The party wears on into the night, and the attendants seem to be enjoying the atmosphere. Rotys’lav may not maintain the castle grounds, but he seemed to spare no expense in making the main hall extravagant. Music unlike that I’ve ever heard before plays overhead as apparitions eat food I can’t always quite identify. I think this is the first time in a while I’ve profoundly felt that I was in another world entirely.
My phone buzzes in my pocket, bringing me back to reality. I’d nearly forgotten I even had it with me.
upwhenimdown: Am I gonna see you at the Xmas party next month?? You never replied to my last msg 😦
It’s an innocuous message, but all at once it reminds me that I don’t know for sure if Krystoff and I are gonna make it through this night, a thought which I’d wholeheartedly managed to forget until just now.
I angle my screen away from Krystoff. My fingers start to tremble over the keyboard. What do I tell her? This might be the last thing she ever hears from me. But I don’t want to believe that, and I don’t want to scare her.
I draft a few replies.
“Sorry for the late reply! Things have been kinda wild! I’ll tell you all about it soon!” Too chipper. It sounds insincere.
“I’ll be there! You can count on it.” I don’t want to die with an unfulfilled promise.
“I haven’t been totally honest with you. Things have been really scary lately. There’s a chance I won’t survive toni” I can’t finish this one. It hurts too much.
This sucks. This sucks. I hate this.
junnnnn: i’ll do my best to make it,thank you for inviting me 🙂 miss ya, lady.
It sounds terse and weird, and I’m pretty sure she’ll realize something is up, but it’s the best I can manage. I turn my phone off and put it away. I can’t bear to think about this anymore.
KRYSTOFF: Jun, are you okay? You seem tense all of a sudden.
He leans into my periphery, and I try my best to train my face into something approaching neutral.
JUN: Yeah, I just…
My thought is put on hold by the sound of Rotys’lav’s voice, booming through the sound system. He stands blithely at the end of the hall on a raised platform, one of four hands curled around a microphone. Ander, the strange pumpkin man, is kneeling next to him so still it’s almost like he’s sleeping.
ROTYS’LAV: Esteemed guests! Thank you so much for joining me tonight. It’s been a lovely evening so far, and I trust you’ve been making good connections and learning a little about your fellow sector representatives. I know I have!
He’s speaks slightly less abrasively than how he normally addresses Krystoff and I, but it’s still unmistakably… him. The music, the people, everything else falls silent, instinctively afraid to interrupt.
ROTYS’LAV: We’ve come to the part of this gathering where I have a few announcements to make. I’m sure you all realized that I’d have something important to say tonight, and for that, I thank you for your presence. Each and every apparition in this room is gonna make a real difference.
A few confused murmurs erupt from that, but others seem convinced that he’s on the verge of announcing territorial changes or partnerships. Krystoff grounds himself next to me and positions himself so closely, we’re practically hip-to-hip. He rests a hand on the small of my back once more and takes Regenald into his other hand. He’s bracing for impact.
ROTYS’LAV: I’m certain you all know of my father, the great Kaguyos.
The air goes cold at the mere mention.
ROTYS’LAV: Well… I hate to break it to ya, but he plans to kill each and every one of us! Every apparition in this building and more. He is going to pick his teeth with our bones, and he is going to take absolute control over every territory in Duen. And frankly, he’s become strong enough to pull it off!
The murmurs increase tenfold, some of them just outright questions or exclamations of confusion. Rotys’lav presses on.
ROTYS’LAV: Terrifying, right? Lucky you had me to sound the alarm! But guess what, my esteemed guests? I like things the way they are, and frankly, I’m tired of living under Kaguyos’ thumb, so I’ve decided to give us all the opportunity of a lifetime. Are you ready for this?
Rotys’lav claps a pair of his hands.
ROTYS’LAV: I’m going to ritualistically summon him here tonight! And we will all have a chance to attempt to slay him, in one big team effort! Woohoo!!!
The entire hall erupts into chaos, and people are already trying to leave. Krystoff and Regenald manage to shield me from the mayhem, but the crowd is agitated. Rotys’lav just keeps prattling and twirling the mic like he thinks this is all quite funny, though to be fair, I’m sure he expected this reaction.
ROTYS’LAV: You might find that there’s a barrier around the castle, and you might find that you aren’t strong enough to get out on your own! So I present to you two options, my beloved guests. You’ll either cooperate and help me kill the great and terrifying Kaguyos, or I’ll kill you myself and absorb your souls for the battle! Iiiit’s your move!
The room reaches a fever pitch once people start realizing they can’t escape, and it’s at that moment the tides turn violent. People start aiming attacks at Rotys’lav, but they all deflect harmlessly. He seems to have put some sort of barrier around himself, too.
Not everyone is surprised or panicking, though. A good half of the apparitions stay still where they are, solemnly taking in the information, some preparing for battle. A couple dozen of them have readied a weapon. Shope is nearby, stately, cradling his staff with impressive composure. Perhaps the others will follow suit later.
ROTYS’LAV: Now with that out of the way, let’s get this show on the road!