Part 47: Dangerous ConfrontationsAruit 28-Festival of Blooms
You catch up with Professor Sido in the hallway, but quickly return to his office for privacy.
Im still not sure why I even let you go through with this. But its finished now, I suppose. Were you seen?
I dont think so. No one acted like I was, at least.
Thatll have to do. What did you hear?
You have to take a moment to figure out where to begin.
The prisoners name is Salvatore di Cossa. I got the feeling when Orsi met him that he was just as powerful as the Legate, which kind of worried me. He said the dragons are coming back, and we need to prepare for them. Then Orsi said Salvatore wanted to enslave the dragons and use them to conquer a new Empire of Man.
Professor Sido merely nods as you tell him this. Apparently hes heard it all before. Youre not sure how to feel about that.
Salvatore said someone named Eustacio was following his experiments and pulling power out of the old Vernin enchantments so he could live forever or something. Since Golden Hand has that rune, shed die if the Wall fell, but all she had to do this whole time was touch the Wall and itd go away, and Eustacio wouldnt be able to syphon the enchantment to himself. I guess that means Eustacio was lying to her this whole time, if I remember the rumors right. So then Salvatore said he could teleport himself and two others to the Wall, and Golden Rune agreed to it. Orsi wanted to come, but Briardi said he was too important and knocked him out. Salvatore agreed to take her, and then the three of them disappeared. Thats all I know.
Sido chuckles a bit when he hears what the Negation professor did, but the smile rapidly fades from his face. For several moments he leans back against his desk in silence, considering what you told him.
Sir? Do you know if theyre alright?
Hmm? Oh, yes, you should be happy to hear that both student and teacher made it through with only a few minor burns and scratches. A Red Ship brought them back just a few hours before dawn. The rune is gone now, of course; I suppose youll need another nickname for your friend. Unfortunately, both have refused to tell anyone what happened out on the Wall aside from Orso himself. Hopefully with this new information I can wheedle something out of him
And then youll let me know?
Sido, who was momentarily lost in thought, turns back to you and sighs.
Ive already gone too far by letting you act as my spy for this. Iliana, please, listen to me. I know Ive made the world sound like an exciting place, and it is, but it is also incredibly dangerous if you arent prepared for everything that can happen, and no, you arent nearly prepared enough. Yes, I know, youre not a child, but not even most adults would go rushing headlong into the teeth of death, no matter how much magic they can wield! Your fellow student almost died, would have, without our help, and she didnt even have to do anything but fall asleep during a presentation.
The professor stands up to grip your shoulders. Not roughly, but not gently, either.
So until the day comes when you have to face the night yourself, please leave it to those of us who are here to protect you and teach you to be ready for that day. Promise?
Its hard to say no when hes looking straight into your eyes, and with such a sincere expression. Still, you dont think it should be up to him to say when youre ready or not. You find yourself unable to keep eye contact as you cross your fingers behind your back.
Youre certain Professor Sido knows you arent being truthful, but he thankfully lets the matter drop. Instead, he moves back around his desk and collapses into his chair. As he starts rooting through a pile of collected homework, you realize youve been dismissed, and so you take your leave.
You hear a voice from behind you shout, Hey! Thats her! Shes the one who did it! When you turn, you see a pair of Second Years, Artemis Vollo and Gart Jerret. Although you dont know them by anything by name and have never even spoken to you, they certainly seem to know who you are, and they dont seem to be very happy with you.
Youre gonna pay for what you did! Vollo sneers. My friend here is going to pound you into meat sauce! Go get er, Gart!
Jerret makes a grunting assent and pounds his fist threateningly into his palm as he starts walking toward you. Quick, what do you do?
This really isnt a good day to threaten Iliana, but luckily for Gart, she still hates getting her hands dirty. What do they even think she did?
You ask, Why, exactly, do I deserve a beating? Did I do something to offend you?
Jerret sneers, Like you even have to ask? Remember when you put that flatulence potion in my drink at mealtime the other day? That wasnt funny at all, and now youre going to pay for it!
You have to sigh at the sheer ridiculousness of it. Rui might stoop that low, but you have never even touched a flatulence potion, let alone put one in anybodys drink. At least now you know you have an alibi for the deed, which should make it easier to clear up this misunderstanding.
And Diplomacy brings on Persuasion. Go figure.
You hold your hands up, palms open, and explain just how and why they would have mistaken you for someone else. In particular, you list off a number of witnesses who could prove you werent anywhere near their table during the lunch in question. You argue well, and the pair look at each other, evidently trying to decide whether youre lying or not. Finally, Artemis, clearly the brains of the two, snorts and says, Come on, this isnt our idiot.
They leave, unknowingly sparing themselves from having your bad day inflicted upon them.
So you said youd be talking again to Professor Sido today?
Yeah. He wont tell me anything more, though, even if he finds something out. Its grown-up stuff all over again. At least he was nice about it.
But we could help if theyd only
Could we? Could you teleport just anywhere in a second if you wanted to, even if you knew Gates? Could you tear down a whole building or build it back up with enchantments? Could any of us? Everything weve done so far, and weve just tasted what magic can do. Last night we got a good, great big view of it.
Blah blah blah!
Blah blah blah blah
You return once more to that fateful closet, looking for the source of those reinforcements yesterday. In the end, though, it turns out to be just one single hole in the wall. You cant believe so many mice came from that one place, but then you cant spy any other entrances. Its better this way, though; itll make things easier to deal with the mouse army.
From the hole, you can hear a scratching sound that makes your ear twitch. It sounds like theres only one mouse moving in there could it be their leader? Yes, you can hear his oratory now with your ear by the entrance.
and for generations the mouse clan has been kept from these halls, the halls of our ancestors, the halls of our kings! With the rat menace ended, aye, and fled to the woods, is it not right that we, the Longshade Clan take back what is rightfully ours?! These interlopers, these giants and their pet have beaten us off once, yes, but only through terror tactics and fear! And fear we may conquer! And by conquering fear, we shall conquer our foe!
Youve heard enough. Considering the situation, you realize that you could subdue him and make him call off his army, ending this war once and for all.
Through just a little Manipulation.
Reaching blindly into the hole, you hit paydirt right away and yank out a mouse by its tail so fast that it doesnt even have time to squeal. Just to make sure it doesnt give you away, you flip it over and press your paw down on its stomach, your claws out just far enough to make a point.
As the captured mouse hyperventilates, you listen back towards the hole. Good, the mouse king is still talking; his troops must be so entranced that they didnt see what just happened. You turn back to your captive and insist that it call out for its king.
Y-your Majesty? I b-beg your forgiveness, but theres a a-a supplicant out here who wishes to see you. I humbly ask your g-graciousness to receive him.
The mouse king, curious despite himself, comes out of the hole and straight into your paws. You even let the lesser rodent go so you can concentrate completely on your prey.
If you want
Dyknow why all the rats left?
Because something even worse moved in.
Go. Find someplace else to bother.
But but where shall we go? This is our home.
Thats not my problem. My problem is:
How much of you should I eat now, and how much should I bring back for my human?
C-c-call off the troops! Call them off! Well find somewhere else to live. Somewhere safe
Good. And one last thing, oh little king.
Dont ever call me a pet again.
One final lunge on your part snatches the crown right off the mouse kings head. With that, you let him go, and he immediately scurries back into the mouse hole as fast as his legs can take him. You doubt youll be seeing this rodent army ever again.
dont think we should give up. One of them will say something eventually, even if its months later, andoh, hey there Felix! Whats that youve got there? Oh, a tiny crown!
Look at this, guys, Felix has gone and solved our mouse problem for us, all on his own. And you said cats were useless.
What? What kind of mouse wears a crown?
A king mouse, obviously. And if Felix has it, that means hes either dead or run away, so no more mouse problem. Id say that deserves a promotion, doesnt it, Major Felix?