Chapter 17 - Delta
I fell in and out of sleep constantly on Shiki’s back as he galloped towards Delta.
I blushed as my thoughts lingered to last night but I quickly chased them away.
“The Sovereign officers are leaving for Ewanna, the capital of the Fourth Region. It’s best that we go the other way. Delta is the best choice in our current plan, so we better get going,” Shiki had said hours ago.
“But why the rush?”
“I don’t want to risk that Daryan general finding out about you, so the further we are away from them, the better.”
Pennilizia and her men stayed behind with Haliea. It was too much of a hassle to travel together, and Shiki said it would attract too much attention.
Delta’s alliance is still going to depend on just us two.
Deep down, I hoped that I wouldn’t get myself into another duel. I was exhausted, and I needed rest.
Shiki had said that the distance of Delta from Gairon was too large, he offered to travel through the night but I insisted against it. I ogled at him, knowing that he didn’t get as much sleep as I did last night.
“Sleep while you can, Seraphina,” Shiki’s voice pulled me back to reality.
“I want to sleep with you,” I answered sleepily, my mind still out of focus.
I only noticed how wrong it sounded after it came out of my mouth.
“I’m sorry?” Shiki asked amusingly.
“Forget about that, I didn’t mean it that way!” I huffed as he chuckled.
“I’ll stop for a rest in around an hour, we’ll need to find a place to rest for the night. We should reach Delta tomorrow morning,” he said, explaining tomorrow’s schedule to me.
I simply nodded, and continued dozing off his back. I drifted away into my sleep in a lake of mist, letting everything fade away for just a few hours won’t hurt.
The next thing I felt was Shiki licking the side of my face, nudging me awake.
“Come, I’ve laid out our camp site, rest here, it’ll be more comfortable.”
I grumbled as I rolled off his back.
I could barely see anything in the dark, so I forced myself awake to scan our surroundings. The wind was just nice, the trees weren’t as tall as in Oakwood, their shades giving us enough secrecy. The ground was a little muddy, and I knew we were reaching Delta soon.
“You start the fire,” Shiki said softly. “A small one,” he added, just in case.
With a snap of my fingers, the dry leaves and sticks in front of me burst into flames.
I rested my back against a large tree trunk and glanced up to the night sky.
It was a beautiful night with the moon hanging above us, shining serenely.
Shiki came to my side, and I made way for him. He circled me before he settled down. Resting his head above his paws, his bushy tail pushed me closer to him.
I smiled at the memory.
“Sleep, Seraphina,” his voice was gentle.
Surrounded by his warmth, I drifted again into deep sleep.
She was dead tired, but I had to wake her up, it was morning already, and we had to go on our way.
I stared at Seraphina, who was rubbing her eyes, with her lips in a small pout. Her reserved demeanor gone, replaced by a more relaxed aura.
To think that I claimed this strong, beautiful woman that night made me grin like a stupid child. I would love to go through all the minor details of that night again in my mind, but it would put me in an inappropriate mood, so I’ll leave it until next time.
I shook the dust off me and nudged our bag towards her, gesturing for her to change. I turned away as she fumbled through the bag, giving her the privacy she needs.
Taking a deep breath, I cleared my mind, and readied myself for the day to come. I could smell the sea breeze already, if I went at full speed we should reach in an hour or more. The problem was that I have zero contacts at Delta. The village of Delta is a conservative village that dealt with most of the Fourth Region’s imports and exports to the Third Region as they were located at the southwest, near the sea. Ewanna which was located at the north dealt with the Second Region’s trading.
Even though both locations dealt with trade, Delta is much safer compared to Ewanna. In every region, the Sovereign would place a High House in charge, and they normally settle in the region’s capital city, which in our case – Ewanna.
The High House in charge of the Fourth Region is the High House of Aeolus, mages of air. Air is one of the hardest elements to deal with. The element itself was a full package of speed, agility and strength, thus it is considered as one of the hardest elements to fight against.
But of course, with the Sovereign’s corruption, their mages should be indulging themselves in their own pleasures. Even with a powerful element by your side, without training, the powers are deemed useless.
Seraphina walked up to me, carrying the bag and our belongings. She wore her usual favorite, white top, trousers and riding boots. Her scarlet eyes were focused now, her fiery aura kept in check by the contractual ring on her hand.
I bolted off once she settled firmly on my back. We had no time to waste.
After around half an hour, the ground got muddier. I frowned, we’ll need to switch to the main route at this point. I might be too close to the marsh and I didn’t want to risk stepping into quicksand.
I trotted slightly towards my right, my eyes on the ground, looking for traces of the main road. It wasn’t too hard to find since Delta transports a fairly large amount of heavy goods on carts, thus the road was well-worn and easy to spot.
Hellhounds don’t usually travel in broad daylight, I would attract too much attention. I’ll have to change forms before continuing.
I slowed down and stopped behind a large tree.
“Seraphina, I’ll need to change, we’ll need to walk to Delta from here,” I said softly, looking back at her.
She stared at me for a moment, taking a moment to understand why I wanted to transform, and proceeded to clamber off me. She went to the opposite side of the tree to give me my privacy.
I flipped the bag open and found the relic quickly.
I closed my eyes as the magic surged through me. It didn’t feel that bad now as I was getting used to it.
I quickly pull on my clothing and went back to Seraphina.
I took her hand in mine without hesitation, and she looked up at me surprised.
I stared at her solemnly, not knowing why she was that surprised.
A broad smile lit up her face slowly, like the sun dawning on the mountains. It was infectious, and I found myself grinning back at her.
“What is it?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
She shook her head and started walking to the main road. There was usual traffic, carts and farmers walking to-and-fro, going on with their daily work.
I stole a glance at Seraphina, taking in her auburn hair and her dark scarlet eyes. With her by my side, holding my hand, it was as if we were a normal couple, living a normal life. But I knew it was far from over. We had a long way to go.
Suddenly, the familiar pull of my darkness clawed at me from within.
I turned my attention to them immediately, knowing they had important information for me.
Delta’s oracle, you’re going to meet him shortly, he’s coming your way.
“Him?” I replied silently in my mind.
Yes, his name is Biford. Powers of Earth, normal manipulator.
I nudged Seraphina softly and told her the news.
I could see her eyes narrowing as she straightened her shoulders.
By the looks of it, Delta is going to pledge. You won’t even need to reach the village. The oracle has already made up his mind. Helia was the one that notified him, she knew you guys were heading to Delta.
“As expected from the all-seeing witch.”
Helia also asked to pass a message, it is something similar to what Haliea had said. She asks Seraphina to head to the Second Region as soon as possible, her next calling is there.
I frowned. Both the oracles said the same thing, but both of their indications were blurry. What are we supposed to do there and who are we supposed to meet there? We had no answers to these questions.
I wasn’t the type of person to act without a clear planning. One wrong step and the Sovereign is going to be hot on our tracks.
I felt Seraphina pull at my jacket and I turned to her. She gestured to the front with her chin, her eyes shining knowingly.
As expected, the oracle of Delta was heading our way. He was wearing a white-collared shirt with a leather vest and slacks. He had a cowboy hat that covered most of his eyes, and he was moving knowingly towards us. He blended in completely with his surroundings and with his concealed presence, no one would notice him unless they took off his hat and revealed his face.
I notice him gesturing to enter the woods with a small hand sign.
I waited for the right timing so no one would notice our sudden disappearance. As a large cart thundered past us, I pulled Seraphina into the foliage quietly.
To my surprise, the oracle was already waiting for us. He tipped his hat up slightly, revealing his stunning sea blue eyes. He was a handsome young man, a little too young to be the oracle, but my darkness tells no lies.
“Yo, was expecting you,” he said casually, holding out a leather-clad hand to me.
I shook it firmly, and he turned to Seraphina. I could sense his breath hitch and his pulse rise as her scarlet eyes turned to him. It was easy to understand why. Biford was standing in the presence of a living, Eshban legend.
“Scarlet eyes…” he muttered in awe, his voice low.
Seraphina took his outstretched hand without hesitation.
“Seraphina,” she introduced.
Biford regained his composure as he took a deep breath in.
“I think you already know what I’m going to say,” he smiled at me. “Delta is pledging, I’ve spoken to our chief, and he’s all fired up about it. Let us know when we can spill the beans, we can’t wait to kick the Sovereign’s ass.”
Seraphina’s eyes widened in surprise and I nodded in response.
“Yes, I know. But we have questions for you,” I cracked my knuckles.
“I already know what you’re going to ask. Helia had told me beforehand,” the young man grinned, already expecting my questions.
God damn it Helia.
“Question one, yes, we’ll be able to transport you to the Third Region. We have boats and ships of all kinds, whenever you’re ready, let us know, we’ll take you there. Question two, Delta’s people are mainly of Earth, Stone and super-human strength, much like Suyoi. We do not have any awakened wielders here. Question three, Delta had always been waiting for the rebellion, much like all the other villages. You have no idea what the Daryan and Aeolian generals do to us to ensure their profit in their trades. We are forced to keep quiet, and we heed their orders because if we don’t, we’ll be in deep shit. So don’t be too surprised that we’re pledging to your alliance,” he turned to Seraphina again, giving her a reassuring smile.
Damn, those really were the questions I had in mind.
Things were going so smooth it was a bit unbelievable.
“It will be easy for you in the Fourth Region, that’s why the oracles are asking you to go to the Second Region as soon as you can,” Biford’s eyes narrowed dangerously.
“I believe you met the Daryan general?” he turned to me, expecting my answer.
“Yes, Douglas Darya.”
“The fucking Daryan lieutenant?” he didn’t hide his surprise. “Helia said it was a Daryan, I didn’t know it was Douglas fucking Darya!”
“Do you know why a lieutenant of the Second Region’s High House is here in the Fourth Region, and more specifically, Gairon?” I asked.
Biford sighed, his blue eyes turning sad.
“We do not know much, but we know that the Daryan’s deal with a lot of underground networks and trading. What they’re doing is kept very secretive, and we do not know what they actually do. Rumors say that they purchase young children aged from 7-13, at a very handsome price. Thus the underground merchants will go to the extreme to get what they want, resulting in a fairly large amount of kidnappings of under-aged children.”
I could see Seraphina’s fist tightening by her sides.
Yes, this is the ugly side of the Sovereign.
And it is only one piece to the ugly puzzle.
“Do you know where he is heading to?” the oracle asked.
“Ewanna,” I answered shortly.
He pursed his lips grimly.
“Ewanna is near to Coro, the island in the Second Region. Could it be?” I muttered, actually afraid to confirm my suspicions.
Coro, the Island of the Goddess of the Sea, rumored to have the most beautiful women on the earth.
“That would be the only reason why that son of a bitch is here,” Biford confirmed.
“What do they do with the children?” Seraphina finally spoke, her voice barely a whisper, but her eyes were in stark contrast. They were burning with a vengeance, similar to the one I saw that night my heritage pledged to her.
The oracle looked away sadly, not wanting to answer her. Both of us knew the answer, but none of us could bear telling her the truth.
“It’s okay,” she whispered as she bore her flaming red eyes into the both of us.
“I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.”