EDGE OF IMMORTALITY (I)
It has begun – slowly and silently. The small room echoed the sounds of crackling fire within the furnace, the golden and coral sheen casting out brilliant rays of illumination bouncing off of the cold and dry walls. Lino and Eggor stood in front, both topless yet covered in sweat from head to toe regardless. Primul sat off to the side, occasionally glancing at the duo and sucking in a cold breath, having realized long ago he'd have been burned alive if he stepped in front of it.
Vy was still buys processing ores, while Primul was aligning Eggor’s design with arrays, working through them one by one. Almost everything was prepared – all that was left is to process all the materials and then blend them together into one. Into the creation that would awe the world itself.
Val, Lucky and Ella were currently sitting around a simply decorated room limply, their expressions denoting soul-piercing exhaustion. Thousands upon thousands of papers lay either in stacks or strewn about the room, countless pens sitting in the corner, having gone to waste. They’ve been trying to write out all potential outcomes of the outside world, yet have regretted ever starting it.
Lucky groaned and took out a gourd of ale, downing half its contents in one go before shaking her head and picking up the pen, beginning to write again.
“It’s enough for now,” Ella interrupted suddenly, getting up. “Head to the Guest Hall.”
“Hm? Why?” Val asked curiously, having already dropped the pen and paper with a grin on her face.
“… because we have guests?”
"Some friends I made," Ella chuckled lightly; Lucky was already gone, not having waited for an explanation. "I've already informed Hannah."
“So… just the four of us?” Val asked as the two began walking.
"Hm," Ella nodded. "Though I say friends, there is no need to divulge our strength just yet. If we managed to hide some in front of the Descent, there's no reason not to do it to others."
“Who are they?” Val asked as they took the corner and went down the spiral staircase encased in cold stone.
“Heaven’s Chosen leaders.”
"… oh boy. You fish big game." Val chuckled faintly. "There's some bad blood between Lino and them. How'd you pull it off?"
"That's for me to know and for you to… I don't know. What do you do in your free time?" Ella asked.
“… bold of you to assume I have free time.”
“… khm. Sorry about that. I’ll—I’ll ask Edith to find you more help.”
“No need,” Val quickly shook her head. “They’ll just screw it up more. I have my system and it works. If I ever do need some free time, would he have balls to stop me?” she shrugged.
“He certainly wouldn’t.”
As the two walked into the rather spacious, well-lit and decorated hall adorned with crimson-black banners and several hanging chandeliers in addition to a massive hearth on the other end, they spotted Lucky sitting opposite of four well-garbed men and women, seeming faintly uncomfortable, stealing occasional glances at Lucky who had her legs heaved onto the table, drinking in silence.
“Watch your manners,” Ella slapped her legs off gently before sitting down, smiling apologetically toward Y’nn. “My apologies, Master Slayer. She’s an unruly child.”
“No worries,” Y’nn replied with a faint smile. “We should feel lucky to be welcomed by three beautiful women.”
“Oh? So I’m not beautiful, old man?” Hannah suddenly walked in with a chuckle, causing attention to be diverted to her as Y’nn crackled.
“Ha ha ha, I would never dare,” he shook his head. “It’s been a long time, Lady Rebel.”
“Aah, it’s been a while since someone called me that,” she said, sitting down next to Val. “When Lino told me we’d be having guests, I certainly wasn’t expecting you.”
“Didn’t you find it odd that we weren’t there during the battle?” Y’elleve asked with a faint smile.
“As if I had the luxury to look who’s there and who isn’t.” Hannah shrugged.
“Fair enough,” Y’elleve chuckled. “Speaking of the Empyrean – will he be joining us?”
“… I’m sure he’d love to,” Ella smiled awkwardly. “But he’s currently accompanying Eggor in crafting something or the other. If you’ve the time, you’re welcome to stay and wait for him.”
“Unfortunately, we can’t,” Y’nn said, sighing faintly. "As we still haven't ousted ourselves, we've an image to maintain. Though, if you don't mind, I'd like to let my son stay here for a while."
“Of course,” Ella nodded, glancing at the ever-silent Yovel to the Y’nn’s far left. “He’s more than welcome to stay for as long as he wants. If you don’t mind, I’d like to discuss why I asked you here.”
“Of course,” Y’nn nodded. “I was quite surprised, to be honest.”
“—as you’re aware, we are currently not exactly in good standing with the world,” Val and Hannah managed to stifle their laughter, but Lucky didn’t even bother. “Shut it.”
“The only reason I was able to actually get you here without the rest of the world noticing is due to the fact that I’ve used one of the few remaining precious treasures of mine. As it stands, however, we have no means of seeing what’s happening on the outside. Eventually, we’ll have to phase back in, which will leave us open to attacks if we phase in blind.”
“—wouldn’t it be better to summon us here prior to phasing back in?” Y’nn asked.
“No, I don’t need you to keep an eye out to what’s happening, we’ll deal with that somehow,” Ella replied. “We are currently headed for the Eastern Edge. I’ll simply need you to ensure there isn’t anyone too powerful on the Eastern Coast when we phase back in.”
“… why are you going to the Eastern Edge?” Y’nn asked, frowning faintly.
“What?” Y’nn asked, seeing Ella’s, Val’s and Hannah’s awkward expressions.
“They don’t know completely, and what little they know is too sensitive to share” Lucky replied with instead. “The oh-so-majestic asshat said we ought to be goin’ there, and we’re now going there.”
“Oh.” Y’nn nodded, while Ella sighed lowly. “The Empyrean is a rather… memorable figure.”
“Meh, he’s mostly a jackass,” Lucky said, suddenly taking out a piece of paper and handing it to Y’nn. “Those are the names of our people and potential places you can locate them. We didn’t have enough time to pick them up prior to being forced into here, and from the latest report, it seemed the Descent or someone had the ability to locate them. I’d appreciate it if you could look into it discretely. If it threatens your cover, you don’t have to do anything except remember who killed them.”
“… very well.” Y’nn took the paper, nodding with a heavy tone. “Y’vol will personally take care of it.”
“I shall,” Y’vol, who remained completely silent so far, said. “It’s a shame. I really wished to meet the Empyrean. Or, perhaps, it’s better to say I wished to meet the person who killed a member of Descent and ran off in front of Two’s face.”
“There’ll be plenty of time to meet him.” Ella said.
“And he’s hardly different than Hannah,” Lucky chimed in. “Just imagine her… but with a dick and a bit filthier tongue.”
“Khm, alright, sorry to take up your time,” Ella said, getting up. “I’ll open up the passage right away. Lucky, show Yovel to his chambers as well as around the fortress.”
“You think that’s punishment?” Lucky said, grinning. “Contrary to all the fun I’ve been having writing shit all day long?”
“… I’ll take all your booze away if you don’t shut it.” Ella’s voice suddenly turned frigid, causing Lucky to freeze in place for a moment. “Khm, sorry for that. I’ll contact you the moment we phase back in. I imagine Lino will also wish to meet you.”
“Very well.” Y’nn nodded, smiling faintly. “Behave, Yovel.”
“Will do, Father.”
The trio drifted through a strange spatial tunnel barely for a few moments before being spat back out into the underground hall from which they departed. They glanced back and watched the space fold back unto itself, closing up within a blink of an eye. Y’vol shook his head faintly before glancing at the piece of paper in his hand.
“What should I do with this?” he asked Y’nn.
“Do as we promised,” Y’nn replied, slowly walking over and sitting down around the grand table. “Locate them, save them if possible, or write down the names of people who kill them if not.”
“… that fortress…” Y’elleve mumbled. “Was it really a good idea to leave Yovel there?”
“It’s a show of faith,” Y’nn said. “Besides, it will do him some good.”
“—were you able to discern Elysian’s strength?” she asked.
“She should be in mid-20,000,” he replied, sighing. “Though that’s hardly the actual gauge of her strength. It looks like they still somehow managed to hold back in the end…"
“… I couldn’t read either Maiden or that woman next to her,” Y’vol uttered. “And they still only sent four of them. Do you really think the Empyrean was doing that or simply posturing?”
“… he doesn’t posture,” Y’nn said. “From what I learned of him, he’s extremely arrogant, but hardly the elitist sort. However, I imagine that there’s also a reason for that arrogance. All his decisions so far have resulted in something that seemingly went their way, despite the clear disadvantages: though he angered the Descent and turned them against him, he played the flute as such to let them believe he was terribly weak, which in the end allowed him to kill both Eight and Three and most-likely get incredibly stronger in the process. Though he arguably helped Two ascend, he also inflicted a mental scar that will forever haunt her.”
“He’s planning something,” Y’nn said, tapping his fingers against the table. “Something he can’t outright state or show, but rather something that requires a roundabout approach. The way he’s dealing with the world on the surface seems incredibly childish, no? Yet, if he were truly that childish… he would have never survived for so long. There’s an idea behind his actions, I just can’t figure out what… or why…”