Hi, and welcome to the preview of Rift Enders!
This story is a special collaborative effort of two aspiring authors, Zacaro and DiscordArc. You can find both of our profiles here on the website, along with our other works on Fanfiction(.net), and see what we're all about.
Rift Enders is what is referred to as a Collaborative Fiction, possessing more than one author. We have collected all of our passion and visions into this one story, pouring all of our heart into it. We speak as one when we say that we hope you enjoy what we have created.
Rift Enders is a long term story, and will be updated regularly. Please be aware that there will be adult themes, violence, and disturbing content within this story, discretion is advised.
Thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoy!
Humanity was in an age of prosperity.
Man was being pushed into a new era, one of technological advancements and further expansion across the globe. Countries worked in mutual agreement of ethics and politics, moving forward as one, and to stamp out any and all regional conflict. The world was theirs.
Until the appearance of Rifts, approximately eight hundred years ago.
Black, dense tears in reality that materialized in the sky, opening up at seemingly random areas and timings. The only thing that was known of the Rifts was that they held nightmares inside their reservoir, an endless pool of shapeless, shadowy, otherworldly creatures. These creatures appeared in the form of small black clouds, but then could take form of any creature it so desired. Such a peculiar race of beings were referred to as Rifters.
And they slaughtered everything in sight.
Humanity was not ready. These mindless, murderous beings ravaged the lands and decimated any and all that stood in their ways. There was no preventing the Rifts from opening, nor predicting where they would appear next. Humans were defenseless. The age of man had come to an end.
It was only thanks to a brilliant scientist named Rostam Durug that humanity survived the onslaught.
After a century of humanity's hopeless struggle against the Rifts, this man came forward, telling the world that he had succeeded in finding their salvation. He had constructed a gemstone, from unknown minerals, and he named it Chrynelnite, a gemstone that he claimed would prevent Rifts from ever terrorizing them again, and save them all.
The Chrynelnite was tested, and proved its incredible ability. Rifts failed to ever open up, and active Rifters would drop dead, near the Chrynelnite's general vicinity, creating a safe area for humanity to ensure their survival through the pressing times.
To sustain the existing survivors thus far, men and women of authority ordered the Chrynelnite to be shattered into as many pieces as possible without losing its mystical properties, which was eight.
These eight pieces of Chrynelnite were scattered across the land and buried deep into the soil of the earth, with eight cities constructed around each one. These Havens were Camelot, Babylon, Biringan, Avalon, Falias, Atlantis, Esvial, and Mu.
And since those terrible times, humanity has found refuge within these Havens, a place to finally call home once more. The outside world was left to the Rifts, and the countless amount of people, who failed to enter the Havens, along with it. The world has been discarded by humans, and now the Havens are the only thing they have left. They are safe from extinction.
The boy was hunched over, kneeling to the ground.
A small stream of waves washed through, the quick ripple dancing off the edge of the puddle's surface before meeting back at the centre and collapsing. The soft breeze constantly shifted the water, testing its strength while pressure. Every time the wind blew, the puddle grew as it spread into the crevasses of the pavement, fated to eventually split apart into smaller, individual streams.
And every time the ripples subsided, the clear reflection that the puddle held would return to a crystal clear image.
The reflection displayed a glimmering picture of the blue sky above, along with a few buildings circling around, slightly darkening the image.
It fascinated the boy as he continued to stare.
A talented, dedicated artist could've chosen to spend the rest of his life attempting to craft a painting of the elegant sky that watched over them, and yet it would never reach the same level of accuracy as this gathered up puddle of water's natural reflection. It made the boy appreciate what others would find ridiculous.
The boy snapped out of his train of thought, and immediately shot up to his feet.
He gazed at the broom that he had left leaning to the side of a muddy crater, and realized he had completely neglected sweeping the road as he was told.
Lero winced as he turned around to face the gruff man approaching.
"Uncle," he gave a quick bow, slowly reaching for the wooden broom.
His uncle's face was already grim, with his thick and short eyebrows deeply furrowed.
Fortunately, he seemed more irritated than angry, which meant that he was probably too focused on something else to snap at Lero again. The old man had grown easier and easier to read over the years, mostly thanks to his indifference to being subtle anymore.
"I can see you're hard at work." he sighed, his tone dripping with sarcasm, which made Lero wince a second time.
"Sorry. I, uh, got distracted."
His uncle's expression lightened ever so slightly.
Lero turned his head for just a moment, glancing at the puddle behind him.
He didn't have it in him to ever talk about the daydreaming he did.
Painstakingly, he remembered one instance in his childhood when he tried to explain the things he did, and why he would stare at the most simple things for the longest time. About the all the countless daydreams he would have.
It didn't end well. He recalled his uncle just looking at him with the blankest of expressions. An expression that didn't show any reaction, no effort to react. That memory was still burned into his mind.
"Honestly," his uncle muttered as he knelt down and brushed his index finger against the pavement. "There's an entire layer of dust just sitting here..."
"I'll get straight to it!"
"No, you're done for the day. We have bigger fish to fry."
Lero paused for a moment.
He understood now why his uncle had snapped at him, he already had something else on his mind. Something heavier.
Lero could feel his body go cold, and his grip on the broom weaken and go numb. He hadn't been thinking about what the two of them were dreading, but now it was all flooding back in with pain, and anxiety found a way to his heart once again.
The Haven Guard's Phase of Investigation.
In the Haven they regarded as their home, Esvial, the Haven Guard were seen as their saviours and also their greatest nightmare. There wasn't very much that Lero knew about them, besides the obvious fact that they were his and his uncle's most feared group of particular individuals. From what Lero had heard from others, they were the ones who upheld all law from the centre of Esvial, to the very outskirts of its walls.
He'd never seen a single member of the Guard. He was a simple labourer working at the very east outskirt of the Haven, his home almost wedged right next to the Wall. He had lived next to that gargantuan slab of metal, cement, and concrete for as long as he could possibly remember, even when others were terrified to ever be remotely close to it.
Very few people lived at the outskirts, mostly out of superstitious fear. There were very few tenants living in the area, and even less people that ever showed themselves. Despite the luxury that most of Esvial held, the very edges of their Haven sometimes felt nothing more than a barren wasteland, with more empty stretches of land the further you moved away from the capital.
The occasions where the Haven Guard would visit such places were almost non-existent up until recently. They had never bothered when they had the choice to just send ordinary soldiers on scheduled patrols.
But things were different now.
"Are they on the way?"
"Robert just opened the gates to the eastward road. They'll be here any second." his uncle turned his head to the side and coughed before continuing. "Go get yourself cleaned up, then have everyone standing outside."
"Yes, uncle." he gave his head a quick nod.
Handing the broom to his uncle, he scurried off in the opposite direction.
He jogged down the white-tiled pavement until he saw his house on the other side of the road.
'House' was being a little generous when it came to describing his home. The wooden building stuck out in the street like a sore thumb, even more worn-down than the houses around it. It only took a closer look to see slabs of wood jutting out of the exterior, pushing out of the walls. The roof had been destroyed several times by heavy rain and hail, and by its fifth repair, it seemed like it was barely hanging on for dear life. They couldn't afford new materials every time it broke down, and instead had to keep using the same wood over and over again, causing the roof to get thinner and more unstable with every turn.
Lero doubted the house could recover from any more damage.
Yet this was his home. His own 'haven'.
And the home of another twenty six people as well.
It started with only Lero and his uncle, back when he was only two years old. His uncle had managed to smuggle the both of them into Esvial, and setup a shop almost immediately to support themselves. It was a risky thing to do, and Lero could only imagine how difficult and frightening ordeal it must have been.
And despite that, his uncle constantly played with fire. Even in his risky position, he would always let his kind heart get the better of him. Over the years, his uncle invited more and more smuggled children and adults into his home, regardless of whatever their past stories were. His house was filling up, the risk of being caught was rising with every new member, and yet he never stopped. He just couldn't.
Lero smiled. He loved his uncle.
He approached the wooden door, slowly opened it up –
And almost felt an actual wave of screams and shouts burst from the inside.
He watched with tired eyes as two young boys, both the same age of eight, smacked each other fiercely with smooth wooden sticks, half-playfully and half-seriously. It only got more intense as one of them wacked the other directly over the head with his stick, then tackled him to the ground while his fallen opponent flailed his skinny arms in rebuttal.
Now it was a serious fight.
Lero groaned and stepped over them, flinching as one of the boys' legs accidentally kicked him. He was in no mood to stop them, especially considering that they would just resume their battle five minutes after they were scolded and punished.
Someone stopped him at the entrance to the living room, stretching out one arm in front of Lero.
It was a boy, one year older than him, Shin. He had a stern look on his face, one that almost looked threatening. His face was scrunched up with a sore mood, and his cheeks rose up a notch, making a display of his acme-riddled complexion.
"You know they're coming, right?" he asked Lero out of context, but his meaning still clear.
Lero couldn't think of anything reassuring to say, and only managed a shrug. "We brownnose them; tell them anything they want to hear. Just suck up to them and hope they leave."
Shin's gaze dropped down, and it was obvious that he wasn't happy with the answer he was given.
But he lowered his arm and shifted away into the next room.
They never talked much. Lero hadn't noticed it before.
He advanced through the hallway, brushing through some more people on his way to the back of the house, some older and some younger than him. There were some faces that he recognized immediately, and others that were only faintly familiar to him.
The moment he entered the living room, the daunting atmosphere of dread threw him off balance. There were already several children waiting, anticipating his arrival with the grimmest of looks on their faces. These were the people who were more aware of their situation than the others.
A girl, quietly nestled into the mouldy brown sofa, glanced up and stiffened her body. Her stare was now locked onto Lero.
"They're here, aren't they…?"
Lero gazed back at the girl.
Blonde hair, and sharp blue eyes. It was a pleasant combination, he thought.
Serena. They saw and spoke to each other almost every day, but he never tried to get to know her well, despite living in the same house. He wondered what he could've learned if he had just cared a little more. With what was to come, it was likely he would never get that chance again, it simply came and went before he realized it.
He blinked. "Yeah. Nervous?"
Serena shuffled around the sofa uncomfortably, her ripped trousers making themselves more visible.
"What do they even want?" her voice was strained.
"We're running an illegal business," Lero shrugged, the action being the only response he really had. "Somehow they know, and they're going to put a stop to us."
A brown-haired boy in the corner of the room, one that didn't usually talk, suddenly piped up.
"You think…someone snitched on us?"
"We didn't have any trouble with our neighbours." Lero shook his head.
"Except the Trussels. They complained about the noise a couple times."
An older boy repairing a tile in the floor spoke without looking up, a white hat covering his face. "The Trussels are a bunch of tools."
Lero didn't have an answer for them. He was just as in the dark as them.
People knew how dangerous life was outside the Havens. If they weren't bothering anyone, what was wrong with them seeking refuge inside Esvial? They weren't saints, but they did a fair about of labour almost every day on the streets for other people, doing the jobs that other people simply didn't want to. Lero even knew two kids who worked in the damp, revolting sewers from dusk to dawn, never once complaining about their work.
If someone really had rat them out, he couldn't imagine how disgusting of a person they must've been. They were just a small group of people without families, or without any place else to turn to.
The voice came as a whisper from behind Lero, so silent that he hardly heard it.
He turned on his heel, looked down, and felt his heart skip a beat.
A little girl, not even half his size, was glancing up at him, standing on her tip-toes. She had been pulling on the back of his shirt the entire time, but he hadn't even noticed her until she said his name.
Her long blonde hair had covered her left eye, with her right eye just barely peeking out into view. She had a soft, plush toy locked under her left arm. It looked worn-out, with brown patches covering most of whatever it was originally intended to be.
"Teyla," he muttered, picking her up from under her arms and sitting her on top of the kitchen table. "I thought you were put to sleep?"
She didn't pay attention to that. "Where's Bhan?"
"He's really busy outside." he answered her with a small smirk. "You won't see him today."
He still adored how she pronounced his uncle's name, unable to say Khan.
It annoyed his uncle, but Lero always found it amusing without fail. She was already nine years old, it defied all logic that she still couldn't say his name correctly. Khan sometimes told Lero that she was doing it on purpose to irritate him.
Lero knew that wasn't true. She was a sweet girl. Never wanted to bother anyone.
He looked into her sky blue eyes, feeling an immeasurable amount of depth in them. Everyone in the family always said that she would grow up into one of the most beautiful women in Esvial, glamorous and elegant.
She could've had an incredible future. A stellar one.
But just like everyone else he lived with, she didn't have a real family of her own.
"Look, you should go back to your room, Teyla." an exasperated sigh escaped him before he could stop it. "We're going to be busy in the living room."
Her head perked up. "Doing what?"
"Adult business. Just wait in your room, okay?"
"Will you put me to sleep?"
Lero turned his head around, seeing everyone else already sorting the room and cleansing it from the ground up. There was plenty of garbage to pick up, and lots of mopping to do.
"Sorry, Keyla. I can't do that." he felt a small sting in his chest. "If you don't fall asleep by yourself, just play with your toys, alright?"
He watched as the girl looked at the floor, half-defeated. She could tell something was wrong and that she needed to just do as she was told. Lero slipped her off the table, then stared as she slowly wandered out of the room.
Keyla meant the world to him. He loved her just as much as his own uncle. She was his little sister.
Not actual sister, but he had taken care of her ever since she was four, and had watched her grow up over the years. Even if he wasn't blood related to Keyla, he knew that the two of them possessed an immensely deep bond. He'd do anything to keep a smile on her face.
So the thought of her being tossed out of the house along with everyone else terrified him. They couldn't take care of her if that came to pass. They wouldn't even be able to take care of themselves, let alone a poor child.
Lero stepped aside as a sudden cup flew past his face. He glared at two children throwing used plastic cups to each other, passing them from the living room to the kitchen.
The sound of screeching wheels boomed from the outside, with audible clops colliding against the cobble road. Lero heard it, everyone in the room heard it, and they all turned over to the direction of the window, pausing everything they were doing.
One boy got onto his toes and peered through the small window, then turned to look back at everyone else.
The boy's face was as white as snow.
The mahogany door creaked open hesitantly.
A skinny man stepped inside, brushing his left hand through his greasy patch of hair. He had several documents held in his other hand, almost pouring out of his grip. Looking so pitifully frail, he waddled over to the desk over in the middle of the room, sweating like a pig. No one could blame him. After all, he wasn't one to carry the bad news, and he was bringing them to arguably one of the most powerful people in the planet.
"Please forgive my intrusion, Father!"
There was a shuddered atmosphere of silence. The tension was thick, perhaps enough for a knife to slice into it. The air was suffocating for the frail man. The mere aura of intimidation the man before him carried was unlike no other. Then the man behind the desk turned around to meet his visitor.
An old man, but not in the slightest bit fragile. His posture was intimidating despite his warm smile, with his entire past written like scripture on his face. The wrinkles that came with his age had begun to show themselves, yet not quite so much to be noticeable, for now. His hair was gradually receiving, particularly due to the stress, and his eyes were whitening- an indicator of his oncoming blindness. A white robe decorated the man, with golden patterns gardening the outlines from the abdomen and below. He wasn't in his full attire, but always chose to have his robe on from the Church. After all, it was his role.
"What is it, my dear child?" The Priest called for the man, motioning a hand forward.
Usually, that kind of gesture meant comfort, casualty, and warmness, but for the Priest before him, it meant differently. The frail man could feel the chills on his skin.
This wasn't a good indicator of what was about to come.
"Come, sit down."
"By your will, I am gracious for your permission, Father." the man said, thinking it might be the best time to show his politeness.
He shakily took a seat on the chair nearby, and glanced around the room. It was really simple. The usual religious symbols draped over the walls like vines, and an open window just behind the Priest illuminated the room. The man struggled to find his words right, and one could not blame him for being nervous. He heaved a heavy sigh, before steeling his nerves. He's gone through worse than this, he had faced a Rifter, and came out alive.
There was nothing more terrifying than facing a Rifter. He closed his eyes, and hoped for the best.
"Father, I bring grave news," the man finally said after a few seconds of silence. He opened his eyes, and greeted the Priest's warm smile.
However, the smile didn't exactly reach the old man's eyes. There was coldness in them, a calculating look washed over him like predator eyeing its prey.
"And what is this grave news you speak of, child?"
The man's throat went incredibly dry at that. He wasn't sure how he should report what he carried. He glanced at the pile of papers on his arms, and he shuddered at its contents. After all, who could blame him? It was a disastrous consequence after all. One of the Havens, Camelot, was attacked by Rifters. The reports contained details of how the attack went down, with descriptions painting the picture of a rogue Rift opening directly above a marketplace. There were so many countless casualties. If the Haven Guard hadn't been there a minute later, it would've easily raised to the near millions already. The Rifters worked fast, and it terrified the man. The mere idea of that happening in the Haven he was living in…
He shook his head to clear his unwanted thoughts. He was already dealing with an equally bad situation before him, and that was potentially displeasing the Priest in front of him.
"Father, there was an attack in one of the Havens, Camelot. The Rifters somehow opened a Rift inside the Haven, and proceeded to slaughter every civilian on sight."
It fell so quiet that it would've been possible to hear a pin drop.
The Priest's reaction was absolutely null at first, but slowly something was crafted onto the elderly man's face. His thick white eyebrows brushed upwards as the Priest almost got out of his seat.
"A Rift…" he whispered, unintentionally causing his tone to sound threatening. "…inside a Haven's walls?"
The man gulped, fear consuming him from head-to-toe.
He finally parted with all the files in his arms, spreading them out onto the table in front of him. The reports given from Camelot, all laid bare for the Priest to feast his eyes upon.
There was another moment of silence.
Then the Priest's head perked up from the reports.
"Hoh…" the Priest puffed. "That sounds…awful. How many casualties were there?"
"A total of a hundred thousand casualties, Father. Roughly eighty percent of victims are dead, and the remaining is severely injured."
"I see, I see. I will add the unfortunate souls to my prayer," said the old man as he'd clasped his hands to form a prayer.
His everlasting warm smile remained on his face, but his eyes betrayed it. There was a sense of excitement in them, a sense of danger that caused every hair in the man's body to raise on its ends. It baffled the man what the Priest could possibly be so…energetic.
"And how does this affect…us?" were the timid words that escaped his mouth.
The way the old man said his words was as if he was expecting something grand. The man felt his sweat drop down his temples, and the shaking of his hands.
"Father, you realize what this means…right…?"
The Priest nodded. "Indeed. Such Rift behaviour is illogical."
"And yet it happened…"
The Priest finally rose from his chair.
The man didn't have the courage to stand up with the Priest. He didn't think he could even if he wanted to, his legs had gone slightly numb and cold. It was an incredibly unpleasant feeling.
"Then," the Priest muttered. "That means the Chrynelnite shards are now inadequate."
"They've been humanity's saving grace for over seven hundred years, Father." the man gasped, starting to visibly panic. "If they don't work anymore - the Havens are no safer than the outside world!"
"Hm," hummed the Priest, seemingly thoughtless.
"We must initiate an investigation immediately, Father!"
The Priest turned to face the man properly again.
His warm smile reached deep into the man's heart, soothing him and terrifying him at the same time. He was an emotional wreck.
"Don't worry child, for that has already been answered. I have hired a scholar who is unrivalled with the research of Rifters."
The man stuttered. "You have…?"
"Indeed. Esvial has already analysed some odd behaviour from Rifts as well. We've selected someone to give us the explanations we all need. She is known to be very…thorough."
The Priest paused, looking over to the door of his office, as though he heard something the man didn't.
Then the Priest chuckled.
"In fact, you will meet her soon."
The already thick atmosphere gradually turned thicker, and the air was even more suffocating. There was a sense of heaviness on the man's shoulders as if the world decided to throw its weight on him.
Whoever this person was, she'd definitely made an enemy in this Priest. The tone alone betrayed the fact that the Priest wasn't in the slightest bit fond of her.
Surprising himself, the man found the courage to ask.
"My Father, forgive me for my lacking, but who is this scholar?" he asked, as if tasting the words in his mouth.
He instantly regretted his decision for the moment he saw the Priest's eyes flash with anger, he realized he stepped on a landmine.
"Ah, yes. I forgive you, my child. She is not really well known in your division, as she'd prefer to keep her relation with Rifters a secret." The Priest mumbled, regaining the composure he had abruptly lost. "Call it… saving face, yes. I dare not to announce her name, myself."
The man blinked again, lost. "Why so…?"
"You could say we are enemies."
Something creaked, echoing throughout the entire office and demanding immediate attention.
"I would appreciate it if you didn't think of me as such, Father."
The sudden voice caused the man to turn around so quickly, he might've experienced whiplash. Behind him, he saw a woman standing right in front of the door.
Since when did she enter? He hadn't even heard her approach the room.
The man studied the newcomer. She had beautiful auburn hair with a blonde ombre that was tied up to a braid with loose strands of hair falling off like waterfalls from it. Her bangs were parted to the side, giving a clear view to her beautiful face. It looked like it was chiselled with her cheekbones just in the right height, and jaws just the right width.
Her cherry coloured cupid-bow lips, but most of all her eyes caught the man's attention. They were shockingly violet that never seemed to stay still in the same colour. Kaleidoscopic violet eyes stared right into his, and he could feel his soul being ensnared by this tempting beauty in front of him.
"Where are my manners. My name is Alice Grace. I'm the head of the Research and Development team of Ragnarok." her voice spoke as smooth as silk.
An atmosphere of power erupted in the office all at once.
Everything was in this woman's control, now.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance."
An old man backed away slowly from the entrance of his home, shuffling over to the living room hesitantly.
Several men stepped inside the abode, their eyes silently scanning the environment. They were decorated with heavy steel armour, encasing them with plated protection from head-to-toe, making their every single movement echo throughout the entire house.
Most of the children had hidden themselves in the various bedrooms, while only Lero and his uncle were there to greet their visitors.
"Are you sure we can't-?" Khan started to ask.
A red-faced, sweaty man pointed at the wooden chair propped up against one of the walls.
"You'll speak when spoken to. Sit."
Lero watched as his uncle lowered his head and sat obediently. He rushed over to his side and stood next to him, putting his right arm on Khan's shoulder, doing whatever he could to silently reassure him.
More clops and clatters echoed as more of the Haven Guard invited themselves into the living room. It continued for a short while until seven armour-clad men and women were in the room, carefully positioning themselves in two single form lines. They turned to face each other, and raised their heads up in a dignified manner.
One last man entered the room, walking through the path made by his subordinates.
Lero noticed a red feather hanging from the back of the men's helmet. This one was different from the others.
The armoured man sat down in the chair opposite to Khan, then glanced down at the small table set between the two of them. He quietly reached for his helmet, slid it off his head, and placed it onto the wooden table with an audible thud.
Lero finally got a good look at the man's face. He was unquestionably old, his white hair showing obvious receding. The years hadn't been kind to the man, with wrinkles coating most of his skin. There was a noticeable scar over the right side of the man's lip as well, fleshy and dark. A sign of his ordeals in battle.
"Okay…" he sighed, staring as one of his men came over and placed a single piece of paper on the table. "I've been assigned to the inspection of your business. My name is Major Southey. Tarek Southey."
"It's an honour to meet you." Khan quickly responded. "I am delighted to-"
The Major held his right hand up, shutting up Khan immediately.
His voice was deep and soothing. "Let's skip the pleasantries. I have seven more stops after this."
The Major reached down and picked up the piece of paper.
Lero didn't get a very good look at it, but could tell that it was a proper document, complete with a stamp and signature.
"So," the Major continued, seemingly finished reading the long paper in just a moment. "The Haven Guard has deemed your business illegal. You do not possess a license, nor have you properly employed any of your so-called labourers."
"And your business houses several illegal immigrants, not including yourself."
The Major finally paused for a brief moment, allowing Khan to respond. The old man licked his lips nervously before speaking, his voice half-caught in his throat.
"We have lived here for sixteen years, Major. My nephew here and I have done nothing but be of service, maintaining an upkeep on these streets, managing the sewers, doing anything we can to justify our means of residence."
Major Southey's expression hadn't shifted in the slightest.
"The law stands."
Lero felt a cold sweat wash over him. He had been in this state for a while, but only started noticing it now.
"Then…that's it? You'll take our home away from us?" his uncle almost whimpered weakly. "Think of the children."
Lero looked at the Major carefully.
The man's eyes were focused on his uncle, yet felt so wearily empty and void. It was the tired, exhausted gaze that had no spark of life anywhere to be found. This had been in this situation that the Major had experienced countless of times before, or at least that was what it looked like to Lero. It was as though the old man's eyes told his entire life's story.
"There are thousands of children dying outside Esvial every single day," the Major muttered. "What gives you more of a right to live than them?"
There was no answer to that.
"If we let in every man, woman, and child enter our walls, we would be overrun. The system of Havens would fall apart."
Again, Lero watched as his uncle failed to retaliate. They couldn't with the logic presented to them, no matter how desperate their situation was. The Major had made sure to choose his words carefully, explaining their faults in a manner that couldn't be argued against.
The Major heaved a heavy sigh, then scratched the back of his head. His brutal silence carried on for a good while before he started to speak again.
"The Haven Guard's only option is to either shut down your business and deport any and all staff that do not possess identification papers," he paused to cough. "Or pardon you by the Forty Eighth Decree."
Every word that the man spoke had been anticipated by Lero. He had expected to hear those exact words in the exact tone that it was spoken in.
Except for the last part.
"Uh, decree?" Lero spoke up for the first time.
He had never heard the word before.
Khan looked just as baffled. "I've never heard of this…forty eighth decree."
There was a shift in the Major's eyes. It was clear that he didn't want to be here for even a moment longer, he wanted to wrap things up quickly.
"To put it simply, the Church decreed that any wrongdoings done in Esvial, with the exception of severe crimes, can be excused if the wrongdoer willingly lists up for Messenger duty."
There was a shift on Khan's expression that Lero caught almost immediately. It made him look as white as a sheet of paper, just the words of the Major had drained out all the colour in his face. Lero had never seen such a look on his uncle's, not once in all these years.
His heart skipped a beat as they stared at each other.
"Uncle…what is a Messenger?"
His uncle didn't even hesitate.