CASeries #2: LEGEND
Chapter 2 ♕ Meeting the Brother of the King
Kelton’s Den was easy to find. People came and go. One could say there wasn’t a second that somebody did not go in or go out. The place was buzzing with people so it was noisy. The sound of constant chattering had reached their ears before they stepped foot in the building and greatly intensified when they neared the source.
“I don’t think it’s advisable if we all go in,” Rowe told them. “I’ll take a few of the Twelve and remain outside to secure the vicinity, just in case a certain somebody gets the idea of escaping. It also helps with the attention.”
“Good call,” the twins said. “But we wanna go inside!”
“Alright. Those who want to go inside then go, if you don’t, stay with me.”
“I’ll stay,” Aneeka said.
“Me too.” Elfre sighed, brushing back her coffee-brown hair.
“I am quite certain the sight of this pub’s interior will be too unsightly judging from its outward appearance. I will remain here and gaze at the beautiful evening sky,” Raziel told them—poetically, as usual.
“How about you, Valeriana?” Rowe offered.
“Well, I kinda wanna see what’s inside. Is it fine if I go?” she asked sheepishly.
“I’m still hungry, so maybe I’ll go!” Keelan exclaimed.
“Well, you guys suit yourself,” Aneeka stated.
And with that decided, the others entered Kelton’s Den.
“Sure is lively,” Tamara commented.
They were greeted by a cramped space filled with ruffian-looking and suspicious individuals chugging down bottomless mugs of alcohol. Laughter echoed in split second intervals, sometimes overlapping that the mutterings and casual conversations were obscure.
Corvan leaned to the side effortlessly just as a knife came whistling towards him, letting it strike the wall. Valeriana could hear the item vibrate as it got buried about an inch deep into the wood. She had to admit she didn’t like how it sounded—although Corvan did look cool.
She doubted she would be able to do that if it was her, though.
“Doesn’t this place seem a little bit too . . . dangerous?” she asked.
“Then go and stay outside with Rowe and the others if you’re hesitating,” said Corvan.
Valeriana shut her mouth, not wanting to leave. “I’ll just hide behind you.”
Genevieve patted her on the back. “You’ll get used to it soon enough. This won’t be the only time you’re going to be sent to do this kind of thing.”
“The heck do you mean?”
She didn’t get to hear the answer of Genevieve as the room suddenly went eerily quiet. All eyes turned to their direction, either questioning, suspicious, or curious.
The Twelve were anything but ordinary. They carried themselves with an air of intimidation, demanding attention everywhere they went. They were confident, somewhat threatening, and people knew they were not to be trifled with instinctively at first sight. Although they did act childishly and a bit inappropriate when not in public, they weren’t any less than what they seemed.
“Oho,” a voice cut through the silence. “My, my, what do we have here?”
A woman approached them, her fingers curved under her chin. Valeriana noticed the freckles that dusted her cheeks and nose along with the energetic fire that lit up her ash-colored eyes.
“Some pretty guests we have ‘ere.” She approached Zevlin and traced his neck with her sharp nails. “Tell me.” She grinned at Zevlin that hinted seductiveness. “What brought you here?”
“I think I should keep our business private,” he replied, leaning backwards.
“Oh, really? Won’t you tell me, please?”
Her nails dug into his skin, drawing blood. Valeriana wanted to go forward and tell the woman off, but Tamara held her back.
“Hey! Keep your hands off my brother!” Genevieve shrieked, running forward and shoving her off.
The woman took a fighting stance but Charles, who stood beside the first-ranker, swiftly dug out one of his knives hidden in one of his sleeves and held her at the tip without any second of hesitation. She stopped short instead.
“I may not be much skilled in handling knives, but I assure you I’m good enough to cut your neck,” he told her bluntly, his tone icy cold. “What is your purpose?”
Valeriana flinched. Charles kept his tone strict and polite most of the time, but he never sounded like this before—at least, he never used such tone.
“Save this for later,” Corvan said, sighing. “We have important business to attend to.” He made his way around the troublemaker and completely ignored her presence.
Charles hid the knife back in his sleeve. “As you wish.”
The woman made a noise of irritation in the back of her mouth. “Hey! You think you can turn your back on me after that?” she told him angrily. “Are you not aware of the policy that newcomers should receive a beating from me?”
“Ah, what the heck.” The eighth-ranker took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped away the trail of blood that made its way down his neck, ignoring the woman’s statement rudely.
Genevieve buzzed around him like a bee, scolding him like a mother. “Put some pressure on it so it’ll stop! Seriously, stupid! Let me do it instead. You don’t know anything about this sort of stuff, so hands off.” She slapped his hand away and gave him a shot of her healing power. There was a bright flash of blue, making him jump from the suddenness.
“Geez, can’t you be gentler when treating somebody?” Zevlin whined, raking his fingers through his dark red hair.
“Are you hearing me?!” the woman screamed.
Corvan huffed as he turned to face their challenger, seeing as she was already somewhat red from the humiliation. “We are not obligated to follow any policy,” he told her. “I don’t see why either of us should waste our time doing insignificant clashes that would hardly make anything worth of our stay here,” he said.
“What did you say?” The woman clenched her jaw as she watched the group walk past her and advance into the room. Valeriana felt hesitant to follow and debated whether she should apologize for the entire group’s behavior or remain quiet.
“Valeriana.” Brindon tugged her away. “Ignore her,” he advised.
“She’s one of the types who like getting involved in fights,” Keelan said. “We shouldn’t try to cause any trouble while we’re here.”
“Um . . . but she’s . . .”
The Twelve—eight really—kept their eyes forward.
They continued to ignore her which only fueled her rage.
“This is the first time I’ve seen Caoimhe look so angry,” a gruff voice said, not bothering to lower his voice as he talked to the man that sat next to him.
“You can say that again,” another replied.
Frustrated, the woman, whose name was apparently Caoimhe, brought a couple of pointed blades shaped like stars hidden somewhere underneath her clothes and threw it at each one of them.
Valeriana, feeling something coming for her, instinctively turned and caught the object before it even had the chance to bury itself in the skin of her back. She didn’t do it like a cool, experienced heroine would. Her hands shot out on their own as she saw the blade zooming straight for her—and a little bit clumsily too.
Shocked, she stared at the blade when it pierced the soft flesh of her palms with a gasp. It stuck out her flesh like a gruesome sculpture of some sort. Blood trickled to the floor, dropping in tiny rivulets with a soft plop. It stained the floor with a crimson shade, making her eyes go wide.
She turned to the Twelve to see that they all dodged the ones thrown at them expertly. It seemed they all went unharmed, save for herself. All eyes were on them once more—well, it wasn’t like those eyes left them in the first place.
“Hey! What’s the big idea?!” Tamara exclaimed.
“Goodness!” Genevieve said. She went over to Valeriana when she saw what happened. “Are you okay?”
“Well . . .” She looked at the blood welling up from her wound. “It’s not that serious. I got something worse before.”
Genevieve applied pressure on her wound like she did with Zevlin. Valeriana grimaced as she watched her comrade pull the blade out. “What’s with you and Zevlin getting injured all the time? You’re bleeding a lot, though,” she said.
“It’s really nothing. I managed to catch it in time,” she said. “Living in the academy does a lot of things to you. It’s scary.”
“Let’s just thank the gods that nothing worse happened. If you’re going to catch a blade, at least catch it between your fingers!” she said. “But this wound is pretty deep. You should be glad it didn’t go through.”
“Ah.” She hissed when her tender flesh was poked. “That’ll be yucky,” she commented.
She rolled her eyes. “That girl has the same temper as Courtney, don’t you think?” she asked, taking out something from her pocket and wrapping her hand with it.
Valeriana cringed as blood soaked through the thin layer of bandage Genevieve used to dress her wound with. “Yes . . . well . . . I guess so. Ouch! Ugh, I guess I really should’ve stayed behind with Rowe.”
“Just in case.” Genevieve paused and placed her palm over Valeriana’s wounded hand. “Let me heal you a bit.”
“I didn’t know you knew how to heal,” The fifth-ranker told the other girl, watching her hands glow. The girl was almost as good as Olivia. The only difference was the light she gave out. A soft shade of blue.
“If I knew you knew how to, then I would’ve gone to you instead of Olivia.”
“I’m not exactly good at controlling my healing abilities, to tell you honestly,” she said. “I can only do simple things. I can’t heal any major wounds.”
“I-I see . . .”
“Well, aside from Valeriana getting hurt, no one else sustained an injury,” Charles evaluated.
“How brazen,” Corvan’s voice sharply cut through the air. The first-ranker turned, flashing a pair of peeved eyes at Valeriana before turning to Caoimhe. His glower worsened, causing tension to rise within the room like crackling electricity. This time, all eyes literally turned to the guy and the room turned painfully quiet one could hear a pin drop.
“Do you think I will tolerate your impudence?” he asked her. “I’ll teach you what it’s like when you act out impertinently in my presence.”
“Well . . . this is entirely unusual,” Tamara said. “But heck yeah! A fight!”
“Hey, Corvan.” Keelan gulped. “Calm down, will you?”
“I do not prefer trouble.” Charles pushed his glasses up and sighed. “But if you are going to fight, Corvan, I want you to not to bring too much damage since this business brings a lot of revenue to the town.” He took out his notebook and started looking over god-knows-what. “Inflicting damages would cause the local government to support it re-establishment. The corresponding official organization would then have to take responsibility for it by releasing funds . . . but, then, I could always ask the Arlandian Legislature to take responsibility for their heir’s actions . . .” he ranted on and on before taking out a small pen and scribbling down notes. At that point, his voice toned down degrees that he was all but muttering to himself. “I could also throw in an additional twenty percent for damage penalties for defying the Supreme Continental Alliance Treaty . . . yes, that would garner about sixty percent more than the usual earnings this pub could acquire in two months. That would prove to be very beneficial to the Larkovian economy . . .” He closed his notebook after a while and hid it in one of his pockets. “All right Corvan, you can go ahead and go berserk as you wish.”
With that, the fourth-ranker gave a bone-chilling grin that screamed of his deviousness.
Valeriana frowned. “You’re going to leave it like that? You won’t try to do anything?”
“Well, it’s not like anyone wants to stop Corvan.” Tamara shrugged, hooking her arm around Charles and dragging him away. “Let’s get out of here.”
“The door.” Brindon did a one-eighty.
“Hey! You guys are forgetting what we’re here for!”
A man stood up from his seat in front of the bar and made his way to the scene. His chair scraped against the floor, causing a loud disturbance in the quiet room. “Ah, what a bother,” he complained under his breath. “Although I hated to leave my seat since somebody else would take it . . . and I waited a long time to find a vacant spot, too! I suppose I have no choice.” He yawned heavily.
His footsteps caught the attention of Valeriana, who looked his way curiously with confused eyes. He looked over the familiar face of the son of the Lord and Lady of Arlandia who bathed in fire. The flames crackled and licked around his body, filling the room with warmth. Still, no matter how wild the flames seemed, it never once seemed to harm him—or his clothes, for the matter.
“Alright,” he said. “Play time’s over,” he told them. “Children these days really have the tendency to get into a fight often. Such impatience.”
Charles frowned at his sudden interference while the others merely gaped at his audacity. The man then went over to the first-ranker, placed a hand on his shoulder, and smiled. The fire parted for his hands—which was enough to astound everyone. Corvan glared at him threateningly until he uttered words which made everyone gasp.
“What are you—”
“Nullieros,” he said.
The flames that burned around the young lord’s form immediately dissipated, sizzling as if water was splashed onto him. Corvan himself felt taken aback after having his own power negated unexpectedly that he staggered, feeling his strength suddenly drained from his body. Valeriana ran immediately to his side, catching him before he slumped and fell on the floor.
“Ah, god, you’re heavy,” the girl muttered, struggling to keep her back straight.
“I’ll help!” Keelan exclaimed, running forward and pulling on Corvan’s other arm.
“We’re making quite a scene here, people,” he told them, watching as Keelan effortlessly towed the first and fifth-ranker with him. “I think it’s better if we take this to another place.”
“You are . . .” Charles gaped for a few seconds before giving out a sigh. “And here I thought I could obtain quite a hefty sum of cash for the National Funds . . .”
“Really, Charles? Really?” Valeriana could not believe how cunning this man was.
The man began waving away glibly at the people. “I hope you enjoyed the show here, everyone! Courtesy of Kelton’s Den!”
“What?” Everyone gaped at him.
“Ah!” the guys laughed, their cups making loud thump. “So that’s what it was! Good for ya, Caoimhe! Ya’re a good actress! Me didn’t know ya knew how tah do sumthin’ else other than fightin’. Bwahahaha.”
Everyone went back to their businesses, letting the noisy chattering come back.
“Seriously, you kids.” The man sighed. “Can’t you do something without making a scene? The Celestial Twelve should be more discreet.”
“It’s inevitable,” Charles said, as he leaned over to bow. “But, let us pay our respects to His Highness—”
Charles was stopped short when a bread was shoved into his mouth, shutting him up completely. He looked up in shock, instantly taking the food out. The man chuckled at his dumbfounded expression and headed out for the door.
“I didn’t know they produced such good pastry . . .” the fourth muttered to himself, chewing on the small piece that he caught between his teeth. “Note to self—make sure to discover potential goods for mass production. I must speak with the baker. Lord Lienhard, I must know where you got this!”
“Don’t get yourself in a fight with these kids, you’ll only lose,” Lord Lienhard said to Caoimhe.
Those words seemed to have come as a shock for the girl as they all headed out of the tavern, gone as fast as they came.