The group followed the old man, on his behest, to the ‘king of thieves’ branch. The name gave Kairos a prickly feeling on his skin, but gritting his teeth, he had to find out where Jones had been taken somehow. His other option is to go to the merchant guilds, but after hearing how they operate, he left them as their second choice.
A few sharp turns brought them to an unseen alley, then crossing an unassuming metal door and walking through a tunnel to the underground, brought the boys into another world.
Wholly unlike the other Silent Lambs Empire buildings, everything in this place is mish mashed chaotically. They looked at the colourful streets, filled with decal in randomness, and people of great variation. Everywhere corner, no matter nobles, peasants, scholars, or warriors, they all mingled civilly. Being an undercity branch, the entire place is lit by moon gems, basking everything with a faint bluish light, casting an enchanted feeling to the place.
“T…this place, simply astounding. How could something like this exist under the eyelids of the governors… Or… hmmm… the governors themselves are part of this façade?”
“Welcome to the King of Thieves. There are very few officials in on this, the other face of our town. It is of course, named after the owner of this place, his title, to be exact. The man, Rielon is the controller and ruler of all shady trades within Silent Lambs Empire, and this is but one of his branches out of the many that exists”
He brought them to a medium sized building made of sticks and mud, at a dimly lit corner. They stared in wide-eyed surprise at this being their destination, until their guide chuckled.
“Haha, nothing to be shocked at. This is merely a precaution, the interior isn’t like this at all” He winked, and the brought them inside.
They walked in quiet contemplation when they entered, and they quickly noticed that they had bypassed quite a number of barriers that they would be unable to breech without a guide. As the old man said, the inside of the building is in fact made of unadorned stone, with a strong amount of practicability mixed with simple beauty. Along the walls they could see countless barrier talismans, and runes that they could not read, which fortified the entire structure.
A short walk brought them in front of a simple mahogany door in a small corridor, their only light is a torch that is hanging underneath a metal cap like all the other light sources in this place.
By their observation, the cap is used to snuff out all the light sources in the building by falling on the flames. A mechanism which allowed them the cover of darkness at the snap of a finger.
Their guide walked towards the door and knocked in a rapid fashion, followed by a slow sequential rap with his knuckles, then he said, “It’s me”, and the door swung open.
The boys walked in, uncertain about everything that happened so far, but this old gentleman seemed… rather well connected.
“Young Viscount, how nice of you to drop by” A quiet voice spoke from the shadows. It was a calming tone that betrayed no emotions, yet it sent jitters down their spine and they felt the great difference in power of the one before them.
A short, lean man walked out of the shadows. He appeared beautiful to their eyes, and his small stature only made him look vulnerable, yet princely. However, not one of them doubted that he could remove their head the instant they underestimate him.
They held their breath as a dangerous intelligence danced on his eyes while he looked at each member of Kairos’ party, carefully.
“You do not look surprised that I know your identity?” he spoke to Kairos, directly looking in the boy’s eyes.
“Are you the…. head of this branch belonging to the King of thieves?” he went straight to the point.
“You’re as fearless as I heard. The name’s Rielon, and the one next to you is one of my assistants. I am very grateful for what you did for him”
Kairos’ eyes widened at this revelation, for the one before him is in fact the leader of the largest underground organisation in the Empire, the actual King of Thieves himself, yet he had so easily presented himself.
“Are you not afraid of being exposed by… strangers.. Like us?” he had to ask. This events are turning too quickly for comfort.
“Strangers? Hardly, I know everything there is to know about you, from the outside at least. And every other interesting figure in the world, for that matter. The chances of you to expose my presence here are null.
Though, do not mistaken my presence here for anything more than a cause of coincidence… Still, you hold enough secrets that I could not pass up an opportunity to meet you face-to-face.
So, tell me, what may I do for you today?”
“If you truly have that much information on me, then you ought to already know”
“It’s just a formality. I couldn’t give you what you need without a good bargaining wouldn’t you say?” He replied with a knowing grin. Unknowingly, most of them in Kairos’ group took a step backwards when this conversation went on, because of the stifling stilling in the air.
“What information do you have, and what would you want for it?”
He smiled and spoke in that unnerving voice of his, a quiet voice no more than a whisper, yet enough to have the full attention of everyone in the room when he talk, “I’ve always admired your directness, Lord Kairos. I can tell you with certainty that you will need my help, and my information network if you want to have the slightest chance to free your friend. So, for that, the payment will not come cheaply.
Your other alternative is to go to the merchant guilds, but you can give up on getting any assistance from them except a steep price for their information and perhaps blackmailing you for their silence.
They have less honor than a common thief after all.”
“And you would relent help to us?”
“Certainly” a confident smile danced on Rielon’s lips.
“Then, let’s hear your price first”
The King of Thieves brightened his eyes and looked at him with an unconcealed desire “I want to know the secrets behind your runes, and I judged that you will know how to properly assess if you should take up my offer, a matured mind like yours ought to help in negotiations”
His reply did not go the way Rielon expected however, as he said with a smile, “Absolutely not. But… I have something else you might be interested in”
“Not many dares to deny me. I will listen to what you have to offer, but don’t play games with me” he warned. For a moment, the aura of the short man before them seemed as though a tall giant looming above them.
Kairos took out a small jade box and placed it gently on Rielon’s table. The King of Thieves did not reach for it immediately, but instead threw a talisman on it. When he confirmed there was no reaction, he picked it up with a silver mesh glove over his hand.
“We can’t be too careful these days. Besides, you are known to be quite willing to use poison” He gave Kairos a knowing smile then brought the box to his eyes.
“Looks like you’re smart enough to not play any tricks. Let’s see what’s inside”
He took out a sealing container from his ring and placed the box within, then remove the lid with the glove for good measure. A powerful spiritual energy raced out of Kairos’ jade box that enveloped the entire room, causing a happy shout from him and making him quickly re-seal it.
“W…what the heck is this?”
“It’s a feather belonging to an unknown species, which I suspect it is of a divine origin. It was given to me by the immortal, Old Ye” Kairos conveniently borrowed the name of Old Ye, believe it to be enough deterrence from the thief’s probing. The existence of the Zhu Que, which the feather belonged to, is as dangerous to expose as the dragons he has.
Fortunately, his gamble paid off as Rielon accepted his story without question. An immortal having such a treasure makes a credible story, while the alternative, is far too unbelievable. Which kid of Kairos’ age could pluck a feather off a Zhu Que?
“An immortal in our land? ... I’ve heard news of a powerful presence in the Solitary Blades clan, and that is an immortal?”
“Heh Heh. Aren’t you afraid if I would simply take your feather and throw you out?”
“Not if you want to piss off Old Ye, this feather is from him after all”
“You are indeed as formidable as you’re reputed, Lord Kairos. Our trade stands; I doubt you’ll dare to use an immortal’s name to lie to me”, then he continued with a soft whisper, muttering to himself, “Though, who would even dare to test if it’s a fib?”