The arrival of something sinister fast approaches!

Chapter 50: Charles Jewels, Criminal Extraordinaire

"Ugh... why must his majesty assign this much paperwork on a day like today?" Walter mumbled as he observed the stack of papers he was to sign that sat on his desk. The Avian-General groaned as a soldier walked in and placed a few more papers down with a salute before scurrying out of the room, and he looked to the new sheets with dismay.

Walter faceplanted the wooden desk before him while the papers around him continued to stack higher and higher as the day went on, the Avian-General feeling the work beginning to take it's toll. That is until...

"General! Urgent news from Beltalume!" A soldier shouted from the open doorway of the General's office. Walter groggily raised his head and blinked a few times.

"What's going on?" He murmured. The soldier saluted, then approached quickly with a paniced grimace visible under his helmet

"it's them! The Crown of Thorns! They're alive! And they've completely destroyed the neighbor town of Beltalume!" This got the Avian's attention, and his eyes grew wide.

"What?!" The Dragon-Avian nearly screamed. The soldier cautiously stepped forwards into the room, and he shakily saluted before going into his report.

"T-The Mayor of Beltalume sent us a report that arrived just now. According to him..." The soldier clumsily handed Walter a large sheet of paper that he quickly grabbed hold of and began scanning it.

Majors Generals of the continent of Enelios.

I have urgent news that I must bring to your attention. Very recently, the city of Albehime has received unexpected trouble from a group of thieves. I'm sure you know who the Crown of Thorns are. They are the most famous team of the thief guild Stealth Veil. As you know, the Crown of Thorns was executed just a year ago by the military of Aldevia. However, recent investigation gives reason to doubt their death. It is uncertain how they are alive, but reports have come in from several citizens of Albehime.

It seems odd and I assure you this is no hoax. The fact stands that the most notorious thieves on the continent of Enelios are alive, and have destroyed an entire section of Albehime.

As Mayor of Beltalume, the neighboring city of Albehime it is my duty to keep an eye on them. The Crown of Thorns stole valuable minerals and papers containing research on the Ashdebar Ruins. You must stop them at

Signed, Mayor of Beltalume

Walter's hands trembled as he clutched the letter from Beltalume, veins clearly bulging in his forehead. The General did not remove his eyes from the paper, but when he spoke there was evident fury in it.

"How." Was all he said. The soldier that was present nervously clenched his fist and stood attention as he answered the question asked.

"W-We checked the graves of what was supposed to be the Crown of Thorns, sir. The bodies that are there... they-" The soldier choked on his own words and stumbled backwards when Walter's aura started to engulf the entire room. "the bodies are of civilians." Walter's eyes seemed like they were frozen in place, a huge bulging mass as he stood there upon hearing the soldier. The soldier cautiously stepped forwards, somewhat concerned of the man before him.

"Sir...?" He flinched and jumped backwards when the General suddenly slammed his palm into his desk, splitting it into four pieces and sending his paperwork flying everywhere. The Aldevian soldier dared not say anything as the General stormed past him with his heavy aura drowning out the ones nearby. Walter didn't even take a moment to shut the door behind him. Instead, he just headed off down the hall with a furious expression plastered on his face.

Riy flexed his arms as he stared at the legion of training poles in front of him, the Wolf-kin wearing a bored look as he held two training swords in hand. The challenge of cutting through these poles felt obsolete after the type of training he'd experienced in the woods where he'd discovered that Leon was still alive.

What a strange thing it was... to think the man that he'd come to hate for all that was done was alive... and Riy felt... happy about it. Sort of... the Wolf-kin cycled through these thoughts as he casually dashed by the wooden poles and cut each one in half as he went by them. Within a mere twelve seconds, every single pole was lying somewhere on the ground and Riy lazily glanced around the room.

"It doesn't feel too challenging to do this now..." He muttered quietly. Footsteps started to echo nearby suddenly and a female voice accompanied them.

"If you've got nothing better to do, then why don't you come with us?" Riy glanced over his shoulder and felt surprised to see Renne, Irra and Jake standing halfway up the steps of the training hall. They were wearing the same thing they wore on the day of the Akedime Fortress siege, except Irra had on a small bracelet and Jake wore a necklace with assorted animal teeth dangling from it.

"You guys? What are you doing here?" Riy asked as his companions stepped to the bottom of the staircase and Renne placed a hand on her hip.

"Well the continent has been very peaceful, and to be honest we've all been cooped up for a while indoors. I thought it'd be fun if we just..." The Spiritist girl paused for a second, then beamed as she finished her sentence. "went on an adventure!" Riy blinked a few times in response, and Jake started to laugh while rubbing his forehead.

"Yeah I knew that'd be your reaction." He remarked. Irra elbowed him which earned a yelp as the Fox-kin rubbed his side, and Riy frowned.

"Uhm... does anyone at the palace know about this?" He breathed, to which Renne softly laughed and shook her head.

"That's the fun part. No one knows. Not even sis." She replied. Riy gave a look of disapproval while his eyes slanted and he sighed.

"This could set off a panic you know." He stated, and Renne grinned.

"I'm, not so sure about that. I told sis I was going into the city for a bit. So if anything, she'll think I'm there." She replied with a wink. Riy sighed and slumped his arms with a start, before reluctantly nodding.

"Okay... I'm still not sure about this but it'd be nice to get out for once." He admitted, and Irra clasped her hands together with a joyous cheer.

"Then it's all settled! Let's go!" Riy furrowed his brows and crossed his arms at this reaction, suddenly realizing something. Irra, Renne and Jake had started back up the stairs when Riy raised his question.

"Wait a minute! You didn't even say where you wanted to go!" Renne looked over her shoulder with a smile, and winked again.

"We're going to Ashdebar Highlands."

Walter strolled quickly through the fancy streets of Beltalume; his destination in the center of town. The paved walkway were decorated with luminous stones engraved with symbols while the stone fences had intricate spiral patterns wrapped around it. The main streets were colored a deep blue that resonated in design with the numerous fountains scattered throughout the city. Peddlers, blacksmiths and even medics casually strolled the streets of Beltalume, all of which are lit by colorful lamps.

The Dragon-Avian General passed by the white stone bakery named Lume's Bakery and walked quickly to the large round building at the center of a cluster of other buildings. It's design was simplistic yet held an air of elegance and beauty. The two white pillars that stood on either side of the wooden door were decorated with ribbons of blue and grey color while the windows possessed varying symbols and designs, though they all had a diamond shape to them. Walter sighed as he stopped just in front of the entrance, and crossed his arms.

"Here's hoping the old man still takes visitors." He muttered, before pushing the large doors open and walking inside. He was instantly greeted by a large circular room that was decorated with large potted plants and ornate rugs that covered the floor. Smooth marble walkways led to a kitchen just straight from the main doors and brightly light candles hung on the walls and by a chandelier overhead. Walter groaned.

"Mayor Tashida! It's me, Walter Cais of Aldevia! I've come to speak to you in regards to your letter detailing the attack on Albehime." He called out with his hand cupped around his mouth to amplify its volume. Footsteps followed the Avian's comment, and he turned to see the man he sought.

"Oh it's quite nice to see you people up and about. Here about my letter you say?" The Mayor named Tashida said as he stepped to the bottom of a carpeted staircase present on the left side of the room that led to the second floor. Tashida wore a simple brown robe covered in runic patterns down the middle and his wooden sandals clicked against the marble floor as he approached Walter. His round face and beady grey eyes accompanied by short scraggle grey hair always caught the Avian off guard. Walter slowly nodded.

"That's correct sir. You mentioned that, the team of thieves known as the Crown of Thorns attacked Albehime and raided the mines. Is this truly correct?" He replied, to which Tashida nodded quickly.

"I do not lie with this matter. Though it seems their members have changed a bit since their supposed 'execution'." He said, his hands curling into a ball while talking. Walter narrowed his eyes tensely as he listened.

"There were only four members before. What's changed as of now?" He inquired sternly, and Tashida put a hand to his chin before responding.

"No longer is it just the four. Now, it's a team of five extremely skilled thieves all of a level of combat comparable to a General or higher." Walter further tensed up upon hearing this, and Tashida went on.

"Rose the Mistress of Thorns."

"Apathyst the Templar of Thorns."

"Monk the Jester of Thorns."

"Ian the King of Thorns."

Tashida paused momentarily after mentioning the fourth member, then his eyes went dark. "And the man whom you know so well. Charles, the Prince of Thorns." Walter grimaced when he heard that name and clenched his fist tightly while he stood in place, doing his best not to get worked up.

"Do you have any clue as to where they were headed next Tashida?" The General asked. Tashida looked like he went into thought when the Avian asked this, his eyes narrowed and away from him.

"Perhaps... but what will you do against them? It's not like you could take all five of them." He remarked. Walter crossed his arms and his face contorted to a serious expression, devoid of anger.

"I don't have to. If you cut off the head of the snake, then it cannot function. All I need is to arrest Charles Jewels." He replied. Tashida grunted and he turned around, walking towards a wooden desk that had an orb on it. He brushed his hand against it while Walter waited for the old man to speak, of which he finally did after a few moments.

"The man is known world wide as an un-catchable criminal General. He's never once been caught by anyone. The Criminal Extraordinaire, they call him." He warned. Walter started to grow impatient, and he gripped the edge of his uniform in frustration.

"Then I'll be the first to. It's my job." He responded. Tashida groaned heavily and looked up towards the ceiling, the sunrays of the day shining through before glancing over his shoulder at the General.

"The Crown of Thorns is headed for the Ashdebar Ruins. They plan on looking for ancient relics, and buried treasure there." He finally said, which made Walter turn on his heel and walk out the door. Tashida slumped his shoulders and watched the Dragon-Avian leave, before muttering "don't get yourself killed out there, Walter Cais."

Riy glanced out the window of the Aeroa as the ancient Halivator flew through the skies, something nagging at him from the corner of his minds. Renne seemed to notice this, as she leaned on the back of his seat and tilted her head.

"What's the matter Riy? Is there something wrong?" She inquired. The young Wolf-kin shrugged and rested an elbow on an armrest before placing his chin on his raised hand.

"It's... nothing. Sort of... I just can't shake the feeling that there's something wrong right now." He responded honestly. Renne frowned and climbed over the seat next to the boy, quickly sitting next to him and facing him.

"What exactly?" She asked. Riy crossed his arms and turned to her with a shake of his head.

"I can't quite explain it. Something's off about this... day. Like something bad's going to happen." He replied. Renne blinked a few times before she chuckled and wrapped an arm around the Mercenary, resting her head against his shoulder which instantly caused him to blush.

"Oh come on. I'm sure everything'll be fine. After all..." She gave him a simple smile and closed her eyes, finishing with "we are the Arian Alliance."

"Charles, the entrance to the ruins have been opened." Came an older, feminine voice from the distance. A tall, well built man sat on a lone boulder with one leg crossed over the other while he had his arms folded across his chest. This man wore a long grey leather coat layered in thin but durable metal, and a large guild insignia was displayed across his chest. His gloved hands tapped against the coat's sleeves and the wind rustled the dark leather pants he wore, which were also guarded by a thin layer of metal.

"That's excellent. Wait one moment. I'll be right there." The man called back. There was an audible huff in response, and the man chuckled. His deep, long red hair that had several streaks of black running through it started to blow fiercely in the wind and as he got to his feet, his eyes slowly opened revealing intense, greedy jade colored eyes. "Let's get this excavation started, shall we? Crown of Thorns."

The famous thief team appears! What is their true intention? And what 'bad feeling' is Riy getting that's causing him to worry? To Be Continued in Chapter 51: A Thief's Ambition!