Supreme Magus - Chapter 1482
Zinya had imagined that moment countless times, preparing long-winded speeches to nail Lith to the wall and demand an explanation for making her little sister suffer.
Yet the moment she stood in front of him and saw his extended hand all she could do was push it away and hug him like a long-lost brother. No matter how angry she was at him, Zinya couldn't forget that Lith was the first man she had ever seen.
He was the one that had given sight to her, love to her sister, and to both of them more happiness during the past three years than they had for their whole life. Even if Lith and Kamila ended up not marrying, Zinya would never stop considering him an irreplaceable member of her family.
"We all missed you, dummy." She said putting emphasis on "all" and refusing to let go until he returned the embrace. "I'm really sorry for your loss. I never knew Quylla, but I heard a lot about her from Kami."
"Thank you, Zinya. Your words mean the world to me." Lith said while checking her up with Invigoration just like he had done earlier with the kids.
Thanks to Vastor, they were as fit as a fiddle. Their bodies now contained so few impurities that Zinya seemed to age backward and the kids would grow into beautiful youths.
"You two look like you could use some spicy tea and some cookies." Zinya didn't wait for their opinion and put the kettle on the stove while taking the "adult spice" also known as whiskey from a cabinet too high for the kids to reach.
"Thanks. I'm sorry for coming here empty-handed, but it was a last-minute decision." Lith said while taking a bowl and several ingredients out of his pocket dimension. "This should make up for my rudeness and be ready at the same time as the tea."
The kids stared in awe at the spatula mixing the milk, eggs, sugar, cream, powdered chocolate, and vanilla by itself while water magic slowly turned them into ice cream. No one in the house qualified even as a magico, so they considered the simplest trick akin to a small miracle.
When the tea was ready, Lith gave a hearty serving to everyone while Zinya poured the whisky in the cups. The magical beasts barked and meowled respectively, desperate to get their due, yet the lord of the house was adamant about their diet.
The contrast between the cold of the ice cream and the hotness of the tea complemented each other, giving the reunion that sweet kick that it needed. Zinya felt as if it had been yesterday that the Verhens and the Yehvals had been one big family.
After running out of small talk with the kids about his latest adventures, Lith projected a movie for them while Hushing the space around the fireplace to allow the grownups to speak freely.
"I'm so sorry that you had to see Quylla die." Zinya said after Lith had told them about the events that had transpired the night of the gala. "The only silver lining in this horrible business is that with the death of the Lost Magus, you can stop worrying about those Balkor cards."
"I wish." Lith and Kamila said in unison, making Zinya wonder for the umpteenth time what could have possibly driven them apart.
"Zavra wasn't the Balkor copycat. Whoever they are, they want to make me suffer whereas Jirni was the target of this attack. I was just an extra." Lith said.
"The Balkor copycat has always attacked their mark while they were alone and their protections at their weakest whereas Zavra attacked right after the gala, in the presence of all the Royal Guards of the Kingdom.
"He had clearly planned for a hit and run attack, but my quick response ruined his escape and led to his doom. Zavra wouldn't have had the time to butcher Quylla's corpse nor to write the word "present" anywhere.
"On top of that, the Lost Magus was specialized in killing people from a distance, without even giving them an opportunity to retaliate. The Balkor copycat, instead, always took things up close and personal.
"After the kill, they even take time preparing the scene so that the first response team sees the corpse first and the message immediately after. They don't want witnesses so much as an audience to impress."
To Zinya, both Zavra and the Balkor copycat sounded like madmen who sent shivers down her spine. Hearing Lith speaking of them almost with respect, trying to understand why and how they performed their murders only made her feel worse.
"The only real silver lining of this situation is that now Zavra is dead and that the Balkor copycat is not Balkor. He would always send his cards to his marks, set a date, and then face them head on all at the same time." Kamila said.
"He gave them the chance to prepare for the fight or run away, not fearing any amount of manpower or resources that the Kingdom would employ. The copycat, instead, attacks one mark at a time, starting from the weakest and working their way up. Who do you think will be the next target?"
Lith pondered for a while, yet he found no plausible answer. The Ernas Household was a fortress, the White Griffon was even stronger, and attacking those like Manohar or Vastor who kept moving freely would have been suicide.
"Can we please move to something else?" Zinya asked. "I'm regretting not staying with the kids and watching the movie. If I hear one more word about murderers, I'm afraid I'll have nightmares tonight."
"Speaking of nightmares, it's pretty late. You should go back home." Kamila said after noticing how much time had passed from their arrival and how awkward she felt in that situation.
For a few hours, speaking of work with Lith in the comfort of her home had made her feel as if nothing had changed between them. It had made her feel relaxed and happy despite the recent tragedy.
Yet everything had changed and pretending otherwise would sooner or later backfire.
"Sure. Before I go, do you mind giving us a bit of privacy, Zin?" Lith asked.
"Sure thing." She went to sit in the Hushed zone together with the kids.
It was too late to understand the plot of the movie but the ugly guy who was bound to be the bad guy had been defeated and the two lovebirds on the screen were about to have their happily ever after.
"Do you remember what I told you about Lightkeep?" Lith asked.
"How could I forget? Do you mean about the undead, Thrud, Xedros, or the loss of your humanity?" Kamila shuddered at the thought that, despite months had passed, it seemed yesterday to her.
"The undead. Sort of. Do you remember what I told you about meeting Ilthin, the Firstborn Banshee?"
"Yes." She nodded.
Back then, Kamila had laughed at the Banshee's shameless attempt to hit on him, but now something else clicked in her brain.
'Creatures like her feed upon the unfaithful. Was Ilthin attracted to him because she wanted to corrupt Lith or because he was already ripe for the taking?' Being with two women at the same time was the very definition of unfaithfulness, making Kamila feeling even more cheated on.
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