Chapter 2

 

Ilias’ sleep was anything but restful lately, if anything he felt it had become fitful and even tormented. Now there were images and flashes of places and people he had never seen before. Places that were ancient he knew, and yet somehow gleamed and shone bright in the light as if they were new. The people that he saw, their faces, and their clothing were completely unfamiliar to him. And yet they played out so vividly in his head that they looked to him more like memories then any sort of wild imaginations. Even the names of some of the faces he saw seemed to be there, just at the corner of his mind out of reach from him to recall, and yet close enough that he felt strongly that he knew it
Still the problem remained that he knew without a doubt he had never been to most if not all the places that kept going through his mind. Just the same way he knew that he didn’t know any of the people that he saw, no matter how familiar the feeling was. If they were indeed memories, they were not his.
And through it all, a sensation had stuck with him ever since these strange memories had begun, that there was someone watching him. Someone always standing at the edge of his vision so that when he would turn and look, no one would be there. He could feel it however, a hooded figure that haunted him since that day.
“Ilias!”
He awoke from his thoughts and realized that he had got lost while staring down at the table in front of him. The daze of the action had set his mind off to go everywhere and nowhere at once, it was turning into an all too frequent occurrence.
“Are you well, Reliquist Ilias?” Asked CreedKeeper Eryx, another senior member of the Seven, “Do you require some more attending to?”
Ilias shook his head, trying not to look like the child who had been caught not paying attention in class. He knew that was exactly what he had probably looked like however.
“No, Keeper.” He replied solemly as he tried to bury his thoughts further into the back of his mind. Of all times, this was definitely not the one to be losing control of his feelings or senses.
“It would seem your actions brought with them more consequences then you had initially imagined.” Keeper Rhea commented from her seat directly across from him at the large table in which the he, the other members of the Seven, and his Mentors sat. The room had once been used for training classes for the younger Gifted who came in to the Fold that still required basic schooling. Now it and several other old classrooms were used for meetings and briefings.
“That is but one of the dangers you face when you take someone else’s power, even if it was in a mere effort to save your own life. The transference brings with it more than just extra power or strength, but images and memories as well. At times even more comes through those lines of power than can be expected or even measured.” She continued.
“Although in this case, for once, that is exactly what we are hoping for.” Eryx said with what Ilias imagined to be a smirk of satisfaction.
Even throughout his training through the Fold, he thankfully had only had a few brief run-ins with the man. Eryx’s gruff personality added to a particularly disdainful attitude towards Ilias had not exactly been particularly endearing.
“And taking into consideration what you have told of us of what you have seen and heard in these memories.” Eryx continued, his fingers rubbing together as he leaned back into his seat, “We cannot afford to take the chance that this is our greatest moment of opportunity. A head start in our fight against Fear would be invaluable.”
“That is, if, this is indeed the same Fear we are thinking it could be.” Rhea added to which the others of the Seven nodded slowly in agreement. “According to what we know of him, he was or still is, a masterful illusionist. We cannot act with too much haste or we might fall into the very traps that our Ancestors did.”
Even after several days of being monitored by the lead Healers and even a few members of the Seven themselves, it seemed they were still not completely convinced by what they had been told, or even seen for themselves in his mind. At least that was the impression they were giving him. At the same time, it wasn’t as though Keepers were known for being the most forthcoming with what they had going on in their minds. Still, Ilias could see they were concerned with what little they did know. And so here they sat once again, for what seemed like the hundredth time. It was hard to believe it had almost been a week since his fateful Ascension trial.
A week of prodding and poking to see what his mind had absorbed from the now captured Urvi, scouring it with a fine brush he felt for any more information about the Coven of Fear she had mentioned. And through it all, he had managed to carefully hide away the knowledge that he had found lost siblings. Even Cyxk and Iona, his other brother and sister within the Fold, knew nothing of the discovery. And until he was certain that they were actually still alive, he would not raise their hopes in vain.
“Wouldn’t it be prudent then, if this is actually Bel’Durra that we are talking about, that we send a large force instead of three?”
Deo’s voice snapped Ilias’ attention back to the table. He was usually one of the more silent members of the Seven, hailing from an old tribe somewhere in the Americas. The few times Ilias had heard him speak had always been on the side of caution or reason amongst the Seven. His opposite in character and always in seat as well it seemed, was Slaine. She too was one of the younger Keepers both in time as part of the Seven and in actual age. There were few Ilias had ever encountered however that could match her strength of will and character.
“Too much show of force might send things quickly down a path we will not be able to control, much less are even prepared for just yet.” Slaine countered, “If he is not there, which I would like to point out is more likely the case, then we will be doing nothing more than giving away our identity to him as well as our numbers.”
“I believe what Deo was trying to say is that if we are going to send in these same three, who barely managed to survive an encounter with a relatively speaking peaceful Demi-God, and put them now into the possible grasp of the very being that drove our people out of our own Universe?” Eryx asked while looking at the other Keepers, all the while not bothering to acknowledge that all three of those he spoke of were present in the room while he gutted them.
Ilias was liking this man less and less the more time he spent in these conferences.
Deo smiled an insincere smile in Eryx’s direction that quickly vanished as he spoke, “No. Actually that was not my concern my fellow Keeper. My concern was simply for their well-being. Will we  continue to put them in  these dangerous situation that test the limits of their capabilities by our own choice? Would it be wise to do so again and risk losing them to some unknown enemy that is gathering Gifted? Or worse, lose them in death to such a person?”
Deo looked over at Ilias, and though his expression seemed blank on the outside, Ilias couldn’t help but feel that every inch of him was being studied carefully both inside and out.
“As it is,” Deo continued, his attention returning to the other Keepers seated around him, “I feel as though our newest Reliquist should be given a little more time to adapt to his new role in the Fold and be kept under observation for the time being. There have been few enough in our recent history to have survived a Transference of power anywhere close to that magnitude, not to mention from one of the ancient Demi-Gods, and have lived this long after.”
Zanthe, whom had remained silent up to this point, finally spoke, “Yet he lives does he not? And within him carries the memories and information needed for this next part of the mission to be a success. If there were any other way to go about this task then surely we would follow that course instead. There are, however, no further options. We need more information if we are to plot our way through the change of an Era and survive with it.”
Slaine snorted in contempt, “It’s not a question of if we are going to survive this Era. Our numbers are at some of their highest they have ever been in the most recent hundred years are they not? I say we give this young Ilias two new mentors capable of …handling…any situation when the time comes to take action.”
“And what situation are you assuming we would not be capable of handling?” Ambrose asked with a less respect than Ilias had seen him address any of the Keepers before. He knew at some point it would probably have been him that would have reacted to the way the Seven kept referring to them as if they were not present in the room. Ambrose was brash at times, but rarely against figures of authority. This was new ground.
Slaine spoke to the smooth marble table top, but turned no further in their direction, “Those in recorded history who ever absorbed such vast amounts of Energy from a lesser Demi-God then Urvi either died instantly, consumed by the very energy they drained. Or, went raving mad and nearly killed everyone around them had they not been Tempered and their connection to their Gifts removed. The question is, are you capable of handling the death of your protégé? Are you willing to sever his connection for the sake of your life and those who may be around?”
Ambrose said nothing, and seemed to sink back into his chair. He had clearly realized he had charged into the conversation without realizing her intent.
If Ilias had ever felt more uncomfortable in his life he could not think of a time. He certainly had felt he had been at death’s mercy during the transfer but he had yet to feel as though he were close to losing his mind. At least no more than was usual for him.
“I fear we have strayed off topic,” Astra said, interrupting the brief yet uncomfortable silence. “We will consider reassignment once they return to us from their next mission, if need be. Need I remind all of you neither Dorom nor Ambrose are his true mentors any longer since he completed his Ascension. They serve now only as his companions and are already doing their duty to watch over him in case of such an emergency as was stated.”
Astra paused for a moment while looking at both Eryx and Slaine both of whom nodded to her in silent agreement, “I now move that they go and find what answers they may uncover about this, Coven of Fear. We need to know if this is actually related to the Bel’Durra we believe it to be. I also move to suggest we assign two other Reliquists familiar with the area where they are to travel. That they remain in Suspension to guide and watch over them.”
“I believe we have two such individuals here at this Priory, Ameerah and Chrestian are both natives to those lands,” said Admes. The burly, dark haired man had sat nodding and storking his braided beard for a few minutes now. Of the Seven he and Rhea shared births from before the Deluge, serving the Fold since its very inception. At least if what stories Ilias had heard were to be believed.
“They will serve perfectly as your eyes in this situation. Both are strong and clever enough to keep up with our newest addition.” He looked at Ilias with a sparkle in his eye of amusement. The man had been one of the first of the Fold that had received him and his siblings once they had arrived so many years ago. Since then he would at times attend their training sessions and even take part with the instructors during lessons. He had taken to them like a doting grandfather, though he did not appear to be more than a few years older than Ilias.
“Also I suggest that if you do indeed find this Coven with stolen Gifted,” he continued, “ascertain whether they can be brought into the Fold. With that many potential Gifted in one place we cannot allow them to escape from our sight. It would be dangerous for them to continue too much longer without proper guidance, Bel’Durra or not.”
Astra looked over briefly at one of the aides that was standing behind the table against the wall, immediately the aide looked down at her qyuikstone and began sending what Ilias imagined to be arrangement for the other two Reliquists to be made ready for their assignment. At the very least having extra help on a mission like this couldn’t be anything less than helpful, he was not about to say no to that.
Rhea nodded her agreement, “Excellent suggestion Admes, we appreciate your positive input to this delicate matter. Above all Reliquist Ilias, do not forget that your primary task is to search for any sign of Fear. We must try and maintain the upper hand if the time has come for us to take action.” She looked directly at Ilias now, a look of such serious nature that it caused him to want to sink further into the chair. “Dorom and Ambrose will be with you and will monitor you closely, Ilias. As we noted, no one has survived this long after such an intense absorption of energy. We are in uncharted territory with this situation, and since you are the first clue we have found of Bel’Durra’s arrival in this Universe, we cannot afford to lose you. This Universe cannot afford to lose you.”
Not that there had been any pressure on him before or anything, Ilias felt the weight of the room suddenly pressing on him from all side.  He debated momentarily whether he should reply or not. She had spoken it as a statement, but it had almost come across to him as a command. Ilias was about to open his mouth to speak when Astra stood from her seat, prompting the others to follow.
“If we are all of agreement then…”
The CreedKeepers all nodded and muttered their agreement towards Rhea and Astra, some clearly less enthusiastically then others.
“…then you have much ahead of you Ilias. Fear Nothing.”
The three of them rose and bowed slightly as they Seven filed out past them and into the corridor behind them.
Astra strayed at the end of the line and placed a hand briefly on Ilias’ arm. “Don’t die.” She said with a smirk before following the rest out of the door.
Ilias’ face was a mixture of confusion and almost discomfort. There never seemed to be a time where that woman confused and at times frightened him beyond measure.
“She definitely knows how to really motivate a person.” Ambrose commented with a shake of his head. “Shall we?”
As they walked out of the room Dorom came up besides, “Are you alright?”
Ilias tried to smile despite the fact that it was the last expression that would accurately fit what he had going through his mind. If he had thought that his Ascension trial had high expectations, this mission was on a whole other level.
“Yes Sir, it is just much that needs to be taken all at once. These last few days have gone by rather quickly and I feel that I haven’t had much of a chance to catch my breath aside for when it’s time to sleep. And even then rest does not come easily.” He hesitated, “I don’t mean to sound like I am complaining however, Sir.”
Dorom smiled at him, the warm fatherly smile then he used to try and set him at ease, “We are equals of sorts now Ilias. There is no more need for formalities between us.”
Ambrose elbowed his arm, “Welcome to the life of a Reliquist within the mighty Fold.” He said while making a grandiose gesture to all around them, “Never will there be a day where you are bored again. Especially now it would seem.”
Ilias tried to steady his racing mind as they continued their way through the dark and cool stone hallways of the Priory as they made their way to equip themselves. Not only was his meeting with the Seven running through his head, but also all of what he was supposed to do once he arrived in the city they were supposed to be hiding away in.
Ilias had known to some extent how serious the situation was now thanks to his actions, but it was only now starting to truly sink in how much had changed not only for him but in the long run for the entirety of the Fold as well. Caught in the moment everything had seemed so easy in his mind, purely a matter of self-preservation. Now he saw how much acting on instinct alone without even the slightest thought could affect so much.
Even now he could feel the power still flowing inside him, roiling just below the surface like some boiling ocean that extended as far into himself as he could sense. So full that he felt if his skin were to cut, his body would burst with the escaping energy. It was one of the strangest feelings he had experienced. Yet even though the feeling was new and even unnerving, he had never felt more invincible in his life. And that was the part that scared him the most.
Never in his training or any other part of his life had he felt so capable and yet so timid to use his Gifts. Given what few opportunities had arisen, he had opted to avoid using his powers when he could get away with it. Reserving it instead for times when he had been under the direct observation of his mentors or some of the Healers. Ilias was sure that if he didn’t stay in complete focus when he did have to use them, he would not be able to control the results and it would yield even more dire results then he could have imagined.
Already the Seven seemed ready to have him Tempered if he so much as sneezed at them. Informing them that he was feeling rather omnipotent with the energy he had inside would doubtfully go over well. And after the subdued tensions he had felt moments ago, he doubted they would have waited for him to end the sentence before carrying out their judgements.
“I wouldn’t let the words of the Keepers affect,” Ambrose said, giving Ilias a reassuring hug across his shoulders, “They know you wouldn’t have agreed to continue with this mission if you hadn’t felt you were able to handle it, much less if you were going to be any real threat to its success.”
“Oh it’s not that I feel like I can handle an espionage mission like this,” Ilias said, managing a weak smile. “I suppose I just had not really thought before what this would mean, if we actually do find evidence of this Fear person.”
Almost as soon as the words had left his mouth he wished he hadn’t brought them up. The subject of Fear, or Bel’Durra, and everything he stood for was at the very core of what the Fold was created for. His phrasing had shown how very much or really, how little, he actually regarded the seriousness of it. Ilias knew for certain that what the Fold had taught him was true, but it all seemed so distant and irrelevant to him up until this point. Now it had the very literal ability to stare him directly in the face.
He knew that longer ago then he cared to even fathom, Humans had lived in a whole different Universe from where they were now.  They had been a mighty people, known as the Dræ Empirion, who ruled vast Galaxies in harmony with the other races that lived there. But that at some point, a being appeared with powers so fierce that nothing was out of his capability. He fed on the fear of living things then made them manifest into real and physical beings or realities. In a short amount of time he had created armies of nightmares and monstrosities that devastated everything in their path. In the old language spoken then they named him Bel’Durra, Fear Incarnate, and he was a veritable God that could not be stopped.
So the Dræ, not having any sort of means to halt the advance of Bel’Durra or his armies fled, taking all that survived from their way of life and searched as best they could for a means to counter his terrible power and vast armies. And upon discovering a means to traverse to a neighboring Universe, did so, hoping that their pursuers would not be able to follow.
Not only had they found shelter here in this Universe, they also soon discovered that they had a connection with it that they had never experienced before. The Gifts of Connection with the fundamental elements of Matter and Energy.
Shortly after these discoveries were made, the Fold was established as a means to train and gather those who had this connection. Hoping that one day, if ever Bel’Durra discovered them, they would be prepared to defend and defeat him. All of it done with the assumption that he might still find them.
As fate would have it, such a simple plan would have many ways of going sour, and it had. Now to most of the people on earth, the memory of their true origins was lost. Their lives were short now, and filled with struggles and strife. It was hard to imagine a race prone to such savage ways had ever been united into a trans-galactic empire.  At least for Ilias it was, and he was sure there were others in the Fold that felt the same way. Up until this point he had been content with the thought that he would never have to truly worry about facing any of the horrors that he had heard about.
Yet, here he was. And by the end of the day he would know if he would be the one to reunite the stories with their true origins.
“Let us pray to whatever deities may be listening,” Dorom said, “That we do not find him today, or any other day soon. We are not ready to face the things we know him capable of. Together we might be strong, but under the might Bel’Durra possessed, we would not last long.”
Ilias tried to imagine the reaction his old mentor would give if he tried to tell him that he was almost certain he felt he could deal with whatever Fear could give out, if Bel’Durra turned out to be a he anyway. The power he felt at his disposal seemed to heat with the thought of finally being released in action.
Ilias shut his eyes tight for a moment, pushing the feeling down and away. If he had learned from his past mistake was that he would need to keep his head. Getting drunk on power was one of the fastest ways to lose it. Possibly even literally.
Coming up to a large open doorway, they entered the Priory’s main hall that acted as a Transference Chamber. Each of the Priory’s located around the globe contained such a hall with constantly open portals that lead to the next closest Priory in different directions. Though someone could just as easily Transfer to the specific location of their choice with the help of a qyuikstone, taking a networked route led to less accidental deaths due to one person being Transferred accidentally inside someone else.
There in the middle of the cavernous space were two large Obelisk pillars jutting from the floor at sharp angles towards each other nearly connecting with mirrored pillars that hung down from the ceiling. Standing around the base of each of the pillars Ilias saw a few Reliquist and their student Oraclists, along with a handful of Adepted as they were shown the work needed to maintain the portals that remained open below the pillars.
“Ambrose! Dorom!”
A hooded figure strode toward them from a small group that had been standing conversing near the inside of the entrance to the hall. As the man approached Ilias recognized him as one of this Priory’s senior Reliquists, Ciro Adisa. The man had been one of Ambrose’s closest childhood friends and had been separated at a young age, only to have found each other again years later within the Fold and had stayed close through the early years of Ilias’ introduction into the Fold. But at some point they had come to be at odds with each other to the point where it almost seemed a rivalry, though neither of them admitted it. Whatever it was that had happened it was no hidden fact that they now disliked each other.
“So Ambrose, my brother, I heard the wench you drug in here a few days back was one of the missing Demi-Gods. Is that true?” Ciro asked in one of the worst attempts at mock surprise and disbelief Ilias had ever seen. Then again knowing the source he was sure that had probably been the goal. Crossing his large arms and crossing them in front of his chest, Ciro made a show of how imposing he could look as he stood in front of their path.
Ambrose visably tensed as he tried to be patient with his ex-friend, “Yes, I suppose if you want to put it that way. I did help. What of it?”
With a smirk Ciro shrugged as he stroked few fingers through his grizzled beard. “Oh I was just curious. I found it rather amusing that you would have even bothered to bring her in after your student leeched her dry. Maybe had you been a little better, you wouldn’t have failed twice to make a decent contribution to the Fold.”
Ilias felt the sudden urge to drive a fist into the man’s gut despite the fact that undoubtedly would have caused more damage to himself then to this particular beast of a man. Ciro was definitely one of the most solid men he had ever seen in his life next to Ambrose and Dorom, and his capabilities were far beyond impressive. According to Ciro, he was part of the reason the Eastern Euro Priory extended so far into the Mountains that sheltered it. Ilias had never bothered to verify the boast, it definitely seemed plausible. It still did nothing to change the anger he felt boiling through his veins.
Why was it that everyone lately was acting as though he wasn’t there standing in front of them when they talked about him? If this had happened to anyone else would they have been treated like this? Or were his actions so far against what he understood as a very grey area of the Fold’s laws that he deserved to be slighted?
Perhaps it was the fact that so many had died in situations like this that they already counted him as dead. Before this had all happened most the Fold had looked at him with suspicion thanks to the speed at which had adapted to and progressed with his skills.
Becoming a Reliquist had been his goal to finally be seen as an equal to all those he had looked up to. Instead however he was beginning to believe that they would seem him as anything but thanks to his actions. He understood them to be frowned upon, but not criminalized.
Ilias shut his eyes and looked away for a moment. These kind of negative thoughts were going to get him nowhere. It felt so easy to give into his self-doubt and begin to hate on himself, but there was no real cause. These were all just imagined slights, right?
“Actually she is of great value to the Fold, Ciro.” Dorom answered in his ever calm and controlled demeanor as he stepped between them and Ciro. “Her memories and knowledge date back many hundreds of years before you had stopped suckling at your mother’s teet, and they are proving to be a great asset. True for the moment she has lost touch with her connection, but she was not Tempered, so in time her power could return. And when they do, I’m sure she will no doubt have much to teach you.”
Moving around Ciro, Dorom walked toward one of the Supply rooms that lined the walls to either side of the Transference Towers. As Ilias and Ambrose moved to follow him, Ilias had to fight the urge shove past him like a child or even stick his tongue out. Such personal satisfaction would only cause problems in the moment. Instead he had to be content with raising an eyebrow in amusement as they made eye contact in passing. Ciro merely snorted and walked back to his group, his stride ever prideful.
“Thank you for containing yourself.” Ambrose’s voice startled Ilias inside his mind, “I don’t think acting on your initial…instinct…just now, would have been seen as something that would befit someone of your rank now.”
“Or your age…”
Dorom added.
His old mentors knew him all too well it seemed. Everything from Dorom’s actions just now stepping between them to the last few days of testing where he had spoken in his behalf was all evidence of that. Dorom would always be the father figure in his life, no matter the rank. Still, there were parts of that relationship that were bound to change. Neither Dorom nor Ambrose would always be there at his side the rest of his life, and now that he was no longer their student he wouldn’t have them to shield him. Or shield others from him for that matter.
“We need to remember that from this point on, our little Ilias is now a trained Reliquist. What actions he does or does not make are not for us to critique or guide…unless he requests it of course.” Dorom said as they walked into the Supply room and began grabbing armor and supplies to strap to themselves.
Once again it was as if Dorom knew exactly what was going on in his mind, well, almost.
“Or unless I show some sign that I am no longer in control of my powers and pose some imagined threat to the Fold or some such thing.” Ilias said, realizing a little late that with the touch of sarcastic bitterness in his voice it probably would have been better had he kept that thought to himself. Dorom stopped dead in his tracks and spun around to face him. For the first time that Ilias could remember, he felt and saw an emotion he didn’t think he had ever seen come from his old Mentor. Cold Anger.
“But that will not happen will it? Nor are we to talk or make jokes about things of that nature, is that clear?” Dorom’s word came out slow and forceful as if he was beating every one into Ilias’ head.
Ilias swallowed nervously and nodded in understanding, which seemed to be enough for Dorom who turned back around and continued loading up their packs. The whole sudden confrontation was out of character.
“What I think Dorom is trying to say is that this isn’t exactly a situation we can afford to take lightly.” Ambrose said as he stepped between the two, clearly trying to dissipate the sudden awkward tension that had arisen in the room. “We trust you completely to maintain control over the situation but in all fairness, we do have to take this matter seriously. A lot of things are suddenly counting on you staying alive. Probably more then you yourself realize.”
“Are we interrupting anything?”
The three of them turned and saw Ameerah and Chrestian standing at the entrance of the room. Both of them had on their full set of Reliquist dress armor, the kind use mainly in ceremonies or equally important events. Though it served as a means of protection as well, it was based on the first sets of armor created for the Reliquist during the 1st Era after the Deluge. Even in the subdued light of the Priory sections of the plating caught the light like mirrors, intensifying the light and adding to the splendor the armor gave.
Although there were definitely many alternatives to what they could wear on missions depending on what was trying to be accomplished, this was used mainly when they were to remain in Suspension over a battlefield. Catching the light and reflecting the skies around them, the armor along with their alterations to the air around them would easy camouflage them from sight bellow. The few times that people had been able to see them from below Ilias imagined had been where the stories of Guardian Angels had come from.
Ilias almost felt jealous as he changed into more normal attire. He would obviously have a slightly more difficult job since he would have to be in the public eye, however he couldn’t help but wish he would be able to walk the streets in something as equally impressive.
Dorom smiled warmly at the two, “Not at all, we were merely discussing some ethics of a history lesson.”
Chrestian grinned and clapped a hand on Ilias’ back, “You’ll find that even after your Ascension, you are still going to be receiving lessons. Only instead from the same two people it will be coming from everyone at once around you.”
Ilias smiled. At first he had been somewhat hesitant to have two extra pair of eyes on him, but when Admes had mentioned he had wanted Chrestian and Ameerah he had been relieved that it would at the least be two people he knew well. Even though they were not the closest of friends with him, they were still familiar with each other enough since they had both gone through their Adepted training together at the Priory in Greece.
Also if he remembered correctly they were both relatively new to the rank of Reliquist as well, having both gone through their Ascension earlier in the year. In that short amount of time they had proven themselves more than capable members of the Fold, having already accomplished several dozen missions ranging from the simple to the extremely orchestrated.
Ameerah curtsied gracefully at them; a task she made look easy despite the amount of armor she wore along with Chrestian. Her golden hair, long and free, fell about her shoulders as and Ilias couldn’t help but wonder how she managed to keep it all so pristine looking considering the amount and kind of work she frequently found herself in.
“Gentlemen, a pleasure to see you all again as always.” She said politely then turned to Ilias, “I have been meaning to give you a congratulatory welcome, but we have been kept on assignment since your Ascension. As belated as it is, congratulations Ilias.”
Ilias felt himself blush as she came forward to embrace him. Part of him wondered if she had not heard about all the events that had followed his Ascension, or if perhaps she actually did not care. He remembered her to have always been a loner when it came to spending time with peers. She was focused on her tasks at all times, and even when not on assignment usually withdrew to her private quarters to study and meditate.
Either way, it was a breath of fresh air to the stale mood he had realized he had been putting himself in.
Chrestian he knew had always been the opposite of his partner and had usually spent as much time with peers as he did in the field, preferring to try and remain the center of attention.
Ilias wasn’t exactly sure what had ever made the two so inseparable considering their nearly polar opposite dispositions. All he did know was that it worked for them somehow. They kept each other balanced just as Ambrose and Dorom had managed to keep a balance while Ilias had been training.
“Indeed Ilias, you’ve finally managed to catch up to us. That was quite the feat considering you were barely starting your way up to Adepted when we were graduating from it.” Chrestian said, smiling playfully at him as he elbowed Ilias’ ribs. “Speaking of which, from what little was passed to us about this assignment of yours, we are to be your eyes? We were not given much more information other than we should be prepared for anything.”
“And that goes without saying.” Dorom said as he handed them all the belts containing elements and slots for vials and bottles. “Our assignment will take us to Denmark, Copenhagen to be exact. You both are coming to be our eyes but also because you both are natives to the area correct?”
Ameerah looked at Chrestian then back to Dorom, “Partially correct I suppose, I was born there and spent part of my life there up until my family left for country. Shortly after that was when I came into the Fold. Chrestian here only live there for a few years but was raised not far from the city. Together we should be able to be of some assistance, but why so many for this assignment? I assume we are to be expecting trouble?”
“I assume you heard of the Demi-Goddess we brought in during Ilias’ Ascension?” Ambrose asked to which they both nodded. “Well, from her memories we learned of a group of Gifted that seem to gathering secret there. They call themselves the Coven of Fear. From what we have been able to gather, we believe they may have evidence of Bel’Durra’s presence on Earth.”
Ameerah’s brow furrowed as Chrestian’s eyes widened. “Bel’Durra as in…Fear Incarnate? Here? On Earth? And the Fold is only just finding out to this? Now?” she asked in disbelief.
Ilias shook his head, “I don’t think so, exactly. Her memories do not show him completely, at least, not that I or anyone else who has seen the memories can manage to determine. That doesn’t mean that he is not there either. No one alive today has ever seen his face or know exactly what we are looking for. For all intents and purposes we may have looked right at him and not known it.”
Chrestian cocked his head in curiosity, “So, it’s true then. You did absorb her powers and memories.”
“What’s true?” Ameerah questioned. “Why do I get the feeling there is more going on than even this surprising revelation.”
Ambrose seemed to shift uncomfortably on his feet, “We will tell you more once we arrive on location. What is important is that this Coven of Fear merits our investigation. Not only for the fact that a large group of Gifted has been gather under our noses in secret, but also for the fact that the name they have chosen makes them highly suspicious.”
Chrestian nodded in agreement and placed a calming arm on Ameerah who looked determined to press on her unanswered questions.
“The world is only just recovering from a rather dark time. I believe it would be a rather bold move indeed to name a group something so ominous. It would only have been a matter of time before the Fold or even some last remaining Witch Hunt to find them.”
Ilias had not considered the dangers of this Coven being found first by some random group of hate mongering so called Witch Hunters. He had done well enough to keep thoughts of his lost siblings buried deep in the back of his mind, but this suddenly brought it all rushing forward. It was hard enough to imagine at times that the people of the world outside the walls of the Priories were as ignorant of everything as they were. They knew nothing of their true heritage or origins, nothing of what potential those with Gifts could bring to the world.
It was not that long ago that anyone with Gifts were hunted down as Witches and Warlocks. Seen by neighbors and friends as practicers of dark arts and swiftly sentenced to painful deaths through cruelly imagined means. The Dark Ages had been called for many reasons and it was a time that struck Ilias and his family deeper than most realized.
“It’s been some time since I’ve returned to that city.” Ameerah said, adjusting the belt of pouches around her waist. “But I’m sure between the two of us we can help guide you through the city.”
“And clearly we can keep an eye on you as well little ‘Lias.” Chrestian added. That was a nickname he hadn’t heard in a while. “One thing was sure about our orders and it was that you were to be kept safe. It would seem your value to the Fold is quite high these days.”
Ilias was starting to gather that perhaps Chrestian knew more about what was happening than he was letting on and was grateful for him to try and keep it simple. His over-reacting earlier to everyone’s attitude towards him was starting to become self-evident. If protection from harm was truly what the Fold had in mind then he would allow them to do their job; as long as it didn’t interfere with his own plans.
Now that they were presumably supplied they left the room and headed back into the larger Transfer chamber.
“Our biggest concern is that if this Coven is indeed real, it would seem to be based in the city itself. Meaning they will no doubt have informants and triggers set throughout the area around their meeting places no doubt. They would not have gone unnoticed this long without having some means in place to keep unwanted attention away.” Dorom said, bringing out his Qyuikstone and activating it, the tablet came to life in shimmering green light. “Aside from what you will be doing to guide and watch over us, we will need you to watch for suspicious activities. We don’t want anyone to slip away to warn or escape.”
“Wouldn’t it be best if there were fewer of us on the ground then?” Ameerah asked, “We would be less likely to hit triggers or wards in the air. Plus more eyes high up means we may find this Coven faster there will be less attention then with a group traveling together.”
The idea sounded solid. Ilias couldn’t help but have mixed feelings about it though. If they were not with him on the ground then it would be easier for him to hide his search for his siblings. With them being in the air above him though that also meant that their attention would be for directed to his actions then if they were on the ground.
“It does make sense.” Dorom reasoned then turned to look at Ilias, “However, if you would prefer it I could stay with you on the ground, Ambrose can join Ameerah and Chrestian. The choice remains yours. You are the one who has the memories of this city from your point of view, I would merely be following your lead.”
Ilias stood tall and took in a deep breath as he considered his options. He had to be able to prove he could handle these situations on his own without constant vigilance on him.
“No, I believe she is right. The more eyes we have in the sky, the better this will turn out I believe. You are the most experienced one among us, I’m sure your insights will prove more useful from above.”
They seemed to all take his reasoning well and all nodded in agreement. He would have to start getting used to this change where he could make these kind of decisions without needing the approval of his mentors. Now if he could just manage to remember and not do anything too crazy, perhaps this would not end in disaster.
Ameerah hesitated as a thought suddenly came to her, “Your siblings…if something were to happen…” Ilias could tell that she wasn’t sure exactly how to say what she was thinking, but she was trying.
He himself had thought about that earlier before the briefing that perhaps he should try and update them on everything that had happened or was happening. But they had been out on assignment with their respective mentors and he’d had no way of reaching them. The fact that their younger siblings could be alive out there was something they deserved to know, especially if things didn’t go as planned again. He had made his choice however, and there was no going back now. Still Ilias couldn’t help the feeling of guilt.
“They will be fine until I return.” He said finally.

 

 

Ilias pulled the hood of his cloak as over his face as he could without obstructing his line of sight as he tried to shield his face from the rain that had started to fall. Dorom, Ambrose and himself made their way through the quiet dark street that led into the city. They were passing through what looked like abandoned shacks on the outskirts of the city.
“You’re clear on where you are headed and what you need to do?” Asked Dorom from somewhere off to his left. Ilias merely turned his head in the direction the voice had come from and nodded once. It wasn’t as though they were not going to be able to continue to communicate once he was inside the city. And perhaps his response could have been a little less curt then it had come across. It just couldn’t be helped with the state that his insides were at the closer they got. He had been struggling to keep his feelings buried down inside since they had arrived outside the city. At any moment he felt the others would pick up on his distress.
Apparently the response had been enough for Dorom. Ilias could sense the air turn static behind him as Dorom and Ambrose charged the air around them and lifted themselves up into the sky above with Chrestian and Ameerah.
They had been rather fortunate to arrive outside the city in the early morning hours, few people were out and about at this time. And those that were had been too preoccupied with getting their day started that no one had paid them much attention.
From what information Ameerah was able to gather before they arrived however the entire city was on the edge of high tension thanks to some political elements that Ilias had only half listened too. All he had remembered was that at any moment the situation could either work for them or against them. True perhaps the locals would be on the look-out for soldiers and such, but they could easily pick out someone who might come across as a spy.
Ilias strode through the rows of shacks and empty stalls with confidence and purpose, passing a couple of farmers that were coming from the gates. The rain was now coming down harder, quickly turning the damp roadway in mud. Now concerned with getting their carts through the streets, the farmers barely gave him a passing glance.
“Visually your path is clear.” Chrestian’s voice came through the Resonator in his head, “I see no one on any rooftops near you, though there are guards along the top of the walls. Their visibility will be limited though. How about you Ameerah? Do you see anything from a material perspective?”
“At the moment I don’t see alterations done to the structures or roads from where you are now or immediately into the city…”
Ameerah’s voice trailed off for a moment, “…I cannot tell you about further into the city. The closer to the bay I look the more it looks like there’s a fog over that part of the city. It could just be the weather that’s preventing me from seeing too well.”
Ilias’ attention perked at that.
“A mental fog?” he asked. “How far into the city is it?”
He sped up his pace, breaking away from the road to go down to the edge of the moat that surrounded the city. Looking up along the walls, he waited till the guard that stood closest to him turned his attention back to something else before he charged the air himself and lifted himself up towards the top.
Chrestian was the one who finally answered him, “Almost like a mental fog, yes. I can’t say I have ever seen anything like this before. It’s just as though our sense don’t reach that part of the city, we can see lights from lanterns and such and parts of the city are hazy to the eye because of the dark and the rain. But, any sort of alteration we make to see clearer only makes the haze worse, as if the fog gets deeper.”
               “And to answer you, it seems to be focused mainly on the waterfront district.” Ameerah added.
Ilias knew exactly what kind of feeling they were talking about now, there was no doubt about it. Reaching the top of the wall, he landed quietly and took a couple of bounding steps before he flung himself over the opposite edge of the wall. Catching himself with charged air he landed in the shadow of a building closest to the wall.
“Do not approach the fog! In fact move to new locations and do not try and sense into it…” Ambrose’s voice echoed with alarm, “The Demi-Goddess we encountered during Ilias’ Ascension used something She used a type of mental fog to keep us from detecting anything within the range of the fog, but with it she was also able to use it as a trigger and pinpoint our location once we tried to peer too deeply into it.”
Ilias felt he had limited time left. Surely if Urvi had thought these people how to create a similar blanket mind fog then they would already have been alerted to their presence. The only reason they had not been seen yet was because most of them were airborne. Had it been him on the ground, they would have found him by now. He was sure of it.
Looking around the mostly empty streets, Ilias started making his way towards what he remembered was the fastest way to the waterfront part of the city. The only problem was now that he was on the ground the map he had tried to recall in his mind seemed a distant memory, out of focus. He did have some of the images from Urvi’s memory, but they were fragmented as well.
“From where I am at now can you guide me there?”  he asked.
The easiest way he remembered without going through the entire city was to stay along the edge of the wall at least at some point he knew it would curve around to the port area.
Time was not on his side though, already the sun was starting to come up and brighten the sky. His means of transportation would be limited to walking on foot unless he wanted to cause a scene with the people who were starting their day. Even the rain was starting to slow.
Keeping a lower profile meant he wouldn’t be able to run full tilt through the city despite what he wanted to do to get there as quick as possible. As people were starting to exit their house, Ilias could sense a growing tension in the air. It was as if they knew all that was about to happen. Their tension was focused on what was outside their walls. Ilias felt the tension of what was about to happen within the city walls.
It would be too easy for this Coven of Fear to use the situation as a cover for their escape, or at the very least to cause as much distraction and destruction as possible. Groups of Gifted rarely seemed intent on anything but starting trouble. And there was something about the memories he had seen that made him believe this group was involved in something that Urvi had feared would bring great destruction to the world. For sure that much he was able to feel and see rather clearly.
As Ilias walked quickly passed a darkened alley he felt his skin tingle with that familiar static feeling a moment before Chrestian emerged from the dark, a dark cloak wrapped around his dress armor.
“If this is indeed the similar wile that was used by this Urvi character, there’s no need to take any extra chances.” He said as he matched Ilias’ stride and pace through the lamp lit street, “I don’t intend on leaving your safety to chance.”
Ilias managed a smile, “Thank you sir.” He replied politely. He appreciated Chrestian’s concern even though he felt it was still unnecessary.  With the amount of people that were starting to wake now that dawn was breaking and the rains were now falling lightly, it would be much easier for someone to slip out of town without them noticing. An extra pair of eyes on the ground couldn’t hurt.
Unless it’s someone I don’t want them seeing. Spotting Evagelos or Saeynt could be impossible if more people start to crowd the streets. Between making sure a dagger wasn’t sheathed in his ribs, keeping an eye out for them as well as keeping that search from being too obvious to his companions,  Ilias felt the whole situation may be challenging.
No, there was a plus to all this. None of them had ever seen, at least to his knowledge, what his youngest siblings looked like. They would not be able to recognize them; it would be Ilias who would give away their identity if he over acted the situation.
“Do you remember the way to the waterfront?” Ilias asked.
“Of course,” Ameerah answered, joining them from seemingly out of nowhere. “But there’s still much of the city on that side need to cover if we are to find this place you seek. Almost half the city makes up the waterfront district with warehouses and such. All of it is encased in that fog.”
Now that the three of them were walking together, Ilias noticed they were getting more attention from passersby. This wasn’t going to work for them if they continued like this.
“Maybe it’s better if we stick to communicating here,” Ilias said, “These people are at odds with the English right now, and we will be in for more complications if they start to think we are spies. Now, I know we are looking for an Inn that faces the water’s edge. The part where it’s not clear is if that water is the bay, or even just a canal. All I can see in the memory is that it is not far from the water.”
He hated making guesses at what all he could see in these stolen memories especially since they were only glimpses of moments. Like a photograph it showed a viewpoint, but with no means to enhance or look elsewhere aside from the one direction. This one however, had the very distinct sounds of water. As if he were standing on a dock looking at the Inn that they searched for.
“There are several of such Inns facing the water on either side of a very wide canal that runs through the city. The canal separates what I assume is this waterfront district and a sort of dock and warehouse area.” Ambrose said, “At least that’s what I can see. I found myself a nice point of view from the edge of the city wall, just outside the range of the mind fog.”
Even though there was a part of him that wished it was he and Dorom that were at his side now, he knew this to be better. They at least had a limited familiarity with what they might be up against and were much more experienced at surveillance.
“There are three of them to be exact.” Dorom added, “I suggest you split up and see if there is any sort of suspicious activity in those areas. Lucky for you, two are on the same side of the canal that you are on. Unlucky for us all, they are well inside the fog which means use of any of our powers will alert them to our presence.”
Ilias was relatively certain at this point that fog had been prodded enough by everyone that their presence in the city was known. But, as long as they kept moving and did this prodding from several different places it would make their numbers and positions difficult to determine. In theory.
“You will go to the closest one,” Ameerah said and grabbed Chrestian’s shoulder to halt him in front of another alleyway between buildings, “We will go and start at the furthest then meet in the middle. With a little guidance from Ambrose I will guide us to the edge of the fog and transfer as close as possible to that location, two jumps at most.”
Ilias followed them into the alley to get out of sight of some guardsmen that were marching quickly towards the waterfront area.
“Do it,” he said keeping his voice down, “I can’t help the feeling that we are going to be running out of time, something is looming. I can feel it.”
Chrestian grasped Ilias’ arm as he and Ameerah made their way back further in the alley, “Be safe little brother.”  He said to him in an almost whisper.
Ilias tried to smile at him, but wasn’t sure if Chrestian was able to see it in the shadows. He appreciated the sentiment, even though it made him feel like a child. It had taken him so long to get any kind of recognition from anyone within the Fold, and now they were treating him like family. Ilias wasn’t sure if he was going to ever figure these people out.
Ameerah looked back at Ilias one last time and nodded with a slight bow, then grabbing Chrestian’s shoulder she pointed two fingers skyward as she cast a quick transference. The air sizzled with energy as their bodies dematerialized and vanished.
“Ilias, you are only a few city blocks from where the closest Inn is located, but I think you should try and hurry.” Ambrose’s said snapping Ilias’ attention back from the alley. “After a quick fly over of the warships blockading the city, it looks like they are preparing for something. There is plenty of commotion down on the decks. It would be a safe bet that things are about to escalate to more violent end and we should not be caught in the middle of it.”
“Not to mention our mandate was to find evidence of this Coven,” Dorom added, “We cannot get involved in this war, but we will certainly find no evidence if this city is destroyed either. Can you do something to hold off some of the ships from attack?”
“I can certainly do my best, Ill head back around and see what time I can buy.”
Ambrose replied.
Ilias made his way back into the street, more people were out now, but they rushed from one place to another. The people of the city seemed to feel the same agitation that was in the air. Someone had kicked the ant nest it looked like.
Even though the Fold had by now established itself all over the world across varied countries and cultures, and even with the amount of power contained within a single Priory, they still chose to work under as much anonymity as they possibly could. Not to say that the Fold never helped any one particular side or government from time to time. It was usually always contained to whichever side would serve the Fold’s interests most. A fact that did not always agree with the way Ilias’ thought it should be. This was one instance in which he wasn’t sure how he felt about it, largely due to how uncertain theirs actions could hinder or help them from one moment to the next.
Chrestian’s voice suddenly buzzed through the Resonator, “What can you tell me exactly about this place in your memories? Are you sure it was an Inn? By the water?”
Ilias blinked. He wasn’t sure it was an Inn actually. It was all from the impression he had received from the visuals in his mind. Now that he tried to conjure up the memory he was starting to realize that he had never seen any sign on the outside, no name or symbol. He had felt so sure before, but now it all seemed to fade. How was he supposed to convey that to them now without sounding like an idiot?
“Well, no. I saw no direct words that called it an Inn. Just from the memory itself, feels like…an Inn. I don’t know how else to explain it.”  Ilias stopped and closed his eyes, trying once again to focus on the memory. To see what exactly he could recollect. “The building sits near water, I can hear the water in the memory. Inside I know there’s a passage that leads down to a secret place, covered by a long carpet in a hallway. There’s another carpet that sits near a large stone fireplace. Both are heavily treaded as though traffic in the building were a norm. Especially for travelers.”
There was a pause before Chrestian finally responded, “From the look of the place we are seeing now, I don’t think this is the one we are looking for. It is not all that close to water, and I would seriously doubt this building has a large stone fireplace. It looks like just a rather ordinary run down wooden building that happens to serve as an Inn.”
Ilias wasn’t really paying attention to the words he was hearing any more. The images in his head he was trying so hard to remember and had a moment before been relatively clear in his mind had started to become faint and harder to visualize. It was if the harder he tried to reach and hold on to them, the faster they would slip away. And now it was not just the stolen memories but everything in his mind that seemed clouded over, harder to focus. Everything seemed scrambled, just as when he had awoken under Urvi’s capture.
Looking up and around him suddenly, he realized that the crowds from the morning that had set about their day were starting to disappear. The street was becoming deserted, with only a few people scuttling about under the shelter from the rains.
Maybe he was just being overly paranoid. There was so much he was trying to keep floating in his mind that he was starting to jump at shadows as he continued down the street at a steady pace. Ilias was sure he looked somewhat suspicious at his brisk walk that was starting to turn into a quick jog. He needed to keep focused and not let his mind give in to this morning fog.
“Ameerah, Chrestian…do you feel…” Ilias’ question faltered in his mind. He wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to tell them, or what he was going to tell them. For a moment, his mind seemed to be going to the brink of madness with the botched up memories and thoughts. Now he was starting to understand how someone who had taken in part of another’s mind could or should he say, would, go mad. On the inside he felt his heart race in panic, at the thought that maybe he was about to lose all touch with himself.
“What are you feeling?” Ameerah’s voice rang loudly in his head, clearing the way for his mind to refocus on her voice. If he were to guess by the tone of her voice, she too sounded distracted. Didn’t she?
Three consecutive rumbles sounded in the distance like loud thundering drum beats, followed by several more from one side of the horizon to the other.
“THE CANNONS HAVE FIRED!!”
The cry in his mind seemed strange and unfamiliar, but it came a mere moment before the building at the end of the block in front of Ilias blew outwards with pieces of flaming wood and ruptured mortar. Sounds of exploding cannon shells could be heard clearly across the city as the bombardment began.
This time he could clearly hear Ambrose’s voice, “ILIAS! They know we are here, be on your guard.”
Even though it was more of a projection of his mind, Ambrose had sounded strained. Ilias closed his eyes, reaching his senses out he tried to find him and looked up into the brightening sky in time to see several flashes of movement as he spotted who he assumed was his mentor as he tumbled to the ground. The shimmer of air and light afforded him the view that he was grappling with another figure as they fell. Whoever these people were, they knew how to locate them even from high in the air.
A cold prickling tingle of a sensation shot from the back of his mind down his spine, bringing his attention back down just in time to see several chucks of flaming debris come hurtling towards his head. By pure reactionary instinct alone, Ilias reached out with both hands and sapped the energy that drove them and redirected the pieces to crash to the ground around his feet.
Only a few paces from him across the open street stood a young man dressed in rather ordinary clothing. Nothing would have set him apart from the rest of the citizens he had just seen moments before. The man glared menacingly at Ilias, taking in deep breaths from the cold morning air.
The moment’s hesitation end as his attacker seemed to focus his mind on him for a moment before making grabbing motions at the ground around him, lifting several more chucks of broken building into the air and just as quickly flung them at Ilias.
Even though the attack had been rather basic one and easy to out maneuver, the young man had executed it so smoothly and with what looked like minimal effort. Despite the fact that the man could not have been more than twenty years of age, he was no ordinary Gifted. He had been trained.
Deftly, Ilias dodged the first two large pieces, then stopped the last three in mid-air before letting them fall harmlessly to the ground.
“We are not here to harm you,” Ilias said, raising both hands to either side showing his intent to not retaliate. “I’m looking for someone…”
Another volley of thundering cannon fire sounded off in the distance, punctuated by the trembling of the ground beneath them and the sound of explosions echoing throughout the city. They were lucky this round had not landed near them.
Ilias took a couple of slow measured steps towards the young man and then closer he got began to realize how young this boy was. He was beginning to think he couldn’t have surpassed his mid-teens, even though with Gifted it was at times hard to tell exactly. One thing was unmistakable however, the dead-set look of anger and hatred in his eyes was not hidden in anyway. Whoever he thought Ilias was, he obviously wasn’t going to listen to anything he had to say.
Muttering something Ilias could hardly hear, much less understand, the boy pulled a small silver sword from behind his back. There was no sheath anywhere that Ilias could see on his body, nor anyway could the boy have hidden a weapon like that anywhere on him without it being obviously present. The boy had to have created it.
Definitely not an ordinary Gifted child.
Another volley of cannon fire sounded and this time several of the builds around them were struck, sending brick and mortar through the air around them. Even parts of the street had been struck and sent dirt and smoke all about them. It was in that moment the boy attacked.
Propelling himself forward with an almost explosive force of his own he lunged at Ilias, swiping his sword to try and sever head from body. Ilias had already rolled out of the way before the blade could connect.
As he had moved, Ilias connected with the Stream of Matter, reshaping the small metal bars that had formed ridges around his gauntlets. Liquefying and swirling around his hands, he quickly remade them solid again as daggers. Had he not done so, the next two blocks that followed a moment after his dodge would have severed his arms just below the elbows.
This boy was proving to be as fast as he was skilled. With every swing and jab of his sword he showed that each of his moves was calculated and precise, nothing was done in random fury. Even the hatred he had shown just moments ago had disappeared, he was doing a great job of keeping his emotions in check. His face now remained cool and concentrated as he continued the attack with deadly swiftness, shifting his body weight smoothing from one foot to the other. Always moving. Always balanced. Whoever had trained him, had trained him to kill if not at the least get as close to it as quickly as possible.
For once Ilias was grateful that he had been as well trained in his own sword and dagger skills as he had been with his talents over Energy and Matter. Even still, he felt himself being pressed further and further back in defense. Never having a moment to do anything but dodge and block as the attack kept its quick pace. Ilias was impressed at the stamina this boy was showing. Some of the most trained sword wielders he had ever come across could only keep up an assault of this kind for so long before they showed signs of slowing down or weakening.
This was not the case now.
He must be using energy stored inside him to fuel his moves.
Ilias tried to detect any sort of absorption from sources around them to air the boy. But there were none. And in his brief moment of distraction, he dodged a jab that came all too close as the sword slid past his head and stabbed into his hood. It had missed the side of his face by a mere fingers breath as the boy continued the move and sliced his hood in half easily.
Seeing that victory seemed imminent Ilias could have sworn he saw a brief and rather self-satisfied smirk cross the boys lips as he increased the speed and viciousness of his attacks. Spinning and slicing with such speed that it was as though the air around Ilias had become a constant flurry of whistling metal and sharp clanking parries.
This was not going to continue, no matter how much energy he had at his disposal.
“ENOUGH!” Ilias shouted, releasing a powerful blast of energy out in all directions, catching the boy off guard for a moment as he tumbled back a few paces. Even then, he managed to catch himself rather easily and landed back on his feet already bringing his sword back up for another attack. But the brief opening was all Ilias needed.
In one move, the daggers that had been in each hand disintegrated and reformed once again into his gauntlets as he gathered Energy from his internal reserve  and released it into the air into two successive punches that sent the boy flying into the wall of a building across the street.
Before the boy could fall to the ground, Ilias gathered a streaming surge of Energy that plastered the boy tightly against the wall. At some point not too long ago the amount of constant output of Energy he was using would have left him winded without a recharge, now however, he felt that it all came surprisingly easy.
But not nearly as surprising as the sudden anger he felt surge through him as he grabbed the dropped sword and pressed it’s sharp edge up to the boy’s throat.
“Where did you learn to fight like that?” he asked, or more growled, through his clenched teeth. His temples were throbbing now suddenly with this surge of raw emotion.
The boy glowered at Ilias for a moment before he shifted attention somewhere in the sky above, his face settling into a stony and stubborn silence. He showed absolutely no fear for the situation he was in; much less it appeared for the sword of his own creation that was now held to his throat.
And yet for some reason this seemed to only intensify the anger Ilias felt at this whelp of a boy that had been able to stand against him. Perhaps he had taken his appointment to Reliquist a bit too seriously if his pride had been so easily wounded. This was not the time to deal with these thoughts so for now the feeling couldn’t be helped. His job was to handle these sort of situations, on his own if need be.
It seemed as though the canon fire from the ships outside the city had been joined now by yet more cannon fire coming from the opposite side of the city as well. This whole situation had quickly gone to hell.
None of it matter to Ilias.
With little effort he increased the pressure that held his prisoner to the wall, watching his expression finally break as the pain of the crushing force started to take effect.
“You will answer me…” He spat.
An explosion ripped through the roof above their heads, raining flaming debris down around them. Nothing managed to touch them however. At some point that Ilias vaguely realized he could not recall, he had created a protective barrier around them. Nothing was going to get through to them now. Perhaps it had all been merely reflexive, but he was not going to worry about it now, nor did he particularly care.
“Where is she?” he asked through clenched teeth, increasing the pressure he was plastering his captive with. Ilias could see that the boy was struggling to worm his way out of the invisible grasp he had on him. He pressed harder on the boy’s limbs as Ilias saw he was trying to grasp at things to throw at him. The force of the Energy that Ilias applied however interfered. There would be no escape for this boy unless Ilias allowed it. And he wouldn’t, not until he found out what he wanted to know.
The boy finally spoke, or struggled to. Whatever he said, he said in his native tongue, though the words were strained and Ilias could hardly perceive them as words at all. But if the boy’s expression was any clue, it was anything but a confession. The boy still showed no fear as their eyes finally made contact. Ilias saw nothing in them except for contempt and the very slightest bit of anger.
And that’s when another volley of cannon fire struck along the street, one of the shells hitting them dead on and instantly bathing them in fire and smoke.

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