Same Line of Work
"They are triplets the empire picked to train since childhood. They are always in missions together and nobody is better than them when it comes to coordination," Larwin said without turning back to look at the assassins. He gave Leguna only a barebones explanation, obviously not wanting him to know too much about the true capabilities of his intelligence outfit. He waved his hand and said, "You three, come meet the head of the bureau."
The three walked to him in completely synchronized steps before kneeling on one knee.
"I am Godslay."
"I am Heartslay."
"I am Soulslay."
"Greetings, Sir Leguna," they said in unison.
Leguna looked at the three, surprised. They walked completely in tandem and the tone and rhythm of their voices were completely identical. Larwin was probably right. They almost seemed to share a mind. Perhaps they didn't even need to even glance at one another to figure out what they were about to do.
Not to mention, apart from the initial showing off, they suppressed their impetus. If Leguna didn't have a visual on them, he wouldn't have been able to detect them at all. At least, he was certain of one thing. He could use his gift to take all three of them on and win. However, if they chose ambushing and surprise attacks, he wouldn't be able to keep up with their coordination.
"Very well. They will be our trump card in killing Nidhogg," Leguna said.
The emperor hesitated, before he said, "But, Nidhogg is a talent of ridiculous proportions. The four of you alone might not be able to succeed."
Myr, who had been silent the whole time, spoke, "Don't worry, Your Imperial Majesty. Nidhogg and I have a long history. I will come along."
"It is much appreciated, Grandmaster Myr," Larwin said with a bow. "When are you going to leave, Leguna?"
"In three days."
"We have to be. We can't let Nidhogg gain even more power. Additionally, we don't even know if he's watching us. Only by moving fast can we stand a chance of catching him off guard and have any hope of stopping him. If we let him prepare for our arrival, it will all be over."
"I see. I understand--" Larwin turned to the three assassins. "--You three, from now on, make sure to obey Leguna's orders. You must even obey if he asks you to kill one another, understood?"
"Yes," they said without a hint of emotion.
Larwin then came to Leguna and said while half kneeling, "Ley, I understand that this catastrophe isn't that life-threatening to top experts like you. Yet, you decided to offer yourself up to the empire. I thank you on behalf of the empire."
"Your Imperial Majesty, this is too much…" He hurriedly helped Larwin back onto his feet. Upon closer inspection, the emperor no longer looked as flushed and healthy as he used to. His smooth skin had turned dry and flaky and the rings around his eyes were proof of how worn out he was. He must've been quite worn out from dealing with the catastrophe.
Even so, he hadn't asked Leguna to take Nidhogg out because of the sheer unlikelihood of that succeeding. Not to mention, Leguna's abilities were already far beyond the empire's control. If he wasn't willing to do so, there wasn't much the emperor could do about it. All he had to do was leave. How would an empire find a 19th-stratum assassin in hiding?
The thought of that got Leguna thinking that Larwin actually treated him rather well. When he first joined the bureau, apart from Arikos and Annelotte, Larwin also secretly helped him out a lot. Even after he firmed his footing in the bureau, Larwin had never intentionally caused him any trouble. Even during Leguna's conflicts with Geoffrey, Larwin had never shown his son any bias.
Leguna was quite moved and thankful for that. He sincerely said to him, "Your Imperial Majesty has treated me rather well, so I naturally can't leave the empire to fend for itself in a time of crisis like this. I'll do my best on this mission to rid us of this trouble!"
Larwin nodded. "Everything will be counting on you."
In the following days, Leguna discussed the plans with the three assassin brothers. Eventually, they concluded that any plan would be pointless if Nidhogg was ready for them. So, they could only use the most direct and simple method of assassinating him.
In other words, they would have Myr challenge Nidhogg directly while Leguna stayed hidden for a surprise attack. If they were still defeated after that, the three brothers would attack when Nidhogg let his guard down. They were the stars of the plans.
It took them two days to make the preparations. On the second night, someone he didn't expect came to him: Annelotte.
"No! You're not going no matter what you say!" Leguna insisted. He was quite troubled. Even though he kept it hidden for so long, how did she find out about it?
"These legs are mine alone. I am free to go where I want," she said in a nonchalant, but firm manner.
"You…" Leguna was flipping mad he almost jumped.
"Let us go together!" Another person came in, to his surprise.
"Lisana?" He was quite surprised to see Alissanda's fiancee in there. "You were the one who told Annie?"
"That's right," Lisana admitted, "I happened to pass through His Imperial Majesty's study and overheard some things."
"No, not you, not her either--"
"Listen, Leguna. This isn't your problem to deal with alone. It's not something you can handle by yourself either. Annie told me how terrifying Nidhogg is. Do you really think the lot of you stand a chance of winning?"
"So you joining makes it enough?"
"At least we'll stand a better chance. I understand that you want to protect Annie just like how Alissanda wants to protect me and sent me back to Melindor. However, I agreed to come back because I knew he wouldn't be in any danger even if I'm not on the frontlines. He can take care of himself. But this time, it's different. We're well aware that you won't be able to take Nidhogg down even with Grandmaster Myr's help. You still need Annie and my power. If you really want to protect her, let us come with. Otherwise, you're only irresponsibly marching to your death! If that happens, it'll be over for you, but it won't be for Annie, Eirinn and Innie. Let me state it one more time. If you really want Annie and the rest to survive, let us come with you. It's our only chance and we must not waste it!"
After some silent consideration, Leguna said, "Have you asked Grandmaster Myr about it?"
"I already convinced Teacher," she said, having just used the conference spell to talk to Myr. As if she was trying to infuriate Leguna, she added, "These legs are on my body and you can't stop me even if you want to."
He smiled in resignation at the sight of her pouty look. "Alright, fine…"Previous Chapter Next Chapter