Well here's another chapter, enjoy!
The Stolen Grail, Part One
Just hearing those words come out of Tokiomi's mouth seemed to be enough to knock him off balance, shivering slightly as if ice water was thrown at him. So when he fell unconscious, Alena took it upon herself to carry him home and lay him on the living room couch.
The redhead opened up a medicine cabinet from which she took out several bandages, alcohol, gauze pads and a roll of adhesive. With this she began to disinfect Issei's wounds, taking out the scales embedded into his skin and bandaging the flesh underneath with great care. He needed to wait for his body to recover to use his magical energy again, as did she, with the only medicine left being to sit and wait.
Inna welcomed the unexpected visitors with coffee and a few cookies, some of the cookies and cups being broken unfortunately, thanks to the ruckus caused by the dragon.
Colin on the other hand was leaning on the wall adjacent to the window, he seemed to be thinking deeply as he looked out at the sky with a distant look on his face. However that posture was one that she managed to recognize, he was undoubtedly nervous, the fact that he hadn't let go of Sasdif was a strong indication of that. Alena worried for her friend, the lack of control that Colin suffered scared her for a fleeting moment, she had spoken in a totally oblivious way as if she understood the kind of existence he was, a Vampire, without truly understanding the burden that this entailed. Only now did she truly understand.
Colin, as much as he might appear to be, was not at all in complete control of those vampiric instincts of his. Things like having to drink blood every so often were one of the needs she didn't have to experience, such was why the loss of control surprised her. In addition, she understood that Issei was the one who helped Colin get blood and that Colin avoided drinking if he didn't have to.
She hadn't thought about that before.
But it had been a terrible night for her too, she did not want to keep recalling those images which plagued her mind even now.
Alena looked askance at the two strangers in her home, Magi of the Mage's Association, their headquarters of which was the Clock Tower. The two of them were father and daughter, and they had such a familiar last name to her that she could have sworn she heard it somewhere before.
Tokiomi seemed an elegant person with his attire, but despite the peaceful smile he had plastered on, he undoubtedly hid too much with that impression.
Rin seemed to be more genuine in that sense, Alena guessed she was the same age as Issei since it did not seem to be greater than that, so she was at least 4 or 5 years younger than her being 21.
Alena shifted her gaze to her lap, carefully observing her delicate and beautiful hands, not a mark or blemish on her skin. An indication that there was nothing pushing her to the limit, nor has she overcome any obstacles with her own hands.
'I'm not good enough.' That fleeting thought crossed her mind.
She couldn't help but feel guilty about everything. She could have saved more lives, she could have set up a higher quality barrier, she could have done more for these people, her people… but ended up doing nothing more for believing that she was strong enough to protect someone other than herself.
And she called herself a proud archer, her definition of that word was too grand for her now that she thought on it.
Silence reigned in the meantime.
Hayami looked at her grandson with a palpable concern that grew more and more, knowing there was nothing she could do but sit and watch, looking at how what was left of her family was nearly dead on an armchair in a place she was just adjusting to.
'I'm a hindrance,' She thought darkly, after all, she didn't know how to use magic, even when her grandson had told her about her magic circuits, she didn't think it was necessary. 'And look at me now, a useless old woman who can't even heal the wounds of her grandson…'
Hyōdō Hayami had never before felt such helplessness, reality was hitting her hard and it wasn't pleasant at all.
Inna on the other hand, seated on the dining room chair, going through a very similar situation. She held her face in her hands, hunched over with the table as support for her arms; her eyes were watery, holding back the tears that threatened to spill out.
This was something that had never happened here, after all, not too far off the road that led to the Wiccan village barrier that kept most creatures and humans away. She had to stay as calm as possible while she thought of a solution to their current problem…
Meanwhile, Colin sat silently as he observed a wall with a thousand yard stare.
His iron grip on Sasdif was tighter than ever before, a sign of what he was going through internally, a feeling he had never felt so prominently before… fear.
Even though he would hate to admit it, he had a deep fear about what was happening to him, feeling that at every moment he was sinking into a dark reality to which he belonged more in body, but less in mind.
Everyone looked to where the grumble was heard.
It had been at least 15 minutes of silence that passed, uncomfortable minutes to endure due to the mean and depressing atmosphere that clung to all except Tokiomi and Rin, who were both silent in their respective thought bubbles.
After what seemed like an infinitesimal stretch of time, Issei's face contracted in annoyance as he slowly opened his eyes, blinking as they adjusted to the light. He glanced at the two sorcerers and let out a tired snort, they still hadn't left.
Alena quickly attended to him when she saw that he regained consciousness. She got up from her chair and made her way to the couch, kneeling in front of Hyōdō.
"How do you feel?" She ran a hand through his hair. "Can you stand?"
He smiled, much to the reassurance of Alena.
"I feel horrible. Just about everything hurts. My right arm is numb…" He answered while groaning in pain, but smiling nevertheless. "I think I can stand though."
With a little bit of effort, he was able to prop himself up into a sitting position. He looked over at Tokiomi who deemed it necessary to present whatever was important. As for Rin, Issei marveled at the beauty of the charming girl, but the feeling was discreetly toned down upon seeing a noticeable lack of chest. Truly, it was a pain.
He closed his eyes and shook his head, dispelling such thoughts.
"Sorry for the wait, I'll be just a moment longer." Issei said to Tokiomi. "If you would be so kind as to wait outside, we can talk more freely there."
Rather than being offended that they were being ordered to do so, the Tohsaka patriarch ignored it and followed suit.
"As you say, but please be quick, you will find that it took much to get here," The man said politely. "What we have to tell you is most important."
Tokiomi gestured a small signal to Rin, who followed him as soon as he stood up.
"A thousand thanks for the hospitality." The man directed to Inna, who had composed herself by now.
"No need for thanks, Lord Tohsaka, it was the least I could do."
Tokiomi bowed gratefully before he and Rin exited out the front door.
"Huf… sorry, even though this was my problem I ended up involving you anyway, Inna-san…" The Hyōdō boy apologized piteously, a conflicted look on his face.
Inna dismissed the apology with a wave of her hand.
"Don't worry honey, the important thing is that we're all safe." She assuaged his worry. "You should at least change your clothes, it is cold outside."
"Are you fine on your own?"
"It still hurts, but I'll be fine, I just need my bag and I'll come out like new."
That struck everyone as a little odd, although Colin and Alena already had an idea of what their friend was talking about.
"Fuuuuu…" Issei let out a long and tense sigh, getting up afterward while wincing in pain. "Shit."
Hayami, who was too worried to reprimand him before he voiced his complaint, showed her concern for him as her hand moved for his.
"Is something wrong?"
"I think my elbow's been dislocated."
He closed his eyes for a moment and with a quick movement of his left hand shooting up, his arm was popped back into place.
"Agh..!" That had hurt for real, he hadn't even felt it until it was moved. "There's my arm."
"Are you sure you're okay?" Hayami asked.
"Yeah, I'm going to go change now, I'll be out soon."
His piece said, Issei got up and moved to walk up the stairs to his room. Alena narrowed her eyes at the brunette's back, aware he had left something out.
Inna and Hayami relaxed over the fact that he was at least alive and whole.
The brunette had already removed all his clothes at this point, replacing it with clean and intact clothing.
'[You know that the half-elf knows for a fact that you didn't tell them everything, right?]'
Issei groaned tiredly.
"Please don't start, Ddraig…"
The dragon nevertheless snorted in response.
'[Partner, you were almost killed out there. Don't act like nothing's wrong, your body can only withstand so much wear and tear, but your mind cannot.]'
'[What's going on with you?]'
"I don't know," Issei opened a suitcase after inscribing some glyphs onto the top lid and pulled out a bottle, looking at his hand which trembled incessantly. "I… I only know I can't let them see me like this."
He held the bottle tightly.
'[You can't or you don't?]'
"Tell me something, why are we having this conversation?" Hyōdō replied, annoyed with the question.
'[Don't act tough with me, kid.]'
There had only been a few instances where Ddraig referred to his host in such a way that wasn't in jest. Therefore, it was something important.
'[Those stupid pills you're taking are just… how do you say? Ah yes, "fucking you up".]' Ddraig said, clearly upset. '[Before you say anything, we're not done with this conversation yet, and you have other matters to attend to.]'
And just like that, the Welsh dragon fell silent.
Issei took a sort of seed out from the jar dotted with various specks of different colors like red, green and violet to name a few. He observed the contents for only a moment longer before downing it.
He took a deep breath and exhaled all the air his lungs accumulated, undoing the feeling of tiredness that spread throughout his body, and fortunately his body stopped shaking…
Of the bandages that Alena had applied, steam came out where the wounds would have been as if there was water evaporating. A new energy renewed Issei as his wounds vanished almost instantly, though he could feel his muscles tense for a moment as they returned to normal.
The brown-haired young man put the bottle back in the suitcase and pulled out some new clothes, a red turtleneck shirt with long sleeves and a black winter jacket, along with some new pants and shoes.
He went downstairs once he was done and went straight to Colin, under the clearly puzzled gazes of Inna and Hayami.
There was no reaction, he seemed lost in thought once again.
"Colin," It wasn't until Issei touched his shoulder that the other jumped in reaction. "You okay…?
"Eh? Eh, yeah, I'm okay… I think."
Issei looked at him questioningly, but because of the current situation, he had to let it slide for now.
"I need you to put up a barrier around the dragon's corpse, it's still able to generate a strong level of magic power and its bones can still be used; not to mention it would be dangerous to leave it there with so many Mages, especially now."
"Okay, I'll be back in a moment."
And so the blue-haired man left the house. Issei looked at Alena for some answer as to the attitude of his friend, to which she responded with silence and turned her eyes elsewhere, an answer that didn't convince him either. Something else was up, so if the Tohsaka weren't here in the first place, addressing this would have been his main priority.
Issei walked out the door and was greeted by the cold. He looked to the Tohsakas who were waiting, the girl looked especially annoyed.
'This is going to be great!' He thought with sarcasm, having to work to keep his face from twisting into a scowl.
Father and daughter saw the brunette approaching them.
"Sorry for the wait, but as you can see the situation is not the most favorable," Issei spoke first. "Well then, to what do I owe this exalted visit?"
Tokiomi cleared his throat before speaking.
"Young Hyodo, i have sent you letters to summon you to the headquarters," He started, although there was a slight disdain towards the boy. "But as you no doubt know, what has come in response is nothing but ashes."
Issei didn't seem fazed by that and didn't think too much about it either.
"Yeah, about that, I just didn't want to go and I didn't want to be bothered either." He flatly responded. "I had thought my intentions were abundantly clear, although I don't see the importance of my presence."
Tokiomi immediately knew what he meant, so he immediately knew how to answer.
"If the situation didn't require it, I wouldn't have come personally... I need your help, but what I need from you is at the Mage's Association headquarters."
"Does that mean something to me? I see no reason to help you?"
"If you ask me I wouldn't even have called you for this, but since we are now short of time, your intervention is necessary." Tokiomi looked at Hyōdō directly into his eyes and his expression hardened. "I came here to convince you to open the vault of Anneliese."
"I'll do you this favor on two conditions."
"I'm listening." At this point Tokiomi knew they had no choice with this boy, so negotiation was best.
"After this, you will cease trying to find me." Issei stated. "Second, what is happening? If I'm going to be part of something, I need to know what's going on."
"Since this involves you, it won't hurt to know."
"I'm all ears." The teen crossed his arms.
"Have you ever heard of the Holy Grail War?"
Issei could only think of one thing.
"Are you talking about the Longinus, the relic?"
"No, this has nothing to do with the Sacred Gear."
"I see, although the term is somewhat familiar to me, I'm afraid to say I know nothing else."
"It was to be expected, after all, you had no direct training from Anneliese."
Issei frowned, glaring at Tokiomi for a moment before responding.
"There may be something related in her notes, I haven't finished reviewing them, but what is this war? What is your end goal?"
"The Holy Grail War is, in short, a battle between seven Magi who are able participate to obtain the Holy Grail summon Servants, Heroic Spirits akin to familiars. These participants are called 'Masters,'" The man explained. "They must all engage in combat between each other until only one pair of Master and Servant is left, those left who would claim the Holy Grail, the object which can then perform miracles in the form of a 'Wish'."
"Hold on… you're telling me something like that actually exists?" Issei asked incredulously. "I mean, I know there are forces beyond our imagination out there, but an object that has the power to do the impossible by fulfilling a wish is stupidly convenient."
"It is what is said."
"Why do I feel that there is a "but" in all this?" Issei frowned thoughtfully. "Something's off, a power like this should have consequences, not having one is…"
This time, it was Rin who spoke up.
"It's because there is more to it," She said professionally, diverting Issei of his internal rant. "Under normal circumstances you would not have been asked for help, since each Master must have something called a Catalyst, this greatly influences the invocation of a Servant, but what happened now is something that had not happened in the past."
Tokiomi took the lead next.
"The usual process would be for the Grail to choose seven people, the problem is that the Holy Grail located in Fuyuki, Japan, was stolen."
"What?" Even Issei knew that something like this would not end well in the wrong hands, that fact definitely did not bode well.
"The Mage's Association took action on the matter by sending highly trained Magi to retrieve the relic in question… however, they were massacred. It was mortifying, but fortunately the opposing presence was enough to activate a clever addition known as the Reserve System, which allows for seven more Servants to be summoned."
"I didn't think the situation would be this… bad, well, I guess the vault contains some artifact that can serve as a Catalyst then, right?"
"It seems you understand well enough," Tokiomi said. "Unfortunately we don't have the time to go looking for Catalysts for seven more people, your assistance can save us a lot of time if what is in there can help us."
"This is a really daunting state of affairs," The brunette commented, still surprised. "Wish or not, something like that is VERY crazy."
"Are you interested?" Tokiomi asked curiously.
"No no no, I like to live, thank you very much." Issei quickly waved both hands comically.
"You're not interested in a wish?" Rin asked.
"I'll admit that it sounds tempting, but the goals I have… What fun would it be if I don't do it with my own hands?" Issei smiled. "Besides, I prefer a quiet life, a Harem King needs peace to prosper."
"Harem King…?" Tokiomi tilted his head at that.
"Yes, part of my dream is to become King of my own harem." He said pridefully.
Rin sent Issei a gaze so cold he could feel his own soul freeze. Tokiomi looked somewhere in between surprised and confused, as if he was having an internal struggle.
"What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"How boorish." Rin moved away a bit from Issei.
"Hey! What's wrong with a man chasing after his dreams?!"
"Harem King…" Tokiomi repeated, as if stuck on that thought.
"Yeah yeah, whatever," Issei interrupted, he didn't need more people going on about his dream, he had enough of that with his grandmother. He pulled out his phone to search for a suitable departure time to England, under the disapproving gaze of Tokiomi. "We'll meet tomorrow at… eight o'clock at night at the Petropavlovsk Airport, if that's alright."
"We have your word then?"
"Very well, with all this cleared, it's time to retire." Tohsaka commented. "A fine night to you, young Hyōdō, come along Rin."
Tokiomi turned and began to make his way towards the path that led out of the village.
Rin still looked at Issei with a frown and pointed a finger at him, likely derogatory in intent. Issei should feel insulted, he should…
"Goodbye pervert, don't you dare be late, you hear?" Rin raised an eyebrow.
Issei was outraged.
"Don't call me a pervert, flat chest, I am a super pervert!"
"Wh-?! Shut up!" And with that, Rin followed after her father.
Issei just watched as they left, waiting for their forms to disappear from the boundary.
"What a girl with a strong character, I like her." He spoke aloud to no one.
Issei stood there a moment longer before heading over to Colin.
After the departure of the Magi the sun was beginning to do its work, illuminating with its beautiful daylight, pushing away the gloom that had lashed away at the Wiccan village.
The blue-haired teen cautiously watched over the dragon's corpse, it was still giving off a suffocating vapor and approaching it was even more dangerous; he already had to shoo away several Wiccan sorcerers who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. He used a few runes to mark a perimeter and make a solid barrier.
He sat down in what remained of a house to watch the rising dawn, from time to time he looked at his hands, still stained with dried blood. He let the fresh air kiss his skin and enjoyed the moment of the sweet and relaxing sensation.
Someone curious had gone out to see the dragon, but they were disappointed to encounter the barrier that Colin had set up.
As soon as he felt the aura of Issei approaching at a decent pace it inevitably made him tense, his friend still didn't know about his rampage, he had to tell him… he had to.
When he looked at him, he couldn't feel anything but shame. Colin knew that he had failed his friend, almost hurting the person he knew Issei protected vigorously.
If Colin were more conscious of the fact that Alena could really protect herself from a threat as dangerous as him, he knew she couldn't stop Issei if something hurt her, he didn't want his irresponsibility to get to that point.
After all, who in their right mind would want to piss off a beast?
Colin tried to crack a smile, although he seemed to be too tired to make it seem genuine.
"Tired?" Issei was the one to start the conversation.
Colin had no choice but to go with the flow of the conversation.
"Plenty tired, I wish I could sleep in the closet again."
"What's up with you an enclosed spaces lately?" Issei fixed him an inquisitive look, but soon his expression altered. "Is it a new fetish!?"
Colin was offended.
"Hey! Who do you take me for!? I'm not you!"
"Says the guy who wanted to fuck some Rusalkas…"
"W-whatever!" The spearman cleared his throat. "I don't know, I find them quite peaceful, I can sleep better that way... possibly because of the vampire's curse that's been put on me."
The atmosphere turned icy in just an instant. Issei and Colin were met with uncomfortable silence.
Buthe brunette simply went to do what he came here for, Colin deactivated the barrier by removing one of the runes situated around the Slavic Dragon.
Issei looked darkly at the dragon, he still felt the phantom pain from the wounds he received from his excessive confidence in his abilities. He created a sword and began to cut into it. From time to time, his face grimaced in disgust.
But nevertheless, Colin no longer supported the idea of silencing what afflicted him
"Issei... hey, can we talk?"
"We're already talking, Colin… buah, this is nasty…" The brunette laughed while making various cuts into the dead dragon. "So you're going to tell me why you've been acting strange?"
The other teen took a deep breath before talking, this being an obvious sign that Issei did not appear disappointed.
"Issei... what I drink isn't enough anymore."
"... " The brunette narrowed his eyes and sat down next to his friend, putting aside his work. "How much do you need?"
Colin couldn't look at him.
"Much more than I imagined."
"How long have you been like this?"
"I can't remember."
Issei's eye color changed in intensity, going from its natural and peaceful red to an intimidating and sinister green. He knew Colin wasn't going to let it go like that.
"Can you control the impulses or force yourself to keep them at bay?"
"I... almost killed Alena for one miserable drop of blood…" Colin shrunk in place, holding onto his lance with as much strength as he could muster.
A part of him was relieved he got that out of his chest, but he still had to wait for the reaction...
"I'm sorry, Issei... I really am sorry…"
He thought Issei would strike him down where he was with how he was looking at him. Instead, he only had to hear a few comforting words.
"I won't say that I'm not creeped out or even angry that you didn't tell me sooner, because I am," He said with slight irritation, but there was understanding in his words. "But I know very well that you would not do something like that, seeing this is out of your control."
Issei put his hand on Colin's shoulder.
"I swear to you that we'll find a solution to this, Colin," He stated with conviction, something the other teen needed. "But you have to promise that the next time something like this happens you will tell me, okay? That way we can avoid a situation like this."
"We'll find the motherfucker who did this to you and make them pay, we can't let this happen to anyone else." He promised, getting up from his spot. "We'll try to find a substitute for you to avoid the blood of anyone close to you."
"Thanks…" Colin sometimes couldn't understand, why did Issei help him so much?
"That's what friends are for!" And just like that, his friend returned to his task.
And that had been the answer Colin got, all his doubts dissipating to go along with it.
He really did have great friends…
After collecting the remains of the dragon, almost vomiting in the process since it was neither easy or very clean to begin with, Issei spent all day searching with the help of Colin, Alena, Inna and some mages that offered their help, for some visible trace of residual magic or some pentagram that opens a door to the place where those beasts had come from. In the meantime they erected a new barrier, much more powerful than the last and much bigger, though it was a somewhat laborious task because the area was very extensive.
The brunette knew that if he had finished with the dragon in time his body would still support flight - albeit with the help of the seeds, his most recent and difficult creation - and though his muscles had recovered, they were still a little sore from the tussle before. This way he couldn't force his body to fly with his scaly wings.
If the Ryuuteimaru were repaired this would have been less time consuming, now he had to postpone his plans to find the apprentice of the sons of Ivaldi.
More and more problems, these things gave him the urge to bang his head against a rock to forget about them, but that would be dangerous for the rock so he calmed himself down.
Looking out into the forest he managed to spot what they had been looking for all day, the sun was a few hours away from disappearing from the sky. But he didn't expect to see such a… terrible scene.
He covered his nose due to the stench, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket to cover his sensitive sense of smell. His face twisted into an angry expression, this had been planned in advance.
A pile of decomposing human corpses… and no one had noticed, the barrier only kept out the beasts, but if they were commanded by a third party there was nothing to do and the invasion was imminent. Apparently the Romanian lady was the cause of all this mess, stepping past the barrier normally used in carrying large amounts of materials to another location… only to be used this way with cold enchanted beasts and the intoxicating allure of the female vampire. Having drawn the victims of their blood, many of these girls were around his and Alena's age, mere sacrifices for her wicked purposes.
Fortunately, the spell was inactive since the layout had been compromised.
A ball of light came out of Issei's ear at that moment.
"I found it, but…" Issei hesitated a little, deeply unsettled. "There are many corpses, human corpses…"
"..." Issei didn't need to hear Alena's voice to know what was happening.
"I'm going to burn them, clean the area and then return to the house."
"Will you be okay, Issei?"
"No." He answered with a trembling voice.
"We've finished up with the barrier and are returning home ourselves, Mama's pretty tired too... but I can come help you."
"I'm in charge of cleaning everything, just don't come… it's too much," Before he could fall prey to disgust, Issei took a deep breath before steeling himself and proceeding. "Although I am no longer that person…"
Images passed of children, mutilated adults and the elderly, fallen feathers, membranes of some kind of wing and a pair of small hands drenched with the blood of the girls murdered here.
Issei closed his eyes shut and began to gesture with solemn, trembling hands.
"May… God have a place for them in the Kingdom of Heaven."
Although he knew how unworthy he was to think or make any gesture towards God, he really hoped that these girls would at least have their rest after the suffering they had been through.
With a torrent of flames expelled from the palm of his hand with the help of his magical energy, burning the corpses that had become fragile due to exposure to the strong cold of winter. The smell of burning flesh, blood, and smoke were all he could sense for several long, bitter minutes.
Until it was completely burned to the ground, Issei dropped seeds imbued with his mana on the ground which forced a patch of grass and flowers to grow, removing all traces of immolation and covering the site with flowers of various bright colors and sizes.
"At least they'll have a beautiful resting place." All signs of the horrid sight had been removed, cleansed with beauty but no less a reminder.
Issei turned and walked back towards Alena's house.
A shiver ran up his back to his neck.
Feeling the warm touch of a strong hug, he quickly looked back to see several ethereal figures in brilliant white dresses, their faces he could barely make out… they were those girls. They had a totally fixed gaze on him, as if they were looking directly into his own soul.
A luminescent ray of light shone down on them from above, almost at the sun's twilight zenith. Their lips were moving yet he couldn't hear what they were saying, but his heart skipped a beat as he sensed what they wanted to tell him.
He looked down at the ground not being able to continue looking at them with his lips trembling, his eyes watery as he was starting to feel unwell… when the brunette looked back up, the girls were no longer there and the ray of light was getting smaller and smaller until it had all but disappeared completely into the sky.
Silence reigned right then and there, and Issei turned back around and left without another word.
He could only hear his footsteps, walking past all the trees starting to come into view and towards Alena and Inna. He rubbed his eyes a little, wiping away the tears that had refused to fall.
It took a while to get back to the ruined town, Issei glanced sideways to see people beginning to use their spells and other tools to help with the repairs. They were like phoenixes rising from their ashes. The Wiccan village was going to be rebuilt, there was no doubt about that.
When he entered Alena's home, everyone was fast asleep. He smiled sadly at their being able to fall asleep, so he simply looked for his suitcase and began packing for the three days he would be in England before laying down on his bed, looking at his list of contacts on his mobile phone.
There was a name in bold that said Zaz and his finger was just a millimeter from clicking on it, but he withdrew the digit and set the mobile down on the nightstand next to his bed. Issei didn't close his eyes all night.
"You're going to leave?"
"Yeah grandma, some stuff came up and I have to go check it out," Issei said. "I know I promised you to spend the holidays in peace, but I seriously can't let this go."
"I understand that you have to go, but is there really no one else who can do this?"
"I wish… but this has to do with mom and…"
"I understand, don't worry, my child, I'll wait here."
"I'll be back in a few days, yeah?"
"Just be careful, Issei."
The talk between grandmother and grandchild ended, Colin was next to say his piece but Issei beat him to it. He took out a bottle with a thick red substance in it… it was blood, and he extended his arm holding the bottle to his friend.
"This should be enough, dragon's blood is very strong so don't drink too much," He said calmly. "Just having a few sips a day should be enough to keep you satisfied."
"I'm serious, don't drink too much, I don't know what would happen if you did now that you're a vampire, so the effects could be dangerous."
"Why would you give this to me if it's so dangerous…?!" Colin responded in alarm. ""I'm not so sure about this, Issei…"
"Semantics! Just don't drink too much just in case."
"O-okay then, but if I get blood drunk it's your fault!"
"So you get drunk on blood…"
They bumped their fists together, and so Issei proceeded to leave with his suitcase. Alena and Inna were talking to the townspeople, discussing repairs and the reconstruction of houses, so they were busy elsewhere.
They didn't leave without first saying their goodbyes and duly wishing him good luck of course, after all, they both really appreciated him enough not to let go of that gesture.
The road to the city was a bit long but he had been sure to leave very early so as not to arrive late for any inconvenience, dressing himself in his black winter jacket, forgoing his red shirt for a simple yellow shirt, black pants and a pair of gray tennis shoes.
It was still 6 in the afternoon and the trip to the airport was a long one. After a while he arrived at the place where there should already be public transport, taking the first bus to the nearest city and began his journey.
Once he got out of the taxi near the airport, he managed to find Tokiomi and Rin close by at another building. The airport itself was gray in color and kind of boring looking to say the least, although the word "airport" was built into the top of the building, red in color and in the Russian language.
Fortunately, his flight left in about and hour and a half.
"You managed to arrive on time."
"Did you doubt me, Tohsaka Rin-san?"
"Anyone would doubt a super pervert like you…"
Issei smiled defiantly.
"I still arrived on time and with minutes to spare."
"Should I clap?"
"And loudly please." This is why he liked her, an irritable girl who he could annoy a little, harmlessly of course, he didn't want to earn the bad image of a pretty girl.
"Children please, calm yourselves… we simply have to wait for our scheduled flight." Tokiomi cut in.
"Alright then." Issei responded. 'These people are no fun.'
The three Magi stood silently then, they couldn't freely talk about their business with so many people around them so it would be a longer trip on top of being unpleasant.
While waiting for the flight, Issei decided to observe the passerbys that entered and left from the entrance and exit, several people who were waiting next to him were passengers for the next flight he supposed... his attention was drawn to a man who seemed to want to hide in style while wearing glasses and a knitted hat. He tilted his head forward so they couldn't see his face and channeled mana into his eyes, causing them to glow a clear and vibrant red, almost bordering on pink.
Mystic Eyes... ones that possessed clairvoyance.
Looking through the suspicious clothing to notice that he was completely unarmed and without any dangerous or suspicious object on his person.
'Just to be sure.' He thought to himself.
He looked at the other people but there was no one else meriting suspicion other than that guy. Seeing nothing else noteworthy, he stopped channeling mana and his eyes shifted back to normal.
Issei let out a deep breath, he was being too paranoid, shaking his head a few times feeling like an idiot just to literally worry about a man who only came to travel somewhere.
'What was I expecting?' He thought, not everyone in the world knew about the Boosted Gear, these people were normal, it was stupid to believe otherwise.
When a female voice announced the departure of the flight, everyone immediately got up and started moving to the departure station, though not without first leaving their luggage and passing through the required scanners. The line was considerably shorter than last time.
Hyōdō activated airplane mode on his phone and quickly put his headphones in his ears as soon as they were in the air, all he could do from then on was look out the window and watch the dark gray, fluffy clouds.
Now that he thought about it, when he met up with Rin and Tokiomi at the airport they caught the attention of the people, because their respective beauty and elegance was something that for everyone else was worthy of admiration. So the brunette tried being more unnoticed by wearing a mask and tying up his hair, which in hindsight, really needed a haircut.
Fortunately, he had already made reservations for a hotel relatively close to Big Ben so that was one task less to perform, it wouldn't be him if he wasn't prepared for the situation. The plane in first class was a luxury that could be afforded from time to time, although he didn't want to abuse the money either, much less did he want to leave his grandmother at Alena's house. He wanted to spend more time with her, but he must not drag into these matters.
He knew that his grandmother was in danger just by living with her, but fortunately the Mage's Association wasn't too far and they only gave him a warning where she was concerned; that she was discreet in not divulging any of her knowledge regarding magic in general and they would be left in peace.
If people were looking for some supernatural services from a freelancing Magus or it wasn't something they could pass up, those involved must be sworn to secrecy, the alternative was to silence these people for good.
The idea that these people would try to silence or even eliminate the existence of his grandmother was... Issei really didn't want to think about that because he knew it would end up being something horrible and...
'[Are you going to explain to me what those things are now?]' From within Hyōdō's mind, the Welsh dragon appeared, dispersing the mists that clouded his thoughts.
'Alright, I've been creating these seeds and pills based on certain plants that I've been investigating from my mom's notes.' He naturally responded. 'They are pills to give me the energy to stay awake for two days straight, but by the third I should be able to sleep.'
The dragon sighed, unrelieved with the answer.
'[It's just like I told you before, you body might be able to take the wear and tear, but your mind cannot.]'
'If you're going to give me that talk, save it, Ddraig.'
'[Look, even when Albion and I fought for weeks we needed to rest for a long time to recover.]'
'I know, it's just that I feel like I can do more if I have the energy.'
'[Why are you so stupid?]'
'Whatever, the dotted seeds that I ate yesterday are a proper alternative to the Phoenix Tears that are hard to get ahold of,' The brunette dragon responded. 'But they aren't very effective, because they only heal shallow wounds and those that are deep or somewhat serious are only restored a little, that's why I shouldn't use my powers for a few days to finish healing or my wounds will just open up again.'
'[I have to ask, since when have you been researching its creation?]'
'I thought you knew, you're literally inside my head.'
'[Being inside your head is no fun, it is full of breasts, porn, weird powers and food, so I close the mental connection and sleep. It is better for me even though I'm always watching out for the aura around you for anything suspicious.]'
'Thanks by the way. Well, for that matter it was about six months of combining distilled plants, leaves and lots of combinations to get there.'
The dragon internally lied down as they spoke. Issei just watched the clouds.
'[There has to be a catch in all that, partner, it sounds too good to be true.]'
'There is, I should not eat more than two seeds in the span of two days. If I eat three I could end up poisoned, with atrophied muscles or die at best.'
'[And at worst?]'
And so the conversation ended on that note.
The stewardesses passed by from time to time asking if he needed anything, and while he didn't, he did take the opportunity to look at them. They were all very pretty, they were Russian after all, beautiful women everywhere it seemed.
'The flight attendants are very nice… could they compete with maids?'
A stupid smile spread across his face.
'They are both demure and strict enough as to be something inherently erotic… is this their charm?'
Issei kept his idiot smile while thinking, flowers appearing around him in his own imaginative illusion.
Rin watched Hyōdō from afar, thinking about her father's words as they contrasted with his earlier attitude, this kid really was a fool.
"Father, is it true what you told me about him yesterday?" Tokiomi, trying to fall asleep on the comfortable seat of the plane, opened his eyes and looked at his daughter. "Hyōdō is a very strange person, yesterday I thought he was someone more complicated… but now I see he is much simpler."
So that was his dear daughter's idea of the brunette.
"As I said, people like him get stuck at some point of their lives as sorcerers since they stop nurturing their knowledge," The Tohsaka patriarch spoke. "He does not seem too interested in actively following the legacy that Anneliese Ambrosius left him, which is not exactly miniscule… she was a very dangerous woman despite coming from the Archeology Division, Rin, what she knew how to do with her magic over plants and fungi, in addition to the discoveries of the properties of the above applied to sorcery was… admittedly interesting."
Tokiomi had met that free-spirited woman and even dared to think that they were even friends.
"But she was someone who was always researching with such a hunger for knowledge... unlike Issei, who does not look to have that disposition." Rin wouldn't admit it but she was somewhat surprised by the high amount of disappointment in her father's words. "That's why my dear Rin, you must not forget our legacy and improve upon it even more... I know you will succeed in this."
"Don't worry, father, you can count on me."
There was a short silence between the two until Tokiomi broke it.
"As for what you asked me, yes, what I said yesterday is true and I stand by it... Hyōdō Issei is just a waste and a failure as a magus."
Rin simply nodded at her father, letting him get some sleep. Even if Rin questioned whether Hyōdō really was a waste as her father stated he was, she understood her position as a magus, but she had her doubts, since the terrible state in which he had been found and now were just so different.
Tohsaka Rin was plain and simply curious about Hyōdō Issei, a failure. How far could he go?
She did not wish to bother her father with newfound questions, however, so she decided to look out the window. Sleep took her by surprise not long after.
'[Partner.]' Ddraig spoke to Issei, who was looking back with his red eyes illuminated with their supernatural light bordering on the color pink.
His brow was furrowed, having the impulse to hit his head against something. Performing a "routine scan", Issei detected something interesting…
"Yeah, I noticed… there are stowaways on this plane," He whispered in response. "I should have been more cautious."
'[In all fairness, remember that you are not fully recovered yet and they may have Mystic Codes helping them.]'
"Even so, I should have checked anyway."
Issei adjusted himself in his seat and threw a peanut at Tokiomi who was startled by the brutal attack. Tokiomi looked upset about that, the Tohsaka patriarch raising an eyebrow as he waited for an answer to the action, what he received in response was Issei pointing toward the door.
The pervert walked to where the bathroom was, Tokiomi got up and followed him. Issei pulled out a small mushroom, imbuing it with magic and blew at it. The fungal spores flew out and a soundproof barrier formed.
"Erigire." Issei said in Latin, something the other magus recognized.
The brunette turned to Tokiomi.
"Tohsaka-san, there are two sorcerers in the plane, I couldn't detect them until I looked at them directly with my Mystic Eyes."
Tohsaka being the professional that he was, spoke seriously.
"I could barely perceive them expanding my consciousness, they must have a Mystic Code that allows them to hide from this type of auric detection technique," Tokiomi responded. "We have to eliminate them as quickly as possible, attracting attention is much too troublesome right now."
Issei continued with his Mystic Eyes activated, watching the movements of the stowaways. He could see clearly through the walls of the plane, those guys were chatting about something, likely about his movement; one of them had a kind of cardboard box with gaseous contents inside… that was not a good sign.
"Whatever they're going to do, it doesn't look good, but they don't seem particularly ready," Issei said. "I've been watching their movements."
"What do you see?"
"Two men, pretty ordinary looking to be honest, one is more muscular than the other, though they both seem fit," He reported. "But they have a box with some kind of gas inside, I don't know what it could be."
Tokiomi took a thoughtful pose.
"There was a case a few years ago about a plane that was infested with vampires, questionable magi tried to control a vampire's blood in vain, and it didn't work out." Tohsaka added. "I don't know for sure if this will be a similar situation, but be that as it may it would still be a threat if released, so we must use lethal force."
"And the passengers?"
"We will have to take measures, manipulating memories is the best course of action to get this off our backs."
"If that doesn't work…"
"We both know the answer."
Issei's expression darkened at the suggestion of the other magus, understanding what he meant.
"If I get close enough I can kill them with brute force."
"Can you do it fast enough?"
Issei didn't think about that.
"I don't know, but if I have to use spells then I will."
"Let's wait for them to make a move, until then, stay vigilant."
With the help of the Sacred Gear known as Blade Blacksmith, the brunette created a pair of holy daggers, these had the capability to use paralysis spells once they came upon contact with flesh.
"Here, use them in case you need to get physical; they can paralyze, it can be avoided with a show of force but they don't know they're hexed."
Issei handed one of the silver daggers to the Tohsaka, the man staring intently at the weapon.
Tokiomi took the dagger and tucked it away discreetly.
"Stay on guard and wait for my signal, my eyes are starting to itch a little."
"Understood." Tokiomi came out of the barrier as it dispersed.
Issei closed his eyes and refocused, opening them and reaching into his black jacket to pull out Belladonna leaves, a venomous plant.
"Time to work."
Again, many thanks to Kingpin Lunamaria for the translation, I hope you liked it!