“What do you want with your eggs?”
Zane looked away from his conversation with the drake who was lounging half-in the kitchen and half-out. “She wants some of those fake meat strips.”
Liam looked back over his shoulder. “I was asking you.”
“I know.” Zane shrugged. “I’ve already told you I don’t want your food. The coffee is enough.”
“You’re not really going to tell them, are you?” Burke asked. He pointed at Liam. “He’s a member of the Guard!”
Belle gestured for him to sit, but looked entirely unsurprised when he didn’t. “Regardless, they’re both here now and it wouldn’t be wise to kick them out without trying to make a plea for them to keep this little secret of ours.”
“Little?” Liam choked out. “How is it a ‘little’ secret that there’s something like this under the Academy?”
The Academy was only slightly less full of activity than the last time they’d seen it. There were still many students in the halls and passing between floors. There was a heavy atmosphere hanging over everything, though, especially since there were some members of the Guard standing near the main entrance watching. Liam nodded to them in greeting; a gesture that wasn’t returned. He brushed it off and continued leading the demon towards the stairs.
“I don’t sense her up there,” Zane pointed out.
Liam stopped and frowned at him. “She’s not in her office?”
(Note: The regular update will be posted in a few minutes. I wrote this as a companion for Quest 5.19 mostly because I wanted to have a reason to write the whole conversation between Aubrey and Liam. It isn’t necessary to read this one before 5.20, so feel free to skip it for now.)
Liam tried very hard not to show his discomfort by shuffling his feet, running a hand through his hair, or going through with any of the other gestures he felt an urge to make. He wasn’t sure if he was successful at looking calm even with all that effort. Maybe it would have been easier for him to relax if he hadn’t looked back at Zane before following Aubrey. The memory of the demon’s teasing smile made it much harder to keep from fidgeting.
Aubrey was staring right at him and had been since they stopped walking. What was it that she wanted to talk about that warranted such a serious expression? Just thinking about asking made him more nervous.
Several days after the public broadcast, Zane could still feel the tension in the air as he and Liam walked through Reinvale. It had initially gotten a bit better as some humans tried to convince themselves and others that it wasn’t true. The Council had seemed content to let this line of thinking flourish among the citizens, but hadn’t actively said anything on the matter. Which was wise considering that the Angels were saying it was all true. No sense in further damaging the trust the citizenry had for the Council by demonstrating a continued willingness to lie to them. Zane had to wonder if the Council’s plan was to wait for this to blow over or if they were waiting for the Angels to give their announcement to try and piggyback off of any positive feelings it might instill in the public.
He doubted it would be easy, though. He didn’t think the Angels had any interest in making the Council look better. Alistair, though he didn’t seek out opportunities to talk about the broadcast, didn’t deny that it was mostly true whenever someone stopped him on the street to ask. He also asked those he spoke to to please wait until he and the other Angels were ready to make an announcement about the matter.
There were still some people in denial, but many more spent their time waiting for the Angels. A wait which led them to limit their time outside. They would walk quickly back and forth from errands, glance at others on the street with open suspicion, and refuse to let their children outside.
All in all, Zane found it a very amusing scene to witness. It was a shame that it might not last much longer.
No update today guys, sorry. I considered delaying the update until later this week, but I have to be realistic about my energy level after a week of pushing myself through a cold (which is on its way out, thankfully, but still hanging on just enough to be frustrating) and struggling to write 5.19 (I’ve rewritten it four times already, I think?). So, I’m going to take a sanity/health break this week and resume regular updates next Tuesday.
Check back on September 30th for Quest 5.19!
Zane was leaning against the wall in the Council chamber, half-listening to the humans’ conversation and half-thinking about Risa. About how she was handling her brother, specifically. It was a relief that Alistair chose to go to her. The Angel made him nervous on the best of days. This was not one of those days. An encounter with a furious Alistair was something he hoped to avoid.
Besides, Risa wasn’t doing anything else too important for interruptions at the moment. She’d already dealt with the situation with the Mid-grounds humans (he was still on the fence about using Chrys’ “Aviphiles” nickname; it seemed accurate enough, but she’d made a few irritating comments about his apartment that made him reluctant to agree with anything she came up with).
Liam was involved in a discussion with the Council about how to approach searching through personnel records and the staffing schedules of the demon compound, medical facilities, and record rooms. He was carrying himself and speaking with a confidence Zane had only seen from him a few times, mostly when dealing with the other guards in his unit.