“Then what is our first small step?” I asked.
“You know how the king has had his forces reduced about the orc attack at Demon Road?”
“Yes, I was there.”
Drarak narrowed his eyes a little as he looked at me. “I see. You made it here awfully quick. The kings soldiers only got back a couple days before you arrived in the city.”
“I took a raft.”
He quirked a smile at me, “A raft? That doesn’t sound like something a normal person would do. Or even possible.”
“It was made of ice.”
The man laughed, “I see. Now that really is insane. I see that we have something in common. I think that we will get alone great.”
“I hope so. I would rather be nice to be friends with those who share a cause.”
“Share a cause, I suppose so. We all want to stop the Betrayer. But each of us have our own personal reasons for wanting to stop the Betrayer. Legacy and loyalty is all well and good but those who become Apostates and join cells always have some other reason. Something strong enough to force them into risk and action.”
“And you have such a reason?” I asked.
“Of course. But it isn’t something I tell everyone I meet. Generally it is better this way. Well we really need to know is that we are all tied together by our desire to stop the Betrayer. If we know each other too well then it becomes harder when one of us die.”
“Dead…” It was a gloomy word to hear so early in the morning, “Are the mission really that risky? That you have to worry about friends dying?”
He nodded and moved his feet back down to the floor. The legs of the chair clicked ominously when that happened. “More then I would like. Usually everything is fine but once in a while there are those missions where you know everything is going to end badly. Sometimes that is what has to happen because if we don’t do the mission then the Betrayer will win.”
I didn’t respond instead I took a seat next to him. We sat there in silence for several minutes before we were interrupted by Undir. She looked between the two of us and said, “Why so gloomy? I see you are awake Nick. Good, I assume that Drarak told you that we are having a mission today?”
I nodded, “Yes but he didn’t tell me any of the details. All I know is that it is this evening. Drarak mentioned something about the king’s forces returning.”
She nodded, “Yes, I don’t have the details yet either. I know it has to do with Kings and Nobles though. Itina hasn’t filled us in on the details. That means that it is going to be something big. The only times we don’t know all the details is when it is too risky for Itina to say anything before the mission.”
Drarak pulled out a chair for Undir and she took the seat offered. He continued her explanation, “We know that the King’s army is the weakest now that it has been since he has taken the throne. The King is still free from the Betrayer’s influence because he is strong willed and has the backing of the people and his army. The orc invasion must have been orchestrated by the Betrayer to bring about this exact situation. That means that he is about to make a major move and we need to stop it. Itina had the full details and she will fill us on the details before we begin tonight.”
Undir nodded, “Drarak basically has it right. We are also supposed to give you information about us as well. It will be difficult for us to work as a time when the time comes if we don’t have a general understanding of each other’s abilities. I’m one of the Apostates of Tistral the Ravenborn.”
“What does that mean that you can fly? I have not heard of any Apostates that can fly.”
“Not fly but close enough. When I desire not to be seen I do not get seen. I am also capable of jumping distances that are normally impossible for people. I have a small control over the wind but unusually that part is not very useful.” Undir finished her explanation.
“And you Drarak?” I asked.
“Me and Undir are similar in abilities, at least at first glance. I’m an Apostate of Bruko, the Gray Messenger. Unfortunately I also can not fly. I am capable of moving fast then most people ever dream of going. I am also particularly good at delivering news, especially bad news. I also have an excellent sense of timing and several other personally useful abilities. “
“I see.” I nodded, “I suppose I should explain myself too. I’m an Apostate of Zillk, the Hope Ender.”
Drarak whistled, “One of the greater gods. It is rare for there to be Apostate’s of any of the greater gods or for them to join the Loyal. I suppose you were able to go head to head in a battle of power with on of Yulf’s Apostate’s so I guess it isn’t surprising that you were channeling a greater god.”
“I can’t say that I am all that powerful. Mainly I’ve figured out to use his domain over winter. His viciousness gives me an edge in a sword fight but mainly I’m able to use his powers of ice and cold. I however am fairly inexperienced in using them in any fine grained way.”
“Either way it is a significant advantage. We hadn’t had any heavy offensive Apostates in our group for a while.” There was something ominous about he way Drarak said it. Like there had been one in the group before but that he had died.
“I’ll do the best that I can. What about the others? Risgar and Itina? Do I need to know what they are capable of doing?”
“Risgar is an Apostate of Osumu, the Muse of Metal. Normally it would grant him more common skills like smithery but he has turned it into an art of battle. With a hammer and metal armor he makes an impenetrable wall. When push comes to shove he is the reason why all of us have survived pervious missions.” Said Drarak.
“That sound useful.” I responded.
“Yes, but not very stealthy. Usually he waits behind until all the terrible things start to happen and then comes as a trump card. He isn’t as sociable as the rest of us however.” Said Undir.
“From what I’ve managed to weasel out of him his story is more grim then most. Although I wouldn’t try and mention that to him. He doesn’t really want to talk about it.” Said Drarak.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I responded.
“Good. Itina is an Apostate of Wellis, the Hoarder of Knowledge. While she doesn’t have too many violent abilities her ability to organize missions and discover information is unparalleled. It is that quality that lets her lead this small cell of the Loyal. That seems to be enough details about us? Is there any other questions that you want to ask?” Said Undir.
“Is there anything else that we need to do to prepare?” I asked.
“Whatever you think you need to do.” Said Undir. She pulled out a bag and handed it to me. “There is the money that you had on you plus a little which you can consider payment for joining us. Considering how much you had though it probably won’t be considered much. As an organization we don’t have that much money but we do managed to make due and most members have independent ways of earning money.”
I grabbed the bag and tied it to my belt. “Thanks.”
“Although try not to attract any attention around town. If the Betrayer discovers you again before the mission we could all be compromised.”
“I understand. I’ll be careful. What time should I be back before.”
“The only thing that Itina told us is that we should all be ready before the night falls. Make sure to be back here before that.”
I nodded. I looked between the doors but Drarak pointed over his shoulder at the door that Undir came in through. I smiled and left that way. A few minutes later I was out on the street. The outside of the Loyal’s base was rather normal. It was an abandoned store that was sitting near the edge of the city. Not many people would go past it and likely nobody would generally enter it. A good place to hide something.
I muttered to myself, ‘It also seems to have some kind of ward.’
‘You think so too?’ Said the Slayer. It had been a while since she had talked. She had politely not interrupted while I was taking with both Undir and Drarak.
‘While it is out of the way it is still unusual that nobody would notice people entering and leaving. Eventually somebody would have noticed and then Eyyo would have rooted out their hiding place. Which do you think is doing it?’
‘Probably Itina or Undir. Such a think would either be under the domain of the Ravenborn or the Hoarder of Knowledge.”
‘I could feel it as I left. There was a chill up my spin when I walked out of the door. We need to remember where this place is. It is possible we might not be able to find it again without help.’ I said.
‘Indeed. The ward should not effect me so I will remember it.’
‘Is there something that you think I need to do? I mainly just wanted to stretch my legs after being a sleep too long. I feel all tight and I just need to move my body for a while.’
‘For someone who I have been training like you that would make sense. You need to train every day or your body will not work like you expect it to. Worse you slept for a couple of days without even the standard amount of daily moving your body. I recommend taking a jog.’
I nodded and began my jog through the city. I took the side and back streets making sure not to be too noticed. I ran for maybe an hour. Eventually I stopped and looked down a street. There at the end of it was a large manor house. I stepped one step closer to the house but then turned and ran the other way. I couldn’t risk being seen anywhere near that house.
‘Whose house was that?’ Asked the Slayer.
‘The noble that Sir Nathan spoke about on your journey to the Demon Road?’
‘What is your relationship with her?’
‘Our parents were friends so we have known each other since we were kids. Since we are both nobles many people expect us to marry.’
‘When why aren’t you? Don’t nobles tend to marry younger then you are now?’
I stopped and looked up at the sky. ‘I don’t know. There was never an engagement that was announced by out parents and how they are dead. We still see each other regularly but nothing has happened between us for a year.’
‘Do you love her?’ Asked the Slayer.
It was a rather personal question but for someone who dwelt in my dreams and thoughts I didn’t bother not explaining. ‘Yes, but I don’t know way. To I love her like a husband should love his wife or do I love her like a brother loves his sister. I don’t know.’
‘That is something that I can not help you with. For deciding why you like someone is something you have to decide for yourself. Do you plan on talking with her about this.’
‘I always plan too but I never had the courage to bring it up. Maybe now… but I can’t talk with her without putting her at risk from Eyyo.’