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Ch077-A Brisk Walk

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Fire as red as blood engulfed the crowd. The air filled with the screams of children and adults alike. Creatures that couldn’t possibly exist surrounded the area, each one larger and more grotesque than the other, armed with a variety of tools and instruments. They started to sing and dance, and small blasts of multi-colored illusionary fire exploded above and below them to match their singing.

Sylver gently grabbed Flesh and Bones by the shoulders and led them out of the throng of people excited to see the traveling band of entertainers. He wanted to stay and watch too, but their current bodies had a time limit, and Sylver couldn’t waste that time like this. They would still be here for another 2 weeks, so they’d get to watch the show later when they weren’t in the middle of decomposing.

Thomas had said to meet near the wall with two stumps nearby, and Sylver sent his shades out to find it for him.

On top of the guards inside having a significant boost to all of their attributes while within the city borders, there was also a giant barrier surrounding the whole area. It was wrong to say it was impenetrable, or impossible to invade, but it would take a considerable amount of time to achieve.

Or so Sylver thought.

“If I asked, would I like the answer?” Sylver asked.

“No, at least I don’t think you’d like it. This is temporary, you still have to go through the proper channels, I’m just here to hold them for you,” Ron said.

He was talking while standing in a doorway. That wasn’t there a split second before, and now looked like the whole thing was built long before, and the wall itself was built around the doorframe. It was the same metallic door Ron had for his main entrance.

Ron casually said an odd string of words, and both Flesh and Bones perked up at them. Flesh said something different, but in the same language, and Ron smiled at it.

“It’s always nice when everything works out. What language is it?” Sylver asked. Ron handed Sylver the sheet of paper he had given to Thomas and saw that all but 3 of the languages on it were crossed out. He had Bones write out every language he could remember, in the hopes of finding someone who could teach them Eirish.

“Dead. Not dead as in gone, but dead as in, no one speaks them. I had someone with a relevant skill check, and they offered good money if you’re willing to lend them out to translate a few things. The three left are Upsiya, Anfuri, and Tongo. Upsiya and Anfuri are both ancient elf dialects, there’s maybe 50 people in the whole world who can speak it. Tongo on the other hand is from one of the [Hero]s. It was originally called Doichlan, or something similar. I happen to speak it because… Well, I just happen to speak it,” Ron explained.

Bones cleared his throat and said something else in Tongo. Ron responded and moved back into the doorway to give them space to pass.

“Is there any point lying to him about anything?” Bones asked in demon tongue.

Sylver squirmed slightly as he forced his vocal cords to move to accommodate the sound he needed to make. He coughed once to clear his airway.

“I want to say I fully trust him, but I can’t. Learn Eirish and try not to let anything related to your past slip. He might be one of those people that will be aware of you two appearing out of nowhere, so try to get along with him. He’s a great guy. I’ll try to find suitable hosts as quickly as possible,” Sylver explained. He spat out blood as he finished speaking and saw the change in Ron’s body language.

It wasn’t right to say he appeared frightened, but there was something there. Either he recognized the language, or he felt discomfort because of it.

“Use Flesh and Bones for names, for now. I’ll change them when I find the proper bodies, it wouldn’t do to have a name that doesn’t match the face or ethnicity. Raises too many questions,” Sylver explained. Both Flesh and Bones nodded silently.

“While I have you here, the temple of Ra is looking for you. They’re not as in a rush or as insistent as last time, but I thought you should know,” Ron said in regular Eirish.

“Thank you, I’ll go see them when I have the time. You seemed fully booked the last time I was in, do you have enough rooms for them?” Sylver asked.

“I do. I normally wouldn’t charge you anything, but I need to, to meet a certain requirement,” Ron explained.

“Not an issue, just take whatever it costs out from my chest. How much do you want for teaching them Eirish?” Sylver asked.

“Eh… 50 gold? But there’s a specific ingredient I need, I would be happier if you brought me that instead,” Ron said.

“Monster or plant?” Sylver asked.

“Technically both. It’s a plant that lives on the back of a monster, but I need the monster alive, so the plant doesn’t die. I’ve posted a quest at the adventurer’s guild, but it’s been nearly 5 months and no one’s taken it. I’m not in a rush, but it isn’t all that far away from here and I thought you’d be able to handle it. It’s around level 50, or it lives in an area where mainly level 50s live,” Ron said.

“Sure. I’m heading to the guild next anyway; I’ll accept your quest and handle it for you. You can keep the reward if you manage to teach them the basics,” Sylver offered. He extended a hand towards Ron. Ron reached out with his own and they shook.

“Deal. They’re called Shuba. The quest will explain the rest. Good luck,” Ron said.

Flesh and Bones followed the plate armor wearing man inside, and the door shut behind them. Sylver didn’t blink but still couldn’t see when the door had disappeared. He pressed his hand against the spot, but absolutely nothing he could feel told him there was a door there a moment ago.

He looked up to where the bribed guard was pretending to look the other way and went back to the giant line of people waiting to enter Arda.

*

*

*

Having just returned from a crypt, Sylver had expected something like this. Checking for contraband and other dangerous materials was completely normal, they normally just used an item or a spell to do it. Sylver had known he would have to show them his artifacts and didn’t have any issue with it.

What he wasn’t expecting was to walk into a room with 20 guards standing shoulder to shoulder, surrounding a small table and chair, where a man Sylver hadn’t seen before was sitting.

“Have a seat,” The man offered. His hair was a very dark brown, and slicked back to the point it was shiny from the oil he used. His face had enough lines and wrinkles on it, that even though Sylver could feel this human man was barely in his 40s, he could have very easily believed this man was in his 60s or 70s. His uniform was a very pale blue, much lighter than the kind Leke normally wore, or any of the government employees Sylver had seen.

His hands were thin and delicate looking, but Sylver could tell by the way his mana channels were arranged he used his fingers to cast his magic. Sylver also felt a very faint suppression effect acting on him, very similar to the one Bear used, but significantly weaker. It was enough to hinder Sylver, not stop him, but he suspected it was something that could be increased on a whim.

Sylver walked over and sat down on the chair the man had offered. They hadn’t removed any of Sylver’s weapons, or so much as searched him. Sylver wasn’t certain if he should be worried about that, or if it was just common procedure. For whatever this was…

“Sylver Sezari. Arrived at the city as a level 3 necromancer, promptly joined the adventurer’s guild, and then went on to fight several giants and returned with 10 extra levels. Then you went on a quest with the Pixie party, where you allegedly single-handedly defeated Haklang the swift, and his backup, after which you went on to face his brother, Asland the dreary and killed him along with his mage, Lora the blue, and then proceeded to raise all of them as shades,” The man said. He spoke as if he were reading this from somewhere, but he was staring Sylver right in the eye.

“When you returned from Medera, you brought Salgok the dwarven blacksmith in tow and spent several days hiding in Ron’s Rest. When you returned one of your arms was damaged, but that didn’t stop you from accepting an invitation from the Grey Cats party and going on a 4-month long journey with them. You returned with 16 extra levels, which is within the confines of normal for a 4-month long journey,” the man continued.

But, isn’t it odd that all 5 members of the Grey Cats party only increased their level by 2? They were all in their 30s and 40s, granted, but I find it hard to believe they took the time out of their busy schedule to help out a newbie adventurer, to the point he gained 16 levels,” the man said. Sylver looked around the room and leaned back in his chair, so only two legs were touching the ground.

And after that, you didn’t show up once in Arda, and returned barely 2 weeks later with 11 more levels, having completed only one single quest in Orest. A D rank gathering quest, if I recall correctly. You disappeared again and returned after working as a bodyguard for one Lola Aeyri. She was so pleased with your work, she later hired you again to escort her to Torg. You returned and almost immediately went down into the dungeons below, and the rest of the information available has been unofficial and unreliable,” the man explained.

“And now here you sit. A level 73 necromancer. A man who is, on paper, a nobody, and yet every single attempt I’ve made to investigate you has been far too difficult, and very often, denied,” the man continued.

Sylver continued to look around the room and lazily allowed his gaze to return to the man sitting across from him.

“Well?” the man asked.

Sylver shrugged his shoulders and started to look around the room again. He made eye contact with all the guards he could see without turning in his seat and took his time to memorize everything he could about every one of them. He smiled ever so slightly as one of the guards got a better grip on his sheathed sword.

Alright, they’re scared of me, I can use this.

“If you’re done with the tough guy act, I would like to ask you some questions,” the man said.

“Would you now,” Sylver said. Spring was already looking for Tom or one of the cats to contact Raba and sort whatever this was out. Sylver simply needed to stall for however long it took for someone to come and fix this.

The man took a very deep breath before he spoke.

“What is your relationship with Lekelga,” the man asked.

“The none of your fucking business kind?” Sylver asked. His tone was neutral, but the air in the room seemed to lose whatever pitiful warmth it had a moment prior. Sylver heard leather stretch, as one of the guards either changed their stance or got a better grip on their weapon.

The man leaned forward and locked his fingers together. He spoke an octave lower than he had before, and in a way that sounded like the kind of thing Sylver said when he’d already decided violence was unavoidable but was giving negotiation a chance just to be safe.

“See… Right now we’re pretending… We’re pretending that this is a regular conversation and that these fine men just happened to decide to take their break in this room… But here’s what’s going to happen once we stop pretending. You’ll be cuffed, and thrown down a hole so deep and dark that you’ll forget what light is. Then your friends from high up will likely attempt to get you out, but I’ll tell you right now. By the time they’re able to pry you from my cold dead hands, there’ll be nothing left of you,” the man said.

Although Sylver was almost certain the man wasn’t bluffing, he couldn’t help but smirk. Spring was just told someone was on his way, and Sylver only needed to wait a few minutes for the person to be teleported here.

“Let me guess. You don’t have a wife or children, your parents have already passed, and the closest thing you have to a relationship is your arthritis-ridden left hand. So you’re going after me as a man with “nothing to lose.” Am I in the right ballpark here?” Sylver asked.

The man smirked back at Sylver, but it wasn’t as friendly or as confident as Sylver’s was.

“You’re smarter than you look,” the man said.

“Thank you, I have a self-image problem, and it’s always reassuring when men who look like they have sour lemons for breakfast, lunch, and dinner compliment me,” Sylver said. The small smirk on the man’s face disappeared entirely.

“Are you finished?” the man asked without so much as a drop of a reaction in his voice.

“Who knows? You’ve failed to provide me the smallest slither of courtesy, you’ve insulted me and you’ve threatened me so I’m tempted to just waste both of our time sitting here and insulting you until I find a sore spot. And I always find a sore spot eventually, it’s one of my many many gifts,” Sylver explained. He realized his completely black eyes helped a lot with what he was going for, and his smile widened a bit more.

“The fact that you’re still sitting here and talking, as opposed to crying about getting your face bashed in, is more courtesy than you deserve,” the man countered.

“Sure, sure, whatever you say. I do have to mention a couple of things first though. 9 months 3 days, and 11 hours. Arrow through the neck,” Sylver said, with a finger pointed towards the nameless man. He mimed getting stabbed in the neck with his free hand and then moved it and pointed at the guard standing in the corner.

“2 months, 5 days and one hour, sword through the mouth,” Sylver said, as he moved his finger to the next guard, “11 months, 12 days, and 17 hours, poison. 4 years, 1 month, 9 days, 23 hours, crushed to death, 9 months, 22 days, 2 hours, incinerated, 2 years, 1 month, 9 days, 2 hours, eaten alive, 2 years, 1 month, 9 days, 1 hour, eaten alive, 2 years, 1 month, 9 days 3 hours, eaten alive, 2 years, 1 month, 9 days 3 hours, eaten alive…” Sylver explained as he pointed at each guard in turn.

“Strange, there must be a monster outbreak in 2 years, 1 month, and 9 days. Or some sort of extremely competent cannibal,” Sylver said, as he moved his finger.

He went through 4 guards before his finger settled on a woman guard. “Ah, something different. 4 days, 12 hours, raped, and then dissolved in acid,” Sylver said, as he moved his finger to the only other female guard, standing to her left.

“Oh a double, interesting. 4 days, 7 hours, raped, and then dissolved in acid. Do you think the 5-hour difference is because you were forced to watch, or because you simply lasted longer? Or just a coincidence?” Sylver asked as he pointed to the guard standing between the two women.

“Let’s see. Oh wow, six hours, paralyzed from the waist down and bled out through a hole in the stomach. My condolences, I would write a will out as fast as possible if I were in your shoes,” Sylver said, doing a very faint mock bow towards one of the younger-looking guards.

“Hmm... 15 days, 16 hours, hung and quartered… Public execution by the looks of it, maybe you’re the one who raped these two?” Sylver asked. He pointed at the guard who had initially tightened his grip on his weapon and said the words with a wide smile. His completely black eyes really helped right now, “And you, 3 months, 1 day, 2 ho-”

The guard Sylver was pointing to was suddenly standing directly in front of him and placed his armored hand on Sylver’s throat. The man pressed down so hard, the wooden chair Sylver was sitting on shattered under the force.

The room erupted into chaos, as the remaining guards struggled to restrain the terrified guard that had attacked Sylver. Lights of various colors exploded around the room, as a bright red flare appeared directly on top of the head of the guard that was strangling Sylver. Sylver felt the strength leave the man’s hands and used his robe to effortlessly remove them.

A prime example of why the system was a double-edged sword.

Things settled down as the offending guard was pulled off him, and someone helped Sylver get back to his feet. Sylver brushed off the dust that had gotten on his robe.

One of the guards who had been outside of Sylver’s field of vision approached the one being restrained. His shoulders were lowered, even though he was holding a drawn and glowing sword in his hand.

“You…” the guard made a sound that sounded like a cough. Sylver wondered if the pain they felt for disobeying their class was anything like the kind he felt for questioning the system. The man struggled against it but eventually continued.

“You’ve violated the law. Under section 4, subsection 11 you’re under arrest and-”

“If we’re only here having a friendly conversation, I’d be inclined to forgive the assault on my person,” Sylver quickly interrupted. The guard who was speaking to the one with a red light floating above his head turned to look at Sylver. His eyes looked slightly wet.

“But if I’m under arrest, I would like to see this man tried and punished accordingly. Beheading, if I recall, given that I haven’t broken any laws and was attacked completely unprovoked. Not to mention the blatant abuse of power,” Sylver said. The room was dead silent as Sylver looked at the only man that wasn’t wearing a guard's uniform.

“So? Is this a friendly conversation and I’m free to go, or am I under arrest, and this boy will be killed? While everything is sorted out, he would have to… How did you put it? “Thrown down a hole so deep and dark that you’ll forget what light is?” Or is the procedure different for a guard?” Sylver asked. The gazes that were fixed on him slowly turned to look at the man who had attempted to interrogate Sylver.

“Marshall,” the guard with the drawn sword said. There was a plea in his voice, but he managed to mask it well.

The man, named Marshall apparently, remained silent. Although Sylver could almost see his soul boiling from the suppressed emotion, there wasn’t so much as a hint of it in his expression.

“See, I do respect the legal system. I do have some qualms with the specifics regarding what is and isn’t allowed, but as a whole, it’s as good as can be when there are such vast differences between the people being governed by it. But what I hate most of all is-”

The door behind Sylver slammed open and shattered as it collided with one of the guards standing too close to it. A small-statured man stomped in, with the kind of gait Sylver normally associated with a dog. Looking at the man, despite the curly grey hair, Sylver couldn’t help but see him as a physical representation of a bulldog. Although it was more to do with the way he carried himself, rather than any physical feature.

“Mister Sezari, don’t say another word, my name is Shawn Bitzer, I’ve been hired as your legal counsel to assist with whatever nonsense you’ve been charged with,” Shawn said, as he reached into his coat pocket and shoved a large stack of papers into Sylver’s hands. Shawn looked around the room and saw one guardsman holding a sword to the throat of another guardsman kneeling on the floor, with two guards holding him down.

“Thank you, but I haven’t been charged with anything. Marshal and I were simply having a conversation, and I was just about to leave,” Sylver explained. Shawn’s eyes narrowed slightly. He nodded the smallest amount.

“I see… And this?” Shawn asked, with a gesture towards the guard with a glowing red orb floating above his head.

“A misunderstanding. Isn’t that right Marshal?” Sylver asked.

Marshal remained completely frozen in place, Sylver could almost hear the gears in his head turning to try and find a way out of this.

“Marshal? You were about to apologize for wasting my time, and I was just about to leave, right? Or do I require Mr. Shawn’s services and we would all have to have our minds read to make sure my retelling of events is genuine? Which would very likely lead to this fine young man being executed for his abuse of power, regardless of whatever else they find?” Sylver asked. To his credit, Shawn was beyond confused but masked it perfectly.

Marshal looked like he was about to say something, but Sylver interrupted and continued to pressure him.

“Well, Marshal?” Sylver asked. He said the words as if he were the one with a sword to his throat, the more urgent Sylver sounded, the more urgent the situation felt.

Marshal remained quiet and looked around the room. If he was expecting any reassurance from the guards, who were about to be forced to kill one of their own, he wasn’t getting any.

“You’re free to go,” Marshal said. His jaw was clenched so hard, Sylver could almost hear the strain in his teeth.

Shawn gently tugged at Sylver to turn around and go, but Sylver remained where he was.

“You forgot to apologize for wasting my time,” Sylver said. All urgency had left his voice, he was as relaxed as he was when he initially entered this room.

Marshal’s face went perfectly blank, even as Sylver felt the man’s soul turn cold in rage. About 20 seconds of complete and total silence passed. Sylver stood perfectly straight with Shawn’s hand gently pulling him towards the door, while Marshal stood behind his small interrogation desk and the guard who attacked Sylver shook from the stress of being forced to the floor, as well as the brightly glowing red orb that floated above his head.

“I apologize for that,” Marshal finally said. The guards, and Shawn, all breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“For what? Didn’t your parents teach you manners? Or are you so old you don’t remember how to apologize properly?” Sylver asked. He had to apply a small amount of mana onto his robe to stop Shawn’s grip from bruising his skin.

An entire half a minute passed, during which Marshal didn’t blink. His teeth made a high-pitched sound as he ground them against each other.

“I apologize for wasting your time,” Marshal said.

“Apology accepted. Make sure it doesn’t happen again, I don’t like being bothered with this kind of stupid fucking bullshit. This guard is innocent, no crime has been committed against me,” Sylver said.

The red orb floating above the guard's head disappeared, and the man glowed a bright light for a moment, as all of his bonuses returned.

Sylver allowed Shawn to lead him out of the room and didn’t even look back as he left.

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