Phantom Host

Karin: A Basic Guide To Entum Dealings

The marshal Vala was a thin lady in dazzling silver armor with diamonds mounted in brilliant patterns all over her breastplate. They found her conversing with Saga and Idun when they entered the tent.

”Good morning, marshal, ” Lynch said.

A large table rested between them at the center of the tent with all of its surface occupied by the map of the cirrus region, on top of which laid a newly acquired map of the Amaryllis city.

”Ah, good morning to you too, Lynch, ” the marshal said. ”And please, how many times have I asked you not to address me so formally? The few of us have been around long enough to have been well past that sort of thing. ”

”My apologies, Vala, ” Lynch said.

Vala looked at Mark.

”Thank you, Mark. I appreciate you bringing Lynch here with you, ” Vala said. ”Now that all of us are gathered here, I shall begin the preparations for establishing the communication link with the directorium. The empire awaits eagerly for the news of our battle here. ”

”Oh, thats so cool! ” Ash whispered from behind Mark and Lynch. ”We
e really going to see the emperor! ”

Vala regarded the boy with cold eyes. There were two things odd about her. One was the coldness in her eyes that especially intensified when she was deep in thought, which wasn always apparent for the glasses she wore. The other was her big breasts.

Ash sensed the change in temperature and withdrew into himself, remaining on guard like the sentries outside.

Vala didn like children much. Though she herself looked like one. Her appearance was that of a young girl who barely crossed her adolescence. Her oval face was the brightest shade of azure, like the color the sky wore when it was happy. Her facial features were little with a small nose, and glistening thin lips the color of red cheery.

”Itd take a bit of time before the connection is made secure, and we can begin, ” Vala said with an expressionless face as her dead eyes stayed fixed on Ash. Then she suddenly looked away as if snapped out of it, and said with a smile, ”Please ladies and gentlemen, make yourself at home in my tent. Sit, rest, drink, and eat while we finish our preparations. When its time, Id like for all of us here to be present before the empire. Thank you! ”

The small crowd consisting of Majors and Captains around Valas table dispersed immediately and spread around the giant tent to do what she had just recommended. Numerous delicacies and top-shelf beverages filled the tent with a teasing aroma. It made Lynch aware of his thirst so he allowed Mark to guide him to a cozy corner of the tent where Poe and Grunge were heading. Ash swiftly slipped away with them in an effort to make himself as scarce as possible from Valas eyes.

They chose to occupy the cluster of three couches with a table sitting in the middle. Ash sat ill at ease with Poe. Lynch sat with Grunge while Mark kept the third couch all to himself. The aides started bringing over food dishes and empty plates and mugs and full jugs for them and laid them out on the table.

Poe moaned as he stretched in his seat. ”Boy oh boy! Im exhausted! I don wanna talk with that old man now! We won! So, whats the rush? I just wanna have a nice long nap! ”

Grunge propped up her head on interlocked fingers and said, ”Oh, and you think you
e such a hotshot youngster, don you? ”

”Of course, I am! ” Poe exclaimed. He was powerfully built and a handsome man with light eyes and a head full of thick, dark, unkempt, and partially spikey hair. ”Im a young little Krave compared to you lot and your ancient bones! ”

”Darling, Im afraid the only thing little about you is whats between your legs, ” Grunge said with a plain expression.

They all burst into laughter.

Poe stopped laughing briefly, and barked, ”Damn you, Grunge! Thats below the belt! ”

Another round of laughter swept them.

They poured cold liquor into mugs and raised them high.

”To the empire! ” they all chanted before taking a sip.

”Ah! ” Mark sank into the softness of the couch and sighed with relief. ”That hit the spot! ”

”Man, you
e right! ” Poe echoed. ”Nothing beats a cold drink after a good fight! ”

”Here, here! ” Mark said as he dove into his mug.

They drank in silence, enjoying the calmness rushing their nerves. The liquor brought peace and soothed their racing hearts.

”Whats up with the new face? ” Poe asked as he picked up a plate of small bird meat. ”Why so glum-glum? ”

”Vala, ” Lynch spoke in between taking small sips from his mug.

”Hmm, ” Poe nodded understandably looking at Ash from the corner of his eyes. ”Shes awful with the toddlers, isn she? ”

”Im not a toddler, ” Ash said indignantly.

”You could be right, who knows? ” Poe said, watching him with a mouthful of roasted bird meat, ”since toddlers can speak that well, and you can just fine. ”

”You don look very ripe either way, lord Glum-Glum, ” Grunge said. She was sitting with her legs crossed and slowly drinking from a slim crystal glass. ”You would do well to avoid Valas shadow. ”

”Why is she like that? ” Ash inquired.

”Dunno, ” Grunge said in a distant voice. ”Something about her past. Something so long ago its only hazy memory now. She has aversion to little things who think too highly of themselves. ”

Ash frowned deeply as he took a gulp from his mug.

”Relax! ” Poe slapped Ash on the back making him spray the drink back into his mug. ”Grunges just trying to mess with your head. Thats her bad habit! ”

”Oh, come on, you made me spill my drink, ” Ash complained.

Poe ignored him and pointed at Grunge and barked, ”Hey Grunge! Stop trying to scare the kid! Hell think we
e strange! ”

”Aren we? ” Grunge smiled a smile that didn touch her glassy lime eyes. ”In all lands, I think we
e the strangest. ”

Lynch observed her. Her prominent eyes and button nose and full lips were set on a heart-shaped face that was framed by a few wavy strands of her deep black hair while the rest of it was tied up in a high ponytail. She was one of the few marchers who disliked wearing armor and preferred a black bustle dress. She wore a black waning crescent moon choker around her neck, rings of precious crystals were on her fingers, and chains were tied around her wrists. The womans mind was like a forest shrouded in mist.

”Thats too much work, being so strange. ” Poe groaned. ”Keeps me away from my nap. ”

”Better get used to being deprived of it then, ” Lynch said while refilling his mug.

”Why? ” Mark said curiously.

A basket filled with young agna, a lamb-like creatures leg roasts sat on his lap and was quickly being devoured by him one after another.

”The marshal said we
e going to talk with the emperor in a few minutes, right? ” Ash said while picking up a plate of cut-up fruits. ”Its not like we have anything else to do afterward, right? ”

”Wrong, ” Lynch said, taking another sip.

”I think the brooding man knows things we don , ” Grunge said while looking at him from the corner of her eyes and smiling.

”Come on man, spill it! ” Poe exclaimed. ”Ive been walking for a **ing year looking for this dump. A year! I deserve to rest! Tell me when Ill get to have that! ”

Lynch glanced at Vala. She was leaning over the map table, revealing her cleavage, her ample breasts threatened to spill out of her armor. She was studying the newly acquired map of the city and still deep in conversation with Saga and Idun.

”I could make an educated guess, ” Lynch said, ”Do you recall when the marshal said the emperor was eagerly awaiting the news of our battle here? ”

Mark, Grunge, and Poe rolled their eyes. They knew very well that high imperial information passed him with his position being a stealth marcher, an assassin of the empire. Yet he still couldn resist dancing about the subject.

”Yeah, I do, ” Ash said, ”And why wouldn his highness want to know if we won or not? ”

”It doesn make sense for the emperor to care for the result of this war, ” Lynch explained. ”The outcome was already calculated by Crodix himself. And his calculations never failed us. ”

”Ugh! ” Ash muttered. ”That stuck-up bastard always had to be right at everything! ”

”Whats your point? ” Grunge asked, her curiosity piqued.

”I believe this was not a war waged to extinguish the flames of rebellion, ” Lynch said. ”No. I believe this war was waged for information. ”

”Information of what? ” Mark had leaned in towards Lynch, his eyes wide.

”Information regarding the Last Light. ”

Three of them gasped, and Ash looked around inquisitively.

”Excuse me, my lady, gentlemen, ” Lynch said as he stood up abruptly with the mug still in his hand.

As Lynch walked away from them, he heard Ash asking, ”What the hell is Last Light? Hey maestro Poe, what is this Last Light? ”

Lynch appeared at the left side of the map table and said, ”Why the long faces, folks? Have we yet to discover the signs of refugal activity around these parts? ”

The three of them looked up at him, flinching. Then eased seeing that it was Lynch.

”Ahhh, Hann maestro Lynch, ” Idun smiled his toothy smile through his bushy mustache making his face wrinkle up and his blue eyes sparkle. ”Its very lovely to have vu join us. ”

Idun was from a secluded tribe called the Stammhugle, otherwise known as the People of the Hills. This tribe was originally located in the northern fringes. His Stammhugle accent was heavy in his speech.

”Likewise, Idun, ” Lynch said. ”Greetings, Saga. ”

”Hello Lynch, ” Saga smiled locking eyes with Lynch, their voice leaked the faintest hint of want, and Lynch was aware of it. ”Did you bring me a mug of acerola? Oh, how thoughtful of you! ”

Lynch looked down at his mug, hed already had one-third of the drink. ”Um- uh- I was actually going- ”

The mug slipped out of his grasp and gracefully floated to Sagas hand.

”Go ahead, its all yours, ” Lynch said, feeling his ears warming up.

”Thank you for the drink. ”

Saga smiled as they raised the mug and took a sip.

”The pleasure is all mine, ” Lynch said, then looked away, and cleared his throat.

He leaned in to take a better look at the map. ”So, what
e we looking at? ”

e looking at big trouble here, ” Vala said in a grave tone, frowning at the map and biting her lower lip.

”Why? ” Lynch looked up at her.

”Weve been probing around this city for hours and I have squat to show for it, ” Vala said. ”What am I going to tell Nefer, Lynch? I can stall forever. Im going to have to make the communication link eventually. ”

Lynch paused briefly to listen to the screams from outside. ”What about the captured? ”

Vala exhaled miserably.

Idun answered, ”That has proved to be an unfortunate dead end as vell. Weve been questioning them in all za ways ve know, but to our dismay, their lips remain as tight as a virgins cunt. ”

Saga sighed. ”Im afraid the death of the boy Crodix left a bigger hole than we previously could have imagined. ”

”I tend to agree vith Hanna Saga, ” Idun nodded, ”I fear Hann Crodixs immature death revealed a glaring veakness in our othervise almighty band. ”

Idun looked up and stared at the coned ceiling of the tent where many small bright trapped lamps were illuminating the interior. He said in a distant voice, ”Who couldve known that there vas men whose lips couldn be loosened vith pain? ”

”Hmm, ” Vala said. ”Had I known this, I wouldve kept Crodix out of combat. His ability was unique. Nefer won be pleased to hear that Ive lost him the Bright Singularis of Mind-Peek. ”

A silence dawned among them as they all stared keenly at the map of Amaryllis, as if it would reveal its secrets had they looked hard enough at it.

”They must have kept records of their activities somewhere, ” Lynch said thoughtfully. ”No organization with the scale of the Last Light could operate properly without keeping some form of documentation. ”

”Apparently they could, ” Vala said. ”Or theyve got rid of it all before we got here. ”

”Theres nothing left? ”

”There vas, but Im afraid they
e not very useful, you see, those high navari evil didn even bother coding them to prezerve the contents secrecy, ” Idun said.

”Really? ” Lynchs eyes narrowed. ”What do those documents contain? ”

”Something about a device, ” Saga replied. ”Theyve probably become so desperate that they
e trying to come up with new technology to bring a challenge to us. Although it seemed quite odd to me. ”

”May I? Please? ” Lynch said.

”Of course, ” Saga nodded and bent down to grab a handful of pages. ”Here you go! ”

Lynch took the documents in his hand. The pages were black with white ink on them which was common in navarium.

Nothing on those pages looked comprehensible to him, but it was as Saga had remarked, and Lynch echoed, ”Odd! ”

”Am I right? ” Saga said. ”Those don look like bright or gloom based technology, do they? ”

”I vonder what those Tyrant spawns vere scheming up, hiding in here, ” Idun said.

A soldier marcher unexpectedly rushed into the tent and bowed deeply before Vala.

”I have urgent news for the Marshal, ” the soldier said.

”What is it? ” Vala asked.

”Weve found a child, Marshal. ”

”Really? A child? ” Vala said with surprise. ”We didn find any children when we got here, did we? ”

”No, Marshal. Just this one. ”

”Well, whats its name? ” Vala asked.

”Its a girl, Marshal, ” the soldier replied. ”Her name is Axina Cornog. ”

”Cornog? ” A grin spread across Valas face, a grin that revealed nearly all of her teeth, flexed the muscles for smiling to the extreme, bulged her eyes, and the iris in her eyes began to glow a violent blue. ”It appears that there may be a way to loosen his mouth yet. ”

A sinking sensation filled Lynch.

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