The Spinning Cog was Terminus’ only “bar” that catered specifically to the demvir race. It was a place for them to gather that was free of the prejudices of the other races and a place where they could talk in peace. They did serve alcohol because, while the demvir didn’t need to drink or eat, many of them still enjoyed the flavor of food and drink. Laermont sat at a booth and waited for Vita to arrive. He’d been contacted by his fellow machina and was waiting to hear about the job that he was going to be contracted to do. It sounded like a simple research job, but he’d let Vita explain everything fully once they met in person.
The journey from Cursus to Terminus was very long for the Adept Enchanter. Through his travels, he had developed this fluctuating persona between helping the impoverished demvir he would run into telling them to rally and stand their ground to the biological plague on the land and, avoiding all contact with any form of sentient life at all. The sun was just setting in the city of Terminus while Vita gathered his bearings after asking for directions from acceptable passersby. He and the demvir detective by the name of Laermont were to meet at an establishment known as “The Spinning Cog”. While walking the dimly lit streets toward his destination, the crimson-bordered midnight robe caught the watching eye of many. Vita relished at the chance to silence the ones who would look upon him.
He slid into the bar and pulled his hood down as he approached an empty table. He scanned the room with some displeasure. Demvir… drinking like the bipedal gluttons. So brainwashed they try to mimic their “masters”. He did not know if Laermont was there yet, but he placed a perfectly faceted ruby crystal in the middle of the table to signal it was Vita.
There could only be one Vita and his reputation preceded him. There were many stories about him and his extreme attitude about the other races. Laermont wasn’t sure he approved of such extremism, but a job was a job. He did feel some affinity for Vita’s views, although he doubted he would ever get as far as the other demvir in his hostility. The detective stood, sweeping his long coat out behind him and made his way to sit across from Vita.
“Hello. I presume you are Vita. Inspector Laermont here. Pleased to meet you.”
With the basic formalities done, the detective regarded his companion for a moment more, trying to assess him before speaking.
“We should begin. Tell me in detail about the job you’d like me to do and then we can discuss payment.”
Sitting back, Laermont adjusted the hat that perched on his head and waited to hear what his companion might have to say.
A behemoth of a man elegantly walked over to the table Vita sat at. His posture and overall presence subtly commanded the attention of the room. The artificer had done a little research on his new hire. Pre-Uprising,there really was not much to learn, which lead Vita to believe that he was awakened sometime after it. He was steadfast in his beliefs and a damn good investigator, one with a penchant for questioning authority to a certain extent. Laermont was a man that Vita would one day want on his side if everything played the way he wished for project Mercury.
The tiny demvir honed in on the magical energy around the bulwark of a machine to be surprised with no such energy there. We will certainly have to change that.
“I am pleased to meet you, yes. I am Vita of Cursus. You are constructed much stronger than I had imagined. Me, surprised. There really is no end to the games the Vis play on us all. Sit.”
Vita pulled out a stack of post that contained the conversations between him, Oman, Extricus and the group known as Suma. He slid the stack over to Laermont for safe keeping.
“Here is the group I wish you to look into for me. A collective of demvir in the deepest part of the Mountains of Hiemis. I am trying to garner if they are real or a trap. There is something that does not sit right with me about them and before joining, I would like to know more.
Vita was, quite possibly, one of the tiniest demvir that Laermont had ever seen. He was dwarfed by the powerfully constructed frame that the detective sported and his comment about the games the Vis played was well taken, even if the inspector was highly dubious about their actual existence. He sat down and waited until Vita had finished his request, leafing through the materials in front of him, before he replied.
“Interesting. I have heard rumors about this group, but they are strictly rumors. I’ll look into this matter for you in more detail. My fee is 500 exa per day plus expenses. If that is congenial to you, I will need a day’s pay in advance.”
He tented his huge fingers in front of his faceplate as he spoke again.
“It would be helpful if you could try your best to elucidate what it is that makes you uneasy about them. Instinct is a powerful thing and if we can analyze exactly what is setting you on edge, it will help me to know what to look for.”
The heavyset demvir waited patiently to hear what answer would be given by Vita.
Exa was not exactly weighing the pockets of Vita’s robe down. Although a successful enchanter with a little reputation, he still didn’t have a huge amount of funds to spare. He did, however, have the ability to give Laermont something no one else could or at least at a discounted price. Despite not wanting to pay the expense good work required a steep price.
“A fee worthy of results it would seem. I will do you one more as well as I wish to see the mission a success. I will honor you with an enchantment to better aid you in your work and for the foreseeable future.”
Cogs spun and gears ground together with what could be perceived as excitement. The small demvir pulled out pen and paper and began to draft up the document as officially as he could before sliding it over to the brute.
“As for the feeling I get from them, there is something mentioned throughout the letters or perhaps it is something that I have picked up on. Once you are welcomed into this collective, you may never leave. I worry that future demvir may be lured there under false pretense. As the next leader of our people, I must consider all threats.”
Laermont took the page and signed it. He decided that there was something that he liked about Vita. In spite of what he knew about the views held by the diminutive demvir, there was something undeniably charming about him. It was always wise to keep an open mind and try not to pass harsh judgment. Besides, he was here to do a job. However, the statement that Vita had made about becoming the next leader of the demvir was slightly worrisome. That, however, was a discussion for another time.
He nodded and replied, “I understand. That is definitely of concern. I tend not to trust anyone who tells you that you can’t leave a group. I will get my contacts to inform me as much as they can of this group’s activities and I will attempt to set a meeting with a representative to gauge the level of threat that they pose.”
He continued, “Are there any specific things that you wish to know? I will focus in on those first if that is so.”
“Yes, there is one among them. A brilliant Master Enchanter whom I have come quite fond of. Omen, although I have not spoken with him in some time. Additionally, there is this.”
The young demvir reached out a mechanical hand gesturing for Laermont to hold it. Once their hands were together, he would be whisked away into the Fracture. His mind would be set adrift in the large expanse of the abyss. A moment would pass, seconds, stretched out into what would feel like hours. He would see lights far off in the distance that could never be reached. A connection so deep that he would feel almost one with Vita. Suddenly he would be forcibly ejected back to the living plane with more questions than answers. Upon inspection of a clock, he would see that thirty minutes had passed.
“What you just experienced is the phenomena that I am researching. I call it the Fracture. Tell me, what did you see.”
As was typical for Laermont, he showed little outward sign of any particular emotion, but what he’d experienced had shaken him to the core. He knew that there were many things about the demvir that were unknown, even to them and clearly Vita had discovered one of the ancient secrets.
“I...saw thousands of lights like stars. I felt this powerful connection to...all of those lights around me although I couldn’t reach them. There was also a great bright star in the middle of it all. I am surmising that it is some means of communication in between demvir?”
The small demvir retracted his hand and began spinning the ruby that was placed on the table initially.” Your guess is as good as mine. I feel so free and yet trapped at the same time. Unable to reach out towards the lights that seem so close. For that brief moment, I felt one with you, I suspect my intense aura was even dominating for you.” The arcanist paused for a moment looking into the facets of the gem.
“I started seeing this after my official invite to join the collective. What we are, who we are. Surely, only something of a god could have created us. It is my hope to one day unite us all with this…. This Fracture. It is far beyond the simple mechanics that are the collective. This feels like I am a part of something, yet I have my own individuality.”
Vita’s crimson eyes peered down in deep thought. He was unsure of how to move forward but knew that investigating this collective was what was needed.
After his experiences with some other otherworldly devices, Laermont was extremely cautious when it came to trusting their effects. What he’d experienced with Vita was powerful, but what exactly did it mean? It was entirely possible that it was some sort of lure or trap designed to ensnare unwitting followers and subject them to who knew what sort of mental torture and manipulation. The detective spoke cautiously when he answered Vita.
“I agree that it needs further investigation. There is something disturbing in it. I will embark on the case as soon as possible. I will try to gain as much information as I can about the origins and operations of this collective, to try and determine what their motives and intentions might be. I’ll report my findings back to you as I learn them. Shall we agree to meet once a week to discuss progress?”
Now that he’d been through the experience with Vita, he was more driven than ever to try and discover what this collective was all about and what they were up to.
Vita pocketed the ruby and looked sternly at his machina counterpart. He did not know how to begin to warn him but it seemed the investigator's over-cautious nature would suit him well for the task. He plucked a bag of exa from the lining of his robe and threw it on the table.
“Here is the first payment plus an advance. I foresee this endeavor costing me more than you do, then again, I am overly cautious. When we meet next week I shall have for you an item to help should things get messy for you.”
The small robot got up from the table. His aura commanding the whole room for he had a point to make.
“Do not make light of my partnership, Laermont for it does not come without expectation. I look forward to your findings. Until then…”
Just like that, he had left. Arms folded behind his back, aristocracy oozing from every crack between his metal folds.
Laermont watched him go and thought he was one of the more peculiar people with whom he’d ever had any dealings. This was going to be an interesting job.
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