Book III Chapter 15: Two Sides of the Same Coin
SagarthayFelld and Leo II.V strode swiftly into the forest, Gabriel hanging tight to the shoulders of the black-scaledleupak.
Fog swirled at their feet-- a fog that certainly wasn't here a few days ago-- and Gabe shuddered, wondering to himself if his existence wasn't somehow cursed.
The lab-gremlins had been benign enough-- aside from destroying his lab the first time, and being made of miraplasm that he had known well enough not to touch bare-handed-- but now, being stuck in a pair with the woman who perhaps hated him more than any other being alive... and watching her transform into a varworg?!
It was simply too much.
"Perhaps I'm not cut out for this after all, he sighed. "I could become a bookbinder like Father wanted..."
"Well, bookbinding is a respectable trade--" Felld began.
Something inside Leo's head whirred. "Nonsense. Well, not about bookbinding, of course, but... you've come this far, why give up now?"
" When the world itself is trying to kill you, it's a good sign that you should stop whatever you're up to."
"To be frank... this is hardly the beginning. Every would-be Doc is tested, somehow, someday... yours just happens to be a bit more all-encompassing than most. But aren't you curious to see what your reward will be if you make it out on the other side?"
Gabe carefully ducked his head to avoid a low branch; In the distance, the cavern entrance loomed, seeming all the more foreboding for the fog and gray light filtering in from the trees above. "I'm almost afraid to know, to be honest.
"Don't give up-- you'd be doing yourself, and all of us, a great disservice," Leo insisted.
Gabe blinked. "...All of you? Why is that?"
"If my files on you are correct... even before you recieved your certification, you witnessed the generation of life from nothing. Since then, you've stared death in the face and dared to stand against it, as well as doing your best to cure the infirm, without the Organization's assistance-- and when that failed, you survived the aftermath, at point blank range, and here you are now."
It's not the Docs who sail through life with all the tools that become legendary, Mr. Gaunthier," Leo added. "It's the ones who persevere and struggle against the odds-- the ones who come to know the world at its worst as well as its best, and experience the things that others merely dream, don't you think?"
"We're here, I think," the leupak interrupted.
Gabriel gingerly slid off of the leupak's back, peering meekly into the mouth of the cave; several large black bats fluttered overhead.
Before anyone could move, a golden blur shot through the air, snatching one of the creatures up and yanking it into Felld's open mouth.
Leo seemed amused. "And how was that?"
"Looked better than it tastes, actually," Felld admitted.
Gabriel shuddered, deciding to trail behind the two senior agents as he grasped his queasy stomach.
The Iron Dungeon -- Cell 32-B
Silent Rose Axl Branch
Sagarthay Anom strode down the long corridor, stopping at last in front of the great double-doors marked 32-B. A tiny box sat just beside them; he placed his front paw on it, snorting faintly as the panel warmed uncomfortably.
"Houselord Sagarthay Anom requests entry."
With the squeal of old, rusty metal and the hiss of escaping steam, the doors pulled apart, revealing the metal-reinforced room within, empty save a small human woman curled in the far corner, her face hidden by her dark, curly hair.
Anom took notice of the deep gashes in the steel walls with a faint smirk.
Yes, this was the one.
Closing the doors behind him, the leupak lord made his way towards the sleeping Eva; the red markings on his shoulders twitched slightly before transforming into a pair of sleek arms, one grasping an ancient sceptre carved of bone.
Anom grinned maliciously. "Wake up, my dear. It's time for your checkup."
Swiftly launching himself forward, Anom took hold of her by the throat with his free hand, pinning her unceremoniously against the wall before she could flee.
"Stop struggling so; it's unbecoming."
"What the hell is this, who--what the hell are you?! Where's Gabe?!"
"Out with a few of my companions; they'll return before long," Anom murmured. "We have business to attend, however. As an unfortunate consequence of your work-related injuries, you're now the property of the Rose. I'll need to perform a thorough examination before we can send you off to Main Headquarters for containment."
"...work-related..." Eva spat. "You... you bastards... just wanted to see what would happen to me if you left that bite to fester! You believed Gabe all along, didn't you?!"
"Perhaps, perhaps not. I wasn't made aware of the situation until you made a mess of the building. Either way, though... be a good dog, and sit!"
Holding Eva firm, Anom rose the scepter high above her, closing his eyes and uttering a guttural chant; immediately, his facet began to flicker and glow, softly at first, but gaining brilliance with each word.
Agony coursed through her veins like fire; pained and fearful, Eva kicked and shrieked at the Houselord, bucking and struggling to break free of his grasp even as sweat began to bead upon her forehead.
"What--no! No, stop!" Eva pleaded. "You can't fucking...d..do this to me! My family will--"
"I can, and will. I've been waiting a very long time to try the Scepter of Voghn for myself, you see. You just happened to bumble your way into becoming the perfect specimen," Anom gloated.
Eva clenched her teeth, her muscles straining and twitching beneath skin that had begun to sprout thick, black fur.
"I'll... kill you..." she promised. "I'm going to... paint the walls with... with your...visc...viscer...AAAAAAAAROOOGH!
Furious and murderous, a transformed Eva tore Anom's hand from her throat, lunging at him with blazing eyes.
With a wicked laugh, Anom spun, using his weight to hurl her across the room.
Slamming into the steel wall with a thunderous clang, Eva slid to the floor, drool pouring from her fanged maw.
"Ahahahah, brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!" Anom bellowed. "You're no Silvermane, but you'll be invaluable to our research and development department..."
With a low snarl, Eva rose to all fours, her claws cutting into the metal floor as though it were clay.
Next Chapter: Book III Chapter XVI
Category: Book III | Story