• Tavorie J

The Briefing.

Samuel led us back up the elevator and into a different room than before. An office with dark wood walls, green and gold tapestries. Same as everywhere else. It was becoming increasingly less impressive.

Across the room was a tall window in front of which sat Madame Telvas. A rather large desk separated us from her. On our side were two wooden chairs with emerald cushions.

“Welcome back.” She chimed. “Take a seat.” She motioned to the chairs.

We exchanged glances before sitting down.

“I’ll have them back to you in just a moment, Samuel. Thank you.”

Samuel left with a deep bow.

Telvas slid some items across her desk. “I’m equipping each of you with your own tablet and credit card. I expect you to use the tablets for tracking your findings. The credit card is for any food and supplies you might need. All expenses accrued during your stay with us will be covered.”

I sat up. “Speaking of, we never discussed our rates.”

“I assure you,” she motioned to the lavish nature of her office, “money is of no object. I just expect this problem to get resolved as soon as possible. I need my people to feel safe and happy again. So long as these pests keep interfering with our resources, the sanctuary will remain in a state of unease.”

“I see.” I leaned back. “I suppose once we get a better idea of the situation we can work out a price then.”

Telvas nodded. “I wouldn’t want you to go uncompensated for your efforts.”

I turned to Sylus. His gaze was fixated on her, but his expression wasn’t clear.

“Now that you’re equipped, return to Samuel. He’ll take you across town to the Shack.” She flicked her wrists at us.

With a nod I stood up. Sylus stood up while keeping his gaze very carefully trained on her. It clearly didn’t go unnoticed.

“Is there something you would like to say, Mr. Synclaire?”

“No.” He replied slowly.

“A man of few words?” She raised a brow.

“A man of many thoughts which may eventually become words.” He replied.

“I’d be curious to hear them.” She smirked.

“When I decide they’re worth saying.” He gave his own smirk in reply.

“Shrewd. I can appreciate that.” She leaned back in her chair. “Off you go now.”

Once again, Samuel was waiting just on the other side of the door to whisk us away and back down onto the streets of Stratica.

Sylus held his breath the entire way down the elevator, but I was hardly concerned. It wasn’t like he actually needed to breathe. Not traditionally anyway. He technically ‘breathed’ through the tendrils on his back, but seeing as he was once human, he still went through the motions of inhaling air through his nose and mouth. He explained it as base human things he just couldn’t turn off. He tried to, at one point, and I found it incredibly unnerving to be standing next to someone who was alive but perfectly still. He never did it again.

Stratica in the morning was just as lively as Stratica at night. Music was already filling the streets and the smell of fresh food wafted through the air.

I looked up to Sylus as we followed Samuel down the street.

“I thought spawns didn’t like music?”

He turned to me. “It’s not that they don’t like it, it’s that they can’t process it properly. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t learn how to.” He watched a small group of people pass us. “And sometimes they do.”

“Huh.” My attention wandered across the street to a small band playing on a street corner.

“Especially when they have powerful benefactors capable of expanding their core capacities.”

My gaze snapped back to him. “What are you suggesting?”

“I’m not entirely sure.”

I glared at him.

“There’s a feeling coming from Qaitax that I’m unfamiliar with. I’ll have to work it out and get back to you.”

“You know I don’t like you keeping things from me.” I replied firmly.

He nodded. “I know and if I knew what this feeling was or what kind of idea I’m supposed to be conjuring, I’d tell you.” He sighed. “I know that’s two things in quick succession that I’m withholding from you, but I promise it isn’t out of deception or malice.”

“I’m going to trust you on this, Sylus. If Qaitax is keeping your tongue tied for some reason, I’ll-”

“Do nothing. Qaitax is my problem and no one else’s.”

“You say that like I’m not standing right next to you!” I hissed. “If he’s your problem then he’s mine too! We’ve gone over this a thousand times, Sylus!”

“I know, but as far as internal conflicts go, that’s between he and I.”

“And it's complicated. I get it.” The words came out far more mockingly than I intended.

He deflated a bit as we continued walking on in silence.

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