Raine hissed as she entered the room, and Cosette’s arm sizzled as it passed the corner in front of her. I quickly sheathed Caladfwlch and put the sword on the table.
“Cosette, are you okay!?” I asked, moving toward the door.
Raine was frowning at me.
“What was that!?” she demanded, rubbing her arm as it healed.
“Excalibur.” I stated, feeling they wouldn’t recognize the name Caladfwlch.
“Ex-Excalibur!? The sw-sword in the st-stone!?” exclaimed Raine, grabbing my arm as she stared up at me with wide eyes.
“Yes. That one.” I assured her.
“We still don’t understand when you found the time to hop over to England.” mentioned Ai.
Nodding, Mai said, “Lady Pendreigh should’ve invited us for the trip.”
“Sorry. You should ask to see her engagement ring too when you complain to her. I decided she needed it after you two visited me.” I told them.
“We will!” they exclaimed.
“En-engagement… r-ring.” muttered Raine, dashing out of the hall.
“Uh… yes.” I stated, looking after her.
“I can’t believe Excalibur destroys vampires.” complained Cosette.
“Sorry.” I told her. “I didn’t realize the light from it would have that effect on you.”
Nodding, she said, “Father never mentioned that part when he told me the tale. Of course, the sword was already dormant long before his time.”
“How did you know the sword was dormant!?” exclaimed the twins.
“My father was the king of a rival nation. Do you really think he lacked spies? He knew of all the weapons the family possessed at that time.” she informed them.
The twins glanced at each other.
“Who were the spies?” asked Mai.
“Did he give you a name for any of them?” inquired Ai.
Cosette smirked and asked “Wanting to make sure the descendents aren’t still active?”
“No.” lied Ai.
“We are just curious.” insisted Mai.
“You’ll forgive me if I can’t quite seem to remember at the moment.” replied Cosette.
“Don’t you just hate when you conveniently forget information that could expose someone?” teased Jarod as he hugged Ai and Mai from behind.
They elbowed him, making him wince.
“Well, I don’t think it…” I started to say when I caught the door opening at the end of the hall.
“It’s gor-gorgeous! D-did you… really m-make it!?” asked Raine, having ran back to us.
“Thank you. I’m glad you approve. Getting the shape right took some time.” I replied with a smile.
“You made her ring?” inquired the twins.
“Yes. Then Alma and I made our wedding bands.” I admitted.
“C-can… I see?” asked Raine, practically bouncing on her feet. Suddenly, she moved again. “QUIET!” she yelled from the war room.
Everyone around me was covering their ears, but my jaw dropped. Muramasa listened to her. The whispering had stopped.
“S-sorry.” she muttered, timidly walking back out.
“I hope you didn’t break it.” stated Jarod as he uncovered his ears. “I didn’t know you could yell so loud.”
“N-no. S-sorry. I j-just sh-shook it. It’s m-mean.” she mumbled, staring at her feet.
I laughed and then told her “Yes, it’s not the kindest of weapons.”
“Hey now. Don’t make fun of my sword.” stated Jarod, crossing his arms.
Raine looked ready to apologize more, but quickly spun as Aurora reached toward her. She looked shocked when Aurora hugged her. “S-sorry. Aur-Aurora.” she told her.
Aurora kept hugging her.
“You grabbed it’s blade though! I saw you setting it down.” stated Mai, stepping up to Raine.
“S-so?” asked Raine.
“The sword kills anyone who touches the blade.” explained Ai as she took to Raine’s other side.
“It kn-knows b-better.” mumbled Raine. “W-we talked.”
“You talked, as in an actual conversation?” I asked.
Rained nodded. “You d-didn’t hear?” she questioned, looking up at me.
“No, not until you yelled.” I replied.
“It’s b-been talking to m-me. C-constantly… s-since it a-arrived.” she informed me.
“Really?” I asked. “Alma will want to hear about this.”
“I’ve been keeping her informed, master.” stated Mila.
“Oh. Thank you, Mila.” I told her.
“Thank you!?” demanded Ai.
“That’s spying!” insisted Mai. “What else do you tell her about us?”
“I assure you that I only inform her of conversations that I deem relevant to her and public. Given the number of people involved at this time as well as the nature of the conversation, I felt she would want to be informed.” explained Mila.
“We want a list!” exclaimed the twins.
“Show us every last thing you’ve relayed to her from our quarters.” demanded Ai.
“Or we’re going to disconnect you from here again.” insisted Mai.
“Ignore them, Mila. I’ll show them the log later.” stated Jarod.
“What!? You knew she was doing this?” asked Ai.
“Yes, dear. I talked to her about this before you reconnected her panels here, since I knew you two would take issue.” he assured them.
“Says the guy who was hiding this!” exclaimed Mai as she grabbed Aurora’s shoulders.
“If I was hiding her, why did I bring her with me here?” he asked.
Ai and Mai stared at each other from across Aurora’s shoulder.
“Fine, but you still could have told us when you got an assistant.” stated Ai.
“How does she assist without speaking?” asked Mai, turning Aurora’s head toward her.
“B-be nice.” stated Raine.
The twins all-too-casually stepped away from Aurora to cling to Jarod.
“Always, Raine.” claimed Mai.
“We’ll never forget how you stood up to our mother.” insisted Ai.
“Her expression was priceless!” they exclaimed.
Aurora reached up and started feeling their heads.
“What’s she doing?” asked Mai.
“She’s going to ruin my hair.” complained Ai.
“Checking for a loose screw?” suggested Cosette with a grin.
“Trying to figure out how you two work, I’d guess.” replied Jarod. “Don’t be surprised if she tries to corner you in the lab sometime. She’ll probably want to run tests.”
Mai sighed dramatically.
Ai then turned to Cosette and asked “Did you know that Joyeuse in France is a copy?”
“Oh really? I wonder how that happened.” replied Cosette.
She was lying, though her face seemed perfectly inquisitive.
“So your father never heard about that?” inquired Mai.
“I suppose not.” agreed Cosette. “I’d be more interested in hearing what happened to Durendal, personally. Imagine a sword said to be indestructible which was known to easily slice through stone and to be wielded by kings.”
“There are many of those.” stated Ai as she rolled her eyes.
“There are two in the room next to us, of course, but not all of them are suggested to be the ‘master of stone’ or a ‘sword of fire’.” insisted Cosette. “Though I suppose you could argue that sitting in a stone for years might make Excalibur its master.”
“We know what you’re implying. There’s no way that Excalibur could’ve been stolen after Arthur’s time. We’d have a record of the theft.” argued Mai.
“I’m sure you would. That’s an interesting idea though. Who would place Excalibur back there if the sword was stolen by an angel to give to Charlemagne? I do love the tales.” replied Cosette wistfully.
“M-me too!” agreed Raine, smiling excitedly.
“Are you quite finished?” snapped Ai to Aurora, who had started feeling down her back.
Jarod kissed her head and then said, “Be nice. If you’ll take a look at her work, I’m sure you will appreciate her talent.”
“Ai, your husband wants you to appreciate a girl’s… talent.” stated Mai.
“Whatever should we do with him, Mai?” inquired Ai.
“Behave in front of company!” exclaimed Cosette, grinning at them. Then she turned to the nearest mirror and asked “Mila, when is Portentia returning? I’m hungry.”
“No talking about drinking blood in our wing!” protested the twins.
“Then no searing me with fantastic weapons!” replied Cosette.
Mila’s avatar, which had appeared on the mirror, said, “Portentia still has over two hours on her current shift. Provided that she doesn’t get distracted, I estimate that she’ll return in roughly two hours and thirty-six minutes.”
Aurora moved over to the mirror and stared at Mila. I wondered if she had actually seen Mila like that much, considering that Mila was often assisting her in one of the bodies Jarod had built.
“James, would you mind holding Mai still, so I can have a snack?” asked Cosette.
Mai ducked away from Jarod and said, “What!? No. Sorry, but no. Not happening.”
Cosette pouted at her.
“I-I’ll help.” muttered Raine, holding up her hand.
Cosette jumped at Raine with elongating fangs, but she just hugged Raine without even pretending to bite her. “You’re so sweet! I’m not really that hungry. I just wanted to tease the twins. They can be so squeamish regarding my meals. I have a feeling I couldn’t even pierce your skin.”
“S-sorry.” mumbled Raine. “I c-could probably g-get some out.” she suggested.
I was surprised to see a single, long claw grow out from her index finger, stretching toward her hand. Even like that, there was a distortion around the claw, a wavering bit of space that shouldn’t be in our world.
“When did you learn to partially transform that well?” I asked.
“I-I’ve… practiced. Y-you said I sh-should.” she replied.
“I’m simply glad that you’re making progress.” I assured her even as I noticed Ai’s grip on Jarod tightening.
Jarod didn’t look too composed himself. Aurora actually ducked behind the twins to stare.
Looking slightly uneasy herself, Cosette gently pushed the clawed hand away from Raine’s other hand as she said, “I really appreciate that you’re willing, but I’m fine. No need to hurt yourself.”
“Since you’re all here, would you like to sit down, have a snack, and maybe watch something with us?” asked Mai, turning to face me.
I agreed along with the others. Well, Aurora was sort of dragged along. As I followed the twins to another room, I found myself wondering if exposure to Raine’s blood was even safe for any of us. When she took on a hybrid form, every part of her seemed exceptionally dangerous. Even Muramasa seemed scared of her. Considering possibilities of how her blood might interact with things, I was very, very thankful that she was such a sweet, wonderful person.