The Selection

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Chapter 31 - Princess Irene - Connection

Reid doesn’t move or say anything for several seconds, continuing only to change his glance between the two of us. He gulps, drops his weapon, and then falls on his knees.

“Wa-wait wait wait!” Reid says while shaking his hands in front of him. “Yo-you have got it all wrong! I did not mean any of the things I did, I swear! Please, forgive me!”

He prostates himself on the ground. I lose focus on what’s in front of me as a voice from the past repeats in my head. “I did not mean it, I swear! Kai, please forgive me!”

I close my eyes for several seconds before opening them. I look down at Reid and ask “You want forgiveness? Tell me about your benefactor and the things you did.”

He raises his head and sits up. He opens and closes his mouth repeatedly. He sighs and then responds, “It all started nearly three years ago. At the lowest point of my life, a mysterious man approached me and made me an offer. To do everything he says in exchange for worldly desires.”

I widen my eyes and put a hand over my mouth. “At first, I did not think he was serious. He was persistent. I jokingly told him that I would play along if he showed me proof. I thought of something impossible to grant. I thought of the name of an old crush and requested for her to acknowledge me. The next day, she came into my life. She slept with me a week later. I was astonished. Later, the man approached me again. I agreed to his deal.”

“Did…did the man have a white mask on?” I ask.

“No, why?”

“Nothing… Get to the point. I can already imagine what kinda requests you made to him. I’m more interested in hearing what he requested of you.”

He is silent for several seconds. “Well… I do not know…”

I knit my eyebrows. “Huh? What do you mean you don’t know? Haven’t you been following his orders this whole time?”

“Yeah… Well…” Reid says quietly. “I told him I wanted to be the king. He has been telling me that everything he has me doing is working toward that goal…”

“Hmm… So you’re the reason this country is in turmoil right now? Playing both sides…”

He squeezes his eyes shut and clenches his fists. He probably doesn’t know his benefactor’s motives… His benefactor must be the one who wanted Dae to get Irene. The raid on the castle was definitely just a public performance… Hmm…

“What about the missing girl incident three years ago? Did your benefactor take them and bring them to the castle?”

“No… The only time I remember village girls being in the castles was during the raids.”

“Were you the one who paid Neso or hired bandits to ambush us?”

“What are you talking about?”

“No, never mind. What about the story you sold us during dinner? Was it all a lie?” I ask.

“Yes, well… It was not entirely a lie. As far as I know, my benefactor played the role of Jack.”

“I am not understanding something here,” Leila says. “If he is playing the role of Jack…then that means he is after the magical item inside the vault, right?”

“That is right.”

“You are saying that he has only been working toward the goal of making you king…but there are a number of ways to do that efficiently that does not involve bringing Irene into this. How did he find out about Irene in the first place?” Leila asks.

“Uhh…” Reid looks at the floor. I stomp the ground next to him. He looks up at me and quivers his eyelids.

“We won’t forgive you if you don’t tell us everything,” I say.

He gulps before responding, “Sei-Seirus told us…”

“Why? How long ago was that?”

He looks away and replies, “Be-because we held Aurora hostage… It was two months ago.”

I knit my eyebrows. “Where are they now?”

“I have not seen Seirus since last week. Aurora…is here...” Reid says quietly.

Behind me, Irene suddenly asks, “Where’s my daddy? Is he safe?”

“I do not know. He has been gone like Seirus since a week ago.”

They’re gone without a trace…? The information broker would not miss something like that. But why would his benefactor wait two months before bringing Irene here…?

The vines behind Reid turns into Mana then fades away, Leila walks toward the hole in the wall. “For now, bring me to Aurora. You can keep Irene company here, Kai.”

“Why don’t we come with you?” I ask.

“I’m fine by myself. Don’t forget why we came here in the first place.” I remember the portion of books we didn’t check.

I turn around and say, “Okay. Come on, Irene.”

I walk toward the corner we didn’t check.

“Get up and take me to Aurora.”

“Right!”

“By the way, what is with this room? There is no entrance to it other than the hole the Ogre made. There is nothing here other than empty boxes with scraps of paper lying around,” Leila says.

I cock an eyebrow and stop walking. I turn around and go toward the room Leila and Reid are in.

“Kai!” Leila exclaims. “You’d better come look at this!”

What’s she so frantic about? I go into the room and find Leila crouched down next to a few boxes. She’s holding a piece of paper. There’s already magic in place illuminating the room. I walk over and crouch next to her. “What’s that?”

She hands me the piece of paper. I look down at it as she explains, “It’s a letter addressed to the Astralye family. That’s not the important part. Read on.”

I widen my eyes.

You have our utmost gratitude. We wouldn’t have escaped if not for your method of utilizing Void Magic and Raw Mana unique only to the Purebloods.

I can’t believe what I’m reading. Raw Mana…? It’s true that I can only bind Void Magic to my special Mana type. Is it called Raw Mana? I’m…a Pureblood?

“There’s more over here, look,” Leila informs and hands me another piece of paper. This one is torn and barely legible.

Mana replenishes slower here compared to Eprillon.

What am I reading? Is Eprillon another name for the Cursed Territory? I’ve never heard of that name… Leila hands me another. It’s another gratitude letter addressed to the Astralye family. I skim over the information I already have.

The invaders didn’t follow us. It was a successful plan. We’re indebted to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. For that, we will serve you forever. I look forward to working with you on building a new kingdom.

“This is the last one,” Leila informs and hands me a burnt piece of paper. Only one sentence is readable.

We’re the last and first generation of the Valerians.

I don’t understand… This is clearly written in the Human language. But I can’t even begin to comprehend any of this.

“Hey, did you just mention the Astralye family?” Reid suddenly asks.

Leila and I look at each other before facing Reid. Leila responds, “Yes. Two of these letters are clearly addressing them. Have you heard of that name before?”

“Yes, my benefactor mentioned it while he was interrogating Velyn and Seirus for information before Seirus told him of Irene. He said, ’You’re the ancestors of the Astralyes aren’t you? One of you has to have the key to the vault. Unless there’s another member I’m missing here. Does it have something to do with your little trip outside of the city four months ago?′ Apparently, he found out that Velyn utilized a secret passage under the castle to leave without being seen.”

I raise my eyebrows. “Leila, this means that the royal bloodline is the Astralye bloodline, right?”

“I don’t see any other possibility.”

I look toward Irene. She said her father suddenly visited her last year… We know Velyn left the country in secrecy six months ago, which was last year.

I toss the paper in my hand aside and stand up, walking toward Irene. “Irene, did your father visit you six months ago? Are you sure you don’t remember anything?”

“Hmm... Has it been six months already? I think so, but I really don’t remember anything,” she answers. I gulp.

She has the key…? Impossible. She doesn’t have any pockets and the only places I haven’t checked are… My imagination runs wild, and my face burns up. No no no… No good sane father would do anything like that, and it’s been half a year. She would’ve noticed by now. Maybe he cut her up and sewed the wound? That would be traumatizing enough for her to lose her memory, but I didn’t see any scars on her body either when she was practically naked. What kinda key is it to begin with…?

I think back to the vault I inspected and have no idea. But it adds up. He brought Irene here because she has the key. At the same time, Reid thinks he’s doing it all to make him king… We almost have all the pieces together now. His benefactor must have brought the Ogre through the underground passage and took Seirus and Velyn through the same way without being discovered. I still can’t understand what purpose Reid serves in all this.

I walk over to Reid and then say, “Hey, you’re still keeping something from us, aren’t you? From my understanding, your benefactor has absolutely no need for you.”

“I am not keeping anything from you, I swear…! Oh, he might have been after my wealth. I came from a wealthy family,” he adds. It appears his eyes are a little watery.

They’re similar… I smile before saying, “I see.”

I knit my eyebrows as I suddenly remember something. I ask, “What happened to the guards that were stationed here a few hours ago? Why haven’t they come out despite all the noise we made? You mentioned most were asleep too.”

“I am not sure what happened to them. I did not hear from them. Despite what I have said, they were the only guards in this entire castle. The majority of my mercenaries were hired by my benefactor. How about we go look for them?”

“First, Take me to Aurora,” Leila requests. Reid frowns and doesn’t appear thrilled. With that, Reid leaves through the other hole that leads into the hallway and Leila follows. Irene follows me as I head toward the books I was going to check.

“Irene, I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a while. Why’re you so trusting of people? I don’t see how you determine if they are good or bad without knowing anything about them.”

I take a book from the shelf and flip through it. By the time I flip through the whole book, Irene still hasn’t responded. I turn my head toward her and ask, “Irene?”

She’s smiling. “It’s because of my mom and daddy. This might take a while.”

“I don’t mind. We’ll be here for a while anyway,” I respond while flipping through another book.

“When I was really young, everyone saw my mom in bad eye. I don’t know why, but their eyes looked cold. When I first met Daddy, it was the first time I met any man that was nice to my mom. He was really nice to me too, and I loved him. My mom wasn’t employed, so it was hard for us to live each day. Daddy was kind enough to support us. He gave us money to live off of every month. It all changed when he stopped visiting three years ago. I didn’t know when my mom started working again, but she said she got her old job back.

“All of a sudden, people around the village that used to be cold around us started to be nice. They gave us food and money. I thought they were good people. My mom wouldn’t tell me anything. So one day, I followed her and peeked through a window. There was a man I was familiar with on top of her, thrusting. She laid there motionless with tears streaming down her face. Later that day, she was cheerful and completely normal around me.

“It was around then I started hearing rumors circulating. Men were gossiping on how my mom is a bad person. They said my mom was a filthy whore who raised murderers. I learned my mom had a husband before daddy. I didn’t believe them and asked my mom about it, but she denied ever having a husband and was very insistent that I was her only daughter and that she loved me. I think that was the first and only time I felt my mom lied to me. I knew my mom didn’t have any bad intentions. She was a good person.

“Eventually, I developed a sixth sense for good and bad people. I feel good people won’t have any bad intentions, so I don’t feel the need to doubt them. My mom was bad in the eyes of my village, but daddy didn’t care. He saw through the good that was in her, so I think I should do the same for other people!”

I close the book I’m holding and say, “I see.”

I remember how she said I was a good person. Thinking back to the moment I first met Irene, I giggle.

“What’s funny?”

“I just remembered something.”

“I’m glad,” she says with a smile. “What exactly are you trying to check in these books?”

I suppose there’s no harm in telling her… I pick up another book before responding, “I’m checking if Humans recorded an event like ‘The Selection’ in their history books.”

“What’s ‘The Selection’?”

“An event that happened about 2000 years ago. It’s said that Mana and monsters suddenly appeared in the world. Apparently before this event, the races lived without Mana. With the sudden introduction of Mana, not everyone was compatible with it. The numbers are rough, but I think over half of each race failed to adapt and passed away. According to Leila, every race has this event recorded except Humans.”

“Hmm… I don’t really understand, but I hope you find what you’re looking for!”

“I hope so too. Thanks, Irene.”

A loud noise like a crash resounds in the distance. Indistinguishable voices are nearby. I close the book I’m holding and put it back before saying, “There’s something going on over there. Let’s go check it out.”

I start going back toward the hidden room between the library and the hallway. Leila and Reid are back with a third person.

“You are the fucking worst!” the girl with them screams. She stomps her way in front of Reid and doesn’t hesitate to punch him straight in the face. Reid doesn’t dodge it and falls on his back. The girl sits on top of his chest and launches more punches on his face. Left. Right. Left. Right. Leila watches silently from behind. I hear Reid muttering something as I get closer with tears streaming down his face.

“I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry…” He mutters those words repeatedly between occasional sniffs of snot while taking her hits. She stops eventually, breaking down into tears too.

“Why…why did you do all of those things?! The Reid I grew up with would never give in to greed. Would never kill his entire family. Would never do all those things to Seirus…or me…”

“I am sorry…” he says with a desperate tone. “I did not mean it. I did not mean any of the things I did. It all felt like I was inside a dream. It felt like I could do anything without consequence. Once I realized the weight of my actions, I could not stop. I am so sorry, Aurora. Please forgive me…”

“No, I will not forgive you. Ever."

Inside a dream…? The similarity’s stunning. Is it just a coincidence? I close my eyes for a moment and sigh. I ask, “Can’t you find it in you to forgive him?”

She gets off of Reid and faces me. She rubs her eyes on her arm and sniffs. Her long black hair is disheveled, and she wears mens’ clothing. There are pin sized wounds around her neck. Markings of a Slave Collar…

She looks at me with red bloodshot eyes. Half crying she asks, “Are you fucking serious? Forgive him? I am grateful for the rescue, but what the hell do you know? Do you know how I feel? Do you have any idea what he has done to me…? In front of Seirus too… What he has done to everyone? Can you forgive someone who has done something absolutely unforgivable?”

I look her right in the eye and with a confident tone answer, “I can. I won’t understand exactly what you went through, but you said it yourself. The Reid you grew up with would never do any of those things. I don’t know him, but it sounds like he was misled or brainwashed.”

“Aurora, please… I will spend the rest of my life earning your forgiveness. Please give me a chance…” Reid begs, still crying.

Aurora crosses her arms and looks away. She is silent for several seconds before replying, “We will see.”

Reid grins. “Aurora! I will not disappoint you anymore. I will take care of our—”

Aurora slaps his hand away from her stomach. She glowers at him and exclaims, “Do not touch me, fucking scum! I have not forgiven you yet.”

Reid looks down with a sulky expression. Leila looks at me and signals me to come over. We walk over to the hallway quietly, letting the two reconcile. “Did you finish checking those books?”

“Not yet. There’re just a few more to check, but nothing so far.”

“You’re so slow. You were probably too busy flirting with Irene. Was it worth it?”

"Huh? I was doing my job properly… Anyway… We have all but six questions answered.”

“Six? I can think of seven.”

“Are you sure you didn’t skip a step in your deductions?”

Leila sighs, then says, “Who paid Neso?”

“Who hired the bandits?”

“What’s in the vault?”

“Who’s Reid’s benefactor?”

“How did Reid’s benefactor know about the Astralye bloodline?”

“Why did Reid’s benefactor wait two months to get Irene?”

“Why did Reid’s benefactor tell Reid to feed us that fabrication?”

Hmm? My mind is blank for a few seconds. I knit my eyebrows. That fabrication was almost believable too… It wasn’t too far from the truth. Leila has a point. Why would he purposely try to give himself away? Wait… In the first place, I thought he got Dae to deliver Irene to the castle. That was interrupted by us, so why’s Reid so prepared to answer our questions…?

“Do you finally get it? It was almost like you were insinuating that I was less intelligent than a pig,” Leila says. I frown bitterly and don’t say anything back. There’s nothing to say because she’s right. “By the way, I have a physical description of our villain from Aurora. From her testimony, I gathered that everything Reid has told us to be true.”

“It seems Seirus told Aurora to leave the country, and she did, in secrecy. She traveled alone on her way to Elbar. When suddenly, her vision went black, and she woke up here. The rest you know. She remembers a foreign man she didn’t recognize in the room. It was a middle-aged man with short brown hair. He wore a white hooded uniform. She’s never seen any Cascabel masks in her life.”

“I see.” I sigh. It has to be a coincidence. He wouldn’t give away his identity. That aside, we really don’t know anything about Reid’s benefactor…

Seeing how there’s nothing left to be said, we rejoin the others. Reid and Aurora have stopped their tears, and they are silent while sitting against the wall several feet apart.

“Reid, how do you maintain contact with your benefactor?” I ask. He is unresponsive for a few seconds, looking only at the floor.

“He usually communicates via Klam but sometimes we meet in person. I have not heard from him once since the success of the raid. I have tried to contact him because I have no idea what to say tomorrow, but he has not responded,” Reid answers while still looking at the ground.

I knit my eyebrows and look at Leila. She has a similarly confused expression on her face. I gulp before asking, “When did he inform you to memorize that story you fed us? Did he say anything else?”

“That was the last thing he instructed me to do. He left all the information on several pieces of paper. He told me to use that information in case someone that is not Dae shows up with Irene. He was right about everything except the reward you asked for.”

“I see… Well, if he contacts you again, make sure to tell him you don’t wanna be king anymore. It might stop his actions and give back Velyn and Seirus,” I say, but I know it wouldn’t work. I walk away from Reid toward the books I have yet to check.

This is getting more and more eerie. His benefactor came up with that fabrication two days before we even bumped into Dae’s group. Can he see the future? And Neso was instructed to take Irene a day after the raid. So Velyn was the one who paid Neso after all? But why would he send her to the city where Reid’s benefactor wants her to be…?

I raise my eyebrows. Wait… Xedeus’ personally coming to meet us tomorrow, which has never happened before. Xedeus’ the one who ordered us to take out Dae. If he takes that assumption, it wouldn’t be unlikely that he’s Reid’s benefactor… No no no… That’s impossible. In the first place, he ordered Dae’s execution only because he ruined an important mission back then.

My thoughts halt as I remember Reid’s benefactor made contact with him three years ago. Whereas the ruined mission was last year.

Impossible. Xedeus would never use such a roundabout way to get something he wants… It’s a coincidence. Everything’s a coincidence. Some things won’t even begin to make sense if it’s true.

I check through several books, finding nothing. I look at Leila, who is next to me and say, “This is the last one.”

She nods. I open and go through it. The results are the same, but something of interest is written in the middle. I widen my eyes. “Hey, Leila. It says here that Mana appeared in the world 2000 years ago.”

She knits her eyebrows and then sighs. “I see. So my suspicions were wrong…”

“No, I think it’s too early for that. It doesn’t say anything about ‘The Selection…’”

She cocks an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“I meant exactly what I said. Look,” I say, then point to the sentence with the book held in front of her. She appears to read the sentence multiple times.

“That’s…strange.”

“Right? What do we do with this information?”

“Let me think about it for a while… We still have our current situation to worry about.”

“Yeah… I’m having second thoughts about executing our plan now.”

“Are you referring to Reid’s benefactor? It’s far too much of a stretch for Xedeus to be that person. The chances of it being a trap are pretty low.”

“Hmm… If you say so.” I feel a load off my chest. If even Leila thinks that it’s a coincidence, it must be true…

“With Reid’s benefactor at large, we can’t really leave Irene here. He might contact him today or tomorrow considering the city folk are all expecting him to explain how he’s distributing the money.”

“That’s true, but you know we can’t stay here forever.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know.”

“Do you really?” She looks at me with a serious look. I stare her in the eyes with unwavering eyes.

“Yes.”

“Good. What do you want to do with them?” She points her head toward Reid and Aurora. Irene is bobbing her head forward and back in the corner.

“Hmm… It would be bad if Reid’s benefactor visited in person while we aren’t here. You already released Aurora, so we can’t have them act as if nothing has happened. I’m a little curious what happened to those guards from earlier, but we can’t be searching this entire castle. Irene’s dozing off again. I propose we bring those two with Irene in an inn until we finish our business tomorrow.”

“That’s reasonable. We should leave through the underground passage.”

“Good idea.”

We let the others know where we’re going, and Reid leads us to the underground passage. On the first floor, we go through a door that leads to an ordinary looking dining room lit by several lanterns hanging from the ceiling. There is a modest-sized table with chairs around it, two couches, various decorations around the room, and a fireplace. Reid goes to the fireplace and goes into the small crawlspace. He presses some kind of button on the ceiling of the crawlspace. It opens something at the end of the crawlspace. He goes through, and we follow.

We find ourselves in a hallway just narrow enough to walk in a single file line. Reid presses another camouflaged button on the wall that raises a wall at the end of the crawlspace. At the end of the hallway is a hole with a ladder attached to it. Reid presses another button that illuminates the hole with light. He climbs the ladder down, and we follow. At the bottom is a long spacious passage lit by a line of lanterns on the ceiling.

Hmm… I was wrong to think the Ogre came through this passage… How’d they get him inside the castle then? Oh well… I wonder how long the passage is and where it would lead to. We eventually reach the end of the passage in about half an hour. It appears to be a dead end. Reid presses another button that reveals the exit. I cock an eyebrow as soon as I leave the passage. The walls of the city are in close view. The exit we walked through looks like the side of a mountain, like the Cascabel hideout.

I feel like I’m missing something as Reid presses another camouflaged button that closes the opening in the wall. Leila has her chin tucked between her fingers. I raise my eyebrows. That’s right… The information broker said that a source saw Velyn leaving Byzia in commoner clothes…but we know he took this passage. No one could see that he left in the first place. Only one person could be the source.

I gulp. Aurora asks, “What is wrong you two?”

I exchange a quick glance with Leila. I hope we can find Velyn. It would be easier to ask him directly everything that happened to him.

“Nothing. Let’s get a move on,” I say.

With that, we continue making our way to the southern gates. Before we go in, we give Aurora and Reid the hooded cloaks that we’re wearing. We make it through and arrive at ‘Bolt’s Inn’ without any problems. We buy another double room and split into two groups. I’m left with Reid, but we sleep in our own beds.

I wake up sometime in the morning with my stomach growling. I buy some quick grub on the first floor of the inn, eat it, and head for ‘The Simple Forge.’ I’m not sure if he opens his shop this early.

I arrive and open the door. My armor is sitting on the table near the entrance.

“You’re here early,” the blacksmith says as he comes out of the backroom.

“I’m surprised you’re open at this hour.”

“This is nothing. I’ve been here since 6:00 AM.”

“Impressive.” I take off the arm guards and set them on the table. I equip the armor and put my arm guards back on.

“You look great. Much better without the hole in the middle.”

I smile and laugh. “I might arrive later today with another hole.”

He laughs. “You sound like you’re going to war. Be careful out there. I’ll be here if you need my services.”

“Thanks,” I say and then walk out the door, closing the door behind me. I stretch my limbs. Well then. Leila and the others should be awake by now.

I start walking back, but I feel like something is watching me again. I look behind me on the roof of ‘The Simple Forge.’ There’s an ordinary bluebird perched on the edge of it. I sigh. Why has this been happening to me so much lately?

I rejoin Leila and the others at ‘Bolt’s Inn.’

“As we told you guys yesterday, we want you to stay here with Irene until we come back. Do not leave this building under any circumstance. We’ll be back by early evening. We’re leaving Irene in your hands,” I say.

“Got it,” Reid answers.

“I understand, but where are you going?” Aurora asks.

“It’s better if you don’t know,” I respond as I walk toward the door. I can’t stop my hands from quivering. Someone grabs my right hand before I get to the door. I turn around and find Irene holding Leila’s and my hand.

“I don’t know why you two seem so scared…but good luck! I know the two of you are unbeatable together!” Irene exclaims. “I’ll be praying for you here.”

Leila and I smile. We thank her for her wishes before leaving the room and making our way to the Cascabel hideout. We arrive outside of the hideout around 1 PM, with two hours left before the scheduled meeting with Xedeus.

“Kai, are you ready?”

I hesitate for a moment before answering, “Yeah. Let’s do this.”

Leila walks over to the wall and reveals the entrance to the hideout with Earth magic. She shifts a stone wall the size of a door like before. She moves the wall back before we head inside. A glimpse of the same man’s face appears through the small opening of the wooden door. “You’re early.”

“We didn’t wanna be late. There’s nothing to do,” I say. The man’s face disappears from the small opening for a moment, and he opens the door. We go inside and follow the passageway. We only pass by one other person before we reach the end of the passageway, finding a door. I open it, and then we head inside. Leila follows and closes the door behind her. “Even the amount of people stationed here has reduced. Isn’t that weird?”

“Probably just a coincidence. It’s a different time of day compared to yesterday,” Leila answers. I walk and look around the room. Everything is placed as I remembered yesterday. “I’m going to start setting up.”

“Sure,” I reply. I check what Leila is doing when I find her staring at something behind me.

“Hey, Kai… There’s something in the wall over there.” She points to somewhere behind me. I don’t see anything.

“What’re you talking about?”

“Are you blind?” she asks and then sighs. She walks over a wall in the direction she pointed in. She points to the bottom of the wall. “Look.”

I move closer and look at it. This part of the wall sticks out a little, and it’s in a barely noticeable different shade of color. I raise my eyebrows. “This is the bottom of someone’s shoes…? No, wait, there’re two pairs of them…”

"Good job,” she says with a smile and pats me on the head. I frown.

“Hurry up and uncover the wall.”

She puts her hands on the space above the place in question. Several seconds later, part of the wall falls backward. It’s a fairly thin piece of wall. It reveals a small compartment in the room. There are two men lying in a pool of blood. One of them looks young, and the other one is an old man. They have deep cuts all over their body. I pick up a Klam on top of the old man and press the button that plays back the saved message.

“We failed to deliver the girl. The man and woman guarding her took her back. No hard feelings, but we’re keeping the 100 gold coins you already gave us.”

My mind goes blank for several seconds. I knit my eyebrows. I look at the Klam in my hands and then at the old man. No way…

Leila picks up the Klam on the other man and plays back the saved message. “Hey! The two that showed up with Irene did not ask for gold like you said it would in the script! They are lurking in the library, what do I do? Contact me as soon as possible with tomorrow instruction’s too.”

I hold my breath and my heart beats progressively faster. That’s definitely Reid’s voice. When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth… Impossible, but…this is irrefutable evidence.

We turn our heads to each other. I stand up and exclaim, “We need to get out—”

The door bursts open with a bang behind us, resounding again as it crashes into the wall. A cold shiver goes down my spine. Several pairs of footsteps walk into the room.

“That’s as far as you go, ′Phantom Swordsman’ Kai.” My heart skips a beat as a familiar voice enters my ears. My entire body quivers. I bite my lower lip hard, tasting blood. My mind is entirely blank. I turn around, widening my eyes. Marin stands there clad in her armor alongside Jetia and several bodyguards.

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