“One should always be prepared for the end... though... some decide to lengthen the contract.”
I gawk at the huge ball of molten glass which is levitating right next to Illum. It concerns me that Nova is handling it right above the White City. According to her, there is absolutely no risk of an accident. Maybe she is doing it to stop the Mirai from getting stupid ideas. I don’t want to think about what could happen if the molten glass falls down into one of the residential areas.
Not even necromancy can help if the body is burned to a black crisp!
Right next to the molten glass is the orb of water which it held before Nova melted it down. My daughter announced that she intends to reform the cracked water tank into a segmented ring which encloses Illum’s central island. It will make it much harder to destroy all of Illum’s water reserves in a single strike.
There are some emergency tanks inside Illum, but apparently, the huge glass bubble held most of Illum’s water. If I understood Nova correctly, she also intends to use it as some sort sewage treatment plant by placing several spells on the glass. Illum will clean and recycle its population’s waste automatically.
As I watch, the force fields reform the glass into the segments of a large ring. They simply separate from the main mass and are pressed into shape. A smaller sphere of molten metal supplies the material for an intriguing web of runes which are embedded into the glass.
Shaking my head, I turn away from the wondrous display of Nova’s power. She created her very own fairy land without regard for the rest of the world. I wonder how she plans to incorporate my tower into her city.
When I turn away from the window, I realize that I am not alone in Nova’s living room and stiffen.
The maid looks like she is equally startled by my presence, but she recovers quickly and bows to me. The broom in her hand is firmly pressed to her chest. “I am sorry for surprising you. Usually, there is nobody around at this time of the day.”
“I- It’s okay.” I take a deep breath and resolve myself not to stutter. This is a good chance to learn more about Nova. “I was wondering why my daughter doesn’t have any servants in her quarters.”
The maid’s facial muscles twitch and she throws herself to the ground. “I didn’t know that you are the goddess’s mother! Please forgive this unworthy one for not paying you the proper respect.”
Surprised, I clear my throat. “Goddess? Please get to your feet and answer my question. Why are you so afraid of Nova?”
The red haired maid is some kind of foxkin with red hair. Wagging her bushy tail, she looks up at me with worship in her eyes. “I am not afraid of the goddess. She is just and benevolent to those who don’t question her authority.” She looks around, seemingly wary to be overheard. “She also dislikes strangers in her quarters, so we servants only swoop in once a day and get everything cleaned up while she is busy with other stuff.”
Why does she make it sound like cleaning Nova’s quarters is some stealthy commando operation with high risks. I nod and wait for the servant to proceed on her own. There is clearly more to the story.
Fidgeting around, the maid focuses her eyes on my feet. “It’s common knowledge that the goddess doesn’t have qualms with squishing those who speak against her.”
“Squish?” I ask.
The fox-girl nods and wrings her arms around an imaginary object. “Yes. With the force which holds Illum in the air. Imagine what would happen if you use just a small part of it on a person.” Her fingers intertwine, crushing whatever is in her mind. “Squish!” She releases her hands as if she is dropping the sorry remains of the victim onto the floor. “And splatter!”
I open my mouth to say something, but then I quickly close it again. The haunted expression in the maid’s eyes is enough to tell that she personally witnessed such an event. Besides Nova’s behaviour towards me, she doesn’t seem to be a person who has qualms about killing offenders.
Personally, I don’t like being treated like a god. My experiences showed me that I am far from being such an entity. The Castella from before my abduction would have revelled in such attention, but not anymore.
Nonetheless, it’s probably a bad idea to change the maid’s opinion. The people of Illum seem to idolize Nova even more than the Mirai worship the bloodline. We are just priests to our people. Unlike the Mirai, the people of Illum treat Nova like a god. At least this maid does.
Seeing an opportunity, I grill her for more information about Illum until I allow her to do her work. I step onto the balcony in front of Nova’s living room to think about what I have learned.
The maid’s point of view allows me to see Illum in a new light. It isn’t just a fairy land. There are definitely dark undercurrents to Nova’s rule.
When I got to see Illum for the first time I didn’t believe that it’s real. Rubbing my temples, I try to dismiss any ill thoughts about my daughter. Nova must have her reasons for not discouraging her civilians from worshipping her. The bloodline isn’t any better.
My thoughts are interrupted by loud voices. Someone is having a heated argument in Nova’s office. The office’s windows must be open. It’s located right beneath this balcony. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to hear them so clearly.
Driven by curiosity, I return to the living room and walk past the maid who is trying her best to dust one of the shelves.
Upon entering Nova’s office, I find my daughter, Zane, and an elf in a heated discussion.
Before I can ask what’s going on, they storm out of the room. Something important must have happened. I clench my teeth and hurry to follow them into another office which is located two floors below Nova’s part of the palace. The office is small and orderly.
Behind the office table at the other end of the room is a large man in a chair. The body is slumped against the backrest and his head is lolling sideways at an awkward angle. Someone slit his throat from ear to ear and left him to bleed out. The front of his shirt is soaked in glistening blood.
Nova checks on the man but shakes her head. From their discussion, I can pick out that the man’s name is Brian and that he is the captain of the palace’s guard. Apparently, he is an important person. They still ignore me, shocked about their friend's unexpected death.
While they discuss how this could have happened, without anyone noticing, I walk around them and touch the man’s cheek. It’s still warm, so I clear my throat.
None of them pays me any attention, so I clear my throat again and try to be loud enough to drown them out. “I- I think th- that I can bring him back. Should I do it?”
They look at me, startled. Apparently, they forgot that here in Mirai death doesn’t mean the end.
“Yes!” the elf answers immediately.
Zane raises his hand. “Wait. Isn’t he some sort of paladin? Won’t he be pissed to be returned without his permission?”
Nova gestures for me to go on. “Who cares? I don’t want to find someone else for the job. And I really have to find out how they got past my security measures.”