73 The Persistance of Foes*
She was a persistent b*tch, Rassa had to give her that. She'd hardly shut up for weeks. It wasn't like it wasn't obvious what she was doing either. Just more and more bullsh*t spilt to gain sympathy that Rassa did not have any intention of giving. Eventually, her incessant talking and whining became background noise. Rassa almost became grateful to have something other than the silence to greet him when he woke up. Almost. She could have used a more soothing voice.
He had, at one point, told her to shut up before he acted on the need to rip out her vocal cords. Evidently that only served to encourage her. So, Rassa had sighed and turned back to doing his own thing. Rather than treating it as a curse, he started using it as a way to hone his senses. Though, her being in the same place nearly the entire time meant he had to move around his larger cell in order to really take advantage of any training to be had. Luckily, she never seemed to realise what he was doing. His movements had become near soundless, which was all the more scary any time someone entered his cell. To move from one place to another faster than the wind, yet never make a sound, more than a few had screamed before Rassa had sunk his fangs into their veins. He wasn't picky about where. The taller he'd gotten, the higher up the body he'd tended to attack, from wrists he'd gone to upper arms, then throats. Apparently the throat was the scariest for most people though, because now they tended to cover their throats like that would stop Rassa from attacking them. Did they forget that Rassa just needed access to a vein? It didn't matter to him where, the throat just happened to be the easiest access point for his height.
Seri had asked once if he'd kill her if given the chance. It was one of the only questions that Rassa deigned to answer amongst all her drivel.
"Depends how hungry I am, and how thin my patience". Probably one of the most honest answers he'd given to anyone in years. She didn't seem to like that answer though.
"I thought we were friends?"
That had made Rassa laugh. It'd been a long time since he'd laughed, truly laughed. It felt good, despite the dark topic they were discussing. Maybe that was just where his humour was headed? Who knew, one needed more opportunities to laugh to truly know their tastes in humour.
Seri hadn't liked that either, she didn't seem to like a lot of things that Rassa did, and yet she kept at it. She must have been getting paid a fortune.
The rat was without a doubt Zaroth's pride and joy. Fed on a diet of blood for over a year now, and it had shown no signs of deteriorating so long as it was fed. It had increased in strength and speed, and perhaps best of all, did not seem affected by the anthrite as the original specimen had. The only reason it had yet to break out of the cage was because it was anthrite, the strongest metal known, and it was just a rat.
It's resistance to the anthrite had led Zaroth to a conclusion that had been later verified by the dwarves. Anthrite was a metal that at its core, was almost crystalline in structure, it could therefore hold magical energy. In the case of the original specimen, it seemed that its abilities stemmed from the Life Lines on its back. When in contact with anthrite, those abilities seemed to be cut off as the anthrite continuously took the energy the Specimen need to activate its abilities. Thanks to the rats having no Life Lines, anthrite did not have the same effect on them. It was quite fascinating, and Zaroth had counted it as a tremendous success. He was capable of creating powerful soldiers now, and so long as they were fed blood regularly, they would be controllable and unstoppable. The idea had thrilled him to no end. He hardly saw the point in keeping around the noble escort that had been attempting to connect with the specimen in recent weeks. Still, it would be interesting to see if actual offspring would compare to what Zaroth had managed to discover on his own. And now, it seemed the time had come.
The orders had arrived in the afternoon, and Zaroth had called in a few guards immediately.
"Prepare to chain him, completely," Zaroth ordered, "We're sending the whore in".
"I provided you with anthrite armour for a reason, put it to good use," Zaroth snapped back.
The Guard had no room for further arguments, then nodded, "It will be done then, Sir".
"Wait until after his meal though, when he lets his guard down," Zaroth instructed.
The Guards retreated down into the depths of the mines to prepare.
Zaroth grinned as he watched his prized rat lap up the last of the blood it'd been fed for the day.
"I see they're finally getting impatient," Zaroth said, "At least I have a back-up plan if this fails now, right little one?"
Zaroth teased the rat with a finger, then grinned as he stood and got to work.
On the edge of the Seisin Mountains, a young man in a travelling cloak caught himself on a tree, breathing heavily as he looked up at the mountains before him. They had never seemed so imposing before, dark clouds gathering across the ranges. The air just didn't feel right.
The young man sucked in a deep breath, "Come on Aegin, just a bit further. You have to get to him before they do".
The young man straightened his back, took another breath, then dashed forward again. He'd pushed himself hard the entire journey, barely stopping to rest. The horse he had brought to eat up the ground between him and the one he was pursuing had long since given out. But now he was at the last leg, he was almost there. He just hoped that he'd get there in time.