Chapter 222 Wrong Time, Wrong City
Ilea nodded to Claire and left before the cook could change her mind. She would work at one of her restaurants, the Golden Drake or something else. The shock on her face told Ilea enough, the only interpretation not in her favor was that she somehow had a traumatic connection to that place but the way she had met her when she was working there gave that theory very little credibility.
Now to get some wood and gray whatever resistance. Ilea thought. She had some theories to the man’s magic but wasn’t sure yet. Making her way towards Viscera, she suddenly smelled a faint but familiar scent. A small detour perhaps.
Freddie kept his magic active, delivering pain directly into the brains of the guards still standing. He looked around the barracks and frowned. The walls, beds and even ceilings were covered in blood. Bodies littered the ground, some of the imperials still breathing but he had them frozen in place. He heard the berserker rip through limbs, laughing to himself as he gave his mind to the class. Tugging on him with his mind magic, Freddie led the man back to the main sleeping hall.
“Come on berserker, take these one out and cut off their heads.” He said, knowing that the man didn’t hear anything he said. It helped him manifest the intent in his mind when he spoke it out loud. Disgusting. He thought, looking at the bald and shirtless man clutching his butcher knifes in both hands. Drool and blood dripped from his mouth as the wounds he had sustained in the fight healed before Freddie’s eyes.
Fifteen imperial guards. The thought made him excited. It was mostly the money Baralia would pay but the levels he had just gotten through this were the cherry on top. Ravenhall had stacked up security but to think they’d let him join the guard so easily. Putting a little bit of herbal help into the food without actually poisoning them got them all to bed at a reasonable time. A little bit of mind magic and a wild beast were all that was needed to get the biggest haul to date.
They expect to be safe here just because it’s far from the capital. The thought made him smile a little. Most of the people had been below level one hundred, refugees or soldiers that decided to become guards.
He looked away when Takino raised his butcher knife to the terrified guard who could see but was unable to move.
“I’d think about that move again lad.” A voice made him turn and open his eyes wide. A woman had appeared in the room, standing a couple meters away from the berserker. His mind magic extended immediately. Freeze… He thought as he looked into the woman’s blue eyes. The room was dark and so was her leather armor. It looked rugged, burnt and barely holding together but something about her made the hair on his back stand up.
She cocked her head and smiled at him, her blue eyes looking into his when the headache started, the sudden pain making him stagger backwards and stumbling into the wall. Something clattered behind him but he tried to keep his eyes focused on the intruder.
[Warrior – lvl ??]
Shadow… He thought and sent a pulse towards Takino, his heart pounding in his chest as he again focused on his mind magic, condensing mana when the berserker took quick steps towards her and slashed at her head with his right knife. Freddie stabilized himself and got up, smiling when he saw Takino’s arm stuck near her head. His smile faded when the woman moved her arm a little to the side, her hand firmly gripping the berserker’s wrist and pushing it aside while the cracking of his bones resounded in the dark room.
The man didn’t make a noise and used his other knife to attack. Freddie released his magic in that moment, sending an uncoordinated pulse to the woman’s head before he reeled back in pain, a blinding shock made his vision blur. He heard a cut and looked up again to find his mate had managed to cut into her unprotected side, blood dripping down from the wound. She let go of his hand and watched with fascination as his wrist recovered, gripping the blade again and slashing at her right after.
Freddie winced at the pain in his head, unsheathing the daggers from his belt as he watched his partner rip through the woman’s stomach and entrails, digging deeper with every wild slash. Not a shadow then. He thought with relief. Or a very incompetent one at that. Focusing on his own mind, he concentrated on the pain, grabbing a small health potion from one of the pouches on his belt with a shaking hand before removing the cork with his mouth. He downed the potion and breathed out with blades in hand and eyes focused on the room and anybody that moved.
“I see.” He heard and looked at the berserker, something gray slowly enveloping the wild man who continued to cleave his blades into the newcomer. He ordered the man to return to his side but Takino’s movements suddenly stopped. A sudden dull noise suddenly came from the man before a second and then a third noise could be heard. With the third hit, Freddie could see the heavy man lift off from the ground but the gray mist around him kept him close to the woman. A sickening noise he had heard many a time before made him take a step back, the butcher knifes ripping out of her flesh before they were punched through the berserker’s neck, Freddie only seeing this through through the nearly black mist that got more and more dense.
Blood spurted out and painted the ground red behind the berserker before he was enveloped completely. Run. The thought was more an instinct as he turned around and nearly stumbled, his teleportation magic taking him out of the building and out onto the streets of Ravenhall. It was night but the many new streetlights and lanterns kept the city in a perpetual state of warm illumination. Stepping on the cobble stone, he ran as fast as he could, any buff to mask his presence activating as he teleported again and again, as quickly as the skill allowed it.
Hearing noises around the corner, he stopped and melded with the wall and the shadows as well as he could. “Quiet night.” He heard a man say before the patrolling guards rounded the corner, not taking notice of him it seemed, the second guard grunting in affirmation to the first one’s statement. Again he teleported, this time down into the sewers before he started running again, looking behind himself whenever he could.
Around ten minutes later, he slowed down and focused on being silent, making his way through the sewers as he slowed his heart beat until he came up on an entrance to the underground of the city. It would be busy with trade, refugees and whores to be sure but here he could slip into the crowd. Something about that woman had made his instincts go haywire but he had calmed down a little during his flight.
Fuck… fucking fuck. He scolded himself for losing all those corpses. Maybe she was looking to get guards as well. The money and status Baralia offered was nothing he had ever heard of before. One could become a bloody noble in a conquered city if enough people had been killed. A woman lightly dressed nodded towards him and revealed her chest to entice him. Freddie looked her way but continued walking, as naturally as possible through the barely lit tunnels of the underground.
He had been here before and even with what the hell he heard happened with this city, it was still the same. New faces but that only meant he’d be even less likely to be recognized. Going down some stairs after checking behind him, he reached a long corridor that led to the central trading hub of the underground. At least it had been exactly that when he had been in Ravenhall last.
Something in his mind cried out when he was close to the door and made him turn around. Blue eyes stared back at him. Blood dripped down from the woman’s hands and her uncovered stomach. The gray mist around her separated into eight distinct limbs before she appeared right in front of him. Ash He thought as he was enveloped, feeling the familiar texture as he tried and failed to activate his teleportation skill. A hand gripped his throat and pressed it together as he struggled against the monster standing before him, his daggers stabbing at her face and chest with all the strength he could muster. His mind magic lashed out but the blue eyes stayed unwavering, focused and determined while his vision blurred more and more before it went dark.
Ilea strengthened her grip, pressing down on his wind pipe before she felt his body going limp. Holding him for another minute, she heard the ding in her mind, letting the man drop to the ground. Crouching down, she checked his pouches and any pockets he had but didn’t find anything useful. The wounds on her face and chest were healing rapidly, his last struggles uncoordinated and fruitless.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Mindcracker – lvl 158 / Stalker of Iri – lvl 149]’
None of her skills or classes leveled, as expected from an enemy that weak. What a bloody massacre. She thought and took the body into her necklace, blinking upwards twice, her wings spreading when she stood back on the streets of Ravenhall, a street lamp bathing her ash in a dull but warm light. Blood still dripped from her hands and belly.
Seeing how the berseker had only been at level one thirty, she wanted to check if he had any magic that could benefit her as a resistance. It turned out that he was a blood mage, something she had faced a couple times before already. Flying back to the place she had smelled the blood from, she entered the building, summoning the corpse in the process before she unceremoniously dropped him next to the bald berseker. The man had seemed completely lost in his blood lust. It had reminded her of Roland but luckily this was a different man.
“That’s the mind mage.” She said to the guards that were sitting or standing around the dead. One of them was crying, held by another guard that patted their back.
“They cut off the heads of the dead.” A man with a gruff looking beard and a scar on his cheek said before standing up and kicking the new body she had brought. “Cowards.” He spat.
“Probably trying to get in on the Baralia war bounty. I doubt they’d slaughter a whole group of guards otherwise.” Ilea said. “I didn’t find anything on him though.”
“We found the notice on the beefy one. That’s evidence enough. Fuck.” The man said again. “Did you see anybody else?”
“He was killing people and the mind mage froze them in place. I don’t smell anybody else, other than the dead and those that are still here.” Ilea said, checking the room again with her Hunter’s Sight, the skill that had allowed her to follow and find the mind mage. His smell of ale and more importantly blood was unmistakable.
“Thank you Shadow. Can you stay until an officer arrives?” The man asked. She locked eyes with him and blinked her eyes.
“No. You’re lucky I was around. Everyone’s healed. Ask for Lilith if you need anything. And get them the hell out of this room.” She said, motioning to the two young guys sitting on the bloodied bed. The man nodded when she blinked out, continuing on her way to Viscera, this time through the air and with a higher speed. Unpleasant delay. She thought, again annoyed that she was still in a shit city. Fucking humans.
Entering the Haven, she looked out at the sun shining in the distance. A deep breath filled her lungs before she sighed at the lands before her. It was all artificial though, or at least that was the story behind it. Even if it was, it certainly was enough to tug on her. Why would they do something that stupid in the city of the Hand? She questioned the planning of the two murderers, their abilities and power enough to wipe out whole city guards in smaller towns but they had chosen Ravenhall.
Seeing how this happened even here, it must’ve been worse in smaller cities with fewer guards, fewer high level people that aren’t out for money and power. It’s gonna be a bloody massacre. She thought, shaking her head. The empire wouldn’t come out of this war the same as when it had entered it. The ground came closer and she quickly spotted both Viper and Philipp waiting with the two young mages near the elevator platform.
“Took your sweet time lassie.” Philipp said when he saw her, a smile on his face. He had certainly become more of a joker in the past weeks.
“Why the newcomers? You’re aware that they’d die with a single hit in our training?” Viper asked, looking at her with a serious expression. The boy stared at him while the girl looked to the ground.
“They have rare magic. Perhaps the Hand will profit from it if we take them in early, show them the ropes before they go out and level quickly through their special powers. Might save their lives and we have another two capable fighters.” Ilea explained.
“You mean more competition for the others.” Viper said and sighed.
“With the war, the elves, demons and whatever the fuck this continent will spew up next I think we can use a little more competition. Don’t you think Viper?” Ilea suggested to which he didn’t reply.
“Philipp feels ready to do jobs again.” Viper said, looking at the man. The hunter smiled a little awkwardly and looked at her, shrugging a little.
“So you’re leaving. Well I’ve learned a lot, you’ve certainly done your job. Tonight the last one?”
Wish I could leave too. Ilea thought. At least some more second tier resistances. Then I’m out.
“Got new members for your team already?” She asked.
“Yes. Team of three, we know each other from back in the day. They… lost people too.” Viper explained and she nodded.
“You can join too if you want to. I’d be good to have your power.” Philipp said, the other mage staring at him and shaking his head. “Hey, you’re not the one to decide alone anymore.”
Ilea smiled at Philipp and shook her head. “Don’t worry Viper, I don’t intent to join. Thanks for the offer of course, it… means a lot to me.” She said, not going into further reasons.
“Then I guess we only have a couple hours to teach them. What do you suggest light mage?” Ilea asked.
They moved out a little further, Ilea carrying the two mages with protests from the man. They landed near an open field, Ilea remembering coming here to train with her team from time to time. Viper landed a little further off, motioning Philipp towards him. “We start with a bout. It’ll be good for them to see what can be possible. Philipp, go and protect them.” Viper said, the hunter nodding and walking over to a small hill a little off the field.
A stray magic blast could end their lives in an instant but Ilea trusted both of them to be coordinated enough not to let something like that happen. Still, even an experienced chemist wore safety goggles. She looked at the girl first and smiled. “I’m Ilea. What’s your name?”
“Raphia… Miss Ilea.” She replied and bowed deeply, her brown braided hair nearly falling over her head at the gesture. Ilea saw her burned back from the angle, the girl being a little smaller than herself.
“Nice to meet you Raphia.” Ilea said and watched the girl straighten herself, looking into her eyes and then to the ground again. She had dark skin and blue eyes, a beautiful combination Ilea thought. She would look striking with a couple more years and something more flattering than the cheap brown shirt and pants.
“Are you willing to share your name at least?” She asked the thin man dressed in clothes just as cheap as the girl’s.
“Cornelius.” He replied and bowed slightly as well, surprising her. His previous attitude had reminded her more of a rebellious teenager. Now that she looked a little more closely, she guessed his age a little lower than previously.
Might not be in his twenties yet.
“Good. Now I just brought you here to gain the resistances to your respective magic. You know that Cornelius and you know that now too Raphia. Still, you’re working with a Shadow now and as far as I know there’s plenty of opportunities the Hand can provide to train you. If you’re helpful to me, I might do the same for you. At the very least you’ll get your fifteen silvers.”
“Now I want you to watch and realize that there are people out there who can do this and more.” She said and motioned to Philipp. The two nodded and walked over to the hunter with a brisk pace.
“Stand a little behind me. I’ll shield you should anything come this way.” The man said with a serious expression, both Raphia and Cornelius taking a couple steps back.
“So this is the last one?” Ilea asked as she focused on Viper.
“Perhaps but as fate has it we’ll probably meet again sooner or later. Hopefully not as enemies.” The man replied, magic surging around him, the wild plants growing on the field catching on fire and withering away.
“I hope so too.” Ilea said For your sake.
“Good, then let’s see if what I tried to teach you has born any fruit.” He said, an arrow entering her Sphere, cutting through the air with a hiss.