Ok, so I finished this chapter of Will. I guess the next installment of LRAGOT will be on its normal day, Wednesday, then. Well, but I’m tempted to get it done early.
I’m…not entirely happy about how this chapter came out. Initially I was going to jump straight to Metria’s bar, but as I thought about Zedda starting out on his adventure, this scene gradually evolved in my mind. And then it got completely hijacked. Yeah, once I advance the story farther, I will probably come back to this scene and revise it. Or cut it entirely.
I began my new journey at midnight, a habit from centuries ago. There had once been a small, nomadic culture which had held that all journeys should begin at dawn, so as to receive the sun’s blessing against the many trials that could face a traveller. Sadly, this tribe had also believed in seeking life eternal, and eventually defied the sanctity of Death; thus, the tribe was destroyed. By me. Ever since that time, I had always started my investigations at midnight.
I stepped out onto broken streets lit only by moonlight. At one time my office, and the building that held it, had been part of a bustling metropolis. Living humans had been everywhere, working, playing, going about their brief lives. Looking back, it had been a good time. Paying rent had been annoying, of course; but at the same time, there was a soothing regularity to it. Traditions are important: they remind us of who we are, regardless of whether we are living or dead.
I paid no rent now. Even before I had been caught up by my…contemplations…this area had been abandoned by the living. The official reason had been that an experiment had gone wrong, which was true, in a limited fashion. A more accurate description would be that an experiment had been allowed to go wrong. Repeatedly. For some reason, humans have this tendency to believe that dead soldiers would be more efficient than living ones, and thus a group with more intelligence than sense joined hands with a group with more money than intelligence, and the result was a three mile dead zone in the middle of a city.
It might have engulfed the entire city, had one of my former colleagues not taken it upon herself to limit the damage. Channelling the reaper-lord Baera’s power, she sacrificed what remained of her mortal shell to create a barrier around the outbreak. The ghouls, wights, and other assorted monsters were contained, while surviving humans could make their escape. It was a very neat piece of work. Sadly, my office was on the wrong side of the barrier. On the other hand, nothing those human idiots produced was any match for the likes of me, so I didn’t have to immediately find a new home. Silver linings, right?
It was less than an hour to walk from my office to the fence that was the only physical boundary of the city’s dead zone. On the other side, I could see tall buildings looming darkly against the sky. I wasn’t sure, but it seemed that they were taller now, and more numerous, than the last time I had looked upon them. The fence, on the other hand, was decrepit, and damaged in many places. Well, it had never been intended to hold against the monsters of the dead zone. Its sole purpose was to keep idiot humans from wandering in and being killed, or transformed.
Presumably, its current appearance meant that no one cared. Interesting.
I approached the fence, passing through the barrier of Baera’s power. I felt a hum of interest as I crossed, and I immediately started to feel a headache. Oh, no.
:OH YES! IT IS I, BAERA! BEEN SOME TIME, ZEDDA-CHI:
Don’t call me that. What do you want, Baera?
:NOW, NOW, DON’T BE THAT WAY. IT’S BEEN AGES, AFTER ALL. YOU’VE BEEN SULKING IN YOUR TOWER FOR SO LONG, I’M SURE EVEN JURIS-CHI IS GETTING LONELY:
My headache was getting worse. Baera. I don’t live in a tower. I have not been sulking. And my Lord, Jurisanti, first of the Reaper-Lords and right hand of the Prime Death, is certainly not going to feel anything as mortal as ‘loneliness’.
:IF YOU SAY SO, ZEDDA-CHI. I JUST CALL THEM AS I SEE THEM:
Is that so. What do you want?
…There is a popular mortal saying: Drop dead.
:OOO, NICE. BUT IRONY DOESN’T SUIT YOU, ZEDDA-CHI:
Can I go now?
:JUST A MOMENT LONGER. YOU’RE GOING TO MEET MY DARLING METRIA NOW, YES?:
Obviously. Despite Metrikarisenikai’s bizarre proclivities, I trust his sense.
:THAT YOU CAN SAY THAT WITHOUT THE SLIGHTEST HINT OF IRONY. YOU WERE ALWAYS PRETTY WARPED YOURSELF, YOU KNOW?:
Somehow I managed not to respond to that one. Nevertheless, Baera seemed somewhat smug as it continued. :I JUST WANT YOU TO DO YOUR JOB, ZEDDA-CHI. OR MORE TO THE POINT, I WANT YOU TO GET METRIA TO START DOING HER JOB A LITTLE MORE SERIOUSLY:
If you want reliable Servants, stop choosing them so frivolously.
:THAT’S HARSH, ZEDDA-CHI. AND BESIDES, THERE HAVE BEEN CHANGES IN THE COURT OF DEATH. BY THE ORDER OF THE PRIME, WE, THE REAPER-LORDS, ARE NO LONGER CREATING SERVANTS IN THE LOWER WORLD:
Interesting. There were never very many of us to begin with. Who patrols this world then?
:AT THE MOMENT? YOU. MAYBE TWO OTHERS:
And I just woke up. How bothersome. So what do you want from Metricarisenikai?
:SHE’S GOING TO SCOLD YOU IF YOU CALL HER THAT, YOU KNOW. WELL, I DON’T HAVE ANY SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR HER. I JUST WANT YOU TO TALK TO HER ABOUT THE STATE OF THE WORLD:
My headache grew steadily worse. So basically, you stopped me in order to have me do exactly what I was going to do in the first place.
:DON’T YOU WANT ME TO TELL YOU WHERE TO FIND HER NEW BAR?: It tried to sound innocent, but I could sense its amusement in the background.
No. Get out of my head.
Baera laughed openly, and I felt its presence begin to withdraw. But its voice returned for a moment, with a bemused tone. :YOU’VE CHANGED, YOU KNOW. I WONDER WHAT HAPPENED?: Without waiting for a response, its presence disappeared.
Fuming, I strode forward, took the weak fence in both hands, and ripped a hole large enough for me to pass through. Cursing vilely in my mind, I strode off into a city I no longer remembered, to talk to a guy I really would rather avoid, about a job I really didn’t want to do. My head seemed to pulse with aggravation, and I carefully made sure that Baera had actually severed the connection.
I really despise that lazy, arrogant, feckless, pathetic excuse for a Reaper-Lord!