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Author's Comment:
If you find mistakes, pls tell, thx. I don't like mistakes.


Author's Comment:
I was asked about reading my work on other sites.
The answer is simple: Currently I am not active in any other networks than royalroadl.com. Only here, I correct mistakes and errors.

If you read it anywhere else and have to pay for it, or have to deal with an annoying amount of advertisement, You Are Being Betrayed.
You would do good if you make other people in that network aware of it. This is a free project of mine for the purpose of having fun. And if people try to make money with it you shouldn't bother visiting their website.

I have no problem with translation and reposting of the story, as long as the person in question isn't doing it for money or stealing my identity.

The only one whom I actually allowed to have my work on his website is Armaell who invested the time to compile them into pdf.
(http://armaell-library.net/author/andur)




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“Making plans is an attempt at predicting the future. Some people claim that their business plans can predict the market up to five years from now. Can you explain why we believe them any more than the next witch with a ball of glass between her hands?”

- The Journey to the Afterlife




***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City***
***Seria***



“I am intrigued. Why do we have to sneak around the palace like this?” I imagined my first visit to the inner sanctum of this country differently. Maybe a little night-raid to forage through the various offices, combined with a little artistic façade climbing. Or a highly official visit as the representative of another realm. But I see now that the multiverse still has some surprises for me.

I never would have thought that I would simply walk past the security, the second prince at my side, to break into some senator's office. And all that just a few seconds before we send a message to Charles and Clarity, so that they can deny any involvement in case this goes awfully wrong.

“Because I might have the clearance to enter this area of the palace, but I am certainly not allowed to break into a private office. We want to have some time to look around before the guards and my parents show up. Do we not?” Marcus asks irritated.

I tilt my head in contemplation and nod slowly. “That might be helpful. But why are we admitting to our crime outright, instead of making it so that our involvement never comes to light?”
“Because my father is a seer, and while he certainly doesn't care for every little crime scene throughout the country, he most certainly does his daily rounds around the palace, searching for important visions. Nothing major happens in here without him finding out about it,” Marcus explains and gestures at an open door. “Your turn. I am not that good with locks.”

Furrowing my forehead, I look up and down the corridor. Marcus led me through a labyrinth of offices to get here. I actually harboured some doubts that I would be able to find this place on my own. The palace seems to house the whole of the administrative body for this country. The size and complexity of the building is as much a protection as the security.

Kneeling down, I send out a tendril of mana to inspect the lock. At the same time I run my hand across the door, searching for magical traps. Luckily the lock and a little alarm spell are the only problem. Seems like security is more about letting nobody get to this point in the first place. Marcus escorted me through three barriers which are shielding this place. There is only one entrance to get inside, and that one is guarded day and night by twenty guards.

The alarm yields with the snap of a shattered circuit. I didn't go for subtlety.

It would have been hard to get in here on my own. I would have had to poke a hole into their barrier without anyone noticing. Hard to do and time consuming. I also would have had to repeat the process three times and I am sure that they regularly send out patrols to check the barriers for breaches. It would be stupid to set up such a system otherwise.

At last the lock decides to follow my wishes and the door opens, revealing a messy office. I gesture for Marcus to get inside and close the door behind us. “So what are we looking for?”
“Anything that connects the Senator to Trebor. Once we have that, we will get everything else from the Senator himself.” Marcus gets to work, choosing one of the shelves with documents. He takes the first folder and flips through it. Deeming it as irrelevant, he drops it to the ground and goes for the next one.

I take the senator's office table and have a look at his phone calls. There are a lot of unregistered ones, but that's not enough to accuse him. Going by a hunch, I try the one that connects to the landline network. To my surprise, it even gets answered!

“Tuviard mansion, who are you?” a voice answers the call.
I wet my lips. “Samantha Harlton here, do I know you?”
The voice stays silent for a moment. “No. Samantha, what's your relationship to the Tuviards?”

Suddenly an arm is on my shoulder and I flinch, but it's just Marcus. He silently moved to my side while I was talking. “The Tuviards are a branch family of Trebor's household. I assume that you are talking to a DF agent. They must be raiding their house right now.”

I nod and clear my throat, then I answer with a cheerful voice. “I don't know the Tuviards. Actually I must have entered the wrong number, sorry!” Then I disconnect the call.
“Well, at least that's a lead,” I mumble and continue the search.

“It may be enough. My parents went on witch hunts for less. And their reputation already suffered enough during the recent weeks. Father won't care about a little more trouble,” Marcus mumbles.
I cross my arms in front of my chest. “What could be any more trouble than some asshats who are trying to summon mindless weapons of mass destruction to your city? Oh, let me correct that, according to our recent findings those weapons are not as mindless as we thought, which makes them all the more dangerous.”

Marcus reaches for yet another folder, but this time he isn't rewarded with yet another legal document, but blueprints. He frowns and studies them intensely. As I watch, his expression turns worried and then enraged. I myself can't make anything out of the blueprints, but they seem to be for some kind of underground complex. “Is there a problem?”

He raises the papers. “Those are plans for the high security prison under the palace! Nobody should have these!”
“Prison? You actually have a real dungeon under your palace? How old fashioned! Will you take me on a little tour when all of this is over? I am interested in all sorts of dungeons and high security installations. You could call it a hobby of mine.” I ask and pull on my lower lip.

That startles Marcus, but he pulls himself together and hurries to the door. “That place isn’t for vacations. We use it to lock up the worst of the worst. Spirits and all sorts of divine rank criminals who still have a little more value alive than dead.”
I follow him and we sprint at inhuman speed down the corridor, shocking a group of guards. Seems like Marcus is really afraid of whoever is imprisoned down there.

He busts us through the security checkpoints by shamelessly using his authority. The guards seem to be too intimidated to even ask for an identity check. I have to remember this. If I manage a satisfyingly real illusion, I may be able to walk in here without a fuss.
It doesn’t take long and we arrive at something like a throne room. It’s the first time that I get to see it and the beauty takes my breath away. The room’s walls are filled with wooden carvings and gold inlays.

And there is a really nice artwork of a battle scene on the ceiling.

While I am caught up in admiring the craftsmanship, Marcus points at a man who is standing close to the throne. He barks a few orders for the guards, and the man with a lean figure and grey hair is enclosed in a barrier. I admire the fact that the soldiers didn’t even blink to delay their reaction. They simply followed the order without question. A nice attribute in a guard as long as nobody manages to impersonate a person who has authority over them.

Charles stands up from his throne, Clarity at his side. “What’s this supposed to mean?”
Marcus raises the documents. “We’ve found some leads which caused suspicions towards Senator Zhon. Several calls from his office link him to Trebor’s associates. And upon searching his rooms, I found these.” He throws the blueprints at Zhon, but the papers harmlessly impact the barrier which is locking him in. “Why would you need the blueprints for the prison under the palace? Do you want to bust someone or something out of there? Don’t you realize-”

Zhon didn’t say a single word so far, but his eyes suddenly seek something behind me and he nods. Before I can turn around, a searing pain explodes in my back and a blade bursts from my chest. A second blade comes up from behind and stops just a moment before it touches my throat. I want to scream the pain away, but all that comes out of my mouth is blood. The people in the room stand still, like frozen, nobody even daring to move, including me. Well, I don’t want to make it worse by increasing the injury. Judging from the blood in my mouth, my attacker must have penetrated a lung.

Not instantly deadly, but hurts!

“Drop the barrier. Then we can talk about letting her live,” A voice demands from behind me.
Marcus raises his hands and a bow of light appears in them. “She dies, you die!”
The man who has his knife in my guts twists it, just to make a point. “Oh, I don’t think so.”

“Why don’t we try to speed up the inevitable, now that the masks are off.” Zhon raises his hand and his body makes a drastic transformation right in front of us. He grows a set of sharp teeth and horns. His eyes turn black and his fingernails turn to claws. He is one of the spirits who tried to open a second portal.
Zhon’s eyes wander to the king. “We demand your total surrender, or this realm will fall by invasion. The spirit realm will take over.”

Charles focuses his entire attention on Zhon. “And what if we would rather ally ourselves with Dedessia?”
Zhon squints his eyes, but shows no reaction otherwise. “Dedessia fell to our invasion forces long ago. They are just barely avoiding the inevitable by being too stubborn to surrender to us. It’s a barren and poor realm. They don’t even have a proper government. Not worthy of much attention. Besides, I think we can do some damage to your ruling cabinet before we go down.”

Four other people who seemed like advisers pull weapons and change into various spirit forms. But their forms differ from person to person. They look much more like the forms I am used to. Are they from Dedessia?

Then I realize what Zhon just said. What’s this guy talking about? I would rather say that we don’t give a shit about the spirits as long as they don’t enter the safe zones. They can struggle on their own for survival in Dedessia’s wilderness. Why should we protect desert and untamed jungles or even swamps from them? Do they have the illusion that they defeated us?

We eat spirits for breakfast because there is often no other source of meat! Why would they even get the idea? Oh, that reminds me, do the people of Newerth ever have a reason to eat spirits? Their realm is well off and they certainly don’t lack food. Could it be that eating spirits supplies some form of hormones to take on spirit form without turning mad? That explanation actually sounds reasonable to me.

I reach up and grab the blade which is protruding from my chest. My other hand takes the man’s hand which is threatening to cut my throat. He tightens his grip and growls, “Don’t move, or I’ll sever your head from your shoulders.”

A gurgling laugh escapes my lips as I release my aura, all of it!

I feel my horns and tail grow as I hurl my body around, pulling the man’s hand with me. Stepping out, I trip him over my leg while securing the blade in my chest with an iron grip. Handling pain is one of my strong points. I never quite learned to switch it off, like my parents do, but I have a very high tolerance from the start. Getting caught in their traps hardened me.

He loses his grip on the weapon in my back and lets go, dropping the knife which he had at my throat, he catches it in his free hand. Now that I get a good look at him, I recognize the assassin. It’s hard to do so, because he also switched to his spirit form, with long elven ears and high cheek bones. But I am certain. My parents shared their memories with me. He is one of the slavers who escaped through the portal.

He tries to knife me, but the death magic which is surrounding us weakens him. I bat the weapon away and embrace him, pulling back his head. Then I sink my teeth into his throat and take a hearty bite. He shudders and twitches in my arms as I chew on his carotid artery. I swallow as I drop him and feel my wings spreading from my back. It sure feels good to be back.

“Neck tissue is so chewy… just blood vessels, skin, muscle and tendons.” I crack my shoulder blades to allow my wings to grow. “Actually, I think that you are afraid that Dedessia and Newerth compare notes, just to find out that eating you guys grants control over our spirit forms. I’ve thought long and hard about it without finding a satisfying answer. This is the first theory which can easily be put to the test!”

The man to my feet stops twitching. As if that was a signal, the room dissolves into chaos. Zhon batters against the barrier while his comrades attack the guards who are channelling mana into the barrier. Charles jumps into action and Marcus fires an arrow at one of the spirits.
The resulting flash of light annihilates the spirit and punches a huge hole into the wall which I adored just moments ago.

Zhon breaks his barrier and jumps at Marcus, throwing a stone at the ground behind him. I scream as a portal snaps into existence and Marcus is pushed through. Without thinking about the possible danger, I jump in behind them. Not one moment too late, as the portal snaps shut behind me and severs two of my wings.
While moving through a tunnel between dimensions, the three of us grapple with each other. In a mindless rage, I rake my fingernails across Zhon’s face and suddenly he is gone.

I hold onto Marcus as I reach out for the pathways and pull at them with all my power, expending all of my energy. Then we are whisked away by the flow of energies, but I don’t care where the pathways take us. As long as it isn’t where Zhon intended us to go, it will be fine. Then the darkness takes me and I realize that ignoring the blade inside me might not have been a good idea.



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Andur

  • Phantasm

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