Aiden Darke was filled with fear as Randidly moved with animal fluidity to strike at the body of his Propagator. Instantly, he dispensed with pleasantries and struck with his most accurate attack. The sky split and the image of overpowering force crashed downward against Randidly’s back.
The kid seemed to shiver, but he continued to maintain the arc of his movement toward the Propagator. This caused Darke to frown. Truly, did he already have a Lightning Resistance Skill…? Or was his Resistance at a ridiculous Level? Darke had heard of fools in the Heart and Death Schools that had put Stat points into Resistance, but never from the Spearman School.
Did that perhaps mean that Randidly Ghosthound was one of their operatives from a different School…? Intriguing it would explain why he mysteriously had such a profound ability to Engrave…
But those thoughts could wait for later. Now, Randidly needed to be put down. And if his life was endangered in the process… so be it. The propagator could understand Randidly’s secrets from his dead body.
“SKY BREAKER.” Darke roared. The world answered.
This series of lightning bolts were so bright that the color wasn’t even visible. The converged on Randidly right as he caught up to the body of the Propagator. Darke winced. If some of the discharge hit the Propagator…
But Darke’s eyes immediately widened as Randidly twitched, then slashed his spear with preternatural quickness. Darke stamped his foot and activated Shock Step. If the Propagator died, he would not perish immediately, but his strength would fall by a large margin. And when Darke was called back to Icklid… The interrogation would not be gentle.
The Propagator attempted to dodge, but Randidly’ spear was too quick. In horror, Darke watched one of the Propagator’s antenna be cut off. Instantly, the energy in Darke’s body waned. Gritting his teeth, he arrived behind Randidly and slammed both palms into his back, discharging every bit of electricity he had gathered with Electric Momentum.
It wasn’t as much as Darke would like, but Randidly was clearly still dealing with Sky Breaker. This further electricity finally seemed to stun him. But immediately, the strange metal crown above Randidly’s head pulsed. Randidly’s eyes cleared.
Gritting his teeth, Darke lashed out with a punch. But Randidly bobbed his hand and ducked under it. Darke could see the kid’s emerald eyes cutting left to check the Propagator. But there was no need.
The shuffling its wings, the Propagator landed on Randidly’s head.
Even though Darke knew what was coming, he flinched. Then the Psychic Annihilation hit.
When Darke next was conscious, he woke the soft sounds of something burning. Darke sat up. The plants that Randidly had conjured were slowly burning themselves into ash. Twisting around, he finally found the Propagator skittering across Randidly’s chest.
“My liege, I-”
STOP. NO NEED. INTERESTING SAMPLE. I WILL RECOVER.
“Ah, of course, Great Propagator,” Darke said with a bow. “Were you able to determine the secrets behind the boy?”
NEGATIVE. FICKLE IMAGES CLOUD MY VISION. WE REQUIRE A PROPER INQUISITOR.
“This is my-” Darke began, but a smothering flash of displeasure choked him off.
TIRESOME. TIME IS MEANINGLESS. PLACE THE SPECIMEN IN THE SUPPRESSION CHAMBER. WHEN THE INQUISITOR RETURNS, WE WILL ACT.
“B-by your will,” Darke said quietly. Then with a sigh, he picked up Randidly’s unconscious body and began to carry him. Based on the individual’s strength, the Psychic Annihilation could be eventually overcome. The image of emptiness was strong, but most warriors with powerful images would be conscious in an hour or so.
Somehow, Darke suspected that Randidly would be safe even more quickly. And as he didn’t know how long he had been unconscious from the area of effect of the Skill….
Darke hauled the body as quickly as possible toward the city limits.
Lucretia looked up sharply when there was a knock at the door. But from the faint smell of ash, it was clear who it was. With a sigh, she opened the door. “You know it is a bad idea to activate the resonance device too often. It has already become clear that there are side effects to your body. Amplifying the image-”
“A rare moment of indulgence,” Alta said with the wave of her hand. “Will you really begrudge me the small pleasures?”
“Do you know how often I had to listen to you having sex with Ryal?” Lucretia asked sourly. She also paid close attention to Alta’s facial expressions. To her relief, she saw a brief twitch. It might have taken inflicting a small wound to check, but it was good that Alta still had a heart. With how thick and full the grey flowers of karma in the girl’s chest were, it was difficult to know.
“Ha. Well, we all have our burdens,” Alta said lightly. Lucretia let the matter drop.
Instead, she turned to figure in the chair. Her head was covered by a rough hemp bag, but the faint sounds of breathing could be heard. “I’ve already received the information we need. Is this strictly necessary? I do not like the thought of her seeing your face.”
“Is there really any question of who is responsible?” Alta asked as she twisted her mouth. “People with any sort of influence would connect you will me. And besides, I have the sort of respect that the Council of Fate does not have: I like to look my enemies in the eye.”
“…you are not our enemy…” The whisper floated up from the hood. “You are not worthy of being our enemy. Our purpose… is much higher than one petulant girl.”
Alta gave Lucretia an ‘I-told-you-so’ sort of look. “See Creta? They don’t take me seriously at all.”
Lucretia sighed, but walked to the Spriggit prisoner and removed the hood. The woman’s coppery hair frizzed out from her head in a halo. Her temple was wet with blood. Her eyes were sharp as the flicked from Lucretia to Alta. Mostly her gaze stayed on Lucretia.
“Madam Secretary, I don’t believe we’ve ever had the pleasure,” Alta said with a cheerful smile. The Secretary of Carts and Trains glared upward at Alta. Although it wasn’t an overly influential position, it was one that had a wide reach in the Spriggit lands. And abroad now, as many of the assets that had been held by the Bounty family just 30 years ago slowly were acquired by the government.
“You little cunt, do you think the Queen of Talons is powerful enough to fight the entire Council of Fates?” The Secretary pat. “Hers is a narrow set of Skills. Some of the monsters we have at our disposal-”
“Yes, yes, a horde of Soulless. A mindless automaton army. You don’t scare me any longer.” Alta said, still smiling.
This seemed to incense the Secretary. “Do you think that your tiny innovations having any meaning? The Council of Fates will-”
“Peace, both of you,” Lucretia said. She rapped sharply on the table. The Secretary flinched. For the past five hours, Lucretia had made just such a sound right before she was about to engage in the more primitive method of persuasion. The association was purposeful, for just such a digression in the conversations. “We are not here to bicker. Madam Secretary, I believe you have already acknowledged that there is no harm in informing us of the mission of the Council of Fates. If you please…”
It seemed like the Secretary bit her lip, but then she nodded. “Yes… there is no harm in saying it. Although most people labor under the illusion that religion is a useless thing, the Council of Fates has acquired information that the Progenitor is real. The world we exist in… is a constructed thing. We are trapped in this small space above the Endless Seas.
“At one point the Progenitor fulfilled his role as a god… but that time has passed. He has left us in here to die. The Council of Fates seeks to control the resource of the Seven Lands because we will not remain here idly as our world slowly collapses. We will find the doors left by the Progenitor… and we will escape this hell.”