“Well, this is the section of world myths and legends. If there is anything about the demon attacking your nation, it will be in here.” After Renki explained his people’s plight to Nestor, the historian had led them into the depths of the library. Immediately they got to work scanning the shelves and removing books and scrolls.
“Myths and Legends: Spirits,” Pachacamac read the title of the first book he pulled off of the shelf. “Definitely blunt enough, I say.” He tossed it on the floor, causing Nestor to jump slightly as the paper flopped onto the stone tiling.
“Please be a bit more careful. Some of these tomes are quite old.”
Renki had crouched down to scan the lower shelves. He spotted a thin book with ornate writing on the spine and pulled it out. “What about this? It looks like it’s written in your language. Subitō! Meratrīcēs Ubīque!”
“That is not supposed to be in this section!” Nestor yelled, leaping at Renki and snatching the book from his hand. Suspiciously hurried he went to go properly place the book, leaving Renki and Pachacamac to sort through the shelves. Soon they had gathered up a few large piles of books and Nestor lead them towards the mural wall, where there were tables for studying. As they sat down, something a few tables away caught Renki’s eye. On one table were laid out numerous scrolls, and on the table next to it two echidnas were working on something.
“What is that over there? It appears to be some sort of large doll or puppet,” Renki asked Nestor, pointing at the tables.
“Ah, that would be a Gizoid.”
“The word means “everything”, and that is exactly what they do.”
“Well, that’s the plan, but right now a better name would be Nihilum!” Nestor began laughing, but stopped and quickly glanced behind himself to make sure the Gizoid builders hadn’t heard him. He leaned closer to Renki. “So far they’ve hardly been able to do anything, let alone perform as the wonders of technology that Consul Ix said they’d be. Still, he believes we have a future in them, but I just think he doesn’t want to see his invention fail.”
“So your Consul is the one who invented them?”
“He and a team of researchers at the university, but they really only came up with the basic idea, not anything concrete. Still, it helped him get elected.”
“Why exactly do they not work?”
“They can’t seem to find a good way of powering them. All the engines they’ve tried die after a few minutes. The machinery is all there, and they’ve got plenty of prototypes to test, but they can’t seem to get them to run.”
“Perhaps the ancient power I sought from the Ponapori could be used in this resear-” Renki was cut off with a sharp elbow to the rib from Pachacamac.
“Ancient power?” Nestor pondered, staring up at the ceiling. “Oh! You must mean this!” Nestor snatched a book from one of the piles at the table, and with the expert touch of someone who has spent the better part of his lifetime in a library he flipped to a page which he showed to Renki and Pachacamac. On it was picture of eight gems, one of which was about twice as big as the others, which encircled it. “According to this legend, angelic creatures inhabit the streams of the eastern mountains. Seeking to spread peace and joy throughout the world, the gods granted them objects of great power with which they could control the forces of nature. The servers are the seven chaos-”
“Chaos is power,” Pachacamac continued, surprising Nestor.
“Power enriched by the heart,” Renki added.
“The controller is the one who unifies the chaos. So I was right about the legend then, wasn’t I?”
“Mostly. In the version amongst my people the sky-beings crafted the seven chaos and tried to take over the world and the gods stopped them with the controller.”
“Well, there are many versions of the tale. This one just happened to be in one of the books on the table.”
“That means that there must be something about Hyonisuno in here! We must begin searching!” Renki slid the opened book to himself and began poring through the pages.
Hours passed as the trio searched the volumes of lore around them. Pachacamac was the first to lose interest and announced he was going to find an open space to train. Renki and Nestor continued searching, but the majority of the information was about gods or mortal heroes, and anything written about evil spirits was little help in how to defeat something as powerful as what plagued the northern foxes. Finally however, Renki found something.
“I found something!” Renki said, standing up with such force that he knocked over the stool he was sitting on. Nestor stood and quickly walked around the table. “This box – it seems that it is possible to capture malevolent spirits with it!”
“And look in the corner of the page!” Nestor said, pointing at the corner were the book was bound. Peeking out from the edge of the binding was a recently familiar shape. Carefully, Nestor opened the binding between the pages to reveal the shape of a gem just like the ones in the legend.
“This must mean it can use to objects of the angelic beings somehow. Perhaps to give it power?”
“That seems likely. The box would be easy enough to build here, with the right tools, and you could return to Coatlteptl with it.”
“Perfect! I must return to the consuls with this information immediately!” Renki nearly bolted out of the room, but Nestor caught him by the back of his robe.
“Slow down there celeris. The senate house is probably closed now and the consuls won’t be there.”
“What do you mean?”
“Why don’t you check the windows?”
Renki glanced across the library to where the large windows were. “I do not see anyth- ah, I understand.”
“Come, you too may stay at my home for the evening and we shall go to the consuls in the morning.”
“I would not want to impose on you-”
“It’s really no problem. Besides, this whole business with demons and legends has got my scholar side all riled up!”
* * * * *
The next day Renki, Pachacamac, and Nestor went before the consuls with their findings. “Welcome back Kitsune and Ponapori… and I see you have brought one of our own,” Pompeius said as the three presented themselves.
“Cōnsulēs, we come to you bearing information on a device which could prove capable of capturing the beast which ravages the Kitsune lands to the north. I believe it is possible to construct in Nocturne.”
“Present this information,” Ix said. Nestor stepped forward and handed over a thick stack of papers which he had copied any relevant information onto. The consuls took a moment to scan it over. “It says here the device requires the “tools of the angelic beings”. I assume these are the ancient objects of power referred to in the Chieftess’ letter?”
Pachacamac was a bit taken back with the news that his mother had so casually given away the existence of the objects of power, but considering what they had found in the library it was not a very well kept secret. “Indeed. Near my people’s land are legendary gems of power, the true location of which is known to very few, our chieftess among them.”
“Since the specifics were not mentioned in the letter I am to assume that this location will not be given away easily. Yet you expect us to build this box?”
“But Consul Ix, surely if the basic box is created then we can use the gems of power later.”
“No, my partner is right,” Pompeius said. “Based upon the given information it seems unlikely that we could construct this box properly. I believe more research is needed. We shall appoint a team to continue researching this box as well as the demon you describe.”
“Should we really dedicate so much focus to this one fox?” Ix interjected.
“The plight of “this one fox” affects his entire land, Ix. The Kitsune clan has always been an important ally. It is in their lands that our trade road ends. I would not like to see them destroyed.”
“I suppose you are right. You, librarian,” Ix said, calling Nestor forward. “Return to the university and gather a team to help research this subject. Make sure to place engineers among them.”
“Sir, from what divisions should they be?”
“Take some men from the Gizoid researchers.”
“Very well, right away sir.” Nestor quickly departed from the room.
“In the meantime,” Pompeius said, once again addressing Renki and Pachacamac, “I believe I have thought of a way for you to better use your time while the research is underway.”
“I think I know what’s coming,” Pachacamac muttered.
“Regardless of what we discover concerning the gems of power, there are certain materials that we will need to construct this box. To the west live a collection of hedgehog tribes who have learned how to craft golden rings which give off a great amount of energy. Nothing as strong as described in these legends, but they should be useful.”
“I assume you are suggesting that we go to find them, correct?” Renki asked.
“Precisely,” Pompeius said, directing an attendant to hand him a parchment and quill.
“This is really turning into one long fetch quest, isn’t it?” Pachacamac said.
“It would seem that way,” Renki replied. Pompeius rolled the parchment into a scroll which gave to an attendant who passed it to Renki.
“As a token of good will to your people, we shall pay whatever fee the hedgehog’s charge. That scroll will explain everything to whomever you purchase the rings from. Good luck on your journey.”
“Thank you once again, consuls,” Renki said. He and Pachacamac bowed and left the room. Gathering their things from Nestor’s house, they set out from the city, headed west.
“So, this should not be too difficult. We must simply travel to the hedgehog clans and acquire the gold rings, right?” Renki asked when they were on the outskirts of the city.
“More or less, except that there’s one problem,” Pachacamac replied.
“We have to pass through cat territory.”
“We have to do what?!”
“We could travel around their land, but that would add two, maybe three more days. The quickest route is to cut straight through. It’s still along the edge and we shouldn’t draw too much attention, but we still need to be careful. The Felidae are incredibly territorial and they don’t take kindly to visitors.”
* * * * *
Later, as the sun began to set, Renki and Pachacamac had stopped to set up camp. They were now practically on the edge of entering Felidae territory. Setting out at dawn the next day, they hoped, would allow them to traverse the dangerous land in the span of a day. But for now, Pachacamac took the first watch of the night as Renki settled down on his sleeping mat, their smile fire crackling behind him.