TVB – Prologue

To Lia,

A Storm brews, and then releases with Cascading Rain.

Flowing downwards, the Water pools and collects,

And as a tree begins to grow again- Life is Reborn.

MYSTRYAL

BOOK 4:

The Voided Banks

Written by Calum Traveler.

PROLOGUE

Plesio Myne’s Pizza Parlor was considered a staple across the world, many islands of the Jaw’s Tusk island chain contained a specific version of this Pizza franchise. Plesio Myne’s had tailored itself to the specific gimmick unique to the island chain.

Bear’s Paw, Rabbit Island, Weasel’s Maw, and Wingflap Island- four of the five major islands of the chain were named after animals- animals who then had mascot characters based after them inside the Pizza Parlor’s various restaurants.

Our attention turns now to the fifth island of the Jaw’s Tusk chain: Spearhead Island. While it held no animal theme to it, it was a part of the island chain just the same. It rested as the furthest island out of the lot, and before the Cataclysm, it was one of the trading capitals of the world.

Now, however, that role had passed on to some other part of the world, and the rather large Island had settled into a sort of dull routine when it came to the off-season for tourism. People didn’t come through as often, and stores tended to close earlier than usual.

Even Plesio Myne’s fell to those rules of habit. The manager of one particularly small pizza parlor found it an acceptable trade off, especially when it came to spending time with one of his favorite employees.

Shauna Toulise was their lead mascot costume girl- who wore the Plesio Myne costume itself. The Manager, a Sylph by name of Mike Flynn, wondered how a dragon like her managed to look so good dressed up as an anthropomorphic sea-weasel. Once, he’d simply been curious how they hid the wings away, and so he’d offered to help her take off the costume one day. That… had lead to a lot of things between them, including the very real, very secret relationship that had blossomed between them. (It was on that day Mike knew he screwed up once again.)

Every day at last shift, he’d help her out of her costume, and he, well… The Parlor stayed open for about a half an hour longer than the posted hours said it did because he didn’t lock up first.

That is to say, they had sex every chance they could get. Every shift ended with that mighty release of tension beneath the showers. There had always been a small, tiny risk that one day- some day- they would get caught by one of their fellow employees, or maybe management from another island would come in for a surprise inspection. But (luckily, Shauna thought) over the last year that they had been doing this, they had yet to get caught. (Conversely, Mike always said what really was “Luckily Enough” was that she hadn’t gotten pregnant yet.)

Sure, some people on staff suspected, but nobody had dared confront them with it. It gave Shauna an air of happiness that carried through into her costume work, which made the Character of Plesio Myne more of a brighter character than ever. And as for Mike, well, people thought it’d been about time he’d loosened up a bit. (‘They didn’t know,’ he’d think quietly. ‘How could they?’)

However, on this fateful day, Mike had helped Shauna out of her costume entirely, but was still only half dressed himself when the four armed robbers broke into the changing room in the back, armed with rare, illegal magic-tech guns, and wearing all black body concealing outfits that seemed to blur around the edges with some kind of obscure enchantment that made them hard to look at.

Shauna screamed. Mike looked like the grim specter of death had finally caught up with him.

It was almost as if these goons had timed it until she’d been out of the costume. Why, she’d never know, because in that moment, an electric-powered gunshot that tore through the air on that late evening was a wake up call to her about their predictability. As Mike’s body hit the ground, Shauna thought that the weapon’s distinctive discharge sounded much like the hammer of fate, resoundingly pounding down upon the wood with a mighty: CLAK!


“Court Dismissed,” said the judge, and the court room breathed out a collectively held breath before people rose and began to exit the room.

Izumi Lockhart sniffled in dismay as she watched her precious doll wheeled out with the rest of evidence, but her tears came more from the ruling handed down upon her partner, Ahra Neia.

Not Guilty by Insanity- that had been Izumi’s sentence. But as for Neia… While they both had been given equal jail time, Neia would be spending it in an actual prison, while Izumi was being carted off to a mental institution where hopefully she would get some help during her time in prison.

As her former best friend was then gently escorted out of the courtroom, Kana Mayoi breathed out the breath she’d been holding in. Four months since that heartbreaking case had been closed, and they’d only just now gotten to the sentencing.

Admittedly, given the sheer amount of time that had been spent to ensure the proper the psych evaluations had taken place, Izumi’s case had not been that much of a surprise in how long it had taken. Still, Kana shook her head, it was four months in which Kyiahlnah had stubbornly remained at large. Not a sign or peep out of the Flame Princess since her failed assassination attempt against Kendal and Lizzy.

But at the same time, it was four months without Kyiahlnah that let Kana Mayoi build her own lawsuit against her mother, Caria, and the bumbling merchant who had aided her, Rhutowski. Both of them had sprung for legitimate lawyers this time, rather than settling for a sniveling, murderous Changeling who had wanted to use them as a distraction against the detectives hunting him down.

Caria, it seemed, was not co-operating with her lawyers all that well, which meant it was a start and stop process of changing Court-appointed lawyers. Rhutowski, however, had gotten fed up with it, and paid for a lawyer on his own and refused to change lawyers at Caria’s whims again, which was when things had finally started moving along again. Still, Kana could understand her mother’s hesitance to trust lawyers after her last one had used her like that…

And That had been another annoying delay- four months of trying to work out how to actually give a Changeling jail time without risking him escaping. What were even the legal aspects of it all? Especially since Changelings hadn’t been seen at large in centuries- with the largest numbers having been during the Cataclysm War. And given that Changeling’s involvement in Kana’s own case against her mother, not to mention his own murder trial…

“Excuse me?” A small, slightly timid voice broke through the murk of Kana’s currently cloudy thoughts. “Miss Mayoi?”

“Huh?” Kana looked down, and saw a dark skinned girl, hair as white as snow, and eyes as green as the dress she wore. A dress that was embroidered repeatedly with a familiar looking summoning circle: Yaovi, The Reaper in Green.

Everyone in the world knew that Circle, and who wouldn’t? It was the calling card of death herself. People wore it on necklaces as a good luck charm- although Kana knew personally that one particular superstition was just that, a superstition.

Still, though, most people rarely wore the circle but only once on their entire body at any given time- for someone to risk wearing a dress with the symbol printed on it repeatedly…?

It took Kana Mayoi a moment to remember that she had met this girl before- several times in fact. Cah’le, the Reaper’s most recent Assistant within the last few years. Kana sighed, “Damned perception filters. I almost didn’t recognize you, Cah’le.”

Magic sometimes ruled, and other times sucked.

“That’s fine,” Cah’le smiled in apology. “Mistress Yaovi sent me to fetch you.”

“Lead on, then,” Kana smiled, and let the girl who hid from the eyesight of everyone lead her towards a doorway, marked with the icon of Hergie’s Lucky Cat Guild.

They passed briefly through the winding stairways of the Cat’s Cradle, and then emerged on the other side of the world, on Green Skull Island, home to the country of Maa’tos. They’d gone from a temperature controlled court house to a mildly warm sitting room, overlooking a massive set of waterfalls. It took Kana a moment to remind herself where she’d ended up: the humble home of the Reaper in Green- Yaovi herself.

As all mortals did upon seeing the woman, Kana felt a chill run up and down her spine. It always happened, even if Kana had prepared herself for the experience. One could not help but to face the living incarnation of death and not shiver in her presence.

She was not alone, however. Standing next to the woman in her flowing green, semi-transparent robes were two other beings of great power. Hergie, the Matron of Thieves, and Hecate, the Pathfinder. To those who knew her, Hergie’s normal, devil-may-care smile was missing, which was an ominous sign. Hecate, likewise, held their gender neutral form of metal bows and string.

Almost in sharp contrast to these three ancient, magical beings, was Nahgi Llewellyn, The Mystryal Detective Agency’s Chief. From they way her body shifted subtly, nervous but trying not to show it, Kana knew she was going to be in for a long day.

Changelings were serious business, as was fully dealing with them. They were an endangered species since the Cataclysm War, thousands of years ago. While objects like the Ruby Heart-stone Crown had mind controlled countless Pyromanders, most Changelings had served willingly, and were granted immortality as a boon.

It had been suspected, tested, and confirmed that the Changeling they were about to put to Trial, for causing trouble fifty years ago in Tategami Wyoh, was as old as the Cataclysm war itself. And so while some people wished to bring the Changeling’s old war crimes to full punishment, it was impossible to find out what that specific Changeling had done. (That, and the statue of limitations probably had expired as well on a majority of it.) Thus, they would proceed from the case they could convict on.

Kana took a moment to steel herself, then breathed out. “Okay then, so with me here, is that everyone, or do we have to wait for for someone else?”

Yaovi gave a slightly entertained smile, “We must wait for the Judges still. They’re still in session at the moment.” She then motioned with a nod to Cah’le, and said, “Dear, would you be so kind as to fetch us some tea before you head out to fetch Judges Asha’da and Sapphire?”

Cah’le responded with a simple bow, and moved off to do just that, disappearing elsewhere into the building with the ease that came with being Death’s servant.

“Kana,” Nahgi smiled, still somewhat nervous, but obviously trying to focus on something else than where they were standing for the time being. “Sorry I couldn’t make it to Izumi’s trial. I had to fill out some last minute paperwork my Dad’s new job shoved on my desk.”

“It’s fine,” Kana shook her head, trying very much to do the same. “It was what we all expected to happen anyways.” She sighed, “Izumi didn’t even notice I was there.”

“She’s gotten worse, hasn’t she?” Nahgi frowned.

“Unfortunately, yeah,” Kana nodded. “But hopefully she’ll get the help she needs, now.”

“Yeah,” Nahgi nodded as well. “Hopefully.”

A moment later, Cah’le returned with a tray loaded up with tea cups and a tea pot- how she managed to fetch it so fast, Kana wasn’t sure, but she chose to ignore it for the moment as she accepted her cup of tea.

Tea now delivered, Cah’le slipped out of the room without much fuss, leaving the five of them there, waiting in an uncomfortable silence until the judges arrived.

All of a sudden, Kana Mayoi was quite sure this was going to be a very, very long prologue to the holiday season.

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