“It really is too bad about your predecessor, Chender.” Cerlissa could just hear Naxes talking quietly to the Centurion that had entered his office a short time ago. “He was very good at his job. Detail oriented. Never missed a thing.”
Chender said something, but the wording was lost on her. She moved closer to the edge of the door and turned her head, trying to hear a little better. Cerlissa had come here planning on confronting Naxes Rosornos about a shortage in grain on the battlements. The soldiers on the walls weren’t getting enough to eat, and Cerlissa was fairly certain that the problem lay at this man’s feet. She’d gone to the council seat already and was turned away. Apparently you have to be born a proper Grav in order to have a proper brain. They must have a point because anyone with a modicum of sense would have dropped it by now. It seemed, however, that she wasn’t the only one with the idea of taking the problem to the source, because when Cerlissa showed up, someone was already knocking at Naxes’ door. Someone she now knew was the Supply Centurion in charge of all things military in New Turath. Chender’s voice rose to a higher, more worried-sounding pitch, but she still couldn’t quite make out what he said.
Naxes seemed to wait until Chender finished babbling at him before he said,“So unless you want people to find out just how badly you wanted this position, I’d keep these allegations to yourself.”
“I didn’t kill him! It was suicide!”
A short silence, then Chender seemed to have collected himself, “How can you do this? You’re killing them, did you know that? You’re endangering the soldiers and everyone in this city and for what? Pocket change?”
A long silence…
“Well,” Chender continued, “I… I hope your sense of honor returns to you.”
“I simply hope your sense returns to you, Centurion. Think of your family.”
Heavy footsteps began to thump in Cerlissa’s direction. She looked around but there was nowhere that she could hide. Thinking no one would recognize her, she decided just to take her chances and run, but once she made that decision the doorknob started to turn and she froze.
Looking around and shaking her hands a little in panic, she decided to try and play it cool. She leaned against the wall and let her hair fall partially in front of her face. When Chender opened the door he paused momentarily in surprise. Cerlissa said nothing and glared, looking him straight in the eye as if to dare him to challenge her.
Chender looked at his boots and continued down the hall, letting the door swing shut behind him.
Shocked, Cerlissa decided to try the same tactic as she stepped inside the door to Naxes’ office. She swooped in and stood just inside the door, again leaning against the wall and glaring straight at Naxes Rosornos, house chairman.
He suddenly looked a lot taller.
After glaring at him for a solid minute, Cerlissa wasn’t sure if he even knew she was in his office. She dropped her glare, sure that it wasn’t that impressive anyway, and took a breath—
“Take a seat, child. I heard about what you think you found.”
Suddenly Cerlissa couldn’t remember why she was even here.
“What’s your name? Charoum?”
That got her thinking again. “My name is Grav. I was adopted almost ten years ago.”
“No. It isn’t.”
Cerlissa was stumped for a moment, then decided that he was just trying to get at her. It was working but he didn’t have to know that. She stood up straight and delivered her line as gallantly as she’d mentally practiced it, “You’re a liar, a thief, and a money laundering blackmailer and you won’t be threatening the safety of New Turath any longer.”
Naxes seemed to stop listening, looking down at his desk and sorting the papers scattered on it. Then he asked, “How so?”
She hadn’t thought this far ahead. She hadn’t thought she’d actually be here. She didn’t plan anything past that one heroic line and she realised that she had absolutely nothing on this man. She’d already gone to the council seat with proof and was turned away.
“I won’t let you.” Cerlissa blurted. She thought furiously and realized that she might not make it out of this office with her life. She’d ditched a date with her boyfriend just to come here and be gallantly murdered by a man who had every means to get away with it. He’d gotten away with it at least once before, as it was now very clear that the previous Supply Centurion hadn’t been especially clumsy with his own blade.
Bluff. She just needed to keep bluffing until she thought of something.
Cerlissa was so busy panicking at her own lack of foresight that she almost didn’t recognize the look that Naxes was giving her. He was looking at her steadily, great black horns curving outward and his entire body still as stone.
If he hadn’t twitched his tail, Cerlissa would be dead. But he did twitch his tail, and Cerlissa was not as slow as Naxes had hoped.
He came at her over the table, fingers crackling with some unknown spell that only just missed her face. Cerlissa wasn’t as nimble as she’d like and was sent sprawling across the floor. Naxes came at her again in a furious rush that triggered something in the instinctive, lizard part of her brain that told her to roll, saving her life again.
Cerlissa was losing ground fast and it wouldn’t take much for Naxes to snuff her out once he caught her. She was panicking and it was starting to get difficult to breath.
Wind. Her tutor told her that she was good at calling the air. That it would be her strong suit one day. She tried to concentrate as Naxes gained his momentum for another lunge. The window was open, the breeze drifting aimlessly through. Cerlissa gathered the requisite energy to sweep Naxes out that very window, and released it in a great fizzle. There was a whoosh, the curtains were swept out the window, and the torch went out, leaving the room entirely dark and otherwise perfectly safe.
“Oh damn it.” Cerlissa swore quietly.
“Did you think you could get away with this?” Naxes’ deep voice permeated the entire room. Cerlissa was fairly certain he hadn’t moved, and mostly certain that replying would make her dead, so she stayed still and silent. Naxes continued, “So you thought you would come into my office, threaten me, and suddenly I would change my ways? Stupid girl.”
She was afraid to move, but it sounded like he was getting nearer. Cerlissa waved at her face, trying to banish the heat. At least Naxes couldn’t see how red her face was getting. She started to shake as she moved slowly around the room toward where she remembered the door being.
“I will tell you, though. I’m pleased at your boldness. For one, it’s refreshing, and two…”
Why did he suddenly stop talking?
Cerlissa realized with a sudden gasp, so he could listen to her breath. She was hearing his loud voice and forgot to stay absolutely silent while he spoke. She slapped her hand over her stupid mouth and froze.
“…because now I know exactly who is causing me so much trouble…”
The air crackled, smelling of ozone, and Cerlissa’s heart dropped. She was going to die, now. Her stupid mistake cost her her stupid life and now she was going to die. Her face heat up and she felt like her heart were about to burst in her chest.
Then she heard goat bleating, like laughter, and every sense was bathed in searing pain.
And she changed.
Her short, gently curved horns grew and began to spiral. Her forearms elongated until she could rest her hands on the floor without bending over. Her feet shortened and she stumbled, slipping out of her boots and revealing sharp, cloven hooves. The smell of burning hair filled her flattened nose and the world was bathed in rage.
How could he? How DARE he threaten her? How DARE he threaten HER CITY.
“THIS IS MY CITY.”
Her voice wasn’t just loud, it was big. It was all encompassing. It spoke not only to the ear, but to the mind and soul alike.
She couldn’t contain it, her wrath was burning her up and had only one place to go.
“BURN WITH ME!!!!”
Start with dialogue between Naxes Rosornos and Supply Centurion Chender. Naxes is blackmailing Chender to keep him quiet about the grain shortage that Naxes is capitalizing on (shorting the military on grain shipments and keeping the extra profits for himself).
Naxes is threatening Chender that he’ll frame him for the sudden death of his predecessor, Supply Centurion Nefton (who had also figured it out), with the motive of wanting Nefton’s job.
Cerlissa is hearing the dialogue because she was already suspicious of his legislative endeavors and had already gone to
-authority figure- about these suspicions, but because of her lack of experience/pull/proper heritage, was turned away.
Unsure what else to do, she decides to confront Naxes himself, after Chender leaves.
A fight somehow happens!
He’s a warlock (as many Cambion are) and tries using his magic to sway her.
Mind magic? Keep in mind that Cerlissa is very susceptible to mind magic.
He pulls steel.
He is dangerous is some other fashion?
Naxes ends up violently dead after Cerlissa kills him with scary demony fire.
Trusted someone walks into Naxes’ office and finds Cerlissa in scary demon form.
Love interest? Anonrin Iendis
Whoever it is, it’s someone very close to her, that’s known her since she showed up in House Grav. Someone who knew her when she still called herself ‘Cerlissa Charoum’, rather than her changed name, ‘Cerlissa Grav-Norsca’. Hence the nickname “Char Baby”.
Tense discussion while Cerlissa begins to revert to her usual, angelic features. They decide to split and talk later.
Trusted someone and Cerlissa then cement their bonds with this big secret that, as far as Cerlissa knows, they’ve both kept ever since.