Truth's Deceit

NOVEL: the story of Centerra

Prologue

Story : Re-Peat Again

Illust : Bytomtypl

          There are traitors among us.

 

          The pair of feet was in agonizing pain. His panting was hard and about to rip his lungs. Even though he was torn apart or breathed out blood right now, he couldn’t slow down. His mouth and throat was parched dry. A smell of sulphur and gasoline reminded him that he was closer to his destination. As the moon rose higher, the sooner today’s last airship would depart from Port Cirrus. He had to catch the flight. The Downunder wasn’t safe anymore. No. Actually, neither the Santorium or even the whole Lemuria was. He had to go back to make a report of what he just discovered. Something was about to happen...something dreadful.

 

          ‘There are traitors among us.’ he hardly believe it. As a Luminos’s spy, he was in no position to speak of betrayers, but this was insane! It would had been another story if it were someone from Solarius like him or those of untrustworthy Celestian, but this was Devinus! The holy knights who supposed to protect innocents from evil. Aren’t they the shield of light guarding us against darkness? If there were frauds even among those righteous lights, what about the rest?

 

          The wind carried the roar of a gigantic machine. “How many floors left? These goddamn spiral stairs!” Both sides were lined up with pale and dim buildings.

‘Downunder’ was an underground district, hung several levels underneath Santorium island. Each level was connected by aisles and complex staircases. So complicated even for an Avalonian like him, who had lurked here long enough, to grow accustomed to this half-magic, half-mechanic -- mixed atmosphere of a baby country of Lemuria and Heisenberg. A clock on the pillar showed it was almost 10 pm. It would have been lit-up streets and thousands of pedestrians loitering up there if it were in Bostia. But here in Downunder, besides Port Cirrus and small alleys bars, this place seemed abandoned.

 

           ‘Port Cirrus’ was the biggest airport in Lemuria. It nested airships transporting tourists and merchants from Heisenberg to the floating islands. It took longer time, but more comfortable, more affordable and securable than those ‘dimensional gates’-- which could only carry a few passengers at a time. Ever since the ‘time twisted’ incident, in which tens of passengers went missing, traveling through dimensional gates was no longer a favorable choice. Heisenberg’s aircrafts became an immense success of man-made invention over magic. This aircraft business was conducted by the Heisenberg government. They built similar airports on major cities worldwide, under the agreement between them and local mayors. Many had felt this was a silent intrusion, but a lot thought those ports were connecting worlds together. God damn it!  There was NO WAY the cold-blooded Heisenberg would go ‘THIS FAR’ just to do fancy businesses.

            

 

          Nonetheless, Heisenberg’s business seemed to be of less importance compared to what this young man had just spied on..

              

          Initially, he was assigned to put a tail on his watch list. Typical measures, routine tasks...The target he’d been spying on was a discharged mechanic wizard of Cuckoo tower. The man was sacked because of his extreme political views. A pro-Heisenberg like him might have had a better life at Franklin Estate, not at the Cuckoo tower. The Church of Luminos never trusted Heisenberg’s ally. He had been spying on the outlawed wizard several times. Easy tasks. Every mission ended with just a few sheets of report. He thought this time was no different, but he was wrong.

 

              Actually, he was supposed to notice something was off since that inventor wizard was out of his usual track. Bostia wasn’t a big city but its entangled alleys filled with secret passages were like a maze. It’s been 3 years since he filtered in the Santorium, yet he still couldn’t comprehend all the Bostian routes. Those untrodden passages led him to a plain two-storey building, identical to old warehouses which were mushroomed all over Bostia, There were no guards, no magic protection. It was too suspiciously ordinary for that heretical inventor to pay a visit.

Curiosity was a spy’s best trait. It pushed him climbing up the warehouse balcony, climbing to the secret he shouldn’t meant to discover.

 

            There were 4 of them. The inventor wiz and another 2 strangers. One kid and one adult. Even from afar, their abnormally pale skin stood out clearly --skin of those lifeless-- Vampires? Dwellers?. They made perfect companionship. A heretical wizard and the undead. Suddenly he noticed the 4th person, one that was definitely not supposed to be there.

‘Divinus’s knight’ He unmistakably recognized that face even the man wasn’t wearing his honorable armor. Never could he forget such a remarkable appearance.

 

             Suspicious alarms risen up. At first he wondered perhaps the Divinus’s turret came here to trade some dangerous inventions. It wouldn’t be surprised since there had been a situation in the Eastern border, but it was not. Obviously not. There was no Eastern border, no Kuchard desert warriors in their conversation, not a single word. They were mentioning something of grave danger; of 5 missing girls they had been searching for and of the decease of the late pope.

 

             Pope Yurius the 2nd, Luminos’s spiritual leader, the most powerful person of Avalon and perhaps, one of the most influentials of Zenterra as Luminos religion was highly worshipped everywhere, especially in Avalon and Lemuria.

The fact that passing of the most influential person would cause such tremendous resonances, though, due to his old age, this was a foreseeable event. Of course the Luminos Church was busy nominating the new pope. Things seemed to proceed along the traditional protocols except what this young spy just witnessed. Pope Yurius II’s death was not from natural illness. Someone hastened it up...for some benefit.

 

       

          Goddamnit! What would they get from killing an old priest? If it wasn’t to make an empty chair? He would have thought it was rubbish if it came out from an ordinary person, but this sprouted from a high position knight of Devinus, to those night dwellers in his audience. Something in their conversation caused the man to abruptly escape and ran tirelessly till now. Someone demanded for the title of Luminos Church’s leader.They chose to play dirty despite if they just waited a little longer, the old pope would soon to rest in his peace. They were in a hurry. There must be a vicious, reason behind this crime. The young man was quite sure there might be more than 4 person involved in this conspiracy. The ominous existence was silently approaching. Red alarm rang madly at the back of the spy’s head. Sending back a few pieces of report would definitely out of question. He had to make a report directly to Director Victoria. Most importantly, he had to escape from this place as fast as possible.

 

             When he was hastily fleeing the scene, he made such an unforgivable mistake.Those people had a good reason to choose an old rundown warehouse for a meeting place. Its ruined structures would echo even just a the slightest noise of his careless movements. It set off a natural alarm so loud and clear that a protection spell would be unnecessary. A squeak of old wood board was enough to alert them of intruders. He didn’t stop to see if he was followed as he knew one turn would cause his head. He didn’t know whether they even noticed. All he could do now was to run for his life, praying that they wouldn’t notice his existence and kept up with their plan as if nothing happened.

 

           As soon as he made a turn at the end of the road, Port Cirrus finally appeared in his sight, next to only a couple blocks away. The roar of gigantic engine and the luminous lights inside the airport brought him a huge relief.

He made it in time. The last airship was still in the station dock. Its enormous size made the surrounded buildings seem tiny. The rest part of Downunder was sound asleep but the airport was still crowded. He was safe. The airport area was property of Heisenberg and he knew the knight of Devinus wouldn’t dare to make any confrontation.

 

           Unfortunately, this airship was not bound directly to Avalon. He needed to make transits at Sirocco port inside Kantrarat- a city of Shangri-La, then rode another airship to Celestine, grabbed a horse back to Solarius, which would take him approximately more than a week. He would be certainly flat broke by then, but if he could bring the news to Solarius, that would worth the ordeal.

 

          After pledging for last minute ticket, the screaming whistle was sent off for boarding call. The ship was ready for departure. He was lucky to have all-pass passports ready on hand. For security, he chose the higher price ticket for the upper level with private cabin for him to rest. As the engine gave low grumble, and the airship made slow movement away from the docking area into the vast sky and the broad wind, could the man breathed out the breath he had been holding. The muscle pain was gone for an instant. The spy leaned against the balcony while lighting up a cigarette, allowing the night wind brushed his face and slowly calmed down his heart.

        

     Not many passengers on this late night flight. The ship rose up its speed, slowly backing away from Santorium’s embrace. It was such a pity to say goodbye to a home he lived for 3 years, to those ladies at Banjo’s bar, to that girl who always came by every last day of the month. She would read alone at the quietest corner, ordered a buffet of special mocktail, hiding her face and her heart underneath those thick glasses. The strange girl didn’t seem to fit into this place, but for a double-life man like him, the girl surprisingly gave him a feeling of partnership. They often spent time reading together until dawn. He wanted to have a chance to drink with her one more time. Perhaps if everything went well, he might be able to come back in the future. Until then would he still be remembered?

 

           “Beautiful sky, isn’t it?” A man in suit and classy cape passed by and greeted at him in

Lemurian accent. By the politeness and friendliness, this guy perhaps was a government officer, or may be an Archadia’s professor. “Going home?”
 

          “Yes, emergency.” the young spy answered laconically. He didn’t want to be anyone’s company right now.
 

         “Avalon’s weather has been nice lately, I’d love to visit if I had a chance,” The stranger smiled at him. He seemed younger than he thought, with that messy hair and handsome facial structure, perhaps a noble descendant from Beldinium? No, they wouldn’t be taking this passenger cabin. ”Do you have a light? If I may?”


           “Sure.” The young man lighted up a matchstick, the strong wind made the man in suit bend down closely. Even his cigarette was A top quality, perhaps an ex-noble or a millionaire's adventurous son… As he was considering the man in front of him, a sudden thought abruptly punctuated him. “How did you know I’m heading to Avalon?”
 

          With dedicated training and 3 years in action, he made certain his Lemurian accent was flawless and this ship wasn’t going to Avalon but to Shangri-La. Though he didn’t look like a man from Shangri-La, it was no way to link him to Avalon. The flickering of light reflected those dark eyes as they were rising up, looking directly at the spy. It must be the “Going home?” question that linked him to Avalon. Yes, it must be.
 

           “I was just guessing,” The man in suit blew out a long trail of smoke. That’s right, it was just guessing. He was too panic. They would never catch him. ”That inventor was a Heisenberg supporter so I guessed his spy should be Avalon’s.”
 

          ‘Crap’ The spy cursed under his breath while sending a regrettable smile as the man reached out and pinched off the light at the tip of his matchstick.
 

         “Please don’t take it too personal. I’m a thorn, and I’m supposed to protect my apple tree.” His voice was low as if he was whispering, almost unhearing as the wind got stronger, the sky seemed beautiful more than he could remember.

 

        Damnit. Today was the last day of the month. He should have said farewell to the girl perhaps they should have had another glass of mocktail together.