Fanfiction: Wraith of Gaia 7
"Excuse me! Sir! Niran Menos!"
Niran was in the middle of going through Choras' records on the Soul Cannon when he was interrupted by a knock on the door. Dakris's comments at the meeting had prompted him to take a closer look at the files. Chaine and Dakris had been trying to cover up the truth about the Soul Cannon, but Niran's information network extended further than even they knew.
It was learning this secret that caused Niran to be in a foul mood as he snapped back, "What is it!?"
"Sir," the voice said, slightly cowed. "A woman from Larin's militia is here. She claims that a disaster has hit Larin as well, and is here to report it. She stressed that she needs to speak with you urgently."
"Fine," Niran grumbled as he exited the small room the contained the records his agents had compiled for him. The voice turned out to have come from a recruit who appeared to still be in his early teens. Niran closed and locked the door behind him and said, "Where is she?"
"She's in the eastern lobby, sir," the recruit said as he started to walk. "This way."
"I know where it is. Return to your duties," Niran said, waving the recruit away.
As he entered the eastern lobby, Niran was stunned speechless. The woman sitting on the couch looked exactly like his memory of Maria Angelus from a decade earlier. Could she be the one who fought off the zombies? Her resemblance to Maria is uncanny--
"Niran Menos?" the woman asked, standing up and approaching him. When he nodded silently, she added, "My name is Rianna. I'm here on behalf of Larin's Militia." She eyed his expression warily. "Is everything alright?"
Her name had triggered something in Niran's memory. Two decades past, his brother had sent him a letter saying that his wife had borne a baby. His wife had been Maria Angelus, and they'd named the baby "Rianna."
"Yes, it's just--" Niran started, then rephrased his thoughts. "Was your father Nakir of Choras?"
"Yes. How'd you know?"
Niran smiled. "He was my brother. We lost touch after he and Maria moved to Larin, but he once told me he'd had a daughter."
Rianna's eyes lit up and she ran forward to embrace him. "My father never told me he had a brother. I thought I had no more relatives after my parents died!"
Niran cringed at her reference to her parents' deaths. "Uh, yes, well-- I was told you were here on a matter of some urgency--?"
Rianna's eyes widened, and she started to tell Niran her story. "Three days ago, Larin was attacked by mutated animals, led by a white dragon--"
"A white dragon?" Niran cut in. "We've been tracking down a demon here who showed features of a white dragon! Could it be the one who attacked your village?"
"No!" Rianna snapped with force that took Niran aback. "The dragon who attacked our village was killed, but another appeared. I followed him here to Choras City."
"So, then, that's the demon?"
"Yes! Well, no! He's not a demon, he saved the city from the zombies. I can't explain his powers, but he's not evil; that's for sure."
"Damnit!" Niran cursed. Will the atrocities never stop, Dakris? He said with a sigh, "I'm sorry Rianna, but the situation is looking bad for him. He was captured less than half an hour ago, and he's due to be judged."
"I know," Rianna said with a slight nod. "I was there when they captured him. But, there shouldn't be much problem, should there? He's not evil, so he should turn white, right?"
Niran sighed again. "I fear that may not be the case. Recently, the orb has turned nothing but black, even for the pettiest of criminals. I fear something's wrong with it, and he may be its next victim."
"What!?" Rianna exclaimed. "We have to stop them! He's a hero; he saved Choras from the zombies! You can't extract him!"
Niran weighed his options. It was still possible the "demon" would be judged redeemable, but he couldn't even be sure that would stop Dakris. Either way, he had to do something about the Soul Cannon before they used it again.
"Alright," Niran said hurriedly. "Can you fight if you have to?"
"Yes," Rianna replied. "I didn't just sit and watch while the zombies attacked."
"Good," Niran said. He handed Rianna one of his keys. "This should open almost any door in the building. Head down that hallway and take the first staircase you see down. Turn left from there and you'll reach the Judgment Hall. If they're not there, head down the north passage -- that's right from your perspective as you enter -- which leads to the Soul Fire."
"Wait!" Rianna said. "You're not coming with me?"
"No, I've got business to settle. When you're done -- successful or not -- meet me in the basement. There's a staircase near the gateway to the Soul Fire."
"What are you going to do there?"
"Some prices are too high," Niran said cryptically. "We have to take out the Soul Cannon."
- * *
"Hey, Lowe!" Dakris shouted as he entered the Judgment Hall. "What's the status on the 'demon'?"
Lowe looked up from his desk and said, "We're just about to judge him. For once, you're right on time-- sir."
"Wouldn't miss this," Dakris said, taking up a position near the Judgment Orb. "I'm dying to see just how dark this orb'll turn. By the way, how'd they ever manage to bring him in?"
"The soldiers who brought him in say that a bartender spiked his drink with Rofello's Poison after recognizing him from his description. This allowed the soldiers to take him in without any problems."
"Hmm, good," Dakris said. "See that he's properly rewarded."
"She will be, sir," Lowe said.
Dakris ignored this slight and started pacing. "What's taking so long? I thought you said you were just about to judge him."
"I thought so, the guards just took him back to confiscate his weapons and armor," Lowe said. "Hold on while I check what's taking them so long."
Lowe got up from his desk and disappeared to a back room for what seemed to Dakris to be an exceedingly long time, but which the room's clock ticked out as under a minute. Dakris was about to take the clock off the wall to see what was wrong with it when Lowe finally returned. He had two guards in tow, carrying the demon.
"It seems they were having some trouble removing his armor," Lowe explained as they reentered the room. "It looks to me as if its somehow attached to his skin, and no, there's nothing wrong with the clock."
Dakris grumbled at this and said, "Not that surprising, actually. Our reports say he grew the wings and claws of a white dragon. That armor looks like it's from a white dragon as well, so he probably just grew it. Come on, let's get this over with."
Dakris took a seat in Lowe's desk as the guards took the demon to the Judgment Orb. The Judgment Orb normally appeared as a pale sphere filled with gray wisps of smoke. When someone put their hand on the orb, it would fill with either a black or white color. If black, the person was unredeemable and sentenced to extraction. If white, the person was good at heart but had made some bad choices to land them on the wrong side of the law, so they were sent to prison for rehabilitation.
While one of the guards supported the bulk of the demon, the other took his hand and placed it on the orb. Dakris leaned forward, expecting the orb to be overwhelmed with darkness. Nothing happened. The orb appeared exactly the same as when no one was touching it.
"This ever happen before?" Dakris questioned Lowe.
"No, sir. Every other time, the orb filled up within seconds."
"Could it be because he's unconscious?"
"We've done it with unconscious criminals before, it never made any difference."
"Ever done it with a demon before?" Dakris asked.
"You know we haven't," Lowe said with a frustrated tone to his voice.
"Maybe it doesn't work with demons," Dakris suggested as he stood up. "Ah, well. No matter, let's take him for extraction."
"What?" Lowe said, turning from the demon to look at Dakris. "Sir, the law's clear. We extract only if the orb turns black."
"We have no time for legal technicalities," Dakris said. "We're at war, here, and we have to extract this demon's soul if we're to survive."
"But, sir," Lowe said. "What if this means he isn't evil? Can we extract an innocent?"
"We'll worry about moral implications later! For now, we need his soul if we're to take out the source of the zombies."
This sentence was met by a string of slurred words from the slumped demon, who Dakris had assumed to still be unconscious; Rofello's poison generally kept one out for four to five hours.
"What was that?" Dakris said, looking at Lowe expectantly. "What did he say?"
"I'm not quite sure," Lowe replied. "I couldn't make most of it out, but the last few words sounded like 'Sea lent leg hiss.' Don't ask me what it means."
"'Sea lent leg hiss'?" Dakris repeated. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Lowe just stared at him at this, but the demon spoke up again. His words were still slurred, but Dakris could make them out this time: "Wrong language."
Dakris grunted. "Just say it in English!"
The guards had taken the demon away from the orb and turned him to face Dakris. He stared at Dakris with not an expression of anger, but one of pity. "It means, 'In time of war, the law falls silent.'"
Dakris chuckled at this. "He understands! The demon understands what we're doing! This is priceless!"
"Do you?" the demon shot back.
Growling, Dakris said, "Enough! I have no time to play games. Come on," he gestured to Lowe and the guards. "We're taking him to the Soul Fire before he recovers enough to pose a threat."
The guards hefted up the demon once more and carried him, following Dakris towards the Soul Fire, where souls were extracted. Lowe took up a position behind the guards.
The demon did nothing to resist, but spoke up once more on the way. "So, what's my crime?"
"Being a demon," Dakris said.
The demon snorted at this. "This is what your justice system punishes: Being, not Doing?"
The demon was infuriating him, but they'd reached the gateway to the Soul Fire, and the problem would soon be solved.
"We're about to stop you from 'Being,'" Dakris told him. "You won't be 'Doing' anything, anymore." He motioned to the guards, and they tossed the demon into a small chamber in the wall made out of denadorite. Dakris slammed a switch on the wall, and a door slammed down, enclosing the demon in the chamber.
The last expression Dakris saw on the demon's face was one of disappointment.