The Children of Eris
Shortly after opening their new orders from David, the Raven had excused itself to the bathroom, then investigated the building’s security.
Ten minutes later, the Raven returned and had fully memorised the layout of the building, the number of guards and where all of them were.
There were two hundred of them in total, but there were only forty in the basement guarding the prison cells.
However, for Mania, their numbers were irrelevant.
As more buyers took their seats, Mania and the Raven slipped away and snuck downstairs to the prison cells.
In twenty gigantic prison cells along a single corridor were hundreds of slaves of all ages and races, wearing nothing but torn rags and heavy chains and collars.
The thugs guarding the slaves were distracted and talking among themselves when Mania and the Raven arrived in disguise.
“Lord Kelsey?” One of the guards asked, recognising their disguises. “What brings you down here, my lord?”
“…Is this the only way in and out of this corridor?” Mania asked.
“Yes, my lady,” the Raven reported, stepping to one side.
“Are all the slaves, both the sold and yet to be sold, kept here?”
“Lady Kelsey?” One of the guards asked.
“Yes, my lady,” the Raven said.
Mania grinned. “Perfect.”
The illusion surrounding Mania collapsed and, with a crack of her whip and a sadistic cackle, she struck.
She cleaved eight of them in two, then sliced through another six before the others could process what had happened.
“Squirm for me, worms!” Mania purred, licking her lips.
The guards drew their swords and charged at Mania.
Normally, Mania would’ve toyed with the guards more before killing them, but they were on a tight timetable and she didn’t want to waste a second.
A few managed to slip past her but the Raven promptly cut them down with its daggers and throwing knives.
Soon, there were only five guards left alive, shaking and whimpering.
Three of them dropped to their knees and begged for mercy, but Mania cut their heads off.
The last two tried to flee down the corridor away from Mania and the Raven, despite it being a dead end, but the Raven threw three knives at them and they fell down dead.
“I’ll destroy the locks and open the cages. Recover your knives and make it seem like there was more of a struggle down here,” Mania ordered.
“As you command, my lady.”
Just as Mania gave her orders, both she and the Raven paused.
Their battle was over, but they could hear the sounds of an intense battle raging upstairs.
Mania clicked her tongue.
Someone else is raiding this place.
A minute after Mania and the Raven had descended to the prison cells, the Paladins were ready to conduct their raid on the venue.
Most of the buyers had arrived with their guards, all of whom were wearing masks to conceal their identities, and, gathered in the alleyways around the auction house, were heavily armed members of the Paladins.
Since the Great Disaster had begun, the Paladins in Stonefall had been investigating all potential leads on who was behind it, including the Sons of Tartarus. During their investigations, Isabella and Christoph had learned of the slave auction house purely by coincidence.
They’d been tailing some known members of the Sons and seen them enter the building, then Isabella and Christoph had snuck in and discovered its true nature.
Now, on the eve of a new auction about to begin, Lawrence, Christoph and two hundred other Paladins had surrounded the building.
Half would charge in and secure the building; the rest would stay on the perimeter and prevent anyone inside from escaping.
“On my signal,” Lawrence whispered; the soldiers around him nodded.
He peaked out of the alleyway and saw eight armed guards by the entrance, scanning their surroundings for any threats.
If the Sons of Tartarus hadn’t lost Sylvan’s intelligence network, then they would’ve known days in advance of when the Paladins were going to raid them.
Lawrence, however, didn’t know about that; he simply believed that the Sons were arrogant and lax with their security.
Lawrence took a deep breath, exhaled, then yelled, “Charge!”
The Paladins burst out of the alleyways and easily cut down the guards outside. Then, per their orders, half charged into the venue and the rest surrounded the building.
Countless swords were drawn inside the venue, the buyers gasped in horror and many tried to flee, as Lawrence and the Paladins stood proudly before them.
“Don’t let any of them escape!” Lawrence roared.
As Mania and the Raven finished breaking the slaves out of their cells, a few guards ran down the stairs screaming for backup, but the Raven silenced them with its throwing knives.
With no other witnesses nearby, Mania conjured her portal and then addressed the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, today is the best day of your lives. My name is Mania and I have come here today to save you all.”
The slaves cautiously listened as children wept into their parent’s arms and some slaves threw up after seeing the state of the guards.
“This portal will take you safely to our castle where you will be looked after and protected,” Mania continued as the Raven finished breaking the chains off the last few slaves. “Right now, this building is under attack by a rival gang and they mean to kill every last one of you.”
Well, not that I would know. They could be.
“Therefore, I offer you a choice.” She smiled reassuringly at them and then said loudly, “Either you stay here and die, or come with us and live.”
Hundreds of slaves looked anxiously at the dead guards, then at Mania, and then they craned their heads to the ceiling when they heard the sounds of battle.
One by one, the slaves stepped into Mania’s portal and found themselves in the Dread Keep’s courtyard, where Rebecca, Eva, Hilda, Jessica and her team, the servants, and the Machai were waiting for them.
Rebecca wasn’t sure how many slaves Mania would be bringing back with her but, based on the money she’d given them, Rebecca had assumed there’d be a maximum of twenty.
Mania had rescued hundreds of them.
“My lady,” Eva whispered with a warm smile.
Rebecca nodded and smiled back. “I know.”
Thank you, Lord Allaric, Lady Mania.
The last slave stepped through Mania’s portal just as the battle started to grow quieter upstairs.
“How many did we get?” Mania asked the Raven.
“Eight hundred and ninety-two, Lady Mania,” the Raven replied.
“Splendid. The Dark Lord should be quite pleased.” Then, she narrowed her eyes and scanned the desecrated room. “There were definitely no witnesses, right?”
“No, Lady Mania.”
“Good. Then, no point in staying here any longer.”
The two stepped through the portal back to the Dread Keep.
Two minutes later, the Paladins reached the basement and were horrified at what they discovered.