Chapter 14: Where to start
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The man had little to say, all this 'talk' business was just petty posturing. Gerald saw through the inexpert attempt at inflating self importance after a minute of roundabout 'discussions'. 

"Fine" he thought "let him peacock. I might learn something"

Kael on the other hand was getting increasingly fustrated by the man's antics. The poor boy had no idea what was going on, his social skills had suffered because Carl kept him caged up. He took things at face value and was easy to lie to because he did not suspect deciept. Still he wasn't stupid, he was going to figure it out any moment and when that happened.

"Are you saying that you refuse to obey the rules of our society?" The man inquired.

"You won't explain them to me!"

"You have made it quite clear that you are in a rush, code of conduct is simply not something I can rush through. If you would be willing to wait-"

"ENOUGH!" Kael spat out baring his pointy teeth. "I am done listening to this crap!"

The surrounding people stepped backwards at the sight. The shaven man paled and yet he went on.

"Your disregard for our laws is telling you savage beast!"

Kael looked the crowd finally catching on to the game at hand.

"What use do I have for rules when I have the strength to break them eh?"

"The creed of barbarians everywhere" the man scoffed.

Kael didn't bother with a retort he turned around and left daring someone to try and stop him.

"Not a bad answer, perhaps Kael isn't so bad at this after all.He couldn't present himself as anything but a monster not with the way he looks but perhaps he could use their fear for him to his advantage."

Either ways the little exchange had told Gerald what he needed to know. They didn't threaten force and because they couldn't, if they couldn't then they had one offensive deviant at most perhaps even none.

He was eager to find Kael and find out when he realised he could shape change or whatever and how long he could maintain the form. He couldn't though, not if he wanted to play this right. Leaving immediately it would paint him as Kael's man. Right now he wanted to seem like a bridge to Kael rather than a part of him, someone open to coercion and yet with some influence on Kael none the less. Now to approach the issue without seeming it was his idea.

"You..." The man said pointing at him, his expression thoughtful and mature.

"Sir?" He answered tentatively.

"I want you to befriend him, use that sob story of yours, him saving your life? Yes. Tell me what he is planning. We can't allow some new blood to ruin the careful balance we've built." The man said loudly.

"What kind of idiot would plant a spy in public?" Gerald thought but then he heard the murmurs that rose from the crowd in response to the middle aged mans words.

"He isn't concerned with what Kael tells me or even that Kael might find out about it. He's playing for the crowd but why? Why? Is he so fixed on what they think?" 

"I'm not sure he'd tell me anything and... and... if he... he found out" Gerald swallowed nervously visibly shaking.

"I am Baleanor, caretaker of all who reside under the auspicious grace of the Voth and I give you my wordno harm shall before you" he answered with as much dignity as a filthy nude man could muster.

Gerald knew this could be his chance to be the bridge he was so set on building but the main goal was still to gather men and lead them out. That wouldn't work if people didn't fear Kael more they feared the beasts out there. 

"If... if... I could have some time... to think" he said fearfully.

The man stared at him, Gerald begun to think he had messed it up, the stammering had been too much.

"I understand, but you need to understand that some paths don't end well. Take care young one."

"Oh good he was just preparing a drammatic threat." 

Every one left after that, the show was over but Gerald didnit doubt it would be retold over and over until every prisoner knew what happened. Kael would here of this no matter what Gerald did, not that he was concerned about that. 

More pressing was their current situation. At first glance their position here was better than Gerald had initially anticipated, he didn't know for certain yet but it semed they had only had one deviant. If the did have one then said deviant was wary Kael which meant he or she was of unsure their own capabilities together Kael and himself would be able to handle it. 

Suprisingly enough that was the source of the problem. Why were they so few deviants? Over the days he had infered that the prisoners were survivors from up to six different groups that had been ambushed separately by the Voth. No group of people would be stupid enough to travel through despaired lands with less than two combat oriented deviants. Sure he'd have to account for casualties during their capture, suicide, failed escape attempts and even sucessful escape attempts but it still seemed off. One deviant was too few, some of these people had been here for years any amongst them with the ability to deviate would have done so already. 

"Am I wrong? Is the remaining deviant a mad man who killed of the others? A battle junky who only Wlwaited for Kael to rise so he could sate his urge for a good fight? Or is it something else? Whatever the case being a deviant sounds risky, good thing I have Kael to play the role for me"

Brushing the questions aside for when he had gathered more information, Gerald went in search of Kael.

Walking through the tunnels was a ponderous thing. The near absolute lack of light, presence of roots, thorns,bones and such made it that each step had to be carefully measured and a hand kept on the tunnel wall at all times. Hopefully Kael's sense of smell would keep him from getting too lost. 

If he did find his way to the farm the thought of the men on guard duty who made sure food was worked for having to deal with Kael made Gerald smile. The sight of Kael's green eyes emerging from the dark alone would leave them shitting their pants.

"How did he even end up like that. He doesn't seem much stronger to be honest. Weaker actually but who knows what he can do? How long does he plan on keeping that form? Does he have others? Is this one of those impossibly powerful abilities? It would be like him to get a void defying ability straight of the bat"

Gerald spotted Kael huddled in a corner of the nearest mushroom farm. It was brighter than most rooms because the manure they applied stimulated the growth of glowing mushrooms and not just the crops. Still the smell was not worth the extra light and most people avoided them were they could. Oddly enough he was still in his shape changed form. 

He spotted the guards muttering amongst themselves excitedly. Looking at the farm he could see why. There wasn't much of a farm left. Just piles of smothered shit. Kael had been... thorough. It baffled the mind, why anyone want to gorge on mushrooms grown in shit, whilst still surrounded by it? 

When he got closer he could see that Kael was retching.

"Kael?" 

Kael looked up at Gerald, he couldn't remember ever feeling so horrible. 

"I can't vomit!"

"What?"

"I am physically incapable of throwing up"

"Why?!"

"Because it was an optimal design. Prevents the waste of resources."

"Thats stupid, why couldn't you just be physically incapable of being sick?"

Kael glared at Gerald. He did not bother to explaining that his being sick was a result of a mental rather than physical reaction to the shit. Gerald would probably ask some stupid question about why he was physically sick if it was a mental reaction. Kael knew that he would have. Gerald had no way of understanding the complex relationship between the psyche and the physique, if it hadn't been for Kael's ability filling in the blanks and Fragment, the name he settled on for the disembodied voice, tutoring him some more on it he wouldn't have known either.

"Just help me get out of here. I need some fresh air"

Gerald complied, the two made their way through the tunnels hand in hand. Kael found Gerald's measured steps to be annoying, but he reminded himself that it was so dark even his new eyes couldn't make out everything. They walked on for a while in a silence he would never have guessed Gerald could keep. Gerald had talked endlessly through out the time they spent travelling together.

Despite their efforts the scent seemed to follow them everywhere and then it finnally dawned on Kael that with his heightened senses the smell would not be leaving any time soon.

"There has to be another source of food" Kael grumbled eventually.

"We could always go top side"

"We could?" 

"There doesn't seem to be a reason not" Gerald said shrugging, although he figured Kael couldn't see it.

Kael thought about it for a moment and then he realised he didn't want to go back up there. The fear of almost dying to a flock of birds was not so soon forgotten. Then again he didn't want to stay down here either, the idea of fighting that snake thing frightened him more than a bunch of birds. 

"Are you going to explain whats happening or do I have to figure shit out myself hmm?" Kael asked, stopping in his tracks.

Gerald didn't answer rather he turned around and tried to peer into the gloom. He had realised that listening in on someone would be easy in the tunnels. The darkness would hide the pursuers and conversations would carry really well in the enclosed space. Only it would be difficult for pursuers to keep track of their marks, a point which was not too much of a problem when the target only knew the most popular routes and you had enough men to cover them all.

"I know you are feeling sick but can you check to see if anyone is following us?"

"I can't see anyone." Kael shrugged.

"You can see?"

"Yeah, not perfectly but good enough."

"Useful..."

"Now will you tell me what's happening?" 

"You go first. Your story is bound to be more interesting." Gerald answered indicating Kael's appearance with a wave of his hand.

"Fine, my ability is in two parts, three actually but the last one is beyond me."

"Go on."

"I won't go into the details but the first part is the ooze and the white tubes. The ooze injures and kills, the tube draws blood from the injured and killed. Somehow inside the blood of creatures is information on why they can do the things they do, their composition and what not. Long story short the second part of my ability can translate this information and replicate it with my body mass. The third part stores excess body mass from the fluids the tubes absorb amongst other things. Do you understand?"

"Wait you are saying you can copy any deviation by sucking blood?!"

"No!" Sigh " Let's start from the top a third of all deviations work based on something with little to no physical aid. Abilities like shooting lightning from your finger tips, flying without wings, you know what I'm talking about" 

"Yeah... evocation abilities, abilities that create an effect. Or something like that, right?"

"He knows the technical term for it. He can read?" Kael wondered.

"Exactly I get almost nothing from those, the ability isn't performed by the body so it's not in the blood. Since you know evocation you have probably heard the term transmutation abilities?"

"Where the user temporarily enters a state that allows him or her access to his deviation, transformation abilities like the Angel of black and red?"

"Uncle Steven yes, depending on the deviation I can learn something from those but not everything" 

"Then there is augmentors"

"Yes augmentors, on the surface they are are abilities with purely physical elements that cause permanent changes in the users physique. I get the most from these unfortunately even though though surface wise they are purely physical no deviation is purely physical. Humans rarely get augmentations its supposed to have something to do with GodMarked and negative shifts. Heavily debated subject anyways thats the sum of it"

"Well you still sound incredibly powerful"

"Not really all the best abilities are either evocation or transmutation. They do things mere bodies can't. Besides that I can only learn what the person has already achieved I can't grow any stronger than they were at the time. If I create exact replicas I'm always going to weaker than the original."

"Which is why you mix it up"

"There are disadvantages to that as well but yes"

"So your old body?"

Kael took a deep breath. It was time he admitted it to himself.

"I am basically an augmentor"

"So its permanent?"

"In a sense... my third ability allows me to forge new bodies and keep them where I keep excess mass"

"So do that!"

"I need a lot more mass and even if I had enough I don't, can't store nearly enough Despair to switch bodies once the second one is created." 

"Sounds kinda complicated"

"Not really. Your turn, what the fuck is going on"

Gerald took on a thoughtful expression.

"Where to start?" He asked himself wondering out loud.

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