“That monster is going to return. It is nothing so simplistic as those dregs, we will have to expend all that we can in eradicating it.”
Cyrilla hears the voice of the elder Hakon while dangling on the edge of consciousness. She can’t feel anything anymore, but she saw what happened. Carlo was crushed by the spell intended for her. Thanks to her protective magic, she got out with only broken bones. The younger Hakon made his father stop the gravity spell before it killed her. He still wanted the icon of his sick obsession and told his father that he would take responsibility.
While she couldn’t move, the younger Hakon dragged Cyrilla over to the scorching earth which killed her friends, her inspiration. She could see them, smell them, while the younger Hakon seared off the tattoos which empowered her. Concurrently, the elder Hakon was being attended to by upperclassmen who sought enough favor to be invited to one of the high family’s parties. Anna’s last light faded away as his wound closed and the elder Hakon was free to round up the other two rebel units. Cyrilla doesn’t know who was captured, who was killed and who, if anyone, escaped.
Now, the upper-class wants to take away the last thing Cyrilla has. The daughter who has become her final hope once again.
“Father, if I may, how can we be so certain that she will return?” asks the younger Hakon. He still has his hands on Cyrilla. She knows that he does. She doesn’t know where he’s touching but it’s disgusting nonetheless.
“If it was allied with these tenacious rats then I consider its return an inevitability. We should consider ourselves lucky that we are allowed the time to prepare for a monster attack,” the elder Hakon admits.
“Would it not be more intelligent to simply move our family over to another settlement?”
Cyrilla hears booming footsteps come closer.
“It seems you do not fully understand, Wyatt. This monster attack is not a threat, it is an opportunity. Our power within our domain may be absolute but it is confined within Echor’s walls, just as we are. As things stand, the monsters will forever be superior to us and we will be cursed to eternally walk these same streets. We could have more- not just another settlement but the entire continent. If the dregs could survive out there for so long then it should be no trial for us, our victory in this battle will be proof of that. Come, we must properly arm ourselves, and leave that mangy thing behind.”
No, the footsteps weren’t from him. They were farther, though now it seems everyone else has realized. Echor is shaking. There is no time to prepare. She is here.
Adrium’s pace as she returns to Echor is casual, no sense of urgency to her stride. As if, in her mind, the result of the battle between the rebels and the upper-class is inconsequential. What’s more, she now exudes an inexplicable pressure. As she retraces the same steps taken by the R.U.N.N. unit this same day, the lower-class and remnant guards she passes near step back as if by instinct.
“Perhaps humans are rather slow. It took them this long to realize what the wilderness always knew?” Adrium notes to herself as she saunters along.
The response she receives upon entering the inner-circle is no different. The upperclassmen are frozen by some unseen, heavy atmosphere, unable to even lift their tomes. An unspoken understanding regarding the being before them passes around and prevents them from worthlessly throwing their lives away. Continuing to follow the earlier treaded path, Adrium then comes across the charred crater where several R.U.N.N. corpses yet lay. She is able to discern Garv from his size and Anna due to her burning being relatively lesser to the others.
A momentary look of surprise is replaced with a smile after Adrium confirms she recognizes none of the other bodies. “I hope that your voice is finally able to rest. Worry not, I will be a more than worthy successor.”
The two Hakon have already fled the scene once again. Only upperclassmen who were meant to serve as distractions were left behind, though a glance of Adrium is enough to deter them from playing such a role. “I suppose it’s time to see my new home,” she muses as she wanders towards the settlement’s centre. Finding the high family’s mansion was no tall task as it predictably stood far higher than any surrounding it. A pristine structure trying to be noticed among the other upper-class homes.
“I shall have to do some landscaping once I’ve established myself,” Adrium comments as she glances at the surrounding lesser mansions. “I wonder how difficult it would be to grow in some turquoise shrubbery?”
She enters the high family’s mansion. A row of slaves ordered to be more throwaway bodies stand immediately in her way, though they easily topple aside with a glancing push. “You make horrendous decorations,” Adrium tells them as she sizes up the rest of the foyer. Messy, stuffed full of various gifted trinkets that have been put up front to display how much the high family ‘appreciates’ them. Most prominently are the portraits of the high family’s past heads and the skulls of miscellaneous creatures of the wilderness.
“Such humbleness, they were reserved enough to not display the human skulls as well?” Adrium jests as she continues on. Grand doorways flank her left and right and an upward stairwell awaits before her. “Does the inclination to be punctual befall them and the hosts or myself as the host-to-be? I feel I will have to go to them, but…” she takes a cursory glance at the left door. “I do wish to see what I’m working with. There’s so much pride here, I must know if it is at all justified before it withers away.”
Adrium decides to take the scenic route to the Hakon who await her, checking every room before exposing them to her presence. It’s like a game, whether it be dining room, living room or study there are always more servants cowering. A positively excessive number of them in total, by Adrium’s standard.
“How would one even keep over a hundred servants busy? They must be quite bored much of the time. I would prefer a number closer to thirty.”
After the second floor, Adrium finds that many of the rooms are the exact same as one another. The third floor is practically a recreation of the first, just without the opening hall, and the fifth is just the same. The sixth floor, on the other hand, offers some originality in the form of the Hakon’s personal quarters. She’d seen the servant bedrooms, though she was certain they would not compare to the ones here despite how well-kept they were. A hunch which was proven correct as she steps into Wyatt Hakon’s room, which is practically a compact library and study hall with a bed crammed into it. Adrium is sincerely impressed with the air of effort that lingers here, though underneath it is the unmistakable sensation of obsession. Hidden under the younger’s bed are a collection of paintings and scribbles which all, at least vaguely, depict a young, black-haired lady.
“Well, he certainly made none of the portraits downstairs, but this is unmistakably…” Adrium pauses for a moment, as if a sluggish sense of urgency finally catches up to her. “What am I doing? I’m leaving her alone with these disgusting degenerates, I must-”
Before she can finish her thought, Adrium is struck from behind with a bolt of flame. An impressively precise and measured spell, cast such that it would not burn the room around her. Yet, as the spell flows over her the handful of sketches in her hands are given no such reprieve. The woman’s visages are quickly turned to ash and fall away from the utterly unaffected Adrium. She turns to see the assailant, a sexagenarian woman wielding an entirely run-in-the-mill tome in her hands. There is death in her eyes, as with everyone else Adrium has passed the woman clearly understands the danger she poses. Adrium recognizes the overpowering feeling that is pushing that fear back, though. It’s the same as when she lashed out against her mother; a built-up, territorial instinct.
“You must be the lady of the household?” Adrium informedly presumes.
The woman does not budge or answer, staring Adrium down with a spiteful scowl.
“A feisty one, I respect that will to act,” Adrium appeals, taking a step closer. The woman still does not budge, not even attempting to draw another spell from her tome. With a sly, cocky smile upon her face, Adrium gently clasps the woman’s face in one of her hands. “I do hope I get you along with the household,” Adrium chirps as she eloquently passes by.
The woman’s head sharply turns in response and words finally force their way from her throat. “This place will never be yours, wretch! My husband will have your head!” she growls.
The words only further empower Adrium as she heads towards the stairway for the seventh floor, no longer interested in the other bedrooms.