Azhure: I was adding a forum and a bunch of problems happened. Sorry for the late upload.
Richard, Jill, are you still there? (Darc)
Yes, we are still at the location. We are hiding looking over the base at a nearby cafe so the cultists will not find us suspicious. Jillianis has also ordered us lemonade to make it more natural to be here. (Richard)
Hey, do you need to state that, Lazulian! (Jill)
I am just giving a report… (Richard)
Shut up, idiot! (Jill)
Alicia chuckled over her friend’s lack of honesty to herself.
Though Alicia wondered why she received the [Telepathy], or most of it from precious missions anyway. This one should have been directed to Darc only, maneg conserve-ably speaking. Maybe because she was in close proximity to others that the message spilled?
Azhure: I’m adding the ‘spilling’ part on [Telepathy] as an excuse for you readers to know others [Telepathy] conversation.
Do not laugh, Voice! (Jill)
We will talk later. (Darc)
The Dark Guardian cut them off as he moves the artificial shadow he was in, with Alicia in tow.
Speaking of which, being inside the shadow, officially named [Carpet], of the Dark Guardian, Darcassan Erith was an odd experience for Alicia.
When Alicia sank into the shadow with Darc, it was going down on an elevator whilst being able to see what’s outside or standing on an unsafe platform lowering down, into the ground. There wasn’t much resistance either, like standing on a giant jelly and gradually drowning into it as the soft confection couldn’t take the pressure concentrating on her two feet.
Then traveling inside the shadow was another thing entirely. For one thing, Alicia couldn’t even move a muscle. While she was submerged in darkness, she could still see clearly the outside world. And she wasn’t constantly looking up either, her vision was as if she was still on the ground while still feeling her immobile body underground. Oh, she can also see in 360 degrees angle and could even see Darc’s [Carpet] moving and herself being held by the robe by Darc who was able to stretch his muscles unlike her, but not his hold of her.
Ignoring Voice’s remark, Alicia focuses on the task at hand, even though she couldn’t even break a leg to do so, literally.
As the two cultists silently trotted along the dark alleyway, the two Court Wizards follow, or just directly move right at the end of the corridor. Another thing Alicia now knows about Darc’s personal magic is that his shadow sinking and movement spell is technically teleportation magic. He can sink into a patch of shadow and instantly reemerge to another dark area so long as it connects with the starting point, even if it was bridged by a thin line of silhouette created by a long string. At night, he could essentially appear anywhere at will.
Anyway, the two cultists were now stuck in a problem: they are at the end of the alleyway and have to cross the next street, full of people. If they simply waltz in, they will get caught, especially when one of them is carrying an unconscious child and are dressed suspiciously.
We are done, we will go to the knights’ location. I revealed myself when the guards inquired us for looking suspicious. (Jonathan)
Not that Alicia and the other Court Wizards aren’t any better.
Did you tell the guards about the cultists? (Darc)
No, should I? (Jonathan)
You have already told the GrassPlains adventurer guild about them by handing over on of their leaders. Have them come to handle the cleanup. (Darc)
Got it. (Jonathan)
Jonathan is considered a hero here, Alicia thought. The guards would believe his words.
Now, what could Owen want to say?
I forgot to tell you but make sure Alicia doesn’t get hurt. (Owen)
Azhure: I literally forgot to add this in the previous chapter. I’ll put it here.
Yes, thank you for concerning me, Owen.
Secretly blushes (Owen)
Focusing back on the cultists in front of them (though it’s technically above them). They stood still for a moment, but Alicia was sure that they were chanting something, they are supposed to be powerful mages after all.
And as Alicia suspected, the cultists slowly disappeared from bottom to up. Soon, their entire figure was turned invisible. However, if you look closely, there were shimmers in the air, indicating their presence.
As the vibration in the air began to move, Darc’s shadow followed. Though the Dark Guardian’s [Carpet] best them to the next alleyway. Either the cultists or someone else will notice a shadow without its body that form it if it lingers around the open sunshine. It was when the maneg formation reached the other side of the street that Alicia looked back to the invisible cultists to see two pairs of eyes darting around the crowd rushing perpendicularly from their direction, avoiding collisions that would dispel the illusion – you do need light entering your eyes to see after all.
“OUT OF THE WAY!”
Whipcracks are made as a horse carriage rushed through the street, everyone has themselves out of the middle to avoid getting run over.
The two pair of floating eyes recognized the oncoming vehicle going straight for them and made a run for it.
They are not going to make it!
However, the cultists were moving too slowly to get out of the way – do their spell breaks if they move? Whatever the reason is, the child of a Bell Conglomerate worker will get caught in the ensuing disaster.
But then, Darc muttered something very softly that Alicia could not hear and…
Under the shadow of the rope which attaches the harness binds the galloping horse to the carriage, two thin black stakes lunged out cutting the rope.
Then, another stake, but a blunt one this time, emerged from a [Carpet] and bashed the horse’s side, causing it to shift direction. As it was no longer pulling the carriage, the carriage slowed down as the horse ran away, brushing past the invisible cultists carrying the child and somehow picked a route that has it not toppling over anything, be they alive or not.
Then, the driver of the carriage, baffled by the sudden escape of the horse, was struck by the shoulder by another blunt stake with a force large enough to launch him out of his seat.
And as if fate smiled upon the poor carriage handler, he happened to land on a pile of watermelons-like fruits that gave in to the weight of the crashing man, cushioning his fall.
While the driver was out, there was still the carriage that still carried enough momentum to reach the invisible kidnappers who, unbelievably, were still within the danger zone.
“Mother Earth! Watch out!”
As pedestrians fell into a state of panic, scurrying themselves put of harm’s way, for the carriage suddenly tilted more than forty-five degrees angle. The floating wheels had barely nicked the cultists as it shaves right above them.
In an ear-shattering noise, the carriage tumbled to its side and grinding the road, screeching, until it stopped.
After witnessing such a bizarre event happening all to fast, Alicia delved deep into her memories to remember such magic two months ago. It was Darc’s Shadow Stake magic.
During Alicia’s visit to Ilezenya Erith (nicknamed Zenya by everyone else), Darc’s sister, the elf told her about her brother’s magic. Well, it’s more like she was bragging her big brother’s awesomeness.
Essentially, Shadow Stake erects a black stake, that can be made blunt, from any surface. The catch to this spell is that it can only be summoned from a dark surface, a shadow, which every object, living or dead, forms under the sun – the less ‘shadowy’ the surface the less effective the spell is. This means Darc can impale just about everyone day and night. The only way you can avoid it is if you keep moving dodge the stakes, but that only works in daytime as nighttime means the stakes can come out anywhere. Or if you somehow emit light from your body to remove your shadow, but then there is [Carpet] which made it meaningless.
Hence, what happened to the carriage was Darc’s doing. Given that, Alicia decided to give the Dark Guardian a piece of her mind.
Master, that was too dangerous! The passenger could get hurt!
It’s calculated. (Darc)
When the red-haired girl thought about it for a second, the dark elf was right. The horse was directed to not trample over any passerby; the driver was bumped off his seat at the moment where he would land safely, and; the carriage was toppled over did seemed to not suffer extensive damage, the passengers would survive.
But the Fire Court Wizard could not inquire further as she was shocked at what happens next.
Wait a second? Is he not?
A sweaty old man in some… economic merchant wear emerged from the carriage, pulled out by the driver. Truth to the Dark Guardian’s word, he was relatively unharmed. Alicia recognized this elderly, she had met the man two months ago. Therefore, she knew what carriage that is.
Even more so as Alicia would never fail to recognize the rust-covered bell (except for one spot) embroiled with a light-blue cloth around the familiar carriage as it passed the cultists. Especially when under the logo inscribes the name, ‘The Bell Conglomerate’.
What could make mister Davis in a hurry like that?
Darc says nothing in the matter, though the heiress of Bell Conglomerate suspect he would say something like “Whatever it is, he has almost jeopardized this mission,” or something like that.
Whatever it is, the mission continues.
The rest of the cultists’ journey was uneventful and they have reached their base, the street where the base was located was a quiet one. Sure enough, the location was exactly as the briefing, not some other part of the street. Darc had relayed the information to Owen and Jonathan beforehand.
The Court Wizards hiding inside the shadows took refuge in the front of the cafe, which was far enough from the base for the cultists to notice and close enough for observation by the Court Wizards, where the knight Court Wizards were ‘blending in’ by enjoying lemonade together, which they had just finished. Also, Alicia noticed a red tinge marking the female knight’s cheeks stealing glances at the other knight who was clueless of it.
Being seated where he could spot Alicia and Darc first, Richard stood up and greeted, “Master.” Jill was startled by the white knight’s sudden action but followed suit nevertheless.
We’re going down. (Jonathan)
Right on time, Jonathan and Owen had jumped off from the roof of a short building and squatted for a safe landing.
Everyone is accounted for, into my shadow, we will enter the base. (Darc)
Are the people at the bakery fine, Owen?
…One guy died, he was too close to the explosion. (Owen)
Damn, that is already one killed in this mission. (Jill)
We cannot expect to complete this whilst protecting all the innocent. We should have participated in the Discussion. (Richard)
Enough talk, the cultists will still kidnap the boy while inflicting collateral damage. That was the conclusion and hence this mission. (Darc)
I still do not like this. (Jill)
A large flat murky black crawled the tomb-like structure of the cultists’ base.
“From the interrogation, all members of the Cultists are powerful mages, and each base contains around thirty members,” Aqua stated. “Because Jonathan’s heavy injuries were the result of him fighting all thirty cultists directly. Also, the cultists in Coastline will not be receiving the news, so they will be alert for any intruders.”
With what they were briefed before in mind, the six Court Wizards infiltrated the base inside Darc’s [Carpet]. The [Carpet] Order was ended shorty as the corridor was dark so Darc moved his group straight through the end of the corridor. There were cultists trotting through the corridor, returning to their hideout upon being informed of the sacrifice having been obtained – some of these cultists are beastfolk with their tails and ears sticking out.
“So we decided that the six of you will perform a surprise attack on the cultists. Your numbers are to ensure that it can be carried out quickly so that none of you should get hurt too much or die.“
The dark corridor ended with a faint glow from torches, the main tomb-like chamber, which was primarily red in color (same with the previous in GrassPlains), of the cultists’ base in the capital of Coastline can be seen.
There, most of the cultists were there, surrounding the abducted boy who was sleeping on top of an iron altar, stripped naked. The cultists were just loitering around as more cultists are arriving one by one.
The Court Wizards, literally hidden within the shadows, waited in front of the chamber as the cultists funnel in.
“All members of the cultists are to arrive at their base for the ritual for shelter after they unleashed what the sacrifice is for.”
Once the last bit of the cultists have arrived, they waste no time in gathering themselves information.
We will get into position. (Darc)
Suddenly, as the Court Wizards was about to enter the chamber, a bright light, but not blinding, emanated from the walls, ceiling, and the floor of the corridor. Even if [Carpet] was up, the Court Wizards would still be displayed from Shadow Teleportation.
Then, a red-tinged glass wall shut five Court Wizards inside the corridor. While it’s masked by the front glass, there was the same sound coming from the back. Jonathan was in front when Darc pulled them in so he was outside the glass cage, and in front of the cultists who were gazing the Court Wizards under their black robes.
“Also, the base might be rigged with traps, so be careful and get out of the trap immediately if otherwise. Alicia, do not forget to bring your Catalyst.”
Alicia held the necklace Catalyst around her neck. This should not end like the last time she was in this world.
We’re trapped, we need to break out of this glass immediately. (Darc)
But one of the cultists laughed and said this which shocked the Court Wizards.
“Hah! You have fallen to our trap, Court Wizards!”