“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City ***
“You really don’t look that well, man. Should I call a doctor? Or your wife?” I ask.
The reason for my question is Shade’s pale face. The guy should really take better care of himself. Not only is he as pale as a ghost, he also looks a little malnourished and worked up. Not the greatest state to be in.
Shade waves my worries away and straightens himself, holding onto the working desk of his laboratory. “Don’t worry. I’ll be better in no time. Must be some kind of sickness. Maybe influenza! I haven’t been feeling well lately.”
I grind my teeth. There was a reason to visit Shade in his lab. And that was to discuss the possibility of finding our enemies. He listened to all of my suggestions while leaning on his working desk, clearly trying hard to keep it together. “I’ve never heard of someone getting sick without a definite reason. Healing magic can cure most diseases easily. Were you poisoned? It wouldn’t be the first time that we were infiltrated by their spies.”
Shade shakes his head in denial. “I carry charms which detect most poisons. You wouldn’t believe how many attempts at killing me I’ve to endure every week. Most of my slimy subordinates don’t dare to challenge me directly. Instead they are trying their luck in all kinds of sneak attacks. Of course I kill everyone who is stupid enough to get found out. No. It must be something simpler. I wouldn’t fall to such a petty attempt at taking my life. The cause for my state must be something natural.”
Okay. If it isn’t poison or magic, then it must be something that isn’t recognized as harmful by the charms. Like food. And I accidentally know that Shade isn’t exactly holding back in his consumption of certain foods. “Are you still eating that many chocolate cakes at Seria’s shop? Maybe it’s food poisoning?”
Shade’s whole face cringes in pain. “That can’t be! I’ve lived countless lives and I never had a problem with eating chocolate. And I am sure that Seria doesn’t serve bad food in her shop! Don’t dare to spread such rumours about my daughter. She is already angry at us for always paying our visits in spirit form.”
I roll my eyes. “Everything can harm you if you consume it in abundance, even water. Seria’s shop doesn’t necessarily have to serve bad food. I am just thinking about the fact that you are really overdoing it with the sweet stuff. Maybe your current body doesn’t take well to sweets? Dedessia doesn’t have much sweet stuff, so your current body might not be used to your current diet?”
Shade’s face pales and his jaw droops. He stares at me as if I just delivered a death sentence. I’ve never seen him like that. Actually I doubt that anyone has seen him like that. Ever!
“Boy. I hope that you are wrong! For your sake!”
I realize that I entered dangerous territory and raise both hands, palms out. Shade is the kind of ruler who kills the messenger for bad news. No matter that it wasn’t the messenger’s fault. “I just proposed a theory. I am not saying that it’s true. All I wanted you to do, is to visit someone with more medical knowledge than me. You look ill.”
He hits the table with his fist. “I have no time to be ill! There are orders to give, research to be made, and your suggestions have to be put to the test! There is an interdimensional war going on and I am still three steps behind. And now you want to tell me that I am ill?” He stands up, sways, and sits down again. It’s like he doesn’t want to show weakness in front of me. Though I really don’t mind. If he feels sick, then he simply should say so. I have to find Elona and inform her of his dilemma.
“So you think that using the pathways for gathering intelligence is feasible? That’s better news than I hoped for.” If he really can pull it off, then we are in a much better position.
“At first glance I don’t see a reason why not. We designed the whole network for more than transportation. It’s organic design makes the whole issue with changing its function a little complicated, but there is no real reason why it shouldn’t be possible. In fact I’ve thought of a similar spying mechanism myself.
“Of course I wanted to use it as a fully functional spying tool, but that feature won’t be usable until the network goes fully online. That’s why I didn’t think of using it. But your idea means nothing more than searching for certain energy signatures, something that the network already does anyway. The main problem lies in accessing the data and making sense of it. It’s not so much a technical problem, than one of organizing the information. Once we’ve that under control, it should be possible to locate every portal that’s opened within the network.”
He finishes his explanation and leans forward, resting his elbows on his thighs. It looks a lot as if he is going to puke any moment. “Are you going to puke?”
Just why did that sound like a lie? “I’ll go and find Elona. She surely knows what to do.”
“Well, of course she knows what to do! I bet she is the source of the whole problem!”
I turn back to my father-in-law, raising an eyebrow. “Now you are even turning delusional.”
“Hah! I knew that something was fishy about the entire situation. She stopped her attempts at holding me back from eating chocolate!” He calls out, slipping from his chair and curling up in a foetal position. Using one hand, he pulls closer a nearby garbage can… I don’t have to guess why he wants it nearby.
Angrily, he goes on, “I kept thinking about her strange behaviour for a few days. When nothing bad happened I stopped worrying. This feels exactly like her work!”
“That’s it. I’ll go and find you someone professional.” I turn around and hurry out of the lab. Once outside, I head directly towards Elona’s part of the huge facility.
When I got a short tour through the whole complex, I asked myself for what reason two people would need all this space, but most of it is just storage area. When they showed me some device with nuke potential lying around in one of the closets I vowed to never wander off and explore on my own.
Keeping strictly to the main corridor, I use my marriage bond with Seria to find her and Elona. If I am not completely wrong, then she mentioned that she wanted to talk with her mother.
Surprisingly, I encounter the both of them coming my way, so I raise a hand to greet them. “I was searching for you. Shade isn’t doing that well, so we halted our meeting. If I didn’t know better, then I would say that he caught the stomach flu. Anyway, his complete denial of the situation doesn’t make it better. He even started blaming Elona for all of this. Maybe you should go and take a look at him.”
Elona and Seria share a silent moment of looking at each other, communicating something. Then Elona pats my shoulder and smiles. “Don’t worry. I’ll take a look at him and I am sure that he will be back to top performance in no time. I already expected his breakdown. He is simply working too much. Even gods can’t go on forever like he does.” She pushes past me and heads down the corridor, whistling some tune which I recognize as ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’.
“What was that about?” I turn to Seria, but she simply shrugs her shoulders with a guilty expression on her face.
“Let’s just say that it’s a matter between Mom and Dad. They are always playing their little games of supremacy with each other. It’s in their nature.” She sighs. “Let’s just call it a day. I am sure that Mom will sort it out.”