Hunter had just brought Jonas, Isabelle, Jacob and Veria all into his manse and was about to go back through when he saw the two Raksha who also lived in the manse, nicknamed Archer and Artisan, standing awkwardly by the hallway to the deeper level of the manse. The way they were looking made it clear they wanted to talk but weren’t about to interrupt. Hunter sighed and walked over to them.
“What do you guys want?”
They looked at each other uncomfortably, then Archer spoke up in his strange accent, “Cathamoray would like to speak with you and with us.”
“Cathamoray??” Hunter’s patience for the Raksha was relatively broad since they were helpful, but the little shit of a god ground on his nerves with the slightest exposure. But Artisan nodded in silent agreement, in a way that Hunter thought meant more was going on than met the eye.
“Okay, where is he? This better be quick, I’m gonna get a chance to kill another Abyssal or two soon,” Hunter said trying to keep some of the exasperation out of his voice.
“He is downstairs. We should all go,” Archer said.
The three walked down to the lower levels of the manse in silence, and Hunter pondered what the big deal was. Soon they were downstairs, and there indeed was Cathamoray, still a god in the shape of a bratty rich kid. Only he seemed more powerful now than when they had seen him all those months before. Probably the consistent worship had fueled his growth, or maybe it was playing an integral role in the war with the Silver Prince. Whatever it was, he didn’t seem evasive and bratty now, but instead took a firm, respectful stance.
“Hunter, thank you for coming. I need you to know I caught these two making a deal with someone.”
“We didn’t want to!” Archer immediately burst out. “We cannot violate our oaths to you Hunter, but our oaths also require we be useful by being alive!”
“Cowardice!” Cathamoray spat back. “You just want to go on living the good life on the island! You should have died!”
“He would have destroyed the manse, the entire island!” Artisan said now almost pitifully. “We were trying to help!”
Hunter had had quite enough. Pulling up his essence into his propensity for questioning, he boomed out at them, “WHAT IS GOING ON.”
“We can’t tell you!” Archer said plaintively. “But we also can’t lie to you!”
Hunter rested his face in one palm, as he rubbed the bridge of the nose of his face mask. “Was it with Quetzalcoatl? Or with Garmenberger?”
“Yes, it was Quetzalcoatl,” Artisan said. “He wore the skin of a demon named Garmenberger, but such tricks do not fool us.”
“So if I ask you directly what the bargain was you made to spare the island, you can’t tell me but you can answer yes or no questions?” Hunter said, trying now to keep the steel out of his voice.
“Yes,” Archer said. “Please, we tried to tell Cathamoray as soon as we could, but the oath made that difficult too.”
“But you did tell him,” Hunter confirmed. Cathamoray opened his mouth to retort, paused, then said, “Yes I detected deceit coming from them but I guess they let me.”
“Okay. So let’s play 20 questions then,” Hunter said, inwardly sighing that this probably took precedence over their ambush attack. The Raksha nodded mutely.
More than two hundred questions (and probably a missed battle or two) later, Hunter had a pretty good idea what had happened. Quetzalcoatl, disguised as Garmenberger for the benefit of his cultist crew, came through, defeated the Raksha in a furious battle, and then swore them to an oath of exchange: if he spared the island and everyone on it, they would come work for him at Langri-Sha once their previous oaths were invalidated (presumably by Hunter’s death). As Artisan is apparently a world-class Wyld-energy engineer, Quetzalcoatl wanted him to help extract the last remnants of the underground unshaped Raksha. Quetzalcoatl hadn’t told them what Wyld energy it was, but when Hunter mentioned he had heard the name Zi-Band-Ar, the Rakshas’ eyes had bulged. They apparently knew exactly who that was.
“Okay great. Now I can go back. Hopefully I didn’t miss too much,” Hunter said, clapping his hands. Cathamoray and the Raksha accompanied him up and stood nearby as he stepped onto the portal. Only, once he was on it, he saw only one glowing hallway instead of two.
“Uh… looks like one of the portals is closed,” Hunter said. The Raksha glanced at each other nervously.
Hunter sighed, then stepped onto the hallway, and the sea cave faded from view. He walked down the hallway, waited at the entrance for a moment, then stepped onto the glowing circle. He immediately knew where he was: back in the basement of Langri-Sha’s city hall. Surrounding the portal were two dozen soldiers, a few standing ready but most seated or reclining on nearby equipment. For just a moment he saw two of Olivia’s purple-clad minions in chains, partially concealed behind a large tank of something.
The soldiers snapped to alertness, and the leader called out, “Halt! You are wanted for questioning by the Magitech Council!”
Hunter looked at him with disdain, then stepped backwards into the hallway. He waited and after a moment the leader came rushing through, sword drawn. Hunter activated his combo and with a furious blast of nether energies, completely splattered the soldier and sent his body parts flying through the teleportal, presumably splattering him all over his comrades. Hunter then dashed back through his own portal.
“Cathamoray!” Hunter called out furiously. “Send a message to Kami to open the damn portal!”
Cathamoray jerked then rapidly pulled a piece of glowing blue parchment from thin air, scribbled on it, folded it into a paper airplane, and send it flying into space, where it vanished after a moment.
“How long until he gets it?” Hunter asked, still at the ready.
“Just a few minutes I think,” Cathamoray said, “Assuming he’s near the ocean.”
“Great.” As easily as the soldier had died, Hunter didn’t feel like finding out whether they would all die so fast. Come on, come on…