-What are you writing?- I asked the young woman.
Irene Bellvaunt jumped a bit, and quickly twisted her head to glare at me. She had been sitting at a table in her kitchen, scribbling away in a small book, when I entered. Apparently, she hadn’t heard me come in. I chose to be impressed with her resilience — I often encountered humans who simply ran away when I suddenly appeared behind them. Not that I blamed them, of course.
“It’s nothing,” she muttered angrily. “I’m just writing in my journal.”
-Is that so,- I said, pretending to be disinterested. Well, given my lack of an actual voice, I always sound disinterested, so it wasn’t too hard to pretend. I was actually a bit intrigued about what she might be writing, but sadly, her handwriting was too atrocious to quickly interpret.
Or the written language had shifted again. That happened sometimes. The printed pages that Metria had provided me were legible, though, so she probably was just a terrible writer.
Irene glowered at me and firmly shut her journal, almost as if she suspected me of trying to read it over her shoulder; I considered taking issue with that, but decided it would be unnecessary. “What do you want?” she asked, in a sulky tone. “I already told you everything I know.”
-Everything you know about the situation of your Bellvaunt family, yes. For the most part, it matches what Metricarisenkai reported to me, so unless you both are conspiring to deceive me, it should be accurate. Within your limits, of course.- As I spoke, I walked around the table to stand in front of her. There was another chair, for some reason, but I chose to remain standing. Honestly, I think I just like looming over people.
The young human wrinkled her brow a bit. “You think we’d lie to you? I mean, even Miss Metria seems kinda scared of you, so wouldn’t lying be kind of stupid?”
-Undoubtedly. But uncountable numbers have tried to deceive me over the centuries, for any number of pointless reasons. Often in an attempt to retain their worthless lives. Foolish creatures, what is inevitable, is inevitable.-
“Right,” said the woman cautiously, trying to subtly move her chair away from me. I snickered a little inside my head; I never get tired of that kind of response.
-But regardless of whether you are telling the truth or lying, it has nothing to do with my duty. I must ascertain the true state of affairs myself; anything Metricarisenikai reports is simply a convenience.-
“Well, OK. You should go do that, then,” Irene said warily. I smiled internally; she seemed to have guessed what was coming. No need to keep her in suspense, then.
-Indeed. Therefore, prepare yourself.-
“Prepare myself … for what?” she asked, even more suspiciously.
-You will be accompanying me to the Bellvaunt estate.-
“Hell no.” Her response was instantaneous and firm. I nearly applauded — metaphorically speaking, of course.
-You do not have the right to refuse.-
“You don’t have the right to tell me what to do!” she snapped back, suddenly furious.
-I do.- Sort of.
-Stop being childish.- Even though it’s somewhat amusing.
“Who the hell do you think you are!?”
-I am Zagadactulus, servant of Lord Jurisanti.-
“That doesn’t mean anything!”
-It means everything.-
“That doesn’t mean anything either!”
Well, she has a point. -Enough, Miss Bellvaunt. You will be accompanying me. That is final.-
“Why should I?” she asked defiantly.
-Because I am deciding whether or not to kill you.- That ought to shut her up for a bit.
Sure enough, it did. Her eyes widened, and she threw herself out of her chair and away from me. From somewhere she produced a small pistol, which she pointed straight at my head. Needless to say, I didn’t react; I did consider telling her that destroying my skull wouldn’t significantly impede me in any way, but I decided that she would probably rather not know. So I just waited patiently for the young woman to stop hyperventilating and calm herself.
She recovered quickly enough, once she realized that I wasn’t going to attack her immediately; but there was still more than a trace of fear in her voice as she asked, “What are you talking about?”
-Did Metricarisenikai not explain this to you? You are a Cultivation.-
Irene blinked. “What? Like a plant?”
-That is the root of the term.-
“I’m pretty sure I’m not a plant– Wait, did you just make a joke?” she said disbelievingly.
-No.- Although I do love that pun. -The word is a translation of a much more robust concept, implying the growth of a food crop from seed to harvest. It is metaphorical, obviously, but it is the traditional way of referring to an individual human which is being aligned with the image of a god.-
“You sound like my damn teachers,” muttered Irene. “So this is about Lysysteri?”
-In essence. You were intended to become Korrak’s, Lysysteri’s, vessel; to be a vector for his power. You would become a font of immortality, which would be passed down to those who Cultivated you.-
“I feel like your metaphors are getting a bit mixed,” the young woman said sarcastically.
-Gods are metaphorical beings, and difficult to talk about directly. Pay it no mind.-
“Actually, I’ve kinda lost interest in this entire conversation. Can I go now?” she asked, with a hint of nervousness.
-Yes, gather your weapons. We must set out.-
“Um, no, I meant I want to stay here,” Irene said.
-You may not.-
She took a deep breath, and said defiantly, “I’m not connected to Lysysteri.”
-It does seem unlikely.-
Her eyes widened with sudden hope. “Then…”
-No. You will still be accompanying me.-
“Oh, come on!” she shouted, glaring at me. The fear in her eyes seemed to have been subsumed by her anger, which was somewhat cute.
-I do not deal in likelihoods. I will test you, and I will test the depth of your connection to Korrak. If you pass my tests, I will not kill you.-
“Well now, that’s comforting,” she snapped.
“I was being sarcastic.”
No kidding. -Sarcasm is pointless. Prepare yourself.-
We stared at each other for a while. Eventually I said, -You should put the gun away for now. You’ll probably need it later.-
“Like hell I’ll–”
In mid-sentence, Irene suddenly realized I had stepped forward and was now right in front of her, and the gun that had been pointed at my head was now only level with my chest. Her finger involuntarily tightened on the trigger, but I had already grasped a pair of nerves on the inside of her arms with my gloved, skeletal hands. The pistol clattered to the floor as her hands spasmed uncontrollably for a moment. She stared at me, her eyes wide.
“Wh… What was that?” she asked breathlessly.
-A simple movement technique, followed by a simple nerve strike. Your grasp of martial arts is centuries behind mine.- Inside, I frowned. I had expected this action to intimidate the young woman, like everything about me did. Instead, she seemed to have an excited glow deep in her eyes, like someone had just placed a treasure in front of her.
“Teach me how to do that!” she demanded breathlessly.
-What did you say?-
“I’ll go with you, so teach me how to fight like that!” Irene Bellvaunt said, excitedly. Her entire attitude had turned around, and she looked like she was about two seconds away from attacking me, just to see what I would do.
Wasn’t this girl supposed to be lost and frightened? Rejecting everything to protect herself? What the hell is this, then, Metria?
Also, why does her attitude seem so worryingly familiar? I frowned at the young woman in front of me, although of course my expression didn’t change. Still, she seems willing to come along now. I suppose at the very least, I could lead her to understand why she will never reach my level.
-Very well, Irene Bellvaunt. I shall teach you some basic martial arts. But you must prepare to leave now. I would like to arrive at the Bellvaunt estate before they realize I am coming, and flee.-
“Don’t worry, they won’t run away,” said the girl with a smirk, as she ran off to get her things. Watching her almost skip out the door, I suddenly wondered what I had gotten myself into.
Ah, well. It should prove interesting, at least.
- It’s still Wednesday. Leave me alone. 😛
- I sometimes think of Zedda as someone piloting a giant mecha, which happens to look like a human-sized skeleton (OK, a big human), which can only talk with the outside world by typing into a voice synthesizer. It’s that level of deliberation. I suppose that means that Baera was talking to him over his comlink, in chapter 2… 😉
- I forgot to do a Sunday digest last week, but that’s OK, because I didn’t write anything either. Oh, well. 😦
- Oh, yeah, this is where the actual plot is supposed to start. I’ve been sidetracked so much, I’m not sure it’s the plot anymore, though. We’ll see how it goes, I guess. 😀