“There are always parts of history which aren’t written down.”
I watch the envoy’s departure. When he is gone, I get to my feet and walk into the middle of the room. A mental command to Illum is enough to open the secret entrance to my laboratory. The floor sinks into the ground and a set of stairs appears. They lead directly to my workroom. I descend, taking two stairs at a time. There is a ‘click’ and I hear the tiles which previously covered the entrance slide back into place.
The stairway isn’t long, but it gives me a few moments to think about Emil’s words.
There is little doubt in my mind that the Mirai can become a problem in the future. They definitely had or have contact with someone like me. How else do they know so much about the nature of the world in which we live?
The Consortium is also a big unknown factor and while I am positive that the Empire doesn’t have any large surprises for me, I shouldn’t let down my guard. I already underestimated the inhabitants of this world several times. It’s hard to accept that their magic simply developed in a different manner than what I am used to. I am used to understanding what I do. Their form of magic is sympathetic and relies on belief and rituals, which doesn’t mean that their spells are weak.
The crossbow bolt which managed to penetrate my barriers is proof of that.
It’s too bad that I have only a few fragments to study. The enchantments on the projectile would’ve been interesting to analyse. The projectile was bigger than a bullet, but smaller than an arrow. Maybe a crossbow bolt, but even for that, it was on the small side. Maybe my attacker belonged to a very small race?
The fact that my dagger didn’t kill the assassin gives me a strong hint on his size. I aimed at where I expected the head to be, for a human-sized target. So the person in question was either insanely quick to evade, smaller than a human, or a ghost.
It doesn’t matter. The new developments force me to take more direct control of my agents. Originally, I planned to allow them to operate on their own. With the new developments, that’s no longer an option.
I sigh and quicken my steps upon leaving the stairway. A magelight automatically activates and illuminates the area around the entrance. The others already paid me a visit in my workshop, but I never showed them the whole hall. Without taking notice of my various projects within the illuminated area, I walk forward and into the darkness.
Taking a look behind me, I watch as the entrance distorts and is warped by the spacial manipulation which I applied on this region of the hall. Whoever walks in here is very unlikely to ever get out. Unless he knows how. This is a small pocket of looped space which warps in on itself. A person could run around in here forever without actually moving from the spot.
It’s the perfect prison.
Little sparks of light move around in the distance. They look like stars, but they are actually a result of the extreme warping of space in this area. After a few more steps, the lights vanish and I find myself approaching a small, illuminated circular area. The person who is lying in its centre seems to be sleeping.
He is dirty, but in good physical shape. In fact, after giving him a few improvements, he is even better than before. I needed a living subject to test my newest spells. Most of my experiments didn’t fail too dramatically.
Now, he is a loyal subject who would stop at nothing to execute my commands. I still had to keep him here in isolation. A rapist like him should suffer at least some form of punishment and I can’t allow him to run around on Illum. After all, the others think that I allowed him to leave Illum and that he died back at the Dead Mine.
In fact, he only stayed down there for a few days, which is a remarkable accomplishment for someone of his skill. He managed to hide from the bugs inside a hollow tree-trunk until I decided to pick him up. A good piece of meat shouldn't go to waste, and death - any form of death - is too good for someone like him.
“Pasley! Wake up, you useless piece of scum. There is work to do.” I kick the man in the guts and step back. Just in case. I don’t want him to barf onto my boot. He does that from time to time since I messed with his digestive system. A failure, I admit that. I am simply not very accomplished with biology.
Pasley rolls onto his back and lets out an animalistic scream. I kick him again. “Don’t play the fool!”
He snivels. “You are back! Gods, you are back! Don’t leave me alone in this place! Please! Oh, gods. I don’t even know how long it was.” He gets to his knees and prostrates himself in front of me.
It has been only a few weeks since I locked him in here. This guy is already behaving as if he had been in solitary confinement for years. I reach into my pocket and retrieve the pouch with the communication crystals. “There are a few people who you have to equip with these.” I throw the pouch in front of him.
He nods and presses the pouch to his chest as if his life depends on the item. I have to admit that, in some ways, his life indeed depends on a successful mission.
“The pouch also contains enough coin to last you for a while. First, you have to make contact with the resistance...”
I glare at the floating island. It was clear that this job would be challenging, but I never expected that it would destroy my track record. The meeting with my employers was humiliating. They weren’t happy about the outcome. The only argument in my favour was that I indeed hit the target.
Is it my fault that she is some sort of superhuman? Nobody else would have survived such an attack. I expected her to explode into a cloud of blood and gore. But she not only survived, from what I heard, she stood up a few seconds later. Injured, but well enough to accuse the Alliance of incompetence.
My employers saw that as a partial success, so they gave me another chance. I sigh and shoulder the recharged crossbow. They even added a bonus if I succeed. Unfortunately, I can’t retreat from the job. I already took the money and that’s binding in my profession. There seems to be no other choice than to finish this mission. One way or another.
Beating my wings, I ascend towards Illum.