"What is it?" Balor noticed Kurdak seemed to have realized something.
"No…" He shook his head. "It's only a private matter."
"But your private matter caused my sister to be kidnapped!" Balor didn't relent and stood up. Even though he was slightly shorter than Kurdak, he gave off a domineering air for wanting to protect someone.
Kurdak kept silent for a moment before resolutely shaking his head. "No, I still can't trust you completely, so I won't tell you anything."
"You!" he growled and grabbed Kurdak's collar before pushing him back forcefully. "Do you know what kind of danger Sis is in right now?"
"Don't worry. If it really was Alfreid who took her, he'll definitely be making use of her to deal with me instead of harming her," Kurdak said without the slightest hint of rage. Even though he felt rather frustrated, he knew that he had to calm down even more at times like these.
"What are you planning to do next?" Balor stared at Kurdak hatefully, but he knew getting mad at a time like this was pointless. So, he could only calm down and make further plans with Kurdak.
Kurdak gave it some thought. "If it really is Alfreid, I'm afraid it's far worse than I thought."
"Are you going to yield just like that and risk my sister's life too?"
"Of course not."
"Go to Leguna and ask him for help?"
Kurdak shook his head. "We can't trouble Ley for this. We still don't have proof Alfreid has Vera, as you can't be brought to light."
"You're the one who can't be brought to light!" Balor cursed.
"That's why we can't publicize this. There's no way we can do it openly," Kurdak said, ignoring Balor, "It might be easy to use Ley's power in the bureau to find out about Vera in the shadows, but it's more probable that it won't be possible. If he can't find Vera, then he'll be accused with quite a huge crime for investigating the premier of the empire using the bureau for personal ends. If that happens, it'll be over for the both of us."
"What are you planning to do then?" Balor asked, annoyed.
"This can only depend on me alone. The moment Ley gets involved, he'll definitely attract a lot of trouble. I can't get him into this."
"Are you confident you can do it?"
"No, not even if Ley helps me out."
Balor fell silent, before something suddenly occurred to him. "How many people know about Sis leaving alone to look for Leguna?"
Kurdak was taken aback when he heard that. Vera had indeed left with a rather low profile. Apart from a few group leaders and the magus in the brigade, Kurdak didn't tell anyone else the matter. So did Alfreid's men happen to run into Vera or was it premediated?
Kurdak told Balor about his theory.
"It couldn't have been a coincidence," Balor replied with confidence, "It was a meticulously prepared ambush. They probably tailed her for a long time beforehand."
"Then how could it have been leaked…" Kurdak furrowed his brow. Not many people knew about it, but there were still a handful of them. Blackie had died nearly a month ago and the one who replaced his position was a good friend of his. Kurdak knew what kind of person he was like too.
If it wasn't him, it couldn't be Londo either. As for Eibron… he had a good relationship with Kurdak and probably wouldn't. Could it be the brigade magi? Kurdak shook his head. Even though they were picked by Geoffrey, these fellows were stubborn folk. If not for their fear for Annelotte and her father, Kurdak doubt he'd able to have a hold on them either. It wasn't likely that they'd serve as Alfreid's lapdogs.
After much thought, he still wasn't able to find a reasonable explanation. "I will think about this myself. As for you…"
"What I do has nothing to do with you. You have no right to order me around," Balor said seriously as he stood up, "I'll leave you to deal with this. If you can investigate where she is and go rescue her directly, wouldn't it be fine?"
"Hey!" Kurdak grabbed onto Balor in a panic. "Alfreid's not that easy to deal with! You'll easily lose your life from this!"
Balor's pitch-black lips curved into a smile as he liquefied. Kurdak felt water running through his fingers and the next thing he noticed was Balor had already escaped his grab.
"You seem to be forgetting I'm a shadow creature," he said bitterly, "Do you know what special properties shadow creatures have?"
"We are hard to exterminate. We are practically immortal if we don't get damaged by strong light energy," he said as his body turned into slush once more and left the tent. Before he left, Kurdak seemed to hear a whisper from him. "So… don't worry about me, Brother-in-law."
That was the second time Kurdak met Balor, and it was also his last. After that, he waited for a whole month, but Balor seemed to have vanished without a trace since that night. Sometimes he wondered if he really met Balor at all or if it had been nothing but a dream.
Regardless, Vera's disappearance was an undeniable fact. So, while he didn't seem too obviously disturbed, Lamir, who was constantly by his side, could feel his unease. But no matter how much she asked about it, Kurdak didn't say anything.
He was considering whether he should tell Leguna about it. He had made up his mind to get into contact with him if he heard Leguna was back in Melindor. While there wasn't a need for him to support him fully, he could at least get some help with the investigation.
He didn't think that before he even wrote the letter, he heard the shocking news of Annelotte's incident and didn't know whether she survived.
That came as another shock for him which completely shattered his notion of going to Leguna for help. Since his brother was troubling himself over his women, he would work on his own problems himself.
In the end, he made up his mind after receiving the letter of mysterious origin. He gave Londo and Eibron some simple instructions before leaving his unit.
He felt rather good after his nap. The drunkness had faded in his sleep. Even though he dreamed, it was a good opportunity for him to recount recent events. It was currently the night, but it wasn't midnight yet, so Kurdak decided he would go downstairs for some nourishment before getting to anything else.
He had beef and bread like usual, but didn't ask for alcohol this time. He waited for another two hours after his meal and when he was sure the food was digested and the people were falling asleep, he made his move.
He landed like a heavy bear from a tree and quickly left before anyone noticed.
He was in a rather large city in Semralsin by the name of Phandar. This was one of the more prosperous cities in the province, but Kurdak didn't really care about that. He was more concerned about the governor of the city, Alan Batir. That man was Alfreid's nephew and considered to be the heir to House Rolin.
Yes, it was true that the heir wasn't Alfreid's only son, Edito Rolin, but rather someone called Alan Batir.
The reason for that was how much of a pushover Edito was. Despite being the son of a master schemer, Edito was completely useless.
Initially, Alfreid held some hope for Edito, but the boy had foiled his wishes time and again. So, Alfreid turned his attention to Alan, who was some five years Edito's junior but far superior to him intellectually. Alan was the son of Alfreid's sister, Sansha Rolin, but she wasn't married. So, Alan was just an illegitimate child.
Additionally, Alan looked incredibly like Alfreid when he was young. It was as if they were cast from the same mold.
Alfreid had one younger brother and three younger sisters. Additionally, even though Alfreid only had one son he acknowledged, even fools could guess he had a couple of illegitimate children lying around, to say nothing more of his other nephews and nieces.
Despite the great number of descendants, however, others believed the hope for House Rolin lied with Alan. Otherwise, Alfreid wouldn't have made his nephew the governor of a city.
Kurdak intended to kidnap Alan to threaten Alfreid for Vera back. Even though it was rather risky, he didn't have any other choice. Ever since Vera disappeared, Alfreid didn't make any moves apart from the letter. Kurdak couldn't be sure what he was planning, but he had to at least throw him off his pace.
He was well aware that if things unfolded as Alfreid wished, he would definitely end up on the losing side. So, he came to this place to carry out his first stealth mission.Previous Chapter Next Chapter