Chapter 33 – Heartless
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I backed away from the door a little bit and heard a ding and watched as a quest appeared in a floating window.

Quest: Invaders

Subdue the Guards or Run and report the guards

Reward: Coin of Fate

It was the first time I saw a quest offering two options. Having two options was sending off warning flags to me. After reading up on quests , at the library, my paranoia was raised. It could be a trick. These quests were given by the Gods and without knowing which God was offering it there was no telling if a trickster god was having fun at my expense. It was rare but there were stories of adventurers getting a quest only for it to end in tragedy. I tried to remember which Gods could control fate but came up with nothing.

It was too annoying to stress over it. I just had to figure out if I could even do the first option. I mean, it was two against one. From class, I knew that the strongest non-dungeon exploring human was only a bit stronger than myself. But I also had to be realistic and acknowledge that my fighting skills were probably worse than theirs. If they fought together I doubted my ability to win.

What was I thinking? How could I let two perverts run lose? They are stealing my underwear, which is just creepy but they may be pedophiles as well. NO! I would capture these creeps and then show them the errors of their ways by beating them until they reformed. Nodding to myself at my great idea, I positioned myself by the doorway. I would try and take out the first one that walked out the door and then I would only have to worry about the last one.

I could not risk casting. Most of my spells created light effects. Anything I cast would show up in a room with minimum light. I sat there and waited. I could hear them talking. One guy wanted to leave and one wanted to look more. I hoped the one that wanted to stay to fondle my panties walked out first. He seemed to be the worst offender.

While I was waiting I heard another ding and a quest message showed up.

Quest: Save Amy

The King's men are coming to question Amy.  Keep her alive for 24 hours.

Rewards: Perception +1, Wisdom +1

Time Remaining: 24 hours

By the time I finished reading I was very angry! Why the heck should I be the one to save her? From what I understood she targeted me and it was not a random encounter.  It was about this time that a middle aged man walked out of my room.

***

I finally got Ernie to get moving. Lucky for us most of the kids were gone for the holiday so we could search their rooms easily. I do not know why the higher-ups were so interested in obtaining this vial of liquid but the gold would be good for both of us. Thinking about what I could spend all that money on, I followed Ernie out the door.

It was then that I saw Alice pop out from a blind spot and swing a table leg at Ernie. Her eyes that were normally blue, were glowing red and I had a brief second to notice that before Ernie slammed into me.

I got up as quickly as I could and stepped back. What she did should have been impossible! While us guards aren't top notch compared to the students, our equipment was enchanted to add all types of resistances including those from any sort of weapons. We even spar with the students for extra pay and I've never seen or heard of one of being taken out by one hit.

Her eyes began to glow intensely and deepened in their red color and I heard her say "One down. Ok, pervert prepare for a whole lot of hurting. I will teach you the errors of your ways for stealing girls' panties." Her voice relayed an anger I had never felt before, and I panicked. When did little girls get so terrifying?

"No.. No. Really we, Ernie and I, have orders to search!" I pulled out the paper defining our mission. I knew I wasn't supposed to, but it was better than both of us being beaten. Medical fees for broken bones came out of our pay! Not to mention days we could not report to work.

***

I was distracted by the new quest but I still swung my mace as hard as I could. There was no skill in the swing. He tried to dodge, but because he was shocked to see me, his movements were jerky and my mace connected. I saw it hit against his leather chest armor, followed by a cracking noise and a then a pop. He flew into the other guard and they crumbled like a house of cards. The guard I hit was making wheezing noises and did not get up.

"One down," I muttered and looked into my bedroom to see the other guard getting up. "Ok, pervert prepare for a whole lot of hurting. I will teach you the errors of your ways for stealing girls' panties." I began tapping my mighty table leg against my left hand as I began to advance.  I was feeling better about the situation now that it was one on one.

I have seen this guard around. I did not know his name but up until now I would have never pegged him as a panty stealing pedophile. It's true you cannot tell what is in a person's heart. "No.. No. Really we, Ernie and I, have orders to search!" and I saw him pull out a crumbled piece of paper and throw it at my feet. I stepped back just in case it was a trick. After nothing happened and he stepped back I picked up the paper.

*Mission: Find the Vial of Black Liquid*

Reward: 20 Gold

Permissions: Facilities & Dorm Room Access

It was simply written and it included symbols & pictures for those guards that could not read. I looked at it and then at him. I really wanted to hit him at least once but when I looked he began waving his arms in front of him as he spoke in a panicky voice, "Young lady, please listen we are here on official business. There is no reason to fight."

Sighing to myself I put away my table leg. He was right. I could not rightfully beat them if they were here on orders. "You guys were leaving?" I looked at the guard trying to catch his breath and cast 'Bone Mender'. His screams were weak as I heard his bones moving back into place and reknitting themselves. I then cast a 'Minor Healing' to patch up his lung. Both of their complexions were as white as a ghost by the time I was done. Still nodding the guard that was standing, half dragged half carried Ernie out of my room.

I was going to ask why the male guards were in the female area but I thought better of it since I have only seen one or two females in the guard uniforms compared to the hundreds of random men I had seen. I watched as they stepped over the threshold and as the door closed I heard a ding and then I felt so much pain I ended up passing out. Quest: Invaders *failed* was the last thing I saw.

It was not until hours later that I woke up. This was the first time I had 'Failed' a quest and the punishment was so painful. I will have to revisit my decision to just blindly accept all the quests since failing could bring issues. Picking myself off .the ground, I made my way toward the infirmary. I still had one quest left and since I had already accepted it, I needed to complete it.

Amy should either be there. At least, I hoped so. I did not want to have to search the whole campus for a person I barely knew. I shook my head to drive away the thought of having to transverse this huge campus and tried to think more happy thoughts.

The infirmary still smelled of herbal tonics when I walked in. It was relaxing. I noticed that a few more bunks were open. I had not come back today because of the duel so somebody else must have taken my place in healing today. It was nice to see a few less people here.

I walked around looking for Amy. I found her in a corner room that was separated from all the other people. It was weird. Most of the people here to be treated were all in one big room. These side rooms were made for the contagious patients and were left empty most of the time. I felt like I was a detective looking for clues; a really bad detective but a detective nonetheless.

I pulled up her health window and noted that she was sleeping due to the medication. I left her injuries alone because I did not trust her. I looked around and other than the bed there was a chair and a shelf that held a few medical supplies. I took the chair and placed it to the side of the door. I wanted the chair to be positioned so that when the door opened, I would be out of sight. I was not planning on putting myself at risk for a person that wanted me hurt or dead. I was planning on testing 'Death is a friend of mine' since I was out of sight of everybody and the person in question was not a friend. Heartless perhaps, but I did not know Amy and she had conspired against me.

It was times like this that I felt I should have focused on learning another discipline of magic to make myself more versatile. To past the time as I waited for the killers, I thought of which discipline to learn. I had to pick well because it became harder and harder with each additional magic you learned. This was because, in this world, the Gods gave the people their magic and for whatever reason they did not like to share the people they blessed. There were stories of people that lost their magic completely due to trying to get too much.

These disciplines are also linked to a person's stats. Examples of this would be identification magic was linked to a perception, charm was charisma, earth magic was stamina and so on. Some were even linked to two or even three stats. The higher the stat that better a person would be at that type of magic. The only exception was dark magic. Anybody could use it and become powerful. That was the appeal of it and why people that were desperate for power would use it.

Normal people had stats around five, beginning adventurers and standard guards were around ten, and thereafter every increment of ten brought about a quantitative change. The highest recorded stat was a royal prince that was also a warrior. The stories said that at a strength of forty two he could cut a path of destruction so powerful that ruts would form for dozens of yards with every swing, that a mountain pass was created by him to speed up his journey, and a juggernaut was cleaved in two with a flick of his wrist.

My dilemma was there were only four that matched up to my main stats; water, druidic, summoning and charm magic. I was unsure if I should wait to increase another stat to get a different discipline. Raising just one more stat would allow me to access to almost any of the others. I was leaning towards charm or summoning. Either of those should counter my inability to kill people. When I selected this class I did not picture people like the Duke and I regretted not being able to remove such people from this world.

I sat there for hours trying to figure out which one would be the best choice. My thoughts were broken as the door opened. I saw the back of a slim woman move to Amy and check her vitals. I watched closely and was ready to cast if the situation called for it. I saw her cast a basic healing spell and then place a stone next to her head. She was quick and turned to leave in less than two minutes.  Because the door blocked most of me and she was in a hurry, she did not even notice me sitting there.

The door was shut softly and I kept watching Amy's health window to see if anything changed. But other than her recovering some health nothing else happened. I got up to check the stone. Looking down at it, I noticed that it had a healing engraving. The sound of cloth on the stone floor was the only warning I got that there was somebody behind me.

I moved to turn. That was the only thing that saved my life. The dagger that was aimed at my chest skidded along my ribs and down my arm. The pain faded as the adrenaline began pumping into my system making everything numb. Shit. "A pity but you will be dead soon enough. You should not have stayed here. I even gave you a chance to leave but my patience is not endless. I hate killing people I am not paid to kill." His voice was muffled by the bright red mask he was wearing but I still heard him.

He was taller than me but almost everybody was. He was dressed up as one of the doctors so I figured he must have put the mask on before coming in. He held a knife in one hand and an iron spike in the other. He stood there, arms held in a ready to attack position, shooting off his mouth. They must have saved some money hiring this guy. He should have used that spike and not his mouth to finish the job.

I, on the other hand, did not say anything and cast silently. A subdued dirty gold began to form around the man as I finished casting 'Blasphemer's Detriment'. The glow clung to his skin and was hard to see unless one was looking for it. He started moving again after he complained about the lack of money for killing me.

"How about this; you can just kill her and leave." I suggested. He shook his head at my generous offer and I saw shadowy wisps forming around him. I guessed he must have also cast a spell.  He then quickly launched attacks without a word. Where did the talkative guy go to? I dodged the spike, but I felt the knife making another slash down my arm.

His voice held mirth as he spoke, "I am going to make sure to take my time and enjoy our time together." It did not last as a golden pillar quickly engulfed him. I heard his screams and I quickly cast a heal spell before the pillar vanished. It was my turn to be happy. The spell I learned worked the same way it did in the battle simulator. Any damage I took would be returned. Sometimes there was a small chance of the damage increasing but unless they had a way of healing, I figured I could out last most attackers. The downsides of this spell were that it was caster only and that it could only link to one target so if multiple people were to attack me it would not be as effective.

His eyes that held mirth now held anger. The shadowy wisps around him began to take shape and soon there were three of him standing in front of me. The room was small and the addition of two more people made me feel claustrophobic. I let my aura fill the room but unlike the dark magic that the slimes were using, this shadowy magic did not distort or weaken. While it took shape, I also pulled out my mighty table leg. Sigh, now that I had gold coins I really should go shopping for better weapons.

I saw the three of them shiver like somebody stepped on their graves but they then soon began to move to surround me. Once in position their movements began to mirror each other and when they attacked, they all came at the same time and from every direction. I tried to block but my mace went through the one that was on my right as if he was not there. I felt the spike imbed itself into my shoulder. He left it in there, immobilizing my arm and I saw that the three shadowy men pull another out from their clothes. I had another long slash running down my arm from the knife but I did not even feel it because of the pain from the spike.

An intense golden pillar engulfed the man on the left and when it faded all three shadows were kneeling on the ground panting. I hissed in pain as I pulled the spike free but he was back on his feet and launching another attack before I could heal it. All three moved and when I blocked the left one, the mace once again went through as if he was not there and the new spike made itself comfortable in my right shoulder. The pain lanced through my arm and the "Mace" clattered to the floor as it was disabled.

I watched his health window as the pillar of light once again came. I heard him panting, "How can she still cast it?" as he once again fell to his knees. His health was blinking red and I doubted he could take another one before the ability to get up left him. I constricted my aura to increase the healing as I cast. I did not have time to remove the new spike and I felt my skin knitting around it. I knew it was now going to be hard and more painful to remove it but I saw my health increase and while my right arm hung limply, I could at least use the left one again.

"Your move." I said and the three kneeling men staggered back to their feet. I knew two were fake but it seemed that he could move to any of them without me noticing so picking the 'Real' one was tricky. If my perception was higher it would help discover things like the sounds of movement or shadows not lining up correctly but even with a perception of eleven I could not find anything off about them.

He began his attack and as two leapt toward me, the third one moved to the bed and plunged the knife through Amy's chest. He then gave it a vicious twist to make the wound bigger before pulling it back out. Amy had opened her eyes in shock but the liveliness within them faded away before she could even say anything.

The two that came at me faded away and the man rapidly sank into the shadow under the bed before I could do anything. I tugged at the spike in my shoulder but quickly thought better of it. My grip was awkward and it did not seem to want to come out without taking a piece of me with it.

*Quest Failure in 3 minutes* appeared in a pop-up window and then it began to count down. I let it get to two minutes before I used 'Death is a friend of mine' and I waited… and waited.

***

Outside the medical building groups of people were looking at the sky and pointing as the clouds moved and swirled and formed a circle. The circle, within the clouds, was a bright golden color as if a miniature sun had begun to take shape within the clouds. It pulsed, expanded and then a column of white light shot from it piercing the medical building and momentarily blinding those that were looking at it. Gasps and screams could be heard as some panicked at the blatant attack on where their wounded friends were taken.

***

It took almost a full minute before a white light filled the room, blinding me. When I could see again Amy was laying on the blood covered bed without any injury to be seen. Not exactly what I planned but at least I knew the ability worked and that it took a bit of time to cast. Although, I did notice the countdown timer stopped once I used it. The nice thing was nobody saw it and I still had a hidden ability to pull out in emergencies.

The quest timer restarted and I saw that I still had around fourteen hours left. So much for an easy quest. I had hoped to cheat a little. Now I had a spike stuck in my shoulder and a confused Amy to keep alive since I could not resurrect. It was going to be a long night.

***

"Madam Prescott, our investigations show that somebody switched the communication crystal we had given Amy. After that it seems she was given orders. The problem we face is that the crystal was then put back so when they traced it back it led to one of our operatives. We killed the operative but were unable to clean up afterward so we are unsure what clues remain behind." A servant finished his report with his head down. It was not a complete success and he was afraid.

He missed her hand movements and the anger that was in her eyes. Not that it would have mattered. He did not see the lightning that was coming at him as he began to speak again, "I have contracted assassins to deal with Amy and aaaah…"

"Remove his body and make sure it cannot be found. He was the last link connecting this mess to us as long as the assassins do their job. Send a few more assassins and make sure Amy is dead before she can be questioned. Oh and link the assassins to the Ardenbrooks. It will make it easier to absorb their businesses once they take the blame."

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