As promised, Samuel was waiting outside the Shack for us. Sylus and I followed him back to Telvas’ office in contemplative silence.
We sat down in our chairs across the desk from Madame Telvas. Sylus folded one leg over the other and stared at her with a look of contempt on his face.
“Well?” She smiled. “How did it go?”
I stood up to hand her my pad, but Sylus stopped me.
“Before we turn in our report, is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the situation?”
Her smile faltered. “Why? What did Yulia tell you?”
“That the five deaths in Sub-Stratica could have been avoided had precautions been taken.”
Telvas closed her eyes and sat back in her chair. “She’s not wrong.”
Sylus raised a brow. “So you allowed five civilians to die?”
“I didn’t allow them to die.” She snapped. “They died because there was nothing I could do when something needed to be done.”
Sylus leaned back in his chair. He motioned for me to give her the report so I did.
“Sylus?” I whispered as I sat back down. “What’s going on?”
“Not now.” He grumbled.
“Mixed spawn behavior?” Telvas noted with the hint of a waver in her voice.
“That’s unusual, isn’t it?”
“Indeed it is.” He replied.
She cleared her throat. “What would make them do that?”
Sylus’ gaze narrowed into a glare. He quickly snapped out of it as he sat back, resting his arms on the rests. “A few things.”
“Like?” she asked.
“There are certain substances that can serve as lures for spawns. I don’t detect an overabundance of Voidtech here in Stratica, so that seems unlikely.”
“And the other options?”
“If there’s a font nearby it could be enraging them. Have you encountered any aerial assaults on the dome?”
Telvas shook her head.
“Then that’s also unlikely.”
“Then what cause remains?” She pressed.
“Do you possess any megalyth fragments?”
“Do you have any seers or witches among your populace?”
“Not that I’m aware of, but they tend to be very careful about their presences.”
“Indeed.” Sylus leaned forward, resting his arms across his lap. “And now I’m going to ask you something and I expect an honest response.”
“And that is?”
“Is there a Lord here?”
Telvas stared at him blankly for a long moment before bursting out with laughter. “A Lord?” She guffawed. “Here? In my sanctuary? Ha!”
“Hm.” Sylus grunted as he leaned back in his chair.
“What are our orders going forward?” I asked.
“Well, I have two.”
I raised a brow while Sylus picked at his nails.
“One: I want you on patrol duty. 5am and 8pm. Every day.”
I snorted. “Ma’am, patrols are your affairs. Not ours. We’re not here to do work for you, just hunt troublesome spawns and remove and or dispose of them.”
“Yes, well, obviously the problem is an external one. Use the patrol time to investigate and familiarize yourselves with our border.”
I sat back. “Sounds like you’re trying to shake free labor out of us.”
“You will be compensated accordingly.”
I turned to Sylus who was still thoroughly distracted by his hands.
“Sylus?” I poked his arm.
“We’ll do what the lady says.”
Telvas nodded firmly. “The other thing is, I want you down in Sub-Stratica keeping people safe. The sooner everyone realizes things are being dealt with the sooner we can get more hands down there helping Yulia.”
“Can’t you just order people to go down there?” I could barely contain a groan. “The livelihood of your sanctuary is at stake.”
“Both spawns and humans alike perished in the incident and as a result, both sides of my people are paralyzed with fear.”
“But their food’s down there!” I was exasperated. “I find it hard to believe that out of thousands of people a few dozen couldn’t volunteer to help with your supply lines.”
“Since when are humans rational and what would you expect humanized spawns to do?” Telvas leaned her arms on her desk.
“I don’t know. Maybe the thing that would help their community sustain itself? Ya know, so people don’t start starving because there’s literally only one person down there doing everything?” My frustration was showing.
“Just do as I say, and you’ll be compensated accordingly.” Telvas replied firmly.
“We’re not bodyguards or patrolmen.” I laughed. “We’re exterminators.”
“I think you’ll find that both these tasks will prove useful to your investigations.”
I glared at her.
“Sure. Fine. Whatever.” Sylus stood up. “But before we leave, I need to confirm that you’ve given us every ounce of relevant details in regards to our overarching mission here.”
Telvas nodded slowly. “You have every bit of pertinent information I have.”
“Alright.” Sylus replied, clearly unconvinced. “Come on, Jeron.” He nudged my arm. “Gotta be up bright and early.”
I stood up with a groan. “I gave up being a morning person when the world ended.” I rubbed my lower back.
“Well now we’re being paid to be ones so let’s go get some rest.”
“I’m hungry.” I whined.
“I’ll have food brought to your room.” Telvas interjected.
“Yeah?” I chuckled.
She nodded. “Any preferences?”
Sylus nodded in agreement.
“Very well then. You are both dismissed for now, but I expect you back here after your evening patrol tomorrow. Understood?”
“Sure.” Sylus grunted as we finally left her office.