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Midnight Maelstrom
Goddamn Runyx and their portals.
By Yoga Arif Posted in Short Story on July 19, 2021 0 Comments 36 min read
My Confidante Previous A Happy Ending, If Not A Happy Sequel Next

Aisy waited for a fortnight to have her fifteen minutes midnight lunch break with Dr. Karlsson. When their shift aligned and it finally happened, it didn’t even last for ten. Dr. Karlsson didn’t even get the chance to taste her homemade signature chocolate pudding with heavenly vla because a woman carrying a man in her arm just violently crashed into the break room through an interdimensional portal.

“What the fuck?!” Dr. Karlsson winced in his seat, dropping his sandwich to the floor. The pudding and the vla followed it. Chaos ensued.

The man, with short dark hair, is wearing a dark green robe and gold linings. He’s gripping his chest while groaning in pain. He looks terrible.

The woman who carried him has tumultuous bright red hair and is wearing black leather-like armor. She has a scythe made out of shadow, pulsating on her right hand, while holding wounded the man in her left arm with all her might.

The redhead is watching into the portal, her face drenched in sweat, expecting something — or someone — to follow her in here. She throws a quick look along with a tantrum at Aisy and Dr. Karlsson, “Fucking hell, people! Some help?!”

Another figure appears to be entering the portal. The redhead is dreading to face whoever that person is, especially when her hands are still full. The figure took one step into the break room but he was greeted with a violent push kick by Aisy, who screamed “Sparta” for some reason. This shocks Dr. Karlsson even more than the two strangers and the interdimensional portal.

The portal, a circle of ashy grey smoke and quivering bright green lights, quickly closed in and disappeared. The redhead looked relieved a bit but the man on her arm was groaning painfully.

“Dammit, Agent, hold on!” screamed the redhead, who then turned to Aisy, “Help him!”

Dr. Karlsson snapped out of his shock and went over to the two strangers with haste, “Alright, come on, bring him to the ER,  I’m a doctor!”

The redhead looks offended. She points her scythe at Dr. Karlsson to keep him off, “Doctor? No, we need a healer!”

“Stop shouting, will you?” Aisy said with a flat, annoyed tone. She herself unsure whether it’s because of the screaming or because of the pudding thing, but she was the only one who remained cool-headed, “Dr. Karlsson, I would love to explain what’s going on but we don’t have time. Please page Dr. Putra and tell him to go to VIP room 5. We’ll meet him there.”

“Why not the OR?” Dr. Karlsson suggested, which instantly met with a glare from Aisy, the nurse that was flirting with him earlier at dinner.

“We need somewhere discreet and won’t be blocking the traffic of other patients. The operating room is too– ah I’m sure you get it.”

Dr. Karlsson’s confusion reached its peak but he’s a doctor, after all, so he is still functioning under pressing circumstances. He did as Nurse Aisy told him and refrains from asking whatever the hell is going on; the portal, the strangers, and why Nurse Aisy is so calm.

“You,” Aisy looks at the redhead. She wasn’t wearing the typical Justiciar phantom helmet, but the shadow scythe and black armor alone confirmed who she is,  “You’re a Justiciar, right?”

Aisy has seen a Justiciar before, back when she joined Dr. Putra for a trip to a few realms to restock his inventory. Justiciar is an officer of the law under the inter-realm organization which name she forgot at the moment. Aquarium or terrarium something.

The redhead nods, “Yes.”

“Do you still have enough power to open a portal? To this exact room but three floors up,” Aisy said to her while grabbing the man in a dark green robe so the Justiciar can open a portal, “We’ll treat your friend there.”

The redhead draws a deep breath. She swung her scythe at the wall vertically from up to down, which split the space and tore a line of darkness. The line slides open like elevator doors and reveals the empty room Aisy was referring to. VIP Room 5.

As the portal slides open, Aisy realized that this is her first time ever seeing a Justiciar’s portal. It’s very different from a sorcerer’s portal like the one before. But she doesn’t have time to be impressed.

Aisy led the two strangers into a white and wide box that is the VIP room. It has quite a view of the city outside, it’s empty, and most importantly, it has all the necessary equipment and meds readily in stock. Dr. Karlsson, governed by his curiosity, is trailing behind.

“His heartbeat is too fast. Let’s lay him over there,” Aisy commands, with an irresistible display of professionalism and composure she has never shown in front of anyone before. Especially not in front of Dr. Karlsson.

Aisy glides gracefully to close the white drapes of the windows and preps some sedative while Dr. Karlsson and the redhead are lifting the man to the bed.

“Get rid of your scythe and tell me what happened,” Aisy said, without looking at the redhead.

The redhead was reluctant to let go at first. After exchanging looks with Aisy again, she complied. She released her shadow scythe from her hand with an upward movement and it dispersed into nothing.

“We were in Aorcamero, following tracks of some air Elementalist smugglers into a forest,” the Justiciar said, “We were close, but then we were ambushed.”

The man is still groaning in pain. Dr. Karlsson didn’t find any open wound on the man, no tear whatsoever on the dark green robe, too. However, he noticed black lines on the man’s neck. Dr. Karlsson drew back a step when he saw the black lines shine, pulsating, and slowly crawling up towards the face. “Fu– what are these? Some kind of virus?”

Aisy’s eyebrow raised when she noticed what made Dr. Karlsson take a step back, “The pulsating black lines…that’s not dealt by wind Elementalist,” she said with an accusatory tone while injecting the sedative to the man.

“I didn’t say the wind Elementalists ambushed us,” the redhead growled, “Those bastards hired a Runyx to stop us while they were running away.”

“Fuck! A Runyx?” Aisy said in disbelief, yet still managed to pull out the needle from the man carefully, and placed it next to a table with meticulously placed scalpels, “You’re telling me I just Sparta-kicked a Runyx? Oh no…”

“Okay, can someone please tell me what’s going on?” Dr. Karlsson had enough, “Who are these people? You, a justice-what? What’s that? And you, too, Aisy. How do you know these things? The portals, the sedative, the Sparta-kick? And what’s a Runyx?”

“A Runyx is like, well…” Aisy can’t find the right words for a civilian like Dr. Karlsson to understand.

The whole thing is too mindblowing, even Aisy didn’t sleep for days when Dr. Putra revealed it to her. He hired her and told her about the truth of the universe and the portal and whatnot. Then he took her to other realms.

Now, what is she supposed to tell Dr. Karlsson? That there are other realms, other worlds? That many people are Magna, those who have special abilities such as magic? That people go from realms to realms using portals? That there is an organization that governs all the known realms?

No offense to Dr. Karlsson’s otherwise prime physique, but those chicken legs can’t stand such revelation.

Unprepared to explaining everything she knows, Aisy quoted Dr. Putra’s line, “For now, let’s just say the universe is immensely more than the world you know now, Justiciar is like a…federal agent, and you must not mess with a Runyx.”

The door slammed, “What do we have here?” Dr. Putra strides in, and looks confused when he sees Dr. Karlsson, “Aisy, why is this new kid here? He’s not up for these kinds of shit.”

Dr. Karlsson did not take offense, because Dr. Putra is right. He is not up for whatever this is. Meanwhile, Aisy looks relieved that Dr. Putra has arrived, “These two Magna came in from a portal into the break room when Dr. Karlsson and I were on our lunch date.”

“Lunch date? It’s midnight,” Dr. Putra replied casually and quickly while he checks the man’s pulse and tries to open the man’s robe.

“It’s dinner for me…but wait, that was a date?” Dr. Karlsson now has far too much on his plate, “And what’s a Magna?”

“Shut it, Karlsson. Sit down before you pass out,” Dr. Putra scolded him before turned to the redhead. “You’re not just any Magna. That armor, you’re Justiciar?”

The redhead appears to recognize Dr. Putra as someone in charge, so she answered officially, “Yes, I am Justiciar Avenir Scolari and this is Agent Ergnim.”

“Huh,” Dr. Putra feels something’s off, but shrugs it off and checks on said Agent. Upon seeing the pulsating dark marks, he immediately reaches for a pair of scissors next to the scalpels and tears open the green robe. From the neck to the mid-torso area, “Ah fuck…You were fighting a Runyx?”

“Yes,” Scolari confirms. No one can tell she’s still a bit shaken from her voice.

Dr. Putra uncovers a hexagonal dark marking on Agent Ergnim’s chest, pulsating but weakly. Ergnim is visibly hurting. His mouth quivers, probably trying to mumble a prayer. Or spell. Dr. Putra turns to Aisy as he gave her the scissors, “Have you given him sedative?”

Aisy nods.

Dr. Putra rolled his sleeves a little just below the elbow. He crosses his wrists together, “Good. Now, all of you stand back and cover your eyes. We must do this quickly…”

Bright white light burns on Dr. Putra’s palms as he closes his eyes. Dr. Karlsson is frozen in disbelief at what he sees. Not Aisy. She has seen that magical healing spell from Dr. Putra more than a dozen times by now.

Dr. Putra opens his eyes, ready to apply the healing light on Agent Ergnim when he felt a cold sensation on the skin of his neck. Sharp edges. Someone snuck in and held Dr. Putra from behind with a dagger.

It was the man Aisy kicked earlier. The man is wearing a black coat with a hood and face mask covering his head. No one even sensed him entering the room.

The Runyx. Scolari’s spine shivers.

“Relax, everyone,” The Runyx looks straight into Avenir’s eyes and she doesn’t even dare to move a muscle, “You, too, rookie.”

Everybody is told to relax, but their fear dictated them to freeze instead. Dr. Karlsson is the only one who saw the man appeared silently through another portal, a black circle with bluish outline lights, from a dark forest. Dr. Karlsson would absolutely pass out if he didn’t sit down as Dr. Putra told him to.

The Runyx’s left hand is directed at Scolari in a form of a sign — palm opens, except the ring finger that bends toward the center of the palm — as if it would shoot something out if she did anything rash, “Now, Doctor, I wouldn’t treat him if I were you.”

“I’m a healer, Runyx. I won’t let this man die and I won’t let you kill him,” said Dr. Putra, but he still doesn’t dare to move.

“Good, I won’t let him die either. Not until I’m done with him,” the Runyx replied and looked at Aisy who is backed towards the window, “You. You got a mean kick, girl.”

Aisy gulped, fighting the urge to hide behind the white drapes, “Thanks?”

*

Avenir Scolari was appointed to be a Justiciar barely a month ago, posted in the outskirts of Aorcamero for her trial period. Many of her peers haven’t even been appointed yet, most are still Enforcer at Aegisterium’s few selected cities. She is the top choice amongst many. Accolades after accolades from raid missions earned her a very solid reputation. Her appointment to be Justiciar was expedited.

Truth to be told, many whispers that she received an expedited appointment because of her connections in high places. Her mother is in the Aegisterium Security Council. Her uncle is a senior Intelligence officer. The name Avenir carries weight. And Pride.

But Scolari doesn’t care. She always does her best no matter the circumstances and challenges, she’s a hard worker, and she’s talented. Her name probably helps, she won’t deny having such privilege, but she did the heavy lifting herself. She earned this position.

Justiciar isn’t an easy job. They are tasked to uphold the inter-realm law and balance while remaining blending with the population. Each Justiciar is the Aegisterium’s extended invisible hands that intervene on crime that is related to inter-realm nature: from illegal trade and smuggling to unauthorized cross-realm activity, from cross-realms terrorists to cross-realms organized crime.

Last month, Justiciar Avenir Scolari stopped a group of wind Elementalists from another realm who was sabotaging a steel factory in Aorcamero and disrupting the local trade lines. Seven kills, four arrests. That’s in Aorcamero only. When she’s done with her trial period, she’ll be in charge of a broader region and will be able to make more impact.

For now, Aorcamero should be enough.

When Scolari was about to start her afternoon patrol, a man came to her in a tavern. His look was casual. Short dark hair, green robe. Nothing special except he knows she’s a Justiciar even when she’s in her disguise. Not everyone can tell.

“I am Agent Ergnim. I was sent by the local Aegisterium post to investigate the local gang of saboteurs. I understand you’re Justiciar Avenir Scolari, the one who took down the wind Elementalists last month?”

Scolari nodded. “How did you recognize me?”

“I told you, I was sent here by the local post,” he said grudgingly. He showed her his credentials.

Scolari took a glance and gave the identification back, “I already decimated the gang, though. What else is there to investigate?”

Agent Ergnim gave her a look, “You took down all 20?”

Dammit. I gotta fix this.

“Alright, let’s investigate. Where do you want to start?”

*

This Ergnim agent is quite good. I’ve been here for weeks and I didn’t know this forest as well as him. Even his tracking skill is elite, and that’s coming from me. I nailed field class and tracking class all day every day, but this guy? He knows more. He’s probably from around here? Either that or he just has a lot of experience in tracking fugitives. Maybe that’s why they send him to help me.

His green robe gave off a ranger vibe, but I think he’s more than that.

There! He used a spell…huh, a sorcerer? Impressive, actually. A sorcerer and an agent. Curious. Never heard of that…

“Why are we stopping? Are they here?” I didn’t sense anything…

“The tracks said they should be here…”

Too calm. Something’s off.

*

“This man will die if I don’t treat him,” Dr. Putra insisted. The dark lines still pulsate but stop expanding right below the jaw.

The Runyx peers forward, looking at Agent Ergnim’s chest, “From the looks of it, someone already gave him a sedative. And not just any sedative…”

That peer forward was the microscopic window of opportunity that Avenir Scolari was waiting for. She has been looking for ways to fix the situation, and she was lucky enough to stand with a few scalpels within her reach. She didn’t hesitate.

Scolari throws a scalpel at the Runyx like it was a kunai, then another one half a second after. The first one is aimed at his face. A target so obvious Scolari knows the Runyx will parry that one with the dagger on his hand — and he did. That’s when the second scalpel would stab the left arm. Or so she thought.

The second scalpel only grazed the left arm, but that’s enough to make the Runyx break the sign of his left hand. Scolari leaps towards him with two scalpels in her hands.

“Dammit, rookie!”

The Justiciar curriculum did not cover how to neutralize a Runyx, that much Scolari knows. From when she and Ergnim fought this man earlier, he is above their level. Utterly.

But that doesn’t mean Scolari can’t try.

She made a mental note that the Runyx is extremely dangerous in open space. Unlike a sorcerer who needs considerable energy to open a portal or a Justiciar who needs the shadow scythe to do so, Runyx opens a portal using little to no energy if it’s within the same realm. It is widely known, though she never saw a Runyx in person until today.

Portal isn’t just a means of transportation for Runyx, it’s deeply integrated into their fighting style. Runyx is the best when it comes to portals throughout every known universe. Back when he ambushed Scolari and the Agent, the Runyx used the open space of the forest to fight in long-range, attacking the Agent with a barrage of shadow javelins.

When the agent got distracted, the Runyx caught both of them off guard by sneaking out of a portal right behind Ergnim, thrusting a shadow spell onto the Agent’s chest when he turned around.

But this operating room is a closed space. Confined, narrow. His portal shouldn’t be much of a problem if she didn’t let him get into one. And Scolari is confident she has the upper hand when it comes to close-quarter combat. Just make sure she keeps pressing him, not giving him any space or opportunity to escape. Or to kill her.

“Doc, heal the agent! I’ll keep him busy!” Scolari said while attacking the Runyx.

“No, don’t heal him!” the Runyx shouts, dodging and parrying the jabs of scalpels directed at him. Weirdly, he didn’t fight back. He keeps parrying and dodging her attack, “It’s so clear yet you still can’t put it together, you dumb rookie.”

That third rookie snide finally strikes true. Scolari has no idea how the Runyx knows she’s a rookie, but she doesn’t like it one bit. Her emotion takes over as she kicks him hard out through the operating room’s double door. The Runyx’s back hits the corridor wall.

Scolari throws her scalpels to free her hand and with a continuous motion, she conjures her shadow scythe back, swinging it passionately, trying to slash the Runyx into two.

But the Runyx is quick enough to parry the two scalpels with his dagger and conjured a shadow javelin on his left hand, blocking the swing head-on. “Anger mid-battle…you are a rookie.”

The Runyx pushed the scythe upwards and used the opening to kick Scolari the way the nurse kicked him back then. Scolari staggered backward and didn’t realize a portal already opened behind her. Instead of being kicked back to the room, she landed in the corridor with the Runyx behind her. The Runyx turns left and kicked Scolari’s back into the portal. She flung forward to the portal and the Runyx greets her with a sucker punch straight in her solar plexus.

She’s stunned, her breath and her heart stopped at once out of shock. She fell to her knee, but she has held the Runyx long enough for the Agent is already standing up.

Dr. Putra healed Ergnim by casting the dark mark off from the Agent’s torso. He regained his power in an instant as if the mark sealed him from himself. Less than two seconds, Ergnim already understood the situation so he jumped out of bed. When Emar locked eyes with him, Ergnim already had a force spell locked towards him. The Runyx is thrown back to the wall, stunned. Karma isn’t usually this instant.

In that window, Ergnim could’ve launched another attack. But he knows better. The Runyx might parry or dodge his attack, and if that happens, he’s done. He’s not fully recovered and even if he is, he’s no match for the Runyx.

Ergnim throws two quick fireballs at Aisy and Dr. Karlsson while casting a fire rope on Dr. Putra. He pulled the healer close and opens a portal behind him. Aisy threw herself on the floor and the fireball went out the window behind her, but Dr. Karlsson is in the point-blank distance and didn’t react as quickly. The fireball hits him straight on the chest.

Dr. Karlsson screamed painfully. The Runyx conjured a shadow javelin but didn’t get to hurl it on time — Ergnim has escaped and he took Dr. Putra through his green circle portal.

“Ah, fuck…” the Runyx growled.

Scolari stares emptily at the space where Ergnim’s portal was, still can’t believe what just happened.

*

Aisy, with a little basic healing spell from Scolari, managed to heal Dr. Karlsson’s burn skin. The doctor would be amazed that his skin is back to normal when he wakes up. The two woman looks at the unhelpful Runyx as soon as they’re finished with the doctor.

“None of this would’ve happened if you could just relax,” the Runyx gulped water from a bottle.

“You were attacking us,” Scolari responded, “then you held the doctor hostage. How the hell we were supposed to trust you?”

“By Nyx, rookie…even those scalpels you use are sharper than you,” the Runyx facepalmed with a sigh, “Think again. Back in the forest, I didn’t attack you.”

Scolari rolls back the tape in her head. She can’t be sure, but in hindsight, there are a few questionable moments. She could see now that some attacks were either trying to split her and drove her away from Ergnim. But splitting two allies so they can’t communicate is a basic combat strategy.

The Runyx goes on, “In fact, you should think even further back to your classes and guidebooks. No sorcerers would join Aegisterium to be a lowly agent. And agents don’t just show up to you in a tavern. There are protocols in place.”

Scolari absorbs what the Runyx said in silence. He was making good points. She missed it all. She failed to register that Ergnim did approach him with no discretion, no protocol.

Looking back, damn Ergnim knew the forest too well and did guide her without sharing a clear plan of attack. That kind of recklessness, that can’t be an Aegisterium agent.

Now Aisy looks at Scolari. The rookie Justiciar looks stumped, “But why would he lead me to the forest? Who is he? And why were you there?”

“He led those wind Elementalists you took care of,” the Runyx throws a small flash disk-like device for Scolari to catch, “He brought you there to ambush you. Nine of his associates were waiting for you in that spot. Lucky for you, I arrived early and they didn’t hear me coming.”

The device has a little hole that projected a hologram of Ergnim’s face. His name is Kamathur Cessia, wanted by the Aegisterium. An open contract with quite the reward, “You are hunting him…why didn’t you say so?”

“I was about to, but you insist on keeping me busy. Now that fucker’s at large, again, and taking the colleague of Miss…” the Runyx looks at the nurse.

“Aissyra Dowell, but I go by Aisy,” Aisy answered, “Yeah, you people need to take care of that. Dr. Putra is the only resident healer of this establishment. He has the license and everything, working with the Aegisterium.”

“I’m Killian,” said the Runyx, using his middle name that also happens to be his professional name, “A Runyx. I was assuming you are his apprentice.”

“I’m not a Magna, I have no special abilities…he offered, though. Studying under him, I mean. I just haven’t answered,” Aisy replied, “But seriously, you must get him back.”

“That, I agree,” Killian turns to Scolari. Aisy, too. Scolari knows what it means because she’s familiar with the look: she needs to fix this, “However, if the healer—”

“Dr. Putra,” Aisy corrected him. She means it, as serious as she was when she kicked Killian back from the portal earlier.

“Right, if Dr. Putra dies, you’ll get demoted.” Killian said to Scolari, “It’s still a good story to tell though if you fake the part where you got tricked.”

“Demoted? Why would I get demoted?” Scolari reacted in disbelief.

“You said you’re gonna get him back!” Aisy chimed in.

“I said I agree, we’ll do what we can,” Killian replied, “and, rookie, you brought a hostile individual into a medical establishment owned by Aegisterium. One civilian is hurt, and the only healer is taken away. This gets any worse, your career’s dead.”

Fuck, I didn’t even think of that.

Killian sensed a shift in Scolari’s expression. It looks familiar to him. She has yet to get accustomed to her own mistakes, failure, and limitation. She wants to fix things so bad, Killian knows better than to dump more on her morale.

“But you’re Justiciar, rookie. You’re bad at it, but that’s because you’re new. Maybe you’d get a pass for this,” Killian scratches his chin and glances at Aisy who apparently also needs reassurance. Killian sighed, “If we fix this and the healer’s alive, everything will be alright.”

Scolari crossed her arms. She might get a pass, especially since she’s Avenir Scolari. But if this mess goes out of hand, it also might taint the Avenir name. No, fuck no. If I did something bad, it’s on me. The same way when I did something great, it’s my hard work. Not just because of my family. I’ll fix this, or I’ll ask to get demoted myself.

“I suppose we can go back to Aorcamero and look for his lair?” Scolari said after a few moments.

The Runyx blinks intentionally slowly as if Scolari just threw sand on his face, “I guess he has done enough villainy for you to use the word ‘lair’.”

“Do you know any of his bases?” Scolari asked, not minding the sarcasm.

Killian drinks the water bottle empty, throws the bottle across the room, “I might have ideas.”

The bottle missed the trash bin by half a meter and landed on the floor. Killian opens a small portal so that bottle falls directly into the bin. Scolari scoffed. Goddamn Runyx and their portals.

“I’m coming with you,” Aisy said.

“No, you’re not. You need to take care of…” Killian gestured at Dr. Karlsson, “…this.”

“But what if Dr. Putra needs medical attention?” Aisy argued.

“Which is why it’s better you stay and not get killed. I’ll bring him here to you,” Killian winks and stands up, “You’re ready, rookie?”

Scolari sighed, “Sure.”

Killian suddenly turned. He sensed something and it’s a small portal opened on the wall facing the window. It’s not taller than a knee, a half-circle in shape with a shroud of green on its outer lines. It vomits a head that rolls to the middle of the room like a ball. Dr. Putra’s bloodied face stared emptily with its one eye left.

Aisy’s shock instantly paralyzed her. Dr. Putra’s mouth gape open wide as if it’s still wanted to scream out his pain. Scolari mumbling a curse, stupefied. Killian wanted to stop the portal from closing but he sensed something coming from behind him and Aisy, from the window outside. His instinct is to draw a portal himself and escape the room before something happened, but that will kill everyone else.

Tsk.

Killian pulled Aisy away from the window and crosses his wrist together in front of his chest. Shadow signs on both hands, “Stand back!”

He opens his arms wide, pushing out energy gathered in his hands. A dark grey dome of protection appears almost instantly, sheltering the four of them right when a massive stream of hellfire violently bursts in.

The hellfire came from the outside, and it melted the windows, the wall, and parts of the floor. Killian hates the smell of melted bricks and metals, but it’s either that or letting these people roasted. He hated that smell more.

Aisy kneels beside Dr. Putra’s head, completely ignorant of her surroundings. While the nurse is battling the waves of emotion of losing her mentor, Scolari saw the severed head as her failure. The healer would’ve been fine if she wasn’t so gullible. She can’t fix this now, there’s no bringing the healer back.

The hellfire stopped, but the damage’s done. Every room around the VIP 5 room, below, above, and sides, all affected by the hellfire. It left a massive hole on the building’s side. On the roof of a building across the street, Killian caught the shadowy figure of Kamathur Cessia, standing under the moon.

“Guard them, rookie.”

In a blink, Killian is coming out of his portal above the sorcerer. A shadow javelin is conjured in his right hand. Killian hurled it down. The sorcerer floats smoothly to the left, dodging the javelin easily. Killian falls into another portal he opened mid-air, which opens right behind the sorcerer as if he already knew he would dodge to the left. He strikes the sorcerer with another shadow curse.

The sorcerer sublimed into a green gas upon contact and Killian inhaled it accidentally. He’s instantly disoriented, his sight compromised. The world tilted and hazy. When he looks down, he’s wearing three boots on each foot. He’s about to fall.

Portals won’t open. Shadow javelins won’t conjure. Killian felt a twinge at the back of his neck and h figures out what it means: this area is sealed with magic by the damn sorcerer. Kamathur must’ve not escaped to his tower or whatever base or safe house he has; he was setting up a trap, planning another ambush across the street.

And Killian hates himself since he fell for it. He must escape the roof, but he can’t use his magic to do it.

Before Killian even gather himself up, Kamathur appears out of thin air where he hides and strikes the Runyx with a lightning spell to incapacitate him more. Kamathur knows his poison gas is not enough for this Nyx-blessed freelance thaumaturgist. Killian can taste his tongue burns and his neurons scream. He growled hard, cursing, partly because he didn’t cast a protection spell on himself before attacking.

Killian fell to all fours. He’s barely holding on to his consciousness but the bastard turns up the lightning spell intensity. And it stopped. Killian can’t see or feel who, but he can hear so has some ideas.

“Can’t wait for your turn?” Kamathur said mockingly.

“Fuck you.”

Scolari jammed the end of his shadow scythe to the surface. It breaks the magic seal and the whole roof cracks. Kamathur staggers, but sneaky enough to throw a quick one-two fire fist at Scolari while he retreats to another roof.

“You okay?” Scolari asked Killian while still keeping her eyes on the sorcerer.

“I will,” Killian whispers, his hand trembles to make a shadow sign. A portal opens below him.

Aisy is startled when the Runyx fell from the ceiling and landed with a thud beside her.

“Ad…re…” Killian mumbles.

Aisy is blanking for a second before understanding what the Runyx means. Her instinct kicks in as she hurriedly gets some epinephrine injections in the medical cabinet. She administers it to Killian who is clenching his teeth.

He was caught off guard. He should’ve seen it coming: Kamathur isn’t that great of a sorcerer but the man understands the art of ambush. That’s why he lured Scolari to the forest back then. Justiciars are tough, but the element of surprise is quite effective in turning the table around.

The adrenaline kicks in. Aisy helped Killian to stand, “You shouldn’t get back there…”

“Eh,” Killian shrugs, as his sight is coming back. From the half-melted VIP room, he sees Kamathur evading and keeping Scolari at a distance. Killian opens a portal, “This will be quick.”

Scolari jumps from one rooftop to another, chasing Kamathur who is smart enough not to let her close. He tried to hit back with a few spells, but Scolari knows the trap he set for the Runyx must’ve taken a lot of energy to prepare. Kamathur’s sneaky escape was duly noted by Scolari, who knows better than to give his opportunistic ass any window to open a portal and escape. He’ll keep running until he’s tired.

The shadow scythe allows Scolari to parry the sorcerer’s spells with ease but she still can’t get close enough. At one point Kamathur tried to roast her with another hellfire, but the scythe cuts through the stream like the bow of a ship cutting through the water.

“I failed to kill you, Justiciar, but I beat you,” Kamathur shouted as he landed on yet another rooftop.

“The fuck you’re talking about?”

Kamathur smirks victoriously as he gestures for Scolari to look behind her. At the spectacle of destruction that they’ve made the last few minutes alone. Ruined rooftops, buildings on fire, melted walls. The total maelstrom in the middle of the night, on top of a dead healer, all because of a stupid rookie Justiciar.

“The Justiciar in this realm will arrive here shortly. Enforcers, too,” Kamathur continues, “A healer’s dead. A hospital was destroyed. All on you, bitch. You’re done.”

“But I’m not dead,” Scolari said.

“I can kill you next time. You won’t have that scythe when you’re demoted, and I –”

Kamathur didn’t get to finish his sentence. Two spears made of shadow pierced from where he stood through his left knee and thigh. Three more impaled his right calves in three different spots. One more stabbed his right thigh. All happened simultaneously. It was Killian, who appeared not far behind the sorcerer and ensnared him in place with a gnarly shadow spell.

Scolari floats her scythe to the air to disappear before leaping to the roof where Kamathur and Killian are. She approached the now-stuck sorcerer and rams through her hand to his chest. The sorcerer cough off blood and Scolari tore out his heart. Red blood splattered into her face and dark armor.

Killian releases the shadow spears that impaled the sorcerer, “Good kill, rookie.”

Scolari looks at the beating, red, blood-pumping organ of the sorcerer in her hand, “It didn’t fix anything. He’s right. It’s done. I am done.”

“He’s right, but he’s also dead,” the Runyx replied, “at least you fixed that.”

*

On a terrace of Aegisterium Central Office, seventeenth floor, a bearded man wearing all grey Aegisterium uniform approached a woman wearing a white long robe.

“I hear Scolari messed up,” said Avenir Cardoni, one of Aegisterium’s senior intelligence officers, “A sorcerer wrecked a hospital in Nexus and laid waste to a few nearby buildings.”

“How did you know? You’re in charge for Gaea Mave,” replied the woman, Avenir Valari, a member of Aegisterium Security Council.

“I’m an intelligence officer,” he said again, joining Valari looking at Kowarnick’s bright skyscrapers lighting up the night’s horizon. It’s way too bright to be this close to dawn, Cardoni feels. He added, “Besides, words travel faster when it comes to our name.”

Valari sighed, “You have the details?”

“Happened a few hours ago. Mycah-Louis Hospital in Alvana City. 23 hundred in damage for the city, 45 hundred for the cover-up measure. Twelve casualties including the resident healer, 30 injured.”

“The sorcerer?”

“Kamathur Cessia. Wanted low-threat sorcerer-smuggler from Trinera. KIA. Base operation in Aorcamero, so my intel is still investigating how he got to Nexus. The current theory is the sorcerer fought Scolari and escaped mid-fight to Nexus hospital to seek a healer. Scolari gave chase.”

“That’s not what happened,” Valari chuckled, “What else?”

“As I say, the investigation– wait, what do you mean that’s not what happened?”

“I mean that’s not exactly what happened.”

Cardoni slides closer to his sister, “She called you?”

“Yes.”

“Dammit…now you know you have to tell me, right?”

Valari scoffed, “Em, fuck no. As you said, you’re an intelligence officer. Lean on your intelligence.”

“As much as I love you cursing while wearing the uniform, Val, You can’t protect her like this. We can’t keep giving her advantages.”

“We’re not. I am not protecting her. Whatever happens on the official report will depend on what your intel gathered, and I am not adding nor I am covering up for her. I know what she told me and if your intel can’t technically prove what really happened, she’ll be alright.”

“Not telling me what really happened is protecting her,” Cardoni sighed heavily, “and if she lied during her report, it could ruin her career, too.”

“What happened officially will be whatever it is that can be proved. Any witness?”

“Yes. Two, a nurse and a doctor.”

Valari chuckles.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Valari draws a deep breath. The bright lights of Kowarnick’s horizon dimmed a little, as it always does when dawn arrives. As if out of respect, “Ah hell, I guess your team will find out about this part anyway later. That sorcerer was hunted by someone else…and he was there.”

“Who?”

“A Runyx we know, but somehow unknown to Scolari.”

Cardoni looks at Valari in disbelief, ignoring the absolutely mesmerizing dawn on the horizon. He knows who she was referring to, “Emarkillian?”

Valari nods, “Yes. He’s back.”

Action Fantasy Runyx


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