“Mr. Paltos, please head to the headmaster’s room. Headmaster Nylen wishes to speak with you.” The Advance Arkane studies master yelled out as class was dismissed.
“I’m not sure.” The master gave him a sly smirk.
“Understood.” Kaidus acknowledged before heading out of the room.
It has already been two ryes since that night in the Hannelain district.
He had gone back to the building twice after that night, hoping to find other accomplices, but there was never any sign of people.
He had only eliminated the presences that were always tailing him, but the three who monitored his coming and going out of the academy were also nowhere to be found.
Slipping out of the academy the first night to investigate, the three had already vanished. Keeping to their reputation as professionals, all traces of them ever being there had been erased.
It was impossible for them to know of what happened that night, but the disappearances of their comrades had undoubtedly alerted them. Surely by now, all nine already knows, and they were all in hiding. Not wanting to waste his time combing through all the wards for the nine remaining Tal’hrus members, he had decided to not deviate from his daily routines.
He had already taken measures to ensure his family’s safety. All that is left now, was to wait for their next move.
An old man sat quietly in his study, staring at the document in front of him. He read it once already, but was rereading it a second time.
“Heheh…” Headmaster Nylen’s mouth contorted into a smile as his clay arm came up to stroke his scruffy beard.
It has been a whole turn, but the letter he had been waiting for was finally here. An official issue from the Mystiks guild regarding a certain young mage. Along with the document was an officially sealed and unopened letter for said mage.
*KNOCK KNOCK* “Kaidus is here, Headmaster.” A voice called from the other side of his door.
“Please show the boy in.” He replied enthusiastically.
Moments later, the young boy who had stolen his arm walked into the room.
“Good afternoon Kaidus.” Nylen greeted with a grin.
“You asked for me?”
This was only the third time he had come here to talk to the headmaster. The first was after their little skirmish, and the second for official council business. But after how they met—and gauging the dispositions of the old man—Kaidus could do nothing but view the old man in a cynical light. Even seeing the old man’s fake arm brought him no guilt to what he had done.
“Yes, yes. Come over here and sit, won’t you?” Nylen motioned to a seat across from his desk. “Do you have any idea why I’ve called you?”
“I haven’t the slightest clue.” He replied apathetically.
“What do you know about the Mystiks guild?” Headmaster Nylen inquired.
“Only what I’ve read.”
“And what have you read?”
“The Mystiks guild is the Organization in charge of development, distribution, maintenance, and overseeing of anything pertaining to magic within Ferrent. Currently there are three branches of the guild in the three noble wards, each charged with their three corresponding wards from 1 through 9. The guild consists of only mages, and is Ferrent’s mage army in times of war. I am also aware that you yourself were a former guild member.” Kaidus summarized the Mystiks guild eloquently, emphasizing the small tidbits at the end.
“Yes, that is about the general idea of them. But one more thing: the Mystiks guild does not work primarily in Ferrent. Many members are sent off with the knights to help with exterminations or bounties all over Darsus. They also work in various fields unrelated to the betterment of society.” The headmaster added with a wink.
“I know you did not call me here for a friendly chat. What is the true purpose and what does it have to do with the Mystiks guild?” He asked, unsure what the master was getting at. There was no way his actions from two ryes ago had been noticed.
“Yes, of course. I called you in for this. An invitation from the Mystiks guild.” The headmaster slid a folded and sealed letter over to Kaidus. It was a pure white paper, one very unlike those he usually saw and used.
Unsealing the letter,
‘Hello Mr. Kaidus Paltos,
After much deliberation and witness testaments from prominent members of the guild. I, Thaxxus Baelius V. Terinthier, Head of the 11th ward Mystiks Guild formally invite you to our establishments in the 11th ward.
We of the Mystiks guild wish to discuss with you, and offer you a position in our venerable institute, conferring to you all the benefits along with your new station should you accept. Of course, there is the caveat of proving yourself to those of us in the Guild Council as all before you have, but I have been assured that it would be of no difficulty for one such as yourself.
As this is but a brief letter of introduction and an invitation, I ask for your forgiveness in not including any further details. We look forward to discussing further matters with you personally.
Should you accept this invitation, please make a small infusion of mana into this letter. A carriage will be sent for you.
Thaxxus Baelius V. Terinthier’
‘A personal letter from one of the Guild leaders.’ Kaidus mused to himself.
It was quite laughable how eerily similar the letter was to the deceased Raleun’s invitation to join Tal’hrus.
He set the letter back onto the table after he was done.
“Well?” Nylen asked.
“Do you know about the contents of the letter? Headmaster?” Kaidus inquired.
“More or less. I am very happy for you.” Headmaster Nylen replied cheerfully.
“Reminds me of my days. Rising through the ranks of the Mystiks Guild, hoping to lead it one day, but then the king granted me this academy. Heheh… quite amusing how things worked out.” Nylen spoke, noticing that Kaidus was silent.
“…Sir. Would it be alright if I left the letter here with you? Also, if you can, please notify them of my refusal.”
“R-Refusal? My boy, won’t you take a moment to reconsider? Maybe give your answer in a day or two?” Nylen was confused. He did not think the boy would refuse.
He had spent the past turn corresponding with the Mystiks guild to elevate the boy’s reputation, securing him a future befitting someone of the boy’s extraordinary skills, but now the boy was refusing the chance. Granted, everything he had done was behind the scenes, but seeing a mage refuse an invitation from the Mystiks guild was quite a surprise to him.
The majority of all the students in the academy aspired for a job with the guild, yet here was someone who was uninterested about such opportunities. He himself had jumped at the opportunity to join the Mystiks guild in his younger days.
“It’s funny, headmaster. That is the second time this turn that I’ve been asked that very question.” Kaidus gazed at the Headmaster, noting every little movement or nuance that the old man made. His previously calm and indifferent demeanor was gone.
“Did one of those thieves from the guild approach you already?” Nylen asked with a hearty laugh.
Observing carefully, “No. No one has approached me about joining the Mystiks guild.” He gave a calm reply, his eyes not wavering from the old man for a single second.
“Well isn’t this great then? Why don’t you reconsider the offer? I know that with your abilities, a high rank within the guild is easily attainable. You do know that powerful mages are routinely given nobilities befitting their skills and ranks correct?”
“I do, headmaster. But titles are not what I am after.” He replied without a second thought.
Status was but an idea of the rich and powerful to flaunt their wealth and step on those less fortunate. He had already seen and experienced firsthand what money and status could do, and he wanted none of it for him and his family.
He already had everything he has ever wanted: a stable home, a loving family, and most vital of all, the overwhelming strength to protect those he loves.
“And what is it that you are after?”
“Answers that are beyond the walls of Ferrent and Darsus itself.” A simple and honest reply.
“… You’re turning 9 this year correct?” Nylen had to make sure. There were too many things wrong with everything that’s happening around the boy so far. The boy was too enigmatic, unfit for someone of his age and status.
“Yes. At the end of Alivai.” Another simple answer.
“…Is that why you spend most of your time in the library? What are these answers you seek? Perhaps the guild can help.” He attempted to coax the boy one more time.
“It is something of a personal nature.” Kaidus answered calmly. But this time, his tone of voice implied that he did not want to talk about it.
“Hmm… is that so… Truly unfortunate.” Nylen spoke, dejected. There were so much that the child could have accomplished in the guild, but it looks like he had his own personal agenda to pursue. “Well then, I must apologize for having disturbed your investigations.” He gave a defeated grin, ending the talk there. From the little contacts he’s had with the boy and from what he has learned, the child was one of few words. Keeping him any longer beyond the matter at hand would only result in silence.
“Then I will leave this with you.” Kaidus slid the letter on the desk back to the old headmaster.
“Ah, yes. I shall let the guild know of your refusal.” Nylen’s face drooped on the desk as he watched the young boy turn around to leave. All his efforts had been in vain. The child was already pursuing his own agendas.
“Headmaster.” The boy called out as he got to the door, turning back around to look at him.
“Yes? What is it?” Nylen’s face lit up, hoping the boy had had a change of mind.
“Do you know of Tal’hrus?”
“Where did you hear that name?!” Nylen stood straight up. His dejected features were now gone, his face was serious and worried.
After the boy left, Headmaster Nylen pulled out a sheet of paper and began writing.
Kaidus walked out of the marble building. His right hand feeling the metallic ring in his pocket. Having erased his suspicion that the headmaster may be a member of Tal’hrus, he had gambled, and the gamble had paid off.
He did not divulge everything that has happened, only that members of Tal’hrus had approached him and invited him into their organization. The reaction he got from the headmaster was one unlike any of the headmaster’s usual behavior. The old man was anxious and restlessly asking about anything that Kaidus may know. Of course he played ignorant, denying any knowledge, only that they had approached him to recruit him before promptly leaving.
On the other hand, he was able to learn something. Using the excuse of being already involved, he was able to extract some information from the headmaster.
He learned that the current war in Malpaars was the doing of Tal’hrus, as was a recent death in the royal family of the Kulis continent last year. The string of murders in the principality of Zarast, of the Unotus continent earlier this year was also their doing.
With an overwhelming amount of espionage all throughout the seven continents along with the current crimes, there has been many events over the past few decades that have been linked with the Tal’hrus organization. The headmaster had warned him that all of this was to make him an aware of the dangers the organization poses. Also that the Mystiks guild will have to be brought in to investigate.
He had also inquired about the higher ups in the Tal’hrus chain of command, but the headmaster had declined to reveal any information about them.
As he had gone straight to meet the Headmaster after the 2nd class, he was starting to get hungry. Kaidus walked towards the student shops on the west side of the academy to join up with the group of five who were probably already having lunch.
It was evening, and two days after his chat with the headmaster.
Kaidus was currently in the library continuing through the collection of rumors and stories. His progress last year had been slow due to council work, but with only two classes this year, the pace was going much faster.
“Zanaeos 1223, Palx-1. Malpaars.
Villagers spoke of a giant winged beast that blotted out the sun as it swooped past their small hunting village of Trigilt, roaring as it descended upon the mountains to the north of their village. Knights were called in to investigate to no avail…”
Another possibility. He noted the time and place down in his notes, adding another tally to the sightings in Malpaars in a different page of notes.
After a year of looking through thousands of these notes and stories, he had found less than 30 sightings. The tallies were: 11 in Malpaars, 5 in Horuns, 7 in Unotus, 3 in Kulis, and 1 from Rovtoss during a Kargall mating season back 1209. The single sighting in Rovtoss was around Arauns claws.
He was one fourth of the way through with these rumors and stories, and there was really nothing conclusive about the Karugas that he has been looking for. Everything had only been vague sightings, and no proof nor evidence were ever discovered upon following up on any of the rumors from what he can tell.
He knew it could very well be a dead end, but he slogged onward through the records. Rumors and stories were bound to contain some truth to them. Over 10 sightings within 25 years cannot be a mere coincidence.
“Zanaeos 1223, Palx-16. Horuns.
An elderly man in the town of Gevanilt hired a band of mercenaries to scour the nearby forest of Twi-”
Kaidus stopped reading. The ring in his pocket was now emitting a weak mana signature. The signature was too weak, but it may bring trouble if any of the master caught wind of it. Gathering up his notes, he calmly upped and left the library, trying not to draw any attention to himself.
Back in his room, he pulled out the ring and placed it on his desk. The metallic ring was glowing dimly, and the mana signature was more pronounced. Uncertain of how to proceed, he infused some of his mana into the ring as he had done when he first obtained it.
This time, something drastically different happened.
“I hear my men’s have vanished. Just who are you?” The ring stopped emitting mana and a man’s voice came through.
“I see. So, beyond a secret incantation, this thing requires both sides to work.” A dignified voice carrying a tone of authority came through the ring in Zavon’s hand. The voice was of a man, but it was not any that he could recognize.
Earlier, three of the agents who were supposed to be in Ferrent had arrived at Headquarters. They reported that Raleun, the one in charge of the Ferrent job had gone missing along with 8 of their other agents.
The three had been working under Raleun as they monitored the boy whom they were trying to recruit, but after putting their plans into motion, they lost contact with the main group. After a whole day of silence, the three had evacuated their post and then left Ferrent after notifying the other six who were still within.
After alerting the other six, they had been traveling all this time, only arriving at HQ earlier that afternoon.
Their story explained why Raleun had not been reporting any progress about the jobs in Ferrent for the past half turn.
“Where is Raleun? And who are you?” Zavon asked the voice that had come through.
“You must be Master Zavon. I am sorry to say this, but Raleun is no longer of this world.” The voice answered.
The voice knew his name. Zavon gritted his teeth in anger at the conjecture that his men were talking. “So, you know of me?” He calmly questioned. His voice was mellow and undeterred, giving an impression that he did not care that his men were dead. Or worst, talking to people they shouldn’t be talking to.
“I do not know of you. Only your name.” A brief answer from the other side.
“If you know my name, then please allow me the honor of your own.” Zavon asked again, trying to at least find out who had captured his men.
“Who I am is of no concern to you. What should, is that I have been wanting to talk to you for quite some time.” The voice replied without delivering who he is.
“Is that so? I am honored. And what is it that you wish to discuss?” Zavon calmly replied, not allowing his agitation to be known.
“More of a warning to be precise.”
“A warning you say? And what is this warning?” He laughed inside.
“My warning to you master Zavon, is: take your band of misfits who are currently in Ferrent and any you were planning on sending here, and move them far away from this city. You do that, and I may yet allow you and that little group of yours some reprieve.”
“Kyahahahha!” He laughed out loud this time, making sure the other side could hear. “You are certainly humorous. And if I were to refuse?” This was not the first time someone had threatened them, and it surely will not be the last. Whoever this person is, he will be dealt with eventually like all before him.
“You will all die. Every last one of you in Tal’hrus.” The voice spoke solemnly.
“You think I am afraid of threats! What can you possibly do!? An unknown man hiding in Ferrent dares to challenge the might of Tal’hrus all because he’s captured a few of our subordinates? For someone who dares not even utter their name to me, you sure think highly of yourself! Stronger and more resourceful people than you have tried and failed. You too, will FAIL!” He shouted back at the ring, attempting to goad whoever was on the other side in revealing more information about himself.
“You wish to know who I am…” The voice spoke.
“…” Zavon silently waited for the mysterious voice to identify himself.
“I am the echoes of those who had been slain by the metal of injustice. I am the shadows of men long silenced and hidden from the light. I am he who rides the black winds of carnage. I am death. Prepare yourself for when next we speak, it will be face to face, and you will know that your death has come.” The voice answered in riddles.
The ring in his palm suddenly emitted a bright light before fading and turning into a normal ring. Zavon attempted to connect again with this mysterious foe, but the connection had been destroyed.