Chapter 12 - Unforeseen
I was awakened by sounds of people in a heated argument.
I groaned and climbed out of bed. It was 4am in the morning.
Who would still be fighting at this hour?
I kicked the door open, very much annoyed by the disturbance.
Land was sleeping outside on my lawn. He grunted at the noise and covered his ears with his huge paws.
“Do not lie to me! Where is the girl of fire?”
My heart skipped a beat and Land sprung to his feet. The rough voice had a different accent compared to ours, it only made me even more anxious than I already was.
It was almost impossible for anyone to know of Seraphina’s existence since the news have not reached the Sovereign yet.
At least, that’s what Shiki had said.
I heard Haliea laugh sarcastically.
“How nice of you to barge in in the middle of the night! Welcome to Gairon! Would you like a place to rest first? The barns would be a great choice for people like you who lack mannerism!”
Some villagers had gathered, mostly awakened by Haliea’s loud voice. The village chief staggered out of his hut, still half asleep.
The stranger was a lady, and she had a pack of men behind her that reeked of tobacco smoke. Most of them were heavily-built and I could see obvious scars across some of their faces. There were probably thieves, or maybe even assassins in the newcomer’s group. They were wearing worn-out leather and rough fabrics. They certainly did not look like they came from the luxurious Sovereign.
I let out a long breath of relief.
The look in their eyes showed that they have traveled a long way. The lack of energy was too obvious. Well, except for their leader, who still bustled with energy.
She had long light brown hair that was tied up in a neat bun, but her eyes were of a striking emerald green. She had pale ivory skin. Judging from this trait and her accent, she was probably not from the Fourth Region. None of the people here had such pale skin.
“Who are you, lady?” I heard the village chief ask, his voice gruff, also quite annoyed to have been awakened from his slumber.
“I am Pennilizia Vonbron. I am in search of the girl of fire, the bringer of the rebellion against the Sovereign,” the lady replied, her voice strong. She had a rough voice of a commander, not feminine at the least.
I swear I’ve heard that surname somewhere.
“What is a Vonbron doing here in the Fourth Region?” I heard Haliea ask.
The green-eyed lady grimaced at the mention of her heritage.
“Vonbron, one of the high houses of the Sovereign anarchy, yes? Such a pleasure to have you here in Gairon,” the tone of my village chief changed immediately to a more polite and careful one.
I froze. My relief evaporating instantly.
This girl is Sovereign-born.
If she really was one of the Sovereign, Gairon would most probably be in trouble since Haliea treated her that way. But since she’s the oracle, they’re probably not going to punish her for what she has done.
But that wasn’t the main problem right now.
How in the world did she get to know of Seraphina’s existence?
I heard Pennilizia sigh in exasperation. One of her men placed a firm arm on her shoulder and shook his head.
They do not sense the fire girl’s presence here.
“I am not here to hurt anyone,” Pennilizia’s voice grew gentler as she turned her gaze to the oracle. “I am not of the Sovereign.”
“Oh?” Haliea raised an eyebrow, sounding fairly suspicious.
The reason was obvious. Vonbron was one of the high houses in the Sovereign anarchy, which means they hold a seat in their alliance, thus they have a hand into the corruption. They were of the power of Earth, if I remember correctly.
“Tell me where the Eshban girl is and I’ll leave,” she said softly, her emerald green eyes shone pridefully.
Haliea’s eyes narrowed.
“Do you mean the Legend of the Eshban? I don’t think it’s true, my lady. You must have been mistake,” Sir Cradley said with a broad, toothless smile. Land sighed at the chief’s hopeless acting skills. The chief truly did not know anything about Seraphina since we have yet to tell him anything, but Haliea definitely knows everything.
Pennilizia stared straight at Haliea.
“My spirit weapon told me that the girl is in the Fourth Region. I want to find her, do you have any idea where she is? You are the oracle here aren’t you? You should have an answer to my question.”
If she owns a spirit weapon, she’s powerful.
“I have no means to answer your questions, girl. You should be the one answering mine.”
Pennilizia scowled. She was obviously not used to being talked to this way.
“If I answer your questions, will you tell me where she is?”
“Why do you want to find her?” Haliea’s eyes never left hers.
The girl hesitated. I could see her jaw tightening, but she finally gave in.
“My men and I seek to aid her, but I would like to meet her in person first.”
“I want to fight her and see if she’s stronger than me.”
“If she is? And if she’s not?”
“If she is, I will join her. If she’s not, I will kill her and prove myself worthy of overthrowing the Sovereign on my own.”
Haliea burst out laughing.
“You? To defeat the girl of fire? Who do you think you are?”
To my surprise, Pennilizia kept quiet.
Haliea shook her head and gestured to Cradley.
“Take them to the inn, let them rest, things are going to get pretty interesting tomorrow.”
The girl wanted to protest, but she glanced back at her men. She knew that they were tired from their journey, so she kept her mouth shut.
“You will get your answer tomorrow, girl. I advise you to rest first. You may not need it, but your men definitely do,” with that, Haliea turned and walked away.
Cradley chimed in quickly and gestured for a few of his men to lead Pennilizia’s group to the local inn.
Land bumped into my shoulder and I turned my attention to him.
“The girl isn’t lying, she’s not of the Sovereign.”
The city square slowly fell silent as the guests were led away.
“Vonbron is the High House of Earth among the anarchy of the Sovereign, but I do not sense any earthly powers within her.”
Land shook his head in disbelief.
“None at all.”
General Brentwood and I were summoned to Haliea’s place not long after the guests have settled in. Land tagged along as I jogged towards her hut.
Brentwood was already there waiting. He was slanting against Haliea’s gate with his arms crossed in front of him. The general eyed us with his dull grey eyes and nodded in greeting. He ran a hand through his graying blonde hair and raised an eyebrow.
“The Eshban girl is coming tomorrow isn’t she?”
I shrugged. Shiki never gave me an exact date on when they were coming back to Gairon.
“Haliea probably knows. Heh, even I’m looking forward to meeting her myself.”
“Everyone thinks fire is harmless until they get burnt,” Land grunted.
The wooden door swung open and Haliea gestured for us to enter.
Her place was messy, though she had made the effort to tidy up slightly. Books were littered all over the place with scrolls and tapestries that laid silently in the dust. The tainted, greying walls were no welcoming sight either.
Haliea had cleared a circle for us to sit. Like most oracles, she preferred to sit on the ground. Her crystal ball was placed in the middle with purple velvet lining its base. She sat down clumsily as Brentwood and I followed. Land poked his head through the door so he could listen. He was too large to fit into Haliea’s house.
Brentwood lit a cigarette and offered one to Haliea. She nodded gratefully as the general threw her the lighter.
“Pennilizia Vonbron, hailing from the Royal High House of Earth – Vonbron,” she started, keeping her voice low.
“She was born with no heritage powers. This was the reason why she was an outcast among her family as Sovereign children with no powers were looked down upon and were deemed useless. The amount of emotional stress she dealt with eventually drove her past her limits. Even though she tried her best, she crumbled in the end. She couldn't live up to the expectations of the Royal House she was born in. Her siblings outshone her in every way, and her parents never loved her.”
“One day during a family dinner, her parents criticized her again, nagging her and pushing her more on her disability. Saying that she was a disgrace, wondering why they bore her, why they even cared to take care of her,” Haliea shook her head sadly.
“The words they said were meant to hurt, and they did, like an arrow through her heart. She broke down, and her powers came to her at last. She awakened a new power, slaughtering a few of her siblings along with her mother and she ran away. She ran away into the shadows and started to mix with the assassins and merchants underground. She gathered her own followers in a short amount of time. Her goal is the same as ours,” Haliea eyed the both of us solemnly as she blew out smoke.
“She wants to get rid of the Sovereign, she wants revenge on her family.”
Smoke protruded from Brentwood’s nostrils slowly as he assessed the situation.
“So she wasn’t lying,” I asked softly.
Haliea shook her head.
“You said she awakened new powers? What element does she wield?” Land asked suddenly and Brentwood nodded. He had the same question in mind.
Haliea looked at us grimly.