Chapter 33: Shades of Red
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There was a whistle that hollowed out in the darkness. Several roaring noises could be heard within the darkness. With that one whistle, all motions ceased. “So that’s where you all are hmm?” her voice echoed throughout the darkness.

With each step she took, it was only the sound of her feet that hallowed out. Nobody dared move. Not beast, nor man. There, she finally arrived at the target of her words. Huddled in a circle, were the objects of her attention. Within this place she called safe space, were people that felt the furthest from safe. 

She found that the man Katz remained with everyone around him. “What is it, Great Witch?” The man, Katz, still held graceful resolve in the face of the witch that imprisoned him and his brothers there. 

 

 

Spoiler

.   Alright... I sleep now

[collapse]

Much to Lusha’s surprise, the majority of the brothers were all very much alive. Around Katz, remained the sphere of influence of his Myriad Sword Stance. “Ah I see… so that’s why you all are still alive.”

Katz nodded. It had been approximately 64 hours since the death of Duke Eris. It seems he had been utilizing the space’s exhaustion nullification, in order to continuously utilize his techniques. In fact, if so necessary, he could continue on for years. However… that is only theoretically. The space within this world was not meant for physical damage or exhaustion. This was a place made explicitly, for mental anguish. 

It was a matter of how long one's mind could last within this world, that made it more and more threatening. Lusha had long realized a while back that one can heal physical wounds, but there is no magic to nullify the mental wounds that are dealt to them. 

However, Lusha already suspected something nearly as much. This man Katz… he was indeed very much like she was- a man born devoid of emotion. However, she didn’t realize how deeply this went. It went further than his ability to handle hardship. He was a man so devoid, he didn’t care at all regardless what he was doing. That could be the only explanation for why he was able to continue persevering for so long.

For a man such as this, there was a reason he was fighting. It was because he believed that by the end of everything, he would finally attain some sort of emotion. “Katz- you mean to. No nevermind. I now see what kind of man you are.” 

The contrast was disgustingly stark. Katz, there was a method to his madness, or rather, his lack of madness. Normally, one who is devoid of life, dies early in life. However, those who cling onto something in the hopes of attaining any sort of feeling they seek- they continue to live on clinging to a certain hope. 

Perhaps, he thought if he lived long enough, he would eventually feel the need to preserve himself, or feel the need of something more to life than just death. He had gotten this far just by convicting himself continuously to one certain goal. Still… Lusha couldn’t understand why the rest of the brothers were still alive. He can merely live on for as long as he needed until he realized there was no way to change himself. Instead, he chose to continue to save his brothers. No doubt, judging by their lack of alertness, it has all been the work of Katz.

That was exactly the realization she was looking for. “Anyways, Katz. I need you to tell me who the patron is. The mother of Rinn, tell me her location.” Her eyes were not directed at Katz himself, but rather the brothers who seemed too defeated to even object or question his leadership. This was the mental anguish that eventually wrenched apart those within. 

Katz also caught onto what her eyes were saying and simply sheathed his sword, ending his myriad sword stance. 

“From how fast she received the news of his death, I assume she lives in East Goumei correct? I plan on making a stop there and disposing of her before I let you all get back to your perils.” She cracked her bones together. “Of course, should you refuse, I’d take care of the rest of them as well.”

She waved her hands as if to motion for the demons themselves, but Katz could already see she meant the brothers he fought so hard to keep safe. Katz nonchalantly nodded. “She lives in Baroness Ophelia’s district- Lady Marcadia. It’s one of the three biggest houses within Ophelia’s district of Elkin. Her family crest bore the flag of a red ouroboros.”

“Hmm.. I see. Thank you, Katz. I will be leaving you to your goal now.” She gave a small courtesy smile, which was completely ignored by Katz. The other ones did not even take note of it, for they were too busy averting their gaze.

She clapped twice. “Resume.” 

Immediately after, the sound of violence and battle ensued. She promptly left the void world. She pulled out the map she had been provided.  “Well, I guess I’ll be going for a majority of the day… but Grodd is with her so there shouldn’t be a problem.”

She could only think that the problems would arise should Grodd be attacked by a well coordinated team of the same level as the brothers. However, as seen, they were a composition far and few between. -At least among those who are away from the adventurers guild.

The trip to Ophelia’s territory was definitely not that far from Regalia’s. Thankfully. She decided to fly instead of merely walking on her own two feet. It seemed that much of this city was preoccupied on other matters at the moment. Aside from that, she of course utilized her invisibility to refrain from causing concern among the people.

Thanks to that it had only taken her 2 hours to arrive at the district Elkin. From her aerial view she could see the estate of Lady Marcadia. Just from the thought size alone, she was completely perplexed. While she remained in Ophelia’s district, her estate was only smaller if one were to truly measure everything with a ruler. The fact that a Lady had an estate was even more perplexing. She was neither Baroness, Countess, nor Dutchess. Not to mention Marquess. 

She already had a good guess of how she came to acquire such influence and gold. She exhaled, in a manner that seemed to say ‘I’m finally here.’ Of course, it was merely a small victory to her. In her eyes, the only big victory is unattainable. Of course, she may at least delight in the smaller victories.

She landed upon the Lady’s estate and dispelled her invisibility spell. Two other women greeted her at the entrance and she merely smiled, and mimicked their greeting. “Hello. I am a client. I’m here to see Lady Marcadia.”

They gave each other a look of suspicion. She could easily pick up on that so she simply awaited what they had to say. “What may be the reason you’re searching for Lady Marcadia?”

“I’m here under the adventurer’s mission. The partner of Nuon, who took her contract. Katz and Nuon have both been killed. I need to let her know of the events immediately. Before it’s too late.”

Normally, this idea would not have even remotely worked. Like all adventurers who took on her missions. None of them ever knew of her Lady’s true identity. Even an adventurer like Nuon had no idea of her true identity. Everything was done through Katz.

The only reason this kind of bluff had worked. Was because of three things. The first was that her appearance was something that didn’t seem threatening in the least. The second was the mention of Nuon, along with the adventurer’s contract she pulled out. And the very last was the mention of Katz. She had already determined that no one truly knew the location of Marcadia.

The way she had Katz meet her at the checkpoint and bring her daughter to Duke Eris proved that she didn’t trust anyone. She wasn’t sure if it would work, but she combined the three biggest elements and factors of her getting this far. Her appearance and the adventurers guild, Nuon, and of course, Katz.

They had her wait at the door. It was only minutes later, due to the importance of her story, that Marcadia appeared with quick urgency. The look of disappointment she had on her face when she found the envoy was only a young girl was quickly apparent. 

“Out with it. You were with Nuon. What occurred. How in the world could he cause a blunder this horr-” 

“Shh…. I was going to say something. While you’ve enjoyed living at the expense of others, I cannot allow you to do that any more. Simply put it’s at the expense of myself. Your daughter has become an affiliate of mine, so I thought it fitting enough to pass on judgement to you. They say when you die, all of your past regrets come to light.”

She attempted to speak, but she couldn’t. 

 

She was stuck. The words she tried to speak could not come out of her mouth. At the same time, the attendants seemed confused about the entire ordeal. She was talking one second, and the next, she seemed as if something had caught in her throat. In the midst of their confusion, Lusha had already been long gone.

Minutes later, they eventually found out, as she keeled over and coughed, attempting to gasp for breath. With each inhale, blood began to fill her lungs, and they found a thin slight along her throat. So sharp was the cut, that it didn’t manifest until quite the time later. Neither her, nor the attendants had realized Lusha’s movements.

One might think she got off light… however, her death was not without a technique. She died a slow and painful death. One of the biggest dangers of illusion magic, comes when one realizes time is a construct to each individual, and can move at different rates for different individuals.

Those last words she said were simply to guide her and remind her of her regrets. Though in the current world, she may have died in only seconds- in her mind, she had quite the long time to die. Time enough to ponder each of her mistakes, experiences, choices, regrets, and wrongdoings. Times that caused the last minutes in her head to apologize profusely and wonder when the death she was anticipating, to happen. In truth, she was dying slowly over the rate of years, with the feeling of her throat slit and her choking on blood. 

It would take an entire 10 minutes before all the alarms and bells rang off that the Lady of Redshade was dead. Rinn Redshade was the last of her lineage now. With this, the operations she oversaw should conclude. There should be no further interferences from abductors without clientele. Of course, she was aware of the other lords and lieges that fought over her. 

 

But there were much less surveillance options for those people than there were for Marcadia Redshade. That, and with Grodd looking after her, there would be very little opposition who could match him. Especially if her hypothesis on Grodd came to fruition. 

She promptly left the small little city of Elkin. From now on, her advancement within the adventurer’s guild was to begin. There was no option but to get more and more influential. With her recommendation by Elim and Sokka, as well as the reports of her beating the demon, she will have gained notoriety for how quickly she was advancing through the ranks.

The future was soon set to begin. Of course… it didn’t hurt to enjoy some leisure time. This festival was one that would be great for her relaxation.

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