Pope Holt Su Van Hian kicked open the door into the restaurant’s ball room just as he did the last time he came. This time, however, he arrived for a different purpose. Upon making his grand entrance, Pope Hian looked directly into the amber-tinged green eyes of the leader of this gathering: the silver-haired man named Anton. He carries himself like a leader, thought the Pope, of this Baser scum.
“Not you again!” Anton exclaimed with a roll of his eyes. Pope Hian remained determined to teach this Baser a lesson in his proper place, best served on a knee bent in deference to his authority.
“Fool! Heed my words or ignore them at your peril. The villains that you previously repelled are on their way back with reinforcements, and they intend to go all out to destroy you.”
“Not that I’m complaining, big man, but did you come here just to tell us this?”
“Fool! Of course not. These villains are under new leadership that had the audacity to expel me from their group. No one does this to me, no one. I arrived in advance of their invasion and I have firsthand knowledge of their tactics, with the most brilliant of the lot of course devised by me. I shall lead you into victory while I take great satisfaction in showing these villains what it means to cross me.”
“Wait a second, you can’t just walk in here and take charge.”
“Fool! That is exactly what I shall do, unless you care to challenge my supremacy.”
The Anchorite sighed at this plot development. He originally wrote an action-packed fight scene between Pope Hian and the Chaircat, but his computer crashed in the process and the brilliant set piece was lost for all time. He did not have the time or wherewithal to rewrite the lost scene, so he left the story for his writing partner Chris Hugh to continue. She took it in a different direction than his plan, yet brilliant nonetheless although the world would now never witness a one-on-one fight between Su van Hian and Anton Fitzgibbon.
“How about you save that energy to vent your frustrations on those who betrayed you? We’re in common cause right now as I have a party to salvage and you have your wounded pride to recover. I paid to rent this place out until sunrise and I’ll be damned if I lose my deposit!”
“Very well, Anton, I accept your terms. Wait, what is this?”
Pope Hian eyed his daughter Regia in the crowd, standing alongside another Arch Regian he did not recognize.
“My willful daughter, I should have known you would cast your lot with this rabble.”
“Hello Father.” Regia’s voice did not hide her contempt, as she spoke in measured syllables that left a palatable chill in the air. She managed to make the word “father” sound like a grave insult.
“Like it or not, my child, we have a common interest for the moment. We shall have words when we return home, but that must wait for now.”
“Any time, Father, it will be a pleasure.” Regia’s tone clearly conveyed that she considered the thought anything but a pleasure.
“Who is your companion? I know her not.”
“I am just one of your many anonymous victims, Your Holiness, spared your wrath by caring friends.”
Pope Hian furrowed his brow as he could not identify this woman, although she appeared to be a good friend of Regia’s. That girl has become too skilled at hiding her secrets, he thought as he resolved to address that issue upon their return home. His search of his memory turned up empty. This unknown woman spoke truly as between his long list of personal prosecutions and the tireless activities of his clergy and inquisitors; Pope Hian did not recall every sinner that suffered divine retribution either by his own hand or by his command. It matters not, he thought, since he knew every member of the elite noble houses and despite her admittedly graceful elegant beauty; she was likely a mere peasant. Perhaps she was the daughter of a merchant or rural farmer, but she was no one of consequence.
“Watch your tongue, or I shall make sure to complete the task left undone.”
Regia stood in front of her friend and faced her father.
“You’ll have to go through me before I let you hurt her again, Father.” Again? thought the Pope.
“Whoa! Whoa! Wait a minute.” Anton Fitzgibbon stood in front of the Pope, tipping his head slightly upwards to look into the bigger man’s eyes.
“There are some family therapy issues over here, but we don’t have time for that. We have a group of villains on their way. We need to prepare and get on with our party. Warrior Cat. CC. Kitten. Twitch. All of my cats gather around. I don’t like working with this overgrown thug any more than the rest of you, but if he’s right about knowing their plans then we’ll all need to work together to win this one.”