“Well, this will be your room for tonight.”
The young man felt almost blinded by the gloriousness of this chamber. A huge bed, two giant windows and walls pearly-white. This room was way different from the other parts of the building which seemed dark and almost haunting.
“My uncle actually wanted you to get our old housekeeper’s room but it’s floor is covered with bugs and stuff. After a short argue between my uncle and Richard they decided you should get one of the guest rooms. Be grateful”, Lucille added coldly.
“That's....nice.” Alik felt wired in her presence. Lucille didn't seem to like him at all. All the way upstairs she ignored him completely and there was something in her voice which made him uncomfortable. Her brother, in the other hand, appeared more likeable. He hadn't wasted a word towards him either but at least he smiled all the time. Though all in all they were quite a wired pair of siblings.
“We are going to receive our first mission tomorrow. I'll get you punctual at 5 am.” Then they left.
Alik fell backwards into his bed. He was glad Richard got this room for him because Alik had his problems with vermin. Especially spiders made him shudder. Silently he stared at the ceiling where a silver chandelier faced him. Traveling surely can be exhausting even if all you do is sitting in a carriage. All he wanted now was some sleep. Cuddled up into the soft blanked he made himself comfortable. “I hope I'll survive this”, was his last mutter before sleep carried him away.
“So the tunnels are safe again?”
“Yes, sir,” the warrior answered. “The beast is dead. No worries anymore.”
The mine's chief expression was more than pleased. It was the first time Kyra actually saw him smiling. “The beast is dead! The mine is ours again!” he shouted at his workers who fell in cheers then. Many threw their helmet's up into the air as if they were delighted students who just passed their finals.
“I guess it's time for your reward. Come!” The man led her up the stairs into his office. It was a small cabin with only an old wooden table inside. Some rocks were placed on a small set of sheets to make sure draft won't blow them off. A rusty bullhorn hung above the desk, fixed by a loose nail. The chief yanked out the desk’s drawer and fetched a blue metal box, grabbing after something inside. The promised wage of 100 gildlings. He turned to Kyra.
“Here you go, young miss.” 100 gildling wasn't much but she got what she wanted. The Sneak was hers. For being the daughter of a tribe’s chief she didn't have any financial worries. Her mother already took care about her wealth.
She grabbed the coins. “Thank you kindly for your support”, the chief whispered and smiled weakly. He must have given his whole money to her because the box was left empty.
“As a fact, I have to thank you”, she replied with a fake smile. “I so wish I could offer you more but this beast brought us some rough times...”
“ I understand.”
“...there is only some coffee I can supply as an extra.Well, can I persuade you for a cub?”
“Oh, I'm terribly sorry, dear sir, but I'm in hurry. My next job is calling”, Kyra lied. Of course she had the time because she hadn't got any information about her next task yet.
“I see”, he answered. “However, I wish you luck for your next mission. God may bless your way.”
Kyra gave him a last (faked) grin and left. Walking down the stairs a self confident smile appeared. “I did it. I caught my first beast.” A loud whistle was followed by a fast clatter and soon a hasty Switchclaw arrived, ready for taking her mistress away from the mountain.
“Time to get up!”
A noisy greeting followed by a door slam awaked the blonde in his bed. “What time is it?” Alik murmured trough his soft cushion. “5 am. Just as I told you yesterday. You've got 15 minutes to get ready. My uncle wants to see all three of us down in the big hall.” Lucille left.
A few minutes later Alik appeared downstairs in the hallway. Tired but his clothes clean and tidy as usual. Wearing his white suit and sunglasses. Why he wore shades? No one knew but an Alik without his shades would have been even more wired. No one was able to imagine him without them. An already waiting Auro greeted him with a waving hand, his grumpy sister standing next to him. Alik gave them a nervous smile.
Together, the team wandered towards the great hall. It was a kinda unobtrusive door which faced them in the corridor. Not much bigger than any other gate in the castle but the chamber behind shall reveal it's glory to them.
A giant room. Ceiling decorated with four black chandeliers, each of them carrying three silver candles. Huge church-like windows, glass made out of dark mosaic weakly illuminated the area in a dismal atmosphere. It gave Alik the creeps.
At the hall's end the throne remained. Rugged and huge it rose from the ground, decorated with multiple gems and even some gold. On it sat the same hateful man whom Alik met the day before. Next to him, which made Alik feel a bit lighter, Richard was positioned. His smile sly as always.
The trio bowed to them.”Good morning, uncle,” was the girls greeting as she entered right after Alik, followed by Auro. “Aaah, Lucille. Haven't seen your for weeks. How are you doing, my dear?” the consultant asked happily but was shut down by his master's angry leer. Leopold Rigidus II. was his name but he was mostly known as Lord Rigidus. He was the king who ruled the Northern Kingdom. A passable witch hunter in his youth days, feared by many of their kind. Together with his companions he introduced the 'cleaning' which was nothing more than a great ramble trough the country. Killing and arresting thousands of wizards, vampires and other 'different' beings. Tons of innocents included. That's how he came to power. Folk praised him as their messiah and savior while others cursed his name. He banished magic from this country and built a new kingdom: Humrace- The Human Race with it's capital given the same name.
“I got a letter form Alphonse Calavan, the mayor of Deusbrough,” Rigidus started. “A witch is roaming trough his town. A few people already lost their lives trough her hands. In my youth I used to deal with this by myself but with a kingdom to rule I don't have the possibility anymore. This is why I want you to take care. Lucille, Auro, as my descendants I await you to eliminate those wicked beings.” The two nodded obedient. Then the man turned to Alik. “And I don' think this will be a problem for you as well. Richard lionized in high tunes. He assured me you might be one of the best and this is your time to show it. Don't disappoint me, for your sake.”
The three bowed to the king one last time before they left. Out of the king's sight, Alik couldn't help but give away a loud groan.
“If you are as good as Richard promised then there is nothing you have to be worried about” Lucille said.
Alik followed the siblings trough the town. It was a very busy place with loads of people on the streets. Kinda reminded him on his own home. The only difference were those guards lurking in every corner. The shops were pretty similar to the ones he knew as well. Markets, flower shops and even a little tea house but this one was much bigger and even had a small garden in front of it. Kamir always dreamed of having a garden like this. Sadly, they couldn't afford to lay one out. His brother already saved money in hopes to build one in remote future. Lucille led them trough a small alley between plenty of tiny houses. Most of them were with balconies and some even had small roofgarden where breakfast and feasts were held. They stopped in front of a green roofed building. Auro pulled out a small silver key from his jacket and opened the door. A fresh smell greeted Alik's nose. Flowers. The shelves were full of them. Even their little coffee table got prettied up with a vase. Far on the right side of the room was a staircase which led to the upper chambers of the house. Right behind was another one leading down to the house's cellar. From the living room you could enter the kitchen trough a small door. Tidy and clean it shone. Just like the rest of the house.
“Are you hungry?” Lucille asked. Suddenly Alik realized how empty his stomach was. He didn't have dinner the day before. A hasty nod was his answer. While Lucille prepared their breakfast Auro disappeared upstairs and returned with a couple of books. “Are those for the hunt?” Alik asked. Auro nodded silently, wearing his usual enigmatic smile. Auro really was an interesting guy. Hadn't been speaking a single word since they met the day before.
“Not to appear intrusive but why are you never talking to me? Is something wrong?”
Auro shook his head. “He never talks”, a voice echoed from the kitchen. Lucille.
“Why not?” Auro just gave him a weak smile.
“He just considers loose lips sink ships”, Lucille answered his question. Auro couldn't help but chuckle silently. It was not the answer Alik expected but that was all they had to say about this so he decided to leave it at that.
After about half an hour Alik found himself sitting at the table together with Auro and his sister who was reading the letter they got from Deusbrought. „According to Calavan's report our witch is very young. A child.”
“If she’s so small why do we have to hunt her then?” Alik asked.
“Because it's our job, duh.” The boy blushed in embarrassment and fixed his askew shades. “Oh..yeah, sure.” A nervous chuckle escaped his throat. “She already killed two humans. So it's better we still be careful about that. That witch might be young but that's no reason to underestimate her.” Alik grabbed one of the baked buns from the basked on the table.
“So what's our strategy?”
“That's something we are going to think about when we face our enemy.“
After they finished their little meal the two siblings started to prepare themselves for the hunt. Only Alik was left back in the living room. “And what about me?”, he called upstairs. No answer.
“Alright, ignore me. It's not that I'd need equipment...”, he silently mumbled to himself.
Soon his comrades returned to the living room.
Lucille got herself two shoulder bags. Small, but big enough to carry the main gear. One of them, a brown one, was meant for Alik. As he took a look inside he found a small dagger, an empty water bottle (which he had to fill himself) and also a book. “What is the book for?”, he asked Lucille as she rushed into the kitchen. “A list of all known demons and magical creatures. You'll need it, even if I had thought you'd already own one.”
“Oh..I do”, he lied, ”but Richard told me I wouldn't need any luggage so I didn't bring anything.”
“That's why I gave it to you.” Lucille collected the half empty bread basket from the table and carried it into the kitchen. “In the cupboards above the cooker you'll find meat and vegetables for your provision.” He followed her and got himself two buns and a piece of cheese. He never had been much of an eater so this was enough for him. As he started to fill his bottle with water Auro appeared in the kitchen as well, waiting for Alik to finish up his work.
“We don't have too much time. Our carriage arrives in about fifteen minutes”, Lucille called from the living room.
As the trio left the house a carriage already awaited them. Not as noble than the one which picked up Alik but big enough for all three to fit in. Lucille appeared with an elegant bow and quiver which she stow away in the carriage while Alik himself remained unarmed.
“What about me?” he asked.
The woman vanished inside the building and returned with a brownish bag. Alik soon recognized it to be the leathery cover of a sword.“Here,” Lucille said and gave it to him.
“I don't know what weapons you usually use but I think this shall do it for now.” Another nervous laugh was Alik's answer as he took it from her. “Y..yeah. It will do it...for now.” His gaze fell upon Auro. “And what about him?”
“He's a fencer,” Lucille answered. Only then Alik realized the metal something clamped to Auro's belt. “And our bookworm and demon expert as well.”
The dark haired nodded approving.
Inside the carriage Alik decided to take a closer look at his new weapon. He was not very skilled in valuing something but this surely was something not every warrior could afford. A beautiful piece. Shiny unscratched metal with several ornaments carved in the grasp.“It must be me who'll use it for the first time. If the king provided this for me?” He put it pack into it's bag. This carriage moved pretty slow compared to it's predecessor. About ten minutes passed and they were still moving inside the town. Alik's impatience grow. Like a little kid he regularly stuck his head out of the window to check if they had moved any further.
“What's up out there. Why are we moving so slowly?”
“It's about the controls,” Lucille answered him while polishing her bow. “All carriages, no matter if leaving or arriving, have to expose themselves a strict control. My uncles order.”
Lucille was right. Peeking out the window again the blonde realized the congestion in the streets. Most of them were commercial carriages, providing the whole town with fresh vegetables from the many fields around. Some of them passed without any trouble while some got stopped by the gloomy dressed guards. Maybe some black markets who tried to smuggle. Now it was their turn.
“Your ID's, please” an officer lurked inside the coach. Alik’s two companions promptly established themselves with two special recognitions: Hunting ID's. That's what they were called. Only registered experts were allowed to carry them. For good measure, they had the king's seal as well. “And what about him?” Alik winced as the officer stared at him with a suspicious leer. “He's with us,” Lucille answered calmly. “Hmph, if you say so.”
After they had left the town's area the carriage's speed increases. No control, no lag. They rushed along a small gravel path which led them past many fields. Most of them grew corn but it’s season seemed to have an end soon. Alik adored watching the scenery pass. If no book was around the window had to serve as an amusement but again a voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Since you are our new team member and to Richard's report a skilled hunter as well, I'd like to know a bit more about you” Lucille said.
“Erm...I'm a demon hunter.”
“Yeah...we already now about that. What about your former missions? Can't remember to have heard about your name before.” He turned nervous. Of course she didn't because there weren't any. So he quickly made up something. “Well, you never heard about me because I'm not very fond of getting famous and stuff.” He smiled edgy.
“Aha, I see...” Silence lasted not for long.
Now he dared to ask a question: “How came you two became hunters?”
“Our uncle's fault. He had been training us since we were kids. Demons have always caught my interest. He told us about his adventures and missions and about all the beasts he slayed. I'm most proud to follow his path.” Alik already imagined the picture how they were told the scariest and most violent bed-time stories about killing witches and dragons by a bitter and hateful man. How fortunate for him that his parents only told him about fluffy bunnies and brave warriors saving princesses. However, instead of revealing his thoughts on their uncle he just smiled and nodded politely.
In the afternoon the carriage arrived in Deusbrough. A small gloomy village hidden in the woods. Surrounded by old houses, their charriage moved trough the empty streets.There was not a single soul walking the streets. No birds, no pets, no humans just as if every kind of life was hiding.
The carriage stopped in a jolt. As they stepped outside the trio found themselves in front of a huge noble building: the town hall. Ahead the carriage someone already awaited them.
Dressed in a black attire and a shady hat the figure moved towards the trio.
“Greetings to you, dear guests. My name is Alphonse Calavan.Welcome to Deusbrough.” Lucille bowed to him. “I greet you as well, mayor Calavan. My name is Lucille Kalligrari and this is my brother, Auro Kalligrari.” The dark haired gave a quick nod. Alphonse's eyes fell upon Alik who also bowed. “And I'm Alik. Alik Revell.”. The mayor rose a brow. “Quite young for hunters but the time to judge your skills will come soon. Till then I shall expound our situation. Please follow me.” He led them inside the building.
Calavan's office appeared as dark as himself. A huge desk in front of a great window greeted them as they entered his rooms. Also a wooden cross was nailed to the wall above the door. The mayor removed a small golden bell from his table and rang it. A few seconds later a servant entered the room. A young woman. Brownish skin and dressed in a dirty old dress.“Slaves”, Alik thought as she carried in a small tray with teacups and a pot on it. A small snap of him was his sign to pour the hot liquid in and serve it to their guests. “Thank you....” Alik responded as he received his cup. Weakly, the woman looked up to him. “Oh, you don't have to thank them. It is an honor to work inside these walls. Am I right, deary?” The woman nodded silently and left the room again with Alik's gaze following her. He was more than disgusted.
“Now tell us about that witch you asked us to come for.” Lucille switched the topic.
“Very well”, the mayor replied. “This vermin is a true curse, literally. In the past year 6 people disappeared without leaving a single hint. The last victim went missing two weeks ago at full moon.”
“And what makes you so sure this might be the work of magic? You live in the mountains. It could have been a cougar or a pack of wolves”, Alik blurted out. Calavan shook is head. “Predators would have left tracks or carcass but we found nothing. I also heard about another village a few miles away from here which had the same problem not too long ago. They got themselves a demon hunter and a few days later he returned with an old woman who lived in the woods. After she got executed the kidnappings stopped. I want you to be my hunters. For the sake of my city, search that witch, capture her and bring her to me. I'll take care of the rest afterwards.”
Lucille noted something inside a little book she brought along and pulled out a sheet of paper which she handed to the mayor.
“Please sign here, mister Calavan.”
“What is this?”
“As you already know we're members of the royal hunting squad sent by king Leopold Rigidus II. Your majesty insists on a written acknowledgement.”
“I see...” He set his signature below and returned it to Lucille. “ 30 000 gildling will be your reward for a successful mission. We put all our hope in you.” He rang his bell again and the servant appeared in the door. “Bring them to Mrs. Havour”, he said, “she'll be in charge of your accommodation.”
While the woman led them trough the streets of Deusbrough, Alik again noticed the emptiness in this town. “E..excuse me, ma'am but why is nobody outside?” No answer. “Ma'am?”
Bam! A rude jostle and Alik found himself on the ground. Next to him a girl who stared at him in shock. Alik tried to say something but before he could open his mouth a scream appeared behind them. “Thief, thief! Get that little brat!” The girl jumped on her feed and kept running and soon disappeared behind a house, escaping into the forest. Alik got up as well as a winkling something caught his eye. “She must have lost it”, he thought and picked it up. The guy who called out for her, a pudgy man wearing some kind of uniform, stopped in front of the hunting trio and gasped: “W...why didn't you st..stop her?” Lucille turned to Alik but he was gone.