Far to the west of the small village of Sosalk, Raiya, accompanied by the captain, sat in a decrepit bar. They were still in Rolar, the capital of Biarkh. The witch had to stay away from prying eyes and ears at all times. The captain had led her there in order to get the information she sought. It was also the only place that didn't have too many customers, during the day or at night.
"You say we're looking for someone with one eye, right?" the captain asked.
"Yes," Raiya answered. "I don't think he'll be in the city just yet, but he has a habit of making a name for himself. Wherever he goes, chaos follows."
"Well," the captain said, sipping from a cup covered in soot, "no one's heard of him."
"Has anyone heard of the Children of the Forest, or the tree people, or the Sebyan?"
"Too many names lady," the captain protested. "Do you expect me to remember them all?"
"I expect you to do what you promised," Raiya snapped at him. "You'll outlive your usefulness otherwise."
"By the G.o.ds lady!" the captain exclaimed. "Can't you just chill for a while? I'm doing the best I can here."
"I don't have time to 'chill'," Raiya said, imitating the man's nonchalant way of speaking. "You don't know what's at stake here."
"I know what they say about you," the captain said. "But relax, ain't no way that mad man would follow you here."
"Is that why you followed me?" Raiya said. "You think he won't know where to look?"
"This here's a large country," the captain said. "Even if he knew you were here, he won't know where to start."
"You only heard tales," Raiya said. "You don't really know what he's capable of, do you?"
"I hear even the king fears him," the captain said. "That means he's got connections, right? He could overthrow the man at the snap of a finger. That's what they say anyway."
Raiya scoffed. "I envy you," she said.
The captain chuckled. "What for?" he asked. "For my easy life? I can tell you, it's not as easy as it looks."
"You people love drinking and gossiping about others, but you don't know anything about their real powers," Raiya said. "If you knew, you wouldn't have accepted that sack of gold I gave you. You wouldn't accept a mountain of gold."
"That's a world we prefer not to meddle in," the captain said then took another sip from the soot covered cup. "I'd accept a mountain of gold. Who wouldn't?"
"Even if it costs your life immediately after?"
"The wife wants a big house, servants too. I'd die happily knowing she's got it all."
"Do you want to know what that man's capable of?" Raiya asked. "You may change your mind after that."
"I heard them all," the captain said dismissively. "The man can move mountains and break the sea in two, and so on and so forth… If you ask me, people are full of s.h.i.t. The man's got money. You can move mountains with money, simple."
"Then answer me this," the witch said. "Why are you following me? If you're not afraid of him, then there's something else at stake for you."
The captain took another sip from his cup. He glared at the floor silently, shifting his legs uncomfortably. Raiya tried to meet his eyes, but the captain didn't seem to notice her efforts. Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
"Who sent you after me?" she asked. "What did they offer you, money? Or did they offer you some estate? A t.i.tle perhaps?"
The captain let out an annoyed "Tsk!" He took another sip from his cup then started chuckling. "You're a sharp one, I gotta give you that."
"No one would stay around a woman who's targeted by a mad wizard," Raiya said. "Spill the beans. It might save your life."
"I'm not sure about the last part," the captain said.
"Then they have something of yours, don't they? What is it? Your wife? A child?"
"Both," the captain said then drank some more.
"I'm sorry to hear that," the witch said. "So his majesty's trying to backstab the mad wizard."
"It feels like he's backstabbing me instead," the captain bitterly commented.
"You're but a p.a.w.n," Raiya said. "Don't take it personally, but the higher ups don't even think of you as a human being."
"We're but means to an end," the captain said. "I know that. I just wish I were the one calling the shots. Doesn't it feel like life f.u.c.ks you the moment you're born?"
"It depends on how you take it," the witch said, chuckling. "You either take it like a good boy then complain, or you do something about it. Which one are you?"
"I ain't taking s.h.i.t," the captain said. "s.h.i.t finds its way to me. Do you think it's fair for a man to fight for his family's survival, then see them used against him?"
"No," Raiya said. "Life's never fair to anyone. Do you think the people wouldn't relish the opportunity to overthrow the current king? Do you think the king just sits there and lets things happen?
"It doesn't matter what your social status is. Everybody has a fight to win. What matters is what you do with your life. Your wife and kid are hostages, so what? People die every day. Do you think they'd leave you alone after you finish your mission? You're a threat to them now. You know too much."
"What're you getting at?" the captain asked. He was brooding now. His eyebrows furrowed. His jaw clenched, and his grip on the cup got so tight that his hands whitened, devoid of all blood.
"You've been used," Raiya said. "I have been used as well. I'm trying to fight back. I'm not siding with the king, nor am I siding with that mad man. The person I have to find is our key to solving this s.h.i.tty situation we're in. Help me find him, and you won't have to worry about your wife and kid any longer. We can turn things around."
"How?" the captain asked.
"Help me find him first," Raiya said. "Find a clue. The slightest rumor would do. Once you do that, I'll fill you in on the rest of my plan."
"How do I know you're not trying to f.u.c.k me like the others?" the captain asked.
"Didn't they ask you to deliver a message to me? In case I refused to cooperate?" Raiya asked.
"Matter of a fact, they did," the captain said. "They said to remind you of the deal you had with them. They said you'd know what it means."
To this, the witch growled.
"Let me ask you this," Raiya said. "What do you know of me? What kind of rumors have people spread about the evil witch?"
"People say all kinds of things," the captain said. "They say you were friends with some demon. They say you could rip a man's heart out of his chest and feed on it while it still beats."
"The feeding part's gross," Raiya said. "The rest is true though."
The captain emptied his cup then waved to the bartender for a refill.
"What do you mean true?"
"I made a pact with a demon some time ago," Raiya said. "The fiercest cat you can ever meet, loyal too. It's thanks to him that I earned the fame I have today."
"They also say you like women," the captain said with a wide smirk. "They say you lay with hundreds of them to please your demon consort."
"Now that's the kind of rumors I don't like," Raiya said, frowning.
"They also say demons don't form pacts with human unless they lay with them," the man added. "They say –"
"I suggest you stop talking about rumors," Raiya interrupted, "or you'll find yourself unable to speak at all." She waved at the bar tender and asked for a gla.s.s of wine.
"They only serve the s.h.i.ttiest wine here," the captain said.
"I was a spy," Raiya said. "Drinking all kinds of things was in my job description."
The bartender arrived with a gla.s.s of foul smelling wine for the lady and a cup of ale for the man. Once he left, Raiya turned to the captain. She sipped from her gla.s.s first. Her face contorted into an ugly grimace. The captain chuckled, but upon seeing the witch's glare, he snuffed his mocking sneer.
"Do you know what demons are good at?" she asked.
The captain shrugged. "Ripping people to shreds?"
"That, and empowering the ones they formed a pact with," Raiya said. "Even if you're a mediocre wizard, compel a demon to form a pact with you, and your power will rise. I was a great witch. With the help of my demon, I managed to repel an army of paladins from the Church. You don't hear that in the grapevine, do you?"
The captain shook his head.
"The church employs wyverns in their highly critical missions," Raiya said. "The last time I had to deal with them, they sent more than a dozen wyverns after me. With the help of Sisha, my demon, we managed to kill them all."
"Why are you telling me this?" the captain said. "Don't take it the wrong way, I enjoy hearing about your might and all, but I feel there's a reason behind all this."
Raiya took another sip from her gla.s.s and winced.
"The reason is simple," she said. "The demon that could kill more than a dozen wyverns got killed by the mad man you people like to joke about over drinks. The mad wizard almost killed a Pontiff the last time we fought the Church. Had it not been for a fortunate event, the Pontiff would have surely died. Do you think we can hide from him here? In this country? He can find a needle in a haystack, with his eyes closed."
"Are you saying we should hide?"
"I'm saying we should hurry," Raiya said. "Hiding won't save our lives. Ask about strange events that happened in the past week, or strange events happening now. Anything you can hear will be useful to us, even if you don't think it is. Just ask and tell me everything you hear."
"And you think we'll find that man you're looking for like that?"
"I'll go out for a while," Raiya said. "Alone!"
"You don't trust me?" the captain joked.
"I don't trust anybody in this G.o.d forsaken land," Raiya said. "But you have more to lose than to gain. You won't betray me since you need my help as much as I need yours. Ask around. I'll work my own magic too and find clues my way. We might end up with something worthwhile."