This time, by acting as a troll in heat, he had crossed the line. The only reason why he was still alive instead of chopped to pieces, was that unless in case of a deadly threat, their utmost priority was to remain undercover.
They had to wait either for him to push his luck or to go away from prying eyes before intervening.
To make things worse, the passive attitude of the bystanders, that aside from whispering and commenting were doing nothing, made more than one officer ponder setting the village ablaze after the situation was resolved.
In their eyes Tista was basically a saint. The only things she did were helping her family and providing magical care, sometimes even for free, behind Nana's back, to those who couldn't afford it or were going through a rough patch.
Seeing such a person harassed by a pig-brained man amid public indifference was too much to bear.
"Gods, as soon that idiot goes back home, I'm going to rip his b*lls off." Said a member of the unit in her communication earpiece.
"Get in line, Toman." Replied her Captain. "I called dibs on the left one since he grabbed her arm."
"And I on the right one." Added a second voice.
"Fine! Then I'll cut his d*ck and have him choke on it." No one laughed, it wasn't a joke. The problem with long term detail assignments was that once you knew your target better than your own family, it was natural to get attached.
Being professionals, they were able to keep their emotions in check, but that didn't make them one bit less ruthless or dangerous, only worse. So, when they recognized the environmental signs of a powerful mage being royally pissed, they moved away to better enjoy the show.
Snacks and bets were the natural follow up.
"Okay, guys. Garth getting killed is 1.1-1, maimed 3-1, crippled 2-1, going home unscathed is 100-1."
When overwhelmed by emotions, it was natural for even fake mages to affect their surrounding by subconsciously connecting to the world energy. Lowering the temperature, summoning strong gales, it was all mistaken for an involuntary use of first magic.
The stronger the mage, the stronger the effects, that was the rule.
Lith's situation was quite different though. Being an Awakened one, his thoughts were naturally connected to the world energy so his inner turmoil would have a bigger impact than normal.
Unbeknownst to him, after being accepted through a world's tribulation, the surge of his violent emotions would trigger the planet's attention making the resonance even worse. That was the reason why clouds were gathering, a thunderstorm brewing.
Nana and the corps' members thought it was a spell, but it was merely a reflection of Lith's fury.
- "Lith, I know you are angry, but you must hold back." Solus warned him.
"Not this time, Solus! I get you love unicorns and rainbows, but the f*cker went too far. There is no place for mercy."
"Mercy? By my maker, he can die in a fire for all I care. I meant that there are several witnesses, including some powerful magicians, maybe from the corps. They are supposed to watch your family after all. So do your worst, but do not blow your cover.
That pig is not worth it." –
Having doubted Solus' loyalty only made Lith angrier, making Garth's tab even more nasty. Yet she was right, he had to be careful.
Lith descended quietly instead of making a crater on the ground like he would have loved to. His eyes were closed shut, perceiving his surroundings only through earth magic and Solus. Lith knew that if he looked at the b*stard's face, he would lose his self-control.
Yet the temperature kept plummeting and despite it had been a sunny spring day until a few seconds ago, Garth could see his breath steam. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and his skin was covered with goose bumps from the terror.
And he wasn't the only one. Lith's killing intent was aimed at all those present but Tista, Nana and his mother. Its intensity was similar to what Garith Senti and Kilian experienced, but with two big differences.
Here there was no Small World smothering Lith's magic and while Garith and Kilian had been battle hardened veterans, Lutia's residents were farmers and merchants. The worst thing they had ever experienced was being mugged.
Garth's natural reaction was letting Tista's arm go like it was frenzied snake and wet himself, a warm puddle drove away the cold from his nether regions and feet. Most of the bystanders fell to their knees, some started to puke in panic, a few even fainted.
"Lil' brother!" Tista didn't seem to notice anything, there was only Lith in her eyes now. Her warm smile and adorable voice made him all soft inside, turning the seething rage into a full blown inferno.
"Tista!" His right arm pulled her close in an embrace, while his right fist struck Garth behind her back with the strength of a sledgehammer. Lith held back, so instead of pulverizing his jaw, he just dislocated it, making Garth spat a mouthful of blood.
"I missed you so much." She was crying. "Where have you been? I worried every day, fearing the worst."
She was crying.
"I'm so sorry." Lith replied holding her even tighter.
"I was on a mission for the Mage Association, but there was nothing for you to worry about." His arms held her close, but his hands and mouth kept moving, conjuring wind pillars that pinned those present to the ground.
Lith mentioning the Mage Association turned fear into terror, but for Garth there was only horror. He hadn't seen Lith in years, almost forgetting how monstrous he was. Garth was the only one not pinned, Lith was taunting him to run away.
She was crying.
Lith brought Tista back to Nana's house.
"I'll be back soon. Whatever happens, do not watch." Lith wiped her tears while caressing her face before closing the door and casting the Hush spell all around the house. Then he opened his eyes causing another bolt of lightning to come down, closer than the previous one.
The flash drew everyone's attention away. When they looked back, Lith was straight in front of Garth having crossed dozens of meters in less than a second.
"How did…" Garth managed to ask despite the maddening terror.
"You blinked." Lith replied like it explained everything.
After that, he grabbed Garth's right dominant arm, twisting it like it was just a twig.
"Is this the hand you used to touch her?" A magic word and his fingers dancing in the air was enough to turn the limb into a block of ice. Lith twisted it again, shattering the arm like glass from fingers to shoulders.
Garth wanted to scream, the pain was crushing, but so was Lith's right hand around his throat.
"Is this the mouth with which you dared to speak her name?"
The men from the Queen's corps were laughing their as*es off from the rooftops.
"That was a good line. I must use it the next time my daughter picks a bad boy." Said one of the women of the unit.
"This is no laughing matter." The Captain was suddenly serious.
"I don't care about the pig." He explained facing their dumbstruck stares.
"I mean the killing intent. I can feel it from up here and it's twisting my guts. How the f*ck can a twelve-years old be so ferocious?"
The whole unit sneered.
"Captain, what if that was your daughter?" Asked his second in command.
"I wouldn't give a f*ck if it was Garth Renkin, a prince or the f*cking King himself. I would rip him to pieces and no one would ever know." The Captain's killing intent burst over the street, making even more people faint.
"That's how." Replied the second in command. "Now shut up, this is getting good."
Gurid Renkin, Garth's father had just joined the fray.
"Please, don't kill him! He is my firstborn and my heir. He will never bother you again." Gurid kneeled down, banging his head on the ground.
"That's a given." Lith sneered, while ice started to cover Garth's face, turning each breath into an agony.
"I beg you! It's all my fault. I told him that rebellious women like to be tamed. Take it out on me, not him."
Lith's right kick crushed Gurid's ribcage, puncturing his lungs at the same time. Yet it was also infused with light magic, healing the injuries as soon as they formed. Lith didn't want for him to die so fast.
"Tamed? My sister… You…" Gurid's words almost drove Lith mad, making it impossible for him to speak coherently. Lith shattered Garth's legs, all three of them, before dropping him on the ground.
The women of the corps giggled, while the men instinctively covered their crotch.
"There are only two ways this story can end." Lith's eyes were burning red, like fire pits.
"Number one, I kill him here and now, you step aside and maybe, just maybe, I will not kill each and every one of your family for your crimes." Gurid was crying out of fear and desperation.
"Number two, you stand in my way. In such a case I will still kill him. Then it will be your turn, and I will call the Count, the Association and every single person that owes me to make sure your whole bloodline is wiped out."
Gurid had two more sons and as many daughters. The thought of even his brothers, sisters and nephews getting killed because of his foolishness was too much. He inwardly cursed at himself.
How could he forget that Tista wasn't just another farm girl that Garth could use and throw away once he was tired of her? This wasn't a problem that money could solve. He was about to step away when a second kick sent him sprawling away coughing blood.
"Stand up again and it will be the last time."
Lith grabbed Garth by the neck, lifting him in mid air before burning him alive, for everyone to hear.
"I shouldn't have saved your life years ago (*), you piece of trash. This is partially my fault too. I gave you your life and now I'm taking it back with interest."
Only after the body turned to ashes did the screams stopped.
"And now, it's your turn." Lith said to the bystanders still pinned from the beginning. Or at least, to those still conscious.
"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. That's what you did, and now you shall pay the price!"
Lith started to manipulate the thunderstorm's energies to kill all of them in one fell swoop.
Inside Nana's house, Elina was still hugging and kissing Tista, to soothe her nerves. She didn't give a damn about what Lith would do. If it depended on her, she would have killed all those that had allowed harm to come to her baby.
Tista was trying to calm her mother, trying not to think why there was so much silence. Nana had watched everything from behind a shutter, and after a good shrug, she closed the window for good.
- "I don't give a f*ck about them. I just live here." –
On the rooftops, the Queen's corps gave a small round of applause to Lith's display of magic mastery.
"All in favour of saving them?" Asked the Captain.
Not a single hand was raised.
"It's unanimous then." The whole unit shrugged, returning to their initial positions.
Lith was about to unleash the fury of the elements on the whole village when a big and strong hand grabbed his wrist.
"Being weak is not a fault and neither is being stupid. No matter how aggravating it is, rabbits will run away and fawns will dumbly stare until it's too late." The voice was strong and wise, but more importantly, it was a familiar one.
"You already killed the one that attempted to harm your cub. You can kill his pack, if you want, but that's cruel and unnecessary, just like killing other innocent cubs. Brother Scourge, do not ruin our reunion by forcing me to pray for so many souls."
The man in front of him was a barbarian, at least 2.1 meters (7') high, wearing a hunter set made of deer skin with boots bigger than a bucket. His face was rough and savage with a square jaw and a cleft chin.
His long hair and his stubble were flaming red having never been groomed. Despite his brutish appearance, his emerald eyes were calm and wise. There was no way Lith wouldn't recognize those colours and his smell.
"Protector? Is that you?"