“Beware... Harbinger of Death, for It has awoken.” A short, unruly phrase in such a time of peace and prosperity. In these times, people are not looking towards the end of any world, but the bright future they hope and work for. Oh, how many have thought this one close to being doomed nearly fifteen years ago now, though that time has long passed. Now, all they worry about is what can come of the next day. No one cares too much about the past anymore... no one but me.
“Beware the Harbinger of Death?” a boy-faced man of his thirtieth year ponders to himself. A pale, flesh-garnished hand presses its fingers over the dull inscription on the horrid book. “A typo from lost times?” His voice fills the small archive backroom, being the only one to fill it. Shelves, decrepit from years of neglect, tower over the white-haired mess as if peeking over his shoulder, egging him on to explain. Speak, oh rare visitor. Tell us thy stories.
Alas, he obliges, “Could very well be from the Ancient One’s time. Looks old enough, and the gold trim tells me it was likely written by Its unholy scribes. Ah, to have lived alongside the Ancient One in such a time before this... how incredibly much I would sacrif-”
Bang bang bang! “Mister Foxwell, we believe you have a visitor!” The old caretaker- always so kind to any who stepped foot in her halls. Misplace or ruin one of her books, though, and your hands were as good as gone. No kidding- she’s a witch.
Visitor? In the Archives? The “Foxwell” stood, tucking the book away for later. The caretaker bothered not for this room’s belongings anyways; the peeling wallpaper shook her bones like a hex. “On my way!” he called back, hoping the journey out of this miniature maze would be as easy as the dive in. A few steps over the stacked books and oversized scrolls took him from the uncharted back into the surface world out that door forgotten by most.
“Shut it quick, boy-” the hunched woman spat as he left the room. That room is the only thing in any world that makes her so hasty or the slightest bit rude. As soon as the latch is clamped shut and the lock is placed back upon the door, her typical wrinkled smile reappears. “In the foyer, boy. They asked for you by name.”
“Thank you,” he gives as a short reply. By name? The thought rings in his mind as alarmed as if he had just heard the click of a firearm cocking, though he shows none of this on his face. To all others, the piercing stare from those emerald jewels show determination alone. The ever-present scowl shows apathy, as if he cares not for those or any others around him. His stride and tall stance, ranging slightly higher than the average human male, shows confidence in all endeavors. The coat, flowing from his neck to just above the bottom of his tightly-tied boots, hide what may be beneath. However, the open front shows a professional and tidy shirt embraced by a vest accented with a scarlet hue. All in all, he is a man of great importance, while largely unbeknownst to the worlds.
“Ah, Mister Foxwell,” a suit greets as the book-mongerer steps out into the main entrance to the archives. “It is a great pleasure to finally make your acquaintance.”
That man doesn’t look right, Foxwell thinks, yet he simply provides the same scowl as his resting face allows. “Evening. I hope you intend to make this quick- I have a meeting with the Duchess in no longer than a few hours’ time.” His eyes glance once over the caretaker, already stepping away with a knowing smile on her face. “Liar,” she’d think of me.
“Yes- no, of course!” The sales pitch-like voice gives no hope for closure any time soon, and so the man continues, “It would be best we speak in a more conducive environment, however. Will you join me in the parlor?”
There’s a parlor here? The thoughts trot across his mind as if on an unending record. Before replying, his arms crossed over each other at his chest, both keeping his distance and to ensure the tome stays hidden. Beware, the Harbinger of Death... Despite his distrust, Foxwell follows behind the suit. Honestly, there would be no need for any feelings of danger in the archives- guards of stone and metal melded together with magic keep sight over the citizens. In fact, they watch over every place in the entire, multi-sectioned city. Greatest place to live in all worlds, by far... fear keeps people in check.
Once in the dim-lit room checkered with lavish furniture and candles, the suit speaks first after placing himself down. He doesn’t seem comfortable being here. Is he from around these parts? “Mister-”
“Cut it,” Foxwell interrupts. A pause deafens the two, then he gets immediately to the chase. “You’re from the Council, aren’t you?”
Another pause, then the suit gives a sneaking smile. The smile turns into a chuckle, then mutilates itself as the man’s skin becomes deformed. The flesh unknits itself, then reforms into something darker. Not the Council, no- below the Council, where fear is produced. Once pale, the face is now tightened with a gray hue. The thing’s eyes are fully glazed and whitened, giving no discernible direction it may be looking in. Its size has nearly doubled, hunching over so as not to bump against the ceiling. It would matter not, however, as the whole thing appears to just fill whatever space it must much like any liquid would. While truly horrifying, this thing doesn’t have much of an effect on the one who had called it out. “Is this your preference?” the thing says, its voice like if something is strangling its neck.
“I would prefer announced visits.” The sny response comes justified, seeing as today is one of great importance to the man. However, the Council, of course, knows this much already.
“Her Grace shall wait; you’re needed elsewhere today, Hayalci.”
Ah, “Foxwell” thinks to himself, so they are again unafraid to risk letting my identity slip out among those who know me in such a city. Thankfully, this agent decided to speak it behind closed doors. Best we not have a repeat of Lowen. “Very well, then. Suppose I have no choice. Where are my services required?”
“That is not my information to share. Return from the door we arrived in and find your question answered promptly.” As the being shifts back into its much more presentable state, it adds, “A pleasure as always, Head Reaver.”
“Likewise, sire.” A quick rise from this Hayalci and he is already nearing the door. His hand finds the knob, it receiving difficulty just turning the simple mechanism. My plans ruined once more. Aethea is going to kill me this time, for sure. Nevertheless, he pushes through, throwing away what he had in mind on what was supposed to be a relaxing day filled with tea, cookies, and light unworldly investigations. The door is the same, though what lies beyond it is quite different. Chassa... home.