Cult of The Night: Chapter Ten
King Simon sat on his throne, reading a novel that was taking him several days to finish. Cenaria City, in the king's opinion, had no need to be ruled with an iron fist. The city was a self-sufficient collection of districts and waterways that King Simon let the nobles do as they wished most of the time. King Simon sighed, scratching his nose and rubbing his mustache, it had been a long day and the King hoped that his servants had readied his sleeping garments.
"Evening, King Simon," a voice greeted from one of the shadowed corners of the throne room.
Surprised, King Simon jumped in his chair causing the pair of glasses on his nose to fall and clatter loudly on the ground. The king frowned at the corner as he bent down to pick up his pair of glasses but failed to make a coherent sentence in his head. He hadn't had a late night visit by this familiar stranger in quite some time.
"It's been awhile since we talked last, hasn't it, your Majesty?" The shadow continued with a visible smile and bright shining eyes.
The king blinked once and finally gained control of his vocal chords, "Why yes it has, Madame Selene. Don't tell me that the Sa'kage needs the arrest of more nobles. There are hardly any left. I can't see why you and the noblemen and women of Cenaria City cannot just form some sort of compromise. They hardly listen to me. Plus, I'm sure your ways are much more persuasive that mine are. Why just the other da-"
"Oh shut up," Madame Selene commanded. Instantly, the king's ramblings ceased and he was all ears for Madame Selene.
Madame Selene stepped out of the shadows with her arms folded and her mind deep in thought. The tall lady paced back and forth in front of the king thinking about what to tell her little puppet. The news she had to tell him would most certainly upset him and she did not want him to do anything rash. That would be bad for the Sa'kage, especially if the king ended up getting himself killed. A dead king was no good for them.
"King Simon, you are in danger," Madame Selene stated.
The king frowned, wrinkling his handsomest features and replied, "What? Why? What is the meaning of this?"
Madame Selene stopped pacing and studied the king's expression. A mixture of confusion, anger, and worry all appeared on his face. King Simon was a good king. He never sought to hurt his people but his dealings with Sa'kage had obviously made him a target of the Cult. But King Simon was not a corrupt king. It seemed as though the line between bad and good barely existed for the Cult. It was as if they had completely redefined what was considered good and what was bad. Madame Selene sighed.
"Have you heard of the Cult of the Night?" she asked.
"Yes. I was informed that the Sa'kage was currently dealing with them," the king replied.
"The Cult has named you their next target and is planning on attacking soon. They claim to kill in the name of justice, in the name of the Night Angel, but I would not doubt it if they attacked the citizens of Cenaria City on the quest for you. We have spies trying to find out when they plan on attacking but my suggestion is that you ready your troops as soon as possible" said Madame Selene.
The king shook his head in disbelief and turned away from Madame Selene, thinking deeply. There had to be other options for Cenaria City. Finally, after several minutes of deliberation, King Simon turned back to Madame Selene with a determined look on his face.
"I will ready the troops at once," he said with determination.
Madame Selene walked into her office in an oddly calm and collected manner. They were so close to having the Cult leaders in their hands and then this… this unexpected turn of events. The separation. The threats against the king. Madame Selene's operation was going to take longer than anticipated.
"Marie!" she called.
A small black haired girl walked into the room with a smile on her face and eyes eager for an order. Marie was one of the youngest girls that worked at the Red Dragon – she was also one of the most enthusiastic. She loved her job and she did it passionately. There was a reason why Marie had such a large client base and was one of Madame Selene's top girls.
"I want someone to find out what they can about the Cult branch in Cenaria and I want it done immediately."
Marie nodded vigorously and quietly closed the door as she left the room.
"She's a pretty one. Are you stealing the girls from their cribs as well to work for you?"
Madame Selene looked up from her desk to find Kylar in the corner of her office with a disgusted look on his face. Madame Selene shook her head and continued to work on the papers on her desk.
"What do you want Kylar? I don't have any new information for you. I told you I would contact you," Madame Selene said not removing her eyes from her work.
Kylar didn't reply right away. He was too busy wrapped up in his thoughts to actually formulate an answer to Madame Selene's question. Why was he here? He thought to himself.
"I just want to know why Chandra is working here," Kylar demanded.
"Chandra is working here for the same reason why the other girls are here. She needs the money," Madame Selene replied. "So I advise you to stay away from her if you're just going to badger her about it. My girls don't need that from you"
"There are other ways," Kylar began.
Madame Selene slammed her pen on the table and glared at Kylar, "Damn it, Kylar. Don't you get it? There are no other options for these girls. They've hit walls that are too strong for them to break through. The Red Dragon helps them from running into more of these walls and they're being taken care of. Tell me what other options are open in Cenaria City? Since you've been here for so long. Tell me how many girls have you actually talked to and asked about their situation. Asked them the WHY. I'm sure if you heard the WHY's – the reasons – then you'd see that there are NO other options."
Kylar looked at Madame Selene in surprise but said nothing.
"Damn right you have nothing to say. Now get the hell out of my office,"
Erlot stared blankly at the open book in front of him. His Master was still droning on and on about weaknesses of foes. But none of that really mattered to Erlot. Why should he care what his foes weaknesses were? If they were weak that meant Erlot had a better chance of defeating them. Who cared about what they were exactly.
Khalidor was pretty dull as well. As much as Erlot hated to admit, he missed having the other e'iants around. Erlot had no one to poke fun at, insult, or fight with for his own entertainment. Instead, he was stuck with Oruz and all Oruz wanted to do was talk about the Cult and how it would be his one day. No, not Erlot's, it would be Oruz's. Erlot grumbled to himself.
"Master, I have a question," Erlot stated, interrupting his Master's monologue about weaknesses.
Oruz raised an eye brow in annoyance, "What?"
"Isn't this whole dominance thing supposed to be for me? For when I rule the Cult? You make it sound as if I'm not even here or apart of this."
"Erlot, my little e'iant, you will be my right hand man when the Cult is under our control"
Erlot gave a sigh and gazed out of the window, not wanting to push it any further.
"I just don't understand why it's taking so long," Kylar commented.
Madame Selene looked up from her work once again to address Kylar's comment, "Spy work is not the easiest line of work, Kylar. A lot of patience and waiting is involved. If you can't deal with it then please leave, because I actually have work to do and you're making me anxious. And it's annoying."
"It's been almost three days," Kylar replied. "What if the Cult decides to attack Cenaria City tonight? Or tomorrow?"
Madame Selene sighed, "Why are you all of a sudden interested in the Sa'kage's cause? Just the other day you were completely against the idea of helping us."
Kylar stopped his pacing and thought about his response. "Because I want it to be finished. I need to leave Cenaria City before-"
"Before you get stuck here? Attached?" Madame Selene interrupted.
Kylar frowned at her but said nothing. She was right. Kylar didn't want to be stuck in Cenaria City, despite living alone for so many years. It wasn't the company of others that drained him, it was watching all the horrible sufferings and pain that the inflicted on one another... on themselves. For a second, Chandra flashed through Kylar's mind. He shook the thought away before he lost himself in those thoughts again. He had been too caught up in his head for the past few days that he found himself in Madame Selene's office, irritating her with his empty concerns for Cenaria City and its king.
"Ah, I see," Madame Selene said with a small smile. "You're already attached."
"No," Kylar said angrily. "I am not attached to this place. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of all wrong in this city. Things used to be so good. Things used to-"
"If you hadn't left they still would be," Madame Selene interrupted again.
Kylar was struck silent. There was no way he could have stayed after she had left him. The city was too full of their memories.
"I couldn't stay," Kylar replied quietly. "I just couldn't."
Madame Selene looked at Kylar with sympathy. It must have been hard for him, to watch everyone he knew die out around him, until he was the only one left. The life of the Night Angel must be a lonely one. Madame Selene couldn't imagine a life like that.
A knock came at the door.
"Come in," Madame Selene beckoned.
In walked Marie with a worried look on her face. Madame Selene frowned, "What's wrong?"
"The Cult…" Marie started. "It's just horrible. They just kill. That's all they do. I've never seen so much violence. Khalidorians by themselves are bad as it is. But Khalidorians apart of the Cult? It was chaos, Madame Selene. The other spies are so worn down. They want to come home. Please bring them home."
"Marie, just tell me what you know about the branch of the Cult based in Cenaria City," replied Madame Selene.
Marie shook her head as if trying to shake away the awful experiences from the past few days, "When I was doing my rounds, I planned to meet the spy we sent to the Cenaria branch. She told me that the members in the Cenaria branch were getting restless and that communication between the branches was practically nonexistent after the split."
"Odd," Madame Selene said to herself. "Did my message get to their leader?"
"What message?" Kylar asked before Marie could answer. Madame Selene gave him a sideways glance, annoyed at his interruption.
"Yes," Marie answered. "He will meet us at noon tomorrow, halfway from Sivasi and Cenaria City."
"Good," Madame Selene replied. "I wasn't so sure they would agree to meet with us, knowing how much they dislike us and how vague the message was."
"What message?" Kylar asked again.
This time Madame Selene addressed the impatient man, "I asked the leader of the Cult branch in Cenaria City to meet with us. That's all."
"That's it?" Kylar frowned.
"Well, now you have something to do," Madame Selene replied. "Tomorrow at noon, meet with the Cult leader. Tell them about the Khalidorian branch. Get them to join us."
Kylar raised his eyebrows at her, doubting any success in this errand. He opened his mouth to speak only to be cut off by Madame Selene again.
"Don't, Kylar," she said. "Do whatever you have to; just get them to join us."
The sun was oddly cold today and the trees were still, there seemed to be no wind today. Everything so was quiet. So eerie. That's the way everything felt when the Cult separated, at least that's what it felt to Kara. The halls of Sivasi were quieter. There were less people in the dining rooms. Even weekly sacrifices were oddly solemn. Eran had intensified her training, yet even that seemed more lifeless than usual. Kara knew the split was not for the better.
Today, however, Eran had suspended her training and taken her along with him to meet with someone from the Sa'kage. Kara's mouth twitched slightly at the thought of the Sa'kage. She hated them. What they stood for. Manipulation. Greed. Lust. Everything that ever impeded on humankind from coexisting was present in the Sa'kage. And now, they were meeting with one of them. Why? Even Eran didn't know. Or he wouldn't tell Kara.
"Don't underestimate him because he is dressed simply," Eran said quietly to Kara.
They both stood there, Master and e'iant, in the windless plain. Everything still. Their hoods were up, obscuring their faces. In the distance they watched as the Sa'kage messenger walked towards them. He was blonde headed and had a short stature. His clothes were simple peasant ones but his face wore the expression of very knowledgeable and observant individual. His expression was very telling of the person beneath the peasant robes. It was deceiving, Kara knew. Something was off about this messenger. She couldn't place her finger on it.
"But don't overestimate him either," Eran said a few moments later as he took a few steps towards the messenger when he was closer.
The pair stood quite a ways from Kylar. He was thankful they kept their distance from him. They probably didn't want to be there more than he did.
"My name is Stefan," Kylar lied. "I am the messenger from the Sa'kage. I was told you would be alone, Eran."
"State your business, Stefan," Eran commanded, ignoring Kylar's comments.
"The Cult based in Khalidor has declared itself an enemy of Cenaria's king, thus an enemy of Cenaria City. Our spies tell us that they plan to attack soon and they will destroy everything in their path on the way to the king. Of course, as you must understand, the Sa'kage cannot allow this… it's bad for business, afterall," Kylar said, playing his part carefully. "There will be a war," he paused for effect. "And Sa'kage wishes for you to join us in the battle."
The whole time Eran and Kara had been listening intently. Kara was shocked to hear of the news. Oruz was insane. The king of Cenaria had his pitfalls but he was no evil being. There had been no news of this. It was a waste of all the Hands and Bloods that Oruz and Erlot had taken with them. Innocent members put on the line for some petty conquest. It stank badly of corruption.
No one spoke for several minutes; the whole world seemed to have stopped at that very moment.
"In truth," Eran said after a few moments of silence, "this was something I very much expected from my fellow Oruz who fled to Khalidor. Yes, indeed… But tell me why the scum Sa'kage, source of vice in Cenaria, should as help from the justly Cult?"
Kylar held his gazed with Eran through his hooded eyes, "If you're just people, like you say you are, you would help prevent the obliteration of the Cenaria people," Kylar paused again. "If the Khalidorian Cult can turn on Cenaria City, what makes you think they won't turn on you?"
"Yes, we know this," Eran replied. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend…" Eran said thoughtfully to himself. "Well, Stefan, return to your headquarters and let your leader know that we will fight for the Cenarian people, but not for the Sa'kage. We will also contact the other two branches of the Cult. Hopefully there will be some sense still left in them."
Stefan nodded once and the two parties went their separate ways.