One month prior...
The duality of existence, Rowan thought to himself, was perhaps the most bloody befuddling thing in the world. It had a bit more than a year and a half, roughly speaking, since the chimera’s world had ended. After struggling to defeat an enemy that far outmatched him Rowan Knight had succeeded, and paid the price for his success. The former soldier had never been a man of religion so he had expected that if an afterlife had existed, he would find himself on a southbound tram… He had so many regrets. So many memories that had returned to him. He didn’t get to say goodbye to his wife. To his child. He was dead now….
Except that he wasn't.
For nearly two years, the chimera found himself a prisoner of his own body. He had heard them. His son’s lamentations. His wife’s determination turned into despair and finally into hopelessness. He had heard countless people as they came and went, but he could not soothe them. He could not open his eyes. He could not speak. All that existed was the blankness of the room he had found himself in, trapped with the once troubling voices that had spoken to him. Sparing a glance toward the dying representation of the DNA that had been spliced into him and turned him from man to beast, the man found himself feeling a twinge of grief.
In the aftermath of the battle the DNA that he had hosted pushed itself to the limits with the healing of his body, and had been left depleted. Walking over to the physical representation of his other self, Rowan placed a hand atop the beast’s shoulder and sighed as he sat beside him.
“You and I have gone through a lot. We were odd bedfellows from the start, trapped in an existence that neither of us had wanted…” Rowan mused aloud hearing the weak, chitinous maw open and close itself as it chittered tiredly. He blinked slowly, and Rowan offered a small but tight smile. “I know how you feel. I don’t want you to go either, brother of my soul. But it’s alright. You’ve saved me many times, but it is alright.” The creature grasped futilely toward the man’s hand. Gently, Rowan squeezed the Beast within’s cool carapaced fingers and offered a tremulous smile as a tear rolled down his cheek. “I cursed our existence for so long, you know… And now I find that I don’t want you to go. But really, it’s quite alright old friend. You’ve earned your rest, and I will be here for you until you find rest.” The man said gently, caressing the creature’s hand with his thumb in a soothing manner.
For what seemed like hours, Rowan Knight held the creature’s hand. He watched as it tried to speak to him in vain, and murmured soft soothing sounds to it. After a while, Agent Preta’s grip of his hand slackened and his breathing became more steady. “Ave atque vale, Agent Preta. Thank you for allowing me to do the impossible.” Rowan said quietly, realizing that for the first time since his body had been reconstructed so long ago he was entirely, utterly alone…
“And now I have lost the last thing I had left. I am ready. I shall not hold my loved ones in limbo any longer.” Rowan said as he stood, peering at the emptiness before him. “I am ready to face the afterlife, if only for the hopes to see my family again. So come on then. Get after it. But do not, bloody do not, expect me to go gentle into that bloody good night.” Rowan shouted at the empty space, glancing upwards as indignation filled every fiber of his being. “And if you all pose a threat toward my family again, gods of any bloody existing pantheon above and below, I will come for you. You’ve seen what happened to that other bloody chav. Living or dead, I will come for all of you if one hair of my wife or children’s hairs are harmed.” He now shouted at the skies, and felt… Something shift. A tremor ran through the emptiness that had for so long been his jail, and he felt an unbearable, searing warmth blow up from within him….
He was falling….
With a rapid jerking motion, Rowan Knight pulled himself into a seating position. Dizzy, the man flexed his fingers and stared down at his hands as his eyes struggled to readjust to the light around him. It would seem that somehow, he had managed to escape death once more. It was… Curious. He had expected his body to have atrophied, making movement difficult… But it wasn’t so. Experimentally, the assassin swung his legs toward the floor and made as if to stand up. For a moment, Rowan surveyed his surroundings and deduced that he likely had been at one of the infirmaries within the empire. It was then that Rowan spotted a figure in yellow garb standing with their backs to him.
“Do excuse me. Where would one find a nice cuppa around here.” Rowan asked lightly, faintly alarmed at how roughened his voice sounded. With a carefully constructed blank face, the man found himself filled with smug glee as the diminutive figure of the physicker nearly jumped out of their skin.
“H-how are y-” The mage stammered before Rowan raised a hand to silence him. “Not a bloody clue, mate. And we can go over that later. I need a few things: Firstly, guide me to my chambers so that I may find something more suitable to wear and I can equip my usual effects. Also. Let’s not let Raveena or Grant know, eh? Where am I? Oh, bugger it. You can tell me on the way.” Rowan said quietly, trying to ignore the quietness in his mind from the place where the chittering had once been.
A short while later, the king found himself in his chambers once more and he took a moment to process. He had bathed, shaved the godsforsaken beard that had been allowed to grow on his face, and at last gotten a look at himself. For the most part, Rowan Knight had remained the same over the changing of the seasons… If one were to not count the spider-shaped glyph over where his heart had been punched out, the changing of his hair’s color from black into a snowy white, and the green eyes that stared back at the once orange eyed stranger.
Heading over to his dressing chambers, Rowan selected a white variation of his usual night’s do. This one, he found himself amused to note, had been tailored from the spidersilk he once had been able to produce. Reflexively, he attempted to shoot webs from his wrists… And found that nothing happened. Frowning to himself pensively, the man wondered if he was once again simply human even as he outfitted himself with his usual arsenal. Taking the gun that had once been his partner into his palm once more, Rowan tucked it at his usual customised holster at the inside of his jacket. Finally satisfied that he once again looked like himself, the former chimera styled his hair into his usual ponytail and headed toward the doors to his chambers… Only to be found face to face with a nervous looking attendant.
“Spidersilk… That’s webbing, innit milord?” The attendant said in a conversational tone, and Rowan cocked an eyebrow. At least some things had not changed.
“Report, Agent.” Rowan responded confidently, and watched as the simulated nervous expression shifted into a neutral face and the man’s posture straightened. For a while he listened, his expression betraying nothing. Wrath washed over the former chimera as news of the destruction of his wife’s empire and her assassination were delivered to him. He quirked his eyebrow slightly, reminding himself not to close his hands into fists as the man finished his report.
That would have to be dealt with.
A slight quirking at the corner of his lips appeared on his face as he was delivered with news of his son. It seemed that some of his old self survived, after all. He was a father, and he would have the chance to get to know and teach his son…
“Activate all agents. I want a full squadron watching over Raveena and Everett. Covertly, and without drawing attention. Send Wormwood as squadron leader.” Rowan said quietly. “And if anyone asks where your orders came from, let them know that Preta is at the center of the Web once more. Meanwhile, I need an airship. Fastest one we can find. It is time that I returned to work, lad. And I need to speak with Kirena posthaste.”