Chapter Six

He pretended not to notice her as she drifted into the room. Staring hard at his liege, he refused to entertain such a whim. Not only would it be betrayal, but to do so was extremely impolite; it was justice for all, not justice for men.

But she entered his line of sight anyway as she placed her hands on the Grandmaster’s shoulders. Bending down to kiss him on his cold cheek, her lipstick sullied his pristine mask.

He didn’t seem to mind though because he took her hand and guided her towards the seat adjacent to his own. Almost immediately the help arrived to serve their lady. The mask watched her with what could have passed off as affection, if not for the unchanging nature of its expression.

“Suzaku’s decided to pledge his allegiance to us, C.C. Isn’t that wonderful news?”

Her only acknowledgment of the announcement was her eyes briefly flickering towards the newly sworn in soldier before returning to her plate. Stabbing a cube of ripe watermelon, she let it bleed out as she replied in her soft voice, “It is, yes.”

“Yes, I thought it was. It is so reassuring, Suzaku, to have you join us. Thank you.”
“I didn’t choose this for you,” he said roughly.
“No, of course not. All the same, it doesn’t change the fact that your decision placed you here today at this table, and for that I’m grateful. But enough with the pleasantries; is there anything you’d like to salvage from your old life? If not, then we ought to begin the excision.”
“Excision?”
“You can’t possibly change society while you’re still a part of it. Not with the urgency of our circumstances. So we must excise you: cautiously remove you from the whole.”

Suzaku sat quietly as they fast approached the point of no return. Staring at his hands, he questioned whether the conclusion he’d arrived at the previous night had been one made sanely and soberly. What had made him enlist?

“How are you going to do that?”
“Oh, it’s quite simple. Contrary to its term, there will be no physical surgery; just the simple procedure of procuring every single government document on you and destroying it. We estimate there to be roughly 856,305 currently, but that’s merely a conservative estimate. Thusly, your first task will be to lead your own exile: both as a gauge for your ability, as well as your dedication. Cornelia will assist in fulfilling your responsibilities.” He gestured towards the statue of a woman who’d been standing so still since his arrival that he’d hardly realized she was sentient. She looked down at him imperiously; it was quite obvious what her opinion of him was thus far.

“If you have no further questions, you are dismissed.”

Standing, he replaced his chair before saluting. Stepping down from her post, Cornelia followed suit. Together, side by side, they headed towards the opulent doors of the Grandmaster’s quarters. He said nothing to the woman beside him as he chose to glance at the woman behind. He was well rewarded with a faint curve of her lips and a hint of warmth, but he paid them little mind as he was shocked to see the silver mask laying on the table. He had never heard of anyone actually witnessing the bare face of the Risen; to think that the Grandmaster so readily removed to barrier before her. Perhaps there really was more to their relationship than he suspected.

But what business of his was it to mull over the nature of their bond? He had, after all, his own excision to perform, did he not?

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