The last couple of days had been a blur. Between the celebrations of people coming back to life, and government organizations wanting to question them, Phovos had barely had the time to sit down. Kohra had been reunited with his brother. Kayen had been reunited with his father. Timik managed to rejoin some of his friends who had left the Allbirther’s Cult after he’d been kidnapped. Phovos though had work to do. Her friend Lokmah had welcomed her back home, but aside from that, it was all so damn hectic.
But most of what she’d had to sit through had been perfectly tolerable. The questioning from various organizations had been daunting at first but they’d gotten over it. The celebrations had been wonderful, with lots of food and drink and stuff. None of them had realised how hungry they were. Reuniting Kayen with his dad had been absolutely amazing. The look on their cute little Skyavok faces was unforgettable. There’d been good news elsewhere as well, as the city council had completely rebuilt Phovos’s house, once the site had been cleaned and swept for evidence.
Now though, now Phovos had to do something she really wasn’t sure about.
She had to speak to the General.
There weren’t many beings that Phovos was genuinely afraid of. The General though was one of them. General Retvik Rethianos of the 270th Legion. The leader of the Dessaron. Known simply as the General to the local Ksithan population. Because most Ksithans were scared of him. General Retvik may have seemed like a normal Rethavok, but almost everyone in Palaestra had heard the story of him literally tearing down walls in pursuit of the one who murdered his friend. What scared Phovos more though were the many other stories she’d heard of the Rethan’s sheer power. He wasn’t just strong, he was vastly intelligent as well, and not in that normal, slightly weird Rethan-stream-of-conscience way.
The General was waiting for her. Phovos checked her wristband and the clock on her phone. She was early. But he was already there, waiting.
Phovos didn’t hesitate. That would look like weakness. She walked straight into the dimly lit room, closing the door behind her. General Retvik was sitting at a small, glass table, sipping a glass of water.
“Good day, Kyria Phovos.”
“Welcome back to reality.”
Phovos sat down opposite the General. Retvik leaned over and revealed a jug of ice cold water, then proceeded to pour the Raptor a drink.
“Thank you. It is… good to be back, I guess. Why have you summoned me?”
Retvik didn’t answer at first. He sipped his drink again, then rested his arms on the table. “You are afraid.”
“I… maybe a little.”
“You looked death in the eye, yet you shudder in my presence.”
“Death always comes for everyone. That’s natural and nothing to be scared of. Becoming death though, that’s a whole different game.”
“That is fair.”
“So why am I here?” Phovos was confused. The General seemed… off.
“Control of the city was handed back to the Dessaron when you disappeared. We need to negotiate a deal. I apologize that this has not come up sooner, but your fellow Ksithans both wished to celebrate and did not want to bother me. At the same time, now that you have returned, you are no longer in a position to lead.”
Phovos nodded. “The Thantophor said that we would… live more hectic lives now. And based on what happened to the Dessaron, it’s pretty clear we’ll have the same issues.”
“So you understand the fact that we need a new leader for the city.”
“You have a proposal?”
“I do. We have an opportunity to democratize the city of Palaestra. Make it the truly neutral, truly open city both you and I imagined it to be. Ruled by the vok, not a one.”
“Waaaaait…” Phovos took a deep breath. “You realise I literally just got back. I’ve barely slept. And you’re talking about political instability that could cause a decade to repair!”
Retvik leaned back in his chair. The chair was obviously too small for him. Was he smiling?
“You only get this chance once. You know I am correct. That democracy will bring more stability in the long term. You may have been blessed by Arkay, but you will not live forever. And I certainly do not see any heirs in your future or mine.”
The Raptor sighed, but her sigh turned into hesitation. “Wait, you won’t have kids?”
“I am the second of the Rethianos Family. Rethais already has children, so I cannot. It is… a complicated tale.”
“Well so is all the stuff I went through!” Phovos snapped, then instantly regretted it. “I’m sorry. I’m really tired.”
“I know. I apologise for thrusting this upon you so suddenly, but we do have a brief window of opportunity that I do not wish to miss.”
Phovos grunted. “Yeah. I get that. And I do agree. Getting proper elections here, making them good from the start, would help out everyone. Make things less like a vaguely corrupt oligarchy. Can you…” Phovos hesitated again. “Can you give me like a week to recover, and we can start working on this?”
Retvik nodded. “Of course, Kyria Phovos. As you wish.”
The Raptor smiled uneasily as she stood up. “Thank you, General.”
“Thank you too, Raptor. Have a pleasant day.” Retvik stood up too and led Phovos to the door.
The heavy door slammed shut, cutting off Phovos’s sentence.
“… You too…