Chapter Fourty Seven: Wine
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Silva gazes at the crystal ball as it glows with various colors. She smirks, “Impressive, you have two advanced affinities… Mmm it looks like space and… Oh, Lightning, impressive indeed.”

I ignore her words, focusing instead on the fact that my Air affinity is more than twice as high as my Light affinity.

“They told me my Light affinity was my highest,” I say, finding a rather unpleasant taste in my mouth.

Silva continues to gaze at the ball.

“That seems like something the church would do. They have many ways to deal with those using light magic, but tend to have a much harder time handling those using Air magic. Granted, Air magic tends to be one of the weakest elements at lower levels, requiring a significant amount of time invested to become useful.”

I massage my temples as I try to relax. “All this time I have been focusing on learning Light magic. Heck, I even have the [Light Mage] class, when instead I should really have been learning Air, or even Lightning magic.”

Silva takes the ball from the table, handing it back to Salena who is still standing there, staring in amazement at the many swirling colors she had just seen.

“Well, Lightning is an advanced form of Air, requiring strong affinity in Air and at least a minor affinity in light to be able to use it,” Silva puts her hand on her chin, thinking, “I believe the [Electromancer] class is actually a combination of [Aeromancer] and an upgraded light based class. So your [Light Mage] class is fine, you just need to get another mage class and level it up with an air specialty.”

“I can't get another class.” I reply quickly, “It would slow down the leveling of all my classes,” I add, remembering that I have four classes already.

“Hmm, I see. Sarena, the book please.”

Sarena hands Silva the book, a seemingly old, dusty thing. She opens it, flicking through the pages until stopping at a specific one.

“You are a level 34 [Hero], right?”

I nod. No point in hiding my class level, especially considering she probably checked it already anyway.

“Well then, it looks like you will obtain the ability to get another class after becoming a level fifty [Hero]. So it seems we will need to have you go dungeon diving,” she exclaims, closing the book in her hands before handing it to me, “in your spare time, focus on reading that book. It will explain many things about your class. In the meantime, I will find a suitable dungeon for you to conquer so you can level your [Hero] class quickly.”

Conquering dungeons levels the [Hero] class? I did not know that. I was under the impression you had to do heroic things.

I look at the book, touching it, feeling the very old leather.

Silva stands up, picking up her staff.

“Alright, I think we have talked enough. I need to do some searching. Sarena here will show you around the city so you can get acquainted. Everyone has already been notified of your presence, so feel free to move wherever you please,” she exclaims before seemingly disappearing in front of me without warning.

I look to Sarena who looks back at me for a moment. Then she shrugs her shoulders.

“Grand Elder Silva has a tendency to [Teleport] instead of walking. It is why many of the other Grand Elders find her annoying, especially when she just appears next to them without warning.”

I nod towards Sarena who stares at me expressionlessly. Her usual cold demeanor is ever present once more.

I stand up from my chair, my eyes scanning the room one more time. I frown when I don’t find what I was looking for..

“I don't suppose you have some better clothes for me than this flimsy gown?”

Sarena opens her mouth, eyes slowly widening in realization.

“Oh.”

 

___________________________________________

The city of Aesir, known to be the home to Odin's most fervent followers, is currently in a state of uproar. [Paladins] and [Inquisitors] are running through the streets, looking around, asking questions to everyone they can find, all in an attempt to locate the [Hero] Franky who had seemingly disappeared overnight.

Even the [Guildmistress], who had returned from her trip that same night, had been unable to sleep for even an hour before her presence was demanded at the church.

Thankfully for the people of Aesir, the city is full of [Inquisitors], a class not only known for their impressive combat potential but also for their wide range of information gathering skills like [Detect Lie] and [Force Truth]. Thus, where other cities would have been forced to resort to more unsavory methods, the city of Aesir was able to quickly gather information without any bloodshed.

But that is only a small win compared to the massive loss of a [Hero]. Franky had disappeared, and Bernard may very well be the one to be held responsible for it.

“Bernard, relax, I am sure the [Grand Chancellor] will not blame you for this travesty,” Olivia exclaims in a bored tone while drumming her fingers on the table.

Bernard shakes his head, looking towards the other four people seated at the table. Olivia, Andarin and Joshua are the other [Archpriests] responsible for the other three [Heroes]. As for the last person who is wearing a set of large golden armor, that is [High Inquisitor] Orethon, the leader of the [Inquisitors] and one of the most influential people alive. The fact that he had been called to attend this meeting add to Bernards unease.

“Two Shadowravens were killed, and then the [Hero] was kidnapped the following night. Bernard has much to fear since he was responsible for both the [Hero] and the Shadowravens,” Andarin exclaims in a deep rumbling voice.

Bernard looks at Andarin, staring at the colossus of a man. Seven feet tall, muscles bulging under his robe, a thick black beard and eyes as brown as the darkest sand. Few would ever believe Andarin to merely be an [Archpriest], but he is and his physical prowess is all thanks to his [Minor Strength] bloodline.

“I would not blame Bernard for the disappearance of the [Hero] though. That blame should be assigned to the head of security here at the church. The fact that someone was able to sneak in and take someone from us is a far more dangerous matter,” Joshua exclaims as he touches his long beard, smoothing it down.

All Bernard can do is rub his temples, taking a peek at Orethon who is sitting is his chair with his arms crossed, frowning at the door.

And then, he uncrosses his arms and straightens his back.

The door opens and Bernard finds the [Grand Chancellor] walking in, neither smiling nor frowning. He merely enters and sits down at the head of the table, no doubt accompanied by many unseen [Assassins] spreading throughout the room.

“Well then, I am sure that you all already know why you are here,” the Chancellor exclaims, his hand flicking out to the side.

An [Assassin] materializes, placing a crystal goblet filled with red wine in his hand.

More [Assassins] materialize, placing the same in front of all those seated.

The chancellor takes a sip and then swirls the glass, “Good wine. I quite like it,” he says before placing the goblet carefully on the table. None of the other attendees go for the wine, preferring to wait until the end as is customary in these types of meetings.

“First, on the subject of the two deceased Shadowravens,” the chancellor starts, looking towards the wall, his eye pulsing with mana,” please inform me of the results of your investigation.

A man appears seemingly from thin air, a mask covering his face. The moment he manifests the light from all the candles in the room seems to become significantly dimmer. Bernard can only gulp as he summons his aura, protecting his mental health from the now darkened room.

This man, who seems to create shadows with his mere presence, is the leader of the Shadowravens.

Umbra Denos, the Suffocating Shadow.

A man having earned his named status for his ability to be able to slaughter entire kingdoms. His classes and levels are unknown, but it is clear that he is someone not to be messed with.

Umbra looks around for a moment before speaking, his voice coming from everywhere at once, the candlelights flickering as he talks.

“The two members responsible for keeping an eye on the [Hero] Franky were found dead. Nothing was taken from their bodies, nor was there any trace of the perpetrator. The men were killed without even realizing they had been attacked.”

The Chancellor frowns, gazing strongly at Umbra.

“Would you have been able to do the same? To kill two high level [Assassins] without them even being able to react?”

The Suffocating Shadow takes a moment, a small pause, the shadows flicker.

“...No.”

The Chancellor’s frown deepens, his hand turning into a fist, “I see. You are dismissed.”

The shadows disappear as fast as they had come, light freely enters the room once again. Only now Bernard notices that he had been holding his breath during the entire exchange.

He breathes in quickly, taking a look at the others. All but Orethon look like they too had been unable to speak.

The Chancellor takes a deep breath, grabs his wine and chugs it down.

“This is disconcerting, it seems as though three [Divine] items were momentarily present in the city.”

Bernards' eyes widen. There are only seven [Divine] items in the entire world. Why would almost half of those be in one city?

Bernards' eyes roam to the Chancellor’s chest, finding only the chain which connects to the Necklace of Ultimate Sight, one of the legendary [Divine] items that allows the wearer to view the complete information about its target. Classes, Levels, Stats, and Skills. All is revealed, even thoughts. Combine this item with abilities that let you see long distances, and few would be able to hide from your view.

“How… how do you know?” Olivia asks, unsure.

Bernard was wondering the same thing, but did not want to voice his thoughts out loud.

The Chancellor takes a moment, grabs his Goblet and holds it to his right. An [Assassin] appears holding an open bottle to pour more wine into his goblet.

“Well, two [Assassins] were killed in such a way that not even Umbra could replicate. Which can only mean that the perpetrator is in possession of the Cape of Inexistence.”

“Vampires? Why is a vampire here? Shouldn't they be in the shrouded lands?” Andarin quickly voices, seemingly having been angered by this revelation.

Bernard thinks back, remembering that Andarin had been captured by [Slavers] before being sold to the Vampires. He eventually escaped, but still harbors great hate towards them. As for the specific reason, only the Chancellor seems to know.

“Dear Andarin, Vampires have no reason to attack this city. They are content to sit in their lands and play politics. No, the problem here is that the Cape of Inexistence was stolen from them about two years ago, around the same time that the gods agreed to a [Hero] summoning.”

The chancellor takes a sip and places his goblet down, but doesn't remove his hand from it. Instead, he stares down into the red wine.

“And the last [Divine] item?” Olivia adds.

The chancellor does not move his sight away from the goblet for many seconds, before turning and looking at the [High Inquisitor].

“Orethon, please inform them of what you figured out regarding the one responsible for stealing the [Hero] from us.”

Orethon grunts, clearing his throat before he begins, “Our anti-teleportation wards were overpowered as an individual appeared within the [Heroes] room, grabbed the sleeping [Hero], and teleported out just as fast. Normally, a Shadowraven would have been able to intercept the kidnapping and buy time, but the Shadowravens were killed earlier. The teleportation was done instantly and without any chants. They arrived, they took the [Hero], and they left. We immediately ordered the city gates shut and activated the city’s defense shield.”

Orethon takes a breath, clearing his throat once more, “In the several hours afterwards, my [Inquisitors] questioned everyone in the city, eventually pinpointing two suspects. The elf female Sarena and the human female Jessa. Both individuals are part of a team that has dived into the dungeon alongside the [Hero] Franky. Jessa, a level 63 [Rogue] was found scaling the church's outer wall.”

Confusion emanates from everybody. A level 63 [Rogue] is far too low of a level to even attempt to sneak into the church.

“We interrogated this Jessa, and found out that she had been attempting to sneak into Franky’s quarters to have sex with him.”

“Oh my,” Olivia voices with a smile, her cheeks turning red.

But Orethon, professional as ever, continues speaking.

“The other individual, Sarena, was difficult to find. Eventually, we were able to find her place of residence thanks to her teammate Brock. It was at her residence on a third-floor apartment that we found the remnants of a massive portal. We called in [Archmages], and they were able to ascertain that the portal originated from the Elven lands. There is a high probability that the [Divine] item, Staff of Bending Worlds, was used to create an enormously long distance portal.”

After Orethon finishes his report all remain silent. Apparently, the elves had stolen the [Hero], but Bernard cannot even begin to imagine why, or even why only one [Hero]. It's clear they would have been able to grab more. Was it only Franky because of his capability? But that wouldn't make sense. Franky is currently only the second highest leveled [Hero]. The Olympian gods have an even higher level [Hero]. Why not take theirs?

Too many questions, too little information.

“Though we lost a [Hero] yesterday night, I do have some good news to share,” the Chancellor exclaims, raising his eyes from his glass, “Odin has found out that the Olympian gods failed in their summoning. Though they summoned eight heroes, twice as many as Odin has, it seems that only two were summoned to the designated location. The others have appeared randomly across Orbis.”

Eyes widen, mouths fall open, even Orethon shows a reaction in the form of a frown.

“Which is why I will focus on pinpointing the locations of any stray [Heroes] so that we may take them into our custody,” the Chancellor explains with a smile. “We stand to gain much from their mistake.”

The Chancellor grabs his glass of wine and raises it into the air, “A toast,” he says, taking a moment as all the other members grab their untouched glasses before them, “Though we may have lost one [Hero] today, we have the opportunity to gain many more. To Odin's Might!” the Chancellor exclaims, downing his glass of wine all at once.

“To Odin’s Might,” the others yell, downing their own glasses.

The wine goes down strong but smooth, with a nice raspberry aftertaste. A testament to the high level of the [Winemaster].

Bernard licks his lips and frowns before being forced to burp. He opens his mouth to say something, but stops when he finds the room spinning around him. The crystal chalice falls on the floor first, rolling some distance away before his own body slides from his chair and hits the floor with a thud.. He attempts to call on his mana but finds it unresponsive.

“Bernard, Bernard, Bernard, did you expect that I would forget your mistake? You were responsible for the safety and training of the [Hero] Franky. And now, that [Hero] is gone.”

Bernard moves his head, lifting it slightly, finding the Chancellor standing before him, looking down. Behind the Chancellor he can see the other [Archpriests] watching him with fear evident on their faces.

The Chancellor bends down, grabbing the crystal goblet which had not shattered from the fall.

“There is an interesting enchantment on this goblet. Any liquid inside it will have its poisonous effects, if any, suppressed.”

Bernard’s eyes widen, he attempts to speak, but the pain quickly flares up at even the slightest movement.

“So, if I were to add Manabreak extract and Painbreaker venom inside the goblet, then no [Detect Poison] skill or enchant would go off.”

“But I am not without mercy or forgiveness. Yes, you failed, but I know very well how loyal you truly are, which is why I only added Painbreaker venom and not Heartbreaker venom. The poison is moving through your body now and will quickly increase in intensity, so much so that most people develop Madness.”

The [Grand Chancellor] places the crystal goblet on the table, taking one last look at the now twitching Bernard, as nerve after nerve sends pain signals to his brain.

“If you are able to stay sane until the poison wears off, then I will have forgiven you.”

The [Grand Chancellor] moves his eyes away from Bernard, slowly walking out of the room, leaving everyone behind.

Bernard looks at the others, his eyes pleading for help, but they all shake their heads, leaving the room shortly after. Only Orethon stays, his eyes looking at Bernard, frowning, “Painbreaker is a nasty venom. In low concentration, it is a good punishment against disobedient [Slaves]. But in higher concentration, it is a living hell. Can't sleep, can't think, can't do much of anything but endure... I wish you luck Bernard, and know that there is always a chance... After all, I have gone through the same thing as what you are going through now.”

After that Orethon also leaves the room, his boots striking the floor in a steady rhythm. The door opens and closes a moment after. Minutes pass by, and then the pain intensifies, so much so that sleep is naught but a dream now. All is pain...

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