Assassin's Pledge: Revolution

Caelen

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a part of Assassin's Pledge: Revolution, by KumoriRyuu.

The Town of Caelen

KumoriRyuu holds sovereignty over Caelen, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Setting

The Town of Caelen, at the "thumb" of Lemnia's Hand.

Caelen

The Town of Caelen

Minimap

Caelen is a part of Veilbrand.


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero

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Town of Caelen, Veilbrand

3 Days Later...


In the center of Veilbrand extended a long and spindly arm from the Central Mountain Range grasping for the center of the nation. The end of this range branched into five distinct “Fingers,” and thus this region became known as Lemnia’s Hand. And at the tip of her thumb rested a town known as Caelen.

Whispers in the underground were that the Revolution housed a safe house here, which made it a prime target for Egruus to attack. In fact, his forces were already on their way. 400 strong, and armed to the teeth, ready for war.

Kyero slowly entered the city, leaning on his walking stick sporting that limp (which he’d grown rather fond of in an odd way). Silence seemed to track him as he moved through the streets. Conversation halted as he grew closer, and resumed once he had passed. He could feel the eyes following him every step of the way. And even to Kyero this level of caution and wariness seemed excessive. Then again, the town was officially under attack. It just hadn’t arrived yet.

Kyero paused as he neared a fountain in what he presumed was the town’s central market space, and sat down on a bench. Taking a breath and listening carefully, he managed to pick out through the chatter around him that Egruus’ men were only two days away.

Not a lot of time at all, he thought.

Continuing his eavesdropping, he also heard from another conversation that local businesses were packing up and beginning to leave the town for the sake and safety of their businesses. Two days was a long time to go without income in a nation as impoverished as this one. But after hearing about what Egruus’ men did in Orktusk, Kyero couldn’t blame them. An unconfirmed rumor burnt a village and half its people to the ground. So what kind of horrors did they have planned for a town nearly eight times the size of Orktusk?

Kyero didn’t dare guess. But what he did dare was to call out to a group passing by.

”Hoi, there. May I inquire directions to the local pub? I’m rather parched after my recent journey.”

The group murmured amongst themselves a moment before one of them came forward.

“Hoi, stranger. The pub is down the main road to your left. But it might be closed, so don’t get your hopes up too high.”

”Many thanks. But if I may, what seems to be the big concern around here? Everyone seems worried about something.”

“You haven’t heard? Egruus has sent a four hundred man detachment to this town because of the rumors about the Revolution being here. Most of us are preparing to leave the city before they get here. Hence the warning about the pub.”

”Oh dear. That’s quite a shock. He’d attack this place over a rumor?”

“He’s attacked other locations for even less. Mae’da, Jilthran, and Atluum just to name a few cities were all attacked because they were close to where rumors of the Revolution’s presence were being spread. None of them ever confirmed either. He attacked just because.”

”Dear, oh dear. Sounds like he’s quite desperate to stop the Revolution.”

“Ha! He is. He’s a coward, and the Revolution, thanks to the Maiden leading them, has been kicking his arse all over Veiblrand for the last several years! One day soon we’ll all be free of him. But for now, we have to stay ahead of his rampage. So if you’ll excuse us, stranger. Good luck with the pub.”

Kyero waved to the group as they departed, and headed down the dirt road to the pub by listening for tells as to where he was by the way people spoke, how they walked, and what they were talking about. Finally, he stopped and asked a young man where the pub was, and was told he’d passed it about a block back. After receiving direction and guidance, Kyero made it to his destination and walked up to the door.

Knock, knock.

”Hello? Is anyone in there?”

Silence.

”Hoi, in there! I’ve got coin if you’ve time to sell a drink or two!”

Silence... Followed by the soft pitter patter of footsteps. The lock clicked and he was quickly ushered inside. Even with eyes closed and his bandanna covering them he could feel it had gotten much darker. All light sources had been extinguished, and it seemed like the windows had their blinds fully closed. That, or they had been boarded. One of the two.

“Hoi, there. What can I do ya fer stranger?”

Kyero leaned over the counter and slid a single Silver coin across the wooden surface.

”Ale, please.”

“Comin’ up. One sec, there.”

The pub master disappeared into the back room, and returned a minute later.

“There ye are.”

”My thanks.”

Kyero took the cup in hand and turned it around so the handle was facing the pub master, who arched an eyebrow. But as Kyero removed a Gold coin from a pouch at his waist, the pub master understood what was happening as Kyero set the coin down and kept it pressed under his fingertips.

”I don’t suppose the whispers of the Revolution’s presence here in Caelen are true, by chance?”

“Not that I’ve heard, there. Best I got fer ye is that rumors are all Egruus needs these days ta send his men a runnin’.”

The pub master reached for the coin, putting his fingertips on the exposed surface that Kyero left. But as he tried to slide it towards himself, the coin didn’t move.

”I heard a shift in your voice between the first phrase and the second. One was true. The other, a lie. For another Gold coin, tell me which was which.” He said, holding a second coin in his other hand up off the counter.

The pub master looked at all the windows and the door, making sure no shadows could be seen beneath it. He leaned in closer and tapped the back of Kyero’s shoulder to make him lean in closer as well.

“I told ya the truth when I said I rumors are all he needs.” He whispered.

Kyero slid the second coin on top of the first, but kept both pressed beneath his fingertips as he brought out a third coin, holding it aloft like before.

”Three if you tell me where I’m most likely to find information regarding where I can find the Revolution...” He leaned a bit closer, sliding the coin beneath his fingertips on the counter. ”And double it all... If you give me a name.”

The pub master gulped down a lump in his throat as a bead of sweat gently dripped down his temple. He looked at the gold under Kyero’s fingers, then to his own hand which was currently missing half a pinky. Memories of Egruus’ soldiers coming through and lopping it off after questioning him about this exact topic flashed through his mind before he swallowed again. Taking in a deep breath, he glanced to the drink Kyero had offered him.

“Illiaster San’Tor... That’s who ya wanna find. He wanders the North district during every day when there’s gonna be a full moon.” He said at last, grabbing the drink and chugging it as a smile slowly spread on Kyero’s lips.

”Why full moon nights?”

“Fuck if I know, lad. That’s all I got fer ya.”

Kyero slowly slid his fingers off the coins, allowing the pub master to take them. He then handed the man three more Gold coins from his pouch, all of which the pub master quickly pulled in. Checking their quality, he then shoved them into a small, personal safe box.

“Pleasure doin’ business with ya, lad. You watch yer back, ya hear me? It’s real easy ta lose coin in these parts these days.”

”I’ll keep that in mind.”

With that, Kyero left the pub in silence. Once outside, he stood in the middle of the street as he considered the man’s words.

The full moon isn’t for another six days...

Kyero turned his head slightly as a family passed by.

“Why are we moving, mommy?” A little girl asked.

“We’re just going on a little vacation to stay with mommy’s sister in the next town over, sweet heart.”

“But I didn’t get to grab my teddy bear!”

“I’m sorry, sweetie. I’ll buy a new one for you when we get there, okay?”

“No! I want my teddy bear!”

“I-ugh... Dear? Can you please?”

The husband picked her up.

“Come on now, kiddo. Behave yourself. It was just a bear, and we’ll get you a bigger one okay?”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

“Kay.”

Kyero took a deep breath as he flashed back to the conversation with Drake. He didn’t need to say anything, but the phrase “the things they did to them...” stuck out in Kyero’s mind as his hands gripped more tightly to his walking stick.

Not this time, Egruus. He thought as his lips tightened.

With a single stamp of the stick into the ground, Kyero set off down the main road leading out of the city.

”Four hundred against one...” He said with a confident smile. ”I like those odds.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero

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Town of Caelen, Veilbrand

Day of the Attack...


Scattered throughout the grasslands surrounding the town of Caelen were ruins of a much larger, ancient city. Sprouting from the dirt and grass, as if growing from the Earth itself, were numerous rises, pillars, partial remains of walls, even streets would occasionally dot the landscape, the longest of which stretched for a solid mile and a half before sinking beneath the Earth once again. Caelen’s forgotten city was a common tourist attraction, and was Caelen’s primary source of income throughout much of the Spring and Summer seasons when the grass was greenest and the skies bluest. But now, in fall, the grass was receding and the land growing harder and less forgiving on wary feet.

But where others saw beauty and tourist attractions, Kyero saw strategic opportunities. And having spent the last two days gathering materials and laying traps everywhere he could manage, he was well-prepared for this encounter.

His chosen perch while waiting for Egruus’ forces was the remains of an old bell tower, the tower of which was tilted almost twenty degrees off axis and also missing its bell. While it wouldn’t be ringing in the dawn or celebratory occasions ever again, it served as a perfect vantage point being nearly three stories tall. Boasting a photographic memory, Kyero had long since memorized the layout of the scattered ruins and the landscape, and had set dozens upon dozens of traps and small weapons caches to ensure his continued efficiency and tactical advantage.

It was going to be one versus four hundred... But it made him excited.

And at long last a long black line appeared on the horizon. Slowly, that line turned into an elongated rectangle which moved slowly across the land in his direction. Without being able to see them clearly, he guessed they were marching in eight rows of fifty which suited him just fine.

Kyero’s wardrobe had changed for this encounter as well, sporting an outfit near identical to the colorings of Egruus’ forces. Dark brown pants, black boots, a red long-sleeved tunic with black trim. The only thing it was really missing was Egruus’ insignia over the heart, but he could live without it. Insignia or no, the colors were close enough that in the chaos of what he had planned, it would take too long for them to realize the difference.

Time ticked by, and as they drew closer Kyero slowly slid down from the tower and used the scattered ruins as cover to sneak forward towards the furthest partial wall to hide behind. A trap waited between this one and the wall across from him some fifteen meters away. And it was almost assured that they would march directly through it. He just had to wait a little longer...

Twenty agonizing minutes later, the time had finally come. Kyero, crouched with his eyes closed and listening intently to the sounds of their marching, could practically see in his mind’s eye where they were at this very second.

Forty meters... He thought.

Their footsteps grew louder.

Thirty meters...

Louder still...

Twenty meters...

Even louder, and Kyero slowly drew two daggers from behind his back, each with a blade fourteen inches long made of a translucent green metal with a black, liquid-like core; the mythical metal known as Orichalcum.

Ten meters...

Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!

Kyero’s eyes snapped open as his head turned sharply to his right, catching the first wave of feet in his peripheral vision as the first of them triggered the snare by stepping on it. The finely adjusted and near-invisible wire spread low and through the grass instantly triggered the release of a small wooden pin attached to a device with a nozzle pointed at the oncoming forces at the edge of the ruined wall opposite Kyero. The device had two chambers, one on top and one on the bottom. The chamber on top held a flammable chemical which, when mixed with the chemicals in the lower chamber, produced an explosive flamethrower-like effect for about ten meters. When the pin was pulled, the chemicals in the top flooded the bottom chamber, almost instantly triggering the explosive fiery wave which rapidly overwhelmed the first marching line save for the last twelve or thirteen men. With just under forty men now on fire thanks to the flammable fabrics they wore, chaos had erupted throughout the force as they took up defensive positions and attempted to help their men put the fires out.

But this was only the beginning. At Kyero’s side was a wire attached to a makeshift lever which, once he pulled it, produced the same exact effect from an identical device planted in a bush towards the rear line’s position. The fiery wave engulfed about half of their ranks in the back, now creating fiery chaos on two fronts. With their attention split, Kyero took his opportunity to rush out from his position and carefully, but quickly, stab one of the men in the back where his armor was weakest. Because of the attention the fire had taken, nobody noticed this first death until it was already done. And Kyero’s wardrobe was providing the perfect cover as he took up a position near the one he’d killed and waited until another wandered just a little too close before slamming his dagger into the man’s back and rapidly pulling it free.

This strike, however, was not so lucky as to be invisible like his first. One of the man’s allies saw the blow and immediately shouted while pointing at Kyero and charging him with his sword drawn. Kyero had no choice but to retreat, and his withdrawal saw a wave of around ten men give chase as he dashed back towards the ruins while the rest remained in defensive positions and tried to put the fires out.

Rounding a corner of the nearest broken wall, Kyero flattened himself into a small hollowed crevice in the wall and watched as they ran past him in confusion.

“What the? Where the fuck did he go?!” One of them yelled.

Kyero watched carefully as they marched just a little further into the ruins before exiting his tiny chamber and following at a distance using the ruins as cover. They wandered in and out of the walls and broken buildings, checking every corner for signs of his presence.

“The fucker was wearing our colors! How’d he get our uniform!?”

“I dunno! Just keep lookin!”

They were close to another trap. Now, if they’d just... Dammit. They began moving the wrong direction. Kyero growled quietly and darted out from behind cover while smacking the blades of his daggers together to get their attention. They all spun around and immediately took their stances. That is, until, in the shadow of the clouds now passing overhead, they saw the glow from his eyes.

“Wh-wh-wh-what the fuck!?”

“It’s the Demon!”

Kyero smiled wickedly, opening his eyes wide as he flared his daggers out to each side and began stalking towards them. They all began backing up with weapons pointed at him, arguing amongst themselves as to who’d go first and become the “Demon Slayer!” Finally, their backs hit the walls behind them. And that was the moment he was waiting for. With a flick of his wrist, Kyero tossed one dagger into the air. Kneeling down, he grabbed a chain attached to the midsection of the wall and yanked it as hard as he could. The wall trembled before leaning towards them. And as they all looked back to see what had happened the wall fell on top of them, cutting off their screams as it hit the ground and shattered into numerous large chunks.

Kyero stood up, and caught his dagger with a single chuckle before walking away.

Back at the main force, nearly half those who caught on fire had perished. Their forces had been reduced from four hundred to three hundred and thirty seven, and Kyero had only just gotten started. The force had since marched further in, and several had been caught in traps Kyero had left behind. Four men got caught in traps which, when the sticks were disturbed from their pressurized resting places, triggered the release of carved darts which shot into their legs opening arteries. They’d be dead soon enough. Half a dozen were caught in a larger trap where, once the pressurized wire had been stepped on, released a trigger that sent a bucket of flammable liquids onto their uniforms.

All it would take to set them off would be a single spark, kind of like the one... That Kyero created a moment later when he lunged from behind the corner and slashed at nearest soldier who blocked with his shield. The scrape of the Orichalcum daggers against the metal of his shield created hundreds of sparks that instantly ignited the man’s uniform, and the heated air ignited the rest of them in turn when they got too close to try and help. Kyero turned the corner and left them to their fate.

Little by little Kyero’s traps, accompanied by his hit and run tactics, chipped away at their numbers. Within the hour he had thinned the herd to just over two hundred men.

However... Fatigue is a dangerous enemy in its own right.

Kyero’s hit and run tactics, the need to flee through the ruins while avoiding his own traps, and entering close combat with those who avoided them or fought through them, all took their toll on Kyero who had retreated to the bell tower to catch his breath. He was sweating, panting, and had to sheath one dagger due to its weight and having taken a slice to the arm when he failed to avoid a spear thrust from one of them. It was just a scratch, but sometimes that was all it took in the long-term, even for the most hardened veterans of combat, to cripple an entire exterior limb. If Kyero wasn’t careful, that’s what would happen to him.

Making his way up to the top of the tower, Kyero carefully crouched low and looked out across the ruins. A couple hundred dead bodies, and signs of his traps having gone off such as burnt grass, blood stains everywhere, acid burns in the dirt and stone, and ruins made... Well... All the more ruined than before.

Still, for having thinned the herd this much on his own, it wasn’t half bad. But, he was running out of time. His best traps for thinning larger numbers had been completely used up. Only small traps affecting individuals were left, and those only numbered in the double digits. With two hundred still left to go, Kyero was rapidly running out of options. There was no way he could fight that many on his own. He may have had a Demonic Spirit residing within his body. But he was still human in every sense of the word... Much as he liked it when people believed otherwise.

The enemy soldiers had bunched together for safety and moved as a single solid unit, back to back, weapons out. There was no approach. Kyero watched from the tower as they slowly advanced towards Caelen, barely visible over the hill beyond the ruins. Kyero checked his arm by rotating it in a circle, and was satisfied in its rotation. Sliding down from the tower, he stalked the group as they inched further and further towards the clearing leading to Caelen.

Then, the world went a little bit darker. Kyero looked up and saw the cloud cover growing thicker. And within minutes rain would begin to fall. And this gave Kyero an idea.

The men had almost cleared the ruins as the rain began falling.

“Tighten formation!”

They all huddled together a little more closely, weapons all still drawn and ready for combat.

And then, from behind the final wall between them and Caelen, Kyero slowly emerged, now dressed in his usual garb which consisted of a purely black ensemble and with both daggers drawn and held out at his sides.

“Hold!”

The mass of men stopped moving, pointing their weapons at Kyero who stood with his eyes closed.

“Are you responsible for all this?!”

Silence, but for the rainfall.

“Hmph! It doesn’t matter! Prepare to die!”

They all lowered their stances together and inched towards Kyero. And as a lightning bolt flashed through the skies accompanied by a loud thunderclap, Kyero’s eyes snapped open revealing a bright red glow which halted all two hundred of them in their tracks. And around Kyero’s body, a black aura began flaring to life whipping about him like a wicked inferno and obscuring his silhouette. The men all began shouting amongst themselves, some trying to make sense of this and others trying to give affirmations that it was going to be all right.

Kyero slowly began advancing on them, but the men all held firm. Step by step by step, Kyero advanced. And with each step his aura grew thicker and his eyes glowed brighter. Step by step by step, he continued his advance, and the men all began taking subtle steps backwards. And as they inched further back into the ruins, the memory of the traps began creeping in as men began looking around their environment trying to see if they’d catch fire like the others or suffer the darts and other mishaps which befell their comrades. Step by step by step, Kyero continued his ominous march with daggers drawn and his body all but completely hidden in the fiery black darkness of his aura save for the glow of his eyes, now little more than two glowing red spheres within.

Finally, as they backed up further, a few of them backed up against one of the ruined walls and couldn’t go anywhere as the others crammed up against them. The pressure spread all the way to the front line, until they all stopped... As did Kyero.

Standing in his flickering aura with only his glowing red eyes piercing the haze, one brave soul finally screamed out in challenge and rushed at Kyero with his spear pointed directly toward the middle of the darkness. The spear penetrated clean through, but struck nothing solid. An instant later a flash arced across the man’s neck, and a red line appeared before blood sprayed free from between the flesh of his head and shoulders before his head slowly fell off to one side to the ground below, followed by his decapitated body. Murmurs and fearful groans and whimpers filled the air, and Kyero’s eyes flashed as the black aura darted forward.

Every man for themselves.

The entire gaggle of two hundred men turned around and pushed each other out of the way to escape the oncoming wrath of the demonic being behind them. Several men were too late to escape, being cut down in short order by the two daggers hidden in darkness. But after the sixth man fell, Kyero stopped and watched as the rest fled into the ruins and the fields beyond.

The rain began to pour down even harder, and Kyero’s aura suddenly shattered and disappeared. His daggers dropped to the ground with blood from the blades staining the grass. Kyero dropped to his knees, right hand clutching his chest, as his eyes flickered violently like a dying candle flame before the glow vanished fully. Panting and wheezing, Kyero hunched forward before coughing up a small amount of blood which then proceeded to drip from the corner of his mouth. Wiping his lips, Kyero grabbed and sheathed his daggers before pushing himself to his feet.

”In retrospect... Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.” He said, coughing more blood into his sleeve.

Kyero’s arm felt like it was being removed, slowly, with a rusty bone saw. His chest felt like it had caved in. His heart rate was still through the roof. And his body ached everywhere.

”At least the town is safe... For now.”

And with that, Kyero disappeared into the heart of the ruins for a much-deserved rest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero

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Town of Caelen, Veilbrand

Four Days Later...


Caelen had become a ghost town on the day of the attack. But now that Egruus’ forces had been driven away it had returned to life. Those who evacuated had since returned and the streets were once again alive with activity. People were still wary and keeping their ear to the ground for any signs of a return force, but the general consensus was that his forces weren’t coming back.

The only problem was that Kyero’s presence had been revealed. News of the Red-Eyed Demon being responsible for the soldier’s retreat spread like wildfire. Rumors also began popping up everywhere about why the Demon would interfere. Some were beneficial for Kyero and the Revolution, some were not. The rumor which had him the most concerned, however, was that he acted in defense of the Revolution... That couldn’t be allowed to stand.

But before he could deal with that issue, he had to find Illiaster.

Having asked around in his blind man’s disguise, complete with the limp and walking stick, Kyero made his way to the region where the pub master said he could be found. Walking slowly through the streets, he asked as many people as he could about where he could find a man named Illiaster. But the search was not proving fruitful. After almost two hours of frustrating failure, Kyero sat down on a bench beside a blacksmith’s shop to rest his feet.

A few minutes later, as he was relaxing to the sounds of the town’s activities, he felt someone sit down next to him.

”Hoi there, stranger. Are you all right?”

It was a woman’s voice. Smooth. Silky. Just deep enough to convey her mid-30’s age, but just high enough to remain unquestionably feminine and filled with life.

”Hoi ma’am. Yes, I’m all right.”

”You seem tired. Might I invite you to grab a drink with me at the coffee shop? It’s just down the road.”

”My thanks, good woman. But I’m not really a fan of coffee.”

She chuckled warmly.

”Aww. Who doesn’t like coffee? Perhaps a cup of milk, then?”

”No, thank you. I’m not really thirsty.”

She placed a hand gently on the back of his own.

”Then might I tempt you with a more... private activity?” She whispered in his ear, using her other hand to gently stroke his chest, feeling his musculature.

”Um... No, thank you.”

”My, you’re a tough nut to crack.” She said calmly, gripping his hand more tightly. ”What can I offer to get you to come with me?” She asked, inching her lips close enough to brush the side of his face.

”I would really prefer to simply be left alone. But-”

Kyero thought a moment about her advances. The shift in tone and purpose...

”On second thought, there is something you can do to convince me.”

”Name it, stranger.” She said sensually, leaning up against him.

”I’m fond of feeling the wind against my face while on rooftops. You don’t happen to know of a rooftop we could retreat to, do you?”

”I, um... C-certainly. We can do that. Come. I know a place.”

Her stammer as she began speaking confirmed Kyero’s suspicions. The tone of her voice shifted from flirtatious to cautious in less than a second. But she recovered quickly. He had to give her that. Kyero mentally checked the daggers at his back, hidden beneath his cloak. No sense not being cautious himself, after all. He was playing the role of a blind man.

The woman led him for almost ten minutes before they entered a building and began ascending the staircase towards the back. Counting the steps, Kyero knew they had to be at least five floors up when she finally opened a door and invited him out onto the rooftop of their destination. As he felt the wind on his face, he removed the hook of his cloak while taking in a deep breath.

”My thanks for agreeing to my unreasonable request, good lady.”

”Not at all, good sir.”

”May I inquire as to why you requested we have privacy?”

”Um... Well, I-”

”It’s all right, Caitlin. You may leave now.” Came a deep, male voice from behind Kyero.

He heard her footsteps carefully move around him to the door. And as the door was shut Kyero turned around to face this new arrival.

”You’ve been asking around about me for some time. Such persistence is rare in these parts.” He said.

”so you’re Illiaster?”

”I could be.”

Cautious.

”I came here to lend aid to the Revolution.”

”Quite bold of you to speak of them so openly. You know what would happen if Egruus heard of you searching for them in a town like this, don’t you?”

”A repeat of the recent attempt, but with more men, no doubt.”

”Indeed. Do you think so little for the lives of the people who live here?”

”Not at all. But to find and potentially become of use to them, I must take risks. But given Egruus’ forces being defeated as they were, I felt now was the safest time to inquire before any travelers or wandering patrols move through the area and hear about my inquiries.”

”A dangerous presumption, don’t you think?”

”It was that, or risk never finding you.”

”A selfish gambit.”

”Perhaps. But my expertise is worth it.”

”Oh? An arrogant one as well, I see? And what makes you think even if I were with the Revolution, we’d have need or interest in one such as yourself?”

”Because the Revolution is comprised of average people. Not soldiers. The Maiden’s careful planning has minimized casualties. But the Revolution can have more than just caution on their side if you let me train them to fight.”

”You think you can take the Revolution’s forces to new combat heights on your own? Pfff. You’re even more arrogant than I thought.”

”Then send one of them at me, and see for yourself.”

”Pardon?”

”I can hear them shifting their weight from one leg to the other. You have three bodyguards standing behind you. Send the most skilled among them at me, no holding back.”

Kyero dropped the walking stick and took a stance.

”I’ll give him thirty seconds to try and land a blow.”

Silence was the reply, followed shortly after by an ocean of laughter.

”Very well! If only to indulge my own amusement, we’ll play your game.”

A snap of the fingers, and heavy boots thudded towards Kyero. A jacket was removed and tossed to the ground, and a stance was taken. Laughter and chuckling continued in the background as they criticized Kyero’s stance. Body tall, bladed sideways, one hand open and flat just above his chest, the other held out at waist level, palm down, and relaxed. A few shuffles of the feet, and the man lunged at Kyero with great speed belying his size.

However, all laughter came to a sudden end when the man was lifted into the air over Kyero’s head and thrown down hard onto his back. Stunned to silence, the onlookers observed as Kyero stood up and backed away to give him space.

“What the-...”

The man blinked several times and rubbed the back of his head as he stood up and faced Kyero, who was already back in his stance.

”You have twenty four seconds left.”

The man rushed again, but suddenly slid to a stop and lifted front leg aiming a kick at Kyero’s midsection. The instant the man’s boot came into contact against the side of Kyero’s hand, he instinctively pushed the foot out and away to the side causing the man to fall forward towards him. And with his other hand, Kyero reached out and planted an open palm strike into his jaw. The man tumbled backwards onto his rear and blinked as he rubbed where Kyero hit him.

”Eighteen seconds.”

The man got to his feet and growled furiously. Pride shaken. Kyero’s mouth curled into a smile as he heard the man draw a sword.

”Teagan! No! We didn’t agree to a weapon’s match!”

“I don’t care!!”

He screamed in rage as he lunged with the sword towards Kyero’s stomach. Kyero slid to the side and felt the sword brush past him, followed by the sensation of Teagan’s arm brushing against the fabric of Kyero’s shirt. In an instant, Kyero’s hands clamped down around the arm that brushed his clothing and twisted it violently to wrench the weapon out of Teagan’s hands before he pushed it up behind him back and kicked his left knee out, forcing him to the ground. Kyero then dropped back swiftly onto his own back, pushing Teagan to the left as his arm snaked around his neck and put him into a choke hold. With one arm pinned and the other unable to pry Kyero’s arm free, Teagan was helpless as time ran out and Kyero suddenly let him go.

Both men stood up, and Teagan grabbed his sword and prepared another attack before he was stopped by the other two.

”Enough! I’ve seen what I need to see.”

Teagan was forced to sheath his weapon and return to where he had stood before the challenge was issued as the last man approached Kyero.

”You’re blind, but you defeated one of my best with no effort... Who are you?”

”My name is Kyero. I am who I am. And that’s all anyone needs to know.”

”... That explanation will work for me. But it won’t work for my superiors... Come with me.”

”Who am I following?”

The man paused and shifted his wight.

”Illiaster San’Tor. One of two Intelligence Leads for the Revolution. And I won’t extend my invitation to follow again.”

With that, he opened the door and descended the steps with Kyero in tow and then followed by the three body guards.

I hope I can back up my mouth, Kyero thought.