â€œI hope that this is important, Millia.â€ Harakken Cyrus stepped through the doorway into Milliaâ€™s small office in Yu-Shan, and then paused. His gaze swept the room, his eyebrows raised. The younger Sidereal didnâ€™t even notice, her attention firmly fixed on the scroll before her.
Other scrolls lined the walls, draped over bookcases and pinned loosely to pillars. It gave the room the impression of an ink-stained wallpaper, and Cyrus stepped over to one to glance it over. As near as he could tell, it dealt with the movements of a few Realm cargo ships, and he glanced back at Millia, who was belatedly reacting to his presence.
â€œAbsolutely important, sir.â€ Millia paused, and swallowed. â€œIn fact, this might just be the most important thing to happen in the last seven hundred years.â€ Cyrusâ€™s eyebrows climbed into his hair, and she continued hurriedly. â€œI know, I know. But thisâ€¦ sir, you know that Iâ€™ve been tracking the Iselsi recently.â€
Cyrus harrumphed. â€œIâ€™m quite aware of your pet project, Millia. And I appreciate the assistance, but I hardly thinkâ€¦â€
â€œSir, please.â€ Millia gestured to the papers. â€œI was using the Loom to track them at first, but their movements were erratic. Really erratic. As though someone â€“ or something â€“ was keeping them hidden.â€
Cyrusâ€™s protests drained away. Suddenly intent, he walked around the table to get a closer look at the calculations that Millia had been completing when he entered. â€œThere isnâ€™t much that can hide someone from the Loom, Millia. Not after theyâ€™ve acted.â€
â€œThe Wyld. The Yozi. The Underworld. Sidereals.â€ Millia ticked off the four possible causes on her fingers. â€œI know. At first, I assumed that it was someone using astrology to disguise their movements. I couldnâ€™t imagine why, though, so I kept looking.â€
Cyrusâ€™s eyes never left the calculations. â€œContinue.â€
â€œThe more I studied it, the less likely it became. It started to look more likeâ€¦â€ Millia paused. â€œWell, like they wanted it to look like astrology. That someone was directing these movements from outside of fate.â€ Standing, she walked over to one wall, pointing to a series of lines. â€œI started at the bottom, the lowest-ranked members of the House, and worked my way up every line. And every time, the same thing happened?â€
Cyrus breathed out slowly, already seeing the arcs that she had described. â€œThey fade out.â€
â€œCompletely.â€ Millia swallowed again, her voice dropping tremulously. â€œSir, every last high-ranking member of House Iselsi has moved outside of fate over the last hundred years.â€
â€œAkuma.â€ The word was whispered, but Millia nodded.
â€œIt has to be. The fae canâ€™t reach the Blessed Isle, and the dead canâ€™t move others into their own sphere without â€“ well, without killing them.â€ She gestured around the room. â€œI think House Iselsi has been corrupted. Entirely.â€
â€œI see.â€ Cyrus stepped forwards again, walking around the room as he studied the numerous fate-lines that Millia had painstakingly arranged. â€œI presume you have made a copy of all of this and stored it somewhere safe?â€
â€œWellâ€¦ I have backups, but I donâ€™t thinkâ€¦â€ Millia trailed off at Cyrusâ€™s grim expression. â€œI missed something, didnâ€™t I?â€
â€œThere is astrology in place. Not to hide them â€“ to hide that they are missing. Someone has been working to keep the Iselsiâ€™s nature hidden from the Loom. A Sidereal.â€
Millia shook her head. â€œA Sidereal akuma? I canâ€™t believeâ€¦â€
â€œDamian has been oddly reserved of late.â€ Cyrusâ€™s voice cut through her statement. â€œThere is his mysterious contact with Mokrelus, his obsession with the regent, his many disappearances. He told me that he would look after the Iselsi, and then passed the duty on to a subordinate.â€ He paused. â€œIt might not be him. But it does seem suspicious, doesnâ€™t it?â€
â€œHe wouldnâ€™t.â€ Millia shook her head, then looked at the fatelines with less certainty. â€œHe believes in the Dynasty.â€
â€œA puppet-regent, backed by House Iselsiâ€™s assassins, could fortify the Dynasty against collapse. People have fallen for less noble goals.â€ Cyrus shook his head, stone-faced. â€œRegardless, I must agree with your theory. The Iselsi are akuma. We must inform Kejak immediately.â€
â€œRight.â€ Millia stepped towards the door, put a hand on the handle. She stopped, with a thoughtful frown. Glancing downwards, then started to turn back towards Cyrus, a confused expression on her face.
Blood dripped on the floor.
The second knife thrust took her between the ribs.
Cyrus released his Amethyst Slayer Of Trust form and caught her as she fell, lowering her gently to the floor.
â€œWhyâ€¦?â€ Milliaâ€™s voice was faint.
â€œHush.â€ With a sad smile, Cyrus laid his hands on her forehead. â€œSleep now, child. The pain is over.â€ He leaned in closer. â€œLet your troubles cease. You have done magnificently, more than I ever could have believed.â€
â€œThe Iselsiâ€¦ the akumaâ€¦â€ Her eyes were unfocused, and Cyrus watched the light fading.
â€œAll dealt with. Everything is going to be alright.â€
A faint smile touched the girlâ€™s lips, and then her eyes closed. For a moment, Cyrus knelt with her head in his lap, his eyes tightly shut. Then, slowly, he stood, carefully setting Milliaâ€™s head on the ground.
â€œForgive me, child. I would have preferred to use someone else â€“ I had expected it to be Damian that died. But one works with the tools that are granted to us.â€ Cyrus looked around the room. â€œSleep now, Millia. Gain the eternal rest denied those of us who must press onwards.â€
And then, slowly, with utmost care, he set to work destroying the fatelines on the wall.
Last edited by Friv
on 18 May 2007, 12:45, edited 1 time in total.
"Some people walk in the rain. Others merely get wet."Patchwork Champions
- You say "to-ma-toe", I say "world-ravaging-laser-beam".