Looking in the mirror was still difficult for Bliks, because what looked back at her was not who she remembered herself to be. The shape was still there, but the content had all changed. Gone were the sparkling eyes that so enthralled her father and the silvery blue hair that had attracted so many questions in the past, replaced now with solid orbs and an almost alive shock of wires.
Her inattentiveness and faith had bought this appearance. The former from an either skilful or lucky Red Mantis assassin who had struck as most of the unfortunate things that had happened to Bliks had struck, when she had become separated from her companions. She didn’t even remember the fight, but her fellow worshipers of Brigh had told her that it must have been brief, as it took them so little time to run to her aid only to find her incapacitated.
And as for her faith, instead of making her whole again through mere divine magic, the local church had concluded she needed to become closer to their and her god, the clockwork god, the god of living machines, and so integrated machines into her flesh. It was an uncomfortable choice, but a wise one she had finally settled upon; how better to know your god than to share in their form? And it had been pointed out her companions were both closer to Brigh, one being an android, perhaps the pinnacle of form in the eyes of her church, the other being quite willing to augment himself to the very limit his mind and body could handle.
Still, looking in the mirror was difficult.
She thought of Hex and Eryno, wondering in which particular corner of Numeria their adventures had taken them to; Ve’Dien, on the other hand had gone off the grid, vanishing deep into Silver Mount on some personal quest she refused any assistance on. There was the initial power struggle that they had all participated in, eliminating the remnants of the Technic League, their allies, and allies of or pretenders to the throne of the former Black Sovereign. And though he was not a Kellid, Hex did fit the model of the stoic even laconic Kellid leader, and after some squabbling over succession rites most of the tribes were brought into the fold. Usually all it took was showing the decadence and waste that Kevoth’Kul had fallen to and presenting both a capable leader and a neutral choice; no need for blood to be spilt when there were enemies aplenty.
Yet as much as she wondered where they were, she was glad of their absence. The link that they had used so successfully had started to invade her thoughts. When she asked the two of them about it, they didn’t mention any odd sensations, and if anything, their tandem fighting had improved, with Hex striking weaknesses that only Eryno could have spotted, and Eryno sidestepping Hex’s gunfire to great effect and surprise of their enemies. Perhaps she was just more sensitive to it then they were, but when they were near she could feel this constant hum of background noise, her vision occasionally clouding with overlays of what they were seeing, her hearing echoing with her own voice when she spoke to them.
But if she was needed, she heeded her Black Soverign’s call. Most of the problems of Numeria could be managed through simple answers, a stout sword, or at the end of a barrel, but for negotiations, technological barriers, or just pure arcane power, Bliks was glad to see a change from the bureaucratic day to day managing of a kingdom.
For all the boredom, there were moments of enjoyment. Seeing the Kellid tribes take up skymetal arms and armour, even if they refused to use the powerful Androffan artefacts, was a warming sight; the few tribes that hadn’t be persuaded by the former Black Sovereign’s bad behaviour were brought over with these formerly restricted gifts. And while there were still many mysteries hidden in Silver Mount, it and other sites had been opened to exploration by adventuring companies under the careful watch and support of the priests of Brigh; no one wanted to see the release of some horror that had been kept in stasis or the vaporization of the company, the ruin, and much of the surrounding countryside.
Some argued that they were acting no better than the Technic League, preventing the free flow of technology, but there was much that needed to be understood and in that lack of understanding, unknown and unknowable dangers to be met. Indeed, many of the same guards and guardians protected the various starship debris sites as during the Technic League’s day, with the same violent response to unauthorized visitors; there were just more authorized visitors.
The Age of Numeria had not yet dawned, but she could see the first glints of sunlight on the horizon. The wilds were still wild but with fewer robotic horrors, their numbers thinned by greater understanding of both their communications and repair which in turn bolstered the ranks of the Numerian army. The land was still reluctant to be farmed, but gave way with the introduction of both new means and methods but also of new, specially designed crops, care of Androffan databanks. And the two peoples of Numeria, the inquisitive seekers of technology and the hardy plains tribes, had at least a kernel of respect for one another’s strengths.
Bliks looked into the mirror again. Perhaps someday this will be how all Numerians see the world, not just that which they were given, but that which they chose to make of themselves. She ran a hand through her hair. Though they were wires they were as smooth as her hairs had ever been and she delighted to see them shift and shape themselves to reflect her thoughts.
She decided to make a point to spend more time with Hex and Eryno. They had embraced the link. Now it was time for her to do the same.