A Trading Post.
A Bishop left the consecrated blood-jars to approach Henry sighing at the broken window. As they neared, the holy figure's eyes glowed and their mouth, despite remaining motionless, began to sparkle and emit a hollow voice.
“If it ain’t the Starhunting Oracle! Shame you couldn’t snag the broad. That’s why I gave up on them. A woman can’t appreciate a man’s duty. When she loves a thing, she can’t bring herself to sacrifice it. The dissonance is beyond her. Before acting, she always kills the love first. Nasty creatures.”
The chauvinist addressing Henry through the surrogate was Suchi’s Pope, the short Miracleworker he’d met the other day out on the plains along with the Doomreaver, the leader of this territory and a key ally of The Company.
Henry paused before responding, wondering if the religious leader had identified him as The Tyrant from the big news or whether he'd figured it out himself while spying on the duel, Berbahaya missing little that happened in his dominion from the top of his tower.
Or maybe earlier. Karnon—playing every side of this other love triangle—could've been helping the holyman determine the ultimate target behind the convoluted obfuscations with Ramiro and the mind-slave ar—
Henry, who’d thus far maintained such mental discipline in Suchi to suppress even his thoughts of luring this vampiric cunt out of his cave and assassinating him, regretted the millisecond lapse. Although it didn’t matter anymore after his cancellation of that plan, purely out of habit, he directed his mind back to the mode of pondering his failed love and transforming the forthcoming tournament into a retirement party.
Henry’s expression—placid, flat as always—conveyed nothing. “Holy Father.”
“Please, ‘your grace’ will do.” Pope Berbahaya saw everything. “I have to apologise for not giving the welcome owed to such an esteemed guest. Our first meeting was interrupted by…a demon.”
“A balloon of a demon,” Henry corrected.
“It became a balloon after I slapped it around,” the Pope corrected him back. “But, if you’d follow the Bishop, I’ll be sure to rectify my previous rudeness in person. Come, my haggard friend. You’ve slummed it with the sand; let me show you the hospitality of the clay. I promise you, that wareeksa, by next sunrise, you won’t remember the colour of her hair.”
Henry might have followed along in the past. Unfortunately, the Pope had caught him in a foul mood contemplating his need to retire. The grief from losing his first love maybe giving him the last necessary nudge, Henry rejected any further entanglement in Saana and, committed to moving on, he took another step in the direction down from the summit.
“No, that’s too much of a hassle,” he answered the annoying NPC. “I’m not interested in meeting.”
The impertinence of his refusal caused the Bishop acting surrogate to frown in shock and anger. A wave of tension ran through the troops around Henry, wondering if they might have to stand their ground and die on this spot.
But the Pope, having dealt with many rash young leaders, was unbothered. “Ah, how could I be so presumptuous?! Now that you’ve emerged from the shadows, you must be pressed with invitations from mightier figures than my little self cooped up in this hovel.”
Henry, his gaze drifting in the direction of Silver’s departure, took a second heavy step. “Could it be possible? The old saint has not heard in his tower that The Tyrant is dead." He laughed. "No, you'll find out soon enough that I've retired - my schedule is gorgeously clear. It just happens to be past my bedtime, and I value my beauty sleep.”
Having sacrificed enough of himself for this game already, refusing to repeat the mistake of meeting with the Senior Director on the first day that’d triggered this chain of mishaps, he cut this nuisance NPC encounter short by simply logging off.
End of Volume 3 – The Return of The Cripple
Next up: Volume 4 – Unrivalled Under The Heavens; Invincible Beneath The Sun