“WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS GOOD ARE YOU DOING?”
Normally, one had to ask permission to step foot inside the Grand Hall of Deathven. That permission would have to be written out on paper, scanned, emailed and stamped by the right beings and then triple-confirmed by higher ranked Decay Lords before being granted. So having Galyn, a rather middling Decay Lord of not particularly high stature, suddenly bursting in and shouting was rather out of place.
Yet, despite his guards’ desires, Deathven allowed this errant Decay Lord to charge in. After all, how much of a threat could one Decay Lord possess? After all, Deathven was the Overlord of Decay, the Original One, the Ancestor. He had talked down far scarier beings.
“You seem upset, little Leafblade. Would you like to sit down and calmly discuss what is bothering you?”
As Deathven spoke, he got up from his throne. The Decay Lords around him had fallen back, their worries turning into whispers. Really, the Overlord wasn’t that tall. He towered over Galyn and most of the other Decay Lords present, but not to the point that he was unwieldy. No, it was the vast, billowing cape of shadows, the scythe twice the Overlord’s own height, the reams of smoke blustering around Deathven’s feet, all that was what made the Overlord who he was, a force to be reckoned with.
Galyn straightened himself out, not wanting to appear weak. “I demand to know why you have sent three Decaylings to their deaths! They are high-level candidates that the Thantir were training, and you just threw them away! All because if your incredibly strict level-laws! Half a percent, a brief fluctuation due to insane stress levels, and a Decayling is to be removed? How is that fair?”
“You know why we have level-laws…”
“I know why, and I am here to argue that they are hurting us more than they are harming us! In the last 45,000 hours, we have produced a grand total of twenty four new Decay Lords. Across the whole of Deathven. It may have been twenty seven, but you just sent our candidates to their doom, pitting them against a test designed for EXILED LORDS! A test meant for those who have betrayed the Decay Lords and have to prove themselves worthy!”
Deathven grunted, crossing his arms. “Maybe ask yourself why, Leafblade. Your Thantir Decaylings are not even official yet and they were already plotting to bypass our level-laws in order to protect their own.”
“Perhaps, Overlord, you should ask yourself why they were forced into such a position! Put yourself in their place and imagine having to continue on, knowing that your closest and perhaps only true ally was killed because they became too stressed! Of course they were going to try and fight back in the only way they could! The level-laws are holding us back and killing beings with genuine potential, while we are still reeling from our past losses! I almost feel as if the Grand Hall is intentionally holding us back!”
This Decay Lord was rather feisty. There were many Decay Lord organizations, all working underneath Deathven’s umbrella of protection, but the Thantir had been considered one of the… smaller yet more law-abiding groups. For one of the Thantir figureheads to come out today, acting and speaking as he had, was enough to make the Overlord pause.
“Leafblade, my Lords tell me that these three Decaylings, two of them have been problematic. Is that correct?”
Galyn shook his head, tutting. “No. They are not problematic. While one of them has had difficulties due to being a Zoan Potentiate, the three of them have passed every single test so far with flying colours. They are by far some of the more skilled Decaylings the Thantir have seen for a long, long time.”
“Are they?” Deathven questioned with an air of curiosity. “Then why are they-”
“BECAUSE YOU PUT DECAYLINGS IN A TRIAL MEANT FOR SEASONED DECAY LORDS, THOUSANDS OF TIMES THEIR AGE!” Galyn snapped, small, green daggers shimmering as they peered through Galyn’s skin and armour. “This whole MESS is completely backwards! We are KILLING innocent beings! We might as well call ourselves Voidborn at this rate!”
While most of this Decay Lord’s words were rather… harmless, that last sentence caught Deathven by surprise.
“You think we are no better than the Voidborn?”
“Considering how many beings we have destroyed due to them being considered impure, yes.”
The Overlord sighed. Leafblade was, admittedly, somewhat correct. There HAD been a massive slowdown of new Decay Lords, and the strict level-laws were almost certainly to blame. Deathven wondered for a moment if he himself could even pass today’s level-law standards.
“Very well. We will… consider altering the level-laws for future Decaylings and Decay Lords. Unfortunately, we cannot do the same for your Thantir Decaylings. They sought to go beyond our laws and will have to finish their Trial. When they come out of it, they will be designated as Decay Lords…”
“Overlord…” Galyn interrupted. “It is… highly likely they will not make it.”
“Then their designation will be done posthumously. But we cannot let them out of their Trial before they have either succumbed to the Trial or they complete their Decaying Changes. If we pull them out now, we may inadvertently kill them anyway.”
Deathven returned to his throne, giving Galyn a little space. As he sat back down, he watched as Galyn slowly deflated. With a sigh, Galyn simply turned around and left. No thank you, no goodbye, nothing. Behind Deathven, his Lords began whispering again. All asking why they let “that rude Leafblade” leave.
“Because he is right, little ones…” Deathven muttered. “We have let ourselves become too engrossed in our search for purity… We must make some alterations, lest we do indeed become more like the Voidborn…”