Chapter 9:

Chapter 3.3: Overdressed

The Last Light


Eri laid down Jonathan on one of the extravagant couches in the room. Jonathan stirred and took her hand. “Hey, … I’m sorry about what happened. You should go back. I don't want you to miss the party because of me.”Bookmark here

“I can’t leave you. What if you got sick again?”Bookmark here

“I’ll be fine. Besides, the trash can is nearby. I can puke anything I need. Now, go back out there and enjoy the party with Ciara, please, for me.” Jonathan put on his best puppy-eyed act.Bookmark here

Eri was hesitant to take the offer, but she hates to miss this kind of party. It’s not like Jonathan could get into more trouble while he was drunk. “I’ll take the offer, but promise me, you won’t get into any more trouble. Please.”Bookmark here

“Hey, where else am I going to go? I can’t even walk straight,” joked Jonathan. He was trying to hold a vomit at bay.Bookmark here

She glanced from the left to the right. Satisfied with her surroundings, she left through the door. Jonathan closed his eyes and waited. After a few quick breaths in, he opened his eyes wide and clear. He stood up with an intense gaze, he wobbled a bit before regaining his stature. A by-product of the alcohol he consumed earlier. Bookmark here

He needed to clear his mind and one thing he learned was that pain always does the job. He slammed his fist against his thigh. A surge of pain crept throughout his nerves. He responded with a grimace but gained sobriety.Bookmark here

After a quick glance at the door, it was never the option. He walked to the window. With a single twist and push, the window became accessible to Jonathan. He stepped outside the window while keeping his feet away from the edge. Slowly, he cautiously reached the ambassador’s office.Bookmark here

Through the window, Jonathan peeked inside the room and glanced at each corner of the ceilings. There doesn't seem to be any surveillance device that he knew of. He opened the window, then took a step inside. It was somewhat a normal office apart from a few strange devices on the table. A bit extravagant to his taste.Bookmark here

He wandered the room. There’s one thing Jonathan knows, the office drawers won’t help him. It will probably be locked, and no one would keep anything important inside an unlocked drawer. He squatted in front of the fireplace. The fire was still raging, and the wood looked fresh. Something caught his eyes, a tiny piece of charred parchment. It looks official. The ambassador was getting rid of a letter, perhaps, or a report. Bookmark here

Jonathan took the tiny burnt piece and left the fireplace. Afterward, he made his way to the couch. It was still cold on both couches, including the one across from him. The two half-empty wine glasses on the coffee table suggested that the ambassador had a guest today, but not recently. It could be a wild goose chase, but worth taking note of.Bookmark here

Jonathan tilted his head slightly and noticed something small underneath the table. It was a small bark. It doesn’t look dirty. Someone intentionally brought it here. Anything is a clue since magic is involved. He stored it in his wallet.Bookmark here

A sigh later, Jonathan didn’t find any other clue that was substantial to his investigation. He heard a faint voice coming from outside the room, immediately, he climbed out of the window and closed it back up. His back leaned against the wall and made sure he was hidden in the shadow.Bookmark here

The ambassador walked into the room. In an attempt to peek inside, Jonathan leaned to the window but unfortunately, his foot slipped off the edge. He fell into the hedge below him. It wasn’t a cushioned fall as he expected. It felt more like a bed constructed from thorny branches and leaves.Bookmark here

He rolled off the hedge and landed on the grass beside it. A faint ill intent voice caught his attention. He left the ground and peeked out of the hedge. It sounded familiar because it was the same Three Stooges that bothered Ciara. Jonathan squinted to focus, they had surrounded Ciara.Bookmark here

“I said no,” said Ciara, but it only made them angrier.Bookmark here

“Why are you so stubborn? Do you really want to do this the hard way?”Bookmark here

“I’m not scared of you.”Bookmark here

The Nephilim swung his hand. It connected with a resounding slap. Jonathan groaned and took a couple of steps back while his palm pressed his nose. It was unexpected, no one had noticed him coming up to them. They all went wide-eyed at Jonathan.Bookmark here

“Geez, right in the nose? Ouch! My freaking nose. Shit.” Jonathan kept his chin up. “Is it bleeding?”Bookmark here

“Jonathan, w-what are you doing here?” Ciara asked while keeping her hands hovered above him. Panic set in as her concern for him rose.Bookmark here

“You again?” The Nephilim young man’s eyebrows furrowed. “I warned you to stay out of this.” They raised their fists and readied to strike him.Bookmark here

Jonathan posed in an exaggerated kung-fu stance while keeping Ciara safe behind him. “You might want to consider going up against me.”Bookmark here

“Do you think we’re afraid of you? You’re a loser, and the same goes for that girl behind you.”Bookmark here

A trident flew close near the bully’s face, barely an inch, and broke the metal fence on his left. His eyes darted to the right in fear and saw Eri stood in the doorway with a deadly glare. They backed away slowly, trembling and filled with anger.Bookmark here

“We’re not done here. I swear by it,” said the bullies' leader before they left the scene.Bookmark here

Eri sauntered toward them with a furrowed eyebrow. Jonathan fell on his butt, unable to keep the pose much longer, and also his back pain was riding him hard. The fall from earlier finally caught up to him. Ciara kneeled beside him while making sure Jonathan was okay.Bookmark here

The trident flew back into Eri’s hand. “You promise me to stay out of trouble.”Bookmark here

“I just couldn’t help myself.” Jonathan scratched the back of his neck.Bookmark here

“It wasn’t Jonathan's fault!” Ciara raised her voice, which was unexpected. “They were bothering me. Jonathan came to help me. It was… my fault.”Bookmark here

“No, it wasn’t. Wait, shouldn’t you be with Ciara all night?” Jonathan raised an eyebrow.Bookmark here

“I came to check on you, but you weren’t in the guest room. So, I was out looking for you. You dare blame it on me?” She extended a hand to Jonathan.Bookmark here

“I ain’t blaming you.” Jonathan took a long breath before grabbing her hand. She helped him up. “You should trust me more, and believe me when I say, I can take care of myself.”Bookmark here

“It’s hard to do that when you keep…” Eri waved her hand and sighed. “Never mind.”Bookmark here

***

After a short mingle at the party, they went home on the same carriage. Jonathan walked up the stairs with Eri and Ciara behind him. Jonathan waved his goodbye at Eri, she was about to wave back, instead, sighed before going into her room.Bookmark here

“Hey, Jonathan. I want to say thank you.”Bookmark here

“It’s nothing. If I had a second chance, I would do it in a heartbeat.” He beamed a smile at her.Bookmark here

“Why?” The question escaped her.Bookmark here

“Excuse me?”Bookmark here

“I wanted to know why. Why me? Why do you want to help me? I’m not even the real Ciara.” She averted her gaze.Bookmark here

Jonathan flicked her forehead. Snapped her attention to him with a jolt of pain. Ciara found herself staring into the eyes of a half grinned young man. “To tell you the truth, I hate your eyes.”Bookmark here

“My eyes?” Ciara flustered with furrowed eyebrows as she glanced away.Bookmark here

“Yep, those eyes. It’s a dead giveaway. It showed that you're probably thinking you don't deserve help or love or anything else. It reminded me of someone I know.” A bittersweet memory flashed for a second, which turned his grin into a frown before returning into a smile. “I’m not trying to help the real Ciara. I’m trying to help you. The woman who stood before me because you’re real to me, not whoever the real Ciara was. Anyway... see you tomorrow.”Bookmark here

Jonathan entered the bedroom and closed the door behind him. Ciara was left stunned with her hand on her forehead but regained herself after a minute. She entered her bedroom. The hallway was left desolate. Bookmark here

After an hour, Jonathan came out with a black inquisitor uniform and a mask over his face. He skipped the creaking steps. After leaving the house, he started walking toward the city.Bookmark here

It took an hour of walking before he arrived in the city center.Bookmark here

The city was almost empty except for the occasional one or two passers-by. Several Lampposts illuminated the streets, but the alley remained dark. Jonathan stayed away from those routes tonight. He didn't need more trouble than it demanded to be.Bookmark here

Jonathan found himself in front of a modest two-story shophouse. A sign hung above the doorway. It was written in cursive: Moondrop Bun. It was owned by the victim: Anthony Gonzalez, a Nephilim who worked for the Nephilim government as a spy. Of course, the whole store and his occupation were a cover-up. He would be a bad one if he admits he was a spy.Bookmark here

A warning tape was placed in front of the entrance. He peeked inside. It looked like a normal bakery, nothing more. There are even a few loaves of bread inside the display case. Using the front door might draw unnecessary attention. He headed into the back, through the tight alley beside the store.Bookmark here

Arriving at the back door, Jonathan’s gaze was drawn to the stuffed mailbox right next to it. The report suggested he has been missing for quite some time. The victim’s neighbor also has informed the Academy Security of his disappearance.Bookmark here

Jonathan peeked through the glass pane and glanced around him to make sure no one was looking. He wrapped his fist with his jacket and broke the glass pane. He reached inside to unlock the door. After gently pushing the door open, he stepped inside, then closed the door behind him.Bookmark here

Since it was at night, the short hallway was in complete darkness. Jonathan was sure, he stumbled into a bunch of furniture before arriving at the front of the shop. He looked down the counter, lucky him, there was a working lantern inside. Bookmark here

The light from the lantern brightened the room a bit. It was a bad idea to use the lantern, but he couldn’t see. He adjusted the lantern to emit as little light as possible, so no one would be alarmed by the sudden light in an empty crime scene.Bookmark here

After seeing the moldy bread in the display case, it nailed down the fact he was missing for a week.Bookmark here

He proceeded to the second floor. Three doors led to different rooms, he took the one near him and was greeted by a bedroom. It was certainly a modest bedroom. Much better than what Jonathan’s got, but it’s not like he cared. Bookmark here

He checked the drawer first and found a box. Inside it was the same flower from the report, Hypnos’s poppies. A tremendous amount of them, judging by the stains on the inside. It seems someone had cleared it out. He placed it back in the box.Bookmark here

Squatted down near the bed, he searched under it and found nothing interesting. He checked the wardrobe, though the man had a good sense of fashion, there wasn’t any substantial info to the investigation. However, obscured in the corner of the wardrobe was female underwear. A raunchy one at that. Either, he had a lover or the man has a strange fetish for it.Bookmark here

Jonathan backed away from the wardrobe and started to search everywhere in the bedroom for anything. He even tried to find a hidden compartment in the bedroom and found nothing.Bookmark here

It’s time for him to head into another room. It was a small office. He checked the table, nothing except for receipts and bills. He reached underneath the drawer. It was supposed to be a eureka moment, but there was nothing underneath it. He wandered around the office and checked every nook and cranny.Bookmark here

Jonathan's doubt a spy would keep anything important in his home. There was another room he hadn't checked yet. The last door led into a bathroom, which was disappointing to Jonathan when he found out. With nothing left to do but to check the first floor, he thought a break would be nice now. He sat on the closed toilet bowl and sighed.Bookmark here

His eyes wandered around the bathroom. It’s a nice-looking bathroom, clean, and has a lavender scent to it. A black smudge caught his attention. The pristine bathtub has a small black smudge on it. He leaned and squinted closer. Then he looked up, and a grin appeared. A slightly misplaced ceiling tile, too subtle for anyone to notice.Bookmark here

Jonathan left his seat, then climbed the tub to reach the ceiling. With a gentle push, the ceiling tile shifted easily. He reached in. Something small nudged on the tip of his finger. He took it and brought it out. It’s a small key, beautifully made, and looked too simple for a regular lock.Bookmark here

A creak from the hallway caused Jonathan to reach for his knife. He stored the key inside his pocket. After leaning against the wall beside the doorway, he took a peek. Three men dressed in all black leather armor. Their faces were completely covered by a haunting mask. A giant veil’s Sigil etched on their chest.Bookmark here

Three against one isn’t a good idea, but there’s a possibility that he could get out of here unscathed. It’s worth a try. Jonathan stood up straight, then relaxed his shoulder and simply walked out. Not a single glance at them and pretend they weren’t even here. Judging from how they sauntered in, those Sigils might have made them invisible. The group of men didn’t know Jonathan could see them, so why not play it out.Bookmark here

He did it. He walked past them without any trouble. They were staring at him, but they didn’t suspect a thing until… one of them slowly pulled out a dagger. Jonathan stopped at the edge of the stairs. Weighing his options dearly, those people behind him weren’t amateur by the look of it. Even if he did run, they would catch up to him no matter what. Either by magic or some special physical attribute they have.Bookmark here

If Jonathan were to fight them, he could win, but that’s just bragging. Serious injury and the possibility of death should not be taken lightly. The longer he waits, the smaller his chances of survival become.Bookmark here

He sighed. “Before we start anything, I should warn you. I am not someone you should underestimate. So, how about a deal? We pretend this encounter never happened and part ways without any unnecessary violence.”Bookmark here

They raised their chins and glanced at each other. The other two took out a dagger and stepped closer. That answered Jonathan’s question loud and clear.Bookmark here

"Fine. Let it be known that I tried to warn you."Bookmark here

Jonathan threw a knife behind him and missed the man in the middle by an inch. The blade dug itself into the wall behind them. He took out another knife and snapped his finger. It triggered the knife he threw earlier.Bookmark here

It wasn't a normal knife, he had carved a fire sigil on it before the party. So when he activated it, the knife exploded and sent the man flying toward Jonathan. It was a part of his plan, he wanted to use the momentum to dig the knife in his hand into the throat of the flying assailant.Bookmark here

He left the knife in the throat of his enemy and twirled to the left. He let the man fly past him and crashed into the enemy on the stairs.Bookmark here

The other two enemies earlier managed to dodge the explosion earlier. After a quick refresh, they conjured up several fireballs above their palms and readied to blast Jonathan with it.Bookmark here

Jonathan was quick on his feet, he quickly dove into the bedroom on his right.Bookmark here

Fireballs landed where Jonathan used to stand. It followed him until he jumped and hid behind the bed. Suddenly, a blast of air from below sent him flying upward and sent him through the window behind him.Bookmark here

A few broken shards had buried themselves into his body after he went through the window. Jonathan's body was thrown against the brick wall before falling from a two-story house into the dark alley below. The shattered glass rained onto him.Bookmark here

Jonathan smeared his finger with his blood and drew a Sigil on the floor. He poured his spiritual energy into the Sigil. The clinking from the broken window above alerted Jonathan. He rolled over and snapped his fingers.Bookmark here

A stone spike rose from the Sigil and flew toward the attacker. However, he wasn’t a fool either, he dodged it with a blast of air and sprouted black feathery wings to keep him afloat. He barely avoided the spike, but it did distract him from what came next. Bookmark here

Jonathan had drawn more Sigils in a short time, but he forgot about the other attacker. A dagger flew straight into the back of his leg. Jonathan dropped to one knee. He gritted his teeth and snapped his finger.Bookmark here

More spikes flew at the flying attacker. He dodged it as expected, but Jonathan had already devised a plan for that. For every spike, there were other Sigils on them. A snap from his fingers exploded all the tips and sent shards of stone flying everywhere. Even into Jonathan’s arm.Bookmark here

Jonathan slammed his back against the wall before the disoriented flying attacker fell. He drew a Sigil behind his back and waited for the enemy to stand up. When he did, Jonathan moved away. By doing so, he avoided a blast of fire from the attacker in the window. However, not without a move of his own. With a snap of his fingers, he activated the Sigil he drew earlier. An earth spike flew into the fell attacker's mouth and impaled him to the wall.Bookmark here

The move was risky, especially with a dagger in his leg. He pulled it out, almost screaming out from the sheer pain alone. Jonathan kept his back against the wall and out of sight from the other attacker.Bookmark here

The other attacker finally made a move. He leaped and sprouted black feathery wings and kept his distance while slinging fireballs at Jonathan.Bookmark here

Jonathan rolled and avoided as much as he could, and threw his knife at both walls, but it was too much. A fireball hit right in his chest and he was sent flying into a wall behind him. As if all the air inside his lungs was forced out with a sudden kick. Steam rose from his body, a hole in the middle of his jacket revealed his slightly burnt chest. A lump in his throat caused him to puke out blood.Bookmark here

It looked like Jonathan was defeated. He grinned when the enemy landed in the alley. It was too late for him to escape. The attacker finally noticed the knives planted on both sides of the walls.Bookmark here

“It’s nothing, just a bit of air.” Jonathan snapped his fingers.Bookmark here

Imagine how much it would hurt when you are blasted by high current air from both sides. Well, it felt like being squeezed by two objects. Jonathan didn’t waste time rushing toward the enemy with the last knife in his hand. The blast of air stopped. Bookmark here

The blade was about to come down. The enemy blocked it with his arm. An unexpected outcome. They began to struggle against each other. Neither was too strong for the others, but Jonathan was hurt, to begin with. The odds in his favor slowly dropped. So, he led his opponent into the window beside them, back into the bakery.Bookmark here

Shards of glasses buried inside Jonathan and his enemy, mostly his enemy, since it was his opponent’s back that went through first. They were both on the floor with the knife now directly on top of his opponent’s eye, but the enemy had his grips on Jonathan’s throat.Bookmark here

The blockage on Jonathan’s throat made it harder for him to breathe. He took that risk and removed his hand from the opponent’s grip over his throat. Jonathan slapped against the back knife and sent it through the enemy’s eye. The attacker screamed in agony, but another slap to the back of the knife drove it deeper into his enemy’s skull. Finally, the scream stopped.Bookmark here

Jonathan removed himself away from the enemy and sat against the wall. He spat the lump of blood out from his throat.Bookmark here

A fire began to grow on the second floor. Jonathan had caused it from the explosion earlier. He was tired and in pain, but he got a job to do. He turned to the knife in the enemy’s eyes and sighed.Bookmark here

***

Jonathan sat on the grass in the park across the burning shophouse. The fire reminded him of the campfire he had in the middle of the woods. He missed the outside world, and the calm and quiet he worked hard for.Bookmark here

The same golden woman stood beside him.Bookmark here

“Is this it? Am I cursed? All I wanted was to be free, and some peace to go along with it, is that too much to ask? ” He sighed. “Why am I asking you this? You never talk.”Bookmark here

“What about you guys?” He asked the three severed heads beside him.Bookmark here

A squad of Undine landed in front of the shophouse and started to put out the fire with water magic. Among the Undine was someone familiar to Jonathan, Commander Zey. She spotted Jonathan waving his hand with a smile. With a shake of his head, he jogged toward him.Bookmark here

When she arrived, her eyes widened at the three severed heads beside him. She was calmed, unlike most people. The way she acted when she saw it told a lot about a person. She has seen death before. “May I ask you, what are you doing with those heads?”Bookmark here

“I thought you needed it to identify the burned body inside.”Bookmark here

“With the greatest respect, can’t you drag the dead bodies out of the burning building, or at least try to put out the fire?”Bookmark here

“An average weight for a man is about 200 pounds or 90-ish kilograms. I’m injured and tired, and I ain't going to drag three dead bodies out of a burning building. Second, I forgot how to draw a water Sigil.” Jonathan stretched his arms, then placed his jacket over the decapitated heads. “Do you know any healing magic?”Bookmark here

Commander Zey kneeled beside Jonathan. Her hands over the wounds. A shimmering green light rained down on the injury. “Did you initiate first or did they initiate first?”Bookmark here

“I initiated first, but to be fair, I did warn them.”Bookmark here

“The deal was to investigate a murder, not produce more of it.”Bookmark here

“You asked me to investigate a murder of a spy, which, by the way, is already difficult on its own. Also, I was a mercenary before this, not a detective. I’m doing my best here. However, I did find a clue. A key, to be exact.” Jonathan showed the key.Bookmark here

“It doesn't fit any standard lock and the teeth are too simple.”Bookmark here

“I thought so too.” He turned to the heads. “These people aren’t exactly amateurs. Any clue who they are?”Bookmark here

“Shadow Walker. They are basically ghosts. Practically invisible. Highly trained in combat and magic. I would be lying if I say that I wasn’t impressed. Perhaps those records weren’t a lie after all.”Bookmark here

“Compliments accepted. I do want to admit it. That isn’t my best work.” He turned his sight to the burning building. “It’s because of the new elements.”Bookmark here

“What is your next move, Mr. Jonathan?”Bookmark here

“Early breakfast could be nice right about now.” Jonathan stood up, still aching from his wound, but it was manageable now that Commander Zey had closed it. He tucked down on his lapel and brushed the dirt off his shoulder.Bookmark here

“Pardon me, you want to enter a public place in that?”Bookmark here

“Why not?” Jonathan raised her eyebrow at the woman.Bookmark here

Commander Zey sighed with slumped shoulders. Afterward, she ordered her men to clear any dead bodies and brought them back to the headquarters. She called a carriage for Jonathan and her to use. It didn’t take them a minute to reach the BizzBuzz Diner.Bookmark here

There weren’t many customers in the establishment due to the hour. Jonathan was disappointed to find out the succubus that worked here earlier isn’t available for the Dead man’s shift. Instead, he got this moody goth pale girl as a waiter. Though, she was cute on her own.Bookmark here

Jonathan chowed down on fries with a side of milkshake. While Commander Zey ordered a steak with a cup of black coffee. Jonathan smiled as the woman, before him, enjoyed her steak in a pristine and ladylike manner. Bookmark here

He slid two fries between his teeth and lips to make himself look like a vampire. “A fries-cula. Boo! I’m going to suck your blood.”Bookmark here

Not a single amusement on Commander Zey’s face. She put down her utensils and dabbed her lips with a napkin. When Jonathan turned to the waiter, she looked offended and placed the kettle with a disgusted face.Bookmark here

“What did I do?”Bookmark here

“I believe you have offended an entire species.”Bookmark here

“Don’t tell me. Is that girl a vampire?” I glanced back with a worried look.Bookmark here

“In a matter of fact, yes.”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry. All of this is still new to me!” Jonathan yelled out to the waiter, but she waved him off with a frown.Bookmark here

“Mr. Jonathan, we are here to discuss your next move, are we not?”Bookmark here

“I thought I was getting breakfast.” Commander Zey looked at Jonathan with a frown. He waved his hands apologetically. “That was a joke. I need to see the body as soon as possible.”Bookmark here

“That will be easy, I will arrange it after your class tomorrow.”Bookmark here

“I, thank you, good madam. Can we enjoy our food now?”Bookmark here

Commander Zey nodded in agreement. The rest of the night, they enjoyed each other's company until it was getting too late for them to continue. Commander Zey accompanied him to his house. Jonathan waved goodbye to Zey and sneaked back into his room, unnoticed.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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