24 「Theocratic Power」
"The Black Scripture has failed to return..."
In conference, the Cardinals of the Slane Theocracy stood there in a magnificent room with blue carpets and three stained glass windows shining at their backs. A long alter stood behind them and the area they stood upon was elevated by at least a foot above the base.
"Were they wiped out? All of them...?"
The group stared down in front of them where the Captain would have been kneeling before them. It was hard to even fathom the idea that anyone was capable of doing this.
Could it be the second coming of the Gods? Had it been a dragon? With the twelve which had gone off on the mission to find Commander Nigun, it was quite clear that even the World Item was lost.
"There have been reports of a massive horde of undead coming our way. Initial reports have indicated that some of the undead are identical to the military forces under the Black Scripture's command."
"What? Could it have been a powerful necromancer?" It was too late to say they'd have to be wary of them, even though it was still the truth. The Sunlit Commander was gone, and now there was only one member of the Black Scripture left.
The six Cardinals were wearing thoughtful expressions. They didn't have any resources to send in to this, especially after this loss.
A member of the Windflower Scripture Information Gathering Unit came into the room, before quickly and subtly kneeling in front of them the moment he was in their presence.
"The body of Kaire and Time Turbulence have been found, as well as the decapitated head of Lady Clementine... There are no bodies," The Scripture member looked up to them with a frown on his lips.
"And the Downfall of Castle and Country? Where is it?!" One of the Cardinals was clearly uncomfortable as no matter where they looked on the individual, the dress was no where to be found.
"It's missing... Lady Kaire was stripped of her clothes and trampled to death by the undead horde."
"And what is the status of the horde?"
"It's still on the move, it's attacking every living thing that moves." He reported with his head still lowered. He dared not look up at them with such news leaving his tongue.
"Do we have any intelligence of their origins?"
"We found evidence of high level magic being used and foot prints which concentrated magical residue." He reported and turned his head to the side slightly as he heard the doors that had onced closed behind him open again.
It was none other than Zesshi Zetsumei. The small female made her way into the room, her eyes gazing side to side. She was looking for just about anyone, or anything. However she wasn't worried, just curious. The Black Scripture hasn't returned and et there was someone reporting to the Cardinals.
One of the Cardinals grumbled seeing her enter the room, late. She hadn't come when summoned, yet she comes whenever she pleases.
"So... Where is the Black Scripture?" She was hardly trying to hide a smile. "I don't see the Captain." Her heterochromatic eyes centered on the agent from the Windflower Scripture.
Her eyelids closed partially as she looked over his face, how he held himself, the back up to the Cardinals. They were looking at her with frowns across their lips.
"They've been lost, having been attacked by an unknown entity after failing to apprehend and capture a powerful Vampire." Replying to her question in disappointment, they placed their palm on their foreheads as if their brain was hurting.
"Oh," Zesshi didn't appear to care all that much at all based on her emotional response, or more like the lack there of. Instead she just asked a question to clarify, "No one survived?"
"No one." One of the Cardinals looked down at the Agent, having a hard time believing that the Scripture had been eliminated by a single powerful individual. Whomever had killed them, even when three of them were already either injured or dead, it was clear they should be wary of them.
"Is that so..." A wide smile found its way across her lips, believing that someone was actually worth fighting if they could defeat her colleagues. Her voice had been entirely rhetorical and an undertone of excitement and yearning.
She wanted someone powerful to mate with, someone who could defeat her or be her equal. Her tongue tickled her lips as she glanced towards the doors of the conference room.
She could only imagine should she have a child of a being strong enough to defeat her, how strong the child could possibly be. She slowly turned from the Cardinals, dancing about in her own thoughts. Of course her exterior was hardly as provoked, but she was clearly aroused and her mind stimulated.
Her eyes were smiling, a large creepy grin across her lips. She brought what looked like a Rubik's cube to her shoulder which had been in one of her hands.
"Is that all you have to report?" The Cardinals watched as she was leaving, waiting for the agent to continue speaking or finish their report.
"We are unable to resurrect or revive Time Turbulence and the others who fell against the Vampire became members of the Horde. Out of all of the zombies, they appear to be the most powerful of the gathering." The agent continued to report as he was instructed.
However after hearing this, Zesshi turned her head and looked over at him.
"How many are in this horde?"
"Estimated in the hundreds."
"That's not a horde! That's an army!"
The Agent closed his eyes and dipped his head even further, to the point that his chin was pushing into his chest. The disappointment was radiating off of the cardinals. Everything it seemed they had set up was practically crumbling.
"The City closest to the border is currently at risk of being attacked. Their walls have been sealed, that is the last of the news I have."
"How should we deal with this..." The Cardinals began to talk amongst themselves again.
"Warily. The Vampire likely isn't the culprit who left behind the magic residue in the soil."
"We have to investigate more. Especially due to the sudden appearance of that wall around the village Nigun had attacked. We shou--"
"Wall?" Zesshi turned her head and looked at them. A wall suddenly appeared around a village? Walls took a long time to build, someone had to be extremely powerful in order to summon such a thing.
That creepy grin, became a horrifying smile as her hair cast a shadow on her face over her eyes.
"The Citadel that appeared in the North two weeks ago, it moved to the Carne Village... I've... I've met the man who lives there. He was in E-Rantel as a member of the Adventurer's Guild."
Wait, the agent's thoughts were putting things together as the silence was giving him time to think. The Citadel had moved to the village, a massive wall along with it. He was hardly dressed as an Adventurer, or even a Villager. He looked like a soldier dressed in that getup of his.
"His name is Cipher, I saw the Head Warrior give him a letter of introduction."
"A letter of introduction...?"
"Was he being recruited by the Head Warrior?"
The Agent shook his head, it didn't seem that way. If anything he was being invited to have an audience with the King, or to be freely capable of entering the castle.
"He didn't really look like an Adventurer despite lingering around an outfit of them and most of the time he had a sword at his side."
"A sword?" That was very vague, the Cardinals though were interested in whatever weapon he had been carrying.
"It was sheathed the entire time, but it wasn't a normal weapon, it gave off a faint glow."
The description again wasn't much to go on, but it was clear that whomever this person was, had a connection to three things. E-Rantel, Carne Village and the Citadel. Could this individual have been involved in this situation as well, the death of their Scripture?
"Dispatch additional intelligence gathering on the Citadel and its inhabitants." One of the Cardinal ordered with a tone of absolute, "learn as much as possible."
Jack wiped his nose with the back of his hand, "That was weird..." It felt as if someone had been talking about it, but he didn't quite know who, not yet anyways.
Sitting on the bed in the vacant house within the village, he was staring out the glass window towards the dark outside. During the entire first day of the funeral activities, the Blue Roses hadn't left him alone.
Lakyus of all people chased him about, but the more that had went down, the more he came to conclude that it wasn't the King who sent them. It was the Princess, as climb was with them and it was unlikely the King would send him out by demand. Or at least that was what he was thinking.
So since they didn't leave him alone, he trapped them in a magic box that would hold them for several hours. Thankfully the interior was conditioned at a constant sixty-five degrees and it had its own air supply. Otherwise they would have suffocated or something along those lines.
Tapping his lower lip, he laid his back against the bed and turned his head to the side. The room was decorated in personal effects of people who had died during the incursion by the Sunlit Scripture, which made it somewhat eerie.
Hearing the squeaking of the hinges though, his eyes darted on over to the shaded figure entering the room. A small smile crept across his lips as his eyes met the one entering.
It was Nina, dressed in a light tan sweater with dark brown leather patches sewn seamlessly onto the shoulders and elbows. It reached down to her thighs, allowing her legs to be shown off a bit.
They appeared smooth after a bath, shaven even. His eyes moved up her legs, traced the lines of the sweater up to her chest. There were small lumps there as she wasn't wearing the binding she had worn before when she was dressed as a boy.
Finally when he met her eyes with his own, he raised a brow.
She was flushing in the face, it was clear she was uncomfortable due to her humble personality.
He watched as she swallowed mildly before walking over to the bed and sitting down beside him. His eyes fluttered down to watch as the sweater rode up her thighs a bit, revealing a pair of white cotton undergarments. However he didn't stare as his eyes shot right back up to her face.
Resting her hands in her lap, she brought one leg up onto the bed, bending it to rest her foot against the side of the adjacent leg. Her fingers fidgeted with one another as her own eyes were glossy and red, which really brought out the blue hue of her irises.
"I saw you talking to Peter," Jack had talked to his dead sister plenty of times. Though he hadn't tried talking to her since he had arrived. Though after saying this, he began to think, what if he made a tombstone in tribute to her?
"Yeah.." This faint smile didn't cover up the way her chest shook every time she took a deep breath. It was clear she was still upset, but she was too tired to keep crying, to keep thinking of how it could've been different.
Glancing over towards the dresser in the room, her eyes rested on her items she had put onto it. Her journal to be more precise, as it hadn't moved since she had put it down.
When she originally came in here, she intended to sit and write in it, yet she had automatically went over to him seeing him in here. Her eyes traced his sapphire blue eyes, which seemed to be looking into her and picking her apart.
"I have something for you," he reached out to the side as his item box activated.
Ninya's eyes focused on the hand which traveled inside and pulled out a vial of dark crimson liquid. It looked more like blood than anything, but it looked syrupy, almost like a red sap.
She looked at him after he had placed it down on the bed, "What is that?"
"A power enhancement formula, think of it as an instant experience potion."
"An... Experience potion?" There was such a thing? She knew there were healing potions, stamina potions and the like. The question was though, what was the definition of an experience potion. How did one turn experience into a liquid in the first place?
"An item which immediately makes you stronger, without the futile grind."
"Without the futile grind..." Ninya repeated the words he said as he stared at the item. At first it didn't make sense to her until she thought back to when he was 'training' her in the use of magic. How he pretty much inserted the information into her mind.
She stared at the vial for a few moments before looking over at him.
Just what would she do with the powers she would be given? She still had to save her sister, but she had to find her first. Would this help her at all? She pursed her lips, she also didn't want to die like her friends did, at the hands of evil, hopeless and alone.
Plucking the glass vial she popped the cork off of it and sniffed it.
Despite its origins, the item smelled like mints and parsley. It hardly even matched its color in that respect in which was still reminiscent of dark blood itself.
"I just... Drink it?" She from the vial and then to him. "And it makes me more... What?"
"Powerful, knowledgable, maybe even just a bit more experienced? Each one is a bit different." The one he was having her drink was the Third Seat which was in his own right a powerful spell caster. Though he had hardly been given much of a chance by Jack to even exercise his might.
"Because of the ingredients?"
Trusting him, Ninya lulled her head back with the vial held to her lips. She continued to gulp down the very syrupy liquid. It tasted exactly as it smelled, which was strange, but also fascinating. Just the moment it touched her tongue she started to feel different.
She felt like the world was swimming through a current, that she was being touched by a cool breeze in all places even where she was covered up.
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Within a few seconds the vial was empty and she was placing it down on the bed as she flopped onto her back. She closed and opened her eyes, blinking several times. It was like she was buzzed on alcohol or high on some sort of herbal supplement, her eyes lagged behind her subconscious calculations that took care of her hand eye coordination and higher thinking.
Bringing her free hand up to her face, her eyes went wide as she moved it to and fro, before just planting it on her face. "I feel so weird..."
The bed shifted slightly and she let her arm fall to her side, her immediately noting Jack straddling over her and leaning forward. Her lips parted now, still quite a bit dazed by the experience. "Wh-waha... What are you doing?"
Jack chuckled a bit hearing her ask what he was doing, but instead he was looking into her eyes and checking for any signs of weakness. In a matter of seconds he was able to tell she was entirely fine, but she was already several times stronger than she was before consuming the potion.
"We're going to be leaving for the Royal Capital in a few days, we'll be staying there for a little while." Resting his arms on the bed at either side of her head, he lowered his face close to hers as he remained on top of her.
"Huh..? W-why?" Ninya burped, almost without any reservation or forethought, right in his face.
"I've been summoned to speak with the King on certain matters," he was giving a partial truth. It was likely they were going to want to slap shackles of his wrists and try to tame him.
It was unlikely that they'd be able to even succeed in such a feat though, at least that is what he believed. Should they too have a world item like the Slane Theocracy had, the Re-Estize Kingdom would have to go immediately. Not that it would be independent much longer anyways.
While Momonga was off dealing with those Lizard men, he had his own plans for the Royal Family and the corrupt nobles. Though he was sure the problems he would be facing there would be minimal.