Worlds Adrift Chapter 67

The door creaked open with whining hinges, sending an eerie squeaking sound ringing through the seedy bar Mary peered into. Thugs, bandits, and shady peddlers filled the medium sized main bar room, and all of their heads turned to her as the squeaking door revealed the newest arrival. Some glared at her with annoyance. Some slowly reached for their weapons. Some showed no reaction. Nevertheless, Mary walked up to the barkeeper with confidence, a skinny elderly man with olive skin, and spoke to him, “Tilth’naki Dirium. I need to speak with D,” she said to the man.

At her words most of the bar’s patrons settled down and went back to their conversations, now seeming to ignore her. The elderly man looked up from his cup and studied Mary, nodding after a moment, “Tilth’naki Dirium, friend,” he greeted, “D is with another client right now, so you will have to wait your turn.”

She nodded and sat at the corner seat of the bar, “I have time. I’ll have a pyre pint if I have time to wait,” she decided. The elderly man smiled and walked away to fulfil her order. As the man left, Mary turned to study the bar room. The place was clean enough, with all of the dirt and grime cleaned off the walls and the floor sweeped recently, but the walls were either featureless concrete or thick stone. ‘It’s a building in the slums, after all,’ Mary thought.

As she studied the room, she saw the thugs glancing at her once in a while and talking with their companions afterwards. With her enhanced hearing, she could hear their hushed conversations, “Damn, she’s packing some serious heat,” “Don’t mess with her, she’ll kill ya in a second. I can tell,” ”Tch. Another rich girl from on high gracing us with her presence. Bet you a drink she’ll get drunk from the pint,” “Deal. She’s too confident to be a rich girl. ‘Sides, that is not a gun someone without serious balls’ gonna use,” “Of course it ain’t. That’s an ‘armtaker.’ She could shoot clean through every man here with one shot and still have enough oomph to cut clean through an enforcer truck or twenty. ‘Course, she’ll have to give up an arm to do that, but cornered rats are the fiercest.” Some of the conversations saw her as an overconfident rich girl based on her fancy jacket, but they were overpowered by recognition of either her fierce look or her owning the biggest gun in the room.

She stopped paying attention to the conversations and turned back to the bar. Before too long, her drink arrived and she paid the few dollars it was worth to the man, who walked off to attend to other customers. As she took the first sip of her bitter beverage, Abe spoke up to her in her mind, [You seem to know this place well,] he remarked. She could feel the disapproval radiating from his core in her chest and her lips tugged into an unnoticeable smirk, but Abe understood her meaning, [I know you had to… make acquaintances… after Purity day, and I know they’re needed, but just make sure not to make a habit of hanging around places like this. I don’t want to have to kill… some… one… I-I just realized that… How did I forget? And… Why isn’t it so bad anymore… Sorry, but I need to… take some time. I know you can’t respond, but I’ll be back by the time we start with the gun. Promise.] Abe’s feeling went fuzzy and Mary had to suppress a frown from creeping onto her face. He had practically forgotten the whole mess with the Sect of the Divine Mechanism, but he had mentioned feeling appalled by the whole ordeal at some point.

‘So… why is he like this now? Is it that we haven’t been talking directly about killing? Whatever it is, it’s affecting his mind. Not good. If it affects his mind too much then… No, we can’t let it get to that. For now…’ she thought, her mind trailing off for a moment. She shook her head lightly and went back to her drink.

After a while of waiting, a young man with a scar running across his eye left the back room and the bartender walked up to her, “I believe D is ready to speak with you now,” he said.

She nodded, drank the little of her drink that remained, and stood, “Thank you very much. Tilth’naki Gilada,” she bade.

“Tilth’naki Gilada,” he replied, “May little ash and many rains find your head and mind.” With that, she walked to the door in the back and was greeted by a large man in metal armor. Runes lined its surface and she could guess that many mana runes lay within the armor as well. Without a word, the man in armor gestured to her and walked forward into the depths of the building. 

After a short but boring walk, Mary was finally ushered into a well lit and cozy private room. It was sparsely decorated, with little in the way of wall coverings, but made up for it with the beautifully simple rug on the floor. Blue and red and green and orange all spiraled around each other, twisting to create a chaotic but breathtaking floor covering. Mary nearly stopped herself from stepping on such an amazing design, but forced herself on anyway. In the center of the room was a low table with two sitting pillows on either side of it; one of the pillows was obviously for her while the other was occupied by the woman she wanted to meet, D. 

In comparison to her bodyguard and assistant, she herself was less than intimidating. Standing at 5’4”, she had soft brown skin, a long head of wavy blue hair, and crimson eyes. Her facial expression was stoic, exuding a professional atmosphere, and she spoke with an unhurried tone, “Vil’aki, leave us,” she commanded. The armor-wearing man wordlessly nodded and left the room quietly. A second of subtle tension passed between the two women before D smirked, “First a training maniac, then a criminal, now a mass murderer. I’m impressed. You didn’t just fall from grace, you plunged from it,” she remarked. 

Mary growled, “How the hell does everyone know about that? It wasn’t even half a day ago. Also, far be it from me to tell you what a fall from grace is, but is it really a plunge?”

“Well, define what could be worse than losing your only family, your home, being branded as a criminal, and murdering an entire esoteric-wielding cult?” she asked rhetorically, “Also, sorry about that. I’m just trying to make a point here.”

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She shook her head, “Don’t be. It’s not right for the leader of the largest smuggling ring in Olsvania to be so remorseful. But the thought is appreciated. Anyway, how have you been since… well, you know?” she asked.

“Fearful, honestly,” D replied, “Last night has been the most chaotic night ever since I became the head of this ring. Seriously, the entire Sect of the Divine Mechanism was wiped out, the Speakers are making odd moves, and there are hushed whispers going around that I don’t like.”

Mary leaned forward into the table, staring into D’s eyes, “C’mon, don’t leave me out of the loop here. Whatever has you seriously concerned must be big,” she laughed, but D returned it with a steely gaze.

Sighing, D pulled out a folder and handed it to Mary, “That, is the crime scene of a murder that happened early this morning. The man had nearly his entire chest obliterated and his forearm severed, apparently all with one strike. Normally, this would be big, but what a Speaker Heard was even worse. He said that there is not just one, not two, but three extradimensionals in this city. All together, as well,” she explained.

Mary went wide-eyed for a moment before settling into confusion, “Wait, what is an extradimensional?” she asked.

D stared at her for a second before hanging her head, “I thought you were knowledgeable about these things, considering your family, but I suppose not. In short, an extradimensional is a being that comes from a different dimension. They are usually obscenely powerful and can be entirely non-human or entirely human. In the entire history of the world, only one was ever recovered dead, and she died of natural causes. Mary, we may not be the best of friends, but I must ask, no beg, you. Do not, ever, try to go after an extradimensional. Much less three. I do not know what you have been doing for the last day, but if you find them, keep away. And do not tell anyone about them; you do not ever want to face the wrath of an extradimensional,” she explained, “If you need a reference, think of The Great Witch of Calamity and Chaos. She was an extradimensional over 500 years ago, but recently visited our world. A decade ago. As I said, do not, ever, anger them.”

Mary processed what she heard as quickly as possible and nodded, “I will take the warning in good faith, D. Onto business, then. I need some metal, a metal-crafting tool, a gun tinkering set, and runic paint. Today.” 

D sighed, nodded, and pulled up a mana-tablet from under the table, “Alright, what kind of metal?”

“Do you have something strong that conducts electricity?” 

D nodded, “Actually, that’s something from my homeland. It’s called vil’naki. You’re not very proficient in Auvi, so I’ll tell you that it means ‘strong sky,’ or strong sky steel. It’s not very popular because most people don’t want their weapons to electrocute them if they stab it into an electric wire. That drops the price by a fair bit, and I’ll add a discount on top of that, since you’re a good acquaintance. That all adds up to $198. You have it on you?” she asked.

Mary nodded, but stopped for a moment, “Actually, I just realized that I could use something else. Do you have a mana-copying crystal?”

D looked concerned for a moment before nodding, “Yeah, I have a few of those. Why? Are you going to use it to steal an esoteric sect’s… you know what, I won’t ask. Adding the crystal in, it all adds up to $273. If that’s all, then give me the cash and I’ll order it for you,” D said. Mary paid the money and D tapped the mana-tablet a few times, “Alright, go to the alley behind 132nd Bellwood street and my guy will be there. Now that we finished that, I wanted to ask something.”

Mary nodded, “I guess… what do you want to ask?”

“Well… I know I said I wouldn’t ask,” D began, “But what did you do with the divine core?”

Mary froze for a second, but what she heard was not D’s nor her voice, [Sorry about that, Mary… I was- wait what’s going on?] Abe asked.

Seeing her hesitation, D pressed on, “Look, I know we barely know each other and that it’s your business, but I can trade information for information! I’ll tell you everything I know about the Sect of the Divine Mechanism and some other stuff as well.”

Mary looked at her acquaintance with a conflicted expression and struggled with the question of what she should do. ‘It would be safer to deny it, but… I need to know. I need to know what happened, why everyone knows about it, and if I was just playing a game before… But… would I be betraying Abe if I did this? So… what am I supposed to do?’ she thought, struggling with herself. She went back and forth over seconds, but came to no answer. 

Just as she was about to reject the offer, Abe spoke up, [Look… we have to trust each other here. Both of us kind of depend on it. That means that who you trust, I’ll have to trust as well. I can… show you two. My core. If you trust her, just say so, and we can tell her everything.]

Mary looked down and nodded. She turned her head up to D and sighed, pulling down her grey shirt to show her upper chest, where her heart and the core were, “D. I know we aren’t great friends, but I’ll trust you for now,” she said. As she uttered those words, her flesh began to wriggle. It spasmed and wriggled and began to part on her chest. The bloody chasm grew wider and wider and as D stared at it in awe and terror the golden core surfaced from Mary’s chest. On the eight access ports bloody tendrils connected Mary’s body with the core, each pulsing as if a grotesque heartbeat. 

D, seeing the macabre sight, tensed in fear, “Mary… you didn’t,” she slowly drawled.

Mary nodded, “The divine core isn’t a god. It’s a container for the soul of a person. The soul of an extradimensional. His name is Abe, and he was the one who destroyed the Sect. He was the one to save me. And he is the one who I share a body with. It’s… weird, that’s for sure, but neither of us intended it to be this way. Despite that, we’re going to make the most of this,” she declared resolutely, “Now, D, what do you know?”

D swallowed her spit and tried to breathe calmly, “Look… Here’s what I know: everyone important knew about the Sect, but let them be as long as they didn’t cause much trouble. The Union wanted the core for themselves, the Speakers did so in respect for a fellow esoteric sect, and the other minor powers did so because they didn’t really have the time, resources, nor inclination to deal with them. In the end, they completed their ritual and created the core. Fortunately… whatever happened with you happened, and the core was lost. The Union didn’t really care, the Speakers found it lamentable that an esoteric order was wiped out, but didn’t push anything, and the other groups only really noted it and moved on. I’m sorry, but no one understood the danger the core posed, so no one tried to stop them. I’m sorry…” D said regretfully.

Mary sighed and shook her head, “No, that was enough for me. Knowing that the Union was planning on profiting from them justifies my revenge even more. Thanks, D. I’ll get going now,” she said, walking to the door with downcast eyes.

Just as she was about to leave, D spoke to her, “Mary. There’s a man who runs an antiques shop on the border of the factory and slums districts Gus. Don’t trust him. Don’t hesitate to kill him; too many poor people have lost their lives hesitating,” she warned as Mary shut the door. 

After leaving the winding hallways with Vil’aki and the bar, she wasted no time in going to collect her materials. [You okay?] Abe asked, [I don’t know what to say, but I think we should at least heed her warning.]

Mary looked up as she navigated the narrow streets and alleys of the slums, “I will,” she said.

[Are you okay?]

“No. Not at all,” she said through clenched teeth, “The sooner I distract myself, the better. Also, Abe?”

[Yeah?]

“Thanks for trusting me.”

She felt him mentally shake his head, [We have to. We are kind of stuck with each other,] he said, [Also, I think I figured out why I don’t care about killing anymore.]

She raised an eyebrow, “And why’s that?”

He mentally sighed, [I think we’re merging and mixing with each other.]

There was a long moment of silence between them as Mary stopped moving.

“I could’ve guessed. It feels like my values are being stirred up.”

[I could have as well. It feels like I am becoming obsessed with helping you.]

“I do have a bit of an obsession problem once I become fixated on something. I’m also becoming a bit more proactive, more forward facing, y’know?”

[I do. We always had to earn our keep back in the orphanage. That old hag made it that way.]

“Mm.”

[…]

“… How far do you think it’ll go?”

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[I don’t know. There’s a concept from Earth called Yin and Yang. They are opposites, but each has a part of the other within them. Maybe it’s like that for us.]

“Maybe. But, we aren’t opposites, just different.”

[That is very true. Well, we’ll know by the raid, won’t we?]

“Indeed we will.”


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