So. The last time I updated this story was about five and a half months ago. I blame Baera. It will not take me months to put out the next update. Because Baera isn’t going to show up. (I hope.) By the way, the new featured image was stolen from the internet, just like I get all my images. I hope no one minds…
In the end, it took me about a week to step through the doors of Metricarisenikai’s latest establishment. I admit that I don’t understand mortal taste in decoration, but my personal impression was quite positive: clean, well-ordered, and in no way extravagant. Probably well-lit, too, judging by the numerous lamps. I don’t use light to see with, and I have difficulty in perceiving it at all. Except sunlight, which I perceive all too easily.
I can judge colors just fine. Make of that what you will.
In any event, upon entering I scanned the booths and tables for signs of my erstwhile ally, but Metricarisenikai was nowhere to be seen among the patrons and servers. However, I could see the bar itself through a large archway at the back of the room. Judging that it would be reasonable to ask the barkeep about Metricarisenikai’s current location, I chose a clear path between the tables to make my advance.
As I crossed the room, I could sense the uneasy stares of many people following my form. This was completely understandable; setting aside everything else, my high collar and the low brim of my hat completely concealed my head, and the specially designed lenses covered my eyes. I couldn’t look more suspicious if I tried.
Certainly the young man tending the bar seemed to think so. He openly glared at me as I approached and seated myself upon an unclaimed stool. The young woman in the seat next to me gave me a single glance, picked up her drink, and retreated to the other end of the bar. The man sitting next to her glared at me. He had been trying to speak to her and seemed quite upset that I had chased her away, but he didn’t seem to have the courage to confront me directly. He did not choose to follow the woman, however. I wondered about that for about half a second, before dismissing it as completely unimportant.
“May I help you?” asked the man behind the bar. Judging by his tone, the only answer he wanted to accept was “No,” but unfortunately I had legitimate business to attend to.
-My name is Zagadactulus Invodotus Gedarasus, and I am here to meet Metricarisenikai. Call him out. Also, get me a glass of water.-
I made no attempt to lower my “voice,” and all around me, conversation ceased. Where I had been getting nervous glances before, now I was regarded with the open fear mortals offer to the dead. With my long coat, hat, and glasses, I could almost pass for human — but once I spoke, the illusion was completely lost. Well. I’d never counted on anonymity, anyway.
Interestingly, the bartender flinched at my words, but continued to glare at me. The man had guts, it would seem. Furthermore, he didn’t seem surprised by either my name or my demand. Through gritted teeth, he managed to say, “Please wait a moment.” Turning away from me, he picked up a nearby phone.
While I waited, I glanced around the bar. I couldn’t see most of the main room from my seat, but the humans I could see were carefully not looking at me. For the most part, the same went for the mortals sitting along the bar with me; the young man who had glared at me earlier seemed to have become quite pale, and was trying to get another bartender to bring him his tab. How droll. On the other hand, the young woman who had been sitting next to my chair originally was now staring at me in apparent shock.
She doesn’t seem nearly as fearful as the rest. How interesting. Well, it’s unlikely to become a problem.
There was suddenly a hard thunk beside me, and I turned back to find the bartender placed my requested glass of water in front of me, with rather more force than necessary. His glare hadn’t abated one bit, but his anger seemed to be mixed with a bit of frustration as well.
“If you would care to wait, Miss Metria will be out in just a few moments,” he ground out.
-Excellent.- And relax a bit, won’t you? I’m not here to kill anyone tonight…
Oh, speaking of which. I cupped my hands around the glass of water. Water is actually quite an interesting material, in both a scientific and mystical sense. For one, many different substances could be dissolved in it. In addition, it has a changing resonance: while flowing, it resonates with life and the power of the gods; while still, it resonates with death, and necrotic essence. So, if a user of necrotic essence were to dissolve it in still water…well, many things became possible.
Now, with such a small glass of water and only background essence, the possibilities were mostly on the level of parlor tricks. However, there was one parlor trick that I found especially useful: sensing human hostility.
I have been dead for a long time. Well over a millennia, in fact. Well over. But if you asked me if I had learned anything about understanding human emotion in that time, I would have to give you a qualified “no.” But to compensate for my own lack of insight, the proper use of the power granted to me by my Lord Jurisanti can reveal negative emotions with perfect clarity. Usually.
Inside my glass, a speck of darkness appeared, and began to propagate around the water in thin strands. I placed my consciousness inside the still liquid, and become aware of the emotions around me: various levels of fear, mostly, along with mild anger and hostility. As for killing intent…I felt three sources. The bartender pretending to ignore me; a man at a table in the main room; and…hm.
There. Against the wall, behind the woman from earlier. That one…even knowing he’s there, it’s hard to look at him. His presence is far too thin…an assassin, perhaps? Or, is he even human?
I had become somewhat fascinated by the extremely subtle man, but I did not fail to notice one other oddity: the young woman from before. I felt nothing from her; no fear, no hate, no confusion. Nothing. Either she somehow had no negative feelings toward me whatsoever, or…but my thought was interrupted as the situation changed.
On the other side of the room, a door opened, and I felt a new source of fear enter the room. Where the fears of the mortals around me were vague and uncertain, this new fear was sharp and distinct. It was a fear that knew exactly what sort of threat I represented. I did not look up from my glass; then again, I had no need to.
The person who entered had a short and delicate figure, long dark hair, and a soft and delicate face that hadn’t changed in over seven centuries. Seven out of ten men would probably call this person a beautiful woman; the remaining three, a very beautiful woman. Sadly, they would all be incorrect.
Oh, Metricarisenikai is beautiful enough, I suppose. But back when he died, and entered Baera’s service, he was male.
Today he wore a long black dress, with matching gloves. I couldn’t see his shoes, but judging by the extra inches of height, he was wearing tall heels as well. He had a shawl wrapped around his shoulders, of a shimmery dark color I couldn’t quite identify, and a very familiar bracelet wrapped around his left arm, which was…suspicious. The bracelet was dim and dark today, well matched for the emotions I was sensing from him.
His entrance into the bar seemed to have relieved a lot of people, as the fear around me faded slightly. His own emotions, however, began to roil even more as he approached me. Not a bit of it appeared on his face or in his bearing, of course; he doesn’t have my natural advantages when it comes to concealing emotion, but he’s learned plenty of control over the course of his seven centuries.
If I wasn’t dead, I probably would have sighed in exasperation. This much fear is excessive. What have you done now, Metria…?
He stopped by my side, and I felt the killing intent from three directions increase. I smiled (in my mind) and released my little resonance trick. I’m not really interested in the hostility of mortals, after all. And whatever else, Metricarisenikai deserved my full attention. I turned to my younger brethren, who lowered his head. He spoke to me with his low, androgynous voice, saying old words of greeting in a tongue no longer spoken upon this world.
“This lowly one offers salutations to the Elder Brother, Chosen of Jurisanti, Zagadactulus Invodotus Gedarasus.”