X.

It really thought that it was over. When her previous host failed he thought they would not be able to find another human as deranged and powerful.

Oh, we were wrong.

He cannot believe her luck, which is yet another thing that he thought they were never going to have since the Creator bashed them from Utopia. But, they found our next host, right amidst the darkness of a stony cellar and the tumultuous tides of powerless guilt…Oh, a child…the child of their previous host. No wonder…the benefits of sowing sins were that the first would lead to another. A tyrant of a father could only corrode the mind of his child.

So gently, they reached out to the child.

For once Lyra took her eyes off the object of her guilt and met our many eyes, “Father…?” Oh, she mistook it for her father? Poor thing.

Yes, child?

She tensed.

Just give yourself up…I will take care of it…

Lyra hated herself. She knew she did the forbidden, drew a dangerous precedent that took the strength out of her legs and left her a trembling mess gasping for life by a corner of the prison corridors. Don’t be afraid.

“Where are you now, father? Why can’t you take back the Empire?”

It doesn’t matter, I am here with you now…we will be invinci–

— “Lyra, are you still there…?”

Aldebaran’s voice snapped her back to earth.

“I’m…here.”

“You…must have heard everything” — Clearly, he didn’t see through her disguise at all — “I…I need your help…”

“I can’t…I’m sorry,” She already had too much temptation in one day, forcing herself to get up and make for the exit.

“I will draw the contract with you.”

She snapped to a stop, “What?”

“The contract Lord Claud always wanted…if you will be benevolent and grant me one condition.”

Benevolence? No matter what, a contract of this nature can only be drawn under the genuine and soulful agreement of each contractees, so the Nokshan can still bargain even if he is in his desperate situations…benevolence? Psshhh, “And the condition is…?”

“…A promise…to save my sister and to ensure that the Empire under your watch will not hurt my brethren.”

“…”

The silence choked him. Had he asked too much? In the panic of the moment his mind screened not his thoughts. When he heard the faint ruffles of her skirts and steps he held his breath. Slowly the even sounds retraced their paths, paused at the door, then uttered the spell she stole from the indiscreet priest. The door gave way and she entered.

“Is that all?” He did not comprehend the tenderness of her expression until he remembered sympathy. “Your request looks to the far, far future when a woman can actually inherit the imperial throne. Who knows it would be within my lifetime that such a thing should happen?”

“…Must you be an Emperor to have influence? Even so, precedents are meant to be set…aren’t they?”

“I suppose…” Her gaze found focus in a distance he didn’t see within the prison for a split second before she snapped back. “Your sister…is that Eridani?”

He gave an affirmative.

“You must really love her,” The demonic aura from the day when she stabbed him was gone. “Very well, I will take your offer. But, in exchange, you will aid me to such a position of power.”

Reading no objection from him, she extended a hand, concentrating on the tip of her fingers and, with a gentle wave, drew lines of ethereal runes sealing the promise. Shout it be broken, she paused to see that his determination matched hers, then the breaker should compensate with a soul.

A promise to serve and protect.

A promise of the Nokshans’ immunity from the Empire.

The lines of sunlight swam in the grey of the prison, merged, and circled about the contractees’ necks, the seats of the souls. The orbits closed, and her clouds of worries parted for the warmth of day.

Then all was over, glimmering thin air.

Did it even work? She felt her neck to find no dents or scars. Perhaps I failed?

She saw Aldebaran doing the same, and their identical movements would have been comedic had the situation been less severe. Then she saw the evidence of her success in the thin line of characters across his throat like fine stitches.

She snapped, and the cuffs about his wrists did, too. He opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again as he rubbed the abused skin, “What are you waiting for? We have to go find Eridani before it’s too late, don’t we?” She offered him a hand, while he blinked, paused, and took the offer.

The sudden strain of standing moved the ground beneath his feet, forcing him to lean against a stranger.

“…Perhaps you are in no condition to go as of now…huh?”

He was flustered, painfully aware of her frame and time pressing against him, “No, no, I am fine…”

Her arched brow questioned him, and he managed to steady on his own feet, choosing the support of the stone wall over hers.

“Shall we?”

Lyra scoffed.

You couldn’t believe how this all transpired. We didn’t think it would be like this. That foul, foul pigeon…to steal everything from us. How did he do it? How did that filthy Nokshan, with only his voice, drew the girl back from you? We didn’t expect such a thing. No, we did expect Nokshans and their meddling in the universal narrator…those flies, dirty minions of the Creator.  But he didn’t expect such an aura, warmth the rays of suns after a brief rain. So, pure…so…reminiscent of the Creator.

But…it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.

It

doesn’t

matter.

For forever they will confuse the minds and extract the souls. The tendrils of consciousness were boundless, and they will reach on. I will reach on.

Forever.

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