7.0: A Plotting Intermission

by Matt P.

CHAPTER 7: An Expansion of Knowledge

The stars sparkle so much more brightly in the cold, like pinpricks of ice scattered across heaven by the hand of God. The only thing that could be more beautiful was the view of them from space, or so he had been told.

The man that Walter called Professor Gloom moved through the eternal frost without discomfort or displeasure. He moved through the swirling frost and the frigid, stark beauty like a man who expected that he would be the master of all he surveyed for the primary reason that he was. When the cold winds rise and huff and puff many men will shuffle out of its way; but there was no shuffle or submissiveness in his steps, and it was the wind that moved aside.

He came to the place of the meeting, a shadowed place with swirling dark that he knew like the child of an ancient people. He moved into those shadows and bid them change, and they did. They revealed the actual meeting place, secret and secreted away from prying eyes, and already filled with those who were waiting.

“Well.” He said in a voice as dry as the bitter air, the freezing air that sears the lungs. “That went well enough, I suppose.”

“My Lord…” The white haired boy spoke, the wounds from the foul knife the Marshal’s men had used still visible on his noble features.

“Silence.” He commanded, as he turned to the others.

“We expected the final pieces to be there.” His researcher said, with much less worry than the boy’s voice had held. There was still the undercurrent of tension to his voice, because he still feared what disappointing his master meant, but there was a confidence of professionalism.

“And they were not.” Professor Gloom stated with a startling finality.

“No, my lord, they were not.” His researcher responded with an equal simplicity, and a little bit of a sigh. “But it was still worth the effort, and the lost warriors. We did retrieve some things that will be quite lovely in our efforts.”

“And our presents for our friends?” Professor Gloom asked curiously, one eyebrow raising.

“Have been left behind, should they be foolish enough to pursue those options again in anything resembling the same configuration. We will know.” The researcher responded.

“Why did we leave any of them alive?” The Earl asked angrily, moving forwarded and whipping his cloak out of the way. His hair flickered and curled about him like a guttering flame before it settled about him normally. It always did that when he was angry, as if it would lash out and consume the one who dared affront him.

The thought almost made Gloom chuckle, but he kept that to himself. It wouldn’t do to go insulting the foreign nobility, after all.

“Because we intend to rule over a people, not piles of organs.” Gloom responded simply. “As we have discussed previously, and will no doubt have the pleasure of doing so in the future.” He shook his head. “And besides, there were some…interesting faces in that crowd that it would be a shame to deprive us of before we could convert them to our cause.”

“You worry too much about what comes after…” The Earl began, before Gloom waved his hand dismissively.

“Enough. When we will be ready to move on our next targets?” He looked back to the Boy.

“Give us a couple of weeks to sort through what we have, my lord, and we can start moving on the next targets.” The boy responded simply.

“A few weeks?” Gloom asked, disappointment rising again in his voice at that number.

“My lord, we haven’t seen most of these artifacts since the last time the map changed.” The boy said with a sullen defensiveness.

“Mmm.” The Professor mmm’d unhappily, although he didn’t make much more comment then that. “And identifying the girls?”

The researcher nodded. “We believe we may have a way to find them, my lord, as soon as we’re ready.”

At that, among the shrouded darkness and his co-conspirators, in the cold that whispered and lurked and crawled up the spine of the unready and unprepared, the man who controlled it all could only smile.