Wow, so I see that it's been almost two years since I updated this story. I recently got an e-mail notifying me that someone had reviewed it, and felt compelled to come back, reread it, and see if I could salvage it and continue. I'm pleasantly surprised that there isn't too much I want to change, mostly some typos. So thank you, Anthony, for jogging my memory to get back to work on this. I hope any chapters that surface this summer will be up to par for my readers that I can count on one hand. Etc. Disclaimer yada yada, Legaia does not belong to me. On with the show!
A crystal wine decanter shattered when it hit the wall, "I can't believe this, I can't believe he would come all the way over here to do this!" Cort stomped back and forth on the metallic floor of the laboratory, completely enraged.
Zora was pacing back and forth in the same pattern as if she would somehow catch him, but at the same time seemed terrified to get too close. Jette, Zeto, and Dohati stood by with sullen expressions, Jette slightly further forward than the other two, as if he was the only one brave enough to stand a few inches closer to the raving Prince.
"He is no longer a cousin of mine! Tieg curse his happiness!"
Three months ago, Cort had sent a short letter to his cousin Van Saryu, the ruler of the island kingdoms in the south. Honestly, he had not expected much of a response; maybe a letter with the obvious answer of, "No, you may not involve me in your war by involving me in your experiments. The caves of Ratayu are off limits, and this is final."
Yet three months passed, and no reply letter arrived. Cort was actually ready to give up on attempting to secure the secrets of Ratayu when Van Saryu and an entire royal entourage arrived in Conkram unannounced. Even King Nebular was hesitant to let his own cousin into the city, having appeared so randomly, but he could not turn family or possible ally away.
When word of the arrival got out to the citizens of Conkram, rumors and excitement spread quickly from home to home. Most were convinced that Prince Cort's superior negotiating skills and intellect had attracted Van Saryu's attention, and this was but further proof that Prince Cort was going to win the war against Sol, and that he would be a great king the moment his father was no longer. Surely Van Saryu intended to lend his own men and weapons to the Conkram cause after so many long years of frustrating neutrality. Some thought that as Van Saryu was an intellect and scientist like Prince Cort, he too would shut himself away in the laboratory, and within the days following glorious war beasts would emerge to trample the unmatched General Gaza into the battlefield, and the city of Sol along with him.
Officials nearly drove themselves into a panic attempting to make an impromptu reception for the unexpected visiting ruler. If Van Saryu wanted to meet privately with Prince Cort, he would have to wait through a banquet dinner at least. If Van Saryu wanted to meet privately with Prince Cort, surely he would have to meet with King Nebular first. Yet he explicitly stated that he was not there to speak with his cousin the king but with Cort, and none other, and this was allowed after a good deal of arguing.
Van Saryu was not usually one to look so serious and deadly. Aside from being a scientist, he was a philosopher and a poet; he was a romantic and it was well known. He had a kind disposition and the loving support of his subjects, and he refused to get involved in the war between Conkram and Sol on the same principle that King Drake had claimed. Surely, humans had so many times nearly wiped themselves out, and the Seru were a gift from Tieg to prevent them from doing so. And yet King Nebular and Emperor Etora and rulers before them had decided to use a tool from god as a weapon to try to destroy the human race yet again. He could not and would not stand for it.
As for what lay dormant beneath his own kingdom, it would remain dormant for as long as he could help it.
All through the rushed banquet, Van Saryu looked intense and serious and deeply troubled. One moment he seemed as if he would flip the table and scream, the next moment he looked almost as if he was about to cry. Cort hated being under his stare; it was unnerving. But Van Saryu spent most of the dinner staring in his direction with that mix of anger and pity on his fair face.
Though it was unusual for a meeting between royalty to commence in an underground laboratory, for people like Cort and Van Saryu it seemed only natural. Jette accompanied Cort under Van Saryu's invitation, after Cort insisted that any scientific questions would benefit from the presence of Jette. Van Saryu did not even bother to bring a body guard, and so only the three descended the dark stairs together.
"This is certainly a different way to respond to a letter," Cort was the first to speak, "I've never seen so many people look so panicked off the battlefield." He tried to jest, but his efforts fell flat as Van Saryu looked at the floor thoughtfully.
"What you are doing," Van Saryu begain quietly, but with something more seething beneath the soft beginnings of his statement, "is an abomination."
Cort looked baffled and Jette tried to seem unsurprised. Van Saryu repeated himself.
"This is an abomination."
Cort stifled a scowl, "Van Saryu...cousin, I do not understand how – "
"A filthy use of Tieg's gifts to the world. You are committing a grave wrong against all things living and all things in heaven, Cort," Van Saryu sounded like a religious zealot. The last Cort had seen him, he was jovial and smiling, reading bawdy poetry by a fireplace late into the night. Where had this frowning disparagement come from?
Van Saryu continued, "It is bad enough that you use a tool that helps humans live to kill so many. Now I hear you are creating beasts of your own."
"Cousin, you too are a man of science! You too have studied the Seru closely as I have, and often by my side! Naturally the next step in Seru science is to create our own, better equipped for our changing needs."
"Yes, but I would never use them in a pointless and endless war. I came here today to beseech you, to beg you to stop what you are doing before it is taken too far. I have been told that the prophet Hari has been in and out of deeper and deeper slumbers in Octam. When he is awake to speak, he says his eyes are clouded over, that there is threat from the north. I believe if Karisto continues to war as it has, the rest of the world at peace will be forced into involvement. You must find a different alternative," Van Saryu ranted, calming his voice and yet becoming particularly emotional when he spoke of Hari.
Cort scoffed, "The real threat from the north is Emperor Etora. If we allow him to, he will not only try to conquer Karisto, but he will reach his greedy hands into your kingdom as well, and into King Drake's. You know this. See reason!"
"How are you doing this?"
"How are you doing this? Making new Seru? Bringing them to life?"
"Do you ask out of genuine curiosity or are you trying to find more reasons to insult my work?" Cort was not in a forgiving mood.
Van Saryu looked sad again, "I ask because I am worried. I am worried for my kingdom and I am worried for you, my family."
Cort did feel familial love for Van Saryu, When he was younger he had once visited Van Saryu in Ratayu, and was gladdened to find someone else with as deep a curiosity as his own. Part of him wanted to be more like the philosopher poet royalty that Van Saryu was, rather than a man who constantly had to think of war and destruction. But Ratayu was at peace. Conkram was not.
And he did want to tell Van Saryu all about the exciting communication straight through Tieg in the gift of Rogue. He was certain Van Saryu would be just as fascinated and would understand that it was Tieg that granted him this knowledge, that his work was not for continuing war but for ensuring peace. He wanted the war to end just as much as anyone else.
He shook his head, "I'm sorry, but that information is classified. I do wish I could tell you. Really."
"Then my journey here was wasted time."
"Don't say that. We are still family. You are still welcome here."
Van Saryu turned on his heel and said nothing. Cort and Jette did not follow him. He and his entourage left very early the next morning.
Cort was completely silent until the next night, hours after Van Saryu had left. That was when he began to shout.
And for some time, Cort stopped working. For nearly two years he had worked almost nonstop, but this argument with Van Saryu took its toll. He told Jette and he told himself that he had not stopped because he took his cousin's warning seriously. He insisted that he had stopped simply because the confrontation had drained him and he could not focus. Though he did not work he still did not sleep. When he dozed he did not dream of Rogue. When Jette forced him to sleep he did not dream of Rogue. He feared that Rogue had abandoned him. He feared that when Van Saryu had turned his back, so had Tieg. With his divine messenger silent, who would guide Conkram to peace? Would this war never end?
For weeks he did not speak about Rogue Shards or Seru Eggs or Sim-Seru or the Seru-kai. He barely spoke at all. Jette, Zora, and Gi were sick with worry. Zeto and Dohati arched their brows at this sudden uncertainty and instability. These were not the qualities of a great ruler. Perhaps they were right to wait and see this happen before they placed him on the throne.
Then one night, when he sat alone with Jette in the common rooms, he spoke, "Jette."
Jette's head bolted up to look at him, to make sure he was actually speaking, "Yes?"
Cort looked thoughtful, "Jette, you know the next Seru design we were talking about? The ones for telepathy between the soldiers?"
"The ones to connect to their minds, yes."
"How long do you think it will take for us to get some prototypes of those done?"
Jette shook his head, "Maybe a couple of weeks if we're lucky. But then we need to have them approved by your father, and you know how long that can take. I doubt he'll be quick to approve a weapon that sounds like something dangerously close to mind control. It's going to take some convincing."
"I know," he paused, "You should go to bed. I would like to write to my cousin. To apologize."
"So...you're feeling better now?"