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part two.


Joel, Freya, Phoenix and Arthur: the four of them are already assembled by the time Adonis enters. The ex-Chancellor feels almost out of place in this little council of war, since he no longer holds a ministerial post; Arthur had requested his assistance and his presence, however, and Adonis is both honoured and bound to serve the boy he had helped to raise. Standing by the fireplace (unlit; the great hall is still the only place to have a burning fire, what with the lack of fuel despite the reopening of two territories) with his hands clasped behind his back and his face half-hidden in shadows, the Kaiser has never looked more majestic. Freya and Phoenix are both seated – Phoenix in the only chair, a hard, wooden article, and Freya perched on the end of the coffee table. Joel is somewhat apart from the other three, lounging against the far wall. From the dim light it is hard to read anyone’s facial expressions, but the atmosphere is tense.

“What news?” Arthur requests of Adonis.

“Nobody remembers seeing Aura after she arrived with Penguin and One Ear and decreed the rationing. I’ve had members of the Labyrinth searching the castle and all the accessible surrounding area, but they’ve found no trace of her.”

“And Lauma?”

“Osiris was the last person to see her, just as the third curse struck. That was months ago, and nothing has been seen or heard of her since.” Adonis hesitates before adding, “Lilith says she hasn’t felt any sign of the fourth curse, so this isn’t Mallos’ doing.”

How does a person, confined in a castle, simply disappear? It’s true that the building has many secret passageways and rooms, and with her small frame and quiet nature Aura is invisible at the best of times, but how could nobody have seen her for months and months? How could she have survived without rations, or beyond the walls of the castle? Perhaps Arthur is panicking about nothing, but his instinct is telling him that something is wrong. He has a sickening feeling that somewhere along the lines, they have all overlooked something – some crucial detail. It’s a feeling which won’t go away.

First Lauma, now Aura. Something, somewhere, is stripping them of their weaponry; without Lauma’s divinity the fight against Mallos’ curses cannot hope to continue, and Aura is the only one with the insight into his mind. Is this some horrible, underlying curse designed to weaken them further? Who will be next?

“Keep looking,” he says after a few moments. “Too much was sacrificed to bring Aura back. Find her and bring her home safely – and in the meantime, guard yourselves.”

    • part one. -

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