JACKAL AMONG SNAKES-Chapter 597: Three Year Coma, Everyone Died

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The very second that Argrave blinked open his eyes, he tried to sit up quickly. That proved to be a resounding mistake as pain assailed him from within, and he felt hot liquid rise up his throat—from the taste of it, blood. He coughed ungracefully, and felt that unpleasantness spill out over his face.

“Oh, what in the… just my luck,” He faintly heard a voice, and then saw someone he recognized well—Titus. The former southern tribal took a nearby wet cloth and wiped Argrave’s face. It seemed like only after a few seconds did he realize Argrave’s eyes were open. When Titus realized he might be dealing with a living thing, he retracted the cloth and said quietly, “You in there?”

Argrave gave a nod and said weakly, “Thanks, Titus.”

The man narrowed his eyes, yet smiled. “It’s Durran, actually. Elenore said you were having a weird memory thing.”

“Right.” Argrave closed his eyes, accepting there would be some adjustment. “What happened?”

“We lost.” Durran plopped the cloth down. “Kirel Qircassia came down and killed Law and Rook. You’ve been unconscious for three years. Gerechtigkeit’s already destroyed half of the world.”

Argrave laughed through his nose, yet even that made him groan in pain. “Just tell me what happened, you freak.”

“Freak? That was you some time ago. Your face was crooked. We fixed it, though, as best we could.” Durran sat down in a nearby chair with a huff, and only then did Argrave start to piece together some of his surroundings. By the look of things, he was still in the Great Chu. “Tell you what happened… what do you think happened? Qircassian Coalition got what was coming to them. Erlebnis died. Sataistador… we think he’s dead, but no one will say for certain. Regardless, he’s hardly any threat anymore. My godly patron is hunting him. The Great Chu… I won’t say it’s peaceful, but it’s quieter than it was. Emperor Ji Meng issued a decree insisting the whole empire pray for your wellbeing. He gave you alllll the credit. He claimed you killed two gods alone.”

“He’s an emperor now?” Argrave looked over, puzzled. “But Ji Meng burnt his soul away to coordinate the fire of chaos’ attack. He can’t be alive.” Durran looked as confused as Argrave felt, and it finally dawned on him—it was another name mix-up. “I’m talking about the governor. The one with the big family, and all the influence.”

“That was Zen.” Durran shook his head. “Something really did a number on you, didn’t it? Is this that fire?”

Argrave blinked a few times. He supposed that, with the Alchemist incapacitated, no one else knew what had happened to him. “It’s a long story. Can you get Anneliese? Please tell me I’m not misremembering that name.”

Durran leaned in. “That’s your sister.”

“I’d believe you if you didn’t have a stupid grin,” Argrave said through clenched teeth. “Just get her.”

Durran shook his head. “Sorry. I, uhh… probably shouldn’t joke about that with things as they are. Anneliese is…” The man gestured vaguely beside Argrave.

Argrave turned his head slowly. He caught sight of her, then. She was lying just beside him in another bed. Her skin had all returned to normal, and Argrave thought that she was merely resting before he noticed her hands.

“What happened to her fingers?” Argrave said in panic, trying to rise again with effort redoubled. More blood came out his mouth, and Durran physically pushed him back onto the bed.

“Take it easy, easy! She’s fine, she’s breathing. Everyone tells me she’ll make a full recovery, given time. Her fingers had to be removed because they were too badly burned.”

“Burned? How?” Argrave repeated.

“Burned helping you handle the fire of chaos,” Durran explained.

“Why did she do that? I didn’t want that!” Argrave raised his voice too loud, and coughed again.

“She saved your life, the way I understand things. Rook and Lira can attest to that.” Durran pushed him down more firmly. “If you act out, all you’re going to do is hurt yourself. Just rest, moron.”

Argrave conceded to Durran’s words, seeing the wisdom in them. He settled down back onto the bed, and his mind wandered to the Alchemist. That man would know what to do, here. Argrave couldn’t rest until he was assured about Anneliese, and the Alchemist could give those assurances. But as Raven was presently incapacitated, he couldn’t be of much help.

Argrave’s thoughts froze. He had Erlebnis’ knowledge inside of his head—anything that the Alchemist knew, Argrave likely did, too. Coming to this conclusion, he looked to Durran.

“Could you get everyone else?”

Durran sat back down in the chair now that Argrave had stopped struggling. “Could you be less vague?”

“No. I might remember names wrong. For all I know, you might bring Galamon in here or something.”

Durran laughed. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I just might. I think I know what you mean. You want your closest counsel, that sort of thing, right?”

“Exactly.” Argrave gave a weak nod. “Have to catch people up… and catch up myself. So, bring everyone.”

“Few of those might be a problem.” Durran wrung his hands together. “Like Melanie.”

“She’s the Order of the Gray Owl magister guarding Sophia, from my memory.” Argrave narrowed his eyes.

“It’s a marvel how you keep saying things so confidently when you know your memory has the consistency of soup.” Durran shook his head, looking upon Argrave like he was a rare beast. “No, she’s the red-headed mercenary with green eyes who was blessed by Raccomen, who you made into a count. You sent her off to fight Traugott, the guy who’s mastered the Shadowlands.”

Countless incongruities arose from Durran’s brief summary, but he skipped past confirming them all and asked instead, “What’s happened to her?”

“Not clear yet. Elenore says the mental connection between them is still up, but she’s not heard a word. That generally means the recipient is unconscious. That would mean, though, she’s been unconscious as long as you—two days. Considering who she was fighting, that bodes very ill.”

“Alright.” Argrave swallowed nervously. “Just… get everyone. Let me collect my thoughts.”


In the time that Durran was gone, Argrave searched his wiki for methods of obtaining [Truesight]. It took some filtering, but eventually he found a method offering temporary [Minor Truesight] that was reasonably actionable. He had one of his blood echoes cast a spell to break a nearby glass cup, then retrieved one of its shards. On the fragment, he carefully carved an enchantment while constantly referring to the wiki for reference. His first attempt failed, but on his second, he managed to create a lens that bestowed what he wanted. He used it to examine Anneliese’s state. It turned to dust in his hand as he used it.

Her soul was intact, and seemed unharmed. That gave Argrave immense relief. Her magic, however, was greatly disturbed. It was to the point where Argrave doubted she’d be able to cast spells at all. The Alchemist possessed the expertise necessary to fix that. As far as Argrave knew, though, Raven would still be grappling with the overwhelming sensation of desire which he’d received by coming in contact with Argrave’s mind. That desire spurred him toward consuming and potentiating living things, becoming the Smiling Raven once more. Needless to say, that was unideal.

Argrave might’ve been able to fix Anneliese’s issues on his own if he scoured the wiki for long enough. Given the disaster one error might cause, he didn’t dare try. This was the person that he cared about most—he wouldn’t meddle with her insides without both her permission and utter certainty of success.

He was prowling through the wiki for more answers about things he might try when Durran brought ‘everyone else.’ As it turned out, he had been prudent to leave the choice of company to Durran’s discretion. He got every single name wrong. It was immensely difficult to correct himself, because it felt like these people had all taken on entirely new names. Durran felt like Titus completely and utterly. Galamon had never been the name of the god of war, but rather, his oldest friend in this realm.

“I don’t think you can preside over anything in this state,” Elenore noted, staring down at Argrave with crossed arms. “Certainly not the realm. I don’t even want to imagine the confusion you might cause. You won’t be doing anything for two weeks, at the very least. We’ll be taking care of all that.”

“Can we afford that?” Argrave questioned. “I mean… are things stable enough that’s possible?”

Elenore nodded. “I tested the emperor’s loyalty by charging him with your protection. Rook was guarding you secretly to see what the man might try. He’s tried nothing at all—as a matter of fact, he’s been rather helpful in subjugating Governor Zen’s family after his death. On the divine side, the Qircassian Coalition has been rendered defunct. Few original members still persist. Kirel Qircassia has sent petitioners requesting peace negotiations, while remaining cooped up in the crack in the sky leading to his divine realm. I’ve refrained from answering until the two of you are back on your feet.”

Peace negotiations. The idea rung hollow, after all that had been done. Argrave dismissed it from his mind, for now.

“I’m currently waiting for information regarding Melanie and Dario. I can’t update you further, there, but… yes. To answer your question, all is stable.” Elenore said that with a long, almost relieved sigh. “The gods of the Blackgard Union tell me our alliance is the single strongest in the entire world, now. Especially after this victory, we have no real opposition.”

“What about the Alchemist?”

“Law has him,” Galamon answered simply. “He protects him at your charge.”

Argrave took a deep breath, and felt the burns in his lungs protest. The Alchemist’s condition was something that demanded immense attention. The Ravenstone, forged of Erlebnis’ blessing, had shattered after the god of knowledge died. Argrave no longer had a method to contain him. Not only was he the single greatest aid in their coming fight against Gerechtigkeit and the only surefire key to recovering Anneliese’s magic, the Alchemist was also an unimaginably dangerous foe if he recovered without certain changes.

“I believe we speak too much,” Orion interrupted Argrave’s thoughts. “His Majesty needs rest. Only his own efforts can recover the damage wrought by that chaotic fire.”

“Believe me—I’d like to sleep, too. But there is one thing you people need to catch up on.” He looked at each of them. “And… sit down, too. Because even I’m having trouble accepting what happened, and it happened to me. It’s about why my memories are the way they are.”

Everyone watched Argrave cautiously as he tried to consider how he might divulge precisely what he’d gained. It would be easy to tell them… but it might be difficult to avoid sounding like a braggart. But then, what was the harm?

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