“Sometimes, the truth is even more unbelievable than a simple lie. And, as people are, they often prefer to believe in simple things.”
Oh, Nova. What did you do? I reposition myself in my seat and eye the large group of representatives warily. They are heading my way and there is at least one of them for every major faction. I quickly take a look at my guards in order to make sure that they are paying attention.
This morning, I headed down to the island early. It's only the second day of the event and I wanted to make sure that my area, even though it is small, is in top condition.
The whole group stops in front of me when they realize that my guards are closing in on them. I choose to remain sitting in my comfortable chair and swing my left leg over the other to show that I don't fear them. Playing my role as the Sovereign perfectly, I raise my chin and study them as if they are nothing to me. “Do you need anything?”
Wisen, the second prince of the Empire, steps forward. “I think that you know perfectly well why we are here. Where is your granddaughter and what happened to my advisor?”
Gods, she really did it. “Advisor?”
“Hesh!” Wisen raises his finger warningly. “It must've been her! She acted strange enough when we met. Where is she?”
I try to play for time and send a mental signal to Nova. “It still feels as if I know only half of the story.”
A beastman steps forward. I assume that he is representing the Alliance. He folds his hands in an appeasing gesture. “This night, Hesh disappeared from his quarters. Wisen brought the issue before us, due to Nova's strange behaviour yesterday. We assume that she has something to do with it. We tried to confront her, but strangely enough, today she is absent.” He continues with a detailed explanation of how the case was presented to them.
“I can summon her, but I don't think that she will be pleased. Nova is an odd person.” I start chanting in my mind, 'Please be prepared for this, please be prepared for this.' I am starting to believe that an Alliance with Nova might have been a bad idea. Concentrating, I sent her another summons.
There is a flash of light and Nova appears next to me out of nowhere. I am a little impressed. It seems like she performed the teleportation on her own, a difficult and dangerous task if it isn't performed correctly. It also requires the ability to channel a sizeable amount of mana with absolute control. To teleport with such precision and without a teleportation circle is hard. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, given her expert handling of spacial magic.
Nova is wearing a normal brown robe - work-clothes - definitively not an attire to meet the major powers. There is also a dark smudge of something oily on her cheek. In her hands, she has two half-spheres. Their insides are made up of a complicated mechanism and interconnected runes. She looks around and turns to face me. “What's wrong!? I thought that we would only use a mental summons if we are being attacked.”
Maybe it's even a good thing that she doesn't look like she can be taken seriously. I gesture at the group in front of us. “In fact, it is important. These fellows are accusing you of abducting Hesh, Wisen's advisor. They are saying that you behaved oddly.”
The Alliance's representative nods. “We want that you allow us to perform a truth reading on you.”
Nova turns her attention to the group in front of us, then she laughs. “Yeah, sure. Why not? Can I also have a truth reading on you guys? My boy-toy disappeared yesterday, meaning that he is still on Illum, but I want to use the pretense to ask you some inconvenient questions.”
Wisen glares at Nova. “What do you mean?”
Nova ignores him and looks at each of the representatives in turn. “I mean that you are accusing me without actual proof that there even was a crime. Why do you even believe that stupid princeling? Have you checked all of the Empire's ships for this Hesh person? Maybe he is hiding somewhere. Oh, and I have to give you an important piece of advice. Truth readings don't work on me. They are a form of mental intrusion. I took careful precautions in order to block all such spells.”
Wisen’s face turns red with anger while the other representatives look mortified. He stabs an accusing finger at Nova. “Of course they have to believe me! It would take days to search all of my ships! The World Assembly would be over by then!”
Nova attaches the two half spheres to her belt and crosses her arms in front of her chest, a vicious smile on her face. “So you simply walk up to the ruler of another power and accuse them of abducting one of your people.”
I raise my hands in a calming gesture. “Everyone knows about the issues between my family and the Empire. I am not even surprised to find out that the Sociocrathy is in on this. But I expected better from the Alliance and the Consortium.”
Nova throws her hands up. “You know what? Let's make this quick. I will indulge you, just this one one time. But I’ll only allow the Alliance representative to read me. The others have to accept that they don’t have any proof against me if he fails.”
Wisen shakes his head furiously. “That’s not acceptable! She has to allow us to search Illum!”
But the Alliance representative and the guy from the Consortium start whispering, drawing in the man from the Sociocrathy. After a few quick comments, the beastman steps forward. “It’s true that one word stands against another. We accept.”
“What!?” Wisen squeaks. “She doesn’t even represent a proper power!”
The man from the Consortium clears his throat. “But she is closely affiliated with the Sovereign. While we are no friends of Illum, the iron rules which make the World Assembly possible can’t be broken. Even the orks are protected while they are here.”
I don’t fail to notice that he emphasized the last part of his speech. So that means that we are free game as soon as this event ends.
Nova holds out a hand and the beastman takes it, casting a truth spell. The magical formation shimmers and connects to Nova’s aura. Slowly, taking care not to alert anyone, I shift my weight. If the need arises I want to be able to jump to my feet at a moment’s notice.
The beastman nods. “Tell me your version of the story.”
“I dislike Hesh. Hell, I dislike all of the Empire. If I could be sure to get all of them without fail, I would burn the whole Empire in nuclear fire. That’s why I ordered my subordinates to abduct a measly little advisor, totally ignoring the fact that there is a much more valuable target, like an imperial prince, close by.”
Nova draws in a deep breath. “So my people boarded an imperial ship, walked right past dozens of soldiers and pummelled Hesh unconscious. Then they carried the little fatty out, again, past dozens of potential witnesses. None of them seeing anything.”
She raises and eyebrow and reaches into her pocket. Her hand pulls out the little kitten, Lucifer. “Now Hesh is my prisoner. I placed all sorts of healing enchantments on him in order to make sure that he doesn’t die while he has to be a plaything for my little Lucifer.” She smiles and rubs the sleepy kitten against her cheek. “He is starting to grow and needs to train, so I decided to give him appropriate prey.”
The kitten yawns, revealing a set of cute, little, needle-like teeth.
The beastman lets go of Nova’s hand and studies Nova for a long time. Then he starts laughing like a madman. “The truth spell registered that she told the truth.” Shaking his head, he walks away. “This is useless. That’s such a hilarious story that it can’t be true. She is clearly immune to truth magic.”
The Consortium’s representative also shakes his head. “I am sorry, Wisen. We can’t do anything without proof.” He also turns and walks away, followed by the man from the Sociocrathy.
“But- but-” Wisen looks back and forth between us and his supporters. “This will have repercussions.” He turns away and flees the scene.
I turn my attention to Nova. “Really? You allow Lucifer to play with Hesh? That’s not fair to the kitten.”
Nova smiles, while petting Lucifer. “Who says that Lucifer has to fight a mountain of flesh? The fairies brought Hesh down to the appropriate size. Willow is very happy that someone else can be Lucifer’s toy.”
It takes me a few moments to understand her meaning. Then I shudder, imagining being mauled by a gigantic kitten who has no understanding of how to kill its prey. A bite here, a scratch there, as long as the toy keeps moving, the kitten stays interested…