Chapter 73 Breaking Point

“Next!” The guard, in his cyclic job of heraldry, beckoned the next group forward to the checkpoint. While his position was an important one, confirming the identity of citizens requesting entry into Vallis, the frailty of human mental awareness becomes tested over long periods of tedium. A trained professional suffers the same symptoms that monotony brings, the only difference from an untrained layman is the professional’s ability to instantly reach peak alertness and act coolly in a given situation. Avoid novel stimulation and the best of professionals fail to catch the blind spot.

“Passport.” The guard ordered. What the guard saw was a group of four, nothing especially suspicious or eye-catching except for a woman in a dress and veil. The guard’s eyes lingered on the girl too long, perhaps not in an immoral sense but as a security protocol a mistake like that could cost a breach.

“Here you go.” The girl in the veil handed the guard her identification card, taken out from a small hand purse. The guard’s attention snapped back to his job as he studied the card. Trying to correct his mistake, the guard didn’t make eye contact with the girl upon receiving her identification. The eyes were too intense and he too embarrassed.

On the card the guard saw a severe lie made to a close friend, an affair which had left him guilty all week. He ignored his personal issues during work but for some reason the problems flooded in his mind’s eye and the passport blurred together with his guilty conscience. Realizing far too much time had been spent staring at this card, he shoved it back to the girl. She accepted gracefully and slipped the card back into her purse.

“Good to go. Welcome to Vallis” He waved the group on and rubbed his face, abashed at his own behavior. 

“You dunce.” He muttered to himself. Women didn’t usually leave him so flustered. As the next people approached he convinced himself that his check had been thorough and the legitimacy of the passport confirmed somewhere during his peculiar flashback. He pushed the whole scene and his own matters from thought and continued his job determined to stay focused.

Unfortunately for the city of Vallis and all its inhabitants, border security had unwittingly allowed three Sages and a Mancer pass inside.

Vallis’ first mishap.

Ah, so this is Vallis.” Arvin broke the silence of the four as they put distance from the gate, heading into the streets. “I quite like the lively crowd, one could easily find themselves lost in the big city going on a rampage.”

“Please don’t get us killed because you are too theatrical.” Lorrely warned. 

“Relax darling, I’ve never once been killed before!” Arvin said grinning. Arvin was without his spider jewelry and pets. Without it he looked plain, almost featureless, as if his skin was too smooth and flat. Having the spiders detracted from his odd skin texture, drawing attention away. The absence of spiders highlighted the sleekness of his artificial face.

“What we are doing is too important for jokes. Lord Deo is counting on us.” Bubonica snapped at Arvin. She was dressed in normal clothes, having her old rags tossed aside for apparel that didn’t stand out. She initially rejected bathing as her stench was familiar to the rats, but Deo had convinced her that it was necessary. She’d follow Deo because he was the only human to include her in anything. Because his plans aligned with her own. Because he was brilliant.
“Deo appreciates humor and a good show. He doesn’t want a boring victory that’s forgotten and ignored. He wants something that will paralyze the whole world.”

“The world ignored him taking over Ophir.” Lorrely pointed out.

“Oh come on! That was planned so his real first move could be grander. Why else send four Specters into a city with no consequences, and no orders except to be ourselves.” 

“Just don’t get me killed.” Lorrely said stubbornly.

“What a boring lot.” Arvin complained. “It’s our time to be in a frenzy and you’re worried about dying? If that’s a concern for you then why bother joining this task?”

“Dying is not a concern for me.” Lorrely snapped. “I’m here because Deo needs us and I owe him a lot.”

“Yeah can we talk about that?” Arvin said, trying to rile Weeper. “Your dead boyfriend, I guess that makes him your ex actually, is just a mindless corpse. Can he do anything, like ya know?” Arvin let the question finish itself without saying.

“Hush.” warned Klea.

“You’re disgusting.” Lorrely stated, managing to keep her cool despite the building anger, which in her case is always burnt off as tears, making her a hazard for everyone in the area. That’s what Arvin wanted. To make a scene, to start the business. 

“We have six weeks to deconstruct the psyche of Vallis, do not be foolhardy on the first day,” Klea advised as the group marched through the city, mingling with the crowds and ringing vendors and beeping carts and rolling train engines. 

“I can’t even hear myself think!” Arvin shouted after a particularly loud forklift tore into a pile of rubble for clearing.

“Let’s get a hotel.” Lorrely said with a growing amount of concern. She didn’t know if she could hold in her tears and added to that was Arvin talking way too loudly and the amount of security cameras further induced a paranoid episode in her.

“This way.” Klea led the group. Arvin rolled his eyes but knew he lost this engagement. They’d all turn on him if he pushed it anymore.

Klea found an old hotel with several floors to the building and checked in without a problem, though such a group attracted some curious eyes, usually focused on the girl in the veil. 

Inside the two bedroom room Lorrely was able to take some deep breaths and calm down. 

“Now what?” Arrvin asked, audibly disappointed.

“We split up.” Klea said without hesitation.

“I thought the plan was to work together, combine our powers and cripple this city.” Arvin allowed his spiders to crawl out from inside their hiding places in his loose clothing. He was petting and giving them words of encouragement.

“We clearly do not interact well with each other.” Klea maintained perfect posture and precise, almost musical cadence in her speech. Behind that black veil was a face no one had seen, save for the exposed eyes which were either too dark a brown to make out as brown, appearing as black orbs that blended with the pupil or her eyes were stuck dilated to the point where the color was never revealed. The sleek black dress accentuated her form and made the eyes all the more striking. As a Sage Specter, she was treated with caution and suspicion and rarely given the chance to speak for extended periods of time by those unenlightened by an Aspect. Sage precautions involve not interacting with that Sage. For most Sages infiltrating the psyche of an adversary was to be done without their knowledge. The battlefield is where Augurs, Mancers and Colors excel, even Coders to some extent, but for Sages it was off the battlefield where the true fighting started, a battle of minds. 

What makes Sages stand out from other Aspect classes is the mental based function of Sage abilities. Their efficacy is not seen in a brutal display of flashing explosions and massive expulsions of energy and weaponry. Sages fight in terms of years. Over days, weeks, months, that is how a Sage thinks and acts. 

For Deo to send three Sages into a city that has no awareness of their existence as they are unregistered Specters to sow weeds of terror and defeat, invasively entering the entire mental space of Vallis like psychological gardeners. Exploiting this opportunity to its fullest extent, to bring down an entire metropolis, it begins with the Sage, the speakers and keepers of knowledge. Talis Ranis classified them as Sages for the express reason that they alone of the five types of Specters to categorize, obtained their power in a method completely unique in the noetic transcendence associated with awakening an Aspect. Sages had heightened mental awareness, a prescience of thought and a sixth sense far sharper than any other class. The Aspect in a Sage seemed to reside in the mental stratosphere, attached symbiotically to the unconscious. Where Talis made this distinction from other Aspect classes was that the power seemed to be infused into the very being of the Specter as in the case for the Augur, Mancer, Coder and Color Aspects. This, according to Talis, would mean that the metaphysical location of the Aspect exists condensed in the mental-brain area, as opposed to an evenly integrated whole-body manifestation with the other Aspect classes. 

In Talis Ranis’ book the Dream and the Dreamer, the foremost book on Aspects written by the foremost Specter on the planet, had this to say about Sages, summing up their lethality. 

Whether friend or foe the Sage Aspect is only assuredly not a danger if that Sage is dead. If you are friend to a Sage then you are its slave for Sages do not have friendship as a concept. People are controllable or not controllable to the Sage. If you are not controllable then you are an enemy to a Sage. Being an enemy of a Sage means they have not turned you into a slave yet. I proffer this warning, a gross and overstated stereotype of the Sage, in order for those who walk the path of the lone, as I did. I have learned that trust is more rare than the Aspect, if you have among your retinue a genuine friend you can trust then do not heed this. If survival of prey and predator is the device by which you exist, then do not encounter a Sage, in the unavoidable event that a Sage is encountered then you must deal them a swift death. These are your options, think deeply on what I have said.

“We split up,” Klea answered, “because none of us are incompetent enough to be killed on our own.”

“We can cover more ground this way.” Lorrely added, finding herself agreeing with the idea of acting alone.

“The goal is the same, to shake the foundations of Vallis. This way you can go wild and we can all act without restraint or distraction.” Klea was looking at Arvin with lazy, uninterested eyes. Arvin didn’t argue and just sighed.

“How shall we split?”

“You can decide.” offered Klea.

“Okay, I will do the middle class, business people and the like. Upper class is going to have all the guards and Specters to worry about.”

“What about you Lorrely?” Klea asked.

“I will go to the poor quarters of the city. Rising suicide rates won’t be acknowledged in poor communities as much as in wealthy communities.”

“Then the aristocracy is mine to ruin. We will meet up in six weeks. Stay in contact.” Klea turned to Bubonica. “Do you need an escort anymore?”

Bubonica turned her feral eyes to Klea, “No. I am leaving now.”

The group of four left at different times from the hotel, traveling to various parts of the city to begin the siege of Vallis.

Over the next several weeks it seemed apparent that calamity was striking Vallis. Bubonica infiltrated the sewer networks of Vallis, vast and stretching to every corner of the city proper. Technicians would often go missing and rumor was spreading that something horrifying was living in the sewers under Vallis. Investigators were sent but never found any signs of human life, only an inordinate number of rats which they declared as being impossible to be the cause of the disappearances. Having been born and raised in the sewers under Ophir, Bubonica knew how to navigate such an extreme biome, despite the layout being different from her home. She quickly overtook the underground, destroying gang hideouts and pest exterminators while growing her rat hordes from scratch. Her Aspect, Rat Spores, only worked if there was flesh and meat for her rats to consume. They died in seconds without food at the spore level. Once fully grown, they live a normal length rat lifespan, usually between one to two years.

A community of impoverished and evicted people were the first to suffer the fate of being eaten from the inside out by microscopic rats that grew as they devoured. Bubonica had acted as if she was intent on joining the community, pretending to be equally as ill-fated as the rest of the sewer-dwellers. Bubonica activated her Aspect and coughed, spat, and urinated, releasing the rat spores which existed in her bodily fluids. The others paid no mind to her behavior because that’s how they all lived, in waste and depravity. Bubonica, queen of the plague, bringer of miasma and the spawn of swarms watched with cruel endearment as rats bit and clawed their way through bellies, eyes, nostrils, throats, organs and orifices. Depending on the mass of the human, a single person that breathes in spores can sustain upwards of several hundred rats. The weight of the human directly affects the amount of rats that can feed and grow up past the threshold of maturity, the point that the rat can survive normally as a fully grown adult. As these people were malnourished and sickly, they weighed less than 60 kilograms on average, producing anywhere from fifty to three hundred rats per fully devoured person. The factor that causes such an extreme deviation in quantity is the species of rat that Bubonica releases in the spores. This ranges from smaller black rats to larger brown rats and many in between species. 

Bubonica devastated several communities like these, sewer construction workers, pest control teams, police, hunters after they were sent to find the source of the disappearances, and any human who wandered too close to sewer openings late at night. The workers and hunters weighed far more and therefore were the more valuable food source. People kept venturing into the sewers and never being heard from again. Bubonica acquired hundreds of thousands of rats this way. Her numbers, however, were not even close enough to start preparing for her infestation of the food stores, via the sewer drains connected to every restaurant, warehouse and silo.

Raids were beginning outside of Vallis and the population surged inside the city from retreating refugees of the farmlands, inevitable overpopulation in certain areas meant that the poorest and least fortunate had no choice but to try their luck in the sewers. Their luck was met with wanton voracious appetites. After the fourth week, Bubonica’s rat hordes increased a hundredfold as the effects of the raids intensified and despite the best efforts of the city to clear out the sewers they never could pinpoint the source. Bubonica’s experience in sewers and the convenience of finding several sewer maps from early kills of technicians gave Bubonica the information to always evade and ambush the thousands of humans she converted to rats. 

Vallis issued warnings of the dangers of the sewers and advised citizens against venturing into them, while promising that multiple teams of investigators and soldiers were scouring for the killer. The efforts had far less support as the greater threat loomed ahead, in preparing for the siege and bolstering the defenses of the food stores, which Bubonica had access to.

The defense council of Vallis didn’t make the connection between the siege and the ability to breach the food supply through the sewers. 

Vallis’ second mishap.

Lorrely stood in line to receive rations for the day, a newly implemented system among the slums and lower class districts of Vallis to preserve as much food for the upper classes during the coming siege as possible. The last two weeks saw this process get normalized and efficiently carried out. Disagreement and fighting broke out at first but people quickly adapted, begrudgingly but compliantly. These were feverish times, tensions growing and fear rising. Nobody, especially the ones barely scraping by, wanted to struggle through a siege on top of the daily paycheck to paycheck system that kept the poor down.

Lorrely’s plan was a simple extension of the class struggle that persists. Drive conditions of strife and depression extremely far enough that the people bounce back. Lorrely had been carefully moving from one city block to the next, meeting people, isolating them and crying so that the awareness of suicide became overwhelming in that individual, as a projection of her own experience of tragedy, sent out in waves of feelings of hopelessness, overpowering and choleric.

Lorrely only chose one victim in a given area. This boiled down to two reasons. The first because there was a lot of ground to cover if she was going to reach a majority of Vallis within six weeks. The other, more ostensible reason, was because people hearing about a single suicide near to them was far more tragic, and therefore carried a longer impact whereas multiple suicides becomes a statistic and is shoved with the other means of death that have been reduced to numbers instead of stories.

Lorrely moved fast and picked areas with less surveillance. Having her face recognized along multiple cases of death would raise red flags. Detectives were already being stretched across the city for a myriad of reasons and so Lorrely did her best to slip by unnoticed and unsuspected. She blended with the common folk, waiting in food lines, sleeping in rundown hotels, avoiding the use of any of the funds given to her.

Nearing the six weeks of time allotted to her, she decided it was time to dial up the suicides. Public gatherings with large crowds was what she had in mind. Mass suicide was alarming, the indivdual cases would lower the moods of local communities, but it was close enough to the siege where media coverage across the city was at its opportune moment. Letting the media induce the panic and hopelessness was Lorrely’s strategy. She made preparations, picked several large crowds, and thought sad things to build up her Tears Aspect. Vallis neglected its lower class in favor of the wealthy, a social issue endemic to most cities. Rebellion and riots were fuming and ready to erupt.

Vallis made its third mishap.

Arvin purchased a room on a skyscraper, towards the middle half of the building and halfway to the top, something that overlooked one of the busiest roads in his area. He eased his backpack gently to the ground and took out spider feed. He let the spiders feast in his room as he prepared. Arvin sat on a balcony in the open air and closed his eyes. Attaining the state of his strongest form took several hours out of the day and each day he chose a different street with a different skyscraper in different business districts. 

Arvin interlocked his fingers, placing the thumb inside the pocket of space created by merging his two hands. The fingers stuck straight out and the significance of having eight fingers matched with the number of spider legs. To use his Aspect, Arvin needed to establish the connection of that moment so long ago, the one he relives every day and the one he revisits with every use of his power.

He created the scene in his mind. A young boy walking through a musty forest, exploring what felt like the edge of the world to his adolescent imagination. He took his usual path, avoiding bear territory and the poison ivy, just as his father taught him. A recent storm disheveled the forest, adding new branches to the ground and fallen nests and toppled trees. Little Arvin loved to see how the forest changed with every big storm and he’d often stay up late watching the thunder and wind and fantasizing about his forest.

One big and old tree had fallen across his usual trail, right along the pathway so that Arvin had to balance on the tree a few meters before he could hop off. Excited by the new adventure, Arvin leapt on the tree and skipped across the natural bridge. But this bridge teetered on the edge of a steep slope and only through damned chance did the tree hang precariously on the trail and over the edge without falling. Arvin had not known how delicately the tree dangled and halfway across, it lurched and the rain-soaked ground beneath the tree gave way and the whole thing slid down. 

Arvin recalled how his eyes widened, the pitch in his gasp and the flutter of startled birds as the log plummeted and crashed. Arvin had managed to leap, putting distance between himself and the log, but he still slid down the slope. He crashed into sticks and tumbled behind the log. He gained too much speed and a root caught his foot which both twisted his ankle and sent him falling awkwardly the rest of the distance to the ground. He came to with a broken leg and more bruises then he could count.

The boy groaned but that groan became a scream moments after realizing what was happening.

Arvin landed in rotting wood, he had smashed an opening where a nest of fiddle-back spiders lived. Angry and territorial, these spiders bit mercilessly, digging their fangs in the semi-conscious boy.

Arvin screamed and screamed as hundreds of spiders touched him with all eight legs each. He dragged his body, his own useless leg limp and rubbing against the wet soil. He kept wiping them off and sobbing and screaming for help. His body was weak and he eventually collapsed. He woke up a couple hours later in the arms of a man and his wife who had been hiking through the same forest and saw the boy in the woods. They called an ambulance and rushed the boy to the nearest clearing where a helicopter could evacuate him. He was in a haze from this point out but he remembered touching his face and feeling the skin peel from his cheek as well as from his fingertips.

Whether his childish brain understood this or a false memory was created from doing this meditation so many times, Arvin knew the spider to have necrotic venom. There was so much in his bloodstream that his skin decayed, flaying and shedding in chunks and slices.

His time at the hospital was a blur. Reconstructive surgery followed reconstructive surgery. For a year he was given new skin, taken from fresh cadavers and so Arvin felt less and less himself. He remembered one of the first days at the hospital when his father came to visit. He had shaken his head at the necrosis covered boy and left forever, taking Arvin’s mother with him.

The hiking couple adopted the kid they saved and by a year Arvin was ready to return to society, with a new body of skin. 

Puberty was awkward for Arvin as his manhood had rotted off and he found himself constantly surrounded by spiders, which seemed to have some strange attraction to him. Instead of cowering in fear and allowing the nightmares to turn the boy into a paranoid shell, Arvin learned to embrace the spiders that followed him and slept beside him. He read about them and talked to them and took them in as pets. His adopted parents sent him to therapy the entire time and the only progress he made was when he started to befriend the little critters. His therapist explained to the parents that it was common for trauma to be healed by the subsequent embracing and understanding of that source of trauma. Although unsettled, his parents indulged his obsession with exotic spiders, bringing dozens a week and creating a huge terrarium of spiders in his basement. 

One day Arvin’s therapist asked him to vividly recall with every detail that day in the forest, which he claimed would bring closure to the entire event and thus allow Arvin to live free from that trauma. What happened when Arvin entered that space was an awakening of an Aspect. 

Fatal spider attraction. Arvin kept it secret from his therapist and his parents but experimented on people at school and later college. 

Arvin, back to the present, sitting crossed legged on the balcony opened his eyes. “Arachnomania,” he called… and eight thousands minuscule spider eyes opened too, all over his head.

Arvin watched with multifaceted vision the people of Vallis go about their days. He cursed the ones who looked up for no reason at him standing on the balcony. They saw a vague shape of a head but couldn’t make out why it was so off. They went to work or to lunch or to home with a strange unnerved sense of reality. 

Anyone who looked at Arvin was tagged by his Aspect, to attract spiders, some real, some hallucinatory. Not knowing the difference was the part that unhinged most people, Arvin knew.

A shadow in an alley will be the shape of an unrealistically huge spider, upon second glance there is nothing there. Spiders will enter their dreams, interrupting whatever was happening and taking over the dream. Spiders will crawl on them in their sleep, in the shower, out of their wallets and shoes and pockets and some will be real and some won’t be. 

Neglecting the fear of spiders, those who can bravely deal with Arachnomania, those ones upset the spider gods. Deadly spiders will assassinate those kinds of people, pumping their venomous cocktails into major arteries with full kill intent.

Arvin did not fully understand the spider gods, and had never seen or met them but he had dreamed of them before. He didn’t even know if they were real or just a more vicious part of his Aspect he hadn’t learned to control.

Many thousands of new people a day were experiencing these almost paranormal encounters with spiders. Vallis felt infested. People were uncomfortable in their own skin. Talk spread that Vallis would fall to Ophir. Stocks and businesses were folding. Everyone was selling out and liquidating their assets to stock up on food and supplies and possibly to bribe passage out of the city. Arvin’s role in all this perhaps had a more subtle effect than the other Specters. 

For him, it was a blindfolded game of darts. The targets were influential workers and businessmen with clout in the respective circles they moved in. If Arvin could make a CEO or producer or agent or any sort of manager live with crippling fear, the chances that bad decisions would be made increases. Make them scared for their life, and unable to tell others how they feel due to some instinctual self-preserving anxiety that prevents one from expressing their irrational and very real fear of spiders to their coworkers in a professional environment. 

Arvin memorized everything his psychiatric therapist told him about humans and their emotions and mentalities, often going into long tangents about odd social experiments highlighting easily manipulative situations humans react stupidly in.

Like mob passivity or hierarchy of command effects. Arvin made use of pride and paranoia, a duality comparable to a marital parasite. Pride feeds paranoia to the point where the self image sours as unrecognizable perfections rooted in everything but reality. Paranoia creeps from the stomach into the kidneys, the bladder, the colon. People often misconstrue paranoia as being a mental fetish, but it is entirely of the gut. It is felt in the gut and propagates in the gut. 

Arvin learned this first hand from the spiders. 

Corrupt the flesh and the mind follows. Arvin performed his craft like that.

Vallis made its fourth mishap, the lack of leadership in the community level destabilized the populace and economy.

Another packed stage. The theme was masked attire. Fitting for Klea the Veil Aspect. Plays, comedies, dances and other performances filled the aristocratic weekends at the many renowned theatres across Vallis. Showing off posh polished tastes in the arts was done competitively. Auctions, musicians, plays, galleries, tea and parties divide the social tables that the wealthy of Vallis cavort in. 

Klea with her counterfeit sacrosanct identity as a musician allowed her access into the best possible position to use her Aspect on the most amount of aristocrats. On weekends she played the viola in front of hundreds, multiple times a night from Friday to Sunday and the weekdays she spent bouncing from one social table to the next, uprooting the dynamic through clever application of her Aspect. 

She caught the attention of many of Vallis’ elite as an elusive musician of charming allure and exquisite sound. Klea appealed to the rising cultural trend of high fashion noir, mixing expensive dress and lurid mysterium. Klea would paint smiles or frowns or other exaggerated mouth expressions with bright lipstick on her veil for performances. She turned out to be the perfect capitulation of grisly intelligence and macabre couture. Klea put the audience into a spell with her music, and if they knew how literal that spell was they would have killed her. But she was too subtle with her Aspect and they were too infatuated with her and the idea of her.

Klea knew from a distance how easy it was to spot the work of a Sage as it was happening. These wealthy people who have all the securities that money buys cannot conceive of someone breaking into that security to exert a mental pressure. People know Sages exist and they know that a Sage can ruin the psyche and they know that it could happen without their knowledge. People are aware of that sly volatility and perhaps this can be reduced to a mere self-defense mechanism but the human mind experiences a cognitive dissonance that prevents the hyper awareness of something as it is happening to themselves.

It is like being indoctrinated into a belief. Others can see the indoctrination in that individual and the indoctrinated individual can spot indoctrination in others but cannot realize the indoctrination in the self.

Klea, a skilled Sage Specter, blurred the lines between her targets perceiving a threat and her targets embracing deeply seated emotions. 

Harmonizing with her music was her power. The ability to reflect the unconscious back to the viewer. Music as a medium for reflection and emotion would find no better fit for such an Aspect. Klea played Agony in one concert, the melody of her viola inducing the worst pains and memories of pain in her audience. The rich audience left that first week in a high of exultation and wonder. Never before had a musical performance brought up such raw and unfiltered emotions. Word spread of this mystique violist, some skeptical of her skill and others excited for something new to do. It should have been obvious that such emotions and memories were being heightened by use of an Aspect but the men and women of the elite were enamored by Klea. 

Week after week her audience grew. The second week she played Agony again, giving the first group a shared experience with the new members. The third and fourth week was Lies. The audience left demoralized and guilty of their lies or furious at lies others had made to them, all brought to surface in a thirty minute concert. This fifth week was her biggest concert yet, following an entire day’s worth of comedy sketches and dramas from the production of the theatre. She was the finale. Five weeks into the infiltration on the night of a masked soiree.

She played Scorn into her music and the audience, so moved by her and so afflicted by her music, grew restless. The music made them think of every slight against them, every time they felt cheated or conned, by their partner, colleague or ousted by society. It came at a time when the city was locking down and preparing for a siege they knew was imminent. Old rivalries resurfaced and petty revenges, knives in the back and public or gossiped insults swirled en masse in the aristocracy that night. Too focused on their small grievances, neglect roamed rampant in the city as blame shifted from one aristocrat to the next. The governing councils struggled to accommodate every issue propping up and the internal, bureaucratic workings of the city fell into disarray. People weren’t getting the food promised to them. Jobs were diminishing and no one was allowed to leave the city. Entropy hit like a maelstrom in Vallis and this was just days before Deo’s planned invasion.

Several riotous groups were forming, intent on delivering their demands to the governing bodies of Vallis. Huge crowds, tens of thousands strong in multiple districts. There was a plan to march across Vallis, meet up near the center where the primary governing building reside, execute the public officials and redistribute the food and wealth. It was a strategy as old as humans, to group up and kill the ones with more stuff. But in this situation, even by the most anti-classist activists, destabilizing the government authority during siege protocols was an awfully shortsighted move on the part of the people.

Klea received a message from Lorrely of her plan to intercept one of these restless crowds and turn it into a mass suicide. 

Klea had not used the fourth of her four-set composition she called Unhealing. There was Agony, Scorn, Lies and the last, which she decided exactly the right place and person to direct it at, Grief.

Vallis’ fifth mishap was not killing the Veil Aspect.