Book 4 chapter 6
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Hecatolite hummed happily to herself as she sat in the corner of the council meeting hall. Sure, she wasn’t exactly happy to have to sit through another boring meeting, but unlike yesterday this time someone brought snacks, so it wasn’t exactly all bad.

She stretched her legs out before her, her tail mimicking the motion as she smiled. She didn’t exactly like the clothes she had but they fit, and the tailor had said he could even make her some more, better fitting, clothes by the end of today. So, she had that to look forward to, and then there is the other bonuses… 

She glanced over to Eryl who now wore a form-fitting outfit that complemented her quite well. Her eyes wandered up the woman’s long legs that were hugged by the soft leather pants, leading to a dyed green top paired with a leather vest that complemented her ample curves just right. 

The outfit had a few pieces of leather armor Eryl could attach when they set out, but as for now she only wore the vest for, as she said, support. Hecatolite couldn’t help but smile as she imagined the entire outfit.

Fully dressed Eryl looked every bit the fantasy elf Hecatolite imagined, with light leather armor in muted brown and green colors. She was only missing the bow! Then again, she had been a bit disappointed to learn that Eryl did not in fact use a bow, not that she couldn’t, but instead was more geared towards hand-to-hand combat. 

Hecatolite had found that odd when she heard it, but after remembering just how strong she was without using her magic it made sense. She had managed to hold Hecatolite back when she fought the heroes, even if she hadn’t been actually trying to hurt Eryl, it was still really impressive. Not that Hecatolite expected anything less, Eryl was the admin after all. 

She couldn’t help but wonder just how strong Eryl would be now that she could use her magic? Maybe she could even fight dad! 

Hecatolite bit her lip trying to imagine the tall, beautiful elf fighting, her tall lithe form dancing around an opponent as gracefully dogged attacks…

Slowly the image distorted, the battlefield fading away to a large room as Eryl’s leather armor shifted in her mind to an elegant dress. The tall woman twirling around an empty hall, her sporadic movements of combat becoming a following dance that filled Hecatolite with… happiness. 

Hecatolite couldn’t help but smile as she imagined Eryl dancing, the flowing elegant movements fitting the woman far better than the jerky movements of combat.

“Hecatolite,” Amethyst nudged her sister, “You’re humming again.”

Hecatolite blinked, just now realizing she had closed her eyes. “Oops.” She replied sheepishly as she noticed all the elders now looking at her. She glanced at her smiling sister, “Sorry, got bored.” She returned her sister’s smile. 

Hecatolite sighed as everyone went back to what they were doing. 

“As I was saying,” Cemi cleared her throat as she addressed them, “We would be happy to enter an official treaty with the Empire of Crown, but it simply does not seem possible at this time due to the dangers of sending a delegation to your nation.” 

Amethyst nodded, a dejected look on her face as she looked at the ground. She had… expected that. With the nation of Ocelina attacking their southern borders the only way to get to Crown now was either through Ecrein or sailing across the sea. 

Neither of which were particularly fast or safe, given Ocelina’s navy or the growing conflict in Ecrein. 

Yet she couldn’t help but feel… defeated. Without an official treaty everything she had worked for since arriving in Felnnor was… well pointless. The hiding their power, or waiting weeks with the elder Astari, even coming to the capital…

“Hey,” Hecatolite “whispered” to her sister. “Why do they need to send someone to Crown?”

“Because we can’t sign a treaty. They would need to send someone to actually talk to the Queen…”

“Is that it?” Hecatolite shook her head, “Why didn’t you just say so? Really, always doing these things the hard way.” Hecatolite cleared her throat, “Inutil?” Everyone jumped as the terminal appeared, the resounding thundercrack of Hecatolites terminal causing the guards to step forward only to be quickly halted by elder Errion who held up a hand.

“Send a message to… hmm it would probably be better to actually see the queen, wouldn’t it?” Hecatolite nodded to herself before turning to the waiting terminal, “Mom. Yea, send a message to mom…”

 

Taaffeite couldn’t help but let out a content sigh as Alistair rubbed her shoulders. His strong hands cut though the dull pain from the morning as he chuckled.

“You overdid it again, didn’t you?” he asked, his thumbs digging into a knot between her shoulder blades. The contrast between his warm hand and the cool metal hand acting as a soothing balm against her tense muscles as he worked.

“We’re preparing for war,” she winced, “I don’t think one can “overdo it.”” 

He nodded, “That is true, but you need to remember that most of them are fresh recruits, love. You really should leave their training to Hans and the other guards.”

“I would if the person in charge of the guards didn’t keep running off to fight drakes on the edge of the forest.” She glared back at her husband, who didn’t even have the decency to look ashamed as he beamed at her.

“What can I say,” he shrugged, “We sent the only high-ranking party in the city to pick up the girls. Someone needs to take care of the beast while they are gone.”

“Send the guards.” She rolled her eyes.

“Then who would train the volunteers and recruits?”

She bit back her reply knowing arguing with him about this would be pointless. Alistair was, after all, an adventurer at heart. She knew that when she married him. When it came down to it, he would run off to battle monsters above all else, he was really only the leader of the guard because it was the only thing she could get him to do with any amount of consistency, and most of that was delegating work to Hans. 

The real problem was the fact he wasn’t wrong. The increase in the monster population was a problem and having him out there slaying anything above B rank really wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It's just… “you’ll need to work with them a little bit you know. At least run some formation drills, so they know what to expect if you start going full smokey around them. The last thing we need is our own troops panicking when you cut loose.”

She hated to admit it, but she knew firsthand just how terrifying a full powered Alistair could be, anyone not ready for it would likely cut and run the moment he let loose. Not to mention needing them to practice avoiding a high-powered mages area of effect. Between Alastair and Alexa, the likelihood of collateral damage if they aren’t trained is far too high for her liking. 

She would train them without him if she could, but her magic really isn’t suited for wide area battles, unlike him who could turn an entire city block into an inferno… I need to look into getting them all fire-resistant armor. She would get them temperature-controlled armor like Amethyst’s, but it was simply too costly to produce, not to mention the amount of mana needed to run an enchantment like that was far too taxing on the average mage. 

No, they really will only need to worry about the fire. Unlike her father Alexa likely wouldn’t be in the thick of battle with the troops, and Taaffeite was confident her daughter was smart enough to not unleash any of her powerful spells into a melee of her own allies.  

She leaned her head to the side, letting him work on her neck muscles as she filed new armor for the guards away in her mind. “Please tell me you managed to clear out the drake den at the very least.”

He laughed, “I did. Even got the carpenters set up around the area to start zoning out a wall. They're gonna start building it tomorrow, and once the wall is up, they can start working on the houses.”

She nodded, that… was good. That means they are on schedule for the refugee town and just on time too. If her estimations were correct Amethyst adventuring party should reach the Timberland tribe any day now. The party would deliver Irithyl’s letter and then it would only be a matter of time until the refugees started pouring in. 

The Queen’s idea to enlist the Wolf-kin tribe to help deliver the message to further tribes about Crown’s offer of sanctuary had been a simple but overall good plan. The Timberland tribe was well respected in Ecrein, not to mention their alliance with our nation making them the perfect spokesmen. Along with their ability to travel long distances relatively quickly, they really were the best option for messengers. 

“At this rate, we will probably see the first few refugees within the month. Hopefully it’s only a few and we have time to set up the makeshift town before the bulk of them arrive.” She commented offhandedly picking up a report from her desk and skimming it. 

Alistair simply nodded along as he continued to massage her stiff shoulders. 

Neither of them even blinked as a terminal appeared before her desk. “Message from Hecatolite Lapidary, X47 the mad devour. Yes, I am sure I want to send it to mom. Ahem, Hi mom! How are you doing? Not working too hard, are you? I know the whole world is kind of at war but be sure to take a break every now and then, ok? Drink tea, I hear that helps with stress. How’s dad doing? He should drink tea too, it’s good for you. We are fine by the way, we met a lot of really strange people, like the man made out of vines who lives in the forest. Big guy with a cool skull hat, he's a good guy, talks a lot but he gave me a cool skull! I… I broke it, but Fish-eggs says she can fix it so that’s good. Oh yea, I killed a waterfall, but it was a jerk that attacked Fish-eggs while she was going to the bathroom so yea... Amethyst was going to kill it but it kept attacking me so I kind of chomped it. We were going to bring it to the council but it kept running away so I used its soul to fix up Fish-egg’s leg so she can walk now! But that’s ok because I asked All-goose before killing it, and I definitely did not eat any of its soul. Then we met the eleven council! They are a bit… weird. They are run by an old guy who has a bunch of little people in him like a robot! I saw it with my own eyes, they were driving him around like a meat mecha, it’s super weird. Then there is All-goose, he's the chairman of tour giving, he tries to act all tough but he’s a good guy, he took us around town yesterday and showed us a bunch of cool shops. We bought everyone some souvenirs, don’t tell anyone but I think he has a crush on the other chairperson Cemi, I am pretty sure she's the chairwoman of fashion or something; given she keeps changing clothes and was wearing a winter coat in the summer, but she’s nice. And get this, he already has two wives! Scandalous I know, but they would make a cute couple. I… think I got distracted again. Oh, I remember, hey mom are you by the Queen? We wanted to set up a meeting but the elves are too scared to travel, apparently just because there is a war going on it’s “too dangerous”, so I figured we could use the spell I used to talk to Siofra. But it needs a strong illusion mage. I mean, me and Siofra did it, but she’s a goddess and I’m awesome. It took a lot of aether too and well you’re super strong and an illusion mage so it should be super easy for you to cast it. Also do you have any guest terminals laying around? I figured we could just give one to the elves so we didn’t have to come all the way out here to talk to them… yea a guest terminal… it’s a terminal we made so anyone can call us… well we only made one so far for the Queen… Why are you so mad about it huh? If your terminals were so great, then why were we able to take one apart huh?... Eryl is really mad now. I don’t know why she’s so mad about it, we made one of her terminals better… She’s asking Amethyst to show her the terminal we made… oh, wow she’s actually turning red… ok, well I got to go now. I miss you guys! I can’t wait to get home and show you my new body! It’s amazing, I have a tail now…”

Taaffeite sighed as she picked apart the message, a simple task when someone knows what to look for really. The meeting with the elves seems to have gone well if they are willing to open a channel with the Queen. And a guest terminal wouldn’t be a bad idea, instant communication during the upcoming conflict could prove to be invaluable… but this Eryl woman…

It was obvious that the elven woman Eryl was… important. Algimar had gone out of their way to enslave her and put her with the Heroes. And Hecatolite insists she has something to do with the world terminals… no, she calls them “her” terminals… Taaffeite leaned back into her husband’s hands.

“So…” Alistair drew the word out as he continued to massage his wife. “Are you going to…”

She sighed again, “What?”

“Well, she seems to think you are the only one who can cast the spell she needs…” Even Alistair didn’t want to pick at the still fresh wound. He may have moved past what had happened but he knew his wife still hadn’t even spoken to Irthyl since the ball. 

  She closed her eyes, lifting her hand to rest atop the cool metal of his artificial hand as she let his unspoken question linger in the air. “I cannot avoid her forever…” She muttered as the massive man engulfed her from behind, his smokey scent filling her senses as he rested his chin on her head. His curly red beard scratched her scalp as he spoke.

“Do you even know what spell she is speaking of? Maybe it's not that complex? Saffron is also well versed in illusion magic, maybe she could?”

Taaffeite scoffed, not because he was wrong; Saffron was indeed a rather skilled illusionist. But, “Babylon, can you show me the spell Hecatolite spoke of?”

“Yes,” the terminal chimed, the message blinking off the screen as an image of a spell circle appeared. “I believe this is the spell Hecatolite referenced in her message. This is the array for the spell “mirror link”. Please note that though this spell was used to converse with the goddess Siofra it is ill advised to use any form of magic across realms.”

Taaffeite ignored the terminal's warning as she looked over the spell. It was… complex. Not impossibly so, but she could see why she had never heard of it as a spell before given it would require two people with a considerable amount of mana to cast in conjunction with one another. 

Even if they attempted to create an enchantment out of the spell it would simply be too taxing to be practical. But that being said, “Saffron could definitely cast this…” she pondered as her husband continued to nuzzle her.

“Then there may be a reason she asked you to do it instead?” He commented, and she couldn’t help but feel he was right. 

Hecatolite may be scatterbrained, but they quickly found out she typically had a reason for everything she did. Sure, most of the time the reason was because she wanted to find out what would happen, but… “I…” She bit her lip before rubbing the bridge of her nose. “How long would it take you to fly to the capital?” she finally relented.

Alistair shrugged, “at full speed I could probably keep up with Saffron so… about 3 days?” He wasn’t confident in his answer as he had never had to fly long distances, but he was certain he could make it there faster than if he had to take a cart.

Taaffeite nodded, “Send a message to Hecatolite. Both your father and I are doing fine, thank you for asking. I am glad to hear you and your sister are both well, and though I cannot say I am happy to hear about you killing a… water mage, I assume, I am happy you are safe. Though Hecatolite it is rude to poke your nose into other people’s personal lives. I am sure neither… All-goose or Cemi want you meddling in their business, whatever that may be. Also please don’t call the eleven elders “weird” to their faces, it’s not nice, we talked about inside thoughts before, remember? That being said, if you give me four days, I can prepare to cast the mirror linking spell you asked about, you and your sister will need to wait until then if that is acceptable with the eleven council. Also, if you remember, we were only able to create one guest terminal as they required a world screen as a basis. Maybe your friend Eryl can help you create another one over the next four days while you wait for me to get to the capital? And… it's nice to hear from you, please Hecatolite do try to write more often than once every few weeks, and not only when you need something. Please write to Saffron as well, she has been worried sick about you. I love you both, please stay safe.”

She nodded at the message before clearing her throat. “Send a message to Amethyst, Amethyst will you be so kind as to ask the eleven council to give me four days to prepare the spell. I love you both, please stay safe and be sure you both stay out of trouble…”

“If you get into trouble, be sure you win.” Alastar quickly added and the terminal, much to her chagrin, added it.

“Yes. Be sure you both return to us safely. Love mom.” She glared at her husband who returned her ire with a carefree grin. “And you,” she gave up. “Get ready to go.” She sighed. She wasn’t looking forward to her long overdue meeting with the queen. 

 

“Oww.” Hecatolite whined as Eryl actually grabbed her ear as she pulled her towards the door to the council room. “Why are you…”

“Exactly what were you thinking.” Eryl murmured, releasing her as the door closed behind them. her ears folded all the way back as she actually glared at Hecatolite who rubbed her ear.

“What do you…” Eryl cut her off by slapping her over the head with the terminal she took from Amethyst.

“I specifically asked you to not bastardize my terminals!” The elven woman actually yelled and Hecatolite flinched.

Eryl… had been mad at her before but she never yelled. And she surely never slapped her before… She must be really mad, but… “First off, they were broken before I even touched them. If anything, I fixed it!” She exclaimed, her tail slapping the floor.

“Fixed it!” Eryl actually shook as she yelled, “You tore over half the enchantments out of it! All the protections!” She slapped the terminal in her hand against her open palm, “you ripped it completely from my system! Mother help me, you completely destroyed it! Do you know how long it’s going to take me to repair that single terminal? It honestly would have been better if you just ripped it apart at this point!”

“Repair it? It still works perfectly fine,” Hecatolite hissed, meeting Eryl’s glare with one of her own. “It’s even better than before since it’s now being useful instead of just sitting around doing nothing! But if you want one to fix so badly, I’m sure mom still has all the parts of the one we broke. You can have that one back, but the guest terminal is perfectly fine the way it is.”

“The… one you broke?” Eryl clenched her fist. She knew Hecatolite thinks she “broke” over a hundred Babylon terminals, but those are self-repairing! And even the couple hundred that were damaged during the incident with the moon could be forgiven, after all the system was trying to divert a disaster. But this, this was something completely different. “You went out of your way to mutilate two of my terminals! Not only that, but you also did it in front of others! Do you have any idea how dangerous enchanting like this could be? My terminals are so far more advanced than anything in this world, a single one of them could disrupt the balance and you taught people how to recreate them! If just one ring is out of place it could be catastrophic! The fact you didn’t level a city with this,” she gestured at the terminal in her hands, “abomination is a blessing in itself!”

“Abomination!” Hecatolite lifted herself to be eye to eye with her, “You think they are so special, or maybe you can’t stand the thought that someone else could recreate your “precious” terminals. That maybe, just maybe, your system isn’t as special as you thought. After all, it only took mom and Alexa a few hours to figure out how to make one.”

“You don’t get it!” Eryl yelled, throwing the terminal to the side and stepping up to Hecatolite, the two actually bumping chests as their eyes met. “It’s not…”

“Of course, I don’t get it,” Hecatolite cut her off. “No one could, after all we aren’t mighty Admins like you. If the terminals are so damn dangerous, why are they even on this world huh? My rings were “dangerous” and you removed them, so why are your precious terminals any different? Because you made them? Huh? How will people ever learn and grow if anything you deem dangerous is deleted?  Because your so fucking infallible, so damn perfect, the mighty admin of the system could never make a mistake, could you? You're just like them, always thinking you’re so perfect, you can do no wrong, well,” Hecatolite leaned into Eryl, her voice dropping to nearly a whisper as she spoke into Eryl’s folded ears. “I got a secret for you Eryl. You precious system is only the latest in a long line of fuck ups, it’s a test, a beta. Even if your beloved never dies make mistakes, your Mother isn’t even the first and doubt she will be the last. They just delete anything they think is unsafe, always restricting growth because it might be dangerous. Because, of course, no one in the world could be as clever as them, how could they? They never have the chance to be clever. You are not protecting people Eryl, you’re controlling them. The illusion of safety though obedience is not safety, its slavery. What I created was just as safe as your terminals, as this fucking tree we are standing in, but since it wasn’t made by you, you can’t see that. Mom and Alexa made that terminal with me right there watching them, with your precious system guiding them, were there dangers? Sure, but one will never grow in a bubble. You should just make process of growth as safe as possible and hope they don’t stumble.” 

Hecatolite leaned back, meeting Eryl’s eyes, her crystal red eyes boring into the elven woman with an intensity that would have cowled anyone else. 

But Eryl… Eryl was mad, no not just mad. She was livid. For the first time in her long life Eryl was truly angry, and Hecatolite just didn’t get it. What she did, how dangerous the knowledge she just threw into the world was. And how could she? She’s… she’s insane. 

Eryl’s hands shook as she met Hecatolite crystal gaze with one of her own, her heart thundered as her mind was pulled in a million directions at once. She wanted to yell, to remove the danger from her world, to…

A sharp clicking sound drew both their attention as Himari tapped the floor in the doorway with her cane. A concerned Amethyst peeked around her as they both looked at the two women. “Enough you two.” Himari said in a strangely authoritative tone that did not fit her young appearance at all, “you both need to calm down.”

“Calm down?” Hecatolite cocked her head, “I am calm.”

Himari just looked at her, an eyebrow cocked and much to Eryl’s amazement Hecatolite broke, looking away from the woman who just stood there. Himari sighed, “We have told the council of your mother’s plan and they agreed to house us until such time as they can meet with the Queen, no thanks to the two of you. Seriously, having a screaming match in the hall of a council chamber, children.” Himari looked at Amethyst who gave her a weary smile. The young woman even going so far as to give her a thumbs up as Himari sighed. “I will take Eryl to calm down a little bit, maybe you and Hecatolite can go with Alagoas? Some time apart will do them both good.” 

Amethyst nodded and rushed to her sister’s side, Hecatolite having lowered herself to stand on her own two feet. 

Hecatolite gave her sister a sheepish look, at least having the decency to look somewhat ashamed of herself she muttered, “Fine… sorry.” She huffed as the two of them ran back into the chamber room.

Not that it did anything to quell the anger building in Eryl as she glared at Himari. Her jaw clenched tightly as something in her held onto her anger, Hecatolite was a danger to this world, to everyone around her! And now Himari is just going to let her run off unsupervised! No, Eryl is the admin of this world! It is her job to correct these things! She will get Hecatolite, and make the girl understand!

Eryl stepped forward to follow the two only to actually flinch back when Himari stepped in her way, her cane giving off a sharp cracking sound as she stuck the floor with it. “You won’t accomplish anything like this.” She stated calmly, “If you meet her with anger, you will only receive anger in return.”

“I need to make her understand.” Eryl said through gritted teeth.

Himari sighed, “Come, explain it to me first over a cup of tea.” Eryl did not move to follow as Himari stepped past her, “You’re not going to make this old woman drink alone, are you? I can’t even read the language here, come, help me.”

And Himari, with a calm demeanor only a grandmother could exude, led a fuming Eryl out of the council chamber towards the city proper. Her own heart thundering in her chest as she sighed internally, a primordial and an admin having a screaming match over something so childish. Really, like two kids arguing over a broken toy. It… it was easier for her to imagine Eryl and Hecatolite as children instead of the nearly all-powerful beings they were. Maybe… maybe she will just do that from now on, it beats being afraid of them all the time. Then again, she did only intervene because Amethyst had asked her too. 

As she walked she couldn't help but recall the look of absolute loss on Amethyst's face as the two started yelling at each other. Himari… didn't like seeing her so confused. Hopefully, we can get this all sorted out quickly. She glanced back at Eryl, the taller woman's ears still pinned back with an almost pout like scowl on her face. Or, maybe the world will just end and I won't have to deal with two immortals going through puberty.

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