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The Fifth of September

The people of Stoke-on-Trent never figured out what happened to Lucius Felix on that day.

Most of the townsfolk were aware that he was cheating on his wife with some homeless girl who had just wandered into town a few months ago. Most of the same townsfolk were aware that Lucius had abused her, but they didn’t do anything about it – she didn’t seem to mind. She rarely came outside, but when she did she was happy and bought a lot of food. Then she’d return to her hotel room.

Most of these townsfolk weren’t too surprised that the whole thing ended badly, but they were surprised that it was Lucius who turned up dead and not the homeless girl. What was even more surprising however was the condition of the room.

Water was everywhere. Literally. The room was made out of wood, and the whole place was soaked. Lucius’ body was slumped in one corner, his head rolled back, food crammed deep into his throat. His clothes littered the floor, and they were all soaked. His body stank of moldy death and it was clear that this whole room had been rotting for some time.

Most of the townsfolk figured the homeless girl had poisoned him and tried to make it look like an accident. Perhaps when she realized the stupidity of her task, she fled.

Most of the townsfolk couldn’t explain the vast amounts of water, though. Most of them didn’t want to.

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On the weekends, they often went on walks through the forests, exploring the wilderness and surrounding areas. Beatrice would become fascinated with the trees, because they weren’t trees at all, they were rivers; short, vertical rivers, and she would swim in them sometimes. The water was sparkling and clear; bubbles would float up from her mouth as a grin spreads across her face.

She spins around in the crystal water, looking up at Felix. He is sitting outside the water, on some rocks, and his body is glistening. She watches him dry off, and she finds herself getting warm as she watches his muscles twist and flex. She flips back over and descends deeper into the river, oohing and aahing over shiny rocks embedded in the soil. She reaches out and grabs a fistful of them.

They melt in her hand. They turn to white sludge. She wrinkles her brow and then something grabs her by the neck from behind, shaking her like a cheap doll. The water slides away and she is suspended in space, held up by this massive hand. Twisting, shouting, wriggling, screaming, she tries to see what is holding her but she cannot. All she can hear is uproarious laughter. Below her, the river bed is completely dry; fish lie dead, staring at her. The rocks and the sand have all melted, and slowly they form a new river. This new river is darker than the last one. The water is not sparkling and clear.

She is thrust into this new river, held under its dark waters, and she gives up fighting, she surrenders. When she goes limp, she is held for one more second and then let go, the water picking her up and rushing her along to wherever it is she is supposed to be. Assuming, of course, that she is supposed to be anywhere.

Echo I

At the same time, a force was moving northwards, towards Tell Ramad from the Imperiya. Like the wind, it crossed great distances of land extremely fast, through the Rockies and Venice, up the Via Regia and towards Damascus.

This force was a man. The man was determined to help Telos in the fight against Eoin. He had caught word of the Eaglets and their recent mission to try and overthrow Eoin and his Agentes. It had been some time since he had seen any action, but this man, this man knew when his time was being called, when he could act for the good of mankind.

When he arrived at the camp, he wandered around it for a while, sizing up the force of the Eaglets. They had swelled in numbers to over five hundred, and they seemed pretty well equipped. Still, he wondered why their camp was never attacked. Eoin had more than enough Agentes, let alone men in other branches of the military, that he would be more than able to launch an overwhelming attack on the camp.

As the man walked around, he couldn’t get that suspicion out of his thoughts. Either Eoin was taking a long time to plan their massacre, or he was letting them stay here.

The man had spotted Telos setting up plans for a new raid. He walked up to Telos and shook his hand, explaining the problem he was beginning to suspect. Telos said nothing but let shock spread over his face: standing in front of him was Maximilien.