Jonsul charged down the hall. He would kill him. He would kill him. He had suspected that someone from the Quandrium was involved with the countless disappearances, but to have proof of that, even if only in the form of a witness, sent anger through every nook and cranny of his body. He could feel his hands shaking, even as he sprinted ahead at full speed. After a minute of sprinting, the anger began to lessen, allowing clear thoughts to flow. It was at this point that he realized he didn’t know where he was running. His sprint turned to a jog, then relented to a quick paced walk. He looked down each connecting corridor as if he expected Asokil to be standing there waiting for him. Footsteps sounded behind him. He whipped around, hostility in his eyes, and found Dotseiy standing a few paces away. She gave a sheepish wave.
“Mister Grim Reaper said to help you… Or did he say to stop you? I don’t know. I ran away pretty quick.”
Jonsul turned back around and continued walking. Dotseiy skipped to catch up with him.
“So, where are we going?” she asked.
“You heard what she said,” he said, not slowing his pace.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I was just strolling past Mister Grim Reaper’s door when you barged through it.”
“Funny how you full into the room and not away from it,” he replied, showing no sign that it was amusing.
She sighed. “Alright. I may have heard a thing or two. But come on! Do you really think Asokil would be a part of this? He’s practically Fourth Cachet. I overheard Master Niro saying that he’d be lifted by the end of next year.”
Jonsul raised an eyebrow. “Is eavesdropping on other people’s conversations a hobby of yours?” He shook his head. “I couldn’t give a damn what Cachet he is. I have a witness that identified him.”
“But what if she’s, like, a spy sent by them to distract you and stuff,” Dotseiy said, excited at her own idea.
Jonsul frowned. He honestly hadn’t considered that. He thought back to all the conversations he had with her, then to the image of the mound of dirt he had passed on the way in to Greenhallow. No, her remorse—her anger—was genuine, he decided.
“Do you know where he is?” he asked.
She shrugged. “I saw him a little while ago in the Central Chamber. He was speaking with Randol, and I may have overheard him talking about the long hours of travel that he…” She trailed off connecting the dots. Jonsul quickened his pace back into a run. “Wait. Wait! Maybe it’s a coincidence!? Molten Metal!” she cursed, chasing after him.
Jonsul dashed into the Central Chamber, finding it empty. He growled and began pacing the room. Four towering doors led out of the room, one leading to the south, one leading to the east, one to the west, and one to the north. There were other smaller doors, one of which Jonsul had just emerged from, but the larger doors were the four major points of traffic.
Jonsul paced, unsure of which direction he should hunt his prey. The answer was offered in the form of a laugh. Jonsul recognized the voice immediately. He seized control of the Relics, letting the hate run through him. Leaning forward, he let his relics fall toward the northern doors. Just before reaching the doors, he shifted his pull on the Relics in his palms, straightening his body. He crashed into the door with a raised foot, weighted with his Relic. The door swung open. Weathered hinges released high-pitched moans.
Jonsul and Asokil locked eyes. He was speaking with someone, but Jonsul couldn’t tell who. Not because of the distance or the positioning of the man, but because Jonsul couldn’t remove his eyes from Asokil.
Jonsul blasted forward. Asokil’s face shifted from bemusement to alarm as he realized Jonsul’s target was himself. He pushed the man he was speaking with to the ground. Through the blur of motion, Jonsul identified that it was Dorandis, a Second Cachet, that had been speaking with Asokil. Why were they in the Northern Arc? The thought was a gnat that he shooed away. He’d have time to ponder it later.
Jonsul’s fist collided with Asokil’s raised arm. A familiar sense of stinging ran through his knuckles from the impact of fist on flesh, but there was something wrong. The weight—the bone crushing force he was used to—wasn’t there. Jonsul jumped back.
Asokil looked at his arm and shook the pain away from it. “May I ask why you are attacking me, Jonsul?”
Jonsul shook the pain from his hand. “What you just did shouldn’t be possible.”
Asokil smiled. “I must say, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Seconds of silence dragged by. “I have reason to believe that you are involved in the disappearances that have been occurring around the continent,” Jonsul said. “Submit yourself to trial.”
“What madness is this!?” Dorandis said, placing the glasses that had been knocked to the ground back on his face. “You are accusing one of our very own of this heinous crime. You go too far, Jonsul.”
“Calm yourself, Dorandis,” Asokil said. “I have nothing to fear here. Tell me, Dog of the Reaper, what reason led you to believe that I was complicit to these crimes?”
“I will answer your question with one of my own.” Jonsul could feel the anger in his veins willing him to attack—to kill the prey. “Have you ever heard of the surname Everence?”
Asokil’s face didn’t shift. His smile remained as nonchalant and confident as ever, but his eyes, his eyes threatened. “I can’t say that I have.”
Tension filled the room, as palpable as a gust of wind at their backs. Jonsul lunged first, letting the Relics pull him across the gap between them with alarming speed. His fist collided with Asokil’s upraised arms. Again, Jonsul felt his control over his relic snap and momentarily shift to Asokil’s control. Jonsul’s fist impacted like a feather falling to the ground. Jonsul spun, bringing the heel of his foot up towards Asokil’s head. His control over the Relic in his boot snapped from his mind. Jonsul’s foot halted in midair, then lurched backwards, sending him sliding across the floor.
“In here. In here. Hurry up,” Dotseiy said. Her voice carried in from the other side of the doors, which were swinging open with the same ear-piercing wail as before. However, rather than Dotseiy, it was Headmaster Yolsin that entered through the door.
“I’m going. I’m going,” he said shooing Dotseiy’s hands away from him. “Pushy one, aren’t you?” He trailed off at the sight of Jonsul on the ground and at the feeling of tension in the room. “What is the meaning of this?”
Asokil shrugged. “I believe the Reaper finally broke his pet.”
“Silence!” Headmaster Yolsin boomed. “I will not have a member of this Quandrium insulting the position of Interfector.”
Jonsul rose to his feet. “Headmaster Yolsin, I have reason to believe that Asokil is committing crimes against the Quandrium by aiding in the abduction of innocent Non-Wielders.”
Master Yolsin looked at Jonsul with a heavy gaze. “Those are strong words in the form of a severe accusation. Under whose authority is this claim made?”
“Mine,” Roicus said, stepping into the room. He eyed Dotseiy. “If you wouldn’t mind keeping Lyora company in the Central Chamber, I would appreciate it.” Dotseiy nodded her head vigorously and scuttled out of the room. He turned to Dorandis and eyed him suspiciously. “I’m sure you have somewhere better to be.”
“I—of course, Interfector,” he stammered. He walked after Dosteiy.
“Somewhere else,” Roicus said.
Dorandis halted and turned, walking through a separate door. He almost made it look like it was the direction he had wanted to go. The swinging doors stilled, and silence fell in the chamber.
“I require a trial,” Roicus said.
A few seconds of silence passed before Headmaster Yolsin replied, his voice aged and stern. “It will be done. Asokil, you will henceforth be confined to the lower levels to be watched until the request for trial has been met and completed.”
“Jonsul’s convinced you of this, as well?” Asokil said to Roicus in a chuckle. “This is ridiculous.” He shook his head. “Fine. If that is what it takes, then I will submit myself to trial.”
“Hands together,” Headmaster Yolsin said.
“Is that really necess—”
“Hands. Together,” Headmaster Yoslin repeated.
Asokil sighed and pressed his hands together so that his wrists were touching.
“The half-rings, if you would, Jonsul,” Headmaster Yolsin said. Jonsul reached into a pouch at his waist and flung the two metal half circles in the air. They became ridged and weightless before zipping around Master Yolsin and slamming together around Asokil’s wrists. “Move.”