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Cause [1.4.11]

Levan and Harrut had prepared for a journey into the Reaches and gone through the portal in record time, finding themselves on an island bound for an unknown destination within the hour. Levan had been moody and tense for most of that hour, and now that there was nothing else to do but watch for lost ones and Cassil, she had retreated into a silent shell.

Whenever a blot appeared on the horizon, she would get up and sprint full-pelt towards it, into the colourful mire. It was always a lost one, and she would always eviscerate it violently before running back to the safety of the island.

The fourth time this occurred, Harrut tilted his head.

“Those who run like hunters scare away the deer that they seek.”

Levan stopped, breathing heavily, and faced Harrut.

“Cassil loves me. She would do almost anything for me.”

Harrut was quiet.

“Cassil loves Raziel. She will do anything for him.”

“To what extent?” asked Harrut.

“If she had been down there,” Levan said grimly. “She would’ve taken that spear for him without a second thought, and died for him with a smile on her face.”

After a quiet moment, Harrut replied “Then we must stop the rampaging bull of her wrath before it destroys the china shop of her mental stability.”

Levan slumped on the island and looked up at Harrut. “I just really, really hope she’s OK.”

Harrut, with the careful thinking that had landed him a position as King Malak’s personal advisor, realised that Levan was not only concerned for Cassil, but also what Cassil might do, and answered accordingly.

“She is a flickering candle.” he said. “There is plenty of wax yet to burn, and we will find her before long. Do not fear.”

“Thank you.” Levan replied. She never quite knew what to make of Harrut, and yet when he wanted to be well-meaning, his advice often made surprising amounts of sense.

“Get some rest.” he said. “Sleeping away the nightmares of your worries can ease your mind as we travel in search of your sibling.”

Levan nodded. Setting her backpack down, she knelt and curled up beside it, closing her eyes and switching her helmet to cover her ears. Harrut observed her for a few moments, and once he was satisfied that she was resting peacefully, sat beside her and scanned the horizon for lost ones.

Things were getting confusing. Vasa’s group were safely on watch. His subordinates Kushel and Yasen were in the Reaches like him – who were they being chased by? Mizar and Fafnir, that was right. But Alcor’s Officials were going to deal with them too.

For the first time, Harrut thought on Vasa’s words at the meetings. Was it possible that to defeat Antumbra, the Kings needed to open the incubator? Could they be defeated? What if he just asked the King to open it?

Was… was King Malak of Zion hiding something?

Harrut felt his hand reach for his wrist phone and type out a message long before his eyes followed suit.

 

Excuse me, my lord. Might I ask a quick question of you? Ha

[Private Channel] Harrut. What do you need?

What do you know of the incubator? Ha

[Private Channel] It exists somewhere in the Reaches. It is of minimal importance, as far as I am aware.

What about Antumbra? How are we to deal with that being? Ha

[Private Channel] Surely, Harrut, I should be asking you that question. After all, it is my Officials who are supposed to be finding the solution.

My lord, I believe that the incubator needs to open to defeat Antumbra. According to Denneb and other researchers, this is indeed the case. Do you know how we may open it? Ha

[Private Channel] That Denneb… the Voidian, yes? Of course he would concoct a worthy plan. I’m afraid I do not know anything about the incubator. A long, long time ago, I was told about it. But those memories have long since faded into nothingness. I cannot help you.

Thank you anyway, my lord. We are working tirelessly to save the universe. Once I return from the Reaches with the necessary arrangements made, you may arrange a full debriefing with my, for want of a better word, universe-saving group of Officials. Ha

[Private Channel] I would not have the universe’s fate in any hands other than the Officials of Zion and Void. I hope to hear good things in the next few days, Harrut.

My lord. Ha

And with that, the conversation was over. Harrut stared at the messages, trying to gauge whether the King was lying or not. He knew better than anyone that the King had trouble remembering the aeons of history that Zion and Void had existed for, so it seemed perfectly likely that something he was told about the incubator that long ago would have been forgotten.

But only if it wasn’t important. Important things… he remembered those.

Harrut sighed. He hoped Denneb knew what to do, and he was hoping that Vasa’s plan wasn’t what needed to happen.

Looking down at Levan, he saw her face creased with sadness, and his heart ached for a moment. He couldn’t imagine the pain she was going through, all because her sister had lost someone close to her.

Yasen had always been mildly unstable. The issue with Raziel three years prior had pushed her over the edge. He knew, in his heart, that it was his own fault that Raziel had died. He’d heard Yasen make a death threat to Raziel at the very same meeting that had decided everyone’s fates. Everyone had heard it. But nobody realised, until far too late, that she was serious.

Yasen had to pay. But by whose hand, and how?

What Harrut really wanted, more than anything, was for everyone to meet up and straighten out what exactly was going on. There were two plans going ahead, but then these rogue elements – Yasen, Kushel, Zack and Serafina – needed dealing with.

“Life is a confusing series of accidents pretending to be something greater than they are.” he said aloud.

It felt like a hollow gesture in the face of the colourful Reaches, endless and uncaring. However, it was the best he could muster.

Cause [1.4.10]
Cause [1.4.12]

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