Chapter 181 Plan and Execution
Until she had exhausted the reasonable limits of resistance training with the Hand and had at least spent her ash class’ third tier skill points she wouldn’t even start to think about going after the Golden Lily. Finding another dungeon that would help her gain some class and skill levels wouldn’t hurt either.
Edwin had spent over five years plotting and didn’t seem sure he was ready to face his father yet, Ilea wouldn’t be running into her own doom unprepared. From beasts and dungeons she could flee, her skills allowed as much, reducing her risks by quite a bit. From people hunting for her though? She wasn’t sure she could hide forever. People who managed to hunt and kill Eve nonetheless.
She sighed, leaning her back on the sturdy tree trunk behind her. Separating her tasks into smaller, at least somewhat manageable bits was the first thing she could think of after going through the work she had cut out for herself.
First she would help Trian, then Edwin and then she would start her preparations. At least if everything went at least somewhat well. Even if any of their goals failed, Ilea was somewhat confident to her own survival. Her team was good at running away. She wasn’t so sure about Edwin and Maria but they were of little concern to her.
“Brooding in the treetops.” Kyrian said as he floated up next to her. “Doesn’t suit you.” he added.
“Are we going then?” Ilea asked, ignoring the comment.
“Trian is ready to explain the details. We’re just waiting for you.” Kyrian said and flew down again, Ilea following behind with a blink, her wings spreading right after to stop her fall as she rushed behind her friend.
They reached the hideout soon after and joined the waiting group, Ilea sitting down on one of the chairs, looking at the ground plan of the Birmingale estate.
“We can start then. First, we’ll strike tonight. The tension in the city hasn’t lessened as far as Maria could tell in her various visits throughout the week. The estate is guarded the same as it had been before, either they bought that your brawl was just an accident or it’s a trap.” Trian said.
“They could just not have the resources.” Maria added.
“Of course, I was generally planning with the worst case in mind.” Trian answered. “We’re going in and out quick. There should be guards at all the entrances, inside the gardens and the mansion itself.” he said, marking spots on the map. “Maria will leave earlier to check on their movements but as we know they shouldn’t be above level one fifty. Likely not much of a threat with their low numbers. Still, it’s paramount that we stay silent and get to the targets before they can group up. They used chaos against my family and we shall do the same.” Trian explained.
“Edwin and Maria will take out the guards at the northern gate. I’ll store the corpses in my ring before we move into the mansion.” he said, showing the item. Edwin and Maria looked at each other but didn’t react further. It was a necessary part of the plan to get the corpses away before a squad of guards or soldiers stumbled upon them.
“As soon as we get closer, I’ll use my lightning magic to disable any defensive or alarming runes. We’ll have a minute or two at best for this and should I fail, all the people who can teleport will go inside regardless and spread out in the mansion. From the entrance, Edwin and Maria to the left, me, Ilea and Kyrian right. Move and kill together to make sure the target is dead before you move on to the next one. If their resistance is overwhelming, we flee but otherwise I want to deal as much damage before we get out again. It will be difficult to find and attack any surviving members afterwards.” Trian explained before he pinned sketched paintings to the wall.
“These are the main targets. Ronan Birmingale. He’s supposed to have surpassed the mid two hundreds and is likely one of the most dangerous targets. The current head of the family and trust me, he has enough blood on his hands that everyone here has a good reason to take him out of the picture.” He said, pointing to the first picture he hung up. It looked like a man in his fifties with long black hair. “We don’t know anything about his abilities other than him being a warrior. Anybody who challenged him directly in the past ten years has vanished without a trace, both in the family or outside.”
“This is Bale Birmingale, Ronan’s wife and possible matriarch of the family. The sources differ but she definitely holds a lot of influence and she’s the first I would blame for my family’s murder. She was a high ranking officer in the imperial army with a lot of pull. Make sure to take her out or we’ll have specialized military units hunting for us before the night is over. She’s a mage, a fire one at that. Prisoners of war isn’t her thing and back in her military days she was known as the melting demon. If Ilea’s perception ability works, she will point out those two targets so we can focus on them first. I would count the operation a success if we get them.” Ilea looked at the picture of the smiling woman, a middle aged motherly type, not someone she’d associate with a melting demon. Then again, appearances can be deceptive.
“The rest are more notable members, just read through the notes on their abilities. Depending on how many of them are present tonight, we might or might not have an easy time fighting and escaping. Take your time, I want everybody to be prepared.”
Ilea looked at the pictures and the notes underneath. She was a little reminded of the wanted pictures she’d seen in movies and comics back in the day. Billy the kid, gunslinger class. Focusing on the task at hand, Ilea started reading through the papers. Different people of differing ages and abilities. There was a lack of information about many of them, including even their possible levels.
If the assumption that the Birmingales had hired a lot of high level and specialized mercenaries turned out to be wrong, then they might have quite a problem on their hands. While their group of five was certainly strong, Ilea doubted they could stand against Trian’s family at full power. The goal was to take out the two leaders and as many of the others as possible, which at least seemed somewhat possible. The consequences for both success and failure were difficult to grasp but success seemed the safer bet.
Other nobles would take over the diminished influence of the Birmingales, just like it had happened to the Alymies. Though the latter was nearly completely wiped out and Ilea doubted they’d be that successful, neither did she sign up for killing babies and kids.
Trian continued explaining the plan after they all had checked out the roster of notable nobles in the family. Possible escape routes, plans of regrouping in several different places both in and out of the city. He had really though through a lot of scenarios and with Ilea’s experience in combat she assumed the end result would look different still. Preparing as best as possible was paramount for a situation like this but she definitely liked hunting for monsters more. Perhaps some of the people in the Birmingale family could be considered as such after reading through the notes but they were of the human species still. Smart, adapting and unpredictable. Some of the things Ilea thought to be the reason for their race’s survival in Elos thus far.
To Ilea’s surprise, that wasn’t it. Not at all. Listening to Trian’s continued explanations made her realize that he didn’t just want the Birmingales to pay with blood. He wanted to remove them from the picture entirely.
Night came and the weather was in their favor, huge clouds hanging over the city of Virilya and the surrounding area. Flying in from above while avoiding the individual flying squads patrolling around and over the city was made much easier. Ilea was surprised none of the guards had spotted them but perhaps they simply didn’t want anything to do with a squad of Shadows.
The tension in the city was tangible as the five landed. Rain was falling lightly and the streets were deserted compared to just a couple days ago. An attack from Baralia was expected and feared, as much was clear to Ilea but she didn’t know the specifics. Edwin’s operations combined with their own tonight wouldn’t help anybody feel any more safe.
They rushed silently through the streets, vanishing into houses or side streets whenever they saw light approach. Some of the patrolling groups were soldiers but few of them were higher than level one twenty. ‘No scouts or whatever other special units they had…,’ Ilea thought. Their target lay quite a distance away from the governmental center of the city, which was the actual center of the city as well. A place Ilea hadn’t yet visited.
They waited in their hideouts until the group of guards slowly passed.
“Fuck night patrols.” one of them said and spat on the ground, adding little to the already wet cobble.
“And the rain and fuck the soldiers too, with their bloody arrogance. Who’d they think ey are?” the man said, giving Ilea the impression that he was at least a little drunk with the sound of his voice.
“Shut the fuck up you dumb idiot.” another of the four replied.
“Call me an idiot one more time, I dare ye.” the first one said and turned around, pointing his finger towards the man who had spoken up.
“Guys we’ll be in trouble if you fight. Do that after the shift.” a third one said which didn’t help much with defusing the situation.
“You dumb fucking idio…,” the second guards said when he was punched in the face hard. He stumbled back when a fifth man landed near them.
“Stop this at once.” the man said as he approached, the two uninvolved guards taking a couple steps back as they watched him.
“You attacked another guard while on duty, what do you have to say for yourself.” the man asked, likely part of the military but Ilea couldn’t tell through her Sphere only. She was waiting in the cellar of a nearby house.
“Called me an idiot that one.” the man replied.
“That is all?” he was asked and replied with a confirming grunt.
“Alright. You come with me. Continue your patrol and report back.” the man said and grabbed the guard’s neck before he flew off.
“Told him to shut up.” the injured guard grumbled as he brushed away the blood on his chin.
“Are you alright?” one of them asked but he just shrugged.
“Let’s continue, I wanna go sleep.” he replied and that was that.
Were it not for Kyrian, the group could’ve continued on their way but they’d lose a fifth of their power and neither Ilea nor Trian would leave him behind to possibly face guards or soldiers. He was at least good at hiding, molding onto houses or the street with his dark metal.
They moved on, having another two encounters with patrols. Security had certainly been increased and as they approached the respective noble district, they found even stationary guard posts on bridges and vantage points. Trian led them through parts of the sewer system and through narrow streets to avoid the guard posts, having prepared rather extensively after they knew where exactly they would strike.
Ilea was getting a little worried about the quick intervention by the flying military officer or soldier. If they reacted that quick to the attack, then their group would have a problem. Especially with the matriarch being strongly connected to the military. Still, they’d likely have a little while and the chaos would help.
Ilea quietly opened the door to an empty apartment close to the estate’s western entrance, letting Kyrian inside who was hiding near the door. Maria had spotted the place a couple days ago, giving them a close start to their operation.
It was hard to defend against an attack while having a stronghold in the midst of a city. It helped that in Virilya, most of the nobles didn’t seem to build massive forts but lavishly expensive looking mansions. Ilea had seen some more defensible architecture but the Birmingales hadn’t invested in that. For one reason or the other.
The guards were patrolling as Maria had previously reported and two of them were standing near the entrance, a closed gate of metal placed in the two meter high stone wall surrounding the property. Torches to each side of the gate lit up the otherwise dark street, rain lapping onto their heavy armors as they waited with spear and two handed sword in hand respectively.
“On three then.” Trian whispered to the people next to him when the patrolling two guards had walked on, leaving only the two at the gate. They were too far away to identify but Maria assured them they were below one forty and warriors each. It shouldn’t be too much of a threat if their skills weren’t absurdly high or they had stronger than usual classes. The difficulty came in their need to kill the two quickly and silently.
Ilea steeled herself, to fight and kill. The evidence was definite, she could think about her actions later.
“… two… three.” Trian finished and Ilea vanished, appearing behind the guard with the sword and grabbing his helmet, pulling backwards as Edwin slashed his two blades across the man’s neck. Ilea removed the helmed far enough to get to the man’s mouth, holding it shut as she pumped destructive mana into him. It was unnecessary she found, seeing the notification come up in her mind about the dead guard.
‘ding’ ‘Your group has killed [Blade of Power – lvl 121 / Sword of Light – lvl 108]’
Ilea saw the other guard meeting a similar fate as lightning cursed through him while Maria’s void magic ripped something vital out of his body.
‘ding’ ‘Your group has killed [Spear of the Wind – lvl 144 / Nimble Spearman lvl 130]’
Kyrian rushed towards them as Trian made the corpses vanish. Checking the Gate, he didn’t find any defensive runes.
“Don’t go over the walls.” Maria said and he nodded, looking at Kyrian whose metal sphere flowed into the gate’s lock. A click resounded and the group rushed into the open gate, Kyrian closing it again when everyone was inside.
Lights from the mansion illuminated the luscious garden, a testament to the noble’s wealth in this early spring climate. No guards were imminently visible and they rushed towards the entrance.
“Someone’s coming out, maid.” Ilea whispered when the door opened and a woman stepped out with a bag in her hand. Her eyes widened for a split second as Trian stopped Edwin’s arm and grabbed the woman’s throat, her body falling down limply a second later.
“Top floor third room to the back. Both of them, kissing.” Ilea said.
“Go.” Trian said as Ilea saw through her sphere that at least one person in the house had noticed them, getting up from their chair and walking to the door. She vanished and appeared next to the kissing couple, her group lacking Kyrian appeared around them, Edwin’s blood and fire blade bit into the sides of their necks as Ilea felt void and lightning magic curse through them.
The two were separated by the magic and Ilea quickly grabbed the woman’s two arms at the wrists as fire magic enveloped her. Ilea’s chest moved back before her head collided with her enemy’s. She heard a slight crack as more and more fire rushed past her, burning her flesh below her armor as healing magic flowed through her. Another headbutt and the magic lessened. The deep cut by Edwin was bleeding profoundly and the woman’s skull was fractured by Ilea’s attacks, continuously weakened by the reversed healing streaming into her.
Ilea knew that she was taking a risk again by grabbing onto the enemy but against fire, she had both more experience and resistance. Having the woman expand her magic in the room would endanger her companions, so she held on and continued her assault. Until with a last attack, the woman’s head nearly came off. Ilea made sure she was dead by ripping off the head and throwing it a short distance away. She’d have an eye on the corpse to make sure she didn’t have an ability like her own.
The message in her mind confirmed the kill though and she moved over to her group who wasn’t quite as successful as herself. The man, Ronan had two bloody axes in his hands and whirled around wildly, bleeding from at least seven deep wounds as he gargled, unable to scream as his throat was cut. Ilea moved in and kicked at his legs, to bring him to the ground. The lack of balance allowed Edwin to cut his blades into the man’s neck once again, cutting deeper once more.
His chest suddenly sunk inwards, Maria’s magic taking effect as another bolt of lightning flashed through him. Ilea ripped away his axes and started smashing her armored fists into his face, each punch cracking his bones as the others continued their attacks. A whole ten punches and just as many attacks from each of the others finally managed to take him down but the noise they had produced was enough to even wake up the neighbors.