"Gaaah!" Geoffrey spat out a mouthful of blood. The attack had come so suddenly that he hadn't been able to react at all. He wasn't even able to activate the protective enchanted items on him, much less dictate any barrier spells on himself.
"You…" He looked at his assailant with complete puzzlement. He couldn't remember who he was; he wasn't even sure whether they'd met. Yet, why would that person kill him? Was he a blade for hire? Who would pay to have him killed?
"I've waited for so many years, and now, the day has finally come." What Geoffrey didn't know was that this assassin wasn't as calm as most hired killers were. Though he seemed calm on the surface, the glint in his eyes gave off the seething agitation and hate. Geoffrey could even see tears flowing from his eyes.
As he felt his life force leaving him, he asked, "Who… are… you…"
"You won't remember me, naturally." The assassins words were filled with bone-deep hatred. He twisted the dagger in his hand and widened the wound. "Latie's my elder sister. You were the one who killed her. And I, am Xeno."
"Latie?" His expression was still filled with confusion. He had killed a lot of people, those whose names he remembered numbered even fewer. Who was Latie? It sounded like the name of a girl.
"That's right, you take the lives of others with that uncaring attitude of yours." He ripped the wound even larger as he grit his teeth. "Latie's my elder sister, a mid-order assassin Stok picked and sent to participate in the Hockian tournament. She was sent to kill Larwin! When she failed, you tortured her to death. Do you remember now? Huh?!"
The hole in Geoffrey's chest kept on opening wider and wider. In a short second, he passed completely, but at the last moment, he remembered many things, including the petite female assassin. He did indeed kill someone like that. He even remembered using the disintegration spell to eat away at her little by little. However, that didn't matter. He remembered something even more crucial. He recalled that Larwin mentioned Leguna had a capable subordinate called Xeno. He now understood why Alissanda insisted on keeping Annelotte and the rest locked up within First Magic Academy.
His own brother had wanted to rely on others to kill him. It wasn't hard to figure out. By locking Annelotte and the rest there, Leguna and the bureau would have more than enough reason to attack the academy. They split up into two and sent one group to rescue the captives. The assassin that bore a grudge against him could sneak to his office and find an opportunity to kill him instead.
All that could be set into motion by giving the right place the right push, that was to say, releasing the imprisoned Leguna! Once he was out, Geoffrey would die from a 'surprise' assassination. Alissanda wouldn't be implicated in that at all and all eyes would be pointed at Leguna.
As for the motive, it was obvious. With Larwin and Geoffrey dead, Alissanda would be the sole member of the imperial family to inherit the throne! It was at that moment when he understood why Alissanda swore in the name of the Sacred Light that he wouldn't inherit the throne as long as Geoffrey was still alive. While his oath was indeed bound by the laws, it didn't work as intended at all, at least, not as Geoffrey had intended it. Once Geoffrey was dead, Alissanda could rightfully inherit the throne without going against his oath. As long as Geoffrey was out of the picture, the oath was as good as nonexistent.
Alissanda had used an oath to the planar laws to fool his foolish elder brother.
"Alissanda… you… well played…" Those were his final words before he collapsed.
Xeno looked at the body and spat on it, before disappearing back into the shadows, satisfied.
"Where's the key?!" an assassin asked after he chopped the limb off one guard.
"Aaaagh! It's here!" the guard cried and pointed out the key's location. It wasn't time to show his loyalty and pride. The assassin that showed up from nowhere was exceedingly cruel. His fellow guard had his head cut off after keeping quiet for no more than a few seconds. Even though he had lost his right hand, he obediently revealed the location of the key.
"Quick!" The assassin flashed to the drawer the guard pointed out and found the key inside.
The cells were easily opened. Annelotte and Eirinn were comforting Innilis, who was a little shaken from hearing the commotion outside.
"What are you planning to do?" Even when she was locked up and not able to use any spells, the glacial empress still gave off a heavy presence. All she did was stand up and narrow her eyes to give the assassin a chill. Eirinn also stood up. While she didn't say a word, she wore an expression of bravery and toughness.
The operatives of the bureau gave them a look before kneeling on one knee to the ground. "We of the bureau have come on Sir Leguna's orders to rescue you, Madam Annelotte!"
"Leguna?" She relaxed when she heard that name and nodded. "Thanks a lot."
"Quick, undo the cuffs on the madam!" the leader said. While he was stronger than Xeno in raw power, Leguna trusted the latter more due to his reliability and resourcefulness. But now that Xeno had ordered him to attack the prison, the assassin leader thought it a good chance to perform and shine.
"Who are you calling madam?! Don't mess around!" Even in her predicament, the mere implication that she was Leguna's significant other caused her to try to deny their relation weakly.
"Miss Annelotte is right…" The leader let out a cold sweat. He didn't think the legendary glacial empress would be that troublesome to deal with.
The chains were quickly undone. With the seal gone, her mana resurfaced. She looked at the assassin and asked, "What other plans does Leguna have?"
"He ordered us to take you all to Melindor Plaza to meet him." The moment he replied, another assassin came in and whispered something to his ear.
"Looks like the magi from First Magic Academy reacted rather quickly." Annelotte could see the pained smile under his mask as he gave his report, still kneeling. "They said the entrance of the academy has been sealed off by the magi. We might have some trouble trying to get out. It is my incompetence that caused you madams-- I mean, ladies to come into danger."
"The elders of the academy, huh…" She pondered for a moment before smiling coldly. "No worries. Just follow me and focus on getting out."
"Miss, that won't do! Making sure you're safe is our highest priority! Even if we lose our lives, we must ensure no harm comes to all three of you!"
Annelotte ignored the leader and left with Innilis and Eirinn. With every step she took, the assassin felt the air cool down a few degrees. He watched helplessly as she left and tried to stretch out his hand to stop her.
"Thank you for braving such dangers to come to our rescue," Annelotte said as she turned back, now on the stairs. Her voice wasn't loud, but it was filled with confidence. "Now, it's my turn to protect you. Follow me closely. We'll leave together."Previous Chapter Next Chapter