28 「Out of the Box」
Casually Jack came walking out of the front door of the house. Ninya was following behind him, yet before she could even greet the sun, there was a sudden shouting presence.
"How dare you lock me in a box!" Out of immaturity and anger, a bolt of ice came soaring through the air. It wasn't really meant to hurt anyone as it was a low-tier magical spell. However in that moment, the bolt clashed with Jack's bare shoulder and caused his skin to immediately became semi-transparent. Exposing his crystalline skeletal structure and his flaming jeweled sapphire eyes.
"Wha..." EvilEye lowered her arms as she stood there with the rest of the Adventurers from the Blue Roses. She was dumbfounded to see the glistening skeleton, along with his his transparent skin and organs that subtly wrapped the light around himself.
Letting out a low growl, Jack turned his head and cast a skill
In a split second, he was standing right behind the group.
"Huh?" Keno, also known as EvilEye, was just standing there for a few seconds before turning her head to look where he had gone. Only for her mask to break in half, fall to the ground, followed by her hair being cut just above her shoulders and the top of her red hood to be torn to shreds. "Eh!?!??!"
Lakyus who had told her not both throwing the attack at the man, was standing there staring where he had once been standing.
He had been faster than anyone could see.
Looking over to EvilEye, she opened her mouth slightly seeing how her once long hair had been sculpted short. The look actually seemed rather fitting.
However as she was looking at her friend she saw him in the corner of her eye, his skin regaining its solid color and his skeletal form vanishing beneath it.
"What the hell are you?" She had her hand on her weapon, she was seriously sure he was a member of the undead. As a hero, an adventurer, there had been too many times where they had been evil.
"Wouldn't you like to know?"
Keno felt the shredded remains of her hood before checking her hair. She was surrounded by the golden strands which once adorned her shoulders and back. Her red eyes then locked on him, she was sure he was well above her level and even the combination of these Adventurers who were now considered her friends, were no match.
As she felt the shape of her hair, she frowned. It was similar to how she used to wear her hair two hundred or so years ago when she was still known as Keno, the young Princess of Invernia.
Seeing her red eyes, pale complexion and adorable face. Jack's sudden explosion of anger and retaliation quickly calmed down and his eyes rested on the Vampire who had hit him with ice.
He completely ignored the fact that the rest of the group were ready to pull their weapons on him. That was until he rested his eyes on Climb. "You," he pointed at Climb with a dull look on his face.
Ninya meanwhile hid behind the front pocket door of the house.
"Me?" Climb pointed to himself and exclaimed.
"Yes. You. The one who serves the Golden Princess," he said the name in an indifferent tone.
Climb raised a brow as this man seemed to know his position. It was likely he knew the alignment of the particular party since it was often manipulated and used to give the Princess a better image.
Lakyus and Gagaran moved in front of him, as if protecting him from the pointer finger, whilst the twins flanked them on either side.
Lowering his hand, he smirked slightly at this, opening his item box; taking out what looked like a dark crimson vial of blood. "You train to become stronger, yet all of its just a grind." He gestured towards the item in his hand. "Do you want to become even stronger than all your hard-work will allow?"
In his hand was the potion made by the 10th Seat of the Black Scripture, also known as the Strongest Human. It was clear if he were to give him this, he'd gain that man's physical prowess.
Lakyus kept her hands on her weapon, she had no idea what he was offering, but it was sounding too good to be true. It was also sounding like there would be a catch to it.
"What is that...?" Climb placed a hand on Lakyus's shoulder and moved in front of her, his free hand idling on the hilt of his sword. He was offering him power, which in turn he could use to protect Princess Renner.
"It's a potion, an Elixir of Accumulated Experience. This'll make you as powerful as Gazef, if not stronger." Though even if he were to have this, he'd still be no match for him. Should Climb fight him later on some day, all Jack had to do was assimilate him.
"He helped Gazef, giving him that high-tier healing potion," Gagaran surmised as she looked to Lakyus to see if the leader of their group would cease hostilities or if they were going to be brought into action.
Keno who was just standing there for a moment, locked her eyes on the vial. Despite the deep scent of mint and parsley, she could still make out the smallest scent of blood present. That item in his hand had been derived from a person.
Her sight glided over towards Climb who was naively thinking of taking it. If he took it, he'd be drinking another human being or sentient individual of great power.
Bringing her eyes back to center on the potion, she stepped forward.
"Stop messing around," Keno sharply spat.
"Oh..." his eyes wandered over her for a moment before locking on Ninya who was walking off towards the headstones. His eyes followed every step and breath she took, before moving back to the Blue Roses and the Bodyguard of the Kingdom's only Princess.
"We have to take you to the Capital," Climb stated watching Jack put the potion away the moment he spoke up. It seemed the deal was immediately off when he sided against him.
"You have today and tomorrow left to wait."
"Why do we have to wait?"
"Because, its a custom you'll just have to accept."
"A custom from what?"
"An extinct religion."
They stared at him when he had referred to a religion as extinct. So it was clear he didn't worship the Four Great Gods from the human nations, or the Six Great Gods from the Theocracy.
Though of course that could be explained since he wasn't a human being from what they knew. He was some sort of entity, undead or otherwise Heteromorphic.
"Plus I recently gained a house guest last night, a spy from the Baharuth Empire, so I have a few things to deal with before setting off anyways..." His eyes trailed over towards the Villagers as people were beginning to do their chores and daily activities.
"A spy?" Climb's eyes widened as he stepped forward, immediately alarmed at the news. It was strange that a spy appeared the same night as the day they had arrived at the village.
"Technically four spies, workers really. I sent the other three on a task if they want to get their person back." He seemed to be bragging about this, definitely making sure they knew that the Kingdom wasn't the only government interested in him and his ability to move the citadel.
"Four... While we were in the box," they all seemed to stare through him.
Lakyus was curious of what he had made them go do in order to get their companion back. It was like thinking of a battle of morals. She wondered how he was treating the prisoner. "What'd you send them off to do?"
"Eliminate the Death Cult known as Zurrernorn that claimed the lives of the party I was accompanying. The Lives were are currently celebrating," His eyes moved towards Ninya who was standing over at the graves. She was fully dressed in her normal attire, though she was wearing the sweater he had given her. "She is the sole survivor."
Keno looked over towards the girl who was standing there, firmly holding a wooden staff in her hands. She had a slightly boyish figure, but she was definitely a slender female.
"How exactly did she survive?"
"She was here with me when Zurrernorn attacked E-Rantel. We arrived only in time to find their bodies," his lower lip twitched, he was still angry about that plus the fact that he hadn't resurrected them. Instead he made that impossible.
Lakyus's combative stance ceased hearing this and she could only stare at him. The amount of emotion he displayed and expressed across his body was too hard to fake. If anything he was holding back.
Lakyus could only imagine losing her whole party in a manner in which they couldn't be revived from.
"She'd be dead if I didn't ask her to inspect the wall with me..."
Keno stared at him now that she heard this part of his story. She had already noticed she was much stronger than she had been the last time she saw Ninya. So he was sure he had her drink one of those potions. She bit her lower lip slightly.
He made her stronger so he wouldn't lose her. So that she wouldn't be a burden. A simple remedy. She knew though, that there was always a bigger fish.
"Anyways..." He gathered their attentions back on him once more. "You may stay at the Inn over there," He pointed towards the Inn built near the Citadel. "Free rooms, free three meals a day for your stay."
"F-f-free?" Hearing this almost made them curious of his motives.
"As long as you don't mention having to go to the Capital until the time comes."
Their suspicions immediately dropped the second he gave his condition, the catch to his offer.
After that the group, excluding EvilEye, wandered off to explore the village and see what they could find out about the Citadel.
Keno on the other hand was picking up the pieces of her robe and mask which were on the ground. Separating it from the long locks of her hair. When a shadow was cast over her, she looked up towards Jack who was now towering over her with a hand out for her mask. Puffing up her cheeks, furrowing her brows and her lips frowning to one side angrily she hugged the bits to her chest.
That was until he reached forward, jerked her arm away and caused her things to fall from her grasp.
When she went to reach out and grab the stuff as they fell, all of it stopped and he pulled the things into his hands via telekinesis. Silently, he waved a hand over them causing a shining light to envelope them.
The mask would be placed back together, made whole once more. While the Robe would suddenly repair itself while she was wearing it.
Keno blinked several times as she looked over the hood then over towards the mask which he was holding out for her to take. It looked as good as new, rejuvenated even. Then she paused and tilted her head looking it over. An enchantment had been added. "What did..."
"I enchanted your mask with a single use of 「Gate」, a tenth tier teleportation magic which opens a portal big enough for a group of people to enter."
Keno blinked several times as she knew what Tenth tier magic was. "But why would you give this to me of all people?"
"You know what it feels like to lose your friends, don't you?"
Keno just stood there, staring up at him as he knew she was a companion. She already knew he knew due to their conversation when they first met, but still.
"Think of this as a quick escape, or a toy for a rainy day," Jack couldn't help but smile candidly at the girl as she slowly brought the mask back to her face. She was cute, she reminded him of his sister due to her apparent age, not her true age.
"I won't forgive you that easily..." She gave him a light prod in the stomach with her fist, before she turned away form him and began to walk after her friends.
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With the Blue Roses going off to do their own thing, he returned to the house and walked inside. Sliding the door shut, he would make his way to the bedroom.
His eyes then rested on Arche who was sleep, even drooling on the comforter. Waking over to the bed, he reached over and undid the knots which kept her restrained. Then tossed the binds onto the floor and healed the marks left around her waists, ankles and legs.
「Widen Magic, Restrict」
With the magic he just cast on her, she was now unable to leave the house even should she be free to move around. A small tilt of his head, and he went on to cast another spell in order to wake her up.
With a shining green light, her eyes slowly began to open as energy surged through her body. She felt like she had slept for hours, even though it had only been about a half hour or just ten minutes.
Quickly orienting herself, she shot up onto her knees like a rocket. The moment she noticed she wasn't in restraints, she went to dart off the bed. Only to face plant right into his chest when she turned around to lunge off the bed. "Ooof!"
Ever so lightly shoving her back onto the bed with a light chuckle, "You can't leave the house. I mean, you could try, but unless you can cast Eighth tier, I wouldn't bother trying."
Arche laid on her back with her lower lip folded under her upper as it was inflated with the air in her mouth. She was clearly displeased with the current situation. "If I'm held here, I can't earn money to pay back my parent's debt!" She spouted as she sat up and glared up at him, her hands gripping onto the comforter.
His eyes rested on her face for the moment, reading her delicate features and her doll-like appearance.
"If I don't.. If..." Feeling as if she was being forced to explain it she was close to bursting into tears. "If I don't pay back my parents debt, little sisters could be used as collateral..." At the time she was saying this, she initially refused to make eye contact until she did gradually look up at him, curious if he would take pity on her. However, her eyes were still glossy as she was holding back her tears as she was thinking of how her sisters could be forced into slavery.
Arche jumped in surprise as he placed a hand on her shoulder before she finished looking up at him.
"If your friends manage to complete their task, or come back for you, would you mind staying?"
"St..staying?" She squinted up at him as he was suggesting she stay here all of a sudden after she had spoken of her little sisters. "Where would --"
"You would stay here," his head dipped to the side slightly while keeping his eyes on her. "With your little sisters of course. Here you will be protected, you won't have to pay off their debt. Let them alone live with the consequences of their actions."
Doing this would not only make the quest he had sent her friends on meaningless to them, but only benefit herself and her sisters. Other than her magical talent, she had nothing to offer.
"Why are you being so kind to me...?" She couldn't help but believe this was a bit weird, even suspicious. What could he plan on doing with her? She had taken her hostage, would he take her little sisters hostage and make a similar deal with her!?
"My little sister was killed by a man in a carriage, and because of his power and status, he spent very little time in the local jail. Your sisters are still alive... And you have two things that interests my thirst for knowledge, magic and talent. You have one thing you want and keeping you here is serviceable to my whimsical ambitions."
"Taking over the Re-Estize Kingdom, of course. It's Nobles are corrupt, it's Royal Family inept. The underworld is thriving here. It's best to recycle it and start it over, don't you think?"