The doors to the Dean Hakumatheia’s room burst open. A young girl — the one that was sat behind the counter — looked at him with wide eyes. “Sir.”
The Dean raised an eyebrow, and listened to what she said. When he had heard it, he nodded. “Thank you Diav. I’ll handle it. Please, close the door on your way out.”
As the doors shut, the Dean was already on his feet. He had changed to a simple white shirt and gray jogging pants, but his eyes caught the white snow that drifted from the clouds. He turned, walked toward the wooden wardrobe, and opened it, revealing millions upon millions of articles of clothing swirling about a gray ether like a fashionable maelstrom. The Dean thought, and then raised his hand. He walked inside.
The wardrobe closed.
A moment flew into another moment.
The wardrobe opened.
The Dean walked out, complete getup in tow — a long, scintillating robe that reached his ankles adorned by a heavy white mantle hanging off of his right shoulder, with a burning sign of the Vedina inscribed onto the side. Underneath he had changed into leather boots, trousers, and a dress shirt. He walked toward the large window looking out to the Spires. As he did, the cabinets on the second floor burst open, and three bottles of translucent pills flew out of them and into his hands. With a flourish, that vanished invisible into the folds of his robe.
Out from underneath his desk, a slugblaster — having a longer barrel than the usual slugpiece — shot out and into his hands. He pumped it, and it made a noise as the runes within it heated up for action. He engaged the lever, and the stock folded down, revealing the two round holes where the slugs would go into. He jerked the slugs out, and they fell onto the carpeted floor with a soft thud.
The Dean Hakumatheia made a sign, and the right barrel flared purple, and the right flared green. With that done, he let the slugblaster hang in midair, before dissipating into golden motes, and then rematerializing on his back, held suspended by invisible strings by virtue of a Timespace Working.
He spoke a word, and he was gone.
* * *
In the second between the ear-shattering crack, and the ensuing blinding white flare from within the Binding Circle, Quinen’s thoughts rubber banded back to his time with Infinite Sights.
The alfr stood in front of him once again, in the carpeted room. Quinen sat on the chair, which they had moved so that it was set right in front of the table, and the alfr stood up on his wooden desk. Most of the trinkets and Charms that would be on his desk were hovering in the air.
“Now, young Novice,” he said, completely without any inflection to his voice, but his teimach shone with a cheery yellow. “Let us get to the heart of the matter. Us Savants and Magickers have long studied the essence and the nature of Magick. And while we still don’t exactly know what Magick is — whether it be our will alone, our sympathies to a realm, or an innate ability — we do know what everyone else is made of.”
Quinen nodded, his hand a fist and his cheek resting on it. “Everything is made of Diwa.”
“Truly,” he said. “Now Diwa has many different states. There’s such a thing as Ambient Diwa, and Fulminating Diwa, and Solid Diwa. The third you — and a lot of the other citizens of Throne — know full well of.”
Quinen nodded again. “It’s Tass.”
“Yes, indeed. But what about Ambient Diwa? And Fulminating Diwa?” Infinite Sights snapped his finger — his teimach burned with a jubilant bright yellow. “Ambient Diwa is easy. It is the very iota that persists in all of us. If you strip everyone down to the core, you will find that everyone is made of Diwa. Some people have the ability to use the Diwa in their Soul to make them stronger, such as our brothers the Avijaruns off to the Santadan Ranges to the West. The Creational Particle.
“And Fulminating Diwa,” continued Infinite Sights. “Is Diwa in action. Diwa that changes the world. While everything is made of Diwa — even the very air we breath, when we spur Diwa into action, we call it by another name. We call it Magick. Every Magicker’s Diwa is fulminating. Burning with the ability to change, to create. If one so chooses, one could even use Fulminating Diwa to burn away at the Ambient Diwa in others. Burning away another person’s Ambience dissipates their essence back into Diwa. Effectively erasing them for good.”
“So erasure doesn’t equate to annihilation?” Quinen leaned forward.
Infinite Sights stopped abruptly, as if he were an automaton with a preprogrammed response to that. He looked down on Quinen, completely poker-face, but his teimach was a gray tinged with purple.
“No.” He didn’t blink. Infinite Sights never blinked. “There is a fourth state of Diwa, but we only call it a Fourth State because, well, it technically is nothing. We will not talk about that.”
“Never.” And Infinite Sights’ teimach burned a molten hot crimson.
Quinen snapped back to his senses when a burst of wind hurled him toward one of the barriers that the Naphli had erected around the perimeter. There weren’t any civilians too near the place, as they had set a second barrier around it far down the road.
Quinen groaned as he stared up. The blazing angel that the Commissioner had become had stood her ground, never moving, as the Diwal Orb’s effects took place. The Suit of Armor within screamed in haunting, almost melodious agony. It fell to one knee as clouds of pure white burst from within it, eating away at its very pattern, its very essence.
As the radiating bursts met with the Binding Circle’s barrier, it the light flickered, and then, small holes began radiating out of points of impact, like a film tape being burnt. The Flaming Angel Commissioner turned to Quinen and shouted in two different voices: one was her usual voice, albeit sounding like it was being filtered through glass, and the second a flaming, crackling voice that resembled a crackling bonfire more than anything else. “YOUR CIRCLE DOES NOT HOLD.”
Quinen stumbled to his knees and shook his head at the Angel. “It will. It counteracts it. The Diwa Bomb doesn’t unravel the Pattern of my Workings. It does damage it though, since I can’t draw for shit.”
Despite holes being burned into the light, none of the clouds seeped past the Binding Circle’s radius. As the burning white clouds slammed and burnt away parts of the Binding Circle, they billowed backwards, pushed back by an invisible force.
The pure white clouds of pure creational fulmination bounced about the Binding Circle, the clouds reaching high up into the sky but never past the radius of the Circle.
Soon, the clouds dissipated. Quite abruptly as well, as the white melted into invisible weaves of iotal Diwa. As the clouds vanished, it brought along with it the Avalonian Essence of the Transplanar Entity, melting the Entities’ essence.
To where? Into what? Quinen didn’t really give a damn at this point.
And soon, the Binding Circle shattered.
Quinen sighed, and he gave up on standing up, deciding instead to sit down. His feet still spasmed, as if electricity had run through them, and his fingers wouldn’t respond to every impulse. He winced. Dissonance.
The Warlock watched as flaming angel burst one more time, and then shot up to the sky — leaving the Commissioner behind — through a hole in the clouds that Quinen hadn’t seen collect. The Commissioner herself fell to her knees, and the Naphlimen ran to her aid, some of them deliberately walking around the Warlock.
He rolled his eyes. He was just happy to be alive. He wanted to throw his head back and relax, but found that he couldn’t. One because Dissonance made every movement ache. Another because the implications of what just happened were huge.
Did Zinnia send that? Was the thing looking for something, or did it only want to kill him? Did it run over to the Naphli HQ because of him? Or was it because of something else?
Quinen sighed. Another painful spasm.
He watched the strangely serene scene of the Binding Circle. The engravings were still there, albeit without the flaring Diwa channeled into them. The rune he had etched was erased, as if some invisible god reached down and wiped it off of the bitumen. The Suit of Armor was nowhere to be found.
Then something shimmered in the midst of the engravings.
When he opened his eyes, the Dean Hakumatheia stood in front of them all, with an Adon-damned slugblaster in one hand.
“What is the meaning of this?” He spoke it low and soft, but his voice echoed throughout all their souls.
Quinen sighed. “This hack.” And he fell on his back.
* * *
The Dean reappeared in the midst of serene chaos. Underneath him, he found that he stood upon a Binding Circle engraving.
He watched as a tall man with his shirt half-ripped — showing an exceptionally toned body — fell on his back and laid still. The Dean squinted his eyes.
“Are you the Dean?” The woman’s voice pulled Hakumatheia’s attention to her. A platinum blonde woman. Tall, and her hair looked like she had turned into a conflagration.
The Dean turned to her, still standing tall, and nodded. “Indeed, Commissioner Haliyn.”
The Commissioner nodded. “We’ve much to discuss. I must rest.”
The Dean furrowed his eyebrows. “Indeed… I’ve heard that there was a Transplanar Entity?”
The Commissioner opened her mouth to say something more, but her body failed her, and she fell onto the pavement in front of the Dean.
* * *
Maeve blinked as News Frequency suddenly ripped through her holographic display to show her the devastation in the Spires. Eccentrically-dressed humans — wearing dark purple gowns that only covered half of their bodies, while the other half turned them invisible, tall and bright hats that radiated some sort of green liquid that dissipated as it touched any material other than air, some sort of cape that never moved — all gathered around the block of the Naphli HQ. The newsdrones buzzed closer to the scene, and Maeve saw that the Dean was there, with the Naphli Commissioner of Throne as well as Quinen, now laying on his back, seemingly paralyzed.
She sent a Text message.
* * *
Quinen couldn’t move as they rushed him into the Naphli HQ. Men and women pushed him in a floating bed that led them to the Medical Area. As he was pushed into the main doors of the Naphli HQ, Quinen saw the Savants and Repair Automata jumping out of the corvids and onto the smoldering top Command Center.
Eventually, Quinen woke up to a white ceiling. He’d slept so soundly that he didn’t even know he’d fallen into slumber. Beside him, past a heavy curtain, he could hear the deep, somber voice of the Dean Hakumathiea speaking with the hoarse voice of the Commissioner.
Quinen grimaced, trying to turn. The effects of Dissonance slipped away, but everything still ached to the bone. A voice that seemed to speak through a filter said, “Do not move, sir. We seek to quicken your healing.”
Quinen sighed, trying to sit up, and then failing, onto his back. “Why don’t you give me a Loom Elixir or ask a Medicker to heal me up, then?”
The voice didn’t speak. It was not intelligent.
Quinen continued to look up. He could only hear the muffled speaking of the Dean to his right, and then the low beeps of the Health Tracker to his left — a glass orb that showed a holographic image of a green liquid. The fuller it was, the “healthier” one’s state is.
The beeping managed to lull him into serenity, and the mumbling became a nice white noise to fade out to. Quinen blinked and thought back to everything that had happened. He still felt like he couldn’t quite grasp what was happening, although he knew this was going to happen some time or another. He had just hoped that he could’ve managed to reacquire his Magickal Tools before it happened.
He shrugged. Pain lanced through him.
Chrysanthemum lingered in his mind. He was doing so much for her. So much that the rest of the world seemed to become just a shadow of the light that she radiated. He lingered in these thoughts, as the Dean and the Commissioner spoke.
* * *
“The man to the Room beside me has called himself the Warlock.”
Hakumatheia furrowed his eyebrows, and cocked his head backwards the slightest inch. “No. That’s not the Warlock.”
“That is what he said.”
The Dean turned around, and with a thought, summoned his Sight. Five rotating mandalas of power shimmered into reality, and the Commissioner tensed. The Dean turned his gaze to the room behind him, and saw past the pallor of mundic reality to set his eyes upon the wayward, fulminating Soul of the Warlock.
He closed his eyes, the Sight disappeared into the ether.
The Death of the Warlock suddenly sprung forth into Dean’s mind as he swept his gaze back to the Commissioner. There hadn’t been any news of his Soul, after all, once the Huntsmen had gotten back from Avalon.
The Dean pinched the bridge of his nose. He thought for sure that physical death would’ve sent his Soul into the Mort.
“Okay. Alright whatever. I’ll deal with that later. So you’re saying that thing that you bombed was a Transplanar Entity?”
The Commissioner nodded. “It called itself Garomeos. It spoke in a weird, snarling tongue.”
“That’s how Avalonians speak. Especially if they’ve consumed a lot of gossamer.”
“By Adon’s Flame, Dean,” the Commissioner said, her face contorted into a sad mix of fear and anger. “How could’ve an Avalonian entered here?”
“I do not know,” replied Hakumatheia. “And you speak of another Transplanar Entity?”
“One that claims to be of Avalon — A Wild Hunt Soldier.”
The Dean sighed, nodding. “Then this does put a fatal twist upon things.” There was an almost sad shadow of a smile as he nodded and said his farewells to the Commissioner, and then turned and walked out of the room. He thought of walking straight into the Warlock’s room, but decided against it.
With a thought, a pop of power, and a contortion of Will, he disappeared.
* * *
Kotoro swallowed a dumpling as his palmnode buzzed. The Collegium cafeteria was filled with people, ratcheting cacophonous noise all about the place. In front of him was Ofenia, tapping at something in her palmnode before leaning back down to scoop some dumplings into her mouth.
“Excuse me,” said Kotoro, raising a finger. Ofenia nodded.
Kotoro walked out of the cafeteria and off to one of the pillars that were placed alongside the wall overlooking the city. He leaned against one of them and opened his palmnode; he was greeted by the News Frequency instead, showing a strange man, the Commissioner, and a man with blazing white hair and beard, coupled with eyes that trailed off with stardust, standing in front of both of them.
Kotoro blinked at the scene, and the particular newsdrone that his visual feed was on flew up, and he saw the Naphli Headquarter Spire looking like it had been struck by lightning.
* * *
Zinnia watched as the congregation of the Cold Silver Eclipse stood in front of her. “Do you hear? The cries of the devoured gossamer of your leader — Garomeos?”
Hoots. Cries. Chants. Bellows. All inhuman.
“Do you hear? This is the first shattering of the Accords! If we do not act now, then all our kind will be eaten by the calcifying mundanity of the Mundic Ones! Cold Silver Eclipse — call upon your brethren, and let us Hunt…”
And the resounding cry echoed and vibrated the very diwal strings that made up the gossamer silk of their plane.