“So we meet again, general.” Sylin said, with a smile.
Xev knitted his brow. Didn’t his sister say that Sylin was a warlock? But warlocks weren’t capable of energy infusion. Even if they did somehow blend into the military, they couldn’t have possibly learned the skill, not to mention reach the supreme tier with it. Those sword moves couldn’t have been faked. Illusions couldn’t explain such precise blade work, nor could it match very particular wounds characteristic of infused weaponry. Did his sister mistaken something, or was this person more dangerous than he’d previously assumed?
“Who the hell are you?” Xev demanded, glaring a the man beside him. A man that he’d almost befriended. A man with a seemingly respectable character. A man that he’d assumed that he could trust. But also a man that was never honest about his identity to start with.
“Former field officer reporting for duty, sir.” Sylin responded, planting his sword into the ground before him, and quickly performing a stiff salute.
“Why didn’t you identify yourself earlier?” Xev interrogated, narrowing his eyes in suspicion. With the expectation that they’d only ever encounter one another while his sister was present, Xev hadn’t even considered the mud-covered solider as a potential suspect for his sister’s lover boy. The mud matting the man’s hair had deprived Sylin of the only thing distinctive enough about his appearance to stick to memory. If not for Xiyana’s contribution, who knew how long the man planned to continue playing him?
“You didn’t ask.” Sylin answered, shrugging nonchalantly.
“Why didn’t you speak up when my sister misidentified you as a warlock?” Xev asked, reaching into his pack and throwing a sack toward Sylin.
“Was it a misidentification?” Sylin asked, catching the sack without hesitation. “A warlock can simply be a man that practices magic. I’d say that energy infusion is a bit magical in itself, wouldn’t you?”
“You knew that wasn’t not what I had meant back then.” Xev answered in a tone harsher than he felt. Despite his apparent distrust, inwardly he was relieved. Even the most powerful warlocks would have their magic fail in the presence of a magical suppressor. Yet, this “Sylin” hadn’t changed since catching the bag, nor had the distinctive hum of energy leave his weapon. The man before him was no warlock.
“Perhaps.” Sylin responded, tossing the sack aside and moving to stand over the disabled creatures. “But you can’t deny that you’d let your assumptions cloud your judgement. In face of that much distrust and animosity, would there even have been a point to explaining?”
Before Xev could react, Sylin grabbed a small wooden box resting on a nearby tree branch. With seemingly nothing but a flick of the hand, box was placed on the ground, and the defeated animals were shrunk to the size of small toys and carefully packed away into its wooden walls.
“This should solve half of our transport issues.” Sylin said, closing the box and struggling to stand. “This is a shrinkage spell linked to the box. Though weight won’t be affected, the physical sizes of any item placed inside will shrink. As long as we have enough people to rotate in carrying it, we should be able to make it back to the city without any issue.”
Xev knitted his brow, before turning to find Xiyana struggling against the soldier that restrained her. Letting out a sigh, he nodded at the man. He felt conflicted, watching his sister rush unhesitatingly toward Sylin the instant she was free. Toward a man that he’d once contemplated killing. He buried his face into his palm. The man that he’d always perceived as a danger was just another normal citizen of their country. A citizen that wasn’t a warlock. Letting out another sigh, he let the hand slip past his face and run through his hair. Perhaps, that man was right, he had been letting his biases get to him.