Chapter 310 Vexa's Merits
"I come bearing tidings of great interest," said Vexa. She kept her head forward and hanging low, angled so that her flood of eyed hair would fall in front of her like a veil.
"What is it?" said Aldrich. Vexa's title in the game was known as the Kaleidoscope. She was the Chosen Undead with the most utility for scouting areas, using butterfly summons to cast surveillance networks, explore new areas, or track targets.
Her practical combat ability was low, but the idea was that with Vexa around, the player character could use her to limit surprise as a non-factor. Even in multiple playthroughs, there were many parts of the game that were not randomized. Many enemy spawn points, enemy types, or even boss locations could shift around, influenced by the smallest of changes from in-game decisions or just sheer random luck.
Vexa could prevent surprise ganks from enemies the player character did not expect. In fact, according to the lore, she was the very creator of the whole 'floating spy eyeball' type of summoning spell.
Aldrich had to choose between adding more raw power to himself or utility, and he figured he had enough power for now. Even if he did not, he could get more over time.
As for utility, he had to choose between Hadar, the Golden Bone, and Vexa. Hadar would guarantee Haven's prosperity in a purely economical sense, but in light of recent events, especially the surprise attack from the Stranger, Aldrich valued surveillance much more.
"My darlings have cast their wings across this city of yours. This world is all quite unfamiliar to me and my darlings, but I do believe we have a grasp of it," said Vexa. She gathered her hands together, and they disappeared under her loose white sleeves. Her posture looked very much like that belonging to some wise sage or advisor in a Asian period drama.
"And they have found conspirators plotting to take your throne, great emperor."
"Show us these conspirators," said Valera, crossing her arms. "When you first arrived here, you had no idea what even a 'car' was. I must make sure your judgments are correct."
Aldrich raised a brow. Valera still referred to cars as metal beasts out of habit, but he let that slide. Because Valera and Vexa were both his Chosen Undead, they were bonded to his memories to a degree, which, at the very least, let them navigate the modern world decently.
It was a function of the Nether where they were from. The Nether stored souls promised to it, keeping them as summons that those attuned with the dark arts could tap into.
However, the souls in the Nether could come from ancient times thousands of years in the past, and so to make sure they did not freak out being summoned in time periods or locations vastly separated from them, their bond with their summoner gave them contextual memories and understanding of their summoner's era.
Granted, it was not perfect. For example, Valera calling cars metal beasts or Vexa referring to Aldrich as an emperor, for in her life she had been a court adviser.
"I can handle myself, shieldbearer," said Vexa. "But here, I will show you:"
Vexa unclasped her sleeves and flicked her hands out like she was tossing sand. Butterflies flew out from under her sleeves, all of them having bright red eyes on their jet black wings.
"[Swarm Vision]," chanted Vexa.
The butterflies oriented themselves into a circular pattern. The space between them filled in with solid white light which then functioned as a screen for images to project.
The screen split into twelve different sections, each showcasing an aerial view of what seemed to be a nomad. From what Aldrich could tell, the nomads came from various different tribes as marked by the insignia on their cloaks.
Some of them were familiar, belonging to the chiefs that allied themselves with Aldrich. Others were from various nomad gangs from further out in the Wastelands.
The nomads all seemed to be doing their own thing, some drinking in a bar, some repairing their rides, some setting up makeshift shops to sell wares, and so on and so forth.
"I see nothing of importance," said Valera.
"That is because you are a warrior unfit for such subtleties. Let the emperor see," said Vexa.
"Why you - do not get so cocky now that my master has chosen you. You are still merely a second choice. When the time comes to protect him, there is none suited for it better than I," protested Valera.
"And, if my darlings do well, there will no longer be a need to raise your weapons in the emperor's name. As the grand regent Sun-Shu stated, 'the best time to crush a threat is before it becomes one'.
To resort to raising arms is a final and barbaric resort," said Vexa. "Though I do wonder, once my darlings secure the emperor, what use will there be for you? I suppose we can both be bedwarmers, though as I was once a courtesan, it is likely you will not be needed."
Aldrich raised a warning hand. "Stop that. No need to bicker among ourselves."
"Very true," said Vexa, calm. "I apologize, shieldbearer, for my rudeness."
Valera just leered at Vexa.
In many regards, they were polar opposites. Valera was forward and chose to crush her threats with direct force and rage. Vexa, on the other hand, rarely showed her emotions or her face, making her nigh impossible to read, and she thought fighting unnecessary.
That meant that they would inevitably have clashes, and Aldrich fully expected this. However, he banked on Vexa's usefulness outweighing any potential conflict. And also, Valera was more understanding than before.
"I see," said Aldrich. The nomads' activities on the projected recording were sped up, and he noted that despite all being from separate tribes, at one point, they all convened in a single apartment building. "That is suspicious."
"From what I know, these men hail from differing clans. Yet, they meet in a single location under the cover of night. My instincts tell me these are conspirators crafting a plot against you," said Vexa.
"Or they're looking for somebody," said Aldrich, cracking a faint smile. "Thank you, Vexa. Send me the locations of each of these guys and their meeting spot to me telepathically, and I'll deal with it.
How are my other requests going?"
Aldrich had also directed Vexa to send her butterflies to Blackwater and Neo-York. Blackwater was an instrumental location for the Trident, though exactly why, Aldrich still did not know.
He had an Evileye from a while back still tracking the general school grounds, but all the buildings, the important ones, at the least, were guarded with constant forcefields that prevented the Evileye from breaching them.
Plus, just one Evileye could not cover much ground. At best, Aldrich had gotten confirmation that his old dorm had been cleaned out. There were new pure humans there now.
The butterflies ran into the same issue as the Evileye being unable to get into sensitive areas, but since there were many more of them, it was easier to track what was happening overall.
As for Neo-York, Aldrich sent butterflies there to keep an eye on Solomon Solar who had a tie not just to Blackwater, but also to the Trident.
"They are on their way. I have sent them slowly and cautiously. Hidden though they are, I still wish to be careful in the case they are discovered or hunted on odd chance by the many strange beasts that roam this land," said Vexa. "But in a day, they shall have made their nests in your desired locations, your majesty."
"Good. Anything else?"
"That is all that is worthy of your time."
"Then you're dismissed, Vexa."
"It is an honor to serve." Vexa drew her sleeves together and performed a dainty bow. She then disappeared, fading away into chilling winds. When the temperature of the room went back up, indicating Vexa was gone, Valera spoke up.
"I do not like that one," Valera muttered.
"I know," said Aldrich. "And she does seem rather prickly, personality wise. But try to put up with her for now. I myself am a bit wary of her, given her past, but I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt due to the usefulness of her powers."
Vexa, when she was alive, had betrayed the emperor she had sworn service to. The emperor relied only on her as his eyes on his empire, and she had used her surveillance network to mislead the emperor, lulling him into a false sense of security. She took advantage of that lull, assassinating the emperor and becoming empress for a little bit before she herself was killed by a military coup.
Granted, said emperor had become a mad, raving tyrant, so she had plenty of justification, but Aldrich did not know the specifics. He had never used Vexa, after all. He was not familiar with all her background and personality as he was with Valera.
But still, Aldrich could deny how useful she was.
Now that she had tracked out the 'conspirators', Aldrich could proceed on closing the net around Desmond and taking the first step against the Trident.