Chapter 158 - Hostility
Mattik is freaking out. He was a servant for the Brighntin family not even a week ago, working his days away with scrubbing, polishing, sweeping and general cleaning. He had expected to be doing that until he was an old man. The fact that his sister got sent away to pastures unknown weighed on his mind, but he felt lucky to be allowed to work for such a prestigious family.
Now his old master, Voxander Brighntin, has commanded him to oversee part of a massively disruptive operation that will undermine the ruling structure of the human kingdom. Not commanded, really. Voxander made sure to frame the assignment as a question, but Mattik’s conditioning is still live and kicking. His betters telling him to jump will have him bouncing around as soon as physically possible.
He casts his mind back over the past few days. News that his sister - a frail and clumsy girl by the name of Merin - was found and retrieved would have turned his life upside down a week ago. Now it seems like an interesting anecdote, enough to merit a quick smile, but no more than that. He has visited her a few times of course, but the experiences that he went through had thrown up an impenetrable barrier between him and his closest remaining relative.
Voxander had dragged him off and knocked him out without warning. Waking up and getting over the fact that a small green stone held actual thoughts took him a few hours. The boisterous temperament of the person that greeted him as he stumbled out of the large white building - one of the shortest beastkin he had ever witnessed - had him mutely nodding along with everything the little thing said.
Not even given the time to properly gape at the bizarre surroundings, he was thrown headfirst into an intense learning and training session. Vox seemed to have made quite a name for himself in this extremely peculiar place Mattik found himself in. The beastkin seemed dead set on ingratiating itself with his - previously thought long dead - master through preparing Mattik with a never-ending stream of theoretical and practical lessons.
Mattik has tried very hard to suppress most of the more brutal and humiliating training methods the small cretin had him go through. The choice of a braincore seemed obvious to Mattik, who now has half his processes working on either suppressing memories or working on ways to take revenge.
The problem was, no matter how much he calculated or theorized, each training event was immensely helpful in hindsight.
“Ah, boss mister. We can come back later if you want?” asks a young and trembling voice.
Mattik looks up from his paper covered desk and takes a deep breath. “No need. What are you here for?”
The boy swallows and keeps kneading his hat in both hands. “W-we’ve run out of food again. The east district’s got a lot of remaining stock, but they’re not willing to give it to us.”
Mattik starts churning his meagre amount of gaseous qi through his head, trying to make sense of the situation. The food distribution network that he was assigned to grew splendidly for a few days. The powers that be must have started to actually feel threatened, because the amount of resistance that parts of the populace has been showing against cheap and delicious food is unnatural.
“You will receive new batches soon. Why are you empty already? It’s not even noon yet.”
The kid starts smiling happily at that question. “Ah mister, these big guys in fancy armour asked us if they could get food for their friends. They even brought a cart. Fastest money I ever earned.”
“And a bunch of fancy armour in the middle of the pauper’s district didn't ring any alarm bells?” asks Mattik.
“Ah, one of the guys said that, but I told him to shut up and give ‘m the food. Fast distribution, that’s what you wanted us to do!”
Mattik really should have known better. Distributing large quantities of food over an entire city was not feasible with only volunteer students, so a lot of local workers had to be hired. Mattik has the position of a sub-district overseer, working from a distribution warehouse and spreading the food to the people through his own underlings.
“Okay, new rule. Limit the food to two daily portions per person. We want actual people to eat our food, the noble tossers would have gone to a distribution point in the noble districts if they truly wanted food for their friends.”
Slow realization comes across the kid’s face. “You’re totally right boss. I’ll first piss in the food before handing it over to those fancy metal wads.”
Mattik tries to explain some more, but the dumb kid seems insistent on misinterpreting his orders in the most stupid way possible. He finally dismissed the brat and starts formulating a report, informing database about the potential mole he has found. Kids can be stupid, but this one seems oddly insistent on performing his orders in the worst way possible.
Pushing the formulated thought into Database is still weird as ever. Having done this multiple times a day now, sending a mental picture into a direction that you can't quite grasp and feeling it slide out of your mind still freaks Mattik out in an abstract kind of way. He has barely recovered from his mental goosebumps when a thunderous crashing noise wakes him from his mental stupor.
The small office he is in is located in a warehouse built against a white mage tower. The general evacuating of all wielders of magic have left these buildings empty and unused - no party is foolish enough to intrude upon the mages like this. Mattik swallows when thinking about the Wave Island’s reaction when they return to see this.
The wall in front of him is gone, crushed into splinters by an unknown force. Faint screams fade away into the distance. An oddly bouncing shape rolls and jiggles its way through the dust cloud. Mattik freezes when he recognized one of the mythical original students, the fat kid named Bord.
“Sup. There were some pests, I returned them to sender,” says the blonde boy while looking around. He strolls off after Mattik fails to reply. Taking another deep breath, the overworked servant starts rethinking his life for the hundredth time today.
“ANGETAAAAAH! EAT THIS!”
The beastkin in question jumps slightly, her tail expanding in volume, before dodging the sudden attack with a sinuous bending movement. Slinking upright into a defensive posture, Angeta looks at the bundle of cloth that just shot past her. The pile of rags explodes, a spinning figure in the middle while the many lengths of cloth unwrap. Shawls and ribbons of cloth move like snakes as they speed towards Angeta.
“Ragni, what are you doing? Could you not?”
Ragni stops right in the middle of a fancy acrobatic manoeuvre. She is wearing only a few strips of cloth that cover her private bits, the rest of her wardrobe suspended in the air around her. A gourd attached to her head by a piece of cloth slowly trickles a stream of clear water on her forehead. Blinking furiously, Ragni stares at her rival. “Um, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“No, no no no. That’s not fine at all. You are Angeta from Treefields, previously from the Capital?”
“Yes, Ragni, baker's daughter. That’s me.”
The curvy, barely clad women takes a deep breath. “No matter! Prepare to pay for all the years of tormenting me! I really appreciate that you saved me and all, but that’s only good for half the shit you put me through. EAT FABRIC!”
Angeta squints at the beastkin, dodging past each high-speed piece of cloth like a bending reed. Her form flows through each gap in the attacks, her face keeping the placid expression as her limbs bend in seemingly impossible ways.
The two beastkin girls are fighting on the moon, just outside the main collection of buildings. A small crowd has gathered and more students pause their activities to look at the odd sight. Fighting is pretty common on the moon - there are a plethora of dedicated fighting zones and places - but Ragni’s way of attacking is rather unusual.
Her many strips of cloth, wraps, ribbons and shawls all behave differently. One silken belt moves like a snake, flowing timidly before striking at impressive speeds. A sheer shawl moves through the air like a wing, trying to wrap around Angeta’s flowing form. A knotted rope of loose handkerchiefs acts like a whip, often changing directions in an unnatural way at the last moment.
Angeta keeps moving, never stopping her wavy motions as she approaches her attacker. Ragni’s face turns from concentrated focus to panicked focus as all her moves are dodged with narrow margins. Her head starts steaming as she runs out of pre-calculated moves, transferring her qi from a few items of clothing and into her brain.
This decision turns out to be a good one, and the sudden switch from many items attacking at once to few items attacking smarter catches Angeta off guard. She fails to pay enough notice to a single piece of white cloth that Ragni left untouched since the beginning of the fight until Angeta steps on it, a mere meter in front of her opponent.
“Okay. You caught me. I was busy, can I go?” asks the bored looking Angeta, hanging upside down from a white piece of cloth.
“NO! Angy, look at me!” Ragni rotates Angeta’s head so they’re face to face. “I’m sorry, but I must do this.” And the curvy beastkin moves her head closer and licks Angeta’s face, leaving a long trail of damp fur.
“Wha?” Even upside down, Angeta’s face is a vivid combination of stunned astonishment and rising indignation. She splutters a bit before she explodes with greenery. Roots, vines, leaves and bark rips every single scrap of cloth into tiny pieces, wrapping the duo in a cocoon of plant life.
“Oh… I thought I really had you cornered, separated from the forest,” pouts Ragni. Angeta is staring into her face, sitting on top of the tightly wrapped female.
“Why did you lick my fucking face? Do you really hate me that much?” Angeta’s spittle lands on Ragni’s fur as a green fire starts smouldering in her furious eyes. “I was doing actual important stuff. Earning points by producing contained plant constructs and you interrupt me to insult me by licking my face?”
“Pffff. No, sorry. I really don't mean to laugh-ahahaa! ...in such a serious moment, but BWAHA HAHAA!” Angeta takes a mental step back, letting the furious furrows fade from her brow. ”Your face! The expression on your face, that was priceless. Scales be damned, Angy, but that’s a sight I will never forget.”
Angeta drops to the ground, stepping off of the laughing beastkin and resting her back to the interwoven mesh of stems surrounding the two. Softly, slowly and nearly unwilling, Angeta starts laughing too. The two beastkin girls clutch their stomachs as soft peels of laughter reach the bystanders. The majority of watchers disperses after a full minute of muffled laughter, disappointed that their entertainment ended.
Two heads pop out of the leaf covered shell a few more minutes later, showing two sweat covered beastkin girls, damp fur clinging to skin as they gasp for fresh air. They pop back in and a minute later the plants shrivel up and turn to dust. Angeta and Ragni appear, both wearing simple dresses, their previous clothes ripped to tiny shreds.
“I still fucking hate you, though,” says Ragni after stretching a bit. “You always stole everyone's attention and never let me have anything nice.”
“Says the prettiest girl of the village. Do you even notice the guys staring anymore? You stretched on purpose just now, right? Did you count how many men ogled you?” replies Angeta back with a bit of bite to her tone.
“Ooh, I’m sorry miss-I-have-everything-everyone-could-possibly-want. Is this place even good enough for you, oh noble Capital dweller?”
The previous warm mood evaporates like a snuffed candle flame.
“Go trim your fucking eyebrows, caterpillar face.”
Ragni gasps. “No, you didn't. Did all those dicks you sucked finally push your mind out of your ears, dick-for-brains?”
“You bitch!” shouts Angeta, crouching into a combat stance and forming her fingers into claws. “Fuck off you bimbo, I don't have time for this. I need to remake those seeds I used just now.” She then takes a deep breath and starts walking away.
“Hah, slinking off with your tail between your spread legs? Going to beg daddy for pro-” Gloating in her victory, Ragni barely has time to react as Angeta pounces at her. The proceeding catfight gathers a much larger crowd as both women tear the others’ robes to pieces, fighting with claw, tooth and nail.
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