[Krystoff] The Curse (5)

ROTYS’LAV: My esteemed guests! Please give your warmest greetings for the arrival of my half brother, Krystoff—his familiar, Regenald—and his human.

So the umbrella gets a name, but not me, huh? He really resents me for not dying and giving Krystoff my soul. Oh well, I kinda get it. I’m sure my feelings seem petty to him in the grand scheme of things.

A huge audience of perhaps a hundred or more apparitions applaud Rotys’lav in scattered waves of deference, and their claps echo deafeningly against the high, arched ceilings. The first thing I notice is that they are all creatures of greatly varying types, though there is a pretty sizable number of engkanto among them.

Krystoff, floating beside me but with his legs bent a little so that he isn’t too far from me, touches the small of my back, perhaps sensing my confusion. He speaks quietly.

KRYSTOFF: Engkanto abilities are very compatible with the apparition role. But anything can become an apparition if it is powerful and remorseless enough.

That re-contextualizes the hundred or so pairs of eyes aimed our direction in a way that makes me shift uncomfortably. I wish I had more protection than just Krystoff and Regenald, but I latch onto what Krystoff has said before about apparitions being legalistic and concerned with appearances. Hopefully Krystoff’s prestige is enough to keep me safe here.

ROTYS’LAV: Go on, then, stop whispering to your human. Mingle. Make yourself present… and formidable. I have preparations to make and exits to seal. Heh.

The second Rotys’lav floats out of reasonable earshot, Krystoff turns to me with a perturbed expression. He whispers as harshly as he can manage without risking anyone else in the hall overhearing him.

KRYSTOFF: That bastard is going to lock everyone in here like unarmed rats and let a beast loose and hope for the best. I do not feel good about this.

REGENALD: Though I also do not feel particularly comforted by it, young master, I fear Rotys’lav’s methods may be the best last ditch effort we have at stopping Kaguyos. Especially if the strange energy we have been sensing lately is, indeed, your father preparing a strike.

Krystoff mumbles but folds his arms, acquiescing to Regenald’s point. Even now, even after all my studying, I still can’t say I fully understand the scale of what’s going on, so I just reassure Krystoff in the only way I can right now. I grab his hand and squeeze gently. He holds on, firmly, instinctively.

JUN: It’ll be okay. We’re gonna make it out of this.

KRYSTOFF: I certainly hope so. You’re wearing the talisman I gave you, right?

He lifts my hand up and sees the ring for himself, seemingly comforted by the sight.

KRYSTOFF: If things take a turn for the worse, you get out of here. The ring will draw power from me to break out of whatever barriers Rotys’lav might be putting up. I know his magic well enough to evade it.

JUN: Okay…

I think he knows I’m not sold on the idea of ditching him under any circumstances, but I say what he wants to hear me say because he just wants the reassurance that I’ll be safe. I have more I want to say, more questions I want to ask, but apparitions are unsubtly edging their way over to Krystoff, seeking his attention.


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