As I made my way to the reception desk I couldn't help but think of the "investigation" that Aeolus had mentioned and later refused to elaborate upon. The whole thing made me feel uneasy, as it wasn't terribly difficult to connect all the dots. There had been a murder that one of my boys may have been responsible for. The garrison was holding their own investigation independent from the university, which was the whole reason behind their deployment to our sleepy little hollow. Were they nearing a suspect? If so, was it my Hanz or Gerald?

Furthermore, what would happen if one of them was tried and convicted of the terrible deeds wrought? I somehow doubted the malicious intelligence plotting in their minds would allow itself to be bound in chains and dragged off to a labor camp or to the front lines of some distant war. No, whatever thing capable of rendering the poor old librarian into a bloodied mess of bones was definitely something that you shouldn't back into a corner like it was even a semblance of normal.

I approached the receptionist who looked at me listlessly from beneath horn rimmed glasses. I produced the card and proceeded to go through the spiel of having to find a book that I had read in the previous year. I knew the library card was supposed to be completely anonymous. Isyr in those days had superb civil rights. But I was indifferent to the emperor's regime and I had a wiggling suspicion the restrictions placed on campus security and civilian authorities did not apply to the military.

I paid a small fee and she punched in the card's unique identification code. The typewriter like device churned and chugged, it's internal gears louder than I'd expect. It plodded through the internal inventory of the library and punched them out on long sheets of cheap paper. I watched the librarian's face slowly turn into one of suspicion. She offered what wound up being the length of a small novel and squinted at me in a weird way. It was if she was trying to remember me from some past event, even though I'm sure she had seen the face of every student.

I nervously thanked her and departed with my prize. Not wanting to be discovered with a list of all the books checked out by my Hanz in the previous year I fled to an out of the way park on the west end of campus and sat beneath one of the willows. I allowed whatever the sun could offer to warm my body as I thumbed through the transactions.

It was startling to say the least. There were several hundred checked out items throughout that long year, all of them on the subject of The Progenitors.They were all published in what youth would consider ancient history. I saw many of the titles I now shared a dormitory with. Some of them I had pretended to read under their pressure.

It was then that I developed a sinking feeling. A dread that slowly crawled down my spine like a malicious insect. I was by far no private investigator, but I was far from stupid. Aeolus and his comrades were investigating a crime. The first step would of course be to collect evidence that lead to suspects.

Crimes were typically nonrandom events. Those who commit them usually have a motive and a connection to the crime scene or suspect. Granted, most of the student body utilized the sprawling gothic building and had probably interacted with the poor librarian. But Aeolus and his peers were surely disciplined and patient enough to sift through all of the data available.

How long would it have taken them to discreetly obtain the wealth of information they'd need to point toward a suspect? How much longer would it take them to wade through the red tape surrounding privacy laws to obtain the identity of the random identification code associated with their presumably unusual activity?

I had no idea what evidence they had, but I'd wager not much considering the length of their deployment and the lack of a public explanation for the terrible events.

I breathed deeply and felt a rush of emotion. Despite their shady activity, secrets and outright lies I still loved them. While I did have my own less than moral behavior to contend with I wasn't fully certain it wasn't all because of the fact that I felt somehow betrayed. Perhaps subconsciously I wanted to hurt them back and Aeolus just happened to be a convenient way to accomplish these objectives.

So a crossroads stretched out before me. I could leave well enough alone and let justice work itself out and lose my boys forever. I could continue my relationship with Aeolus and maybe find love again, although it might be a pale reflection of the head over heels feelings I had for my Hanz and Gerald. Whatever Altima was I seemed immune to her cruel hand. I could just as easily forget the past year and settle into a new life free of her madness.

My remaining option of course was to fight the tide. I knew in my heart that neither of them was really capable of such terrible deeds. I felt certain that Altima was ultimately responsible for the poor librarian's death and the damage done to the library. Granted, she was beyond prison and likely past any sort of punishment that a mortal society like our own could conceive of.

So I could rescue the men which I loved. But this ultimately boiled down to a conclusion that left a bitter taste in my mouth. I of course had to betray Aeolus. Which unfortunately meant unwittingly becoming an accomplice to the terrible thing that held my lovers captive.

For now that seemed preferable to the alternative.


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