Chapter 22:

Grand General Disaster

Magic and the Black Cloaks

"Time is up."

Winter and his group were ticking down the clock, they haven't done anything except wait around for the past two hours. The contact didn't call so Sakura, who was napping while leaning against a big box, popped awake and pulled out her knife.

"Mmm... where should I start first? How much do you like your hands, huh~?"

The man started to struggle and yelling for Sakura to get away from him but that simply wouldn't do for her or them.

"I wonder how long it would take for you to die if I-!" Her knife came to a stop as it slightly pierced his hand, the cell was vibrating very lightly.

"Out of the way. Do as you normally would or else she'll manage your death." Winter answered the call and put the phone on speaker while moving it closer to the captive.

"Good evening, how is the progress?"

Whoever this was, they were using a voice changer but that wasn't a problem as Erwin tuned them all for the voice to sound normal, and well, that was certainly the Queen's voice as their conversation went on.

For what reason could she want the Pope dead? Well, she did want the Pope to concede her power in the government, for one. To Winter and Akari, that could be the only possible answer here, no one knew it except Akari, Winter, and Erwin, but General Lumina was listening in on all of this and was not very happy to hear the Queen's voice.

The conversation wasn't long, mostly because the plan was thwarted and the Executioners forced him to tell her that it was over and he was done. The connection was served soon after that and the room fell into silence, the captive was simply wondering if he could negotiate being let free.

"Is there really no way for me to walk free...?" He asked quietly causing everyone to look at Winter, the obvious answer came out of that though, he was going to die.

"Don't worry. You'll be having a peaceful death." Winter gave a magic signal to Selen who appeared behind the man and punched him in the jaw knocking him out.

One of the most peaceful ways of dying in this world was drowning, it wasn't painful and it didn't exactly take long, and wouldn't wake up the sleeping man if done right. Everyone else took off their cloaks as their resident water magic user strolled upon the sleeping man and got to work granting him the peaceful death they promised.

The basement was guarded and no one except them was coming down here, they could easily leave through one of the exits close to the basement door and come back in through the front. But, considering the time, everyone else in the building was already sleeping. They weren't the stealthiest units in the Ardent repertoire but they could move through this hotel without trouble at the least.

The body would be disposed of by the water user while everyone else finally got their rest in their rooms. Though, Winter and Akari weren't getting that as now they were in a private call with Grand General Lumina who was angry enough to set up a Magitech projection to them who was standing in between their beds as there was no way there were going to sit in front of her.

"It simply makes no sense!" General Lumina was pacing back and forth in front of them, "She wants to remove Clare from power but she doesn't want that enough to kill her. If Acilia wanted her dead, she would use Executioners or the Royal Guard, not this."

Akari and Winter were nothing more than her listening posts, if General Lumina was stumped, there was no way they were going to be able to come up with a proper explanation. They were given permission to try but still, they knew the Queen less than the General, so it was hard to do anything helpful.

"The use of the Royal Guard or Executioners would have been too obvious. If the job was too good, maybe we would look inside first."

"Ah, Major Flynt! That is a good one. True, using the Royal Guard would have been suspicious because they have a certain way of killing and making people disappear, we would have known instantly. The Executioner's Order would have also been too clean, she would vanish and we wouldn't have known a thing... not to mention getting a hand on Executioners without alerting me or Master Athena."

Master Athena was basically just the leader of the Executioners Order, working directly under Grand General Lumina, the two knew each other quite well and could even be considered friends. Master Athena was just very elusive in how she went about her life, she was always in contact but trying to seek an audience with her was near impossible, the only person she ever heeds the call of is General Lumina but even that's rare.

She was also an Ouro Elf which simply meant she's been alive for a very long time, where she exactly came from was a mystery but one thing was confirmed, she was the one that created the Executioners Order and even trained a lot of the very early and historic groups herself.

She doesn't do that anymore, or at least nobody thinks she does. Not many people know what she looks like, so she could be in the very same building with Akari and Winter but they would have no idea.

"That clears why she used these men but again, why would she want the Pope dead? I've launched more than a few investigations on both of them and nothing would ever point to her wanting the Pope dead, I would've known about it a long time ago. Just how was she able to contact those men without me finding out?!" Lumina put her hands on her spiral drills and almost yanked on them before stopping herself.

"The fact she used a voice changer meant she didn't want to be discovered, how did they know in the first place that it was the queen? Who knows something we don't...?"

"Ah! Kazami, you're right! No, no, no! Whoever knew is dead! They had to have been at the party that we burned down, this is bullshit! Agh, what am I missing?!?!"

The person they've never seen in remote annoyance currently had a death grip on her twin drills and was visibly angry. When she looked at the floor and her hat fell off, she didn't even bother picking it up, instead, kicking it like it was a football across whatever room she was in.

Everything just wasn't suiting the people she knew. In fact, she was confident she knew more about the Queen and the Pope more than they could name about themselves, if given a quiz about them, she was certain she would get 100%.

"...She didn't even leave her room all night... not a single trace of magic came from her during that time frame either. I had someone near her since that bastard said her name. So, how did she manage to call him while completely asleep, how was she in two places at once...?"

To all of their knowledge, there wasn't any magic that would allow someone to not only cancel out their magic but do it while they sleep. There were ways to suppress your magic signal but to cancel it completely was out of the question, the proximity from the spy to the Queen was almost minuscule so any magic signal should have been picked up.

But, it all came back to nothing. The question: How did the Queen contact the captive while completely asleep was one that completely stumped General Lumina, Winter, and Akari.

It just wasn't possible but it happened right before their eyes which meant they were missing something!

With the contacts dead, and Hayman's Flight done in, there were no leads they could travel back to. However the Queen was playing her hand, she was somehow a step above General Lumina who was even using her magic to process things faster, not even during the war between them and Breidal did she do such a thing as everything was calculated for the most part.

Even with her magic, her hands came up empty. Just what sort of monster was hiding right in front of them?

"I've made a grave mistake talking to you..."

If Lumina had been outplayed on a level like this, she had clearly exposed a lot of the wrongdoings she had done by thinking out loud to Winter and Akari. If the Queen catches wind of any of this, General Lumina would be thrown out for acting without orders and taking things into her own hands.

She was in her office with the best level of magic signal encryption but how could she know if this signal wasn't being monitored? She was too trusting in everything around her, she feels like she was being lured on like a fish which caused her to call back the 1st to the capital and cut the connection right away.

That finally let Akari and Winter relax and sit down on their beds. Winter quickly set up a signal between him and Erwin ordering the Receptionist to tell everyone they would be leaving early tomorrow, what was going to happen after that was a bit of a mystery to everyone, including the one that ordered them back.

General Lumina couldn't do anything at the moment. She had no proof, she had no witnesses, and most importantly, she didn't even know who was behind all of this.

She thought to herself inside of her office while staring out of the window, she couldn't really wrap her head around it.

It seemed like the Queen didn't want to be caught so how did someone know it was her?

"Unless she wanted to be caught...?" Lumina was really branching for this one, "But why would she want to get caught? That goes against her whole agenda? If she wanted to resign, she could just do that. She's not suicidal either so she wouldn't want to die..."

As she kept thinking, she simply couldn't get anything else. It looked like she was going to have to play the waiting game, and put the most protection on the Pope, those Inquisitors are good but Lumina has some people that are even better.

Hopefully, this would go over well enough so that they don't have to act, for now, this was really just a waiting game and completely out of Lumina's control. She hated the fact that she was at the mercy of whatever force was conducting this train. There was no getting off peacefully, she could already guess whoever this saga was going to end, it wasn't going to go down well.

People were going to die, just who was the question...