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It was an odd feeling being in regular clothes and freshly bathed. The entire ensemble was rather plain consisting of slacks, a sleeved shirt and pair of boots. It had been exactly two days since his meeting with Nikolai Brandon, the man that he sworn allegiance to when he signed his contract with Dominance VII’s military. During that time he was treated with a lighter touch than he recalled during his stay or at least that which he could recall. Still he was grateful that the clarity that has replaced the haze that clung to him during the recent past.

The room he currently occupied was one similar to the interrogation ones that he used back in D6. A square white room, with a serviable table bolted to the floor. His chair sat between two bars, again bolted, to the floor on either side obviously used to secure chains to. The chair itself was a plain thing set in a small groove to allow for movement back and forth. Cameras in each corner of the room near the ceiling watched every angle of the room though the table and it’s offending occupant were the focus.

Alric’s lack of being restrained wasn’t ill received. On the table laid the remnants of an actual meal. The heat of the hearty stew filled his body with satisfying warmth. The medical team kept his body full of the essential vitamins and proteins during his indentured stay to maintain most of his mass but for his first actual meal in days he couldn’t think of a more satisfying choice.

The most demanding thought in his mind was that of the impending meeting. Today was the day that the Amulet of Man stated that he would tell Alric what he was. The implications of that statement was jarring. He couldn’t put together a thought that didn’t demand the suspension of reality. I cannot believe that the Ascendancy himself would be directly involved. What is this madness of ‘what’ I am? Smooth logic tempered irrationality when it threatened to rattle the control that it had over finally retook. Patience would win the day and if their first encounter were any ruler to measure by he would need to hold steady in the presence of greatest ruler since the Mongolian empire.
While Alric waited around to live or die, the majority of the previous two days' schedule was filled with the presence of his Privilege from DV: the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. To call the region dynamic was the understatement of his life. Whereas screen appearances and quarterly trips throughout the remaining Dominances maintained the status quo, flights to Dubai, the DV capital, were on a near monthly basis now.

The Privilege of this increasingly volatile region was a man of Saudi descent and devoutly religious. He appealed to the majority of the region's demographic, and served as a trustworthy link between the Ascendancy and a culture quite foreign to him. According to this man, there were veins of religious unrest arising in areas geographically isolated from CCD influence. Groups were gathering in earnest and an individual man, Muhammad al-Hasan al-Mahdi, was gaining more and more of a following, someone arising from the ashes of the past, perhaps prophesied, perhaps not, and certainly not honored by the entrepreneurial spirit of the Ascendancy's vision of his future world.

Right now, the Privilege was pulling his strings to discover this man's exact intentions. As a Sunni, his prestige and personal network would provide Nikolai with insight that would only add to official CDPS analysis of the situation. If a situation was indeed developing, a tour through the region was going to mandatory; things always seemed to settle down after speaking with the people directly, but he had to be there in person.

In all that, he had not forgotten Alric.

The Kremlin security team saw Nikolai moved from the governance building, the fortress that formerly occupied the Russian Senate, to meet with the man. Yet Nikolai was productive during an otherwise wasted ten minute span of time. While they walked, he read updates on Alric formatted to a relatively simple layout of notes, information, background and pictures. They were fed to a MONI device that projected an image directly to one retina, extremely advanced technology field tested on a thousand anonymous subjects before a surgeon so much as touched the Ascendancy. The META Optic-Nerve Implant was integrated to a sensor on his person that let him swipe through the screens with a subtle and brief wave of one hand -- a cold metal ring circling one finger might have something to do with it. Head held high and staring straight, through dual-distance vision, he saw relatively little of the Kremlin opulence pass him by. In return, all anyone saw of him was a focused sword of power undistracted by bureaucratic minutiae like reading reports.

From the briefings, he learned Alric was in good health, if hungry, but that was not unanticipated by the physicians. More importantly, his state of mind was sharp and loyal.

Nikolai dimmed the MONI image to full opacity before entering the isolation room. The door was opened for him and a sole agent preceded his entrance. The moment Nikolai himself crossed the threshold, a hundred sensors in the room acknowledged his presence. In response, the harsh halogen lights reminiscent of his childhood shifted their short-spectrum wavelengths, harsh in the way old CFL's of his youth fatigued the eyes, to a longer-spectrum wavelength. It immediately released tension on the eyes of the room's inhabitant. Unsettling and sterile before, the wavelength of emitted light was now flattering, trusting and warm. The manipulation was subtle, but it would put Alric at ease. A feeling meant to be attributed to the Ascendancy's mere presence alone. Had Alric been someone to intimidate, the reverse technique would have been employed.

Hands lightly clasped at his waist, he studied Alric a moment before nodding acknowledgement.

Unhurried, Nikolai crossed to the table, smoothed the jacket of his suit and sat calmly. "You must have questions. Trust now that you are safe, and will be burdened with Sickness no more."
He did not dance around the subject. Nikolai never wasted a moment. "I know. Because I had it also, forty-three years ago."
The room’s reaction to the Ascendancy’s entrance wasn’t missed. Alric’s training, having a new need to be prevalent, urged him to gather the minute details. The agent held himself with a confidence that reminded him of some of the instructors during his basic and again during his GSG 9 training. He seemed to be one to hold his tongue even in a crowd of trusted comrades given just how light his movements were and general aura that surrounded him. He’s dangerous.

The softer spoken instructors were the ones that seemed to run the show, even the commanding officers paid heed to their opinions. The more aggressive ones, while still more than capable to put boot to ass, were the ones that stood out more vividly in memory deferred to those that clung to the background.

He noted his position once he shut the door behind them and moved onto the world’s most powerful individual. Dressed immaculately, his presence and words however short, allowed Alric’s tension to loosen. Briefly he recalled the sheer volume of pressure that sprung in between them in the observation room not two days ago. Being back in his company had forced that memory back to the forefront of his mind.

Forty three years ago? The outbreak hadn’t been an issue until about seven or so years. In fact the reason the it was even categorized as an outbreak was because of how bizarre and new it was. That would explain how he was able to predict what would happen when the doctor didn’t. Holding that aside, the Ascendancy was known for his youthful appearance despite being well past his prime. Little was known, at least publicly, of the actual effects of the Sickness left on the afflicted. Perhaps this was one of them? That was improbable as he had never heard of a disease slowing down aging.

Alric had a number of questions for the man before him but he felt that Amulet of Man would keep his word and explain to him what he meant while addressing his cryptic statement. “If it’s acceptable to you, Ascendancy, I would refrain from asking questions until after you’ve briefed me what has happened to me and what I am.
” Alric would wait as his former commander and now civilian leader would lead this conversation where he wanted it to go. Having what information the Ascendancy would offer him would enable him to ask better questions later. Frivolous questions would only waste time and history has proven that the Ascendancy was a man of his word.
Edited by Alric Xavier Rainer, Oct 8 2013, 06:22 PM.
Had Alric mumbled a string of panicked questions, Nikolai would have been disappointed. As it stood, Alric absorbed his circumstances as expected for a man of his caliber. Perhaps surpassing expectation, however that was to be determined; Nik had not yet explained what they were.

It still stung bittersweet, this discovery. As realized in The Facility, the Ascendancy did not have the luxury to ignore reality staring him square in the face. It threatened to undermine everything he'd spent his life building, but the danger was only a foreshock to coming events. Evidence of that very truth, flesh and blood evidence, was sitting across the table from him. Nik knew now, they weren't alone, he and Alric. Their godhood was shared across the very plateau of the world. The Sickness devoured countless numbers, and he shuddered to think of so many uncontrolled forces roaming the globe and they were only going to grow stronger. Estimates put disturbing numbers in his own capital. In his own government. And such as this young, trusting man personified, in his own military.

That idea had merit. If those who were loyal to him were drawn to his command, and if they had the potential to do even a fourth of the damage Nikolai himself could inflict, he had the rare chance at consolidating terror into his own Patriot Missile, not to foster war, but to keep the peace. The ideas flashed so quickly across his mind he could barely keep up with them. Never before had he been so tempted to cover the globe with Custody Orange, but with sure victory for permanent peace in arm's length, he would need to take great care at exploring the chance: calculated and careful, but with quick action nonetheless. There were those mongering for war at this very moment.

"Very well."
Nik pressed fingertips to the cool metal of their shared table, and the apparent stainless steel rippled like disturbed water. Images appeared across the flatness between them oriented toward Alric.

It was a beautiful depiction of The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo. The famous painting adorning the Sistine Chapel recreated the image of a Creator fashioning Adam, their outreached arms joining one another.

Nikolai studied the inverted image, recalling having seen it in person during his brief life in Italy. He remembered standing beneath, feeling unfairly insignificant, and imagining Michelangelo's state of mind as he crafted the masterpiece.

"The Bible says that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God and God created the heavens and the earth,"
Nikolai's quoting was flat and unimpressed.

His eyes were drawn across the connection between Adam and God as he continued, "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters."

Light pressure on the edge of the table turned screen diminished the size of the artwork to make room for a scrolling passage straight from Genesis. The text picked up on the quote where Nikolai left off. "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness."

The cut of his voice snapped, and at that final decree, of separating light from the darkness, Nikolai consumed the power burning the perception of his world. On that same breath an orb of light soft and gentle as a dove, burst divine illumination overhead. Nikolai watched Alric's reaction as its rays cascaded upon both their brows. The demonstration continued with a second orb, as lovely as the first. Then a third and fourth and so on until there were more than a dozen filling the room.

He allowed Alric to absorb the farcity of human nature for a few moments until the stars swallowed themselves all at the same time. Nikolai barely saw the miracle occur; he was well accustomed to such wonders -- as was the agent watching.

The passage from Genesis dissolved, and in place of Michelangelo's image appeared the marble poses of ancient Greek deities. The Greeks worshipped these three brothers as protectors and rulers. Their ancient forms were elegant and commanding, powerful and fearsome and each could be identified by the symbol of their scepters. The Greeks were infamous among western culture for their mythology, but despite having never visited those lands, Nikolai preferred their images over their roman counterparts. The continuity of their logic compared to the Romans settled more agreeably with his idea of the past.

"There was no beginning,"
Nikolai referenced Genesis, "there are no beginnings."
By that logic, there could be no ending either, something the Atharim did not appreciate. There is no end that does not have a beginning. Wilhelm, the long-dead Regus, was wrong about that. Apollyon does not personify the end, he personifies an end. But try telling the Atharim that.

He continued, gesturing at the images beneath his palm, "They were real, Alric, the Greeks, the Romans, the Norse, the Hindi - every culture with a mythology. They lived and breathed as men,"
a twinge of a smile paused long enough to capture any remainder of Alric's attention he may not have already won. "But they were not men."

"They were gods."

Alric would understand where this line of thought would conclude. The power flowed through him, lending a relaxed confidence to the decree that followed, "as are we."

Alric watched the man behind the table with the attention of a wolf eyeing a new predator that stalked into his range. He looked for any signs of his thoughts or emotions, but whatever he was thinking of was kept from his eyes.

Alric watched as his former dining table’s surface transfigured into a display depicting the famous painting. The Creation of the First Man. He knew what the painting was envisioning but wasn’t as well versed in art or history to recall details of it’s artist or where the painting rested. The Amulet of Man’s voice was markedly uninspiring while he recanted the story of Creation as told in the Christian holy book. Alric himself was atheist to the judaic god, having found many hypocrisies and contradictions still in the members of the religion and it’s holy books. Perhaps what disturbed him more was the acceptance of its members that deny or flat reject the findings of science when they failed to produce any evidence for their beliefs. Even still he bore those that believed no ill will so long as it was kept privately.

Alric personally tried to adhere to the tenets of the Buddhist philosophy, although he didn’t miss the irony of a warrior following the tenets of a path that promoted enlightenment and peace. He was a man that believed that peace couldn’t not be found without it’s opposite. He was a man that would unleash untold violence upon any person or faction should he receive orders or if his enemies threatened his home or country.

Alric’s knee-jerk reaction took over as the sprites that brought illumination to the room sprung into existence and caused him to retreat in his chair. The flush of natural heat from the adrenaline caused him to intake a short breath and his body’s muscles to tighten, ready to spring into attack or run as soon as he relinquished control to his reptile brain. His eyes flicked over to the movement in the back of the room. Alric knew that the agent was only reacting to Alric’s own body language, though he didn’t approach to close and he seemed to set himself at ease when he saw that Alric was regaining control of himself. He forced himself to resume breathing and easing the tension from his muscles. What is this? It was a foolish notion. He knew what it was. Power. Whatever alien force that boiled at the edge of his reach was the generator of those orbs that winked out.

He resisted the urge to pull that source in himself. He knew he wouldn’t be able to do anything with it except for holding it at this point, but it was a curious observation that Alric could still feel that awe inspiring pressure now from the Ascendancy, now when he himself wasn’t controlling his own power. Alric didn’t miss the fact that his excellency began to invoke his magic precisely when he ended his rote speech. Alric immediately began to question if the man before him was God.

That imagery was soon shattered as the Ascendancy continued on with his speech. Gone was the mindless droning. Now he spoke with a controlled passion that Alric found hard to resist and he listened and watch with a renewed vigor.

I’m a god?! Alric didn’t feel any spark of divinity. Maybe because I’ve only recently gained access to the Power? That was perhaps the most reasonable assumption given this mind-jarring conversation. Even the fact that he could understand that he had access to an alien force suddenly became easier to grasp when the Ascendancy elevated Alric to his level. The level of Gods.

Equal parts of excitement and anxiety kept Alric’s lips closed. He took the pause as a courtesy extended from the leader of the CCD for him to process the displays and information given to him. He also reminded himself that he had relinquished his questions until the end of the briefing. He assumed the Ascendancy would inform him when such a time came.
In every sense of the word, Alric's startled reaction was normal. Rationalization was integral to human survival. Things the mind could not handle, it dismissed. The witness of wonder right before one's eyes was no guarantee of acceptance. Whether they be face to face with a Dreyken in the dark or sitting aglow beneath the manifestation of God's will, the reactions varied as numerous as grains of sand on the surf. Alric's tension was instinctual, as much as the agent's reaction, Nikolai minded neither and both men's quick recovery gave him confidence: of the competence of his staff and the potential harbored in this man.

With the air cleared, Nikolai continued, though the current of his poise settled once more to his usual countenance. Eventually the world would realize what Nikolai had come to accept in himself. It was a burden to bear, and he fully respected the responsibility of what he was, but by Alric's reaction, he did not desire to unleash too much too fast. The world may flinch and recoil to hell breaking on the surface or it may embrace and welcome enforced salvation. Unfortunately, Nikolai sensed the ever increasing speed of events drawing him unbidden toward some distant whirlpool, sometimes physically sweeping him along. Something urged him to trust the master of the harsh sea rising around him, but his apprehension for deference was inexplicable beyond the general refusal of Fate's advances. Now if he were to control Fate, such would be another story, a god should make his own destiny, he thought briefly. Nikolai's intentions were to craft exactly that.

Pressure dissolved the images altogether and replaced them with aerial maps of the Kremlin grounds. "By now I assume you have determined you are in the Moscow Kremlin. Here you will remain. The physicians have requested continued access to you in the effort to scientifically define you."
At that, a suggestive glimmer crossed his expression. Nikolai entertained the idea, but he knew better. "However, we are indescribable."

The map enlarged to their specific area. The Ascendancy's home was officially the Kremlin Palace, but however impressive, the suites were more befitting Louis XIV, a man overcompensating for his humanity, rather than what a god required. Luxury was one thing, but baroque grotesqueness outside the public domain was unnecessary. Evening company viewed those quarters, but upon their departure, Nikolai always descended to more a comfortable, subterranean level.

"You will remain with me every minute of every day until I have determined you are not a danger,"
that I cannot control. "You are restricted to the grounds, otherwise, and have been called back to active GSG9 duty. However as of now, you are officially transferred to CSS."
To the side, while Alric's file loaded, a DNA reader took a small sample of capillary blood from the Ascendancy's finger, and upon instant verification, in literal blood, he confirmed the executive order. Custody Security Service was ready for their new addition, however the purpose of Alric's shadowing the Ascendancy was to master his powers not transform himself into a human shield. However, Nikolai would not be against another layer of protection between him and the Atharim - or anyone else for that matter.

"You may ask your questions."
Having him recalled was the most logical decision Alric could think of. Perhaps he misspoke. It was a bit odd for his status to be activated in his former occupation to only then be transferred into the CSS. It was common for members of the GSG9 to become operatives for the CSS, in large part due to their skill set and preferential treatment but Alric decided to remain quiet on this matter. Who am I to question the manner in which this divine being handle mundane matters? In the grand scheme of things those thoughts were small compared to the destiny that had been laid at his feet. Any restrictions the Ascendancy laid on him seemed to be temporary.

Apologies, Excellency, but this is a difficult thing to absorb. I would like to start off with what's known about the Power that we wield?
” It was a good start. If Nikolai was like any of the Privilege that Alric watched over, he would appreciate the question as it didn’t ask for any speculations or assumptions. It would also allow the Ascendancy the option to only tell Alric what he wanted him to know. It was also a leading question that Alric could assess if there was more to the telling or not. Additionally by grouping he and the Ascendancy together he would, hopefully, come off as Alric’s acceptance of reality. The theories would come later. Alric made the assumption that he would serve as a member of his bodyguard routine during his public excursions. “And for candidness will I be receiving lessons from you privately on how to control my…
” The search for an accurate word to such an alien force was surprisingly difficult. “ability?

He paused, then, to allow the Ascendancy to answer the questions he had voiced.In the meantime, he would take the time to organized his thoughts and assess the new information.
"Do not apologize superfluously, Alric,"
Nikolai chastised before answering. An operative of his level should be able to more closely toe the line between deference and humility. The Ascendancy was renown for surrounding himself with powerhouses: the men and women of his inner circle were strong-willed, confident, and effective. These few months may have been difficult for Alric, but as an elite, he would be held to a higher standard than most. The German-born was no civilian too fragile for the minor adversities he'd endured. If he were going to be the sword Nikolai meant to unleash on the world, he would be tempered to satisfaction. There simply was no other option.

"What is known about this Power is only what I will choose to reveal to you in time."

At the withdrawing of his hands, the table blanked to stillness once more. He did not, however, have need to thumb the cold band circling one finger to sense a minute change in Alric's demeanor. Biometrics may confirm it, but Nikolai was talented enough at reading others to sense the change. It was subtle for the lay civilian to notice, but for a political mastermind honed into the saturation of the world in his grasp, theirs was child's play. Still, it was edifying to see the brief gleam of Alric's potential: addressing the power as theirs meant he was on path to accept their shared divinity. They were elevated beings, and if there were others, it was going to become Nikolai's duty to assess who was and was not worthy of the exaltation.

"As such, you are at my mercy. There is none other to instruct you. Ones such as us have not existed in thousands of years,"
a hint of twisted humor surfaced momentarily. Nikolai Brandon was not known for light-heartedness, but the repartee was shallowed by the glint in his eye. "But worry not. What took me years on my own, you will master in weeks at my hand."

There was no time such as the present. The darkening of Nikolai's intensity was Alric's only warning. Power coursing, Nik calmly directed levers to snake beneath the man's arms and lift him as a babe from the floor only to be pinned helpless to the wall behind. Nikolai laced his fingers together, laid gently on his lap, and glossed unconcerned over Alric's reaction. With no effort at all, needle-like flows of power, hot as the sun itself, were sewn into the fibers of his pants as they cuffed around his shoes. As a result, they erupted into smoldering licks of fire. Alric had moments, perhaps thirty seconds, before the flames consumed enough cloth to reach his ankles.

"Put it out,"
Nikolai instructed, raising his voice to firm command. "Take the Power,"
he urged. "I know you sense it! Move the fire. I suggest you hurry."
It was as simple as that. Alric was GSG9 trained. He should be able to control his panic and follow orders. There were a dozen places in the room he could transfer the bulk of energy: to the cold stone wall behind him, the heavy metal furniture, or the slick tile floors underfoot -- or in Alric's case, far beneath him. Dissipation was the key. If not, he was likely to be burnt alive.
His frank words did not fall on deaf ears. The rebuke was hardly as lively as any of his instructors but it was just has hard; Alric did not balk or repeat the error. A simple nod was used to acknowledge the fact that he took the reprimand to heart. The Ascendancy’s answers were hardly surprising. It told Alric what was already known to the world. That Nikolai Brandon was a master at political and informational games. The fact that his answers were merely short statements reaffirming that he was the one in control. Those that control the flow of intelligence would control the world. In counter-terrorism and hostage negotiations the key was intel. Alric’s speciality wasn’t in the gathering or implementation but of assessment. One of his major faults, as Nikolai would’ve read from his personnel files, was his tendency to get hung up on the details. Body language, word usage, changes in voice tones all drew his attention like a eagle eyeing a fish in a lake.

Thanks to this Alric didn’t miss the Ascendancy’s rising tension. His eyes widened as he felt himself lifted and pressed against the wall within the span of a few moments. Heat raced up his legs followed by the stench of smoke and burning fabrics. Nikolai’s voice cracked through Alric’s minute study of his predicament. Almost instantaneously his mind began to reach for the alien magic that rumbled just out of reach. Focus. His thoughts poured through his recent memories, reliving the first time he consciously sought out the torrent of hot/cold magic. The fire that the Ascendancy set on his pants began to become painful on his flesh as he summoned his will to remain on his intent. Alric forced his eyes to look directly at the man sitting at table in his cool fashion. His eyes mirrored his internalized emotions as he looked directly at his leader. His will focused his mind and his iron clad control kept the panic locked down as the boiling icy power flooded his being.

His senses became alight, the dim light of the room was brighter, the amount of details he could draw upon of the room, and it’s occupants, became sharper. The stench of the smoke and burning hairs on his legs also became much more intense. The heat of the magic that flushed his body momentarily balanced the heat coming from the flames that were quickly coiling up his legs. Now what? He kept his eyes on the one that set him aflame, watching for any tell-tale signs. Any hints as to what he needed to do but none were forth coming. Only after that did he look back at the fire and take notice of it. Splitting his attention on keeping the power both from fleeing from him or overtaking him and scrutinizing the particulars of the fire proved to be a larger burden that it should of been Perhaps this is a step in my Ascension. But the fire actually looked like a piece of string. It was a curious thing that he knew that this was a part of the force that boiled within the confines of his being and the solution cropped up in his mind. It was a bit jarring as to the simplicity of the action. If he could place the heat elsewhere the problem would disappear entirely.

Ok now what? Placing it near the Ascendancy wasn’t an option, no more than pointing his firearm at him. So warming the table any of the room near his person wasn’t going to work. Nor was by the agent at the rear of the room, whom looked as though he was watching a movie he’d seen many times before. Instead he pulled the heat into the wall he was pinned to, in the furthest corner away from himself. He watched with satisfaction as the steel wall flushed briefly a dull red color. His pants were ruined as was most of his leg hair but his flesh, that he could see, was a mere rosy pink.

Alric, pleased that he managed to achieve results, looked back at his fellow godling trying to resist the half cocked smile that tugged at a corner of his lips; waiting for the next mission.
Curiosity rather than concern danced behind the intensity of his gaze. Alric's struggle was well-contained, but the man dawdled long enough to spike a sense of doubt in his teacher. Nikolai's gracious instruction was not born from the kindness of his soul but from the angle of strategy. If Alric let himself die at the first challenge, Nikolai was going to be gravely disappointed.

In the end, a web of faint color tangled through the cloth and wrenched the fire away. The task was accomplished decently enough, though the delay ruined Alric's pants until there was nothing but singed highwaters remaining.

More interesting than the successful dissipation, was being in the presence of another of his own kind. The menace lurked like a shadow drawn far afield from its source. Yet Nikolai knew its directionality and strength, and judged both clearly. Indeed, he had felt the sensation before.

Perhaps more interesting than the sheer volume of power Alric was capable of controlling, was the smug cast to his expression at doing so. Although he was still pinned to the wall, it was almost as if the man was daring Nikolai to deal him another challenge. He would not win praise so easily from Nikolai, who found congratulations given for a job one was expected to do anyway to be unmerited. Instead, Nik relinquished his captive and Alric dropped unceremoniously to the floor. By the time he'd reached his footing, splintered tendrils of razor sharp whips were snapping the air all around him, caging him in. They struck the wall around his shoulders and lashed around the rim of his boots. Nik aimed each blow to barely miss Alric, but the thunderous cracking of the air inches from his ears grew ever closer with each round like some spray of bullets barely missing their mark.

Above the sound of splintering air, Nikolai divided an effortless corner of his powers to amplify the sound of his voice without the need to strain. Yelling was an unbecoming behavior he did not condone, even to broadcast his commands.

he ordered expectantly, voice supernaturally rising above the din of noise. "Save yourself."
Upon that second command, a snake-like strike bit into Alric's arm, ripping the cloth of his shirt with scalpel-like precision. A thin red line welled beneath, shallow but likely stinging sharp as a paper cut. The blows continued to cage him in, and every once in a while a random snap found flesh, continually urging Alric to defend himself. Nikolai, meanwhile, sat back unconcerned, yet he offered a single hint for this newly adopted son of his, "Listen to instinct."


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