Chapter 2: First Meetings
GherabandiArriving back at Dílosi Abbey, Alqamar stepped out of the train and quickly found an opening from the crowds. Though they were less dense at night it was still a chore to get through them. Leaning forward wings grew out of her back and flowed outward into shape before pulling her into the sky.
Soon the light of the Athánatos Citadel would rise back upon to its proper place in the sky and she wanted to take a moment while all slept through the darkness to enjoy the free air above it all. She couldn’t stand being in such a cramped place like those trains, she much more enjoyed herself in the skies.
Flying past several buildings of varying height she flew high enough away from the thick steam to reach clear skies at the edge of Dílosi Abbey’s atmosphere. It was so much clearer up here. With far less of those machines, one could see to its edges and even to other stádia.
Up here she stretched her wings outward to their maximum size of two meters each. She popped her joints and sighed in relief. She even flipped a few times in place. “Damn, I had almost forgotten the magnetism and gravitational effects of these lower stádia can be such a pain to my kind.”
“Well, sister we were not created in the same way as the mortals below us,” A new voice caught the Alqamar off guard.
Her eyes raced around and her body followed. A smile grew on her face. “Solas!”
Draped in bold orange wings even bigger than Alqamar’s own wings was a man of pure form and color in a royal white robe tipped with gold lines. “Hello, little sister,” Solas replied once more now that he had been noticed. “You’ve chosen the form of a woman again I see.”
Alqamar raced over and gave him a tight hug. “It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other in person. And you are one to talk?” She snarked back with a slap to his chest. “This is the third time you have changed genders since I last saw you.”
“Twelfth actually, we have that right as immortal shapeshifters.” Solar laughed and rubbed his hand against Alqamar’s hourglass sides. “You just seemed to have a preferred shape.”
Alqamar dropped down and pushed at her wings flying out of the hug. “No, no. I didn’t spend five thousand years away only to have you hit on my choice of forms. I chose this for one reason and one reason only.”
“Oh, Alqamar, maybe if you weren’t hiding up there with the other kanonikós we could see each other more often.”
Alqamar slowed down her wing beats at those words and lowered her flight. “Yes, you told me for years to come to visit the mortals more often but I can’t.” Her eyelids lowered and wing beats slowed even more. “I… I don’t enjoy these lands anymore.”
Solas frowned, “Yes, I know. Now follow me, we have much to talk about.” He lowered down and placed his arm on her shoulder as they both descended to the center of Dílosi Abbey.
There a massive gear laid on its side, yet turned without ever halting. Alqamar eyes narrowed as they got closer. The sight of this gear always brought a mixture of emotions, from fear to rage and even sorrow. Lowering down to the gear she looked away from the central small dome that sat at the center of the gear. “Why are we visiting one of Elisus’s Gears?”
“Because some people here wish to meet you first.”
“Oh, joy.” Alqamar’s face fell quickly into a deadpan at the sight of a lone figure coming into sight.
“King Solas,” A red katzenartig in icy blue tipped ears in dark blue fur cloak and silver fine vest and black pants ran over. He quickly bowed as they landed. “It’s good to see that you found her. Sorry, I was late, I had to give some of my soldiers a stern talking.”
“She wanted to have some fun before meeting with you--”
“This is not who I came here to meet,” Alqamar interrupted her brother. “I came here to meet two people of great importance to my--”
“Of course,” Solas struck back with his own interruption. “This is one of the two.” He reached out and waved his hand over the red kat. “You may rise General Mortuus.”
“As you wish.” He stood up but kept his eyesight from ever looking directly at Alqamar. “Is this?”
“Oh, of course,” Solas backtracked and held his hand out to his sister. “This is Alqamar, Leader of Night.”
“And former Queen of Darkness.” The katzenartig bowed to Alqamar.
“And who is this?” Alqamar questioned her brother without any hesitation.
Solas flipped back and brought his hand to the general. “This is Crimson Mortuus. He is the general of the katzenartig Marines.”
“Please, just Crimson is fine. Only officers care to call me by my last name.” He raised from the bow at the sight of Alqamar rolling her eyes at him. “And about my earlier actions, it’s just my wife is such a big fan of your legends.”
“Where is General Flare Fire of the câinesc Air Force? I summoned you both?”
Crimson lowered his head, “He’s as busy as always. You would figure he would be free this day.”
“That old câinesc has never been the one to stand still--”
“Wait, them both?” Finally, Alqamar dropped her annoyance and pointed out to Crimson. “I didn’t come all this way to see some elitist war heroes. I came here to see my--”
“I know that sister!” Solas let a shout slip before comporting himself. “Please, much has changed since you were last here.” He stopped and exhaled a heavy breath before letting his eyes fall. “There is something you need to see before you can meet them again.”
With that Solas walked off. After a few seconds of annoyance, Alqamar followed. Crimson didn’t follow at first and stayed in place. A distinct look of anger was well hidden under his loyal facade.
The morning light traced outward going beyond the train station as new arrivals showed up. Though most would sleep during the darkness, not everything could be put to an absolute stop. The trains in doing so worked on a very different hourly system and were almost completely automated.
A loud bang signaled the arrival and the doors opened to many people exiting and entering. It was truly a rush of movement. Frankly way too much even for Kahi as she wrenched her way out. With a trip and fall, she found herself out of the crowd and into a clearing.
Kahi’s eyes raced upward at that voice but was surprised to see a rather tall green manu woman with magenta feathers around her head and arms in a bright pink dress standing in front of her. She jumped back and asked, “How do you know my name?”
“I was told to meet someone here.”
“Really?” Kahi just looked at her with confusion. “Were you sent by my--
“Oh, you are as short as I remember,” the woman caught Kahi completely off guard when she pulled her into a tight hug.
Needless to say, it was very sudden and very awkward since Kahi’s face was right between the woman’s large chest, making her blush brightly. “What?” Kahi pulled away. “Who are you?”
“Oh, you don’t recognize me. I know it has been years since you and your family left the Pakaua, but sure you recognize your old babysitter.” On that, she pulled on her dress some and bowed down to Kahi’s height.
Seeing this woman from this angle made Kahi back a few steps before her head flashed with old memories of a child-size Kahi constantly being carried around by a tall teen manu woman…
“Anianiau?” Kahi’s eyes went wide at the big smile on the woman’s face. “Anianiau!” On that, she rushed back into the hug. “My father sent you?”
Anianiau laughed aloud before quickly realizing what Kahi just said. “Wait, no. My own father told me to come here. Not the other way around.” On that, she dropped Kahi to the ground.
“Yes, you remember, right? My father and your’s use to take on cases together.” Anianiau took a step back and attempted to correct herself. “When he heard that the kanonikós were delivering a letter to your family, my father assumed that Hoʻokumu would finally come out of hiding.”
“I… I see.” Kahi’s eyes fell in disappointment.
“My father couldn’t take the chance on a gamble with him so busy on a recent case off the stádia so he sent me to the train station for a few hours in hope…” Anianiau words slowly quieted as the awkwardness got too much to bear.
Kahi keeping quiet only made the awkwardness even stronger. Soon enough they were the only ones at the train station as many had already walked by them, ignoring them in their embarrassment. After a few moments, Kahi finally spoke back up. “Well, the letter was for me.”
“Oh, good.” Anianiau backtracked for she didn’t mean to sound rude in her sigh of relief. “Father has been so busy lately with this murder case.”
“Murder case?” Kahi’s head lifted. “Does it involve the Drys Tis Zoís?” Kahi held up the letter and symbol emblazoned upon it.
“Our fathers’ old history club? I’m pretty sure that would the first place dad would look.” Anianiau shot down the answer almost a little too quickly.
Kahi’s face fell again. This reaction only brought annoyance to Anianiau. “Since you are here, how about some fun?” She leaned over and wrapped her arm around Kahi’s head. “Tell me, are you still into boxing?”
“Well, I know where some good shows are. But we need to be quick before my boyfriend gets back from work.” Anianiau pulled Kahi away from the train and station and onto the road.
“You have a boyfriend, now?”
“Well, sort of boyfriend would be a better way to say it. But yeah, a lot has changed over these years. He’s actually on this case right--” The two stopped as a chariot being pulled by purely gears and tech alone nearly ran them over as it raced down with loud music playing.
Before it could hit them Kahi quickly picked the tall manu woman in her arms with easy and jumped upward. Moving into a backflip she easily skipped over the roof of the chariot and landed safely back on the road.
“Wow,” Anianiau hugged Kahi tightly. “For manu who has lived so far from Pakaua for so many years, I would have thought your bones would lose their light form.” She quickly gave Kahi a short kiss on the cheek.
“Awe, don’t do that.” Kahi hid her blush as she put her down. “I’m not five anymore.”
“But I must thank my hero somehow?” Anianiau padded Kahi on the head. “Besides you are still so much shorter than me.”
“Yeah, you haven’t changed at all.” Kahi exhaled heavily.
“And you haven’t lost that big heart of your’s.” Anianiau smiled and walked over to the proper crosswalk.
“Right…” Kahi didn’t follow at first. Instead, she pulled out the letter and looked at it once more. Her stare was so much stronger now than ever before. Giving one final look back at the train she spoke softly “Pata watch over the other orphans until I get back.” With that, she turned back around and walked to Anianiau. “I hope I’m doing the right thing... I have to see him.”
A few blocks from the train station was an immaculate tall skyscraper covered in silver and gold. It very much stuck out like a sore thumb among the foggy brown building around it. Several workers walked back and forth through its entrance, hoping they would get plenty of work done today.
They were stopped by loud banging music pulsing outward. Many of them raced their sight to a chariot being pulled by gears and tech alone. The people pulled out of the way as it slowed down to a stop in front of the building.
The door opened and the music got so much louder. A butler walked out and walked to another door. Out stepping from this door were Lupan and Verfolger, with Centaurea behind them. The katzenartig was much slower in his movement due to the music hurting his ears. Annoyed enough that he pulled out a small barrel with an even smaller gear on it and aimed.
“Come on, Centaurea. Live a lit--” Lupan was silenced at the sound of a loud bang. He turned and facepalmed at the sight of Centaurea firing erratically at the speakers. “What the fuck?!
“Bill me, mutt!” Centaurea walked to the door of the building while Lupan looked on in shock. Verfolger meanwhile couldn’t hold back the laughter. “Why are we even here?” Centaurea questioned finally.
“I told you, staring at an old crime scene for twelve hours wasn’t going to help anyone?” Lupan remarked. It was just as he said, shortly after arresting Lupan’s party, Centaurea had taken him to the most recent crime scene and told him to look without any context. Rather than doing that Centaurea later found Lupan banging one of the officers that arrested him.
All this led to Lupan seemingly stalling for time until his family sent over a chariot to pick him up. Now they were here of all places. The one place Centaurea could never stand the sight of. Noapte Co. Lupan’s family-owned company building.
“How is a company owned by mutts going to help us?” Centaurea sighed a huff of annoyance. Many other câinesc stared at him for his use of the word mutt.
“Oh, you poor racist with little faith…” Lupan finally approached the front door and opened it.
The three walked through the first hallway where several gears of varying sizes were being cleaned and smoothed out on by many câinesc and even some kat. Lupan always gave little care about who he hired as long as they did a good job.
Before long they came up to a pair of double doors. Lupan held up his gloves and without any need to press anything the doors opened to reveal an elevator.
“Wow,” Verfolger looked on.
“Yeah, these types of doors are a bit new so they aren’t in front.” Lupan and Verfolger stepped inside. Centaurea tried to follow but the doors closed right as Lupan stated, “We haven’t worked all the problems out yet.”
Lupan lifted his gloves again only for him to move to slow as Centaurea stabbed the doors his gladius, prying them open. “Well, that’s one way to do it.”
“You still yet to tell me why are here?’ Centaurea stepped in as the elevator’s doors slowly wretched themselves closed.
“I need to get some tools and better check these notes.” Lupan pulled out a notepad.
“How?” Much to Centaurea’s shock, it was Lily’s notepad that she told him to show to Lupan, but inside he refused to because he could trust the câinesc at all.
“What did you think I was doing earlier?” Lupan raised an eyebrow. “I told the officer that if she lifted this from your pocket, I would treat her to a fun night. Or at least I would have if you haven’t had stopped me.”
Centaurea lifted his gladius, “I should cut your throat out for that stunt--” He stopped at the feeling of something poking against his throat. His eyes raced down to see an arrowhead pressed against his throat.
“Careful. Centaurea, just because Verfolger doesn’t have his bow on him, doesn’t mean his aim isn’t always flawless.” On cue, the doors opened again at the second to the top floor. Lupan smiled before moving the arrowhead away and walking past the two.
Centaurea raised an eyebrow and questioned, “How? My soldiers stripped searched you three times…”
“Not good enough.” As always Verfolger was the over happiness in Lupan’s life, but the moment he sensed danger for his oldest friend a far darker side would creep out and that was best shown by the cold stare he was giving Centaurea at this moment.
“Are you two going to stand there or don’t we have a case to work on?” Lupan’s words made the stare fade instantly as if it was never there.
Walking through the final hallway to Lupan’s private office was certainly more jarring than in the lower hallway. Yes, these workers were hard at work, but it was very clear all of them were women and from the smiles, each one of them gave Lupan it was very clear they did more than simply work for him.
“Awe, finally.” Lupan pushed open the door to his office and exhaled heavily. Inside the place was quite clean. A lot cleaner then Centaurea would have expected. Very little if any dust was in sight and there was a single desk in the center with several papers perfectly straightened in an out-tray and none in the in-tray. A few small gears were laid out in the center as if they were messed with often. Another desk made of solid metal laid to the far end of the room bolted to the wall. A swivel chair behind the main desk was turned outward to the light of the outside where one could see nearly the entire stádia.
The three walked over to the desk and Lupan placed down the notepad before walking over to a metal desk bolted to the wall with a combination lock on it. Lupan quickly undid the lock and opened the drawer. He reached inside and pulled out two specially designed gears with strange grooves. He placed them on the desk and pulled off his gloves finally.
Verfolger turned away at the sight of metal hands. Yes, both of Lupan’s hands were mechanical.
Lupan popped open the lids on the front and with one hand he removed a smaller gear from inside and placed the specially designed gear inside. He closed the lid and lifted the hand he was working on. The hand moved, only much faster then it did before. Once he was sure he went on to replace the gear in his other hand.
“So, we came all this way so you could get a recharge.”
“What? A recharge?” Lupan stopped and turned around with the specialty gear in his hand. “Do you know anything about these gears?”
“Does it matter their just gears either way. Who cares?” Centaurea’s words brought a different kind of reaction from Lupan.
“Who cares?! Everyone should care!” Lupan’s sass was completely gone in this moment. He held the specialty gear up and pointed at the center of the gear where a small dome laid. “Do you know what this is?” Centaurea gave even less response to this. “These domes are on every gear in some shape or form. Inside each one of them is a crystal called Geode.” Lupan walked right up to Centaurea’s face. “That is the true power source. The gears provide movement so the energy can flow out through other gears where they meet with more crystals. Without gears, they are just rocks.” Lupan pulled back and brought the gear right up to his eyes. “Even the giant gears that hold up each of the stádia have them. Without the movement of the gears, we would all fall to Niflheim.”
“Listen here, you eggheaded mutt, there is nothing those gears can do that a sword hasn’t already perfected.”
“Hmf,” Lupan turned away. “Tell that to the barrel on your belt.” He placed in the final gear and closed the lid. Just like before the hand was far faster than before. He picked up the notepad and finally looked over the notes. He walked over to his chair and sat down comfortably.
After a moment of reading his eyes widened and he reached into his desk and pulled out a small typewriter. With the same hand, he typed out several names all without needing to look away from what he was reading.
Centaurea noted each name very carefully. “What do these names mean?”
“Each one of them is somehow connected to this case either through direct contact or happenstance.”
“Not all these names are needed.”
“No, actually all the names are needed since you have still yet to find a single person responsible for these killings. It could be anyone and I won’t be subtracting any name until we find our killer.”
“Fine,” Centaurea turned away to take his leave when Verfolger stopped him.
“Just like always, huh Centaurea?” Lupan stopped writing. “You aren’t leaving until you give me all the answers.”
“All the answers are in those notes.”
“No, they aren’t.” Lupan placed the notepad face down and pressed on it while rising from his chair. “This doesn’t explain at all why Lily would want me to handle this. The one person in the whole stádia that she truly hates with all her heart.” He stepped away from the typewriter and the desk completely. “Why she wouldn’t choose to solve the case herself when she already had more than enough notes to find the killer.”
“What are you saying?” Centaurea turned around only to suddenly find Verfolger right in front of him.
“I’m saying these notes are not the only reason she sent you to find me.” On that, he took the notepad into his mechanical hands and ripped it in half.
“What are you doing?” Centaurea rushed downward as the papers fell.
“Hmph, now I see. You clever sexy bitch.” Lupan smiled before knocking the papers away. He simply gave a short look to Verfolger and the katzenartig grabbed Centaurea by the throat and pushed him to the wall. “Now what else did she say when she left.”
“Damn it, order him off you fucking mutt--” Centaurea was stopped as Verfolger squeezed tighter.
“You know very well as I do, Verfolger doesn’t take kindly to lies. Just tell me what else she said?”
Two full minutes passed before Centaurea finally tapped Verfolger’s arm and gave up.
“Okay, let him go.”
“You are going to pay for assaulting one of the cor--”
“Shut the fuck up. Did you forget that Verfolger’s grandfather is the current head of your entire species! He’ll be fine.”
“Yes, but you won’t.” With that Centaurea pulled out his gladius and aimed it right at Lupan’s throat. Despite these actions, Lupan kept calm and gripped the weapon with one hand and pushed it away.
“All details are to be given during an investigation. I know the rules too, now talk.”
“Fine…” Centaurea exhaled heavily before lowering his weapon. “The last thing she mentioned was that one being of each species on this stádia has already been attacked except the kat.”
“Hmm.” Lupan took a step back. “That’s in the notes?”
“Exactly why I wouldn’t answer you.”
“Unless…” Lupan’s eyes slowly widened and he reached over to the paper. “Damn it, that was the clue. The greatest clue of all.”
“What are you talking about?”
“There are four victims so far. One from the ghoda, one from the câinesc, one from the rabbit and the first victim, a hebi.” Lupan held up the names of the murder victims from the notes.
Without warning Lupan ran to the door and opened it, reaching his head out. “Dorris, get me the notes on my father’s most recent order.”
“You’re in there right now.”
“What? I thought he would be back on Vale.”
“He’s in a meeting with Gamum Teuleiseo?”
“The Grand General is here… That’s the third time this month... that old fool left this company building to so he could control in the homeland, yet he continues to travel here an” Lupan waved his head and forth to get his mind back on track. “Tell you what Dorris. I’ll fuck you bare tonight if you go in there right now.” He gave a polite smile.
The woman gave a heavy breath before running off. Lupan pulled his head back for a minute. “Sorry, sometimes they need a little convincing.”
“You are worse than a prostitute sometimes?” Centaurea remarked. “At least they get paid for their defilement. So, why do we need these files anyway?”
“This name,” Lupan brought the paper to his face and pointed to the top name. “Archer.”
“The first victim? He was a hebi? All we know was he an ambassador from the Shima sent to bring forms of peace. He’s no one big.”
“Yes, he is. Archer was an old buddy of my father.”
“That’s why she told me to find you? To get a connection with that criminal?”
“Yeah, Groaznic wasn’t the best father either but he did always allow his oldest friends to have access to tech not yet on the market--” On that Dorris opened the door slowly but didn’t step in. She held up the files and smiled.
“The files you asked for--” Dorris was stopped by a short kiss.
“Thank you.” Lupan grabbed the files and walked back inside.
“Okay, now what?”
“Do I have to explain everything to you?” Lupan deadpanned.
“You love to explain stuff, though,” Verfolger shot back.
“Good point.” Lupan searched through the papers until he came on to two pages. “Ha! Here we have six separate orders for the lineage tech. The same tech as my gloves. Each time… from Archer.”
“But he’s dead.”
“Exactly why he was the first victim. My father makes many deals without ever meeting his friends in person. It would be no surprise someone decided to use this to make orders under an assumed name.” Lupan stopped and held up the second page. “The fifth order was sent to this address.”
A few miles away from the address in a small park separate from the big buildings but still covered in smog and sounds of everything a group of people gathered around a tent. Different sounds came from the tent and while they weren’t always happy they were far more unique to the rest of this land’s sounds.
Kahi and Anianiau approached the park with joy on there faces. Kahi was the happiest of the two since it had been such a good long time since she had seen a good fight. Anianiau was simply happy once again being around the manu she had seen so much like a little sister.
“You want to get some popcorn before the fighting starts?” Anianiau questioned.
“Maybe? I doubt I would be able to keep hold of it in there.” Kahi added a bit more skip in her movement as they reached the cashier stand. “Two tickets please.”
“Two gold coins.” The ticket man pulled out the tickets and expected some money but instead, Kahi backed off. This was far more expensive than she thought.
“What’s wrong?” Anianiau questioned.
“I only have copper on me…” Kahi backed away even more. She only carried so much with her when she left the orphanage. Even then, it was rare for the orphanage to even see one gold coin let alone two.
“I see.” Anianiau reached into her pocket. “Don’t worry. I can pay.” She pulled out two gold coins so quickly.
“No,” Kahi was taken back by this. “You can’t just throw money around for me.”
“Kahi, I know it’s been years but please, let me treat you.” Anianiau handed over the two coins.
Kahi’s hand clenched and she knocked Anianiau’s coins upward, throwing them into the air. With a quick jumped she caught them and presented only one to the ticket man before tossing the other back to Anianiau. “Don’t worry, I can fight my way in.”
“Really?” Anianiau was shocked by this answer.
“You think you can take on some of our fighters?” The ticket man leaned down. “Little buzzard, you couldn’t even stand up to our weakest fighter.”
Kahi gave no remark to the racist term and instead smiled and winked at him. “Send him my way, I’ll take down every single one.”
Anianiau’s eyes shined with pride to Kahi’s actions, making her pull out more money. “Fine, have it your way.” She placed down a good size bag. “Twenty gold coins all this on my sis!”
Instead of looking at them both with confusion the ticket man laughed his head off and took the money. “You have a deal.” He held it up high and turned toward the tent. “Hey, men I think I just found a way for us to pay off Mr. Migag!”
“Yeah!!” Louder voices shouted out from the tent. Kahi and Anianiau both shrugged confusion before stepping inside.
Deep underground the cultists gathered. They carried torches over to their places and sat them perfectly before moving away and circling the center. The light of these torches showed that despite this place being different from the other places it felt very similar. It would be easier to simply point of the difference, being that walls were of a different color and different age and that was it.
After a moment the cultist stopped circling and whispered some prays. They turned to the center and look to the one who was chain upon with intrigue.
Lying on the altar was none other than Lily herself. As she slowly awoke to the noise her mind was filled with joy. Her plan had worked, or at least it got her right where she wanted to be. She quickly grimaced when she noticed a gag in her mouth. She looked around and noted every detail.
“It is time...” A voice spoke up and stopped the whispering.
Lily looked up to the voice. The tall cultist walked in with a knife in hand. He got right up to the altar and smiled at the sight of Lily’s body. “Our final sacrifice is purer than the others.” He reached down with his free hand and ran it along her body. Just like the other victims, she was barely clothed. “Well done.”
He pushed down on a blood vein along Lily’s gut before drawing an x on it with his finger. “When I heard that you were the one taking on the murder cases I was overjoyed to have a pureblood hunting us.” He pulled his hand back and place the knife perfectly along the blood vain with the handle between her breast and the tip toward her womb.
Feeling the cold touch of the knife was far different contrast than the touch of the tall cultist. The coldness brought her mind into focus. In her mind, she quickly cataloged both feelings. The coldness of the knife and each twist and curve it had to the touch of the tall cultist’s hand, far softer then she would have thought, almost gentle in movement.
Next was the face’s details. The face was well hidden in shadows so only smile and eyes were the greatest detail though. Eyes that showed incredible age or wisdom and a smile that wasn’t a grin of perversion, but instead, full of kindness as if there was no dark intention at all in the mind of this cultist.
The tall cultist pulled his arms back and looked upward. Lily followed his sight and pulled back in fear at the sight of a large bucket above her. Struggling at the sight of it tipping she closed her eyes and was quickly punched back by the feel of the liquid dousing her entire body. Feeling so much of it didn’t make it to hard for her to quickly realize this was some form of oil. She screamed as loud as she could through her gag and struggled harder. Yet deep in the back of her mind she knew something was very wrong here and it wasn’t just the fact that she was about to die.
Certain details were very different from the previous cases, but she couldn’t place why.
The other cultist looked on with joy and proud smiles. They knew that with this everything they had been waiting for would be at their feet. So much planning had finally come to an end.
However, a cracking noise filled the room and stopped them all in their thoughts. One of the cultists turned and looked over to the wall nearest to him. The cracking noise got louder, making the cultist step closer. He got right up to the wall and placed his ear next to it.
It was silent at first. Quickly though a buzzing echoed outward making the cultist jump back. It wasn’t quick enough as an explosion tore through the wall and killed the lone cultist. The other cultist backed away in fear.
“I’m a freaken genius!” a man’s shout followed the explosion.
“So much for the element of surprise, Lupan,” another voice spoke.
All the cultist pulled out their own knives and stared at the smoke. Out from it stepped forth Lupan and Verfolger.
The lead cultist quickly reached for his own knife and raised it above Lily. However before he could strike an arrow flew through the smoke and into the room, perfectly striking the knife out of his hand.
“See, you nearly killed, Lily.” Verfolger lowered his bronze bow.
“I know. But you couldn’t have pulled your bow a bit slower.” Lupan laughed at the sight of Lily’s reaction through the gag. “See, that face could have gotten a bit closer to death--” He was stopped at the other cultists finally charging forward. The cultist pulled out smaller knives and went in swinging.
Jumping back Lupan dodged the first and stopped the second one’s point with his glove. This sent confusion through the cultist’s mind to which quickly Lupan remark, “Nice try.” Lupan grabbed the knife with his fingers and bent the blade. “Cheap stuff.”
Meanwhile, Verfolger knocked more cultists aside and jumped over to the altar. Landing on top of it he threw a small sai down at one of the chains holding Lily and in the same movement, he aimed another arrow ready to fire right between the eyes of the tall cultist. Using the arrow’s tip he knocked off the hood to reveal that leader was in fact of a ghoda. It was none other than a woman with mold green eyes and shaved mane.
Down below now free the Lily pulled out her gag. Without any hesitation she walked over and slapped Lupan in the face. “About time you assholes get here. Where is my brother?”
“Well, princess,” Lupan used his words in a mocking tone, “He should--” He was stopped as multiple katzenartig ran into the room from the opening. “Well, speak of a katzenartig and they appear.”
“We’ll take it from here, Verfolger.” Centaurea walked in and pulled out his gladius. Using the handle he bashed it against the head of the tall cultist, knocking her to the ground. Centaurea leaned in and placed the gladius against the throat.
“No, Centaurea!” Lily stood up and exhaled heavily. “We need her alive. We still don’t know the full plan.”
“What? Nearly getting yourself killed didn’t give you the results you needed! Do you need to hurt more while you are at it!!” Centaurea argued back as he pressed the sharp side closer. “General Mortuus gave me direct orders to make sure you weren’t to be harmed in this case?!
“He... Crimson did?” Lily was taken back. She saw the true rage in Centaurea’s eyes.
Lily had always been a brash girl when it came to her cases, Centaurea was always the complete opposite. He was a man of the law, following everything to the closest note. She knew this action was taking things too far, but for Crimson to get involved was unheard of.
“Why do you think it took us an extra two hours to get here? That blasted red katzenartig hounded us all night.” Lupan shot back as he grabbed the knife from the altar. He noted the size of the knife was far larger than the other and seemed to be of a fancier design.
Lily knocked the chains aside and walked over to Centaurea. She placed her hand on the gladius and slowly pulled it away. “I’m sorry, I am. You were just as worried as he was. But we need this one alive.”
“Give me one reason?”
Lily stopped at that answer and her mind raced at possible reasons. Many possible reasons pulsed through her mind as her brother slowly lost his patience.
Silence fell for a while and in the background of all this tension, Lupan stared at the large knife for a few seconds before grabbing it with both hands and pushing down on both sides.
“The blade didn’t bend, at all? Interesting.”
“My name…” The tall cultist finally spoke up.
“Fine, what is your name?” Lily helped her up.
“Okay, Gherabandi.” Lily looked to Centaurea and then back to the ghoda. “You are under arrest for the murder--”
“I accept the death penalty,” Seige’s words stopped them all.
“Fine,” Centaurea pulled back his gladius to swing.
“No, this is not a courtroom nor the execution grounds.” Lily held up her hand to Centaurea. “She cannot make such bold claims here, right, Lupan?” She stopped at no response. Turning around she was completely shocked to find both Lupan and Verfolger gone from sight. “Damn it, you two never stand still!”
“Of course, that mutt could care less. Sometimes I find it truly terrifying that Verfolger, the very heir to our clan is so close to such filth.”
“Shut up with the racist comments already,” Lily shouted. She reached over the table erratically. “Damn it, they took it.”
“THE KNIFE!!” She shouted louder. “Why do you have to get more racist and more dense with each passing day?”
Back above ground Lupan and Verfolger walked to the park. Lupan span the large knife in his hand. “Yes, this one is heavier most knives too.”
“Do you think they will be mad when they realized we left.”
“They’ll realize it eventually.” Lupan stopped spinning and looked over his shoulder. “Either way, we should get as much data as on these possible.”
Lupan stopped and dropped the knife the the ground. He pulled out a small green towel and wiped his face. “Yes, the knife and this.” He folded the towel and place in a test tube and grabbed a veil of green liquid. He popped off the lid and generously pour it over the towel and close both items.
“Wait, didn’t Lily slap you on that same cheek?”
“Exactly, I figure it was her best idea to get the slime passed Centaurea.” Lupan shook the test tube and waited. “Hmm, it feels like oil, yet it doesn’t react like it.”
“So that the real reason she asked for your help.”
“I doubt it, but she always thirteen steps ahead of everyone.”
“Then I’m assuming she wanted you to take the knife.”
Lupan snickered at his friend’s words. “I only did that because I’m an asshole. But Yes I suppose she knew what I was planning too.”
“Wow, sometimes you two are just too insync.” Lupan closed up the veil of red liquid and put it back in his blazer.
“That what I get for being her partner for ten years.” Lupan shrudded. “Truth be told, I would love to tap her tight ass, but I wouldn’t hear the last of it from Dancer.”
“Yes, my sister does have a temper, though that nothing compared to Crimson.”
“Don’t get me started on the Red Devil.” Lupan reached down to the knife. He twirled both the knife and test tube in his hands.
“I thought we snuck away so you can finally enjoy your birthday?” Verfolger looked to the light of the Athánatos citadel. “It’s still morning.”
“Yeah, I know that. But now I’m interested in.”
“Of course, you are.” Verfolger rolled his eyes at that line.
“Besides if I’m lucky enough I have Dorris tonight and I love her screams.”
“There you go again…” Verfolger whispered under his breath.
“What did you say?”
“Nothing,” Verfolger padded Lupan on the shoulder. “We’re going to need a spot to work right.”
“Yeah, of course.” Lupan looked around. “Hmm, how about that tent?” He pointed to a tent in the center of the park where loud cheering could be heard. “Such a crowded place, there no way Centaurea will find us in there.”
On cue a random tokki was tossed clear out of the tent. It flew over them and landed just a few meters behind them.
“Wow, this does look fun!” Verfolger cheered.
The tokki jumped back up and shouted. “That it, I’m done! That little buzzard is just too strong.” With that he ran off.
“Hmm, a manu strong enough to throw a tokki. This I have to see.”
“To the tent it is then!”