CampNaNo: Silk and Steel
Ahoi! I hope you are all still keeping safe and sound and not going tooo bonkers with the lock-downs (or at least only going bonkers in a good way!) For my part we are all well if a teensy bit more bonkers than we were before! XD
Here is the doctor’s reaction now, after he leaves Spyro I thought I would post it quickly and then the next bit quickly too so as not to leave a long cliff hanger XD …
The doctor maintained his composure as he left the shop and wove his way through the evening streets, heading for the one place where he felt most secure and comfortable; a little library tavern on the corner of bridge street where the kvass and the atmosphere were always mellow and unobtrusive. By the time he got there the adrenaline was beginning to wear off and he was shaking slightly, had he really just done that? Had he really just promised to be the undoing of Spyro Mendicci? True this man wasn’t a Bahrro , but many Bahrros had risen and fallen in the time he and Spyro had worked together and he had seen his… associate… use his curious knack for building connections to ride those shifting tides of power and position himself very carefully and quietly in the centre. Yes, the Ghani thought, to himself, Mendicci was far more dangerous than any Bahrro.
He paid for his kvass, found an empty booth and silently cursed his short temper. The antiques dealer had spoken true – he would not have dared to murder him under that roof, would not dare even now to murder him at all, for to do so would bring such retribution he knew he would never be safe in Ryzym again.
There was another difference between this man and some common place guild leader; people loved Mendicci – men, women, children – he was like some unlikely, foppish folk hero, the alchemist thought angrily. Hundreds adored him because he was careful to make sure that whatever he did publicly always benefited those around him; often at an apparent loss to himself (although the doctor knew this was seldom actually the case.)
The murderous thoughts returned then in force, the djin felt his colour rising and he very nearly cried ‘hang it all’ and sped back to the antiques shop and burnt the damned thing to the ground.
But before he could rise and go to it, someone in a heavy cowl and cloak slid into the seat opposite him and placed their kvass alongside his own. The someone didn’t speak but their very presence made the Ghani feel calmer and more secure. He had at least one ally in the city whose loyalty lay more with him than with Silk and Steel, and that was a comforting thought.
“I have made a mistake,” he confessed at once; they never beat about the bush with eachother.
“So what’s new?” Fey Wulf put down her hood and took a swig of kvass. “Need me to help you put it right?”
The alchemist chuckled ruefully. “No. Thankyou. This can’t be put right with a blade, it needs a more subtle approach.”
“My bladecraft is the most subtle you’ll ever encounter, Doc, I’ve slit some throats so softly their heads didn’t realise it for a week.” She mimed the oblivious head suddenly crashing to the floor and the djin chuckled softly.
“Different kind of subtle,” he said. “But thankyou, it is appreciated. And it would be appreciated if this stayed between you and me, you are my confident, no one else can even suspect that anything is amiss.”
Fey shrugged, “as far as I’m concerned, nothing is, you’ve not told me anything you nutcase.”
The djin smiled his thanks and, to all appearances, changed the subject. “What would you deduce of a man – or woman – here in the city, who could bleed?” he asked.
“Red? That they’re demon-bound, of course. Or half demon maybe. Some half-demons bleed red.” Fey shrugged at the ridiculous question.
“Of course. And what if I told you with absolute certainty that they were not?”
Fey sat forwards a little in her chair, her eyes bright with sudden interest, “Not demon-bound and not half-demon? Well then… that they are alive?”
The doctor nodded, “Of course, it’s what reason leads us to beleive, but at the same time logic dictates it is impossible.”
“This isn’t really Hell,” Fey said firmly.
“You’re right, it’s not, but for all that it is it may as well be. The world has ended.”
“Is ending, I’m not quite sure we’ve got there yet.”
“I disagree but lets leave semantics aside for the moment. The end of the world began, death came on a pale horse etc etc, souls were harvested by the billion, gods waged war across the realms of reality until they detsroyed themselves and almost everything else… and then it was over.”
“And some of us are still here.”
“Some of us are still here.” The Ghani took a long draft of his kvass and wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve.
“So refined,” Fey smirked and the doctor grinned.
“I am still here because my soul couldn’t leave my body. It was engulfed by twighlight and trapped in an endless cycle inside my dead flesh. It is there, inside, it sustains me, and if I ever lose it then that will be the end of my existence, but it does not keep me alive.”
“Same with the Yags, only theirs are being consumed by eternal flames.”
“Just so. Then we have the Vesperai”
“That’s a very bleak way of putting it. The Vesperai do not stalk the streets looking for random souls to prey on, nor do they try to hide what they are.”
“They’re hiding at the moment.”
“Only from the persecution of the church.” He took another sip of his kvass, “It won’t last long, they’ll move on to some other group eventually. Demon-bound most likely.”
“Ironic, when they’re the ones who did the binding!”
“In all it’s long history, has the church ever been anything but ironic?”
Fey snorted “Why is church even a thing anymore?”
The doctor smiled, “Because it is the only comfort some people have left, because it is the only power other people have left, and because it is the natural inclination of most to prefer to follow a leader rather than make their own decisions in life.”
“Wherever we find ourselves,” the doctor smiled grimly, “But not us.”
“Not us.” Fey raised her glass and the doctor knocked his against it in toast.
“So, djin, Vesperai, demon-bound… and all the other new ‘races’ that were created as a result of the anomaly that some of us simply aren’t that easy to destroy… were left behind.”
“Dying souls trapped eternally within dead flesh.”
“Ever the economist.” She winked at him and took a long draft of her kvass.
“And therefore most of us cannot bleed. Our hearts beat but they do not pump blood around our vessels, we eat and drink because the memories of food, and all other comforts in fact, nourish our soul and allow us to feel satiated and at our ease.”
“These are your theories now.”she reminded him.
“These are the theories which myself and my colleagues at the university have been exploring for years. We’re fairly certain we’re on the right track.”
“Spoken like a true medical professional.” Fey said cynically, raising her glass to him in mock salute.
The doctor nodded, acknowledging the touch.
“But your point is, if someone bleeds, the assumption is that their soul and their body are both alive and well. If that were the case, and there’s no demon holding them here… then why are thye still here?”
“Exactly.” The doctor shifted uncomfortably in his seat and began toying with his empty glass. “A few theories spring to mind – either they weren’t wanted.”
“In which case why.”
The doctor nodded vehemently, “or they found a way to… hide…to prevent themselves being taken because they wanted to remain behind”
Again the doctor nodded to confirm that they were thinking down the same lines, “or, and this is perhaps the most interesting avenue of thought… they were taken with the other souls, and yet they found a way to come back.”
“Still getting a big fat why from this corner.” Fey said. “You’ve met such a person?”
The doctor shook his head. “I don’t know. Possibly. But I may have been deceived.”
“You look rattled, Doc.”
“As uncharacteristic as we both know that to be, I can’t deny it. I do not like things I cannot understand.”
Fey’s brow crinkled with genuine concern. The alchemist was one of the most feared people in the city, even those who didn’t know his underground connections were terrified of unbalancing the volatile and immensely powerful dusk djin. His aggressive and imposing attitude had made him a lot of would-be enemies and Fey was suddenly reminded that many of them were simply biding their time and waiting for a day like this when the Ghani was obviously not at the top of his game. She would have to watch his back, she decided, until whatever was troubling him had well and truly blown over.
“I’ll get us another drink.” she said, grabbing their glasses and heading back to the bar.
The alchemist smiled gratefully as he watched her leave. A true friend, he thought to himself; perhaps the only one I have ever had.