Just as described, they had arrived at the small keep: The ruins of Baylor. By now it was almost nightfall. The people they were looking for should have already been here. According to the contract, they would be waiting a week in advance to their arrival and camping out within the ruins.
“Heeeeyyyyyy! We’re here!”
“I believe we have a delivery for you guys at this very moment.”
Still no answer. Suddenly a man appeared behind her with a blade to her neck. “You’re not Nuon. What’s the meaning of this?”
“Tch. Didn’t you hear? Nuon’s dead. He died during the tragedy of Carthage.”
The movements of this one weren't quite as refined as that of Nuon’s. But he was fairly fast. If she had wanted to, she would have swatted the man away before he could react. But, that would defeat the purpose of this mission. “Put your sword down. I’m his replacement. And I was definitely adequate enough to have escorted her all the way here.”
“Where are the other four?”
“Yes. My brothers.”
Lusha could not help but grin. “They’re a ways back. You may be meeting them soon however. They had to hold off some attackers.”
“Anyways. The faster we get this mission completed, the much more relaxed we all can be. Correct? So where is the contractor?”
“He’s not here. You’ve completed your mission. We’ll be escorting her to the place privately from here.”
“Hey… do you know?”
The man tilted his head. “Hm?”
“The nature of this mission? Or her ability?”
“Of course I do. It’s precautionary to know all the details of a mission beforehand. Of course, when there’s something I don’t know, I take apprehension towards them. Such as you taking over Nuon’s mission.”
He sheathed his blade. “Anyways. You’re done here. Your reward money should be sent upon the client receiving the item. Enjoy.”
Lusha waived them off with a smile. The mission is complete. The man escorted Rinn onto his horse and rode off. Lusha merely kept waving. Even as Rinn watched on with fearful eyes. She no longer had to worry about anything regarding this mission.
Rinn clutched onto the driver’s cloak. She always hated this part of her missions. The delivery to the contractor. For the past couple of years… no, since as long as she had remembered, this was the part that scared her the most. It was similar to a man walking up to his execution block.
She knew that pain awaited her, and never how much pain, but always…. It always was a great amount of pain. Her skin stuck out as the world around her felt cold. It was as if the winds that licked her transmitted the same pain she was to experience.
This lump stuck on the back of her throat, like a boulder that had been shrunken by magic. It still weighed heavily. Tears began to well up in her eyes, but she held it in as much as she could. These people never cared if she cried anyways. She might as well keep her composure. This is just another routine… it's just the same thing she has always dealt with. There was no need to be fearful…
These were the thoughts that populated her head, in an effort to keep herself calm. But of course, these simple thoughts could do nothing against the harsh reality that she knew awaited her. Suddenly, the rain began to fall. It was like the clouds were finally giving her a little bit of ease. For, as soon as the rain started to pour heavily, she allowed the tears to fall.
They would have done so eventually. But this at least gave her ease to know that she was holding herself up strongly. Her hands clutched the man’s back. He simply ignored her. Out of all the people she had ever met, this one was perhaps the only one she hated. Yet, the only one she could bear to look at.
The man was an emotionless void. You couldn’t see any single pain, happiness, fear, sadness, or even love and hate from him. If he were to learn of the fate that happened to his brothers, he probably would not even care in the slightest. Thus, he was the only person she could bear to look at, and feel like she was blind to the world of hurt she had always seen.
The tears fell quietly. Surely he could feel her body quivering with every second that passed, but that was fine. He wasn’t here to comfort her. Nor could he even understand the concept of comfort.
After 2 hours, they ended up at a huge castle. This giant castle was almost 300 acres in size. They passed through the first gate, to find that the square shaped building had an open courtyard that made up the majority of its size. Military dummies, targets, and training logs littered the area.
Yet, at the moment, it was entirely empty. The sound of rain and the sound of the hooves were all that she could hear. Then she heard it. A sound that wreaked of pain. He wasn’t even sure if it was a human sound. The yells trailed off with the strong winds and sounded like howling wolves. If ever there was a counterpart of her that could hear pain instead of see it, she would truly pity the one that hears this.
She was going to understand exactly what kind of ailment this man had. Such a prospect scared her tremendously. The man unmounted from his horse and picked her up. “Let’s go.”
As they got closer and closer, the awful screams could be heard. The size of the building in front of her seemed like a mountain, towering over her and showing her her insignificance.
The keep door opened and the man ushered her inside. Most of the rivilin stones and candles that lit up the hallway were completely blown out, minus a couple that remained barely lit. The sound of water dropping and wind battering the castle was loud, but completely overshadowed by the constant wails.
They went up several flights of stairs at a slow turtle's pace. This was mainly due to Rinn’s shaking hands. “Up here.” There was one single room before them. It looked like a closet door actually. The mercenary opened the door up and lit a small candle. “My lord, she has arrived.”
She clasped her mouth. She wasn’t sure exactly what she was looking at. The man had an overwhelming amount of sadness. But it wasn’t that… for the first time she was seeing something that should not exist. No, not like Lusha. This was something else entirely.
The energy seeping off the man was simply, something that should not exist. She was not certain what it was that she was looking at. It blanked out in her mind. When she had first seen Lusha, there was a thought process she immediately thought of. “How long would a being have to live, to amass that much sadness.” She could see that it was something that built up over generations.
However, what she was seeing now…. Was inconclusive. There was no way to describe it. It was akin to looking at a new color for the first time. The young mercenary put a hand on her shoulder. “Can you fix this? This is a survivor of the demon attack in Godon, the great general.”
Rin shook her head and began to step away. “Unfortunately you do not have a choice. If he succumbs to this, this country will fall apart and many people will get hurt. You have a duty to help.”
It was always those same words… a duty… a duty… a duty…”N-no… I ca-”
She attempted to reel away. But the man blocked the doorway. “Rinn. Do what you -”
“Feel like.” The sound of a woman's voice interrupted hers and echoed through the room. The man turned around completely surprised. “You… what are you doing here? Your missions complete.”
“Exactly.” She smiled, showing the parchment with the words mission accomplished now appearing on it. “So now I’m free to act how I wish. I’m not bound by anything should some tragedy befall anyone after the mission.” She sat on the ledge where the stairway turned. One leg over the other with her hands on her chin, just as she did with the group priorly.
“Y- you…” He sighed and pulled out his blade. “You’re seriously seeking death that badly? I’m sure you’ve witnessed the eldest’s ability, Giren.” She nodded nonchalantly. “Well, I could beat Giren tenfold.”
“Ohhh? How boring. If that is how you scale your worth, than you're just about as insignificant to me as an ant."
The piercing cold eyes dropped the room temperature by at least 10 degrees. "You'll meet your brothers soon enough"
"Myriad Swordstance... times x1000". He wasn't phased by the news that suggested his brothers were dead. Actually, he very much couldn't care.
There seemed to be no change in his physical appearance, or even his aura. It was as still as a statue. Then he disappeared. The speed was immensely fast and cought Lusha offguard by how fast it was. Normal people could not have fathomed these series of events, but they heard a loud smacking noise, followed by a crash in the wall several feet away.
Lusha remained seated in her same postion. The only people that truly saw what happened were Lusha, The Great General, and Katz himself.
The movement was unfathomable. His Myriad swordstance should have increased all factors of his being and speed by thousandfold. It was enough to put even his brother to shame.
Furthermore, there was a second aspect to the technique, just like how Girens move nullified many different forms of resistance and energy transference, his was did so in a different way.
It was a buff/debuff. It absorbed energy from a certain radius. This included kinetic energy. Thus, while his strength is boosted, it slowed the opponent down greatly. The fact that she was able to land a hit so powerful and fast, meant that despite the transference of energy, she was too strong. The amount she was producing was so great that it exceeded the absorbance ratio.
Katz got up and dusted himself off. "So I guess they truly are dead. What kind of technique are you using?"
Lusha smirked. "Technique? Im not using one. I don't think you're worth a technique. But... I did say I'd send you to your brothers, so i do have to use one."
Katz threw his blade at her and dashed towards her across the room. The strength he used to chuck the blade so far provided enough kinetic energy that when he cought up to the sword, he was able to increase his speed yet again. This caused an outburst of noise to fill the room and everything to blow back.
When the attack landed. Lusha simply blocked it with a single finger. "Spatial Magic [Safe-Haven]”
Instantly the world warped around them. He found himself standing in a room embraced by darkness. Yet everything was visible as if it was daytime. This was spatial magic. He was certain of it. Yet there was something strange about the properties of this world.
There was no wind, but he could hear the howling of something eerie. The noise seemed to shake the entire place. “Oh, they’re still alive??” The sound of clanging continued to ring out. Along with endless shouting. “What is this place…”
“Didn’t I tell you? You’d be meeting your brothers fairly soon. She snapped and the duo had appeared in front of the group of 4. To her surprise, they were still very much alive. Some of them had sustained damages here and there, but the group were completely lost in an endless fight or flight response.
It took them a long while before they could even recognize their own brother. “K-katz?” Giren dropped his blade and ran up to his youngest brother, hugging the man. Katz simply pushed him away with his palm. “Get a grip on yourself. What is this place?”
“Katz… you have to kill that girl. She’s a monster. Even more monstrous than anything else here. Y-y’oure the only one that can get us out of here.”
Katz’ eyes scanned all of them. This was the most he had seen them battered and bruised. There were visible discolorations on their faces. Their eyes seemed frantic as if constantly looking over their shoulders. “The truth is… I can’t.”
His brother was not one for jokes. So to hear him say that even he couldn’t, shook Giren to his core. “What?” His hands began to tremble yet again. His breathing became ragged even though loss of stamina was not possible within this world. Katz’ face remained just as empty as it had always been. “That woman there… is probably stronger than most of the top ten H.E.R.O ranked adventurers. Yet, with her age, it should not be possible. Just who are you?”
Lusha almost burst out into laughter. Was the young man truly able to deduce that he would lose to her easily just from that simple slap? Though it was unusual, she didn’t sense any fear from him at all. “Even if all five of us come at you at once, odds are, we’d be decimated entirely. Just what are you?”
“Hmm… isn’t it obvious? I’m a human.”
They seemed to scoff at the notion that a single human could do all of this. Rinn remained besides her, silent throughout the entire interaction. In fact, she didn’t want to see them at all. Even worse, were the creatures silhouettes she could see surrounding them. She closed her eyes, and stayed looking down.
“Do you know the story of the four great witches?”
The brother paused and put a hand to his chin. “If I recall correctly, there was a tale about the witch of the west, east, north and south. A children’s tale.What does that have to do with this… do you mean to say you’re one of them?”
“O-of course! That’s it. She’s a monster!”
“Yes, they are humans who earn a title so despicable because their desires outweigh the desires of the world. Is that not what you’d call a human?”
Giren clenched his fists. “That’s not human. Not human at all. To trample on everyone like this just to follow your own selfish desires?”
“Humans are creatures bound by desire. If they desire happiness, they seek happiness. If they desire love, they seek love. If they desire camaraderie, they seek camaraderie. Even if they have to trample on others.”
“Then what have we ever done to you… to get in your way?”
“Nothing. Of course, in order to achieve my desires, you all must be trampled upon. You should have no complaint of such a fate. After-all, in order to achieve your desires, you so trampled upon this young child here.” She placed a hand on top of Rinn’s head. Rinn looked up for the first time about what she was saying.
They realized the exact truth to her words. In order to get paid that lump sum of money, they were easily able to disregard all the pain they are causing her. “Just the same way that the man who hired her is willing to achieve his desires of relief, and trample upon her. The very same way her mother is willing to achieve her desires and trample upon her daughter all in pursuit of money.”
“Humans are creatures bound by desires. However, usually there is a limit to what lines they are willing to cross to fulfill those desires. Would you kill your own brother for money? Of course not, because you do not want it enough. You may kill another for money however. Now imagine if that object of your desire was so great that you were willing to kill your own brothers for it.”
The room was purely hushed. “Those of us who were so called Witches, held desire so great, we were willing to fracture the world and every single life in existence to achieve it. So after hearing all this… imagine how insignificant I place you all when it comes to my desire.”
Those words set a cold precedent. She was not going to ever let them escape or show leniency to them. This was for the simple fact that she WANTED to do this… and nothing else. The hopes of everyone else was entirely crushed to dust. The only person who didn’t seem defeated, was the youngest brother, Katz. Who remained unwavering in the face of all information he has heard thusfar.
“Desire… huh. What was it you wanted… back then?”
“You should know, Katz. I can already tell… you and I are much the same in terms of desire. You remind me too much of myself so many years ago.”
Katz seemed to understand exactly what it was “Yes. I see…. So did you learn to feel it?” The other brothers were not too sure what kind of conversation they were having, but they seemed to have distanced themselves from the duo. “Emotions, I mean?”
The witch simply smiled. “Yes. I’ll be leaving you all to your own vices.” She waved her hand and disappeared outside of the spatial world with Rinn beside her. Now there was only one person left to take care of. That was the great general who Lusha could sense faint abnormal traces from.