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Cause [1.3.6]

It was tricky work to ascend the ladder with Raziel in tow, but eventually the small group managed it, and stood in the Zionid nighttime. Cassil was nowhere to be seen.

“Will that girl be alright?” Joseph asked. Ephra nodded. “…I hope.”

Vasa stood bearing Raziel’s body. “Uh, come on.”

He began to walk, but before they could go anywhere, Harrut arrived on the scene with a force of thirty Zionid Officials, all armed with spears. The group froze.

“Halt yourself, villains as treacherous as the pathway to glory!” Harrut declared.

“Just the person I wanted to see.” Vasa said. This confused everyone, and Harrut tilted his head. “…Repeat yourself.”

“Just the person I wanted to see.” Vasa repeated. “My friend Raziel has… has been killed. Murdered, if you will.”

“Murdered?” questioned Harrut. He moved closer and looked closely at the corpse held in Vasa’s shaking arms.

“…I see…” he said after a few moments. “We will look into some possible sus-”

“We know who did it.” Ephra replied fiercely. “The Official, Yasen.”

“Yasen?!” exclaimed Harrut. He looked genuinely shaken. “I asked Yasen what had become of Raziel and his friends, as one asks about the children of a close friend, and she simply said she had dealt with the problem.”

“She did. By killing Raziel.” Ephra said.

Harrut sighed. “…This is poor, like the attitude of a surly teenager.”

“Arrest her, then! And, uh, where are the other children?” Vasa asked.

“Other children?” Harrut asked. Ephra nodded. “Joseph here is just one of three. The other two, we believe, are with Yasen.”

“Ah, yes!” Harrut replied. “The lightningrod of my mind has just been struck by a thunderous memory. She’s gone.”

“Gone?!” Ephra exclaimed. “Where?”

“She claimed that she was going to use the two children to do the expedition without expending so much of our task force.”

Vasa went white. “Oh no… she’s taken them into the Reaches, then?”

“Quite so.” Harrut replied.

“…Now what?” Joseph asked. “What’s the Reaches? Or where?”

“I’ll explain on the way. Can we borrow the portal at the Outpost?” Vasa asked.

“Now hang on-” interjected Harrut as Vasa made a move to leave. Vasa turned.

“What?”

“You are still technically under arrest, as one lies under the sun, with no way to escape. This was a crime, Vasa.” Harrut replied. Vasa’s face fell, and he held Raziel out, as if offering some kind of repentance. Joseph and Ephra observed the scene awkwardly.

“B-but Harrut – we have to get after Yasen!”

“Did you not assign the arrow of that task to the archer known as Cassil?” asked Harrut, tilting his head in confusion. Vasa looked back, similarly confused. “…No? Why?”

“She ran into me brief minutes ago, and requested that her spear of knowing be sharpened by my knowledge of Yasen’s location. I told her, and like the ending to a dramatic movie scene, she left. I should have realised then that she was part of this scheme…”

“I see.” Ephra replied. “So Cassil’s gone to the Reaches. Without using the portal, I assume?”

“Quite.” Vasa said. “…This is going horribly wrong. The kids are missing, R-raziel’s dead and… and now Cassil’s gone, too. Joseph, do you have a wrist phone?”

“Um, no.” Joseph said.

“May as well take Raziel’s.” Ephra said, taking the wrist phone from Raziel’s wrist and handing it to him. Joseph looked up at Vasa.

“Harrut, we’ll go back to the Outpost with you, and we’ll serve our time. But please, can we serve our time later, rather than now? This is getting out of hand!” Vasa said. “And Joseph, start messaging your friends. If everything’s gone alright there, the Voidians can help us locate Zack and Serafina.”

“OK,” Joseph replied, logging into his account on Ephra’s wrist phone.

“Come along.” Harrut said, gesturing to Vasa, Ephra, Joseph and his contingent of Punishment Officials. “We must correct this puzzle of travesty with the solution of explanations.”

It wasn’t long to reach the Outpost, but it was enough time for Joseph to speak to Cassie and Zack.

 

cass? come in, Cass!

Yes, Joseph? Is everything alright?

not really.

tell Mizar that Raziel is dead and Zack and Fin have vanished.

What?!

a Zionid Official killed Raziel and took our friends.

I’ll alert him right away.

 

zack, you there?

Hey, where did you go? Did you arrive safely, dude?

i did; you didn’t. where did they take you?

It’s fine. Raziel said there was a change of plans, and we’ve gone into the Reaches.

raziel?

Yes, we’re with Raziel and Yasen now. Why are you being so weird?

 

Joseph stared at the wrist phone. “Zack says he’s with Raziel and Yasen.”

They entered the Official Outpost as this was said, and Vasa looked confused. “Let’s sit down for a moment.”

Harrut guided them into the interrogation room and sat them down as the thirty guards made their way upstairs to relax. Vasa was still thinking about Joseph’s claim as he laid Raziel’s body carefully on a table. “Did anyone go to the Reaches with Yasen besides the children, Harrut?”

“Kushel was the sword of protection offered to guide them through the danger of the Reaches.” Harrut replied.

 

is there someone called Kushel with you?

No, just me, Fin, Yasen and Raziel.

Seriously, what’s the problem?

 

“He says there isn’t someone called Kushel there.”

Vasa had his eyes closed, thinking about the situation. “…She told them that Kushel was Raziel. Didn’t she?”

“Most likely.” Harrut agreed. They stared at the corpse in the room and Vasa fought back tears. “Harrut. We have to go after her! She’s killed Raziel!”

“One moment.” Harrut said. “I have begun to wear the glasses of foresight. I know what to do.”

He stepped out of the room, leaving the three stunned figures sat in silence.

“What should I say to Zack?” asked Joseph.

“Nothing yet.” Vasa replied. “We’ll see what Harrut has planned.”

“How long will it take Cassil to reach the entrance?” asked Ephra. Vasa shrugged. “She’s not been able to use the portal here, so she’s walking all the way to the edge of Zion. I’d say a few hours at least, depending on how fast she’s going. Either way, she’s got a massive head start on us.”

“I’m scared.” Joseph said. Vasa laughed hollowly. “Trust me, this isn’t how things were supposed to turn out.”

It was at this point that Joseph received a reply from Cassie.

 

Mizar and his friend are going into the Reaches to find them. Lola’s going with them.

thanks for letting me know.

 

“Cassie says Mizar and a friend are taking Lola and going to find Zack and Serafina.”

“Excellent.” Vasa replied, breathing a sigh of relief. “At least they can act, even if we can’t.”

The door opened again and Harrut walked back in with a female Official, armed with a spear.

“This is Levan.” Harrut said simply. “She will be the blanket of comfort around the danger of the missing children.”

“I’m going to find my sister and bring her home.” Levan said. “Cassil…”

“She’s fine.” Vasa said. “She’ll handle herself alright, even if she’s not the best spear fighter.”

“Harrut says me and him will head into the Reaches personally to find Cassil, and the other two kids. Yasen will have her badge formally removed, and the kids will then fall under our jurisdiction. And… we agreed we would let you go. For now.” Levan replied.

“Really?” Ephra asked, somewhat shocked. Harrut nodded.

“You will be shackled to the eyes of my Officials, but you will be free to do as you wish.”

“I see. We’re going to be under surveillance.” Vasa replied. “Fair enough.”

Levan turned to the door again. “Shall we, Harrut? We need to leave now and hopefully meet my sister as soon as she arrives in the Reaches.”

“Quite.” Harrut replied. The two Officials exited, leaving Vasa, Ephra and Joseph to blithely sit for a few moments, wondering what to do.

“…Well, back to the apartment, I suppose.”

“What about Ra- the body?” asked Joseph. Vasa sighed. “In Zion and Void, do you know what happens to the dead?”

“No.” Joseph replied.

“They vanish.” Vasa said, walking out of the room, followed by Ephra and Joseph. “Their infinite energy is drained by the King, and their body simply vanishes after about four hours.”

“That sounds terrible.” Joseph said.

“This is terrible.” Ephra replied as they stepped out of the Outpost and began to walk back to the apartment. “This has all gone wrong… what are we supposed to do?”

“We sit and hope.” Vasa said. “We hope that Mizar has enough gumption to rescue Raziel’s operation and protect those kids.”

In silence, they walked back, each mulling over their own confused and sullen thoughts.

Cause [1.3.5]
Cause [1.3.7]

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