His eyes opened to the sound of voices from outside his room.
Genon. Sirius pushed a pillow off his face and grimaced at daylight coming in from the window. It was too early for any solicitude since last night’s solo task. Something he clearly recalled.
There are some words, food for thought, that are not easily forgotten. And that happened when Dyie gave him a different assignment from the rest last night.
“If you do this, you’ll leave them to their doom!” Were the words of the man beseeching him to spare his life.
That, before he severed his head and the only thing attaching it to his body was a strip of flesh. The cries had to stop, and may the Goddess forgive them both for a life lived in carnage.
Before the events of last night, Genon received a tip about the Musika Nightclub. A two-storey establishment, one of its sides sloped from roof apex to the ground, located at the edge of the city forum. Like some of the rest, one patron had been asking for the company of women. Someone with enough credit to take them home after.
Knowing how hard life was in the city and how customers rarely afforded an extended company, they found this suspicious. Especially since it came from the same person a few times.
No one had heard of the ladies since. Five of them. Each had a month’s interval from each other’s absences.
Sirius was to determine the whereabouts of the missing women. Identify the man responsible one way or another. Put an end to the mystery lurking at Musika’s front porch. And the use of deadly force? Authorized.
He thought it was going to be a night like all the rest. But there was more to see. Or hear.
He discovered where the man responsible lived. But first, he found out the person behind it was an Archii.
Laren was married with no children. Just him and his wife in a steel fortress that could accommodate families if they knew how to allot the space. Clad in a mirror-finished steel, it was a wonder how it managed to appear decent despite the rust blooming at the corners.
Outside, it was completely normal. But inside? A different voice echoed through its dark unlit halls.
The house stood in eerie silence. Inanimate. Like the people who’d come and gone whispered through breathless cries. There was only one source of light that came from a single room. The atmosphere spelled one word. Foul.
Sirius was familiar with the stench. The odor of demise. The very walls dissolved itself of life and vigor.
The source of the stench led him to the ballroom where he found the women concerned. Or rather, what remained of their corpses.
Nailed to wooden posts, their hands above their heads, were five bodies. All dressed up like they attended a last baronial gathering. In the middle of them was a sixth. The wife.
He couldn’t discern the lump on their feet. A bloodied trail that led to the middle of them all, forming a star.
It was a picture he compared to the wilderbeasts in the abattoir. While they hung upsidedown, the caves of their stomach were violated. Their guts cut clean. That explained the lump.
If this happened months ago, the blood would have dried up, their bodies would be decomposing. This one happened recently. Which told him that the women had been kept somewhere. He couldn’t imagine what they had to go through.
He grimaced and pulled his scarf up to cover his nose. Awful.
But awful was far from what he’d find out when his eyes wandered and caught the Archii entering from the right wing. He was all suited up to complement the dead in their crossing to the other side.
When their eyes met, Laren’s expression fell, evident that he had been caught.
Laren ran. He led Sirius to a merry chase around the labyrinth of walls throughout the property.
When Sirius finally caught up, cornering him to a dead end, Laren’s curses ended up as excuses.
Despite knowing that the murders were senseless, Sirius at least tried to listen. Laren mentioned the general reason for the act if not for the pleasure of doing it.
“I did it because it was my purpose, my reason. Why else would I have done it? The world, this society, needed culling. And what better way than to start with the most vulnerable? Without them, things could be taken under control. You’re aware of the notice from the royal palace too, right? Everyone’s aware of it.”
Laren paused, weighing the reaction on Sirius’s face. Then continued to bid his reason. “Sooner or later, they will come for our women. They will be the end of us if we don’t start taking the first step by eliminating them to save ourselves.”
For a moment, Sirius thought he was starting to make sense. But murder was murder. And six feet wasn’t deep enough to bury the innocent from the liar.
“So tell me,” Laren scowled, “what exactly do you gain from doing this?”
The Archii spat on the ground between them. A sign of disrespect, contempt and disapproval.
Sirius had no idea what went on in this man’s mind. For all he knew he had lost it a long time ago. There was no explaining his way out of the crimes he had committed when the evidence was raw.
Yeah, like I’m no different. What drove him defined the difference.
“Mark my words the day will come when we will regret ever giving them the freedom and space to breathe the same air we do.”
Sirius’s finger twitched. Laren made it sound like women were poison, but given his state of mind, he might as well consider them all as such.
Rumors said that Laren had a male lover. Because his wife no longer satisfied what they once had the first time they met and found a lover of her own. If so, then the murders were rooted from an unbearable relationship behind closed doors. For whatever the reason. Jealousy? Self-gratification? Control?
“If you do this, you’ll leave them to their doom!” Them being the women. To Laren, it was an act of mercy killing.
“No,” Sirius took a step forward and tilted his head to the side. “That’s just you. Really.”
If this man ever got his hands on anyone else...
And that was when Sirius’s dagger found its way to sever the stream that supplied the Archii’s motive.
With one Archii free of his position, it left a seat open. Electing a new one was going to take a conclave amongst the remaining Archii to nominate a fresh name.
Before Sirius left, he made it look like a ritual. Laren as the High Priest who attempted to summon a being, a blood ritual. The reason for the murders. If the property was wooden, it’d be easier to burn it down. Since it wasn’t, he’d leave the cleaning to the authorities.
He inhaled a renewal of breath when he finally got. It was unfathomable how depraved a person’s psyche would go to prove a belief.
Dawn touched the sky when he managed to get back and hit the sack, leaving the update for later.
Now, as he was sitting on the bed, Sirius was almost tempted to dive back into the pillow. Unfortunately, Genon’s voice from outside the room was difficult to ignore. So he got up and met the company outside.
Dyie and Genon stood by the hallway. Dyie’s gaze found Sirius as he closed the door behind him.
Sirius looked at them. “What’s this all about?”
Genon bit a candy stick he was having for breakfast. “An envoy from Flesperia is here.”