Mother and Father had taken me to meet Miss Metria before. I remembered her, slightly, as a pretty woman who had something wrong with her eyes. Twenty years later, she still looks exactly the same. Only, I can tell what’s wrong with her eyes now. They’re dead.
It was a little off-putting at first, meeting her again. For one thing, she’s a lot prettier than me, even though she’s an undead. I’m actually not sure what kind of undead she is. I almost asked her if she was a vampire. From what I’ve read, vampires are either extremely beautiful, or extremely ugly. But they are also supposed to have especially pointed teeth, and Miss Metria’s teeth look normal. Well, beautifully white and even, so kinda better than normal. I’m pretty sure my teeth don’t look that nice. Damn it.
I’ve only read one book about undead, actually, and it was mostly focused on how to kill them. As far as I could tell, most strategies amount to hitting them with whatever holy magics you have on hand, calling on every god you know to slow them down, and then hitting them with everything you’ve got. The book was a little out of date, according to my shooting instructor. They make bullets now that can kill most undead really easily. I’m carrying a bunch of them right now, in fact. I might need them.
Um, I was talking about Miss Metria. Her eyes don’t show emotion, but otherwise she seemed really happy to see me. She brought me into the back of her bar, which actually is a huge building, and had her kitchen send up some food for me. It was the most delicious thing I had eaten in years. Some kind of fish dish? With really delicious potatoes. They used some herbs to make them better, I think.
Anyway, Miss Metria was really gentle, and she wanted to know everything that had happened to me. I should have been suspicious, but she seemed really sincere, and I wound up telling her everything about my time in The Project. She got really upset when I told her about my training, and started cursing Great-Grandpa Caiaphas. I kinda wanted to tell her that it was actually Grandpa Malachai running things, but she got ahold of herself before I could. She also seemed angry that they had been teaching me about Lysysteri, for some reason. Maybe she thought I was being trained to be some sort of anti-undead assassin? But they sure didn’t emphasize fighting undead, so I doubt it.
Anyway, when I told her what I had heard about Narissa, she became very quiet for a long time. I wonder if she’s a lich? I’m not actually sure what a lich is, though. Well, apparently there is one serving on the city council, so I suppose I’ll find out eventually. But yeah, she finally told me that she was going to have to investigate some things, but that I would need to hide out for a little while from my relatives. Which was exactly what I wanted, so things turned out well.
She told me about a building she owns. Apparently it was a hotel at one time, but something terrible happened there, and Miss Metria bought it afterwards, to keep it away from other people. She said. It is a little creepy, though. Apparently it’s kinda like a secret base for people working for Miss Metria, sometimes, though I’m the only one living here right now. It’s got a weird location, too, right near the edge of the city. The north side? No, it’s the east side, isn’t it. The sun rises over there. Sorry, the streets in this city are really weird.
Actually, the whole city is really weird. I didn’t really realize it growing up, but for no apparent reason the streets are laid out differently in several different sections of the city. Plus, a huge chunk west of the center has been completely gouged out, and labeled as a dead zone. They didn’t even have the streets laid out on the map I acquired at The Project. I had to get a special map from Miss Metria when I went there.
Yeah, I went into that dead zone. I kinda regret it.
Anyway. Anyway. So Miss Metria brought me to this ex-hotel, and showed me to a nice room. The building looks bad on the outside, but it’s really clean on the inside. It has power and everything. So she showed me where everything was, like the kitchen and the bathroom and stuff. She also had some people bring over clothes for me, and even got me actual bladed weapons! I was so happy! I probably shouldn’t practice with real weapons, but it’s really fun, for some reason. The guns I got from my former guards at The Project were fine, after I cleaned them a bit, so she just got me ammo too. Oh, and the clothes she sent were nice too.
The biggest problem I had was, I didn’t know how to cook. I didn’t get great meals at The Project, but at least I never had to prepare them. I really want to learn, though. I’d ask Miss Metria, but I don’t think she needs to eat…
Anyway, Miss Metria was going to give me stuff to make food with, but when I told her I couldn’t cook, she showed me where the preserved meals were kept. All I need to do is boil water, and pour it into the cup, and the noodles cook themselves. They taste all right, but they’re a little thin. She also taught me how to use a microwave to warm up frozen meals. Some of them I recognized as food I was served in The Project. I avoided those ones.
And so, I spent a week or so mostly by myself. It was actually pretty nice. I couldn’t practice shooting, of course, but I spent a lot of time training with my pretty new weapons. I understand fighting with swords and spears basically doesn’t happen anymore, but it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.
Miss Metria visited a few times, but usually she sent over one of the people working for her. His name is Stanley, and he seems to be a pretty nice person. He gets angry really easily, though. I accidentally snuck up behind him, and he jumped about ten feet. It was an accident, you know! But he’s a nice guy.
And then, Miss Metria came to talk to me. She told me that Great-Grandpa Caiaphas was doing something really bad, and it was really dangerous to me. I didn’t understand what she was talking about, though. It sounded like Great-Grandpa was trying to become a god, but Miss Metria said that wasn’t the actual problem.
Anyway, because of Miss Metria’s position in the city, which I’m not exactly clear about either, she told me that she wouldn’t be able to do anything to stop Great-Grandpa, or help the other people in The Project. But she knew someone who could help. A detective who was a powerful undead, who specialized in investigating people who wanted to use gods to obtain power. She couldn’t go get him herself, because of the barrier around the dead zone, but I could.
I remember exactly what she said, as her dead eyes stared into mine. “Deep in the dead zone, cut off from the world by the Reaper Lord, Baera, there exists an old office building. On the thirteenth floor, down the hall, there is a door marked with a symbol you won’t recognize, and the words ‘Zedda Investigations.’ Inside that door, you will find my old mentor, Zagadactalas Invodotus Gadursu, if he still exists in this world. If you can get his attention, he might be able to help us.”
I have no idea if I’m spelling his name right, though. I’m not even sure how to pronounce it.
Miss Metria told me that it would be scary. I thought she was talking about the journey through the dead zone, though. But with my guns, and the special ammo she gave me, I thought I would be alright, even in the dead zone. And I was. I only had to kill a few zombies on the way in, following the map Miss Metria gave me. I went during the day, of course. I was actually more tense on the streets of the city, than in the dead zone. At least I knew the zombies wouldn’t drag me back to Bellvaunt House, or The Project. Metria told me that she had spoken to the cops about me, and that they wouldn’t get involved. I was still worried, though.
But yeah, I took my guns, and my flashlight, and I went looking for that office building. I found it, too. I’m not sure how to put this, but, the atmosphere was a lot different than the hotel I was staying in. They were both abandoned buildings, but the hotel was mostly lonely, I guess? While this building was gloomy, but there was also a tension in it. Like it was waiting for something, before it pounced. It was really weird. But I ignored it, kinda, and went in. There were some really fast zombies inside, but I killed them quickly. Huh. They were already dead, though, so did I actually kill them? They stopped trying to attack me, anyway.
So I carefully made my way upstairs. I didn’t get attacked again, but it was really tense. I should have done what Metria suggested, and brought Stanley along. I didn’t want him to get hurt, though. He doesn’t seem very strong.
But nothing else tried to kill me, and I made it to the thirteenth floor. I had to wipe the dust off the window on the doors, but I eventually found “Zedda Investigations.” Just like Miss Metria said, there was a symbol I didn’t recognize. I actually stared at it for a little while. It was kinda like a squiggly ball, with a bunch of pointy things stabbing at it without being able to touch it. Pretty weird, but also kinda compelling. I wonder if it had something to do with a lost magic?
Of course, when I tried to get in, the door wouldn’t open. The frame was all warped, so it wouldn’t even do any good to try and shoot the lock off. My gun instructor told me to never do that, anyway. So I put my shoulder into the door a few times, and it popped open, nearly dumping me on the floor.
Inside, it was completely dark. I thought it was dark in the hallways, but something in that room seemed to be eating up light. My flashlight illuminated barely anything at all, so I had to move slowly around the room.
And then my flashlight found a desk. And behind that desk … was something that frightened me. More than my Grandpa, and The Project. More than the zombies downstairs. More than anything.
The person I had come to see. I had expected someone like Metria, but he was a skeleton. A scary, scary skeleton.
- Oh, look, we’re back in the first chapter. 😛
- It’s Irene who’s a bad writer, not me! I swear! 😯
- So, remember when I said that I found my notes? When I read them over, I realized that I had missed one of Arkesis’ titles, when Zedda was introducing her in Chapter 12. It’s just a small addition, really, so you don’t have to reread the chapter; I’m just letting you know that she is also known as “The Sword of Death Awaiting.” FYI. 😉
- One more diary chapter, and then we will be rejoining Metria for a short time. 😀