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16+ Language Violence

The Forsaken Race - The Hidden Truth: Chapter 32

by RavenAkuma


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and violence.

Author's note: I know descriptions of the palace, specifically regarding layout, are not as great as they should be. It's a massive structure and I tend to err on the side of less detail, instead of mentioning a bunch of spaces irrelevant to the chapter (that's how I see it anyway). However, I am working on mapping out the palace so I can improve on this and find a happy medium. In the meantime, if you have suggestions, don't hesitate to tell me of course. Thank you, I hope you enjoy!



*****

            

Chapter 32 - Playing Games

                 

                       

"What the- hey!"

After darting past the guards at the front gates of the Aubade Palace, Stud didn't stop. He charged across the palace foyer, dodging a crowd of people on the way, and made it up the short flight of stairs to the thrones. Left and right, on this landing, a seemingly infinite stretch of curved hallways led deeper into the castle.

The palace had been generally quiet the last time he showed up, but not this time. It was just two o'clock in the day, and a large group of sylphs occupied the foyer. They all wore clothes that boasted their social status; classy suits and formal dresses, made from the finest cottons, silks, and satins. An array of shining gold and silver accessories, adorned by precious gems, sparkled in the light of the grand chandeliers above, and the natural sunlight coming through the intricately-paneled windows around the front gates.

As Stud hid behind the thrones, he spat out the rolled-up note he was carrying. He had lost his ability to speak after crossing the border to Sybilius, but he could still think clearly.

Hah, easy enough. I'm too fast and tiny for those stupid guards, and these bratty nobles wouldn't notice a 'commoner' if it passed them, much less a dog. The portal and forest were way harder to clear...

He shuddered at the thought. The only time the portal was open was when a group of demons went to patrol the Blood Forest. That meant he had to slip in right behind them and immediately hide in the thick brush on the other side. This time, things didn't go quite as smoothly. He had just barely avoided being caught by the patrol leader, Timbur, and had to make a run for the stream instead of hiding. Thankfully, as far as he was aware, no one had spotted him.

Ah, the things I do for Kita. Must be the familiar in me...

Stud sighed, then took a moment to sniff the air. The odor of the nobles' gaudy perfumes overwhelmed his sharp senses, stinging his nostrils with heavily concentrated flowers, spices, and musks. However, as he strained himself, he caught the trail of something more familiar. Light lavender and bergamot.

Stud picked up the note and started running again, into the westward halls of the palace. After a long and annoying rush for his target, dodging guards and wary servants along the way, he made it to a small parlor room.

Inside, Corelia was rushing to get some papers in order. Atara and Shira were nearby, as well as the princess, Maia. Whereas Shira and Maia seemed patient enough, Atara was a bit annoyed, and wasn't as afraid to be vocal about it.

"Your majesty, aren't we supposed to be talking about fortifying those villages? We have too many problems to be-"

"Watch your tone with me," Corelia said, calmly but firmly. "The citizens expect a queen as much as the army does, you know."

There, Stud dropped the note and barked.

It caught all of them by surprise; Maia audibly yelped, Corelia nearly dropped her papers, and Atara reached for her sword.

"White, fluffy, tiny creature..." Shira gasped, "It's Kita's dog!"

"Oh..." Atara calmed down. "Right, it is."

Stud pushed the note forward with his paw. Corelia quickly retrieved it, then eagerly read through its content.

"What's it say, your majesty?" Asked Shira.

"Hm..." Corelia anxiously folded the paper. "Kita is asking us to meet her."

"That's great!" Maia remarked. "She must want to come back!"

"It could be dangerous, though," said Corelia. "Last time, she had Leiytning with her. Even if she tries to come alone, one of them may catch on. We should be ready to defend her. Atara, Shira, would one of you be willing to accompany me?"

Atara nodded. "I will."

"Well..." Shira laughed nervously, "I don't suppose I could also come? Extra security, and I'd like to meet this wild girl."

Corelia snickered a bit, "'Wild' girl. Not on a normal basis, she isn't. Alright, you can come, but Maia..."

She trailed off as Maia also gained a nervous smile.

"You want to come too, don't you?" Corelia muttered.

"Please?" Asked Maia. "Same reason as Shira. Nobody has done this since Kodin, it's not like it's an everyday thing. I want to know this girl!"

Corelia sighed, "You three are making this harder on me! Fine, though. We're going to have to speed up this event, and if things aren't settled by the time we need to leave, I'll grant Chiro permission to speak on my behalf..." She muttered, "And cross my fingers the 'noble' in him doesn't get brought out by that pompous atmosphere."

While they discussed their plans, Stud curled his jowls in a grin and wagged his tail.

Mission success, Kita! Now it's on you!

                

           

\\\\\\

               

                

"Your majesty, I think-" Kita abruptly stopped herself. "That won't work."

Kita sighed, staring at the wall of her ramshackle room with a troubled expression.

It had been a day since her last mission in the Raven's Cavern, and things hadn't gotten any easier for her to rationalize or understand. All she knew was that she needed to talk to Corelia. She even had Stud send a note earlier.

However, even with her plan in motion, Kita felt hesitant. The risk of getting caught was frightening, and not just because of the potential punishments.

She had an inherent responsibility to the Aubades, but the more she thought on the matter, the more she felt trapped with a responsibility to the demons. Of course she wanted to return to Sybilius eventually, but she couldn't pretend like everything would be peachy once she was gone. She would ask questions as needed, and she would hear out the answers. However, since she had gleaned crucial information that likely no other sylph had, she was determined to put it to use.

Kita sighed, "My head favors the Zyreans, but my heart favors Corelia. How I'm linked to either is only becoming more complicated, and I don't know what or who to believe anymore."

She glanced over her shoulder, toward the only chair. Kodin's weathered journals were stacked on it.

Thinking about what happened to their late author, Kita sighed again. Her reluctant scans through the journals turned up nothing. They were mostly just details of his travels. Some of the moments were amusing, and they told her more about the world out here, but they didn't help her situation. Nor did they tell her any more about the conflict between the two tribes. She noticed from the ordering that some books were missing, so she guessed that the more critical information was lost along with them.

"Iwish you were still alive, Kodin," Kita murmured. "I could use your advice."

She moved over to the sheet of plant fibers and picked up her silver pocket watch. It showed that the time was a little after eight-thirty, which aligned with the sky through the window. Only the faintest sliver of light was on the horizon, creating hues of deep violet and graphite between it and the incoming night sky. Only the brightest stars shone through. A crisp sea breeze whistled through the crack in the window, something becoming more common as the days crept further into the fall season.

It was about the time she planned for. Not so late that the demons would be inactive or asleep, but late enough to avoid bumping into anyone on patrol.

From her small stash of belongings, Kita picked up something new. A very small sachet.

"I was lucky that I was able to meet Corelia last time, and even more lucky that I didn't get in trouble with Leiytning. Now I have to create another opportunity without getting followed..."

Kita opened the sachet, revealing a light bluish-lavender powder. After taking out a small handful, she smeared it thoroughly along her right hand. The fine, pale powder blended very well with her skin, to the point it was hardly visible. Especially in the dim light.

Kita equipped the pocket watch, then sealed the pouch tight and tucked it under her shirt. With extreme wariness of her right hand, she approached the door. It was cold and windy as she stepped out onto the Dead Beach, but she clenched her teeth and hands to bear with it.

However, she realized a major flaw in her thinking.

"Oh no, how am I going to get anybody's attention? I don't have access to the fortress! Damn you, stupid sleep-deprived brain, that should've been obvious!"

Kita paced anxiously for a moment, then ran to the boulder that hid the fortress entrance, only discernable by its proximity to the cliff and the Zyrean Emblem burnt onto it. She inhaled a large gulp of air, then yelled as loud as possible.

"HELLO!"

Her throat instantly became dry and sore, making her regret the plan. Even worse, it didn't seem to work. She saw nothing stirring at the entrance, and couldn't hear anything beyond it.

Kita looked unamused. "What was I expecting? There's literally a giant wall of stone between me and them."

She sighed, heading back toward the cabin.

"I guess this means I lost my voice for nothing," Kita muttered. "What do I do now? There's no way I'm getting in on my own, and I don't think anybody else is-"

"Why are you screaming like a banshee?"

Kita yelped with surprise.

Humiliated, she turned around, and found a very annoyed spirit-walker. The marked boulder had just remanifested behind her, sealing the entrance tunnel once more. As if reacting to the moonlight, Thundur boasted a more captivating look than normal; her amber eye was extremely vibrant, like pure fire, and the white sections of her hair faintly glittered as the light hit them.

Though Kita was coming to appreciate Thundur, she was not the optimal pick; Kita was hoping for Seyber more than anyone, then perhaps Zin or Scorch. This would prove to be more of a challenge.

Kita cleared her throat. "Sorry for the noise. I honestly didn't think that would work."

Thundur sighed, "Your shrill voice can, unfortunately, be heard from the Hex Den."

Kita wanted to doubt that, but taking notice of her animalian ears, she connected the dots. Their hearing had to be at least a little bit better than hers.

"Now, what do you want?" Thundur interrogated.

"I need help with Stud. He got out again, and the last time he did, I found him scratched up and dangling from a high tree branch. I need to get him back before he hurts himself. I know this is probably irritating, but I promise to get it under control this time."

"Do you know where it would go?"

"Well, if it's like last time..." Kita's tone became very quiet. "Probably the Blood Forest."

Thundur crossed her arms. "Convenient to lose your rat there, isn't it?"

Kita sighed, "You should know I have no interest in crossing that stream, but Stud does. There's no way he can navigate safely, or even cross it. I won't try anything, but I still need to go. I obviously can't get there on my own."

"You can plead as much as you like, but if you think I'm letting you anywhere near-"

"Please, Thundur," Kita begged. "I won't cross, I swear, but I still need to get Stud back. He is my friend. I can't just let him get killed by forest beasts. Besides, why did you save me if you still don't trust me?"

Thundur retorted harshly, "Be quiet. I only did that to cater to my stupid brother. We made a very unfortunate deal, and long story short, I don't want to break it."

Kita smirked deviously. "At the risk of your own arm?"

"Hah! Please, I've been fighting beasts since before you or your mother were conceived. I'm not getting mutilated, no matter what moron I have to save. Regardless, I would expectmore gratitude from said moron than this."

"I am grateful, it tells me that you have some level of faith in me..." Kita perked up with an idea. "Hey, that's it. How about a bet? Are you one for games?"

Thundur very briefly smirked, but then quickly turned her head. Whether it was a sign of playfulness or malevolent thinking, Kita couldn't tell.

Back to her harsher nature, Thundur spoke, "You may have piqued my interest. Just a little. On that note, maybeI would let you into the forest. You may surprise me if you come back before nine-thirty."

Kita glanced down at the pocket watch. "That's about forty-five minutes. It already takes a while to get to the stream, and I may have to do a bit of searching for Stud. How about an hour?"

Thundur's ear twitched. "No. Forty-five minutes, period."

Kita sighed, "Okay. If I find Stud and come back before your limit, you have to ease up and start trusting me more. If I come back after, then you can decide what happens."

"Easy," Thundur remarked. "Fail to come back in time, and you'll have to stay one night in the Oculus Prison."

"The what?"

Thundur waved her hand dismissively. "It used to be just a hole in the wall, then we added some cursed bars. We use it for specialoccasions. Of course, it's not the cell you have to worry about in that area. Let's just say Leiytning keeps his pet down there."

"All I have to worry about is a pet?" Kita muttered. "Okay, fine."

She noticed Thundur hiding a snicker, making her a bit uneasy.

"These stakes seem fair enough to me. I must warn you, though..." With a boastful smirk, Thundur shot her a sharp glare. "I don't lose. If I do play, the chances are always in my favor. Knowing that, are you sure you want to create this little bet?"

Without hesitation, Kita nodded and extended her right hand. "It's a deal."

"Fine," Thundur replied.

Thundur did shake her hand, and Kita made sure to use a firm grip. Though that in itself could've been suspicious, she easily masked it as trying to look confident.

"Now, then..." Thundur used a deceptively innocent tone. "You should get going."

Kita arched one brow. "Just me?"

Thundur snapped her fingers, causing the portal to splay open. The ring in the sand exposed its familiar pit of dark and purplish smoke.

"This is a test of your honesty and loyalty, is it not? Go ahead."

Kita felt doubt so strong that she had to restrain a chuckle. There's no way you would let me into that forest unsupervised, Thundur. You must think I'm pretty gullible. That could be my own fault in a lot of ways, but still. I know better.

As Kita eyed the portal again, she blinked hard. "Wait, how am I supposed to come back here if I can't open the portal?"

Thundur looked irritated. Kita was confused, until she realized that it had to be part of a trick. The potential for there to be more made her nervous, but catching one also gave her a boost of confidence.

In a flash of dark mist, Thundur summoned a small item in her hand. A crystal that looked like an amethyst.

She held it up. "Key stone. Whenever you come back, hold it to the center of the portal. Then say the word 'revelare'."

Kita took the crystal, studying its shape and hue.

Thundur crossed her arms. "I'll still win. Now, off you go."

Kita just nodded, then rushed and jumped right into the portal. She fell through the cold darkness for hardly a few seconds before landing with a heavy 'thud.' She was less scared of it now, but the portal still inherently gave her goosebumps; stepping from one specific environment to an entirely different one was an incredibly strange sensation.

In the night-shrouded Blood Forest, she felt the rich earth through the underbrush beneath her, the trees towering over her like black spires, and the faintest silver light trickling through the branches. The smell of rich earth was strong, and this time, the smell of crisp autumn leaves was more prevalent.

Kita quickly slipped the sachet of powder out, almost emptied it into her hand, then waited.

"Tricky demon," she muttered. "I see the plan now. Let me think I'm here alone, creep in to catch me 'in the act' of a crime, then even if I was innocent, I'd be stranded by the portal until time ran out. No wonder Leiytning warned me about her tricks."

Sure enough, after a moment, the portal opened once again. Kita held her breath, threw up the powder to create a cloud, then scurried back. As Thundur seamlessly landed on the other side of the portal, she didn't notice the fine powder, apart from snorting a bit and wiping her eye like she had been exposed to a dust cloud. For Kita, that was a very encouraging sign.

Kita laughed a bit, "I knew you wouldn't let me here unsupervised!"

"Hmph..." Thundur crossed her arms. "Then you're not as dumb as I hoped you would be, congratulations."

Still feeding on that confidence boost, Kita was unable to resist a playful taunt of her own.

"Well, you'll make a great searching buddy! Let's go, we are on a time limit."

Thundur rolled her eye. While Kita turned and walked toward the stream, she pretended to be looking for clues about Stud. She wasn't finding the dog, but she was starting to see what she needed.

Thundur was slowing down. It was subtle at first, but then she stopped in her tracks, catching herself against a tree before she slumped to the ground. Kita stopped and ran back to her.

"Thundur, are you okay?" Asked Kita. "Should I get help?"

"Shut up, sylph," Thundur said quietly, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Finish up, and don't try anything..."

Kita nodded. "Okay. I'll find Stud, then come right back here. There shouldn't be any sylphs around at this hour, right?"

Thundur just grunted.

Though she wanted to hurry, Kita smirked and slipped the pocket watch into her lap. "There. So you know I come back on time."

Again, Thundur didn't respond. Kita took that as her cue to get going; she got up and raced toward the stream.

As she ran, she whispered to herself, "Sorry, Thundur, but I can't believe that worked! Thank gods Seyber was willing to share that sleep powder. It really is as potent as she warned, but because everyone knows I have trouble sleeping, there shouldn't be any suspicion if I'm caught with it..." She mumbled, "I hope."

Eventually, Kita found the stream, the starlight illuminating the ripples of its crimson water. She stopped to look around.

"Stud!" Kita called. "Stud, are you here?"

After a moment, Kita heard the faint patter of paws, before Stud burst out of the brush. He shook some leaves out of his fur, before looking at Kita with terrified eyes.

"Is there a demon here?" He asked quietly.

"She's out cold," Kita replied. "Is Queen Corelia here?"

"Yup," Stud replied. "She really jumped when she saw your note! Oh, and-"

"Good job," Kita remarked. "I'll be quick, so just wait here. I should be back before Thundur wakes up."

Stud still seemed anxious at the mere possibility, hiding under a nearby fern.

Kita hastily jumped across the stones poking out of the red stream. Though nothing like the portal, she could feel an odd sensation as she crossed into Sybilius. Once she landed, she continued to run through the remaining strip of forest.

"I swear," she muttered. "Every time I cross the stream, no matter what way I'm going, I somehow feel bad about leaving the other side."

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Tue Apr 02, 2024 3:00 pm
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keeperofgaming wrote a review...



I'm back and you're still an avocado. Well, lets go with my now familiar template.

When I smiled:

Thundur's attempts to trick Kita were fun and show a slightly playful side to the menacing demon. Though, Kita managing to trick her through use of the sleeping dust was awesome. It shows just how much Kita is getting used to her dangerous friends. I also love Thundur's attempt to downplay her saving Kita. It shows her tsundere side that Leiytning embodies unintentionally.
I also love how Kita fully planned a meeting with Corelia, getting a stable message system, and forming a strategy to get answers from the lady herself. Her internal conflict just echoes this, though I can only imagine how she will react to such questions. Will Corelia honestly answer and begin to gain perspective? Or will she hide and shift Kita's heart closer to the Zyreans.

A line to remember:

"Tricky demon," she muttered. "I see the plan now. Let me think I'm here alone, creep in to catch me 'in the act' of a crime, then even if I was innocent, I'd be stranded by the portal until time ran out. No wonder Leiytning warned me about her tricks."

This line really broadcasts her new understanding of the Zyreans. She knows they aren't really evil, but they will try to trick her because of the dislike. Her understanding of Thundur is amplified in the next line when she manages to trick her into inhaling the sleep dust. It shows Kita's ingenuity and her knowledge of Demon behavior.

The Catalyst's Growth:

Kita's new indecision provides numerous routs for how this meeting can go. Either Corelia will conclude that she is like Kodin, or she will understand that there are things that need to be revealed and tell more of the story, and I love that she is steadily getting more attached to the demons and that side of the stream. It shows her caring nature and her want to make peace between both sides, which I think the abominations will force still.

I also still think Kita is half Zyrean, don't you think I forgot.

Overall:
I wish this came out more than once a week.




RavenAkuma says...


(What timing, I just left a review for Rose's new chapter XD) And yes, it would seem I am still the Avokuma...Still trying to sort that out lol.

Welcome back! I'm glad you enjoyed this one, I had a lot of fun writing the back-and-forth on their tricks lol. I have no plans to change my publishing schedule, but I was thinking about dropping another bonus chapter next week, because, well...things may get a little bit heated, but you may not guess with who ;)

Thanks for taking the time to read and review! :)



keeperofgaming says...


Yeah I thought that timing was funny.



keeperofgaming says...


also part 1 of chapter 2 in the prime control is out if you wanna check that out




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