System Change

Chapter 136: Natalie

Chapter 135: Spreading Word

After around half an hour of looting, the trio had gathered everything that was remotely useful and stored it in their storage rings. In total, it was a good haul. Most of the items they gathered were different weapons used by Toriths guards. Most of the guards also had a potion or two on their person that they were unable to use before being killed by Silvi, so Derek came out well ahead in potions.

As Silvi had not taken care to not damage armor, most of it, especially the chest pieces and helmets, was trashed. Still, Derek believed that Brandi could use everything. Most likely, she would be able to reverse engineer completed pieces, and use the scraps as materials. Either way, the armor and weapons would allow her to increase her skills even more.

When all was said and done, Derek, jacks, and Silvi all gathered back at the carriage. Derek had accomplished his goal with Malcolm Torith now being dead, and it was time to head back. As he was no longer in a rush, the three took off towards the village at a moderate pace. With Jackss stats, as long as Derek and Silvi didnt go full out, he didnt have to worry about the man keeping up.

Seeing how he had a short journey ahead of him, Derek decided that now was the best time to confront Alanah about the Torith matter. He still had a hard time wrapping his head around the thought that Alanah didnt know about what they did, even if Gerald covered it up so well.

While rushing through the forest, Derek took out his red communication crystal. With a thought, he sent his mana in and activated it. After a short while, someone finally picked up.

‘Derek, this is Avery. My mistress will be with you shortly. Shes attending to a very important matter at this time. Averys voice sounded in Dereks head.

‘Thats fine, I can wait. Theres something important that I need to discuss with her, too. Derek responded.

After that, the two made small talk while Derek ran through the forest. To Derek, Avery seemed like a pretty decent fellow. Of course, the man held important information close to his chest, and Derek couldnt get him to divulge anything without the man first receiving Alanahs instructions. If nothing else, it proved that Avery was a loyal subject.

One thing that seemed to excite Avery while talking about it was the training of the two boys, Zach and Lucas. When Derek brought the two boys up in their conversation, it was like the floodgates opened. The man was very proud of the boys and spoke fondly of them.

‘Id like to meet them when I get to the Capital someday. With the way you talk about them, they must be geniuses. Derek praised.

‘I wouldnt say that, but they are both talented and very hardworking. Theres not much more one can ask out of your students. Avery said. Then, before Derek could reply, he continued.Oh, there she is now. One moment.

Derek waited for a moment before Alanahs voice came through.Derek. How are you? How is your friend?

‘Rayna is fine. She made it. Unless youre talking about Katrisha? Im sure your Deathsworn has already informed you of her demise. Derek replied.

‘Mhm. Alanah confirmed.He did. I wasnt surprised by the results. Though, you could have made everything less public. Who knows what Malcolm or Gerald will think when they find that their retainer is dead.

‘Ah, so word hasnt spread?

‘Word about what? Alanah asked.

‘Did you hear about Malcolm retreating from the city to go home? Derek ignored her question.

‘Yes. Stella informed me. I was going to inform you, but she assured me that Walter had already contacted you. She replied.So, what word has yet to reach me? She asked again.

‘Word that Malcolm wont be making it to the Capital after all. Derek replied.

‘Wont be makin… Did you kill him?

‘I did. I intercepted him on his way to Wilmette. Im sure you will be hearing stories soon. I didnt go easy on them.

Nothing came through for a moment, until finally, Derek heard a sigh.So you went through with it after all. Like I said before, Gerald will come for you, and most likely those close to you. I hope you are prepared. Ill do my best to let you know if I discover a plot against you, but I can no longer hold him off after the death of his family.

‘Im not asking you to. Derek replied.Im not worried about Gerald. I am wondering how you have allowed the man to live for as long as he has, though.

‘What do you mean? Alanah asked.

‘Surely, with your resources, youve been able to put together what the man does. You said that becoming one of your Deathsworn is reserved for the evilest of society. Im asking, why is Gerald not one of your Deathsworn? Derek asked.

‘What have you found? Alanah asked, confusion in her tone.Gerald is by no means a decent person. I also suspect him of many deplorable acts, but Ive never been able to get any proof. And, with him being by the Kings side, I would need proof. Gerald is very cautious with everything he does. Every time I try to find something on him, the person committing a crime is four or more people removed from him, and it can never be traced back to him.

‘What do you suspect him to be a part of? Derek asked.

‘There are many things that I suspect, but none that I have been even close to proving. She replied.I suspect he has been accessory to many murders of nobles that have acted against him. Unfortunately, hes so patient that its years before those nobles suffer horrible fates. Ive had people trace those murders, but they always end up at a dead end.

‘Anything else? Derek asked.

‘Of course. Alanah said.He has his hand in so many markets that theres no way he doesnt get them dirty. Markets that I avoid at all costs. Its one reason that I focus mainly on my restaurants. Ive built it to the top, so I am King when it comes to restaurants. I dont have to follow old traditions or grease any palms. The restaurant business also allows me to gather information easily. Who doesnt like to talk during dinner? She explained.

‘I see. Derek said.When you say other markets, do you mean slave trade and trafficking?

‘Slave trade has been illegal for decades now. She replied.That doesnt mean that there arent any slaves, though. Sometimes a slave or servant oath is the only way out of a situation, but the Great System takes its oaths seriously. A slave oath cannot be coerced, and you cannot give the slave to another. Of course, there are contracts as well, and they arent nearly as regulated.

Derek laughed.Im not talking about oaths and contracts; Im talking about slave trade and trafficking. You should know as well as I do that you dont need to be under contract or oath to be a slave. You need only be weaker than the person opposing you.

‘Of course, Derek, Im not naïve. Alanahs irritated voice came through.What have you found?

‘Gerald is part, if not the head of, a child trafficking ring. He answered and waited.

After a while, Alanah spoke again.I cant say Im surprised. Ive investigated multiple disappearances of children over the years, but theyve never led to anything. It would make sense that he is involved because of how well he has been able to cover up his other crimes. Do you have any proof?

‘Just the fact that Malcolm broke an oath by telling me about it before I killed him. Though, I dont think anything he knew would hold up against Gerald, especially if he is in your Kings good graces. He heard a small bit of one conversation, and that was enough to get him sent to a city in the middle of nowhere. Derek explained.

‘So, thats why Malcolm took the City Lord position. I tried to find out for awhile after the man left the Capital but was never able to get any actual leads. It all makes sense, but I cant do anything without proof. If he wasnt one of the Kings men, my reputation would allow me to do with him as I pleased, and the King wouldnt question me, but as of now, the best I could do is tell the King about it. At best, there would be an investigation that wouldnt reveal anything. Alanah explained.

‘Oh, you dont have to do anything. I will deal with him. Its not that I dont trust you, but with your connections and information, it surprised me that you didnt know anything about it. Derek said.

Alanah sighed.There are a few people in the kingdom that areuntouchable, Gerald is one of them. It is the reason I gave you ample warning before. Because of his status, it is easy for him to hide things, and much harder to get information on him.

‘Fortunately. She continued.I am anotheruntouchable, and my strength doesnt come from political connections and other people like his does. My strength is my own. However, a war between me and the royal family would end with me destroyed and the royal family crippled. Unfortunately, me going after the main advisor of the King would start such a war… I know my limits.

‘If he lost the favor of the King, would he lose his status? Derek asked.

‘It would hurt him, thats for sure. However, nobody knows exactly how far his connections spread. Which puts the King in a bind as well. Because of his gratitude, he allowed Gerald and House Torith to grow to the point where they arent in his control. Not to mention, Gerald is still in his favor. Alanah said.

‘The best way to deal with Gerald would be assassination. He is not personally strong. However, Im sure he has many safeguards in place in the case of his death, so it will be in many peoples best interest to keep him alive. She explained.

‘So, what youre saying is that once he is dead, it will be easier to find those who acted with him because they will be scrambling to save themselves. Derek replied.

‘That may be the case, but it could also cause a civil war.

Derek scoffed.That sounds like a problem for your inept King. He didnt hide what he thought about the King.

‘Hes not a bad person… She tried to explain.

‘No. Apparently, hes just gullible and inept. All the great qualities one should look for in a ruler. He laughed.

‘That… Alanah sighed.

‘Anyway, Im getting ready to leave for Savannah. Ill be there in a few weeks. It will take some time for everyone to travel to Wilmette for the teleport. Derek prepared to end the conversation.

‘Mhm. Alanah agreed, then her jovial, seductive tone finally broke through for the first time in their conversation.Make sure you take care of Stella on your way.

‘Huh?

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