Runic - Aeonian Overture

The realms float about in the neon cosmos of mystic forces long thought to be extinct, a universe known as Ambright where mana and technology can transform entire cities into prosperous empires. However, war has left many with pasts forever altered by the times when lands clashed, such is the case with Glave and Uriel. Both have set their lives towards high aspirations. Glave yearns for his lost bloodline. Uriel dreams of becoming her king's loyal patron. Yet their undertakings dissolve as their choices lead further into a path of unexpected threats and struggling values. It would seam that Ambright holds other plans for them.

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13. Chapter 13 - Mothman

 

 

 

"One of those rare cat girls was at a festival in the westward district. I think her name was Relin. She had long ribbon hair a mix between blue and violet, fluffy ears. sterling eyes, and looked the good side of eighteen years, so yeah lots of people were chatting with her. I watched as a gentleman started to rub one of her ears. It was great, until something went wrong and Relin tried to claw that man's eyes out. Geeze."

-Georgian; a wagon builder-

....

Char pushed the candle between them.


"I have it from a yarn broker that a good place to find old parts is here." Char's pointed finger was fixed somewhere on the midsection of the map. It was perhaps hours into a rainy night at Glave's desk as they were discussing possible location of the portal switch. Water pattered on Aylward's shop as if the walls had tongues for talking. Filvia had been asleep since the afternoon.

"I'd say that's about two kilometers away from the library." Glave peered over, bending his head as if to scan where his friend had gestured. "It'll to crowded if we go there mid-day

"It's also the time when most of the stores are open for business," Char responded. "However, I don't plan to leave tomorrow or anytime in the next few days. Remember, you're still recovering from being Overdosed."

"Filvia said that I'm healing quickly," said Glave. "She even told me that I'm even healing faster than what is normal for my condition." A late night whistle screeched from outside. Even at this hour, Forktown's clock working activity never ceased, not even to the night. They conversed over the candle gloom, with Char's eyes and tail making splotches of light splattering their surroundings. "We can leave for the search as early as tomorrow", he finished, after the noise reduced.

Char snapped his eyes at him. "I told you that Overdosing takes a long time to heal over. Remember, I said not to leave soon."

"I'll be fine."

"You'll be dead."

Glave tried to clench his fingers into a fist but the stitches wouldn't allow for that much pressure. "You're telling me this stuff about going into the shopping district, but your saying that I'm not even well enough to be walking outside." The map before him looked bigger now, staring him down. He instinctively touched over his shoulder where the stitches were placed after he had Overdosed, when the mana had entered his body too fast, causing lacerations. It was like the tight wrapping on his arms, and his legs quivered. It didn't hurt as much as yesterday because Filvia changed them out so often.

"We have to wait until at least the minor injuries go away." Char nodded, trying to be more convincing.

The boy jolted over and shook the map paper stiffly. "Then why did you even show me this!"

"To inform you of the plan beforehand."

Glave sighed. "I don't think you understand, Jin still doesn't know that Aylward passed away. I was going to visit her tomorrow, and that means going outside. Besides, Filvia needs to say to stay inside before I actually do it."

Jin, the caretaker at the foster home Glave used to live in, knew Aylward like a best friend. Although she was the old ragged Aven most thought, Aylward treated her like she was in youth. They had met when the boy was adopted after Wilva disappeared. How in the world could he tell that Aylward died? How would he keep telling himself that he's gone? It was like touching a swollen bump that pained every time, every time he laid a finger on the memory of Strixix with a beak of crimson, hanging over the body.

Char looked at him straight, about to drive the point that it wasn't safe, that it was best if he waited. Instead, he paused in submission and nodded slowly. "I can't force you to do anything, it's only fair. Filvia is the healer, so I'll have to stay out of it." He closed his eyes momentarily then rolled up the paper map with a firm crinkle. "Just promise me that no matter what Filvia says, that you won't venture anywhere outside our own district, or at least past the library. This is just until your stitches set in, alright?"

"Fine."

"And Glave."

"What?"

"About the dungeon itself -we now know for certain it's a direct cross way to Farrow. Nobody else knows this. If even one person outside the house found out, the news would spread."

Glave peered up at the shelves along the walls. "That's a pretty high promise. Why not?"

Char nodded slowly. "Besides Filvia, I think it is best that no one else know about where the dungeon leads, for their safety, and so that we can come back to the second floor without attracting attention."

"Not a peep," Glave said.

Char giving a widely serious look. "Remember, not even Jin can know."

"....Alright, I get it. Besides, I don't think I would want to think about anything else once I tell her about Aylward," Glave finished sternly, but his own sentence shackled his tongue

Sleep refused to come later that night. Still alone at his desk, Milo's picture frame smiled at him while he fumbled through the drawers, not really searching for anything, just something to distract him from all the calamity the past few days have brought. He went through all of the them several times over, often stopping to pace from wall to wall just to take his mind off everything. Char and Filvia were living with him now, it felt so strange, so sudden to have different people in his life. He was almost irritated when Filvia started taking residence in Aylward's bedroom. She was already making quite a home for herself, but she also seemed reluctant, rarely venturing out except to get food from the market. His diet had never consisted of so much fruit he couldn't recognize.

He found the journal entry book from where he first entered the dungeon. It still left off at the 31st log. He was wide awake even though morning had already set in. So, he added to it.

Log Entry #32

Lot's of things have happened since my last log. After coming back from Forktown's dungeon, I found out there are those who are willing to help me. Char and Filvia are both from Typhon, the icy realm to the north of Grove. Together, we encouraged two mysterious creatures who called themselves Strixix. Char and I fought them, and thought we had killed it. I will never forget how horribly wrong we were. The remaining Strixix was assumed to have killed its own partner, the white Strixix. I don't want to write down what happened next. Anyway, right now I'm recovering from injuries sustained in that battle. I don't know when I will write another log again.

Glave found the sensation where his quill feather couldn't move. He tilted his eyes up at Milos's picture, and looked back down, then up again at the picture, then down, and added a last phrase to the log.

There came some good out of this, if one could call it that. I learned that my mother Wilva is somewhere in Farrow, the largest establishment in all of Grove. A portal at the dungeon's second floor can take me there. It's broken for now until a certain piece, a special gear, is found. In the meantime, I continue to have dreams about that Phoenix. Crazy, I know.

It was morning again, the time of day where Aylward's shop seemed like a Medical Center, because it was about this time Filvia checked on him. The bandages she un-ribboned from his skin weren't near as red as yesterday. Glave said thank you many times during her procedures, but every time he did, she would always did a very uncertain smile, a lunar complexion with worry deep inside.

"It's hard to believe that a Strixix is loose in Forktown", she once said, while scissoring away at a band of gauze wrapping. "I like to think it just returned to wherever it came from."

Glave sat up carefully. "No one has seen it?"

She frowned. "Char read the paper yesterday. So far, nothing."

A full two hours went by before Filvia was done with the daily treatment. Instead of leaving with the tray, Glave found that she was hovering around. The infinitely small noise of her dress moved like a cloud looking for air to flow on. It was still odd to him when she approached that finger after Char had destroyed the hag's hand for good. Curiousness? If it was, it was curiosity beyond understanding. Her appearance contrasted so much with who she was, Char's assistant, an explorer's assistant.

"How long you think it will be? I mean, until I heal," he asked, because she wasn't leaving, and the silence had lengthened.

"Another week perhaps."

Glave plopped back on the bed, grunting. "That's a long time."

She laughed. "Who's this?" The ghost hovered around his desk sitting at the room's corner, touching gently over the silver laced picture frame.

"My sister."

"What's her name. She's pretty."

"Milos."

She didn't pursue any further. Her eyes tilted at the papers on the desk; Reading them? The log entries, the one's that's Glave wrote in to chronicle his search for Wilva, her eyes touched them. Her eyes also brushed his book which held the many testaments of Farrow’s radiant landscape. What would this snow angel think of all of it?

However she only glanced the papers and turned away, appearing to leave, body divided between the door frame. But instead of leaving, she set the tray down and reached for something out of sight, out of the room, her eyes shading away like two darkening moonstones. Glave blinked in confusion.

"I found this stuffed inside your shirt while you were unconscious", she whispered, and held it out - a green scroll with what looked like gel curled up on the inside. The scroll bomb. The last of three, the two others used to bring down Strixix. He had completely forgotten there was still one left.

"I know that it's some kind of weapon", she continued. "I was told it explodes. I can only imagine how it would do that." She put it beside him and he looked it over, picking it up with his eyes before he actually holding it by hand. The first instinct was to unravel it, but that would be disastrous, deadly in fact.

"I-I forgot it was still on me", Glave said. "Thank you. Did Char told you?"

Filvia nodded carefully, but something among her face was missing, untied. "Tell me", she said. "What was it like?"

"Overdosing?" Glave frowned.

"No, using the scroll. I can't use mana so I don't know what it feels like." Her body leaned at the door, one arm folded, her body happily letting the morning gloom sooth over it.

Glave paused unsurely before responding. "Well, Its...It's like trying to stab you mind into it, the scroll. If you even look away while you concentrating, this loss, a feeling comes, like you forget everything for a second or two. Concentrate at it long enough, and the explosion happens." He rose and set the scroll away inside a desk cabinet. Filvia's eyes followed it until it disappeared. Once it did, her half closed eyes were on the floor now, brushing invisible dust off her dress. She picked apart the words he said, separating them, putting them through her mind and spreading them over a canvas to see all of it better. Only after Glave moved did she look up again.

"And what about just detecting life forms with mana? I know I'm being nosy, but Char never tells me these things." Filvia stepped forward, then back halfway. "Like, he never tells me what makes a person have mana, and what doesn't."

Glave slowly eased to his desk and opened the door a hair's width to glimpse the scroll once more. He sat down, but in a way as to not bother any of his wrapped scars. "Filvia", he looked at the window, then back. He knew she wasn't telling the whole story. After all, that was an easy thing to tell when one was raised in an area populated by swindlers. "Char is a very attentive person, so attentive, he knew that using the Scrolls was the best way to weaken Strixix."

She was quiet, hands cupped behind her back.

"...He would also know to keep something like an explosive in his sight at all times. But, you have it instead. So he doesn't know you have it." He looked out the window, searched an invisible snow bird, and looked back. "Did you try and use it?"

"Use it?"

"The scroll, did you try it? Did you try and make it work?"

No response, but the moment of her hesitation confirmed it anyway.

"I-!" She stopped. "I knew it wouldn't work."

"So what I said is true. You tried to use the scroll on your own."

"Yes, I did."

Glave thought back to her unanswered question about magic. He always thought that mana was something everybody can learn However, as he responded that to her, it was like talking to a very complex apparatus, as though his words couldn't get through. Filvia stood holding her hand, like she was sorry, like the time when she held up the hag's finger.

Her voice grew thin. "Trust me, I was going to test the scroll where it was a safe distance away. It's just that, well, Char never lets me hold things like that, especially if he thinks that it can seriously hurt me."

"How long has that been happening?"

Filvia looked down, "Since I was assigned to him, a long time ago."

Before Glave could say more, she had already left, the door clicking lightly behind.

....

Fogged was the night, the last hour's rain had done its work. Linus stalked the boardwalk highways of wood In the darkness. He took a waft of of cold air and looked to the side. Faint glimmers of life blurred themselves inside the buildings. It was true, Forktown was a place that never slumbered. It was just his dumb luck. The two targets he needed to track down were dwelling somewhere in the crowdest establishment of Grove. The Zelethryt creature accompanying the boy would be easy to spot. He would stand out from everything else and his kind seldom live anywhere near this realm anyway. This Glave child was the hard one.

"A gray shirt with a brown jacket. Looks of mid-teen age, based on a recent sighting." It wasn't the most notorious description, but Heron wouldn't exactly be thrilled if he returned half handed, so there was no use in complaining.

Linus noticed small squares of light before the entire building came to view. It was a bar of sorts, and the scent of stale wine unpleasantly swirled before the faint woodwind music reached his ear holes. It would provide many chances to get information, if they were not already drunk. He noticed that there were many different kinds of inhabitants inside as well, from Goblins to Sirens; Still, many chances.

The doctor strolled inside. "Any of you rags know where I might find a human boy and a Zelathryt?"

The clinking chatter stopped and all in the bar room looked at the bird masked man in the tapestry coat. There were many eyes looking on, some worried, others hungry for a late night brawl. A few of the maids twitched their long furry ears in confusion. An Orc of mild build stepped out from the fray of thick arms and startled faces. "I have lived half my life here" he said. "I've never seen your mug before. Who's asking?"

"It's impossible that you didn't hear me." Linus crept very close toward him "Hmm, your ears must be the product of a birth defect."

"What?....What!"

"But any fresh pair of eardrums are hard to come by. Can I have yours?"

"This lad is drunk silly." The Orc man waved at the crowd that was gathering around them.

"Anyway, I asked you a question. Answer me." Linus's muddy tone sizzled through his tight leathery beak. Whispers swept around the room. The Orc looked around nervously as the crowd backed away, eager to see this throw of words turn into a one of fists.

"Who do you think you're talking to!" He shoved Linus.

"There's no point in stimulating over my fuss. My superior didn't want any witnesses in the first place." Linus slid a hand into his inside jacket, and from it, held out a black orb to his audience like show and tell; It was the size of a ping-pong ball. "Can't have any witnesses", he said once more, and like an old joke, he clicked his boots twice. Some of the crowd's attendance fled for the door, spooked by this strange man in even stranger clothing. But it was too late. The doctor released his grip on the dark ball.

Everything was silent.

A quiet thud.

The room erupted in a maelstrom of screeches saturated with inked feathers. The newborn Strixix heaved it's carcass through the bodies of flesh, once skin. No one escaped its unbridled mechanical progress, raking its talons. It's serrated wings lashed through the living. Linus didn't make a move, and stood calmly as his creation did its conducted work without flaw, without hesitation. It was finished within a minute's time. Not a soul was left standing, not even the drunks. The Strixix wobbled to him and bowed awkwardly to its master.

Another man came through the bar entrance. It was Kugo, with both hands snuffed in his pockets and a battered Claymore belted at his hip. "It took me a few minutes to catch up to you." He grinned. "I see you already made a mess."

"You killed a bystander and three guards two days ago", Linus replied, in his own time. "Because of that, the law division will soon be mounting a search for us."

"Killing the guards on the way here was easy. What's a few hundred more?"

"This scene will certainly attract the law division, and our target. You wrongly used the two Strixix under your command. They are meant for killing when their master is nearby, so their incentive to follow through with a task is bolstered. From what I've heard, the two Strixix were sent to capture Glave while you were wasting god given time on the surface. Because of you, one of them is now loose in Forktown."

"For someone who spends their time mutating animals, you sure whine a lot." Kugo said, and with a touch of melodrama, added, "swearing to Mejis isn't wise."

Linus, ignoring his partner, lurched over and pressed a hand on Strixix as it stood motionless, still at a submissive posture. Then its wings crunched inward along with its legs and head, shrinking, returning to its wonderful portable state. He picked the ball up then steadily said, "You just don't know the folly your mistakes, Kugo. This realm is easy to destroy, harder to make such acts undetected." He turned to the man, his glass eye pieces reflecting unimaginable depth. "This child we're tracking down must be captured before His Majesty grows impatient." Now as if in a temporary state of utter joy, he walked about the bar house grounded in gore, talking about how all these brains would do good for his lobotomy studies, seaming to forget his own words of advice.

Kugo rolled his eyes, slashing at the entry curtains with his Claymore, blocking anyone from seeing the bar from outside. "I think now's the part when we examine and hide the bodies, right?" He slacked against the serving table, looking around, waving his sword playfully at the bodies.

Linus nodded. "Yes. Leave nothing once we're done, hide every corps here. Having no trace ensures that the law division or Mejis will see our acts unnoticed." 

"One of those rare cat girls was at a festival in the westward district. I think her name was Relin. She had long ribbon hair a mix between blue and violet, fluffy ears. sterling eyes, and looked the good side of eighteen years, so yeah lots of people were chatting with her. I watched as a gentleman started to rub one of her ears. It was great, until something went wrong and Relin tried to claw that man's eyes out. Geeze."

-Georgian; a wagon builder-

....

Char pushed the candle between them.


"I have it from a yarn broker that a good place to find old parts is here." Char's pointed finger was fixed somewhere on the midsection of the map. It was perhaps hours into a rainy night at Glave's desk as they were discussing possible location of the portal switch. Water pattered on Aylward's shop as if the walls had tongues for talking. Filvia had been asleep since the afternoon.

"I'd say that's about two kilometers away from the library." Glave peered over, bending his head as if to scan where his friend had gestured. "It'll to crowded if we go there mid-day

"It's also the time when most of the stores are open for business," Char responded. "However, I don't plan to leave tomorrow or anytime in the next few days. Remember, you're still recovering from being Overdosed."

"Filvia said that I'm healing quickly," said Glave. "She even told me that I'm even healing faster than what is normal for my condition." A late night whistle screeched from outside. Even at this hour, Forktown's clock working activity never ceased, not even to the night. They conversed over the candle gloom, with Char's eyes and tail making splotches of light splattering their surroundings. "We can leave for the search as early as tomorrow", he finished, after the noise reduced.

Char snapped his eyes at him. "I told you that Overdosing takes a long time to heal over. Remember, I said not to leave soon."

"I'll be fine."

"You'll be dead."

Glave tried to clench his fingers into a fist but the stitches wouldn't allow for that much pressure. "You're telling me this stuff about going into the shopping district, but your saying that I'm not even well enough to be walking outside." The map before him looked bigger now, staring him down. He instinctively touched over his shoulder where the stitches were placed after he had Overdosed, when the mana had entered his body too fast, causing lacerations. It was like the tight wrapping on his arms, and his legs quivered. It didn't hurt as much as yesterday because Filvia changed them out so often.

"We have to wait until at least the minor injuries go away." Char nodded, trying to be more convincing.

The boy jolted over and shook the map paper stiffly. "Then why did you even show me this!"

"To inform you of the plan beforehand."

Glave sighed. "I don't think you understand, Jin still doesn't know that Aylward passed away. I was going to visit her tomorrow, and that means going outside. Besides, Filvia needs to say to stay inside before I actually do it."

Jin, the caretaker at the foster home Glave used to live in, knew Aylward like a best friend. Although she was the old ragged Aven most thought, Aylward treated her like she was in youth. They had met when the boy was adopted after Wilva disappeared. How in the world could he tell that Aylward died? How would he keep telling himself that he's gone? It was like touching a swollen bump that pained every time, every time he laid a finger on the memory of Strixix with a beak of crimson, hanging over the body.

Char looked at him straight, about to drive the point that it wasn't safe, that it was best if he waited. Instead, he paused in submission and nodded slowly. "I can't force you to do anything, it's only fair. Filvia is the healer, so I'll have to stay out of it." He closed his eyes momentarily then rolled up the paper map with a firm crinkle. "Just promise me that no matter what Filvia says, that you won't venture anywhere outside our own district, or at least past the library. This is just until your stitches set in, alright?"

"Fine."

"And Glave."

"What?"

"About the dungeon itself -we now know for certain it's a direct cross way to Farrow. Nobody else knows this. If even one person outside the house found out, the news would spread."

Glave peered up at the shelves along the walls. "That's a pretty high promise. Why not?"

Char nodded slowly. "Besides Filvia, I think it is best that no one else know about where the dungeon leads, for their safety, and so that we can come back to the second floor without attracting attention."

"Not a peep," Glave said.

Char giving a widely serious look. "Remember, not even Jin can know."

"....Alright, I get it. Besides, I don't think I would want to think about anything else once I tell her about Aylward," Glave finished sternly, but his own sentence shackled his tongue

Sleep refused to come later that night. Still alone at his desk, Milo's picture frame smiled at him while he fumbled through the drawers, not really searching for anything, just something to distract him from all the calamity the past few days have brought. He went through all of the them several times over, often stopping to pace from wall to wall just to take his mind off everything. Char and Filvia were living with him now, it felt so strange, so sudden to have different people in his life. He was almost irritated when Filvia started taking residence in Aylward's bedroom. She was already making quite a home for herself, but she also seemed reluctant, rarely venturing out except to get food from the market. His diet had never consisted of so much fruit he couldn't recognize.

He found the journal entry book from where he first entered the dungeon. It still left off at the 31st log. He was wide awake even though morning had already set in. So, he added to it.

Log Entry #32

Lot's of things have happened since my last log. After coming back from Forktown's dungeon, I found out there are those who are willing to help me. Char and Filvia are both from Typhon, the icy realm to the north of Grove. Together, we encouraged two mysterious creatures who called themselves Strixix. Char and I fought them, and thought we had killed it. I will never forget how horribly wrong we were. The remaining Strixix was assumed to have killed its own partner, the white Strixix. I don't want to write down what happened next. Anyway, right now I'm recovering from injuries sustained in that battle. I don't know when I will write another log again.

Glave found the sensation where his quill feather couldn't move. He tilted his eyes up at Milos's picture, and looked back down, then up again at the picture, then down, and added a last phrase to the log.

There came some good out of this, if one could call it that. I learned that my mother Wilva is somewhere in Farrow, the largest establishment in all of Grove. A portal at the dungeon's second floor can take me there. It's broken for now until a certain piece, a special gear, is found. In the meantime, I continue to have dreams about that Phoenix. Crazy, I know.

It was morning again, the time of day where Aylward's shop seemed like a Medical Center, because it was about this time Filvia checked on him. The bandages she un-ribboned from his skin weren't near as red as yesterday. Glave said thank you many times during her procedures, but every time he did, she would always did a very uncertain smile, a lunar complexion with worry deep inside.

"It's hard to believe that a Strixix is loose in Forktown", she once said, while scissoring away at a band of gauze wrapping. "I like to think it just returned to wherever it came from."

Glave sat up carefully. "No one has seen it?"

She frowned. "Char read the paper yesterday. So far, nothing."

A full two hours went by before Filvia was done with the daily treatment. Instead of leaving with the tray, Glave found that she was hovering around. The infinitely small noise of her dress moved like a cloud looking for air to flow on. It was still odd to him when she approached that finger after Char had destroyed the hag's hand for good. Curiousness? If it was, it was curiosity beyond understanding. Her appearance contrasted so much with who she was, Char's assistant, an explorer's assistant.

"How long you think it will be? I mean, until I heal," he asked, because she wasn't leaving, and the silence had lengthened.

"Another week perhaps."

Glave plopped back on the bed, grunting. "That's a long time."

She laughed. "Who's this?" The ghost hovered around his desk sitting at the room's corner, touching gently over the silver laced picture frame.

"My sister."

"What's her name. She's pretty."

"Milos."

She didn't pursue any further. Her eyes tilted at the papers on the desk; Reading them? The log entries, the one's that's Glave wrote in to chronicle his search for Wilva - what would she think of them?

However she only glanced the papers and turned away, appearing to leave, body divided between the do frame. But instead of leaving, she set the tray down and reached for something out of sight, out of the room, her eyes shading away like two darkening moonstones. Glave blinked in confusion.

"I found this stuffed inside your shirt while you were unconscious", she whispered, and held it out - a green scroll with what looked like gel curled up on the inside. The scroll bomb. The last of three, the two others used to bring down Strixix. He had completely forgotten there was still one left.

"I know that it's some kind of weapon", she continued. "I was told it explodes. I can only imagine how it would do that." She put it beside him and he looked it over, picking it up with his eyes before he actually holding it by hand. The first instinct was to unravel it, but that would be disastrous, deadly in fact.

"I-I forgot it was still on me", Glave said. "Thank you. Did Char told you?"

Filvia nodded carefully, but something among her face was missing, untied. "Tell me", she said. "What was it like?"

"Overdosing?" Glave frowned.

"No, using the scroll. I can't use mana so I don't know what it feels like." Her body leaned at the door, one arm folded, her body happily letting the morning gloom sooth over it.

Glave paused unsurely before responding. "Well, Its...It's like trying to stab you mind into it, the scroll. If you even look away while you concentrating, this loss, a feeling comes, like you forget everything for a second or two. Concentrate at it long enough, and the explosion happens." He rose and set the scroll away inside a desk cabinet. Filvia's eyes followed it until it disappeared. Once it did, her half closed eyes were on the floor now, brushing invisible dust off her dress. She picked apart the words he said, separating them, putting them through her mind and spreading them over a canvas to see all of it better. Only after Glave moved did she look up again.

"And what about just detecting life forms with mana? I know I'm being nosy, but Char never tells me these things." Filvia stepped forward, then back halfway. "Like, he never tells me what makes a person have mana, and what doesn't."

Glave slowly eased to his desk and opened the door a hair's width to glimpse the scroll once more. He sat down, but in a way as to not bother any of his wrapped scars. "Filvia", he looked at the window, then back. He knew she wasn't telling the whole story. After all, that was an easy thing to tell when one was raised in an area populated by swindlers. "Char is a very attentive person, so attentive, he knew that using the Scrolls was the best way to weaken Strixix."

She was quiet, hands cupped behind her back.

"...He would also know to keep something like an explosive in his sight at all times. But, you have it instead. So he doesn't know you have it." He looked out the window, searched an invisible snow bird, and looked back. "Did you try and use it?"

"Use it?"

"The scroll, did you try it? Did you try and make it work?"

No response, but the moment of her hesitation confirmed it anyway.

"I-!" She stopped. "I knew it wouldn't work."

"So what I said is true. You tried to use the scroll on your own."

"Yes, I did."

Glave thought back to her unanswered question about magic. He always thought that mana was something everybody can learn However, as he responded that to her, it was like talking to a very complex apparatus, as though his words couldn't get through. Filvia stood holding her hand, like she was sorry, like the time when she held up the hag's finger.

Her voice grew thin. "Trust me, I was going to test the scroll where it was a safe distance away. It's just that, well, Char never lets me hold things like that, especially if he thinks that it can seriously hurt me."

"How long has that been happening?"

Filvia looked down, "Since I was assigned to him, a long time ago."

Before Glave could say more, she had already left, the door clicking lightly behind.

....

Fogged was the night, the last hour's rain had done its work. Linus stalked the boardwalk highways of wood In the darkness. He took a waft of of cold air and looked to the side. Faint glimmers of life blurred themselves inside the buildings. It was true, Forktown was a place that never slumbered. It was just his dumb luck. The two targets he needed to track down were dwelling somewhere in the crowdest establishment of Grove. The Zelethryt creature accompanying the boy would be easy to spot. He would stand out from everything else and his kind seldom live anywhere near this realm anyway. This Glave child was the hard one.

"A gray shirt with a brown jacket. Looks of mid-teen age, based on a recent sighting." It wasn't the most notorious description, but Heron wouldn't exactly be thrilled if he returned half handed, so there was no use in complaining.

Linus noticed small squares of light before the entire building came to view. It was a bar of sorts, and the scent of stale wine unpleasantly swirled before the faint woodwind music reached his ear holes. It would provide many chances to get information, if they were not already drunk. He noticed that there were many different kinds of inhabitants inside as well, from Goblins to Sirens; Still, many chances.

The doctor strolled inside. "Any of you rags know where I might find a human boy and a Zelathryt?"

The clinking chatter stopped and all in the bar room looked at the bird masked man in the tapestry coat. There were many eyes looking on, some worried, others hungry for a late night brawl. A few of the maids twitched their long furry ears in confusion. An Orc of mild build stepped out from the fray of thick arms and startled faces. "I have lived half my life here" he said. "I've never seen your mug before. Who's asking?"

"It's impossible that you didn't hear me." Linus crept very close toward him "Hmm, your ears must be the product of a birth defect."

"What?....What!"

"But any fresh pair of eardrums are hard to come by. Can I have yours?"

"This lad is drunk silly." The Orc man waved at the crowd that was gathering around them.

"Anyway, I asked you a question. Answer me." Linus's muddy tone sizzled through his tight leathery beak. Whispers swept around the room. The Orc looked around nervously as the crowd backed away, eager to see this throw of words turn into a one of fists.

"Who do you think you're talking to!" He shoved Linus.

"There's no point in stimulating over my fuss. My superior didn't want any witnesses in the first place." Linus slid a hand into his inside jacket, and from it, held out a black orb to his audience like show and tell; It was the size of a ping-pong ball. "Can't have any witnesses", he said once more, and like an old joke, he clicked his boots twice. Some of the crowd's attendance fled for the door, spooked by this strange man in even stranger clothing. But it was too late. The doctor released his grip on the dark ball.

Everything was silent.

A quiet thud.

The room erupted in a maelstrom of screeches saturated with inked feathers. The newborn Strixix heaved it's carcass through the bodies of flesh, once skin. No one escaped its unbridled mechanical progress, raking its talons. It's serrated wings lashed through the living. Linus didn't make a move, and stood calmly as his creation did its conducted work without flaw, without hesitation. It was finished within a minute's time. Not a soul was left standing, not even the drunks. The Strixix wobbled to him and bowed awkwardly to its master.

Another man came through the bar entrance. It was Kugo, with both hands snuffed in his pockets and a battered Claymore belted at his hip. "It took me a few minutes to catch up to you." He grinned. "I see you already made a mess."

"You killed a bystander and three guards two days ago", Linus replied, in his own time. "Because of that, the law division will soon be mounting a search for us."

"Killing the guards on the way here was easy. What's a few hundred more?"

"This scene will certainly attract the law division, and our target. You wrongly used the two Strixix under your command. They are meant for killing when their master is nearby, so their incentive to follow through with a task is bolstered. From what I've heard, the two Strixix were sent to capture Glave while you were wasting god given time on the surface. Because of you, one of them is now loose in Forktown."

"For someone who spends their time mutating animals, you sure whine a lot." Kugo said, and with a touch of melodrama, added, "swearing to Mejis isn't wise."

Linus, ignoring his partner, lurched over and pressed a hand on Strixix as it stood motionless, still at a submissive posture. Then its wings crunched inward along with its legs and head, shrinking, returning to its wonderful portable state. He picked the ball up then steadily said, "You just don't know the folly your mistakes, Kugo. This realm is easy to destroy, harder to make such acts undetected." He turned to the man, his glass eye pieces reflecting unimaginable depth. "This child we're tracking down must be captured before His Majesty grows impatient." Now as if in a temporary state of utter joy, he walked about the bar house grounded in gore, talking about how all these brains would do good for his lobotomy studies, seaming to forget his own words of advice.

Kugo rolled his eyes, slashing at the entry curtains with his Claymore, blocking anyone from seeing the bar from outside. "I think now's the part when we examine and hide the bodies, right?" He slacked against the serving table, looking around, waving his sword playfully at the bodies.

Linus nodded. "Yes. Leave nothing once we're done, hide every corps here. Having no trace ensures that the law division or Mejis will see our acts unnoticed." 

 

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