Sword & Sorcery Volume 1 – Chapter 5

Thakeo slowly opened his and tried to sit up but quickly had to lie back down again as a sheering pain struck his head.

“Ugh… My head… Did she have to hit me again?” Mumbled Thakeo to himself while holding his head.

It felt like someone had held firing drills, using his skull as the cannon ball but as to why his head was hurting, he had no idea as he did remember that the elf girl, Tia, had struck him in the plexus and after that he collapsed and lost consciousness.

However, just prior to that he could have sworn that he had heard someone else speak to him but as to who that was, he had no clue.

Of cause, that did not explain why he had a dreadful headache either but he would not put it past Tia for punching him while he was asleep.

“I see you are awake.” Said a cold female voice suddenly from across the room.

Even before he turned his head, Thakeo knew whom it belonged to and true enough. At the other end of the large room was Tia, leaning against some sort of alchemist table.

“Ugh… Not so loud… My Head hurts…” Said Thakeo as he slowly sat up in the bed.

“Good! You deserve much worse you pervert!” Said Tia with poison in every word.

“Guess you are still mad… Where am I?” Asked Thakeo, trying to shift the topic to a less explosive one.

“In my master’s house. For some reason he insisted that we bring you here instead of my village but you should be glad he did, otherwise I would be stomping on your face right about now.” Replied Tia, cold as usual.

“Eh? M-my face?” Asked Thakeo confused and slightly terrified because Tia clearly meant it.

“After what you did to me that is the least you deserve.” Replied Tia, still leaning against the wall.

“I already said I was sorry to falling into the lake but that was an accident.” Said Thakeo.

“Not good enough! I swear that I will…” Started Tia as she slowly walked closer to Thakeo’s bed, however before she could finish her sentence, an eerie creaking sound of a large chair being turned filled the room.

However, it was not just Thakeo was seemed freak out by the noise, even Tia seemed surprised.

“I do believe that should be enough Tiarazara!” Said a low, yet commanding voice from a nearby chair which was slowly spinning around, turning towards the two of them.

As the chair finally came to a stop, Thakeo saw an elegantly dressed, seemingly middle aged man. He had black hair and a black beard which looked sharper than the spike on a halberd.

The man wore a blackish-blue suit fit for a noble with the same shine and oily look as an olive, clearly custom made. On his hands, he wore white gloves while he wielded a cane which he continuously rolled in his hands as if it was a pet. It was colored black but with a dark crimson handle, featuring detailed engravings from top to bottom.

To finish up the outfit, he wear an oversized top hat which would even make the dressing style of the aristocrats of the commonwealth seem like everyday clothing, however this man was not from the commonwealth, nor the alliance or the empire itself as no one in the whole world want to get caught wearing such an outfit now a days.

It was said that the clothes made the man but in this case it was clearly the man’s eyes and its intense glare which did the trick. Even without being able to feel the magic, Thakeo knew by instinct that this man commanded very powerful magic… As well as a terrible fashion sense.

“Ma-master Zidiynas? Wh-why are you here?” Asked Tia surprised as she looked at the man in the chair.

“Oh? As far as I remember then this is my house, so why should I not be here?” Asked Zidiynas clearly acting surprised.

“Eh? No wait… I meant, why are you home now?” Replied Tia in a confused manner.

“Oh? I can’t come and go as I please? My, my! It seems your recent trip have made you become more command than ever before.” Said Zidiynas next.

“Wait! That is not what I meant.” Mumbled Tia, surprisingly coy.

“Erm… Excuse me but… Who are you?” Asked Thakeo, having raised his hand like a good little schoolboy.

“Oh! I nearly forgot we had a guest! Fufufu.” Said Zidiynas, clearly acting out of his way.

“You don’t need to talk to that pervert master! Just toss him out like all the other trash instead!” Growled Tia.

“Now, now Tiarazara, not need to be so hostile. I am sure you have a good reason for your anger but this has no meaning to me at this time. I am more interested in the boy for the moment so please go outside and calm down for a while.” Said Zidiynas with a clam voice but with a slight hint of danger.

“Mmm… Fine! Have your ‘man-chat’ if you want!” Growled Tia and walked outside, slamming the door after her.

“My, my… So much rage… No matter.” Said Zidiynas with a smile, turning his attention towards Thakeo.

“Is she always like that?” Asked Thakeo puzzled.

“Not really. She is normally quite calm and collected… I wonder what you did to her? Oh well, she just needs some time I am sure. Now boy, would you care to explain what you are doing in these woods? You don’t seem the type to something like that.” Said Zidiynas next.

“Hah… Where to start…” Sighed Thakeo and quickly summarized what had happened to him, including the bear, the mercenaries, Tia the elf and how all 3 of them had chased him across the forest.

“Oh… my… Such an adventure you have had you man, even if you were so unfortunate to run into Tiarazara.” Said Zidiynas after Thakeo had finished his summery. Of cause he had left out a few details which was not relevant to the case.

“Adventure? That is something you do of your own will. I was forced by my teachers at school. If I don’t bring back a magic beat I will get detentions for the rest of the year.” Said Thakeo, with a sigh.

“Oh? Seems your master’s are quite strict, more so than me but why would they send you out? I mean with your mana reserves and insight you should have some quite advanced magic am I right?” Asked Zidiynas.

“Eh? Erm… No… I… I can’t use spells… I got no control what so ever and only ever cause undue destruction…” Mumbled Thakeo, looking away in embarrassment.

“Oh? That is a surprise… Such a waste… Indeed a pity…” Said Zidiynas while nodding.

Zidiynas ‘s reaction was not what Thakeo had expected as he accepted the fact without pause or even seeming to care about it, something Thakeo was happy about as most people looked down on him due to that but he also felt bad because of it. It was a weird sensation of both sadness and happiness at the same time.

“Still, even with that… issue, based on what you told Tia about her fireball spell a few days ago, you at least have a detailed insight into the inner workings of magic.” Said Zidiynas, nodding once more.

“Well that might be true… Hey wait a second! Did you just say a few days? Ho-how long have I been out?” Asked Thakeo surprised.

“Oh, I would say around a day or so, does it matter?” Replied Zidiynas.

“Crap! This… Bad! No… Wait! Home! I must get back to town right away or I will be late for school!” Whined Thakeo and quickly swung his legs over the side of the bed, however in his hurry, Thakeo had forgotten about the headache and thus, quickly had to sit back down on the bed due to the pain.

“Something wrong young man?” Asked Zidiynas, seemingly alternating between ‘boy’ and ‘young man’.

“Oh… Just that I got a dreadful headache for some reason.” Replied Thakeo as he held his head.

“Oh my! What a poor boy! Just give me a second, I am sure I got something against that somewhere.” Said Zidiynas, showing a rather creepy smile just as he got up and walked over to a nearby shelve, containing an endless supply of various bottles and mixtures.

“Hmm, was it this one? Nope, that is against raccoon rashes, upset stomach… Nope… Defiantly not that one… Hmm… Ah! Here it is!” Mumbled Zidiynas as he quickly went over the bottles, having found what he was looking for.

“Is-is it safe to drink?” Asked Thakeo as Zidiynas whipped out a wooden cup, seemingly from nowhere.

“Of cause. I am a master at this after all but the taste might be bad.” Replied Zidiynas as he walked over to Thakeo and handed him the cup.

“Hmm? It always is when it comes to medicine.” Said Thakeo with smile as he looked at the nearly solid liquid at the bottom of the cup, just before he leaded his head backwards and consumed the weird medicine.

“So, how does it feel?” Asked Zidiynas while spinning his staff some the captain of a parade.

“It burns… But it’s cold…” Replied Thakeo as he had a weird sensation in his throat.

“Oh, so it should be working then? Would you look at that?” Said Zidiynas while clapping his hands in a form of celebration.

Thakeo could not help but feel like he had just been used as a guinea pig by some random mage but the effects were more or less instantaneous and the pain in his head had already been reduced to near nothing.

“Now boy, why would Tia… What is that?” Began Zidiynas but stopped as he looked at Thakeo.

“Huh? What is that?” Asked Thakeo confused.

“That! Where did you get that?” Replied Zidiynas and pointed his cane directly at the necklace Thakeo wore around his neck, seemingly it had fallen out on his own.

“Oh that, I got that from my father a few days ago. He said it would bring luck but… That might not be true.” Explained Thakeo, sadly remembering everything which had happened to him.

“Do you know what this is?” Asked Zidiynas next, nearly head-butting Thakeo as he grabbed the necklace and held it in his hand, looking at it closely.

“S-someone I know said that it might be Altearian but as for the true purpose of it, he did not know but it is what I have been using to try and find magic beasts and well… It worked to some extend even if there were not many beasts around.” Explained Thakeo.

“Hmm? Altearian? Can I borrow that for a second.” Asked Zidiynas, while breathing heavily, droll clearly handing from his mouth.

“S-sure… Here…” Stuttered Thakeo, who could not help but view this weird man as behaving like a dog who just found a new favorite toy.

“Oh! This is truly magnificent! Such a rare relic! Truly rare! Ah? It seems to be missing a part?” Said Zidiynas and looked at Thakeo.

“Yea, well it was like that when I got it from my father, not sure what happened.” Said Thakeo with a shrug.

“Hmm? I see… Well it certainly does look like an Altearian relic but… I do not believe that its main purpose is to simply locate magic beasts. The magic emanating from it suggests otherwise.” Said Zidiynas as he continued to look at the necklace.

“Hm? Well I would not know, I don’t know much about the ancient magic, only…” Started Thakeo but was interrupted by Zidiynas.

“…Only inventing magic contraptions such as the bracelets you are wearing?” Asked Zidiynas, looking at Thakeo sitting in the bed.

“H-how did you know that?” Asked Thakeo surprised.

“Please young man, I have been using magic for a very long time. So, if I could not spot custom made gear such as yours I would hardly qualify as being one.” Replied Zidiynas with a smile.

“Ah… True but still… I am surprised that you were able to spot it so easily, but how did you know that that I was the one who designed it?” Asked Thakeo next.

“Well, based on what you told me about your… Issue I simply assumed that those bracelets were made to counter that in some way. What did you use as the core design component?” Said Zidiynas.

“Eh? Oh, the concept you mean? Well… Everyone at my school use pocket space to carry around their school books and such but due to my issue, I had to run back and forth between my room and school or carry a very large bag.” Explained Thakeo.

“Oh? So you came up with those bracelets to allow you to do the same?” Asked Zidiynas a bit surprised.

“Well… Guess you could say that.” Replied Thakeo with a smile as he scratched his neck.

“Haaah… Creating new magic tools just to make your life a bit easier… That is very much like Van Maxon.” Said Zidiynas next, shaking his head.

“I AM NOTHING LIKE VAN MAXON!” Cried Thakeo desperately as he jumped on his feet.

“Oh my! Such… Vigor… makes me wish I was young again, mhm…” Said Zidiynas, licking his lips while nodding.

“Geh! Please… Just don’t compare me to that… Weirdo… My inventions are not that crazy nor are they meant to cause such havoc as Van Maxon’s contraptions.” Said Thakeo, quickly sitting down on the bed again.

“Fufuf! That is certainly a fair request, one I shall honor, however…” Started Zidiynas but stopped as he looked back and forth between his hand and Thakeo’s bracelets.

“However? What?” Asked Thakeo confused.

“Well… Why bracelets? Why did you not use gloves instead? Should be much easier to pack and use as well, especially if you use mage script. They also draw less attention than a pair of golden bracelets don’t you think?” Replied Zidiynas with a soft smile.

“Gloves you say? Huh… Wait that could work but… Nah… Mage Cloth maybe? But that is expensive… Maybe…” Said Thakeo, who had now begun to think about Zidiynas’s suggestion.

“Young man… Hallo?” Said Zidiynas with a weird smile on his face.

“Huh? What?” Asked Thakeo confused, having become consumed with his own thoughts.

“Oh, you just seemed preoccupied by something.” Replied Zidiynas.

“Ah, sorry about that. It happens a bit too often.” Said Thakeo with a goofy look on his face.

“Hmm indeed… Just like van Maxon, same crazy type of personality.” Said Zidiynas with a nod as he swung Thakeo’s necklace around his finger.

“Stop comparing us! It’s too much!” Whined Thakeo to which Zidiynas just smiled.

“What is with that noise?” Yelled Tia suddenly as she opened the door with a slam and walked inside.

“WAAAAHHH!” Cried Thakeo out loud, having been surprised by Tia’s sudden return.

“You scream like a girl!” Growled Tia as she covered her ears.

“Now, now Tia, I don’t think you should start trouble again, the poor boy is shaky enough as it is.” Said Zidiynas, once more spinning his cane while looking at the necklace.

“Whatever… What is that you are holding?” Asked Tia as she looked towards Thakeo’s necklace.

“Hmm? Oh, that is not important. What is more important is your job, what did you find out during your little excursion?” Asked Zidiynas, thus slyly redirecting Tia’s attention away from the necklace itself, something which Thakeo noticed and found strange but he could hardly comment on that now.

“You want me to talk in front of… that?” Asked Tia surprised and pointed at Thakeo.

“Oy! That was uncalled for!” Growled Thakeo, but the others simply ignored him.

“Please, indulge me with your discoveries.” Replied Zidiynas as he sat down in his chair while swinging both his cane and Thakeo’s necklace at the same time.

“Tsk! Fine!” Said Tia, sending an evil glare towards Thakeo as she leaned against the wall, her arms crossed.

“What a crude woman.” Growled Thakeo but decided not to press the matter any further but instead just lied back down in the bed.

“First, I went into town to see what I could find just as you had asked Master but I was not able to find any solid evidence of any wrongdoings. I tried to secure a sample but was discovered so I had to bail but I did manage to find out where the shipments were coming from.” Explained Tia.

“I see, where did that lead?” asked Zidiynas next, nodding his head.

“I tracked the shipments eastwards where they were being moved across the border towards alliance territory so I could not follow them there but I overheard the slave drivers mention a camp in the woods, so I headed there instead and came across the camp, full of mercenaries.” Continued Tia.

Suddenly, Thakeo sat up and turned his attention towards Tia.

“Where was that camp?” Asked Thakeo forcefully.

“Shut up human! The adults are talking!” Growled Tia.

“Eh? That was you who…” Started Thakeo, but Zidiynas raised his hand, making Thakeo remain quiet.

“Please continue.” Said Zidiynas, now having placed his cane on the ground.

“Well, I waited until the next day when they started loading up a ton of sacks, crates and barrels. I noticed some shady characters there as well but I was discovered, not sure how, as I tried to get closer. The bastard even threw a bomb at me! A stink bomb of all! Even now I can still smell it! And after that was when… when… When this moron assaulted me!” Finished Tia, shuddering as she stared at Thakeo.

“Wait for a moment there! I already said that was an accident! And besides it is not…” Started Thakeo but Tia interrupted him.

“I don’t care! What you did was unforgivable, especially by our laws.” Said Tia.

“It was your own fault! You should not be doing such stuff in the woods anyway!” Replied Thakeo.

“M-my own?… How dare you! You appeared out of nowhere! If not for my quick wits you really would have assaulted me you pervert!” Yelled Tia.

“Oh? Who the hell would even want to try and get close to such a powder keg such as you! I remember you from town! You attacked me first!” Yelled Thakeo back as he jumped on his feet, having finally lost his composure.

“Erm… You two, please calm down.” Asked Zidiynas with a calm voice but his voice fell on deaf ears.

“Back in town? I have never seen you before you tried to unleash your demonic desires at me!” Yelled Tia.

“I don‘t have such dark desires! That would be bad and yes, you did attack me back in town, twice!” Retaliated Thakeo.

“Oh? And when was that? Because if I attacked you, I am sure I would remember it!” Growled Tia.

“Huh? You don’t even remember? First, you jumped over a wall and dropped kicked me! Later you were trespassing into private property belonging to one of my friends. As I called you out, you attacked me with a bucket!” Said Thakeo.

“Eh? Ah… AHHHH! I remember now! You were running around naked even then! I knew that you were a pervert but even back in town? No wonder I would not remember such an indecent act!” Yelled Tia next.

“Indecent? It was private property and I was taking a quick bath due to the heat! But you just admitted you saw me, didn’t you?” Yelled Thakeo, smiling as he now had ammunition to use.

“Guh… Th-that was self-defense! Who would not want to defend themselves if some half naked man came running towards?” Yelled Tia in her own defense.

“I would not mind that, sounds like fun!” Said Zidiynas with a smile but no one paid any attention to him, causing him to pout instead.

“Ugh! Ye-yes… I can understand that part but… You…” Started Thakeo, but Tia once again interrupted him.

“Hah! You admit that I was right to defend myself! As for the wall thing, then I was running around to hide myself. As for hitting you? That was an accident.” Said Tia with a triumphant smile.

“S-so was me falling into that lake!” Said Thakeo next.

“That is different! Especially since your crime is very severe!” Said Tia.

“Oh? And what crime would that be?” Asked Thakeo sarcastically, crossing his arms.

“Hallo? Hallo? Am I talking to myself?” Asked Zidiynas from the sideline, once again being ignored.

“Th-that don’t ma-matter! You will still be punished for it!” Said Tia, however this time her tone was much softer and she looked away as it she was embarrassed about something.

“Oh? So the accused can’t even be told of his crime? Is that justice? Hardly! And even if I did break some code of honor then what about the chaos your actions caused in town?” Retaliated Thakeo.

“Huh? What chaos? I didn’t do anything!” Said Tia surprised.

“Oh? This might just be my assumption but you tried to take a bottle from some noble man but had to run before you were caught, didn’t you?” Asked Thakeo with a stern tone.

“H-how do you know that? That is irrelevant anyway to this case.” Asked Tia back, having become a bit more meek.

“Irrelevant? IRRELEVANT YOU SAY? Because you broke that bottle the owner of it, some guy named lord pork chops or whatever instead accused a nearby innocent bystander, a little beast girl who was nearly beaten by that man if it had not been for my friend who stood up for her, all simply because you tried to steal from him! How about you take responsibility for that before you start accusing me for some random crime I don’t even recall committing? Huh? Well? Will you?” Yelled Thakeo out loud, seriously angry.

“Huh… I did not…” Started Tia but Thakeo interrupted her again.

“And not only that! Due to your two attacks on me as well as the incident at the camp I was chased by those poachers for hours before I stumbled into you! If I did something which seriously offended you then remember that if anyone is at fault for all of this mess it is you!” Finished Thakeo, huffing and puffing, having nearly lost his breath.

“Oh? Is that true Tiarazara?” Asked Zidiynas suddenly from the sideline with a clam voice, however he was not smiling.

“Eh? No-no I… ran away before any of that… Had I known…” Stuttered Tia, who had now become

“Oh? And what would you have done? Would you have admitted your crime?” Asked Thakeo with a stern voice however just as he did he felt an extremely cold feeling running down his spine.

“THE TWO OF YOU SIT DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!” Yelled Zidiynas with a thunderous roar as he pointed on the floor right in front of it.

Instantly, the two troublemakers took their seat at exactly where Zidiynas had pointed. It happened simply by nature due to the sheer force Zidiynas had unleashed. Thakeo could have sworn that even dark clouded were gathering outside.

“Now then… This is much more civilized, is it not?” Asked Zidiynas, this time with his usually calm voice.

“Ye-yes… It is…” Mumbled Tia, whereas Thakeo only nodded in agreement.

“Excellent! Now, I believe that I have understood the entire issue here so please bear with me. First, you went to town to investigate the nobles as I had asked you correct?” Asked Zidiynas and looked at Tia.

“Yes, correct.” Replied Tia, looking into the floor.

“Once there you tried to find evidence where you then jumped over a wall and hit this young man and then later, attacked him again, correct?” Asked Zidiynas next.

“Yes, but…” Replied Tia but stopped talking as Zidiynas stomped his cane into the ground.

“As such, then due to your actions an innocent little girl was caused for something she did not do, correct young man?” Asked Zidiynas, this time directed towards Thakeo.

“Yes, that is correct.” Replied Thakeo.

“Hmm… After that you went into the forest to friend a magic beast but due to bad circumstances you ended up with the poachers plaguing these lands where you two ran into each other again, correct?” Said Zidiynas to which the two of them could only nod in agreement.

“Good, so… Tiarazara, your actions have endangered the wellbeing of an innocent child and as such, you will receive a punishment later on so prepare yourself.” Said Zidiynas.

“Un-understood master.” Said Tia, with her head still lowered to which Thakeo could but smile.

“However… Young man, my reckless student here also seem to harbor some serious grudge against you, so I wonder what you did?” Asked Zidiynas, this time pointing his cane towards Thakeo.

“Eh? Well… To be honest… I am not entirely sure myself anymore so I would certainly also like to know that myself.” Said Thakeo and turned his head towards Tia.

“Well, Tiarazara? Care to explain what this young man did to you?” Asked Zidiynas, tilting his head slightly.

“H-He saw me…” Mumbled Tia, but did not finish the sentence, instead she continued to looking into the floor.

“Oh? You refuse to say? Well in that case…” Started Zidiynas but Tia interrupted him.

“Na-naked….” Mumbled Tia with a tiny voice.

“Eh? Naked what?” Asked Zidiynas surprised.

“HE SAW ME NAKED! THIS FOOL RAN INTO THE LAKE AND SAW ME WITHOUT MY CLOTHES ON!” Yelled Tia out loud, quickly looking away again as she realized what she had said aloud.

“Huh? That was an accident and can’t hardly be illegal can it?” Asked Thakeo with a smile.

“Young man… You are in serious trouble… And not the good kind.” Replied Zidiynas with a sigh and took off his hat, turning it around in his hand.

“Eh? Tr-trouble? I can understand she might be angry but… It can’t just be that? What is going on?” Asked Thakeo confused and looked back and forth the other two.

“Th-that is a… Personal matter? Tiarazara, would you explain?” Asked Zidiynas with a little smile.

“I refuse! I will simply burn him to a crisp!” Yelled Tia and seemed ready to use her magic, however Zidiynas stopped her by slamming his cane into the ground.

“That is enough… Hah… It is clear to me that both of you have made mistakes and a great amount of bad luck has befallen your both. So, how about this? The two of you… Could have a duel to settle the matter.” Said Zidiynas with a big smile.

“I accept!” Said Tia without hesitation and turned towards Thakeo.

“Eh? Hey wait a sec…” Stuttered Thakeo but stopped as Tia pointed a finger at him.

“I hereby challenge you… Erm… What was your name again?” Asked Tia suddenly, looking upwards as she tried to recall his name.

“Eh… Yo-you can’t even remember my name?” Replied Thakeo in shock.

“Huh? Would you remember the name of someone who peeked on you while taking a bath?” Asked Tia next.

“Yes, and for the books my name is Thakeo, T.H.A.K.E.O!” Growled Thakeo.

“Well then I hereby challenge you, Thakeo to a duel!” Said Tia with a steadfast tone and a smile on her face.

“I refuse!” Said Thakeo, crossing his arms while sitting on the floor.

“Huh? You refuse a duel that is…” Started Tia but stopped as Zidiynas got on his feet.

“Oh? You would refuse a duel, on what grounds if I may ask?” Asked Zidiynas as he looked down on him.

“That is simply… I am already involved in a duel planned for… Wait… When was it? Ah, yes 5 days from when I left town so that would be 2 days from now. And as that is the case I cannot accept another. It is a matter of honor!” Proclaimed Thakeo with a smile.

Of cause the fact was that it was a duel between Hou’Voink and Thragoth and not Thakeo but he was still involved so he was not technically lying.

“That is ridicules! You are lying!” Growled Tia.

“Am not! Remember the little girl I mentioned? Due to your actions me and my friend had to get involved in their idiotic pledges of honor and demanded a duel and thus, I am by the code of honor bound to not accept another at present time.” Replied Thakeo with steadfast resolve.

“Coward!” Growled Tia and looked away with displeasure.

“Enough from the two of you! Now I am getting a headache.” Said Zidiynas and sighed as he leaned back in his chair.

“She started this!” Said Thakeo and pointed at Tia.

“I-I WHAT? You started this you brute!” Retaliated Tia.

“SILENCE!” Yelled Zidiynas with a voice so powerful the entire building shook for a few seconds.

This, again, forced both Tia and Thakeo to sit squarely on the floor like a pair of naughty school children.

“By the gods of old… What am I to do with the two of you?” Mumbled Zidiynas, rubbing his head with one hand and spinning Thakeo’s necklace around with the other.

“Well… For one… Could you return my necklace?” Asked Thakeo with a soft smile, only such because he dared ask in no other manner.

“Hm? Oh! I still had this trinket? Here you go.” Replied Zidiynas, having clearly forgotten about the necklace, but instead of simply handing it back he instead let go it as it swung around itself, causing it to fly through the air and landed on the floor in front of Tia with a solid clunk.

“What is this?” Asked Tia confused as she looked at the necklace.

“Hey! That is mine give it back!” Said Thakeo with an angry voice.

“Oh put a sock in it! I was just looking but here, take your useless junk!” Growled Tia as she picked up the necklace and was about to toss it at Thakeo but suddenly, the entire necklace began to glow bright red on a level unlike anything Thakeo had seen it do before.

“Eh? What?” Mumbled Thakeo, cutting the words in half as he spoke in surprise.

“Oh my…” Said Zidiynas as he cover his eyes with his cane as if to shield them from the bright light.

“Wh-what is this?” Yelled Tia who was closest to the light and thus could not see a think.

“L-let go of it already that should stop it.” Said Thakeo desperately as the light intensified.

“Huh? Fine…” Said Tia as she dropped the necklace on the ground once more.

However, as soon as she did the light it had emitted ceased at once and the necklace returned to its original golden like color instead.

“Wh-why did that happen?” Asked Thakeo confused and looked at Zidiynas for answers.

“Hmm… Very interesting. Tiarazara, try and put your finger on the necklace again.” Said Zidiynas as he leaned forward in the chair.

“Huh? Okay?” Said Tia, clearly confused about what was going on but did as Zidiynas had asked, however as soon as she touched the necklace it began to glow brightly again, or rather, it was the crystal at the center which shone.

“Okay, now remove and touch it again.” Said Zidiynas next, now leaning outwards from his chair in a position which was impossible for normal humans or so Thakeo thought.

The process of Tia touching the necklace over and over went on for a few minuet’s while Zidiynas was observing it all seemingly mesmerized or something like that.

“S-so… Care to enlighten the rest of us?” Asked Thakeo finally and looked at Zidiynas.

“Yea, I agree with the crudge, tell us what is going on Master.” Said Tia next as she stopped touching the necklace.

“Cr-crudge? How rude!” Said Thakeo as he looked displeased about being called that.

“Well, this young man might be in possession of a very rare relic, rarer than what I had originally thought.” Said Zidiynas as he quickly spun his cane, whereupon the necklace took flight and returned to his free hand as if carried by the wind.

“Eh? Does this mean that it is work a lot of money?” Asked Thakeo suddenly already dreaming about a potential payout.

“I would not know anything about that but I highly doubt that it is merely a locator as your friend described, given the reaction it had to Tiarazara’s touch.” Replied Zidiynas.

“Agh! Damnit!” Growled Thakeo as his dreams of wealth vanished at the blink of an eye.

“What does my touch have anything to do with some old piece of junk?” Asked Tia, clearly upset about being linked to such a weird think.

“Well, this is just my guess but this relic clearly reacted to you, or rather, your magic element.” Replied Zidiynas.

“Mm… So what is it then?” Asked Thakeo, who had seemingly lost all interest in the subject.

“Well, my ancient runic is rusty but the words here does not indicate the word Locator but rather can be translated into Connector but to be sure it would require further study of the runes I see here, but I doubt you would let me keep it overnight?” Asked Zidiynas and looked at Thakeo.

“Not possible, because I got to get home soon.” Replied Thakeo and shrugged.

“Ah, such a shame but can I at least take a rubbing of the inscriptions? That way I can study that at least.” Asked Zidiynas next.

“Sure, rub anywhere you want.” Replied Thakeo.

“Oh my, such a naughty offer!” Said Zidiynas in such a manner that both Thakeo and Tia got weird looks on their faces.

“Ju-just the necklace… I don’t need rubbing.” Said Thakeo as he held his hands up in front of him.

“You need a beating!” Said Tia with a cold voice.

“You again?” Growled Thakeo but Tia ignored him.

“Say master, you mentioned that it was a Connector? What just does it do?” Asked Tia.

“Well, to explain that I will give you two an impromptu story lesson. This is a relic coming from the height of the Altearian Society. As you know they were a very advanced people in terms of technology and magic until they suddenly vanish long ago. However, unlike people today the people back then had little to no magic power on their own and as such the power of their spells were weak compared to modern standards.” Explained Zidiynas as he pulled out paper and charcoal and put the necklace on the table.

“If they were so weak, how did they create such a vast civilization?” Asked Tia, seemingly quite interested in this sort of topic.

“Quite simple, time and advancement in technology. Over time, people grew stronger with magic, likely due to selective breeding but also via technology. At first, they created special magic crystals meant for storing vast amounts of magic powers.” Replied Zidiynas.

“Magic crystals? Just like we do now a days?” Asked Tia next.

“Yes, but their refining methods was sadly lost long ago so no one can reproduce their crystals which was better than ours. However, besides the crystals they also created relics of great power, all with the purpose of gathering magic power from other beings or the ability to transfer their own to another person.” Said Zidiynas as he gently rubbed away, making imprints of both sides of the necklace.

“How would that work and what does that have to do with that relic?” Asked Tia, seemingly perplexed about the information provided.

“Well, it is my belief that this is as mentioned, a connector of sorts, meaning that one person with a lot of magic can transfer their magic power to another person to use. It can grant a boost to the receiver and let them use more powerful spells.” Replied Zidiynas as he finished his rubbings and checked them for errors.

“So, it connects two people and let one of them act like a living magic stone? Sounds fishy to me.” Asked Tia, looking into the roof.

“Well, they cannot be replicated so we may never know just how they did it but this is not unique as I have heard of other relics such as this, but they were never in a near complete state.” Replied Zidiynas as he put the papers aside and brushed off the necklace to remove any dirt from it.

“Say, if that thing can transfer magic power from one person to another, could it act like a healing tool for people who run out of magic power?” Asked Thakeo suddenly.

“Oh? Hmm… Well I guess it could if their affinity for magic is good enough… Are you referring to magic defiance by any chance?” Asked Zidiynas.

“Not specifically, but yes I guess that would cover it as well.” Replied Thakeo, having recalled a vague memory form his childhood where he had suffered form that condition.

“Hmm… Well, it would certainly be helpful but if their affinity for magic is low, it do more harm than good.” Said Zidiynas while he nodded and handed the necklace back to Thakeo.

“Hmm? This thing might have a few uses after all.” Said Thakeo with a smile as he put the necklace back around his neck.

“Say master, if these Altearians were so powerful, why did they go extinct?” Asked Tia.

“Well there are many theories to what happened but…” Replied Zidiynas but Thakeo finished the sentence.

“…They blew themselves up with their own magic.” Said Thakeo and yawned.

“If you are not interested then leave!” Growled Tia but Zidiynas was of another opinion.

“What makes you say that young man?” Asked Zidiynas.

“Quite simple. As their power grew, so did their arrogance and their desire to control magic which in the end led to their downfall. After all, you cannot control magic, only guide it.” Replied Thakeo as he stretched his eyes.

“Excellent insight once again, truly excellent. It is as I have always told you Tiarazara, you try to control magic too much. You could learn a thing from this young man.” Said Zidiynas with a smile.

“HUUUH? Me learn control from a pervert who can’t even cast a single spell?” Cried Tia in surprise.

“H-hey! This perv… NO! Due to my issues with controlling magic I have been trained by some of the best since I was a child so while I may not control magic I at least know a ton of different to increase it without straining the body.” Said Thakeo in his own defense.

“Ohh? So if you were trained by the best… Why can’t you use magic then?” Asked Tia next with a slight hint of malice in her voice.

“Eh? Th-that… That is actually a good question… Why can’t I use magic with all that training? I should at least have learned something… Shouldn’t I?” Replied Thakeo confused as he began to ponder about this.

“Huh… What?” Mumbled Tia as this was not a response she had expected and thus could only look on in surprise.

“Indeed, very interesting mhm… Well as for the matter at hand… What to do… Ah! That is it! Oh my, I am so brilliant at times!” Said Zidiynas clapping his hands in self-satisfaction, causing both Tia and Thakeo to look at him again as his words made no sense at all.

“Ugh… Th-this can’t be good.” Mumbled Tia, seemingly concerned about her masters behavior.

“Wh-what? No good?” Asked Thakeo confused.

Zidiynas did not respond but merely leaned back in his chair, crossed his legs and began to stroke the cane in his hand.

“I have found the solution to your little… squabble earlier, no matter who started it, everything has a reason even if your case involved a lot of bad luck.” Said Zidiynas having finally returned to the original topic before the entire necklace incident.

“H-huh? A solution? What solution?” Asked Tia confused.

“Yea, I want to know as well because I don’t want to get stuck with that flame freak!” Said Thakeo.

“It is quite a simple solution, quite simple… The two of you… Shall work… TOGETHER!” Said Zidiynas and jumped into the air as he shouted the last part.

“NO FREAKING WAY!” Yelled Tia at the same time as Thakeo stood up.

“IMPOSSIBLE! NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!” Cried Thakeo out loud.

“Oh? And why not? Don’t say it is because you can’t stand each other as you have not known each other long enough for that. The entire incident with the bath… Clearly an accident and with all the other stuff involved, it is clear to me that you need each other to complete your goals.” Stated Zidiynas.

“Oh? And what goals would that be?” Asked Thakeo with an annoyed voice.

“Well, for Tia, she was sent into the forest by me to investigate the poachers plaguing these lands, locate their supply chains and overall try to find out what is going on. As for you, then if you help her achieve this, you not only avoid to have to duel her after your other duel but you also help the little beast girl you mentioned.” Replied Zidiynas.

“Ma-master! You really expect me to forgive him for what he did to me?” Asked Tia.

“No, but you will get over it, after all as far as I understand it was more or less self-inflicted due to your own actions as well as an accident so you should not let it get in the way of your job.” Replied Zidiynas with a cold voice.

“And what if he refuses to help once we get back to that bleak place he calls a town?” Asked Tia next.

“Well… Then he will have broken an agreement with an Arch Mage as well as the fire elves and that is not a smart thing to do.” Said Zidiynas

“Well that is her goal, not mine! Sure I want to help Koh but that was her fault to begin with so why should I help her with that?” Asked Thakeo next.

“Well… Do you want to get out of the forest anytime soon? Only the locals, like Tiarazara knows the quickest route to town so you will need her help.” Replied Zidiynas without hesitation.

“Guh…. Th-this is blackmail!” Grumbled Thakeo displeased.

“I guess you could put it like that. Now Tiarazara, I expect you to behave yourself and… corporate with this young man. After all, I suspect that the two of you should be able to solve the mysteries involved in this case.” Said Zidiynas, still stroking his cane like a madman would stroke a cat.

“Mmmm, Fine! If that is what I needed but I still refuse to give up on settling the score!” Said Tia as she looked at Thakeo with fire in her eyes.

“Haaah? Is that not… Forget it… I just want this over with…” Said Thakeo and sighed, having finally resigned himself to fate.

“Good, good. Seems that I shall this issue to the two of you, now please move along as I am a busy man!” Said Zidiynas and quickly tapped his cane into the wooden floor.

“What?” Cried Thakeo surprised as he covered his eyes to shield them from the bright light.

“N-not this again!” Said Tia at the same time, also shielding her own eyes.

Immediately, bright light originated from where he had hit and soon engulfed the entire house but it only lasted for a moment before it vanished, along with Zidiynas, his cane as well as his entire house, leaving only bare dirt behind.

“Wh-what was that?” Said Thakeo confused as he looked around the entire area without being able to spot even the tiniest trace of the weird magician.

“I hate it when he does that!” Growled Tia and sighed.

“D-does he do that often?” Asked Thakeo still confused as to what had happened.

“Yes, all the time but other than that, shut up! I don’t want to talk to you if I can avoid it! I can solve this on my own!” Replied Tia as she crossed her arms and looked away.

“Eh? B-but we are supposed to solve this case together, are we not?” Asked Thakeo next.

“That is what my master said, but I highly doubt that you could provide any information that I don’t already know.” Replied Tia.

“Eh? I may suck at controlling my magic but I am quite confident in my ability to think. After all, I invested these bracelets myself!” Proclaimed Thakeo and showed his bracelets once more.

“Typical humans, if at first you don’t succeed, you cheat your way to achieve your goal.” Said Tia and spat on the ground.

“Ah… I get it now… It is so simple…” Said Thakeo as he nodded and smiled softly.

“Get what?” Asked Tia confused, unsure as to what Thakeo was referring to.

“You, young lady… Are a racist!” Replied Thakeo.

“Eh? EHHHH? H-how am I a racist?” Yelled Tia surprised.

“How? It is simple. You look down on humans, you likely think that we are beneath you, unsophisticated and barbaric, do you not?” Asked Thakeo next.

“Elves are not like you humans. We don’t slaughter our kin or countrymen all time, nor do we concern ourselves with obtaining riches and power like you do. So if you think I am a racist due to those fact, you are mistaken!” Replied Tia.

“True, humans can be quite bad, but we don’t just do vile stuff like that. Are you sure that you just don’t hate humans?” Asked Thakeo with a smile.

“No… I just hate you!” Replied Tia without delay.

“So, you don’t think that elves are superior?” Asked Thakeo.

“Hmm… In some areas, yes we are, but in other areas humans are superior, but how does this help us solve this issue? I want to get rid of you as fast as possible!” Replied Tia.

“Well, a few minutes ago you said you refused to talk to me but here you are, chatting away, are you not?” Stated Thakeo with a smile.

“Eh? Wha… What? That’s… different?” Mumbled Tia, unsure how to respond to that.

“How so?… No matter… We both want this over with as fast as possible but for that we need to talk to each other, even if you dislike me so, tell me what you found out and I will tell you what I know, pool our resources so to speak.”

“Well, if you are so smart, then you try and figure it out!” Replied Tia.

“Okay but…. I will need the information you have, okay?” Asked Thakeo.

“Hah! If you prostate yourself before me and ask for my help, I might consider it!” Growled Tia with a devious smile.

“Okay…” Said Thakeo and went on his knees and bowed his head down in the same manner he had done after the incident with her bath.

“Wh-what are you doing?” Asked Tia surprised.

“Eh? But you said…” Replied Thakeo as he raised his head, but was interrupted by Tia.

“I didn’t expect you to listen! Don’t you have any pride at all?” Asked Tia next.

“Well… My father always said that pride should not come in the way of doing the right thing.” Replied Thakeo and nodded.

“St-still! This cannot be what he meant!” Stuttered Tia.

“Eh? You think? Maybe… I mean my mother did toss him out the window after he said that, of cause he had been ogling one of the maids so that might also be why.” Explained Thakeo.

“S-so… I guess being a pervert runs in the family!” Said Tia but without the usual power behind her insult.

“I am not a pervert! But… Yes, sadly my father is indeed what you would call a pervert and my mother is… A special case… But that is beside the point is it not?” Asked Thakeo as he tiled his head slightly.

“I am getting a headache talking to you… Fine… Start talking or thinking and I will fill in the gaps.” Said Tia and sighed.

“Good… Now… Where to start… What was your exact mission? That top hat clown said you were to track the poachers supply chain or something?” Asked Thakeo as he slowly got on his feet and brushed off the dust from his clothes.

“Don’t call my master a clown… Whatever… Yes, I was sent by my master to investigate the poachers and figure out why they were slaughtering so many magic beasts. I discovered their old camp a week or so ago before they moved. I noticed that some shady characters were gathering the goods but they were not like the poachers. As such, I decided to follow the carts instead.” Explained Tia.

“Shady characters? You mean those with the hoods?” Asked Thakeo.

“Who else? In any case, as I followed them I assumed that they were heading to town however instead then most of them but a handful of them turned due north h towards those silly dwarves where I lost track of them.” Explained Tia.

“Dwarves are not silly… Oh wait… They are at times… But… Why did you lose track of the carts?” Asked Thakeo.

“That is what I want to know! They can’t just vanish like that but since those lands are unknown lands to me and also dwarven territory I decided to get a map to help me narrow down the search but… Some fool bought the last map so I had to take it by force.” Continued Tia to explain.

“S-so that is why you kicked me down?” Asked Thakeo surprised.

“Th-that was an accident! I had planned to land behind you and swipe it and then run but you stopped and turned around at the last second, thus forcing me to kick you down.” Replied Tia, a bit flustered.

“Ah… So that is why… Well it was a good kick… in any case, please continue.” Said Thakeo as he rubbed his stomach where Tia had kicked him.

“Well, after I got the map I decided to try and track down the carts which went into town, since I was there anyway and managed to find one of the carts I believe so I tried to sneak in to figure out what was in the crates and…” Started Tia but was interrupted by Thakeo.

“… And then you beat me with a bucket…” Said Thakeo and nodded with his arms crossed.

“I’ll beat you senseless if you interrupted me again!” Growled Tia.

“S-sorry… Please continue.” Said Thakeo a bit hesitant.

“Well… I tried to swipe one of the bottles but before I could pack it away, that little girl you mentioned discovered me and asked what I was doing, however I must have knocked over the bottle or something because suddenly the guards came running but I manage to get away.” Continued Tia to explain.

Thakeo was just about to say something but one look from Tia made it clear that she meant what she had said before.

“Well… After that failure I tried to use the map to find the lost carts but I had no luck, even with the map. It was like they just vanished into thin air. As such, I decided to return to the source, the poacher’s camp where I managed to sneak a peek into the various stuff they had there but before I could finish, you ratted me out and even tossed that stink bomb at me!” Said Tia, finishing her story.

“Hmm… Carts that vanish, hostile nobles and wine bottles? Say, did you notice any wine bottles in the poacher’s camp?” Asked Thakeo.

“No… Only fur, meats, plants as well as a ton of lumber and such.” Replied Tia.

“Hmm? Sounds very suspicious indeed.” Said Thakeo and nodded his head.

“Oh? Why is that? I can’t see what is illegal in transporting that sort of stuff, even if they are encroaching on elven territory.” Asked Tia.

“Well… When I arrived at the various locations I wanted to scout for magic beasts, I came across a ton of tree stumps which had been cut down recently, however I did not find any tracks from carts or the sort and at the second location, all I saw was a huge pile of dead magic beasts.” Explained Thakeo.

“And? I fail to see how that is suspicious?” Asked Tia confused.

“Quite simple… Take a look.” Replied Thakeo and pulled out his map and put it on the ground and pointed.

“Yes… That is woodland… What about it?” Asked Tia next, as she looked at the location Thakeo had pointed out.

“Yes and this is where the trees were taken from… However, do you see any roads on this map? After all, so many trees can’t simply be moved by hand so they had to be moved by cart but why are there no tracks?” Asked Thakeo with a smile.

“No that is just… Wait… Don’t tell me… Someone removed the tracks?” Said Tia, seemingly having understood what Thakeo was getting at.

“Indeed, that is my assumption. Someone went out of their way to remove the tracks but still left the tree stumps bare. I don’t know why they would do that but it might have something to do with the type of trees but I don’t which sort it might be.” Explained Thakeo.

“But… Who could remove tracks like that?” Asked Tia confused.

“You are a fire elf so you use fire, however there are also earth magic. A good earth mage can easily restore the natural state of the ground but not the trees themselves. It also explains why some of the carts apparently vanished as you followed them.” Replied Thakeo.

“Earth Magic? True, that could explain it but… You also said you found a pile of dead magic beast, I assume that you can explain that as well.” Asked Tia next.

“Well, not right now but we can only assume that the magic beasts are somehow involved, beyond meat and fur.“ Replied Thakeo.

“But why would anyone go to such lengths to hide this?” Asked Tia as she crossed her arms.

“That is what I want to know as well but without knowing what their ultimate goal is, anything we can come up with will just be speculation and therefore we will need proof.” Replied Thakeo as he scratched his head.

“Well, that don’t help us much does it? If we can’t even find the missing carts what are we going to do?” Asked Tia next.

“Well… Where exactly did you lose them?” Asked Thakeo as he locked at the map.

“Just around here, due south of the dwarven mine.” Replied Tia and pointed at the map.

“The dwarves? Maybe they know something about it, we should go ask them.” Said Thakeo next.

“Huh? If this is some sort of conspiracy is there not a chance that the dwarves are in on it?” Asked Tia.

“Not a chance. Those dwarves are allies of the Empire and in general they don’t really like doing shady things such as this but they might have an idea where the carts could have gone, after all it is their land.” Replied Tia.

“Ekk! Dwarves! They smell and are loud!” Growled Tia and made a weird face.

“Well, wait until you taste their wine or ale, at least they know how to make that, after all they drink that stuff all the time and it is quite popular.” Said Thakeo as he put his map away.

“Hah! Dwarven ale can’t even be compared to elven brewages!” Said Tia.

“Hmm? Well, I have tried a lot of wine at school but in general I find that dwarven ale is quite good, even better than human wine.” Said Thakeo and shrugged.

“Human wine? Yuk! At least we can agree on something.” Said Tia and spat on the ground.

“Uwaah, that is a rough way to react but I guess I can agree. I tried elven wine once. It is so much sweeter and smell better too.” Said Thakeo with a smile.

“Hah! Just another area where we elves are more advanced than you humans!” Said Tia with a self-satisfied smile.

“Yes, yes Miss Elven supremacy, settle down.” Replied Thakeo with a sigh but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.

“The last time I tasted human wine… Ew! Just the thought makes me sick. It smelled of goat, had the texture of mud! I would rather drink poison than touch that stuff again!” Said Tia and shuddered slightly.

“Wait a second… It is not wine… But poison… That has to be it!” Said Thakeo suddenly, having remembered what Koh had said during the incident with the Alliance Nobles.

“Huh? What are you mumbling about?” Asked Tia with a puzzled look.

“The poachers, the transport network… The nobles… All these random things fits together, but the question is exactly how?” Mumbled Thakeo next.

“Hey! Don’t ignore me here!” Said Tia with a stern voice.

“But why plants, animals and trees? It makes no sense.” Mumbled Thakeo, with his arms crossed, deep in thought.

“What? You into plants and animals now, you stalker!” Said Tia while frowning her eyebrows.

However, Thakeo did not respond to her insult but instead ignored her completely as he paced back and forth, talking to himself.

“Assuming that all of this, the chopping of trees, hunting animals and such, are merely a cover… If it is related to alchemy… It could work…” Mumbled Thakeo as he paced back and forth.

“What would work?” Asked Tia next but still did not get a response, causing her to become even more annoyed.

“Yes… Certainly… If they did it like that… But still…” Mumbled Thakeo next.

“Hallo? Anyone there?” Asked Tia as she slowly tightened her fists.

“But how do they get the ingredients? Surely they won’t make it in the town.” Mumbled Thakeo to himself as he once more passed by Tia.

“Explain what is going on or ill burn you to a crisp!” Growled Tia, however once more she was ignored, causing her to shiver in anger and slowly she raised her hands and began to pour magic from her hands.

“Hello? The Universe to lame brain, wake up!” Shouted Tia but her complaints fell on deaf ears.

“Does it relate to the issue with the dwarves?… It can’t just be trade… Their Mountain… Creek… The water was still there, but why? Was it blocked somehow?” Continued Thakeo to mumble.

“Explain what is going on or ill burn you to a crisp!” Growled Tia, however once more she was ignored, causing her to shiver in anger and slowly she raised her hands and began to pour magic from her hands.

“This is poison after all… Poison… You deal in poison… Koh, she is the key!” Mumbled Thakeo who suddenly remembered the words of Koh the young beast girl.

“Answer me or…” Said Tia, next just as Thakeo turned around.

“I GOT IT! I FIGU…. Guh!” Yelled Thakeo with a cheer and quickly turned around with a happy smile over his discovery but the only thing he saw, was the fireball which exploded near his face, knocking him to the ground.

“LISTEN TO OTHER PEOPLE WHEN THEY TALK TO YOU!” Yelled Tia out loud, fuming with anger.

“WAAAH! What did I do?” Cried Thakeo in desperation as he rolled on the ground trying to extinguish the flames in his hair.

“Think about that and then go die! Filthy peeping criminal!” Yelled Tia and spun around.

“Women… Will anyone ever get them? Please… Maybe? Can she even do a dual like that?” Sighed Thakeo, meant as both a wish and a prayer to any god which might be listening.

However it was not the gods who heard him but rather Tia who quickly turned around again and grabbed his jacket, opened it up and grabbed the necklace and took it of him.

“…Just in case then I will keep my hands on this just to be sure you don’t run away!” Said Tia with an evil smile and walked off down the forest trail.

“Eh? Ah! He-Hey! Give that back!” Whined Thakeo as he got on his feet and ran after Tia, after all, her corporation would be needed if his idea was to work, even if she might not like it but the matter of the necklace did not bother him at this time.

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