As the Supreme Guardian seated herself, servants hurried forward to arrange her robes and hair.
“Yes, Faust. You may explore as you wish. Young Athala must remain at your side, however. I appreciate your gestures,” she indeed was pleased and she gave him a smile. “If I may employ you, I will be sure to send for you. In the meantime, it was a pleasure…” She bowed her regal head.
“Athala,” the Lady’s eyes turned towards her. Athala stood up straight, her demeanor forcibly calm though inside she was seething.
“Yes, my Lady?”
“See that Faust receives proper quarters fitting a diplomatic guest.”
“Your will be done,” Athala smiled and bowed and turned to leave. “This way,” she practically hissed at Faust, stalking towards the lift.
This time Faust bowed to the Lady, flashing her a rakish smile before turning to follow Athala. Once inside the lift, alone with Athala, he tried to calm her, unable to ignore the anger radiating from her like heat waves.
"Relax. I'm not going to treat you like a servant. I must rely on you for advice on local customs, protocol, or really, just about everything. I do not wish to create problems for you." He raised a hand to give her a reassuring pat on the shoulder, but stopped short. He thought better of it and lowered his palm in silence. He studied the lift controls wordlessly, a way to use up time without really doing anything.
“I don’t trust you,” she said flatly, turning towards him. “I don’t know you and I am not sure if I want to. The sooner you’re off Naveen, the better.” A high color rose to her cheeks, visibly upset that things had not gone her way, showing that indeed she was in many ways a child despite her rank. He would not know that families were born into the role of guardian and her father’s passing, and having no other siblings, Athala was chosen as the new Guardian to represent her household.
“I won’t hinder your research in any way, but it seems that if we are to get along, you’ll do best not to annoy me.” She looked him up and down and pressed her palm to the control pad. It brought them smoothly downward. Without another word they resumed their descents. Instead of going all the way down she took a detour. In the middle of the spire there jutted out a long pathway. She began to walk down it, visibly calming by then, and this pathway led to a smaller adjacent spire. It practically radiated with the Eternium housed within it.
“The Science Wing, I will show you around and then show you your quarters. Here-“
They stopped before a console. She pressed her palm against the panel and flayed her fingers over the glowing runed keypad and typed in a configuration then stepped back. “Place your palm there, it will allow you clearance.”
Without a word, he did as he was told, laying his hand on the thing. He could feel the hum and pulse of the power residing in this building resonating through his bones. He gasped and cried out suddenly, going to his knees, a hand clutching at his chest. As the doors slid open, the world went hazy and he crumpled into unconsciousness.
“What is… happening? Faust?” Athala stepped back as Faust began to react negatively to the meld and stepped out of the way as his body crumpled to the ground, his palm still glowing slightly from contact with the power pad. She crouched beside him, her hand brushing to check his vitals, panic making her heart beat wildly. If her Lady thought that she had brought him harm?! She had been following security measures which would allow Faust access to the Science wing if she happened to not be with him.
“Help… someone help!” Her voice echoed across the walkway and two researchers who had been passing by the entrance portal came running to help. The three of them lifted Faust and hurried with his body towards the closest laboratory.
He came to about twenty minutes later, sitting up on the couch they had thrown him on. The elf wasn't heavy by any means. He rubbed his neck with one palm. He had a splitting headache and his blood felt like it was on fire. But energy! He had more energy now than he'd ever had before. He needed to expend some quickly!
"Ah, where...?" He looked around. The room was efficiently clean. Sterile, even, and medical equipment filled the room, covered with tarpaulins from prolonged disuse.
Athala looked almost shy, her head snapping to attention as Faust spoke. After having determined that his vitals were stable, the researchers had returned to their duties. The two of them were alone.
“Faust,” she breathed out. “You’re in a laboratory room to recover. I don’t think your body liked the meld very much. You see, it’s protocol to set up a user to gain access to places of restricted access like the Science wing. I didn’t mean to hurt your body. Are you ok?”
"I'm fine now. It was... more energy than I could absorb easily at the moment. Is there... is there a testing ground, here? I need to expend some energy before I suffer mana burn." This last phrase utterly confused her, as she had never heard it before. Ma..na burn?
Her brow wrinkled at the strange word, there wasn’t even a translation for it, so it sounded even stranger. She mouthed the words and then snapped to attention.
“Testing ground, yes… this way.” She opened the door and waited until he was in the corridor, then walked briskly down the circular hallway. She took the first turn to the right, her palm pressed against the pad to open the sealed doors. They were walking further into the center of the spire. The second door hissed open to the center of the Spire. They walked out onto a large launch pad, which was open to the sky overhead, at the very top of the complex. Around the edges were targets for weapons as well as sections walled off for other experiments and various kinds of ranges. She pointed towards the area where the weapons were fired. If one was to expel a great amount of energy, that would be the place.
She stepped back almost immediately, walking backwards as he hurried forward.
Faust took out a piece of chalk from a pouch at his waist. With it, he drew a complex circular design on the ground. A magic circle of protection he called it. He stepped inside it and opened his grimoire, reading an incantation aloud. With his free hand, he traced a sigil in the air before him. The circle glowed with green fire, the sigil with a blue white light.
"Kokabiel, Fallen star of God, I call you. Hear my summons and appear!"
On the opposite end of the spacious testing room the floor opened up a blackness that seemed to dim the light in the room. From out of it rose a demon with dark grey horned plates all over its body. lightning crawled around its limbs and eyes glowed blackish blue. Faust was concentrating intently, hands at his sides. the grimoire hung from a gold chain at his hip.
Athala watched him, her brow wrinkled in concentration, as if there would be some sort of examination later, and did not ask questions. She tilted her head one way to try to decipher if that drawing on the testing floor was familiar in any way, but she was not surprised that it was not. She gasped in a breath as suddenly the light appeared on the ground and looked up at the sigil, for once afraid in her entire life. She took another step back, uncertain for her own safety, as he had created this “magic circle of protection” only for himself.
She twisted around and nearly lost her footing as she scrabbled away from the rift, and indeed the Eternium glow of the running lights and the fixtures lighting the facility dimmed and seemed to gutter. Athala did, however, caught her heel on the floor and fell on her bottom, then scrambled backwards even more. She stopped halfway between Faust, who she did not yet trust, and this horror of a demon before her eyes. She finally looked up at Faust, wondering if he was trying to kill her, the thought had crossed her mind, and this whole act had been some deception.
"Get behind me, you are safe. The demon is under my control, but let's not tempt fate, shall we. Kokabiel is an energy demon, perhaps he can tell me a bit about Eternium." He snapped his fingers and a protective globe appeared around Athala.
She was gripping the railing behind her, her back pressed against it as far back as she could go, she visibly relaxed when the demon was gone and the sigil and circle had faded. She stumbled forward, a little shaky from having tensed up for so long a period of time as necessary before the demon was unsummoned, and her heartbeat, if audible, was fierce.
“Would you please warn me the next time you are to do something like that?!” Her embarrassment at having been frightened was funneled into annoyance, her eyes narrowing as much as they had once been wide.
“Yes, many things, as a power source. I’m going to get out a weapon, don’t be alarmed.”
She reached behind her and withdrew a small knife, and lifted it for him to see. By all appearances, it was just a plain melee weapon with a sharp edge, nothing particularly unordinary about it. Then pressed a thumb to the handle, the controls being bound to her DNA. The weapon hummed with power. She flipped it, her fingers pressed against the sharp edge of the blade and not along the glowing line on the dull edge and walked towards him, to show that the gesture was nonviolent and that she trusted him enough
“This knife may be used by anyone for it’s cutting edge, but the Eternium core responds only to me. Once it is in it’s radiant form, the latent power can be bound to us. I don’t know if it will for you, but it will stay activated until I press my thumb against it, just here.”
She tapped the hilt with a finger as she offered it to him.
“As you may notice, the dull side of the blade has a strip of blue light. Don’t touch it, that can be used to stun.”