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7 Friend or Foe?

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At the Royal Army Headquarters, inside one of the offices in the central building.

Jax rubbed the bridge of his nose as he recalled Vera's report. He leaned on his chair behind his desk, thinking of explaining the status to the Grand Marshal.

Before the Grand Marshal left in the morning, he had entrusted Jax to continue the search for Kyran Regis.

Jax remembered, when he asked Gael if there would be a general level authority to assist with the search, Gael glared at him and said that if a general level authority moved, it would be counterproductive to contain the information of the failed attempt to capture Kyran.

Naturally, Jax understood the true meaning behind Gael's words.

While Gael stood at the top of the Royal Army, the three Deputy Marshals below him would definitely not let go of this situation. Especially the deputies from the East and West Branches of the Royal Army because of their ambitions. The deputy from the North Branch had no ambition, but she would certainly not remain silent due to Kyran's threat to the empire.

Gael also did not want their enemy to know of Kyran's existence as well. Those people from the south were the Dark Sage's fanatics. If they found out about Kyran, it would mean a great disaster to the empire.

Thus, Gael ordered officers below the rank of captain to search because he had complete control of these people. And apart from Dior and Luka, Vera was the only captain level involved in the operation.

Then there's Jax, acting as the second-highest level of authority for this mission.

Jax sighed. It was not the first time that he operated a manhunt. But this one was by far the most complicated and dangerous of all.

"We can only deal with it according to the situation. Acting too cautious might draw more attention," Jax decided.

He opened his communication device and sent out an order to all teams.

After that, he stood up and went out. He also needed to prepare.

====================

Silas and Gage arrived at Aeren Town and went straight to the town's pub.

It was still early in the evening, but already the pub was lively.

Mercenaries and travelers alike were eating and drinking. The mercenaries could be easily identified by their loud voices and rowdiness. While travelers were less rowdy, they would also join the mercenaries' discussions from time to time.

Silas and Gage sat in an empty seat over the bar and ordered some booze.

"Full house tonight, master?" Silas greeted the owner of the pub, who served them some booze.

The owner was a middle-aged man with short brown hair and brown eyes. He was an amiable person that when you talked to him, it felt like you were talking to an old friend.

"Hahaha. Well, it seems there is a good bounty released today, and the last location of the target is supposed to be near here."

Silas and Gage exchanged meaningful glances.

The owner noticed this exchange and laughed heartily.

"Why you two are also mercenaries, so you probably know more than I do."

Silas smiled and looked at him, "Honestly, we only have the information provided by the guild. We're here to find out more about what we're dealing with."

The owner smiled, "Well, gentleman. Getting information is a little hard right now."

"Why's that?" Gage asked.

Before the owner could reply, a group of men in red uniforms entered. They were men from the Forbidden Magic Control Squad.

The noise in the whole pub slowly died down as one after another mercenary turned to look at the newcomers.

The owner looked at a young lady beside him and whispered something to her.

Afterward, the young lady greeted the men in red and gestured for them to follow her.

Once the group went up the second floor where private rooms were located, the mercenaries and travelers slowly resumed their affairs. But it was noticeable how the liveliness had lessened.

The owner then looked at Silas and Gage and smiled apologetically. "As you can see, with the Royal Army, also in town, most of us try to steer clear and avoid getting into trouble."

Gage frowned, "Why do you have to cower in front of those royal dogs?"

Silas frowned at Gage's provocative attitude. His voice was loud when he had spoken, and some mercenaries had looked over at them.

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Good thing the Royal Army was already out of earshot, or else they might have to deal with unnecessary confrontation.

"Ahaha. I admire your bravery, good sir. Unfortunately, since most here have not been blessed by magic, we have no means to 'stand' against them."

"Oh, so a mage is rare in this town?" Silas asked.

"That's right. Those who are blessed with magic are usually from the Regis clan."

"Regis... They are one of the oldest noble families in the empire."

"You know your information, sir."

"Is Aeren Town part of the Regis clan's rule?"

The owner shook his head, "No. They pretty much keep to themselves. Every year they will open their gates and accept apprentices, but after that, they just stayed within their estate."

The owner then had a thoughtful look, "Which reminds me. Just last night, there seemed to be some disturbance at their estate."

Silas and Gage's eyes narrowed at this information.

"Disturbance?" Silas repeated.

"That's right. But it only lasted a few hours. Well, it was the young master of the Regis clan's birthday last night, so it might've only been because they were having too much fun."

Silas smiled meaningfully. "It might've been a very big celebration then."

The owner also smiled. "Indeed."

====================

'Hm?' Kyran stirred from his sleep.

He slowly opened his eyes and saw an unfamiliar ceiling. He absent-mindedly turned his head and looked at the bonfire a few feet away from him.

From opposite the bonfire, a man wearing a big dark cloak sat crossed-legged and seemed to be looking at him.

Kyran stared dazedly at the cloaked man.

But then, the memories from last night came back to him in a rush, and his eyes grew big as he sat upright.lightsnovel

The sudden movement made him dizzy, and he instinctively bent his body and grabbed his head. His head throbbed in pain.

"Argh," he winced.

"I'd lie back down if I were you," the cloaked man said, observing him.

Kyran endured the pain and immediately grabbed the nearest thing to him. He lifted his arm and aimed it at the cloaked man, looking at him threateningly.

Seeing Kyran's reaction, the cloaked man sighed. "Seriously? You plan on attacking me with that thing?"

Kyran retained his threatening look but still could not help feeling uncomfortable after seeing what he had in his hand.

He had grabbed a… stone.

Well, actually, it was not even a stone, but a chunk of soil. And because Kyran got flustered, his grip tightened, and it broke, then slowly turned to dust.

"…."

Suddenly the cloaked man burst out laughing.

"Hahahaha!"

Kyran reddened and looked around to find a more suitable weapon.

"Look, if I want to kill you, I only need to leave you alone, and you would've died without me doing anything," the cloaked man told him.

Kyran stopped and looked at him again.

The cloaked man stared at him as well.

"Well?"

"Why did you help me then," Kyran asked, still feeling wary.

"I want to stay here for the night, and I don't want a dead body close to me."

"Why not throw me out. Leave me to die outside."

"You'd rather I do that then? It's not too late, though," The cloaked man replied and stood up.

"Stop! Stay there," Kyran roared when the cloaked man started to approach him. A purple ring appeared on Kyran's outstretched arm.

The cloaked man did stop and stared at the purple ring circling Kyran's forearm.

'Such a strange magic array. It does not have any rune writings. Just pure energy,' he thought.

"First you say throw you out, then you tell me to stop. Make up your mind, kid," the cloaked man said. Contrary to being angry, he was a little amused.

Kyran frowned. Honestly, he did not feel any hostility from the cloaked man. But his origin was too ambiguous. Thus Kyran could not let his guard down.

"I just don't understand why you'd help me."

The cloaked man fell silent.

The burning woods, the crackling bonfire, and the soft buzz of forest insects were the only sounds heard around them.

For a while, the cloaked man just stared at Kyran.

He knew the kid's background was not simple. After all, he was practically dying when he saw him. But while Kyran's eyes showed hostility, the cloaked man also saw fear hiding beneath.

He helped this kid on a whim. It was not true that he minded a dead body near him. He had been in many situations where he had to sleep with corpses lying around. Just like what Kyran said, he could have thrown him and just let him die outside.

But he did not.

'Why indeed,' The cloaked man also wondered to himself. He was not a sympathetic person. Hell, he would not even blink when killing a child if it's part of his mission.

But this kid….

"Do I need a reason to help someone?" the cloaked man answered after a few minutes.

Kyran's brow twitched. He remained silent.

"Anyway, if you do not trust me, that's your choice. I do not trust you either. So we're even. I helped you just because I'm feeling generous. I do not need gratitude from you either. Now. I will stay on this side; you stay on that side. That way, we would both have our personal space. How about that?"

Kyran contemplated for a while and agreed after a few seconds. "Okay."

"Good."

The cloaked man returned to his side and sat down. He leaned back on the wall.

Kyran watched him in silence. He took a deep breath and tried to check his body's condition.

All his wounds, including his broken bones, were almost healed. If the cloaked man attacked him, he was sure he would be able to fend for himself.

But the cloaked man seemed to be telling the truth and just wanted to rest, so Kyran would not provoke him.

'Right, my things.' Kyran looked around to search for his things.

"Right side near the trench," the cloaked man spoke.

Kyran stopped. After looking at the right, he saw his things near the trench. He frowned and looked at the cloaked man.

"I'm no thief. I don't even care what a kid like you carries around. Anyway, I'll take a nap. Don't make any noise."

Kyran did not reply and just watched as the cloaked man lowered his head and fell silent.

'Is he a friend? Or a foe?' Kyran wondered.

====================

A few miles away from the cave. One of Dior's men suddenly stopped in his tracks.

His eyes grew big as his mini magic detector lit up and detected Kyran's magic signature nearby.

He immediately took out his communication device and sent out his coordinates to Dior and the rest of the team.