A/N: This chapter is in Guiomar's POV
Chapter 4 : The Association
The plan had failed miserably. The Association had ordered Guiomar and Merrett to kidnap the heiress of the Vitapax family, but since they failed to do so, Guiomar expected harsh punishment. He was new to The Association, and he wanted to prove himself worth of promotion, but this was going to be a blemish on his blank record. His pride was hurt as well, as his superior, Merrett, had ordered him to stay put on the floor and pretend to be dead or knocked out.
Well, Guiomar couldn't very well disobey a superior; that was downright asking to get kicked out of the Association. He decided from the beginning that he would obey his superiors and use his plentiful patience to inch his way to the top of the ladder. What Guiomar wished for was a position as a scientist. For years, Guiomar had coped with his inability to summon faeries by learning to fight, and he fought well. Whether if it was with a halberd or a broadsword, Guimar could hold his own in battle quite easily. However, he had only learned of science when he was nineteen, only two years ago from now.
He had studied day and night from the day he learned. Science was a way to become as powerful as a Caller without summoning a faerie. Science was an answer to the problems of the Receptionless. If science became popular, no one would ever become infected with Overflow, and no one would feel left out, because anybody could use science if they put their mind to it. Granted, there was only a handful of people in the world that were Receptionless, that is—people who aren't able to Call faeries—but this was a way to help the minority. This could be the way to help the minority become more powerful, and more logical and useful. The Receptionless could be educated: science proved that.
Yet, what science—what scientists—were doing was illegal. The faeries had banned science long ago, and they had provided their magical assistance as replacement. This history was long lost, and only the scientists who searched up the ancient history of Aglana knew of it. Why science was banned, the faeries would not say, but Guiomar had a suspicion.
It's because those faeries are power-hungry. On the outside, it looks like they bow to our will, letting us use their magic how we wish, whenever we wish... but deep within their minds, they know it's their magic. They know that because it's their magic, they can control what we do. They are afraid of science... of our OWN power as human beings! Afraid that we'll become more powerful than them! He stared distastefully at the faerie-powered electric lamps that lit up the town of Iwarell. Lightning faeries floated around each lamp that had a lightning seal on it. Perma-Mediums, they were called. Mediums injected with excess Reception, and sealed so the Reception would not dissipate once the Caller cut off the supply. Eventually, of course, these Mediums would run out, but they could always be Recharged. Perma-Mediums were mostly lamps and certain sinks, but they could be special tools or weapons as well. Faeries were everywhere. They were watching, and it was sickening to watch their firm grip on humankind.
The town of Irawell was like any other town in the Fallbarrow Empire: quiet, out-of-the-way, and nestled in the woods. However, it was one of the bigger towns, and actually had a bit of a nightlife. This was the first town that Guiomar and Merrett found after running from the scene of the failed kidnapping. They decided to stay there before heading to Lightemburg to wait to ambush the heiress of the Vitapax family. Was Skya her name...?, Guiomar thought. He wasn't quite sure. He wasn't good with names.
The inn they arrived at was medium-sized and built of polished oak; "The Second Irawell Inn", it was called. The inside floor was paved with slate, and in the lobby, the front desk clerk was busy eating a late lunch. Or was it an early dinner?
"One room for one day." Merrett said gruffly to the clerk. "How much's it?"
"A hundred bytes." said the clerk with a muffled voice as she stuffed in the last of her sandwich. The international currency in Aglana were bits and bytes. There were sixty bits to a byte, and one thousand bytes to a kilobyte, and so on.
Merrett paid the money and grabbed the room key from the clerk's small hands. They took the stairs to the second floor of the inn; there were only two floors in the Second Irawell.
"Sir, how should we approach the heiress now?" Guiomar asked his superior. "She is wary, and now she has her companion. I believe we will need more numbers..."
"Silence!" Merrett said authoritatively. "I say we don't need numbers. We have enough power ourselves. We don't need help. We'd look bad if we went back for help now after a failed attempt."
"Pardon, sir, but I don't think it's a matter of whether or not we look bad; it's a matter of completing the mission. A scientist is practical, right? And the most practical and efficient thing right now would be to have more people with us." Guiomar said quickly.
"You listen to your superior," Merrett said stubbornly. "Listen. This way, my way, is the way to get a promotion. That is how I've gotten to be at this position. I'm higher than you, so listen to me."
Guiomar did all he could to hide the dubious expression on his face. "Yes, sir." he said quietly. "So, we ambush them at the city limit of Lightemburg?"
"Yes," replied Merrett. "It'll be quite a-ways from the city limit, though. We can't have any townspeople report the ambush to the Vitapax family. They're formidable. With the two of us, though, chances of getting caught are slim. You see, if we brought an army of ambushers, we would surely look suspicious, even when hiding.
"We will use a gun. It'll be like those Caller-assassins, but with a gun. It'll be better with a gun, because they can't sense any Reception from it."
A frown appeared on Guiomar once more. "But last time, the old man sensed us somehow." he argued. "How are we supposed to hide ourselves if those freaks can sense us?"
"How?" Merrett puffed up his chest. "We will ambush them. We should get the advantage of surprise attack."
Guiomar didn't bother to speak anymore; arguing with this man was like quarreling with a brick wall. They arrived at their room and opened the door to find an ensemble quaint and cozy looking furniture. There were two queen sized beds separated by an end table. A brass electric lamp sat on the table, and a lightning faerie was dozing off next to it. Near the window was a round wooden table with two comfortable arm chairs. Guiomar placed his things on one of the arm chairs and sat down wearily on the bed nearest the window.
They walked throughout the town the rest of the day, shopping for provisions and items to use in the ambush. With the power of science, simple household items like flour could be turned into deadly explosives. They left Irawell the next day and took a taxi to the next town. From the next town they walked down Winterbury path and made it about a mile away from the outskirts of Lightemburg. A day and a half had passed.
They climbed in a tree and waited. Gripping an explosive made of flour in his hands, Guiomar strained his eyes down the road, looking for any sign of that heiress or her formidable friend. They waited for hours, and soon began to worry whether they already passed or not. "I told you we should have gone back," Guiomar muttered, annoyed. He could not help voicing his opinion, not when it was clear he was in the right. "We should have gotten backup so we could surround the area and look for them better."
"Shut up, shut up!" Merrett snarled. "I've had enough of your whining. Another word from you and I'll personally make sure that you're out of the Association." Guiomar gave him a dubious expression. Merrett did not have that much power, did he?
A click of hooves told them that the next carriage was coming. It was a wagon with a yellowed canvas cover. It looked creaky and old... and familiar. At the drivers seat was a beautiful lady with wavy, mahogany-colored hair that cascaded past her shoulders. She looked kind and thoughtful, and Guiomar was almost attracted by her. Almost. She had on her lap a staff that served as a medium for most Healers. So she was one of them. Sitting right beside her was the man who had defended the heiress with his water magic. A blond haired, blue eyed man that was most likely unintelligent and useless in everything but magic. He had his head turned to the inside of the wagon, and seemed to be talking to someone inside. Guiomar assumed this person to be the heiress.
"Quick, drop 'em!" Merrett whispered harshly, and he let go of his own flour bomb. Guiomar followed suit, and they both watched as the deadly explosives fell from the high tree to the carriage.
Smoke covered everything, making them blind. Merrett cursed and wiped ash from the smoke off of his eyelids. "Jump down once you're ready." he said. Guiomar was ready, and he jumped down from their hiding place and pulled a dagger out of the sheath on his belt. A large gust of wind wiped the smoke away right when he landed, and revealed the old, splintery carriage, pristine and untouched by the bomb. Those damned Witches. He felt a sudden presence behind him, and somersaulted forward, gripping his dagger in a defensive position before swiveling to face his opponent at a breakneck speed.
"Hey, what's the big deal?" growled the presence, which turned out to be the heiress. "Leave me the hell alone! What did I ever do to you?" A wind faerie sat on her shoulder with a stern expression.
Guiomar was not supposed to know the purpose of kidnapping the girl, but he knew bits and pieces from information he acquired from friends in the upper echelons of the Association. The girl supposedly knew the whereabouts of or was in possession of a Perma-Medium that attached the legendary faerie Daryem to Aglana. The Association was even considering the possibility that she herself was a Perma-Medium, as the heiress was capable of being a medium. However, there was one flaw with that possibility. If the heiress was a Perma-Medium or held on to and guarded one, then the faerie, Daryem, would be floating around her.
Daryem, from what Guiomar heard, was the "King of the Faeries". He ruled over the psychic element, and could read minds and use telepathy and telekinesis. He was the most dangerous faerie, as he could tamper with the human mind and manipulate human behavior. Guiomar believed that the Association either wanted to use King Daryem for their own purposes or to destroy the faerie and invoke mayhem in the faerie dimension of Ellemar Grid.
Without a reply, Guiomar rushed to the girl, swinging his dagger upward in an uppercut. She dodged easily; wind users had superb agility, and especially so against a Receptionless. He glanced sideways and spotted, with a surge of panic, the wind faerie flying toward him, aiming to pass through his ear. He bit his lip with distaste, attempting to swat the faerie away with his dagger. "Stupid mind reading freaks," he muttered darkly. In a way, wind faeries were the closest element faeries in power to Daryem.
"What'd you get?" the heiress whispered rather loudly to her faerie. "Nothing? Tch. I at least want to know why."
Guiomar dodged to the side just in time to avoid a crushing blow to the back of the head with a sheathed broadsword. It was the water user.
"Get out of the way, water boy," Guiomar snarled as he rushed toward Skya, aiming to gag her and finally abduct her.
"Not a chance," said water boy as he pointed a jet of water from his sword toward Guiomar's back.
Guiomar fell forward with the pressure and cursed. Where was Merrett? Damn him! He should be here for back-up and yet... Time to retreat. Guiomar decided, and he lifted his dripping wet self up and dodged away, avoiding any more water shots. Several gusts of wind cut his arm and cheek, but he managed to dodge them well as he ran.
He ran, his face red with humiliation. "That Merrett! He's dead the moment I see him." Guiomar growled as he rested at the base of a tree. "MERRETT! WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?"
"Anotating." came the familiar, snobbish, annoying voice. "I wanted to know more about the enemy and you were finding out a lot about them."
"Anotationg? Anotating? You crazy bum!" Guiomar's temper had reached boiling point. "If I had your help down there, I could probably have kidnapped the stupid lady in one go!"