Chapter 4 – Baltanders
Orphen whispered softly with his hand to his chin, he then turned to face Cleo.
“It’s not this one.”
“Okay, but why don’t we start organizing them while we search. This place is a mess.”
Orphen thought so too.
In order to find the sword, they’ve got to finish cleaning and tidying the warehouse.
“It seems those guys didn’t find it either.”
“So in other words, the sword of baltanders is still among all these hundreds of swords?”
“Yeah, and there’s got to be more than 800 swords here, you’re father sure bought a lot.”
“Anyway, even if it takes all day we’ve got to find that sword before Childman does.”
Cleo handed Orphen a piece of paper.
“I found this outside the entrance to the warehouse. I haven’t told mother about it yet, should I?”
Orphen started reading it, with the gas lamp lighting the page.
“Ready the sword.”
He knew he had to be ready this time.
“We should tell your mother about this, we don’t need any more commotion than necessary.”
Cleo listened to him nervously, and asked.
“Do you think that guy we met today wrote it?”
“No, it was probably Childman. Since we were busy with the Black Tiger, he probably snuck in here and tried looking for it but couldn’t find it. Hence the letter.”
“Isn’t that guy a strong sorcerer?”
“Yes, and he was my teacher. They say he is the strongest black sorcerer on the continent, a force to be reckoned with, a genuine killer.
Hearing this, Cleo started to bite her nails. She wanted to say something, but was too nervous to speak.
“Is something wrong?”
“Nothing……it’s just that guy is from the Tower of Fang. If you get into a sword fight with him either of you could die. It’s such a brutal way to die, we should try and avoid that outcome.”
Cleo saw that he didn’t respond, and looked over at him.
“Orphen……if you had to, would you kill him?”
A wry smile appeared on his face.
“By all means…yes.”
Azalie was clearly on Orphen’s mind, he then turned to leave the warehouse.
Cleo was feeling down, but she soon went back to her usual cheerful self. With sparkling eyes, she asked him a question.
“Hey, Orphen. Do you have a lover?”
“No, but I do hold someone close to me.”
Orphen was about to open up to her, he was going to tell her his story. That he was chasing a monster to the end’s of the earth, to turn it back to normal. But he quickly brushed the thought aside, as he thought that Cleo would think he was crazy.
Leaving the warehouse, their conversation continued.
“Well, what is she like?”
“She’s like your mother, Tishtiny.”
Upon hearing his answer, Cleo’s was stricken with confusion. But Orphen explained with a smile.
“I’m only joking. Though, I’m still looking for her, and have been for a while.”
Cleo’s question was a little more straightforward.
“So when you find this lady, will you marry her?”
Orphen thought for a while, then answered.
“It’s not that sort of relationship, there are many different forms of love, aren’t there?”
Cleo said, as she closed the door behind them.
“So, what kind of girl’s do you like?”
“To be honest, I haven’t really thought about it.”
In order to avoid talking about this, Orphen quickly changed the topic of conversation.
“Hey, where did you learn to fight with a sword? Though, I must say that you should concentrate on other things.”
“Well, I didn’t want to go to the same school as my sister so I went to another one.”
“But, in what club did you learn it in? The fencing club?”
“No, the war club.”
Orphen was surprised to hear this, and both of them continued to walk up the stairs. Orphen put his hands into his pockets and started fiddling around with the silver ring, Orphen had seen this ring before but he didn’t know why it was here………
“……Can you read this text, Krylancelo?”
The girl said as she handed the ring over to him for closer inspection, he squinted at the silver ringer but eventually gave up and handed the ring back to her.
“I can’t read it, can you?”
She didn’t respond. In the Tower of Fang she was simply called the Demon Witch Azalie, she was one of the Tower’s most promising sorcerers.
“All I know is that it’s some kind of ancient magic, it’s completely different from our own.”
“Not that we’d be expected to understand that sort of thing. After all the ancients died a long time ago, I doubt anyone on this continent even speaks the language, nevermind read it.”
“…Not necessarily, some of this text could be interpreted. I’ve at least studied some of it, though you haven’t reached that far in your studies yet.”
“But don’t worry I’ll help you.”
His entire face lit up with glee.
Krylancelo jumped up and down, as she smiled and nodded.
“Haven’t you heard the results from your most recent test? Anyway, I know you’ll pass.”
Azalie threw the silver ring up into the air and then caught it, Krylancelo looked at her with admiration.
“I’ll read out what the text on the ring says, though only this time as you have to learn this yourself, okay? The text says “Against Weapon”, so that means it’s used defensively. However, it can only be used once.
“Yes. This quality of this ring isn’t that high, so it mustn’t be that powerful. Though —— ”
She tried to put the ring onto her finger, but it wouldn’t fit.
“It won’t fit on my finger, what about you?”
“Me neither, maybe it was made for a child?”
“You’re probably right, maybe we should trying putting it on a small animal. By the way ——”
Her expression turned serious.
“After dinner, could you please come to my room. I’m planning on carrying out an experiment with ancient magic but I don’t want the elders finding out, so I’ll need you to be my assistant.”
“Sure, no problem.”
Krylancelo nodded, as she smiled back at him. In fact, this was the last time he saw the Demon Witch smile.
“That Black Sorcerer is really something!”
Vulcan yelled in Totokanta’s library, even though he knew the receptionist was watching him.
“Why do I have to do this.”
He muttered to himself why flipping through the pages of some ancient book, it looked like a dictionary. He came here per Orphen’s instructions to investigate the Sword of Baltanders.
Vulcan’s patience was at breaking point, he then looked over to his brother Dortin.
“What is it?!”
“Don’t you feel angry that we’re being treated this way?!”
Dortin gave him a confused look.
Vulcan struck him with his bare hands. Naturally he was prohibited from bringing his sword into a public building.
“Listen here, that Black Sorcerer is making us do his dirty work while he’s back at the mansion.”
“Magic is exhausting work. You can’t expect him to use it all the time!”
“……I can’t believe I’m hearing this.”
Vulcan continued to strengthen his tone, while he banged the table.
“So, when did you become that sorcerer’s lap dog?”
“I was just saying ——”
“Enough! Have you forgotten how he tortured us!?”
“My brother, can’t you see what he’s done for us time and time again?”
“What did you say, asshole!”
Vulcan shouted loud and flipped over the table in frustration, he put so much strength into it that the table went flying towards the nearest bookshelf. Like an avalanche, a sea of books came tumbling downwards towards the two brothers as they screamed in terror.
“What have you done!”
The receptionist shouted at the two dwarfs. Among all this Vulcan found his salvation inside the book which was covering his face. He shouted again.
“Look’s like they’re back.”
Orphen muttered to himself, him and the two dwarfs were now staying in the Everlasting residence. Hearing Vulcan and Dortin approaching, he rushed downstairs through the main hall out to the courtyard to greet them. He then took them upstairs to his room to talk.
“So, what did you find out?”
“Well, long ago the word baltanders meant “The end of one, is the beginning of another”. This could be used to represent a coat of arms, though it kinda sounds like a magic seal.
Orphen was brooding beside the windowsill, much to the annoyance of Vulcan. He was staring out of the window in concentration, then suddenly he found the answer.
“That’s it! The sword must have played a role in Azalie’s transformation, that’s why he’s looking for it!”
“So in other words, the Sword of Baltanders turned her into that creature?”
“It seems that way. Though something else is bothering me…”
Suddenly there was a knock on the door, from the way the person knocked Orphen knew immediately who it was.
“Come on in, Cleo.”
She opened the door and was in full view of Orphen, Cleo wasn’t wearing his usual dress anymore. She was wearing what looked like a jockey, complete with horse riding pants. Orphen thought the dress suited her more so he simply shook his head.
“You don’t have to say anything. You know what my answer will be, just change your clothes and go to sleep.”
Cleo shouted angrily, as she waved both hands with white gloves in the air.
“I can help. I even got my mother’s permission!”
“……Tishtiny gave you permission?”
Orphen asked. Cleo proudly replied, sticking out her chest.
“Yes. Mama said I could help but I mustn’t get in the way. I’ve got to protect my family too, you know.”
Orphen kept thinking about how he could convince her otherwise.
“Listen Cleo, we aren’t going to hunt little ducks or shoot pigs. This will be dangerous.”
“Maybe I haven’t made myself clear, people could die!”
“You’re a powerful sorcerer so it shouldn’t be a problem, no one will die tonight.”
“You sound so corny.”
Orphen sighed, it seems he couldn’t convince her.
“Besides, there are two of them and you can’t find both of them. So, I will assist you.”
“If I really needed help, I would hire some shady guy out of a back alley.”
“You won’t find anyone else to help you, so I’m helping you no matter what you say.”
Orphen could see that she wasn’t budging, so he considered letting her help since he did see her fight the Black Tiger.
“What kind of weapon are you planning on using?”
Cleo’s face was ecstatic, she went into the hallway and then came back with a fine edged sword.
“I’ll use this.”
Cleo said as she pulled the sword out of it’s sheath, letting the metal glean off the gas lamps hanging on the ceiling. He could see that this sword was very suitable for her.
“Was this the weapon that you used in that club?”
Orphen asked. Cleo happily nodded.
“Listen Cleo, when you take a sword out of it’s sheath you better be prepared to use it.”
Cleo hesitatingly put the sword back into it’s scabbard.
Orphen watched the clock in anticipation. It was just after midnight, Cleo was sleeping like a baby on the sofa, Vulcan and Dortin were also sleeping. Although he wanted to wake them up, he didn’t bother. He was confident enough that he could take on both Childman and the Black Tiger.
(Childman…why did you have to appear?)
Under the faint light of the gas lamps, Orphen was lost in thought.
First Azalie appeared, and then Childman appeared was not long after. Inside this mansion is the Sword of Baltanders, and both Childman and Azalie want it.
Orphen shook his head.
(I can’t allow Childman to get his hands on it, Azalie is the one who needs it. If the Sword of Baltanders turned her into a monster, then it can turn her back.”
If Childman is searching for the sword, in the same building that she attacked. If that’s the case, does he also want to capture Azalie?
(This doesn’t make sense. He said it was impossible to restore her to her original self. Or does he intend to destroy her with the sword?)
The elders in the Tower of Fang have already removed all traces of Azalie’s existence, the only thing that is left is the monster she has now become. They must remove this stain.
(I won’t let him succeed.)
Orphen whispered softly to himself.
“I will not let you kill her, if she can’t be restored to her original appearance, I will protect her. If she can be saved, then I will turn her back to normal. If you get in my way, I will kill you, Childman.”
Orphen quietly stood up from his chair. He glanced at Vulcan who was snoring very loudly, then he looked at Cleo who was curled up in a ball on the couch. He then turned his eyes to the window, moonlight slithered through the window and lit up the room a little. Orphen knew it was time.
He felt a sense of urgency surround him. Orphen slowly left the room and entered the corridor, which was dark due to the gas lamps being turned off. Just as he shut the door behind him, a large shockwave resounded throughout the building.
It didn’t sound like Childman was attacking, this wasn’t his style. That only left Azalie, it sounded like the noise came from the courtyard. Outside the stone shone bright red, brighter than the inside of the house. It was like there was flames everywhere, a hazy cloud of smoke clouded Orphen’s vision.
Orphen shouted. However, it seemed that his voice didn’t carry over the flames, as Azalie didn’t hear him. Azalie continued to spray flames everywhere, so much that you could only see her silhouette through the flames. Orphen tried to run towards her, however the raging flames proved to make his movement difficult.
During his struggle, Azalie started to roar as she began to dig into the ground.
(She’s digging into the ground, does that mean that she know’s the sword is hidden in the underground warehouse. Does she know the mansion’s layout?)
However, Orphen had no time to think of such things. He started whispering a mantra to build a protective wall around him, so he could approach Azalie. At the same time, Azalie continued to spray more flames. Lumps of earth began to fly around the place, and Orphen shouted again.
“Azalie! Don’t you recognize me?!”
At the same moment, she roared again. Then, it was as if the earth itself was swallowing her. In fact, she fell into the underground warehouse.
Orphen cursed to himself, as he stumbled to the ground due to the ground shaking. More than half of the courtyard was in ruins, Azalie sank into the underground warehouse and disappeared. The only thing he could hear was the crackling of the burning trees, and the occasional roar.
“Let me at them!”
Orphen could hear someone shouting, he turned around to see Cleo and the others. He could see Vulcan and Dortin huddled around her. He then stretched out his arms and shouted.
“I hold thee, shrew’s dance!”
Then the raging flames suddenly disappeared, and the darkness returned. The only light was that from the moon, meanwhile the earth was still shaking. Orphen was about to jump into the hole, but he wanted to make sure Cleo was okay.
“Are you hurt?”
Orphen asked. Cleo shook her head.
“I’m alright. My mother and sister escaped through the back door. I’m here to help.”
Orphen nodded, then he once again looked down the hole. He could vaguely see the colourful tip of Azalie’s tail, moving around in the darkness. Cleo softly whispered.
“Is this where the monster went?”
Orphen said, though he was against jumping into the hole as it would be suicide. However, he couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity, he may never know when he would see her again.
Vulcan drew his sword, as he hid behind his brother. Cleo did the same, although she did it a little more gracefully.
Orphen raised his hand to stop them.
“No. You mustn’t fight her.”
Even Cleo didn’t refute this. However, she did have a question.
“Then what are we gonna do? Will those guys even show up now?”
“Oh, they’ll show up, I’m sure of it. And when they do, we’ll capture them all at once.”
Orphen told the girl. Azalie’s movements suddenly stopped.
Orphen ignored Cleo, who was watching eagerly. He began to increase the magical potential within himself, as he imagined using a giant cage and net’s to restrain the beast. He then cautiously moved towards the hole in the ground, and looked down it.
He could smell something burning, as a breeze from the hole blew upwards.
Suddenly, a roar came out of the hole and shot straight into the sky.
At the same time, a huge tornado like updraft came out of the hole. This was no trivial matter, the power of the wind was so immense that it knocked everyone off their feet. When Orphen finally recovered, he could see that Cleo and the other’s were pulled ten metres into the sky.
(Azalie is using magic, how despicable!)
To keep his body from falling down again, Orphen forced his legs to stay on the ground. As he cursed himself for not being better prepared.
(Now this is how you win a magic contest!)
This time Orphen had to push his abilities to the max, he put his hands together as if he was praying. He tried his best to withstand the roar.
“I summon thee, to my arm!”
At the moment his shout rang out, it was as if Orphen’s body was pulling something. It looked like he was feeding off some kind invisible force, he took all of the spirits power and released it in the form of magic. The tornado seemed to lose traction, as Cleo, Vulcan and Dortin were sent flying from the tornado. If Orphen didn’t do something quick, then all of them would slam to the ground and die from the impact.
Meanwhile, the tornado vanished.
However, Orphen used more power than he intended. His whole body was covered in sweat, he couldn’t even move his fingers. With his body out of balance, his knees started to tremble as visceral bursts of pain erupted all over his body.
Although, after a short moment, he fell to his knees. He cursed himself for not saving enough energy for another magical casting.
(Strength, I need strength. Not now of all times.)
Orphen was in luck, because the deteriorating tornado lessened the impact from the fall. They were only lightly injured, mainly in the rear end.
As Orphen desperately gasped for air Cleo ran over to him.
He could hear the worry in the girl’s voice. He managed to squeeze out a smile.
“It’s no big deal, I just used up too much magic.”
“Can you breath alright?”
“Yeah, just help me up, okay?”
Orphen tightly squeezed Cleo’s hand as she helped him up. He then looked around for the two brothers, while he didn’t intend to look for them, he just wanted to know if they’re alright. Orphen looked around the courtyard from where he was standing. That’s when he stopped.
Orphen could see Vulcan and Dortin sitting motionless, he could only see their backs. He thought they were dead, until he heard the groaning and whining of Vulcan.
“Yeah, they’re alive alright.”
“Ouch, is that monster big enough?”
But it wasn’t over yet, the monster’s body was now half exposed above the ground. Azalie was indeed bigger, it was obvious that her other half was under the ground.
Orphen murmured in dismay.
“Damn, she’s really gotten big!”
“How is this possible?”
Cleo inquired. Orphen replied flatly.
“When I used my magic to shut down that tornado, she must have absorbed it.”
Cleo muttered, but her words soon came to a halt as soon as she saw Azalie.
“Well, what do we do now?”
“Unfortunately, I can’t do anything. If I try to use anymore magic I could die from exhaustion.”
Suddenly, Azalie started flapping her huge wings, she tried to fly upwards but couldn’t because she was stuck in the hole. However, it repeatedly tried to emerge from the hole and little by little it started to get loose. Vulcan and Dortin started to scream, and ran around in circles until they whacked into each other. Their swords and Dortin’s glasses fell to the ground, they were overwhelmed with fear.
“So, this is how it ends.”
Vulcan said in a tearful voice, then he quickly switched to being angry.
“Great plan, you stupid sorcerer. If you don’t hurry up and do anything that monster will kill us!”
Cleo retorted as she was helping to hold Orphen up.
“How can you say that? Can’t you see that he’s done his best!”
“Oh, excuse me princess! It’s not like it’s a life or death moment, he can at least use a sword!”
“Swords won’t work against a monster like that!”
Orphen put a stop to their arguing. He could feel his body shaking, and he was sweating all over. Even though he was weakened, his ears seemed to hear something.
“It’s an incantation!”
Orphen shouted as he pulled Cleo down, and together both of them lay on the ground. Meanwhile, the entire area was filled with white light, and Azalie screamed.
Surprised, Orphen stood up. Cleo kept stuck to the ground, Orphen had no choice, he had to find out where the band of light came from. But it was too late, another bright light hit one of Azalie’s wing’s.
The same incantation sounded again.
(It came from the rooftop.)
Orphen had found the source, he looked at the rooftop to only see a figure fire another barrage at Azalie.
There were two men on the rooftop, a tall slender figure and another one slightly shorter than him. Orphen shouted.
However, he ignored him and continued to raise his hand.
Arrows of light hit Azalie’s body, resulting in pieces of flesh being torn off. Landing on the ground, they gave off a sizzling sound.
Orphen raised his hands into the air.
Along with his shouting, Orphen summoned what little strength he had left, and fired his own volley of light straight at the two men. After the smoke cleared, he looked for the two figures, who seemed to have disappeared.
(Did they run away, or are they dead?)
Orphen listened in dismay as he could hear something land behind him. He turned around to see the two men who were on the roof, in front of him.
Cleo groaned and got up from the ground. Her hands ready to pull out her sword from her sheath.
(Don’t do it, if you do that they’ll kill you!)
Inadvertently, he found himself taking cover behind the injured Azalie.
The two black sorcerer’s who jumped from the rooftop were ready for anything.
One of them being Childman, who was emotionless as ever. With his cold face and piercing eyes, his stare was something to be reckoned with.
The other black sorcerer was a red-haired man, who awkwardly looked at Orphen.
Orphen muttered. The young man apologetically spoke to him.
“Krylancelo, I’m sorry it had to be this way.”
Hartia then moved to his teacher’s side.
“I’m sorry too, Shrimp man.”
“……How did you know?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Out of everyone on this continent, nobody else would dress like an idiot.”
Hartia was surprised. A faint smile then emerged on Orphen’s face.
Cleo was shocked to find out that the Black Tiger was Orphen’s friend.
However, Orphen’s smile soon fainted as she intensly stared at Childman.
“Get out of here, Krylancelo.”
This time Hartia shouted.
“Listen up, Krylancelo. This fall’s under the jurisdiction of the Alliance of Sorcerers, Not the Tower of Fang!”
“Are you here to kill Azalie?!”
Childman said with a monotone voice.
“Then, you’ll have to go through me.”
Orphen returned to Cleo’s side.
“I know you don’t have much magical energy left.”
“I’ve got a trick up my sleeve.”
Orphen said as he secretly motioned for Vulcan to come closer. Vulcan thought he was going to help him out, but Orphen had other plans for him.
Orphen used magic. Vulcan was sent through the air at an incredible speed. Naturally, Childman and Hartia didn’t anticipate such an attack, so they were caught off guard.
Orphen was about to continue his attack but Cleo grabbed him by the wrist. It was then that he finally noticed what was happening, Azalie was staring straight at them, and preparing to attack.
She started to cast an incantation.
Cleo wrestled him to the ground, and pulled him out of the way of the incantation.
Orphen said, as he grabbed Cleo and wrapped his arms around her while he used what little magic he had left.
“Amber shield from my fingertips!”
At the same time, Azalie’s roar was deafening. Orphen just closed his eyes, hoping that they would survive this ordeal.
When Orphen opened his eyes, the sky was very bright. In fact, it was already noon. From the window a ray of dazzling sunlight flew in, he was lying in a bed surround by Tishtiny and the others. Vulcan was the only one who was slightly charred, as he didn’t have any magic to shield him from Azalie’s attack.
He knew that Vulcan was about to open his mouth, and what he was about to say. He just didn’t’ bother listening, Tishtiny on the other side of the bed watched in disgust.
“You bastard! Not only did I get toasted out there, I find out that you are taking it easy. I outta grind you into dust with a toothbrush and use you as toothpaste!”
“Stop this at once, can’t you see that Mr. Orphen is exhausted!?”
Cleo couldn’t stand him, so she grabbed him by the cloak and dragged him out of the room. Now, only Tishtiny and Orphen were left in the room. Orphen didn’t waste anytime and got right to business.
“After we put you to bed, people from the Alliance of Sorcerers came and started to search the underground warehouse.”
“He should be in the warehouse with the others.”
Orphen put his right hand over his eyes, and sighed deeply.
(I can’t believe it, I’ve failed her.)
He didn’t cry, but Tishtiny could see that he was crying inside. After that, both of them had a moment of silence.