21 Chapter 19: Victims Found with Dark Omens
Kneeling over the fallen Hersha, James hurriedly glanced back at Diana and seemed to remember something while seeing her actions. Hesitating, he turned away and put a small mask over his mouth. Feeling for Kira's pulse, he panicked and used an HP reader to find Kira was dangling past the point of survival at a bare two HP points. At this point, most [Healer]s would call for a [Priest] to start the death prayers for the deceased to enter the realm of the gods. Well, a high-leveled [Resurrection] Skill would probably still work, but only royalty could afford them. Ripping off his watch, he activated the Enchantment and placed the glowing device on Kira's body, providing him half a minute or so of space to save her.
Diana walked over, blushing as she watched James work. While she knew it was the wrong time, she just wanted to jump him and start kissing him. After all, such a smart man was very attractive. Sitting down with her legs beneath her and her hands across her lap, she began to surreptitiously rub her palm against her hips. Now that the battle was over, she really had to see to her needs. She unbuttoned the top button of her shirt to try to attract James's attention. Nevertheless, to her dismay, James completely ignored her.
James pulled out a red healing potion and tried to pour it over Kira's wounds, but her HP hardly moved at all even as the wounds struggled to close. James cursed, muttering to himself, "She doesn't even have the energy for her body to start the natural healing processes. She'll die from a blood deficit even if I can get these healing potions into her." He pulled out a tiny vial with only a little bit of red liquid at the bottom. Fifteen seconds left.
Hesitating, he put it back into his special mana-resistant pouch before tapping his teleporter and yelling, "Summon Forbidden Artifact 16: Ring of Exclusion!" Reaching into the portal that formed, he pulled out a metal hoop with a diameter of over eight feet. Setting it around himself and Kira, he tapped a box attached to it. With a hum, a wall of Mana separated Diana from the pair. This wall of Mana would prevent anyone attempting to scry on what was going on from sensing any mana fluctuations from whatever happened inside the circle, not to mention that this wall of mana also served as a barrier preventing any explosions from passing through. James really hoped the second function wouldn't be needed. The [Knight] could only watch with a mixture of horniness and anxiety as James reached back into the pouch and pulled out the clear glass vial. At the bottom of this small tube were a few droplets of red liquid that thrummed with magical power.
As a Noble with her own Bloodline, Diana gasped. That was definitely the very pure essence of a very powerful beast… Where had James even gotten it? Such a thing would be valued even by royalty. James stared at the vial for a few moments before opening Kira's mouth and dumping the remaining contents onto her tongue. For good measure, he rinsed the vial with a bit of water from his flask and poured the diluted liquid into Kira's mouth as well.
James worried as he watched the liquid pass through Kira's throat. While he doubted these few droplets would alter Kira's bloodline, he wasn't completely sure, and he wouldn't put it past a dragon's Skills to detect it. In that case, even if Kira survived, the dragons would mark her and very likely kill her for stealing even this small bit of their Bloodline. However, he had no choice. He suspected that these droplets were the only way to provide enough vitality for Kira's healing to be kickstarted even with her having effectively won the Combat Rounds, which would activate |Blood Rites|.
Slowly, the healing potions began to take effect. By the time half a minute had passed, and the purple glow of his watch had faded, the HP reader showed that Kira was approaching a stable state even though she was still incredibly injured. James picked up his watch and looked at the time. Crap! The Adventurers would be arriving outside at any moment!
Throwing the hoop back into the Summoning circle, James now focused on Diana. Now that Kira was relatively safe, he had to solve the second problem. He sighed when he noticed the apparent state of Diana's arousal. Pointing at the few lingering wisps of red mist, he asked, "Did you breathe that in?" His voice was a bit muffled by the mask he wore.
Diana whimpered and nodded her head as she started taking off her clothes. Averting his gaze, James reached a hand into his pocket. "Howard's going to be upset. Honestly, he's going to hold this over you for a loooonng time. Well, hopefully, the good Brother will be enough evidence for you to get out of this mockery of a trial."
Diana gently hugged James as she ran a hand across his chest, pushing her breasts against his arm. "Master James, do you think I'm attractive?" She meekly asked.
Patting everywhere on his body, James finally found what he'd been looking for in a pouch. "I didn't bring the proper antidote to the Cube of Fantasy I was trying to market, so this'll have to do." Diana ignored the silly man; didn't he know she was about to f*^k him? James calmly thrust a syringe into Diana's arm and injected its contents before she could even register his actions. Pulling it out, he watched as she crumpled to the ground unconscious. "Moderate sedative. Keeps the worst of the altered alcohol cube's effects at bay."
Looking at the pair's handiwork around the room, he frowned. There just wasn't enough time to clean all this up. He glanced at the hole he had made into this secret basement. Hopefully, no one would question a [Berserker]'s prowess too much.
Throwing up his cloak's hood, he exhaled as he picked up Diana and Kira and slung them over his shoulders in a fireman's carry. Then, he carefully began stacking the debris so that he could climb out and safely deposit the two girls outside the hole. Grimacing at the pervasive carnage around the area, he picked up the two girls once more and set them beside the dead assassins. It wouldn't stand up to careful inspection, but it'd be enough to fool the public, and the Queen's and Church's involvement in this would assure no one with any actual clout got themselves involved.
James stared at the [Dark Priest]. Now, he had to find some reasonable way for him to make this guy seem like a credible suspect. Perhaps he could find Howard and pretend he'd found the good brother sneaking around? Suddenly, James heard the pounding of feet and clashing of weapons outside. It seemed like the Adventurers had met either the enraged [Paladin]s or some reinforcements for the [Dark Priest]. Deciding that he wanted nothing to do with either option, James hurriedly double checked that he was currently in Stealth Mode and wrapped the unconscious [Dark Priest] in a blanket of a similar cloth, turning the man invisible. Picking up the man, James grunted as he snuck out the back of the Crypt of Saints. He cursed silently: Brother Hank was a rather rotund man who weighed far more than he looked like he would. After some consideration, he decided he'd much rather avoid the wrath of the Church by openly denouncing one of their ranking members.
A few minutes before James left the Crypt of Saints:
Olaf glared at the [Paladin] blocking his way. "There are two missing Adventurers who are suspected of being held in that place!"
The [Paladin] roared, "I don't care. We have an extremely powerful individual on the loose in the Holy Grounds, and you're going to stay here until we find out who it is."
Turning toward Howard in worry, Olaf asked, "Sir Howard, what do you think we should do?"
Howard rubbed his chin. "I'm not sure. I guess at this point we can only wait for Master James to come help. Hopefully, the girls will still be okay when we finally find them."
Sitting down, the four-person Adventuring Team, the Baroness, her guards, and Howard warily watched the [Paladin]s. Suddenly, a portly look [Priest] ran up to the head [Paladin] and whispered something in his ear. The [Paladin] looked up in alarm and barked, "You all, follow us! You might actually be able to make yourselves useful. It looks like our intruder has been found. The idiot thought we wouldn't put up Detection Wards after he snuck in the first time. Ha!"
Olaf pumped his fist. "Finally!"
Howard frowned, looking a bit concerned, but he hurried behind the rest.
The group stopped outside the Crypt of Saints, examining the door that had clear scuff marks. The [Paladin] asked the [Priest], "What? Has the intruder entered the sacred area already?"
The [Priest] stammered. "No, Sir [Paladin]. They should be approaching here in just a few moments. Wait! They're just around the corner."
Hissing, two [Paladin]s warily approached the corner with their weapons at the ready. The [Priest] yelled, "Now!"
The [Paladin] on the left used |Divine Light| while the [Paladin] on the left thrust out with his Enchanted halberd. Beneath the light's assault, a man popped into existence, kneeling in shock. He croaked, "How… the Master will see to it that you're all punished." Before he could say anything else, the [Paladin] cut off his head. Spitting to the side, the [Paladin] cursed, "Heathen scum. Your blood profanes this sacred place."
The [Priest] turned white. "There's a lot more people coming!"
"What? How did they get past the wards?"
The [Priest] had no time to answer. "Incoming!"
Olaf pulled out his battle-ax with a bloodthirsty grin. Finally, they were going to get a battle!
James tapped Howard's back while the Adventure group secured the bodies of the two unconscious girls. "How's it going? Sorry, I had to take care of some things before coming here. Had to make a stop at a Government Post. Are the girls okay?"
Howard gruffly said, "There were a few [Assassin]s and some [Thug]s as well as a few Undead and [Dark Mage]s who showed up. Nothing too dangerous, but still quite alarming that they managed to get so far into the Holy Quarter… Why couldn't you come earlier."
James grimaced. "Queen's Hand stuff. They took an interest in this case."
"It's a real pity about the trial. It looks like we might have to take a loss there." Howard frowned. "It isn't good for the family reputation or yours."
James nodded understandingly. "Well, are they in any condition to enter the court trial? Perhaps, we can do something about it?"
Howard frowned. "It's unlikely that they're going to be able to walk around by tomorrow morning. I'm not sure what to do."
Shrugging, James said, "It's fine. I'll ask the Queen to intercede on their behalves. I found a very interesting piece of leverage for her that I think will put me in her good books for a while."
"You met the Queen, Sir James?" The gentleman thief Ivan turned to face James enthusiastically. While Hilla's [Priest], Theseus, continued focusing on healing Kira, Petulinia looked up from her watchful vigilance and paid attention to their conversation. In fact, James could have sworn he saw some of the [Paladin]s inspecting the corpses also secretly eavesdropping.
James rubbed the back of his head. "No actually. I've been figuring out how to report something else that's rather unpleasant to her, so I decided it'd be best to hand off my gift through an intermediary. I'm sure she'll follow through by tonight though." At the very least, James expected that the Queen would exempt the two girls and start a thorough examination into this matter as well as its perpetrators. After all, it would be best for both Kingdoms if they avoided an international dispute.
Howard looked at James curiously. "Actually, you just came, so you probably wouldn't know, but it appears that Kira and Diana were actually quite the successful adventuring pair. They successfully escaped from the basement where it appears there were several Mimics and fought the guards waiting for them above. The fact that they managed to survive is already amazing. I'm a bit curious about some of the wounds on the corpses though."
James shrugged, confused. "How come they didn't escape, then?"
Howard spoke very carefully, staring at James's eyes. "It appears that they used a weapon of unknown origin that knocked themselves out shortly after they escaped. They also must've found some weapon to attack these guards. Perhaps they managed to steal a weapon from their captors, which brings its own complications if the enemy we face has unknown capabilities. Additionally, an initial intruder attacked the Church non-lethally around this area just a few moments before we arrived. The [Paladin]s were, in fact, attempting to track this intruder down, resulting in them catching the group of [Assassin]s approaching this place." Finishing his succinct explanation, Howard worriedly observed Diana and the [Priest] seeing to her.
"How strange," James mused.
A [Paladin] emerged from the hole in the middle of the crypt. Taking off his helm, he spoke solemnly, "When these two young girls wake up, they will be questioned by the Church."
James strode up to him, getting in the broad-shouldered man's face. "Woah, there! Can't you see they're injured? Why are you doing this to them?"
The [Paladin] completely ignored James and turned to the [Priest]. "Sound the alarms. The [Dark Lord] stirs once more." The Adventurers simultaneously stopped their chattering and turned toward the [Paladin]. A stark silence fell in the Crypt of Saints as if the [Paladin] had just predicted the end of the world.
Turning pale in fright, the [Priest] dashed out of the room.