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Falledge Town, Merchant District, North Star Trading

Etoro Arther paced around in his office, rubbing his hands anxiously as he waited for news from his people. The fine china holding his favorite snacks and sweetmeat were ignored as he stood before the window, peeking around to see if his people had returned every once in while before resuming his pacing.

Finally, a knock on his door and his clerk's muffled voice sounded through the door, "Sir, Mr. Bishop is here to see you."

"Let him in! Let him in!" Etoro hurriedly replied, and he stood before his office doors.

Qoum Bishop entered his office, his dark red hair plastered against his head with sweat. He quickly dropped himself onto the sofa chair, ignoring his travel-stained clothes against the rich leather and raised his hand up, and a couple of blue magic circles appeared.

A fist-sized piece of ice appeared over the magic circle before melting away into a thin fog, which covered the entire room. Qoum gave a relieved sigh as the room cooled down, and he removed his traveling coat.

"How is it?" Etoro asked as he carried over a set of tea and poured a cup for Qoum.

"Hmmm," Qoum took a sip and grimaced, raising his finger and using magic to cool the tea down before drinking it. "Job's done. 347 accounted for, 15 deaths during transportation."

Otoro sat down next to Qoum and pour them both another cup, "15 deaths? What happened?"

"The slavers were too rough, I guess?" Qoum gave a shrug, "Anyway I did my part, so where is the payment?"

"Of... of course," Otoro got up and went to his desk and opened his drawer, taking out four white coins with an image of a crystal shard on one side, and placed them on the table before Qoum who picked them up and nodded. "I just round it up to a perfect 400 royals.

Qoum pocketed the platinum crystal coins and rosed. "They are placed at the usual drop off at the warehouse, I also bribed the town guards and officials to keep it quiet."

"Thank you," Otoro said, and gave a short bow as Qoum gave a simple wave and left his office.

Otoro stood over his office window and watched Qoum disappear into the crowd before he rang a tiny brass bell, and a clerk appeared. "You called, Sir?"

"Yes, yes," He removed a key from around his neck and handed it over to the clerk and said, "Go to the warehouse and do the usual and prepare them to move at a moment's notice."

The clerk accepted the key and gave a bow before he left to do Otoro's bidding.

"Now, is to see if Tyrier can do what he promised."

-----

Somewhere in Falledge

Kaga Whitetail hissed in suppressed pain, as the boils burst open with bloody fluid leaking out from her bare feet. She swallowed back the tears threatening to break out from her blue eyes and gently rubbed her swollen ankles. Looking up at the unlit interior of the large room, she suspected that they were kept in some warehouse, where daylight shone through the eaves in the roof.

Moans and sobs could be heard from the large group of people lying on every surface or even on top of each other. She gently shifted herself to a more comfortable position against the hard packed ground and ignored the persons besides her. The thin dirty shift she wore for the last four months clung against her malnourished and wasted body, barely provides enough warm and decency to her body.

She shivered despite the being spring and in the day and hugged her dirty and matted tail, no longer looking white and healthy, her dirty white crudely cut short hair and her cat like ears drooping in sadness and pain, wondering what will happen to her and the people around.

Kaga gritted her teeth in pain the person next to her accidentally knock against her wounded feet, sending waves of pain, her tail tensing up. She cursed the Empire for causing all these hardships and tried to use magic to cast a simple healing spell, but she could not gather any spiritual power from her surroundings as the plain-looking metal collar shackled around her neck blocked her magical powers.

She sighed and curled up into as small a space as possible, hugging herself before slowly drifting off into a nightmare fueled sleep.

-----

The blue mountains outside the window brought a sharp and foul-smelling breeze into the room Kaga was in. She paused her reading of the scroll and set it aside and rosed, walking bare feet against the straw woven mats and stood before the open window and looked outside, wondering what was going on.

From her vintage view of the tallest tower in the city, she saw a plume of smoke rising off in the distance and suddenly a loud clanging sound was raised from one of the watchtowers where someone was beating an alarm.

"Priestess!" The wood and paper sliding door slid open and two handmaidens in white and red long billowing robes, "The Empire has attacked!"

"What?" Kaga spun around, "We had an agreement!"

"They broke it!" The two girls, one with brown ears, hair and tail cried, "They are storming the Beast City as we speak!"

"Quickly, we must head to the Formation Array!" Kaga said, "The guards? Takao, go inform the elders to gather at the Formation Hall!" She instructed the brown-haired girl who bowed and dashed off.

"They are mobilizing to the walls," The other girl with grey-blue ears, hair and tail replied. She waved for the two Kobold guardsmen stationed outside the Priestess room to follow them and the two dog-like looking humanoid carrying curved sabers followed faithfully along.

They hurried down the wooden steps and out of the Tower and headed past a large stone courtyard and up a flight of stairs again, before reaching a huge building with a large and gently curved roof with many pillars supporting the structure.

Kobold guardsmen bowed as they approached and they quickly pushed open the doors for the Priestess's party. Once inside, Kage's eyes took a short while to adjust to the darkness inside and hurried down into the middle of the empty hall, where a large complicated looking magic formation was etched into the tiles.

The interior pillars had runes carved into them and what appeared to be talismans were stuck all over the hall. A simple oil lamp sat in the middle of the formation, the tiny flame flickering slightly in the breeze that the party brought in.

"The elders?" Kaga asked as she knelt next to the lamp, checking the oil levels. "Are they here yet?"

"Here, Priestess," A mellow voice rung out from the main doors as another party of robe dressed beastmen entered. "We await your bidding." The group of elders with Takao bowed to Kaga.

"Quick, we need to bring the barrier up to stop the Empire," Kaga responded, pointing to each point of the formation. "I need all your help in this."

"Are we too rush to use the Formation now?" One of the grey-furred elder asked as they hurried in their own pace to the formation. "The guards should be more than able to handle some weaklings."

"No, I have seen their powers," Kaga said, "That is why I agreed to a non-aggressive pact and open borders with the Empire, just that, I never expect that Varacen to attack so fast! I miscalculated, I thought we had at least a year more to prepare!"

The seven elders muttered something among themselves as they start surrounding Kaga in the middle of the Formation, "We are ready."

Kaga nodded and sat down cross-legged in a meditative stance, while the elders followed suit, and started chanting. The magic formation and runes started glowing brighter and brighter before the countless talismans sudden burst into flames one by one and a bright beam of energy burst out of the building into the skies before exploding into a shimmering dome that covered the entire city.

Kaga sighed as powering the formation had drained her of all her energy. "Keep watch over the flame, do not let it go out!" She ordered the Flame Keeper at the side, who nodded.

Suddenly screams and cries could be heard outside the Formation Hall, and Kaga looked up in surprise. "The enemy? Here!"

The doors exploded into wooden shards and splinters and a kobold guardsman flew into the hall, his chest caved in, and blood pooling around its broken body. Two dark figures stood against the light and sniggered as they casually strolled in.

"Well, well, what do we have here?" One of them mockingly spoke. "Cute little kitties aren't they?'

As the two walked in, their features could be seen clearer, both were dressed in typical Empire plate armor, but more ornate and delicate looking. The one that spoke had his long blonde hair tailed in a ponytail and specks of blood could be seen on his smooth white face while the other Knight had a full faced helmet covering his head.

"Kill them!" One of the elders yelled and she conjured up several magical flames and shooting them at the two figures, while another elder took out a handful of talismans and chanted something before tossing them out. Kaga's handmaidens instantly took up positon in front of her, shield her with their bodies.

The spirit fires shoot towards the helmeted Knight and the Knight just casually sliced the fires away with his long sword, while the other Knight laughed as the talismans stuck onto his body and exploded.

Kaga looked in wild-eyed horror as that giggling Knight that exploded, emerged from a glow of a magical protection spell and causally dusted himself off unharmed from a spell that is equaled to an Empire level 4 spell! "Quick! Summon the guardians!"

The elders looked at each other and nodded before forming complex hand seals and chanted an invocation under their breaths.

"Hahahaha, what toys are the kitties trying to bring out this time?" The Laughing Knight asked, as he stood casually and waited for them to finish.

"Don't waste time," The Helmeted Knight said, "Kill them off."

"Alright, alright," The Laughing Knight grumbled, "You spoil all the fun," He reached to his back and drew out two wicked looking daggers, "Greater Agility!" and vanished from sight before appearing in front of a startled Elder.

"Hi!" He grinned and sliced the jugular of the shocked Elder, sending a spray of blood out. "Who's next?"

The Elders stepped back in horror as their concentration broke and Kaga quickly tossed out several talismans and quickly chanted a spell, turning the talismans into flying eagles, that swooped down at the Laughing Knight.

"Protect the Priestess!" Cries rang out from the rear as dozens of Kobold guardsmen rushed in and died as the Helmeted Knight sliced and diced with his swordplay against the badly matched guards.

The Elders quickly resumed their spell as the Laughing Knight was distracted by the paper eagles when suddenly the Helmeted Knight seemed to get impatient and threw his sword with full force at Kaga, "Greater Strength Up!"

"Noo!" The two handmaidens screamed as they quickly used all their power to boost up their protection spells, blocking the silver Mythril sword's passage and flew back into Kaga who was supporting the Formation Array.

As they fell back, the Spirit Lamp which was used to gather spiritual energy was knocked down and the flame went out, almost immediately the flow of energy into the Formation Array ceased, and without Kaga supporting the Array with her power, the city protection spell faded away.

The Laughing Knight grinned as he shredded the last paper eagle, his handsome face blooding from cuts from the attacks of the paper eagles. "Damn, that was interesting, your useless papers and actually able to hurt me, little kitty!"

"RUN!" Takao pushed her sister and Kaga to the back, "I will hold them off! GO!"

Takao's sister grabbed Kaga and dragged her away, much to the amusement of the Laughing Knight, "Trying to run, kitties? I so like a hunt!"

"Die!" Takao charged forward and the talismans in her fingers turned into daggers and she slashed at the Laughing Knight, aiming for his neck, but he just laughed and punched out, breaking her weaken protection spell, breaking her ribs and causing her to vomit out the contents in her stomach before collapsing in a heap in front of the Knight.

"Now, for the next kitties," He rubbed his hands gleefully when the remaining Elders lobbed spirit fire and exploding talismans at him.

"Nooo!" Kaga screamed weakly as she watched the Knights massacred everyone in the room before her mana drained body gave up and she lapsed into darkness.

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I wanna thank Kyle Smith for his generous donation and to the others who donated and pledge via paypal and patreon. For that I will drop a bonus chapter this weekend! =D


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