Chapter 43 – Trade (iii)

Zilan’s field of vision was shrouded with darkness, his body felt unusually light and a faint force was pushing and pulling him in different directions. To him his speed of movement was steady and calm but in actuality his real speed was something unimaginable.

Just as he was getting used to the strange sensation, a bright light came into view and before he could react Zilan was thrusted through.

He instinctively closed his eyes in order to adjust to the sudden assault of blinding light.

“We’re here.” said Mnyama.

Zilan slowly opened his eyes only to be amazed at what he was seeing.

“Where is this place?”

Mnyama smiled as he said,

“It’s the real Inje base of my Shadow faction. The other factions also have their own bases but ours is not only unique but it’s also….special.”

Zilan was in a gigantic cavern that had dozens of levels. However what surprised him the most was the fact that the rocky walls of the cavern were coated with glowing slime of various colours, beautifully illuminating the entire space.
Also, on the ceiling was an eye catching collection of five gigantic emerald jewels that gave of strange, invisible energy.

“Follow me!”  Mnyama moved through the corners and wide corridors before coming to a halt before a solitary black door that connected to nothing.

“Isn’t this…”

“This place is too large so we’ll have to use one of the Head’s voids if I want to keep your existence a secret.” said Mnyama as he pointed towards the door.

“A void? So the Head of this faction has already surpassed the soul-compression stage.”

Mnyama was the first to walk through, then Zilan without hesitating went in and finally Jeza. The experience wasn’t that different from the void stone however one thing that stood out was that he was moving faster.

When he opened his eyes again Zilan was in a large office that strangely apart from a giant desk, some chairs, and an exquisite rug had nothing else in it.
However that didn’t bother Zilan much, what disturbed him was the fact that he had yet to even catch a glimpse of another soul aside from Jeza and Mnyama in this ‘base’.

“Please, have a seat.” smiled Mnyama who had already taken his place behind the gigantic desk in the centre of the room.

Zilan complied and sat down but there was an obvious hostile reaction from Mnyama when Jeza did the same.
With his threatening gaze focused on her he asked a question that not only shocked Jeza but left her with no clue on how to answer.

“Where’s Tort?”

Without thinking she turned to Zilan who surprisingly nodded towards her before opening his mouth to say,

“He’s dead….we have the bodies with us.”

For a split second, Mnyama’s expression changed however he quickly shifted back as he now was addressing Zilan.

“How did it happen?”

Zilan paused but unable to come up with a good enough excuse he decided to say,

“I don’t know!”

Not having a plan wasn’t entirely true in Zilan’s case, in fact he was fairly confident that Mnyama would come to his own conclusion. All he needed to do was make sure to not give him a reason to doubt that conclusion.

Why was he so confident? Mnyama mentioned danger and the fact that he’s hiding Zilan’s existence from his own people is more than enough basis.

Just as predicted Mnyama’s imagination ran wild. He swept his gaze over Jeza who had her head lowered and then at Zilan who looked him right in the eye.
He then sighed and whispered,

“It must be them again!”

“Them?” asked Zilan.

Before answering, Mnyama turned towards Jeza and in a tone that left no room for discussion ordered,
“Walk to the left for five minutes, there’ll be a door. Get out!”

Jeza gave Zilan a look but immediately stood up and obediently headed for the door.

Only when he had confirmed that she had left did Mnyama elaborate.

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“For the past few years an unlikely war has been going on in the shadows. Not many people are even aware of the lengths that certain people have gone to and the acts committed in order to come out on top.”

Mnyama paused as he observed Zilan’s reaction to his next statement,

“It’s even reached a point where collaborations with human kingdoms has become normal and accepted!”

Zilan’s eyes widened,

“What do you mean? Just what are you talking about?”

Mnyama sighed but continued,

“It’s true that we do trade with humans occasionaly however, that is trade and it has a minimal adverse affect on our people. Just like humans fight amongst themselves we also have our own internal disputes however there is a time when we unite and forget about our differences and that is when it comes to the fight against humans.”

“You see…not all humans care too much about us, they leave us alone and we do the same but then there comes along that breed of humans that are just wired to steal and destroy….those are the creatures we as ‘Beasts’ refuse to bow down to. At least, that was the case before these damned Inheritance sites started appearing.
At first it was impossible to attain anything game changing from the sites, but as time went on the weakest faction in their desperation formed an alliance with not one, but five of our main enemies in order to obtain the rewards of the sites. Before the other factions including us could react, that cursed alliance after exhausting countless resources was able to obtain great power from the Inheritance site. We foolishly pursued and attacked those traitors with our full force but….”

Mnyama’s expression shifted from calm to regretful to enraged in the span of a few seconds. He clenched his fists so tightly that they started shaking uncontrollably.

“The strongest faction’s Head….and most of his elites were completely and easily wiped out by their power. Unable to fight we fled….but then site after site started being discovered and after exhausting most of our means we were finally able to figure out how to clear the sites but the answer led us to another dead end.”

“What?”

“A team of highly skilled spirit masters, Alchemists, and practitioners is the minimum requirement!”

“With your resources and strength, how is that a problem?” wondered Zilan.

“Ha! The enemy had this information first. If you were them what would you do?”

“I would…n..no way…did they really?”

“Of course! Every Alchemist that does not join them would end up dead, missing or in hiding…..we took too long to catch on and by the time we did every faction had separated and then a scramble for skilled people and Inheritance sites had begun.”

“Right now people in sites all over these lands are dying either protecting those sites from the Alliance of traitors, fighting amongst themselves for the rights to the site or killing each other and dying while trying to attain the treasures the sites hold.”

“In order to survive in this new world where the ideals of the Ancestors who died for them no longer seem to hold weight, our faction has no option but to find, secure and challenge our own sites. Unfortunately, we have a shortage of people skilled in Alchemy and the ways of the spirit so progress has been extremely slow. The only good thing about this whole situation is that ‘those’ bastards haven’t made a single move, so we’re still stable but I suspect they have agents within those kingdoms.”

“If that is truly the case then this war….Senior Zilan, I….” Before he could finish Zilan had already given an answer.

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“I won’t participate in your war!” His words were firm as he had confidence that Mnyama would do nothing due to the fear of an ‘Angry Dragon’ descending upon him. “That is unless you help me achieve my own goals!”

“Right now, I am too weak! In order to get stronger I’ll put myself right in the middle of this thing but first I’ll need to make sure I’m prepared.”

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