Sunday, May 31, 2015

Page 1037

Unfortunately, he could not simply tell his superiors of the girl’s connection to Gohvis. Even if they did believe him, they could decide to simply kill her the way Artemis would have done--or worse, begin asking questions about his involvement in the Elroy massacre.

No, it had to be more discreet than any of that. So instead, he manufactured false leads in order to convince the marshals to revive the old intelligence-gathering mission on Gohvis. Which worked out better than expected. Project Blacksong was conceived around it--though by now, Blacksong had grown into an entirely new beast with many different objectives. Excepting Jackson here, all of the marshals had their own goals for Blacksong. Jackson seemed to be of the opinion that there were already far too many cooks in the kitchen, as it were.

As for Gema, her name was too famous for her to become a plant inside of Abolish, but at the same time, Parson needed Abolish to know her name, otherwise Gohvis might never even realize his connection to her. Therefore, the only viable recourse was to change her family’s affiliations. If the Elroys became fugitives of the Vanguard, Gema’s credibility with Abolish would improve tenfold. Whether that would be enough or not remained to be seen, but Parson had confidence in the girl.

And besides, even if she did fail, at least the resulting conflict in Sair would offer plenty of new angles from which to work. Like Zeff, for instance. Finally, that boy’s potential had begun to surface. And then, of course, there were the Sandlords. Ideally, they would secede too, before any of the Vanguard’s maladies began to infect their ranks. Parson just hoped they weren’t too afraid of Abolish to let go of the Vanguard. He would’ve liked to take more steps to ensure their departure while he was in Sair, but the Gargoyle’s intervening had rendered that impossible.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Page 1036

Zeff didn’t know of his family’s connection to Gohvis, and even Axiolis seemed unaware, though Parson could never be entirely sure how much the old reaper knew. Regardless, the best way to discover more about Gohvis was to groom Zeff. This much was obvious.

But there was a problem. The more Parson got to know Zeff, the more it became clear: this boy would never be able to pull it off. Parson needed someone who could infiltrate Abolish and get close to the Monster. An Elroy should have been perfect for the task, but Zeff simply did not have the temperament. The boy was not a spy. He could hardly tell a lie to save his own life. Most of these modern Rainlords were like that, it seemed. According to Overra, they used to be so much more skilled in sabotage and deception, but generations of governing, power, and self-congratulations had made them too proud for their own good. How could they claim “honor” was of such importance when their ancestors practically invented guerrilla warfare? Where was the logic in that?

Instead, the key went to waste, reduced to normal service like any other Vanguardian, and Parson was left to scrounge for scraps of intel wherever he could find them. Painfully slow and inefficient. Which was actually strange. Gohvis did not make a habit of showcasing his exploits like most of the other Abolishers. His deeds were few and far between.

After years of negligible progress, the mission was all but dead. The Covert Intelligence Division had given up on turning Gohvis and moved on to other, more appealing targets. It was a common enough tactic, and Gohvis had by no means been their first attempt.

But then Gema Elroy appeared. And Parson saw new life in that old string of failures.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Page 1035

Naturally, the Vanguard could not simply go around massacring people. Which was why Abolish’s involvement was necessary. Disgusting scum though they were, they still had their uses, and Parson knew how to handle them. That was why Artemis had promoted him in the first place, after all.

But Zeff, Joana, and Axiolis survived. Artemis considered that a problem, especially with the Rainlords on high alert. Worse still, the survivors were able to identify the Abolishers contracted for the job. That, in turn, meant that there was a chance--a very, very slim chance, but still a chance--that the Rainlords would’ve been able to discover who those Abolishers worked for. Parson had been careful, so the Rainlords still would’ve had a rather long and winding road to the truth ahead of them, but Artemis wasn’t one for loose ends.

And hilariously, that very tendency proved to be Artemis’ downfall. The air marshal went to extinguish the Abolishers they’d used, but the Monster was already there, killing them all and mounting their heads on spikes. And when the Monster sensed Artemis’ presence in that place, that was it. A death sentence. Artemis escaped, sure, but it hardly mattered. Over the next three years, Gohvis hunted him down.

All the while, Parson was profoundly glad that he’d only ever used Artemis’ name when dealing with Abolish. If he’d allowed himself to be identified even once, then the Monster probably would’ve hunted him down, too.

Now, there was no one else left who knew the truth of that story. Only Parson and Overra.

But it had been enough. A glimpse of the Monster’s lingering humanity. Surely, that demanded further investigation. So over the next several years, that was exactly what Parson did. And during that time, Zeff Elroy resurfaced, wishing to rejoin the Vanguard.

Parson could not have been more pleased.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Page 1034

Flames aside, that was the reaction Parson had been expecting. Jackson’s disapproval of Blacksong was only natural.

On the surface, Blacksong was a multinational operation with the expressed purpose of discovering and exploiting weaknesses in Abolish’s territory. Specifically, it was an initiative which would mount a simultaneous offensive against twenty-nine Abolish strongholds spread all across the Eloan continent. It was going to be the largest coordinated assault carried out by the Vanguard in decades.

But that was not the part Jackson had a problem with, Parson knew. Jackson disliked one of Blacksong’s many hidden objectives--albeit the primary one.

That was, to turn the Monster of the East away from Abolish. Or at the very least, away from Dozer.

Parson doubted anyone would ever be able to convince Jackson that this was a viable strategy. The Star of the West and the Monster of the East--these monikers were not coincidental. Even among non-servants, their rivalry was well-known.

Jackson saw Gohvis purely for the monster that he quite literally was, but Parson had seen shades of something else, something that still retained at least some semblance of humanity. He’d seen it thirty years ago, thanks entirely to the massacre of House Elroy, the one from which only two young teenagers and a single reaper survived.

The one Parson had helped orchestrate.

In truth, however, it had not been a plan of his or Overra’s making. Rather, they had simply been following the orders of Air Marshal Artemis.

In all his years, Parson had never known a more ruthless and vengeful member of the Vanguard than Artemis. Save, perhaps, Lamont. But that was another matter. Ultimately, Artemis was the one who decided to exterminate the Elroys, and his motivation for doing so had been a largely primitive combination of fear and hatred. Because, as Artemis discovered, House Elroy was the bloodline which spawned the monster now known as Gohvis.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Page 1033

“I don’t think he would push any harder for Korgum,” said Jackson. “He’d run the risk of overextending himself there, and Dozer isn’t one for gambling.”

Parson had to agree. That old bastard had built his empire upon calculated strikes and measured responses. He wasn’t the type of opponent who could be expected to make any strategic mistakes. A most irritating enemy, to be sure. And against such a foe, even the most carefully laid plans were all but worthless. Parson Miles had spent many years learning that lesson the hard way.

“Perhaps we should accelerate Blacksong,” Parson suggested.

Jackson scowled, and Parson’s coat caught fire. “Oh!”

Parson hurriedly patted himself down, trying not to panic with the knowledge that if he used his own power right now, Jackson’s flames would swallow him whole.

“Sorry,” said Jackson. “But honestly, Blacksong? The project that your Gema Elroy might have leaked to Abolish?”

Parson was still patting. The flames weren’t going out. “Did you soul-empower these?!”

“No.”

“Well, could you put them out, please?!” Now they were spreading.

“Eh, I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“Sir, please!” Parson dropped to the floor and started rolling. It made no difference whatsoever. He could feel the searing pain beginning to pierce his passive soul defense.

“Oh, very well.”

And in a blink, the fire extinguished itself, leaving only his smote uniform and smoking flesh behind. No actual damage had been done, as far as Parson could tell, but it was more than enough of a glimpse at the power that this person now possessed. Perhaps that had been the marshal’s intention.

“Project Blacksong has always been a fool’s errand,” Jackson went on. “Now, it has only become more so.”

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Page 1032

“A celebration would be one of the most foolish things I could possibly do right now,” said Jackson.

“You’re much more uptight than I remember,” said Parson. “Is that your wife’s influence?”

“Are you trying to annoy me?” said Jackson. “I don’t see why. You usually do it so effortlessly.”

That pulled a barking laugh out of Overra. ‘I’m glad to see that biting wit of yours hasn’t changed. You’ll have to forgive Parson. I think he’s somehow getting stupider with age.

Parson just frowned.

One could argue that Abolish is at its most dangerous after taking a major loss like this,’ she went on. ‘I’m sure they’ll be feeling the need to reciprocate. And soon, too. Else the balance of power will begin to shift in our favor. And Dozer can’t very well let that happen.

She was right, Parson knew. Morgunov was about as predictable as a lottery that used imaginary numbers, but Dozer, at least, would certainly not take this lying down. Gunther and Dunhouser had both belonged to him. Their deaths would undoubtedly leave a power vacuum that many of Dozer’s other men would be looking to fill, and what better way to distinguish oneself in their master’s eyes than through battle?

There was no need to voice his concerns, though. Overra had it covered, and besides, he was supposed to be the stupid one.

“The only question is where Dozer will strike,” said Jackson.

Certainly not here,’ said Overra. ‘Trying to retake Horsht from you would be messy, at best, and draw Sermung’s attention, at worst. If I were him, I’d redouble my efforts to seize Korgum.

Doubtful, Parson figured. While it was true that finally getting a hold of Korgum would certainly make up for losing Horsht, it would still be a long shot. At the moment, winning that territory meant courting Chaos itself.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Page 1031

It was only then that Parson was able to get a good look at Jackson’s unique overcoat. The thing was a complex swirl of white and crimson, and it was supposed to be fireproof, Parson knew, but about half of it was missing, and now it looked more like some kind of torn and melted cloak.

Parson had heard about Jackson’s recent victory here, but he’d been too pressed for time to find out any of the details. Frankly, the whole thing had been a surprise--perhaps even to Jackson, by the look of things.

By appearance alone, Jackson was actually quite short, but his face could have been chiseled from bronze, dark complexion and all, and his eyes were as brilliant a blue as Parson had ever seen.

“Best not get too close to me,” the field marshal warned. “I accidentally incinerated Kane earlier.”

Parson blinked at that. “Kane? As in, Field Marshal Kane?”

“Yes.”

“And by ‘incinerated,’ you don’t mean...?”

“Oh, no, of course not. He’s fine now. Though, if you run into him, I wouldn’t advise bringing it up. He seemed rather upset.”

Parson decided to take a few steps backward. If he was being completely honest, Jackson’s power was one of the ones he feared most in this world, if only because it held such an overwhelming advantage against him. So to then find out that the man was having difficulty controlling it--this was not the most comforting news.

“Where is Hyozen?” Parson asked.

“Resting,” said Jackson.

Parson didn’t want to let the conversation slacken. The longer he could dance around his reason for being here, the better. “So Abolish has really been run out of Horsht, huh?”

“It seems so.”

“Congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

Parson didn’t like the way the man was staring at him. “I know you’re not one for celebrations, but I doubt anyone could argue that you don’t deserve one. A big party. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Page 1030

The Vanguard’s central facility in Corpei was no impressive thing. It looked just as humble as every other building they owned in this country. Field Marshal Jackson was a firm believer in the old Vanguardian tactic of blending in, Parson knew. Leaders like that were becoming less and less common, it seemed, so that was a quality Parson could admire.

He walked right into the tiny headquarters, and a lone guardsman reading a newspaper with his apparent reaper just waved the captain general on. Parson proceeded farther in but soon noticed something amiss.

What’s that look on your face?’ Overra asked him.

There’s an ashy smell in the air,’ he informed her. To his eyes, she was a faceless angel, winged and glowing all over with a soft white light, save only for her halo, which emanated gold instead. ‘Do you sense anything strange?

No,’ she said, as ever devoid of any sort of expression. ‘Jackson is ahead and to the right.

When they turned the corner, the hallway became abruptly black. Charred, to be specific, and he could hear the floor crunching under his boots.

Odd.

He shrugged and kept going.

Jackson’s small office was entirely burnt black as well, save only his desk and chair in the middle, both of which looked new. The room was also missing a ceiling. Instead, it was just open blue sky there, in spite of the fact that there should have been another two floors above them.

“Did we catch you in the middle of redecorating?” Parson asked. “I like it.”

Jackson looked up from the document he was reading, but as soon as he took his eyes off the paper, it burst into flames and disintegrated in his hands. “Dagh!” The man stood up from his chair and took an exasperated breath.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Page 1029 -- CXVIII.

Well, we can’t just sit here all day,’ said Hector. ‘Should I go talk to them or not?

Mgh. No. Not yet. This is too strange. My gut tells me this must be related to what happened with Ibai, somehow.

The same gut that you don’t physically have, you mean?

That is a very corporealist thing to say, and I resent you for it.

Sorry.’ Hector began annihilating his iron, but Garovel interjected.

What are you doing?

Er... plate armor isn’t exactly ideal for stealth. In fact, I’m a little surprised they haven’t noticed me already.

I’d rather you left it on, at least until we know more about what’s going on here.

But--I can’t--I mean, it’ll make me noisy... and just... super weird.

If anyone spots you, you can pretend to be a statue.

...No, Garovel. That’s dumb.

C’mon, it’d be like a game.

Look, I’ll still have the shield. Just conceal yourself behind that. It’s probably the safest place for you, anyway.

Ugh, fine.

Hector finished destroying his metal and felt Garovel shifting over to his arm, which was still both gloved and gauntleted.

For the record, though, my idea was NOT dumb. You’re dumb.

Duly noted,’ said Hector.


Chapter One Hundred Eighteen: ‘O, radiant Star...!’
Click to display entire chapter at once -- (mobile link)

It had been ages since Parson Miles last visited Jesbol. The capital city of Corpei looked nothing like he remembered. It was all cloud-grazing towers now, making the mountains they stood upon seem almost like an afterthought. Parson remembered when this place was little more than a hamlet, snuggled up to a lone salt mine and barely scraping by because of it.

He wondered if Jackson remembered that as well.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Page 1028

Then what the hell?’ said Hector. ‘One minute, they’re in danger; the next, they’re not; and the one after that, they’re in danger again?

I don’t know. This shit never happened in Atreya.

Hmm.

Hold on,’ said Garovel. ‘I think I know what’s happening. It’s us.

What?

When we get close, the danger goes away. When we leave, it comes back. Why might that be?

Hector’s eyes widened inside his helm. ‘The killer sees us.

But there’s no one else within eyeshot,’ said Garovel. ‘So the killer is either spying on this family with cameras, or the killer has a reaper who senses our presence.’

...Or both.

Yup.

Great. What now?

Well, we don’t really have time to just wait for this to play out, but obviously, we also can’t just leave these people to get murdered, either.

Hector could tell where this was going. ‘You want me to go in there and talk to the family? They’ll flip.

Even so, that might be the best option here. The whole family had the aura of death. Even the kids. If we wait too long and let them split up, then you won’t be able to protect all of them.

Agh...’ And perhaps he was just grasping for excuses, but a question occurred to Hector. ‘What I don’t get is... if the murderer can see us but still intends to kill this family after we leave, then why does the aura of death go away? Shouldn’t it stay?

That made Garovel hesitate. ‘You’re absolutely right. So THAT’S what was bothering me so much about this. I knew it was something.

Maybe we’re wrong, then. Maybe it’s not us that’s making the aura go away.

Agh, but I can’t think of what else it would be. Dammit. Mysteries are supposed to be fun. I don’t like it when they’re weird and unsettling.

Page 1027

I’m thinking,’ said Garovel. ‘Hmm. Well, if this was going to be some kind of horrible accident, then the aura definitely would NOT have just vanished like that. An exploding gas main can’t just stop itself from killing someone. But a person can. The only thing that makes sense here is that the would-be murderer suddenly changed their mind.

Or... someone else saved them, somehow?’ offered Hector. ‘We aren’t the only reaper and servant around here, y’know.

Mm. That’s possible, too. Alright then, let’s just leave for now and check up on them later.

Hector bolted across the yard and bounded over the wall. He hit the ground with a heavier thud this time, leaving a more noticeable indention in the grass, thanks to all his armor.

Actually, wait,’ said Garovel, as Hector was about to start running again. ‘This is really strange. So let’s just... stick around for a little bit.

Okay...’ The new yard they’d found themselves in looked a lot like the previous one. Hector hoped the owner wouldn’t be too upset about some armored weirdo messing up their grass. Mostly, though, he hoped they didn’t come outside and stare at him.

Ah!’ said Garovel. ‘The aura’s back! They’re in danger again!

And again, Hector flung himself over the wall. When he rushed back toward the house, however, Garovel stopped him.

And now it’s gone,’ the reaper said. ‘What the fuck is going on here?

Hector caught a glimpse of the family through the window this time, but he didn’t linger for a better look. He ducked behind their patio again. The last thing he wanted to do was scare them for no reason. ‘Garovel... this isn’t some kind of terrible prank that you’re playing on me, right?

Of course not. C’mon. If I were pranking you, it’d be way funnier than this shit.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Page 1026

Garovel laughed. ‘Not just yet, but give it a--’ And that sentence’s abrupt ending brought them both to a halt, though Hector was the only one left skidding across the sidewalk. Garovel tapped his shoulder, and Hector felt the familiar surge of vigor course through him. ‘This way,’ the reaper said, phasing through the stone wall next to them. ‘And hurry.

Hector bounded up and over and hit the ground rolling. It was a large yard, he discovered, leading up to a three-story house among a crowd of trees, but this didn’t seem to be their final destination. Hector cut across the manicured lawn in pursuit of Garovel and leapt over the next wall at the other end. Another yard now, and another full sprint across it until they reached the next property over, where Garovel finally slowed.

Armor,’ the reaper told him, hovering up close to envelope himself around Hector’s torso. ‘Not sure what we’re running into here.

He crouched next to the small staircase that lead up to the house’s rear patio. He reached for full iron plate with his mind, and it started clapping around his body in segments.

It seems to be a family,’ said Garovel. ‘They’re just sitting together, presumably at a table having breakfast. But they all have the aura. I don’t sense any--

...Garovel?

What the--? It’s gone now.

What’s gone? What do you mean?

The aura. It went away. None of their souls are in danger anymore.

Why? What changed?

I... I don’t know. I’m scanning the house... but I don’t sense anyone else inside.

Hector looked around the backyard another time. A bunch of trees, a swing set, an inflatable pool. It all seemed normal enough. ‘What do you want to do?

Page 1025

So do you have an actual destination in mind?’ Hector asked. ‘Or are we just going to wander around and hope for the best?

What’s wrong with wandering around and hoping for the best? Maybe the universe will do us a solid for being such nice people all the time.

So you believe in karma now?

Not even a little bit. If the universe rewarded people for being nice, there wouldn’t be so many rich assholes in the world. Also, nature itself would be fundamentally different, and evolution as we know it would be dramatically altered. “Survival of the fittest” would be “survival of the friendliest.” Which sounds pretty awesome, actually. If I ever visit an alternate reality, I hope it’s one where that’s somehow a rule.

...So we’re really just wandering around right now, is what you’re telling me?

No, I’m scanning the area for souls that are carrying the aura of death around them.

Oh yeah,’ said Hector. ‘I keep forgetting you can do that.

Well, it’s not the most useful power when I’m just watching servants tear each other limb from limb. Which is something you seem pretty keen on taking part in.

Hey, you can’t blame me for that shit. That first time when we went to meet the Queen--that was YOUR stupid plan.

Well, maybe you shouldn’t be such an unthinking follower, then. Maybe you should come up with some amazingly clever plan of your own instead of relying on me all the time.

Maybe I will,’ said Hector.

Alright, then.

Good.

I’ll be waiting with bated breath to hear what ingenious plan you formulate for us.

Of course. But, uh. In the meantime, are you sensing anything?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Page 1024

Well... maybe the killer knows Qorvass really well.

Better than Asad, huh? Fine, I’m sure that’s a possibility. But I’m hearing a whole lot of speculation and not very much actual investigating.

I’m just trying to narrow down our pool of suspects.

Ha. Did you watch a lot of cop shows when you were younger?

Uh. Maybe.

Was this before or after that little stint as a criminal mastermind you told me about?

L-let’s just focus on the investigation.

Yes, let’s.

Hector stopped walking as he realized that he was staring at one of the building’s exits. Dunehall was still practically a maze to him, so he’d just kinda been following Garovel around, but now he had to ask, “Where are we going?”

Everyone else is questioning people around the castle, so I think they’ve got that covered. We’re going to talk to people outside.

“Uhh--” When he saw that Garovel had not stopped along with him, Hector jumped to a brisk walk in order to catch up again. “Why would anyone outside Dunehall know anything?”

Not sure, actually. That’s why I didn’t ask anyone to come with us. I don’t want to waste their time.

“...But?”

But what Lynn said is still bothering me.

“Lynn?”

Don’t you remember? Those mysterious reports she told us about?

“Oh.” Frankly, he’d all but forgotten. Strange occurrences all across Sandlord territory, is what Lynn had said. And he supposed Garovel had a point. Fuad Saqqaf’s apparent murder certainly qualified as a strange occurrence.

Soon, they were outside and venturing up the underground path into the fresh air of early morning. It felt a little strange, sneaking off like this. He’d already grown accustomed to following the lead of these more experienced and powerful lords. He hadn’t realized how much he enjoyed this sense of independence. Though, he WAS still taking orders from Garovel, but that didn’t really count, Hector felt.

Without any other method of transport, Hector resorted to running. He considered using iron platforms to launch himself over long distance--like he’d practiced in Gray Rock--but Moaban made that seem like a bad idea, what with so many trees everywhere. The deep forestation might have been pretty to look at, but it sure didn’t make navigation any easier. After about five minutes, he’d already lost track of which direction Dunehall was in.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Page 1023

I suppose that’s as good a place to start as any,’ said Garovel.

Well, it WOULD be,’ said Hector, ‘if there was any sort of evidence to go on.

Actually, the lack of evidence might itself be a kind of clue.

How do you mean?

Just think about it. If someone framed Ibai, then they did it without leaving any real evidence behind. And which ability type has the easiest time not leaving any traces of their work?

Ah. Materialization.

Yup. Not that it proves anything, of course. I’m sure someone with one of the other types could’ve figured a way to be clever with their power. And moreover, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But it’s something to think about as we investigate.

Hector paused a moment. ‘Isn’t it also possible that Fuad Saqqaf is still alive? I mean, Qorvass only identified him by his shoes. Someone could’ve taken them off him and used them for the frame up, right?

Mm. Technically, yeah, that’s possible. Not very likely, though. For such a plan to work, the culprit would’ve had to know that Qorvass could identify Fuad from those shoes. And if you’ll recall, even Asad seemed surprised when Qorvass pulled off that bit of absurdity.

Absurdity? You don’t think you could’ve done the same thing?

Sure, if I paid attention to the shoes of everyone we meet. But why the fuck would I do that?

For situations like this, apparently.

Apparently.

Hector smirked. ‘Oh well. I guess Qorvass is just better than you.

Oh, fuck you. I remember plenty of other seemingly worthless shit. Like your dumb birthday.

What does that have to do with anything?

It’s in two weeks, you know.

Is it? I thought it was closer, actually. How long’ve we been in Sair?

Hardly even a week.

Seriously? That can’t be right. It feels like ages already.

When we weren’t waiting around for something to happen, we were busy trying not to be mashed into a meaty pudding, as Lord Xuan phrased it. And both of those things tend to make the time drag.

Hmm.

Anyway, my point was that I doubt the killer would’ve expected Qorvass to identify Fuad the way he did.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Page 1022

“For now, no one is to take action against House Blackburn without my approval,” said Asad. “Speak to them if you feel it necessary, but if you do anything more than that, then regardless of the outcome, expect that your entire house will no longer be welcome here at Dunehall. This is not a matter for debate. Have I expressed myself clearly?”

“You have,” said Lorenzo.

“Indeed,” agreed Carlos.

“Very good, then. Now please hurry on with your work. I do not have time to assist you myself, but Imas, please accompany Lord Lorenzo, and Jada, please accompany Lord Carlos. I will see you all again soon.” And with that, the Lord Najir departed, no doubt going to talk to the ruling Rainlords. Between them and the Saqqafs, Hector didn’t envy Asad’s position right about now.

“Never thought I’d be taking orders from a Sandlord,” said Lorenzo.

Never thought one would stick his neck out so far for us,’ said his reaper. Marosso hadn’t said much thus far--at least not aloud--but that particular statement earned some points with Hector and, by the looks of it, with the two Najir women and their reapers, as well.

After that, the group split up as Asad had dictated. And since Carlos had been the one to ask Hector and Garovel for assistance, they went with him.

Their first order of business was to talk to the Blackburns and get a second, and hopefully clearer recounting of events from Ibai. However, the only thing that became clear was that House Blackburn did not intend to let Ibai talk to any of the investigators again. Perhaps they were afraid that he would be ganged up on, or perhaps they were simply afraid of what he might say; either way, it didn’t bode well for the family’s position.

From there, the investigation was already at a bit of a loss for leads, so they decided to spread out and begin questioning people. And Hector and Garovel found themselves on their own again, going from corridor to corridor while searching for more clues.

So what’re you thinking now?’ said Garovel.

Uh... well, I guess I’m just trying to figure HOW someone could have possibly framed Ibai. Even a servant, I mean. It just doesn’t seem very... easy.

You’re wondering what ability they used?

Yeah.