The first observatory was dark, the lights having been dimmed for effect. A small, fire had been lit in the middle of the room, being tended to by one of the seven Decay-Lords on the ship. Outside, the faint glow of a small, newly formed universe could be seen as subatomic particles spontaneously burst into existence then faded away within the universe’s membrane. Saahro, the youngest of the Decay-Lords was enjoying the sight, but he knew this peace and quiet wouldn’t last.
Slowly, the other Decay-Lords filed in. The last to arrive was Vikalos, their leader, who immediately sat down on the other side of the fire, opposite Saahro. Each Decay-Lord sat down in turn, until everyone was seated. With a flick of Vikalos’s heavy, clawed hand, the door behind them closed itself.
As always, Adis was the first to speak. He was somewhat floating in mid air, due to the fact that he was nothing more than a skeleton wrapped in cloth. His bony features changed regularly, and today his skull was that of a deer-like being, with sharp antlers. His hands though were simple, bony claws.
“So, we’re gonna talk about the new guy and how I don’t like him, right?”
“I am not a fan of the little one…” Myyxa gurgled.
“I do not like this one either…” Thaed admitted. “But this one is very quiet. This one does not distract and keeps to oneself.”
“Oh sure, yeah, new guy’s quiet, but he’s a damn Antifthor. He’ll get us hunted down and eaten or something!” Adis rattled. “We used to have 20 filled bedrooms on this vessel and now we don’t even fill 10. Why? Antifthors.”
“That’s not true!” Ostos immediately retaliated. “A bunch of the others left of their own accord! Sure the last Anti-gal was… well, a little fucked up and all, but that doesn’t mean they’re all like that. You know the big D-O himself is an Anti!”
Seimeni glanced at Vikalos. “Is that true?”
“Yes. Many of the higher Lords are. That is part of the reason why they are revered. Also part of the reason why Lord Dethvon wishes to make sure they are accounted for, so they… do not fall into the wrong hands.”
“Are yooooou an Antifthor?” Seimeni grinned.
Vikalos grunted, shaking his head. He turned his attention to Saahro, who had been quiet the whole time. “What are your opinions on this matter, Murdragon?”
Saahro didn’t say anything at first. He was trying to work out what to say without looking like he was uninformed, which he was.
“Uh, what happened with the last Antifthor you had here?”
“She lost her mind and killed three other Decay-Lords before killing herself.”
“You mean she got fucked up by Voidborn interference and was made to turn on us and try kill us all?” Adis shouted. “What’s to say that the little prick sleeping in there won’t do the same?”
“That one was not sound of mind. In any way…” Thaed hissed. “That one never let go. That one always hated one’s own existence. That one was not treated right and became self-destructive. These five are not completely without blame.”
“She still…” Adis was about to rant some more, by Myyxa cut him off.
“I do not like the little one, but if we treat the little one poorly, then we will have a repeat of the past. We do not want repeats. Leaving the little one behind would only make future matters worse.”
Seimeni sighed. “Myyxa’s right. I mean, I like Arkay, I think he’s cute. But if you all decide you don’t want him here, then we abandon him and he gets… well, he gets what happened to the last one.”
“Can’t we just send the guy off to Deathven on his own though?” Ostos asked. “I mean, we have pods for that sort of thing. We send stuff to and from Deathven anyway.”
“You wanna crush Arkay up, stick him in a pod and send him off that way?” Seimeni gasped. “That’s horrible! Assuming he even makes it to Deathven in one piece, how do you know that he’ll be safe and happy and well? He’s still a Decayling, there’s still bits of his universe on him! He’d end up dead or eaten!”
Ostos slumped slightly, feeling a bit stupid.
“I have a suggestion…” Saahro finally piped up. “Why… why don’t we wait until Arkay becomes a proper Decay-Lord? You all judged me when you picked me up and I turned out to be a perfectly normal Decay-Lord, so why aren’t we doing the same with Arkay?”
“Because he’s an Antifthor!” Adis grumbled. “That’s different!”
“He hasn’t, like, hurt anyone yet though. He’s been very quiet, very calm and quite patient, all things considered. We literally found him in his universe-sack, that’s how small and fresh he is. It’s… not fair to judge him already…”
Thaed crossed both pairs of arms. “This Murdragon is correct. These Seven judge the other too harshly and too quickly. These Seven must give the other a chance.”
“That is fair,” Ostos shrugged. “I mean, we can’t judge too much.”
“All he does is eat cheese and bread anyway!” Seimeni smiled.
Vikalos nodded, standing up. “So it is agreed. We will allow Arkay to remain with us, as we monitor his change into a Decay-Lord. Once he is fully grown, we will return to this discussion. Until then, we will treat him as one of our own. Are we all clear on that?”
The other Decay-Lords all nodded in agreement. One by one, they stood up and filed out of the room, until only Vikalos and Saahro were left.
“Hey…” Saahro muttered.
“Is something wrong?” Vikalos asked.
“I, uh, just wanted to say thanks. For letting me stay. And for letting Arkay stay.”
Vikalos grunted. “I was going to let Arkay stay, no matter what you all said. At the very least, he would have to be hand-delivered to Lord Dethvon, should you all have decided otherwise.”
“Is Arkay actually dangerous?”
“No. But in the wrong hands, he has the potential to be deadly to us all…”