Chapter 16:

Part 15

Fragile Phantasy

Under the veil of night, KC and Edgar strolled through the bustling streets of the capital in search of something to eat. The air was thick with the scent of street food and laughter, Edgar's attention was suddenly captured by the sight of a fancy brothel, and he turned to his companion with an enticing offer. "Dude, would you want to have a good time?" he asked.

The courtesans standing outside the establishment welcomed them with smiles and promises of entertainment. "Hey boys, stay here," one of them said. "I promise we will entertain you any way you want."

But KC was not interested. He turned away from the brothel and started to walk home. Edgar was confused. "Hey dude, what's the problem? Seems you don't like hot women?" he asked.

"What's wrong with him?" a courtesan asked Edgar while dragging him back inside.

Edgar shook his head. "I don't have an idea," he whispered to himself. "I don't know why he sometimes acts like that. He wouldn't let me know the baggage he's carrying?"

KC didn't turn around, and he just kept walking. As he reached the farm where he worked, he lay down on his bed and looked up at the starry sky. Memories of his past resurfaced in his mind, he wanted to be noticed by the girl he liked, but even if he tried so hard to change himself and hide all of his weakness on a smiling and confident front just to impress others, one's they knew how pathetic and weak he really is, they treat him like garbage.

"I will never let that happen again," he vowed to himself before closing his eyes. "Without the watch power, pretty sure everyone will leave me, just like then. So it is better not to get too close to others as long as possible, it's better to maintain distance."

Meanwhile In the heart of the city, deep in the underground, an illicit auction was underway. The auction was owned by a powerful mafia, led by the infamous Don Harper. Thanks to his connections with the capital's emperor, Maximus, no one dared to challenge the group of ruthless criminals known as the Hyenas, not even the territorial leaders.

The auction was a grand affair, attended by the city's wealthiest and most influential individuals. The announcer of the auction took center stage and captured the attention of the guests.

"Before the auction starts, we invite you to indulge in some delicacies," he announced, and at once, a bevy of expensive dishes were brought out by a stunning maid with fair skin, scarlet hair, and a curvaceous Latina-like body.

The guests were entranced by her beauty, and the announcer was no exception. "Who is that beautiful maid, Don?" he asked Don Haper, who was leisurely smoking a cigarette.

"It looks like she's caught your eye, boy. She's a new recruit, and we don't have much information on her yet. But with her alluring beauty and top-notch skills, the gang immediately accepted her," Don Haper explained.

The announcer approached the maid, eager to learn more about her. "Hello, what's your name, and do you have a boyfriend?" he asked.

She returned a flirtatious look. "It's Zeline, and it's up to you to find out," she replied with a coy smile, handing him her wine glass.

The announcer was intrigued. "Secretive, eh? I like this one. The night is young, milady," he whispered to himself.

With the use of her magical abilities, Zeline served the guests with lightning-fast speed floating in air. Meanwhile, Don Haper raised his glass full of wine, and the guests followed suit, clapping in unison.

But in a matter of seconds, all the guests fell unconscious. Zeline seized the opportunity to grab the valuable jewels and make a run for it.

"You can't run away from us!" the guards shouted as they chased her. But with her wind magic, Zeline managed to escape their clutches with ease.

Don Haper was irate. "Give a bounty on her head!" he ordered his men, determined to capture Zeline and make her pay for her thievery.

As the sun rose over the capital, Edgar jolted KC awake from his slumber amidst the hay.

"Get up, partner! There's a bounty hunt happening that's causing a ruckus in the city. Look at this paper I found scattered on the road," Edgar exclaimed, thrusting a crumpled piece of parchment into KC's sleepy hands.

KC rubbed his bleary eyes and stifled a yawn as he peered at the notice.

WANTED: Alive. Zeline. A photograph of a beautifull young woman in a maid's uniform accompanied the text. Retrieve stolen jewels. Reward: 5000 reputation. 5000 gold.

"That's a handsome bounty. It seems like everyone in the capital is after her. Are we going to join in the hunt?" Edgar asked eagerly.

KC nodded, "You must be excited to earn some quick cash, considering you spent all your money last night."

"Hahaha, how did you know?" Edgar laughed and scratched his head. "Alright, let's go! Do you have any plan?"

KC checked his watch and noticed that it was fully charged. "Actually, I have a device that can help us locate her quickly. But we need a sample of her DNA to input into the system for recognition," he explained.

"Then let's get started with the search!" Edgar exclaimed, excitement written all over his face.

Together, the duo set out towards the city to gather any information they could on the elusive Zeline.

As the two friends entered the guild, they immediately noticed Cyril blocking the entrance, his sharp bolo at the ready. He was an arrogant delinquent who loved to boss everyone around.

"Edgar, who's this with you? Seems like a weakling, perfect partner for you, loser!" Cyril sneered, eyeing KC up and down "who are you ehh?".

Cyril's men surrounded KC, and he felt a cold sweat break out on his forehead. "Hey, are you going to answer me, or am I going to stab your mouth?" Cyril jeered, brandishing his knife. KC remained silent, unfazed by the threat. kc was emotionless, as if nothing had happened.

"Are you deaf? Can't you hear me? Ha!" Cyril was about to strike when Edgar stepped in and stopped him.

"Easy, dude. This guy's with me. He's just really nervous. Don't worry, he's magicless and harmless. Just let him go, please," Edgar pleaded, trying to calm the rambunctious man down.

"Hmph, better know your place, losers," Cyril scoffed, slapping both Edgar and KC on the head before leaving with his posse.

As Cyril's group departed, KC noticed Kryge smiling seeing off Cyril as if he were plotting something.

Shaking off the encounter, KC and Edgar went to the receptionist, Kristel.

"Excuse me, may I inquire as to who requested the bounty hunt?" Edgar inquired of Kristel with a polite smile.

With a friendly greeting, Kristel led the two men inside a room, which bore the semblance of a library with its numerous stacks of paper. KC handed them a document that contained all the details of the bounty request, including the identity of the requester, who happened to be the notorious Hyena mafia group.

As KC looked around the room, he noticed a pile of identical bounty requests, which he soon realized were all related to a mission to annihilate the Hyena mafia, requested by a leader Kryge. They already knew the reason behind Kryge's anger towards the mafia - he sought to annihilate every aspect of Magnus' connections in the city because Magnus was responsible for his father's demise.

KC couldn't help but ask Kristel, "Why don't you post these papers outside?"

Kristel explained, "The leader of the Hyena mafia is a close friend of the emperor, Maximus Magnus. Regardless of how many times Kryge requests this bounty, we cannot follow through with it since the emperor enforces the rule of not laying a hand on the Hyena. Anyone who disobeys will be promptly vanquished."

Having gathered all the information they needed, the two adventurers bid Kristel farewell and headed towards the heart of the capital where the mafia was based. As they approached the mafia's territory, they were confronted by guards wielding knives who demanded to know their intentions.
"What is your purpose?" the mafia guards inquired.

Edgar took the lead and replied, "We are experienced adventurers who have the capability to capture anyone. We only wish to speak to your boss."but the guards lined up to block their path

"Excuse me, gentlemen," Edgar said with a smile, approaching the two guards blocking their way. "May I inquire as to why we are not allowed to see your boss? We simply wish to speak with him."

"Unfortunately, that is not allowed," they threatened, brandishing sharp knives that got closer and closer to the faces of the two adventurers.

Edgar remained unfazed, his eyes never leaving the guards'. "It's a shame because if we caught the woman and found out what she took from you, we could own it. Especially since you don't know us and you don't have any information about us yet. How is that? You can't get back what you lost because you didn't want cooperate with us boohoo" edgar mocked them as if he was going to cry "So were giving you a chance for negotiation."

The guards still wouldn't budge, their sharp objects almost piercing the faces of KC and Edgar. But Edgar had a plan.

"Dare, tell us why we won't kill you now!" the guards threatened.

Edgar simply smiled and calmly answered, "Because we have a word and honor in what we do. If you give us info, we promise we can return the girl here tomorrow."

"And who said we believe in that crap?!" the guards sneered, ready to stab KC and Edgar at the same time.

"Stop that!" their leader's voice boomed from behind of a magical circle. "I heard what the young man said. Come and enter here. Guards, let them in!" The guards bowed and followed the orders, opening the gate.

As KC and Edgar entered, they were immediately seated in fancy chairs and offered wine. The leader of the mafia group, Harper, sat in a cozy grand chair.

"Before we start, I need your information to be able to trust you. Can I see your adventurer cards?" Harper ordered.

KC and Edgar handed over their cards at the same time, but Harper slammed his seat and glared at them. "Who do you think you're fooling? Both of you are rank C. How can you say you're good?" he turned to his men and signaled, "Kill them both!"

Edgar quickly raised his hand to calm down the situation and hurried to explain. "Wait, wait! We promise we will return the girl to you by tomorrow," he said, bowing and kneeling.

KC elbowed Edgar and whispered, "Hey, what are you talking about?"

"Just trust me," Edgar replied with a reassuring smile and a wink. KC scratched his head, feeling uncertain.

The leader sat down again and stopped his men. "Ok, one last chance. What information do you want?" Harper asked.

"We want to borrow something that was used by the criminal," Edgar announced.

"Are you insane? What are you planning to do with that?" Harper asked, confused.

"A magician never reveals his secrets, but I promised she would be here tomorrow," Edgar replied confidently.

"Very well, men, provide them with the clothes that Zeline wore," Harper ordered, and his well-dressed men handed over the garments.

One of Harper's men, who appeared intelligent with his glasses, approached him and presented a list of papers. After reviewing it, Harper nodded in approval.

"In case you fail to deliver her tomorrow, Edgar, these children who you have adopted will die," Harper threatened, while revealing the list of names of Edgar's adoptive children.

Edgar throat constricted as he realized gulped at the stakes, knowing he had so much to lose. "Yes, sir," he replied nervously.

Harper then turned to KC and asked, "And you, we could not find any information about you. It's as if you don't exist here. Who are you, really?"

Infuriated, KC retorted, "Why do you ca?" Before he could say anything further, Edgar covered his mouth to stop him from speaking. "Sir, he's just my magicless partner. Hahaha," he laughed awkwardly and scratched his head to steer the conversation away from KC.

The tension in the room was palpable, and Edgar was now sweating profusely. He had to succeed in his plan; otherwise, he would lose everything he held dear.

But Harper attention was shift to his staff urgently needed him, as he was preoccupied with something else. "You two, get out of here!" he barked, as his men forcefully pushed the two.

As Harper attended to his affairs, Edgar and KC were unceremoniously dragged and hurled outside.

"Hey, we have two feet, you know!" Edgar shouted indignantly, turning to KC. "So, what's the plan now?"

KC activated his watch, and a circular DNA compass tracker formed. He sifted through the maid's belongings to find a strand of hair, which he placed into the tracker. As he did, the device buzzed and a holographic map appeared, highlighting the exact location of their target. An arrow pointing to their destination.

"Alright, we have to travel seven more hours. The thief has gotten far away," KC said, striding towards their destination.

"Seven hours? That's almost half a day! Ahh," Edgar exclaimed, realizing he was in for a grueling journey. Nonetheless, he had no choice but to follow KC.