Labyrinthian, Chapter 1: Subverting Expectations

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Has it really been so long?

Deep in some forgotten corner of the Fellerwrath, amongst the autumn trees and dense ferns, a small force of soldiers in dark purple uniforms had set up camp for the night. A few of them had gathered around a small campfire, most of which were busy chatting away and drinking to their heart’s content. Sitting among them was a man whose behaviour was quieter, more reserved, paying no mind to the drunken ramblings of the others around him.

“Hey Liam! You gonna say anything, or just sit there all night muttering to yourself?” The reserved soldier glanced up at his howling bunkmate, a lanky blonde-haired man named Patrick Holt, and vacantly nodded in his direction without really knowing what he was asked. He was lost in thought.

Liam felt old. Older than he should be. Dwelling over the past, sitting idly, mind wandering… he was surprised how truly worn down he felt. His lot was one that had been plagued with constant change and danger, eventful to be sure, yet harrowing in the pace and inconsistency of it all. Just looking at the poor fool was enough to gather he’d been through well more than his fair share by now, his pale green eyes sunken and tired, his shaggy brown hair graying at the roots, his physique heavy-set and broad-shouldered yet still seeming undernourished and perhaps even frail. Time had not been kind to this boy of twenty.

Liam, snapping back to the present, returned his attention to his surroundings. He saw his friend Patrick yelling and hollering nearby with the other soldiers, hammered. Drunk, and boisterous. 'Not a terrible thing for morale', Liam mused. He wasn’t sure what had come over Patrick the past few weeks, given he was usually of a much more sour and reserved attitude, but this change was a welcome one to be sure. Glancing up at the misty night sky above, Liam saw the orange moon of the Middenground hovering directly above. Now was as good a time as any to head back to his quarters and get some rest.

Ducking inside his tent, the raucous atmosphere didn’t change much as a small figure burst forward from out of sight. “Boo! Got you, brother!” Liam stumbled backwards in reaction to the masterful surprise attack of his little sister, Millicent. Despite her tendency to act playful and immature even for a twelve year old, Millicent had seen her own fair share of experience in the Half-Tamed Wilds. Her straight umber hair fell back past her shoulder blades, her craning neck was hidden by a blue scarf at almost all times, and her bright yellow eyes would regularly twinkle with a shrewd yet innocent intelligence. Unlike her older brother’s time in the military, she had spent multiple years now finding her way around noble courts and stately manors as a handmaiden to none other than the presiding monarch of Gwillithmire, Queen Pretoria II.

“Mil, what are you doing in here? Aren’t you supposed to be in bed by now, not trying to scare the daylights out of me?” Liam half-joked as he walked past his younger sister, reaching a hand out to scruff up her hair as he went by. Millicent scowled at him as she tried to sort her hair back out, grumbling under her breath as her older brother plopped down on his cot.

“But it’s boring in the civilian’s tent,” Millicent protested, “all the other handmaidens have nothing good to talk about! They’re too busy whining about how dirty it is out here away from Terrenbridge.” As she complained about her bunkmates, Patrick stumbled into the tent with a flask in hand, practically falling face-first into his bed opposite Liam. Millicent brushed off his arrival and continued, “I swear, I don’t think half the other handmaidens have ever left the palace before, even less the capitol.”

“You think listening to them bitch is bad?” Patrick slurred with his face buried in his pillow, “At least you’re not in the Captain’s situation and have to share a tent with her majesty herself.” Liam tried motioning for his bunkmate to hush up, but Patrick continued after seeing Millicent stifle a giggle. “I mean, she’s a fine ruler and all, but from how you ladies talk about her, Pretoria sounds like a right hag to actually talk to.” Millicent let a loud guffaw burst forth as she rapidly nodded in reply, all the while Liam buried his face in his hand out of disappointment.

“Speaking of which, you looking forward to the trade discussions, Mil?” Millicent rolled her eyes as Liam redirected the conversation to start teasing her. “I’ll tell you both what, you can poke fun at Pretoria all you want, at least she’s better than the nutcase we’re headed to talk to…” Having a member of the royal court for a sister had been more advantageous than Liam originally predicted. His sister had managed to feed a whisper to the Queen of Gwillithmire on more than one occasion, and vice versa. Such court intrigue had gotten Liam promoted up from a lowly border patrol soldier to a Scout in service to the Queen’s private division, and thanks to his sister he was always the first to know about what his next mission would be, like their current mission of escorting Pretoria all the way to Castle Dusc to discuss trade deals with Queen Mab of Mabgift Hold.

“Liam’s got a point Milly,” Patrick chimed back in, “I don’t envy you to be in the same room as that psychotic Blurr. They call her the Mad Queen for a reason…” As Patrick and Millicent started to go back and forth over the subject, Liam could’ve sworn he heard a strange sound from somewhere outside. Motioning for the two to hush up, Patrick perked up as well. The sound rang out again, grabbing the trio’s attention almost immediately.

“Alright, I may be drunk, but I still know a scream when I hear one.” Patrick muttered as he went to grab his rifle from beneath his cot.

Liam retrieved and loaded his rifle as the sound of clamor and confusion started to build up outside. “You remember what to do, right Mil?” Millicent nodded as she held her hand out expectantly, followed by Liam tossing her his pistol. “Remember, hand off the trigger until you’re sure you need to fire.” Hopping up to his feet, he peeked out the front flap of the tent to see the other soldiers rushing around the camp, scanning the perimeter with weapons in hand. “Stay inside the tent, Mil. If it gets louder outside, hide behind one of the beds and stay alert.” Millicent nodded, a look of slight concern starting to form on her face as Liam ducked out of the tent.

Simultaneously, far off in another Fiefdom…

“You sure this is a good idea, Byron?!” Hanging by a rope over the edge of a perilous snowy cliff, a pair of figures were trying desperately to brace themselves against the howling wind as they slowly made their way down to a shadowy platform below. “I know we’re both in agreement on the historical value of this effort, but I’m having second thoughts in regards to the risk!” The man shouting to his comrade was a Penumbra dressed in a flowing grey trenchcoat and set of goggles, a pair of bull-like horns sprouting from somewhere beneath the tangled mane of black hair atop his head.

“I’d think you of all people would love the adventure involved here, Moranoch!” Yelling back from a significant ways further down the rope was an elderly Human in a fur-lined winter coat, his snow white hair lengthy and well-kept as it practically flowed in the frigid wind. “We’ve had our eyes on this place for far too long now, and I intend to find out just what’s going on here! Besides, the expedition crew made it down perfectly fine, so you will too!”

As the old man reached the bottom of the rope, he turned to see several other Penumbras in winter gear milling about. They’d climbed down to a large snow-covered outcropping almost a square mile wide, whereupon rested a looming stone tower several stories tall. The massive structure almost looked as if it could collapse at any moment, yet everyone present knew it had stood for tens of thousands of years, and it was likely going to stand for several thousand more.

The goggle-wearing Penumbra managed to reach the outcropping shortly thereafter, immediately turning his attention to the others around them. “Where’s the operations director? Winthine?” A hornless Penumbra dressed in heavy winter gear and a metal work helmet stepped forward. “Have your crew start setting up a caged ladder, make sure it’s secured into the rock face. We’re gonna need a safer way of climbing than just a damn rope.” Winthine nodded and turned to face the other Penumbras, all the while another figure in a black cloak emerged from the tower’s entrance, carrying a yellow, symbol-covered banner as they made their way to the elderly human.

“Doctor Byron Shields, a pleasure to meet you at last.” The dark cloak-wearing figure addressing them was almost transparent, like a shadow pulled from a wall and given form. Apart from a pair of orange hawk-like eyes glowing forth from beneath their hood, they were an almost featureless creature. “And I see you’ve brought your associate as well,” the shadowy being’s wispy voice now addressed the Penumbra in goggles, “good to see you again Sir Moranoch, Lord of Holm.”

“Szisid? What in Architect’s name are you doing here?” Moranoch’s expression was a mix of surprise and anger. “I thought we agreed that the Sluagh were to have no involvement in Eterfol’s matters.” The Penumbra marched further up towards the tower, lashing an arm out at Szisid as he passed. The Sluagh dissipated into a plume of smoke as Moranoch’s arm made contact, only to recondense into human shape and form seconds later.

“That agreement was not ordained per your Potentate, Moranoch.” Szisid murmured in reply, “I do not speak for my entire race, but as far as me and my associates are concerned your orders only hold true back in Holm county. Besides, I’ve already done my examinations.” The Sluagh started to walk towards the edge of the outcropping, taking a single step over the edge of the precipice before once again billowing into a cloud of smoky fumes and flowing through the wind off into the distance.

Shields gave his associate a curious look. “Old friends, I take it?” Moranoch rolled his eyes as the two continued up to the tower’s entrance. Just outside the looming ruin, a trio of Penumbras were sorting through a table lined with archeological equipment, nodding at the pair of scholars as they approached.

“Any of you three know what that Sluagh was doing in the examination site?” One of the Penumbras, much younger looking than the rest, nodded yes in reply.

“Did he do anything to tamper with the site?” The same Penumbra shook their head no.

Moranoch sighed, “Well, that’s a relief at least. Hopefully Szisid just wanted to be the first one to look inside.” Examining the stone archway that served as the entrance, Moranoch spotted what looked to be writing at the top, barely legible after who knows how long of being worn away by winter weather. “Is this the inscription you were telling me about, Shields?” The scholarly Penumbra removed the set of goggles resting on his face and instead donned a pair of large spectacles, squinting at the text etched in the doorway.

“‘Nos vagor aeternum’…”

“What’s the situation out here?!”

The camp was in a state of chaos, soldiers running about and training their firearms in every which direction. Standing outside a luxurious tent at the head of the camp, Liam could see the division’s commanding officer, Captain Farrer. The captain quickly made his way through the rows of tents, barking orders the whole way as the other soldiers worked to secure the campsite’s perimeter. Eventually he caught sight of Liam, raising his voice even further to grab the young soldier’s attention. “Wilcox! With me, on the double!”

Quickly rushing to his side, Liam almost tried to match the captain’s volume. “What’s got the others riled up, sir?!” Farrer and Liam had known each other for a while now. The aged captain was rather easy to pick out of a crowd, his skin and hair a pasty pale white, his eyes a dull yet almost glowing red, his figure thin yet tall and imposing. The man almost looked as if he were a ghost, and had a knack for intimidating and unsettling others like he was the real thing.

The ghastly captain looked Liam up and down before redirecting the question. “Wilcox, how long have you been serving in the Gwillithmire military?” Liam looked slightly confused, but answered nonetheless.

“Four years sir. Ten counting training and noncombatant work.”

Farrer nodded “Correct. Next question, how did you gain Gwillithmire citizenship?”

Liam was puzzled as to why Farrer felt the need to ask these questions. Hadn’t the old man been present for much of his time in the Half-Tamed Wilds? “I gained citizenship following the Night of Tremors, sir. Me and my sister both did.”

Farrer nodded once more, a grin forming on his whitened face. “Good. Sorry for the interrogation, scout. Had to be sure you were, well, you.” As the two approached the edge of camp, a large group of soldiers were huddled around something laying on the ground, the rumble of their mutterings practically shaking the air around them. “What the hell are you all doing standing around for?! Get to your posts!” A single bark from the ghostly captain sent the soldiers running in different directions, giving Liam a clear look at what lay in a heap before him.

He was fairly certain he knew who this soldier was, some red-haired girl who used to be from North America before slipping into the Middenground. Liam had to stifle back a gag when he realized why exactly he struggled to identify her, some part of his brain not fully processing it for a minute beforehand. Someone had flayed the girl’s face from her head, the torn exposed muscle underneath weeping blood and staining the grass beneath her corpse.

Farrer turned away from the mess on the ground and motioned for another passing soldier. “Send for the Queen at once, and escort her back here to me. If she tries to throw a fit for disturbing her, just tell her I sent you.” The soldier nodded and rushed back off to the other end of camp as Farrer panned his gaze back to Liam. “Now you see why I had to question you, boy?”

Liam swallowed back another gag. He’d heard of these attacks plenty of times before, but hadn’t seen one since… When was it that he last saw this? It had to have been a while ago, but he wasn’t sure anymore. Was his memory being thrown off by the situation at hand? He tried to snap himself back to reality. “Um… Do we have any leads, sir?”

“Working on that, Wilcox.” By now Patrick had caught up to the pair, desperately chugging down a canteen of water in an attempt to sober up. Even if it was working, it did nothing for the smell of booze coming off him, a smell Farrer caught whiff of well in advance of the private’s arrival. “You couldn’t have picked a worse night for it, Holt!”

“Apologies sir, I would’ve been sober and attentive had the squadron been informed ahead of time that we’d be attacked.” Farrer’s eyes widened with fury at Patrick’s snarky rebuttal, but the captain remained composed nonetheless. Patrick brushed off the ghastly man’s death glare and proceeded to let out a low whistle upon seeing the corpse before them. “Whose handiwork was this, then? Don’t tell me our faithful majesty-”

“As I just told Wilcox, we’re getting to the bottom of it.” Just as Farrer’s voice was starting to raise into a growl, the trio quickly hushed up and stood at attention as Queen Pretoria approached behind them, her face locked in a scowl as the soldier from earlier halfheartedly followed behind her. The Queen of Gwillithmire was a strange sight to behold to most, as not many in the Middenground have seen anything close to a live Eo before. Although she wasn’t really a member of the lost ancient race, rather simply masquerading in the identity of one, she nonetheless appeared just as the Eo once did: a tall, slender creature with four arms, pale blue skin, and billowing green hair that almost seemed to float in mid-air. Rather surprisingly, she looked almost nothing like royalty as she was now, and wore the same purple uniform as her guardsmen. The only hint as to her real station was a plain silver diadem resting on her forehead, almost hidden beneath her tremendous mane of hair.

“What’s the meaning of all this commotion, captain? The troops should be resting up for tomorrow’s march into Castle Dusc…” Pretoria began to talk at length about the absurdity of her being summoned, but was cut short when the trio around her nodded in the direction of the corpse. With one glance at the dead girl, the queen let out a sigh of acknowledgement. “Are people being interrogated yet, captain?”

“We’re starting on that process, your majesty.” Farrer leaned in Pretoria’s direction, his voice almost a whisper. “Now, no offense unto you, your majesty, but could this have been… one of yours, perhaps? Because if so, we can begin covering this whole matter up immediately.”

Pretoria shook her head. “No, no this isn’t my work. All my masks are bought, I haven’t made one myself in centuries now.” Farrer seemed almost disheartened by the queen’s reply, hanging his head in annoyance as Pretoria knelt down to closer examine the body. “I know who this girl was. Young woman I’d just appointed into the garrison not two weeks before we left Terrenbridge… She showed such promise too, poor thing…” She reached into her pocket and procured a finely sewn silk handkerchief, laying it across the girl’s flayed head before climbing back to her feet. “One of my handmaidens informed me on the way here that their youngest is missing from the civilian’s tent. Perhaps you’d do best to locate her?”

“That would be my younger sister, your majesty.” Liam chimed in as Pretoria mentioned Millicent’s absence. “She went to pay me a visit over in my tent just before the commotion started. She should still be there now…” It took him a moment to realise what the queen had insinuated, but upon his realization Liam had to fight the urge to explode in anger at her accusation. “Your majesty, you can’t be seriously suggesting that-”

“Nobody can be held exempt from scrutiny, Wilcox.” Pretoria began to head back in the direction of her tent before turning to address Liam and Patrick. “The both of you report back to your tent and bring me Millicent at once for testing. Captain Farrer will have you report for the same once the camp is in order again.” Liam’s face began to show the slightest hint of anger as Pretoria made her way out of sight. Farrer simply stared at the two impatiently before returning to his job of barking orders.

“You heard the queen you two, get moving! A Changeling has breached the camp!”

“How far did you get the last time you were here, Byron?” Moranoch’s eyes darted from place to place in eager curiosity as the two scholars made their way inside the tower. The room before them was almost barren, save for a rack of rusted spears lining the wall opposite the pair of intellectuals. What little light there was in the room came from a small glassless window near the weapons rack, letting just the faintest amount of the howling wind outside work its way inside as little more than a breeze.

“Well, you’re looking at the furthest I ventured, friend.” Byron cautiously stepped inside and approached the window, crouching down to examine an outcropping of jagged, broken brick protruding from beneath the windowsill. Hanging from the sharp rock was a small piece of string, stretching down to the floor and ending in a frayed scrap of orange and blue cloth. “Well, I’ll be damned. Here’s the exact spot we found her.”

“Well, nothing to distract us this time.” Moranoch followed his associate inside and carefully took a spear from the rack, turning it around in his hands to examine every last inch of the decrepit weapon. “How far back do you think these date? I doubt they would be as old as the tower itself… craftsmanship seems to resemble some designs from post-golden age Cuiqulux, so that should put it somewhere in the early 3rd Epoch at the latest. Wonder if the Eo tried to set up an outpost here at the start of their decline…”

Shields was satisfied with sitting back and listening to Moranoch’s enthusiastic ramblings. Watching the Penumbra analyze artifacts and locations was like watching a kid in a candy store in a way, how he would go on and on about different time periods and historical figures, trying his hardest to build timelines for everything that caught his eye. Nothing seemed quite as amusing to Byron as his friend’s historical filibustering.

Something changed in the air around him to pry his attention away from Moranoch. The wind suddenly started to go still while Shields glanced around, the cold bite in the air vanishing as if a surge of warmth had come over him. Glancing out the window, he could see the flurry of snow start to slow to a crawl, as the individual snowflakes started to hang motionless in midair.

“Oh damn it all, not again…” Shields let out a groan of annoyance as he made for the door, Moranoch oblivious to his departure as he stepped back outside to behold an imposing figure standing in the snow just outside. Before him was an Eo, her face old and withered, her form bony and spindly, her hair matted and struggling to float about in the air. She wore layer upon layer of ragged fabrics and weathered robes, all different variations of a brown-green hue. Clutched in her frontmost right hand was a massive staff of scorched wood and charcoal, easily over three times her height as it towered over them in the air. Byron seemed completely unfazed by the figure’s mysterious appearance. “Why is it we keep meeting here, of all places?”

“I’ve no control over what you do in your free time, Dr. Shields.” The Eo’s voice was soft and breathy, something about it carrying a hint of sorrow and tiredness with every word. To Byron, it sounded like her voice practically surrounded him, its echoes coming from every direction. “Though I do admit, it is strange that I always need call upon you when you’re here, at this specific tower. Did you know the people of Cuiqulux believed this site was of religious significance? They proposed it was a site where one could achieve enlightenment and speak with the denizens of mythological otherworlds.”

“I’ll be sure to let Moranoch know that one.” Byron leaned against the tower doorway, his face a look of apathetic contempt. “Though I suppose I don’t have time to help him poke through this old ruin now, do I? Not when the mystical Madam Eisenwatch has summoned for me…”

Madam Eisenwatch gave a slight nod of her head in reply. “I really do apologize for the inconvenience, Doctor, but this is a matter of unparalleled importance.” Turning her gaze to the vast clouds of mist that stretched through the air below the tower’s outcropping, she let out a small sigh. “The hour of the Doomed has come at long last.”

Byron’s uncaring expression shifted almost instantly. “Wait, you don’t mean…”

“You know what to do, Doctor. You’ve read the texts front to back since our first encounter.” Madam Eisenwatch began to approach the precipice of the outcropping, her form starting to grow faint and transparent. “Moranoch need not accompany you this time. Leave him to explore this place to his heart’s content. A carriage is already waiting to take you to the rendezvous back up the rope and on the road. Remember, the condition has to be met perfectly. We can’t afford any disruption.” Byron watched as the Eo took a step off the cliff and vanished into thin air, her words still echoing in his mind as the wind and snow started to return.

“Good luck, Doctor Shields. The fate of the Middenground depends on this.”

“Millicent? You still in there?”

Liam and Patrick could hear murmuring creeping to their senses, coming from within their tent. As they approached, Liam held his ear to the side of the tent to try and listen in. He could hear Millicent giggling and chattering away, followed by another voice, one he couldn’t quite place. Throwing open the flaps that cover the tent’s entrance, he let out a sigh of relief when he saw the owner of the unknown voice was another guardsman.

Millicent sprang to her feet as her brother entered the tent. “There you are, you blockheads! You scared me to death with whatever you were freaking out about before you left.” She procured Liam’s pistol from a satchel hanging by her side, returning it to her brother. “This scout here says that everything’s fine out there, you were all just spooked by some wild animals or something.” Liam glanced over at the unnamed scout, her face hidden beneath the hood of her uniform. She gave a shrug in reply.

“Wonder if she just said that to calm the kid down…” Patrick whispered in Liam’s ear before stepping past him and into the tent as well. “Man, but it’s crowded in here with four people! Remind me to listen to Liam when he says not to let guests in here. That party pooper might just know what he’s talking about.” Millicent guffawed as Liam tried to signal for his bunkmate to focus on the situation at hand. “Oh! Right. Looks like we gotta take you over to the queen’s tent, Mil. Her majesty has asked to see you.”

Millicent rolled her eyes and began to approach the doorway, but the unknown scout stopped her, springing to her feet and sticking a hand out to stop the young girl in her tracks. “Sorry bud, but change of orders. Captain wants her to fall in with the rest of the soldiers for testing.” Patrick and Millicent both seemed confused as the scout tried to insist her claim. “I was told to meet with you here and redirect you to where testing will be held. Let’s move.” Grabbing hold of Millicent’s arm, the scout tried to make for the doorway but was cut off by Liam.

“Oh really? And who gave you these orders?” Liam insisted.

“… The captain of the camp,” the scout replied, “I just told you. You got a hearing problem or something?”

“Which captain?” Liam was playing mind games, he could tell something was wrong here, and he wasn’t about to let it slide.

“Uh… Erm…” The scout struggled to think of a name. “Captain… Jerry?”

“Nice attempt.” Liam grabbed for the scout’s hood, ripping it off her to reveal a familiar head of bright red hair. “Guess dead women aren’t good at lying, are they?”

The woman let out a low chuckle as Millicent tried to wrestle free of her grasp. “Smart bastard.” In a flash, the scout reached inside her uniform and produced a crude axe with a jagged blade, training it on Liam and Patrick as she backed towards the other end of the tent, Mil still being held firmly by her side. “Now if you know how to use those smarts, the girl might just live.”

“Like hell, you Changeling bitch!” Patrick produced his pistol and began to run at the woman. The attacker responded by quickly diving to the ground, stopping herself halfway and using the momentum to charge headfirst into Patrick’s stomach, knocking him prone on the ground. Before he had time to get up, the woman had already planted her boot on the soldier’s neck, dangling the blade of her axe inches from his face. Patrick’s natural, foulmouthed attitude was starting to resurface in a heartbeat, howling slurs and insults at his assailant as she stood threatening him within an inch of his life. “Do it then, you doubleface whore! Kill me and watch how fast the other guards come swarming in here to fill you with holes, you sorry piece of shapeshifting scum!”

The woman just grinned and giggled at every insult let loose from his lips. “You got a mouth on you. I like it.” Swiftly lifting up her foot from Patrick’s neck, she brought it right back down on his head before he had a chance to get up, knocking him out cold. “Tell you what, I like all three of you. I think I’ll let your friends tag along with us.”

The woman tucked her axe back beneath her uniform and brought a hand up to the side of her face, as she started to dig her fingernails into the skin of her cheek. As she tore at the edge of her face, the rest of her body from the neck down began to shift, until a completely different person stood before Liam and Millicent. Now before them was another woman dressed in a chainmail shirt over baggy traveling clothes, her shoulders draped with a pale blue cloak. Her skin was a marble gray, her hair now black and unkempt, and her face almost featureless save for a pair of large red eyes and a slit-like mouth running from cheekbone to cheekbone.

The woman held the face she’d previously had, now a flayed hunk of skin affixed to a wooden mask, and tossed it onto the ground as she gave Liam a grin. “Pleasure to meet you, kid. You and your friends here.”

Liam was staring on transfixed, barely managing to come back to his senses enough to aim his rifle at the mysterious attacker. “Wh… Who are you?”

“Well, I’ve been given a lot of names for my handiwork,” The woman finally let go of Millicent’s arm as she began to talk at length, letting the young girl immediately run to Liam’s side and take cover behind him. “In Bodia they call me the Eckrath Slasher, in the Mire they call me Blue Reaver, even just across the Rethian Sea I’m known as the mysterious brigand Capgras… But you folks can go ahead and call me Glaucous.”

The Changeling grabbed Patrick by the collar of his shirt and lifted his unconscious body up off the ground and over her shoulder. “Now then, we shouldn’t dilly-dally any longer, we got a lot of cover to ground and not much time to do so.” Reaching into a satchel at her side, Glaucous procured a pair of dark green cloaks and tossed them at Liam and Millicent. “Put these on, you’ll need them for when we’re passing through Mabgift.”

Liam was growing more and more fed up with the situation, stepping closer to Glaucous with his gun still aimed. “You’re gonna explain yourself before we do anything you say, you bitch.”

Glaucous giggled and lifted her hand to brush the gun away from her. “Well, it’s pretty simple kid. You see, someone very important wants you dead.”

Liam was practically livid at this point. “So what? You’re here to kill me? Is that it?!” Glaucous shook their head ‘no’ in reply.

“I’m here, Liam Wilcox, to make sure you stay alive.”

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