Sorcerous Stabber Orphen Rogue Journey – Beast, respond to my call – Chapter 2 – Remembering the Call

Chapter 2 – Remembering the Call
…………


She studied black magic in the “Tower of Fang” since a young age. In fact if you asked her colleagues, they would say she was quite the idol. She was know as the “Chaos Witch.”


Though even though everyone considered her that, she was quite the beauty. After all, even he thought so. He was five years younger than her and was a student in the same classroom. Both of them had grown up together, since a very young age.


She has been very dissatisfied with her short hair —— but he believes that her short hair is more suitable.


Though she cut her hair, she still retained her feminine features. Her eyes were always so cheerful and had a brilliant radiance to them, and when he stared into her eyes he could always see himself standing in her shadow. This gave him the motivation he needed to become a strong sorcerer.



Although in reality, he rarely got the chance to test his skills against hers. It was only during their combat training that he finally got pitted against her —— but like most things, it wasn’t as easy as he thought. She fiercely grabbed him by the arm and threw him over her shoulder, so fast that he could hardly breath when he hit the ground.


“You always seem to be waiting for me to throw you.”


She always said this. In fact, it’s true, but it was his secret.  It seems to bring back memories from long ago —— but even when you experience pain it, you can still dream……


Even though Azalie was popular and made many accomplishments throughout her life, not many people attended her funeral, at least he thought so.


However, no one around him shared the same opinion —— the boy never did hide his disgust from everyone else. Those people, who were mostly older than him, always muttered amongst themselves as he passed them by. Even so, those things they said still lingered in his ears.


“I didn’t expect this…”


“However, there are many witnesses”
“And then there was that noise…”


“They say everything is under control”


“But what about that…”


“That bloody stain.”


“Stain ——”


Stain.


It was like those words were imprinted on his body, he trembled as he listened —— it was if he was branded. But he never did feel any pain. He looked back at the “Tower of Fangs” backyard, where people were quietly coming out of the side entrance and joining the queue of mourners.


He stood and watched the crowd of mourners, who apparently were friends of Azalie. From the faces he spotted in the queue, he some of them were very old, at least he thought so. The funeral queue slowly climbed the hill leading to the cemetery.  


The boy kept his head down, like an animal being punished. As the coffin was being brought up from behind, no one walked with him.


“Krylancelo!”


His name was called, and he suddenly raised his head. He was a boy with red hair who was around the same age, and started to walk beside him.


“Oh, Hartia”


Krylancelo looked up at the redhead with dull eyes.


“I didn’t notice that you joined the funeral procession.”


“Me and you are the only two out of Childman’s class to attend”


Harita said, clutching himself, if he did this when the sun shines his hair would shine with a fiery red. But there was no sun today, only a moody atmosphere.


“Teacher?”


Krylancelo asked, much to the surprise to Hartia.


“You must be imagining things, teacher isn’t here yet.”


Hartia went to the front of the queue.


“Oh, yeah…”


Krylancelo muttered. Although he really didn’t care, about him or pretty much anything. Dead or alive, it doesn’t matter.


“Hey, cheer up. I know you and Azalie were close, but I don’t understand why you’re acting like this. It’s like you’re going to your own funeral.”


“I might as well be.”


“Hey!”


Hartia said in surprise. Subsequently, he left his friend, and went to the front of the queue beside his teacher’s side. Krylancelo watched him leave the back of the queue, he then turned his gaze to the taller man. A black sorcerer —— his teacher, Childman. He is regarded as one of the best sorcerers in the entire continent. He was young and about 25 years old. His body and determination was strong, with piercing eyes that made him look like an impeccable warrior. His black hair had a rope tied around it, mostly because it was too long.


The road in front of him was filled with mourners, the phrase “stain” was whispered among them.


Located on a hill in the public cemetery, it was a little crowded. The queue was now at the cemetery, but the coffin was very light which made the people moving the coffin move at a quick pace. The young woman’s body was very light —— Krylancelo inadvertently overheard them chatting in the lounge.


“No, the coffin doesn’t have a woman’s body inside.”


A nameless tombstone was dug in advance, which the coffin was placed in. The mourners started to sprinkle soil on the coffin with a shovel. Krylancelo started blankly —— Childman forcefully threw a shovel at him, Hartia gently took his shovel. Even those who would say bad things, shut their mouths.


Krylancelo thought to himself. No matter how you are buried, you will never be satisfied with it. He stared at his shovel for a while, so long that it forced someone to cough to spur him into action. He jumped right into the hole and started digging with his shovel, he saw that the hole wasn’t deep enough.


“Who’s funeral is this?!”


“This is the funeral of Azalie, the student of Childman.”


Childman said, but Krylancelo clearly wasn’t satisfied with his answer.


“Then why isn’t her body in the coffin?”


“You should have known the coffin is empty.”


Childman’s voice never wavered, it was as if Krylancelo hit a brick wall.


“Then this isn’t her funeral!”


“You are being irrational”


“You are the one who is irrational! She is still alive!”


“Stop hanging on to that notion!”


Childman pointed his finger to the grave, and said.


“I know she is dead, and the big shots think so too.”


Krylancelo pushed his hand.


“I don’t care about those people. You are just afraid of damaging the reputation of the Tower of Fang.”


“They ruled that she was a failure to the Tower of Fang, a stain”


A stain —— he heard that word again, he couldn’t help but grit his teeth.


“She is not a stain, she is the best black sorcerer this tower has even seen. She could even use white magic ——”


“Yes, she was an outstanding scholar of magic.”


“Not was, she is! She’s still alive!”


Krylancelo glared at his teacher, but of them could not sway each other. But they could convince the people present.


Standing beside Childman was Hartia, who wore a worried look.


“Krylancelo, you can’t be serious——”


“Why must you insist? Why do you still have the notion that she is still alive?!”


“You are the one of the top students here, and before long you could take first place. One day you could——”


“Shut up, Hartia. You’ve got nothing to do with this!”


Krylancelo looked ferocious, he then turned his gaze to Childman.


“You want to bury an empty coffin. Or do you have something to place in the coffin!?”


“Me”


Childman’s face was dead serious, though it was kinda like a joke. After a brief pause, Krylancelo continued.


“No, me!”


“Are you serious?”


Everyone around them started whispering, Krylancelo ignored his question and continued shouting.


“Yes, I’ll gladly be buried together with Azalie! But she’s alive! I will find her, not matter how many years it will take. We were both orphans to begin with, and an Orphen I shall remain.”


Krylancelo —— no, Orphen pulled his shovel away from the coffin and lifted it into the air. Several people around him took a step back, but Childman didn’t even move a muscle. The strongest black sorcerer in the continent spoke in a soft tone.


“You’ll find her —— she’s become a monster! Do you think a kiss will return her to normal?!”


“Stop playing around, Childman. I’ll find that magic sword and change her back to normal!”


“But you can’t ——”


Childman was suddenly serious. Though Orphen seems to be overwhelmed with his emotions.


“Are you implying that you can do better than me?”


“If I were in your position ——”
Even though Childman maintained a calm expression, he suddenly stopped mid-sentence. He glanced over at the elders and then sighed.


“Shut up, you fool!”


“You think my idea is stupid?!”


“Come at me, you fool!”


“Oh, I’m ready.”


Orphen woke up from an unpleasant dream, and he found himself inside a prison cell, Totokanta’s police prison cell to be exact. Unpleasant grey walls stood around him, with iron bars barring his escape and a small barred window in his room. In the corner of the room were kettle and cups, though he was in no mood to drink, even though his throat was very dry. Since he woke up his head has been hurting, maybe someone hit him while he was sleeping.


His vision was blurry though he could make out Vulcan hiding his face from him, he was probably furious. Orphen slowly sat up and he could he them muttering.


“Why are you up?”


Vulcan said as he turned around, his face was somewhat timid, though he was probably hiding his anger from him. Orphen was annoyed so he didn’t even bother answering him.


“Let’s make something clear!”


“I have nothing to say to you”


“Are you kidding!”


Vulcan said as he grabbed Orphen’s collar. Though this was only because Orphen wasn’t standing, so if he was Vulcan wouldn’t be able to grab his collar unless he jumped. Vulcan continued to berate Orphen.


“Don’t ignore me! We’ve been here for three days already! Now listen, we’re going to charged with fraud, disturbing law and order and damaging property!”


It goes without saying that they are suspects, even though they’ve probably been found guilty already. After the disturbance in the Everlasting estate, civil servants rushed to the scene. It seems that a neighbour called them after going to the scene, unsure of what was happening, they called the authorities. By the time they arrived, Orphen and the other’s didn’t escape so they ended up being caught and thrown in prison by the police.


On Orphen’s face appeared an ironic smile.


“At least we should only get charged with fraud.”


“Are you forgetting something, that giant monster! Everyone at the scene saw you talking to it ——”


Orphen immediately forcefully pulled Vulcan’s hand off his collar, and warned him.


“Listen to me, because I don’t like repeating myself —— and this is the last warning you’ll get. Don’t you dare call her a monster, you got that!?”


“Well, whatever you say.”


Vulcan said as he started stroking his arm.


Orphen stood up and put his back against the wall, as he gazed around the room. He was in trouble, and didn’t know where to start.


“……I already knew you weren’t normal, but I didn’t expect that you were raised by a monster!”


Orphen and Vulcan glared at each other, but Vulcan just went back to touching his arm as he pretended that Orphen didn’t hurt him. Orphen began to talk slowly.


“I grew up in the Tower of Fang.”


Upon hearing that, Vulcan nervously breathed deeply —— The “Tower of Fang” was the  continent’s highest magical institution. All the strongest sorcerer’s come from there, and they are used even in times of war. Vulcan spit out saliva due to excessive tension in his mouth, he then began to hold his breath.


“I’m not surprised a monster came from that place.”


“That’s not what I said!”


Orphen shouted, Vulcan lifted his leg as if to kick him but the guards took notice.


“Hey, what are you doing!”


A smile faded over Orphen’s face as he waved to the guards.


“Ah, everythings fine.”


“Is that so……bastard.”


Orphen stood on Vulcan’s foot, and he let out a squeal. But Orphen just ignored him and continued talking.


“Now listen, I grew up in the Tower of Fang but I was an Orphan before I joined them. Out of all the people who join, less than one percent of them graduate. Does that answer your question?”


“Kinda…but you didn’t need to stand on my foot! ”


Vulcan complained, but Orphen simply ignored him and continued his story.


“In the Tower of Fang, most people were usually lonely or unfriendly. Mainly because the competition is so intense, and that makes it hard to find someone to confide in. Most people had one or two close friends, me, I had Azalie. She was five years older than me, and everyone called her a witch.”


“Well, was she hot or not? —— Ouch, that hurt!”


Orphen kicked Vulcan in the side with his boot, then continued the story.


“Yeah, she was beautiful, and everyone had the hots for her. After all, she was a skilled sorcerer. But then she tried to cast magic she couldn’t handle ——”


“And then what happened?”


Vulcan obviously had ulterior motives, it wasn’t just a casual interest.


“It backfired, she failed in her attempt. Then I left the Tower of Fang to find her, and I’ve been looking ever since”


“Yes, and thanks to my little plan you got to meet her again.”
Vulcan muttered.


“I don’t intend to thank you, just hurry up and give me my money already!”


“You’re thinking about money in here?”


“I’ve been waiting for it ever since you borrowed it, or would you prefer I just keep stomping on your foot? Oh, and you’re lucky I’m not charging you for having to put up with your bullshit.”


Orphen said, as Vulcan took a step back and quietly asked another question.


“Wait a second, so she was human to begin with?”


“Yes.”


Orphen nodded.


“I was there when she turned……”


“Well, what kind of magic was it?”


“I don’t know”


Orphen said blankly.


“You don’t know?”


“Yeah, the transformation process was caused by some type of magic unknown to me. She did the entire process in secret, I still don’t understand it even to this day.”


“………”


Thinking it a little more, he asked another question.


“So, you’re trying to turn her back into a human —— That’s why you’re on this journey?”


Orphen signed, and answered him in utter despair.


“That’s what I planned to do, but as long as she uses magic, I can’t get anywhere near her.”


“I see.”


Vulcan said, as he tried to rub out Orphen’s footprint off his rental suit.
“Well, if it doesn’t work out you could always end her suffering, right?”
 
“You’ve got to be joking.”


Orphen said fiercely.


“What do you plan to do next?”


Vulcan asked, wanting more answers. Orphen ignored him and sat back on the ground. He then cracked his knuckles as if he was ready to use them, Vulcan responded with a defensive posture. But Orphen didn’t notice him, he sat alone, lost in thought.


(Azalie’s “stain” left upon the Tower of Fang is due to her failing the magical process, for which she payed the price. She thought she could understand if she watched her own funeral —— but on that day, she lost all her friends.)


Orphen closed his eyes again, he planned on getting as much rest as he could.


(In fact she was wrong, all the other’s may have abandoned her. But not Orphen, he still believes in her………)


But this time he wasn’t dreaming.
When Orphen began to open his eyes, he could see that the atmosphere inside the cell seems to have changed. Vulcan was quiet and wasn’t on a rampage, but that was when Orphen noticed them. The guards were standing in front of their cell, with a certain petite girl who started to walk closer to him. She had a happy smiles on her face and put her hands on his back.


“Cleo?”


Orphen was surprised to say. The blonde girl showed up in the most unexpected of places, she then smiled and nodded.


“Why are you here?”


Orphen wasn’t sure why, the girl had no reason to be here. However she didn’t respond, she just went back to the guards and whispered something. The guard replied in a polite tone.


“Are you sure about this?”


The girl nodded and the guards removed themselves from the front of the cell.


“Cleo, why are you here?”
Before asking another question, he let her answer. Even though they weren’t on the best of terms, with the marriage fraud and the damage done to their house, he could tell that she had no ill intent.


“I’m getting you out of here.”


“What?!”


Orphen thought to himself. (There’s no way she’s here to rescue me)


“If I wanted to escape I could have that lock open in two seconds, though I don’t really want to be a wanted man again.”


“I’m sorry about all this. But my mother said that as long as we don’t press charges, you’re free to go.”


“Yeah, but what about the whole fraud thing, and the damage to your home. I’m guessing you want some sort of compensation, am I right?”


Cleo nodded.


“That’s what mother said. But we’re willing to forgive you.”


“Wow, thank you so much!”


Vulcan said in a loud voice. The little guy had saw the light in a desperate situation, he started worshipping Cleo on the spot as if she were some goddess.


Orphen sitting beside him asked.


“Why? You don’t owe us anything, or does your mother still think I’m a rich entrepreneur?”


Orphen was originally going to make a joke, but Cleo just shook her head.


“No, we just want to help.”


“What is it you really want?”


Orphen said flatly.


“Well, we saw you use magic…”


“Yeah, but ——”
A faint smile began to appear on Orphen’s face.


“If you want to hire a black sorcerer, you’ll have to pay me.”


“Hey, sorcerer!”


Vulcan hurriedly shouted, but Orphen ignored him and stared straight at Cleo. The girl shrugged.


“Name your price.”


“Well that depends on what my abilities are needed for, though first of all, could you take care of our rental clothing. We’ve probably got a fine to pay for them.”


“Ah, I’ve got just the thing, this should be enough.”


Cleo put a small ring into his right hand, Orphen was lost for words.


“………”


“Well?”


A smirk appeared on her face, Orphen took a closer look at the ring.



“Do you know how much this ring is worth?”



“Who knows, but the ring design is very simple and ……”



Cleo didn’t understand a word he was saying, she just looked confused. A silver ring is very common, and is consistent with a girl’s taste. It was inlaid with gravel-like transparent gems, the workmanship was very sophisticated. Looking closer he could see traces of text that had been carved.



Orphen sighed ——



“It’s very old, it’s probably more than a thousand years old. Can you read the inscribed text?”



Now Orphen was interested, he stared for a while at the small text but ultimately gave up.



“I can’t read it. But I’m sure about one thing, no race on this continent uses this type of text.”



“Yeah me neither, but I have seen this ring or something like it somewhere before ——”



Orphen suddenly realized something, he wondered why he didn’t notice it right away.
“Wait a minute, Cleo. This ring is from the Tower of Fang! How did you get this?”



Orphen suddenly stood up, startled by this action Cleo began to look a little embarrassed, she whispered to him.



“I don’t remember. But, I’ve always had it in a little box where I keep my jewelry since I was a child. I can’t remember when I first got it……”



“This is from the Tower of Fang, I’m not joking. No one steals anything from there, not even a hairpin”



“I didn’t steal it!”



“I know that. However, this ring in your possession has magical powers —— it’s different from normal magic, it uses an ancient magic.”



“Can’t you at least read part of it?”



Cleo asked, Orphen faced a difficult answer.



“I can only read part of the text, it says something about power.”



“Good grief, I hope it isn’t evil magic.”



Cleo was a little worried, but Orphen continued.



“This ring clearly bears a powerful force, maybe it can be controlled?”



Orphen began to carefully examine the ring, meanwhile Cleo was slightly trembling.



“You can keep it. Consider it payment for your services.”



“Yeah, but we can’t pay for our rental clothing with this. Though we could trade it in for some cash.”



“That’s fine by me.”



As if horrified, Cleo took a step back. Orphen intended to put the ring onto one of his fingers, but it wouldn’t fit. He put it into his pocket instead.



“Well, that’s one thing out of the way.”



“Great. Though, there is one thing that is troubling my mother.”
“What is it?”



Orphen knew he wouldn’t like the answer, Cleo got to the point.



“Someone wants to kill our family.”



***



“Inside your house is the sword of baltanders. If you do not surrender the sword, risk will come to you and your family. To prevent such measures, surrender the sword by ——”



The deadline is today. The letter didn’t specify a place or a time to meet. So in other words, they will take the initiative to remove the sword from the house.



“The Sword of Baltanders?”
Orphen felt superior as he held the letter, since he had the duty of asking questions. Vulcan, Cleo and Tishtiny stood around him. Mariabelle choose to stay in her room. Orphen and Vulcan returned their rental clothing, namely in exchange for their original clothes. Orphen was dressed in his usual black sorcerer getup with dark color tones, Vulcan was wearing his tattered fur cloak and carried his sword in his holster. Him and his brother had a lot of suspicious looking luggage, prior to arriving Orphen warned him about bringing his weapon with him. But Tishtiny didn’t seem to care, she was more concerned with entertaining her guests with great hospitality.



Orphen didn’t know if Tishtiny cared about the marriage fraud ordeal, when they returned to the Everlasting residence the woman’s face didn’t show a sign of displeasure. Though it seemed her trust in them hadn’t changed. Although the incident didn’t cause any damage, the unidentified object that crashed through the wall into her daughters room did. She may have believed that Orphen and that monster were in league with each other, nevertheless Tishtiny answered Orphen in a calmly manner.



“We received the letter two days ago.”



(The day Orphen met Azalie)



Orphen continued to ask questions.



“Have you informed the police?”



“No, because we couldn’t find the sword…”



“You couldn’t find it?”



If she didn’t know the meaning behind the threatening letter, then she may have not understood the marriage fraud. However, it seems she isn’t concerned about that anymore.



“Yes, we looked everywhere.”



“They must have a reason for knowing that it’s here, it could be hidden somewhere in the mansion without you knowing.”



“Is that so? Well, when the master of the house was alive he did like to collect valuable items. This Sword of Baltanders……could be somewhere in his collection. However I’m not certain.



“Where do you keep his collection?”



“In the underground warehouse, we’ll lead you there soon.”



Orphen looked at Tishtiny as he held the letter in his hand, she had a grim look. In fact when Cleo came to get him, he thought it would be Azalie related. However, he came only to find a threatening letter, it’s obvious that Azalie didn’t write it. Vulcan asked Tishtiny a question, in a rather professional manner.



“What about that bird monster?”



Orphen glared fiercely at Vulcan, but he had his back to him. Vulcan didn’t see him do this but Tishtiny did, she still remember when Orphen was shouting at the monster. Even she had questions for him, but that was for another time.



“It hasn’t shown up since then, do you think it’s connected to the letter?”



“Of course, don’t you think it’s a coincidence that both that monster and letter arrived on the same day?”



Vulcan looked serious. Even though Vulcan asked the question, Orphen stole his thunder.



“How did the letter arrive?



“I woke up and found it on my dresser.”



“It could have been magic.”



After listening to the words of Orphen, Tishtiny nodded.



“But why magic?”



Orphen interjected.



“If it was a normal kind of threat, the letter would have been sent by mail courier. But they deliberately choose this conspicuous manner, the logical answer is magic.”



“I see.”



Tishtiny replied. Then Orphen suddenly thought of Azalie.



“Can you please take me to the underground warehouse?”



Orphen said. Tishtiny nodded.



“Cleo will go with you. I’ll stay with Mariabelle, she’s still a bit shaken……”



“That would be wise.”



Orphen expressed concern. Then he heard a burst of laughter coming from Cleo, Orphen didn’t understand the reason why, but Tishtiny did. She also covered her mouth with her fingers, revealing a faint smile.



(Why would she laight at a time like this?)



Though Orphen didn’t bother to ask, then Cleo grabbed his hand.



“This way.”



Cleo said in a rather friendly tone. It was as if Orphen had a sister again, it was a wonderful feeling. And with Cleo pulling Orphen in tow, they left the living room.



Orphen speculated that the stairs to the basement would be located within the house, Cleo reassured him. They descended the stairs and they could feel cold air touching their cheeks. Naturally there are no windows to light the way, so Cleo flipped a switch to activate the gas lights.



“You have such a device in your home?”



Orphen asked. Cleo proudly pushed up her small breasts.



“My father liked this sort of thing, he even got tap water installed.”



“I surrender.”



Orphen raised his hands, and Cleo happily laughed.



The stairs finally reached the door. The door looks like it’s been reinforced, it’s a little rusty and dusty. Although it may have some history to it, there was a metal plate on the door which seemed fairly new.



“To get through this door, you need to give up hope.”



Orphen was surprised to read the text on the metal plate. Cleo again pushed up her chest and whispered.



“Father always did have poor taste.”



Orphen muttered to himself, since he was flabbergasted that they had running water in their household. When they got to the door they started to slowly open it, for some reason it wasn’t locked.



The warehouse was filled with a variety of items. There were rows of paintings and bookshelves full of books, when Orphen finally got a full view of the room he was really unimpressed. He had the wrong impression about the place, the floor was all dusty and the carpet was the same as the one in the living room. It was hard to believe that most of the items were in great condition, that was mostly because the warehouse had ventilation.



“Actually…”



Cleo frankly said with a mischievous voice.



“I took that ring from here. My sister has so many rings but I wanted something special.”



“From here…?”



Orphen muttered, then he entered the warehouse.



The warehouse didn’t have any gas lamps, and the light from the passage barely lit the place.



Orphen looked around, and he saw that there were two rows of infantryman guns. The guns were filthy and covered with dust, by just looking at them he could see the exquisite workmanship that was poured into them. Though they didn’t look like battle weapons, but more like props. They probably have a long history to them.



(One gun alone is worth a small fortune.)



Orphen sighed, he knew the search would be a tedious one. The warehouse must hold more than guns and artwork. He looked around and saw a tapestry with some damage to it, but as long as it’s repaired it should fetch a good price on the black market. Seeing such valuables piled around him, he couldn’t help but stand in awe.



“……Do you see any swords?”



Orphen asked. Cleo starting waving her hand.



“I think they’re over there.”



Orphen saw her pointing, what he saw was a huge pile of swords that seemed to be thrown on top of each other. It was a literal mountain of swords,  there was possibly a hundred swords or more in the pile. It seems like the warehouse was originally a burial ground for unused swords.



“We’ll never find the sword of baltanders, it’s like a needle in a haystack.”



“Well, why don’t you get started then?”



Orphen slapped Cleo in the back of the head.



“If you want to do look for it then be my guest. But I’m not gonna find it for the robber, we should catch him in the act!”



“If you say so…”



Orphen hoped that this would work out, though nobody could really guess what would happen next. Though if Azalie really does have something to do with the letter, what could it be? Orphen was clueless.


***



“Why do we have to do this?”



Hiding the the courtyard at night, Vulcan and Dortin were complaining non-stop.



(My brother borrowed money from some sorcerer and then he came up with a plan to bring it back. Then his marriage fraud plan got us involved with some monster and now he wants us to capture some robber. When will it end!)



Still dragging behind Vulcan was Dortin with his huge backpack. In fact, the backpack was full of books. Although most of them are written in the human language, there are also some ancient language books mixed in with them. Compared to ordinary books, these books are actually quite large. But out of all the books in the house, their lot was actually quite small when compared.



(Home——)



Dortin sighed and began to reminisce. He hasn’t been home in many years. Although he thought about returning home many times, he couldn’t muster the courage. It’s been hard on him, since he hasn’t seen his relatives or parents in so long. Since his brother Vulcan ran away from home and dragged him with him. He always thought that he was the most unluckiest person in the world —— since he always ended up sleeping by the riverside or in the street. Just like a child living on the streets, he had to resort to stealing bread from time to time. Even so, he still retained a strong mental condition.



He sighed again. Looking around the moonlit courtyard he saw a vast beautiful garden, with oak trees that run up the middle of the garden. There was no pool —— mostly due to the ongoing water shortage, only noble families in Totokanta owned swimming pools or stored water. Just then Vulcan came running up to him.



“Hey, keep your eyes peeled. You have to keep your guard up!”



(Why am I the lookout)



Dortin always received the short end of the stick. That’s why a lot of the time he disagreed with Vulcan, at least in his mind he does.



“Do a good job this time and I won’t have to strangle you with a rope, you got that?”



Dortin just nodded.



He instead turning his attention to his surroundings. The cool breeze of air made him more comfortable, though his ears pricked up when he heard the wind rustling the branches of the trees.



Woah ~ ahhhh ……



The earth itself seemed to shake to the galloping hooves of some beast. It seemed far away, but he could hear it getting closer by the second.



“What’s going on?”



Vulcan heard the galloping too, he panicked and pulled out his sword.



“Alert!”
Convinced that this was an unusual situation he fled in the direction of the house. No matter how much he hated the black sorcerer Orphen, he was at least more reliable than his sword.



“Alert!”



Dortin continued shouting Alert until Vulcan knocked him on the head with his sword.



“What was that for?”



Vulcan straightened his back and began to sneer.



“Listen up, I’ve thought of another brilliant plan.”



He started talking in a lower tone.



“If we call that damn black sorcerer out, then he’ll use his fancy magic and steal all the credit. But if we capture the robber ourselves, then I’ll get the reward.”



(Doesn’t he mean “we’ll get the reward?”)



However, Vulcan didn’t seem to notice.



“And when we get the reward, we’ll hire an assassin to take out that damn sorcerer once and for all!”



“But shouldn’t we use that money to pay off our debt to him?”



“Don’t be stupid! How many times has he tortured us?! If we give the money to him then all our pain and suffering will be for nothing!”



“I guess you’re right.”



“Of course I’m right! We can’t throw in the towel! I will not have a stain on Volcano Vulcan’s record! I’ll send that stupid black sorcerer right to hell!”



And just as he finished his sentence, Vulcan was kicked to the ground.



“What the hell was that for?”



“I didn’t do it!”



But then both of them realized there was another person beside them, it was Orphen. The black sorcerer always appears quietly, he probably used black magic to mask his approach.
Orphen grabbed him by the collar, even though he remained silent at first —— there was a burning rage inside of him.



“You’ll send me to hell, will you?”



“That’s not true, I was only trying to get you out here!”



“I heard it all.”



“No! My plan is ruined, this is all your fault Dortin!”



“But I…”



Vulcan as usual tried to push to blame onto someone else, but just then, a laugh echoed throughout the courtyard.



“Wah ~ Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ……”



“Who’s there?”



Orphen started to look around. He glanced around to the dark corners of the courtyard but could see no one, even with his great eyesight at night time.



“You’re looking at the wrong place! I’m up here!”



“What?”



It was obvious that the voice came from the mansions rooftop.



A huge figure appeared in front of the moon, standing on the roof. It appeared to be three meters tall, but it was clear that this was different from the last monster.



“Who the hell are you?!”



Vulcan shouted, as if he was the leader in this situation.

Standing on the rooftop, the shadowed figure laughed for a moment, then began his speech.

“I am the assassin who lives in the night! I have a covenant with the night and by day, I live hiding my face, I am the embodiment of fear and evil! Of the House of Demonic Dreams, my name is —— Black Tiger!”



“So it’s the Black Tiger?!”

Vulcan began to mutter behind Orphen.



“Do you know this guy?”



Orphen ignored him and started to open his mouth to speak but the mysterious figure lunged into the air.



“Ha!”



With the night time stars as his background, the mysterious figure flashy landed into the courtyard.



With a loud “boom” the figure that fell to the ground was not a monster, but  a human —— he was wearing a dark coloured costume, with a black mask tightly wrapped around his face. Through the eye holes on his mask you could see that his eyes were a burning passion. He was like a picture of death himself, holding a giant scythe riding a giant bull. Since he was riding an animal, it made him look taller, just about three metres to be exact. If it wasn’t for the bull, his height would be that of a normal man.



With his crimson cloak fluttering in the wind, he looked like some kind of superhero. But everyone else had another opinion.



(This guy looks like a sicko.)



With clenched fists, it was easy to decide.



(No doubt about it, he’s a pervert.)



Everyone else got a good look at his face, even Vulcan agreed with him, though he was a little more dumbfounded and in disarray.



The Black Tiger continued shouting.



“Ha ha ha! I didn’t expect anyone to actually know my name!”



“Black Tiger……but isn’t your name Shrimp man!?”



Everyone stood still for a moment. The Black Tiger didn’t even reply, he just sat there like a statue. Orphen seemed lost in thought, and Vulcan quickly pulled his sword out of his scabbard. A pleasant breeze began to blow by, but even still, nobody moved.


***


“Uh……”



Vulcan began to speak.



“Hey, Shrimp man!”



“Who is this Shrimp man?!”



Black Tiger roared loudly. But Vulcan just simply pointed right at him.



“Whether you are a weirdo or a downright idiot, it doesn’t matter! I won’t allow you to survive!”



“You dare oppose the invincible assassin known as Black Tiger!”



“Shrimp man!”



The mysterious man and his bull rose up, and just as it roared the Black Tiger swung his sickle at Vulcan and hit him. Vulcan didn’t have time to scream, as he was sent to the other side of the courtyard.



“Big Brother!”



Dortin shouted. Orphen took a step in the direction of Vulcan, where he could see him rubbing his head while staring at the Black Tiger across the courtyard.



“You bastard, that hurt!”



The Black Tiger turned the bull in his direction, as both of them roared.



“You should have been killed! But don’t worry, next time I’ll smash your skull wide open.”



However before Vulcan raised his sword, the Black Tiger’s voice pierced the night sky.



“Lightning!”



A large crackling sound was heard from the sky, and a burst of lightning hit in front of Vulcan’s feet, knocking him down. After the smoke cleared, Dortin ran over to Vulcan and helped up to his feet.



“Magic, he used magic!”



Vulcan said with a trembling voice.



Orphen finally regained his senses. He began to roll up his sleeves, as to draw the attention of the Black Tiger. Orphen wanted to finish this quickly, and didn’t want to have to kill him. In order to find out how Azalie is involved with this, he needed to capture his enemy without killing him.



Even though his opponent was wearing a mask, he noticed what Orphen was doing.



“You won’t defeat me that easily, black sorcerer.”



(He noticed me.)



Orphen was surprised, he obviously knew he was going to use magic.



“I know you will use magic, the Black Tiger is all knowing after all.”



“So it seems you’ve done some research about me, so let’s get started.”



Orphen grinned and stuck out his hand towards the Black Tiger.



“Sword of Light, whom I do release!”



“Hey, wait a second!”



The Black Tiger screamed as Orphen’s attack bounced off his scythe.



“Hungry for more?!”



Orphen fired the same attack at him again, as the waves of light and heat flew towards his opponent. However in the face of such an attack, the Black Tiger erected a barrier of light to protect himself. Vulcan was watching their duel from the sidelines with an ecstatic face, he always wanted to see two sorcerers fight it out. Few people can continuously release magic, Orphen is just some of them.



“Sword of Light, whom I do release!”



Bright flashes of light lit up the courtyard, and set many of the oak trees alight. The Black Tiger’s magic spell seemed to only guard against magic attacks and not flaming trees, so naturally his cape caught fire.



“I’m on fire!”
“Sword of Light, whom I do release!”



His magic attacks continued to hit the magical barrier, flames were sent flying everywhere. The damage to the courtyard was immense, and ash was flying around in the air.



(Strange.)



Orphen thought.



(Why isn’t this guy retreating? Is he just some kind of distraction, or is there someone else out there who is watching this duel. Like a master, I’ve got to get to the bottom of this.)



Orphen then immediately turned to the house, and started shouting.



“Hey, you over there! Deal with for will ya!”



Orphen started running, while screams erupted behind him.



“Wait a minute, how am I meant to deal with this guy?!”



Orphen bursted into the house. He should have noticed it, Black Tiger was part of something bigger. But if he was the distraction, then the master must be somewhere in the house.



Orphen had to confirm the safety of the three ladies in the household, he first checked up on Cleo’s room. She was still asleep, like a little puppy curled up in a ball on the bed. Next he went to Tishtiny’s room, she was wearing her pyjamas and started to put a cloak on. She must have been woken by the explosions, Orphen wasn’t familiar with the mansion and he went to Mariabelle’s previous room which was damaged by the monster. But he forgot that her room was moved to the third floor, he then rushed up the stairs and kicked her door down.



It was a dark room —— moonlight was coming in from one of the windows, giving some light. There wasn’t much furniture in the room, leaving many empty open spaces. However, in the middle of the room there was two figures. One of them was Mariabelle, and the other person was dressed just like the Black Tiger.



Underneath the man’s mask was an icy cold voice, and he held a sharp knife at Mariabelle’s throat. He didn’t even bother to react to Orphen’s entrance, he just asked the same question that he asked her before in a weary voice.



“Where is the sword of baltanders?”



Mariabelle didn’t answer. Her face was frozen with terror, while she stood quietly.



Orphen yelled to the man.



“Stop right there!”



He eyes tracked Orphen’s movements, however the knife still remained on Mariabelle’s throat.



(He’s got a hostage. Damn…)



Orphen cursed his own incompetence, and got ready to use magic.



However, the man suddenly pushed Mariabelle away, and pointed the knife at Orphen.



(He deliberately released his hostage?)



However, this was no time to be surprised. The guy lunged at Orphen, and struck his chest. Leaving Orphen temporarily stunned.



“Fly.”



Orphen was sent flying across the room towards the entrance, where the rolled into the hallway.



(Magic!)



Orphen watched the man staring at him through his mask.



(I didn’t expect to deal with two people who could use magic in one night.)



“Are you okay?”



Standing in the hallway, Tishtiny ran towards him. She tried to help Orphen to his feet.



“Get your daughter out of here!”



Orphen said, Tishtiny nodded. However when she got to the entrance she stood still, as she saw the man in black. Orphen wasn’t in good shape.
(That guy…he’s way stronger than me……)



Orphen took a deep breath.


Sword that has conquered demons I brandish



Orphen went on the attack, and his opponent jumped back in anticipation. Orphen’s magical sword disappeared and he then pointed his right hand at the man and shouted.


“Ominous starling of death guiding me”



The air around him started to shake, an ultrasonic wave flew past him and hit the curtain behind him, blowing it to pieces. It was now a pile of rags, but the man was unharmed. He must have raised some sort of defensive shield in an instance.



Orphen could faintly see a smile on the man’s face through his mask. He then raised his knife, and pointed it to the side.


“Amber shield from my fingertips.”



Orphen started chanting a mantra, the air in front of him was becoming compressed. Although this only slowed down the man’s attack. Suddenly the distance between the two was shortening, but this time the man didn’t strike with his hand, but with the knife. It plunged into Orphen’s chest, however, he was smiling.



(He took the bait!)


“I spin thee, armor of light!”



Orphen moved in for the kill and hit the guy, sending him flying into the back of the wall. The knife flew out of his hands.



“Well, let’s end this.”



Orphen moved slowly towards the man, who let out a groan as he tried to stand up. Orphen cautiously picked up the knife and pointed it at the man.



However, Orphen surprisingly dropped the knife.



“You…”



The man stood up, revealing that parts of his mask were burnt out. He looked about thirty years old, he was a cruel and emotionless man.



“You’ve become strong, Krylancelo.”



“Childman!”



But as soon as the knife touched the ground, he was gone. He didn’t even notice him moving, until he saw a shadow leap out the window.



“Why are you really here?! Childman!”



Orphen hurried over to Mariabelle, who had her eyes closed tightly. She clung to his arms, she was still trembling with fear. But Orphen could only think of Childman, who by now was long gone.



Orphen turned his gaze to the courtyard, which was covered in ashes. The two brothers Vulcan and Dortin were covered in ash, and were squabbling amongst each other, probably trying to pin the blame on each other. Orphen let out a sigh.



Tishtiny ran into the room and rushed to the side of Mariabelle.



“Childman? He’s the strongest Black Sorcerer on this continent! He should be at the Tower of Fang, why did he appear here?”



No one answered as Orphen muttered to himself. Meanwhile Tishtiny was comforting her daughter, while the two brothers were fighting it out in the courtyard as a gentle breeze blew by.



——“You can’t do it. But I can.”——



Childman recalled a memory, this specific one wouldn’t leave him alone. It just kept playing over and over in his head.

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