“How are you going to reach him?” asked Hihi.
“I intend to plant myself in the Alchemy association!” replied Zilan.
“Oh! It looks like Hihi’s genius is starting to rub off on you…hehe.” laughed Hihi.
“It isn’t a matter of smarts, Mnyama said that the Chairman rarely leaves the association so in order to get close to him I need to become a member.”
“Tsk, tsk….Zilan let this genius enlighten you on something. Sometimes the most obvious choice is the best one.” Hihi’s voice although slightly childish sounded surprisingly serious. “The fact that this Chairman rarely leaves his organisation and is aware of his role as their pillar, means that the Alchemy association is the most important thing to him in the world.”
“So what would happen if a genius suddenly appeared in his organisation? People don’t live forever…so then wouldn’t he look at this talent as clay that he can mould into his future successor? The most obvious choice is sometimes the best one but only because you don’t know the full story. If you were aware of all the circumstances surrounding this Chairman’s situation, you would still arrive at the conclusion of joining his organisation however the choice would not have been as obvious!”
Hihi’s words both shocked and enlightened Zilan however if he only knew that what Hihi had so proudly and confidently said was but a direct repetition of words once spoken by Sera the Spring Dragon then he might have collapsed from how thick Hihi’s skin really was.
To so arrogantly repeat the words of another and pretend to actually be a wise scholar while not even understanding half of the words uttered from his lips, only a truly shameless person can accomplish such a magnificent feat without batting an eyelash.
“So Zilan you must remember to listen to Hihi no matter…._”
Hihi’s self praising statement was suddenly interrupted by a knock on the door.
“You can enter.” said Zilan as he stood up from the bed.
Mnyama calmly entered the room, walked towards Zilan and with a smile said,
“All the preparations have been made. Your registrations as well as accommodation have both been arranged, as for the rest there are few things we need to talk about.”
“Good! Lets talk then.” Laughed Zilan. The good news came a bit later than he may have wanted but now that it was done he could hardly care anymore.
Mnyama found himself a seat before asking Zilan,
“Do you intend to get involved with the Alchemy association?”
His tone was neither forceful nor soft but it was clear how important the subject was.
“I do!” Immediately replied Zilan.
Mnyama stared at Zilan for a moment before nodding his head and saying,
“Fine. As long as you remain within the Association, your affiliation with us shouldn’t become known to others however the Head has some conditions.”
“More accurately its a contract so that you don’t forget who your true allies are.” Upon finishing that sentence, Mnyama took out a white beast skin about thirty centimetres wide and fifty centimetres long. The beast skin was filled with words, that conveyed the terms and conditions of Zilan and the Shadow factions ‘arrangement’.
Zilan skimmed through the contract and all in all, it appeared fair and reasonable. However there were a few conditions that caught his eye such as,
“When Alchemy services are required, you must give assistance.”
“When an Ancestral site is located and ready to be entered you must appear and proceed with us.”
“You are not allowed to give assistance to any other faction without permission to do so.”
The most eye catching condition though was the last one,
“If you intend on joining the Alchemy association then as long as the above rules are adhered to and the contract is signed, we can provide some aid.”
This extra stipulation needless to say extremely pleased Zilan however, as he thought about the contract as a whole he couldn’t help but feel that it sounded too good.
“Either there are secrets beneath the surface or I am greatly valued by this faction.” thought Zilan as he laughed inwardly.
“Is everything okay Senior Zilan?” asked Mnyama as he tried to get a read on Zilan from his expression.
“Hmm, it looks like everything is in order.” Replied Zilan.
“Great.” Mnyama clapped his hands in joy and then proceeded to fetch a peculiar feather from his voidless sack.
“Sign with this, its a spirit tool that will draw out a small portion of your life blood and use it as ink. This way the contract is one that you stake your life on and should you breach the terms some ‘punishment’ will be inflicted upon you.”
Mnyama shoved the pen into Zilan’s hands and spoke his words as quickly as possible so that they wouldn’t discourage him from signing.
Surprisingly though, Zilan didn’t hesitate in signing the contract. He knew exactly why the shadow faction had gone to such lengths to create a ‘blood agreement’.
They were simply afraid that in case something happened to him, they would be the primary targets of revenge for his non-existent and all powerful Dragon father. There was also the other more obvious reason which was to be able to effectively control Zilan.
Zilan currently had power to do anything he wanted as he had a backer more powerful than the Shadow faction so in order to keep him in check they implored a tactic where they have minimum liability in case of unforeseen events and maximum rewards should everything go according to plan.
Who’s to say that Zilan would listen to them if it was just an oral agreement? Plus they have no way of threatening him. Thus the only way their arrangement can work out for both sides is a blood agreement.
Once he was done signing, Zilan felt a slight change occur in his body but unfortunately he couldn’t pin point it. He then handed the beast skin back to Mnyama who happily placed it in his voidless sack.
“So when do we leave for Brivata?” inquired Zilan.
“When do you wish to leave? Everything has been prepared, we’ve even procured a guide for you within the city.” stated Mnyama.
Zilan was very satisfied by the treatment he was receiving.
“Then I’d like to leave immediately!”
Mnyama then led Zilan outside of the room and unexpectedly Jeza was there, presumably waiting to talk to Zilan.
She had a complicated expression on her face upon seeing Zilan. After all, it was him who had informed her that Mnyama had refused to tell him anything about Askari despite clearly knowing something. He then told her not to worry and that he would fix things in time however that made her even more anxious as time was something that was not on her side.
Later she then found out that they’d be going to Brivata which was the undisputed heaven on earth for all Beasts. It was impossible for her not to feel even an ounce of joy or excitement at the idea.
Which left her in a position where her feelings were just too complicated and conflicting.
“Are you ready? We’re about to leave.” said Zilan as he stared at Jeza.
She simply nodded as she had forgotten the reason she came to see Zilan. Maybe it was to vent her frustration or to question him on his plan to actually find Askari? She couldn’t remember!
Mnyama then carefully led the two through many winding corridors and voids however this time Zilan could clearly see that there were people within the base and not just a few of them. Their numbers as far as he could tell were definitely more than a hundred, his estimate came not just from those he could see but also from the bustling noise they created.
The three jumped out of a void and arrived next to another void door however this one had countless, complex inscriptions that caused Zilan to stare in disbelief.
“Who could have created such a thing?”
Hearing Zilan’s question, Mnyama proudly answered,
“The founder of our Faction!”