Caracara's Hunt 119 The Escape

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A thud came from the direction of the stage, and Arawn glanced there. The red-robed woman had jumped off and walked a few steps forward before stopping.

"Who are you?" she demanded. "What do you want?"

Arawn lowered his hands and walked forward as well. His footsteps echoed loudly in the deathly silence. The normal citizens didn't even dare to breathe.

"Your attention." Arawn stopped two meters before the woman so they wouldn't need to shout at one another and spoke in a mild, reasonable voice. "I hate ignorance and people who act blind and deaf. You need to open your eyes and clean your ears. War is coming whether you accept it or not."

The righteous speech made the red-robed woman pause. She didn't say anything right away, and Arawn had plenty of time to worry about his delivery. He couldn't help but question whether he sounded genuine or not.

While everyone's attention was on him, a silhouette dashed toward the stage. It veered around the guards without making a sound despite its speed. Only when it was right behind Val did it materialize into Mutallu. His eyes were closed to s.h.i.+eld him from the ether's brightness.

In the meantime.

Mutallu's hand went to cover Val's mouth, and the man grunted in surprise. He tried to turn his head around, but he could not see anything.

The sudden sound made everyone's head swivel in the direction of the stage. However, the blinding curtain of ether prevented anyone from opening their eyes and seeing what was going on.

The red-robed woman prepared to jump up and check it out, but Arawn had no plans to let her do so. He sent an ether blade at the woman's feet. She sensed the attack coming and stepped back, out of harm's way.

Her attention returned to Arawn, and he nodded to himself in satisfaction.

"Do you understand me?" The woman didn't say anything, so Arawn turned around to address all the citizens frozen on their way out. "Listen! Bretian army is already at your borders! There's no more avoiding the war! King Bretan doesn't care about who's right and who's wrong! All he wants is your land and your mines! It's..."

Mutallu used Arawn's speech to hide the sound of cutting Val's bonds and the noose. He then quickly freed the others too.

The red-robed woman seemed to feel that something was off, but she was wary of Arawn. The moment she turned her back on him, she would be as good as dead.

If her face was anything to go by, such a situation frustrated her to no end. She scowled at Arawn and pursed her lips, but there was nothing she could do. The enemy had power she had never seen, let alone faced before.

Arawn was enjoying her discomfort up till the moment he ran out of words. He opened his mouth to say more, but his mind had gone blank. In the last fifteen minutes, he had spoken more than in all his years in the Gutter combined.

Mutallu glanced in his direction with a question, but Arawn did not even look up. He was too busy recalling the last thing he had said. It was something about King Bretan, wasn't it?


"Who are you?" the red-robed woman demanded again. Her voice sounded like honey to Arawn, who needed an excuse to talk more.

He straightened up and beamed at her. "Name's Arawn. I'm here to ensure that you're aware of the threat looming over your country."

He could already hear both Mutallu and Sylvester lecturing him about it later. It was not a great idea to give away his ident.i.ty like that, but Arawn had felt too excited about a way out of his predicament to catch himself on time.

The woman murmured the name to herself as if trying to gleam something from it. Her brow wrinkled at the effort.

"I'm a n.o.body," Arawn said to help her. "You wouldn't have heard of me."

The woman didn't seem convinced, and she asked him a few more questions, which he answered at random. He had never lied before, so he kept to the truth for the most part, but he did not really care what he said to her.

His eyes were on Mutallu and Val with his family who were making their way down the opposite side of the stage. Mutallu jumped off first and helped the others get down. Their actions were loud to Arawn, but the soldiers weren't moving to catch them. It did not seem like they had heard anything through his blabbering.

Arawn needed them to get away before he could make his own exit. Just a bit more and they would all be away without any casualties.

However, the red woman was more alert than he had expected. Without turning around, she raised a wall of earth before the escapees. They rammed into it with loud thuds and fell to the ground dazed. One of the men even cursed loudly.

Arawn's first thought was to rush to their aid, but Sylvester's face sailed to his mind. The doctor had made him swear that he would not act on impulse and make things worse if something went wrong.

What he needed to do was think quickly and consider his situation. Val and Mutallu were not in immediate danger, so it was better if he didn't lose his head and reveal his lack of ability to do anything besides creating a light curtain.

He ran over a few scenarios in his mind and collected two ether blades. They coalesced into brilliant white light that sliced through the air toward the mounted soldiers. Their horses jumped in fright from the sudden column of dirt that rose in front of their eyes and neighed pitifully.

The red woman whirled toward them with wide eyes. "What did you do?"

"Nothing." Arawn took two steps forward and lowered his voice. "For now."

"You won't leave here!"

The red woman's voice was steady, but her head turned left and right as she tried to understand what was happening. Most of the horses had been brought under control, but one of them, ridden by a youth of no more than twenty, had gone out of control. The animal jumped and kicked while the boy on top of it held onto the reins for dear life and wept.

"The way I see it, you have no way to stop me," Arawn said conversationally. "I have sight; you do not. I control all the ether in this plaza; you do not. You don't even know my element."

He chuckled at that, and the woman's face twisted with rage. Ether surged into the ground around her, but she did not give it any command, and it pulsed there without an idea of what to do.

"I will not—"

Arawn did not allow her to finish. "You will let them leave; otherwise…" He let his words hang in the air.

When the woman seemed about to argue again, Arawn raised his hand and made a grasping motion. All the ether he had materialized in the area blinked away, allowing the midday sun to return.

It was a pale imitation when compared to the brilliance of the ether.

A moment pa.s.sed before everyone's eyes got accustomed to the change in brightness, and they looked around to get their bearings. Everything was the same besides Mutallu and the prisoners being behind the stage, but most of the soldiers couldn't see them from their position.

Arawn raised his head and smiled at the woman in red. "You have two options: stand back and live or fight and die. Whatever you choose though, I will be leaving here alive. The only question is whether you prefer being alive as well or not."

The woman clenched her jaw and raised her hand. "I don't believe we can't kill you!"

Whatever she was thinking to do next, Arawn didn't wait for it. He slashed with his hand and cut her neck with an ether blade.

The woman's eyes went wide and she grabbed for her throat, but it was too late. Her knees buckled, and she fell in front of Arawn. He ignored the gurgling sound she made and s.h.i.+fted his eyes to the mounted soldiers.

Their commander was holding his spear with an iron grip, but did not dare to move. The ether around him and his mages was still as well.

Arawn met eyes with him. "She was ready to sacrifice you all against me. Are you of the same mind?"

The commander gulped. He glanced back at his mages, who were as pale as paper and were staring at him with pleading eyes, and shook his head. "We—" He coughed and tried again. "We will not stop you."

"Good!"

Arawn nodded and clapped in satisfaction. He couldn't believe that Sylvester's plan had actually worked. When the doctor mentioned that if things went well, there may not be any deaths or just a few, Arawn hadn't believed him in the least.

Yet here they were.

He shook his head and went toward Mutallu and Val. It was unfortunate that he had to kill the red-robed woman, but Sylvester had warned him that someone high-ranking might need to be sacrificed in order to frighten everyone else. A show of strength was necessary to remind people that ether was not just the energy used to control the elements, but a frightening force itself as well.

Val cast Arawn a strange gaze, but said nothing. They all nodded at one another and hurried out of the area. Sylvester was waiting with horses a few streets away, and they galloped out of the city with nary a glance back.


Caracara's Hunt 119 The Escape

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Caracara's Hunt 119 The Escape summary

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