Chapter 124: To Take Off the Mask

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Author's Note: Thanks everyone for reading! Fever Blood is nearing the end, and I'll probably post everything at once, once everything is a) finished and b) prepared for this to end.  Also a shoutout to Agaveflower on Wattpad, who did AWESOME fan art! http://jurassicpencil.deviantart.com/art/Purely-Happy-685365309 It's awesome, and I love you guys! 

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The Eight were the mar on our world, living and walking lesions, festering wounds incarnate. And now one is dead. There would be a scar, for the greed Kazalibad had so perfectly embodied still dwelt in our hearts and minds. But we would no longer be terrified by the abomination called Skinstealer.

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Skaria watched as Laidu, looking as princely as his disguise, sat down next to Kyra. He was, dare she say it, rather handsome. It was an odd feeling, to see him and see how attractive he could look, but to know he was actually scaly underneath... or however he worked.

Lord Solstael, meanwhile, rose in place, holding a glass of crimson wine. "Thank you, one and all, for attending." Patronizing. Really? He was congratulating people for attending a party. How bloody condescending did he have to be? "It brings me great honor to see everyone here to celebrate the safe return of my daughter."

Skaria sighed. She knew how these kind of speeches would go. He would wax on and on about how great and noble he was, how much of a tragedy it was that his daughter had been kidnapped, and then more excessive self-boasting about how virtuous and wonderful he was. Then, for a brief and uncomfortable moment, Skaria, Indra, Karik'ar, and Thaen would be recognized, and they'd receive some uncomfortable applause (the nobles, it seemed, felt like merely giving applause to common folk would somehow make them dirty).

After that, more useless descriptions of his virtue, like a peacock showing off his tail, would ensue. Skaria sighed. This was going to be a trial to stay awake.

"It was a shock, to see my very child stolen from my home. For all I've done for this city and nation, for all the time I spent working on behalf of this citizenry, for all the money I poured, out of my own coffers, mind you, to fund the charity events and investments that would make Caeldar great." He was setting himself up to be some bloody philanthropist. "This was what I had done, what House Solstael had done, for the city, and this was how we were repaid. My very daughter, abducted!"

He paused. "I now would like to thank those here who helped rescue her. The warriors Skaria and Karik'ar Valente, el'Thaen'im Resharo, and the scholar Indra of House Selaine." Skaria rose, and saw Indra, Thaen, and Karik'ar do the same. The nobles clapped, though judging from their faces, it was a painful thing to do. Granted, the feeling was mutual.

They sat down, thankfully, and the applause died down. Skaria leaned back in her chair as Lord Solstael prattled on and on about the many philanthropic works he supposedly had spent so much time and money on.

And then things got interesting.

First off, Laidu's skin began to glow. There was no sound, but his skin shone like the flesh beneath it was lit aflame. Nodes of light, like embers, swam across his face and cheeks, as his entire visage began to contort and alter. His cheekbones became more pronounced, his nose widened, and his hair vanished as what started as two tiny bumps on his head turned into the saber-like horns Skaria recognized. A few people gasped, right in time as Lord Solstael finished talking about how much of an outrage it was that his family had been offended. With that kind of timing, the lord must have assumed they were gasping at what he said. Finally, it settled down, and he was covered in those metallic golden scales. Somehow, despite his gain in height and breadth, his clothes still fit well.

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