Princess Tooly Vahn Failur de Lah Guar awoke with a scream.

The Nightmares had been an off and on terror over the last thirteen years since Princess Tooly had been born. They always took their time to resurface, from weeks, to months or sometimes even a whole year could pass between visitations. The terrors were always different, yet the same. While it was never the same one twice in a row, they did repeat.

The first most common one was the worst. A peaceful family, a mother that was not hers, and a sister who looked identical to the Princess’ own reflection during her seventh year, sans ears and tail.

And then her Father came in with a man in steel armor and murdered everyone save for her sister. Most of the time, at least. Most of the time her sister escaped. The worst variations had the man that was her Father taking his time in killing everyone. Those dark variations had become more and more common as she got older, and the memories got more and more twisted with time.

The second most common dream was the vision of a man she’d later recognize as her brother, the Prince, from paintings and photos hanging from the walls of the palace gallery. Her parents said that he’d died a traitor to the Crown and Family.

The Nightmare said otherwise; showing the same man who killed her parents killing the man that should have been her Brother- all at the order of her Mother and Father. These nightmares were the least unchanged, but sometimes the wound changed from a decapitation to having his heart cut out, or a blade to the gut or– These nightmares often got the least reaction out of her.

And then the third most common dream was the one that Princess Tooly Vahn Failur de Lah Guar- soon to be bride of the Prince Kah’tan’na of Kah’tan’na Port- had just relived. The one where her parents turned her into a Jackal Lycan. The one that was always the same, and always had her screaming herself back to consciousness.

Recently, she’d undergone a medical exam in preparation for the wedding. The doctors said that her constant screaming nightmares had ruined her ears- given her some incurable disease that made her hear ringing all the time- but Princess Tooly ignored their talk.

The ringing was her friend, and it had been her closest companion for as long as she could remember. If it were true that her screams had ruined her ears, then the initial damage had to have been caused back when she had been an infant due to how constant of a companion the ringing had been for as long as it had.

She never told them that, though. She let the doctors think it was recent. She didn’t want them to take away the only kind presence in her life.

Whenever she awoke from a panic attack, the ringing surfaced as loud as it could. It was a music that only she could hear, and it calmed her heart and mind after the night terrors surfaced from their hiding spots.

It was always there, lurking beneath the surface. When her parents- the King and Queen- did something that would upset her, so too would it surface to calm her down.

It was the nights when the ringing played as she went to sleep that she did not have the nightmares.

The Doctors had warned her parents that some people went insane from the sound. Princess Tooly thought that maybe they just hadn’t had it as a friend for as long as they could remember.

During the late morning-mid afternoon, as she went out into town with her entourage of guards, the Princess saw the face that haunted her dreams. The sister that she did not have- only older, and more like the mother who was slaughtered in those night terrors.

But that was impossible. It meant that her dreams had some basis in reality if that was truly her long lost older sister.

She did not tell her parents of the girl she saw, and the Ringing concurred that it was a bad idea.

But otherwise, the ringing seemed to be quiet. If she focused, she could hear it, yes, but otherwise… it was as if it were awaiting. Or perhaps, muted by some other presence.

If it were really ear damage- as the Doctors claimed- that should be impossible. Shouldn’t it?

As the day passed, Princess Tooly finished her preparations for the day, and not for the first time wondered if this really was her destiny. To marry a boy that she had only met a few times and held no real attraction to?

They were only fourteen. Neither of them would be of age to inherit either throne for almost another six years. What was her parents rush?

She’d one asked her mother, and gotten the reply that had the other family birthed a female heir, that Tooly’s deceased brother would have married that girl around this time instead, but fate had not been so kind to either family, and so it fell upon the youngest of both Royal Families to marry.

Princess Tooly Vahn Failur de Lah Guar did not like it at all.

The sun Cypher was making its way towards the horizon by the time the Princess retired to her room. A whole day had gone past, seemingly without anything major happening. A simple tour of town, working on some paperwork… Fittings for the wedding dress (The pins and needles were starting to become annoying at this point).

Not much had happened, and yet the day was already edging to a close.

The Princess stood on the balcony adjacent to her room, leaning against the railing and looking out over the town of Fai’lah Guard. Like many things in her life, this room had been one of the many constants.

Soon, she would be leaving this room for another, and this particular view would be lost to her. The Princess sighed. “I wish I didn’t have to get married.”

As if in response by the universe itself, there was a flap of wings- and a small form landed on the railing next to her.

“Huh?” She looked to her right, and there, surprisingly, was a small black colored feather drake with crimson red eyes. “Well aren’t you pretty?” She smiled, reaching towards the drake to pet it. The feather drake allowed it with ease, bowing its head and receiving the petting with a small, approving, preen. “What’s your name, little one?” The Princess asked, continuing to pet the drake along its neck and down its back, just between the wings.

“Ahven,” The Drake replied easily between appreciative noises.

“W-” She froze- shock writing itself onto her face. “What?”

“My name is Ahven,” The drake said, looking up, and meeting the young girl’s eyes with his own, smaller eyes. “Your sister sent me to fetch you.” There was a sincerity to that statement. The Drake truly believed what he was saying.

“M-My sister?” The Princess’ lungs felt like they’d forgotten how to work. IT WAS HER. It was her and she’d sent a talking drake to– “Wait- how are you talking?” she asked. Magic of that sort was unheard of in the Royal Palace!

“Some dragons can shape shift,” The tiny little drake replied. “It’s rare these days, but those with the right…” he considered his words, and then said, “The right key. Yes. If one has the right key, anything is possible.”

“Like?” A child’s enthusiasm began to surface- one that the King and Queen had thought extinguished. The girl’s eyes focused on the feather drake with keen interest.

“Like opening a door that never existed,” The Drake said, and as if on cue, there was the sound of a wooden door creaking open within the bedroom. The Princess knew every sound in her room by heart. The doors were made of sandstone, and the hinges were well oiled. Daring for a moment to look, Tooly turned her head to look into her room… and there, standing impossibly in the middle of the room, just next to the bed, was a doorway to nowhere… and crossing over its frame was the girl from her dreams- from this morning- the girl whose name was….

“…Mila,” The child’s mouth spoke the name in a whisper before she even realized she’d said anything.

“Carla,” The teenaged girl smiled, starting to cry. And so the family was reunited in a heartbeat- the soon-to-be fourteen year old rushing into the arms of the twenty year-old who had miraculously appeared through a door that lead into a comforting darkness.

“You’re here!” The younger girl cried out in glee as they hugged. “You’re really here!”

“I’m here,” Mila nodded, hugging her sister. “I finally found you, Carla!”

Watching from behind the door, Tony Nori smiled sadly as he thought about his own sister, and the child she would be having one day.

Meanwhile, wandering the hallways of the Fai’lah Guard Royal Palace was an exact visual duplicate of the Princess, secretly Ayako Mayoi in disguise through Hecate’s magic.

The Guards paid her no mind, thinking that it was merely the Princess out for a stroll. Nobody thought to check the bedroom, for if they did, they would not find the girl inside. Nor did they think to smell her scent too closely. She smelled like a Lycan, and that was good enough for a casual observation. They didn’t need to look closer, or anywhere else.

And why should they? She was out in the hallways taking a walk.

Ayako smile a nervous smile. The Guards may have thought it was because of the thought of getting married. In truth, the reason was less so simple.

‘I can’t believe this is actually working,’ Ayako panicked internally, ‘How does magic like this even work? I guess that’s the power of the Creators for you!’ She giggled nervously, as a child would, although her thoughts were much more serious.

Once again, nobody thought a nervously giggling child odd.

Queen Hakaru scowled as the bristles in her hair-brush snapped clean off of the handle, leaving themselves entangled thickly and deeply inside her hair. “All this wedding business better be done with soon.” She griped. “I’ve just about had it with these old hairbrushes breaking on me.”

King Kamoran laughed. “Hakaru, my Dear, once we’ve taken over the other port, we’ll be able to buy you new ones!” He then muttered under his breath, “Not that it will help with that ugly blemish forming on your forehead.”

The Queen’s ears twitched at that. “What did you just say?”

“Ah, Well-”

“Ah, well- Actually,” A girl’s voice interrupted whatever the King would have said next, opening by mocking him. “I’m going to have to speak now, because I’m definitely not going to hold my peace.” The King and Queen both drew their hidden daggers in an instant, and began searching their private bedroom for the intruder. They saw nothing- the doors were locked- and the windows and balcony were several stories up from ground level! Nobody could climb it!

“Guards!!” The Queen called out… To no reply.

“Ah, sorry,” And then the dagger was pulled out of the Queen’s hand and was thrown out the window, “but they’re… indisposed at the moment.”

“Whoever you are! Show Yourself!” The King growled, thrusting his dagger at thin air. “I COMMAND IT!” And then the dagger in his hand was similarly thrown out the window by an unseen force. “W-WHY YOU–! SHOW YOURSELF THIS INSTANT!

“Now that you’re unarmed?” The voice laughed- “Sure thing~!” And then Hergie opened and stepped through the very LOCKED bedroom door, closing it behind her with a predatory grin on her face.

“W-Who the Devil are you!?” Queen Hakaru asked, growling at the intruder as she tried, subtly, to reach for another hidden weapon within her dresser drawer.

“Not a devil. Jus’ a regular ol’ cat burglar,” She said, drawing that dagger that the Queen was looking for out from behind the front of her skirt. It was a very ornate dagger- one that curved with ease into a familiar shape. The same shape of the blade that had killed the Prince so many years ago- it had come from the same set, after all. “And if yer lookin’ fer this, then I’m afraid that…” She threw it at the window, and it disappeared in a heartbeat. “Whoops!”

“You’re going to pay for that, you…!” The Queen paused as she took in the odd ears and tail. “…What are you?? Some kind of Were-cat??”

“Close, except there’s no ‘were’ about it,” Hergie’s eyes flashed, and then suddenly she was actually leaning against the window frame, casually flipping a coin up into the air and catching it repeatedly. Up and down it went. Ting– plip! Ting– plip! It was a rhythmic pattern, one that seemed impossible to maintain while the girl talked but somehow was, “You could call me so many different things, but for today, I’m here as the emissary of Karma and Fate…” She paused, so as to let the King and Queen turn on their heels to reface her. “You owe ten plus years of back pay and interest for the murder of your own son, and the murder of the family of the kidnapped and forcibly Lycanized Carla Archten.”

“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about, you–!” The King began to protest, only to stop when the Queen began to growl at him.

“So, you’re one of the so called ‘Creators’, aren’t you?” The Queen began once she had the floor- taking a step forwards and glaring at Hergie. “Like the Reaper, or the Guardian Trio.”

“Oh, yeah,” Hergie replied conversationally, seemingly chipper and bright despite her earlier foreboding appearance and attitude. “You’d know me better as Hecate’s better half- Hergie.”

“The Pathfinder,” King Kamoran grit his teeth. “How did they find out about this!? We cast a spell to block your vision from seeing what we’d –OOF!” This time, Queen Hakaru had elbowed her husband in the gut.

“Shut Up! You’re just digging us deeper!” She insisted with a glare.

“But You’re the one who stopped me from playing dumb just now, Dear!” He protested in return. It was true. Hakaru had been the one to break the facade, but really…

“It wouldn’t have helped our case any,” Hakaru retorted. “Not now. If even just one of the Creators knew of our plans then it was already much too late!”

“Ugh,” Hergie fell back to ‘disgusted’ as her default emotion. “You two really are perfect for each other, aren’t you? Too bad your plans fell apart the moment Carla’s older sister discovered the corpse of your murdered son, Prince Utchra.”

For a moment, both King and Queen were stunned, and then the Queen yelled at her husband, “I TOLD YOU we should have ensured that we killed the entire family! A SISTER! HOW could you miss the OLDER SISTER!?

“ME!?” The King Protested at his wife,, “What about YOU!? I told you we should have retrieved Utchra’s corpse after it’d been picked clean by scavengers, but NO! You had to leave our son’s body lying out in the sand for just ANYONE to find!”

“Oh, don’t go blaming this on ME!” The Queen turned on him, raising her right hand for a slap. “YOU are the one that thought up the idea of using dark magic in the first place! And THAT backfired on me, if you’ll recall! All because YOOOOU couldn’t channel a spell to save your own life!!” She was yelling now, edging closer to hysterical.

“OH! So it’s ‘do as I say but not as I do’, Is It!?” King Kamoran yelled in return. “What happened to not digging ourselves DEEPER!?”

“Oh we have been WELL PAST THAT POINT if there’s a SISTER wandering around!” Queen Hakaru yelled back at him.

As the “Loving Couple” began tearing into each others ‘faults’ in their ‘Glorious and Unsinkable Plan,’ Hergie somehow exchanged the random coin for a small bucket of popcorn. “Oh this is Rich!” She grinned before popping a small piece of buttered popcorn into her mouth.

“We wouldn’t be IN THIS MESS if you hadn’t gotten greedy and tried to reverse the arrangement around in the FIRST PLACE!” The King yelled at his wife.

Hakaru gasped in shock, and then finally slapped him, hard, across the left cheek with her right hand, and then as he turned to retort, she slammed her left hand straight into his nose, using the form of a fist. Hergie flinched at the sharp crack that echoed through the room. “Ooooh… That’s gonna leave a mark.”

The King growled- a feral, wolf-born growl that preceded him shifting into full wolf mode without disrobing. His fancy robes tore to a large degree, but were still recognizable as his. In the same instant, the Queen howled, and shifted as well, her clothes ending up in a similar state.

Then, they began to tussle in the bedroom- throwing each other at anything that was smash-able. Down went the bed, and then the dressers, and even a few chairs.

Hergie neatly sidestepped a thrown bed post- just then ripped off of the frame- and whistled as it went flying out the window into the streets below. “Nice air time!”

And then came the climax of round one the Royal battle between Jackals- they threw each other over the balcony, howling and clawing all the way down to the ground level.

Hergie looked out the window and watched them fall- bouncing off hung shades, and slanted rooftops- crashing through laundry lines and smashing chimneys- and then crashing to a stop in the middle of the town market.

Hergie jumped in that strange metaphysical way, and then was standing down on the hard dirt of the ground, standing next to a confused Mikari Yuki, who, just like everyone else, was watching as the King and Queen tore at each other in the street, slamming into market stalls and destroying property.

“So… how did it go from getting them to confess to them throwing themselves out the window?” Mikari asked as a water fountain exploded from the Queen being thrown into it.

“Turns out they’d rather turn on each other than turn themselves in,” Hergie shrugged as the Queen took revenge and tried to drown the King in the flowing water.

“Did you know they were going to land down here?” Mikari asked as the King broke free and tried to do the same thing.

“Maybeh Ah Did,” Hergie replied in a wildly unfamiliar accent, then whistled lowly as the Queen grabbed a broken market stall post, and then jammed it into the open water pipe, blocking the rapid flow of water up to some degree. “Oooh!” She continued in that odd accent, “That’s gonna raise taxes f’r a while, i’n’t it?”

“Is that why you planned it so I’d be waiting down here alone to see all of this?” Mikari asked as the fight began to drag itself into another market stall.

“Maybe…” Hergie dropped all pretenses of accents, or amusement at the current situation as she fixated a serious gaze upon the Imp girl. “Or maybe I just wanted to have a little uninterrupted chat with you, Mikari Yuki.”

“About what?” Mikari asked- even as the King shifted to human form to duck behind a stall, and began to throw the very expensive glass baubles at his still transformed queen.

TAKE THAT YOU SON MURDERING, BACK-STABBING BITCH!” The King roared as he threw bauble after bauble. The queen grabbed a table, and then used it as a shield to block the incoming glass projectiles.

“Well, firstly about what your impressions of li’l Ayako-chan are,” Hergie began.

Meanwhile, the Queen then threw the table-shield at her husband, who ducked for cover as the table broke all the rest of the glass projectiles, and then dove behind a fruit stand stall as she shifted to human. “DAMN STRAIGHT I’M A BACK STABBING BITCH!” She yelled right back at him as she started throwing tomatoes at him. “I WAS GOING TO KILL YOU AS SOON AS THE WEDDING WENT THROUGH!”

“YOU WOULDN’T!” The King gasped in horror as he hid behind the stall as tomatoes flew overhead.

“I WOULD!” She threw a watermelon next- followed by several grapefruit. “Do you even know what LIVING HELL it has been LIVING WITH YOU SINCE WE KIDNAPPED THE GIRL!?”

“Shouldn’t we, uh,” Mikari pointed at the feuding Royals, “Do something about this?”

“Let them rant,” Hergie said, eyes not leaving Mikari’s face, “answer my question.”

The queen was going off on a tangent of a multitude of slights now, and looked like she had enough fruit ammunition to last a few good minutes.

“Aya’s my friend,” Mikari replied after a moment of simply staring as the King began shouting out his own complaints of their ‘everyday life.’

“And that’s exactly what your heart says?” Hergie asked. “She’ll do the job she’s asked to do?”

“I can’t complain about anything Aya’s done,” Mikari frowned at Hergie. “Sure, I might’ve been a little annoyed that she started a relationship with a suspect while on a case- but… I’d be a hypocrite if I said jumping into a relationship under less than ideal circumstances wasn’t something to be done. Besides, you can’t help when Soul Bonds resurface. They’ve been there since ancient times.”

“HA!” Hergie let out a brief laugh, finding something amusing in that. Mikari chose not to react, and instead ignored the interruption. “I take it you’ve got experience in that department, eh?”

“And besides all of that,” Mikari continued on, pointedly ignoring the dig for info about her love life. “I can’t fault anything in how she was raised before Mayoi took her in. Honestly, sometimes I think Mystryal runs on the Trauma Train. Just look at my own past for starters.” She said that, even as the King and Queen actively shifted back into Wolf mode and resumed their physical brawl in the center of the market place.

Hergie said nothing, but the look she gave Mikari made her realize that she’d literally just invalidated her own personal point of ignoring that last question about…

How long had it been since she’d seen Faye last…?

No. Now wasn’t the time for that kind of thinking. Not on a case.

“It’s good you bring that up,” Hergie finally said with a very serious tone, somehow even more so than the initial question. “What do you know about Ayako’s past?”

“All I know is that her sister was sick from fire magic poisoning, and had Mayoi take Ayako in,” Mikari replied.

“That is the official story, isn’t it?” Hergie shook her head with a sad smile. “Anything unofficial?”

“No,” Mikari said with a flat tone.

“Not even any wild theories??” Hergie pressed.

“I may make it my personal job to theorize wild things, and sometimes they’re real, but the one thing they have in common is that they’re for work. For this work,” Mikari gestured at the brawl in the street. “I don’t theorize about my friends or family. That’s just-”

“Hypocritical?” Hergie interjected. An enraged market stall owner shifted into wolf mode to harass the two who had just destroyed his stall- regardless of if they were the King and Queen or not.

“What? How is it hypocritical?” Mikari frowned. “Theory craft is necessary to figure out how a case might turn out. But when there isn’t a case, it’s just speculation. Rumors. And Rumor Mongering will always persist well after the first person speaks. My theories don’t usually last more than a day in any given case, even inside my head, and the people I tell them to don’t gossip.”

“Ever had anything last longer than that?” Hergie pressed for an answer. “Ever had something long lasting that you’ve built up over weeks and months at a time?” Mikari stared for a moment, but said nothing. “I make it my job to research who I’m working with,” Hergie stated, matter-of-factly. “Especially if I know that they’re super close to the people important to me by a very small amount of separation. Plus-” She grinned, “You did just invite me to look at your own past.”

“So… Me, through Kaie and Mayoi, through Chief Llewellyn?” Mikari asked. Hecate simply nodded in response. “Then since I did just basically open the door to that subject, you know what happened the last time I worked on a long term theory.” There was no question about that statement.

“I know.”

“Why ask me then!?”

“You were at ground zero of the Brat’s early-release,” Hergie answered. “Honestly? I want to know what you think of it all.”

“What does that have to do with what I think of Ayako?” Mikari asked, rather annoyed by the sudden change in subject.

“Could be nothing, could be everything.” Hecate replied. “What happened that night is going to affect everything from now going forwards. You can’t possibly not have a huge theory about it.”

It took a moment of considering, and then, amidst the roaring and growling; woven between the claw swipes and the tooth-filled bites… Mikari Yuki’s answer was given. “I have one. But I don’t trust you not to blabber about it at the first opportunity.”

Hergie considered it, and then laughed. “That’s purrrrfect, Kid.” She grinned, but it was a hollow grin. There was no amusement tied to the pun she’d just made. “Keep it a secret, and keep this one too.” She leaned over, and whispered, “Ayako’s birth mother was originally a Pyromander, turned Lycan.”

What- but then- how?” Mikari trailed off as she processed that information… And then the gears that Hergie had so painstakingly put into place finally clicked and began to turn. “You have something to help Kendal.”

“Yeah,” Hergie nodded. “I’m only telling you this because I want to run it by you before I shared it with the rest of the class. But in exchange for this, first you gotta tell me about everything that happened on that Island that you think might be important.”

Mikari considered it, then accepted the deal. She gave her report between the winging blows and the thrown food products, and once finished, Hecate told her the plan to save Kendal under the cover of two werewolves shouting at each other.

“Oh Mizar,” Mikari breathed out, almost unbelieving, “you’re serious? You think it could work?”

Hergie gave Mikari Yuki the strangest of looks- the one that always asked “Are you crazy?” in a lot more confusing and profane words- before breaking down into laughter.

“Wh-What did I say?” Mikari frowned.

Hergie seemed to have an answer primed on her tongue, but failed to deliver it in favor of a renewed, and increased round of laughter. Laughter that would continue until the Guards finally arrived.

It was a minor miracle in and of itself that it had taken so long for the Royal Guard to finally arrive on the scene of battle, expecting a pair of feuding Lycans… and not the Royal Jackal Family.

By this time, however, the Market stall merchant had restrained the King and Queen with his wonderful supply of magically enhanced, super strength ropes- typically sold to Moon Shrines to help restrain those who could break through binding circles.

King Kamoran and Queen Hakaru continually glared at each other from opposite sides of the fountain they’d ruined along with their pristine reputations.

Everyone who had seen the brawl now knew for a certain Fact what it was that they had done thirteen years earlier, and already, word of mouth was spreading quickly. By the next morning, word would have reached Kah’tan’na Port, and the Royalty there would be coming for a personal visit- not that they weren’t already for different reasons- to question/interrogate the Royal Family they had about to been married into.

Well, that was regardless of the fact that Princess Tooly stepped up publicly less than an hour after the disaster in the town square to decry the actions of her “parents,” as well as to withdraw any claim she had to the Royal Throne.

She then, as her last act as Princess, declared all of the land belonging to Fai’lah Guard would be transitioned to the control of Kah’tan’na Port, as had been the deal ten years earlier, before all of this kidnapping insanity had come into play.

Since Ayako and Tony had returned to their team’s side during that time, Detective Kaie would ask Hergie if that had actually been Hecate who had delivered the speech, or the actual princess. In response, the Matron of Luck took a page out of the Reaper in Green’s book, and simply wriggled her eyebrows, saying, “Who knows. Because I sure don’t~!”

As for the Archtens? Nobody had seen Mila, or her rescued sister, after that public display. And as for Ahven? He had disappeared as well. In summary: any witnesses who could claim that it was anyone but the real princess making that speech had deliberately gone into hiding. As much as Kaie didn’t like it, he let it slide. That was the price to pay, after all, for working with the Lucky Cat’s Guild.

“So, Detectives,” Hergie began with a rather serious tone as the night, or what passed for it down in the Cat’s Cradle, settled in for those who had been up for more than a whole day straight, “about what happened on Egg’s Roost.”

“Fine, where do you want to start?” Kaie sighed in resignation, looking briefly at the faintly amused Mikari Yuki, who was sitting down with them in the conference room they’d been in earlier. They were the only ones here, no Hecate or anyone else at the moment,

“First off, I just wanted to get a first hand report on the summoning, but Miss Yuki filled me in on the important details while the King and Queen were brawlin’ in the streets so you don’t need t’ tell me anythin’, Kaie.” Hergie said with a smile, although Kaie could tell it was a forced one. He looked to Mikari, who gave a bit more of a genuine smile.

“You’re welcome,” Mikari said.

“So what now?” Kaie asked.

“Yaovi finally got back to me, and it put things in perspective,” Hergie answered. “Mainly, I’m pretty sure now that there was nothing you could have done to stop the li’l upstart from escaping her crib this time,” Hergie said the fact for what it was. “It was inevitable.”

“What?” Kaie wasn’t sure that he had really just heard what he thought he had just heard. To his credit, though, he didn’t show any outward signs of surprise. “Run that by me again?”

“The Binding Seals keeping her in the void were broken just shy of the failed summoning attempt you interfered with,” Hergie said smoothly. “The Guardian Trio- they’re called that now because they helped finish the last parts of the binding spell to capture that Brat back during the Cataclysm. They maintained and supported it’s existence just by living.” She eyed the Detective, and then said, “Zuzol was murdered just before she could recharge her part of the wards again.”

“Let me guess,” Mikari quipped sarcastically, “the same group then tried to summon the demon into Kaie’s wife and nearly killed Kendal?”

“Chances are pretty high it was them,” Hergie replied, equally sarcastically, then she sighed. “We were so very, very lucky that you interrupted the first attempt, Detective Kaie, and that the gate cycle forced them to take so long to try again. Back then? We’d be screwed. Hell, even ten years ago, we’d be screwed. Five? Oh so still screwed.” She threw her arms out wide and lamented, “Screwed to the moons and out past Cypher. That’s how screwed we’d been if it had been even three years ago.”

“So what changed?” Kaie asked.

“First off, promise that this never leaves this room,” She insisted.

“I won’t tell a soul,” he promised.

“I already promised you that,” Mikari rolled her eyes.

“Well,” Hergie eyed Kaie slightly, trying to gauge the sincerity of his promise, “for starters? Yaovi confessed that she KNEW. She KNEW and didn’t tell any of us!” She hissed in anger and frustration. “But with a ‘good reason.’ The Reaper pulled a fast one and managed to get Zuzol in the reincarnation cycle.”

“Oh?” Mikari raised an eyebrow. “So basically she died, but got better?”

“And because of that Yaovi felt she had ‘cart blanch’, or whatever the fuck it was she said, to pretend she was just missing,” Hergie rolled her eyes. “Waited all day to tell me, too. Gah! Can you believe that?!”

Kaie heard Mikari muttering something along the lines of “Yeah, I believe it.” Kaie just nodded in agreement.

“Yaovi told me that if Zuzol can rediscover her inner powers,” Hergie continued, “we might have a chance at resealing the Princess by slotting Zuzol’s part of the Binding Circle back into place. But that’s going to be a bit of a search for now.” She smirked, “In the mean time with much better news, I’ve got an idea how to stop Kendal’s impending death, and how that could play into rebinding Kyiahlnah. The Timing could be better.”

“So we can save Kendal?” Kaie frowned. “I’m all for it, but How Exactly does that help us any with Kyiahlnah?”

Hergie smirked, “Lemme just say that I’ve seen what happens when you get on the wrong side of that particular soul when she’s in a foul mood.”

“You knew Kendal in one of her previous lives?” Mikari asked, curious.

“Pup,” Hergie smirked at her, “you live as long as I do? You get to know Everyone. But her especially?” That smirk widened further. “Kendal’s gonna get involved whether you want her to or not,” she said that, directing a firm glare at Kaie. “She’s gonna make sure she’s involved.”

Kaie to his credit, simply grunted in acknowledgement, not liking the idea at all, before asking, “So what’s the plan for saving Kendal?”

“The questions about Zuzol got me thinking. And I remembered that she was the one who came up with a sort of magical retro-virus that can piggy back on the Lycan blood transformation. It was how we applied ‘patches’ to our first few attempts at Lycanthropy before we got it stable,” Hergie explained it. “Patching is really dangerous magic, though… But Ayako’s circumstances are unique enough that she could carry it safely within her for about a month or until Kendal is transformed and the magi-virus transfers over and does its thing. At which point, it should work to write out the Pyromander Magic in Kendal’s soul and erase it entirely.”

“What happens after a month?” Mikari asked.

“We’ve designed it so the spell self erases after then,” Hergie answered, “any longer in Ayako and it might start affecting her own Magic balance. Which we don’t want.”

Kaie sighed once she’d finished. “Why didn’t you come up with this before?”

“Because honestly?” Hergie paused, “Honestly, there’s still a chance that this rewriting magi-virus won’t do anything to the Pyromander magic in Kendal at all. In fact, it might even prevent her from turning into a Werewolf at all. She might just stay human… It’s only about a 60% chance of success, but… The Luck is in our favor on this. I can feel it.”

“Sixty percent is better than anything we’ve had before,” Kaie sighed in acceptance. “I’ll talk it over with Kendal when we get home. I think it’d be for the best if I go talk with Ayako now. If she’s willing to do any of this, then we’ve got a month to decide.”

“A whole month?” Mikari asked rhetorically, “Then there’s really no rush on it.”

“There might be,” Hergie said, “but that all depends on Kendal’s soul.” She shook her head and waved it off. “Anyways, yeah, that’s enough talking about hypothetical stuff. Go talk with Ayako, see if she’s willing to step up for this,” She stood up from her seat. “After that, you should all get some rest. By tomorrow morning I’ll have a staircase set up to the nearest Way-gate for you all to return to Mystryal.”

“I’d appreciate it, thanks,” Kaie nodded.

As Hergie walked off, however, Mikari spoke up. “Ah, One question.”

“Yes?” Hergie asked.

“Kendal wouldn’t happen to be Zuzol’s reincarnation, would she?” Mikari asked. “That wouldn’t be why you think this has such a high chance of working?”

Hergie stared at Mikari again for a moment, almost as if she’d once more grown a second head. Then, flatly, the Patron of Luck replied, “Kid? I can say with a one hundred percent certainty that Zuzol’s soul and Kendal’s soul are two completely different Souls.”


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