Book 1, Chapter 37A

Blood and Purity

Naya dragged the unconscious Blood Parrot back to the little tavern quite casually, as if she was just a bundle of supplies. The borders were quiet this far into the night, and even those who roamed the dark streets were nowhere to be seen. With the ruckus the mage enforcers had made with their arrival, all the doors and windows of the various alleys were shut tightly, with not a tiny crevice to peep through. The pressure of survival had broken all curiosity,

Richard followed silently, only looking slightly paler than normal. The hands hidden in his sleeves were clenched, however, and the muscles of his forearms kept twitching. Drops of fresh blood seeped out from between his fingers, the injury coming from the granules that unpolished metal bar had left on his palm. The wound had only been superficial at the start, but with the amount of pressure Richard was putting on his hand the pain from the wound was enough to suppress the wild throbbing of his heart. His mind was already a mess; had there been nobody around all he’d do was yell, kick, and smash everywhere. Only that would help him vent some of the extreme tension he’d just been through, even if it was slightly delayed.

This was the first time Richard had killed someone, and he had taken four lives in but a few moments. He’d slashed open that warrior with his own hands, damaging many organs and consigning him to a painful, fearful death. Inches away from his own demise, Richard had grown completely tranquil; awareness of movement turned into cold calculation, and every technique he’d learnt from Naya was utilised as if it was natural. The four assassins had all assumed Richard was just a rookie mage, and this thought had had them pay with their lives. Besides the fireball killing one of their numbers, the other three had died to Richard’s astonishing proficiency at the assassination arts. When it came down to it, even that fireball’s timing had to do with such techniques.

Battles of the underworld determined life and death in but a single brush with the opponent. In that decisive battle Richard had felt like he was in a dream; a real and chilling dream, filled with numbers. He only woke up once Blackgold had left, leaving his nervousness, frailty, nausea, and all sorts of negatives to erode away at his heart.

Besides the distress of killing someone for the first time, Richard was also very nervous about Blood Parrot’s upcoming fate, in a way that he could not describe. For some reason Naya’s carefreeness only increased his nervousness.

He’d always been meticulous with observations, and he’d noticed the look of unease on the faces of Naya’s companions when he hoisted her up. For but a moment, even Blood Parrot herself hadn’t been able to hide the terror and despair on her face before fainting.

Naya’s words told Richard that Blood Parrot had possessed some reputation in the underworld even a decade ago. For someone like that to grow so tense and fearful, what was it that Naya would show him soon? The very thought of the bucket Naya had reminded him to bring caused Richard’s stomach to churn, and he felt the urge to find a corner and vomit everything in his stomach immediately. Naya was just like Sharon and many of the grand mages, never joking in proper matters.

While he wanted to throw up right away, Richard still gritted his teeth and followed behind Naya, persisting all the way to the tavern. Even he himself felt like that was a miracle.

Naya’s two companions seemed to shed all their sloth the moment the Blade of Calamity left, clearing up the bodies and cleaning the scene with unbelievable speed. In mere minutes all traces had been wiped away, the only remains of the battle being the marks made by the tongues of flame in the depths of the alley.

When the people at the borders walked outside their homes early morning, they would feel like nothing happened that night. With the chaos in the borders they’d long since grown used to tremors, explosions, and all sorts of strange sounds. Deepblue law stated any breaking and entering of the houses or damaging outer walls was an invasion of the Deepblue itself, so such things were definitely disallowed. Their houses were thus safe havens from the outside world, only affecting the residents if the people themselves were too curious for their own good.

Naya dragged Blood Parrot through the tiny lobby, past the counter and into the kitchen at the back. Richard found that the kitchen in the tavern was strangely large, seemingly larger than the lobby itself. There were many liquor and food cabinets beside the stove, and there were iron rings large and small nailed into the wall. There were also a few block and tackle that hung from the ceiling, with many iron hooks of varying sizes hung down from there as well.

The concentrated smell of soot and poor alcohol permeated the air. However, these two strong odours could not suppress the smell of mould around. The walls and floor were all made of stone and had been washed clean. However, there were still irregular and faint marks left behind over a large area.

“Close the door properly,” Naya instructed, dragging Blood Parrot to the middle of the kitchen.

Richard did as he asked, seeing that there really was a rather large wooden bucket behind the door. The bucket seemed quite old, and although it had been washed clean with no strange smell Richard couldn’t hold the intense reactions of his body anymore. He bent over the bucket’s side abruptly, beginning to throw up.

Not having had the chance for dinner, there was little food that came out. Most was clear gastric acid, the strong smell filling his senses and covering all the other smells in the kitchen. However, this suppression revealed a faint smell that hadn’t been too obvious before. Richard could determine the source in an instant; this was a residue of years of blood and grit.

It was terrible that he found out at this moment, because his body’s instincts now had the upper hand. His stomach churned intensely and practically contracted, basically spurting acid from his mouth.

Naya seemed to have guessed Richard’s reaction, just sending him a nonchalant glance before beginning his own work. He pulled the iron hooks on the ceiling down to the tune of a crash, piercing them into Blood Parrot’s limbs. She was suspended in the air with a pull of the chain, her limbs stretched out in various directions.

The immense pain made her regain consciousness, crying out on instinct. The assassin immediately stopped once she grew lucid, however, relaxing her body and taking a look at her surroundings. Despair immediately flashed in her eyes when she saw Naya, however, and she couldn’t help but sigh.

Naya stretched out his hands, squeezing and caressing her body absently. His obscene expression made him seem extremely vulgar, but these caresses robbed Blood Parrot of her strength, ceasing her struggles and replacing them with complete despair.

Naya hummed a little song off-key, beginning to remove Blood Parrot’s clothing piece by piece. Only after he took the last bit of cloth off did he stop, leaving her hanging naked in the centre of the kitchen just like that. Her damaged muscles and nerves caused her to twitch on occasion, but strangely enough the pierced spots didn’t bleed much. The blood only crept out slowly, dripping to the ground.

Richard finally stood up. He was looking deathly pale, only able to hold himself steady by supporting himself with the wall. He wiped at some of the filth that had splashed to his chest and mustered his courage to look up, gazing at Blood Parrot’s naked body. He knew that what came next was the true test.

Blood Parrot was probably past middle age, but her great power had allowed her appearance and body to be maintained in a very young state. No matter how one looked at it, she did not seem to be over thirty. Her tight and powerful legs, chest, and bottom were excessively curvy, something quite enticing for men. Her appearance and body were her greatest weapons, but now they weren’t enticing to Richard. He instead remained extremely focused on it, because the numbers he saw there were strange.

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