Ozorith looked the woman over casually from where he sat, taking in the fullness of her state with his eyes. “Not having the best day, I see.” He smirked a bit, both of them knowing that he was fully aware this was exactly the emotional point she’d have to be at to actually call upon him. Serilda said nothing, only glared at him defiantly and refusing to be baited by his mannerisms. “So. You learned my true identity and have taken it upon yourself to summon me. Here I am. How can I be of service?”
“You really do get some kind of sick satisfaction out of this, don’t you?”
“Naturally.” The demon grinned, but as usual it was not a friendly gesture. “It is not easy to shape a path for a woman such as yourself, so disciplined and unwavering in her convictions, to drive herself toward me. I think I am allowed a bit of satisfaction.”
Serilda frowned at him, her heart practically pounding in her ears. “Shape a path?” she asked suspiciously. Her voice grew dark. “Did you have a hand in all this? In driving Mythal into this stupid suicide mission?”
Ozorith chuckled, then held his hands up innocently as her glare deepened and she reached for her sword. “Relax, Serilda. I have had nothing to do with it. Faera’s business is her own, and she and I are hardly friends. I simply… made use of the opportunities that her plots afforded me. I have no interest in your lover.”
She continued to glare at him for a beat or two but ultimately moved her hand away from the hilt of her weapon. Xiuhcoatl was standing next to Serilda, hunched on all fours with her hackles raised, teeth baring in a low, murderous growl. “I see your wolf still has not taken to me.”
“She never will. She know you’re slime.”
He raised a brow. “Now, now. Is that any way to talk to the man you want something from?” Ozorith asked her slowly, a dangerous amusement dancing through his eyes. “Don’t forget… You asked for me.”
Gods, she hated this. He was so smug about this, knowing that she was backed into a corner. With every passing second she questioned her choice and built up her mental fortitude as if to simply throw the whole idea away and say forget it. But, she couldn’t. Mythal would die if she couldn’t find a way to get to him. He may die anyway, but either way she wasn’t going to let him face the fallen goddess alone. She had promised him that night back at the Oak Inn, seemingly ages ago now, that she would do everything she could to help him with this fight… and she meant it.
Serilda set a soothing hand on the wolf. The gesture did little to actually make the creature feel better, but she did stop growling and made an effort to at least appear relaxed. “If I were interested in this… whatever it is your offering me,” she said, looking him in the eye and making it clear with her tone that she was not yet fully committed to this venture so much as at least exploring its possibility. “What would it entail?”
He smiled, all too willing to answer that particularly question. “As you already know from my comrade, I am what’s known in hell as the Prime Sin of Wrath. Any demons that thrive off war, conflict, anger, resentment… they fall under my command and authority. Ruzatz explained to you already that I am drawn to mortals with such qualities as well, ones which you possess in abundance though they simmer deep within your core rather than flash on display around you. As a Prime Sin, I am able to establish a mortal as my… vassal, if you will.”
She certainly wasn’t sure that she liked the sound of that. “So I’d have to what, then? Seek out wars and fight in your name? Draw people to your name?”
“Hardly,” he said, waving a dismissive hand at her. “The requirements of the job aren’t quite so focused as that. Really, there is not much that you would have to change about your life as you currently live it. Wrath comes as easily to good men as to evil ones, and I don’t expect you to suddenly change your moral grounds just to start working for me. You and I both know that would never happen, no matter how badly you need my help.”
“Then what’s the point?”
“The point, dear Serilda, is that where the areas of my domain are allowed to foster, I grow with them. All Prime Sins are made stronger by the presence of their domains. Our vassals are selected with great care. We seek to find individuals that embody our desired traits naturally, whose paths will allow them the chance to flourish and display those traits as profoundly as possible. Take Agatha, for instance. Ruzatz chose her as his Hand of Lust because she was already a woman that exudes both sexual and emotional passion in a degree far above the rest of her human kin, to the point where she has won over both the bodies and hearts of men and women alike the world over -- and even at least one god that I know of, though Ramuh was far too possessive over her for that to work out in the long run.”
Ozorith shrugged as Serilda frowned. “Wait, Ruzatz’s wife is his vassal?”
With a snort, the Sin of Wrath told her, “Yes, a foolish notion, that. Marrying a mortal is absurd, but Lust always seems to be a special case. His aims are not always shared by the rest of us.” Ozorith rolled his eyes a bit, and it was not difficult for Serilda to understand that he held no great love for his comrade, nor respect for the other Sin’s human wife. At the very least it confirmed for her that the two Primes truly did not get along very well, as Ruzatz had once tried to tell her.
There was a small pause as Serilda thought the man’s words over. “So I would be what.. Your… hand of Wrath?”
“My Sword,” he corrected her slowly. “You would be my weapon, the mortal embodiment of my domain, to call upon and use my gifts as you see fit. It matters not what cause you use them for, so long as you ensure that those who would oppose what you stand for are made to see justice and to bend their knees before you.”
“But why me?” she asked. It tore her apart to keep asking all these questions, knowing that each second that ticked by was one more second where Mythal was facing his demise. But, she could not allow herself to accept this agreement with Ozorith without knowing as many conceivable details as possible. “Why do you think I am the best choice for this job?”
Ozorith shifted on the couch, making himself more comfortable. “A number of reasons, actually. As a noblewoman and an heiress with a successful business that caters and sells all over the continent, you already have strong ties to a number of influential people and thus have a name for yourself both in Fiore and other countries around you. You have not been with your guild for very long, but you have quickly risen through their ranks and made yourself known of your own accord, rather than just your family’s name. You lead with a firm hand, and are not afraid to get your hands dirty if it’s required to get the results you desire. Your future promises to be one of great impact in the mortal world, and would be quite beneficial to me.”
Her mind was racing over all this information, turning over every rock in her mind. It seemed simple enough, but therein lay the problem. It seemed too good to be true, and that was suspicious enough with any offer let alone one coming from a demon. “So you just grant me your powers and let me on my merry way, to continue living my life as I please? You and I both know it’s not so simple as that. Where is the catch?”
“So distrusting,” he chastised her, shaking his head with a smirk. Then, he went on. “There are certainly… drawbacks, I suppose? Though really that depends on your own opinion. Occasionally I may seek you for a specific job, of course, though this does not happen often. When it does, it’s rarely anything involving the designs of mortals as I don’t particularly care about their squabbles and wars, so long as they continue. If I were to call on you for something, it would be more in line with what you’re currently already planning on doing.”
By that, he meant fighting gods. She did not like the sound of that, but it made sense. He would only call upon her when necessary, and he would not consider a battle with mortals necessary. If she took this position, Serilda knew that she would be willingly signing up to get more directly involved in the affairs between demons and gods; a notion that did made her stomach churn just thinking about it.
He continued. “You would also have to be in regular contact with me, of course. Occasionally a couple of my generals if I am otherwise preoccupied. Additionally, for the tenure of your time as my Sword you would be immortal, in a sense. You may be killed in battle or by some force of intent, but will never take fatally ill nor die or suffer from old age. Most of my previous vassals were keen on that particular aspect of the job, though not all of them were fans of it.”
Well, that was certainly a stunner. It wasn’t every day one was simply offered immortality. Serilda wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about that part. Surely all mortals were at least a little curious about the concept, but even that kind of gift was bound to have its consequences. Plus, she definitely wasn’t thrilled about the idea that she’d have to interact with Ozorith on a regular basis. He was a creep through and through.
“Alright, then,” she said slowly, her mind still processing his words but pressing on to the next bit of information to keep them from wasting too much time. “What about the powers themselves that would be bestowed upon me?”
“It is difficult to sum the details, but simply put I would grant you aspects of my unholy magic -- the kind you would need to face a god such as Faera.”
Well that seemed straightforward enough. Which again just made her all the more skeptical. “How do I know you’re not lying to me about all this?” she finally asked him. “How do I know that this isn’t some ploy to steal my soul or something?”
The demon laughed outright at that, a short but somewhat boisterous display of entertainment. “Steal your soul? You humans and your superstitions. There are some demons that desire to own the souls of mortals, but those fall under the command of Greed and Gluttony. You may keep your soul; I have no use for it, just as I gain little from lying to you.”
Serilda shook her head. “I don’t know. This all seems too.. convenient.”
“Well in that case, allow me to clear up any misunderstandings,” Ozorith said. He leaned forward, bracing his arms upon his knees and fixing a dark gaze upon her that nearly froze her in place from fear and discomfort. “Being the vassal of a Sin, particularly mine, is no picnic. The parameters of the position are simple enough, but I am not a nice man. Unfortunately for you, we’ve little time to get into the details of that. Your cursed lover Mythal has already ventured beyond this realm, to a place where not even I can sense him. Make no mistake that he is within Faera’s domain already,” he spoke the last words slowly, letting them sink in and giving time for the panic in her to take root. “You do not have the luxury of time to think this through as much as you would like. So what is it going to be?”
Serilda gulped and looked away in thought, her face scrunched with worry. Mythal was already out of reach, fighting for his life more than likely. She needed to make her choice now while there was still time to help him -- assuming he wasn’t dead already. Even if he was, Serilda knew she would need to go and confirm it for herself. She would not be able to just live in wonder without knowing if he had actually died, or if he had survived but just gotten stuck. It would torture her every day.
“Fine.” Setting her jaw in determination, Serilda turned her gaze back to Ozorith’s and met it with an unwavering sense of confidence in her decision. “I accept your offer.”
He smiled at her. “Then we have no time to waste, do we?” Standing to his feet, Ozorith approached her and held out his hand to help her to her feet. “Come, my Sword. I must see to it that you are properly outfitted, and I cannot do that here.”
Hating herself for it, she begrudgingly took his hand and allowed him to pull her up from the floor. He did not let go of her after she was standing, but rather slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her a little closer to him until she was somewhat loosely tucked against his side. Serilda was surprised by how cold he felt to touch, even for someone like her that was quite resistant to low temperatures.
A warmer body pressed itself against her leg in the form of Xiuh, who did not hesitate to stay defensively at her mistress’s side. “Is the wolf coming as well, then?” he asked, looking down at the creature. Serilda could feel Xiuh’s blistering dislike of the man, who was being far too familiar with the woman as far as the hound was concerned.
“Where I go, she goes,” was the noblewoman’s simple answer.
“Very well. Let’s be off, then.”
All around her, Serilda could only watch as Mythal’s home seemed to melt away in her vision. It didn’t feel like they had travel so much as the world around them had shifted to bring them where Ozorith wished for them to go. A cold draft blew in as the temperature dropped significantly, and the ambience of bright light from the sun filtering through the windows was replaced by a dark glow more akin to moonlight.
The Voidwalker found herself standing in what appeared to be some sort of cathedral crafted of ice and snow. Despite herself, she was absolutely awed by the beauty of it. Its architecture was flawless, with countless pointed arches in doorways and windows. Great columns of ice stretched up to a beamed ceiling that was raised so far above her head that she could barely make out the details of it. Massive windows paned with ice as clear as glass extended up the face of the walls, with the dark light from outside casting rays through them into the room. It was a spacious hall, and at the far end of it where they stood was a dias with an ornate throne that was also crafted from ice.
He must have seen the confused expression on her face. “Not what you were expecting?” Ozorith asked her with a smirk.
It took her a moment to find her voice. “I’ll admit I was expecting a bit more… well, fire.”
The Sin of Wrath chuckled. “Most do, but fire is not as suited to my domain as ice is. Yet another reason why I was drawn to you, given your affinity toward the cold.” She didn’t exactly have anything to say to that, so instead she just kept looking around and taking the place in.
“Now, then,” he said, “I do need your pet to stand aside for a moment so we can complete this agreement.”
Serilda gestured for Xiuhcoatl to give her some space and the wolf did so, if reluctantly. The wolf was not at all thrilled to be in this place, which had set her almost entirely on edge. Ozorith paced around the woman for a moment, looking her over in more detail than Serilda was really comfortable with. As he came back around to her front, she glared at him defiantly.
“First thing’s first.” He waved his hand at her, and in an instant the throbbing in her head and stomach stopped. Her hangover had completely disappeared, leaving her feeling refreshed and rejuvenated like she’d gotten a night’s peaceful rest. “I will not have you going into battle at anything less than your best. You represent me, now, and I expect you to carry yourself accordingly… though with your upbringing, I do not believe that shall be an issue. These clothes will not do, however. They are far to common for someone of your stature, and will provide you no protection in Kingdom Darkness.”
“Faera’s domain, where she and her Trumpets, and the rest of her accolades, reside. The place where your lover is likely fighting for his life as we speak.” He seemed a bit amused by the idea, which made her angry but she swallowed the emotion back. Ozorith was clearly trying to goad her and she would not be that easily manipulated.
The icy ground beneath her feet began to shake a bit, and she felt something raising from the ice. A pedestal formed before them, and on it lay four items. The first was a set of armor which Ozorith picked up and offered for her to change into. Serilda accepted the garments but did not change into them right away. “Is there a room where I may change?” she asked, already figuring what the answer would be.
“You’re already in it,” he informed her simply, the smirk on his face all too knowing like he was looking forward to seeing if she would fight him on the matter or not.
The only evidence of her ire with him was a slight twitch in her jaw, but she did not hesitate longer than a second or two before she started stripping out of her clothes. There wasn’t much time to get to Mythal, and she wasn’t going to waste it arguing with Ozorith about something so stupid as modesty. She literally had more important problems. The demon didn’t take his eyes off of her once as she changed, content to stand back and observe with interest.
By the time she was dressed, Serilda had already decided the attire wasn’t really to her liking. “This seems… impractical,” she informed him bluntly. The armor itself was comprised of several parts. First was the breastplate, which was sturdy enough but only fell down just past her ribcage, leaving her stomach exposed. A turquoise colored gem in the shape of a diamond sat nestled between her breasts, of which a fair amount of her cleavage was showing, and the leather was a blue shade, trimmed with gold. Similarly designed was the bottoms, which was not a pair of pants and greaves but a long skirt. The leather of it was fashioned like the top and rested low on her hips, elongating the view of her abdomen. It was fastened together in the front by a clasp in the same of a demonic looking skull, from which several silver colored chains with large, heavy links draped toward the floor, tipped with sharp spikes. Beneath the leather part of the skirt was a sheer white material that was ratted and frayed to give it an almost wispy, ethereal look. The material was as open in the front as the leather, meaning that when she walked her legs would be almost completely bare.
The entire ensemble was tied together with a large cloth mantle that rested on her shoulders like a heavy cloak. It was a similar color blue as the leather of the armor, but trimmed in a soft white fur that complimented her hair. The pauldron on her right shoulder bore another skull crafted from silver, but this one was much larger than the one on her hips. It took up the entirety of her shoulder and ran down the length of her arm to the elbow, fashioned to look like a dragon’s skull with great ram like horns that wrapped down toward its snout. Cloth and leather bracers were fixed around her wrists, along with a matching pair of boots on her feet.
“It seems that way, but I assure you it will serve you well. It is imbued with magic that is specifically designed to protect against not just the magic of gods and angels, but specifically Faera.” When Serilda gave him a suspicious look, he smirked and added. “The fallen goddess and I have… a history. One that had brought us to battle many times in the past. It behooves me to keep items on hand that can withstand her influence.”
A fair enough answer, or at least the best one she was going to get at this time. “Very well. What are those?” Serilda nodded to the other three items left on the icy pedestal. One was a fist sized sphere that was perfectly smooth like glass and glowed with a pulsating light, as though there was magic swirling within it. Another was a jagged piece of what appeared to be black titanium ore. The final item was a hunk of black ice covered in frost and emitting a faint glow.
It was this item that Ozorith picked up first. It was a frail looking thing, riddled with cracks and crevasses like it had been shattered and glued back together. It was also horrifyingly similar in shape to that of a heart, and about the same size. As it turned out, there was a reason for that. Ozorith handled it with care, not because it was fragile but because it held a great deal of power in it that even Serilda could sense.
“This,” he told her, “Is what is left of the archangel Israel, once the Spear of my deific counterpart Zalona. He was charged eons ago with the protection of a kingdom deep in the Silent Glaciers, a kingdom that thrived for many generations across hundreds of years. But over time he became bitter as the people whom he cared for forgot that he existed and began to take his guardianship for granted. Eventually, his heart froze over and he fell, as did the kingdom itself.”
As he spoke of the angel’s heart, Ozorith lifted the lacrima in his hand. It was covered in frost that he used a thumb to smear away. Inside, similarly to the other sphere, Serilda could see magic like a fog shifting within before more frost built up and obscured her vision once more. “It is now a lacrima, one that I have imbued with my own magic… and will now bestow upon you.”
This was the power he had offered her. The power that would be able to sustain itself against holy foes such as Faera, though Serilda could hardly deign to consider such a foul creature holy. Ozorith placed the lacrima in her palm, and as soon as it came into contact with her skin she shrieked in agony and shock. Her entire arm had gone painfully numb as thought she’d been stricken with frostbite. The Voidwalker bit back the pain and forced herself to endure it though her body was shaking.
What had she gotten herself into? What had she agreed to? The lacrima in her hands felt wrong. Even she could sense the taint in it. A feeling of dread washed over her. Was it too late to back out of this? Could she turn it down now, before this unholy power was granted to her in full? Her mind drifted back to Mythal, and all she could envision was him struggling for his life in a realm of darkness, alone with no one there to fight or die by his side.
No. She refused to back down. Serilda had already signed her deal with this devil, and she would see it through. “What do I do with this?” she asked him, having never worked with a lacrima before.
“You must fuse it with your body.”
Fuse it? Serilda had no idea how to do that. She looked at the item with a mixture of trepidation and puzzlement, a look that her unholy patron did not miss. Ozorith shifted himself until he was standing behind her. “Here. I’ll help you.”
He slipped his hand around her waist again, his flesh coming into contact with hers, and pulled her back until she was leaned up against his front. Serilda was still in such pain from merely holding the item that she couldn’t even fight him or protest the intimate manner in which he handled her. That, and her mind was setting into a very real and active state of panic. This moment right here was the embodiment of her deepest fears, being subjugated to the will of a supernatural being that could end her existence with a look, handling a power that would change her life irrevocably and force her to accept responsibilities that terrified her. She trembled visibly, already fighting back tears from fright alone.
“Relax, Serilda,” he told her, turning his face so he could speak directly into her ear in a dark, hushed tone. His free hand reached out and cupped hers as it held the lacrima, pulling the limb closer to her body. The other hand which had been around her waist rose further up, his fingers trailing her side up past her breast and over her shoulder where he slipped it beneath the cloak to run the digits across her skin on her shoulder and neck. “We’ll make this as gentle as possible… though no matter what, I do guarantee that this will hurt.”
She could tell he was smiling as he said it, but Serilda was too paralyzed with fear to do anything but let it happen. Her eyes widened in shock as the hand exploring her shoulder suddenly came up to put a firm hold over her mouth. She gasped, granted a second or two by him to prepare herself before he pushed her hand -- and the lacrima -- against her bare stomach. It stung her just as hard there as it had on her hand, but then the sensation became worse.
The harder he pressed it against her flesh, the more agony coursed through her body. Every nerve she had felt like it was on fire as the item slowly seeped and melted into her stomach. She screamed in anguish into his hand and the tears that had built up in her eyes poured out in earnest. Her knees buckled, unable to support her weight as her mind focused completely on trying to overcome the strain being put on her body. The only reason she didn’t fall to the floor was because Ozorith had a death grip on her, holding the woman firmly against him as she squirmed and struggled to endure the torture.
The agony was mind numbing. She was barely even aware of anything else, even Ozorith as he ran the tip of his nose along the edge of her ear, reveling in her pain like it was making him drunk. The demon clutched her tighter, forcing the lacrima the rest of the way into her abdomen at a rate she wasn’t prepared for, eliciting another screech from her. “Good girl,” he crooned in a low voice. “You’re almost done.”
Her mind exploded as the power fused with her veins. Images and knowledge that she’d never known before raced through her mind in the blink of an eye like she’d watched an entire lengthy film in less than a second. The names of spells, as well as how to cast and utilize them, formed in her thoughts. She felt cold to the bone, like a great wind had chilled her to her core, and she was seeing stars like flakes of snow drifting across her vision. Enlightenment struck her with horrifying awareness as she realized exactly the type of magic that he had just bestowed upon her: god slaying magic, just like Mythal used but with a different element.
Once the merge was finally complete, Serilda was nothing more than a sobbing, quivering mess in his arms. Ozorith let out a sound that was almost a cross between a chuckle and a growl, pulling her up against him a beat longer before he simply let go and let her drop unceremoniously to the floor. The newly created god slayer clutched at her stomach, weeping and shaking as the pain began to ebb.
As it did, the demon lord walked away from her and back over to the pedestal. “Pick yourself up, girl,” he told her with a cruel, compassionless smirk. “Neither you nor your boyfriend have the time to wallow in self pity.”
Unfortunately, he was right and Serilda knew it. As agonizing as it had been -- and it had been a thousand times more painful than anything she had ever experienced either physically or emotionally, recent events included -- she needed to get going as quickly as possible. Using every shred of discipline and self control she had, Serilda choked off her tears and forced herself to stop crying. She stood to her feet, shaky but determined, and wiped her face with trembling fingers.
Another wave of his hand dried up her face, though it was still red and splotchy, and even fixed her hair so it no longer appeared mussed from not having been brushed in almost a day. “Much better,” he said, looking over the woman. The trauma of what she had just experience was evident in her eyes, but she otherwise looked the part of a well put together woman of high degree and station.
“Now, for your last two gifts.” Ozorith picked up the metal ore and the glowing sphere, bringing them both over to her. He held out the orb first, placing it in her shaking palm. “This is a very special item,”[/color] he explained to her slowly, as though aware that she may still be too shaken up to properly process everything around her. “It is a condensed, and highly concentrated bauble of my own powers. If you need a boost, simply crush it and it will unleash one of my deadliest storms -- and I think you’ve spent enough time around other slayers to understand what to do with it from there, as well as the price you may pay for consuming so much magic.”
She certainly understood. Serilda had seen with her own eyes as Mythal had devoured Markus’s magic, or at least what the effects of it had been. He’d taken on a form known as Slayer Force, which boosted his power to insane levels but at the cost of burning up equally insane amounts of his magic power. The same would be true for her if she used this item, she knew. The slayer tucked the orb away in a pouch on her armor, only nodding her understanding to him.
Lastly, he placed the ore in her hands. Though it greatly resembled black titanium, once she could feel it Serilda knew it was not any metal found on Earthland. It was cold to the touch but hard as steel, harder in fact. Her Void magic practically spelled out its molecular make up to her, advising her that this was one of the most durable metals she’d probably ever handle. It felt strange, as well. It had a dark taint to it like almost everything else did in this realm. She also sensed… something else. Something she couldn’t ascertain in her current state.
“This is your weapon,” Ozorith informed her, almost a bit proudly. “In its raw form, of course. Concentrate on it and will it to the shape you desire. He stepped back and gave her some room.
Serilda blinked at him for a moment, her mind and emotions starting to numb from the overload of experiences she’s just been subjected to. Taking a breath, she closed her eyes and focused on the ore, picturing her desire in her mind. The metal shifted as if alive, condensing and thinning itself out as it stretched from her hand until it had taken the shape of a new scimitar as black as a starless sky. She understood as it formed that it was the antithesis of her other weapon: an unholy blade to battle a fallen goddess and her ilk. It also formed with it a sheath that would veil its dark properties just as her other sword’s scabbard veiled its holy aura.
The Sin of Wrath smiled upon her, satisfied with his work. “I do believe you are ready now.”
“Thank you,” she mumbled numbly, holding the item loosely in her hands.
“It was my absolute pleasure,” Ozorith told her with a tone slick as oil. “Now then.” He stepped up to her one last time, slipping his fingers beneath her chin and gently turning her face up to him. For once he actually had a serious expression on his face, one that caught even Serilda off guard and brought her out of mental anguish enough to feel a little more alert and alive.
“Remember what you are fighting for,” the demon lord advised her quietly. “You are my unholy paladin, my Sword of Wrath… and wrath, rightly or wrongly, fights for a cause. Mythal, the man you love so much that you have forsaken all of your convictions to protect him, will die if you do not get to him in time. Do you understand?”
It was… odd to hear him saying such things. Serilda knew it was not coming from a place of caring -- at the end of the day, Ozorith couldn’t be bothered about whether Mythal lived or died. However, he did care about this woman utilizing her new skills and title to its fullest potential and bringing him glory, so to that end it seemed he could afford the time to tell her the words that she truly needed to hear.
Her hands tightened around the weapon, and the shaking of her body stopped. A sense of calm washed over her as it had when she’d called Ozorith before all this, at a time that now seemed hours ago though it couldn’t have been more than an hour. Serilda nodded, her chin dipping against his hand in determination. “I understand. I will not fail.”
Ozorith smiled again. “That’s what I like to hear.”
As he released her face, she asked, “How do I get to Kingdom Darkness?”
“The only way to get to Kingdom Darkness if you are not a being from the realm is by the guidance of one that is connected to it. I do not have that connection, thus I do not have the ability to send you there. However...” he said slowly, cutting her off before she could protest the notion that she’d just gone through all of this for no reason. “I know someone who can take you there, as do you. I will deliver you to him. If he expresses worry about helping you, as I suspect he might, assure him as my Sword that I will befall no ire on him or his for doing as you ask of him.”
Serilda strapped the new sword to her hip, and then went over to the pile of things she’d removed and picked up her other sword, strapping it in place beside the other. Gathering up the rest of her items, as it seemed rude to just leave them here on the floor, the woman called Xiuhcoatl to her side. The wolf hurried over at once, eager to leave this place. “I am ready,” the woman said.
“Excellent. Teach them what it means to be at the receiving end of my power… Oh, and do tell Faera and her puppets that I say hello, will you?”
As before, the scene around her melted away and she found herself standing back in the mortal realm, though not where she had been previously. Serilda was somehow unsurprised to find that she had been deposited outside the grounds for the Lusty Titans guildhall. “Ruzatz…” she whispered, voicing aloud her understanding.
A whimper drew her attention to her feet, where Xiuh sat in a full fret. “Oh, baby girl I am so sorry…” she whispered, dropping to her knees and wrapping the wolf in a tight hug. “It was not what I wanted, and not something you should have experienced. I promise we’ll work it out later, but right now I need you be patient with me. Please. If we don’t hurry, Mythal will die… can you do that for me, girl?”
The hound licked her face gently, seeming to understand. “Thank you.” Serilda held her tightly one more time and then made her way into the guild. What was strange was what she was sensing. Or rather, not sensing. Every time she’d come to Hosenka and passed near the hall, the noblewoman had all but needed to shut off her Void sense to keep from being privy to the goings on inside the rather lascivious guild. As of right now she could sense people inside, but there was no one participating in any deviant acts.
In fact, when she got inside it seemed like people were expecting her. Everyone looked up from their various places where they chatted and socialized, their eyes lingering like she was some person of note or dignity that needed to behold. Had they known she was coming?
Serilda frowned for only a moment before a familiar voice carried out from the far side of the room. “Serilda..!” Agatha beckoned her over to where she and Ruzatz were sitting, the gypsy getting right out of her seat and rushing down to meet her. “Lady Serilda, I am so sorry,” the younger woman said, tears brimming in her eyes. The woman was still stuck on the encounter with Hugo’s spirit, it seemed, tormented with the knowledge of what Serilda had been put through. “Are you okay?”
“I’m… I’ve been better,” the noblewoman answered honestly. In a display of compassion that she didn’t typically show toward individuals that made her nervous, Serilda placed her hands on the woman’s shoulders. “You are not at fault for what happened, Agatha. You warned me what I might face, and I had an idea of what would happen going into it. Please don’t blame yourself. Okay?”
Agatha nodded and threw her arms around the woman in a hug. Serilda accepted it, mostly because she sort of needed one as well after all this. Her eyes found their way to Ruzatz’s, a man whom she looked upon with a great deal of mixed emotions. There was still a wariness about her, but it had been heavily tempered for the moment by trauma, and determination.
Stepping away from the gypsy, Serilda turned to face the Sin of Lust. “Thank you,” she told him softly. “Thank you for finding him and sending him to me. If you hadn’t… honestly, I don’t know where I would be right now.” Despite the misgivings she still had, particularly after this last encounter with Ozorith, Serilda would not fail to ensure that Ruzatz understood that she truly was grateful and appreciated his efforts and his thoughtfulness.
“I know I don’t have the right after the way I treated you when we met last, but… I need to ask you a favor. I need you to send me to Kingdom Darkness.”