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Arnold and Helio’s pre-Valentine’s day conversation. ((Part 1: How Emerson roped Arnold into another agreement.))

It was Monday Feb 13, about to be fourteenth, Arnold had just gotten up from a nap and had confided in Heliotrope privately about what he had discovered last week.   Scald joined them soon after, and was quite distressed that the conversation had turned towards Stormy.  After that Arnold noticed that Lionheart was narrowing his eyes at Arnold, as if looking for something.  “…yes?”

“How long do you plan to work for Mumsy Abigail?” The horse asked.

“Until the end of the contract on February 29th,” Arnold said as he rubbed an itch carefully…one of the worst problems with sharp claws was how easy it could be to cut himself.

The horse puffed on his pipe for a moment as if in thought, “And then what?”

“I’ve got to explore something with Dr. Maddox.”

Heliotrope Lionheart raised his eyebrows, he seemed surprised, “Oh? Explore what?”

“What we are.”  Heliotrope had already mentioned to him that they should explore their new identities together, but in truth that was only part of it.  Arnold was tired of the strange looks those visitors in blue boxes gave him.  Orpheous had openly rubbed his eyes and stared at him right after his return from his little detour during the dark aethers threat.  He had been told that this was supposed to be natural for him, but he hadn’t gotten any real answers as to why yet.

Heliotrope Lionheart hrmed and nodded. “She’s almost ready for that herself. She’s reaching confidence with herself, and that’s a dangerous pivot point.”

“How so?”

“There’s a reason familiars were created, Arnold. Balance, temperance, guidance, filtration…” Arnold did his best not to point out how terrible he was at the above. Besides he was too distracted by the fact that Helio just told him that familiar’s had been created.  What were they created from?  Is that why the men in blue boxes stared at him like that?  Because on some level he didn’t or shouldn’t exist?  “Overconfidence and under-training lead to ruin. Do you know she has been experimenting with fire, in Mondrago?”

“Vaguely, she tried to summon you once,” Arnold admitted, as he once again shelved his thoughts about his own existence for a better time. “She didn’t try again in my presence though.”

“She is doing more, much more than before. Now she has had a taste, she believes she can do it.  I’ve stayed out of the way… I’d be too much of a distraction at this stage.”

Arnold glowered, “Does she remember that we live in a city that hates witchcraft? I’m starting to think she forgot,” then Arnold remembered what Helio had said. “Nevermind…Mondrago.  Right?”

“Yes, in a safer environment, physically. Though something not entirely of the physical world is brewing in Mondrago as well.”

Arnold’s ears twitched, “I heard more sinkholes appeared, I didn’t know they were mystical.”

“The holes are not. The cause…I don’t know.” Heliotrope turned the subject back to it’s original point. “She really needs you, Arnold. I don’t know what possessed you to this little escapade of yours with Emerson, to test your independence.”

Arnold clenched his teeth, “I had no choice.  Do you remember my first contract with him?”

“Don’t talk to me about contracts, I’m all too familiar.” Heliotrope countered.  “But yours aren’t bound by a blood oath.”

Arnold continued as if Helio hadn’t protested, “I had just gotten out of the hospital, looking for a change of scenery, and Emerson had apparently worried about me vocally.” Arnold still cringed at the memory of how he had been right after his recovery. “I was trying to be nice to him, I was admittedly vulnerable at the time.  He asked me if it was alright with me if he could include a part in the agreement where he could recall me in a life or death situation if he had to run off and be knightly again.” Even now the cat remembered the compulsion he’d felt when Emerson said that Malus was in danger and he needed his services again that night he was going to meet with the brothers.  “Admittedly, I didn’t know how it would work.”

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