The sky was getting clearer. The dark clouds started to dissipate little by little. In the open field in Oosteinde near the outskirt of the city, the grass was burning. Luckily, the wind had stopped so the fire couldn't spread violently. There were ashes on the grass in the form of humans.
Valentine approached Luuk who was still under his control. The man's eyes were staring blankly at the space in front of him under the horned mask that he was wearing. There was a knife under him lying on the grass that had been cut short. He picked up the knife before Luuk regained consciousness and put it away. He then waited for the latter to break free from his control, which didn't take that much longer.
The duration of his Interrogation ran out shortly after and Luuk's eyes became full of life again. He looked confused for a second and then looked around. He seemed to be searching for something.
"Where is my knife?" he said. His tone was cold and unfriendly.
He was searching his own body for the knife or any other weapon.
"Shit, G, the implanted thought is still active. How do we get rid of it?"
Valentine observed Luuk carefully. There was nothing abnormal about his physique, but his mind was definitely affected. He thought that killing Shade would invalidate the ability, but it was definitely not the case. The man appeared to be still trying to kill himself.
"I, in the name of the Deity of Uncovering, hereby put you under interrogation!"
With that, Luuk's eyes became blank again.
"Let's leave him like that for a while. We need to deal with this place first."
Valentine crouched and dug some of the soil to create a small hole. After that, he used his knife to make an incision on his palm. Red blood came out of the cut flesh and gathered on his hand. Then, he put the knife away and started chanting.
"I, in the name of the Deity of Secrets, offer this blood as a medium,"
The blood on his palm emitted a mysterious yellowish mist that quickly spread to the surrounding area.
"For I declare this place under the Shroud of Secrecy hereafter!"
He dropped his blood on the hole that he had dug earlier. The thick red blood created a small puddle inside the hole and the thin mist was still coming out of it. After that, Valentine covered the hole with soil to hide the blood. With that, his anti-divination ritual had been finished.
"Okay, now, G, let's switch,"
Valentine lied down on the short-cut grass. It was more uncomfortable because of its sharp edge, but he was fine with sleeping anywhere. He closed his eyes and concentrated on his breathing. Meanwhile, Luuk was still standing motionlessly near him. Not long after, Valentine fell asleep and Graham woke up.
The moment he gained consciousness, Graham felt the pain in his body that Valentine had been feeling the whole time. Although most of the injuries had healed, they still hurt and the missing chunk of flesh on his chest was still missing. His tattered clothes and the bloodstains made him look like a homeless person.
Graham approached Luuk who was still under the effect of Interrogation and started asking him questions.
"Why do you want to kill yourself?"
Look looked up at Graham with his still blank stare.
"I'm a failure. My family hates me. I need to kill myself so I won't be a burden to anyone else," he spoke monotonously.
After that one question, the duration of the Interrogation ran out and Luuk once again regained his consciousness. He looked around again frantically looking for a weapon, but Graham quickly held him and pinned him to the ground.
Luuk's body hit the grass below. His eyes showed confusion. Graham didn't let go of him and looked at him right in the eyes from under his mask. With a very convincing tone, he started speaking gently.
"You should not kill yourself. The city will be destroyed if we don't do anything and you are the one who can help prevent it. Your family might be in danger if we don't put an end to the enemies' plan. You're not worthless,"
While still pinning Luuk, who appeared to be calming down, down to the ground, Graham quickly chanted.
I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, order the false thought in Luuk's memory to disappear!"
Luuk seemed to be in pain. He got a splitting headache and was violently shaking, trying to break free from the man. Graham didn't let go, however. He put all his weight on the hand that was holding Luuk.
The pain lasted only for several seconds and after that, Luuk's eyes became clear again. He stared confusedly at Graham.
"What are you doing?"
The man didn't let go of him just yet.
"Are you still thinking about killing yourself?" he asked, making sure his effort was successful.
Luuk became even more confused.
"Killing myself? Why would I? I can't collect shiny stuff if I'm dead!" he answered with his eyebrow raised.
"It seems to have worked, Val," Graham muttered and then let go of his hold on the man.
Both of them stood up and Graham cleaned the dirt off his pants that had got there while pinning Luuk down.
"What was that for?" asked Luuk, demanding an explanation.
Graham looked at him and casually said, "You were under Shade's control. You were trying to kill yourself,"
His eyes opened wide in surprise.
Kill myself? Why don't I remember anything? That was a scary ability. I don't think I want to meet another one like that guy.
"I've managed to remove the effect, so you should not worry. Although, you should still check if you have any abnormal thoughts," added Graham.
With Luuk's problem taken care of, now he could focus on the other matters. He looked at his tattered clothes.
"I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, order you to mend yourself!"
The black shirt that he was wearing slowly started to unravel and the thread moved to cover the numerous holes in itself. After a while, the shirt looked whole again, although it was much thinner than before. Now, there were only the bloodstains that he needed to take care of.
"I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, order the bloodstains on my clothes to move inside them!"
The hardened red spots on his clothes magically liquified and then started crawling towards the inner part of his shirt. The same also happened to his pants. Now Graham looked like a normal person again.
Luuk was watching the whole process.
Dang, that ability is really versatile. I'm jealous now...
"Can you do the same to mine?" he asked.
Graham looked at the young man with a horned mask. He wasn't badly injured, but there were still many holes in his jacket and shirt with burned edges. Graham focused on the man's jacket and chanted.
"I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, order you to mend yourself!"
Luuk's jacket did the same thing as his shirt before. Parts of it moved to patch the holes and became a little thinner as a result. He used his ability once again to get rid of Luuk's bloodstains on his clothes. Once both of them didn't look like suspicious individuals anymore, they quickly scanned the area one more time.
Seeing the grass that was still burning, Graham was worried that it might engulf the whole field. He approached the fire and then chanted.
"I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, order the fire to stop burning!"
The fire in front of him became smaller and smaller until it disappeared completely, leaving a big patch of burned grass on the field. He did it one more time to completely extinguish the grass fire and once done, he turned to Luuk.
"It's all good. Let's get out of here," said Graham.
Luuk nodded and the two of them quickly left the field, going the same direction that they came from. Since they were still recovering, they got tired more easily. Luckily Luuk also brought the stamina powder, so they could recover their stamina as they went.
The trip back went smoothly. There was no hurdle that delayed them, so they came back to the slum area soon after and made their way up to the street above. They then stopped a public motor carriage that was driving by and asked the driver to take them home, to Tuinstraat.
Once they reached their apartment building, Graham made Luuk pay, and then they both went up to Graham's office.
"Here's your twenty guilders," said Graham.
He handed Luuk a paper bill with the number twenty on it.
"Shouldn't I get more? It was more dangerous than we had expected," complained Luuk.
Graham scratched his head. What Luuk said was correct, so he indeed had to pay more, otherwise, their future partnership might be damaged.
"Okay, here, fifteen guilders more," said Graham reluctantly.
"That's better!" he said happily.
Graham then took out all of the contract scrolls that he got and laid them on the desk. There were a total of six ancient-looking scrolls, two of which were for President Rank Deities.
"What are you going to do with these? Sell them?" asked Luuk curiously while looking at the scrolls.
"One is for me. That's the whole reason we hunt them in the first place. The Earl Rank ones will be rewards for our associates. We need stronger helpers after all," he replied.
"Which one are you going to make a contract with?"
"The Deity of Cunningness and Transformation. That was Shade's Deity," replied Graham shortly.
Damn. He will be even scarier than now in that case. Good thing we are on the same side. I also need to power up soon to keep up. But what Deity is suitable for me? I don't even know what the options are.
Luuk looked at Graham and asked, "What Deity do you think I should form a contract with for my next one?"
Graham put his hand under his chin like what he usually did when thinking.
"I think you should choose either Invisibility and Treasures because it has the word treasure in His name or Wisdom and Transmutation. The latter should allow you to create more magical trinkets."
Luuk became interested, but he knew it was still a long way for him.
I still need to please my Deity of Herbs and Precious Stones, but even until now, I haven't received a revelation on how to. When the time comes, I can ask him to help me find the scroll. For now, be patient and enjoy the process.
"Thank you," said Luuk with gratitude.
Graham nodded and then took out a brown leather wallet from his pocket. Luuk knew it wasn't his because he had seen Graham's when he first stole it.
"Is that the enemy's?" he asked curiously.
"This was Shade's," Graham replied.
He opened the wallet and checked the content. Inside, there was cash with the total amount of only five guilders, which Graham took out and put inside his own wallet. With the additional cash, it meant that he only spent ten guilders to pay Luuk.
"But why are they so poor. Val, the members of Zodiac Syndicate must be rich so they wouldn't embarrass me if they died and their wallets fell to the enemies' hands," he muttered.
Luuk raised his eyebrow.
"Is there anything else besides the cash?" he asked curiously.
Graham was also checking the wallet for other contents, but there was nothing else noteworthy. There was an identity card belonging to Andreas Peters aka Shade with his address on it, but he was sure there wouldn't be anything important there. Graham would check anyway, but he wouldn't be expecting much.
"Do you want to go to his house?" asked Luuk, noticing Graham's expression while reading the ID card.
"Yes. It won't hurt to check. But they are very careful; they won't leave any clues in their houses. Although they are not that careful since I've managed to kill three of them so far..."
"Do you think they will find out about us and seek revenge?"
"They would seek revenge for sure if they were able to find out about us, but it's unlikely. My anti-divination is top-notch, you see?" said Graham proudly, although in his heart he was actually not sure; the enemy might have an even stronger divinator than the Police.
Luuk shrugged. He believed the detective but he didn't want to boost the man's ego further.
"Anyway, we need to lay low for now just to be safe. Focus on pleasing our Deities so we can advance soon," said Graham.