B2 — 48. Cultivating Enmity

PoV :

1. Iris (Our Spider Queen that was trapped by Sar’ollaz for an entire week!)

Recap:  We just underwent our first semi-annual general conference!  The Argent Dawn was formed and our Empress gave her first big speech to all of her citizens.  It’s going to be hard, but they’re on the path to carving out a place in this world!  Now, let’s end Volume 2 with some Iris!

A lot has happened to our spider family across volume 1 and 2—so much they’ve never had to dealt with—but our Queen will adapt and overcome … and all those standing opposed to her, something new has awoken in the Thélméthra Queen.

I want to thank my patrons for continuing to support me:

Viedu, Brandon, Dairyman, Florent Baril, William Gillis, BasterDX, Van, Li1 Mainy, Grexira, Yotedom, Foolishman, and my other Patrons!

Iris flew over the humid jungle in her Jukal form, scanning the foliage below and tracking everything living within her perceptive radius.  The sun was falling in the sky, and a storm was brewing in the distance, yet it would only be a light shower, passing through the valley within an hour.

Scores of various Ri’bot under the service of the Empire moved across the wet jungle ground, heading for Nethermore, and the brush hid millions of species that were barely keeping her mind in focus.

Several factors were like needles against her complex nerve system, agitating her normally acutely controlled emotional state.  Having one’s brood taken over wasn’t unheard of; in fact, her grandmother had faced an enemy that could compel the minds of several drones before it was adapted to and the weakness removed.

However, a daughter … It was hollowing out her core … A sense of frantic lack of mental clarity was forcing her tight discipline out of her hands; the chains that held her mind in perfect sync were beginning to loosen, and it frightened her … She was afraid.

Fear had her second-guessing how she’d developed her fourth child because this should have never happened—it was impossible—a base foundation within their genetic makeup that seemed to be lacking—and as she was the mother, it fell upon her back.

Mind unable to keep focused, it began to drift.  Is it because the last ingredient wasn’t completed?  Was it because I left her half complete, waiting for Ke’Thra’Ma’s essence to weave into her final creation?  I left her lacking … defenseless…

Iris reached the Wandering River, passing over it while trying to pull herself through the torrent of questions and concerns rolling through her entire being.

Her beak tightened as she turned her sharp eyes to the southern mountains, beating her strong wings to rise into a stronger wind current to increase her speed.

The Empress did not blame Camellia for her actions … She did not blame me for Baxter’s interest.  How?  She sees things in a way I do not.  Naturally, Camellia and my new daughter are threats to the overall safety of her own brood, yet she shows … compassion?

The word was foreign to the Thélméthra, yet she couldn’t help but feel comfort at the Empress’s seemingly illogical decision.

I’m changing … Of course, I need to adapt, as always, but … this feels different … unobtainable.  Circumstances I could not predict are showing my imperfections … Why does it hurt so much when there’s no wound?

Her wings twitched as the answer returned like a hole in her head and hearts.  Sari’aél’s magnificent countenance and strength—her perfection coursed through her undead veins even now; she’d felt it when the creature ascended, and it was eating her alive.

Vision unfocused as the vulnerable sensations of the previous week and the Seraph’s entrance stirred within her breast; Iris wanted to scream, but it wouldn’t help.

Sar’ollaz’s dark chuckle echoed through her mind; the haunting sound made her drift back to a time she couldn’t move—was frozen—left isolated, to count the imperfections in herself and the room she’d been trapped in.

She’d been powerless, tallying every second she was forced to remain in her human form, which had a severe effect on her overall strength, which caused a chain reaction inside her psyche, and the devil knew exactly what he was doing while fashioning her hell.

For an entire week, she’d been shown just how etiolated she was—and that gap only grew the longer she counted the days.

Now, she couldn’t retake her original form and seeing Camellia’s broken Thélméthra body only furthered her tormenting fears.  What was worse was Sar’ollaz’s keen interest in Sari’aél, and she didn’t know why it cut so deeply.

Iris couldn’t deny it; the Seraph was beyond her.  I’m weak … Does that make me worthless?  Certainly, he had lost all interest in me when she appeared.

She blinked in surprise as the creature’s tear ducts released liquid; it had some defensive uses, yet why they were activating now was beyond her.  She just knew it hurt seeing her imperfections in the light the Seraph blazed.

Why would Sar’ollaz consider even looking at me when I stand next to something so far above me … He’s above me.  Should I even be in the same room as them?  My life is defined by strength … Without it … what meaning is in my life?  It’s all I was born for, yet the Empress has said nothing … Why has she not rebuked my weakness?

Nothing within her would satisfy her bleeding hearts—the nail in the coffin was that she had to be rescued by Sari’aél. 

Grappling with the internal pressures in her chest, Iris followed the Nexus indicator that showed her where Klaus was at all times; High Ruler Nukulara was personally with him, and their guard had taken custody of the criminal in the Dremuci City-State of Usetric.

She knew the area from her daughter’s very detailed report on the terrain and events of her journey, yet she found her mind slipping from time to time, causing her to freeze in the air and fail to adjust her course, which slowed her progress a bit.

The Nalvean ship had only gotten two-thirds the way back to Shi’Shuka after Iris had flown Camella back to Nethermore, made sure Demon was secured, spoke with the Empress, and started returning.

Confirming nothing of significance had changed with Klaus as she neared, Iris spotted the High Ruler’s extravagant vessel and dove to land upon the deck.  With her stealth abilities, she was invisible to everyone present, even in her Jukal form.

Still, there were stronger Nalveans on the second level of the ship that might have been able to sense her had she not returned to her human state; she’d lost at least two-thirds of her previous strength, putting her on a more even field with Violet if not for Iris’s experience.

Thoughts returning to her second-to-youngest daughter as the passives she’d recommended activated, Iris’s hands tightened behind her back.  When arriving with Camellia, Violet tried to distract herself from her own personal struggles by speaking with her mother about a few skills she’d gained; Iris should have been thrilled at her dedication, yet she was trying to cope, as well.  

She returned to the single saved outfit the passive allowed when transforming, and the dress Violet personally crafted for her took shape.

The design was a black and purple base with a high neck, and using the starry sky as a design feature across the front, Iris’s black-heeled feet brushed past the slit in her gown’s side while proceeding below deck to meet Klaus.

Speaking helped to alleviate her wounded hearts.  What has the Nalvean told you since I left?  Iris asked, stepping through shadows to the man’s side while eyeing the overwhelmed Nalvean.  He slept in a hammock in a private room with two of the High Ruler’s personal guards standing outside.

The man mirrored her action, standing beside her.  “He passed out the moment he got on the ship.  He’s lost everything he knows … the boy has a complicated history with his great-great-great-grandfather.  It seems his father was a disappointment and was killed as a result.”

Not caring for the creature as a person, Iris bypassed the information.  Can he do what the Empress requires?

Klaus’s lips pulled in, turning to look at the closed door.  “He said he will try; he does have the tool required for that particular device.  The issue is the High Ruler.  If he succeeds, I believe everything between our two nations will go swimmingly.  If not…”

Following his gaze to locate the Nalvean Ruler through the swaying ship’s thick wooden walls, Iris studied the stressed figures.  With her heightened senses, she could hear him shouting at one of his men.

“… don’t care what he’s been a part of, Hakara!  If he saves Tal’tamine, then I don’t care what your investigation turns up in that backwater city…”

“Sire, please, look at some of the early reports we see from the Navy—half the city turned on each other, eating one another, once the Jadefire started.  This will turn the Empire on its head; the City-States will demand to know if it’s a disease—the people will.  We need someone to pin this on to settle the panic, and he’s the only one left alive.”

Nukulara hissed, smashing a bottle against the wall, clearly using some kind of toxin to keep a semblance of peace within himself.  “You haven’t seen her, Hakara—what Jumi’kerune did to my daughter!

“He … the things Elinor discovered right under my nose, Hakara—your nose!  The things some of her siblings did … I know it’s bad in Shanguiska—s***, I know, Hakara, but … Do you know how…”

He screamed, grabbing another bottle that smashed in his grip.  “I want to break everything I’ve ever made—everything … and it hurts.  I wasn’t there to protect her—Elinor was—and I couldn’t see a thing; blinded by a formless, powerless monster in the soil!”

He spat, releasing an angry laugh while throwing another bottle that shattered against the wall, trying to do anything to help himself get through his struggling mind and heart—oddly, Iris found herself relating.

“Is this what I get for everything I sacrificed against the Quen’Talrat Empire?  The corruption in the City-States, vying for power!  A Drék’uléph Senator was murdered in my palace!  Jadefire popping up everywhere when it should be under strict military supervision!  Pirates!  Pirates in our waters, Hakara!”

“Yes … I know, Sire…”

“Do you?  Do you have any idea the threat Empress Elinor herself could pose yet is seeking to offer a hand—one where we have the better half of the deal?  You also realize she wants that—broken—boy for whatever else she’s planning?  Kazan’aru has made an enemy of me, and if Elinor needs that boy to get to him, I’ll do whatever it takes to hurt that creature.”

Arms trembling, he breathed a slow breath, moving to an armchair to sit on it and clasp his fingers in front of him while resting his elbows on his knees.  “Yes, I understand we need someone, but she wants him—to be honest, I don’t know what I’ll do if Tal’tamine dies, Hakara.”

“She won’t,” the Head Captain, standing in front of the High Ruler while trying to control his own tongue.

Nukulara made a sound with his tongue, flicking it through his teeth.  “You don’t know that … She’s everything I’ve wanted for this Empire … If she doesn’t survive, then neither will the Nalveans.  Only Umika’mia is somewhat capable of ruling this nation when I am gone, and she’s too strict to the law to understand the nuances of ruling,” he growled.

Rubbing his twitching nose, he sat back to look at his Imperial Head Captain.  “You’ve heard me out, Hakara … What are your thoughts?”

Iris shifted her gaze to Klaus as he patiently waited, knowing she’d address him when wishing to continue the conversation; her flaming red irises fell to her left hand as her fingers slowly curled into a fist.

A leader that answers to their brood … Such strange creatures, yet I feel his anguish and self-disgust … I want to break everything—to stop this hole in my head and chest … yet we must move on.

The soldier looked away with a low sigh.  “I cannot fathom how you are feeling, my lord.  The Empire is sitting on a bottle of Jadefire, and the slightest pressure could set it ablaze.”

A long stream of air hissed past the man’s teeth, and he walked to a nearby table to grab a record book before returning to present it to the High Ruler.  “The citizens have lived in peace for nearly a century, and many of the new generations have grown soft with the lifestyle you have given them—the prosperity.”

“The mark of a good and bad ruler,” Nukulara mumbled, taking the volume and opening it.  “Hmm … The Judicious Isles are showing signs of a rebellion … That weapon that was used to destroy Baltoma’s vessel and the Warship?  It points to a sponsor that wants our forces weakened, but who has that kind of resources and motivation?  Did Jumi’kerune escape to the isle for protection?”

Hakara went to the cabinet and removed another bottle, bringing it with a cup to the High Ruler’s bolted-down table next to him.  “It’s unclear, considering they’re utilizing underwater vessel technology we’re not familiar with.  I’m hesitant to send a fleet as a show of strength.”

Nukulara slowly nodded, tapping a clawed finger against a wooden portion at the side of the armchair which seemed designed for the purpose.  “Mmh … it could be a trap to wipe out a large portion of our fleet while showing our overconfidence … We know they have spies inside the Navy and significant positions within the military—this wasn’t planned overnight.”

“No, it wasn’t, Sire, and I believe we’re dealing with at least two turned Statesmen or Stateswomen that are funding and providing sanctuary to this effort.”

The High Ruler slowly turned the pages, continuing the conversation that Iris was unnaturally interested in; her pain was numbing as dots spun in her mind at their discussion.  “Naturally, Baltoma would have been the prime suspect, given the access he has to the Isles, yet given the attack against him and the kidnapping … It could be a ploy, but does give reasonable doubt to look elsewhere.”

Hakara retrieved a map, falling into a nearby chair to lay it out on the table for them to look at.  “The southeastern City-States would need to be in an alliance or be blackmailed into allowing pirate vessels access through their rivers into the lakes, yet even then it would be too open—I can’t see them risking involvement when three City-States run the risk of reporting to us.”

“Leaving the southwestern City-States,” Nukulara hummed, rubbing his neck.  “Baltoma could be a small part of it—maybe some of his retainers, given he has the duty to watch the Twin Neck Waterway, yet given that Elinor hadn’t mentioned him in our meeting … Look into Stateswoman Kulumi and Statesman Ara’gora.”

“Ara’gora,” Hakara hissed.  “If he’s turned against you … He’s been fighting the other faction for years in your defense.”

Nukulara’s jaw locked, nose twitching with hot jets of air passing through them.  “He has … which is the perfect cover for such deception … One of my closest allies, and … and when Tal’tamine stayed in his City-State when she was seven … Jumi’kerune could have made his move against her.”

Iris’s mind was fixated on one point of the conversation that could provide her the means to bring reasonable action to the Empress.  Jumi’kerune could be in the Judicus Isles … with my daughter or one of these Nalvean areas.

Gripping her hands behind her back, Iris opened the connection with Klaus again.  From what I gather, Nukulara is committed to keeping a stable relationship with the Empress.  He will hand over the Nalvean, yet issues arise within his Empire that she will need to be made aware of.

Klaus smiled.  “I’m glad to hear that, High Lady Iris.  Is there anything the Empress wished for me to do?”

Iris’s ruby eyes flicked to the Rune Scriber.  The Empress commands you to do whatever is necessary to free Tal’tamine of her mental and spiritual restraints before I return with him in haste.

“I understand.  There is no safer place than where the Empress resides.  It will take several hours—at best.”

The length of her wait put a new thought in her mind.  You are sure it will take that long?

Klaus grimaced.  “I’m afraid so; given my abilities, I can confidently say Jumi’calro has the skill to accomplish it, or at the very least, he believes he can—even if scared of the consequences of failing.  That being said, I am worried he is being controlled, though.”

Knowing the specifics of the devices through Violet’s report to her, Iris smiled.  I sense no device on him, and my faculties are more acute than my daughter’s.  If he is, it is not by the same means.

A sigh of relief passed through their shared connection as he nodded.  “I’m glad to hear that.  I’ve been pondering that question since obtaining the Nalvean.  Jadefire inside of him?”

No.  Not a point on his body has sustained injury—which is shocking for most Nalvean; I will say.

Vision narrowing, Iris tightened her grip around her fingers; earlier statements from the Empress and Tiffany caused her to do something she never would have before.

That said, if it takes that much time for you to return and treat the girl, I will use my given time how I please.  Send a request for aid if needed; I will feel it.  In addition … When the opportunity arises, I want you to investigate Stateswoman Kulumi, Statesman Ara’gora, and the rebellion forming in the Judicus Isles.  There is a chance Jumi’kerune and my daughter are within their lands.

Klaus’s blue eyes widened.  “Daughter?  I … haven’t heard that one of your daughters was abducted.  Is it Azalea?

No, a living daughter that survived my family’s fall, Iris stated, steeling her trembling hearts as her inadequacy flared again.  She is dangerous, Klaus, and will kill you if you are to face her.  Be careful to not upset the Empress by your death.

“I … understand,” he replied, working through her orders.  “I will spread the order through the Shadow Hand when we touch land.”

Iris passed through the floorboards as shadow before transforming into her Jukal form and taking to the skies.  I will return in a few hours to check on the progress that is being made.

Cutting her connection to him, Iris allowed a quiver to pass through her frame, causing her to shift off course a little before correcting herself; she had to know for herself.  Following the atmospheric coordinates she’d received from Camellia, Iris made her way to Jumi’kerune’s former Estate.

Arriving at the site, she scanned the city and ruined peninsula from the sky, identifying the ravaged area.  The city had been set ablaze by normal fire, with Nalvean soldiers gathering scores of half-devoured and eviscerated corpses into pits to be burned.

Most of the area was now unlivable, and temporary shelters had been constructed for those that remained, huddling together with hollow looks in their devastated gazes while staring at the horrors they’d lived through.

Wreckage from ships was still coming in from the bay, washing ashore with the bodies of those that had died at sea.

Aid was being administered to by Nalveans wrapped in white silk that had yet to make it to port, yet she’d observed the vessel on her way to the area.

Returning to her human form, she landed inside the rushing waves of the lake as it rushed over what was left of the castle foundations that the Jadefire had utterly disintegrated.

Liquid surrounded Iris, sinking into the surf while trying to transform into her original body to be blocked by an invisible wall.  Teeth grinding against one another, she scanned the waters, looking for anything that would give her answers.

The sea life didn’t so much as notice her descent to the superheated rock that was left, and something sparked her interest to the left.  Using her thread to propel herself forward, Iris fashioned a web within a second to repel water and expanded it to slip through into the airless space.

Water fell from the silky outfit Violet designed, unaffected by the liquid, leaving only her skin slick as her heels tapped against the stone ground.

Lips tightening, her fingers closed into a fist before smashing through the two-foot thick stone to the cave system beneath.  She could have simply phased through the barrier, yet hitting something helped her pounding hearts, taking a note from Nukulara’s example.

Jumping inside, she extended her microscopic hair to study every centimeter of the system she’d entered, looking for one thing, which she found.

Three paths were before her, yet she moved to a nearby wall and blew it in, only restraining a scream for the fact Demon could hear her; she’d never had animosity—anger, indignation, yes, but animosity, never, yet at this moment, trapped in a personal hell, she found the emotion in her breast.

Two branching tunnels and four chambers, but instead of taking them, she broke into another system; pain Iris couldn’t describe flared through her veins while reflecting on memories she had of teaching Camellia, Azalea, and Violet how to control their thread—she was following her youngest daughter’s evolutionary path as she tested out her own abilities without her mother’s guidance.

Tiny, unrefined, baby Thélméthra thread that had been spun without her presence—without her being there to share in the greatest joy a Queen could revel in, the future of her seed—her daughters, and Demon had both given her a chance at that and stolen it at the same time.

Tears gathered in her eyes at the chemicals that lingered in the system, chemicals that indicated joy for one’s mother—that wasn’t for her.  “Why … It’s only chemicals…”  she whispered.

How can I rid myself of these feelings?!  Nalvean … You are not her mother … You pervert everything we are … You stole my daughter’s youth … Her love … You stole one of my hearts.

Unable to control herself any longer, Iris screamed, lashing out at the walls and causing everything to collapse, yet she dug through it in a pained fury; never had she faced a hell of her own creation.

No matter how much damage she caused to the cave system, she couldn’t escape her senses from analyzing her youngest daughter’s progression in these deep caverns that she’d personally carved—a symbol of love in creating a new place for her mother, the Nalvean, to reside in.

Every new discovery of an action taken for this Nalvean instead of her was a fresh gash that penetrated her core and left her vulnerable.

Her daughter was entering the development stage of fashioning these tunnels that the Nalvean didn’t even understand—it was eating Iris from the inside out, experiencing her youngest daughter’s uncertainty at why the Nalvean didn’t find her nest acceptable.

Clearing her wet cheeks, Iris stood in the ruin of what had been the framework of a nest a mother should have taken the care in working with her daughter.  She’d confirmed who had taken her place in her daughter’s life … It wasn’t Jumi’kerune, but this Nalvean female, just as Camellia had described.

Using her strength rather than finesse to rise to the surface, Iris tossed earth and stone aside until liquid surrounded her.  Reaching the lake’s surface at an accelerated speed, she shot out to transform and take to the sky.

I will see my daughter … Perhaps I am weak, but I will adapt … I will grow … and I will make this Nalvean woman suffer as I am.  Tiffany seems to have experience in the area.

Returning to the palace, Iris shifted through the tower to join Klaus and Emelina in the Royal Suite, staying in the shadows as his guards watched the exits closely.  They were by far among the stronger creatures of the race, yet it didn’t mean all that much to her.

Demon had more than likely seen her unbecoming behavior, yet somehow, for the first time in her long life, she didn’t care.  A new sensation and mental state were growing within her from this experience, and she was adapting.

Jumi’calro had Tal’tamine on her side with cushioned straps keeping her still, and several of his royal guards hovered around the room.  Emelina was acting as his assistant, calm, utterly still hands holding one of his two strange rune-engraved picks in place against the girl’s spine.

How is it proceeding?  Iris asked, connecting to Klaus.

The man was a little stunned that she was present, but it didn’t show on his smooth, emotionless face as he observed.

“Ah, Iris … He’s entering the harder part of clipping the runic engravings that bind to her spirit, which is the most important part.  Even if she does die, we can bring her back if this section is deactivated.  He took some … convincing, at first, given his reluctance.  Is … everything alright?”

No.  My daughter is currently trapped by a false mother, and our enemy evades our eyes.  Your contacts?

“I see … I’ve put them on the case of looking into those people and areas you’ve mentioned, but it will take…”

He trailed off, Jumi’calro hissing a long breath before toppling backward, hands in the air.  “D-Done!  I’m done!  I just … I need a break,” he mumbled, sweating profusely.

Every Nalvean in the room stiffened at his actions, yet Emelina’s voice was calm and composed as she responded, keeping the device in the same place she’d been directed.  “When you say you are finished, what do you mean by that?  Am I to remove this point from her neck, and can I wake her?”

“Speak up!”  Nukulara snapped, already on his feet with his arms tightened around his chest.  “Is my daughter free of this curse?”

Imiruba, the High Ruler’s most trusted advisor, rushed to the opposite side of the bed to get a better look at her face but slowed as Jumi’calro made a few hand gestures and weak pleas.

“N-No, but … This is just—it’s too much!  It has a failsafe that I could nick—look at my hands!”  he cried, lifting them, yet his entire frame was quaking.

Vision narrowing, one of Iris’s long hairs snaked through the room as she crafted a personalized poison for the chemicals rushing within the Nalvean’s veins and shot it straight into his bloodstream, causing the boy to seize for a moment.

“W-What just happened!  No!  You’ll free my daughter of this curse, boy!”  Nukulara shouted, scales turning a light red from his fury.  

Iris contacted the Maid and Ambassador in unison.  I’ve administered a toxin that will temporarily neutralize the fear in his system.  Give it a minute to stabilize, and he will be prepared to continue for another thirty minutes with perfect concentration.

Klaus cleared his throat, drawing everyone’s gaze.  “High Ruler, if I could have one minute with him, I assure you, he will return with vigor.”

Gesturing to him, Nukulara nodded.  “Then let it be done—carry him to the other room,” he ordered, terrified gaze returning to the Maid.  “And what about…”

Emelina’s serene voice reassured the father.  “I will not move my hand, High Ruler.  Put your mind at ease; I can hold this position for weeks.”

Puffing out a shaky breath, Nukulara rubbed the back of his sweating neck, closing his eyes.  “I … cannot thank you enough for the service you have provided to my daughter, Emelina.”

The woman smiled.  “It goes without saying, High Ruler; I am under my Empress’s orders.  It is of great concern to Her Imperial Majesty that Tal’tamine recovers.”

Nukulara paced a little, causing Imiruba to return to his friend’s side.  “Sire, please, I know things will work out—we have to put our trust in this hope.”

“I … I can’t lose her, Imiruba … I can’t,” Nukulara quaked, tears falling down the side of his scaled face.

“We won’t!”  he replied in earnest, grasping his hand.  “Have faith, Sire … Should we bring in her mother?”

“No … No, that won’t be necessary,” Nukulara growled.  “You know she has no contact with the Empire.”

“I’m just saying we can send a search party…”

Walking away, he waved his hand.  “Nonsense, Imiruba … She’s off on her own journey; she’s never even so much as wanted a hand in her name.”

The response was another reminder to Iris, which only served to show how vulnerable her hearts had become.  A mother that wants nothing to do with their child?  A worthless existence … A detriment to the species.

In shock, the High Ruler and his friend looked to the door as it flung open to reveal a chuckling Rune Scriber; Jumi’calro had a proud smirk that would make most blush with embarrassment.  “I hear you’ve been awaiting my arrival.  Worry not; I’m a genius, after all, and these patterns are … basic, to say the least.  I was always better than my forefathers.”

Klaus shoved him into the room while rolling his eyes.  “Get to showing us then, boy.”

“The nerve!”  Jumi’calro huffed, adjusting his silks with a light glare at the Ambassador.

A sly smirk grew on the man’s face.  “Oh?  Are you saying you’re not up to the task … You’re afraid of losing face to your master.”

“Master?”  he scoffed, moving to Emelina’s side with a chortle.  “Move away, creature—watch a ‘master’ at work!”

Situating himself beside the Maid, she carefully gave the instrument over, and the boy’s hands started operating in a manner utterly different than he’d shown previously; within three minutes of insulting his ancestor’s craft and archaic techniques, a strange black device materialized from nothing, dropping away from the girl’s neck.

“Done!  Easy!  I could have done it in my…”

Iris injected him with a sleeping toxin, forcing his brain to recede before holding him in the air and throwing open the doors.  Nukulara’s Elite Squad couldn’t move a step before she was outside with Jumi’calro’s body between her talons, taking to the sky.

Explain that I will be transporting him to the Empire now that the task has been completed, Iris ordered; she wished to speak to the Empress as soon as possible.

“I … Of course,” Klaus muttered.  “Safe trip, High Lady Iris.  They believe he was kidnapped by Jumi’kerune”

She knew her actions would cause a bit of a stir within the room and his guards, but it would have taken too long for them to release the boy into her custody.  Flying through the night, Iris fixated on the path she wished to take; now, she needed to convince the Empress of her desires.

Making it into speaking distance, Iris opened a communication with the Royal Court, including Elinor.  Jumi’calro successfully removed the device from Tal’tamine’s neck.  I have him in my talons.

“Excellent!”  Tiffany chimed.  “I look forward to meeting him!”

Tone leaking animosity, she whispered.  There is more…

By the time she’d made it to the palace, Iris had explained her desires and what she’d overheard from the High Ruler about the state of his Empire.  Two Maids had been sent to recover their prisoner and take him inside to meet with the Empress.

Elinor hummed, sitting on her throne high in her tower.  “You wish to root out the corruption in the Nalvean Empire while searching for information about your daughter?  It will take you as far as the Judicus Isles … You’re also having trouble returning to your original body?”

When her voice faded, Iris’s gut tightened, feathers bristling with the uncertainty eating at her chest.  I am, but I feel my strength slowly returning … It will just take three months at its current rate.

Sari’aél spoke in the ensuing silence.  “I believe Iris should pursue this quest of hers.  It might be dangerous, and she has been weakened, but I sense a determination within her that will conquer any obstacle within her path by sheer will.  I admire that about you, Iris, and I know the three of you trust Iris explicitly.”

Edmon chuckled.  “Indeed.  I have complete faith in you, Iris, but I’m surprised at your request.  Not troubled, but surprised.”

“Pleasantly surprised,” Tiffany cut in, emphasizing the first word, “is what he’s trying to say, Dear!  I’m thrilled with this adaptation you’re going through; oh, of course, not the reason!  I cannot wait to hear what you’ve found, and I would be ‘delighted’ to join you in this … questioning session you’re looking forward to!  It will be … thorough, and I will do some brainstorming on how we can best get the results you are searching for!”

Elinor took a deep breath.  “Iris … I told you I would do everything in my power to reunite you with your daughter, and I mean it.  As Sari’aél said, I trust you.”

Even … after I failed the last time, you would put your trust in me?  Iris whispered.

“Especially after that,” Elinor chuckled.  “You were held by a creature that could put up a fight against a ‘three-times’ released Sari’aél, and you stood like a pillar under constant stress.  I’ve said it, and I mean it now … Iris, you are my jewel.  Go, and do whatever it takes, bring together your family.”

Warmth filled Iris’s bruised and bleeding hearts as she took to the skyThank you, Empress … Thank you all…


Post Conquest

SME’s Request:

I hope you’ve been enjoying the free entertainment!  The internet is divided into different echo chambers; you have a specific group that only hovers around specific sites/content.  So, by recommending my serials to others, you give it more exposure to different echo chambers and help it grow.  Ratings are excellent, Trending is terrific, but it only will appeal to a specific echo chamber.  If you like my content, then please share it in your own unique way.

Thank you!  ^_^7

Normal Plugs:

Discord Link – Growing Community =D

View and help contribute to the Wiki

Support me on Patreon and get up to:

+ 10 Chapters ahead in A Tail’s Misfortune

+ 11 Chapters in The Oscillation

+ 10 Chapters in Undying Empire

+ 10 Chapters in PokéSync (Pokemon Fanfic)

+ Mystery Wednesday Patron Exclusives

– 8 Chapters in The Power Of Cuteness And Positivity

– 13 Chapter Soul’s Requiem

+ Access to Polls

+ All my commissioned artwork is up for free on my Patreon!

You may also like: