Wayward: Chapter Three

Her perception was not a thing of sight or hearing, she couldn’t feel or catch the scent, but she sensed the Wolf. This had been a long time coming, and still, she was not prepared to engage this rebellious child, but he had forced her hand. It was a relief of sorts to know that she wouldn’t have to sully her own paws in the effort, to dirty her reputation by having to personally scold one of her own, the others would handle it. Firstly, Casseda vur’ Verillia would have to penetrate their hideaway, the spirit realm of Karhan’ Dharian, to bring forth the message. The intermingling of her children with that of her sister would make it a somewhat more dicey affair, but perhaps they could be made to stay their paws. After all, this was a situation that only pertained to the Verillians, less Razien were able to get off-world and raise havoc on Metrux. Then again, there were issues for the Metruxians to sort out in their own quarters as well; learning the art of reincarnation may just be a worthwhile effort for them at this time. She wouldn’t continue debating, let come what may she would set the Lords on the Wolf’s trail in the pursuit of the ancient blade. And though she could have the full force of her brood on his tail, she had just the Lord in mind, the Voidwalker, Torqariyan Entu.

Shattering the concentration of space around her, like bursting a bubble from within, Casseda swam in the weightlessness. This would need to be done with care but also done with haste, less she allow erosion to begin with too much time away from the core. Within, she could still feel the fester malignancy that had started to grow after leaving the core last time. Even if this were to be an equally expedient venture, Casseda was guaranteed more of the accumulating rot. As she penetrated the outer layer of the safeguard set around Karhan’ Dharian, Casseda sent vibrations along the telepathic networks that linked her to Narothepp. If she wasn’t mistaken, one of the Metruxians was still at large in their initial body, they would be a useful hand in these dealings. With the wealth of portals open across both the planets, linking the two worlds, this Lord still on the physical plane could make the difference.

Manifesting as she finally came upon the Pillars, a shadow of worlds and ages gone, Casseda roused her children and beckoned to them. To them, she was nothing more than an aura, her form vaguely outlined with perhaps some perceivable detail, but primarily she was little more than an illusion. Casting herself in this formless entity, a specter in luminescent ultraviolet, permitted her a voice while minimizing the force of atrophy on the core. Looking about, those gathered looked on her with reverence, that is all but the one she needed most; the Jackal instead fixed her with a more determined look. It was her greatest fear in that moment, Torqariyan would play the rebellious heart just as Razien had even if he did so efforting to further himself from the Wolf. Taking the man, really a boy in many senses, into account as she began Casseda kept her mind on her words, looking to keep from pushing him over the edge.
“Children, Lords of Verillia and Metrux, the time has come. Of your ranks, there is a traitor to us, one who has strayed from the path we have guided you towards, the route of peace. The Soul Breaker, Razien, as you name him, has slipped away from us all. He has taken the low route, merging again with living flesh to walk the world of the living, but more devious is what he has done. The acquisition of the Shar-Ikell, the cursed blade of ancients, is a grave danger to all life. I will now impart onto you the wisdom needed to return to the realm of the living under one condition. Each and every one of you must seek out the Wolf and do all in your power to stop him. Narothepp and myself will cease him and strip away that which infects his soul, but we can not do that less he is slain,” as soon as she had begun, Casseda could see Torqariyan was caring less and less for her words, but he was not the only one.

Perking up against all that had been said, the stocky Lynx cut in, “Is it necessary for us to take Razien’s life? Can we not stop him without doing harm or maybe convince him to surrender that power on his own?”
“It is not a thing that can be given up, not after it has taken hold of whoever would wield it, child. He has been seduced and will not be talked down from the position he has placed himself in, his mind is likely no longer able to reason in the way you imagine he should. The best and only course for him now is to die once more and be cleansed of this awfulness. Do you understand Greshalin?” though the Lynx would not have known it, Casseda focused on the Jackal more so than her while she spoke. Giving a half-hearted nod, Greshalin didn’t seek to ask more on the topic; she had heard enough, and it was not reassuring.

To Casseda’s dismay, the Jackal turned his back on her and began away, even as she began to instruct the others on the method to reincarnation. Allowing the thoughts to run freely, the others were left unaware of her departure as she telepathically communicated with them, as she pursued Torqariyan. Where his steps took him as far as they would were he in the physical realm, her ability transcended such basic movement. She was before him in an instant, stopping him mid-stride with a scoff, “Where do you think you are going, Torqariyan?”
“I don’t want any part of this, nothing to do with rebirth, nothing to do with killing, and especially nothing to do with him,” his pearly eyes were alight with fury, he did not shy away from it.
Following his gaze, the shimmering specter made the natural connection between the Jackal and the Rabbit across the way, “You know, there is a way for the two of you to be together, and I do not mean here and now. If you can accomplish what I’ve set forth, I can make the arrangements, you can live once more but together in the fur.”
“I already know how that ends, one of us dies off-planet and our soul burns out across eternity, too far for either you or your sister to recapture. You told that to me yourself once, so afraid you were of where I would go and what trouble I would put myself. I have to wonder if you only warned me so to keep me under your control for situations like this one,” Torqariyan glared at her even if he kept a calm to his words.
Effecting to pat him on the head, a moot gesture as she had no physical touch here, Casseda let out a rather forced laugh, “My dear Voidwalker, you misunderstand me completely in my offer. If you can fell Razien for us, I will have set right that you and that girl can be born of the same world. An exchange would need to be made, but your soul could be aligned beneath Narothepp’s or the Rabbit’s beneath mine. I’m sure you have much to consider, I won’t force your paw, you reach out to me when you are sure.”

For an instant, she hung there, staring down at the man who gave her the most null expression he could, not ready to show whether or not he had been swayed by her words. Still, he was not the reason she paused for that length of time, words from the other core Narothepp kept guard over began to flow into her mind. Her message was simple but left too much room for trouble; there was still a Lord of Metrux alive on the planet; however, not one easily swayed even by higher powers. The empress of assassins would not be won over by the offer of rewards, be they of the physical realm or spiritual. Narothepp had her plans to coerce the woman, of course, next to impossible was it to find one who could not be made to make a deal. Allowing the distant and faint voice to disappear, she fixed her sight on the Jackal one last time. Again she forced the information into his mind certain he had blocked out any advances she had made on his thoughts prior. Fading back from Karhan’ Dharian, Casseda had only to feel success, one way or another, her will would be done.

The twilight world, a composite of so many that had come and gone, vanished as the core once again encapsulate her. The malignant presence was already beginning to push down on the core, penetrate, and infect it. Casseda would have to leave the next part up to the Lords she had set below her, less she let her own power wane. Worse still, the advancing vileness that ate away at the core would be her priority now. Battling it back to a manageable point would take all her time and effort until it was back to its most meager state. Keeping eyes on the threads of fate dancing around her eternal chamber in the void would be next to impossible. Narothepp could handle whatever would come next; she would be able to exorcise that strength from Razien, and if she couldn’t, she would contain him until it was possible.

“What was that about, Tor?” the Rabbit asked, not regarding the Jackal that came to her and rested arms over her shoulders.
He hated the feeling, or lack thereof, in this world, it was nothing akin to the world of flesh and fur they had both come from. So enamored by this annoyance, Torqariyan almost forgot to respond to her, “Did she tell you or put the idea in your head like she did me? That we’re supposed to go back, handle a few things in the world of the living, and perhaps be allowed to stay.”
“And we’re supposed to find your friend and dispose of him so Metrux and Verillia can take him and do what they see fit. Or were you forgetting that part?” Haven was no fool; she could have sensed the half-truism in the man’s words even were she not privy to the truth.
With a slightly agitated sigh, he nodded, “I don’t want to go after him, last time he and I scrapped it didn’t end too well for me. But there’s a certain promise I’m hoping to see carried out by Casseda, should we succeed.”
“There’s no we to this; I can not go to Verillia without the gates, and still, then it would be

a risk to me. However, there is something I must take care of back in my own lands, not too different from what you will do, only I do so for honor,” her words did not cut, she meant no offense but spoke the truth.

His paws left her, not out of anger from what she had said but only because it wouldn’t do to linger here much longer. Looking back to the half-circle the Pillars made about their raised dais, Torqariyan could see most of the Verillians had already stepped away. Not away from that fulcrum of power, neigh they had stepped into it as a sort of vortex into the other realm. There were few remaining, Sirius looked to him, all nine of her tails flat and motionless behind her, and Maxinimus stuck with the sad smile of one trying their best not to become sick at the moment. Torqariyan decided to pick his way over to them and the platform, they both kept eyes on him until he was between the two looking into the dark that hung above the Pillars. Steadying his breath, he continued to war with the anxiety building in him, yet it struck all the worse as the Fox opened her muzzle, “So are you going to be the one to do it then, Torq?”
“I’d much rather not talk of it; what needs to be done will be done by one set of paws or another, so perhaps it is best it is done by mine. After all, who else would be so willing and capable of taking the fight to Razien?” from another, it would have been a boast, but from the Jackal, it was clearly a less than joyful admission. For the most part, all the Lords were equal in strength in Erkinan; however, some had their strengths in more versatile arts. Razien was one such Lord and Torqariyan his very opposite; his skill was one that almost perfectly contradicted the Wolf’s, enough so to make him a real threat.
Gently patting his shoulder, the sorrowful looking Deer tried to improve his expression but failed, “We’re glad you are so willing Tor but know that the rest of us will be out there too if you need help. We should very well be looking out for one another, it’s not as though we won’t be mortal again just because we’ve returned from the dead.”
“Thank you, Maxin, and you too Sirius, we best settle this quick before anything too troubling can come about with Razien. I’ll see you again, in the fur once more, I hope,” the three moved forward at once, not a one too sure of themselves, but all the same ready and able to take that next step.

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