Book 2- Chapter 6- Heated Debate
Slowly and steadily we adjusted to our new life within the Capital. It didn’t take very long before we treated the mission like normal school life. Albeit with magic and sword fighting mixed in between lessons.
Using our time there, we learnt more of the world that we were transported to. Most of the Empire’s knowledge revolved around the Holy Knight Guild as heroes and the formation of the Empire. Regarding how magic works, it was very similar to Eternia, the use of mana and the concept of mana existing everywhere.
The most disappointing part of all was that there was little to no evidence going against the royal families and the Black Order. However it was too soon to quit, just because you couldn’t find it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Then there was the issue of the six descendants. At first I assumed they were stuck up pompous knights with the same insular views as everyone within the Empire. They quickly proved me wrong as we got to know one another better. Slowly they grew on me.
Every day we would train with them. After altering the [Binding Rings] we had more leeway when it came to fighting. With the knowledge of the swords and equipment in mind, we fought with the six on equal ground. However we still needed to keep up the facade.
It was near the end of the day and we were in the special class. Over the past week Requa has been challenging us, namely Shae to ‘test’ us. More so, we’re the only ones that gives him a challenge. This time it was my turn.
Activating my spell, my attack cut through the air towards Requa. Easily dodging the attack by rolling, Requa dashed forward. He would dodge my attacks in a grandeur manner, making a show of jumping around.
“Got ya! |Vertical Slash|” Uttering the name of his Skill, I countered with an attack of my own.
I held out my arm as it accumulated mana but I held the attack in. Requa’s sword, Gram has the ability to cut through all defense skills and attacks, but spells used for defensive purposes didn’t count. Releasing the attack as his sword and my hand made contact.
The shock wave was enough to push him back a fair distance before I attacked him with |Air Slash| again, knocking him back down. Casting |Enchant- speed boost| I wouldn’t give him a chance to recover. Close the distance, I pinned him down.
“Do you surrender?”
“I don’t have much of a choice now do I? Hehe.”
He surrender rather easily, and laughed at it while I helped him up. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Shae wrapping up her fight with Haus. But what got me was Rumo fighting against Yusei and Kugei at the same time. Although I hate to admit it, he looked to be very skill.
He was fast and nimble, even with his great sword. Especially since Yusei and Kugei were just as fast, if not faster. He was able to hold his own, eventually pushing them back.
“Impressive huh? Rumo is the best warrior in the Empire, next to the prince of course.” Commenting on the side, Requa watched alongside me.
“The six families know each other right, including the prince’s family?”
“Yes. Our ancestors were the legendary heroes that formed the Empire. But you already knew that didn’t you? But yeah we know each other, especially Rumo, I guess you can call him Alfonso’s best friend.”
‘That’s an interesting piece of trivia…’
Keeping the thought to myself. I brought my attention back just as he defeated the two. I resigned myself from the field and walked towards the edge of the room where I left my baggage. As I pulled out a water canteen, the sound of magic spread through air.
It was Als who was training in the corner; again. Ever since that time, she’s been ignoring us, as if I wasn’t even there. Even though I said we would leave her alone, I still tried to get her to open up.
I stood at a distance, watching her using her magic. Her crystallization magic was something [Eternia] never possess. Replicating the technique have been proven to be a hassle. Even after studying up on magic and crystals, the process was still challenging.
It’s just goes to show that just because we became our Eternia player characters, that didn’t mean we were omnipotent or omniscient. I watched the mana around her condense before forming the transparent azure color crystals.
Watching for a few minutes as she fired them. Als eventually stopped for a break. Sensing an opportunity, I slowly walked over. She sat on the ground with sweat flowing down her cheek.
“Want a drink?”
I asked while holding out the canteen. As per usual she simply ignored me, namely she turned her head away, refusing to look at me. I let out a small sigh before putting the canteen on the ground next to her. Since Als resides in the Slums, necessity such as water was a rarity to her.
“Your crystal magic is amazing. I tried replicating it but no matter how hard I try or study, I can’t.”
“…That magic must have been tough to learn and master. Did you learn it by yourself or were you gifted at i–”
“Huh? Your father…wait.”
Before I could ask for any more, she got up and gulp down the remaining water in the canteen before tossing it over to me and walking away. I wanted to stop her and ask her again but I knew it wouldn’t make a difference.
‘Well at least I managed to get one response out of her. Progress… I guess.’ Suppressing a sigh, a positive thought was better than nothing at all. Class was almost over so I decided to finally back it up. Shae was waiting near our stuff.
“Why are you still trying to talk with her? She said that she doesn’t need our help, just leave her alone.”
“But?” Shae was waiting for my answer.
“I wanted to learn a bit more about her magic. It isn’t from [Eternia], so I wanted to learn more.”
“…Nerd.” Hearing Shae’s hurtful response, I played it off in an overly dramatic manner. Shae on the other hand wasn’t too happy by my answer
“….I’m being serious. Why are you bothering with her? Weren’t you the one that advocated for us being stealthy?” Looking at me straight in the eye, she demanded a serious answer. Dropping the act, I too got serious.
“In truth…I don’t really know myself. I just…I don’t know.” Unable to give Shae a proper answer, I looked away. “I know what I said, but I know where to draw the line.” Looking back at her, I gave her my honest answer.
Watching one another, Shae responded. “So long as you know. The last thing I need is another Drakus.” Scratching her head, she threw out an off handed comment.
“Don’t worry, I’m that irrational.” I jokingly responded back.
“True. Although it would be interesting to see…”
Ending the conversation, we shared a light hearted chuckled with one another. With nothing left to do, we went out separate way. Shae headed back to the Dorms while I went to the market plaza again. I heard there was a sale so I decided to stop by there to see what new items and or food I could potentially buy.
The market district was crowded as always so I had a rather hard time walking through. It was when I looking through the goods that I felt that I was being watched. I could only rely on my instinct as my radar would only pick up incoming enemies if I was engaged in a fight. After walking for a while, I was sure that I was being followed.
Finishing my shopping, I took it nice and slow. As the crowd thin, it became more apparent that I was being followed. Breaking into a full sprint, I ran through the area in hopes of losing them. ‘One? ….No there’s at least six or seven of them…’ Despite running away, I couldn’t shake them.
Changing plans, I detoured towards an isolated region of the district. Sprinting through the alleyway, I was looking for the quickest route. Following my map, I sprinted through an alley. Before I was home free, four individuals blocked the exit.
I slowed down to a halt and was about to turn back but more people came out of the woodwork. With both exit blocked, I was effectively trapped. The thought of escaping using |Levitate| or |Fly| was viable but that would mean I wouldn’t learn why they were after me. Also there were no guarantees that they wouldn’t follow me again.
Having decided to stay, I confronted them. “Who are you people?” I asked, keeping a vigilant eye on the two groups.
“Stupid brat. Don’t tell me you forgot about us and how you made us lose our goods.” I focused on the one that spoke. It took me a moment before realizing that it was the same guy that tried to kidnap Alia. From the bandage on his face, it wasn’t rocket science to assume that he’s after revenge.
“You… What do you want?”
“You made us lose a valuable asset. We want compensation. If you give us your dark elf, we might call it even.”
I tried to keep my poker face on but I could feel a frown forming on my face when he mentioned Sirva. I quickly reminded myself to calm down before finally addressing them.
“And if I don’t?”
A cruel smile crept up onto his face as he unsheathed his weapon. It was a dagger but what caught my attention was the tip of it, an odd metallic green color. After using |Identify| I realized that it was poison.
“Then we’ll just have to make you.”
The other pulled out similar blades before charging right at me. There were eight of them in total, but only three charged at me.
We were in a fairly narrow alleyway so any AOE spell will only cause trouble. Activating my spell, orbs of mana formed and shot towards my assailants. They were caught off guard, apparently not realizing I was a mage. The three were easily dispatched, causing the others to back up in fear.
“You idiots! Charge him at once!”
The leader brought them back with his order, they shook off their daze and charged at me. Their hesitation gave me enough time to plan my counter attack.
“|Blockade| |Pulsing Flash.|”
Extending from the ground were walls of transparent mana. Two popped up around me, blocking them from advancing while two more formed at the entrances, trapping them inside. They didn’t have time to figure out what was going on before concentrated balls of light formed in the air. The next minutes were blinded by the explosion accompanied with a small boom.
Waiting for a couple of seconds for the light to recede, I brought down the blockade and looked around to see them on the ground. I double checked to make sure I didn’t accidentally kill any of them. The last thing I needed was being involved in murder. After confirming that they were still alive, I made my way out but —
I turned around fast enough to see the man up but not only that, he was lunging at me with the dagger. I didn’t had enough time to do anything but I didn’t need to.
In a split second he was knocked back. I looked around until my eyes were on a sword that shot next to me, besides my head. Slowly turning my head backwards, the wielder was none other than Rumo.
“Rumo?” I couldn’t hide my surprise at his sudden appearance and even more so as he defended me.
“How careless of you, never turn your back until your enemies are truly dead.”
Weakly nodding my head in response to his advice, I looked back at my assailant. He was shaking un-controllability, realizing who Rumo was. ,
“Ju…Just you w-wait! I’ll get back at you!” After yelling his final words he ran away leaving behind his comrades. Rumo slowly sheathed his sword.
“I suppose a thank you is in order, but what are you doing here?”
“I was here on an errand. I heard some racket so I came here to check it out and found you. I wouldn’t have intervened if you weren’t so careless.”
“I’m amazed you care so much. Seeing as how your views against mages are quite prejudiced. I thought you would have just left me to die.”
The moment I finished I felt a killing aura coming from Rumo. His face turned a black purplish color as he stared me down. It took me a moment before I realized that what I just said was offensive to him and his honor.
“I may dislike you mages but I would never stoop so low as petty revenge or grudges. I have my own honor, don’t simply presume.”
Rumo simply stood there and we held each other’s gazes until he finally left. After piling up the bodies and tying them up, I finally made my way to the Dorms.
“Welcome back…Sir Nu.” The first person to greet me was Bamen.
“Hello Bamen. Where is Shae and Sirva?”
“Madam Shae is currently in her room. Sirva hasn’t shown up yet.”
“I see. I’ll call when I need you.”
Bamen bowed her head in agreement before leaving. I headed up the stairs until I was finally in front of Shae’s room door. After knocking on the door and waiting a bit, it finally opened.
“Welcome back, what took you so long?”
“I ran into a ‘detour’. Anyway, we just need to wait on Sirva.”
I made my way in and pulled up a small stool for me to sit next to her bed. Shae jumped on her bed, sitting in a relaxed manner. It was that time of the week again, time for the daily report. Every week we would meet up with one another and give status reports to the other members. In this case, we were waiting for Sirva.
We waited a couple of minutes before Sirva finally appeared from the shadows. She knelt down before us but we quickly dismissed her action so that we can get the important information out the way.
“Sirva, report please. Any progress?”
“Yes. Regarding any information pertaining to the Black Order, I have yet to stumble upon them. I’ve also been searching the six families including the nobles but I have produced little results. If they are in league with one another, they are hiding it well. My apologies my master.”
I wanted to let out a sigh but that would have just proven that I was clearly disappointed even though I expected there to be little to no link to one another.
“It’s alright. I half expected that there would be little results. You are only one spy after all, don’t be too hard on yourself.”
“Thank you for your consideration my master. Regarding your next order, the investigation of the royal family. It is as you say my master.”
“Ok, can someone tell me what the heck you two are talking about?” Jumping into the conversation I had forgotten that I kept Shae from some information.
“Right, sorry. Ahem we’ve been taking a look at the prince for quite some time now. Do you remember the ceremony where he made that public announcement?”
“That was a public announcement, to the people. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the king to deliver that speech? And yet all that were shown was the queen and prince, but no king.”
“Sirva, continue on.”
“Yes. This took much longer than I anticipated. No matter where I searched and who I spied on and eavesdropped, the king was barely mentioned. A couple of rumors were mentioned but were mostly gossip. However I ultimately found the answer, he is ill struck.”
“You mean he’s sick?” asked Shae.
“Currently he is bedridden, but not much can be said about that.”
“Then why hasn’t he been mentioned yet? Do the people not know?” inquired Shae.
“I don’t know. According to some murmurs, the King showed signs of sickness around a month ago.”
One month…Around the same time the Regios kingdom and the Holy Empire decided to make contact. No one but the royal families and those closest to them only know about their situation. This almost prove it, The Empire has some involvement with the Black Order.
Looking to Shae, she too shared my sentimentality. However that could be merely a coincidence. Correlation does not equal causation. And right now, we lacked any hard evidence.
“Well for one things, The Empire is either guilty or involve in some way. The question is…how much?” Alone with my thoughts, countless scenarios played through my mind.
“Well I don’t think we need to worry about it too much…” Speaking forward, Shae took the conversation in another direction. “If need be, we might just have to be a bit forceful.” Hearing her opinion, I couldn’t help but frown inwardly.
“Shae…that’s reckless thinking. We agree that we would do this as quietly as possible as to not draw any attention…”
“And where has that gotten us?” Shae replied, firing off a heated response, our conversation turned into a heated debate. “We’ve been tip toeing around this whole mess for about three weeks. I say we get a bit forceful. And if anyone gets in the way, we put them down.” Pressing her arms together, she made a demonstration of our strengths.
“That may be true but it isn’t that simple. If we are correct in our assumption, then the problems lies at the root. This not only affects us but also everyone. One reckless action is all that it will take to bring a nation to ruins.” Going off by the princess’s information, the Empire was the most likely culprit. The question that remained was just how much is the Empire involve?
The ruling family? The Six Grand family? Or perhaps an underground society? Then there also other factors to consider. Perhaps another nation is using the Empire as puppet or vice versa. For all I knew, the Empire might be completely innocent. We couldn’t act until we finally know who’s truly to blame. Else we make the mistake of blaming the wrong suspect.
“We agreed to help the princess so long as she helps us in return. If we are constantly asking ‘what if’s’, we will never get anywhere. Already you’ve attracted some trouble…for example those hoodlums that you dealt with on your way home.”
I was caught up in my own thoughts so I didn’t have time to respond to Shae. It took me a moment before realizing what she was talking about.
“How do you –”
“I used my orbiter’s monitoring and stealth functions to follow you and see what you were up to in the city since I was kind of bored here in my room.” Shae nonchalantly replied back.
“You know, spying on people is a very bad habit.” I responded back.
Abruptly the conversation halted. Tension was high in the air, so much so that I swear I could feel Shae’s anxiety. In the end, there wasn’t much to say. Both of us provided valid arguments and propositions, the only issue was implementing them.
My method required time and patience’s, something our side lacks. We were racing against an invisible clock with no indication of how much time is left. As for patience’s, Shae isn’t a fan of sitting around and doing nothing.
However her methods are just as flawed as mine. We hold in our hands power. With great power comes great responsibility. We can’t simply flaunt our power when something goes awry. But we couldn’t just sit quietly as the world passed by.
We both brought up valid points but offered no solutions. My method was methodical and slow. Which comes with the price of our mission being extended. As for Shae’s method, it’s simply reckless. Even if we were to directly confront them, what then? The deal was for us to investigate and the Regios Kingdom for the prosecution.
If our methods of discovering the Empire’s secret is tactless, then it might spiral out of control. Ultimately, I had no true idea what to do. As the silence persisted, Shae was the first to break it. “As the guild’s tactician, you have always made the best judgement in the betterment of the group. But your flaw in that you’re too careful. But’s it’s not like I don’t understand…” Slowly reaching over, she patted my shoulder.
“I’m here with you, if things get nasty, I’ll have your back. When push comes to shove, we can handle ourselves.” Hearing her motivating speech, no words came. Remaining quiet, Shae was the first to leave. “I’m going to make some dinner. Come down when you are ready.” Closing the door behind her, only Sirva and I remained.
“Sirva…may I be please be alone?” Whispering my question, Sirva in turned bowed and faded away into shadows. Finally, I was by my lonesome. Alone in the room, I lied down on the bed.
A deep and tranquil silence fill the room. The setting sun covered the room in aura of orange. The calmness of the situation contrasting with my own thoughts. In the end, all that came to me was nothing.