It was a long way to Yggdrasil, but the journey would be relatively free of danger. Most beast stayed away from the roads, and because of Ashiron’s martial society, many of their citizens formed into a proto-police force. They didn’t really actively capture criminals or stop crime, but kept the more aggressive beasts and bandits off the roads. Though most of the Ghent Confederacy looked down upon the civilian task force, no action was taken against them.
Compared to the actual members of the army, Isil found these vigilantes even worse to deal with. They went above and beyond their nation’s call of duty, and they knew it. Many wore a cloth stitching or patch in the shape of a star, with Ashiron’s eagle in the center. Those that didn’t belong to Ashiron wore similar patches with their own country’s insignia on it. The ‘medal’ was only the visual tell, their attitude was often the first tell. Many in the vigilante corp thought of themselves as ‘honorary nobles’, having earned the ‘title’ by working for their nation when they weren’t asked for it.
In short, they were entitled policemen who wielded their good deeds like bandits wielded clubs. However, it was undeniable that they kept the people safe. The majority of them were bad apples, yes, but their loyalty to their country was sincere more often than not. This was why Isil was in such a dilemma.
“Like I said missy, I need ta know why you’re on this here road.” A bald man with the vigilante corp ‘medal’ spoke to her, subtly emphasizing his sword.
Isil felt her eye twitch slightly. Unsurprisingly, she had been spotted by one of the said vigilante corp members, and, once again unsurprisingly, he was one of the bad apples. The man failed to hide his initial face of lust when he walked up to her. Somehow, he managed to hide it, but the occasional lascivious grin slipped out when he was talking to her. She didn’t really mind his attempts to hit on her, but it had quickly deviated to threatening cliché lines.
“I already told you, I’m on my way to Ashiron to visit some old friends. I don’t see how that necessitates the removal of my clothes.” Isil was rapidly getting fed with the conversation.
“Sure, old friends,” He mocked. “I’m sure some of our good citizens have friends in the Ulblaaa-? Ublaadin-? Ullidaan-?”
“Ulblaadaan,” Isil offered. “You had it right the first time.”
“Yeah, yeah, doesn’t matter. No good citizen of ours is gonna have friends in your no-good empire. That means you’re a spy, coming into our great nation to screw things up. You plan to do things here? Screw with the government? Huh?”
Good lord… Isil barely stopped herself from rolling her eyes.
“You vigilantes don’t have any right to demand anything from me. You are no knight, and you are no soldier. Therefore, you have no authority over me. And once again, where does the removal of my clothes come into play?!”
“I need to make sure you ain’t got no hidden weapons. Only spies have hidden weapons, and if you got no hidden weapons, maybe you ain’t no spy. Now, don’t resist any more, this sword right here -” He patted his scabbard. “-ain’t no toy.”
“You’re as predictable as you look...” Isil muttered, then quickly realized she had said that aloud.
“What was that?!” The bald man instantly turned wrathful.
Oh screw it. “Deaf and predictable, I guess you vigilantes really are accepting all types. I wonder, is everyone else in your corp as pitiful as you are, or are you a special case? Because if not… well, I must say, the military catching spies wouldn’t be a coincidence.”
“HOW DARE YOU!” The man roared, hurting Isil’s ears slightly. “ARE YOU CALLING ME A TRAITOR?!”
“No, I’m not,” Isil said, rubbing her ears. “But incompetence could be considered a form of treachery.”
The bald man ripped the sword out of its scabbard and rose it above his head. Isil blew a small puff of air out of the corner of her mouth. She raised her hand up next to her head, mana reinforcement preparing her to catch the blade as it would swing down.
“GARSON!” Another loud voice entered the fray, causing the both of them to pause and turn to look at the source.
Once again, it was someone wearing a vigilante ‘medal’. Unlike the bald man, Garson, apparently, this man wore an ARA uniform. His ‘medal’ had been sown on the bottom of his coat, and had a single star sown in above it. The meaning of this star was unknown to Isil, but judging from the strained look Garson was making, it was probably a mark of rank in the vigilante corp.
Strange, I don’t remember hearing anything about ranking in the corp. What else has been added to this world? Isil shook her head and clamped down on her rampant imagination before it thought up anything that made her head ache.
“Captain? What are you doing here?” Garson barely hid the nervousness in his voice.
“Trying to stop you before I have to clean up your mess.” The captain said, his face darkening.
“Trouble? Sir, I ain’t causing no trouble. I was investigatin’, like you told me to!” Garson desperately protested.
“I heard everything Garson, I know you were just harassing her. And once again, it is above both your intellect and your status to sniff out spies. I bet she could throw evidence in your face and you would still be clueless if someone didn’t explain it to you.” The captain began to walk towards Garson.
“S-sir, I was only trying to do my duty...” Garson weakly protested.
“Then you’ve failed. We’re supposed to be protecting the people, not harassing them. You’re coming back to the barracks with me.” The captain grabbed Garson’s shoulder and dragged him away.
Isil watched blankly as her dilemma was solved for her. She looked around as if searching for another encounter, before awkwardly moving on. She occasionally glanced back over her shoulder, but the captain didn’t return. As it became obvious the man wasn’t coming back, Isil picked up her speed.
She’d thank him another time.
The sun was slowly dipping below the hills in the East, signaling it was time for Isil to camp out once again. After her first experience camping out, she wasn’t too eager to do so again. However, the nearest vestige of civilization was still another two hours away. Sighing helplessly, Isil began to pitch her tent. As an added measure of security, she dug some warding lines into the dirt around her.
As she ate a simple dinner of roasted hare, Isil felt the urge to relieve herself. She had adapted to the female method of this rather quickly, and didn’t have much problem with it. So, after washing her hands and mouth with water magic, she left her small clearing and disappeared into the trees.
She unbuckled her pants and dropped them. She was just about to relieve herself when she heard the sound of a twig snapping. Instantly, she went on alert, her mana flowing into her body as she prepared a Mana Bolt. A shadowed figure appeared from behind a tree, the darkness making Isil unable to see much of its features.
“Who are you? What do you want?!” Isil demanded, making sure the figure could see her Mana Bolt.
“Umm… Ma’am, please, pull up your pants…” The figure asked weakly.
Ah shit. Isil thought to herself, a deep shade of red coming over her face. If it was someone hostile to her, she most certainly would not care about having her pants down. In fact, if it would throw the enemy off their stride, she would completely derobe were it not for her clothing’s powerful effects. Unfortunately, this person didn’t seem to have any malicious intentions. To prevent anything else from being seen, she took the mana in the unused Mana Bolt and reshaped it into a Blind spell, which elicited a few curses from the figure.
Isil took the time in which the person was blinded to clothe her lower body again. Though she didn’t think the person was hostile, this didn’t mean she didn’t take any precautions. She did not allow the mana she released into her body back into her soul, and prepared a Perception Shift spell. She did not have any physical weapons in her hands, so she opted to make a finger gun and charge a Mana Bolt at the end of it. Holding these two spells were quite mentally taxing, but it wasn’t as intense as a disguise spell.
“Explain yourself, what are you doing here!” Isil demanded, lingering embarrassment causing her to come about a bit harsher than she intended.
“I-I’m Captain Fouge, from before! The incident with Garson!” The person explained, waving his hands in front of him, still blinded.
“You followed me all the way here? What for?!” Isil slowly began to move over back into the clearing, searching for any other figures that might be hiding in the shadows.
“I was under orders to return to Ashiron and report back. It was not my intention to search for you! I simply saw your campfire and decided to see who it was. I did not mean to intrude upon you like that!” Captain Fouge explained, making pleading hand gestures.
“… If I wasn’t wearing underwear, you’d be without your head. Count yourself lucky.” Isil ended the Blind spell and canceled her Perception shift.
“Thank you, ma’am. I do so apologize for seeing you in such a state.” Fouge, finally able to see again, walked out of the shadows and into the light.
Isil simply stared at the man, Mana Bolt still primed and ready. Fouge stole a glance at the light at the tip of her fingers and laughed nervously. He ran a hair through his graying brown hair, and looked around.
“Do you mind if I join you for dinner?” Fouge awkwardly asked, his hand scratching the back of his neck nervously.
“I already ate.” Isil replied simply, finally canceling her Mana Bolt.
“Ah, I see.” Fouge replied, slowly calming down.
“You can stay with me, but not in my tent.”
“Thank you.” Fouge removed his own backpack and began setting up a simple tent made of animal furs.
Isil sipped on her canteen, enjoying the cool and refreshing taste of magically conjured water. She didn’t really trust the vigilante corp captain, but she knew he would be helpless against her wards. His mana wasn’t unlocked, and she couldn’t feel any power from his visea. Thankfully, her “power senses” that gave her an estimate of a person’s mana and visea were extremely sharp. So long as the man wasn’t extremely skilled in hiding his power, he posed no threat.
“I have to go to the bathroom.” Isil stated, getting back on her feet.
“What’s a bathroom? I… I don’t think there’s one out here.” Fouge said in confusion.
Isil simply sighed and disappeared into the trees. This time, she went invisible before she relieved herself. She didn’t want a repeat of what happened. Despite the precautions she took, there were no interruptions. It was only as she was putting her pants back on that something happened. A sharp scream of pain and the crackle of electricity came from the direction of the camp.
Isil sighed, knowing that the captain had likely tried to poke around in her belongings and got a taste of her wards. She rolled her eyes, having slightly expected this to happen. She popped out from the shadow of the trees to see that the man was unconscious, and his hand completely blackened. She sucked in a sharp breath, seeing just how terrible the injury was. Even with her skills, it would probably be better just to hack his arm off and regrow it.
She grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and dragged him over to a tree. With a Mana Blade, she separated the charred forearm from the rest of the captain’s body. Although he did not wake, his body spasmed violently. She quickly cast a Minor Heal, which allowed the skin to grow over the stub. She repeated the spell a few times, making sure he was at full heath before tying him to a tree.
Though the light was nearly gone, Isil used what little daylight was left to set up a simple defensive ward around him. She planned to leave him there until she woke up in the morning. It was likely he had more intentions that just following a familiar face. She didn’t know what exactly it was about her that drew the Ashiron military (former Ashiron military in this case) to her, but she didn’t like it.
Isil clenched her teeth in anger as memories she would rather forget flashed in her mind. She shook her head and entered her tent. It was a while before she could finally fall asleep.