Arc 2: Chapter 26: When A Dark Marble Got Darker

At the darkest hour of the night in the land of lords of the night, in a room built with thick walls and guarded with heavy security, a human was present, looking at the intel he had just received and pondering what to do with it.

Bronzer: “Oh boy!”

With a heavy sigh, he rubbed his eyes and handed the report back to the Vampire who had brought it to him and asked,

Bronzer: “Do you think these Vampires are incompetent in any way?”

Darcy: “I don’t. I think they are as good as any other unit of the Vampire Kingdom.”

She answered in a plain tone, giving her perfectly normal judgement of the abilities of the Vampires in question.

And so,

Bronzer: “And, even though they are just as good, they got owned by a teenage girl?”

The report Bronzer had been rubbing his eyes on said that a hideout of the Vampire Kingdom was infiltrated and something was stolen from there. Furthermore, the culprit was just one 15-year-old girl who seemed to be a Spirit-user.

While Bronzer was questioning what to do with the Vampires there who failed to do their job of protecting their hideout, he was also wondering about the prowess of this girl.

The reports said that three dozens of Vampires were severely injured in trying to capture her but none of them were capable of accomplishing anything. Not even a strand of hair on her body was scratched in this whole incident. 

After reading all this, it’s obvious that this girl is extremely gifted for a Spirit-user.

Bronzer: “What exactly did this girl steal anyway?”

Darcy: “About that, it doesn’t seem like she stole anything of much value. What she stole was a … I guess it can be considered the remains of a tiger.”

Remains of a tiger. In truth, it wasn’t even that. What she had stolen was just two canines of a dead tiger that were kept in that hideout and were being guarded.

Bronzer: “Why would anyone possibly want something like this? Or rather, why were they keeping and guarding such a thing anyway?”

Darcy: “Beats me. Will probably have to ask Valdis about it.”

“Show some respect!”

A man clad in a soldier’s uniform, who had only listened up until that point, said in a raised voice.

Darcy: “I called her by name. What more respect do you want from me, Reid?”

Reid: “The fact that you called her by name is a sign of disrespect! She’s the queen of-“

Bronzer: “Hey, you two! Can we do this some other time?”

Rather tired because of having gone for days without sleep, Bronzer tried to calm the two down. As such, both reluctantly stopped their bickering and came back to the topic.

Reid: “What do you want to do about this?”

Bronzer: “I would certainly like to meet this girl and try to bring her on our side. She seems pretty capable after all. But, before that, I would like for the queen to tell me why such a thing was being kept there like it’s something very precious.”

He says, leaning himself on a table.

Reid: “About that, I don’t think the queen had any idea about that. I think these remains were brought to that hideout and ordered to be guarded, it was on someone else’s orders.”

Bronzer: “Someone else, huh? If it’s not the queen, and it doesn’t seem to be you, it could only be one of the four generals, or …”

He trailed off, as he witnessed a particular ghost-psychic walking into the large room they were all in.

Reid: “Well, speak of the devil!”

Barry: “I thought you might need some assistance with that. Hence, I was already on my way.”

Bronzer smirked and asked,

Bronzer: “So, Barry, what are these teeth worth?”

Barry: “They belonged to a tiger that lived within supernatural environments. It’s worth nothing to us but a Spirit-user can use it to summon the spirit of that tiger. And well, there’s a high probability that the tiger will be a really powerful spirit.”

Barry answered them without flinching, knowing the thoughts that must have been going in Reid and Darcy’s heads, but only interested in seeing how Bronzer reacted.

Reid: “Why was such a thing sent there to be guarded?”

Bronzer couldn’t help but laugh somewhat as he heard that question.

Bronzer: “I can guess why. The whole purpose of trying to guard it was for it to be stolen by that girl.”

Darcy: “What?!”

Bronzer: “Ha! I bet you even yourself gave her the information that those teeth were being guarded there, didn’t you Barry?”

Barry only smiled and nodded, adding nothing but a single “indirectly though” to Bronzer’s assumptions.

Reid: “And~ what was the point of doing all that?”

Barry: “Well, I am pretty sure our strategist will be able to figure that out as well.”

Their eyes turned towards Bronzer, who casually smirked and said,

Bronzer: “Remember what Barry told us about there being a childhood friend of his ‘brother’. He had told us that the girl was a Spirit-user, hadn’t he? This girl and that girl – are probably the same person. And this man here did all that to let her have a freebie, essentially helping her get stronger.”

Darcy: “Seriously?”

Barry nodded and Darcy and Reid sighed as he did so.

Barry: “So well, you see, could you let this go? It’s not the fault of those Vampires that this thing got stolen. It was set up that way by me in the first place.”

Bronzer: “Sure, I can let it go. I couldn’t care less about a tiger’s teeth anyway. However,”

Looking Barry in the eye, the strategist asked,

Bronzer: “What are you trying to accomplish by helping her, Barry?”

As he was asked that, for just a moment, Barry’s facade faded and a weak, desperate and lonely smile creeped up on his face. What soon replaced that was a fake smirk, with which he answered,

Barry: “She’s a victim of him, just like me and my sister.”

Reid’s eyes widened upon hearing that. The only people he could surmise Barry and Valdis being victims of were the Vampires who attacked them and turned Valdis into a Vampire. 

After all, at the time, he had no idea that a particular ‘God’ was pulling the strings from behind.

*******************************

Having stolen a powerful tool that could help her bring an amazing Spirit in her arsenal, Sona was sighing with relief when she had found a good place to hide, to lay low for a while.

She didn’t have much time to celebrate but she could at least relax and rest for a little while. After all, the hotel she was staying at was considered a family hotel and was really packed, so there wasn’t a very high chance of a supernatural coming up to her and trying to kill her, something that may happen in less populated places.

Still, for a 15-year-old to be staying here all alone, there was only so far her lies could take her and she would have to leave before people start getting suspicious of her being a runaway.

Thinking that and placing herself on her bed, she looked at the two canines she had stolen. These canines could help her bring forth the Spirit that could possibly be stronger than any other Spirit she has and ever will have. Knowing that, she was quite happy.

However,

“Excuse me, ma’am?”

She then heard that voice through the intercom. It was a female employee of the hotel. Not answering would have led to suspicion rising so, pulling up her tired body, she pushed the buzzer on the intercom and asked,

Sona: “What is it?”

“There’s someone here, who’s asking for you.”

Taken aback by those words, she fell silent.

“Excuse me, is everything alright?”

Sona: “Y-yes. Are you sure that person is asking for me and you are not confusing me with someone else?”

“I’m afraid they are asking specifically for you.”

Sona: “… I see. I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Understood.”

With anxiety and fear grabbing her heart with its unpleasant hold, Sona gulped and brainstormed to figure out who it could be that was asking for her.

Sona: “Shit! I should have asked that employee to describe that guy.”

Having realized that she missed an opportunity there, she hits herself in the head and takes a deep sigh.

And then, she opens the door.

*******************************

Things don’t get much more surprising than a teenage Spirit-user easily defeating dozens of adult Vampires and getting away from them in the middle of a night. So, when something like this happens, anyone who knows about it would definitely want to learn more about this Spirit-user.

While that wasn’t her only purpose, that was definitely a big reason as to why Angela Holystone had come to meet Sona Pectus.

Seeing the teenage girl she had come to meet approaching her with clear caution and very calculated expressions, Angela smirked.

Angela: “So kid, who the hell are you?”

She asked, right off the bat, stupendifying Sona.

Sona: “T-the heck?! Shouldn’t you tell me who you are first?”

Angela: “Well, I’m not anyone particularly special. Okay well, that’s a lie. I’m pretty special. But, we are here to talk about you.”

Sona was at a loss for how to react as she listened to the woman ramble on.

Angela: “Anyway, do you steal for passion or is it like a job for you?”

Sona: “Slow down a bit, will you? What the hell are we even talking about here?”

With a big sigh, the woman looks at the kid with bored eyes as she is forced to leave the topic she is interested in.

Angela: “I seriously have to explain this shit? Hah! I guess it can’t be helped.”

Sona: “…?”

Angela: “I was, for a couple of weeks, spying on a particular hideout of the Vampire Kingdom. That is when you showed up out of nowhere and tried to steal something from them, did it successfully, beat them up and got away with it.”

Sona’s heart jumped with nervousness as she heard that and she prepared herself to summon a Spirit, thinking she might be attacked by the person in front of her.

Angela: “Relax, jeez! I am not gonna fight you in here with all these people around.”

She pointed at the crowd all around the table she had been sitting on the entire time. 

Angela: “Anyway, I saw it all. And I have to say, I am impressed. You are a really powerful kid, for a Spirit-user at least.”

Sona: “I see.”

Having finally understood who the woman is and how she knew Sona, she sighed.

Sona: “So, what do you want from me?”

The caution was still there but Angela could notice her dropping her fighting stance.

Angela: “Well, I just want to know if you will join up with me and do something bigger this time.”

Sona: “… Like what?”

Angela: “Oh, you know, a hideout isn’t that great of a feat. If you want to make a name for yourself, you have at least got to go destroy a battalion or two.”

Angela’s nonchalant tone made it seem that she was sure Sona wouldn’t refuse the offer to join. However,

Sona: “Tsk! I am not a petty thief. I had a reason for stealing from them and I will not put myself in needless risk by doing it again just for self-gratification.”

Angela: “Who said it’d be for self-gratification?”

Sona: “…?”

Sona looked at her with a questioning and intimidating glare but, Angela didn’t quite care and nonchalantly answered.

Angela: “Vermillion could accept you as an ally if you show them how great of an asset you can be. It will surely help with whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish here.”

Sona: “Uh … uh … but Vermillion is a-“

Taken aback by those words, wide-eyed and cautious, Sona struggled to form words to vocalise  her worries.

Angela: “Psychic organization?”

Knowing what her worries are though, and also because she was getting impatient, Angela helped her out.

Angela: “So what? I never said they would accept you as a member, only as an ally. I mean, there’s an Aural that completes missions for them when needed and gets huge amounts of payment in return. And~ I think she’s your age too. You could totally be like her.”

With no words to describe the confusion and confliction she was feeling, Sona just gawked at the woman in front of her for a good whole minute.

Angela: “So, wanna team up?”

Narrowing her eyes in suspicion, Sona tried to think of ways this woman could be deceiving her in. However, she couldn’t come up with anything solid.

And so, seeing the woman’s hand outstretched in front of her, Sona sighed.

Sona: “I guess, I could give it a try.”

And like that, her plans of summoning the Spirit she would later name ‘Death’ got delayed just a little bit.

*******************************

When Barry and Reid had left and Darcy was about to, Bronzer asked her for her opinion on the Spirit-user who Barry was trying to help.

Surprisingly enough, Darcy was expecting that question and answered immediately.

Darcy: “I think she’s clever, but also foolish. A person like her will self-destruct sooner or later, unless she has someone who she can completely trust and that person can make all the important decisions for her.”

Bronzer merely smiled as he heard that.

Bronzer: “I see. I can’t particularly disagree, not from a logical standpoint anyway.”

Darcy felt curious and inclined to ask what he meant exactly but instead, as she saw his tired face, she just asked one question that was the crux of all her worries.

Darcy: “Do you intend to make use of that girl?”

Bronzer: “Hmm?”

Darcy: “Do you think she could be useful to us in any way?”

Bronzer smirked and rephrased her question,

Bronzer: “You are asking if she is worth turning into a pawn for us?”

There was only one possible answer Bronzer could give to that statement.

Bronzer: “Yes. Yes, indeed, I think she would be a fabulous pawn for us.”

As if thinking about it re-energized him a little, Bronzer stood up with an excited smile.

Darcy: “Can I ask why you think that?”

Bronzer: “Well, there are various reasons. There’s the fact that she is genuinely powerful and as you mentioned, if there’s someone out there who is making her decisions for her, she could be an extremely valuable asset. There’s also the fact that she’s a victim of that asshole. But, more than anything else,”

He said with a dark glint in his eyes,

Bronzer: “Ethan doesn’t know about her.”

Darcy: “What? I mean, I guess that’s true but how’s that significant?”

Bronzer: “Oh, it’s very significant, Darcy.”

He turned to look at her as he explained,

Bronzer: “Ethan is trying to manipulate a lot of events and people in the world. But he can only manipulate those he knows of. He can’t manipulate someone like this girl, who he doesn’t know anything about.”

And THAT, the fact that he doesn’t know about someone who is deeply connected to Kais’ past, is a huge thing in Bronzer’s eyes.

Bronzer: “I don’t consider him smarter or more creative than me by any stretch of imagination. However, he definitely is someone that I can’t underestimate. Therefore, I would love to have some hidden cards to play against him when it does end up coming down to a showdown between us.”

His lips curled up in a smile, he said so.

Darcy: “From the way you are talking, you seem pretty convinced that you and Ethan will have to face each other some time in the future.”

Bronzer: “Well, he’s not someone who’ll join the Vampire Kingdom, and also not someone who’ll join The Dragon Alliance either. Still, he will be majorly involved in the war. And, I would at least have enough faith in him to say that he won’t be taken down by nobodies. There’s a pretty good chance things would come down to me and him someday.”

Darcy: “I … see.”

Bronzer: “Yes, and that is why that girl will be a very, very useful pawn.”

And hence, just like how Ozyllus and Abyss tried to turn Kais and Ethan into their biggest players in the game, Bronzer chose his own secret weapon.

The meeting of the three chosen freaks on a legendary and dying island was still 5 years away at this point.

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