"She was me, yes, but the past arrogant, selfish, and conceited me." Xenagrosh replied as she feasted on the flesh and mana cores of her doppelganger.
"Back then, I thought that I was invincible. That as long as I kept my belly full and my turf clear from any rival, I would be happy. Now I know better. Abominations don't thrive because they all live alone.
"While other races pool up their resources and knowledge, we hoard them and spend our eternal lives in seclusion. I came to you when I realized the limitations of that kind of lifestyle, when I decided I wanted more than be powerful to be happy.
"Otherwise I wouldn't have undergone all of your experiments, traveled Mogar to find companions for our cause, nor realized that even an Eldritch is flawed in both the mind and the body. Or at least, I was."
Xenagrosh yelled with joy as she felt her body changing. The shadows composing her dragon body were now less ethereal and more physical. A new power flowed through her black core, making it different and more powerful than it had ever been.
The Master looked at her in amazement. Even after returning to her humanoid form, the Eldritch was now womanlier than the previous construct made of stolen energies. Her body had partly recovered its features, like her shiny golden hair and two lively chestnut eyes.
"Do you think you could face a Guardian now?" The Master's voice was full of expectation.
"No, but for the first time in centuries, I'm not hungry. Whatever I have become, I'm already more than just an Eldritch. Imagine what I could be tomorrow."
After the farmer died, Lith returned to the Baroness' mansion and announced her that the crisis was averted. She was so happy that she wanted to throw a party in Lith's honor, who politely declined.
Winter didn't allow to waste provisions, nor he wanted to spend a single second more than necessary in Maekosh. Both Solus and him felt there was nothing worth celebrating and the city's inhabitants made their stomachs churn.
Lith returned to Belius to give Pazeol his tracking device back and all the corpses he had collected, even those of the farmer and his family. Lith understood the man's rage, his spite for mankind, but at the same time, he had a duty.
A duty toward Solus and himself. If all the tribes involved in the monster outbreaks were bound to give birth to hybrids that powerful, then he wanted the Griffon Kingdom to take care of them on its own.
The idea of the corpses being subjected to Pazeol's experiments was much less disturbing than that of him being forced to face those things again before he could even understand the nature of the inner conflict he was experiencing.
For once, Solus had nothing to object. Rather than see such misery and death again, she would have rather preferred that Lith deserted. She was having a hard time understanding how big was Tezka's role in playing with her emotions and how big was her own.
'Was it really his plan to make us feel sympathy for them, or did I just delude myself into hoping for the impossible?' She pondered.
Pazeol was so happy while Lith described him the effectiveness of the magical tracker that he laughed like Lith's report was the best joke ever.
"Now if only Balkor dares to raise his head, we'll be able to find him and pay him back in full!" There was madness in the youth's eyes, the same madness that led him to never fully heal his own scars.
Lith left him wondering which one of them was more disturbed.
'At least I don't rejoice at the idea of someone as dangerous as Balkor returning, but maybe it's just because he took away nothing from me.' Lith wondered.
Such morbid thoughts left him the moment he opened the door in front of him. Since he was in Belius, he could give his report in person. It was the real reason why he had personally delivered the bodies.
At first, Lith had considered having his girlfriend as his handler as a bother, especially after Othre's events. The fact that people like Berion could use her was a weakness irked his paranoia to no end.
After a while, though, he discovered that the issue was irrelevant compared to the benefits it provided. Lith had always kept many secrets from everyone, some because of need, others by choice.
All the things he went through, the price he had to pay to provide for his family and his research, he had never shared them with anyone but Solus. Back then, Phloria was too young and came from a pampered background.
She only did things because she wanted to, not because she had to. It created a small but significant gap between them that prevented Lith from sharing with her the most horrible details of his experiences.
Not because he thought they would scare her, but because he was certain she wouldn't be able to understand them.
As for his family, he didn't want to become their window on that side of the world he had spent his life protecting them from. Lutia was a small piece of paradise for them and he wanted to keep it that way.
With Kamila, everything was different. As a member of the army, Lith had to explain everything relevant to his missions, no matter how gruesome, and she had to listen. He would always hide the parts about his hybrid nature or true magic, but he could speak freely about anything else.
Over time, giving a report had turned from a duty to a way to share part of his burden. It had allowed him to open to her bit by bit, to let her in the loneliest part of his life and realize they grew closer for it.
"Welcome back, Ranger Verhen. I'm glad to meet you again." Whenever they interacted because of their work, her voice was detached and professional. Yet the moment Kamila saw him a warm smiled appeared on her face and extended to her eyes.
It always rose the temperature in his heart by several degrees. They sat down in the report room after shaking their hands. A report room was a small office that reminded Lith of an interrogation room from crime series.
The furnishing consisted of just two chairs, a desk, and a recording device. There were no magic mirrors nor cameras. On the contrary, the room was enchanted to guarantee their privacy.
"Sorry if I rush you, but the Balkor department is eager to hear about all the details of the mission." She turned the recorder on.
Lith told her everything that had happened that day, without stopping not even when in his mind the image of the warg mother he had killed overlapped with Rena's, nor when he could almost identify himself with the dead farmer.
In his shoes, Lith would have done much worse to save Carl's life or that of any member of his new family for that matter.
He only stopped when a click made him aware that Kamila had stopped the registration. Only then, did Lith notice that she was covering her mouth with one hand and that tears were streaming down her face, forming two irregular pools on the otherwise pristine surface of the desk.