The flight was less than an hour long, and they arrived in the town of Decimari before noon. While the world above had an abundance of natural beauty, the world below was lacking in all essential life-forms.
As soon as Jaycee’s feet struck the ground, dirt already caking the bottoms of his shoes, he knew he was back in familiar territory. The sun, obscured behind the clouds and dust, shed barely any of its light.
“Home, sweet home,” said Kyla. Leon followed behind her as they headed towards the gate that led them into town. The airship dock was anything but fancy compared to what they had seen previously, but there was comfort in that.
Everyone getting off had to exit through the wooden gate. One had people coming in, and the other had a sign that said exit. The writing, faded and missing the t, hung crooked next to the fence. In the distance, dilapidated buildings lined the streets and few people walked the area. It wasn’t as safe during the day, so most citizens kept in their homes until evening. The air became less polluted later in the day.
“I think he’s waiting for us deeper in, right?” asked Kyla. With her hands behind her head, she looked at Leon for confirmation.
He shrugged his shoulders, choosing not to reply. Their small group passed through the gate and towards town. Jaycee, uncomfortable with the silence, tried thinking of a conversation starter, but ultimately came up empty.
Soon, he would meet their boss for the first time. It was only because of him that Jaycee could escape. He wondered what services he’d have to undertake to pay off his debt.
They went deeper into Decimari and arrived at the center of town. The surrounding homes were falling apart, windows boarded up and doors hanging off their hinges. The streetlights, cracked or completely split in half, blocked off the main path before them. Not a single person was around.
Suddenly, as if bees to honey, multiple soldiers swarmed out of the woodwork. Their gold emblems with a fox on it stood out amongst their blue outfits. Fioma’s military. The soldiers circled their group and left no room for escape. Masks covered their faces.
“I thought they didn’t have as much pull down here?” asked Jaycee. He grabbed for his sword, fingers tight around the hilt.
“They don’t.” Leon frowned next to him. “Something isn’t right.”
“Guys, I don’t think we have time for this right now.” Kyla had her knives out and ready, the dark gleam reflecting on the men around her. “You two need to make a run for it and warn the boss. I can handle them on my own.”
Jaycee was about to argue, feeling awkward leaving a girl to do the fighting for him, when a soldier came flying at her, sword aimed at her chest. He watched as she rolled to the side to dodge and then stuck her foot out, tripping him.
The others must have taken that as their cue to attack. One of them came at Jaycee, weapon raised. He leaned his head to the side, barely missing a fatal blow. He put all his strength in his lower body and kicked the guy back, sending him crashing into another.
Leon found him in all the chaos. “Let’s go.”
“What about Kyla? We can’t leave her here alone to fight them.” Was he insane?
Leon pulled him close, a sword swinging right past their heads, the breeze from the swing strong enough to sting. “She can handle herself.” He grabbed Jaycee and ran. The sound of metal clashing rang throughout the area.
They weaved through the town, in between buildings, and around debris that lined the alleyways and side streets. Some of the path was muddy, most likely from rain earlier in the day. He could feel his pants soak it up as they fled.
Leon maneuvered through the streets with such finesse, like he had lived there his whole life. Jaycee looked back at one point, but didn’t see anyone following them. Even if someone did, they had lost their track a while back. He was thinking about what he got himself into when Leon abruptly halted ahead of him. He peeked around to see nothing but an old house, a modest, rundown residence.
What ended up catching his attention was movement up above.
Before them, on the roof, stood a man, one he would never forget. A fan covered half of his face, and his piercing, light brown eyes stared straight into his own, as if reading his spirit. His eyes curled up, a smile hiding behind the pearl white fan. He jumped down from the roof he was standing on, elegant red and gold robes dancing in the wind. His onyx hair, half tied up, landed around his waist.
“Nice to finally meet the person behind the name Sicarii.” His voice was smooth and delicate, but held a commanding tone. The hair on the back of Jaycee’s neck stood up. This was someone to not be trifled with.
“Alec, we brought him to you. What’s next?” asked Leon. He was indifferent to the surrounding mood.
The man named Alec snapped his fan shut. “Follow me.”