Kaidus clutched the metallic ring in his hand, smiling at how easy his work had just become.
Using a sealing spell, he had trapped Zavon’s mana within the ring. At the same time, he had overwritten the synchronization spell within the item, severing the connection between the two permanently. There will no longer be any contact between the two rings, but the trapped mana inside could be used as a means to track down the man. Kaidus laughed at how convenient Zavon had made this little game of hide and seek. It was the reason he would be able to make good on his threats.
He had wanted to live this peaceful life a little longer. To spend time with his family as he leisurely looked for answers, waiting for his body to grow to accommodate his immeasurable power.
But alas, for one who is forever embroiled in death, it seems fate had other plans for him.
He did not want to do proceed with what he was about to do, but the path forward was bound to be treacherous and filled with enemies. His childish body would be unable to sustain itself with long drawn out battles.
Kaidus brought forth his hand, picturing the black ring that had been with him for the past year. The one he had taken off and left with his sister.
A hooded man along with three of his guards walked through a dark hallway. The four of them walked in silence, approaching a wall at the end of the hallway.
The hooded man placed his hand on the wall. “Asiran. Gelnos Pleiss Vaynaras Toralg Zucet! Delovus Tretos Valartus!” With a quick spell, the wall vanished and the man stepped inside. His three guards stood guard outside of the room as the wall rematerialized.
The man took a couple steps forward to stand in front of a large mirror shard. A fragment of a relic from a forgotten age. With a secret incantation, the mirror started glowing and the man was sucked inside.
He opened his eyes to a world of fog. One he had been to countless times, and a place devoid of life.
Dead trees with branches jutting out here and there littered the area. Through the fog, they created silhouettes eerily resembling those of the damned, clawing for life. After endlessly walking through the fog following the single trail, he arrived at a cave.
Without fear, the man entered the cave and strode forward into the darkness.
As he walked, he began muttering an incantation. Within seconds, a wall of mana washed over him, and he was standing in a dark tunnel with flickering lights coming from the other end. Walking forward, he entered a large open underground room. There were four other hooded figures standing side by side.
He silently joined them.
The five of them stood in silence as two more hooded figures joined them. After a while, an old man came through a door in the wall opposite their position. Their master had arrived.
“Well? What news do you all bring me?” The old man’s tone was demanding as he approached them.
His master, and one of the most powerful mages he has ever laid eyes upon. The old man was well beyond his prime, but within that old aged body lies some of the most destructive potentials ever known to the world.
Without waiting, the hooded man stepped forward. “I bring bad news, master.”
A single word brought chills down his spine. “I have lost contact with one of my lieutenants, and also half of my agents in Ferrent.”
“… You disappoint me, Zavon.” The old man spoke solemnly.
“Forgive me master. I will accept any and all punishments.” Zavon replied, his head bowed low and unwilling to meet his master’s eyes.
“Of course you will. I’ve warned you before. Do you know what would happened if Nylen and the Mystiks guild got their hands on your agents? Our operations in Darsus would be delayed by years.” The old man spoke calmly, but his voice was filled with a tension that wanted to kill. “What exactly happened?”
“Apologies master, but we do not know. Half of our agents simply vanished from what the messengers told me. As of now, the remaining agents in Ferrent have gone into hiding.” Zavon attempted a calm reply.
He was not about to disclose to the master that his men may have possibly been captured by someone of authority. The folly was his own, and occurred within his domain. He would be the one to take care of it. Not to mention, such failure could possibly cost him his life right here and now.
Before coming here, he had already sent another unit into Ferrent with the goal of finding their missing agents, and if possible, to eliminate the man behind the disappearance.
“…”The master was silent.
“I shall send anoth- GUAH!” An invisible hand grasped his throat tightly, cutting his sentence short.
“You will do no such thing!” The old man roared. “You will send someone to retrieve all of your agents still within the walls of Ferrent, and we will reassess our plans concerning Darsus! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!” The old man exclaimed. There was no calm in his voice this time. Only anger.
The invisible hand released his neck and Zavon could breathe again. “Y-Yes master. *cough cough* as you will… *cough* …but what about the child?” He inquired, trying to change the topic.
“If your agents have not already killed him, then it is now too late! We must reinforce our ranks and be ready for the worst case possible. If your men have been captured by either Nylen or the guild, we will surely have a hunt on our hands.” The old man glared at him. “And Zavon. Prepared to take your own life. If I get word that our operations are compromised, I will not be granting your failure a swift death.” The old man spoke coldly.
All Zavon could do was bow and retreat back to standing beside the other seven. It took all he had to not shiver at the old man’s words. Many people have fallen under the master’s ire, and none has ever been seen again. He was sure they had all perished painfully, and the master did not discriminate whether they were friend or foe.
Zavon did not want to be another casualty without proving his worth. He stood silently and listened as the other six gave their accounts. A few reported failure, but none on the level of his own. Half listening to the reports, Zavon was making plans on how to tackle his problems in Darsus. He was one of the youngest to rise to the position of master within Tal’hrus.
His ambitions cannot possibly end here with this single mistake.
An old man woke up from his reverie, sitting up straight in his bed.
It was the middle of the night, and his acute senses had jerked him awake to an invisible force that dominated his academy. Someone was exerting an extremely high amount of mana while at the same time, trying to conceal whatever they were doing. It was unlike any he had ever felt before.
Nylen shuddered in his bed.
Whoever was doing this was extremely skilled, and the concealing of whatever magic they were performing was almost perfect. It was only due to his instinct and acute senses—carefully nurtured and cultivated over the decades—that he was able to even feel the traces of magic flowing through the air.
Calming his mind, after carefully assessing the situation, he recognized who the imposing amount of mana belonged to at once. His nervous shaking stopped, and a grin spread across his face. He was not wrong in what he had called the child. The boy was truly an outlier.
Nylen got out of bed and went to sit by the window, watching the moonlight dance as if welcoming the change in the air.
“Report.” Zavon commanded through a ring. He was currently back in his quarters on Darsus. The meeting with his master was four days ago, and he was growing anxious to remedy his failures.
“We have just passed through the town of Arsalt. It’ll be another 12 days before we reach Ferrent.” The one in charge of this new operation replied.
Zavon could hear the sound of hooves thundering through the ring.
“Contact me immediately if anything comes up. Even if you are on the brink of death!” He commanded.
The new unit that he dispatched five days ago were currently on horseback, traveling toward Ferrent. The unit consisted of 11 of his most powerful, and most trusted agents. They will undoubtedly be able to deal with this new problem.
He knew he was going against the master’s command, but he was sure that if he succeeded in fixing his problems and recruiting the boy, he would once again reclaim his glory.
He did not rise to his position by playing it safe.
As a new recruit in Tal’hrus, He had always taken risks, doing what others would not dare to do. He was brash and ambitious, but that was what got him to where he is today. He has never seen these demons of flesh that the old master was so cautious about, and until he witnessed their strength with his very eyes, there was no use in fearing the unknown.
Even if he were to die, there was no way the organization would fall because of him. That was the beauty of Tal’hrus.
Spread out across the seven continents, they worked in secrecy. No agent or master knew everything about their organization’s operations. The only exception was the old master himself. Even the name Zavon was not his real name, and that goes for all of the other seven masters. The names were granted to them once they took the mantle of Master, and none of them knew the real identity or face of their colleagues underneath those hoods. The masters all worked in their own domains without communing with each other, only coming together for emergency discussions, or to give their reports to the old master.
Even if invaders were to find their headquarters, the defense with the magic shard and magic seals within the dreaded white world could not be easily broken.
Taking off a ring from his finger, he recited an incantation. After a while,
“Yes, master?” A female voice came through.
“Shale, gather your group and return to headquarters at once. I have a strange feeling we may be in for a surprise.” He commanded another of his lieutenant.
“Yes master.” The voice complied, and Zavon killed the connection.
Even with his mind at ease, and confidence in his subordinates, there was something nagging him… a hint of agitation.
He did not fear what the old master feared: Nylen and the Mystiks guild within Ferrent could never touch him, and he was sure of it. It was why he had sent agents to infiltrate Ferrent in the first place.
All that stood in his way, was possibly the man who had spoken to him through the ring.
Someone who had been able to subdue nine of his agents. From the sound of it, it did not sound like the man was with anyone else during their conversation. He did not know if the man was working alone, or if their operations in Ferrent had already been noticed by the authorities. He tried picturing the assailant’s face, but all that he could see was a man of status, possibly one of the nobles. The voice sounded like it belonged to a man quite close to his own age.
He couldn’t rule out the Mystiks guild, but it was nearing a turn, and there has been no movements from what his agents outside of Ferrent have reported.
“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.” Zavon repeated the lines before the threat on his life.
He had no idea what to make of it. A man proclaiming to be death… it was laughable. Yet, the words struck him into a cold chill when he first heard it. Then there was also the threat that he would eventually meet this man face to face. He could not just plainly dismiss such intimidations. The man even knew about the deeds of their organization from what he can tell of the riddle.
Zavon got up and barged out of his room. It was time to assess their combat strength and prepare for the worst-case scenarios as his master had warned. At least in this command, he would follow it without criticism.
Deep within the earth, buried under countless layers of soil and sediment beneath a great lake, something stirred.
Its master was calling, but it had been too weak to respond. Having slumbered peacefully for eons, its vast strength had already left it.
Awaking for the first time ever since witnessing its master’s demise, the entity slowly tore open a gate to Lagus within itself. The raw mana of Lagus surged into its very being and the entity hungrily devoured the life-giving force, restoring its strength.
After days of having its fill, it was time to return to its rightful place.
A storm brewed within the bowels of the earth and a razor wind tore through the solid rocks that had formed over numerous ages. The wind quickly pierced the earth and exploded through the depths of the lake, surging forth toward the surface. The wind accumulated strength as it stormed upward, breaking the surface of the lake in a grand display worthy of one who governed a force of the world.
A side of the lake gushed forth into the sky as witnesses looked in shock and scrambled for cover. A tempest had emerged in the lake. Walls of water erupted and rained down on the ground, pummeling those in its vicinity. Those who had been in the lake—fishing—were thrown into the air horrifically, before gently landing on the ground or in the water in what could only be considered an unexplainable phenomenon.
Too busy fleeing or recovering from what was happening, those on the ground failed to notice a piece of brown rag emerging from the lake, taking off at unimaginable speed towards the eastern sky.