Arc 2: Chapter 31: Before The Battle 1

Kesley, a highly developed urban area most prominently known for the fact that Vermillion’s main base of operations is in it. It is the ‘business hub’, as some like you to call it, of the western-European nation known as Orland Union of States, or simply Orland Union.

That said though, while Kesley is certainly the most economically prosperous city in this relatively small but advanced nation, there are certain other cities that have quite a bit of fame as well.

One of them is the capital city, Ruri. While it’s known for many things even aside from the fact that it is the capital, what it is most prominent for in the supernatural world is the fact that Vampire Kingdom has set camp here. Bronzer, Reid and Darcy have been operating mainly from here for a while. However, now they have also been joined by the Four Great Generals and Valdis, including a lot of other important Generals in the Vampire Kingdom.

Ruri and Kesley are almost a 1000 kilometers away, with Ruri being at the north and Kesley being in the southern parts of Orland Union. A city that will almost form a right triangle with the two would be Frilis. 

Frilis is in the north-eastern parts of the nation, at a distance of 350 kilometers from Ruri and 1075 kilometers from Kesley. It isn’t exactly among the most prosperous of the cities in Orland Union but it is where Kais used to live, as well as where Julius Rome used to live.

The neighbouring city to that is a slightly better known city by the name of Gorto and it is the place Ethan Kales was given a house in by Abyss. Between Gorto and Frilis comes the lands where Halogen Dietrich’s church was in.

As of now, the third faction has taken Trisha, whose house was in a different but not very important city of Orland Union, to the most eastern borders of the nation, where the mountains are, where the Aural Groups live as monks. 

Basically, they are in the most eastern part of the nation, while the Phoenix and Vermillion’s base is in the southernmost part of the nation. At the same time, the Vampire Kingdom’s base is in the northern parts of the nation.

Who does that leave Gorto and Ethan’s house to? No one.

So, anyone could break into his house and search through all his belongings.

And that is exactly what the three Hellfires, Vaika Smith, Akio Miyamoto and Halogen Dietrich, are trying to do.

Akio: “Tell me again why we have to bother coming to this place.”

Standing in front of Ethan’s house, and with an exasperated sigh and a bored expression, he asks the other two.

Halogen: “Miyamoto-san, it’s because the man this is the abode of is highly likely to have connections with Abgere. We may a find a clue as to where Abgere is right now.”

Halogen replies with a smiling face, making a vein pop up on Akio’s forehead as he hears the ‘-san’ at the end of his name despite telling Halogen not to use it.

However,

Vaika: “This guy is good.”

Vaika says, rubbing sweat off his forehead.

Vaika: “I have been trying to open the lock on his door through telekinesis but it doesn’t seem like it’ll work. Breaking through force might be our only option.”

Akio: “Why not do it then?”

Vaika: “Right.”

Nodding once, he steps back and uses Aura Manipulation to charge up his fists, and after he has charged enough, he simply punches the door to break it open.

And it opens. However,

Halogen: “Oh my, what is that?!”

What comes in their sight is the scene of dozens of books stacked one upon the other and blocking the way in.

Akio: “Is that supposed to be a fortress or something? It’s pretty lame if that is the case.”

Vaika nods but then notices that the books kept there are all related to supernaturals. Titles like ‘The History of Vermillion’, ‘The Controversies of Vermillion’, ‘The Psychic Island: Truth or Myth’, etc are lined up at the top.

Noticing that, the other two grow cautious as well.

Halogen: “Well, well, it’s like he knew we were going to come here.”

Saying so, Halogen picks up the book closest to him, ‘The History of Vermillion’, and opens it with caution.

As he opens it though, there end up being no booby traps awaiting him inside the book and his caution almost goes to waste, almost. Instead of any traps there, he notices something else.

Halogen: “My ancestor, Jonas Dietrich, wrote this book. It is said to be the most accurate book to read if one wants to find out about the origins of Vermillion and how it developed itself so long ago, as well as how it sustained itself when the war between Ozyllus and Abyss was going on.”

Akio: “Yes, we know all that. What about it?”

Halogen: “Well, looks like someone thinks it’s NOT that accurate.”

With a disgruntled expression, the fake priest shows the book to the other two. For anyone who likes to keep things as clean or untouched as possible, seeing this book would be a nightmare come to life.

Not only is every single paragraph marked with an ugly marker pen, and not only are countless lines labelled as ‘lies’, but the very book itself at its index page has a bookmark with ‘INACCURATE AND PURPOSEFULLY DECEPTIVE’ written on top of it.

Vaika: “This was done by Ethan Kales, huh?”

Akio: “Doesn’t seem like anyone else could have done it.”

Vaika, putting his hand on his chin, smiles and wonders, leaving the other two guessing for what is going on in his head.

Halogen: “Mr. Smith, while I love enigmas and people keeping secrets from one another, now may not be the best time to do that.”

With a conflicted tone and genuinely disgusted voice, Halogen Dietrich says as he puts the book back and picks up another one. This time it is ‘The Psychic Island: Truth or Myth’. Just like before though, this is marked countless times and the index page has a bookmark saying ‘BULLSHIT AND OVER EXAGGERATED’.

Vaika: “Analyze these markings and tell me, how long ago do you think they were made?”

He asks of the other two, who do as he says.

Akio: “It seems these markings were made a few years ago, about four to five years ago.”

Akio gives the results of his analysis, only to then realize what Vaika is getting at.

Vaika: “He made these markings, labelling things as ‘inaccurate’ and ‘deceptive’ before he even went to the Psychic Island, before the war even started, before The Dragon Alliance even existed.”

Akio: “…!”

Halogen: “…!”

Vaika: “This man has known about the inaccuracy of these scriptures for so long now. It’s like some outside force helped him in finding all this out.”

Being the upper echelon of Vermillion, the three know about the lies in the written history. So, unlike anyone else who would just call Ethan a Satanist for dismissing all of their ancestor’s great deeds as lies, the three of them know that he is someone who has known about far too much for too long.

There was no way he could have done all this if he had never met Abyss. And while the fact that he was helped by Abyss is still not known to everyone, the fact that he was helped by someone is obvious for the three Hellfires to see.

Realizing everything, Akio sighs and says,

Akio: “Let’s go and search the rest of the place.”

Halogen puts the book back, scouring the place with narrowed eyes while Vaika steps forward and heads into other rooms to search.

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“And so, Vermillion’s Hellfires are busy dealing with Abgere. The Phoenix sent an envoy just to assure you that he will help you in the war but as it was decided before, the Ghost Nation will be the ones fighting.”

Says the Volcano as he bows to The Reaper, delivering him the Phoenix’s envoy.

Grisham: “That man never ceases to intrigue me with his actions. Regardless, for the time being, I will have to keep my curiosity to myself and focus on the war.”

He says as he asks the envoy to leave the parliamentary room and turns towards his board of ministers, a body made up of 8 highly skilled Ghosts who assist The Reaper in any way he would need assistance. He asks them,

Grisham: “How are the masses taking the fact that the war is approaching?”

One of his ministers steps forward and answers him,

Minister: “They are taking it fairly well. There is certain anxiety growing within the masses but they seem to have built a good amount of faith in the Spectres and most do believe wholeheartedly that we would easily win in the war.”

As he hears, The Reaper clicks his tongue.

Grisham: “That still sounds like the situation is worse than what we expected it to be.”

Minister: “Yes, I am afraid the name of Bronzer, the strategist of the Vampire Kingdom, has reached a few ears and some Ghosts are starting to feel intimidated by all the hype surrounding his name.”

Grisham: “Tsk! That guy again! Did Walter go around telling people about his ‘meeting’ with Bronzer or something?”

Irritatedly, Grisham asks so.

Minister: “Pardon me, sire, but if that would have happened, the situation would have been much worse. The reason his name has reached so many people seems to be because of the fact that the upper echelon of the Vampire Kingdom has given him full reins to do anything he wants, placing all their trust in him. People are starting to take that as a sign of how terrifying that man can be.”

Grisham: “Hah!”

Sighing, Grisham says,

Grisham: “If only they knew how much of a difference there really is when it comes to the Spectres’ fighting ability and the Vampire Kingdom’s fighting ability, they would realize that placing all the trust in that one man is not a sign of that man’s ability but that of the Vampire Kingdom’s desperation.”

Minister: “Yes, sire, that may be so but you had chosen to not disclose too much information about these matters as thoughts related to war may corrupt their hue and decrease their chances of becoming Angels.”

Grisham: “Yes, yes, I know.”

Still troubled but realizing that there is no way around that problem, he says,

Grisham: “Do what you can to lessen their anxiety.”

The minister bows and backs off to where he was originally standing. Grisham then calls forth not another one of his ministers but a different Ghost.

Grisham: “Spectre Dyne, please step forward!”

Dyne, who had only been listening from the sidelines up until then, steps forward and bows down to The Reaper.

Grisham: “I have a mission for the Spectres.”

Dyne stays quiet with his head bowed, asking Grisham to continue.

Grisham: “You will need to take all the Spectres aside from the ones assigned to guarding our nation on this mission.”

Dyne still stays quiet.

Grisham: “Half of you will go to Kesley and meet with the Phoenix. There, you are to confront him about the few soldiers he promised he’d send us. The other half will go to whatever holes the Dragons have holed themselves in and ask them to come to the Ghost Nation as well.”

And the Spectre still stays quiet.

Grisham: “The objective of your mission basically is to bring all the direct help we were promised so that the Ghosts who are getting anxious right now can ease their minds upon seeing an even stronger force than what we have now.”

And still, Spectre Dyne does not speak. Slightly troubled by this, Grisham asks,

Grisham: “Is there a reason you are so quiet, Dyne?”

Hearing the question directed at him, the Spectre pulls up his head to look directly at The Reaper as he answers.

Dyne: “If you send us there right now, you realize what could happen, don’t you?”

Grisham sighs,

Grisham: “Things could go awry and the Vampire Kingdom could use the chance to strike.”

Dyne: “It will basically be the first big battle in the war that everyone’s going so crazy about.”

Grisham: “Hah! Certainly a large possibility, but why else do you think I am asking you to take all the Spectres that you can.”

Dyne: “So, knowing that it might be a trap, you are sending your men down there regardless?”

Grisham: “Ha!”

With a mocking gesture, Grisham corrects Dyne’s words,

Grisham: “Knowing that it might be a trap, I am sending my men who are capable enough to break through the trap and finish this all right then and there.”

Dyne, merely sighing with no emotions, says,

Dyne: “I see. We will set off as soon as we can.”

Grisham nods with a smirk.

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

Having searched the entire house, the three Hellfires meet back up at the entrance.

Vaika: “Did anyone find anything useful?”

Akio: “If useful means a bunch of things that show that Ethan knew we will be here and him flexing on us because of that, then yeah.”

Vaika: “Hah! I see. What about you, Halogen?”

Halogen just shakes his head in denial with a pained smile on his face.

The three Hellfires had only found books with markings on them, directions written on walls that led to nowhere, paintings hung on walls that meant nothing and kept confusing them, and such things. In other words, they had only found things that mocked them. There was not a single clue as to where Ethan and the rest had gone or any shred of information on Abgere.

Akio: “If this keeps on, Laurie, Chang and Ross are gonna find him before we do.”

Vaika: “If this man keeps mocking us as he has through everything in this house, those three reaching there before us will be the least of our worries.”

Knowing that the three of them are more powerful than the other three Hellfires who are on the job, losing to them and having to acknowledge those three as the Phoenix would be humiliating enough. But, if things continue to go on as they have, even if they win this little race and become Phoenix themselves, Ethan would have mocked them enough to turn them into jokes that no one in Vermillion would actually respect.

It’s safe to say that things aren’t going well for the three of them.

Halogen: “So, what do you two think we should do now?”

Akio: “I don’t know, find a Seer or something?”

Vaika: “I wish I knew a Seer too but that’s too unrealistic. Finding seers is basically equivalent to scouring the entire Earth. If you don’t know a Seer, never rely on luck or something else hoping to find one when you need to.”

Akio: “Yeah, yeah, I know.”

Tired from dealing with constant mocking by a man who isn’t even there, Akio stretched his arms and legs and asks Halogen,

Akio: “You are good at asshole-y stuff, right? What do you think we should do?”

Halogen awkwardly smiles and answers,

Halogen: “Well, if nothing else works, use the very fact that we are Psychics.”

Akio: “…?”

Vaika: “…?”

Halogen: “Our intuition is superior to any other species. We could just follow the path that we feel is right and it could definitely lead us to the place we want to go.”

The other two sigh.

Akio: “Sure, that’s an option. But we are competing with other Psychics with the same level of intuition as us. You really think we can win if we let our intuitions fight it out?”

Halogen: “That will be dependent on our luck.”

With a smile, the priest says so. And while the uncertainty with this method is obvious, left without any leads, this does seem to be the best thing to rely on for the three of them.

As such, they all collectively and at the same time, sigh in exasperation.

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