A large army marched forth from Stredo. Though its total numbers only slightly exceeded fifteen hundred men, their makeup showed that numbers wouldn’t stand against them. The lowest ranking members were third tier, numbering one thousand. Next, there were four hundred fourth tier soldiers, a hundred fifth tier, fifty sixth tier, and ten seventh tier soldiers, spearheaded by Sir Joston, the Master of the Arena.
It was an army sufficient to take on any faction in or around Stredo, but it was not the limit of the city’s strength. They drew members from many of the various factions, and the army was only what could be assembled on short notice. Their goal- the headquarters of the Silver Blades.
Sir Joston glared ahead with his one good eye. Each step he took kicked up dirt which swirled around him angrily. “The nerve to bribe my officials, tamper with my arena, and sneak in their members… where does a tiny little group like them find such confidence?”
The Silver Blades, with their official members and support personnel filled a city of about fifty thousand people. Compared to the Immortal Berserker Sect, they had almost five times the numbers, but their actual combatants only outnumbered them in the first and second tier. By the third tier, there were more Immortal Berserkers- approximately six hundred versus five hundred. For fourth tier, there were perhaps a hundred members of the Silver Blade. Fifth tier was their limit, where they had approximately two dozen members. The approaching army should have no trouble dealing with them, even if every single member of the Silver Blades were all present and ready to fight.
Sir Joston walked right up to the gate, pounding on it. He only barely refrained from breaking it down. “Open the gate! An official investigation of the entirety of Silver Blade is under way!” He had seen guards standing on the wall, clearly nervous about the approaching army as it spread out to guard the exits to the city. Sir Joston waited a moment, then continued, “If this gate is not open in ten seconds I will break it down and the gatekeepers will be under arrest for obstruction of justice… which is almost as bad as obstructing me, the Master of the Arena.”
There was a moment of pause, then the gates opened. Sir Joston observed them as he passed. They were sufficiently enchanted to withstand attacks from fifth tier cultivators or even most sixth tier cultivators, but a seventh tier cultivator like himself would just need one well placed swing to slice them off their hinges. The gatehouse was filled with murder holes through which all manner of attacks could be launched. It was sensible, for otherwise why even have defenses at all?
The second gate was open as well, and Sir Joston walked through with part of his small army. His voice carried far into the distance as he spoke, “No one is to go in or out of this city except with my express permission! I shall be conducting a thorough investigation into the workings of the Silver Blades, due to a second incident at my arena in violation of the laws of Stredo.”
Sir Joston walked down the main road, glancing left and right at the curious watchers and inspecting the buildings with his eye and his energy senses. A man came running up in front of the group. “Sir Joston, this is very untoward! You must leave now or we will be forced to call upon our allies in Stredo to punish you for this injustice.”
Sir Joston glared at the man, not slowing his stride in the slightest. Then he punched the man in the stomach, hard enough for him to cough up blood. “Master Gabriel… you think Elanor or someone else can protect you this time? You messed around in my arena not once, but twice!”
“You…” the man coughed up blood as Sir Joston passed, “You must be mistaken. We are banned from the arena, and we would not violate that…”
Sir Joston turned around and stepped back, grabbing him by the face, “You think I’m stupid?” He leaned in close, “Or do you think I can’t see because I have just one eye? A member of the Silver Blades was in my arena today, no matter what your books say. Surely you haven’t forgotten poor Victoria?”
“I… am sure,” he coughed, “There could be a number of people named Victoria in our city here, but I don’t know any in particular…”
“Is that so? Maybe you’ll see better with one eye, and remember your subordinates faces.” Sir Joston pressed his thumb into the Gabriel’s eye, crushing it. “For the record, I really hate it when people lie to me. Now take me to your records.”
Gabriel staggered away, clutching a hand over his eye. “Of…” he coughed up more blood, “Of course, Sir.”
Sir Joston looked around as they walked, “Sure are a lot of daggers, needles, poisons, and other assassination equipment around…”
“There’s nothing…” Gabriel dribbled only a small quantity of blood from his mouth, “Nothing illegal about out fighting style, or using poisons on our missions.”
“Tell that to the mysterious deaths in Stredo. A good fraction of them are no doubt at the hand of the Silver Blade. You just stepped too far this time.”
“I’m sure… that you will find… we are quite innocent. Here we are…” Gabriel gestured to a building they had entered, “Here are all the records.”
“Is that so? Nothing in hidden rooms or anywhere else?”
Gabriel shook his head, “Of course we have a few hidden rooms… we can’t be certain that nobody will try to sneak in. I will open them for you.”
Sir Joston walked around watching carefully as Gabriel pressed on bricks, twisted torches, and moved carpets to reveal a dozen hidden rooms. “Is that all?”
“Of course. We cannot afford to hide anything here.”
Sir Joston shook his head, “The half dozen other hidden rooms aren’t what I’m referring to. I meant the poison.”
“Poison? I don’t-” Sir Joston started coughing more- except instead of small droplets of blood, there were clumps of blackened blood.
Sir Joston slashed above himself with a sword nearly as tall as he was, cleaving open the roof, then he opened the wall behind them. He turned to the handful of seventh tier cultivators who had come with him. “You two, after the one who fled west, if you please. You two, to the east. Unfortunately, I must remain here to fulfill the interminably boring duties of searching instead of hunting down criminals. If you would assist with that, Carlyle,” he nodded to the remaining seventh tier with him. The other five had already split off to go around the city searching for other areas of interest.