Chapter 163 Bad News
Ilea followed as quietly as she could for the next five minutes. The man tried not to touch anything and teleported several times while masking his scent and presence in some way. He was good, certainly but Ilea found it hard to even compare him to Eve. The woman had taught her to look for even the slightest disturbances in her enhanced perception and Ilea’s Sphere was nothing to scoff at.
When the man finally stopped and leaned on a wall, Ilea appeared right next to him. His relaxed composure was broken immediately as his short sword flashed her way. Ilea’s arm moved and the blade was deflected a split second later by the leather bracer, the angle not allowing the blade to cut into it. She moved her torso and head to the right, the blade passing harmlessly past her shoulder before she moved her left arm upwards again, catching his hand and gripping tightly.
“Wait! Wait…,” he said, gulping hard as the tension in his arm lessened. He hadn’t meant to strike at her, of that Ilea was sure. A grin was on her face because the situation meant he hadn’t at all expected this to happen.
“You don’t deliver to a lot of Hand members, do you?” Ilea asked, letting go of his hand. She could sense nobody else in the vicinity, so it seemed the man was really just a delivery guy.
“I do from time to time…,” he said, wincing as he sheathed the sword again with his injured arm. Ilea would heal him again depending on how this exchange would go. She did think his reaction was the right one, as her approach had been incredibly aggressive. Still he had attacked her.
“None have found me this quickly so far. Not that many had to try at all. It’s easier to identify a red eyed man as big as a bear with four swords on his back than somebody like you.” the man explained. “I’ll still have to see those wings.” he said and looked at her.
“Really? Seems a bit risky to ask for something like that so far away from people. What if I decide to just take whatever you have?” Ilea asked with a joking tone.
“I don’t have it on me. The reputation of a high class delivery service wouldn’t quite be the same if I let myself be intimidated.” the man said, Ilea feeling the tension in his body. His heart rate was accelerating and with the second stage of her Hunter’s Sight skill she could feel he wasn’t at ease at all.
“Good acting.” she said with a smile and activated her ashen wings, levitating a little over the ground while they flapped lazily behind her. The man gulped and nodded.
“Alright, follow me then.” he said and vanished, deeper underground. Two floors further down and a hundred meters away, the man activated a hidden rune under some rubble. Magic activated and a letter appeared on the ground.
“It’s for you. The seal makes the letter dissolve after thirty minutes once you open it. If you don’t trust me you can have it examined by a rune mage around here. I’d pay the cost for such an endeavor should you choose that.” the man said, still a little uneasy. His voice and face of course gave nothing away.
“I won’t kill you man, stop worrying.” Ilea said and got the letter. “Do I need to pay you?”
The man opened his mouth but quickly closed it again, probably not wanting to take the risk of trying something stupid. “H… How could you tell?” he asked, not the thing Ilea assumed at first.
“Heartbeat and a certain skill I have. I’m not sure if you could ever fool that one.” Ilea said and the man nodded.
“Thank you and no, I’ve already been paid. I’ll leave now if you’ll allow it.” he said and Ilea nodded, the man vanishing immediately after the gesture concluded. She felt a bit bad. Ilea only wanted to fuck with him a little, not scare the shit out of him.
‘Comes with the power I suppose…,’ she thought and blinked upwards, back to Claire’s office immediately.
“Back already?” the woman asked. “Second thoughts?” she asked.
“No, here for a small favor. Can you tell me what the rune on this does?” Ilea asked, handing Claire the letter. The woman looked at it for barely two seconds and handed it back.
“High end delivery hmm? It destroys the letter within thirty minutes of opening it. Of course you could write it down after reading it but then there’s nothing to deliver. Most of these have a mana signature from the sender so you’d be able to tell if it was forged.” Clarie explained.
There was quite a bit more thought put into something like this than Ilea had assumed. So the man could’ve simply fooled her and forged the letter. Good thing she asked Claire. “How do I tell from whom the signature is?” Ilea asked.
“If you’ve ever felt their mana it’s usually simple. But you do have to know from whom it is, otherwise it’s hard to tell.” the woman said and Ilea nodded.
“Alright, thanks. Sorry for bothering you.” Ilea said and bowed a little.
“You’re going to make me rich, come whenever you need anything.” Claire said and smiled, copying Ilea’s gesture. They said their goodbyes again before Ilea blinked upwards. She had everything from Ravenhall for now and decided to go train some more with her ash.
First things first though, she got the letter and opened it as soon as she was far enough out of town for nobody to bother her. A bunch of wild direwolves ran away at her approach. She hadn’t seen any so close to the city but the demons must’ve fucked with the food chain and territories around here.
The enchantment activated immediately as she opened it and got the paper out. There was an identical enchantment on the paper itself that was activated as well.
I do hope you don’t think me dead, a bunch of demons couldn’t manage such a thing. Keep your mouth shut though or I’ll murder you in your sleep, if such a thing is even possible.
I wouldn’t contact you if it wasn’t somewhat urgent. As I’ve been looking for an organization called the Golden Lily, I’ve stumbled on some rather worrying information regarding a “friend’s” precious family. Sparky you call him I believe. They have all been killed though I do not know for sure who was behind it and why. Be Very careful should the previously mentioned organization be involved.
This business is neither for you, nor for the others but I did owe it to all of you to at least inform you.
Ilea’s emotions changed drastically while reading the letter. Immediately knowing it was Eve who wrote the letter, she smiled but the information coming after had quite the opposite effect. She needed to find Kyrian and go find Trian, immediately. Her buffs activated to the max as soon as she came to the last part of the letter, feeling a little bit of mana within. It felt like Eve and she knew for sure now that it was her.
Rushing over the forests, the air clashed against her face as her eyes steeled. Her vacation would sadly have to be cut short. Trian talked little about his family but she knew one thing for sure, it was the most important thing to him. Whoever did this would pay. Eve, of all people, mentioning that Ilea be careful was especially worrying. She just hoped Trian hadn’t gotten in over his head already. Ilea didn’t know his family but she did know him.
Coming up on her house, Ilea blinked inside and checked. Kyrian was nowhere to be found but she did pick up his scent. Hunter’s Sight activated, she rushed outside and followed the trail. She was much slower but it would be stupid to rush into this alone.
The trail led her up the closest mountain, her Sight allowing her to follow the small traces of the man. It was a good thing he had left just earlier that day, otherwise not even Ilea could’ve found him, he was airborne after all.
Finally, Ilea found a cave entrance, showing more visible signs of someone entering. Her target to be sure. Rushing inside, she discovered an artificially created hole going deep into the stone, at the end of it Kyrian. The man was sitting in a meditative pose, metal flowing and changing around his body.
“Kyrian!” she shouted into the hole. He shot up, hitting himself on the stone above. He looked towards Ilea while shaking his head and started running towards her.
“You didn’t laugh, what is it?” he said as he reached her.
“Read this, Trian’s family was killed. We need to go find him.” Ilea said, her words rambling out in a barely comprehensible jumble. She found her hand shaking a little as she handed the letter to him but she barely gave it any though.
“This is bad. Let’s go then. The Alymie family have their seat somewhere in or around Virilya. We’ll start there.” Kyrian said, his voice steady as he handed back the letter. The paper started dissolving a moment later as they rushed outside. Ilea was glad the man didn’t even ask another question but she knew he’d stand behind them. She considered asking Claire as well but something told her that that would be the wrong decision.
Perhaps Ilea knew what would eventually have to be done or perhaps she wanted to protect a friend. What was important was that she now had backup. Because while monsters were usually predictable, leaving at least a way to escape, this one was different. They were likely dealing with people, the worst kind of enemy.
“Do you know where they live specifically?” Ilea asked as they rushed over the snowy forests and mountains.
“No, but the guard will know. The Alymies are not without influence as far as I know.” Kyrian said. Ilea wanted to speed up, seeing the man was a little slower than her.
“Sorry Kyrian.” Ilea said as she got behind him, grabbing him around the chest as she sacrificed health to overcharge her State of Azarinth. He didn’t complain as their speed increased noticeably, Ilea wincing a little every time she sacrificed more health to keep it up. Her healing was working to restore the lost health and Ilea kept a sharp eye on her resources to not suddenly burn out half the way to Virilya.
It was a long way but if anything, the woman had stamina. They reached the plains soon after and rushed over the barren flatland, the first signs of spring making their appearance.
Animals and monsters looked up as the black dot rushed past them with incredibly speed, the two of them completely disregarding stealth as they kept their altitude somewhat low. Ilea was still pushing Kyrian who helped increase their speed with his metal magic, shooting the harness he created around them forward again and again, giving up the control and trusting Ilea to maneuver them accordingly.
It wasn’t the most stable flight but it was fast.
Night was falling over Virilya as Xaver looked out over the plains before the city. Fields of newly planted grain and small walled off farms lay in the distance as the wind pushed at him. It was colder on top of the high wall but he liked the calm and security the post brought with it. Aerial monsters were rare, at least in these parts and patrolling the city wasn’t exactly safe either.
He watched a group of wild dogs stalk the road before the city, their figures illuminated by the last light of the sun. They would be left alone, engaging them too dangerous and expensive for the guard. The night was not meant for humans, not even so close to the empire’s capital.
The guard sighed as he looked around the wall, the torch next to him flickering in the wind as he slowly opened a big pouch on his belt, taking out the book stored within. Another good thing about the wall was that on normal nights, few officers would come to control them, busy with their own stuff. At least the current officer for this section was incredibly lax.
Lightning Blade – The complete Saga
Xaver opened the book where he left off and started reading. Perhaps the next chapter would hold some more insight than the legendary babble so far. He had invested nearly half of last week’s wage to get this one after all. At least it wasn’t as poorly written as the last one.
A sudden thump noise behind him made the man whirl around, his book dropping to the ground as he focused his magic, a spark gathering around his left hand as he grabbed his sword with the right.
The book clattered on the ground as Xaver took in the sight of two people armored in black full plate. “H… Hand?” he asked dumbfounded, unsure how to proceed.
“You’re lucky we’re not elves.” a woman said, stepping a little closer to him. “Where is the Alymie estate?” she asked, flashing a silver coin that suddenly appeared in her hand.
The guard didn’t react for five seconds as Ilea held the silver coin in her hand. She would’ve used gold just a week ago but silver was enough for something so basic. He finally grabbed it and started talking. A guard so lax about his job, reading on the post, would likely be a good target to get information quickly. Ilea’s suspicion had proven correct.
“Their estate isn’t in the city. It’s eastwards, two hours on a horse, just follow the main street. After coming out of the first forest you’ll encounter, you’ll see it. I’ve never been there but it’s on the map.” the man said, bowing down to grab the book.
Ilea and Kyrian were already gone as he got up again, rushing eastwards right below the outer wall, most guards not even noticing the flying duo.
The forest came into view a couple minutes later and they passed over it, the suns slowly setting. Ilea hoped it wasn’t too late. She didn’t know for what exactly.
The road through the forest was visible from above and the last light of the suns had set long before the two of them had reached the estate.
The mansion came into view a while later, Ilea letting go of Kyrian as they slowed down a little. Only faint light could be seen coming from the inside of the house. Behind it, Ilea could see a big pile of what she simply knew was ash. No smoke was rising from it. No torches around the estate were lit nor were any guards or other people visible.
Ilea landed on the gravel courtyard and rushed to the door. It was closed so she blinked inside and opened a window nearby for Kyrian to enter. Concentrating, she could hear voices coming from the floor above. The ground floor was dark but she could easily navigate with both her Sphere and enhanced sight.
The two made their way upstairs, following the wooden staircase. The many rooms following the long hallway upstairs were all open, light coming only from three of them. The voices were more clear now and Ilea felt a big weight fall from her shoulders as she recognized one of them.
“The traces are too old for me to work with…, I’m really sorry. You’ll get the money back of course.” an unknown man said as Ilea burst into the room, seeing Trian and a woman clad in red light armor. Both looked at her immediately but she didn’t stop, rushing Trian and hugging them man.
“I’m so sorry.” she said and waited a bit, Kyrian coming into the room as well. Ilea let go of him and locked eyes with the man. “We came as soon as we heard. How can we help.” she said.
Trian was confused at first but soon he just shook his head, sitting down on a chair in the room. “Leave us.” he said to the woman in red who nodded and walked out quickly. Trian didn’t say anything as Ilea and Kyrian looked around the room.
“Is she gone?” Trian asked after a minute.
“She’s below us, not moving currently. It’s hard for me to make her out.” Ilea said, seeing the woman react downstairs, staying where she was though. “Who is she?”
“Hired adventurer, make her leave. I doubt she has anything to do with it.” Trian said and sighed. Ilea nodded and blinked right next to the somewhat shrouded woman, grabbing her neck with a quick move and pushing her up the wall.
“He told you to leave. If you’re not gone in two minutes I’ll kill you.” Ilea said simply and threw her a couple meters away. The woman tumbled on the floor before she got up, a little off balance, fear in her eyes as she rushed to the front door, jumping through the window Ilea had opened.
“They all can’t find anything…,” Trian murmured, getting up again as Ilea appeared back in the room.
“I got a letter from Eve, is it true?” Ilea asked. Thinking on the pile of ash outside, she knew but she wanted to be sure.
Trian gulped and nodded for a couple seconds, holding a closed fist to his mouth. He pointed to the two of them, his arm shaking a little. “I’ll pay you, I’ll give you e… everything I have left. Help me find them.” he said, fire in his eyes as sparks scorched the wood and floor close to him.
“Trian you don’t need to pay us anything, right Kyrian?” Ilea said, looking at the other man who simply nodded once. She walked up to Trian again, ignoring the lightning that shot off of him, damaging her armor further as she hugged him again. She didn’t know what else to do for now. The man was in pain, that was for sure. He was angry, that she shared.
Ilea looked outside the window into the bright night as Trian calmed down a little. A sob left him a moment later before he pushed her away, his eyes teary. He looked tired, exhausted and angry, all of it more so than she had ever seen him.
“You need rest. What information can you give me, eat this.” she said and summoned a meal and something to drink, putting it on the table next to him.
“I don’t need shit Ilea, I need to find whoever did this.” he said, shoving the food from the table, all of it clattering on the carpet, joining the blood that covered it.
A loud clap resounded in the room, Trian stumbling backwards and falling into the chair he had previously sat in. Ilea moved her hand downwards again and summoned another meal.
“You’re out of it, do you think you can fight anyone if I manage to slap you so easily?” she asked, finding the man more focused than before. He took the meal and started eating quietly, blood dripping down from his cheek as Ilea healed the broken jaw, the bone cracking as he continued chewing.
“My… my family. They’re all dead. Someone had come here and they murdered everybody. I only found corpses, ripped apart by magic, swords, arrows and beasts. This was nothing small.” he said with a stuffed mouth, Ilea handing him another plate as soon as he was done.
“And I have no fucking idea who did it…,” he said, throwing the next empty plate on the ground, looking at Ilea, tears joining the blood on his face.
“Then let’s find out who did.” she said, her skills activating.