Chapter 9: Jala’s Blade (One)
It was not difficult setting up a testimony with a few children. In their eyes, Thales was indeed the hero who had defeated Quide. Thales made up some excuse and lied that Jala would arrange everything. He also told them that no matter who was asking, they must insist that "Thales stabbed Quide's neck from the back".
That way, once the commotion was over, they would be safe.
"They can't catch me," Thales said with a smile.
Coria and Ryan, four and eight years old respectively, rarely had any doubts. In their eyes, Thales was capable of anything.
Only Sinti had slight doubts when Thales was leaving. However, Thales thought of various ways to ensure that he honored the pact where Thales did all the thinking, and Sinti's duty was only to carry them out.
'After that, we should head our own way- Ack, no- we should leave.'
As he waved nonchalantly to the children and stepped out of Sunset Pub's back door, Thales realized that there was a bit of grief and solemnity in his heart.
'I won't be able to take care of you guys anymore.
'Hopefully, my luck is good, and we will meet again in the future.
'What a solemn farewell.
'After all, I did volunteer myself as a scapegoat… the wind is rustling a little- eh?'
Thales opened his eyes wide and watched as the expressionless Jala strode with her long legs and overtook him from the back, fully equipped.
"Hey, shouldn't you be staying in the pub to take care of the three of them? Without you, they-"
"Don't worry, I hid them in a dark room and left a note for Edmund."
Jala, who wore a dark grey leotard, pulled a pair of transparent goggles from her forehead and wore them over her eyes. With an annoyed expression, she pressed on Thales' shoulder and kneeled down beside him.
"Not buts, brat!" Jala interrupted, leaving no room for arguments.
"Since you have decided to handle the Roda family's wrath by yourself, and then go to Red Street Market to seek death while trying your luck, I should at least accompany you for a bit- because of this."
Jala tapped the Wolf Limb Blade in her boot.
"Also, the hidden sentries the Brotherhood placed in the XC District aren't what a seven-year-old brat can avoid. Even if I repeat every single detail about it a hundred times, you won't be able to make it through."
Thales stared stupidly at Jala and only spoke after a second.
"But there's a battle in Red Street-"
"Stop wasting time. Get on, we're leaving!"
Jala did not add any more superfluous words, nor did she bother to explain. Her haughty expression forced all of Thales' doubts back into the deep recesses of his mind.
But, to "get on"? Get onto what?
Thales looked at Jala, who was kneeling on one knee. Accentuated by her grey leotard, this short-haired big sister's sexy figure looked even better. Especially her breasts. Ahem. If he sat on her arms and held onto her neck, it will be like- Having thought that, Thales lowered his head in slight embarrassment and scratched his head.
Jala fiercely jabbed the middle of Thales' forehead with her finger again, and she did it so hard that even Thales' view of the world was shaken.
As if she saw through Thales' thoughts, Jala fiercely pulled out half of her Wolf Limb Blade and shot him a "don't mess with me" glare through her goggles. She fiercely spoke, "You damn brat! Stop thinking about all that ridiculous stuff. Get onto my back, I will piggyback you!"
The moon began sinking towards the west, but the sky had not brightened yet.
However, for Reidmore, this little bit of light was just as bright as daylight.
"Maintain your positions. Most of the elite fighters have gone to Red Street Market today. That's why the head is even stricter with us than usual because we are at the last fork before we reach Red Street Market."
'It's also the first corner the Brotherhood will pass by when they retreat,' Reidmore thought.
As a professional hidden sentry, Reidmore hid behind the corner of a dark alley. From this angle, he can clearly see the crossroad leading towards Red Street Market. However, due to the curfew, there was no one there tonight.
His partner, another member of the Brotherhood's hidden sentry, was behind him. Like him, he was vigilantly observing every single corner
"No problem, I'm in prime condition. Not a single blackfly would be able to fly over there, nor a single grey centipede would be able to crawl over here," his partner said with a punctuated tone.
"Very good. My 'period of alertness' is almost up. Later, I'll go handover directly and switch Nasri over. He should have been awake since an hour ago."
Reidmore nodded at his partner. He maintained his vigilance and observation as he left through the secluded entrance of the alley.
The moment he left, he was suddenly startled for a while.
Just now, he sensed something in that empty alley across the way.
No. Impossible. His ears, eyes, and nose had been trained by Sir Lance himself. He could recognize changes of color, refractions of light, and other psionic abilities. If there were intruders, as long as they did not have some rare fusion of psionic abilities—like those that could affect the mind—then they would definitely be unable to escape his sight and hearing.
But he still decided to go take a look.
Reidmore only eased his mind after a patrol of the area.
Perhaps his 'period of alertness' was over, and his mind was beginning to play tricks on him.
He shook his head and returned to work.
A woman with short hair and in a black leotard moved quietly from the area behind Reidmore's back. There was even a child clinging to her back.
She watched Reidmore's back, then lowered her body and tapped a toe on the ground before she jumped, quiet and fast, towards the exit of the alley, where it would lead them to Red Street Market.
Naturally, they were the female bartender, Jala, and the fleeing child beggar, Thales, who were heading towards Red Street Market.
"Before dawn breaks, while the night lingers, an ordinary person's defenses and mental strength would be at its most lax state. This is something that even a normal undergraduate from King's Establishment Military Academy would know."
For some unknown reason, Jala could still speak even though she was running.
Thales laid on Jala's back while the latter moved through the alley with an unprecedented speed. She moved like the wind, but no sound could be heard as her feet stepped on the ground.
The wind blew straight into his face and Thales could only keep his eyes shut tight as he clung to Jala's neck. He pressed his head into the back of her neck, and Jala's fragrance wafted into his nose. He had absolutely no idea where he was.
But Jala's voice was still traveling into his ears clearly.
"That is why one of the six Powerhouses in the Brotherhood, The Sleepless Eye, Kobyrant Lance, who specializes in espionage, has trained a special hidden sentry unit—the 'Sleepless'.
"It's not that they don't sleep, it's just that their circadian rhythm is different from a normal person's.
"I don't know their exact numbers, but all of their circadian rhythms don't match. There are those who rest during the evening and wake at night. Then there are also those who rest during the morning and wake during sunset, and also those who rest at noon and wake in the morning. They have all sorts of circadian rhythms. That's why Lance's hidden sentry unit could work in shifts and he could ensure that all hidden sentries who report to duty would be at their most energized and most alert state. Lance calls this the 'period of alertness'.
"Lance has trained them to the extent that their senses, experiences, teamwork, and tracking skills are even better than an Alert Center's purebred Rudo Police Dog.
"They have one unit that is stationed in headquarters. If they encounter any important operations, they would blend into the crowd in the morning by disguising themselves. When it's nighttime, they would turn into hidden sentries and monitor all the critical entrances and exits in XC District.
"The two people we passed by just now should be the last two Sleepless patrollers before we enter Red Street Market."
Thales did not speak.
He was already shocked by Jala's stealth skills.
Reidmore was not the first Sleepless they slipped by.
Every single time Jala jumped to a Sleepless' patrol spot, she would shift from dashing swiftly to walking slowly. Thales was most awed by what was happening at the moment: Jala moved with an incredibly strange rhythm. She would follow behind a Sleepless' and hide her body and shadow in the Sleepless' blind spot. Sometimes even in the blind spots of two Sleepless sentries, and these Sleepless would not even notice them.
What Thales did not know was that Jala was also very surprised by his performance, too.
Right from the start to the end, even if they were trailing behind a Sleepless, even despite the risk of being spotted if the sentry did turn his head around, Thales remained still—his heartbeat was calm, and even his breathing kept to a barely discernible level.
In regards to a seven-year-old boy's self-control, he was already behaving in a manner that was far too outstanding.
Of course, if Jala had not used her bizarre movements to mask Thales' breathing perfectly with the rhythm of her footsteps, his so-called 'indistinct' breathing would have been heard a long time ago.
But it was already impressive that he could do this.
'This child is definitely not an ordinary person. Is it a psionic ability or his blood? Or could it be it's because of both?
'He can't possibly be born with this talent, right?'
Thales' original plan was to have Jala lure away these patrols (It was the first time Thales heard about the Sleepless unit—his regard for the Brotherhood had been too shallow), and also risking herself to exposure. But now, it would seem that he had underestimated this female bartender. She was not just someone who was agile and skilled with the blade.
In a corner of the intersection, Thales slid gently down from Jala's back (reluctantly?).
Right before him was Red Street Market, enveloped with the night. His episode with the female noble in the velvet dress a few days ago still flashed vividly in his mind.
The area and size of Red Street Market was not smaller than Black Street, the name exactly as implied. This was a famous place to find entertainment in the Western District.
In truth, there were quite a few nobles who would come here. They would either come in disguise or waltz in, looking to engage in relationships that surpassed friendships from adorable and dim young girls and boys, who might or might not be willing. These nobles range from first rank dukes to low class lords from villages—lords who were uncouth and whose mannerisms were too inappropriate for them to appear in public lest they make a fool of themselves. Needless to say, there was a tacit agreement that had existed for years between the nobles of Eternal Star City and the Blood Bottle Gang.
On this night, Black Street Brotherhood stretched their hands into this place.
But it was a pity because the hand that received them was a sinister trap.
"This doesn't look good," Jala whispered.
Even Thales could see it.
At the entrance to Red Street Market were corpses lying all over the ground. Some of them had their arms broken, heads cracked, bodies twisted, intestines ripped out, or the sternum bent outwards. Their blood dyed Red Street Market a deep red in the dark.
From a distance, there were at least thirty bodies lying on the ground.
Even Thales, who had just killed someone, could not help but suck in a deep breath when he saw the corpses littered all over the ground and in all the various ways they died. He tried as hard as possible not to think about it.
Faint sounds of battle echoed in the distance.
Jala calmly stretched out her hand and pressed down on Thales' shoulder until he was squatting down.
"The last time I killed someone, I seemed to have run into you as well," Jala said with a little cheerless tone.
Thales could not see her gaze behind the protective goggles, but he suddenly felt that Jala had become more serious.
"Brat, from now on, you owe me a favor."
Thales was stunned, then he saw Jala touch the blades on her boots.
Then, the female bartender used an incredibly faint voice, like a mosquito, and left strict orders to Thales.
"Don't speak, don't move. There's a real elite up ahead. He's not of the Sleepless sentries."
Thales' hairs rose, he did not even dare breathe too deeply and felt frustrated. He had wanted to enter Red Street Market alone during all that chaos and escape from the Brotherhood, but this was just the first station, and if there was already… Ah, he was still too naïve.
In the next second, Jala suddenly took out a thick black cloth from the left side of her abdomen and pressed it gently over Thales' mouth and nose.
"Use this to breathe and muffle your voice."
Jala did not say more, with those protective goggles on, her expression was indiscernible. She slowly drew the blade from her leg.
Thales pressed the black cloth over his mouth and nose. This was a good item; he had no respiratory difficulties from breathing under the black cloth, and the sound of his breaths was also masked.
If this was in a game, it would definitely be a class-level equipment that gave "Stealth +20"!
Thales automatically ignored Jala's faint fragrance from the cloth.
But the next moment, he could not allow himself to relax anymore.
"I found him." He heard Jala say.
Then, she shot up like a bolt of lightning. With one stomp on the wall beside her, she pounced on the corpses at the fork like an arrow fired from a bow!
The only thing that was faster than Jala was the Wolf Limb Blade she threw.
At that moment, as he breathed through the black cloth, Thales noticed one of the thirty-something corpses—with its intestines spilling out of its body, and some of those intestines were even separated from its body—to his shock, the corpse moved.
A freezing ray of light suddenly shot out from behind the corpse and knocked that Wolf Limb Blade off its trajectory!
But the second Wolf Limb Blade was already in its master's hand, and it charged forward with Jala as she approached the corpse rapidly.
With her right hand holding onto the blade in a reverse grip, she instantly cut at the corpse!
Thales recognized that sound. That was the sound of metal piercing into flesh.
But before he even had time to register what was happening, his vision blurred and he saw a person staggering out from behind the corpse before he lunged forward. Immediately after, a rapier fell to the ground with a clatter.
Jala had already landed on the ground nimbly. She was positioned in a half squat, with her left hand planted on the ground. The blade in her right hand was covered in blood.
That person who lunged out from behind the corpse swayed before he fell to the ground.
He did not move.
The female bartender picked up the Wolf Limb Blade she had thrown with a backhand grip and stood up quietly.
It was just a few short seconds. Thales felt his jaw fall slack as he watched.
He knew that Jala was very strong.
Except for the dog-slaughtering incident all those years ago, he only now truly came to understand just how powerful the female bartender was after seeing how she had swiftly ambushed and killed today.
But Thales still did not make a sound, nor move a muscle.
He had a faint feeling that Jala had just become much more solemn.
"What an eye-opener. Among the ordinary class, you must be considered an outstanding assassin."
As the sounds rang in the air, a tall, bald, and fierce man walked over from afar, carrying an exaggerated spiked penta-mace over his shoulder. He did not even spare a glance at his deceased comrade—he only glared at the female bartender standing in the middle of the corpses.
"You know that your Brotherhood is over, right? Everyone's in the trap, all your forces are wiped out. You won't be able to predict just how terrifying the people we've sent tonight are."
The fierce, bald man let out a snort, "Our task is vigilance or stopping all possible reinforcements from the Brotherhood, but I didn't expect that the formidable Black Street Brotherhood would send over a little girl playing with knives."
The large, bald man walked into the light of the setting sun.
Thales could see his face clearly. The man was missing half his nose. His nostrils were flipped outwards in a terrifying manner, and he looked like a skeleton.
Thales suddenly recognized who he was.
He was the bald Sven.
Blood Bottle Gang's leader in illegal businesses.
One of the famous Strongest Twelve in the Blood Bottle Gang.