DH: *blows off the proverbial dust that has formed a layer due to the lack of updates* It's been quite a while since I have updated this…forgive me. Enjoy Chapter Nine of Veracity: Fated Paths.

AN 2: Mid-chapter name switch for Marik. References are made to Chapter Thirty Six of Powers Revealed, excluding the prologue.

Chapter Nine: Fated Paths

The door slammed against the left wall. Marik growled; hot fury now overtaking the cold fear that had swept over him in the corridors. He passed over the steps without trouble, leaning on the left wall, seething at his own inattentiveness. When he found Noinreil Nashin, Marik vowed to crush him in every way imaginable save for pulverizing the life out of the insolent fool. After all, the boy was still held under results of a proposition; still useful to him.

He took two steps, his knees collapsing under him as he took a third. He grabbed onto the desk madly for support. His eyes narrowed icily on his cold reflection once he was on his feet again. The visage that met him seemed to express one thing. You've always had everything and nothing. You are now far too close to having nothing, and only nothing.

He averted his eyes swiftly, the gaze of which widened as he caught sight of a dueling deck resting in the center of the desk. Why would this be here? Marik mused, holding it in his hands as he attempted to ignore the knotting fear in his stomach. Mheralo…I was under the impression that she had this with her. He swiftly pocketed the deck, after which he found the desk chair, grateful as he took his seat. He slowly rubbed his right pointer finger against the thumb of the same hand in a circular motion. The pace of the action quickened with each repetition, in time with the myriad of questions now wrecking havoc on his mind.

Where is she? There must be something here. Marik massaged his temples, face bearing a neutral expression. But what? He swiftly rummaged through the drawers of the desk before him, vainly hoping to find anything, absolutely anything that might hint at where his daughter could be. He clenched his left fist after the search was proven futile. What if he was overreacting? No; that most definitely was not the case. She was not here…she was still in the lower corridors, and in these circumstances, that perturbed him greatly. Marik realized he had yet to check her room within them, which he requested she use on numerous occasions.

Mheralo has no need to use that room at this time…she's lucky if she can find her way there from my office without… assistance. Marik's thoughts hesitated once more as the fear-produced knot settled further into his stomach. The thought wasn't mocking; it was actually far too accurate for his taste. If that room was his daughter's initial destination, it was highly likely Nashin had intercepted her there.

He stood, balling his fists. She should feel safe within the lower corridors. If she ever does get lost within them…Mheralo-she …she should never be in a situation where I cannot find her. He hove a heavy breath as he pushed the chair far enough for it to make contact with the desk, after which he swiftly exited the room. He retraced his steps, returning to the lower corridors; making a stop in his office to retrieve his cloak and nothing more. Marik concealed his daughter's deck in the left inner pocket of his cloak, opposite the one on the right in which he carried his own.

He pulled the hood to cover his distraught visage before entering the kitchen; he needn't have Raji Rejorahl worrying over him. He knew the kitchen hand was taxed enough as it were.

Raji was the only one within the lower corridors who possessed knowledge of his daughter, known to her as Arlomhe Sharti. If she saw Marik's face, she would surely fear that she unknowingly had a Freudian Slip of sorts. Courtesy of infrequently brief usurps of her mind, he knew Raji hadn't revealed any of the information he had imparted to her two years prior.

What surprised him further while simultaneously a relief; was that…she had yet to ask anything more of the matter. A further relief presented itself in the fact that he hadn't yet needed to make use of her availability to him in affairs concerning his daughter. He sighed softly, knowing that if there was a time to ignore the pride that made the statement true; this would be it. Raji would be able to give me a better idea of where to find Nashin. He is her charge after all. He stepped briskly into the kitchen as the thought ran through his mind.

"Sit." Raji commanded sternly as she placed a warm mug of coffee on the table. In normal circumstances she would not give orders to anyone, especially not her employer; even in this single situation, the sternness was a form of respect. With anyone else, Raji's behavior in a similar instance could be likened to that of a mother hen.

"I don't need it." Marik stated vehemently as he glared at the hot beverage, taking on his role as The R.H.

"You never pause before entering, nor do you allow me the first word." Raji argued. "You are not quite yourself."

"Tell me, Ms. Rejorahl; how can you be so certain of that based on those two factors alone?" Unseen to Raji, The R.H. cocked an eyebrow.

"Sir…those aren't the only factors." Raji sighed. "Your tone is defensive; that alone proves something is amiss. You are always prepared. Something has caught you unawares. "

"Just when did you become so apt at reading subtleties?" He accented the last, personally detested, word hotly.

"I have been told that I was very good at it from a young age, sir; you were not the first one to reveal that to me." To his surprise, Raji was quite calm, despite the heated tone this conversation had taken.

Reluctantly, The R.H. took a seat, and grasped the warm mug tightly in his hands. After all, it would be a shame to let the beverage go to waste. "Do you wish that I inform you whether you are correct?"

"No. You will tell me if you choose." Raji stated as she returned to her prior task. "I have no reason to incite a reaction from you in this matter, whatever it may be."

There was something that The R.H. admired about how Raji had sense when and when not to pry, and could use both flawlessly in a single conversation, as she had in this one. He had yet to grasp exactly why he found it so intriguing, but he was quite content with having something to ponder as he sipped at his coffee.

The R.H. was jostled from his thoughts as Raji set a small bowl of vegetable soup in front of him. "I assume you don't get many visitors." He stated, eyeing the soup with half-hearted curiosity.

"That is true, but it is not the reason you are here." She dried a freshly washed spoon, after which she placed it in the bowl in front of her employer. "You never go anywhere on a mere whim…you always have a purpose for the paths you take; whether they are seen or unseen." Raji's blue eyes did not betray her, blazing certainty as she continued. "The path you walk presently has led you to me. The reason has yet to reveal itself."

"How true, Ms. Rejorahl; you know me well." The R.H. drained the small bowl quickly, soon after setting the dishes aside.

"Actually, there is something I think you should know." Raji's voice was almost a whisper as she cleared the table.

"Go on then." The R.H. stated, intrigued. Perhaps the reason for this path of which Raji spoke will soon reveal itself.

"Forgive me for asking this, but…are there corridors at a lower level than these?" The R.H. merely nodded in confirmation, permitting Raji to continue. "I feel that you should be aware that I once followed Noinreil through them for a short distance, almost getting myself lost. The one about four inches taller than you…who delivers your notes to me…he stopped me from going farther, and brought me back here." Raji then paused, perplexed. "He told me his name then as well…but I can't quite remember it at the moment."

"Have you seen him recently? The one who delivers my notes?" The R.H. quickly clarified; thankful the hood covered his quickly paling face. The corridors below these are not as well kept as these or the ones above them; they aren't even kept at all. The reason why is simple; I never use them. Because those corridors are …truly underground. The thought of his daughter being anywhere subterranean terrified him far more than his own sharp memories of that same manner of entrapment he suffered through his childhood. He was thankful that Raji's voice halted his thoughts.

"Yes, sir; I saw him just this morning. He said he was planning to run an errand or two in the nearby city, and offered to add restocking on ingredients to whatever tasks he would be doing." Raji stated almost guiltily.

"Thank you… for the availability you continually offered that I perhaps may have been too prideful to accept until now." The R.H. forcibly stated, making an exit.

"What availability do you speak of, sir?" Raji asked softly, gasping as The R.H. turned to her letting the hood that covered his visage fall to his shoulders. Only upon the sight of her employer's distraught, ashen face did Raji completely remember the events of that morning two years ago. "This concerns your daughter…" Raji stated weakly as she started to shake, no doubt attempting to remember if she was ever careless with the information.

"Yes." The man who stood before her now turned away, gazing at the door rather than her. "I know that you did not reveal anything. You should know that as well; seeing as you know how…promptly I deal with those instances." The R.H.'s voice held its natural edge amidst the fearful undertones that were present simply due to the circumstances, a factor which slightly intimidated Raji.

"How can I help?" Raji asked.

"You needn't get involved in this anymore than you already have, Ms, Rejorahl." The R.H. stated tersely. "But if you feel it necessary to aid me, you may do this."

"What is it that you would want from me?" Raji whispered.

"Odion is the one who brought you back from those corridors…when he returns…send him that way. That is what I request of you, Ms. Rejorahl." He briskly exited the room.

"What about you?" Raji called, but it was futile as The R.H. was already out of earshot. Though she was unaware of where her employer was headed, she was certain that he was aware of the path he was taking.

DH: I hope the name switch wasn't too terribly confusing; it was a necessary thing. Please Review.