Hey y’all, here’s Chapter Five of our epic switchblade-and-sorcery e-novel, Those Who Create and Destroy. The novel’s almost finished and expected to come in at around 250,000 words. While we’re putting finishing touches on Parts 2 and 3, we’ll continue releasing Part 1 in weekly installments on Wednesdays, with audiobook and e-reader formats coming soon.
—Mabel & Cass
“When Was the Last Time We Painted over the Blood on the Walls?”
story by Mabel Harper & Cassidy Webb
written by Cassidy Webb
Content Warning: MISGENDERING
Elisha Weyland knew perfectly well that his father was an old man. The Prefect himself was forty-two—so no spring chicken—and Levi had gotten off to somewhat of a late start when it came to the whole spawning endeavor.
Still, Elisha couldn’t help but feel unsettled by how feeble the Weyland patriarch looked at this moment. His visage was gray and drawn, his usually sharp eyes sunken and weary. The lines of his forehead, in the scant globe-light of his makeshift subterranean office, seemed deeper and more cavernous than Elisha could remember ever seeing them.
“Dad,” sighed the Prefect, leaning back in his chair. He fingered the cup of panchrest DeShay had sent him, grimacing at the thought of actually downing the bitter stuff. The relentless whole-body ache he felt in his muscles and joints was almost preferable. “You look like death. Why don’t you lie down for a bit? Tackle this whole thing afresh once you’ve had a few winks.”
“I didn’t call you in here so you could lecture me on self-care, Elisha.” Levi scribbled furiously at a parchment on the table in front of him.
“All right, Dad.” Elisha gave a tired, goodnatured smile. “Then what did you call me in for?”
Levi glanced up from his papers, switching his gaze between the two silent Ordinators who flanked the doorway behind his son. “Leave us,” he commanded them. “Resume your watch outside in the hall.”
The masked guards nodded their heads as one and obeyed.
“You’re kicking out the Ordinators?” asked Elisha, as they shut the door behind them. “They’re not exactly known for their love of gossip.”
Levi rose and crossed to the door, pressing his weathered palm against it with an expression of practiced concentration. “The Ordinators answer to the whole of the Tribunal.” A burst of soft light rippled outward from his hand and enveloped the surrounding wall before fading from view. “What I have to say to you is not for the ears of the whole Tribunal.”
“Ooh, intrigue,” Elisha chirped, lifting an eyebrow. “Let’s hear it.”
“While you know I treasure your obdurate sense of humor” —Levi resumed his seat—“it does begin to wear a little under the current circumstances.”
Elisha smiled, sighed heavily through his nose. “I know, Dad. I’m starting to get on my own nerves, too. Just afraid if I shut down the ol’ conviviality conveyor belt I’ll end up in the fetal position on the floor. Now what’s up?”
“Per protocol”—the Archmagus folded his hands on the table in front of him—“I’ve assigned Devisha to head up the official investigation into last night’s attack.”
“That’s old news,” said Elisha.
“The new news,” continued his father, “is that I’d like you to pursue an unofficial investigation.”
“One that will not take place beneath the scrutiny of the council, and will therefore be free to give sufficient consideration to the interests of Ordo Arcanus.”
Elisha’s smile was finally, utterly gone. “Then you suspect Khmun.”
The Archmagus, if it was possible, looked even wearier than he had moments earlier. “It pains me to say I do. But I’d be a fool not to, given the less-than-genial history between our two orders—and taking into consideration Karamat’s separatist leanings.” He paused, shuffled his papers, heaved a sigh. “However—I do not wish to air my suspicions publicly until such time as it becomes unavoidably necessary. Assuming the High Servant is not, in fact, our enemy, I do not wish to make her so.”
Elisha pressed his steepled fingers to his lips. “Well … fuck. Have to say I never thought we’d be facing a thing like this in my lifetime. Kinda figured all that ancient-feud bullshit was behind us.”
“We don’t yet have the truth of the matter. This could just as easily have been the act of a lone deranged apostate. Let’s pray that’s the case, and that the rogue can be swiftly found and neutralized.”
“Hear, hear.” Elisha smiled bleakly.
Levi thumbed once more, silently, through the parchments on the table. “On a less dire note—what news of our young hero?”