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This story takes place on the Gamma timeline.
We start in Ivinopia, a place on the northern continent. Here, Delinius has been running a refugee centre under the name 'Langton Inc.' However, he is curious about the situation on the mainland, seeing as he hasn't seen it since years. Langton Incorporated was, thanks to the people that Delinius had recruited as employees, a very stable place that could run on its own without him.
Chapter One - A very welcome arrival
"Well then. You each know what to do in which situation?" His three managers nodded. It was still early in the morning, and the sun hadn't yet risen entirely. Of the three, Theo seemed restless, but Delinius took little notice, instead proceeded. "Alright then. I hope I won't find myself in the same great mess as thirty years ago, but who knows what has passed in those three decades. I'll be off then. Please take care while I'm away. I'd hate to fly from one fiery pit of hell into another."
With these words, he unfolded wings, consisting of his aura, and flew off. While it had been dangerous to make the trip across this vast body of water back then, he put much more preparation into this journey than he did to get to the north. The trip would be long: he had chosen this early hour to arrive before sunset, seeing as he relied on the sun for his navigation. Twelve hours later, he quietly landed in an empty field and unpacked his bag. Inside was a compact tent, as well as a few other base necessities. He set up the tent and waited the remaining hours of the day out.
"Delinius Rupert Langton was most famous for his incredible effort to escape punishment, by traveling across the entire continent twice. Although no evidence exists of his death, he has been declared dead since twenty years. Some say, however, that Delinius is alive and in fact still hiding on this continent. Like many rumours and stories about him, it is likely that this is not true."
The rest of the article rambled on about several witnesses who saw someone with a large pair of wings flying around, and about Delinius' reputation for burning his enemies. Zachary put the newspaper down. If this Delinius still walked about, he would probably not be very happy about the way he was treated. The fact that he had been seen again made it clear he was up to something. More importantly, he had to be stopped before he could do that, whatever it was. He decided to bring it up at a meeting that day. He was sitting there in his office, together with Baxter, Revelian and Sam, the former his co-CEO, the other two important managers, and all friends of him.
"You're probably wondering why I summoned you." He turned on a beamer, and an image of Delinius appeared on the wall behind him. "This guy has been all over the news, and if it's true what they say about him, he's pretty dangerous." There were only three people there, other than himself - Baxter, Revelian and Sam. Of these three, Revelian looked the least impressed. Baxter was staring at the image, seemingly confused. "What, should we throw a bucket of water over him?" He thought it unlikely that this man called Delinius could be a threat. "If this guy does show up, we're just gonna take him down. Come on, we've had worse." He was clearly not worried. Samuel seemed more interested, though. "I think they would've done that by now, right?" Zachary shrugged. "Do we know what he actually did? I'd agree with Rev, doesn't look like much on the picture... Is he really a problem?"
"According to what I've found he's responsible for a whole load of house fires and a few people's deaths. It’s pretty clear that he's powerful enough to do more than just that, still. That's why I think we should stop him, whatever he's doing over here."
Delinius slowly made his way to a nearby city. It appeared quite different from the place in his memory, as it had a lot more tall buildings than he remembered, and it certainly didn't have as much traffic. One building stood out in this concrete maze: a tower bearing the letters 'I&Q'. The sheer size of it alone made it a location of interest, and Delinius felt it would be good to at least have seen it from a shorter distance.
He pretended to be the average citizen, but it took little time before somebody walked up to him. "Yo, aren't you that dude they're talking about?" Delinius smiled. "What, Delinius? Nah. I guess I look like him, but that isn't me, haha. "He was donning something entirely different from his usual attire: a dark blue coat and matching blue shoes, and he did his best impression of a Gredile accent, in hopes of persuading this inconvenient passer-by. "Hah, you're almost his twin if that's true." It seemed he would buy the grand lie. "You aren't the first person to see the similarities, though, so don't worry." He continued his way, but the man followed him. "Wouldn't you, like, do something 'bout that? They might catch you instead of the actual guy and you'd have a real hard time talking yourself out of that. Just sayin', yanno." Delinius sighed a little. Instead of giving the man a proper answer, he merely smiled. "I'm not too worried about that. I know everyone hates him, and I'll be right out of here soon anyway." The man gave him a confused look, but didn't inquire any further. Perhaps he was suspicious after all. Rumours were some of the most difficult things to race against, and especially in a large city as this. The man was not convinced, and it was clear that Delinius' name still had a very negative ring to it for most. He sped up his pace and headed for the tower of I&Q
"He's here?" Sam nodded. "Hmm. That's not a good thing. We've got to clear the hall. If what I've read about him is true, he's too unpredictable to take any risks. Once that's done, we can face him." Sam got downstairs to get everything cleared out. Why was Delinius coming this way? If he had plans to torch things, he was in for a surprise. While he wondered about this, Delinius walked into the building, unaware of the frantic clearing of the hall that took place minutes before his arrival. He looked around, slightly puzzled by the entirely empty area. After a while, he encountered Revelian descending from the stairs. His dark, blue-purple body surface, as well as his single eye, a glowing colour of cyan, made it very obvious that he was not native to Ludus. "Good afternoon, sir. May I inquire as to why this hallway is completely empty?"
The figure replied, insulting him in the process.
"Yeah, shut it. We know who you are, you fucking pyromaniac." Delinius frowned. Whatever this creature was, he was well aware of the news.
"Now, now. I'm only inquiring as to why this is empty and you call me a pyromaniac? I must say you follow the news just as closely as the rest of the imbeciles on this continent. Oh yes, that's an insult! If I am truly a pyromaniac, then why haven't I set anything aflame? Then why am I standing here to tell you that I am in fact just as normal as all of you are? You disgust me in twenty-six different ways, all of which are quite gross, mind you."
His face was full of disdain, but strangely enough also filled with disappointment. Baxter and Zachary had now also come down the stairs, and they had heard Delinius' words. He gave them a brief look before turning around. If they wished to hold the false stories of his past against him, then be it so. He did not want to be bothered by it. However, Revelian blocked his path out and pointed his sword at Delinius.
"You're not going anywhere before we're done with you." Delinius raised his eyebrows, pretending to be surprised. "Oh, a sword... You must be a master with it from the looks of it. Such technique. Such a beautiful sword, too. Hmm..." His face took on a thoughtful expression. It was interesting to prove himself more than capable of combat, but in this enclosed area, and the fact that there were two more figures involved made this an unwise fight to pick. He smiled.
"What's so funny, shitflame?*" Delinius gave him a little smile, again. "While I have no doubt about your intent to kill me and your capability of doing so, I can tell you that your teleportation abilities are inferior to mine. At least, they are in the art of obscuring one's location. So long, purple goo blob. Can't say it was pleasant meeting you and your consorts." In a swirl of flames, he disappeared.
They all stood there, feeling somewhat dumbfounded that Delinius had in fact teleported away.
""Either he's really smart, or really stupid. Wherever he went, we know he can teleport now. That's a start."
Chapter Two - The Salty Flame
Delinius was making his way back to the field that he’d landed in. If word got out that he'd been in Steckenberg, a manhunt would almost certainly follow, making it essential that he leave the continent as quickly as possible. Even several decades apparently could not right what journalists had done wrong in their reports about him. And although it was disappointing to find this, he did not need to be on this continent for anything that wasn't found anywhere in the north. It would make staying in Auzos more difficult, however.
"Alright, let's find this guy." Together with Baxter and Revelian, Zachary headed in the direction to the area where Delinius had been spotted flying. Soon enough, they saw Delinius in an empty field, packing his things. He looked up from his packing, and his eyes narrowed. "Oh, it's you three. Coming to bother me even more?"
"That's right, you prick." Delinius sighs. "Cease your godfuckingly stupid speech, Dark Matter."
"Shut up yourself. You're getting what you deserve!"" Zachary was first to dash forward to attack Delinius, his sword at the ready. Delinius parried it with his axe before poking him in the face with the handle.
"Ah! Another one wielding a sword. Perhaps it was foolish of me to avoid a fight, after all."" As he taunted, Revelian had gotten closer and began attacking. However, Delinius managed to dodge several swings and even blocked once, before getting behind Revelian and knocking him on the head with the side of his axe. Before any of them could react, they faced another swirl of flames. The three of them looked around. "Fuck. He can't be far."
However, there was no sign of Delinius until they started searching. Several hundred feet away, Delinius was being chased by an entire crowd of people with things ranging from kitchen knives to actual weapons. Delinius took off into the air, but then struck by a thrown object from somewhere in the crowd, knocking him unconscious, and he dropped to the ground. The crowd closed in on him, eager to finish him off.
"Uh, maybe we should get him out of here. He's got a sentence to sit out, right? We can't just let these guys kill him, at least." Revelian shook his head."Nah, just let him get killed. He deserves it." He was alone in this opinion, though. "I... don't know, to be honest. Shouldn't we get him taken to prison instead of letting these guys clean him up? It's not exactly considered great to just watch him die."
"Good point. Let's bring him in and keep him until he can be taken away." They hastily carried Delinius away before the angry crowd could get hold of him, bringing him to a location in the Isles & Quint building, despite Revelian's reluctance to save him. They left him locked, for interrogation later. They began next day, with Zachary being the first to try. He sat down on a chair facing Delinius. "What were you here for?"
Delinius, though tied to his chair, seemed quite at ease. "Te dicero nihil." Zachary sighed. "Hey, we can also just leave you here until you're taken away. You know that, right? So you'd best just tell us what you were up to, because there's no way getting out of this by just rambling in some weird language. If you do, we might be able to help you." Delinius shook his head. "Non venitus sum ad accenderendum aliquid." Zachary walked off. "This is just stupid..." They brought in an interpreter, who immediately shook his head, too. "There's no point in trying at that language, I'm afraid. From the sound of it, it's some kind of ancient dialect, not something I would speak." Because of this, they brought in somebody else, who happened to study these languages. Upon hearing Delinius, he nodded. "This seems familiar. At least, the sound of it. If I'm not mistaken, this is a religion-specific language, and not one anyone's decoded as of yet. Even if I could discover which religion it's based on, I have little hope we can begin to understand what this man speaks of." Delinius looked at the man with curiosity, due to a strange familiarity that he had. The man merely smiled and walked off, never to be seen again.
Next, Revelian tried a more direct approach. Upon entering the room, he immediately knocked over the chair on which Delinius sat. "Okay, flaming cunt. Because you seem really unwilling to talk, I'm going to keep kicking you around until you start saying something." When he put the chair back up, it levitated and began dodging him. After a while, a frustrated Revelian exited.
"That didn't go too well, did it..."" Baxter had been watching the entire thing for some time now. Revelian grumbled. "Fucking awful, that's how it went." In the meantime, Zachary walked by with several other people, including Mercuron, Sam and Mori. Zachary explained them who this guy was, and why he'd been locked up in here. The police would come and take him in soon enough, and they'd be rid of him. With no approach working, they all left to do other things. However, there were footsteps behind them, and they all turned around. Delinius had managed to escape, not only from his holding room, but also from the chair he had been locked to.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Perhaps I should have asked, is it not? Or perhaps you truly did not plan to treat me any different from a highly violent, mentally insane criminal. Whichever the case may be, good sirs, or whatever you might be, I bid you farewell. If you'll excuse me, I'm exiting this building." Zachary sprinted forward. "you’re not going anywhere!" Delinius laughed and began running in the opposite direction. Although Zachary was closing in on Delinius, he couldn't keep up with him. After a while, he gave up, panting.
Newspapers provided extensive coverage of this incident, adding to all the commotion. Upon finally escaping, Delinius made his return journey. How long had he been locked in there? Too long, he thought.
Chapter Three - The Loss
"Well then. Let's see what has been happening here." When he walks into the building, he notices that everything had been changed. Although the general layout of this hall had been kept, a lot of it seemed... stripped. As if all things that weren't of vital importance had been taken away. What had happened? "Excuse me, but could you tell me where my managers are? This certainly isn't supposed to happen."
The lady behind the desk looked up and sighed. "If you're wondering, they've kicked you out. Can't say I like it, but you were away for a full week. One of the three left, though." "Is that so then... Who, if I might ask? Not that you are obliged to answer, technically speaking.""
"Theo left. Last thing I heard him mutter was 'If he'd see you do this, you'd be piles of ash right now. Fucking assholes.' He seemed pretty upset, but if it's two to one, I don't blame him, to be honest. It's not going any better, either. Hey, if it helps, a lot of people feel like going. Me too, actually. You said before that things are getting kinda messy here anyway, what with the... incidents I guess." Delinius laughed bitterly. "Then that is so and so it be, I suppose. But if they must kick me out, I shall kick them back in the right spots. This is sad. This is godfuckingly sad!" He smashed a nearby chair on the floor. "You mentioned that many people weren't quite happy with this situation, much as I am myself. Would you deem it likely that I could invite many of them to follow me elsewhere?"
"I'm pretty sure that includes basically everyone. Like you said 2 weeks ago, there's little point in fortifying ourselves to the point where the outside world is a prison we don't enter." Delinius' eyes gleamed.
"As many people as we have in this building, that many I will bring. If this continent refuses us, we travel south. If that land refuses us, we travel even further south. If these fools wish to take my company, I shall take with me what does not belong to them. I intend to bring all of 2500 or so people, their belongings, and the furniture in these buildings. All of that I will bring to the mainland to settle everyone there. It's a safe place for all of you, at least. If it is for me is something up for debate, but that has little significance to this."
He proceeded into the building and went up several floors, to where his office would have been in this building. As he'd expected, it was now the office of one of the three managers, or rather one of two still in function. He blasted the door open and entered. "Well, well. I have been kicked out."
The office, however, didn't have anyone sitting there. A few passing people took a look at him inside the empty room. Delinius sighed. Even if he would regain control, holding down these buildings would be futile. Any day could be the start of a massive siege that would end in a massacre. It was time. Soon enough, some of his former 'employees' started finding their way to him. Each had a different story to tell, and each a different advice on taking back the place. Delinius cleared his throat. "Hm. I appreciate all of these suggestions. I truly do. However, I do not intend to take my position back by force and hold it down much longer. It is time that we shift the entirety of this place, minus the buildings themselves, south, back to Gredile. Although I myself am hated, you are not. Do not worry; I will find a way to guide you, even if it will have to be in disguise. Will you follow me? Raise your hand!"
Not a single person forgot to raise a hand. Delinius smiled.
"Then we shall leave. I will inform you of what I intend to do tomorrow." He proceeded through the building, occasionally announcing his plans, before bumping into Theo, who was storming out of an office right on front of him. "Dear gods, that I should come across you again!" Theo was surprised and apparently angry. "You goddamn idiot! Where were you when these two took over?" He sighs. "Whatever, you're back here now. Are you kicking them out?" Delinius smirks.
"It is my place to leave these fools empty-handed, so to speak. I intend to take every single person and every single piece of furniture, be it as trivial as a bedside lamp, and bring it to Gredile. That's how I intend to kick them out. Theo laughed in disbelief. "What? How in the world are you going to get them all across? You said it was an entire day of work for you - and you're flying. Even if we manage to get a ship, it's going to take weeks just to bring all the people across - and that's without the stuff they'll carry!"
"I have my plans, Theo. And the entire day is for a return journey, mind you. I have my planning well ahead for this. They will all come by sea, all of no less than twenty-five hundred people, and I will ship them to Gredile. If I am forced out of here, I had best have some support in going to Gredile."
Theo gave him a confused look. "You need... support? You did something wrong, didn't you?" Delinius sighed and nodded. "I did not actively do anything wrong, but by defending myself from prejudices I have still committed a deadly sin, it would seem. A company called I&Q, or rather, some of its managers, are also opposed to my very existence. They too believe what is said about me. With the hundreds of people that you and I can lead, however, I think it doesn't need to be discussed whether I may set foot there. At least, if you agree. I truly need your consent and trust for this, Theo. Perhaps I have not been very worthy of it, but I nevertheless need it."
"You're a complete idiot. But that's fine, as long as you know what you're doing. So far that's always worked out more or less, I think. I'm in anyhow. We've dealt with folks trying to storm buildings here, and that was with you staying inside as much as possible. You probably don't know any more than I, but I don't think the mainland can throw much at us that could be a real problem. So, what was that plan?" Delinius looked around. "My plan is to firstly give those two bloody-" The two managers he had been about to speak of emerged from a room down the hallway. "Aha! Good afternoon, scumbags!" The sarcastic tone in his words had caused them to turn around in shock. "Take over this place as much as you want. There won't be any place left to speak of once I am finished with it. No, I'm not going to blow this place up, you asses. I'm going to empty these buildings and ship them all back to the mainland. It might not be entirely safe for myself, but I can at least trust Theo here to take care of them while I try to dissuade a continent from lynching me. And the two of you can't possibly stop me. The loyalty of the managing part of the population is with me. A lot of the population itself is with me. And most importantly, the two of you cannot hope to fight me for it!" He now pointed a finger at them.
"Leave, and leave with whatever riches you might have on your person and your bank accounts. Allow me to perform my plan as I intend, and no further troubles will bother you. Oppose me, and I will personally kick the both of you out of the building in rags. Is that to be considered a fair deal? It is, considering the fact I could also harm you. Off you go, greedy filth. He spat these last words out, full of disgust. The two raised their hands in defence, completely silent. Delinius sighed.
"I most sincerely hope you won't be very successful in the future. Do not let me catch sight of you anywhere near me again, or you will suffer the same fate as those morons that tried to break in!" He turned around to Theo. "That's a way to get them out, I guess. So... you won't be involved much once we get there?" Delinius nods. "And I'll be the one handling all of this? You said you needed trust from me, but you're putting a lot of trust in me there."
"Agreed. However, you deserve that trust. You've more than proven it throughout the years. Well then. I have a ship at my disposal, an old ferry of sorts. It can't hold 2500 people in one go, but we shall have to make do with it. I believe its capacity was approximately 300 when it was in frequent use, so we shall take 250 on each trip. You will handle the process of embarking on this side once I have found a suitable location at which to set foot." "And what about all the stuff in this building? We might want to bring some of that too, and I'm pretty sure everyone will take their belongings with them. Or are we going to ship that along?" Delinius smiled.
"You are becoming as good a planner as I! I do intend to use the remaining space to take along all the materials and belongings. I estimate we will have to make between ten and fifteen passages, due to the sheer amount of things in these buildings. For now, you must make sure that everything here is safe, and that people know what awaits them. Ask Leanne about the ship; she knows its location, which I've kept well obscured thus far if you can't find her right away, ask around; I think most people know her. It is time that we prepare a true exodus. Good luck. Once I have set up a location, you will have to arrange transport to the indicated location. I cannot do this, as you might expect. The very sight of me causes people to go frantic, it turns out. You'll be able to entrust this Leanne with the task of gradually moving everyone out, by the way."
Theo laughed. "Wow. Well, sounds like lots of work for both of us, then. Take care. You'll be useless if you're dead or in prison." They both laughed now, and shook hands. Delinius then made his way out and headed back south.
Chapter Four - A Confronting Exodus
Delinius landed again, this time far from his last location. He made no effort to remain hidden now, simply because it wouldn't help. Because of this, he had decided to position himself on the roof of the very building he had escaped from. It was incredibly bold, but he was hoping that this would trigger a response from those within, to taunt them even more with his presence. For the time, being, however, nothing was done about it. Had he gone unnoticed? Unlikely as it seemed, it was possible. That was, until he heard a door open somewhere near him.
"Come on, folks, he's somewhere on this roof. He's been spotted only shortly ago." Delinius heard the voice and knew it to belong to the Dragonkin. They had indeed arrived, and now was the time for his publicity stunt. He quickly pressed himself against the small entrance building and waiting for the voice he heard to appear. He was spotted by others, instead.
"Here he is! Open fire!" Apparently, they were law enforcers, as they now began shooting at him with their firearms. Delinius blasted a number of them away before he encountered Zachary. "So, Mr. Isles. You come across me once more. Consider this an announcement, and a demonstration of sorts. 'Tis so: I'm quite unhappy with the situation around the people I lead on Auzos, and I intend to bring them here. You, your company, and the entirety of the government can oppose yourselves to it, but I do not recommend it. The only acts of combat we will engage in are defensive ones, which can therefore only be triggered by actions on your side. I tell you this plan, for I hope you are reasonable to see I am no threat to your existence."
"I'm gonna see you behind bars no matter what." Delinius was amused. You believe so, don't you? Have you not seen me behind bars, and experienced that I am extremely annoying to keep behind them? No, Zachary Isles, you do not know me, or the extent of my abilities. About my past, you are as misguided as everyone else has been all this time. You are as much a bloody fool as the entire continent."
"How do you know my name?" Delinius chuckled. "That's a very good question. Perhaps I am more willing to study my adversaries. Ah! Another reason why I am at some advantage, Isles. I happen to be quite a long-living one, and I've come to learn a great deal through my education and my life in general. I am not aggressive, and neither are those people, if I have to repeat it for you. There is a great chance they'll spread out afterwards, and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them and any other person. Save for culinary tastes, perhaps."
"Oh well. If you truly cannot see me otherwise than bad, at least let them live here, where they'll be identical to the rest of the population." Delinius walked off, now that he had delivered his message, apparently to the edge of the roof. "Stop!" Delinius slowly turned around, a grim look on his face. "It is you who must stop. You and your associates bother me, for crimes I did not commit. I have committed crimes, all of which you will find I properly admitted and which I was cleared of due to the circumstances of self-defence in a deadly situation. For decency's sake, Isles! You put your lineage to shame by being such a bloody fool! I am no murderer, no arsonist, no pyromaniac!"
These last words took Zachary by surprise, and caught him off guard. Not only did Delinius know his name, he knew his origins, and it was unsettling to know that. Delinius quietly walked away and jumped off the roof, in an act of drawing attention. After a while, he unfolded his wings and calmly glided above the heads of awestruck people below him, heading back in the direction of the coast. It was remarkable to see everything from this perspective; buildings suddenly seemed a lot smaller than they were from ground level. It was now time to find a location from which to begin once people began arriving. It would be up to Theo to bring everyone to the building he had seen somewhere on the edge of Steckenberg: an old distribution facility, currently abandoned. The route was relatively calm, and the area itself not too densely populated.
"Alright, people. There's been a lot going on lately, I know. Thing is, the situation here is getting more hostile. Every week, there are more attempts to break into our buildings. Back on the mainland, it's safer for us these days. Thanks to Delinius, those two other guys are out, and we can focus on the task ahead. We're going by ship, but it's gonna take about ten passages before we'll have everyone across."
A voice spoke up. "Where is Delinius, by the way?" Some people muttered. "Delinius was here yesterday to kick the two traitors out, and he's currently looking for a suitable spot to get onto Gredile. We won't be seeing him much for a while, I'm afraid. He's got some... issues to deal with regarding false records about his past. He's no innocent saint, but they believe he's a pyromaniac and a criminal. I mean, dislike him, sure, but he's not that kind of man. He doesn't deserve that, even though he's used to it." He turned around and beckoned Leanne forward, the lady Delinius had told him about. She cleared her throat. "The ship we have at our disposal can hold 250 people, their personal belongings, and some of the furniture from here. We're going to try and do this in the most organised way possible, so be patient and wait until it's your turn to make the trip. If there are no further questions, I think we're done." Theo nodded. As everyone returned to their ordinary business, he complimented her about her part of the speech. "Pretty well done. Man, I hope Delinius comes back with a proper spot soon. He mentioned somewhere pretty quiet, though there was apparently some rich guy's place near." Leanne nodded. "Hey, remember the time when he had you thinking he was really gone?" Theo sighed. "Yeah... That was the worst. And he did it on my birthday as well..." He gave her a look that said more than enough. She laughed. "How do you even put with that guy? You've been with him from the start, huh?"
"To tell you the truth, I don't know either. Maybe it's just that he's right a lot of the time. Whenever I'm all worried, he tells me to relax and drink some coffee or take a break and it all works out in the end. Man, the way he handled all those people trying to storm us... I think he's working harder than he always pretends. You've heard him say it's "nothing worth noting" a few times too, right?"
He looked at the clock. "Time for dinner, guess. Feel like joining tables? We still have some stuff we should discuss, right? Not that I wouldn't, uh, ask you to otherwise." Leanne nodded. "Sure. Let's hope it's not that awful soup they served yesterday, though." The both of them headed for the large dining area and all its tables along with everyone else.
This was an excellent location. It was quiet, far away from any large population or main road. There was a large white building a little distance away, however. Delinius looked at it from this distance. It was clear that this house, or whatever proper term there was for it, would be owned by one of the more wealthy individuals of this continent, though there was no sign or symbol to determine to whom it could belong. Knowing rich people, however, this person would probably not have any interest to bother with something that was happening a mile or so away. He also had the route planned out towards the empty distribution facility that he had found on the outskirts of Steckenberg. It would be easy enough to hold it down with merely 250 people until the next arrival of people. However, the difficult part was ensuring that all eyes were directed elsewhere. He sighs. He would have to draw so much attention to himself that no person in Steckenberg would not be worried about him. It seemed ambitious to do, but knowing the nature of the press, it would be easy once he had caught their attention and that of the authorities. It would require all of his skill and reflexes, both in flying and in the use of his Navigation Tablet, a rune-inscribed piece of stone that allowed him to instantaneously disappear to another location, in order to escape or avoid any armed forces and the occasional helicopter. For the moment, it was most important to give the necessary information to Theo and Leanne, so they could handle moving everything. After that, it was time to give the population of Steckenberg a show they wouldn't forget in quite some time.
An ancient race of light shall return from where it was banished It shall not tolerate nor find aversion, and it will prosper once more The Light's far cousins shall have part in this glory, too The Langton's name; that what identifies you.
"Sing to me, dear, of this Langton's long past, and tell me what it is that he will do."
"Move along, folks. It's time to pack up into that boat and get out of here." Delinius had given them a location and a route along which to transport everyone. He'd even chartered a number of touring cars on Theo's name, to make it even easier. "You'll be fine, right? Handling this on your own?" Leanne nodded. "You should worry about yourself, to be honest. There's probably a press storm going on over there, if you're right about Delinius. Heh, 'keep a low profile', right? That's what he'd do, isn't it?"
Theo now boarded the ship and ordered for departure. With the current weather forecasts, it would actually take only three days, instead of four. If the weather would stay that way, they could probably make it quickly, which would save Delinius a lot of work.
A page-wide picture of Delinius filled the front of the newspaper, along with the headline “Langton returns: better or bitter?” The next few pages were all about Delinius, his actions in the past, and the recent sighting. Zachary sighed. He wasn’t too worried about Delinius actively threatening him, but it was just weird for him to return, especially when he knew well that he was sought after by just about half the city, as well as the authorities. What was his plan, and why was he constantly flying over people's heads?
Baxter entered Zach's office. "Hey. I think you should come look at this." They walked to a nearby window. Outside, Delinius was floating in the air, apparently using his wings to stay afloat like that, and he appeared to be performing some kind of dance in mid-air, all while laughing and apparently even singing. "...What the heck is he doing there?" Baxter shrugged. "No idea. It's attracting a lot of attention below, though. Lots of people too." After a few minutes, Delinius finally looked at them, waved, and flew down, fast enough to disperse the crowd.
"Boo! Run, run, run away, silly citizens!" Delinius was enjoying the shrieks and screams from the people as they backed away from him, who was flying towards them at an alarming speed. He continued this, narrowly flying over everything. He temporarily landed on a statue on a square, and then threw down a few pieces of fireworks amidst the people, causing panic as well as outrage. He took off, and repeated this process, not only in shopping streets and other busy places, but also near official government buildings and the like, where he was then pursued by armed people. They were powerless to extinguish the fireworks; they only had bullets, and no water, and few typical fire extinguishers were capable of disabling these specially designed fireworks. Was he feared? Probably not. He was clearly resented rather than being attacked or otherwise engaged in combat, which was a good sign; either people did not know yet how to fight a fast, airborn target, or they lacked something to do so.
Several days later, Delinius was circling a government building while soldiers or related figures were trying to shoot him, when he first met true resistance. "Get the fuck out of here or die, you piece of shit." It was the Dark Matter who spoke this, the one by the name of Revelian. "You'll have to make me, my non-friend. You can catch up to me flying, perhaps, but can you follow me in my teleportation?" After this, he used his Navigation Tablet to its fullest extent, teleporting to a different location repeatedly, forcing Revelian to constantly change direction or teleport as well. Delinius grinned.
"What, Revelian? Did I not tell you before that I am more capable of escaping than any of you are able to catch and capture? Have I not warned you that I am better at teleportation for the purpose of confusion and obsucation? You may keep going for hours if you wish to, and I will continue to frustrate you. However, I have others to annoy, and this becomes quite mundane after some time. My apologies, Revelian, I must be off." Delinius then teleported himself into a building and began crossing it to the other side, from which he then teleported himself back out, now out of Revelian's sight. Although he could certainly have gone on for hours, it was better not to waste more time than necessary on taunting on someone as temperate as Revelian. He continued his way, now dropping smoke-producing pellets. These, as well as the fireworks he was carrying, were among the things he had prepared for this mass distraction. Though the smoke was annoying and possibly mildly irritating for the eyes, it was harmless and left no trace once it dissipated, while being impossible to disperse quickly. It was certainly a luxury to have a multitude of skills at his disposal. All the members of Langton Incorporated had some kind of profession, and many of said professions were useful to his current plan.
Langton Incorporated, for lack of a better name than the one that Lyka had once coined jokingly, was in fact how it had come to be named by everyone. If you were trying to run away from something or find safety, just knock on their door; they'll take you in. Still going to school? There's people who can teach there. Need something to do? Plenty of work there. As long as someone contributed to the benefit of everyone, they were absolutely welcome.
Though Revelian showed up once more several days later, Delinius simply performed the same tricks as he had done previously and escaped. He had acquired more information about the Dark Matter and had discovered that he resided in an enormous castle, which was conveniently enough located relatively near where Delinius had so far performed his distractions. He considered the risks of encountering Revelian in a place his own – a place he knew better as well – and decided that it would be foolish to do so unless Revelian was completely unaware of his presence. Nevertheless, he wished to set up another harmless but seemingly dangerous action that could annoy Revelian and prevent him from taking notice of the actual plan - the grand moving schedule.
"Although Delinius' actions have caused great commotion thus far, it appears as if he is not intent on causing more than just that. We therefore believe this is only a test of our forces for a future attack, for which we are at the highest state of alert." Now that he was donning a convenient disguise, notably the hat, which obscured much of his face, he was better able to move among people that were after him, and it allowed him to follow the news. He had heard what the government official had said in the news and smiled. They were expecting an attack, he'd said. A common phrase came to his mind. 'You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.' An attack was not part of his plan, but it gave him an idea. Seeing as his fireworks were mostly harmless, aside from the obvious but minor injuries that typical decorative fireworks could inflict, simulating an 'attack' with them would heighten paranoia and further distract Steckenberg. The disguise would do its work very well when it came to hiding. He smiled under the rim of his hat. Was he enjoying this, even though it wasn't even pleasant? He certainly was. For once, he was able to put everything in his favour, for the most part.
"Hey Theo, have you seen this news?" He read the newspaper article. Theo nodded slowly, and nodded softly. "My god... he's giving them a lot of trouble by the sound of that. I wonder what he packed into his bag for that to happen..." They were only a week into the plan, but thanks to the decent weather, they were now a few days ahead of schedule, something Theo had been intent on achieving as soon as possible to reduce the work Delinius had to do. While he stood there, overlooking the process of unloading the third shipment, he noticed somebody approaching in the distance. "Wait a second, who's that guy?" When the figure had approached further, it became the figure of a reptilian creature with a fairly dark skin, almost black. "Sorry, but what are you guys doing near my house?" Theo was quick to answer. "We're a newly started company, specialised in moving people from and to the continent of Auzos. If we're trespassing, sir, I apologise. I was unaware of it." Zachary raised his eyebrows. "Ah, don't worry. I was just worried because there's been a lot of commotion about this guy, and he was apparently bringing a whole bunch of people from the north, according to what he said. I guess I made the wrong connection..." Theo smiled. "Ah, that's a shame. Hate it when people like that ruin it for the honest ones. Well, have a good day, sir.</span>" Zachary nodded. "Thanks. Good luck with your work!" Once Zachary was far enough, Theo sighed. That had been close. As he saw to it that everything was loaded off, Zachary faced something entirely different. He’d been very sceptical of Delinius supposed ‘plan’, and maybe this had been something he’d seen and made use of. It didn’t come to his mind that it had been the truth, of course not. Delinius was clearly not trustworthy.
After the misunderstanding with the seemingly random ship, Zachary returned home. He'd taken a day off today, now that Delinius was apparently nowhere to be seen, and he needed some rest. Just when he entered, though, he heard the sound of shattering glass, somewhere down the corridor, and he ran forward to see. Little to his surprise, it was Delinius, who then waved at him as he'd done before. "Ah! "If it isn't me", hm? I could've made my way in without breaking the window, of course, but it makes for such a marvellous noise and a beautiful mess. Now that you've found me, I'm off again. So long once again, Isles!" His laughter rang throughout the hallway as Zachary stood there furiously. Delinius, however, was somewhat surprised - he hadn't considered the possibility that the house could've belonged to this lone fossil specifically. He took the opportunity to check on Theo, who looked slightly pale. "I think I met one of those guys you were talking about. From that company, right?" Delinius sighed. "Oh, Zachary? I honestly will tell you I was unaware of the fact it was his house. By the looks of it, he wasn't aware of this being the actual plan. At least, he doesn't seem to make the right connections, which I find strange..." Theo nodded. "Yeah, we're lucky... Good to know it, rather than just hoping it. I told him some story about this being a new company shipping people between continents. Looks like he bought it. Are you going out there again?"
Delinius nodded. "I am able to follow the news thanks to that nice hat I bought. Now of all times is an opportunity to cause more distraction, as the society is close to hysteria. They expect an attack, and they'll have one. I'll pull every single trick I have to buy you time, and more tricks than that. You'll see I've got plenty of margins for delay, Theo. You only need focus on the schedule, and perhaps the occasional stray passer-by. Take care." He flew off again.
Chapter Five - Burnless Flames
Delinius silently walked through the streets, taking care to be as inconspicuous as possible. He was headed for the same venue that displayed the news around this time, keeping track of any new announcements. It was his version of spying on the authorities. The venue itself was more of a restaurant than anything else, though it didn't specifically note this in its name. Upon entering, however, he saw several all too familiar faces sitting at a table, along with presumably their associates, or perhaps co-workers or employees.
Delinius froze. Zachary, Revelian and Baxter sat at this table, as well as several others. Would they recognise him? At that moment, they were not looking in his direction in particular. He proceeded to the television. The newsreader talked about several break-ins that were linked to himself. These people, always seeing connections and conspiracies everywhere. It disgusted him. Delinius stood there, until someone tapped him on the shoulder. He looked to his side, and discovered it was just a waiter. "Excuse me, sir, did you reserve a table?" Delinius shook his head. "Never mind. I'd best not." Before the waiter could say anything, Delinius walked out, quite surprised again. How was it that they had happened to be here, of all places, on this evening, of all times? Escaped he had, but not as elegantly as he'd hoped. He didn't know the other individuals that were dining, but they were likely members or associates of I&Q. It didn't appear as if he'd been noticed by any of them, but it could be risky. It was time for him to buy a different hat and a different coat, for these trips into the lion's den were essential to his strategy of anticipating what Steckenberg's officials would try to do about him.
Now that they were seated, Baxter looked around for a waiter, quite impatient. Instead of a waiter, though, he spotted someone who had just come through the door. They were wearing a dark blue coat and a hat, probably a similar colour. The figure didn't speak and didn't take off the hat. Instead, he seemed interested in the news on the television. A waiter then walked up to the figure, probably to ask him if he had reserved a table. The figure was seen shaking his head, and soon left after. Right when he turned around, Baxter caught a glimpse of the face under the hat, and saw the man's hair colour, reddish brown. He didn't think much of it, though it was coincidental that it was the same kind of hair Delinius was known to have. He didn't think about this too much, though, instead focusing on the dinner ahead, which had been planned for reasons that nobody remembered entirely. Apparently, it had been planned a long time ago, but it was so long ago that nobody even knew when, or for what occasion, and why this particular place had been chosen, but since nobody had something else to do, they had all agreed to have dinner here. The food was rather average, though, and the television was slightly too loud, making it hard to hear everyone else.
"Hey, Theo, do you know how Delinius is doing?" Theo shook his head. "He was here about a week ago, seemed pretty busy with all his distracting work. Going by the news, though, he's doing just great. Haven't seen much traffic on the streets, probably because of him." Lyka nodded and turned away, still worried. They were now almost three weeks in, somewhere halfway in the process of moving. Most of the time, Theo was just handling everything in their new location, though he often caught himself staring at walls and doors with nothing to do. Every three or four days, the ship would arrive and he'd go there with a few others to pack everything and bring everyone to the new location. The buildings themselves were newer than what they'd been living in so far, and had a very fresh feeling to them. He was looking at a 'business report', as he'd been told. Even though they were technically not a business at all, it was the most fitting term. The report stated that the expenses were usually so low that it would be possible to expand everything far beyond what was needed. It was probably caused by the independence that most people showed by sustaining themselves on their own money, even though they gave up part of their salary. There were apparently questions about this, and most importantly, whom this money actually belonged to. In Theo's eyes, it was a buffer, especially now that everyone had to find a job again, but he knew some people saw this differently. Especially those that had been struggling to make a living before felt that they had been 'saved' by Delinius, and thought it was better to give him the money, even though Delinius refused to accept it.
- "Ah. Finance, hm? I think it'd be best to have everyone register themselves with the authorities, with their current identity papers at hand. I'd advise to handle it the same way as the migration itself: have a dozen or three people register every day, spread over its entire length, as far as that's possible. I've specifically left the relevant building alone in order for you to achieve that. Send my love to Lyka, for I must be off already..." Before Theo could even turn around to say anything, Delinius was already gone, as quickly as he'd appeared. However, he could hear a cry of joy somewhere in the distance, probably Lyka bumping into Delinius. He looked back at his paperwork and saw Delinius had made a little arrow pointing to a header "Expenses" and written the words 'surprisingly low' next to it, along with a smiling face.
"Excuse me. I have to pass through." He pushed through the crowd to see the cause of the commotion, which turned out to be someone who apparently had made effort to appear similar to Delinius himself. The man was pinned against a wall by several others, who seemed all too eager to hurt the man badly. He cleared his throat."I believe you have the wrong man." One of them snorted. "Says who, smartass?" Delinius smiled, and took off his hat, causing the surrounding crowd to back up in surprise. "Says I, Delinius Rupert Langton. If you value your physical health, you move away from that man." The man looked confused as his captors grudgingly let go of him. "Th- thanks, dude." Delinius then punched the man down. "You had best not thank me. Bloody arsonist..." As several people within the crowd stood there gasping at this, Delinius put his hat back on and hastily left, no longer needing to push the people out of his way now that he'd revealed himself.
The next day, he would perform his first planned 'attack' on a government building, which involved making a rather bombastic entry, setting off some fireworks, and escaping under the confusion of a well-placed smoke screen. However, as he approached the building over several rooftops, he noticed that he would not have such an easy time. Aside from regular military forces, which were considerable, Delinius saw the main figures of I&Q once again, as if they had known exactly which building he was about to target, and this time in the company of several others, who were probably some of their more notable employees. "Augh, these fellows again. For once, they've come in a greater number. If I can't proceed with my conspicuous approach, then it will have to be inconspicuous, complete with the newly bought hat..." However, there was no time for that. Not anymore, at least. While he had been muttering this, they had spotted him there, pondering on the rooftop. He sighed. "Oh, and now I cannot even be inconspicuous. Well then, members of the I&Q corporation. You shall be in it further than you could possibly anticipate. With that last remark, he descended from the roof at high speed and crashed right through the building's front, which consisted mostly of mere glass. Now inside the building, he immediately ignited the fireworks.
"Out of my way, I have better things to do than incinerating you!" He ran further into the building as he heard shouts behind him, blasting aside any security personnel with hot air. "Run your ass off all you want! You can't escape us, you piece of-" The rest of his sentence was lost as Delinius lit and dropped firecrackers and other loudly exploding fireworks behind him in hopes of slowing them down. A quick glance behind him revealed that Revelian was closing in on him very quickly now, and Delinius made a dive roll to dodge the Dark Matter and his sword, after which he took off with his wings to ascend a stairway. Things were getting out of hand; it wouldn't take long before Revelian would catch up to him once again. Although he had never intended to let things come to a fight, or even the degree of destruction he'd caused by crashing through the window, he had to make a stand at this point. He stopped at the top of the staircase and turned around, and created a barrier of flames a little down the staircase. There were a few less of them, perhaps due to the great speed of the chase. "As you might've noticed, neither Revelian's speed, nor your larger number can repel me. As I mentioned before, it were best if I hadn't been opposed by your prejudices. By capturing me and subsequently treating me as a criminal, yes, even as a terrorist, you consciously chose to pit yourself against me." He grinned. "Wait, but what can I possibly do, hm? Especially against your resident Dark Matter, who seems most intent on taking my head? Against him, and against all of you, I might not pose a threat as it is, and I do not intend to. Likewise, I haven't been a threat to all these people, who are all in fear and shock every time I present myself. Have you not noticed? Aside from minor property damage caused by flames and painful ears and eyes, I haven't been actively causing harm."
"You can't run forever, though, and this proves it! You can't run away from the consequences that your actions have!" Delinius unexpectedly teleported right in front of Zachary, a knife in one of his hands. "Watch your tongue, Mr. Isles, for it is more rash than is good for your sake." He turned around and flew back up the staircase. He shook his head. "Then again... what actions would you be speaking of? Oh, the actions I supposedly took, according to records? Falsified, Isles! You are all being served with lies. Of course, I have no way to prove it, and you may deem my side of this entire history nonsense. In fact, I do not expect you to believe in me." Revelian, taking advantage of Delinius facing away from the group, was approaching Delinius, who suddenly turned around to parry Revelian's attack with his axe. He shook his head again, more slowly. "No, Revelian Zeronius. I do not drop my guard for a single second, especially not in your presence."
Even though his face was calm, his tone was bitter. "For that I've been on the run for too long. I've spent decades of my life trying to escape death by the hands of people who had initially targeted the Ludusian witches, and who were subsequently after me. They were persistent, and I heard word of a distant continent where I could be free of their threats. I found peace there for a long time."
He vanished, and reappeared behind the group. "I found refuge there from misguided people, and so did many, many others. Though I found work fairly soon, there were many that did not. I could not see such a harsh fate unfold, and took it upon me to change it, thus establishing what's dubbed "Langton Incorporated" these days. Alas, not everyone understood my intentions, and I discovered that the lives of aliens and magic users are no longer at risk here. My life would not be certain there; it is certainly not going to be safe here either." He suddenly lashed out in rage. "AND YET, EACH OF YOU HOLDS A DOGMATIC BELIEF IN THE LIES FROM SHADY JOURNALISM, DECADES AGO." He sighed in a tense manner. "Give me a good reason not to punish you, and everyone who still believes me to be a criminal and terrorist, by doing what you fear me for. I dearly beg you for a reason that I may believe, so that I can spare you the carnage that I will cause." His words seemed illogical, as if he was talking about someone else who would make him attack. "Like you said, you haven't really been convincing anyone to believe you. Why should we believe you now?"
Delinius' expression changed, as if these words caused him pain. "Zachary Isles, I lost the entirety of my close family, and all others of my line. They died at the hands of people who believed Sanford DeCurro, as much as the twelve witches you ought to know - and one in particular, if I am not mistaken. The sole reason I am not, is that I indeed killed several people while trying to protect myself. Yes, I did kill people, you see!" He seemed rather amused. "I killed exactly 16 people, yet I am far from proud of this. If I had taken more care to avoid them, they would have enjoyed the lifespan they deserved. Alas, they were a danger to my life, and they died to my acts."
Revelian was now close to the barrier of flames encircling Delinius, but unable to pass them for some reason. "And you're supposed to be causing no harm? Shut the fuck up already." Delinius chuckled. "Curious that you of all people mention it. After all... you were indubitably once part of a larger collective of your kind. You haven't any right to judge me, Revelian, now do you?" Revelian pulled out his sword and swung at Delinius, who stepped back as the sword went right past him. "Oh, have I angered you? WELL, PERHAPS YOU MAY SEE WHY I AM IN SUCH A TERRIBLE MOOD AT THE MOMENT!</span>"
Revelian simply floated there silently for a short moment. Delinius stared into his eye, his eyes seemingly lit by something from inside. "Ah, yes. You see now, do you not? In terms of simple power, I am nothing noteworthy. Hence why I choose to run rather than fight you. My strength lies much more in my knowledge, and in this case my historical knowledge. You do not seem to see the value of it, and what purpose someone with malicious intents could have achieved with it. Likewise, it appears that I have yet to spread any compromising information, and have no intention of doing so."
He sighed. "Tch, like anybody's gonna believe the bullshit coming from your mouth." Delinius shifted his gaze to the others at the bottom of the staircase, who were still separated from him by this barrier. Sirens were making noise outside the building, which was probably being watched by countless eyes and targeted by numerous weapons. "Oh, won't they? Shall I tell you a little tale? You unknowingly were mere feet away from me one evening, while seated in a venue I used to frequent. I could give you the exact date, perhaps even the colour of someone's tie at the time. And yet, none of you thought to take a better look at me, and I did not take this as an opportunity to strike, now did I? And, now that we speak of it, do you know what grief for my loss is stacked upon me, what anger about both you, and who was after me, what rage this brought?" Both he and the flames suddenly disappeared, and Delinius was suddenly downstairs, a little distance away, and looked surprisingly tired. Zachary charged at him, his sword ready. "Your threats aren't going to make you more credible!"
A blast of heated air stopped Zach's sprint forwards before he could reach Delinius and knocked him over. Delinius walked past him, apparently unphased by the attempt. "YOU'RE DEAD, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!"
Delinius now had a bow, which he'd drawn."I am not dead, as you state. Neither is Isles, or you. You seem to believe I am evil, and the narrow-minded acts of all of you are doing frighteningly well at making me inclined to adjust to that belief." Zachary had gotten up behind him, and Delinius cried out in pain when he was struck. He spun around and kicked backwards. "Ugh... It seems I cannot assume good faith with any of you. So it be, but you still haven't caught me, have you? Be assured, you won't find me as, hard as you may try. You might've noticed I didn't target any of your homes, or your company's building, hm?" He laughed, almost in a hysterical way. "But no, you keep believing I am a terrorist and wish to destroy this city and kill people. May my god raise his brows in ire at you all. O Luminans, salve vitam meam. Make no mistake... attempting to catch me is a futile effort." He was laughing, despite being badly wounded and sinking to his knees. He glowed with an orange light and disappeared.
Chapter Six - Bound in Disguise
He was lying on a bed. Around him, he could hear the muffled sounds of people going about their daily business, and suddenly a cry. He opened his eyes and saw Theo and Lyka, both looking worried. "I don't know how you even got here, but you literally waved at me and collapsed. How the fuck did you get a cut like that in your back?" Delinius smiled weakly and bitterly. "Ah. 'Twas a mistake of mine to think that I could reason with them, to show them the unpredictable rage that is part of me. It matters not how I sustained it, other than the fact I intentionally presented my back, as to show my trust. It was a wishful thought." He reached for Lyka's face, which was covered in tears. "Now, now, dear. It's a mere cut, not a cut limb. I am lucky to not have suffered any stabbing motion, and lucky to have escaped to this place thanks to my religion. Speaking of which..." He tried to rise from his bed, cried out in pain and abandoned his attempt. "It seems I cannot get everything together that must be for what I need to do..." Delinius sighed. "Wait, what were you going to get?" Theo asked, now that Delinius made clear what he was up to. "If it's nothing too hard, we'll get it." Delinius smiled. "Hmm. If you would be so kind as to ask those in charge of the kitchen to prepare me a "Sunny Special", it would help much. When it arrives, I must perform a ritual of thanking, and it has to be on my own. Oh come on, it's not as if I'm trying to fight half a dozen people at once. This last remark came with Lyka's expression of worry. She hadn't said a word and was holding on to his hand as if her life depended on it. She nodded and hugged him tightly. "Ow! Careful with that, honey. Wouldn't want you to feel guilty for it." He coughed for a bit. "Well, off you go. I'll manage without a constant stream of attention, care and love for at least a few minutes."
The both of them left him, and his 'Sunny Special' soon arrived and was deposited on the little table at his side. Although the name suggested it was an actual dish, it consisted of a basket, a simple meal, and several odd herbs, all of which were needed for an offering ritual that Delinius wished to perform. It was not necessarily custom to do so, but he believed it to be good to praise his god frequently through such rituals. He rose from his bed, despite the stinging pain that this caused in his back. He softly sang a familiar melody from his childhood, a chant of some kind that he remembered, but with a text entirely his own.
In luce sancta talis pacem. Salutamus eam; sicut locutus est Temporis ante, tempestate magis tecta quam annos tenues ab caesis proximorum. Dolor magnis me accidit. Dies haec, quid mihi acidisset, si non parctus fuerim?
The basket caught flame, as if it acknowledged his gratitude, and slowly burned away, leaving a symbol on the wooden surface of the table, an enneagram. Delinius traced it with his fingers once and went back to resting. He would have slept, weren't it for the fact that he could never sleep during daytime, no matter what. Instead, he closed his eyes. Several minutes later, his rest was disturbed as Lyka entered the room and sat on his bed. "Are you alright?" Delinius nodded. "How are you, though, Lyka?" He cast a glance aside at the table. "I am aware that I haven't been able to spend much time with you... Now I've gotten myself a reputation that will force me into hiding for quite some time. How is it that you put up with my dubious plans and actions all this time?" She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "I can't do much else, can I? I love you, Delinius. If you can't help but play the idiot and hero of all of these people here, I can't help but put up with it and love you for it." She remained with him, even though he'd closed his eyes and seemed asleep, for the rest of the day.
"As everyone wonders where Delinius Langton disappeared to after his last attack, it appears as if he has left something else behind during it. During a police patrol this morning, a group of approximately 3000 people was found living in an abandoned distribution centre in one of Steckenberg's suburbs. Although not immediately linked to Delinius, officials conclude that they must have moved in during the period that Delinius became active."
Zachary put down the article. Delinius hadn't lied about his plans. It was illogical that he'd simply reveal his plans like that, to someone he knew was against him. "So he was speaking the truth about that..." Baxter came walking into his office. "So... we went after this guy when we really shouldn't have?" Zachary looked up. "Oh, Delinius? I guess... Feels hard to believe it all of a sudden. I mean, even if he didn't have the intention to really harm anyone, that doesn't change what he's done before. He still did things wrong and got away with it so far." Baxter shrugged. "Whatever. As long as he's gone, there's no problem for us, right?"
Everyone believed Delinius was just gone. Where? Nobody knew, but that didn't matter. Injured while turning his back to people he thought understood him, and disappeared for good. He was declared a missing fugitive, but no further search for him took place; daily life resumed where it had been stalled by the events and Delinius' acts became nothing more than a short, slightly unpleasant memory that most people didn't pay too much attention to.
Chapter Six - Inevitably True
He took a seat in the restaurant, the very same he'd frequented even while causing panic, despite the fact that he'd shared this information. He'd kept his coat and hat on, kindly refusing to have them hung by the waiter, under the vague excuse that he had a cold that he needed to be aware of. It was near the end of Courier: over two years since he'd last been visible in public.
Even now, he kept his disguise up as well as he could, even when most people would probably have forgotten that he existed. Along with it, he'd taken on a pseudonym, Hatham Ruperfort, different to his previous pseudonym. With everything at Langton Incorporated slowly working itself out, Delinius had time at his hands, mostly spent looking in newspapers, watching news broadcasts here, and little else. Once that was done, he would often spend some time with Lyka, who seemed bothered much more by "how stupid all those people are in holding on to the wrong history", as she put it. Every time she brought it up, he merely smiled and told her that he was very, very good at remaining hidden, especially with all the possibilities for a disguise he had now. He'd even disguised himself so well she hadn't recognised him and pretended to be a stranger for a while, after which she'd been surprised to find out it was him.
In following the news, he was most interested in everything about himself, which was oddly little these days, and news about Isles & Quint, or its figureheads, which were hardly any more often in the news than him. Two years had passed since they'd seen the last of him. How long would that remain the case? Several months? Years? He did not know, but he was waiting for a sign that his name was cleared, and it could not arrive soon enough to him. He ate his dinner, a decent dish consisting of various vegetables served in a pot, some odd speciality of the cook. As he was enjoying it, a great commotion stirred the entire restaurant, and people rose from their seats, gasping and uttering expressions of disbelief. Delinius looked up and instinctively turned his head to the television.
It was indeed the source of all the consternation: his head was displayed, along with a headline "Langton proven innocent". He spontaneously dropped his cutlery and left, unable to believe the very thoughts that had just passed through his mind were suddenly a reality. Was it true? The word 'innocent' associated with his name by these people?
The week proceeded; debates arose, both in printed press and on television, and about all of Steckenberg seemed to have something to say, and more than that. He got his hands on an article summarising the research and found it surprisingly accurate: he was found responsible for exactly 21 dead people, 16 of which were considered murder - the other 5 had died from accidents while trying to catch up to him. All of them had been known to be violent, and 21 was the closest estimate he'd ever seen, in fact, the exact number of people. Moreover, they'd died in the process of attempting murder, therefore justifying Delinius' actions. It was flawless. The young lad had not only broken down the wild guessing at numbers, but even pointed out that those numbers meant nothing. Official research would now be done, as it had been said, in order to "right a wrong that has caused grief to more people than just the person involved".
Delinius could hear people question themselves for not having picked up on it sooner whenever he walked out on the streets. It was amusing to some extent, but it became rather annoying after two weeks. The official research concluded the same as the lone researcher, a young lad who seemed more the kind that waved banners at a demonstration, if the pictures of him were anything to go by. Delinius decided he desperately needed somewhere where his name wasn't mentioned every five minutes. After a quick goodbye, he bought a train ticket to the town of Vestri Bay, supposedly not too populated and likely to be less busy with him. It was indeed so, and he took a walk all the way to the sea's edge.
In the salt-filled wind, he took his notebook out of his pocket. There had been a prophecy, something he'd heard while dreaming. It was time, at last. Now that he realised it, he sank to his knees and sat there silently, softly crying. No so much in happiness or relief, but in sorrow for his loss. All his life, save for the first twenty years of it, he'd spent fleeing, fighting people, or otherwise in conflict. And even in the first twenty years, there had been a war with the Nazcan Hivemind to disturb his life. He had lost all of his direct family, and whatever Langtons surely existed from a different branch were hardly a consolation. Why had this happened at that time? What had it been that unleashed an apocalypse of monsters?
Conflicts would not end abruptly with the clearing of his name, of course not. His name was officially cleared, however, and with it all of his distant relatives just as much. It gave him the space to have rest and think of where he stood, and gave him the freedom to have something approaching a normal life.
In pondering on this, his hat had blown off in the wind, landing right in someone's face. Said man returned the hat. "Uh sir, this be yours? Flew in my face an' I thought it-" He fell silent when Delinius turned around. He took the hat and silently nodded. The finder of the hat could only gape in wonder to see the famed Delinius Rupert Langton, the "ultimate burner", "angry arsonist" and many other names, calmly walking about at the shores of Vestri Bay, in plain sight.
After this encounter, Delinius returned to Steckenberg, now on his own wings; aside from it being more comfortable for himself, he would meet more than enough people as it were already, that was inevitable. Arriving at the distribution facility that now only housed about 500 people, he found himself in a welcoming party. "You got them to see it right in the end." someone spoke. "Hey, now you're free to walk out there again!" the compliments of his residents were a nice change from all the disgustingly apologetic people outside of it. 'Oh you must have had so much patience with us. I'm sure you're a very good man. Here, have this.' After such a comment, an entirely useless gift was shoved into his hands. It had become so much that he'd ordered a taxi to bring all this garbage where he was now, and later a second. "Well, it was about time they discovered their history. In the meantime, the people of Steckenberg were so kind as to bury me in ridiculous gifts. I suggest you all take a look at the two cars outside and unload their contents. Save for the drivers and the vehicles themselves - those weren't part of that." People laughed and hurried outside to find all sorts of trivial things - mirrors, cigarettes, even lighters. "I frankly wonder why so many people would think I'd need a lighter for any purpose at all. Then again, I should not expect too much of some of those people... Leaves one wondering how easy the masses can be turned around." After this remark, he took a lighter and lit it. "Would you look at this little flame. Not to offend manufacturers of these objects, but this thing is quite pathetic."
Of course, all news agencies were also suddenly apologetic. Invitations to interviews, free subscriptions to newspapers, and even an apology in the form of a sum of money had all been sent to him. He'd accepted a few of the interviews and the free subscriptions, mostly out of politeness. The money he'd given to Theo for his hard work - he didn't need it in either case. Slowly, it became normal for people to see Delinius without reacting highly abnormally, and he adjusted to life in Steckenberg.
""More and more people find work and housing elsewhere nowadays. Probably following what you said about this continent being safe for them. It's their right, sure, but I think we'll be closing the entire thing down soon..." Delinius put a hand on Theo's shoulder. "That is exactly why you've been given that money. Your task is to forget about me and live a happy life, Theo. You deserve it, and you shouldn't be anyone's worker from now on. I insist. This was an enormous adventure that you were willing to support me in, and it had best come to an ending." He laughed at Theo's face and the surprise on it. "Well, uh, if that's the case... I should've told you straight away... Most of the people attending here today already got homes elsewhere too. These 500 were just really happy to see you back one last time. We're probably closing this by the end of the month after everything's been moved." He was grinning. "Is there something to laugh about?" You giving me this money's just really funny, actually... Seeing as this place is going out, everyone's okay with leaving whatever capital and stuff with you. Remember when you caught me looking at financial papers? Everyone was already on about it while you were away." Delinius frowned, not entirely certain he understood what this meant. "And of how much capital would we speak? You know I never really cared for exact financial figures." Theo merely smiled and said the number out loud. And that was just what excess money had been in possession of the organisation, he added. There was also a number of surprises, like the amount of money Theo had managed to get for selling the buildings. "I just couldn't leave all of that sitting there without it giving us something back, man. And that's when I realised we invested a pretty big sum into those buildings, because the whole bunch eventually got bought for a little under two million. We had no idea what we were doing, huh?" Theo saw Delinius smile. The total amount ran beyond just several millions. And there was more of it, supposedly. Delinius couldn't speak a word. "Dude, you're rich! Not just like bank directors with their fat cigars or lawyers, more like rich rich! You ever realise how much you had, all this time? You can't tell me you had no idea." Delinius shook his head. "I never said I didn't expect myself to have a decent capital at hand, but this is quite ridiculous..."
"Now that's how you got this in the first place. You aren't just someone, Delinius. Right at the start, you were honest to us, and did more than you should've to make it work. We had criminals, journalists, a politician, lawyers and what the hell more up against us back then, and you've always come out on top, giving all of these people a life that they wouldn't have had without you. If anyone has the right to claim the money that's been piling up, it's you." After a slight pause, he coughed. "Hey, if you don't mind, I'm going right now. Everyone's gonna be fine with you around. Maybe I'll see you sometime, you know. Anyway, I wish you the best. The money's going to be handled and all, same for closing down. I thought it would be a nice start for you to have that taken care of, especially because you gave me that newspaper's money." Theo walked off. "The same to you...", he brought out rather feebly. He'd always been aware that money was no concern for him, but to discover that he could count himself among the richest of this city by now was something entirely different. He was confused: had he been rich all that time? Lyka found him and pulled him back to the little party they were holding for him. "Come on, you've got something to celebrate. Actually, we both do." She pulled him along to the party, which went well into the night as Delinius got his first taste of being ridiculously rich.
Chapter Seven - Richest Langton in History
"The historical illusion broken by creating a hysterical delusion", as he calls it. Self-proclaimed businessman, descendant of a god and a good cook according to his former residents, Delinius Rupert Langton is much more than anyone would suspect when seeing him. The same apparently goes for his wealth, which he told us was "something of a scale several times larger" than he'd expected. Even though his organisation, Langton Incorporated, was disbanded several months ago, Delinius is more than content. "I've returned these people here, where they could at last settle and have lives of their own. What importance does it have that it disbands Langton Incorporated? The very goal of my work has been achieved by it. What I did not anticipate was how ridiculously profitable it was all that time." He even shared a secret with us: "Quite frankly, I haven't the foggiest idea what I want to do with it. I've gotten myself a beautiful mansion, I've got my life's love at my side. Perhaps I will, in fact, begin something else. Enter business, that's it! Yes, I will start an actual company. I have no idea what the workings of doing so are, but we will have to see what happens." After this spontaneous idea, Delinius got up, shook hands, and disappeared in a burst of fire. Whatever you might think about him, it's clear that Delinius Rupert Langton is everything but an ordinary man.
Delinius put down the magazine. "Oh come on, I'm not that extraordinary... I am hardly worth mentioning. They had better spend their valuable printing space on Isles and Quint, for those two seem much more accomplished than me, and in fact are." Lyka nearly fell over laughing. "You silly! Pretending to be pretty ordinary, living in a house this size! And starting a business too!" After shuddering for quite some time, she eventually did keel over on the sofa and lay there laughing for several more minutes." Delinius sighed. "And you even believe what they say about me! Dear god, dear god. Perhaps it's time I face the truth: am I in fact... extraordinary? Am I suddenly counted among the notables of this continent, despite having given it a massive panic? I must be a genius if they deem me extraordinary for that!" He voiced this with exaggerated surprise, and burst into laughing as well.
His worries were quite over now. The press hardly took the effort to make their way over to his mansion, which was an enormous structure in itself, located at the coast of the large bay of Gredile. From the outside, it appeared more as a palace than anything, and the inside was equally decorated, all with things he called genuinely his own. They weren't his own from the start, of course, but it was all truly from his area of origin. Decorated carpets and seats, tables that had engravings on them, and enough to furnish the entire place. A large part of it had come over the past weeks, from distantly related Langtons who, in their own words, wished to thank him for "having made the name Langton a meritable one again". That this was in fact a way in which they hoped to get in his favour, did not matter, for they sent him genuine gifts. Many of them were engaged in business of their own, and all across Ludus, it turned out.
He'd at first merely replied kindly, thanking them for their gifts. However, he realised that they provided an interesting opportunity. He began corresponding more with them, to learn more about his distant family. He'd written it all down, and now looked at it. He laughed. The variety in their professions was remarkable: he could wish for little more than this network of Langtons who seemed to deeply respect him.
Epilogue - Return of the Flaming Man
"Excuse me, would it be possible for me to adopt a creature here? I have more than enough space for one, I assure you." Zachary was speechless. "I- how- why have you come here?" Delinius' laughing echoed through the hall. "Quite obvious, Mr Isles! I've come to adopt a pet! How's that for a joke, hm? The very man you thought was terrorising Steckenberg - and probably was, but for a different reason - has come to you to adopt himself a pet! Shall I repeat it once more?"
Delinius slapped the surprised Dragonkin on the shoulder. Zachary came to his senses again. "Oh... Uh, I guess you can. The desks are right over there. Follow me." He seemed somewhat shocked by the sudden appearance of Delinius, and confused about his joyful mood.
"I know, this might seem a little paradoxical. One moment you swore to put me "behind bars", the next, I stand here as if none of it was spoken. I do not need an apology to treat somebody differently than before. You've seen you were mistaken to think I was a criminal, and that is all that needs to be said. I want no more on the subject. Well, I assume the paperwork on this pet is done, hm? Then I bid you a good day. Perhaps we'll meet again." He gave Zachary a pat on the back and walked out without any answer. Before he'd reached the door, however, he heard another voice that was far from positive. "What are you doing here?" Delinius spoke in a bored way. "I was here to adopt a pet, for god's sake. I have said before that I am no criminal. Even now, now that it's been cleared up officially, you seem to believe I am an evil person." He added, in his incomprehensible dialect "Si me accusas, stultus es, Zeronione. Tu quoque non innocens." He exited through the door. If Revelian remained intent on being hostile, then it would be so. Delinius cared little for his opinion in general. Zachary and perhaps several others did not hold such a hostile belief now; that was more important.
It was time to look forward. Despite the cold, the sun was up, for lack of a better word in these cold months. If only the sun would be rising higher than this. It would have made the temperature more pleasant. The rising sun... Quite an interesting symbol to use, perhaps? No, for more than just the symbol used to represent the business he wished to start. He smiled, and walked off with his newly acquired pet, which merrily walked alongside him as he hummed a tune.
For him, it was time to look forward.