The Bandit King gave a blank stare while sitting down at a slanted position. The bandits were murmuring, wondering why their King was still silent. Judging by the atmosphere, meetings held like this one wasn’t so gloomy. Maybe this symbolized a losing conflict, the shifting tides of war. Zyna chuckled, leaning near to the Bandit King’s ear and whispering something. The mood changed after a moment with the giant man standing suddenly and hammered the end of his ax’s shaft onto the ground. His men followed, slamming their fists, their jugs, their weapons, to anything and they cheered their king on while the Rebellion Knights sneered away. The King began his speech, telling everyone how the alliance between two enemies had kept their conflict a float. He boasted about his physical prowess and cursed the Damorian people.
“All of theirs will soon be ours,” he chanted, his men followed suit. “Their gold, their houses, their women too!”
He let out a war cry and his bandits cheered on. It took a couple of minutes for them to settle down, and the King returned to his gloomy, wasted self. To Aren’s eye, strange was the relationship between the Bandit King and Zyna. A blank expression on his face, giving nothing but a cold stare as if a mystical force controlled him. It was possible the Witch was manipulating everything behind the scenes, so this might be the chance to take her down and end this for sure. The thought of killing her now tempted him: Layette wouldn’t be used as bait anymore, Harley’s crimes could be surfaced, and the deal Dickus had made will be over.
He put his hand under the table, manifesting a dagger out of mana. When Zyna turned into their direction, the knife was thrown to her throat, piercing through her neck. Blood splattered all over the floor, everyone in shock. Then with one decisive strike, Zyna’s head came clean off. A glorious sight to behold in front of everyone.
Such mental image would satisfy him, even though it was within his consciousness. Considering this may be a trap set up by the Witch herself, it wasn’t the brightest of ideas to go charging in without a plan. With that in mind, Aren resisted the urge to kill her on the spot. Zyna spoke next, announcing where the combined forces will strike next: Greenville. With many of their combatants stationed at many areas of the city-town, they will launch a surprise attack once she gave the signal. The bandits snickered, excited to unleash their wrath upon the citizens of Greenville.
“That doesn’t sound good. Now we heard what we needed to hear, it’s time to go,” said Zellius.
“I agree,” came in Raynord. “The High Lords need to know an attack is imminent.”
Aren frowned and held his chin. He shook his head after some thought. “No, we can’t leave yet.”
“She knows we’re here! The b***h has something up her ass to tear us to oblivion!” warned Zellius. “While we have the incognito, we should dip!”
“No, there’s something off about this whole thing.” Aren frowned. “With the number of forces here, they can easily pull off a night raid and wipe their enemies. Why is that damn Witch trying to delay this assault…?”
Aren looked to his left to see a pair of Rebellion knights murmuring. Interested to hear what they had to say, he summoned a familiar under the table and the little mouse crawled its way to them. When the rodent reached under their legs, it went on its hind legs with ears raised.
“You hear about what she said about Greenville? It’s like she’s expecting us to do all of the work.”
“Yes. Strange. She’s telling us we are going to attack Greenville, yet we are being sent to siege a fortress.”
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“Fort Riverdell, if I remember correctly. Scouts say it’s guarded and filled with elite troops. Wonder why she wants us to fight there of all the places…”
“Maybe she’s trying to get that ‘secret weapon’ ready, but she better have it ready or else we’re screwed out there.”
“Yeah. Those damn bandits better know what they’re doing too.”
The rodent scurried back to its master and transferred its knowledge. It disintegrated into mana petals when its task was done, leaving no traces behind. Aren sighed. “Hmpf, so her true intentions is some fort. Alright, let’s go guys.”
“Welcome onboard! Now you’re the one with the brains, so how the hell are we going to get out of here Cap’?” said Zellius.
“As tempting it is to spring upon the chance to defeat all of our enemies, there are innocent people under here. We must agree to a course where those lives won’t be harmed. Fiore is also in our company, which makes it more the reason to steer to such course,” Raynord came in.
“Talk about deadweight.” Zellius scratched his head. “So, what’s the plan?”
Aren’s eye lingered around and he saw four black cloaked in certain areas of the underground hall. Their eyes were all on him and his group. Acknowledging the chance of them being the ones sent to kill them, he touched his chin and thought about the possibilities out. Getting up and trying to leave was the first idea. An obvious solution, yet stupid for the situation. Not only they will attract attention, but it will most likely draw everyone’s attention. Making a distraction can increase their chances, but the Witch might be expecting such an outcome and created a plan B for the scenario. While Aren thought of a third option Zyna managed to spot them. She didn’t rattle them out, rather she smiled. The Witch knew the chances of them escaping were close to none, so it was as if she wanted them to suffer in agony, knowing their death may happen at any moment. All seemed lost.
Then something came up in his mind: if all the plan a’s, b’s, or c’s wouldn’t work by themselves, why not combine them all together at once? Attack her with a spell which would give them the escape route. He told his companions the plan with a hushed tone.
“Are you serious?! You want to blow a hole to the top of the cavern?!” said Zellius.
“It might be the only way out of here. Come on, it’s a two-in-one combo!” assured Aren.
Raynord nodded. “Whatever it may be, as long it doesn’t hurt the innocent and Fiore.”
Aren smirked, grabbing Raynord’s arm and holding tightly. Mana swirled out from the Onion Knight’s body and into Aren’s. Raynord looked pale and the boy handed him a vial after he was done taking mana.
“Sorry about that, I can’t use magic that well at the current state I’m in. Drink that and you’ll be up and jiffy.” He nodded. “Alright, guys it’s gonna take some time to set everything up. If something goes down, it’s your job to keep em’ busy. Here goes nothing.”
Aren clasped his hands together, mystical energy began to form around him. Some of the knights noticed the unusual behavior, raising a brow upon the sudden burst of energy. Zellius smiled nervously while Raynord kept a raven’s watch on any burst of movement. Raynord spotted four black-robed figures approaching them. When they are close enough, three removed their hoods and revealed their faces.
A short, green-haired young woman stood behind Fiore. She watched in glee as the little bunny girl ate everything on the plate. She came close to Fiore, patting her head. “Oooh, this one’s a fighter. She ate the veggies even I would avoid!” The green-haired girl grinned. “My name’s Aifa but call me Big Sis okay? What’s yours?”
Fiore beamed. “F-Fiore.”
Aifa gasped. “Woah, that’s a pretty name! You must be a big girl to eat all of your greens. That’s what makes you strong.”
Even though he knew his sword was in no shape for combat, Raynord was ready to draw it at a moment’s notice. “You stay away from her, I’m warning you,” he growled, his eyes glaring with intense ferocity.
Aifa giggled. “Is that your big bro?”
Fiore shook her head. “H-He’s my new master, Miss A—I mean Big Sis.”
“Oh my. Looks like Big Sis is going to teach him a new one.” Aifa slammed her fist into the palm of her hand.
While Raynord was busy dealing with a possible enemy, someone tapped on Zellius’ shoulders. The young man turned around seeing two young girls standing behind him. Despite having identical faces, their way of appearance was like night and day. One had long black hair which reached up to her knees while the other had orange pigtails. The black-haired girl stared with her dark ruby eyes, showing no signs of expression while the other was more expressive, her scarlet eyes sparkling in youth. Their ears suggest they are elves so it’s safe to assume their age does not suit their child-like appearance. Despite this fact, Zellius gave them a stank look and turned his back on them.
“Ugh, kids? What are you little s***s doing here? Shoo,” glowered Zellius, gesturing them to leave.
“That one. Power. Strong,” said the black-haired girl.
The orange-haired girl massaged her neck. “She means your friend over there is doing some hogus-bogus. Sorry, my sis’ is not really the speaking type.”
“Like I care,” scoffed Zellius. “Didn’t hear what I said before, scat.”
The orange-haired girl sighed. “This is the guy Madam sent us to kill? What a douche. I dunno Cierra, for a guy who acts tough he’s pretty weak.”
“Cecilia. Sad. Shame.”
Zellius laughed. “So I’m stuck with the lolis huh? F**k it, if it’s a fight you want, then bring it punk.”
Cecilia frowned. “Oooh, I hate it when humans call us that word. Fine, I guess we’ll have to play around.”
Raynord and Zellius glanced at Aren, seeing the boy had developed a bright concentrated ball of energy. Everyone in the room felt the spike of power, the knights beginning to ready their weapons. If anything were to happen to them, the fourth black robed member was the only one who could stop him. The individual stood in silence, yet, unfazed by the threat in front of them. It seemed the person wanted to see this “plan” of Aren’s go through, and by allowing such to happen, it may give them some sense of scale to the boy’s power. Zyna watched from afar and when she realized something strange was going on, it was too late. Aren thrust his arms, releasing this small condensed mana to Zyna. It zoomed in front and past her, reaching to the cavern ceiling above.
The spell exploded, shattering hard rock above. The shockwave of the blast made it seem as if the entire town was under an earthquake. When everyone was trying to recover from the impact, rocks fell upon them, crushing anyone under it. Seeing this as a chance to escape, Aren used the last of his borrowed mana to make wind funnels for his companions to reach to the surface without getting hurt. Raynord grabbed Fiore, carrying her under his arms, and followed Aren and Zellius to their way out. As expected, the four figures pursued them, but their targets were too far ahead for them to catch up with them. Everything was going well and Aren was able to look in front without having too much to worry. To their surprise, a portal opened in front of Aren, Zellius, and Raynord when they reached to the end of the wind channel. Each of them entering in their own portals. Before they acknowledged what happened, the rifts closed and Aren’s party was separated from one another. A forest surrounded Zellius, Aren’s boots sank within a muddy swamp, and Raynord and Fiore were in the town square.
They will have to fight on their own, against the best of what the Phantoms of Sargata have to offer.