182 Azure Flames
Taigen did not waste any time waiting for the right moment to strike. The longer he waited, the more danger his people would be in. He quickly focused and activated his innate talent, bringing forth his magic power and beginning to build it up in the Azure Blade hanging at his side.
Once the power reached his peak, he jumped out and dashed forward, drawing the Azure Blade in an explosion of blue flames and cutting down two of the Barron's men with two quick strikes, setting them aflame in the process. His innate talent was a fairly common one among the Asurai, the ability to summon flames, and Taigen was putting his flames to work.
His appearance and attack was sudden, surprising everyone in the area and quickly turning the scene into a chaotic mess. Once he was in the midst of his foes, he let loose even more magic, sending out a blast of blue flames that ignited everyone around him. The control of his innate talent was something he had trained for years, and he was proficient enough to prevent his own people from lighting aflame by controlling the fire so it did not touch them.
While the scene continued to slide further into chaos from the flames and the screaming, burning men, Taigen quickly freed his trapped comrades, and with another blast of flame from the Asure Blade he opened a path out of the chaos towards the hall that led towards the center of wherever they were. He led his people out of the flames, not even leaving behind the one who had been killed before he had arrived.
"Quick, keep going down the hall!" he ordered them as he went back to cover the retreat.
It would be foolish to think that the Barron and his men were done for. The Barron himself was Rank 5, and his closest subordinates were Rank 4. As hot as they were, Taigen's flames could only get rid of the weaker ones and singe the hair off of the rest. Killing them would not be so easy.
For now, the most he could do was slow them down. Once his people were out of the danger area, Taigen put as much power as he could muster into the Azure Blade and sent a massive blast of flame back into the room, filling the area from floor to ceiling with his blue fire. He didn't have a way to block the path, so flames would have to do.
The downside to his talent was that is used a lot of his magic to activate it. Using his flames on such a scale was not something that he was used to. Even now he could feel that his magic was waning. His magic would only last for a few more large strikes like that.
He checked again to make sure that his people had gotten away safely before facing back towards the flaming room, waiting for the Barron and his men to come through after him. He would be outnumbered and outmatched, but he was the only chance his people had right now.
As he waited, gripping the Azure Blade tightly, he saw a shape appear in the fire walking towards him. He readied himself for a fight, but the person who came out of the flames was not who he had expected.
It was a woman, completely untouched by the fire, and carrying a slender sword covered in blood. Taigen recognized her as the woman that had been with Cornelius Rellen on the occasions that Zoey had met the noble. She was beautiful, but her eyes were dead, showing no emotion and no feeling, only an empty stare.
Taigen did not let his guard down. He had not seen her in the group that he had just attacked to free his people, but her uniform and the fact that she was part of Cornelius Rellen's entourage marked her as an enemy.
However, she did not attack. She simply stood there for a moment, then turned and walked back into the fire, disappearing from sight. Taigen was not sure that she had even been looking at him at all.
It was a rather odd encounter, and Taigen had no idea what it meant. After a few more minutes of waiting with no sign of anything coming out of the flames, he activated his talent again and sent out his magic, quickly suppressing the fire.
The room was revealed, covered in smoke and soot, with only charred bodies left on the floor. Taigen was confused by the sight. Had none of them survived? Not even the Barron? He carefully made his way into the room, checking the corpses as he went.
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It soon became apparent to him that every single one of them, the Barron and his cadre included, had been killed! Most of the lower rank warriors had succumbed to his flames, but the stronger ones like the Barron had suffered from multiple lacerations and stab wounds, all to their vital organs.
Had it been the woman? Had she turned on Rellen's own men and betrayed them? The wounds that Taigen saw were consistent with that slender blade she had been carrying, and nobody else had been here, so it had to have been her, but why? And also how? Killing a Rank 5 should not be as simple as a few strikes with a blade, unless she had an innate talent that gave her some sort of advantage against her enemies.
Regardless, she was now gone, the Barron and his men dead, and all he was left with the questions. Taking a breath, Taigen sheathed the Azure Blade and took off towards the center of the complex, anxious to find his people again.
He had expected that encounter to go a lot worse, but he would take what he would get. All he had to worry about now was that strange woman coming after him and his people next!