With an impassive mask, Kaidus bent down and grabbed the man’s neck.
Repairing the shattered jaw with healing magic, he lifted the man up to eye level with him. “I will not ask again. What is the incantation for the mirror shard?” He questioned as the vivid memories of Kerkhill’s devastation raced through his mind.
“You… I- Kuh… I will never tell you!!” Even in shock, the struggling man refused.
Suddenly, something else caught his attention. The silver ring on his finger was glowing.
“That ring- Why do you–!”
With a thought, he silenced the surprised man.
The multitude of reasons why he was there in the first place flooded him. Without hesitation, he strengthened his grip on the man’s throat. “GUU- UK- GUUAGH!! AAG!” A stifled scream came out along with a warm viscous liquid as his fingers dug deep into the man’s neck.
Interrogating the other members of Tal’hrus earlier that day had not gone well either, and he was sick of their endless screams and having his time wasted.
Even without the unsealing incantation, even without understanding how Tal’hrus was using the Nyzacus shards, his end goal for the organization remained the same. The other six masters were living on borrowed time, and they would eventually get their due.
A crushing noise followed, and Zavon went limp, falling to the ground. Lifeless.
Having crushed and tore out the man’s throat, he looked at the glowing ring on his finger. Anise was calling to him but with bloodstained hands, he did not dare answer.
Watching the glow fade away, his eyes scanned the body before him and fell upon the man’s hands, upon four metal rings. He willed it, and they flew off of the dead man’s fingers up to him. Four communication rings. Four more agents who would perish before he left Darsus.
Pocketing the rings, he sent out a thin wave of mana to see if there were any survivors.
Not sensing anyone else in the area, “Feziel” he called for the spirit and it quickly obeyed, transforming into a sword. Though his purpose had been accomplished and his rage somewhat appeased, magic that had been dormant within him for the past 14 years begged to be freed. To be given life once again.
Feeling the limitless mana swirling about him, he closed his eyes and opened his mind. ‘Ti-vaas’ the first part of a destruction spell molded itself in his thoughts. Immediately, the air around him began to distort and a sense of familiarity overcame him. ‘Nu’ar Eave!’ With the second verse, he began channeling his mana into Feziel. *PSHAAA!* A crackling sound came from the weapon and resonated though the air as he held onto it. Twisting the sword into a back-hand grip, ‘Irs, Vixlain!’ As soon as the final verse came into being, he shoved the sword into the ground. His mana within Feziel instantly vanished, and forked lightning erupted from the point of insertion—traveling along the ground erratically in all directions.
“Zion!” He cried out and the wind quickly wrapped itself around him.
A crackling sound thundered through the air, echoing into the distance as the ground shook and became a sea of white lightning.
By the time it was over, there was nothing left but a devastated landscape around the area of the Tal’hrus base. The surrounding trees had either turned to ashes or been torn to shreds. Deep scars ran along the ground like cracks, digging deep into the earth. What used to be the base had been obliterated, and its foundations were nothing more than chunks of sand and pebbles. The corpses of the Tal’hrus agents were nowhere to be seen.
*Haaa… Haaa* Taking deep breaths, Kaidus took a good look around. The only place that had not been destroyed was the small area where he was standing, and the surroundings too far from his position. His hands were a little numb, and he was still holding onto the sword that was embedded into the ground.
‘The Frayed God’s Wrath’ as it had once been called, was one of few spells in his repertoire that required extreme concentration, and not one he could mindlessly invoke. A lightning destruction magic, it consisted of thousands of minor lightning spells combined into a single devastating attack.
“Masssster.” The wind spoke, its voice containing a hint of worry.
“I’m fine…” *Haaah…* Kaidus answered, taking another deep breath.
Even after using Feziel as a conduit to channel his mana, he was unable to endure the torrent of magic as it manifested into the physical plane, forcing him to call for the wind spirit.
‘Not yet…’ He thought to himself, feeling the physical toll the spell had exacted on him. A smile crept onto his face.
For too long his power had been locked behind a body that could not withstand it. But slowly and surely, the shackles were coming off.
Having recognized his limits, he commanded his mana and changed his hair color to black once again.
Feziel, still in its blade form liquefied itself and immediately returned to the metal ring around his finger. Without waiting for his command, Zion picked him off the ground and carried him into the sky.
It was evening, and in a mansion within the 11th ward, three men—still in their early twenties—were sitting together, talking over a jug of wine. One wore a red cloak that concealed his missing right arm, while the other two wore plain brown training garbs.
“… I don’t like him either, but I will not be an accessory to your plan.” Vion answered as he set his cup down on the small table separating them.
“That’s it? A no? Do you still remember telling us how much you despised him? Whatever happened to that?” Ralfus argued.
“You are proposing we harm a little girl because of something her brother did to you. You don’t see what’s wrong with that? If you haven’t forgotten, I am a knight. I am sworn to protect the people.”
“They’re fucking peasants!” Ralfus shouted. “Swear all you want! Swear to the four gods for all I care! We all know you don’t give two shits about those fucking commoners! Don’t try to change now that you’ve become mister fancy knight!”
“Be that as it may, my dislike is toward the brother alone. Not his sister.”
“Kuh… is that because you think you have a fighting chance against him? Against a mage?!”
“So what if he is a mage?” Vion glared at Ralfus.
“Well, you did lose to him during the competition.” The third person who had been silently listening interjected.
“Shut up Elsh.” Vion retorted with a friendly tone.
“Because he’s not right, you fucking idiot!” Ralfus threw back the flap covering his right arm. “Do you see this?! I couldn’t do anything to stop him! You think you can get back at him without going around him? Think a little!”
“Ralfus. I may not be a mage like you or my sister, but call me an idiot once more, and you will be going back without your other arm.” Vion threatened, tapping the sheathed sword leaning by his chair. “As your friend I’ve agreed to hear you out, but don’t think you can say whatever you want just because of your relations to the crown.”
“Are you fucking serious?” Ralfus turned to look at the other man. “What about you Elshin?”
“Shout louder won’t you? I don’t think the servants in the kitchen can hear us conspiring through the walls.”
“Fuck your servants. Just answer the question. If Vion is out, will you help me or not?”
“I… am going to have to agree with Vion. What you’re planning is very juvenile and vindictive. I could understand getting revenge on the person who did that to you, but hurting a little girl? You are taking it too far. Not to mention I’ve got no problem against the kid in the first place.”
“If even our king didn’t intercede on your behalf, it’s a clear sign to not involve myself.” The one named Elshin interrupted, making his point.
“You-… you guys are fucking useless.” Ralfus angrily got up and headed towards the door.
“Ralf. Come back and let’s think about it together man. Your anger is driving you. You don’t need to do something like this.”
“Fuck the both of you!” Ralfus Vatenger exclaimed as he exited the room, slamming the door behind him.
“Some fuckin friends…” Ralfus spat out as he stormed away from the mansion.
Elshin was right, but there was no way to get back at the one who wronged him in the first place.
Angry and frustrated, “Take me the Arforus House.” He ordered the coachman as he got to his carriage.
Stepping inside and sitting down, something was off. The window covers had been pulled up, and the carriage was dark. He looked up to see someone else in the carriage with him. “WH–” Before he could scream out. A strong hand covered his mouth.
“Quiet now. I wouldn’t want to be discovered if I were you.” A man’s voice whispered.
“Don’t worry, I’m here to help. I am going to let go of your mouth to show that I mean no harm, and you will not shout or do anything stupid. You hear me?”
Ralfus nodded compliantly.
“Good.” The man released his hand and held them up. “See? Easy right?”
“W-What do you want?” Ralfus nervously questioned.
“It’s not what I want, master Vatenger. It’s what I can do for you. My master knows of your plight. He knows you’ve been trying to convince many people to align themselves with you in a personal crusade. He would like to give you his blessings.”
“Who… who are you? And who is your master?”
“I am but a shadow. As for my master, you shall meet him soon enough.”
“Don’t worry about him. He knows where to go.” The man gave him a smile.
They rode in silence, traveling toward a destination unknown to him. After what felt like hours, the coach finally came to a stop.
“This is…” Stepping out of the carriage, the sun had already set. It was a cloudy night, but with the full moon, he saw that they were standing on a grassy plain.
“Come with me.” The stranger beckoned, and Ralfus nervously followed.
They walked through the grass until they reached a paved trail, which led to a small flower garden. A man was standing over the garden, quietly admiring the beautiful night blooms. The man turned to them upon their arrival.
Shrouded in shadows cast by the clouds, “Your father was but a test. He fails to understand the gravity of a commitment, and lacks the resolve to follow through with his decisions. I have seen your determination. I understand your justice. I will not condone you harming a child, but if it is someone else, I am prepared to turn a blind eye.
“W-Who are you? And what do you mean?”
“I know that I am one of the few reasons holding you back. As long as nothing is traced back to me, I give you my permission to follow through with your revenge.”
“!!” As the clouds moved away and the shadows receded, Ralfus saw the face of the person he was talking to. His luck had finally changed. “T-Thank you.” He knelt.
“Rig. Get Marlin and two others, and see if you guys can find any food. The rest of us will make camp for the night.” Prim instructed, standing up and looking at the group behind her.
They had left the ruins of Kerkhill three days ago.
After giving the survivors a day to mourn their loved ones and another to gather food for the long trip, they had been on the road towards the town of Panelle ever since.
Her mages had been able to catch a large oriv deer and three foxes, but with nearly thirty mouths to feed, the food was quickly disappearing.
“Lisin that’s enough. You can stop now.” Prim patted her friend’s back, and Lisin released her magic on the cart they were riding.
They had constructed three carts to be pulled with earth magic since many of the survivors were children, and could not keep up. Thankfully, one of Lisin’s contract spirit was an earth elemental, so one of the carts was left to her while the others took turns with the other two.
“It beats having to walk, but it really is tiring.” Lisin made a tired smile as they both got off the cart. “You said they’d be waiting for us in Panelle with proper transportation right?”
“I told Narvin to prepare transportation and lodging on his way to Tirasaen.”
“Great. I can’t wait for a proper bath and a comfy bed. If only for a night.”
“You and me both.” Prim smiled.
In a large hut constructed with earth magic, the survivors were huddled together and sleeping peacefully. Surrounding the hut were five smaller ones with blazing fires next to them. Three mages stood outside, watching and listening.
As they vigilantly kept guard, they began to hear something. The sound of screaming far off in the distance.
“Put out the fires and wake the others.” Prim immediately ordered. Extinguishing the flames surrounding her hut, “Sorry to wake you Lis.” She apologized as she woke up a drowsy Lisin.
“I know you’re tired, but something is happening. I need you to get up.” Prim quickly answered, grabbing her guild cloak from her sleeping spot and throwing it around herself.
“Prim. What’s going on?” Lisin enquired, her face showing signs of alertness.
“I don’t know, but there are cries coming through the wood. Could be another attack, could be wild animals. Come outside as soon as you can.” She replied, leaving the hut.
“Banahr, Turlin, Rig, with me!” She shouted, and they quickly ran to her side. “The rest of you, stay here and don’t let your guards down. If we are not back by dawn, proceed to Panelle without us.”
“If that’s the case, then more of us should be coming with you.” Lisin objected.
“No. I need the five of you to protect the villagers.”
Without further commands, they quickly vanished into the dark forest, heading in the direction of the screams.
Cleaving through the forest unconcerned about the noise they were making, the group of four ran with haste, afraid they would be too late once again.
Through the darkness, they spotted something glowing in the distance. As they moved toward it, the screams became louder, and an eerie and unsettling feeling overtook them.
“NO! NO!! PLEASE NO!!!” Someone was begging for their life.
As they neared the light source, they spotted another camp hidden in the woods. Tents had been shattered, and the light they saw was from the burning tents.
Prim held out her hands to motion for her team to stop. Without revealing themselves, they all took a moment to register what they were seeing.
In the midst of the broken camp was a lone figure.
“Three more to go.” A frightening voice without remorse or pity cut through the air.
Wearing a hooded cloak, they could not see his face, but his right arm was grasping the hand of a man, pulling him up.
With a flicking motion, the hooded man easily threw his victim up into the air. There were three quick flashes, and the man in the air split into four segments, falling to the ground. The hooded man was unfazed.
Prim’s stomach turned, and her dinner threatened to come back out.
Turlin tried to move forward, but she quickly grabbed onto the man, not letting him go. She knew that whatever was before them was beyond their combined capabilities.
Her eyes adjusting to the light, she saw that there was something else there with the hooded man. Something dark and red, swirling around him like a formless fluid.
“Is that all of them?” The man questioned.
“Yes.” A voice like rocks grinding together answered the question.
Looking around, there was no one else there with the man.
“Then we are done here.”
“Whhhhhat about thhhem?” A third voice spoke, and the darkness that had been swirling around the figure dashed through the air over to where she and her group was hiding.
“?!” In shock, she couldn’t even prepare an incantation.
“Leave them.” The hooded figure swiftly replied without turning to look in their direction. The unknown liquid circled them once, then flew back to the figure. Wordlessly, the man began floating off the ground before shooting into the distance.
“No… that’s… Impossible.” Banahr uttered, not taking his eyes away from the sky.
“Flying magic…?” Turlin managed to express what they were all thinking.
Many great mages had dreamt of flying magic, but none had ever accomplished it. She could only stare at the empty sky as her body began trembling.
“C-captain.” A frightened voice came out of Turlin, and his face showed his realization. “H-He’s headed in the direction of our camp.”
Arriving back at the camp, nothing felt out of place.
They were greeted with faces filled with worries, asking about what they found.
The only thing that had been unusual, was that they saw an orb of light materializing in the air and flying to the north.
No one had been killed, nothing was broken or missing, and none of them had a clue about what happened.