The Polyglot’s Rune—Chapter 4: A New Place
Shock overcame Alaric, and his eyes widened. How did the boy do it? he thought. He could feel that the warp rune, which cost him almost double the amount of spiritual energy than it should have, did not activate properly. He doubted that it brought the two children to Crane.
The red stroke kept playing out in his mind, but no matter how hard he tried, he could not understand it.
A different color represented each grade of rune. Common was white; green was uncommon; blue was rare; purple was epic; and orange was legendary, but red represented nothing. He thought about the unique grade, but even then, it filled him with doubts; he quickly dismissed the notion.
He did not dare to surmise the divine level. It was a grade of myth, legends, and prophecies—things he refused to believe in. A heavy sigh escaped him.
Lycan, noticing his partner’s distress, found it extremely amusing. With a scoff, he further voiced his displeasure of Alaric.
“You didn’t have to take both of them away. Our job was to wreak havoc at the palace and abduct the ones who replaced the blue bloods. You should have left the other one for me to play with.”
Alaric sent him a cold glare. Two children managed to get away, and it infuriated him to the bone. It threw a wrench at his pride and sullied his perfect streak of successful missions. “Do you know who he was?! Are you insane?! Use your brain for once in a while.”
His partner was stunned at Alaric’s sudden change of temperament, and he could not help but try to defend himself. “Why the hell would I know who he is? He used runes and wore a common peddler’s robe. He’s definitely from this world!”
“Your brain has turned into pig squander. When I got here, the writing of the rune had already faded, but I could still sense that the chains came from an epic magic rune. Don’t you know the amount of skill that takes? You can barely wield that rare ax of yours, and here, a boy much younger than you used an epic rune.”
Alaric guessed the identity of the boy. There were rumors that the king married his third wife, Lady Amelia, because her family secretly possessed an epic magic rune—something that the Gnudeer Royal Family did not own. He, himself, knew all too well that she really did posses such a rune and one that could cause chains to appear.
He had no doubt that the cloaked figure was one of her two children.
Lady Amelia’s second child, a fifteen year old boy, was the youngest of the king’s fourteen children, but because he possessed monstrous latent talent, he rose to the rank of fourth prince. If not for his older sister and his rash personality, he would be ranked third among his siblings.
Alaric hated the boy’s existence more than anything else. With a slight twitch of the lip he cursed him under his breath, disappointed at the loss of capturing the boy. Adding in the irony that it was the fourth prince who managed to escape him, it infuriated him to the bone.
Princess Emelyn, Lady Amelia’s first child, possessed outstanding grace, propriety, and beauty. Her talent was almost as good as her brother, but because of the negative effects of her soul rune and black core, the princess was unfit to become a Runist. Therefore the king instituted her as ranking third among his children in the hopes of marrying her off to the most powerful man possible and bolstering their family’s bloodline.
Feeling sour about the princess’s position, Alaric wanted to help her. To him, she was a star who so closely resembled her mother that no man would ever deserve her.
Of course, he thought to himself, I shouldn’t squander over the past. What’s done is done. Everything has changed because the Gnudeer prophecy spread to the other kingdoms, sects, and guilds.
Pushing away his thoughts, Alaric said to Lycan, “Talent like that belongs to either geniuses or those blessed with exceptional bloodlines. That boy is Gnudeer’s Fourth Prince Thomson, and I hope I don’t need to explain to you how much more important the actual blue bloods are, especially one of his caliber, than the summons from the Planar-Replacement Rune!”
Lycan became bitter at his words. He hated being called an idiot; it was why he despised Alaric so much. If he could have his way, he would feed him to the wyverns, but even so, his partner had his uses.
The mercenary said, “What are you so pissed about? It’s not like I killed him, and since we caught him, we can sell him off to one of the Appenhund royalty. They’ll make good use of his bloodline. Too bad he isn’t a girl; we could have received more gold.”
“That’s a great plan,” Alaric said with biting sarcasm. The escape of the prince, who he detested so much for being the king’s son, viciously dug into his nerves.
That man and that abomination of a child don’t deserve to exist. True contempt escaped from Alaric’s lips. “They got away.”
“What do you mean?” The mercenary’s eyes went wide, but Alaric with his ever cold expression never joked.
“The other one did something strange,” Alaric said, turning towards the direction of the palace. The quiet sound of slaughter in the distance soothed his rage and calmed his mind. He focused at the matter at hand.
“Come on,” he said, ushering Lycan to follow him. “We need to find as many of the replacements as we can. It wouldn’t be good if the Aspis Guild swipes them from under us or if the Gnudeerians decide to kill them all.”
The pair headed towards the palace; their footsteps contained an eagerness for war.
The world spun in front of me; I never experienced so much dizziness before in my life. To brace myself I shut my eyes, but the shifting gravity still tangled with my senses.
I felt something securely wrap around my body. The egotist had grabbed me from behind, but as he panicked and tightened his hold, it only added to my grief. His grip was like an iron clamp squeezing me to death, the initial warmth quickly replaced with suffocation. I struggled for breath and, franticly grabbing at his arms, tried to loosen his hold.
My consciousness grew fuzzy…
I hit the ground—no the egotist—below me. It released his hold and I gasped for air. Nothing felt more pleasant than the cool, crisp air flowing into my lungs.
“Get off!” he yelled. The boy placed his delicate hands on my shoulders, and applying force, he savagely pushed me onto the ground. Still not satisfied, he kicked me in the thigh with strength that far outstripped what should have been possible for his small build.
I feel like a beanbag.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” he said with a strange voice. His pale face was completely flushed red, and blood dripped from the corners of his mouth. Paired with his tattered robe and messed up arm, he looked like an angry vampire.
Serves him right, I thought as I glanced around.
Tall grass blocked my view in every direction, but I could vaguely make out something towering above it. It seemed to be a cow with black fur and white spots, but the animal was huge. It stood about ten meters tall and had large curling horns. Its hair was shaggy and somewhat long, but…
“Don’t ignore me,” the egotist interjected with a demanding voice. He started to cast a rune reading “Mend” to restore his arm. It stopped most of the bleeding, but continuing to wag his finger, he cast the rune a second time.
After the next activation, his arm returned to a perfect condition, but blood trickled from his mouth. I assumed he had overdrawn his magic power during the fight with the mercenary.
It must be tough.
Noticing my gaze, he clenched his jaw and wiped the blood onto his sleeveless robe. “You are despicable.”
“You were the one who tried to suffocate me,” I said. This was why I disliked people; they always blamed others. “If you didn’t cling so hard to me, I might not have squashed you.”
The egotist’s face became more red—due to shame I believed. He pointed his finger at me, but he could not form any words, only meaningless stutters.
Seeing his helplessness made me feel a bit guilty; he was only a boy a couple years younger than me. Thinking about everything that transgressed, I figured that he missed his parents, especially his mother.
Losing a mother at such a young age must be devastating.
Feeling empathetic, I tried to comfort him. “Being separated from your parents at such a young age must hurt a lot. I know how you feel. The loneliness is so painful that you deny it and refuse to let yourself cry, but sometimes you just need to let out how you feel.”
My eyes became moist; it sounded too much like my current situation, but I had to hold back the tears. This egotist needed me.
“If you need to cry, go ahead,” I said. “I won’t make fun of you. It’s a way of life and kids cry all the time.”
He gave me a strange look filled with haughtiness. “I’m an adult.”
“Where I’m from, you need to be at least eighteen, not twelve,” I said. He really is a kid.
Squinting his eyes at me, he sent me a cold stare. “You think I’m twelve?”
His eyes widened, and after muttering something under his breath, he straightened his robe and brushed off some grime.
“My name is Vaughn, and I am a seventeen year old guy,” he said before averting his eyes.
I would have been blind to have believed him, but feeling his uneasiness, I let it slide. Fourteen years old—I’ll give you that.
“Hey you two!” Someone called out. I turned my head, and to my surprise, there were three people riding on the giant cow. Two were men and one was a woman. As they approached, Vaughn quickly moved behind me, his face paling at the sight of them. He wanted to run away.
Gambling, I waved my hand. “Help us! My little brother is hurt!”
“What are you doing?” Vaughn whispered into my ear. “They purposefully warped us here for a reason. We don’t—no I don’t—speak their language.”
Didn’t he see me change the location of the rune? He was right next to me; there’s no way he didn’t notice.
I grabbed his right hand to prevent him from doing anything foolish. I tried to put on the most enthusiastic face I could. “Look Vaughn—people! We’re saved!”
The egotist scoffed at me.
As the cow moved closer, it lifted up its thick legs which it used to stomp heavily on the ground, shaking the earth. Upon closer view, its white and black body was covered in pieces of silver armor that glistened in the light. Tassels hung from its ebony horns, and green runes circled about them. The cow had a fierceness to it, but its eyes contained a hint of kindness and lethargy.
Upon its massive head, three people sat. Each had a bow strung behind their backs, but they had no quiver or arrows. Instead, a blue stone rune floated next to each of them.
The middle-aged woman, who had black hair and eyes, grabbed the stone. It caused Vaughn to start, but she quickly placed it into a bag by her side. When it opened up, faint green threads wisped from its mouth.
It must be an enchantment rune in the form of a bag…I wonder if it can hold a ridiculous amount of items.
The woman jumped down from the giant beast, landing lightly on the floor as her brown cloak swept backwards. A worried look covered her mother-like face as she ran up to us. Beneath her cloak a red dress waved gently in the wind, giving definition to her somewhat curvy body.
She grabbed Vaughn’s wrist, and although he tried to pull away, she maintained an iron grip. With a watchful eye, she carefully touched his arm with her other hand. The woman frowned at finding no injury, but after lightly wiping the blood away, she started forming a rune with her index finger.
Crap, he healed himself…
“Ma’am, can you help him?” I asked in a panicked voice. Despite her motherly looks, instinct told me that this woman was dangerous; I needed to put up the best possible act.
Vaughn silently jerked his arm back, causing the light from the rune to disperse. Letting go of his arm, the woman looked sternly into his violet eyes and raised a brow.
“What a darling child,” she said with a soft smile.
I could see no sign of malice in her expression, but something about her still made me uneasy.
She pulled Vaughn closer and, spreading her arms wide, abruptly hugged him the best she could.
Vaughn smirked at me in triumph, but I could tell that the silent woman’s actions scared him half to death. His legs trembled, and his face paled to a ghostly white.
Curse his soul rune! It’s fueling his ego.
Seeing the pair, the two men sent a quizzical glance at each other before dismounting the cow. Just as swiftly as the woman, they jogged to where we stood.
The man on the left was stout with a bit of a belly and had a nicely combed mustache. He stood a little shorter than the woman, but was by no means unnoticeable. His face portrayed his simple demeanor, but the way he proudly stuck out his chest and belly from under his brown cloak revealed a somewhat foolhardy nature.
“Are you two alright?” the stout man asked, glancing us up and down. He shot Vaughn a malicious, jealous glare.
“I don’t know,” I said, trying to feign blissful ignorance.
“Let me see your injuries,” the other man said to me. He was a head taller than the woman, but with a monotone voice and apathetic eyes, his solemnity greatly contrasted that of his two partners. Slapping his enchantment bag, he made a stone rune fly out.
I curiously looked at his bag. There was a faint rune circling it, but no matter how much I squinted, I could not read it.
“I’m not hurt anywhere, but there’s so much blood,” I said.
“Awe, look at him,” pestered the woman as she poked Vaughn. A wry smile surfaced on her red lips. “He must be scared senseless. Honey, let’s take them back with us.”
The stout man, forgetting his jealousy, looked softly at her and nodded. “Alright, dear.”
“Good,” she said with a heavy laugh. Looking at Vaughn, she asked, “What’s your name little Missy?”
Vaughn stepped back in fright. He incessantly sent me glances for guidance.
“Where are your parents, sweetie?” she said, but her voice turned harsher. The men ignored her strange antics.
Sweat slowly dripped down the boy’s forehead. He was on the brink of breaking down from the woman’s domineering presence.
I mustered a smile. “He looks like a girl, but he’s my younger brother. His name is Vaughn, and he has been mute ever since our mother died.”
There you go; you better not say anything in any language.
The woman rubbed his head, inciting a deathly glare from Vaughn. “That’s so sad. Don’t worry, I, Gena, will take good care of you. Follow me; I’ll train you to become great fighters of the great Cowzer Sect of the Appenhund Kingdom!
“Make sure to keep up with the other disciples…or else.” Her soft expression sporadically changed to one of blood lust. Killing intent rushed out of her body, choking us in its invisible grasp.
She looked into my eyes; lightning struck at my soul.
I felt very much like an insect.