Mors Funebris Chapter 1 Part 8
“Well Colonel,” Arawn wearily called out with more than a hint of sarcasm tinging his voice. “I believe that I am overdue for a stint in the Brig!” he smiled cheekily.
Colonel Alenoth found herself all too happy to indulge him.
‘I am in control! I can do this. Be Here, in this Moment, Now!’ Arawn chanted mentally in an effort to maintain his fading strength.
‘Chin Up! Chest Out! Shoulders Back! Stomach In! I will not faint!’ he ordered himself as he panted silently. He did so to suppress fight off another fatigue caused shudder that threatened to overwhelm his control. Even with his enhanced stamina, Annwyfn Arawn found himself nearing the upper limits of his endurance. His tiredness had not been helped by his standing at full attention for the better part of two hours.
After he’d been released from the Fort’s Brig/Stockade, he been escorted by a pair of stern-faced Minotauros to report to the Fort’s Commanding Officer: General Eileen Schathach (Dullahan).
Arawn felt himself unaccountably intimidated by the General when he’d first stepped into her office. Initially, he estimated that she stood at least two and half meters in height. That, combined with her immaculately kept full battle-armor, elicited an automatic respect for her authority from him.
Immediately upon his arrival, she’d ordered him to stand at full attention in front of her desk. She then ignored him, while she silently continued to review her daily reports.
‘Five days and nights of near constant sexual teasing and harassment. A near constant countering of every single one of the dozens of charm spells sent my way. All the while, I ignored every seduction attempt from that squad of Succubus-guards.’ He recalled, barely repressing another shudder at the memory of his ordeal A shudder born of fear or near-exhaustion, he was unable to decide then.
Arawn had tried his best to rest during his incarceration, but such had proven to be a futile effort. Every time he had started to fall asleep, his guards immediately put on a ‘Lesbian-like’ show to distract him from his rest.
“Prisoner Arawn!” spoke one alluring blonde haired succubus, from outside his barred cell, “Why do you refuse to allow yourself the opportunity? Come! Join us! It’s lonely enough here without a virile male to keep us both company!” she had demanded sultrily, her dainty and well-manicured hand reaching out to him in supplication.
Thoughts of desperately need sleep were rapidly banished from his mind, with every teasing and sexual tormenting that the guards had purposefully demonstrated in front of him. Obstinately, he had refused to grace every single one of their attempts with an answer, either verbal or physical.
“Perhaps he feels that he’s too good for us?” answered the other guard, a redheaded one, as she began to nuzzle the first speaker’s nethers Arawn thought he’d heard the redhead say something else, but her words were drowned out by the blonde’s overly loud moans, again.
‘Luckily that group of guards seemed rather half-hearted in their charm spells. (5)’ Quintus began. ‘Otherwise, we would be exhausted for vastly different reasons now.’
‘Luck has nothing to do with that! (1)’ Arawn/Primus countered angrily, ‘They were doing so under orders to harass us. Nothing more!’ He shot back. He then began to breath in deeper, when he noticed the first effects of tunnel vision. ‘Status?! (1)’ he demanded.
‘Unchanged from when you asked me five minutes ago.’ Quintus answered testily. ‘Tertius and Quartus are nigh comatose. Secundus thought he detected a hidden source of mana nearby. But, as far as I can tell it appears to be nothing more than a fatigue-delusion. (5)’
‘What of you? (1)’
‘I estimate that I will be forced to retire sometime within the next hour.’ Quintus replied shakily. ‘I would not have needed to do so, if Colonel Tekatees had not ordered our restraint-chains to include a set of genital cuffs! (5)’ he remarked dryly.
‘That was a mite excessive, in my opinion. Why would she order that? (2)’ Secundus asked blearily.
‘I would lay it at the feet of the Maou’s influence. Beneficent-minded as the Colonel is, she is still influenced by the Demon-Lord. In their heart of hearts, Demons will always seek to torment humans. (1)’ Arawn/Primus silently instructed, remembering his time that he’d spent with them long before the Maou had come to power.
‘Why Primus?’ Secundus asked, ‘Why are you so determined to not show weakness to the General? is it because of Pride? (2)’
‘No.’ he answered with finality. ‘It is a necessity. This is nothing more than a test of my resolve and my ability to withstand torture,….of every variety. (1)’ Arawn smiled, while Secundus chose to mull over that wisdom.
Peering at the General through weary eyes, Arawn was curious for her decision to not use her desk’s chair. For some unknowable reason she’d chosen to remain standing, and pointedly ignoring his presence entirely.
Occasionally, he would observe that her already severe expression would deepen with a frown, as she continued to examine one by one, each of the several reports that were piled upon her desk. Each of which, Arawn noted, had his name emblazoned in large red letters upon its cover folder.
‘Thankfully, the General has afforded herself a picture window.’ Arawn smiled inwardly, as he let his attention lapse away from her to the Fort’s skyline. ‘It is good to see the sky once more.’ He almost smiled, as he attempted to distract himself from his discomfort by casting his eyes about her office, taking in various tidbits about her past.
‘She has an extraordinary number of books upon her shelves. Odd, few of them have anything to do with military campaigns or tactics.’ He deemed, as he took note of them all. ‘Wait! Most of these books appear to be penned by the same author,…Saphirette Spherica? As far as I can recall, Ms. Spherica is not noted for her military knowledge.’ Arawn found himself confused with the incongruity.
‘Such is totally out of place with her collection of campaign trophies, awards, and commendations. Everything else here, indicates she is strictly military minded. That wood carving hanging on her wall next to the window. What does it say? ‘A commendation for her ingenuity during the Polove Siege’? What mystery is in front of me?’
During those two hours, he had managed the occasional surreptitious fidget, or shifting of his balance. All of which helped to alleviate that creeping numbness in his legs. A numbness that currently threatened to advance up above the level of his knees.
“Yokai Basic Annwyfn Arawn.” The General spoke suddenly, startling Arawn from his reverie. Somehow, that neutral tone of hers still managed to convey a sense of profound disapproval.
Glancing nervously at the General, he noticed that her black eyes were now boring stolidly into his. Arawn let his military bearing slip momentarily, as he also took a quick look around the otherwise empty room. Ignoring his glance, she continued.
“Within a day of your arrival,” Scathach began, as she continued to fix Arawn with a penetrating stare, as her yellow irises started to glow with an unholy anger, “you’ve managed to cause me a most embarrassing incident” Scathach grimaced, as she lay down the last report folder she’d been holding in her hands.
She then leaned forwards and placed both of her azure colored hands onto her desk, so as to loom menacingly at him. Arawn had to fight his initial reaction to lean backwards in response.
“One that requires a public response on my part.” She began, “All this, DESPITE!” she barked suddenly with her teeth flashing, which made Arawn flinch involuntarily.
“The many reassurances I’ve received from Royal Makai, informing me that you are: ‘without parallel in the art of Clandestine Investigation’!” she ended with a slow expulsion of her breath through her pursed blue lips.
She then drew herself up and crossed her arms, almost as if she expected an explanation. Taking it as a sign, Arawn allowed himself to droop as he licked his lips and opened his mouth to speak.
“Silence.” Scathach stated acerbically. Arawn’s response was to snap his mouth shut, and to resume his military bearing. Scathach continued to stare balefully at Arawn past a stray lock of hair that hung from the severely tied bun on the top of her head.
“Now then,” she began again, “as I recall, your mission from the Great Maou, was one in which you were supposed to conduct an undercover,” she emphasized fiercely/slowly, “investigation into the Mystery of Cynosure’s inability to be converted into a Demon Realm!” she paused, baring her teeth at him.
“Would you care to explain the discongruity between Makai’s attestations to your stealthiness, and the reports I’ve received from both Colonel Tekatees and Sergeant Ardra?” she then indicated the two thickest report folders that lay on front of her desk. Arawn made to speak, but hesitated. Scathach noted it.
“Speak.” She stated succinctly. Licking his lips, Arawn began.
“Before I begin, I request permission to speak freely.” His request caused Scathach’s already severe frown, to turn into a scowl as she began to mull his request over.
“Granted.” She hissed menacingly. The unspoken threat that lay behind that one word of hers, was readily apparent to him.
‘Remember your tact. (5)’ Quintus warned.
“I threw away any pretense of stealth, when I ascertained Lieutenant Winnie’s plight.” Arawn replied carefully.
“And how is that supposed to let you off of the hook?!” she demanded, her eyes flaring.
“I quote General Order number one: ‘Take them alive!’ end quote.” Arawn finished, expecting the General to say something. After several seconds of her not replying, he pressed on.
“Unless of course, keeping your troops alive is no longer a priority where you are concerned.” He added in a sarcastic tone.
‘Well, so much for tact. (5)’ remarked dryly.
“THAT! Is out of order!” Scathach shouted, bashing one fist heavily on the desk, and pointing a finger of the other, into Arawn’s face.
“One more asinine comment like that, and I WILL have your head on a platter! The Maou’s orders be damned!” she shouted in a thundering voice, as Arawn fought to keep from smirking at the General’s inadvertent pun.
‘We would be a matched pair then, eh?’ Arawn thought cheekily.
The General and Arawn continued to glower at each other for several seconds in silence. Finally, the General spoke first.
“That attitude of yours is precisely why I objected to having you here in the first place!” Scathach breathed. “An unattached male Majin of your magnitude, running around chock full of Spirit Energy? Foolishness! Then, I am supposed to leave you alone to taunt my troops, all the while he’s thumbing his nose at my authority?”
“I have not thumbed my nose,…!” Arawn began to protest, but he was soon interrupted.
“You most certainly have!” General Scathach interrupted loudly, “What would you call your ability to persuade Corporal Helvetia to betray her Duty-oath? As anything but flaunting my authority!? Or for that matter, that stunt you pulled magnetizing the Oni brigade’s meteoric-iron kanabo? Which, by the way, are still stuck together!”
“Is it the habit of the Maou’s Army to visit someone, like a thief in the night?” Arawn volleyed back.
“On those occasions we’re called upon to go on the offensive. Yes!” Scathach replied, her eyes burning into Arawn’s from across her desk. Arawn blinked in surprise then took a step back. Frowning, he then bowed his head at the General and spoke.
“My apologies. I was unaware of such.” He conceded, then he continued. Before she could hurl another insult.
“But, if I may offer in my defense General,” he began, “my lack of knowledge of such, is but one of the reasons that I requested a Mentor in the first place.” He stated, forcing himself to relax while looking away momentarily. General Scathach’s eyes widened indignantly for a moment, then she too looked away with a thoughtful look.
“Fair enough.” She replied, frowning slightly as she breathed deeply through her flared nostrils. Keeping silent, she then turned herself away from her pile of reports. Pushing her unused chair out of her way, she began walking around her desk.
‘It is amazing how quiet she can be, walking around in full battle-armor on her hardwood floors. (5)’ Quintus observed, as she approached to within a couple of meters from him.
Arawn chose to remain still, in order to see what she would do next. As she came within arm’s reach, she stopped and stared at him. It was as if she were seemingly contemplating doing something nasty then. All the while keeping a neutral expression on her light blue face. For an unknown reason, she began rubbing at her neck.
‘Well, Enchanted Armor is known for its stealthiness, not its comfort. (2)’ Secundus remarked dryly. Arawn chose to let that remark slide, keeping his own gaze level with Scathach’s without being impolite.
“At ease, Majin.” She spoke suddenly, waiting. Arawn immediately relaxed himself down into an at-ease stance.
‘Great Maker! (1)’ Arawn breathed silently in relief.
“Thank you General.” Arawn spoke aloud. General Scathach, looked at him coldly.
“Don’t thank me yet, Yokai Basic.” She replied softly, still rubbing at her neck. Arawn nodded once in response.
“You’ve left me in an untenable position, Arawn.” Scathach began speaking quietly, slowly.
“Your Bachelor-hood alone, is proving to not only be an encumbrance, but a distraction to my troops. If it was left strictly up to me, I’d have handed you over to that squad of Succubi I had guarding you. Their squad leader requested the opportunity to forcefully corrupt you, en-masse.” She smiled wickedly, as if tempted by the notion. Somehow, Arawn was too surprised to flinch at the thought.
‘I believe she is referring to a Gang-Bang! Is she not aware that you cannot be corrupted? (2)’ Secundus interjected then.
‘She would probably see it as a challenge. (5)’ Quintus advised. Arawn silently agreed.
“Unfortunately, such a gang-rape would be a breaking of the Oath between you and the Great Maou.” Scathach continued, as she glowered at him. “I, sadly, am forced to insure that that Oath be kept intact. I at least, take my oaths to the Great Maou seriously.” she replied snidely when she sneered at him.
“General, if it had been left to me, I would have arrived here with a mate.” Arawn replied keeping his temper in check. “Unfortunately, that option was not given to me.”
“So, you say.” Scathach replied acidly. Stung, Arawn very nearly shouted indignantly at her.
“I will return to the matter of your bothersome bachelor-hood shortly.” She stated as she turned away from him, to pace around the room.
Arawn noted that her rubbing at her neck was increasing in severity. He tried as best he could to follow her pacing with his eyes. But he was aware that even in an ‘At-Ease’ position, he wasn’t allowed to casually turn and gawk.
The General began to mutter under her breath, as she walked behind Arawn again, while attempting to adjust the Duty-gorget around her neck.
“Damn it!” she growled suddenly. Arawn craned his neck over to look at her in concern. What she did next, surprised him. Instead of removing her gorget, the General grasped her head with both hands covering her ears.
She then lifted her head up off of her shoulders. Arawn gawked in astonishment when her head separated from her body, with a barely audible ‘pop’.
“Great Maker!” Arawn breathed in, agog at such a display. Scathach turned her body around, so as to make eye contact with him.
“Is something the matter, Majin Arawn? Surely you’ve encountered a Dullahan before?” Scathach smiled amusedly at him, as she began maneuvering her head to sit in the crook of her right arm, her hair draping from her undone bun.
“I have indeed heard of Dullahan, General.” Arawn replied, put off, yet interested in the display. “But, I have never personally encountered one of your kind.”
“Well everyone has their first time.” She remarked, as she noticed Arawn was unsure about where to settle his gaze. It shifted constantly from her head in the crook of her arm, up to the aura that sprouted from her neck atop her shoulders, and back again.
Patiently, she then extended two fingers from the hand that wasn’t holding her head and pointed them at her eyes.
“My eyes are down here, Majin!” she mocked, her impish smile at odds with her cross tone. Arawn noted that her eyes were now at the level of her breastplate.
‘Or would that be her ‘breasts-plate’, instead? (2)’ Secundus asked cheekily then.
‘Hush. (1)’ Arawn/Primus warned.
“Yes, General.” Arawn replied sheepishly, forcing himself to not look at the phosphorescent glow that emanated from above her shoulders in lieu of her head.
Arawn forced himself to no gape as the General approached her desk’s front. She then smartly placed her head atop a tall metal ziggurat that had been sitting at that desk’s corner. Arawn discovered that he still had to lift his chin, in order to maintain eye contact with her.
“Ah, much better!” The General’s head beamed, once her headless body had finished affixing her head atop the metal framework, then it stepped back.
“Now, where were we?” she asked, pursing her lips in thought.
“Oh yes!” she smiled, while her body clapped its hands once. “I have a decision to make. I have to decide whether or not I should have you court-martialed,” her head stated, while her body pointed a finger at Arawn, “or just simply have you expelled from the Maou’s Army.” The General’s head mused aloud, while her body began to amble around her office once more, with its arms crossed behind its back.
“If I may, General. I would prefer instead, to argue in favor of a third option. One that allows me to remain in the Army because of extenuating circumstances.” Arawn suggested, trying desperately to keep his attention spread evenly between her head and her body.
“What circumstances are those, Arawn?” The General’s head demanded coldly, as her body froze into place.
“The ones involving the Magi-tech that I,….” Arawn began to reply, yet found it difficult to enunciate, as his intense curiosity with the General’s undead status kept distracting him. Scathach, glared at him and spoke.
“Spit it you Arawn!” Scathach barked, seemingly reading his mind. “It’s obvious that you’re brimming over with questions. Ask them already!” she ordered.
“How it that your head is able to speak, General? Even from here, I can feel the force of your breath coming from your mouth. Yet, both your vocal cords, and your lungs, are within your body over there!” Arawn pointed at her armor-clad body, which now stood facing (?) him from two meters away. Scathach rolled her eyes, while her body raised a fist and placed it akimbo on her hip.
“Perhaps!” the General’s head replied with an exasperated sigh, “I should introduce you to Dubh-Alice. She is one of my unattached fellow Dullahans, Arawn. If I did, then you and she could examine each other’s bodies to your mutual heart’s desire!” she replied, smiling devilishly at the thought.
“Thus, I would gain an advantage of a being owed a really big favor from her, while simultaneously being rid of an unmarried thorn in my side!” she finished with a speculative look directed at Arawn. He stopped and thought about it for a few seconds, blinking rapidly all the while.
“I withdraw my questions.” he replied finally, grimacing. Scathach squinted coldly at him for several seconds, then she smirked momentarily in response.
“Now, about my extenuating circumstances.” He began again. “The Magi-tech artifacts alone, should assuage any damage that I have caused due to my blundering.”
“It might!” General Scathach conceded then. “If I knew exactly what they were! You will tell me, what It was that you brought back from your escapade. But first!” her head demanded, while her body on the other side of the room raised a finger. Arawn found himself unsettled once more with the display.
“Start at the beginning. I demand an explanation for everything that has occurred.”
“Such as?” Arawn asked, wondering where to begin.
“Such as, what was that Tentacle-Creature that fucked Winnie to within an inch of her life?” Scathach’s head demanded.
“It turns out, that that creature was a Chthon.”
“WHAT?!” Scathach demanded, outraged. “According to Corporal Helvetia’s report, which is backed up by Makai’s historical archives, I might add. You mentioned to her, that the Chthons had fled this world half a billion years ago!” Arawn had the decency to look embarrassed at that proclamation.
“It appears that both I and they, were in error concerning that judgment.” Arawn replied.
“Really?” Scathach replied in an arching lilt, while her face flared into a mock-innocent look. Leaving her mouth agape, she batted her eyelashes coquettishly. In the corner of his eye Arawn noted that Scathach’s body had raised both of her hands in a gesture of surprise.
“Why by my stars and garters, Majin Arawn! Did you just admit to being something less than perfect?!” she asked in a sarcastic lilting tone.
“Yes, General, I did.” he replied in confusion.
“A Mage actually admitting to being in error!?” Scathach declared in mock shock, while rolling her eyes. “Why the Chief God’s predicted End-Times, must surely be upon us now!” She prophetically replied, unknowingly.
It took Arawn a superhuman, nay a super-Annwyfyn effort on his part to avoid replying with an insubordinate remark then.
“If I may continue with my report?” he beseeched her. Scathach glared at him momentarily, and then nodded once.
‘Wait a second! How is she even able to nod when she doesn’t,…oh never mind! (5)’ Quintus asked, then cut himself off in frustration.
“Aye! Please do, Arawn. Explain to me why is there still a Chthon nearby after so much time?”
“According to her, I mean him, uhhh it.” Arawn began, while Scathach gave a him a droll look. “It is acting in the role of a Guardian.” He finished with a finality tinging his words.
“Guardian? A guardian of what precisely?”
“According to It: “The Great Artifact.” What It meant by this, I could never get It to clarify, unfortunately. I surmise that it was extremely afraid of that item, and that if the Great Artifact were to be accessed, it could very well mean a catastrophe.”
“Catastrophe? Catastrophe to whom, It?”
“According to It, everyone.” Arawn replied.
“Did you see this ‘Great Artifact’?” she demanded.
“How convenient.” she muttered. “Any idea where it is located?”
“According to It, the artifact in question wasn’t located in the same plane of reality that It was. The Chthon seemed to be intentionally vague about the Artifact’s location.”
“Do you have any idea where it is?”
“If I had to hazard a guess, somewhere in vicinity of Cynosure, quite possibly underneath it. I suspect that it may very well have something to do with Cynosure’s inability to be corrupted into a Demon Realm.”
“What leads you to that conclusion?”
“From what I’ve learned, the Artifact is protected from idle handling by a number of safeguards, including a protective field. That field is supposed to do many things. To wit, said field acts like a Teleportation field: Anything or anyone who gets too close to the Artifact, is teleported to the Chthon’s monitoring plane of existence; that self-same spot where Winnie was retrieved from. Whatever goes there, is examined, then cataloged by the Chthon-Guardian for safekeeping. I came to that conclusion, based upon the number of cats that were still left alive with the Chthon. It may very well have something to with the rumor of the disappearance of so many city cats.”
“I am well aware of those rumors, Yokai.” Scathach replied firmly. She then asked him another question.
“You said Teleportation?” Arawn nodded. “Hmmm.” Scathach mused, frowning.
“General, I need to ask.” Arawn began. Scathach looked to him and nodded. “Eequor’s Teleportation Platforms, who created them?” Scathach sighed and thought for a second. She sighed finally, and spoke.
“What I have to say next, is privileged information! Do not share it with anyone!” she warned. Arawn nodded.
“It was not created, only adapted.” She replied finally. “As far as history and lore states, the Pavilion platforms were already present when the first intelligent beings, discovered the ancient hills of Cynosure.” Arawn found his mind wandering, following countless avenues of inquiry such a revelation afforded him then.
“Ahem!” Scathach cleared her throat, recapturing his attention. She continued.
“According to the earliest accounts of the original Majin, who were involved in the platform research. They were able to figure out that the platforms were able to teleport, and not destroy, anyone who wandered too near them. Eventually, over time and with much experimentation, they were able to work out a number of ways to control and direct the transferrals. Thus, the ancient system of Teleportation across this world, was born.”
“But, I would imagine that such teleportation came at a cost.” Arawn replied. Scathach squinted at him suspiciously.
“How so?” she demanded.
“Security vulnerability.” He began, “If you could teleport someone hither and yon, eventually someone else could as well. Someone, such as The Order.”
“You are correct. They did then, and they continue to do so all too often, now. Such is the main reason why Teleportation is maintained under such a strict control! The last thing Royal Makai needs, let alone desires, is an endless stream of Order fighters popping in unannounced. Which is what they still manage to do on occasion.” What Arawn said next, surprised the General profoundly.
“I may have a solution to that.” He replied snidely.
“How so?!” she demanded, as she stepped close to him. He forced himself to not smile.
“As part of our agreement to release me from that Chthon’s other-worldly realm, It agreed to allow me to bring back a piece of Chthon technology.”
“A piece of Chthon technology? What is it? What have you done with it?” Scathach demanded fiercely, raising her fist.
“That unusual item that makes everyone’s eyes cross, when they look at it? For lack of a better term, it is an: Operator’s Manual.”
“What!?” Scathach yelled fiercely. “What is it supposed to do?!” she demanded. Arawn noted that somehow, both her head and her body jumped slightly up in reaction, simultaneously.
“Amongst other things, it will also allow for an enhanced control of teleportation platforms across all of the realms. Thus, no more ‘unannounced’ visits from the Order.” Arawn noted that the General hungrily took in every one of his words. He began to feel better about his situation then.
“Additionally, even if they do manage to once more to inject themselves into a teleportation system; the Maou’s Army could decide where they will end up going to. In fact, the Army could decide ahead of time how much of their clothing, or weaponry, they arrive with.” Arawn finished, with a smile. General Scathach caught herself smiling warmly in response at the thought.
Then with a sudden scowl crossing her face, the General’s body stepped lightly to the desk and plucked her head up off of the scaffolding. With a careful settling, the General’s head was soon reattached to her shoulders.
“If what you say be true, Majin, then why didn’t the Chthon simply teleport you out here, herself?”
“Because of a flaw in the protective system. Anything that is teleported into its realm, remains there. In order for the Chthon to ‘clean house’ so to speak, it needed an agent on this side to access the controls.” Scathach sighed as she leaned back and sat on the edge of her desk.
“You seem to know quite a lot about this Chthon, and its motivations.”
“Well, I was in communication with it for almost the entirety of my stay.”
“So, if you were in communication with it, tell me why did it fuck Lieutenant Winnie nearly to death?” Arawn sighed heavily and looked away, before replying.
“Because, a Chthons’ primary method of communication is through sexual activity.” Arawn began, clenching his eyes shut in preparation for the inevitable irate response.
When none came, he opened them to see that the General was now pressing a gauntleted hand to her face. Arawn could see her black eyes in between her fingers, peering back at him momentarily.
“This!” she stated then, closing her eyes in frustration, “is why I detest having any sort of conversation with a Majin!” she said wearily. “I can never tell if what they’re telling me is the truth! Or if they’re not in fact, just attempting to blather me.” She finished with a hearty sigh.
“Actually General, sexual activity does seem to be a universal method of communication amongst all sentient beings. Take Humans and Mamono, for instance.” Arawn attempted to point out.
“So what you’re telling me is,” she began, dropping her hand from her face, “that Winnie’s near fatal fuck-fest with that Chthon? Was just the two of them having an extended convers,…!?” General Scathach’s next word stuck in her throat.
“Wait! Never mind!” she stopped, then waved her hand in dismissal.
“I’ve decided that I do not wish to pursue this conversation anymore! As I most certainly do NOT want to know how you managed to open a dialogue with it! So, I will instead, let this go for now!” Scathach replied, pinching her eyes together. She was silent for several long moments with a long-suffering expression on her face. Finally, she began again.
“I take it Majin Arawn, that this ‘Operator’s Manual’ you brought back?” she asked, Arawn nodded. “Can we read it?” Arawn shook his head in negation.
“Thus, we will need YOU to translate it?” she replied, pointing at him
“Ummm, yes General.” He replied. Her hand dropped.
“Ooh! Well, isn’t that amazing how that works out!?” she grinned cheekily, with just a hint of mania tinging her voice. Arawn wisely chose to not answer.
“Are there any other aspects of the Teleportation-platform’s Operations Manual, that you feel I should be aware of?” she demanded.
“Yes General, apparently it also gives instructions on how to produce any number of raw materials, converting them from one form of matter into another. Thus, the platforms can create foodstuffs, building materials, and other supplies. All of which could prove useful to the Army, when it comes to providing aid to Order attacked realms.” Arawn finished, with an encouraging smile. That same smile vanished, when he noticed Scathach’s skeptical frown.
“That, is quite a tall list of possibilities you’ve given me, Majin Arawn!” She glowered, “If what you say is true, then you will have more than proven your worth to the Maou’s Army.” She smiled widely. Arawn didn’t feel reassured with it.
“HOWEVER!” she snapped suddenly, unsmiling. “You will still need to prove that you’re capable of providing that proof. Do you truly still wish to remain in the Maou’s Army that long, Arawn?” Arawn nodded quietly.
“Very well then! Your first assignment will begin as soon as you step out of my office! I will make arrangements to insure, that you are assigned to assist the Fort’s Magical Research Division. There, you will assist in the translation of the ‘Operations Manual’ that you so thoughtfully provided.”
“Additionally, you will assist in the cataloging, and reclamation, of the Automaton Unit parts that you sent back from the Chthon’s realm. According to the report submitted by Lieutenant Jinks, she tells me that you seem to have a fair bit of knowledge concerning them.”
“I do, General.” Arawn replied neutrally, remembering the conversations she and he had had in the Stockade.
‘Hello again Arawn!’ Waved Lieutenant Jinks, from outside his cell gaining his attention. He had been most welcome for any relief from the Stockade guards incessant sexual teasing and tormenting displays. They, looked on in amusement to see what Jinks wanted to ask him every time she’d come by to pay him a visit.
‘Now what did you call this part again?’ she had demanded, pointing to an oblong part she had held up in her hands.
‘A miniaturized flux-capacitor’. Arawn had answered.
‘I thought so!’ she had replied, with her tongue licking her lips momentarily. ‘Excellent! Also, can you tell me what this script says?’ she had asked next, holding up an Automaton Memory-core. Arawn peered carefully at it, careful to not let his head contact the Demon-Silver coated iron bars.
‘It is an Automaton Designation.” He said aloud, “It reads: ‘λ/Ε-Ν²-Y.’ Translated properly, it would be pronounced, “Jenny”, Arawn had replied.
‘Why thank you Arawn! You’re quite the big help!’ Jinks replied, as she turned to go.
‘Oh by the way! You STILL owe me drinks and a dinner!’ she had reminded him cheerfully, over a shoulder.
‘Which I fully intend to collect!’ she had replied with her ever-present grin widening at the thought. She then hurriedly slipped her way past the amused, and voluptuous semi-clad Stockade guards.
“That’s good to hear, Majin. Eventually, the Automatons will be teleported to Royal Makai for further investigation. You are aware, that you could accompany them there?”
“General?” Arawn asked, puzzled.
“It seems to me that your talents are being wasted here, when instead you could return to Royal Makai.” Scathach smiled hopefully, as her voice dropped an octave.
“Your work in the Magical Research Division that is located with the Maou’s castle alone, would guarantee you much in the way of accolades and recognition.”
“I’d wager that you might even garner the attention of one of the Great Maou’s daughters. The Lilim do have some rather exacting matrimonial standards, after all.” Even with the threat of the Lilim, he found himself intrigued by the thought. Swallowing, he began to form a reply.
‘There is the matter of your Agreement with Zrihea! (5)’ Quintus chided then in a mental whisper. Arawn felt a pang of regret threaten to overwhelm him.
“If it is all the same to you General,…” he began verbally. Her smile vanished, as she began to glower instead.
“If you do decide to stay here at Fort Eequor, Majin Arawn.” General Scathach interrupted tersely, then. Frowning, she continued.
“I guarantee you, that your lot here will not be an easy one.” She threatened with a hiss, as she clenched her fists.
She then stepped over to a wooden table that sat at the far end of her office. Atop that table lay an ivory chest. She then extended out and opened its lid. Reaching in, she then pulled something out too fast for him to see. After which, she then walked her way back to the desk and turned around, holding that something out to him. Arawn’s eyes widened momentarily, when he finally saw what that secretive item was, that she held. It was one of the chocolate dildos that the Platforms had produced several days earlier.
“I see that you recognize this, yes? Good. Hold it.” She commanded him. Arawn did so and discovered that it seemed to be rather hefty, easily weighing two kilos.
‘It does smell nice. I wonder how it would taste? (2)’ Secundus wondered. Arawn ignored him.
“That.” Scathach began, smiling. “Is one of those ‘foodstuffs’ that the platforms created as a result of your little escapade. Therefore, it does give credence to your assertion about the teleportation platforms’ untapped abilities.” Scathach grudgingly admitted.
“But that subject, isn’t what I’m referring to right now.” She finished, as she stopped talking and fixed Arawn with a prolonged stare, while chewing on her lower lip contemplatively.
“Your unmarried status, is still anathema to me!” she stated flatly. “Therefore, I will tolerate your bachelor-hood for only a short while. If you wish to remain under my command, here at Fort Eequor, you WILL,” she emphasized enough to make her head shake, “find yourself a wife!” Arawn opened his mouth to reply, but he was interrupted once more.
“I am quite well aware of your assumption, Arawn. That you are ‘toxic’ to Mamono. That you somehow unconsciously and inadvertently, ‘injured’ your chosen Shoggoth mate; Takana was it?” She asked, Arawn nodded somberly.
“Be that as it may, it could very well be that you and Shoggoth are simply incompatible.” She suggested.
“Your own intrinsic nature as a creature of Law, versus her inherent nature as a creature of Chaos, would inevitably result in one or the other of you, receiving some form of damage!”
“BUT!” she half-shouted then, “there are many, many, other Mamono who come here to serve under my command. Each of whom has her sole purpose in coming to this Fort, which is to find herself a husband. All of them, are far less chaotic in nature than a mere Shoggoth! Do you understand where I’m headed with this?” she demanded of him.
“Yes, General I believe I do. I must choose myself a,…”
“No!” Scathach replied simply, while holding up a hand. “You!” She pointed at him. “Will not get to choose! Instead, the only choice you will have, is to either say yes, or no.”
“I do not understand you, General.” Arawn replied, puzzled. Scathach smiled, gesturing to the chocolate dildo in his hand.
“That, will be a token.” She began to explain. Arawn raised an eyebrow in response.
“To back up a bit. The Fort now has several-hundred of those ‘Chocolate’ dildos available. According to the Dark Mages who have examined them, they are in fact edible, and quite possibly safe enough to insert into any of one of a person’s body orifices.” She smiled, seemingly amused at the thought.
“However, that is not necessarily the purpose that I have in mind for them. Instead, they will be handed out at a rate of one per day to any Mamono, willing to accept the challenge that will come with it.”
“Challenge?” Arawn asked, nervously shifting his stance.
“Yes, Arawn. The challenge. YOU! Will be, the challenge, to be precise.” Scathach enunciated carefully as she crossed her arms again, facing him.
“Any Mamono who accepts that dildo for that day, will also accept the challenge of attempting to acquire you for a husband. As such, that lone Mamono will be given the sole right for that one day, to attempt to make you, HERS!” Scathach all but purred then. Arawn’s face paled, as he began to realize the implications.
“Yes, I see that you comprehend your situation. Good!” Scathach replied cheerfully.
“Am I to simply bow down to this?”
“No.” Scathach replied, shaking her head good naturedly.
“The rules of engagement for this, allows you to attempt to ‘persuade’ your supplicant to see things your way. Namely, you still have your right of refusal. However,” she glowered, “you are not allowed to draw blood, nor to cause that supplicant any undue harm. You are however, allowed to defend yourself if she becomes abusive. But! You are not allowed to escalate the situation beyond the level that your supplicant has already set.”
“In short, any physical or property damage caused by your ‘negotiations’ above and beyond a certain point, will be paid for out of YOUR pocket. Do I make myself clear?” Scathach stated. Arawn nodded.
“Do you have any questions, Majin?” she demanded.
“Why? Why this method? Why am I not allowed to make a choice in this regard?” he demanded with a fierce glare.
“Actually, you do have a choice, you are free to choose from amongst the many inevitable supplicants that will be coming to seek your ‘hand’ in marriage. If anything else, you’ve demonstrated that you cannot be trusted with too much time on your hands! But then, you are a Majin after all.”
“Any ‘free’ time that you may end up having, you’ll have to devote to finding non-lethal methods of dissuading any potential mate! I am assuming that you still have something akin to standards! Naturally, you can regain your free-time by marrying a Mamono of her choosing.” Scathach’s already wide grin, got even wider when she noticed Arawn’s reddening face. Reddening with rage.
“Yes, I see that you’re rather upset with this stricture. Excellent!” she said quietly, and then sighed.
“MY TASK, as a General in the Maou’s Army, Annwyfyn Arawn. Is to insure, that the many hundreds of different Mamono under my command, working together for our mutual desired benefit. Which is for most, if not all of them, a husband.”
“It is only a small portion of those Mamono, who are interested in continuing to serve the Great Maou after they’ve acquired one!”
“You!” she pointed. “On the other hand, have the potential to be an asset both to the Maou, and to me, as a husband of one of those industry-minded Mamono. Now under those circumstances, I would be more than honored to have you working under my command!” Scathach said happily. Then she lowered her voice, as she leaned forward almost nose to nose with Arawn.
“But I will be further damned, if I continue to let you run around unmarried. If I did such, you would continue to serve as a distraction to every one of those Mamono who came to serve in this Army. I need this Army to maintain at least a minimal level of discipline! Do you understand where I am coming from on this Arawn?”
“Yes.” Arawn replied quietly, chastened.
“I can’t hear you Majin!” Scathach shouted then.
“YES I UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE COMING FROM GENERAL!” Arawn shouted by way of reply. Quietly, he continued.
“What of my punishment?” he asked quietly then.
“I feel that this chocolate dildo-stricture will serve as sufficient punishment. I deem that you deserve this alone, for your Teleportation escapade! Do you have any objections with my judgment in this matter?”
“No General, I do not.” Arawn lied, forcing himself to not say anything that would result in an even worse humiliation for him.
“Good! I look forward to seeing how well you perform Majin! All things considered, I think that you will indeed be an asset to the Great Maou. Oh! And one other thing before I let you go.” She turned and smiled at Arawn then. “I’d recommend that you choose a wife, soonest.”
“Why is that General?” Arawn asked, inadvertently falling into her verbal trap.
“I am due to receive a number of new troops within the next couple of months. They are coming in from Lescatie. Are you familiar with the forces known as the Makai Knights?” Arawn only reply was to gasp, and then gulp nervously. Scathach reveled at the sight and sounds of him doing it all.
“I see that you have, good.” She replied happily. “These elite troops count amongst their number the Dark Knights, Dark Strategists, Dark Musketeers, and a few more of the elite- ‘Darks’ of one sort or another. I have made sure that they were all informed of your availability.” Arawn found it difficult to reply. Grinning widely at his discomfiture, she plodded on.
“Your reputation has proceeded you.” She almost whispered, “It seems that each and every one of them, has expressed a desire to immediately obtain a ‘Dildo-of-the-Day’ upon her arrival.” Scathach chuckled then.
‘She is enjoying this far too much!’ Arawn judged then, utterly aghast.
“You should feel honored Arawn! Apparently, there is already a betting pool amongst them, concerned with which one of their unique seduction-magics will prove triumphant.” Scathach then turned around and looked Arawn fully in the face. What she saw then satisfied her greatly. He was shivering fearfully, while sweating profusely.
“Do you still feel that Royal Makai isn’t to your taste Arawn?” she grinned evilly at him. Arawn glared back at her and forced himself to reply in a genial manner.
“No, I STILL do not wish to return to Royal Makai.” Arawn stated as evenly as he could manage.
‘Belphegor.’ Was the one single thought that crossed his mind then. ‘I will do whatever it takes, to NOT allow myself to be within the grasp of that abominable demon!’ he decided firmly.
“Very well then, Yokai. Basic. Arawn!” she replied, reminding him of his status.
“Since you’re being such a good sport about this, I will allow you to rest and recuperate for three days. But, immediately after your departure from my office, you will report to Corporal Helvetia. You will then inform her of your additional duties, and time off. You will also inform her of the Dildo-of-the-Day punishment. I fully expect her to oversee your adherence to its rules and strictures. Do you understand everything that I am telling you?” she asked sweetly. Arawn nodded silently, unable to speak.
“Good.” She smiled sweetly, then her face dropped into a cold stare. “DISMISSED!” she snarled. Arawn went to full attention by way of response, and then saluted with the Army’s normal salute with his right fist placed upon his left breast momentarily. He then marched stiffly out of the General’s office, closing the door behind him.
“That, was rather harsh.” Came a voice that carried out from behind a secret door. That same door that swung open, out of one of the General’s bookshelves. General Scathach turned her head to look at the source, and then her mien changed from one of anger to one of repressed pleasure. The reason being, that the person who stepped out of the hidden room, was her husband Dread Sergeant-Major Mac Roich.
“Are you challenging my judgment, husband?” she asked rhetorically, her smile at odds with the tone of her voice. “You know what will happen if you did.” She stated as she stepped forward and placed her hands upon his shoulders possessively.
“Yes, I do know my wife, and no, I am not challenging your authority.” He replied somberly, staring back up at his Dullahan wife.
“I am merely making an observation. I simply state that Majin Arawn has performed above and beyond, what many of the Army’s skeptics had expected of him. He has singlehandedly advanced the ‘Cynosure-Mystery’ more in a few days, than some of the best minds of the Maou’s Magical research division have accomplished in over a century of investigation.”
“That remains to be seen, husband. But, if what he asserts turns out to be true, then I will make it up to him. Until then, all we have to go on is speculation.”
“True! True!” Mac Roich agreed, nodding his head. “But I still feel that you’re not giving him the benefit of the doubt.” In response, Scathach’s face clouded over with anger.
“The Great Maou herself has stated that Arawn is a danger.” She hissed. “A useful danger, but a danger none the less! I will not let my eagerness for success, cloud my better judgment, husband! I will give Majin Arawn all the rope he wants or needs. Such will make it easier for him to hang himself.” She replied.
“But enough of such matters, Husband! Right now I deem that I have dire need of your Essence. I find that I am famished!” she smiled as she knelt down in front of her mate. In response, Mac Roich eagerly began to undo the strings that held his codpiece in place.
Deep under the Teleportation Platforms, Father Hakon strode once more into the cavern called the ‘Sword Chamber’. At first, he did so with an eagerness that lightened his steps. Yet, the closer he came to the center of the chamber, the more cautious he became.
He was cautious of that mysterious Eldritch Sword, that gave off an almost unholy like aura. It had a maddening effect that tended to frighten every person who looked too long upon it, Hakon was especially affected.
‘Oh PLEASE, Chief God!’ Hakon prayed then with an earnestness that he had never previously demonstrated, ‘Please, let him have fallen victim to his madness! Let him taste that fate, that so many of the city cats have!’
Father Hakon’s progress was purposely slow as he carefully stepped further into the Sword Chamber. Carefully, he meandered his way around the various remaining stalagmites, in order to gain a good view of whatever it was he ‘knew’ awaited him. Finally, once he was at a goodly distance away he stopped in wonder, his mouth starting to gape.
“Impossible!” he shouted, as he threw caution to the wind, Heilar rapidly advanced to within an arm’s reach of the Artifact. He then stopped, speechless. For a long while he remained mute, utterly aghast at what he saw on display before him.
Where before, the spot where the Sword Artifact that had been hanging in mid-air, was now empty. In its place stood Father Hakon’s Mentor and Tormenter, Father Heilar. Yet it was not him.
Stepping around the expected invisible field, so as to get a better look at Heilar. Hakon carefully viewed what should have been Heilar, in that queer ever-present off-light. Hakon found himself somewhat joyful, yet also disappointed at what he beheld before his eyes.
It, which had indeed previously been Father Heilar, was now transformed into a statue of a sorts. Clutched in one hand was that Arcane Blade. Where before the sword’s surface had held an ever-shifting display of unknowable runic symbols, was mostly cleared of the vast majority of same.
Hakon soon noted that only three runes remained, solidly fixed into position upon the swords’ crossbar. These three runes were repeated in endless groups upon the entirety of the body of what had once been Father Heilar. Hakon leaned forward and felt a chill run up his spine when he finally noticed the look upon his Mentor’s face. It was a mixture of triumph and horror.
‘Triumph, because you managed to grasp the sword.’ Hakon decided, ‘Horror, because you realized what happened after you had.’
Hakon forced himself to stand back, but smiled broadly anyways. He then walked back and retrieved a chair in which to sit upon. This, to give him time to contemplate the tableau before him. Sitting back and crossing his legs at the ankle, he couldn’t help but grin wildly.
“Now,” Father Hakon began to muse aloud while rubbing his chin, “Father Heilar. What should I do about this? I suppose I could try and find a Mage in an attempt to free you.”
“BUT!” Hakon argued with himself, raising a finger and leaning forward. “Mages cost money. Money we don’t have, and probably never will. Unless of course, I bring this plight of yours to the attention of someone higher up the Order’s chain of command.” Hakon sat back and thought about it some more.
“I find that I simply do not know what to do right now, Father Heilar.” Hakon smiled, then frowned. “But, what I do know is this! I recognize that I am truly undeserving of the ‘blessings’ that the Chief God has bestowed upon you!” Hakon chuckled.
“The biggest question I have in my mind right now is this: How can I turn this to my advantage?” he mused aloud to his silent audience.
It took Hakon many hours to figure something out. But eventually, he did.
Uncharacteristically for Father Heilar, he remained completely silent the entire while, much to Hakon’s relief. But, even that relief would end someday soon, replaced with a guilty horror.