Author’s note: Alright guys, I promised 5k words, and I’ll deliver tomorrow (or rather today, as it is 40 minutes after midnight). There’s just so much to write that I prefer shifting it over, rather than releasing super late.
Enjoy the read.
Inside the police precinct
Mrs. Brown: Are you really going to do this, honey?
Police chief: What choice do I have? Can’t you guess how encompassing this man’s power is? He has us cornered. Our bank accounts are frozen, we’re under scrutiny, not to mention he does even know where our secret locations are…
Mrs. Brown: But these terms…! Aren’t they excessive?!
Police chief: Listen up, dear. We have no choice. This man, supposedly called Jeremy Grand, it’s probably not even his real identity… he has us dancing to his tune, right in the palm of his hand. Whatever he says is like Decalogue. It doesn’t matter if we agree with them, we have to follow these instructions as if our lives depended on it!
Mrs. Brown: Nikolaj, you’re such a wuss today… I realize that making Henry switch schools is fine, but what about these next two?! Hell, even that “Make a statement confirming policemens’ training” is hard to swallow, but manageable. The third one though? Become his agent?! You don’t even know who it is…! We were not taught to be this weak, not in Russia…!
Police chief: And that’s why I’m in power, and you’re not. Because I have to make tough calls like this every single day! Do you really think I would just cower if I had even a tiny bit of chance of surviving?! All the people I asked, yet no one had known who this person is! Nobody knows who made the call to freeze our funds, but when they tried to lift it, there were so many errors, that they had to shut down their computers to avoid suspicions! This caused them to fear for their own lives! Do you get it now?! It’s not someone to be trifled with! Not with ours, nor with our backers, compared to him, miniscule power!
Mrs. Brown: You know what?! Even if we’re cornered, I would have never expected you to be such a little bitch!
Police chief: So why did you bring this note to me in the first place, hm?
Mrs. Brown: I-I was scared, okay?! It was my first reaction to follow this man’s instructions! I didn’t think back then and…!
Police chief: *sigh* You don’t understand, love. If I didn’t like that feistiness of yours, I wouldn’t have married you. These conditions are not something I’m willing to submit to either.
Mrs. Brown: Then why?! Why are you acting like such a wuss?!
Police chief: When I told this man to come and sit over here, even though he was after three whole days of starvation, dehydration, not to mention a state where he should be pissing himself, Jeremy, if that’s even his name, was still confident. He sat here, as if it was his place to begin with. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now I realize what he meant. People like US, with our backers, who hold sway over most of the politics, even some of the army, they can’t measure up to him! We’re like ants trying to overcome a hurdle of an elephant size!
Mrs. Brown: So what?! We can still escape, then find someplace else and settle there. I’m sure our backers will find different mission for us!
Police chief: Hahaha, I thought of this as well. After all, you’ve brought this note to me yesterday. But during today’s lovely morning, it dawned on me. While I and Jeremy had this little talk, he sat over there, across the desk. Do you know what rays is that lamp next to it emitting? UV, it’s an ultraviolet lamp!
Mrs. Brown: So? What of it?
Police chief: Now, please don’t be shocked.
Mrs. Brown: T-That’s?…! Why are there some symbols on this note…? “If you don’t follow my instructions, I’ll send you to a gulag in Siberia, along with your entire family, where you can experience your lovely, chilly climate. Best regards.” *tremble* H-How is this possible?! I saw him writing, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary!
Police chief: You should have realized it. There’s someone here, in this very department, that was ready to enter my office and write this down for him. Now, are you convinced that we should do exactly as he says?
Mrs. Brown: Y-Yes… But this list of companies, what does he want you to do with them…?
Police chief: I don’t know. Grand wants to either protect these companies or be in the loop if any dirt comes up on them. One thing is certain, I won’t investigate it. I may be reckless and brave, but I won’t unnecessarily court death. Not when my family’s future is at stake. Now, please excuse me, love, I have a public statement to make.
Inside Loiterous, Minaeryth Kingdom’s palace, Ryuse’s POV
My name is Ryuse. I’m responsible for intelligence gathering in Minaeryth Kingdom.
Currently the situation inside the palace, and thus the kingdom, is really tense.
After a letter from the princess arrived, the king, her father, has become very… vexed.
With the strained situation like that, everyone inside the palace can feel it.
King: Have you sent word like I told you to, Ryuse?
Ryuse: Yes, my lord. Our messenger should be arriving at the delivery point right about now.
King: Good, let me know when the reply comes.
Ryuse: Of course, my liege.
Rumors say that princess wants to rebel if her father doesn’t concede to her wishes.
However, what she wants, is to decrease the church’s power…
This puts her father in a really tough position.
I can only shake at the thought of what this kingdom will devolve into.
Base of the Holy Church, located north-west inside Minaeryth Kingdom, Noren’s POV
Cardinal Noren: … this is all, your holiness.
Phew, I managed to say it all.
Pope: Hmph, some heretic dares to use [Light’s baptism]? That [Light’s baptism]? Is that what you’re saying, Noren?!
Cardinal Noren: Y-Yes, your holiness. It seems it’s even stronger than the one we’re currently using…
Pope: Stronger, you say?! That’s impossible, we’re the only ones who inherited the relic…!
Messenger: Your holiness, we’ve received word from the king. Here’s the letter.
Pope: Thank you, you may leave… This seal, it is indeed from the ruler. Let’s see… WHAT?!
Why is the Pope so flustered…?
Cardinal Noren: What is it, your holiness?
Pope: According to the king, there’s one person responsible for his daughter’s “rebellion”. Coincidentally, it’s the same person you spoke of. If we are to believe what is said in this letter, he should be residing in the Zaryoux Temple, one of ours. For this matter, the king is willing to lend us his men. Hohoho, what a splendid occasion! Inform the orders! Gather the paladins and the priests immediately!
D-Does this mean…?
Cardinal Noren: Y-Your holiness, are we going to suppress this guy, Icicle Whitesnow?
Pope: Suppress him? Icicle Whitesnow is not from this world, that person is an adventurer! We have to catch him and lock him up, so that he can’t meddle with our affairs anymore! Now, send the words, there’s no time to waste! Also, for this crusade, you’ll be the one leading the men. Don’t disappoint me, Noren.
Cardinal: Y-Yes, your holiness!
To think that this reckless brat will let me become promoted…!
Allowing me to raise the ranks so quickly! What a joy!
I’ll have to thank Icicle after he’s caught!
Walking out of the headquarters, I merrily headed towards the messengers.
Lord Vilen’s residence, Loiterous. Icicle’s POV
Zetra: We’re here. Master.
Guard: If it isn’t lord Icicle Whitesnow. Come in, I’ll tell the lord you’ve come.
Haruno: Fufu, if our Master isn’t famous!
Vanessa: I didn’t know you were such a big fish either, Master~.
Great, now I have two teases with me.
Enjoying yourself, aren’t you?
Icicle: We had an… encounter. After that both me and lord Vilen decided to become friends. Nothing less, nothing more.
Vanessa: Encounter, you say… what kind of “encounter”?
Aren’t you a curious woman…
Icicle: It was an assassination attempt.
Vanessa: Who was the target?
What was I supposed to say… I kept my mouth shut.
Haruno: Some has tried to kill you and you have befriended him?!
Contrary to Haruno’s outrage, the other guard was shocked.
Vanessa: That’s not important, how did you even come out alive?!
Icicle: Oh that. I’m just a lucky person.
The two gave me a look, while the other guard just blankly stared.
I probably need to sound more convincing in the future…
Guard: Sir, you’ve been granted entrance. Please follow me.
Goodness gracious, good thing the first guard came back, these two were boring holes through me!
Arriving at Vilen’s “town hall”, as I like to call it, we were asked to take a sit in a guest room.
It was richly decorated, carpets adorned the walls, the floor was wooden, contrary to the expensive looking stone floor outside.
White crystal chandelier hung above the three of us, illuminating the room.
I assume that some servant, maybe a cute maid, has just made the bed, because the bed sheets emanated a smell of refreshing, highly invigorating forest air.
Three minutes of waiting, that’s how long it took for the esteemed lord to arrive…
During that time, the girls relentlessly stared at me, giving me the creeps.
*sigh* What did I do again…
Lord Vilen: Welcome, lord Icicle. How are you doing?
Icicle: Quite good, how are you?
Lord Vilen: Not so well, but let’s not discuss that. What did you come here for?
I didn’t even have the chance to reply…
Haruno: Are you the one who tried to assassinate Master, hm?
Both Vanessa and Haruno emitted killing aura.
What did this Assassins’ Guild do with those two beauties…
Dangerous people tend to cling to me like a barnacle.
That’s the fate of the ones in power, I guess…
Icicle: Vanessa, Haruno, that’s enough. Stop scaring lord Vilen, we’ve made amends long time ago.
Lord Vilen: Hmm, it seems your two lovely companions aren’t as girly as I thought they were…
Haruno: Did you just call us tomboys? Mom, I think this person has a death wish…
Vanessa: It certainly does seem so.
Lord Vilen: H-Hey, ladies, I was just joking! I didn’t even mean that, all I said is that you’re imposing! How about you c-calm down? Oi, Icicle, help me out here!
Icicle: No thanks, I know when to step down. Girls, do the honors.
Sounds of clawing and slapping emerged.
I presume that’s what people call “primordial instinct”.
You just return to your basics…
After all was said, or rather screamed, and done, Lord Vilen’s face looked ugly to behold.
There were slapping, as well as a lot of clawing markings, as if a cat pounced on him and didn’t want to let go.
Well, cat and his owner…
Lord Vilen: You didn’t even bother to get me out of their clutches…! What kind of a household leader are you?!
Icicle: Hmm? Indeed, these two are in my house, but why would I control them? They were slaves, sure, but Vanessa and Haruno were freed. Thus, I don’t understand what you might be implying.
That’s exactly what happens when you give people too much freedom…
Lord Vilen: Whatever. To the point, what did you come here for?
Icicle: Mm, remember that deal we’ve talked about? I originally wanted to initialize it after I’ve established few bases and such, but it seems I might need it now, along with your endorsement. Some Merchants are not willing to trade with “unknown persona”, but I need them to secure various goods.
Lord Vilen: Hooh? So, if I get it right, you’ve come here to lower your head and ask me for a favor?
Icicle: Lower my head? Hmph! No, I won’t kowtow to anyone. After some thought, maybe to a really pretty girl, but that’s purely because of my sex driv-… I mean, needs.
Once again, the girls eyed me.
*sigh* I really do feel like prey locked in on a crosshair of a hunter.
Lord Vilen: Hahaha! Just when I thought you’ve become soft, it seems that it’s just your demeanor that has calmed. Well then, as I promised, I’ll help you out, but what’s in it for me?
Someone has become a man during my absence… not giving out freebies anymore, eh?
Icicle: I can arrange for a once in a week shutdown of [Desolated Catacombs] for your soldiers. That includes both guilds as well. You can let your military practice there to their heart’s content. If you’re willing to set up caravans on your own, I’ll lower the taxes on these merchants. I do own the land around, after all. But, only if you agree to deliver the food to me. It’s hard to find anything as good as you’ve managed to arrange for me last time…
Lord Vilen: Yeah, yeah, but that’s for the town. What’s in it for ME?
Kekeke, you greedy bastard.
Icicle: That’s pretty simple. I won’t invade your Starting Area with my Undead Army. Sounds fair, doesn’t it?
Lord Vilen: Hmph, you must be joking! There’s no way undead can leave the premises of [Zaryoux Temple]!
Icicle: Didn’t you hear any rumors, especially from Raren City? It’s not that far from here…
Lord Vilen: What?! These undead riders, it was your doing?!
Icicle: My doing? Come on… I was only the leader…
Vanessa: We’ve heard some rumors about it too. So people weren’t making that up?
Lord Vilen: Buahahahaha! Now I know you’re definitely bluffing! Their leader was supposedly an undead, a lich!
Pulling out my [Halloween Lich Mask], I put it on.
Light enveloped my body, and *ta-dam*, we have the Lich ready to conquer the world.
Lord Vilen: T-This…!
Vanessa: Hmmm… you look… different.
Haruno: I like Master better in his normal attire. He’s not handsome right now…
Fufufu, so some girls can appreciate my beauty!
That’s so bad…
Mentally shaking my head, I returned to my usual calm behaviour.
Icicle: Convinced now, puny man? Kakakaka.
I love how my laugh changes, emitting these bone creaking sounds.
Lord Vilen: Enough, you can transform back. I understand and I will help you out, but! Give me 5% of the earnings!
Poor mask, didn’t get used much…
Icicle: Hmmm… how about 3%?
Lord Vilen: I require 5%! Not negotiable!
Icicle: If you agree to deliver this food of yours in the same quantity as last time, twice a month, of course, this time we will pay, but I expect some nice, juicy discount, then it’s okay. I’ll give you 5% of the profit. I do not need to tell you about setting up caravans, do I?
Lord Vilen: Of course not. Who do you think I am! I always keep my word! Alright then, let’s sign the deal.
Papers, papers… just like in the real world.
Whatever you sign can be used against you.
*sigh* I wish I could be a forger right now.
All of this wouldn’t matter, I could deceive anyone I wanted!
Lord Vilen: Alright, put your imprint on it, here, and we’re done.
Icicle; My imprint?
Lord Vilen: If it was a deal between houses, you would be required to use your household’s badge. But, since it is not, and is a private deal, between the two of us, all we need is your thumb’s imprint. The ink, is as you can imagine, your own blood. I don’t have to explain the imprint part, do I?
Icicle: Yeah, I get it. Someone with appropriate skills can confirm if it was me or not.
Lord Vilen: Exactly. Alright then. When should the first caravan arrive?
Icicle: Hmmm. Dungeon’s opening on the first of the month, so either one day earlier, or at dawn of a first day. I need to prepare a few things. There’s one thing that requires my immediate attention, food. Can you get at least some for the time being? Two weeks ahead of me and my familiars are veritable devourers… Whatever they have in sight, they’ll eat!
Lord Vilen: Sure, I can deliver you some.
Icicle: That’s awesome! I’ll come back tomorrow, in the evening, to pick it up.
Lord Vilen: Don’t forget the coins. I like their… shine.
… no comment.
I took the girls, who were clearly bored, and mounted Zetra.
Zetra: Where to now, Master?
Icicle: Get us into [Zaryoux Temple]. Then, after we eat, we’ll have to come back here, to the [Desolated Catacombs].
Zetra: Roger that, Master. Top speed to [Zaryoux Temple].
Damn, that overgrown crow must be hungry…
Twenty minutes, that’s how long it has taken us.
The girls were fast asleep.
What do I do with these two…
Slapping their pretty faces, I woke them up.
Icicle: Good evening. Had a quick nap?
Haruno: Mmm, what’s going on? *yawn*
Vanessa: Is this the place? It looks dirty. *stretch*
Icicle: Yup, your new “lodging”. Let’s get inside.
On a tree nearby Zaryoux Temple, Quan’s POV
Fufufu, look who it is, if it ain’t Clare’s brother!
I wonder what she’ll do to him after she learns that he’s bringing girls over instead of meeting with his lovely sister!
Zaryoux Temple, Icicle’s POV
Few steps inside, that’s how much it took for me to see one of the wraiths.
Aspena: Master, you’re here! Fufufu~. I missed you~!
Cold yet warm embrace… yup, that’s definitely Aspena.
Icicle: What are you doing here, you frivolous girl? Weren’t you supposed to scout and then join the cleaning team?
Aspena: Whaaat~~? That’s no fun! I was scouting, and I discovered a lot of things! Listen, listen~! There are three mines, something that I couldn’t recognize, and-
Icicle: Enough, enough. You’ll tell me in a second. Aspena, these are Haruno and Vanessa. They’re two of my first household members and will be here helping out with the “housekeeping”.
Aspena: Oh really? Hi~! Aren’t you two beautiful?
Haruno: Are you really a ghost, lady? You don’t seem like one.
Vanessa: It’s nice to meet you.
Aspena: What, are you afraid of a little ghost, young girl? Don’t worry, I won’t bite~. Unless Master tells me to, nee~, Master?
I seriously have too much women around me.
Can’t keep up. Simply can’t.
Icicle: You’ll have your girly chat later on. Let’s move on, I need to see the results of your work.
Dark corridors with brown walls, between which dust seeped through.
This place requires a make-over.
Making our way through the dungeon, we’ve arrived at the hidden entrance to the underground.
Now it was even darker, fortunately there was a lit torch up ahead.
Snatching it, our group of now 50, including the undead gathered along the way, moved towards the “Zexna’s living room”.
Icicle: Hello, hello, how are you faring, my favorite undead?
Zexna: Master, you’ve returned! What a joyous occasion! Tell everyone to come here!
Icicle: Wait up, there’s no need. I’m not here for long, there’re still some things I need to settle first. Hm-?!
The entire area looked squeaky clean.
White floors made of granite, the dark altar was cleaned up, holy one, I assume it was destroyed, not even a speck of dust left behind it.
Chandeliers, made of green, jade-like crystals adorned the ceiling, while the walls were almost translucent, yet iridescent, shining like a rainbow.
Overall the entire atmosphere here was magical.
Icicle: What the hell happened here?
Aspena: Hehe~. Are you surprised, Master? We’ve worked really hard to accomplish this!
Icicle: I see the crystal clean floor and all, but where the hell did you get these chandeliers and translucent walls?!
Aspena: We’re not sure either. Some blue windows popped up, telling us that our hard work pleases the gods or something and then some things, as you can see, changed!
Acquare: *Fufufu, do you like my design, kiddo? No need to thank me, it’s just a freebie. You had better remember your clever and pretty goddess’s kindness and benevolence.*
I can’t even argue against her, yet she forced a favor upon me.
Nice one, Acquare, you’re definitely craftier than Likaan.