we be looking for?” Elis asked.
“Something, anything, out of the ordinary. Get Father Hakon involved in this. The more people we can get involved on this, the better the chance we’ll have of finding out what that it was.” Father Heilar smiled. “And recreating it.”
In the trade city of Cynosure, within the confines of Fort Eequor, two individuals walked side by side on one fine relatively rain free morning of the Tenth Month (Mwezi Wa Kumi) of the Cynosure Calendar.
The first individual, was a Spidergirl by the name of Salticedae Helvetia. Though she was commonly referred to by her fellow soldiers of the Great Maou’s Army, as Corporal Tia. The other individual, was what seemed to be a mere human male, but in fact was something more. He was called Annwyfn Arawn.
Corporal Tia, was of the variety of Arachne Mamono known as a Jumping Spider. As such, she resembled the commonly known Death’s Head in form and function. But unlike the larger and brasher Arachne, Tia’s folk tended to be smaller, stealthier, and furrier. The fur that covered her almost entirely, was composed of alternating bands of black and white stripes, along with a mask of blue to camouflage her eyes.
Arawn, appeared to be a human male with a deep olive complexion. Apparently of an age in his late twenties. In actuality, he was a member of an offshoot of humans known as Annwyfn. They, had been created by a branch of The Order untold ages ago. The Annwyfn were originally intended to have been a servitor race for the Lords of Law. Alas, for manifold reasons their creation was ultimately deemed a failure. Chief amongst them being Arawn himself.
But that is a story for another day.
One of the few successes of the creation of the Annwyfn, was the engineered ability for each individual, to separate his or herself into multiple copies of the original. This arcane ability of Arawn’s, was but one secret that Tia was unaware of at that moment, and would not become aware for some time.
In all fairness, Tia herself held an important secret from Arawn. This secret being, that the Dream Sending messenger he’d made a deal with, Zrihea, was personally known to her. For she, years ago, had set Helvetia upon the path of discovering her much desired brother. A brother being a painful unfulfilled desire of no few Mamono.
These secrets were just two, of many more, that the duo held between them. Perhaps, the most intriguing secret that neither of them would have expected, let alone suspected, was that they were in fact Brother and Sister. But not by blood.
At least, not yet.
The unlikely pair of siblings continued their perambulation from Fort Eequor’s Candy Shoppe, to Tia’s apartment. They were doing this, because she claimed that she needed to store the catch of chocolates that she had wheedled away from Arawn, in a safe spot.
Breaking the awkward silence that hung between them, Tia had begun reciting a long litany of important information about Cynosure, and Fort Eequor, that she felt Arawn would need to know. After a while she became irritated at his seeming ability to not pay attention to her.
“Furthermore, my nose is on fire and I have several large weasels living in my trousers.” She finished with a frown, looking at Arawn with one of her side-eyes and waiting for his reaction. Arawn didn’t seem to react to this trickery of hers.
“Arawn! Have you listened to a single word I’ve said in the last five minutes?” Arawn, looking away from the path ahead, turned to her and replied.
“I have indeed Mentor. Would you like me to give you report of what it is you’ve just got done saying?”
“Please do.” Tia said, crossly.
“In the last five minutes,” Arawn began, “You have named several of the streets that we have crossed along the way to where we are now. Maidenhead lane, Gropecunt alley, Swallows boulevard, and Cumming way. You have also given me a handful of rules and behaviors that I am expected to adhere. After that, you then began to question my parentage.” He stated without looking back at her.
“Though I find myself most curious to discover. how you can maintain to keep your nose fires alit, combined with where you manage to store your trouser weasels.” He then looked at her. “Particularly since you do not wear any.”
Tia, to her credit, grew increasingly embarrassed the longer his recital went on. Blowing out her cheeks, she replied.
“All right, I apologize for making fun of you Arawn.” She blinked at him. “It’s just that out of all of the people I’ve ever had a conversation with, you’re the one who seems to be having another conversation with some invisible other.” To which Arawn gave a slight start and gave a Tia a quick glance. Tia, chose to not say anything about his reaction, but filed it away for later use.
Deep within her carapace, Tia felt that there was something about Arawn that was, ‘off’. Well, more off than a human male willingly serving in the Great Maou’s Army. Majin or not.
‘There is a mystery with you Arawn. I will hunt it down and drag it out into the light.’ She mused to herself thoughtfully, silently suspecting him of some great duplicity.
“Mentor, I’ve been lead to believe that the Maou’s Army is supposed to be made up largely of Succubi. Yet, in the last hour I have yet to see more than a couple of them in evidence.” Tia looked at him when he said this.
“That’s because most of the Succubi that make up the Army, do so in other realms such as Lescatie and Polove. Those two are more likely to be attacked by the Order, and as such, tend to be better pickings for husbands. Here in Cynosure, it’s been commanded that we not engage in ‘proactive-dating’.” She explained, and would have continued. But right then she noticed that he was staring at something in the sky. It was a Harpy and it was circling.
“Arawn!” Tia said sharply. “I’d suggest that we shift over to a covered walkway!” she commanded.
“Why is that?” he stopped and asked. Tia chose to try and grab him in reply.
“It’s the local,…” she began. Then Arawn noticed her eyes widening in alarm at something overhead. To which he reacted naturally, by summoning forth a magical Shield-Buckler and interposing it between them both, and whatever was overhead.
No sooner than he had done so, than an almost imperceptible clanging occurred as the formerly circling Harpy rebounded off the transparent buckler-shield. Arawn turned to Tia, who then dragged them both underneath a handy awning.
“Blasted male!” The Harpy screeched angrily. “Who do you think you are? Teasing an honest girl like myself!” Tia and Arawn watched as she fought to regain her lost altitude, after her futile attempt to snatch him away. After she was lost to sight, Arawn looked questioningly over at Tia.
“It’s the local Harpy mating season.” She explained, then demanded. “How did you do that? Creating a magic shield without so much as a single word of invocation?”
“I’m a Mage. It comes naturally.” He offered by way of poor explanation. To which Tia just gave him a suspicious glare, but said nothing more.
Shortly, she led him to the building that housed her quarters. There, Arawn with his keen eye, noted that her barrack building, along with several other nearby ones, resembled fortifications more than residential complexes, and said so.
“That’s because The Order came close to conquering Cynosure twenty years ago. Most of the buildings that survived that siege, were ones built like these were” Tia explained, gesturing towards the single large entrance of the barracks. This part of the day, there was no one about other than a pair of older Kikkimora working on keeping the various apartments cleaned up.
On the way up to the third floor where her quarters lay, Tia pointed out the numerous hardpoints of the atrium-like building retrofitted to accommodate the larger sized Mamono: The building consisted of thick limestone walls that could withstand much pounding from without. Also, there were arrow-slits in place of windows on both the outside and inside.
Arawn noted that the single entrance could be closed and shuttered from the inside. Looking up, he saw several murder-holes in its arched ceiling. Additionally, the enclosed staircase that lay opposite the entrance way, was also adorned with them.
On the third floor, Tia walked over to what appeared to be the southwest corner of the building, and stopped before a wide door that bore no sign of a turn handle.
She then raised her right hand and placed it on a square panel set into the center of the door. After a second, Arawn heard the door click and it opened slightly inwards. Tia then pushed it open and entered, motioning him inside.
“I take it that the panel you placed your hand on, is a magical lock?” he asked. Tia nodded, as she started to divest herself of her load of Boxed chocolates off of her back onto a nearby table.
“Yes, they’re standard issue for everyone’s quarters.” She replied. “Your own quarters door is waiting for your aural signature. I’ll need to switch it over to you, before you can gain entrance.”
As Tia busied herself. Arawn took the time to look around her apartment. It appeared to be a simple affair. A large main room that was sectioned by Zipangese Shoji doors. These doors allowed her room to be separated into various uses. On the far end, he noted two western-style doors. Tia noticed his observation and told him that those doors were in fact covers for the Arrow-slit windows.
“They’re good to have, if you wish to get some air circulation during the hot part of the day.” She explained.
“But annoying as hell during the rainy season.” She smiled.
“Which is all too often here.” Arawn raised an eyebrow.
“They leak.” She finished.
“I would’ve expected a bit more silk decorating your walls…” he began suddenly, and then stopped as he observed Tia had started wrapping her boxes of chocolate with her silk.
“Why are you doing that?” he asked perplexedly. “I assumed that spider-silk was only used to preserve living creatures or for insulation.” Tia looked at him with a sidelong smirk.
“Spider silk keeps everything fresh, Arawn. It’s capable of keeping all kinds of foodstuffs in good condition for years, sometimes decades. Besides, this chocolate would melt in the noon-time heat if I left it sitting around much longer.”
“Well, I guess that does make sense in its own way.” Arawn nodded. Then, raising an eyebrow, he thought to ask. ”Mentor, if you would, please tell me why do you like this chocolate so much?”
“I’ll make you a deal Arawn. If I tell you that, will you tell me who you are.” Tia replied absently, as she wrapped another box then began affixing it on the wall next to her kitchenette.
“What do you mean?” he asked, leaning his hip against the table of unwrapped boxes. Tia reached over and picked one of them up, then started to gesture with it.
“I’ll admit that I didn’t fully read your file before you arrived, Arawn. Doing that isn’t the Jumping Spider way.” She said, looking at him square on. “My kind, when we encounter someone or something new, prefer to wait and watch a new person from a place of concealment.” Still leaning against the table, Arawn silently crossed his arms with a thoughtful look, and smiled guardedly.
“Do I have your full attention Arawn?” Tia asked. Arawn nodded once.
“Good.” She replied, then she moved to transfer the box in her hands, to a pair of her hind legs. There, she began wrapping the box, slowly, carefully. Tia noted that Arawn’s attention was indeed solely on her. Inwardly she smiled.
“We take the time to learn and observe the actions and habits of our quarry.” She continued. “We do this to get a notion of the potential dangerousness of them, if any.” She glanced up at him. “I think you can guess why.”
“I would imagine so.”
“Then tell me. Why?” Arawn was silent for a bit.
“My supposition would be, to learn what they are like when they think no one is observing them. Thus, you have a baseline to compare their actions with, as opposed to their actions when they are aware that someone else is around.”
“Correct.” She nodded, finishing with wrapping that particular box, then she moved to affix it to the wall. Arawn’s eyes followed her.
“Occasionally, on the hunt for prey, my kind of Arachne will set up traps and tricks. We do this, to cause our quarry to stumble and fall. Thus, making it easier for us to decide…” she looked over at him from her spot next to the already affixed boxes on the wall, “when to.” She looked at him fully on. “Pounce!” she finished.
Just for a second Arawn got a confused look, wondering what her point was right then. He was soon answered. For then, at that instant, he felt and saw another furry hand place itself on his shoulder.
“Ello mate!” came another voice from over that shoulder. Arawn’s reaction was both swift, and surprising. He twirled and jumped away from the person behind him, managing to knock several of the boxes of chocolates from the table in the process. But he also managed to knock away the furry hand that had been on his shoulder.
What Tia saw, made her eyes go wide. What she expected, was that he would flinch, and start a stream of curses and imprecations while jumping away from her previously hidden companion. She fully expected that he would have turned violent. It’d had been her experience that most men did under such circumstances.
She did not expect the display that came next. Arawn, after twirling away, physically rolled himself backwards completely, and then came to a crouching position a couple of meters away, facing the newcomer.
During that roll, he managed to somehow summon forth a pair magical weaponry, one of which made his right fist glow with a small nimbus of eldritch energy, the other made his left hand become encircled with an obvious blue-white ring, a visible version of the earlier shield he had used with the Harpy.
Arawn, from his crouching position, kept silent. He interposed his left hand between himself and the newcomer, and kept his right hand upright and near his head. There now appeared to be a small ball of yellowish energy forming between his fingers. Tia swallowed at this display.
Arawn, was most startled indeed. For the newcomer in standing front of him, was another Jumping spider. But, unlike Tia’s furcoat of black and white, this one’s coat held a riotous pattern of rainbow colors.
“Quintus!?” he spoke aloud. Loud enough to get Tia’s attention.
‘How in the Nine Hells did this person get the drop on us? (1)’ Arawn/Primus demanded angrily.
‘I have no explanation Primus. I will endeavor to correct this deficiency soonest. (5)’ Quintus answered shakily.
‘See that you do! Everyone else, assist! (1)’
‘Aye-Aye! (2) (3) (4)’ came the replies from the rest of Arawn’s not-brothers.
‘Any sign of anyone else? (1)’ Primus ordered.
‘Scanning on all spectrums…nothing. It’s just you, Helvetia, and the newcomer. (5)’
‘I will hold you to that! (1)’, Primus/Arawn stated flatly, Quintus remained silent.
Outwardly, Arawn looked between Tia and the newcomer, angrily. He observed that the newcomer had raised her forearms in surrender, and that Tia remained frozen in place. Both of them looked surprised at what they had wrought. Arawn spoke first.
“I believe, that introductions are in order.” He said, still crouched with a glance at Tia. After a moment, Tia raised an arm fearfully and pointed at his right hand, and gulped.
“Stand down Arawn.” She commanded him quietly. He hesitated just long enough for her to start to command him once more, when he finally nodded. Then, both lights around his fists, faded and then vanished as he stood upright. He then lowered his arms to his sides.
“Majin Arawn, the person you see before you is: Vola. She’s a friend of mine.” Arawn nodded at the newcomer, still tense. He then turned fully to Tia and spoke.
“I take it that you now have a better notion of just how dangerous I am?” Tia nodded shakily.
“I’d say that you are indeed dangerous, very dangerous. Not only to me, but also anyone else you come into contact with.” Arawn chose to remain silent.
“I’ve not seen such magics come so readily, as you’ve displayed just now, with anyone else. Even in battle, the Order Majin I’ve encountered always needed a short amount of time to prepare.” She blew out her breath.
“Yet you were ready, instantaneously.” Tia said, soberly.
“Now what?” Arawn asked, his lips in a thin line, his face unreadable.
“Now what?” Tia echoed, then turned her head into a thoughtful pose. “I’m guessing the fact that you didn’t attack when you were surprised, speaks volumes.” She sighed.
“I apologize for surprising you like this Arawn. But what I did just now, I did on orders from the Commanding Officer of this base, General Scathach. And for that, I will not apologize. Would you care to hazard a guess, why she deemed it necessary?” Arawn looked at her for a long moment, his face still unreadable. Then, after a moment, he relaxed and sighed. It was a sigh of resignation. Both Tia and Vola relaxed at the sound of it.
“I think I can guess.” He replied. “Like you said earlier, an unattached human male, not an Incubus, who is willing to serve the Great Maou in her Army.” His face then turned cold. “And one whose recent mate, almost died from being near him.” He finished, looking at Tia fully on.
“You were supposed to show up with a mate. A Shoggoth by the name of Takana. Yet you did not. Instead, you show up alone, with a story indicating that you somehow became ‘Toxic’ to her, albeit unknowingly.” She said in a stern tone.
“The General would probably be most curious to find out if I’m as toxic to anyone else under her command.” Arawn finished for her. Tia nodded in agreement.
“I should have expected this.” Arawn sighed, drooping. Then after a second he turned to Vola.
“My compliments on your stealthiness. Vola, is it?” he asked. She nodded back warily.
“Thanks mate. No hard feelings, I take it?” she replied. Arawn shook his head.
“No. If the positions were reversed, I would be doubly damned sure to investigate someone such as I, using trickery and guile, if need be.” He sighed. “So where do we go from here?” He asked, as he started to pick up the boxes he had knocked to the ground.
“I would say we continue to treat you, like any other recruit.” Tia answered. “I still have to show you your quarters, and get you checked in at Headquarters, and there is STILL the matter of your interview with medical.” Tia stated, resuming her wrapping of her chocolates.
“And, I take it, I can look forward to some more ‘unexpected’ surprises along the way?” Arawn asked with a smirk.
“Indeed, Arawn. In fact, I would expect you to have to deal with many more of them. Not all of them will be planned or expected from the higher ups. Take that encounter with that Harpy you had on the way here.” Vola injected. Tia and Arawn both turned to look at her.
“Aye mate, I saw it. As you pointed out Arawn, you’re unattached. Since you don’t seem to have a mate now.” Vola said, wrinkling her nose. “You’re smack dab in the middle of the Maou’s Army. Where just about each and every non-officer Sheila here, is on the prowl to grab herself a mate.” Arawn looked pointedly at her. Vola noticed and replied.
“Don’t mind me mate! I’ve already got meself a bloke!” she replied with a sharp toothed grin. Arawn then turned and gave Tia the same questioning look. She looked surprised.
“No Arawn, I don’t have a bloke..er…husband. But neither am I looking for one right now.” Vola gave Tia a queer look then, but kept silent.
“But you will have to fend off, everyone else who is. How you do so, will reflect both upon you, and more importantly, ME!” Tia said, momentarily stopping her wrapping. Arawn looked thoughtful for several seconds.
“So, then Mentor. What are my limitations when it comes to my expected behavior here? Both in my general conduct, and the unexpected conduct when it comes to my remaining single?”
“What it boils down to, is this: ‘So long as you harm none, do what you will.’ Though I would imagine, that ‘not harming’ anyone will prove difficult, as some of the stronger Mamono tend to be forceful in their determination to obtain a husband.” Tia smiled, remembering. Then her face grew somber.
“You’ll find that both the green Ogres, and the Ushi-Oni, tend to be the most forceful in that regard.”
“What if say, the other party, manages to damage property when pursuing me?” Arawn asked. Tia sighed, shaking her head.
“It’ll probably still be a mark against you, and me.”
“But why?!” Arawn demanded, exasperated.
“Because you could’ve done something to avoid it, such as submitting to her.” The thought of that, brought Arawn up short.
“That’s hardly fair!” he huffed.
“It is, what it is Arawn.” She replied, spreading her hands apart. He sighed, then look thoughtful for a second.
“What about the use of Magic, mine in particular?” Tia crossed her arms, and tilted her head in thought.
“For now, I would say defensive magic only. I’ll be able to give you a better, more full answer, once we get you checked in at HQ. There, I’ll get more information.”
“Shall we depart then?” Arawn asked.
“Not yet. I’ve still got some boxes to wrap.” Tia answered, looking over again on her ever-reducing pile.
“Mind if I help, Tia?” Vola asked, with a smile just a little too wide. Tia noted it and replied.
“Just so long as I end up with the same number of boxes after, Vola. I know you all too well.” Tia said crossly, but tempered it with a smile. They both began to do so.
“Mind if I look around Tia?” Arawn asked. She nodded.
“Certainly,” Tia answered, “Just keep an eye out for any other surprises that may be waiting in the wings.” She answered with a sharp grin. Arawn glanced back at her with a thoughtful look.
“What do you mean?” he asked, perplexed.
“Remember that it’s still Harpy mating season, so try not to walk anywhere outside alone.” The look on his face turned to one of consternation.
“I think I will remain inside for the duration.” He stated, as he meandered in her apartment, looking over the doors that covered the room’s arrow-slits. Opening one up, he took a peek outside. Despite being on the third floor up, he was able to see enough around to notice the top floor of the building facing.
‘Oh. Would you look at that?’ Quintus stated dryly. ‘A pair of harpies are sitting on the roof over there. We seem to have caught their attention. (5)’. Arawn looked up and noticed the pair. They were now looking back at him, with their heads bent in curiosity. Seeing them, Arawn chose to slam shut the arrow-slit door.
“I noticed a pair of Harpies on the roof of the next building over, Mentor. They appear to have already built a nest.” Arawn stated, not facing her.
“A pair?” Tia asked, “That’s probably Rhea and Leda. They’re the ones who have guard duty on top of that barrack, which is yours by the way.” Tia said, finishing up her wrapping.
“Yes, your quarters are on the next level down, facing mine.” Arawn paused for a moment.
“I take it that you’ll be checking, to see if I maintain curfew?” He asked.
“Something like that yes. All right, I’m done here. Let’s go and get you checked in at headquarters.” She said, wiping her hands and rolling a ball of silk between them.
Then, to Arawn’s experience, she did something odd. She went over to one of the arrow-slit doors, and poked the silk-ball partially out, so that it ‘marked’ which one was hers. From there, the three left Tia’s apartments and Vola went on her own way, stating that she was still working on repairing Tia’s barracks bathing facilities.
As Tia and Arawn exited her Barrack building, Arawn stopped suddenly in his tracks. With nary a thought, he raised his left arm and quickly summoned forth his shield-buckler, this time he raised it up and over-head without looking. Just in time, as it turned out. For barely had he done so, than an audible ‘kwa-thump’ came from over his head as a set of Harpy talons attempted to grasp him in mid swoop.
The harpy in question, Rhea, was rather annoyed at being denied her mating season prey, and expressed her displeasure most vociferously.
“Bloody Bachelor! You can’t stay single forever!” she screeched, as she flew back up to her nest. Arawn looked at Tia.
“Good save.” She noted.
‘So much for my Periapt of Concealment. It seems that I will have to remain on guard at all times. (1)’ Arawn thought to himself. His not-brothers remained silent in fear.
From there, both Tia and Arawn were able to get over to the Fort’s Headquarters without too much incident. He, garnered most of the attention of everyone they passed by. Tia chose to include him in a couple of introductions. Almost all of them displayed a polite disinterest in him.
“Interesting.” Arawn said aloud, after parting with the last introduction. “I was almost snatched up by a Harpy, twice. But everyone else so far, seems to be uninterested in pursuing me.”
“That’s probably because most of the regular personnel here, are already married, or are widows.” Tia pointed out.
“Widows?” Arawn seemed surprised by that revelation. “I was unaware of that!” he exclaimed. “Why would there be widows in the Great Maou’s Army?”
“You’ll find that most of the Mamono serving in the Maou’s Army here in Cynosure, are widows with children.” Tia pointed out. “Since they have no one to help with child care, they turn to the Maou’s Army for that help.”
“I would have thought that their extended families would have preferred to help them out.”
“You’ll have to remember Arawn, that the Father’s side of the family tend to not be so inclined to help out the one who kidnapped him, let alone raped him.” Tia pointed out.
“Hhhhrmm. Good point.”
Eventually, the pair made their way into the Headquarters complex. Tia escorted him to the Charge of Quarters office. There, upon nearly entering, Arawn froze up for a moment, and then slowly entered the office. The reason he froze was that there was a brunette haired, blue-skinned demon officer in charge of admissions.
“Hello Corporal Tia,” she smiled sweetly as Tia entered her office. But that smile of hers widened considerably when she Arawn enter.
“Why Hello, Sweet-meat!” she positively gushed, as she stood up from her parchment covered desk. She then scuttled over to greet him. After she got well into his personal space, she grabbed his hand and shook it vigorously. All the while pressing her oversized breasts against him.
Tia, noticed at that moment that Arawn’s skin color had paled considerably at this interaction.
‘Odd, most men tend to be more enthusiastic when they first meet her.’ Tia thought to herself.
“So Tia, where did you manage to snare this delectable tidbit?” the demon enthused.
“Dark Lieutenant Valeria, I’d like to introduce you to the Great Maou’s latest recruit, Majin Annwyfyn Arawn.” Tia replied with an amused smile. Lt. Valeria’s already ample enthusiasm grew in leaps and bounds when she heard that.
“Oh my Badness, A Majin?! You must be a rather powerful Majin to gain the Maou’s attention! What did you say your name was again?” She asked as she pressed herself one final time against Arawn, then released his hand as she turned and sat down at her desk once more.
“Annwyfyn Arawn.” Arawn stated shakily, quietly, as he swallowed his nervousness, then drew in a sharp breath in an attempt to calm himself down, as he began another internal dialogue.
‘Great Maker! That Demon is the split image of Orcus’ chief torturer, whose attention we suffered all those centuries ago!’ Arawn thought to himself.
‘I believe you are referring to the Flaying Specialist? (5)’ Quintus inquired, also shaken.
‘Indeed. Thank you Quartus, for the equanimity you worked on developing since! (1)’
‘You are quite welcome, Primus. (4)’
“Annwyfyn Arawn, Arawn…why does that name sound so familiar?” Valeria spoke half to herself, as she commenced searching through her somewhat orderly piles of parchment. Then, she stopped, her arms frozen in place.
Valeria then turned her head to face Arawn full on, with a smile growing across her face.
“Arawn? You said your name was? Would you happen to have anything to do with that new tower outside of Royal Makai?” she asked, her black and crimson eyes seemingly starting to glow with an uncanny light. Arawn blinked.
“I am not aware of any new towers outside of Royal Makai.” He replied, unconvincingly.
“Oh? You’re not?” She replied with a purr. “Not even that new one an hour’s journey outside of the Capital City?” To which Arawn swallowed, and somehow managed to pale even further.
“Uhmmmm, NO! I am not aware…” he began.
“The one that USED to be known as Ozymandia’s Tower?” Valeria interrupted with a wicked grin. “But was torn down, and remade within an hour by a particularly powerful and unnamed Majin, as rumors state.” She recounted gleefully, as she started to form a small pile of parchment forms from the assortment in front of her.
“Uuuhh.” Arawn replied.
“The replacement tower that now resembles an oversized penis that has many an Incubus shaking his head in jealousy?” Valeria asked coyly, as she stood up from her desk with her new pile of parchment, then walking over to Arawn and placing them onto a handy table in front of him.
“THAT tower, that is currently called: Arawn’s Dick?” Valeria stated with a grin that showed nearly every one of her razor sharp teeth, as she loomed over Arawn.
“I…” he stated.
“Well no matter, Yokai Basic! To get you signed in properly, you’ll just need to sign your name here.” She indicated helpfully to a point on the top pile of parchments that was a blank line. She then handed him a quill along with a small jar of ink.
Arawn signed his name where she indicated: on a paper stating that he pledged to obey all orders given to him from his higher-ups. He was happy for the change in subject.
“And here!” she said cheerfully, Arawn signed again after a brief perusal.
“And here!” once more. In fact this went on for several minutes. Arawn, increasingly became ever more bored and didn’t bother reading what he was signing after the first few times. Until finally.
“And here.” Valeria stated breathlessly one last time, catching Arawn’s gaze with her own. Arawn’s hand, seemingly of its own accord, reached out to begin writing his signature.
‘Ware Primus! I sense a compulsion spell! Primus! Are you listening to me?! (5)’ Quintus shouted to an unlistening Primus/Arawn. ‘Secundus! (5)’ he ordered. Without any further ado, Secundus took the hint and immediately invoked a minor poltergeist spell.
Everyone’s attention was suddenly diverted, as a bookshelf spontaneously fell over with a large crash. Arawn and Valeria’s gaze was broken just in the nick of time, preventing his signing. Arawn, was left to blink confusedly. Quintus temporarily took control of his hands, and pulled out the last parchment that Arawn had nearly been compelled to sign.
With a dark look, Valeria made a mystical gesture that caused the upended bookshelf, and its contents, to return to their original position. Turning her attention back to Arawn, she was most upset at seeing his looking over that last parchment. She affected an air of nonchalance as Arawn began to read aloud.
“I, the signer,” Arawn read aloud, “do hereby agree to sign over my soul, in perpetuity, in service to the Demon named above (Valeria)…What in the name of the Lords of Chaos is the meaning of this?!” he demanded.
After a while, Valeria looked over at him with an anguished sigh.
“What it is, is obvious, my poor, lost, and unprotected human.” She pouted. “Is a contract between you and I, in which I take the burden of providing for you, for eternity.” She finished with a frustrated grumpy huff.
“I will remember this in the future, Dark Lieutenant Valeria.” Arawn replied coldly.
“Well, you can’t blame a girl for trying…?” she replied. Her eyes glowing slightly with hope. To which Arawn merely sighed a sigh of resignation.
“I trust that I am signed in now?” he gave by way of answer. After a moment, Valeria nodded her head reluctantly.
“Shall we go Mentor?” Arawn asked Tia. Who then silently agreed, and they both departed. After a few minutes, Tia spoke up.
“I feel the need to congratulate you on your ability to maintain military bearing around Lt. Valeria. I hope that you didn’t feel too put upon, as she hasn’t attempted to do that with anyone in ages. I have to admit, that she does has a way of getting underneath everyone’s skin.”
“Funny you should put it that way.” He replied stone-facedly, not looking at her. “Such a talent must run in her line of demons.” Tia looked at him oddly then. There was something in the way that he said that last sentence, that made her blood run cold.
Along the way to the infirmary, Arawn stopped dead in his tracks and stared at something in the middle of the road. Tia, brought up short, was annoyed at his doing so.
“Arawn! What’s wrong? What,..” she stopped, when he pointed towards something in their path.
“What. Are those?” he asked quietly, pointing at seemingly nothing. Tia looked between him and where he was pointing for second or two, then she saw it, or actually, them. There was a trio of cats in the road playing their usual rough and tumble mock battles with each other. One was a grey tabby, another a Siamese, the third a golden tabby.
“Those?” she laughed, indicating. “Those are cats!”
“So THAT is what cats are! How very interesting!” he smiled delightedly. “May I?” he asked her. Tia wondered what he was about, when he suddenly took a couple of hesitant steps towards the trio.
“Oh, don’t bother trying to make nice with them Arawn. They’re probably too feral to be nice to…oh!” she started to explain, then finished with an exclamation, as the trio of cats stopped their play and immediately approached Arawn eagerly, almost as if he were an old friend.
Within a few seconds, Tia stood dumbfounded at the sight of Arawn gently petting and scratching the attentive street felines.
“Now that’s the queerest thing I’ve ever seen in the last month.” Said a passing city guardsman, aloud. He then moved closer to Tia. “I’ve seen that trio grow up from kittens, and they’ve NEVER allowed themselves to be touched by anyone before. How odd.” He smiled. “Interesting, I see by his gorget, that he’s in the Maou’s Army. Looks like you’ve got yourself a keeper there, Corporal Tia.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Rumor has it, that the number of cats that have disappeared lately, have done so because of some foul Mamono has been hatefully attacking, and killing them.” He looked at her sadly in explanation.
“Just rumors mind you. That fellow alone could do much to allay them.” He gestured to Arawn momentarily, then moved off. Tia said nothing for a moment. Then she tried to approach Arawn, fully expecting the trio of cats to run away at the sight of her approaching. They had done so repeatedly over the years, ever since she had mistakenly wrapped one up for a later meal.
She nearly stopped in surprise, when instead of running away, the trio of cats cautiously left Arawn’s attentions and each one of them gave one of her legs a polite sniff. She then gently reached down to attempt to give one of them, the Siamese, an ear scratch. It deigned to allow such momentarily. The trio, then immediately ran off elsewhere in search of more entertaining fare elsewhere.
“So those are cats.” Arawn stated with a smile. “Fascinating creatures. Though from what I had been told of them, I half expected them to be much larger. Jinko sized to be correct. What a fascinating Multiverse we live in.”
Tia, was so surprised then, in her effort to get Arawn to the Infirmary, that she completely forgot to ask him what a Multiverse was.
Later, at the Infirmary, Arawn submitted to a full examination conducted by an Incubus, Head Nurse Luge, with an attending Dark Mage by the name of Calliope, who kept silent almost the entire time. She chose to occasionally wave a clear crystalline rod over him, never once explaining what it was that she was doing.
Arawn submitted the usual answers to a number of personal questions that every recruit, in every military, has to go through when first arriving at a duty station.
Name, gender, any religious objections to medical treatments, etc. Nurse Luge seemed fine with his most of his answers to the questionnaire that Arawn had filled out ,waiting for his appointment to begin. Corporal Tia remained outside, waiting for him to finish.
“Yokai Arawn, I noticed that on the age answer, you put in a sideways ‘eight’. What exactly did you mean by that?” Nurse Luge asked, looking over his clipboard.
“Actually it is not a sideways eight. It is instead an infinity symbol.” Luge stopped, and looked again at the entry, and blinked.
“I suppose it could be, yes.” He glanced at Arawn with a confused look. “I take it that you’re claiming to be infinite in age.”
“No, I am not making such a claim.” Arawn replied dryly. Luge was about to ask for more information when Arawn began again.
“Actually, I am, for lack of a better term- Immortal.” Arawn stated matter-of-factly. Calliope the Dark Mage, then looked up from the readings her crystal rod had been showing her. She turned her attention fully to Arawn.
“The infinity sign, is as close to an actual age number as I can give in all honesty.”
“What do you mean?” Luge asked, perplexed.
“The reasons are manifold. But, to keep things relatively simple, I have not kept track of how many years I have existed.” Luge looked confused for a second, then asked.
“Don’t you mean; how many years you’ve been alive?” Luge asked, gesturing with a hand.
“Not necessarily.” Arawn replied, then continued after a look at Luge’s stupefaction. “A common misconception is the one that all Immortals live for forever.” To which both Luge and Calliope simply blinked. Arawn continued.
“The vast majority of Immortals, few as they are, can and do live for forever. Usually in a physically good state. Alas, I am not one of those.” Arawn looked over at Luge with a humorless smile.
“I can, and often have, have been so heavily damaged physically, that I have ended up being misidentified as being dead.” At this statement, Luge’s face paled as he allowed his arms holding the clipboard to drop to his lap.
“Truth.” Luge replied with a shudder. “You speak the truth!” he said in wonder. Arawn looked over at him in surprise.
“You must be an empath, if you can discern truth-speaking so readily.” Arawn stated flatly, nodding.
“I am.” Luge swallowed. “It’s an ability that has allowed me to do well in my chosen field of medical nursery.”
“Well, that it would. This would also explain the Psi-tendrils that you have extended all of the time.” Arawn observed.
“Wait, what? Psi-Tendrils? What are those?” Luge demanded, panting. It was Arawn’s turn to look surprised.
“Psi-tendrils are the psychically visible extensions of anyone who has psychic power. How is it that one such as yourself is unaware of them?” Arawn inquired.
“I,..I have never received any training in such things!”
“Interesting!” Arawn replied. “In the sake of friendship, I would offer to teach you some of the techniques of Psionics, that I have learned over my lifetime.”
“Yes! Please! I would be very much interested in this!” Luge exclaimed, just a little too quickly. He hesitated when Calliope laid a hand on his arm. She nodded at Luge. He then replied. “Perhaps at a later date, right now let us continue with your exam.” Arawn smiled and nodded. Calliope was the one who finally deigned to join the conversation.
“Majin Arawn.” She began in a neutral voice. “You’ve probably been wondering what it is I’ve been doing ever since you’ve arrived. Correct?” Arawn remained silent and nodded.
“What I’ve been doing, is checking to see what might have interfered with the Teleportation process. I’m not at liberty to say what my indications are pointing me towards right now, but I do have some questions I’d like you to answer. Please answer as truthfully as you would.” She commanded coldly. Arawn nodded in agreement.
“Very well then, let us begin. I am aware that you are a powerful Majin well versed in many varieties of Magic, yes?” Calliope asked with a tilt of her head.
“Yes, I am.” Arawn replied with a nod. Calliope glanced over at Luge, who caught her look and nodded. She seemed satisfied.
“Have you,” she continued, “at any time, invoked Demonic Magic?”
“No, I have not.” He replied. As before she looked at Luge, who nodded. This time her eyebrows furrowed. Pursing her lips, she turned back to Arawn.
“Prior to your teleportation, did anyone you know of, cast a spell involving demonic magic upon your person?”
“Not that I am aware of, no.” This answer caused Calliope to frown deeply.
“One final question, have you ever attempted to conjure with any form of Demonic Magic?” she asked solidly, boring her eyes into his.
“No I have not, Dark Mage Calliope! Only a suicidal fool would attempt to invoke a magic he, she, or it, is not trained in! Is there a point to these questions?” Arawn demanded of her then.
“There is, but one I’m not at liberty to speak of it, at this time. I would appreciate your forbearance in this matter, and I would wish to ask that you keep this conversation private to anyone other you, me, Nurse Luge, or General Scathach.” Calliope ordered. To which, Arawn, glaringly agreed.
“Now if you will please excuse me, there is something that needs my attention at this time. Gentleman.” She arose and exited without any further ado.
Arawn’s medical interview proceeded smoothly from there on. Shortly, Nurse Luge released him to Tia’s custody, pronouncing him fit to continue in service.
“Arawn?” Tia asked him upon leaving the Infirmary. “Are you hungry?” Arawn indicated that he was.
“Well, why don’t we take a swing by the Mess Hall? I’m sure there will be many fine foods that you will find to your liking.” She smiled.
“As it is now, Mentor, I am hungry enough to eat the south end of a North bound civet!” Tia looked thoughtful at that colloquialism of his and nodded. Arawn caught the nod and asked.
“Do not tell me that civet hindquarters are actually available on the menu?” he asked, incredulous.
“I wouldn’t be surprised. We have so many Mamono here, with so many different dietary preferences, that the butt-end of a civet may end up being fairly common.” To which Arawn merely blinked, and Tia laughed at his reaction.
Once more Father Heilar stood in front of the Artifact sword, contemplating the mysteries of that ancient object. This time, instead of fixating upon the artifact, he chose to look about the cavernous chamber that surrounded it. As before, long columns of flowstone still stood up from the floor along its circumference. This time, however, the countless stalagmites that had been littering the floor, had been removed to make access to the room easier for human feet. The metallic ovoid object was still there though, resisting the best attempts of his henchmen to remove it.
As before, the sword continued to twirl in its protective field. Its queer un-light now supplemented with torches and gas-lamps to illuminate the dozen or so tables covered with notebooks and arcane tomes.
Where before, Father Heilar had contemplated the artifact with a perpetual dour expression. This time, he had an optimistic smile.
‘I Hope.’ He prayed silently to himself. ‘I hope that I can do this for you My Lady! Grant me this! Oh powers that be! So that I might turn the tide of fortune in favor to the Chief God! Allow me to fill the shoes of that backstabbing ’Hero’ who took the Demon-Lord to wife! With this sword, let me become the Chief God’s faithful Hero!’
“Father Heilar.” Said a voice. Father Heilar chose to end his silent prayer to turn and look at the newcomer. It was his ‘rival’ priest, Father Hakon.
“You have news?” he asked, just a shade too quickly.
“Yes. We’ve combed over the report of our informant, and triangulated the location of the Artifact. It seems that you are correct, this Artifact lies directly underneath Fort Eequor’s Teleportation Platform.” To which Father Heilar smiled in satisfaction.
“Furthermore.” Father Hakon continued, getting Heilar’s attention once more. “It might be the source of its power as well.”
“By which do you make that conclusion?”
“According to our informant, along about the same time that the Artifact’s protective shield winked out, one of the Teleportation Platforms ceased operation for a short time.”
“Ceased? Those platforms have been in continuous operation for centuries. What happened?” Heilar’s eyes widened in surprise.
“From what I understand, an individual who was in transit, managed to somehow interfere with its operation.”
“Interfere in transit? That’s madness!” Heilar all but shouted, then with an effort, calmed himself. “How did she interfere?”
“He, actually.” Hakon smiled cheerfully. He was happy to know that there was something Heilar didn’t know about.
“He? What individual are we talking about, an Incubus?” Heilar exclaimed.
“No, not an Incubus. Apparently, the individual was a human male, a Majin of some power. According to the report, he invoked an unknown form of magic that may be the culprit for the Artifact’s protective field shutting down.”
“I don’t suppose that the report mentioned what kind of magic was used?”
“Not yet, no.” Hakon shook his head. “According to our informant, if she inquired too deeply, or showed too much interest in this, there was a good chance she’d be discovered.” Hakon frowned grimly.
“We don’t want that to happen, do we?” Father Hakon replied shakily. Aghast at the thought of what sexual tortures the Mamono could subject him to.
“Do we, at least, have a name for this Majin?” Heilar demanded.
“Yes.” Hakon replied, holding up his letter closer in the soft light. “He goes by the name of: Annwyfn Arawn.”
“Very well, try to find out as much as you can about this…Annwyfn Arawn, Father Hakon. The more we know about him, the better the chance we have to manipulate him. Dismissed.” Father Hakon nodded, and took his leave, exiting the chamber.
Father Heilar turned back to contemplate the Artifact, but his mind was miles away. As much as he wanted to find a way to harness the Artifact in service to the Chief God, there was still something that nibbled at the back of his awareness.
“Annwyfyn…Annwyfyn…” he said aloud. “Why does that name sound so familiar?”
“General Scathach, as per your orders I report.” Said Calliope the Dark Mage as she gave the standard salute to her Commanding Officer, her right fist clenched and held over her left breast.
General Eileen Scathach, the blonde-haired Dullahan standing at attention near her office desk, returned the salute and motioned for Calliope to continue. For now, her head was perched atop her gorget, between her pauldrons.
“Preliminary indications show that Annwyfn Arawn did not actively interfere in the teleportation process. He did, however, invoke a kind of magic I was unaware of: Chthonic. I don’t know if it has interfered with the platforms, yet. I will need to research that more.” General Scathach remained impassive, staring at Calliope with her black eyes.
“What of his,…toxicity?” General Scathach inquired suddenly, coldly, in a voice that reminded Calliope of a graveyard’s chilly breeze. Steeling herself, she replied.
“Was he toxic to Mamono, yes.” Calliope began, then noticed that the Dullhan moved herself for the first time. “BUT!” she replied in order to hold off the General’s anger. “I think that it may have been temporary!”
“What do you mean?” Scathach frowned.
“He has indicated that he has never invoked, or used any form of Demonic Magic. Yet, his aura has been infected with a spell made with it, sometime within the last week. A powerful spell. Indeed, a potentially toxic one to Mamono. What it was, I don’t know. It has faded too far away for me to ascertain what it might have been.” Calliope sighed in frustration.
“But I did manage to get a sample of it. Just enough for me to potentially identify who the caster of the spell was. Maybe.” Calliope closed her eyes, and sighed deeply. She then opened them and faced her General straight on.
“General. I don’t know for sure if Arawn is toxic to Mamono. I can’t be sure, without exposing a Mamono to him and endangering her life.” she stated as she observed the General become agitated once more. General Scathach began speaking.
“Annwyfyn Arawn has been demonstrated to be a powerful Majin, one that the Great Maou herself has both expressed a confidence in, and a heavy desire to see him become part of her Army and by extension, her Grand Endeavor. Is there any way you can commence a test, that would allow you to ascertain his toxicity. One that did not involve the life of a Mamono?” the General demanded, seemingly callously.
“Yes, there is.” Calliope replied. “But it would involve my circumventing the rules of Medical Conduct, and engaging in duplicitous behavior.” She replied solemnly. Calliope looked nervously at the floor as she hesitated for a second, then returned her attention to the General.
“Do I have your permission to do so?” Calliope asked.
General Scathach looked down at Calliope and replied with aplomb.