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Cause [1.2.7]

When Officials were not on duty, either at the King’s palace, guarding the Citadel, or wandering the streets of their respective dimension, they often holed themselves up at the Official Outpost to do paperwork, relax and catch up with their colleagues. The day after her training session with Kushel, Yasen was sat in the main room of the Zionid Official Outpost, working on some paperwork, and she looked up as Levan came to sit beside her.

“Busy day?”

“Yeah.” Yasen replied. “Sorted out that break-in, just going through the paperwork now.”

“I see.” Levan said. “That’s good. I was up at the palace today; there are problems.”

“Problems?”

“The hole in the Reaches is growing.”

Yasen fixed Levan with a stunned glare. She got up, leaving the paperwork where it was, and began to walk to the back of the room. Levan followed her as they entered the back room, where a large portal was set up. They could see swirling colours through the portal, but high up, in the sky, was a gigantic black mark.

“…That is much bigger than it was last time I checked.” murmured Yasen. “What’s the King said?”

“He’s concerned, obviously, but he’s sworn every Official to secrecy. We cannot tell anyone about this.” Levan replied, shrugging.

“And Harrut?” Yasen asked.

The Officials, numbering around 300 Zionids and 300 Voidians in all, were divided into different groups that dealt with different things: crime, punishment, protection, combat and more. Each section had a head Official for each dimension, who looked after a group of 30 Officials. Yasen was an Official of Bookkeeping, and she answered to Harrut, the Head of Bookkeeping. Harrut was widely considered one of the most influential Officials, as he was not just the Head of Bookkeeping, but also an advisor and personal friend of Zionid King Malak.

Personally, Yasen found him quite weird.

“He’s not made any statements, I don’t think. Is he not upstairs now?” Levan replied.

“Might be. Worth a shot, come on.” Yasen said, beckoning to the other girl. They raced upstairs to the relaxation lounge on the second floor of the Official Outpost, where a number of Zionid Officials were relaxing and talking quietly about various things. Much to their surprise, Harrut was actually present, deep in conversation with Kushel, the Head of Punishment.

“Harrut! Can we talk to you for a moment?”

Harrut looked up in suprise, but he nodded. “You may climb the tree of my time to steal an apple of a few minutes if you so wish. What slithering, hissing problem can I charm with my flute of knowledge for you?”

After mentally adjusting herself to understand what Harrut was saying, Yasen sat beside him, with Levan sitting beside Kushel. They crowded together around their table to hear what Yasen had to say.

“Nothing much. It’s just that the hole in the Reaches is growing, and apparently the King has said we can’t tell anyone about it.”

“Quite so.” Harrut replied. “He has stated that for the safety of the people, they must remain outside of the operating theatre whilst we surgeons remove the offending cyst.”

“So we’re going to solve the problem?” asked Levan.

“But of course.” Kushel said.

“As a scholar, you must realise that the divine blade of logic can slay all manner of beasts.” Harrut explained. Yasen nodded. “Yes. But as a scholar, I’ve not found anything of use in all my books or research.”

“Worry not.” Kushel replied. “There are many other scholars researching too. We are bound to hit upon a solution soon. Our best bet is simply to wait.”

“I feel so powerless, doing that. I want to make a change – I want to save the universe.” Levan said with a twinge of emotion. “I… I might be crazy, but I feel like it’s my destiny to play a part in this.”

“I know what you mean. That’s not too crazy.” Yasen said.

“My little sister’s been having the dreams.”

“Really?” asked Kushel. Levan nodded. “She’s reported having dreams, and she’s scared. I want to help, and I can’t. It’s driving me mad.”

“Do not worry.” Harrut said with a knowing smile. “Long before the clocks of doomsday have rung out, we will have laid to rest this nightmare.”

“I hope you’re right.” Yasen said.

They sat there in silence for a few moments, and Kushel took a deep breath.

“We should go.” he said. “I grow hungry, and my shift begins soon.”

“Want to get a bite to eat together?” asked Levan.

“That would be nice.” Yasen said. “Come on.”

The three of them stood up, but Harrut remained sitting. He nodded at them, his helmet shaking slightly as it did.

“I shall remain here, as the mountain remains overlooking the village, keeping it safe.”

“If you say so.” Yasen sighed.

Kushel, Yasen and Levan exited the lounge and headed down the stairs.

“So, where do you want to go?” Levan asked as they walked through the front doors of the Official Outpost and into the bright Zion afternoon.

“I care not. Perhaps we should find a restaurant. There was one near here, or so I seem to recall.” Kushel said.

“No, I think you’re right. This way, I believe.” Yasen replied, guiding the group down a side street. As they walked, Kushel’s stomach growled in anticipation. “I seem to be truly hungry.”

“When does your shift start?” Levan asked. “Mine’s in two hours.”

“Four hours.” Yasen said.

“One hour.” Kushel answered. “It will have to be a quick meal.”

They kept wandering in silence, looking for the restaurant, but as they walked, Levan couldn’t help but think about the gaping black spot in the Reaches, and the danger that Antumbra posed. She knew that if the Reaches was to collapse, Zion and Void would collapse too – they were all connected.

Levan felt it inside herself – the knowledge that she was going to play a large part in the future of the dimensions, and the universe they protected. She thought about Cassil, and the dreams Cassil had been having, and steeled herself. She had to protect her sister if at all possible.

Cause [1.2.6]
Cause [1.2.8]

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