A crowd stood outside of Zabekiel's office. All waiting for him to come out, to meet the newly elected Army chair. A position he had made for himself in order to better command his new armies. It's what his father wanted, he thought. He had also done away with those damned laws of exile, if only father could see him now. If only.
Zabekiel could still think back to his days before all of this. Researcher extraordinaire, came up with the cure for the Kinderven virus and managed to find an effective way to contain them too. Such dangerous work for such tiny creatures. Zabekiel had nothing but bile for them, disgusting animals.
"I asked you to hand it over."
It was a small Girigori female, at least, that's what the records said. The Kinderven had no name thousands of years ago. They were just Girigori, the sinister truth wasn't known.
"If you don't hand it over, I will bring the guards in. I just want to look at your keepsake is all."
Female was hesitant. Refused to cooperate. Interesting jewelry in left hand, won't part with it. Something wrong with bite, both scientists that tried to grab it were...incapacitated, medical staff baffled.
Primitave doctoring at the time failed to realize that the bite existed only to kill. Any adult bitten by the plague died in days, the first real graveyard for Girigori had been made that day, a stain on Coelus's wondrous history and yet, they tolerated the creatures. No longer Girigori, but still one of them, that's what they said anyway.
"Testing resilience to pain. Subject has withstood burning, electrical shocks, impalement, decapitation, severing of limbs and any other form of harm we could think of. The only way to harm what I am calling "Kinderven", seems to be related to their keepsake. It's difficult to identify, but they are highly protective of it. Keeping it from them weakens the subject, destruction terminates it. Useful information, will continue tests."
Screams could be heard from outside the labs during those days. The Kinderven had continuously broken out of their city Quadringa, Girigori were still dying. An answer was needed, but never really found. Controlling them was impossible, children were mischevious on their own, but these were simply malicious. Zabekiel had used any and all test subjects he could round up, usually those who ventured out of Quadringa without acutally harming anyone. Those that did, were always put to death on the spot.
Despite this, and his good intentions, Zabekiel had never felt bad for the beasts. His cold resentment for them had started long before he had begun his experiments.
"They are animalistic in nature." Zabekiel said calmly, pointing to an engraving he had made. "They refuse to adhere to any rules, purposefully cause damage to property and kill at will. They are no different from a wild monster on Evalon."
Nobody had believed him for the longest time, it was too bad he was in charge now. With this, his first step taken care of, Zabekiel could now bring justice to that forsaken land, make it something worth having. Remove the plague that had taken so many loved ones. Cut it at the source. Zabekiel turned around and began walking out the door and up several flights of diamond stairs. Quite a beautiful sight, Girigori everywhere pitching in along with Clankers to make a wonderful world. Several armed guards waited at the top end, tonight, the leader of peace would be an angel of death. He made a signal to the guards and the top of the palace retracted inside, allowing the light of the stars to reach him inside. Zabekiel looked at the star, Niv, smiled and began flapping his wings. "Shall we, gentlemen?"
Zabekiel and a small group of Girigori exploded out of the Office of Lawbringing and headed straight for their destination of choice, Quadringa. That stain on the garden of Coelus was to be finally removed. He had done it, the ancient and decrepit laws in his way were finally dead and soon, the Kinderven would join those damned scross ashes. They refused to unite, refused to make the world better and instead poisoned and murdered anyone they saw. Zabekiel despised the Kinderven more than he had despised anything before. He would sooner have a city of rats.
A few days later, Zabekiel and his guardsmen touched the ground at Quadringa. The city had been prepared for him as requested earlier and a few Kinderven with Rowan Missionaries stood before his party. Zabekiel spoke first in an authoritative voice. "I have prepared a neutral grounds in which we may discuss current matters. If you will come with my group, you will find it suitable."
The area was actually quite neutral. Zabekiel didn't need this to be a slaughter. The men near him didn't know it yet, but some of them would certainly be sacrificed for this misison. Their blood writing the end of the Kinderven.
Northern Snow stepped forward, Vanette's hand in his. She might look, and act, like a six year old human child most of the time but she wasn't stupid, she knew what the failure of these negotiations might mean. Her hand trembled in the young priest's grip and he squeezed it reassuringly before turning his gaze to Zabekiel.
"You requested an audience?" he inquired to the Grigori, fumbling at his glasses as he did so. He had expected to deal with unruly Kinderven when he agreed to come to Coelus but never this sort of negotiation.
Zabekiel looked squarely at Northern Snow, small Kinderven filth in hand. The Rowan had come here for such a long time, but not for the Girigori, not for any practical purpose, but instead to worship these...things. What fools their god had made them into. They would probably fight with the Kinderven if it came to that. Zabekiel anticipated that much.
"Yes. I did. I feel that there are issues that have long been unsolved and I wish to recitify this as soon as possible. The meeting house is on the border of Quadringa. Please, follow me and my guards." Zabekiel knew the route would mean cutting through much of the city, the humans couldn't fly, but with so many guards it was unlikely the Kinderven would launch a surprise attack, and even if they did, Zabekiel had taken on much worse in his time on Evalon. He kind of missed those days.
Snow nodded and walked with Zabekiel through the streets to the meeting house, Vanette skipping alongside the pair and the guards and other city delegates following warily behind. The streets themselves were covered in waste, half-eaten food and broken toys. The cries and laughter of children at play could be heard in the distance but the only ones who could be seen stood uneasily and stared at the delegation as they passed, whispers of the massed army near the borders already spreading among them.
The priest felt apphrensive about his Grigori counterpart but at-least felt he could keep the leader distracted if he needed to. Educating Kinderven wasn't like teaching regular children after-all, the young immortals had no parents or authorities to make them attend classes and so every lesson had to be fun or interesting enough that the Kinderven wouldn't get bored and not bother attending the next day. Keeping attention was a skill he had quickly learned on the job much faster than his many years at missionary school and it looked like it might come in handy now.
Rubbish. Trash everywhere in the city the Girigori gifted them and the best the Kinderven could do is to ruin it? Zabekiel felt nothing but cold intention as he led the group of fourteen walking to an unowned house. Unlike most of Coelus now, the rising jungle had consumed a great deal of the area around it. No creatures roamed yet, but Zabekiel had a feeling he would need to tame the ever growing grass just as with the rest of his planet.
The diamond frame was mostly immune to the effects of these trees and Zabekiel shook off some loose grass as he opened the door into the surprisingly brightly lit room. "I have this place for when more...private meetings need to take place. In such a transparent world, it's only the untamed jungle that can resist such prying eyes as a curious Girigori." Several chairs were spread out around a circular table. Zabekiel sat down and seven chairs remained. The guards motioned for the Kinderven and missionaries to sit in them.
Snow and the other delegates took their seats gratefully, Vanette snuggling herself up in the priest's lap. Her affection was not unusual, she was one of his most regular pupils and particularly desperate for attention, it often seemed the Kinderven who had been turned with they were younger were not entirely able to shake off their desire for a parental figure, even many years after their real parent's had passed on to the next world. The little girl stared unblinkingly at Zabekiel from the safety of Snow's knee.
A much older missionary, at-least fifty if not more, rose from his seat to speak directly to the Grigori leader.
"Why is it you have come here today? We have all noticed the regiments you have stationed outside the Children's Republic, surely you do not believe our little charges present your people a threat?"
Zabekiel looked the Missionary straight in the face. He could not lie, it was impossible for him. Seith made that possible and it was one of the few things he felt Seith truly did right. The god had removed all sidestepping from conversations and everything was direct, to the point. Zabekiel said in a more somber tone "Do the Kinderven and Rowan have aspirations? Hopes for a better and brighter tomorrow? One in which all can and will live and be happy? That is mine."
"Who doesn't?" the old missionary replied in an equally somber tone. "True peace among the all races and worlds is a noble goal but futile until the Lord Roe returns to Evalon to claim his rightful place as ruler of all peoples. Until that day however, we must make the best we can ourselves. What is it you wish to speak with us about on this particular day, Zabekiel?"
That question. The man was simple, devoted to his god of the immature and short-sighted. Still, the question was there, Zabekiel could only side step so much. "I can not lie, you know this as much as I, so I will make my intentions clear. Your city of Quadringa is to join Coelus. You will follow our laws and join us as one in our first step to uniting the universe as the new God of Enlightenment Cassiel intends."
A gasp arose from the Quadringa side of the table as the Grigori leader explained his intentions. Vanette frowned and pointed a stubby finger accusingly at Zabekiel.
"That's not fair, we don't want be to a part of your fucking country or have your stupid fucking rules!" she cried and stuck her tongue out for good measure. She looked like she was about to continue but was silenced by a hand from Snow.
"Excuse my young friend's language," the priest added hastily, "though it demonstrates the problem with your proposal most clearly. The Children's Republic of Quadringa has been an independent state for the last five hundred years and it's Kinderven are accustomed to it's ways, frankly most of them would fight rather than see the city annexed. You could propose your idea a thousand times and I guarantee every time they would refuse."
Zabekiel took a harsh look at Vanette. Scum was showing her true colors now. She was no better than the rest, the one who had been skipping a second ago, just a raging beat like the rest. Zabekiel had never intended to let anyone out of this room. They would all be dead soon.
"Be that as it may, you are on the planet of Coelus, our attempts to work with your kind have only led to countless deaths. Scum like that thing need to be controlled. I know from personal experience. If you resist and attack us, you will be treated the same as the Kinderven we captured and put in our labs for testing. Instead of citizens, you will be treated like the animals you are."
"Vanette is not a thing, she's a person as much as you and I, if not more!" Snow rumbled back in anger, "Your people have almost an entire planet to yourselves, what need do you have for one small city? All the Kinderven want is a place they can live and play without adults interfering with their lives. What you are proposing will lead to nothing less than war and a bloody one at that!"
Zabekiel shook his head and kept calm. "Human, you don't know this place very well. The Kinderven have been attempting to venture out of Quadringa since the start of this. Every time one slips by people get hurt. I have seen children forcefully turned into one of them. I have seen families ripped to shreds, destroyed by their own children. The tolerance we have shown them is over. You have two options."
Zabekiel's guards began shifting towards the door, still poised at the Kinderven. It was clear they didn't intend to let anyone leave.
"Oh yeah?" a Kinderven boy who appeared about ten to Snow's left piped up, "None of us want to be controlled or anything, tell us what your "options" are!"
Zabekiel began preparing himself for a battle. His father had spoken of the hundreds he had been through, this would be one of Zabekiel's first. He began charging up a beam attack to buy him some distance if need be, though he figured his altered blood would make the Kinderven bite near useless.
"You can join my empire and live under constant supervision, or I will turn your city into ash."
The Kinderven boy glanced briefly at his compatriots and then turned to face Zabekiel, his face resolved.
"We'll never join your shitty empire, that's our final answer!" he half-yelled at the Grigori and bared his sharpened teeth with an animalistic glint in his eyes.
Zabekiel cracked a smile and said simply. "Then you will all die here."
The boy howled not unlike a wild animal and threw himself at Zabekiel, his teeth full extended and hair-on-end.
With that, Zabekiel's traps was complete. The Kinderven had fallen for it and the Emperor of the Girigori's guards began moving in on the Kinderven. Zabekiel however, allowed the Kinderven to sink his teeth into his left arm. The Vigil strain had a fun effect of cancelling out the Kinderven's bite. Zabekiel didn't even feel anything.
"It doesn't work on me, beast." Zabekiel then raised his right arm and blasted the Kinderven with the beam he had been charging. The child cascaded straight into the wall and Zabekiel grabbed the poor thing by the throat, searching for its keepsake.
The other three Kinderven leapt at Zabekiel from behind, sinking their teeth into his arm, leg and backside respectively. Snow jumped up and held Vanette tightly as she screamed before taking his elder missionary by the hand.
"We've got to leave and warn the others!" he shouted and stumbled towards the exit whilst carrying his small friend and dragging his elder behind him.
One of the guards stood by the door and raised a sword and shield combination made of light magic as the rest began rushing at the wild Kinderven. Zabekiel paid no mind to the others as he reached into the bot's pocket and discovered a small keepsake. A wooden doll. Zabekiel channeled a small amount of magic in his hands and the doll soon found itself on fire. Zabekiel tossed it to the other side of the room and the Girigori behind him grabbed the Kinderven covering him. By then, his arm had already healed any damage done by the boy.
Snow and his two companions barrelled into the guard standing by the door and all four tumbled out of the makeshift negotiating house. Back inside, the young Kinderven whose doll was burnt cried and looked up tearfully at Zabekiel.
"That was my little sister's," he choked before falling lifeless onto the floor.
Zabekiel tossed the broken body of the child on the floor and moved on to the rest who had by now bitten two of the guards. One of the guards had already managed to grab a keepsake and destroy it as well, leaving two kinderven and four standing Girigori inside the house. Zabekiel saw the open door and smiled, a prepared Kinderven would fight out in the open. More Girigori would die, but it would be easier to wipe each one off the face of Coelus. Zabekiel forged a sword and impaled one of the struggling Kinderven on it, ordering the guard fighting it to go help out his allies.
While this happened, the Girigori by the door found himself overwhelmed by the Kinderven and Missionaries. He created light barriers around the exposed sections of his body and hoped the trio would try to run.
Back outside, Snow hugged tightly onto Vanette as the four rolled across the ground, the sound of a beam breaking the muffled shouts. The Grigori soldier snarled and tried to grab the child but the priest managed to score a hit square in his face and the angel crumpled. He looked over at the elder missionary and saw a great wound spreading across the old man's body, now he knew what the beam had been aimed at. He picked the little Kinderven and ran down the empty streets towards the missionary headquarters, not daring to look behind him.
"Must... warn... the others," he breathed.
The Child screamed in surprise as Zabekiel's energy sword pierced her through the back. She tried to squirm out but it was no use, Zabekiel grabbed a necklace from her and crushed it in his fist. She fell down, clumped with the others. All said, there were three dead Girigori, and four dead Kinderven laid across the cabin. Zabekiel's wounds were already healing as he walked out to find a knocked out Girigori next to a dead missionary. "Good, you didn't kill them all. Pick him up, we are going to erradicate every last Kinderven." Zabekiel flapped his wings a few times and flew off into the distance to make a speech.
His engineers had invented a radio device capable of transmitting their leader's or anyone else's voice across the entirety of Coelus. It was even rumored that such a device could easily be used to communicate in between planets and send messages in mere moments when fully implemented. Zabekiel had a very specific message however, meant only for his generals. He landed outside of Quadringa and a radioman came rushing over.
"Send this message to channel zero." Zabekiel started. "Kill every Kinderven and anyone protecting them. It's war."
Snow burst into the missionary headquarters breathing heavily, the other priests looked up at him in alarm. He placed Vanette onto the ground gently and then recounted to them everything that had happened in the house.
"I thought as much, those armies weren't placed just outside our walls for nothing," one sighed.
"Let's be honest, what are our odds," another shrugged, "we've got one city of poorly-armed kids versus a planet of well-armed violent angels,"
"We can't give up hope!" Snow retorted angrily, "the Lord Roe will provide and could yet decide to spare this place from the dictator's wrath. I've been here barely more than three months and even I can tell that the Kinderven will never surrender their republic,"
"That's true," the first missionary replied, "you know they've been preparing for hours, I think most of them twigged a while back it would come to this soon or later."
Suddenly a great crash came from outside, Vanette screamed and threw herself around Snow's leg, the other missionaries dashed to the window to get a better look.
"Child of Chaos! They're already breaking down the front walls!"
Zabekiel was hovering over Quadringa, alone. The two standing guards had taken the one that was knocked out to a healer. Zabekiel had other plans. The story of Lennonous made one thing clear, the ability to use light magic to enhance sound. Zabekiel used this to shout to the whole city.
"Denizens of Quadringa, this is your Emperor, Zabekiel. Your constant resistance and refusal to abide by the laws set by our first god Seith and the true god Cassiel have led to this. Surrender and you may be spared, but know that we are leveling your city. You scum deserve every bit of this."
The gates that had for so long kept the Girigori out of Quadringa came crashing down and hundreds of Mizzen led the charge from the front, forming ranks while Girigori led from behind with Light barriers. Archer magi circled over head and were firing light arrows upon any and all Kinderven and Missionaries alike. This wasn't a war, it was a slaughter. Unorganized groups of Kinderven would come rushing at Girigori, but most would end in a flurry of arrows nailing them to the ground as a Girigori burned the keepsake.
One of the soldiers had a look of pity on him. He hadn't seen combat before now and this felt wrong. The Kinderven were mere children, even if they were animalistic. This just seemed to go against everything he stood for. Still, Zabekiel promised peace, and if the Kinderven were an obstacle, they had to be removed right? It was all for the better.
Zabekiel himself landed inside the city, this time with about fifty Girigori behind him, taking down any and all Kinderven in their sights. There was a specific one Zabekiel was after. The one who had caused so much pain, to those who loved her, treated her well. It was about time she came to justice.
"This is happening so fast!" one of the oldest missionaries cried, "quick, Wind and Rock, prepare as many starwhales to leave the city as fast as you can. Rifle, where is our weapons supply again?"
"Under the stairs sir," the young priest replied, "it's not much though, mainly defensive arms for dealing with Kinderven riots. Never thought they'd have to be used for something like this..."
"Neither did I," the old man admitted before turning to Snow, "Your class may be looking for you, think you can bring them to a starwhale?"
"If the Lord Roe permits, I'll try my best," Snow replied anxiously. The elderly priest smiled and handed him a pistol, "take this, it's a slaughter out there," Snow took the weapon and then made his way out, taking Vanette's hand as she ran to catch him up. He didn't bother trying to dissuade her, he'd known the child long enough to know she'd follow him to Evermoor and back, even if it meant hiding from him most of the way. That one trip he'd had to take out of Quadringa... he shook his head at the terrible things that happened that day.
Out in the city it was pure carnage. It seemed mostly older children had found arms: knives and smuggled guns mainly, and were fighting the invaders desperately from the city walls and houses, the pair ran past a screaming Grigori lying on the ground with a broken wing as a gang of Kinderven set upon him, their teeth cleaving through his flesh like knives through hot butter.
Zabekiel knew the house, it was small, insular and hidden from most of the city as he knew it would be. The one inside, his sister. She was the monster that did it all, they had everything and she threw it away. Forced him to run, brought all of this upon all of these people. He had to thank her for showing him who these creatures truly were. That day...
"COME OUT YOU BITCH!" Zabekiel uncharacteristically shouted. He wasn't calm anymore, he wasnt' collected. Thousands of years of hatred welled up was finally coming out. It was time to end all of it, the first step to peace for the universe, it would end in the removal of the Kinderven!
A singular Kinderven came out of the house. She was small like any other, only five when she turned. She still held the same teddy bear Zabekiel had given her so many years ago. "Brother, I asked you to come with me! We could have been friends forever and instead you did all of this. Why?"
"You killed our parents."
"They tried to kil me!"
"You are lying!"
Zabekiel charged at his sister and impaled her on an energy sword, just like with some of the others. "They never would have! You keep lying to me! That's all you are good for!" Zabekiel ripped the teddy bear from his sister's hands and she had a terrified look on her face now.
"Zabs, please! I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorr-"
Zabekiel fired a small beam at the stuffed bear, it was now alight. It wouldn't be long now. Tears began streaming down his face. "Just, be quiet, monster."
Snow breathed heavily as he finally made his way up the steps to the school, stumbling past the sign with "for Kinderven aged from five to nine" written messily in Rowan runes. Vanette clung onto his back as she had the entire journey, barely speaking a word. He burst into the main hall to find ten small children huddled in a corner together, staring up in fright at him as he strode over.
"You recognize me, don't you?" he chided them gently and sat down next to them
"Yeah, it's Mr Northern!" one of the smallest girls cried.
"That's right Megana," Snow replied with a smile to reassure them, "where's Mr Mechanical? Wasn't he on duty this morning,"
"He was," a slightly older boy replied, "he ran away an hour ago though,"
"Oh, that's not very nice is it?" the missionary replied with a groan, cursing the cowardliness of his co-worker, "Are you the only kids left in the school?"
Nods came from everywhere at once.
"Are you here to save us?" the small girl asked curiously.
"Of course!" Snow replied and glanced over his shoulder, time was running out. "Come on, follow me and I'll find us a starwhale in no time." He helped the children to their feet and then with Vanette in hand as always, strode back towards the exit.
"Oh..." he replied softly as he peered out of the window. The line of Grigori troops had advanced very quickly, they were already far past the closest starwhale landing and were not far from the steps leading up to the school. In the distance a pod of starwhales floated almost serenely above the carnage in the city below, most out of reach of the Grigori and their allies' bows by now but one that had clearly been struck was spiraling downwards instead of upwards, it's numerous riders crying out faintly as the whale finally crashed heavily into a house.
"We might have a problem..." Snow muttered to himself.
Zabekiel was holding the lifeless corpse of his long lost sister. Her struggle over, the curse lifted. But despite this, Zabekiel didn't feel as if a hole had been filled, rather, it was even more empty now. What once was now shall never be. It was gone, everyone was gone now. "Burn it. Burn the whole city, I want none of if left standing YOU HEAR ME!?"
The Girigori with him nodded and soon the order spread through the whole city. Zabekiel flew back and watched as Girigori teamed up in teams of five to begin firing massive death rays everywhere. Buildings came crashing down on broken bodies and living Kinderven alike, diamond on diamond, all the foilage which had now been running rampant in Quadringa was now ablaze, the Mizzen and Ekiruru forces which had invaded now retreated and the Girigori were switching off to fire rounds at buildings.
What few starwhales had taken flight were also being taken down. Huge holes were punched right through the beasts as they lost a hold on life and the carnage consumed Kinderven fell down, soldiers waiting to smash anything they held. It was a gruesome sight, even for Zabekiel. He remembered how it all started. The first time he had seen a Kinderven aside from his sister, the scientists were experimenting on them, running tests. It was through this that they discovered a minor treatment to the bite, how to kill a Kinderven and how to weaponize them. Zabekiel had heard the pleas of the scientists, that if he were to attack, saving a few for experimental plague monsters against their enemies, but even Zabekiel was better than that.
A few starwhales exited the planet. Zabekiel figured that would happen and watched silently as it flew to Evalon. Retaliation would follow soon. That much was obvious. The Girigori were going to war.
Snow gazed at lines of Grigori marching up the steps to the school for a moment before leaping into action. He slammed the door shut and dragged the nearest table under the door handle to hold it fast.
"Kids, pull down the shutters and close the other classroom doors!" he yelled. They scrambled to it and within seconds the room was plunged into darkness. Snow fumbled his way across to a display where the flag of the Children's Republic hung, he pulled the banner unceremoniously off the wall and then crawled under a table where the Kinderven had gathered.
"Mr Northern, are we going to die?" Vanette asked in a quiet voice as she shuffled her way into his lap. He couldn't help notice her underclothes distinctly damp, not that it mattered now.
"I don't know," Snow admitted, "All we have left now is faith in the Lord Roe, and perhaps the mercy of the angels,"
"I'm scared!" another Kinderven girl cried. Snow frowned and then taking the flag, wrapped it around the huddled children to form a tent. He'd been hoping to fly the rattle and candy stick one more time but this would be a better use.
"It'll be fine," he reassured them gently, listening to the banging on the classroom door with one ear "I'll tell you all a story, while we're waiting for the starwhales to come pick us up. Now, let me see... once upon a time there was a young god by the name of Roe and he had a good friend who was not a god or even a demigod, but a mere mortal... does anyone here know her name?"
"Petal?" a Kinderven asked hesitantly.
"Yes, that's right," Snow smiled as the banging grew louder and then suddenly stopped, "well one day Roe was feeling down, so he went to visit Petal at her home in Manor village, and..."
No-one who was huddled under the flag tent felt the blast that ripped through the classroom until the second it hit them and by that time, there was not much left of the priest, his pupils or their trinkets except scattered pieces of flesh and red fabric.
Fire. Cleansing fire, burning away a terrible legacy of pain and suffering that only perpetuated itself through Girigori memories. Zabekiel didn't care about those lost in the battle, though the number reached a few hundred. Some had died horribly, worse than any Girigori before. "War. An essential horror done only in the case of righteous dedication." Zabekiel nodded at his own assessment and thought that perhaps Cassiel had caused the losses to teach him a valuable lesson.
Quadringa's flames kept burning, screaming stopped, only the comforting sound of burning remained. Burning everything. Burning away the past, the present and leaving only his glorious future ahead. Cassiel's dream, his dream, was now one step closer. Zabekiel would have to deal with retaliation at some point, but human resistance was laughable at best. His will would conquer them and then unite everyone! Emperor of the Universe, Zabekiel. Nice ring to it.