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Old 10-18-2018, 01:29 PM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

Priestess of the Moon
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Northwest Ohio
Posts: 564
BattleTag: Samael#1487

Lightbulb Dispatch #43

You may have noticed the recurring problem with doing "November in November." That problem is BlizzCon. It happens in November every year, which tends to overshadow anything I write. Therefore, I'm starting early in 2018. It means more time write before the show starts -- and something to read during your breaks from constructing that murloc costume.

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Personal log, November Terra:
Only three hours have passed since my last entry—but that’s plenty of time to find out how wrong I was in coming here. My mistake was assuming the local leadership would be sane. They’re not. It turns out, even with their backs to the wall and death staring them in the face, the Luxorians are too busy fighting each other to save themselves. Maybe they deserve to get eaten.

The intrigue should’ve been obvious when I got a visitor—one that came alone. I recognized him; he was the one with the ridiculous cobra headdress who watched me come in. And just like last time, he said nothing. All he did was stare, observing and calculating. That made him dangerous. People like that are either your best friends or worst enemies.

Obviously, this couldn’t go on forever. I may be trained to deal with distractions, but that’s very hard to do when you have literally nothing else to think about. I finally just marched over and confronted him, a lower risk than you might think. No matter what powers he had, he’d have to open the containment field before he could do anything to me—and picking a fight with a Ghost after you’re in touching distance is a losing proposition.

“Alright,” I demanded, “who are you and why do you keep watching me?”
To my surprise, he answered. “I am Xul, High Priest of Ka, most-trusted adviser to the mighty Ta-sadar. I’ve come to find you quite a fascinating puzzle, ‘Nova.’ That is your name, yes?”

“It is.” It was best not to give him any more information until I knew where he was going with this.

“You must forgive me if I stare,” he continued. “When we brought our realm into the Nexus, we were led to believe the so-called heroes would never affect us—yet here you are, up close and personal.” He started pacing clockwise around the chamber. “I must admit you aren’t what I expected. You don’t look dangerous, but it seems you are…quite the professional.”

I smiled at that. “So you’ve seen the memories. You know what an asset I can be. Let me out of here, and I’ll join your cause.”

“Tempting.” His smile was infuriatingly sarcastic. “Alas, I’d be a fool to do any such thing without proof of loyalty. Why should you fight for us?”

I looked down. “It turns out I don’t really have a choice. There’s an army of bugs outside your walls, and my best bet to not get eaten is to help your king.”

Xul suddenly reversed course, now circling counterclockwise. “Ah, yes. About that. As I’m sure you’ve discovered, Luxoria has its troubles. Some are obvious; and some are…not public knowledge.” He paused. “I need to know what I’m about to say will be kept in confidence. Understand that it could get us both killed.”

Something about his voice put me on edge, but if the information was so special, I needed to have it. “If you’ve seen the memories,” I told him, “you know secrecy is nothing new to me. I know the drill.”

“Good.” His gaze was piercing. “I don’t know how much you’ve learned from your time in Amarnis, but I expect you’ve noticed our realm is under threat by more than Zagara and her scorpids. People are disappearing; the heavens are in chaos; reality itself is collapsing around us. All these things are related.” He took a deep breath for dramatic effect. “The connection is our ruler, Ta-sadar. He has grown increasingly desperate these last few months, doing reckless things that are tearing our world apart. He has to be stopped. And I can’t trust anyone in the palace to deal with him.”

I crossed my arms. “Stop right there. Do you really think I’m going to fall for that? Losing your boss makes it easy for you to take over—and you can blame it all on the outsider who’s already distrusted. I’ve seen this holo-vid before.”

Snake-head wasn’t happy to hear that. He thought a moment before speaking again. “Would it interest you to know the whereabouts of your young friend? Lady Pterah is undergoing the ritual to become Anubet as we speak.”

“I don’t care what happens to Tybi.” I paced away to emphasize the point. “She’s an empty shell—dead for all intents and purposes.”

“Don’t be so certain. The first phase of the process is about breaking down the old self, but the second is about building up a new one.”
“And I should care about this because?” It was a good thing I was facing away.

“And then there’s the third phase,” he continued, “when the subject is infused with the power of Sut and experiences the physical transformation. It’s an agonizing process—and that’s for those watching.”
I swallowed hard. “Again, relevance?”

“It’s relevant because, if someone were to…interrupt the ritual now, her mind would be repaired—and her body would remain.” His voice purred with satisfaction.

“And how would ‘someone’ get there?” I asked suspiciously. “She seems to be bottled up at the moment.”

I watched him cross over to the far wall. “That would indeed be difficult. A confinement field like this one presents an impassable barrier.” He ran his fingers through some grooves in the stone. “Alas, it seems to have been set incorrectly. With the elemental harmonies getting further and further out of balance, it’s only a matter a time before—” There was a bang, and the barrier suddenly dropped. “Oh dear. Someone’s going to lose his career over that one—and probably his head.”

“Shouldn’t that someone be you?”
Snake-head took it in stride. “Perhaps it should. Why don’t you do the honors right now? I’m sure the royal court will believe you.” He paused. “Wait, weren’t you saying something about being on our side? This could complicate matters.”

I narrowed my eyes. That snake on his head was very appropriate. “So, now what?”
“Oh, don’t be a fool,” he said casually. “You should never take orders from people you don’t trust, and you obviously don’t trust me. So, step out, have a look around. I think you’ll find everything I’ve told you to be true.” He gave me an expectant look.

I glared back, making sure to put my cloak up. No way I was turning my back to that man if he could see me. I didn’t move a muscle until after I was safely invisible—and even then, I used my stealth training to minimize sound.

Xul turned, estimating my position to be on the stairs well before I reached them. “And just so you’re aware,” he told the empty steps, “your weapon is in Atenhotep’s office. Up the stairs and to the right.” He waited another minute and left.

I watched him go. It’s best for him to be as far in the dark about my location as possible, and he’d never expect me to stay here. Still, the idea of having my rifle back is tempting. Making Anubet means this place has to be crawling with them—and my one chance is to out-range them. Plus, even if I do nothing, it’s only a matter of time before my “escape” is discovered. I have a feeling I don’t want to be here when that happens. Nova out.

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Serpent King Xul is basically my own creation -- but he is a fun character, don't you think?
Every ending is but a new beginning.
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