Chapter Four – The Hidden Hand of Cain – Part Three
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The meeting adjourned.

Rusalka rose from her seat and walked out of the manor with a sway in her step.

She departed together with her husband as an escort.

Until the very end neither one of them lowered their guard.

Crux couldn’t help but lean back heavily into his chair.

‘A lovely girl,’ He thought, ‘It’s such a shame, if the fortunes of fate had been different I’d have spared no effort to capture her. It’d be a waste to give her to one of my sons though.’

The Governor opened his eyes with renewed calm, his son and daughter knew not what was on his mind.

Ciara watched as Alex and Ru departed from her viewpoint at the window.

The woman walked the darkened streets with drunken steps, seeming to stand only with her man’s support, she wasn’t fooling anyone however.

Ciara felt that her gaze must’ve been noticed by them, for the man paused in his steps to look back at her, albeit only for a moment.

“What’re you planning to do, father?” Asked her brother who was standing behind her.

Crux glanced towards his son, then to his daughter, and then finally he turned his gaze upon the desk that lay in the corner of the room.

“I wonder,” He said, seemingly muttering to himself, “What do you think is better, to be loyal...or ambitious?”

Ciara stayed silent, but her gaze was obstinate as ever.

She could not forget the way that Rusalka so proudly showed herself off.

Without showing skin, she was as alluring as a woman laying naked covered in roses, that woman was of such quality that Alexander hadn’t even looked at her in comparison.

Honestly, the whole thing stung her prideful heart.

Crux crossed his arms, his tired eyes showed a hint of their long gone youth as he imagined what to do next.

The table in the corner of the room began to move then, and together with the birth of an eerie presence which soon enveloped the chamber, it unravelled.

Crux himself was not the least bit bothered by this, and neither were his son and daughter.

The table took on a fleshy colour. What emerged then was a man clad in a silver suit of armour.

“Could you have been anymore obvious?” The man said as he stood up and stretched his stiff neck.

Cracking sounds echoed as the wood on his skin flaked off to cover the floor in splinters and shards.

The man stepped forward, he passed by the lot of them, even Ciara, to then peer out of the window.

Crux shot a cold glance at this man, this agent of Cain.

Venus’ fall was not that long ago, yet these invaders hadn’t become inactive just yet.

They’d scattered themselves into the settlements all around the country in a bid to sabotage the war effort.

Sometimes they killed the governors and took on their forms, but it was preferable to have those governors turn traitor instead.

That way they could expand their influence while not having to end up being tied down to any one city for too long.

“Side with her and die at my hand,” The man said, “Or side with me and become lord of these lands, your choice.”

The man was confident even now, even when the fact that Alexander and Rusalka had discovered him was clear as day.

He thought he still had the upper hand, but all Crux did was chuckle in the face of that.

Both his son and daughter couldn’t help but frown as they realised their father had firmly made up his mind.

“Did I ever tell you two about my mother?” He said, seemingly out of the blue. The man in silver frowned, yet the two youths did not, they were baffled in fact. “She was a Nidhogg woman, a prisoner of war captured by my father during one of the previous conflicts. I never had much pity for her to begin with, that’s just the way the world works, but then after I myself fought in another war with Nidhogg nearly twenty years ago, I witnessed their cruelty with my own two eyes. After that...well...I honestly thought to myself that she deserved whatever she got. I hate the Nidhogg as much as any true Centurion, and I did not even deign to take home any of their women. I’d rather they died at my sword, same as the men.”

Crux turned to glare upon their guest, that man in silver armour.

His smirk was cold, his eyes seemed mad as an old, burning hatred shared by all patriots of the Centurion Kingdom crackled within them.

“The only good Hogg is a dead one, as my old uncle used to say.”

The Knight of Cain shot him a glare. He had the mind to read between the lines however and realised that despite whatever else he was saying, Crux had not said he would join Rusalka’s war effort just yet either.

Rather the Governor seemed to be fishing for a response from him, he was testing the waters.

“Wait,” Ciara said, her heels tapped down as she descended from the ledge. Her obstinate gaze was as powerful as ever. However, unbeknownst to the man in silver, a somewhat enlightened shine gleaned in her eyes. She acted as her father wished she would, as she knew he expected her to. She acted like a brat, but did so with purpose.

“I want that man,” She said, and the man in silver began to ponder.

True enough anyone could tell that Rusalka’s existence had annoyed this girl, it was not outside the realm of reason that she’d want to take something from her, anything, indeed the most important thing.

The man from Cain pondered in silence, but Crux did not.

“Our own forces aren’t fit to defeat Rusalka’s, much less capture that clearly dangerous man alive.” He said, and the man from Cain began to ponder all the more.

Throughout his life Crux had killed plenty of men and stolen their wives and daughters, but now that his daughter had asked him to do the exact opposite he felt more than a little bit hesitant.

All of that was just an act, truth be told, but the Knight of Cain couldn’t see that.

“If the girl wants him, I can handle that,” Said the man who then turned to face Crux’ son with an ice cold smile, “What of you, do you not also covet that woman?”

Crux’ son chuckled, at least in spirit. This Knight of Cain wasn’t an idiot, by any means, but the environment he’d grown up in left him totally unable to recognise that he was being manipulated here. He looked down on them as country hicks, and now he was clearly paying for it.

“Very well,” Crux said, shrugging his shoulders as if to show he was giving up, “He’s your’s, provided you can domesticate him.”

The man from Cain smiled, as did Crux’ son and daughter.

The Governor watched then as he vowed to do the job, and then departed with spirit to prove the value of taking his side.

'The fool,' Thought the Governor, who had in that moment secured his side's security.

Indeed it really didn’t matter who won now, whether it be the people from Venus or this man from Cain, to him it was all the same.

Why should he care to be loyal over striving for personal gain?

He would simply throw his lot in with the victor, same as ever.