I have something to say. In the near future, I might begin to post a separate story (the prequel to this one) called The Raid. If you have been reading this one, then you know that Artemys and Shiya lived in Dragiria during their younger years. That story features how Shiya died during a raid when she and Artemys (and little Rowena and some other characters) were on their way to the human land of Ilitia. I don't know when I will post it, but I will in the near future, perhaps in a week or so, or could be before that. I might even post some images. As to the previous chapter. I forgot to describe Gabyota completely. lol, that's my bad. I don't like introducing characters without at least giving some info as to their looks. So I do beg your forgiveness. I will go back and add that info in the previous chapter after I post this post. Anyway, this story goes on.
Chapter 8: Severian Furst
Village of Liska, near Hyltiva, Lothis, 20th of Leaf, Year 2523
The underground hideout was as luxurious as any royal castle gracing the face of the earth. Severian Furst had planned the hideout’s design back in the day when he had been but an eighteen year old man with much power. With the gems that he’d been making with his dirty activities, he’d had enough dough to make the hideout as luxurious as possible. But, he had not done that merely to please himself and live the good life, rather because the dark deity that he idolized had demanded it. She often came to the mortal world to feed upon the souls and flesh of the living, and she had often used that hideout to reside for days; thus the need for it to be luxurious, for the deity would have it no other way.
When two informants were sent in to his personal office to see him, the rough-looking man they called Severian the Fearsome sat relaxingly on a wooden chair behind a dark oaken desk and flipping a nasty long dagger in his hands, playing with it. Two personal guards that stood behind him close to the wall, unnerved the two young men when they entered. The guards were huge, around seven feet tall, broad shouldered, and they wore thick, dark armor over their torso, which only made them look tougher. The armor and outfit left their hairy, muscular, grayish arms and legs exposed. Their faces were not visible due to horrible-looking, horned masks that they wore, but surely the two men saw fiery red tones for eyes that those monsters had. Monsters was the correct word that passed through the men’s thoughts after laying eyes on them, for the guards were not human to begin with; they were weredemons, servants of the evil weredemon deity that Severian and his group venerated: Luna. The humans merely knew these demon beasts as lycans, to avoid calling them by their long demon name.
The two young men approached cautiously, this being the first time that their human eyes saw something out of the ordinary.
All eyes in the room fell on the two young informants then.
“Stop right there!” Severian’s tough voice froze them right in the middle of the room. The two men shivered and looked from the monsters to him. Seeing their boss’s mean look, both were quick to take a knee.
“Rise,” Severian ordered. “What do you have for me this day?”
The two young men stood up and noticed that he was flipping that nasty dagger and did not like it one bit. One of the spies, a brunette, already had laid eyes on the boss before, but not the other one, who happened to be blonde haired.
Severian's tough-and-rough looks frightened the young man somewhat, but not more than the monsters behind him had.
Severian had dark, long hair. Because it was quite long from the front and all around, he kept it tied in a neat-looking ponytail that made his hair look slick. He had light skin, blue eyes, and a few freckles were scattered over his small, crooked nose and part of his cheeks, but not many. Though he was handsome in his own right, on his face there always seemed to hang a mean gesture that could unnerve just about anyone. He was dressed in dark, light-weight outfit befitting a rogue, or a thief, but the outfit was magical and afforded the man great protection, just like sturdy armor could have. Behind his back, a small red cap was attached to the shoulder area of his dark shirt, and his boots were dark and leathery.
“S-Sir, with respect,” one of the spies, the brunette one, spoke up. “We bring news from Ilitia.”
“This better be good,” Severian warned. “I hate being disrupted. What do you have to say, then?”
“W-We saw members of the Primrose Guild entering and leaving the castle two days ago. You told us to report anything suspicious from that guild and well...here we are, sir.”
In his seat, Severian shuddered, for he knew quite well of the reputation of that guild, most notably, the reputation of its leader.
“Was Artemys Primrose with them?” Severian directed his question at the brunette spy that had talked. Severian feared that the damn princess had involved the great mercenary leader in this matter, and so how his right fist tightened at that thought. This could spell trouble for him and his plans to kill the princess and throw Ilitia into dark times.
“No, sir,” the other young man replied, and his friend at the side closed his eyes and hardened his face at the mistake of having spoken. The young man that had just spoken was skinny, blonde haired, and had a funny, long-nosed face. He had barely been recruited a pair of weeks ago by the other spy, who was his friend. He had been recruited to replace another spy that had been killed by a chimera while keeping a watchful eye on the Primrose Guild from afar a few months ago.
Severian’s eyes turned to face the impertinent man, and before anything else happened in the room, Severian, impossibly fast, sent that dagger spinning towards the young man.
The pointy, deadly missile struck him right in the chest, and the young man fell to the ground with a groan, quite dead. The other spy recoiled and gasped when he looked down upon his fallen friend. He gasped again and became scared when Severian left his chair and came walking rapidly around the desk, leaving the young man no time to even think about what had just happened.
Severian was not interested in the brunette spy. He knelt beside the dead one and grasped the hilt of his dagger. He looked up at the scared spy and removed the dagger forcefully. Again, the brunette spy gasped in fear when Severian began to rise, bloody dagger in hand.
“Why are you afraid of me, Galius?” the boss asked him as he wiped the dagger on the young man’s shirt. “I killed him because he deserved it for answering questions that I asked you.”
“Y-Yes, sir,” the spy barely said, and for once the young man started to regret having joined the group a year ago. Never had he witnessed something so cold, so brutal. Although he felt scared then, he admitted to himself that his boss was very skillful with that dagger. Never had Galius seen someone throw it accurately like that.
“Now tell me,” Severian demanded as he went back to his seat. “Was the damn dragir leader with the group?”
As he was going back to his seat, with a wave of his hand he let the weredemon guards know that they could feast upon the dead spy, and these, who loved to feast and drink human blood, before the other spy could begin to reply, they left their guarding positions and went to feast on the dead man.
The spy scoot over a bit and gulped hard when he saw how the beasts tore his dead friend apart, but then his eyes went to Severian, who demanded nicely.
“I am waiting for an answer, Galius.”
“Artemys was not with them, sir,” the lad spoke with the truth and a few shakes of his head. “From what my watchers reported to me, the group that went into the castle appeared to be elite, but no Artemys was ever in sight. Two dragir were amongst them, yes, but females, that is, and some crazy-looking witch. On two different occasions the guilders came and then left. And according to my dead friend here,” the spy cast him a quick look but upon seeing the gory feast that the lycans were having, he decided to look back to his boss instead. “He hadn’t seen Artemys for a while.”
“That fool is probably too busy with contracts, like always,” Severian growled in his seat. “But Anyone that damn dragir trains, in time, becomes as deadly as he, so I don’t doubt for one bit that the princess has gotten them involved.”
Galius nodded at that, unable to say a word. He knew of Artemys Primrose and his guild. He had often heard of his exploits all over the land as guild master. Too bad he had chosen this crooked road, else he probably would have gone to his guild seeking to be taught how to fight and make a living killing monsters and helping those in need.
“Did your friends identify anyone in particular?”
“No,” Galius shook his head. “And I wasn’t around to see the warriors myself, else I probably could have identified them. For that, I beg your apology, boss.”
“It’s alright, forget about it.”
“However, judging from the descriptions my men made out of them, I can at least guess that one of the dragir was a dame named Meridia.”
“Could have been,” Severian said. “I hear she’s close to Artemys.”
“I have no idea on the other one, though. Maybe a new recruit?"
"It's possible," Severian said. "But Artemys does have a daughter. The rumors have always been that she's no warrior for the guild, so it's possible that it couldn't be her and as you say...a possible new recruit. Artemys does tend to go back to Dragiria and bring new recruits every now and then."
"Aye, sir. And well, as to the witch, that’s probably Shan.”
“Shan? Do you know that woman?”
“I’ve heard about her,” the spy admitted. “Word 'round the capital says she’s good working with magic. She came out from the academy a few years back.”
“I see,” Severian spoke. “Very well, tell me about the castle now, lad. Any word from within? Did Legarious contact you? How are things running there?”
“Legarious just says that the princess remains highly protected, sir. She spends most of her time in her room, and the door to her quarters is heavily guarded by more than ten paladin knights and two mages. As if those are not enough guards, he reports that there are more knights guarding her very balcony, the throne room, which she rarely visits now, and any other point in the castle that the princess does visit on a daily basis, though few times does she attend those spots. If she comes out of her room, those ten paladins and the pair of mages that guard her door escort her around all the time. The entire castle is teeming with soldiers, too, as is much of the outer areas beyond. It has been impossible for him and any of our other agents to get too close. The princess, it seems, sir, wants to recapture you. That’s why the soldiers are out and about looking for information to your whereabouts.”
“Good,” Severian smiled, seeming pleased. He threw his feet on the desk, relaxed in his chair, and began to play with his dagger once again. “I knew she’d rally those knightly idiots to protect her,” he went on. “She is scared, just as I knew my threat would make her feel. It is much to our advantage that she remains scared and within the walls of her room, but her day is nearing, nonetheless. I doubt those idiots will recapture me again before I make my move. Anyhow, I think I can proceed with the next phase of my plan.”
The spy took a deep breath to steady himself, for those guards surely unnerved him as they kept feasting on the dead body. And, he was not done delivering his message.
“With respect, boss, I have more news to relate,” the spy went on.
“Out with it, then,” Severian demanded roughly. “I thought you were finished, godamn it!”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the spy stared low. “Truly, I ask for your apologies.”
“Just...go on with it.”
Severian could have sent that dagger spinning that spy’s way, but he knew better, knew of the great use this young man was, and so he held back the urge.
“Well, it is believed by Legarious that the princess actually held council with the members of the Primrose guild.”
Severian said nothing, but the spy knew he was giving those words deep thought and consideration.
“Well no s**t,” Severian came back roughly. “If they went into her room, it is most likely that she did. Did they go into her room?”
“Aye, sir,” confirmed the spy. “Legarious told me that they had, that one of the soldiers confirmed this to him over some friendly gossip. But, there was no word or clue given to him about what they spoke about. He wasn’t even allowed to visit the upper level, thus he does not know that.”
Severian, feeling tremendous ire, threw his dagger against the stony wall, where it stuck fast.
Once again, the spy became unsettled, but was grateful that the dagger had not stuck upon his chest, as it had earlier in his friend’s.
Severian stood up and went to retrieve his dagger, which was one of his favorite weapons. He removed it from the wall and pointed it in a non-threatening manner at the spy, “She’s probably gotten the guild involved, damn her!”
The spy just remained silent before his boss, too scared to even nod.
Severian, feeling surely angry, went back to his seat.
“No matter,” he said from there and actually picked his nose with his right index finger. “I will do something about that. Anything else I should be aware of, Galius?”
“Just that the armada arrested several of our lower ranked servants, street informers from my group and nothing more. They don’t know much, so whatever the guards get out of them won’t be sufficient to put my spy network in peril. Then again, Sir Makarius was already working on seeing them freed.”
“Is that all?”
“I have nothing else to add, sir,” the spy said.
Severian called him over with an inviting gesture from his index finger. The spy walked all the way to the front of the desk and regarded his boss timidly.
“Go back to Ilitia,” Severian ordered, his rough voice apparently settled down. “Tell everyone to keep a sharp lookout all over the place. And, I want eyes on the Primrose Guild 24/7, you hear?”
“Aye, sir,” the spy understood that his boss wanted constant vigilance on that guild. “With respect, might you allow me to propose something to you, boss?”
Severian looked at the young man as a bug that needed to be badly squashed. But, because of the great work this man had performed for him over the passage of time, he cleared his throat and said, “What’ve you got on your mind, boy?”
“Wouldn’t it be for the best just to get rid of the Primrose Guild once and for all, sir? I mean, we could hit them or something before they get too deeply involved helping the princess. I’ve got many men under my orders and—”
“You bring nothing new to my table,” Severian interrupted the fool with a cold stare. The spy quieted immediately and gulped hard.
Severian dropped his feet from the desk and leaned forward, his cold stare on the spy.
“What, you think I haven’t thought about that? It has crossed my mind many times, Galius, even before you were recruited. There will be a day when I send my forces against Artemys Primrose and his pitiful monster-hunting guild, but not right now. No, that dragir has kept his business off of mine, and so there has been no need for me to go all out on him. On the contrary, I applaud his work. He and his guild have surely made Ilitia a lot safer from the constant monster threat. Anyway, I’m getting out of my boundary lines. Look, for now, you and your group just follow any of those guilders wherever they go. If they go to the capital, I want to know every damn place they visit, even if it’s just an inn or a tavern. And I want to know who they speak to, who they look upon, who they accept contracts from...got it?”
“Yes, sir,” the spy acknowledged. “I will handle it, sir.”
“If indeed the guild has been contracted by the princess, its end will come swiftly as soon as news of that being the case reach my ears.”
“We'll know for sure one of these days,” the spy promised. “I know how deep my men can go.”
“Right,” Severian moved on, knowing how effective Galius’s group was. “Now, for the following two weeks, have no one come here at all, not even you, and not even if it is important. I won’t be here, but death will surely find you or anyone who does dare to come; thus the warming.”
The spy did not like those words and just lowered his head.
“But you, you come back to me after those two weeks end. I will surely be eager to listen to your report of what has been going on during my absence.”
“It will be done, sir,” the spy said. “I will surely come back after that pair of weeks end.”
“Good, now leave in peace,” Severian said with a very serious tone, his stare also hard upon the young man. “And by all means, try to recruit better agents for me, but make sure you remind them of the rules and the consequences of disobeying one. Apparently that blonde one didn’t take them too seriously.”
The young man nodded and inclined his head a bit. “I’m sorry about the trouble he caused you, sir. I did recite the rules to the fool, but apparently he forgot them or just plainly didn’t care to disrespect you like that by breaking them. He knew that I was the one who would be doing the talking, yet he decided to speak up.”
“Don’t be sorry for that lout,” Severian said. “He didn’t have what it takes to be a spy like you and has paid for his mistake. That is why most of our fodder, like that poor devil, are better suited on the battlefield, because they are expendable.”
Severian then pulled out a drawer from the desk and reached into it and grabbed something. And he tossed whatever he had grabbed at the spy, who caught a brown colored pouch with his two hands. It was bloated with gems, he knew, and smiled contently.
“Forget about what you saw...er...are seeing,” Severian told him. “Forget about this fallen fool, as I am sure no one will miss him. Go party with the sex servers or something, you’ve earned it. But don’t party too much that it keeps you from doing your duty, you hear? You and your team have been a great source of information for me in Ilitia, and as you can tell by the contents of that pouch, I am not an ungrateful boss. There’s more than enough for you to pay your servants and for you to keep.”
“Thank you, sir,” Galius bowed.
“Know as well that I have been considering doubling your payment and ascending you to the rank of lieutenant.”
How the spy’s face brightened with that revelation, and he smiled widely.
“We’ll see where we are when you come again in two weeks. Now go.”
“Aye, sir,” Galius appeared to be glowing, and he bowed. “Thank you, sir.”
Severian nodded and sent the fool away with a wave of his hand.
*End of C8*