By the time they appeared to be ready he was almost asleep. A far better way to go, not being there to see the knife forced into his body. Alas, he was disturbed by one of the women placing a hovering crystal above him. He must have made an odd face because the next moment the woman was studying him. Thankfully she moved on after he just stared at her blankly, his hands outstretched for a hug.
‘Such cold people, the least they could do is give me a little love before offing me’. Especially since he wasn’t sure what the crystal was for. Perhaps a tool to suck the life out of him? Must be, keeping all these Runes charged couldn't be easy, not with whatever was out there trying to get in.
‘Deep breaths, deep breaths causing a scene isn’t going to help things’. Just the thought of a new possibly painful way to die wasn’t doing him any favors. One would think that he'd seen it all by now. But life always had some new trick up its sleeve, and these people haven’t shown any signs of love or affection. He was sure this was going to be one of those experiences where it would be buried deep in his mind, locked in a vault within a vault.
A quick absence of noise descended on the room before one then others slowly added their voices to a wordless song. If the crystal wasn’t directly in his line of sight he likely wouldn’t have noticed it growing in brightness. Even then it was an afterthought as he focused solely on the sweet melody entering his ears. Since this was to be a short painful life then at least he would make sure to remember the song for his dream. A small blessing if more events of this nature were awaiting him. That was his last thought before a beam of light descended down from the crystal and into his gut. Then nothing but pain and bliss merging together into a twisted dance.
Their Cord was going well, even with the additions they had to incorporate to lower the sounds. Too many enemies crawled the walls now. Appearing from nowhere, where before the Scouts signaled all was clear. If it wasn’t for the blessed Wards they would have been caught completely off guard and gutted before even having a chance to block the tunnels.
With the Cord coming to an end she felt the toll crashing down, her mind hazy, thoughts difficult to form before returning to near normalcy. Once everything was done they’d need to rest for a time, unable to do even the most basic of Chants. How she loathed being without those small comforts, feeling as if she was near the state of a Soulless one.
“Zenjel the next phase is complete, if you perhaps wish to delay for a moment’s rest we ca—“A wave of her hand stopped the woman pointless drivel, yet another upstart trying to take her place. Vernac must have mentioned something of him showing force or others had been listening to their conversation. Now women were bending over backward to show their Worth to him. No need to waste them on a dangerous Task, NO, use some worthless bottom feeder to do the job.
Staring down the woman “Ready the next Cord, and get into position I'll have none of you slouching about, making me do all the work.” The upstart bowed before rushing off. Thinking herself clever trying to insult Zenjel with false kindness. She watched the few good girls running about, the ones who have earned her attention, and interest. She saw how hard they work while getting nowhere, Vernac didn't reward those who don’t grovel to him often enough. Only Offering protection and safe Tasks to those that showered him with endless flattery of his contributions, and how needed he was.
Even now he was surrounded by those people, off in the more protected quarters, protected by Guards best used elsewhere. Readying the last and most important phase. He could be doing it here with them to help him, if needed. But no that’s too dangerous, the tunnels to un-secure at the moment for him to be out here.
‘My, he might even get hurt scuffing a claw while running away from the enemy, we can’t have that’.' She forced herself away from such thoughts, too much to do and already she felt tired. She would never admit that to the vying women around her, but she was worried that she might collapse after all was done. Since this began she never got a moment’s rest from running around preparing everything. Even going to the front… Oh the front, the tunnels there were all clawed through. A Guards almost impaled her when she surprised one of them.
They were retreating, what few remained doing their best blocking tunnels, and she got stuck helping them. Her doing the work of the Soulless. ‘I’ll find a way to make you pay Vernac, I swear to the Giver I will.’
But for now, she had more work to do. So much more, bringing the Newborn to near maturity was more taxing than she had expected, and more complicated.
Taking a large breath she began the new Cord, others soon adding their voices to hers as they spun the needed Chants for the children’s bodies to grow properly. She hated what they were doing to them, even with how necessary it is. Those unlucky enough not to have fallen asleep would be forced to endure a slow painful changing. The screams proving her thoughts correct as skin cracks open, bone growing so fast that it speared through the flesh before being encased again.
Their screams seep into the stone, even with their additional protections some notes would carry through and may reach Nightmares. Hopefully, the Guardsmen were providing enough of a diversion that none would come to check the source of the wave. Again Anger shrouded her thoughts. ‘If only we had started sooner. If only I could hurry this along.’ But even a slight deviation from the Piece could end the children’s lives. Which would lead to their end as well, the children were needed, but perhaps not all of them. She may yet still save some of the girls and have the chance to turn them into useful followers.
The rest of the Cord went by in a blur most of her focus on plans for saving what ones she could, leaving the rest to their fate. When the Piece finally finished and the cost came she nearly fell over. From the sounds behind her, some did. ‘We should have more here helping us with this.' Unfortunately, the request she sent to the other Anointed for aid was blocked by Vernac.
The Cord done and their voices no longer diluting the noise of the children, it seemed to give the illusion their screams went up a degree. The pitch and its animalistic nature morphed into a sound similar to what one would hear by a creature being eaten alive.
“Help me, sisters, let us give them relief.” she poured what little Soul she had left into her voice, calling upon Higher thoughts and sent their pain away filling them with the Giver’s affection. The screams died away replaced by blissful calm, silence. Looking about none of the Wards had shown signs of attack, the Guards successful in their diversion. The last phase though difficult was the safest for them, the children (now nearing adulthood) all asleep and would stay so for a time, ending any trouble they may have caused.
As she turned, ready to have her sisters perform the more mundane tasks, she held her tongue when already many had forgotten their charge and were eyeing the men. Each with hungered glares, some even walked up to ones they liked, hands playfully stroking chests. “Sisters!” that got many to jump and focus, while others reluctantly moved away from their chosen. “Don’t get attached they aren’t long for this plane”, taking a breath to compose herself “Begin clothing them, we can’t have you all distracted when Vernac arrives for the last phase.”
Speaking of which, he and his entourage finally decided to show themselves, Guards surrounding them. The passages in this section were blocked and the Wards fully charged. It would take Rounds perhaps a Rotation or two for their enemy to breach these walls. Yet Vernac was acting as if any moment they were going to be attacked. The fool eyes darting every way possible looking for a threat. As if the Nightmares would have waited that long for him to arrive with the number of bodies around.
“All is clear Anointed” called one of the Guards “Shall we check the tunnels further ahead?” Vernac, still looking every which way, said “No, no that’s alright, just. Just make sure the passage was sealed properly, and then guard the entrances.” Pausing he seems to finally notice the bodies lying on the slabs. “The rest of you help tidy these Newborn up”
His entourage scattered quickly to prove their Worth to him. While he made his way to the main Heart at the center of the room. In his hands, he carried a more complex (though far smaller) one, every inch covered in detailed Wards, interlocking in some unknown way allowing it to hold considerable amounts of knowledge.
The Newborn may have the bodies of adults now, but their minds were still that of an infant. If they were to wake they would act the same, scream, and with developed voices, it would be far louder. They would also attempt to move around and only succeeded in harming themselves.
The Heart, which she hadn’t the slightest idea of how it worked, would transfer its knowledge to them. In mere moments they would know how to walk, eat, speak, and most importantly fight. When it came to anything else however they would be blank. The thought of their never-ending list of questions already wore on her tired mind.
To distract herself she helped her sisters perform their Tasks, and to keep them from groping the men. A simple but difficult task at times, many are eager and due to carry again. This brief encounter with their Fears only spurred them on to the act. Never to be close to the front lines again, always pregnant so some other Soul took their place. Thankfully it didn't take too long to have them dressed and the women compose themselves with the views gone.
None too soon by the looks of the Heart. Vernac was working at a hurried pace eager to get things over with, and slinking off somewhere to hide. With the tuning done he motioned at everyone, “Hurry, hurry, get into your places people, the Guards won’t hold the Nightmares attention forever.” She and the others did as his “greatness” commanded, some far too eager. Their looks at him nearing desire, she did her best to mask her disgust. ‘Do these scavengers hope to mate with that deformed fool?’
She absentmindedly got into place trying to force that imagery out of her mind. As the bane of her existence coughed and massaged his throat. “Alright, you all know your roles we don’t have the resources to try this again. So keep in mind if any of you mess up you’ll find yourselves on a one way trip to the Front. After all, we have plenty of Maids and Caretakers, we can afford to lose a few dozen or so.” Not hard to see that put everyone on edge, even her. Which wasn't the best outcome since it would increase their chance of making mistakes. Thinking about it, that was probably what he wanted, even with the Newborn it was still too few to hold or perhaps by the Giver’s will, push back the Nightmares.
Even if some of them made mistakes it won’t bring down the Cord, not with Vernac in the lead(which she detests to admit). He had a large Soul and would fix any problems. But it did let him thin their number. It took everything she has not to charge and bash his skull in. the thought that his little speech was only to make it so there were fewer of them heading home, made her blood boil, and Anger scream. All in an effort to increase his chance of being allowed into Sanctum. Even if it was for a short time before being sent out once more.
Posing himself “I warn you, this Cords will be difficult, the Newborn's minds haven’t had time to adjust, so it’s going to require more from us. Keep that in mind.” Smiling he continued “Now that everyone knows the stakes of our venture I’ll begin.”
The Heart’s glow intensified as the Cord commenced. The other smaller Hearts acting as well, no longer aiming the energies into the Newborn's Cores, but instead at the skulls. When this was done they'd have around forty or more new Guardsmen. ‘Please, Giver let some live to see a full Cycle.’