Orion the Bounty Hunter Chapter 2: Discussions

Orion wasn’t impressed by the prince’s study, but it was nice.

The door alone was intricately carved and covered with lead; on it was a scene of a silver dragon and a young boy in a cave.

As for the room itself, a bookshelf ran around the edges, only interrupted by a small circular window in the middle wall. Dark green curtains hung in front of the window. Armchairs and a table, all made from the same light wood were arranged to form a sort of small sitting area. The large heavy desk a few feet in front of the window was made of a different wood, darker and more reddish.

Sirius immediately sprawled out on the thick carpet. Her tail wagged a bit as she rolled around.

“Traitor,” Orion muttered. She wasn’t quite sure what the plan was, but she chose to sit in the armchair behind the desk.

Prince Bas raised an eyebrow at that choice but didn’t comment on it. He started pulling out some papers from the bookshelves.

Orion, bored, watched the two. She noticed how both of them carried wooden sword carvings. The prince had his on a necklace, while the knight carried hers on a loop from her belt. It reminded Orion of her brother—he would sit down and talk as he worked, turning a piece of soft wood into art. She hadn’t talked to him in a while.

Tam pulled out a pen and some paper from a drawer in the desk. She glanced at Orion. “Do you not like us? I understand as we’ve suddenly been made to work together.”

Orion scoffed.

Bas placed the stack of piles he had accumulated on the desk. He was watching Orion, carefully. “Will that be a problem?”

“If you two are baggage, I’ll just have to work on my own.” Orion ran a finger over the polished, worn surface of the desk. All of the wealth she saw in this room, from the golden serving trays to the mana crystals casually being used to power the fire of the chandelier—she wanted it. “I’m going to take fifty percent of the reward. The other half can be for you guys.”

“That’s fine,” Bas agreed. His lips seemed to twitch up.

Orion clicked her tongue. She should have demanded more. Of course this rich prince didn’t care about the monetary rewards.

Bas placed a handful of miscellaneous game pieces on the desk after a quick search around the study.

Tam unfolded two large pieces of paper and spread them out on the middle of the desk. Both were maps, heavily detailed—one of the country and one of the Western side of the continent. Even small villages were clearly shown and labeled on the country version. The maps were newly made by the royal cartographer based on how sharp the ink was and the crispness of the paper.

Orion hadn’t seen many maps of this level of detail in this world. She leaned closer, propping her elbow on the desk.

“These are all the reports of necromancy involving dead soldiers in the past twenty years. I think there is a pattern in the south that I have seen before, but we will need to go through all of them to see.”

The three settled into different jobs to move through and categorize the report information. Bas read through and translated the stack of papers out loud, Tam wrote down the location and date, and Orion placed one of the game pieces on the map. They spent quite a lot of time in this process. The sun sent golden rays through the window as it went down, the light dying out with it until Tam lit the study’s lanterns.

When they were done, Bas borrowed the pen from Tam and started to organize what they had found on a separate piece of paper. He frowned and tapped his pen against the desk.

“Find anything?” Tam asked.

Orion shook her head and tossed a treat to Sirius. “Better have.”

“The only necromancer activity in the south for the past two years involved the mass war graves, and these small hoards did not attack the towns nearby. It’s not a straight line, but this person is gradually going East.” Bas pointed out the progression in that direction. “After the war with the Empire ended, there was a similar occurrence based on the older reports. I think . . .” He trailed off and stared at the map.

“You think what?” Orion impatiently questioned.

Bas put down the pen and went over to a corner of his bookshelf. He pulled out one of the more worn books; it was thick and in need of being rebound. He flipped to a specific page after checking the table of contents and brought it back to the desk. “This is the roster of people who had been enlisted in the Necromancer Corps and confirmed dead afterwards.”

Orion looked at the almost page long list of names and found that only a handful had not been marked with a corpse found. “What happened?” The second set of memories she had were from after the Malamut-Hrea Empire war and in Ahan, not either of the conflicting nations.

Bas pulled out a clean sheet of paper and wrote down the names that might have survived to the current day. “They defected right after the war—when necromancy was declared illegal by Malamut and the Empire, with the rest of our neighbors following suit.”

It was a bit strange, how some western countries outlawed necromancy and yet the regular people did not have particular distaste for that subset of ritualistic magic. It was a threat to common people, but it was governments that truly feared the feats a necromancer could perform if well educated. Necromancy being used for military campaigns was strongly abhorred by West and East in the current day.

Orion wasn’t convinced. “And war graves means this is related how?”

“One of the necromancers, a man named Marcus, told me the motto of their division: living or dead, only soldiers should have to fight.”

Orion raised an eyebrow. “Weird motto.”

“It makes sense why you narrowed in on them being war graves,” Tam commented.

“If you’re right, then what?” Orion wasn’t sure why any of this was really important to the job. “How does this help us?”

Bas smiled. “It helps us because we can use it to predict where this necromancer will be.”

Orion crossed her arms. “What, do you also have a nationwide map of all mass graves?”

“No, but,” Bas flipped almost to the end of the book that had the enlistment records of the Necromancer Corps, “This book will tell us around which towns the soldiers were buried. There’s two types of mass graves. Existing ones were added to and usually located near temples. The new ones were made in the middle of fields and sometimes the battlefields themselves were designated as graves because there wasn’t enough manpower to move the corpses.”

“We can start to investigate around here,” Bas pointed to one of the towns that had mass graves East of the current activity. “This necromancer usually strikes every three or four months, so we have time to get there.”

Orion glanced at the map, covered in pieces, the open book, and the papers full of writing. She nodded, reluctantly. “We’re leaving tomorrow then.”

Bas smiled. “Sounds good. Orion, do you have a horse, or do you need one?”

“If we’re going by horseback, then I’ll need to borrow one.”

“I can show you where you’ll be staying tonight,” Tam offered.

Orion narrowed her eyes. “Fine.” She stood up. There was a frame that caught her eye. It was sitting on a top shelf, slanted at a harsh angle. Only visible from the desk was a charcoal drawing of a beautiful woman with a basket of produce—most were vegetables native to Ahan. Although she didn’t really want to know more about Bas as a person, she was curious. “Whose that?”

“My mother, Sooh Keth. She worked as a chef in various courts and was adopted into a royal family later.”

Was the adoption simply for the purposes of sending this woman off to be married, or had Tel Legen demanded her specifically? Orion wasn’t optimistic. She thought that both were possible. “Who drew the picture?”

“A swordsmith’s apprentice. She is good with her hands.”

Tam and Sirius were already by the door, waiting.

Orion sighed. “I’m coming, I’m coming.” She didn’t say goodbye to the prince.

 

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About Ren

Writer of An Unwilling Prince. Longtime reader, fanfic writer, artist, and animator. Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/thesilverhunt3r Tumblr: https://anunwillingprince.tumblr.com/

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