Chapter 48: Grahanam Crowns
I followed Cecilia after the trial towards the vault. Cecilia told the Lord Commander of the guards to just hang the Prince for her. It was requested in the manner that she didn’t want to see her brother die. This was a tricky ruse, if she decided to watch, some would say she is heartless, other would say she isn’t afraid of the cruelties of rule and is willing to fulfill her obligations. If she didn’t watch then some would say she didn’t have the stomach for it and others would say she is kind or compassionate.
If she attended the benefit is that she would convey her authority and that she should be feared. If you think about it, that isn’t really necessary because of well… me…
So the other option works better, her job is to be a kind good queen anyway. If anyone fucks with the pair of us, I’m the one who goes out and starts murdering. She just has to clean up later and make sure everyone doesn’t completely lose their shit. But of course all of this is just a little script we came up with…
If only they knew the truth… the truth is much darker…
She just couldn’t be bothered obviously!
I mean he’s a nameless criminal now, stripped of name, titles… blah blah blah…
So just hang him and dump him in a hole somewhere or leave him for the crows, not like we care anyway.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“The treasury, I said you could have one of the Grahanam Crowns.” Cecilia replied calmly
I followed Cecilia deeper and deeper in the Palace and soon we arrived at this massive door made of enchanted mithril.
“Fancy door.” I remarked as I gazed at the runes on the door, but some of them were dull and faded.
“It’s an artifact from the Elysian Empire, but the wards have faded over the millennia. We maintained what we could but there wasn’t much we could do. All of the old magics were confiscated by Seraphim during the great fall. Especially the old runes of power… too dangerous to be in our hands they said…'' Cecilia said as she gazed at the door.
“The Seraphim were always paranoid. They mean well but… paranoid regardless…” I said, conscious of the royal guards nearby.
“Leave us.” Cecilia said to the guards, who nodded and bowed before marching away.
When it was just the two of us, she tapped on the runes in what must be a secret combination that I just memorised.
“I assume you are seeing this combination?” Cecilia asked offhandedly as she gave the rune array one final turn and I heard the mechanism behind the door click.
“Of course.” I replied calmly.
“Good, you gave me my rightful place, so what I have… I have to share…” Cecilia said as the door opened revealing the treasury room… which… looked rather empty…
“Pfft… hahahaha…” Cecilia started laughing and I soon joined in.
“Ahh… well that was pretty anti-climatic…” I said after my chuckles died down.
“And I had this nice dramatic moment planned…” Cecilia said in mock disappointment.
“Well thank you for your generosity.” I replied dryly.
“Oh do hold your prickly tongue.” Cecilia said mirth in her voice.
“Keeping you locked up must have been expensive…” I said as I looked at the barren room.
The room was what? 20% filled up? Most of it was bare floor, I guess whoever sorted this place decided to pile up the gold and platinum in one stack to make it look less pathetic. Good attempt but it still looked pretty sad…
“You know the door is probably worth more than what is in here… that is if you don’t include this …” Cecilia said as she walked towards a little ornate shelf.
I peered over her shoulder as she opened the shelf revealing two coins made of some kind of dark metal, the coins were covered in runes on the edges and in the middle was this strange black glass that looked like a small mirror in the middle of the coin.
“Grahanam Crowns…” I said as I looked at the two coins.
“The crown jewel of any treasury… priceless…” Cecilia said as she picked one up and examined it.
“Hmm… well I could try to multiply your wealth right now…” I said as I magiced one of the Crowns into my hand.
“You see Cecilia, have you ever heard of Gilded Grahanam Crowns?” I said as I looked at the coins.
“Yes, the runes and the mirror of blackest glass in the center is supposed to glow an ominous purple. The word Grahanam means eclipse in the old tongue of the Watchers… or so the legends say…” Cecilia said thoughtfully.
“Yes, do you know why they glow?” I asked as calmly examined the coin.
“I confess I do not. The stories say, the Grahanam Crowns were given as a token of esteem by the ancient Watchers. So assume they are special coins given to particularly exceptional individuals?” Cecilia said.
“Well that’s partly true… but the real purpose of these little coins was that they are a storage device.” I said as I smiled slightly, this next part will be interesting…
“Oh? What does it store?” Cecilia asked curiously.
“Well perhaps a demonstration would be better… enjoying the show, little spy?” I asked as I turned to look at the invisible figure huddled in the corner of the vault. It was the same idiot from last time but I decided to see what he would do. Sarana apparently had tabs on him already, a spy of Tralis…
The figure flinched and turned to run, all pretenses of stealth gone as his little insect legs kicked up stray coins in his scramble for the door. He ran, as fast his little pathetic legs could carry him, right into the hands of one of my Adjutants.
What? You think I would leave Cecilia unguarded?
The Adjutant grabbed the spy by the throat and lifted him off the ground. The spy gagged as he thrashed and his invisibility spell faded once he was grasped by another.
“Ah Sarana did warn me that one of the foreign spies would try something with all the talk on Grahanam Crowns…” Cecilia said calmly.
“You recognise this one?” I asked nonchalantly as the spy gagged and struggled, the Adjutant giving him just enough air to stay conscious. All the while the Adjutant bared it’s teeth and snarled at the spy who looked at it in terror.
“Probably a spy from Tralis, none of the other nations would attempt something so daring. Invisibility spells can be seen through, though this one must be quite capable if he thinks his spell would avoid detection. If a spy is discovered then that is grounds for war, no other nation would want that.
Tralis has a decently talented Spymaster as well but Sarana is better, far better. She has all the spies in Averlon tagged and on file. It doesn’t make sense to purge them after all, if you kill all the rats new ones appear with new infiltration techniques. Best to let them think they are safe…” Cecilia said.
“Oh? Seems she knows her stuff…” I said as I looked at the trembling spy.
“She does, although I am trying to learn the ropes of it. It’s a lot easier with a good teacher. I even let one peek at me bathing and I told Sarana to let that one send word back to Tralis.
The very fact a spy would be interested in my bare body means that the leaders of Tralis are lecherous fools. Just one more reason for them to attempt an invasion.
Funnily enough that incident probably gave this one the courage to attempt something like this… after all if you can sneak into the Queen’s bath then you must be really good at your job no?” Cecilia said with a smirk as the Spy’s eye widened in realization.
“Ah so you were the peeping tom…” I said as I approached the spy, it was obvious with his reaction after all...
“He already sent a crudely drawn portrait to his king, it’s a poor piece… vaguely insulting actually but it was attached with some rather flattering descriptions.” Cecilia said with a laugh.
“Quiet the poet then…” I said as I looked down at the trembling man.
“You could say that…” Cecilia said with a smirk as she put the Grahanam Crown in her hand back into the case.
“So since you are so interested as well, to put it simply the Watchers were master Flesh Crafters. You humans were not descended from them, they made your ancestors with themselves as a template.
As to why you all were made, it wasn’t for some great purpose by the way. Well the Watchers were to an extent, but I guess if slavery is a great purpose then it’s preety depressing state of affairs.
All of you were made as… a joke…” I said with a laugh as the spy’s brows furrowed for a moment, forgetting his horrible situation.
“You see humanoids are poorly adapted to the world, physically you are weak. So the Firstborn asked the Watchers to make you all this way because they liked watching all of you waddle about on your two tiny legs. They gave you your intelligence both as your main defensive and offensive ability.” I explained.
“Because they wanted to watch our predecessors suffer and come up with creative ways to overcome their challenges?” Cecilia asked.
“Exactly… so then comes to the crux of the issue. In order to Flesh Craft you must be able to weave essence. Only the Firstborn can drain essence directly from a living creature. Everyone else had to absorb it through some bodily function and lose a lot of the essence in the process.
But the Primordial Font is just a gigantic vat of essence that bleeds from the core of the world. So the Watchers needed a way to store this essence so they could work away from the font. Hence was born the Grahanam Crowns. The Firstborn liked this idea naturally so they gave the Watchers leave to make more. After all, though the Watchers were capable Flesh Crafters, they were but a pale shadow to the Firstborn. These coins could be used by the Firstborn too, to make creations in the far flung corners of the world.
The Watchers could only charge these Crowns with the essence of the font but the Firstborn could charge it with their own bodies if they were willing to make the sacrifice to their power. More often than not they decided to… transfer essence from… living… subjects…” I said as I looked down at the spy whose face slowly went pale as his eyes darted to coin and then to my fanged smile.
“To the coin with you…” I said with a laugh as I channeled power into my hand and the spy screamed. There’s no one nearby, I have my other Adjutants watching the hallways. No one can hear him scream…
The man writhed as a green wispy like mist flowed from his body, leaking out from his skin, his eyes, his mouth and his ears. As the mist left his body started to wither away, his body aging a year a second.
Finally the last of the green mist was gone and the spy’s screams by now have been reduced to weak croaks and rasps. Then his body crumbled to ash and soon all there was left was a set of ash covered clothes on the floor.
I looked at the mist and it slowly formed this strange green glowing worm like object. It writhed and thrashed as it floated in my hand. So this is what essence looks like… thank you Eternal Mother this is certainly a useful trick… I wonder how long it would have taken for me to figure this out on my own…
With that I waved my hand and drew the essence into the Grahanam Crown and… one of the runes like up. Well that’s lame, there’s like thirty runes on this coin… huh… I’m gonna need a few more…
I hope Tralis invades soon…
This is one way to use humans since they are useless to me now anyway…
The creatures I can make with this…
“That is an interesting trick…” Cecilia said as she gazed down at the coin.
“I could use a lot more of these coins… although there is one thing that bothers me…” I mused.
“And that is?” Cecilia asked curiously as I handed the slightly charged coin to Cecilia.
“The Eternal Mother was a Firstborn and a master Flesh Crafter… So where the hell is her stack of Grahanam Crowns?” I said.
“Huh, the memories don’t include that little detail? Seems rather important.” Cecilia replied.
“I think she thinks that… I’ll run into it eventually… probably one of the Lizardkin Empires has a few piles in their vaults…” I said.
“Well then for now, we should get you some sacrifices for this Crown…” Cecilia said as she turned the coin in her hand.
For now I’ll check how many death row prisoners we have…