Chapter 16

After a while, both bandits regained consciousness. Martha and Toby left to wash the blood-stained clothes, as well as to bring the wounded bandits something else to wear. As for Eri, Amelia, Reo and Null, they were huddled around the two for a serious interrogation.

"Yeah," Flynn, the bandit who remained conscious during the treatment, answered Eri's question. "We knew that Hauke was waiting at the cottage; he told us to ambush a group of travelers. He was in such a hurry, he didn't even tell us which ones they were. I may swindle money from any traveler, but even I'm against snatching such from some old people. Then again, if Hauke said so, there must be a reason for it, so we took the job anyway. "

The second bandit, Keith, chimed in, "Plus, it was a boring task. I didn't see what Hauke had in mind when he's after a group like you."

"Thank you for the fine compliments," Null muttered sarcastically. His hood was removed, not only because he didn't care about revealing his red eyes, but also that he was still exhausted. "Besides getting a medal from being beaten to a pulp, what else did you accomplish?"

Keith sighed at Null's sarcasm and continued, "Besides being beaten to a pulp, we learned on never to associate with scoundrels like Hauke ever again!"

Eri became shocked. "You actually despise Hauke? Why?"

"For a very good reason," Keith replied angrily. "After we got defeated by you, we went to him to report on what happened. But he got mad and said that he has no interest hearing anything from weaklings like us. After that, he just ditched us! Can you believe that?"

Flynn, however, remained calm. "We hurried back to warn you that Hauke was waiting, until we got attacked," he added. "Please believe us."

Amelia nodded and said, "We believe you. Hauke had already told us that he knew that we defeated you guys. But can you please explain exactly how you got attacked?"

"I'm sorry, I can't explain much," he answered. "All I know that something darted past me, and then attacked us both at once. I saw its eyes though; they were red."

"Red? You mean, like mine?" Null asked worriedly.

Flynn looked at Null carefully. "No, not like yours," he responded. "It was red for sure; but unlike yours, its eyes were so bright, it practically shone. That's all I know."

Then he looked at the sword that Null was holding. Null gazed down at it and handed it to him.

"You could have gotten some protection with this," Null apologized. "Sorry about taking your sword."

Flynn shook his head. "I don't want it anymore. It's not even mine," he said, sighing. "I stole it from the owner of a weapons shop; it's next to the outpost of Central Region. This, too, was Hauke's stupid idea."

He added after a few seconds of hesitation, "I would appreciate it if you returned it to him. I'm tired of playing as a bandit."

Martha and Toby returned hurriedly, carrying clean clothes for the two indignant (ex-bandits) to wear.

"I'm sending Toby over to a nearby village to get some help. They still need better medical attention," Martha announced.

"We'll take care of these two, and the villagers," Toby assured them. "You guys should get out of here before you get held up."

Eri nodded and motioned her friends to pack up and leave. Before they exited the house, they received thanks from Martha and Toby for helping them, as well as a couple of thanks from Flynn and Keith for saving their lives.

As Eri and her friends got farther away from the cottage, they looked at it one last time before continuing on to Central Region.

"Do you suppose it's just a random attack?" Amelia questioned.

"Don't know," Eri replied doubtfully. "Let's just hope that it doesn't happen again."

"We should be able to reach the outpost before evening," Null explained. "It's just enough time for me to continue reading the book."

"You're reading the part about elemental emissaries?" Amelia asked.

"Sure am!" Null replied excitedly. "This is really interesting. You guys should hear this as well."

Everyone paid attention to Null as he started to read the words right out from the book:

"Encounters with emissaries are very common to the sages. However, few sages have knowledge on how they would interpret the emissary's message: by knowing the element it originated from."

"Created from auras from different realms, emissaries may vary in many ways. Knowing them by element is the easiest way to know its point of origin. Furthermore, the elements provide an important clue to solve the emissary's intention or message."

"For years, many experienced sages had researched on the basis of emissaries and their respective elements. A description made by them is explained below:

I: Fire – All emissaries with this element have red eyes (some emissaries have red eyes that even glow). They would have a hasty personality because of their affinity with this element. The one way to detect the presence of these types of emissary is by feeling the heat it gives out during the encounter.

II: Water – Usually quiet and cold-hearted, water-type emissaries can easily be identified as they would not cope to assist the humans they tend to give their message to. They would even go to the extent of staying by to watch if their target person is in danger.

III: Earth – These are helpful beings, but they tend to put people at risk in most cases. Having the most knowledge above all types of emissaries; they would give a much clearer 'picture' to humans.

IV: Sky – Commonly referred to as the 'wind' emissaries. Entirely opposite to the earth emissaries; sky emissaries help humans from danger, but are unable to give clues to them. Also, unlike other emissaries, their aura radiates a pure essence that sometimes calms people in dire situations."

"In addition to these four basic types of emissaries, there are additionally five more that fit to another set of category:

V: Light – Also known as 'Sprites', these emissaries are more of a playful type and usually appear in the form of children. Moreover, they have a tendency to possess human memories which results in them mistaking some humans as friends or family.

VI: Dark – Opposite to light emissaries with the exception of them also capable of possessing memories. In addition to this, they have the personality to refrain from helping humans; however, it's mostly because they tend to torment themselves from grief and trauma caused by their memories.

VII: Time – Very rare beings that only show themselves before high-ranked sages; they happen to appear in important timelines or historic event/s. Further research had been halted due to their prolonged absence.

VIII: Life – These beings only appear out of certain, variable auras, therefore they happen to be a rare group as well. The only thing known about them is that they are actually capable of sharing human emotions and involving themselves when it comes to saving their target. They also happen to be the most vulnerable of all emissaries.

IX: Death – Beings formed mostly by tainted or cursed auras; their only intention is to kill humans, despite their inability to do so. They have a unique power to create a field around their victim to make them experience the most painful of deaths. This ultimately results in the mental affection to the victim, causing them to become insane."

As Null finished reading the page, Reo exclaimed, "That's amazing! Who would've thought that emissaries could come in different forms like that?"

Amelia scratched her head. "I'm quite surprised too. To think that father had such information that I've never even heard of..."

"Still, I don't see what category you fit into," Eri said. "Since you happened to have red eyes, you may be a fire-type emissary, but I don't feel any sort of heat coming from you. Is there any more information about this?"

Null nodded and flipped to the next page and continued reading: "These nine types of emissaries are all that exist in this world, and possibly in other worlds too. However, our research took a drastic turn when we discovered the existence of a tenth type of emissary..."

He stopped reading as his eyes landed on the next line of the page. He looked at the book with a sudden expression of surprise.

"What's wrong?" Reo asked.

Hesitant from reading the next part, Null paused; but after a while, he spoke out the next words:

"X: Null."