Dante’s Immortality – Chapter 38
The first thing he was aware of upon coming into consciousness was a hand slapping his face.
Dante opened his eyes, and the first thing he saw was Layla’s blue eyes staring back at him.
He recoiled from her touch. It was hard to believe that he found someone who was so beautiful to be so repulsive.
He inspected himself. They hadn’t even chained him up.
Of course they did.
He laughed grimly and inspected the black wraith collar that covered his skin.
Thankfully, he had been completely healed, and his clothing hadn’t been touched. Even his combatant’s glove was still on, which was both a relief and confusing.
He looked around, taking stock of the room he was in. It wasn’t a prison cell like he thought it would be, but more of a storage cellar; dark, damp, and made from solid stone walls.
Layla saw him looking around the room and frowned. “Yes, quite unfortunate, but things didn’t go as planned…” She cleared her throat smiled. “Anyways, I just came to check in on you. How are you doing?”
How am I doing?
He was having a hard time processing her words, and it wasn’t just his momentary anger. It felt like his thinking was slower. And every emotion drained away as soon as it came, he was still sad about Mia’s death and angry, but something was holding those things back.
Regardless, he saw no benefit in angering Layla and going through that tortuous pain again. “As well as could be expected.” He did his best to keep the sarcasm out of his voice, but some of it seeped through.
Layla’s grin seemed to be far more genuine now. “Excellent! If you continue on with this attitude, I’m sure you will assimilate rather quickly.”
She paused to check his reaction, and he tried his best to remain expressionless. “That actually brings me to the reason for this little meeting.” Layla gestured to the room around them as if making a joke. “We have run into some complications. Usually, when someone is collared they are immediately sent off for training in one of our camps, but your trip will be delayed… hopefully for only a few days.”
“I came to give you a little bit of motivation before you leave.” Layla flicked back her golden hair. “The training will be… challenging, but if you do well, your life won’t be all that bad. In fact, it will be far better than it was before you received your Classifications.”
She paused for his reaction, and if she was looking for surprise, he wasn’t going to give it to her. How could her knowledge of his life Alazel surprise him after the fight with Greggory?
“As I was saying, all you need to do is prove that you are loyal, or obedient, and you will be awarded certain freedoms.” Layla tapped on his collar. “I’m sure you would like for me to turn off the restraint. Although I can’t say that I’ve tried it, I’m sure having your connection to the Goddess cut off is frustrating.”
No wonder his thinking had seemed foggier, his Wisdom and Intelligence must have been lowered to what they were before he got his Status. On a whim, he tried to manipulate the world essence in the room around him. Nothing happened.
Layla saw the realization dawn on him. “Our most trusted… servants get the best assignments, and can even go entire assignments with their collar’s restraint deactivated.”
Was that what Mia was, just a ‘trusted’ slave?
His anger flared, then disappeared. Up until the moment he saw Sir Andres standing over her with a wraith leash, he had thought that she was just an agent of House Calman. Any other possibility didn’t make sense, she was so… normal. And powerful.
Layla patted him on the head like one would do with a pet. Then she slid down his combatant’s glove so his Classification symbols could be seen. “I’m sure you won’t let me down.”
After saying those words, Layla walked over to the stone wall and fed world essence into it. A hidden enchantment lit up, and a portion of the stone wall opened to reveal a dark tunnel.
Without being able to manipulate world essence, he wouldn’t be able to leave
I’m not sure how, but I’m going to kill her.
“What do they mean they can’t find him?” Edward paced by the relay enchantment, reading each report from the academy as it came through.
Varik stood next to the relay, trying to appease him as he sent and received messages. “My lord, he slipped away before Sam could reach him after his fight in the arena, and now the academy is in complete chaos. And after he was… captured, the Ramotars made their move.”
Edward slammed his fist into the wall, sending cracks through the marble. “The bastards actually collared him.” He breathed heavily for a moment. “What about a wraith key, have you acquired one?”
“No, my lord. I can’t find a key close enough to the academy for it to be useful, if we sent one it would take at least a week, even by raptor.”
Edward let out a curse, then increased his pacing. “What about Damian? I’m sure that he had a key prepared for his niece, he won’t be needing it anymore.”
Varik cleared his throat. “Are you sure you want me to ask Damian for the key that he was going to use on his recently passed away family member? You know how emotional he is.”
Edward scratched the back of his head, slightly embarrassed. “Probably not a great idea… Spread your agents around the academy’s perimeter, no one leaves unless we know about it.” He paused in thought. “How is the fight progressing?”
“It’s reached a stalemate. House Ramotar started off with a huge advantage. They had agents embedded as Instructors, so as soon as Mia Went was killed, they turned on the Calmans and wreaked havoc through their ranks. Things progressed well after, at least until Sir Andres from House Calman joined the fight. He was able to bring the fighting to a complete halt. House Ramotar didn’t think to send a twice specialized combatant that could counter his defensive skills.” Varik scratched his chin in thought. “If we have Sam kill Sir Andres, Damian may be willing to give us their key.”
Edward paced for a moment. “No… the Calmans are too deeply entrenched in the Outer Edge region, it would be best if we remained hidden, at least until we locate Dante. Until that happens, keep searching. The Calmans must have a few keys at the academy.”
It was fortunate that he had been near the information relay when the news came in, it allowed him to act immediately. No matter what, he would get Dante out.
The enchanted door activated, causing Dante to perk up. He had already been stuck in the room for four days, and aside from his visit from Layla, the door was only opened four times. Once a day to empty his chamber pot and give him food.
But this was the second time that day.
Dante held his breath, it was likely time for him to start his ‘training’.
The door swung open, revealing… no one. The only thing he could see was the dark tunnel behind it.
There was an echoing laugh. “You’ve certainly seen better days.”
He knew that voice. “Kayla?”
That’s when he saw it, a shadow sliding across the room. Only stopping when it was right in front of him. Then, without any warning, Kayla appeared in its place.
It was hard to believe, but it was her. Same brown hair and eyes, slim figure, and she had that mischievous smile on her face.
Since when has she been able to do that?
Kayla leaned down with her hands behind her back until their eyes were only a few inches apart, then inspected him. “As if you weren’t pale enough before they locked you in this room for four days.”
He looked back at her emotionlessly. “Are you here to take me to my ‘training’?”
Kayla snorted. “I’m not quite sure what you mean, but no. I’m here to help you.”
Dante let out a large breath. He didn’t trust Kayla, at all. He wasn’t sure if he would trust a noble ever again, but if she was telling him the truth it meant that it wasn’t time for his ‘training’.
Kayla saw his relief and apparently misread the reason for it. “What are friends for? Of course I’ll help you, I’ll just need a bit of help in return.”
His eyebrow quirked up. “Oh?”
Kayla held up one hand in mock surrender, while the other was still behind her back. “Don’t misunderstand. It’s something that we both want, but only you can do.” She pulled her other hand from behind her back. “This is a wraith key, it’s exceedingly rare and expensive. Created by artificers as a one-time use item to remove wraith collars.”
The orb was bright blue, similar to the color world essence, but was etched with layers of runes.
His eyes lit up, now taking Kayla far more seriously.
Seeing her desired reaction, Kayla’s smile broadened. “Since we are such great friends, I would give it to you for free if it were anything else. But to get this wraith key I had to steal it from Jack Daynard, then I had to sneak in here.” She gestured to the room around them. “Which was far more challenging than you think.”
“What do you want?” He wasn’t in much of a position to bargain, but wanted to be free of the wraith collar by any means possible.
Kayla’s smile hardened. “What I want is for every member of House Calman to be tortured slowly in front of me.” She took a deep breath to calm herself. “But I’ll settle for their deaths instead.”
Dante snorted. “I’m not sure if I can help you with that, I couldn’t even touch one of their knights.” He pointed to his wraith collar.
Kayla rolled her eyes. “Obviously, I didn’t mean now. I’m taking a bet on your potential.” She pointed at his combatant’s glove.
His eyes narrowed, that answered one question.
She saw his glare and held her hands out in surrender. “I’m sorry I drugged you.”
Dante’s eye twitched, he had been mentally beating himself for getting drunk at the party, but Kayla had drugged him… and now he was supposed to make a deal with her?
Kayla cleared her throat. “I won’t ask you to sign a mana contract, I just want a promise. Promise me that you will wipe out House Calman when you have the strength, and I’ll set you free.” She held the key up.
Dante hesitated, trying to think of how he was being tricked. It was possible that this was an elaborate setup by the Calmans to test him, but what else could they do to him after they enslaved him? Maybe hurt him with the collar, but there would be plenty of that in his future.
Kayla’s expression hardened. “They deserve to die. Think about what they did to Mia, they did the same thing to my family.”
Hearing Mia’s name sent a spike of raw emotions through him, but as soon as he felt them, the feelings quickly diffused until they were gone.
She was right though, the Calmans deserved to die. “If you set me free, I’ll kill the Calmans... when I’m stronger.”
Kayla’s smile came back. “That’s great! I’ll leave this key with you then.” She tossed the orb to him, and he inspected it. He was ready to use it, but she cut him off. “Don’t use it yet. Your emotions are going to be a bit… strong after being bottled up for a few days.”
Kayla walked to the door. “I’ll leave you to yourself. Two specialized Warriors are watching the other end of the tunnel, so be careful.” Without another word, Kayla disappeared from his sight, replaced by a shadow that walked through the door and closed it by activating the enchantment.
I should have asked her how to use this key.
Dante stared at the orb, then after contemplating it, he pressed it against his wraith collar.
Kayla lazily walked through the tunnel, bypassing the two guards with her Stealth skill.
That went better than I thought it would.
Her months of effort had finally paid off, and all it had taken was two hidden shots with a bow. It was hard not to take the chance while Mia’s restraint was activated. She was easy pickings for an arrow led by mana manipulation.
She did feel bad about killing Mia, but it was worth it.
Just the thought of Dante tearing apart the Calmans because of her brought a smile to her face.
She may not have the power to crush House Calman herself, but they would still fall by her hand.