Chapter 61: Just A Taste
[There really was something wrong with your head.]
That’s a bit rude…
Strolling through the forest in the dead of night, skipping almost, I was returning back to the tent site to pack up in a warm elation after… melding, yes, melding with Eurval a few times.
Accepted participants would be getting a guarded caravan to a micro train station that finishes the last thousand miles to Laurent City. There wasn’t time for much else as the semester would be starting.
[Lucid it explains much. The odd language you asked me to translate into, the way you would always get the week wrong, or how you would always look at the time because your guess would be wrong and not by quarters but by 3 or 4 hours.]
I was raised in another world small things that have always been constants they suddenly changed, it’s hard to adjust.
Luckily grinding day after day trying to get my spear proficiency to something usable for close to a year with less than a half-hour of sleep each night quickly fixed that.
[Let’s not forget the obvious disconnect you had with your mannerisms too where the only connection you made was with Eugene, who is similar to you in the sense that his upbringing wasn’t the norm of this world. Even worse is the pain you caused the Gidder siblings.]
I hunched forward clutching my stomach. It felt like a punch in the gut hearing the Gidder surname.
Eurval please… those words actually hurt. The Gidder siblings is still a sore spot for me.
“So dramatic.” Eurval suddenly appeared in full form beside me patting my back.
“Oh, you came out?” I stood back straight and grabbed her hand as we began walking together.
“Actually, this a good time now that we’ve melded you know what happened with them, could you explain what I did to the siblings a bit more clearly. I find it a bit ridiculous how hurt the siblings were. ”
“Explain it…” As if pulling me closer helped her thoughts she wrapped herself around my arm.
“Ah, I got it.” She said suddenly letting go turning around to walk backward facing me waving her tungsten finger in the air in lecture.
“Imagine the siblings had asked for your hand in marriage and you agreed to everything. You plan the day, the flowers, the people, and the location. The days go on and everyone is all smiles awaiting the big day. Then, the day does come. All three of you are at the altar and the two siblings are excited to immortalize this life long bond. You go through the motions and you kiss both to finalize it.”
A wry smile appeared on Eruval’s pale lips.
“But! Just as you’re all about to jump up in joy after completing the joyous ritual you instead just casually say it was all just a joke. Laughing at them you run into the embrace of your real lover snickering as you leave asking them how they could possibly ever think you were serious.”
I felt winded again.
“What’s with that look?” Eurval asked as she returned to my side.
I found it hard to close my mouth of all things a wedding was the last thing I had imagined would be its comparison.
“The two were looking something along the lines of m-marriage?”
“Lucid, they were asking for an eternal bond as comrades and growth partners. Unfortunately, Aegris found out and believes you were playing into their feelings for a fun fling. But we know it’s because you didn’t understand the implications.”
“Don’t make that face Lucid it’s not all your fault you didn’t know how serious they were. They weren’t very explicit about wanting the bond either, maybe because they’re young and shy, but for comparison to this world’s inhabitants you not understanding the situation prior to the blow-up is like saying you don’t understand the connotations of someone getting down on one knee with a ring in their hands.”
Oh god, I rubbed my temple finally understanding it a little. No wonder they seemed affectionate and terribly worried about me when they came to me in the medical ward.
“And what are my chances of fixing our relationship?”
Eurval paused and tilted her head.
“As Frium hinted at, you should try and reach out to them again when you both get to the apostle stage. Unless you want to tell them why you didn’t understand.”
“No I won’t do that, it would be selfish of me to drag them into recovering the bodies and souls of my fellow classmates.”
Maybe if they were similar to the Neysil siblings in strength I would. Plus they don’t have the backing of someone like Eugene either and I already don’t want to drag Eugene in now that I know more or less why I was summoned.
“What a distasteful word, ‘classmates’.”
“You go too far for them Lucid. If we didn’t meld I would do everything in my power to persuade you to forget about them, but because it’s different now I’ll forgive it. But Kevin and every single person in that bus don’t deserve the effort that is required to be saved.”
“Out of consideration maybe only your cousin Alice deserves it.”
Eurval said those words sternly and I knew what memories she was referring to, she had seen them when we melded, but I had been choosing to ignore that reality for a while now. Well, maybe not so much anymore now that I have new reasons to push forward.
Seeing Eurval so far away I sped up again and wrapped myself around her arm this time.
“Your body feels so nice you know it’s like a giant heat sink but super soft and supple to the touch.”
“I don’t particularly like such a compliment Lucid but because it means you want me closer I’ll accept it.”
“Then, what about. I want you by my side for the rest of eternity?”
“Oh? Are you saying you’re looking to obtain immortality?”
“If it’s to spend it with you then of course.”
I really meant it. With Eurval with me now I didn’t need to put on a face for the people I want to care about so they would like me more. I did that with the Gidder siblings. I forcefully molded myself into being like them to try and be a part of them. To a greater extent, I’ve done it all my life on Earth except unlike the Gidder siblings that mold was never uncovered.
Maybe now I can finally realize I didn’t need to be like them to be a part of them. If I had just been honest, maybe not fully honest no one is, but if I had just not tried to deceive them so they would feel more familiar it would have been better.
I wondered what kind of life would I have lived had I never come to this world?
Forever at the whims of others begging for scraps of appreciation? I was sure at some point I would have spiraled out of control trying to feel fulfilled only to fail to quench the empty feeling and breaking down at the realization.
Even sadder was the only thing that saved me was a creation whose natural instinctual identity and ego is built around the task of raising me, assisting me, and grooming me to healthily grow towards an undefined limit.
This might become an unhealthy attachment, but who cares? I’m happier this way with Eurval. Why turn away from grabbing hold of this golden spider thread?
Even if she hadn’t become her own being I would have been fine having never lost her as a MAGI, but I’m starting to see why ethershards are so wanted. They had the power to make a desire into a permanent reality.
“My mind just went on a giant monologue out of embarrassment waiting for a reply… ”
“Eurval please I’m trying to seduce you here, you didn’t like my heart throbbing lines that much?”
“Lucid, did you forget I don’t have a heart to throb?” She said pointing at the emptiness behind her chest with a light laugh.
“So cruel Eurval you can’t bully me like this I have a maiden’s heart you know.” I said in a cry as I leaned my head onto her soft bare shoulder.
“Dramatic, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to hear them actually I’d prefer to feel them.”
“Let me feel those thoughts and feelings with you Lucid.”
Eurval being aggressive with wanting to meld made me want to tease her a bit.
“Is melding with me that pleasurable? It was my first night doing such a thing I must be that good at it, maybe a natural talent?” I said innocently looking up to her from my lean on her.
Maybe Rose was onto something when she mistook me for a prostitute.
Seeing my tone Eurval’s grin turned into a slight smirk.
“Lucid, are you implying that you weren’t the one holding his moans into my ears sitting my lap with his eyes a hazy mess? Your lewd expression earlier oh my…”
My face began feeling hot being reminded forcing me to move my eyes to avoid her narrowed gaze. Embarrassed I was happy how good her body was at wicking away heat. I couldn’t deny her words, but I did anyway.
“I-I was just tired at the end the panting was me just catching my breath…”
Peeling myself from Eurval I began to remember the intensity, the bliss, and flow of power was incredible but it was exhausting, a good kind, the moment time ran out not only on my body but my mind and non-physical bodies too.
Eurval grabbed my hand kissed the back of it letting me once again feel the sensation of her ice-cold lips and cool tender cheeks against my skin.
“Why are you so shy again? Didn’t you just say you were trying to seduce me? You succeeded so…” She said as she brought me closer again.
“I asked you to be more honest with your feelings Lucid because I know we both enjoyed it. Your memories, your thoughts, your goals, your aspirations, your ideals, your pains, your pleasures, your love, your hate. All those feelings of yours course through in stirring and solidifying my reason for existence making me feel so incredibly complete.”
Her gentle voice was so alluring I couldn’t help but we swayed to meld once again.
Nonono, I’ll die of exhaustion at this rate. While our interlocked times got longer the subsequent times we melded this was something new and we didn’t know if it had any lurking dangers.
I pulled my hand back to my side. As if already knowing this would be the answer Eurval didn’t look surprised.
Just as I was about to say something Eurval disappeared back into my body.
[Someone is flying here and fast.]
[From the North its a group of four. Two are extremely strong the other two you could dispose of quickly. We haven’t practiced combat together but meld immediately if you have too.]
Instantly a ring disappeared and my armor became equipped.
It wasn’t rare to encounter other adventurer’s but from Eurval’s words, they were heading to where I was with purpose. It could be they were chasing a hyre in the area and were coming to warn me of their activities here.
I placed my finger on my lower lip wondering if immediately running away would be better or just alert them more. We could detect them then they could detect us.
Let’s just hope it’s a party with good manners coming to advise us about them being in the area.
Keeping my alert high I continued with calmness on my way as I had been watching the map Eurval was projecting with the four figures coming at me even bending slightly to accommodate my continued movement.
Them!? My eyes widened for a moment before settling to see the four figures.
A hundred miles away I could see Laurent and Obsense leading two Laurent guards.
Sensing they were coming near I slowed down and turned slightly to face them. Confirming they were following me they slowed down to a stop a few hundred meters away. At least I was close enough to be confident with escaping to the city from this distance if I meld if witnesses are needed.
“Laurent and Obsense? What a rare honor it is to meet you, I had sensed someone heading south earlier and as a courtesy I moved southeast to return to Obsense City. But it seems you were looking for me. Is there some reason?” I said looking up at the sky at the four figures floating high before me.
The first to speak was Obsense.
“Aha, I apologize for inconveniencing you but we have been searching tirelessly covering thousands of square miles for the past few days for something.”
And? I don’t give a shit.
“Is that so. What could it be that you are looking for? If its something I found then we can go to the Adventurer’s Guild and do a formal trade. I’ll grant you priority and won’t see any other buyers before you.”
Which it can’t be because I’ve picked up absolutely nothing I haven’t even hunted a hyre.
Sensing my reasonable attitude. Laurent, Obsense, and the other two Laurent guards floated down and landed but still keeping about 100 meters away from me.
Good. I smiled inwardly happy I didn’t immediately run. At least with this, I can get some information.
With our abilities hearing wasn’t an issue from this small distance. But in some ways it was as the bastard Laurent stopped his silence and spoke in that same cordial and cold tone I had heard before. With the air and voice of false righteousness, his words seemed to prick at my skin like a poison ivy irritating me.
“A few hours ago a device I have been using in search of something extremely dangerous was able to locate unique manaiac auras of it.”
How stupidly vague. I grumbled in my head, but the only thing that could have released mana based auras was Eurval and I having melded.
[Laurent must be more connected to us than just his murder over the ethershard. Alra’s and my forms converted every piece of that shard into our new beings. Although related their connection was severed in its entirety divination to track the ethershard he searched for and what it created are impossible.]
“Now that you mention it the special liquid I found was rather unique as after I scooped a handful of it the rest disappeared. Its sudden disappearance did release a special aura.”
Laurent stared at me for a moment. Obsense looked surprisingly nervous with clear signs that he didn’t want to be here.
Laurent spoke again, “that could be possible.”
“I will be honest with you young adventurer I do not know if the dangerous thing is a familiar, an ancient item, or a new type of material. However, capturing it is of absolute importance for the safety and stability of not only my Laurent City but also Obsense and the Scale Allegiance.”
Stability… there’s that word again.
I stared back at him I was sure that he deliberately left out the word person as to not alarm me, but it seems he wasn’t sold on the liquid I had obtained when I traveled with Frium. I had wanted to lie about something else but worried he would call my bluff and the liquid was the rarest thing I had on me.
“It will be better to take you to be certain as to why you are alerting my senses for the thing we are in search of. It could be the liquid you have found and I will pay you appropriately if it is.”
I sighed seeing where this train of conversation was going. I guess without my cadet uniform Laurent is a bit of unapologetic asshole. Or maybe less considering he isn’t killing me but that must be because Obsense is here. If he was with his party I’m sure this encounter would have gone down differently.
It was good I had kept my helmet on so they didn’t know I was Lumi. If they did I’m sure it would have raised more flags.
“That puts me in a bit of bind. While I’m flattered that both of you great people want me badly I’m going to have to decline. I hope you don’t take offense to my rudeness. I will see you in the AG near the coliseum if you want to look at what I found.”
I moved to leave but as expected Laurent’s men immediately circled around me flying up into the air behind me.
“I apologize if my phrasing ever sounded like you had the choice of leaving.”
“Aw, Laurent dammit you can’t c’mon how am I gonna explain this to the guild.” Obsense cried out.
Even without Eurval’s call, I had already begun the process of mixing our two consciousess.
“The mist covering fate… again and its getting stronger. I didn’t think a little provocation would create such a strong reaction.”
Mist covering fate? Laurent was a damn spy for the empire!?
“Capture him.” Laurent tasked the two guards.
Without much time to think of anything else my legs and body were already tensed and ready with our two consciousess peaking I felt the feeling of invincibility was powering through me. Already I could trace my path for my escape.
Just a little more…I gauged as they moved towards the optimum positions.
I shot up like a rupturing volcano in a spiral my spear moved in a slicing at the two guards throwing them to the side like ragdolls.
Landing behind the guards I began my run and for the first time with the use of First Snow on my body and with the use of Rainer’s augmenting magic making use of the unlimited mana while melded. With both magics, my speed rocketed with my senses further spiking up. My mind, my self all felt shockingly frigidly focused.
[Good, at this speed we’ll lose them in the Rayton Mountain Range northeast. We can circle back into Obsense to not raise suspicion.]
Agreeing with the projected path I advanced forward.
Obsense chased me with his pair of white marble wings flattening the trees and vegetation behind with every flap. Laurent was a bit ahead of him moving at an incredibly silent fast speed with a crackling black and grey aura surrounding his body that was propelling him forward.
From Eurval’s thoughts, she sensed mana ahead of us condensing. The air ahead of me was quickly changing while I couldn’t see anything I Eurval could sense a deathly premonition calling to me telling me to halt.
Bringing out my spear coated in a thick layer of ice with Frozen Lock to change its appearance I slashed forward sending a blast of ice instantly freezing the air ahead of me stopping the magic for just a moment allowing me to pass through.
Scooting past, a cage made of thousands of massive spinning stone mills appeared behind me.
A “hmm” leaked out of Laurent but I could tell he was shocked as he continued to head towards me faster than before.
“You can’t escape adventurer. Give up and submit yourself I don’t want to cause unnecessary pain.”
“When someone is saying that while trying to capture me I can’t help but want to fight against it more!”
He must have gone slower thinking that wall earlier would have stopped me. Too bad he won’t be able to catch up! Happy I was about to get away I smiled and looked back a final time as I began to pump even more mana into the augmenting magic that would probably double my speed.
A curtain of lightning reaching high up into the sky behind me appeared forcing him to stop his chase.
Shocked I stopped the additional mana into the augmenting magic to get a better look at what was happening behind me. Not sensing any danger directed towards me I looked around to see who had cast it.
What the hell who!? And they’re helping me? Damn.
I hope I didn’t get a random adventurer involved…
“This isn’t a good look, the Goddess won’t like unrefined methods. I reeeeeeaaly hope you’re not trying to please her because she hates these forceful things.” A voice chided it was strangely familiar.
The lightning continued to move and snake around then condensed into the form of a person with their being finally appearing on the map in the corner of my eye.
“Liion!” Laurent shouted I could see it in his eyes even he was surprised.
“Liion?” Even I was surprised and let out the name after.
“Yup! It’s me.”
With another crash of lightning Liion’s form took complete shape in front of me between our two sides.
[Lucid you’re getting a call from Liion should I answer?]
“Sorry to barge into your game of tag but I will be taking this adventurer. They are a person of interest for an investigation within the Blooming diocese.”
“So, you’ll have to stay put while this fellow cooperates with me. I also doubt you can handle the pressure from the AG if they catch wind of someone bullying their member with an agenda from the Allegiance~ We both know how far they would go to protect their reputation as a shield from outside influences. An embargo on various precious materials you require wouldn’t be out of the question and maybe just the start.”
Laurent clenched his fists. His face told me the thing he wanted was slipping from his grasp again. A face full of vexation under a cold cover.
“You must be young if you do not understand that I’m doing this for her. You’ll understand in time after you hand them over.”
Her? Who? Scale? I didn’t take him to be so devout that his entire reason for continuing to making my time so difficult was due to his Scale beliefs. But isn’t he the empire’s spy how does he know about the foggy future? Double agent?
“When you say it like that it sounds like you once cared what Scale had to say. Besides are you really fulfilling the duty passed to you or is it your guilt over what happened to ‘her’?”
“Mmm, don’t answer cause I don’t care. If you want custody of him take it up with the archbishop of this diocese. Oh, but that’s me. So I’ll save you time and tell you any request will be DENIED until the investigation is over.”
I wanted to chuckle too feeling a bit of my anger released through her harsh words but felt out of place doing so and stifled my reaction.
Put her through Eurval.
[Liion: Hello? Can you hear me?]
[Lucid: I can hear you Liion.]
I wanted to say it’s been a while but that would be a bad slip of the tongue.
[Liion: Oh! Good! Okay, I know it’s a bit sudden but could you come with me? Please, I promise I won’t do anything bad. It’s just Rose divined me to be here and wait for something interesting and who would have thought I would find Laurent and Obsense bullying a single adventurer.]
Rose? As in bishop Rose that is taking care of the orphans in the city?
[Liion: Just scoot over close to me c’mon Lucid.]
How did she…
[Lucid, it has become apparent there seem to be large undercurrents related to you.]
Yeah… it seems so.
Feeling there was more to this and already having some trust in her I did as she asked and walked close to her.
“Laurent. I said I would help you look around my territory but I can’t help you with this. Offending the guild and a cardinal? My meager influence doesn’t have the power to defend.”
Laurent look displeased, his freezing hard look narrowed on the three of us. Surprising to me was the faint trace of self-disappointment I saw in the small movement on his lip.
“The future will be beyond our control, tell Scale to expect a chaotic era.” He said trying to be expressionless then took to the air along with his two guards whose injuries caused them to struggle to keep flight.
With Laurent gone Obsense’s face no longer looked so nervous and walked towards me reminding me of the person I had seen on the stage.
“I’m sorry friend, I didn’t expect Laurent to want to kidnap you. Honest! As a token of apology please have this.”
This asshole, it didn’t seem like he was going to really stop him but I’ll take this gift.
Catching the small earring that glided to me I said nothing as his white wings reappeared, he flapped them and flew over us to his city.
“What a cute earring, don’t think too badly of him. He’s not a bad person, just a bit indecisive.”
The ‘bit’ is quite a lot for me…
[Liion: Anyways, lets head back to the city. My sister says she wants to meet you again. And you can’t back out of this okay! We have a lot of questions Lucid err Lumi. You agreed!]
“I wasn’t going anywhere don’t worry.”
Because I also had a lot of questions.
[Lucid: It’s a bit late now but it’s been a while and it’s nice to see you again.]
[Liion: Very much the same.]
“Then let’s go!~”
I smiled at Liion’s cheery attitude and began heading with her in the same direction Obsense flew towards.
The travel with Liion was silent. Not in the eerie or tense sense but in a calming thinking sense. We were both probably wondering various things about the situation, I was at least, and needed to process some things. For a moment I wondered if Liion had regretted some sharp words at Laurent but her quiet humming through the park as we neared the orphanage and slight hop told me she had didn’t.
What do you think should we trust them?
I asked Eurval wondering how much we should share with Liion and apparently also Rose. What added to my budget in leisure was the realization of just how strong I am when melded when I combine my physical strength and the, I think, limitless mana when melded with Eurval.
It’s one of the reasons I wondered about potential dangers with melding for too much. Infinite mana for a period of time? There has to be a cost. The latent raw mana in the air was instantly processed and used as needed when I was melded with Eurval. I was sure I could do the same with lustrating materials too. It was why I was confident in running away from whoever was chasing us even after I realized it was Laurent.
I somewhat felt secure in my own strength to protect myself or at least escape toward my estate treasure in the Leadwood Forest. My combat ability left much for wanting still, but my escaping ability I was sure of. The single worry was it seemed Laurent could track my location when I’m melded if he is within a certain distance.
[My judgment tells me you can trust Liion and Rose to an extent Lucid.]
I didn’t disagree either from the current information they had revealed. They knew I was Lucid and knew of my death. They also somehow knew I would be in some kind of danger as they were ready and directly opposed Laurent in front of me.
While I did trust them, to an extent as Eurval said, I was certain they couldn’t kill me quietly if I was wrong to do so. If they’re going to try and get me I had the fame I’ve built up to bolster myself too.
I was distraught winning the tournament after the whole falling out with the Gidder siblings but I do know I had at least come close to what Aegis had built up. Revealing my story publicly was a last resort. The absolute last thing I want to do is scare the related parties in our summoning into destroying evidence if they come under scrutiny.
Liion called out in the little courtyard by the fountain between the two buildings seeing the silver-haired bishop step out from the orphanage’s door.
“Rosey! It’s been so long!”
“Shhh! What is wrong with you, it’s still early you’ll wake up the kids.”
“Ooops. I brought him. You’ll never guess how I found him though~”
Liion traced the air and in an instant I felt the world go silent. The noises of the city, the park, and the fountain close by had disappeared.
While the outside world felt blocked off Liion still leaned in close to Rose and said in a hushed voice.
“I found him about to get nabbed by Laurent. Obsense was there too but the little coward wasn’t going to do anything other than notifying the guild way after.”
I wanted to rebut her claim I was doing perfectly fine before she came but chose not to say anything out of respect to her good intentions.
Rose ruffled the back of her silver hair hearing the rest of what had transpired looking like she was soothing a headache that hadn’t arrived.
“Laurent? Anything to do with him always gets convoluted. Come inside into the cathedral I don’t want to wake up any curious kids, I’ll make tea too. And…”
Rose looked at me still fully equipped.
“You can take off your helmet inside Lumi. I’ve enchanted the building myself. Divination spying shouldn’t be a worry and I’ve already confirmed no one is trying divine onto you at the moment.”
Following Rose’s orders, we went into the cathedral. I followed the two into a small room with a round table beside a window. I sat down on a creaky wooden chair feeling the warming magic lamp close by illuminating at a low intensity as I waited for the tea to finish brewing.
The cathedral was cozy but empty, though maybe it was different during prayer, right now it instead of people it was filled with a wafty and echoey feeling leaking from the main auditorium.
Finished with the brewing Rose raised the glass teapot beginning to pour into the glass teacups.
“It was pretty wasn’t it? I buy glass teapots because the kids love to watch the orkis flower too. Gets them to calm down after playing.” Rose smiled as she finished pouring the last teacup for Liion.
I smiled at Rose as I took a sip of the tea and nodded at the familiar pleasant taste, “I can’t deny the urge to want to see it again.”
I hadn’t noticed the brewing process the first time I was here but this was the tea she had served me when I first came to visit. This tea was made from a special flower with a taste reminiscent to an earl grey if it had a more earthy and subdued flavor and a sweeter version of bergamot oil.
It was a pretty sight too as instead of leaves it was a dried flower bud that regained its vigor and bloomed in hot water releasing dark purple before dissipating into nothingness.
After all of us took a few sips Rose began the discussion.
“I’m sure you’re wary of us and just saying it probably doesn’t help, but we do want to help you Lucid. ”
“Ah, sorry is it okay if I call you Lucid?” Rose showed worry as if scared she had reminded me of bad memories.
But there were no bad memories and lately I have begun to prefer the name Lucid too.
“Lucid is fine when we’re like this but please use Lumi outside of these moments.” Rose’s lips slightly curved into a smile it seemed to me like she placed special attachments to the name Lucid.
“I’m glad you liked the name Carmicheal gave you but it is a bit odd to hear you call yourself Lucid with your face as it is now.”
“What is it hideous?”
Rose let out a small chuckle.
“No, no. Nothing like that. When you first came saying you were your own friend I had blown it off as Lucid liking someone who looks similar to him, but now knowing it’s you I wonder how I didn’t see it before. Are you using an appearance changing tool?”
I shook my head.
“There is no tool, I just absorbed various essences because of my circumstances.”
“Just how much essence did you absorb to change your appearance from what and why?” Liion added curiously.
“I’d prefer to leave it at that for now.”
The two looked at each other then back at me.
“We understand. I’m sure you also have questions for us so ask away. Like I said we want to help with whatever you’re going through at the moment.”
Seeing the opportunity I started with something simple.
“Then, how did you know I would be in trouble?”
Liion leaned back then looked to Rose as Rose began to speak.
“Divination of truths or futures is my main practice, it was how I was able to figure out where you would be finding danger and how you weren’t lying when you said Lucid had died. As for how… when you came as Lucid’s friend and told me he had died I preformed various divinations after you left using old locks of hairs to further confirm Lucid but odd divinations began to appear. There I realized that he had died but wasn’t gone and it led me to find out where trouble would be.”
“And what about you Lucid?” Rose said with a small grin in a gentle reprimanding voice.
“How did the innocent little Lucid get himself into such a situation with Laurent? I could only divine when and where you would be in trouble but as for the reasons those were impossible with what I was using and also most likely due to Laurent being involved.”
“Yeah! What happened why did Laurent want you so badly?”
I liked them and believed they did want to help. But how much could they? They have strong ties to the Scale Church and Laurent who works for Scale’s interests, at what point does helping me conflict too much? The Niefule Empire summoned us because they are preparing for an unknown future.
[Laurent mentioned something similar too Lucid.]
Exactly, so what if helping me goes against the safety of this world’s inhabitants? The Scale Allegiance would never prioritize me and my classmates over their own people.
First and foremost is the Scale religion and the Allegiance was created to protect its citizens from hyres and dangers. Their doctrines give them an obligation to prioritize their people first. If I openly state I am not from this world this puts me in an awkward position. Obviously, the Scale Allegiance is not perfect in that task but is it is still the reason why there is so much reverence towards Scale.
Only a handful of major cities like Laurent’s can defend against hyre invasions and non-freak disasters but what about the tens of thousands of smaller cities and villages? They only have the Scale Church. So if a large unpredictable danger is looming then those billions of people will be the ones to suffer.
Confirming the feeling as to how far I could implicate them I replied.
“I understand your goodwill. Rose, Liion, but I don’t want to involve you two further. Right now Laurent doesn’t know I’m Lumi and I have a way to stop the way he was tracking me. The best thing you can do for me is to keep my life at the academy stable it’s an amazing place to learn and grow for me to protect myself.”
Rose and Liion looked a little disappointed.
“I see…” Rose looked down into her cup of tea and blew it then looked back at me.
“We can do that Lucid. I doubt Laurent will try to abduct you so brazenly again now even if he were to locate you again and your identity as Lumi is safe with us. You must have your reasons but if you ever need our help just contact me or my sister okay?”
Liion agreed, “seriously call us if you need help with anything! I have a bit of weight even in Laurent City since they are within the Blooming diocese. Just that their general autonomy and lack of need for Scale’s protections doesn’t give me as much as I have elsewhere.”
Anything? Information is what I needed the most seeing they answered my first question so thoroughly I grew a little expectant to my next ones.
“Could you answer some more questions? It will help me understand my situation better.”
“That’s no problem, ask away.” The two sisters looked cheered up seemingly finding a way to help out.
“Who were you referring to when you said ‘her’ to Laurent?”
Rose let out a light laugh then looked at Liion telling me I had hit a soft spot then looked up trying to formulate an answer to my inquiry.
Liion did the same but surprisingly was the first to speak.
“Telling you is fine but you need to swear an oath not to divulge or publish what I’m about to tell you otherwise my own oath won’t let me.”
“That’s fine. I just don’t want any terms prohibiting to act on that information other than not telling others.”
After changing the terms to everyone in the room Rose and Liion began to look for a memory.
“What’s a good one…Ah! This is the one Scale showed me so it should be good enough.”
Recreating the sights, sounds, and even smells directly through magic my entire field of view of overtaken.
[Memories From The Eyes of Resplendent Mica]
“Nie, you suddenly ran out during your birthday dinner even Laurent was shocked, is something the matter?”
“Mother! I’m sick of this! Day after day, year after year, every day of my life I’ve always had to be by your side! I’ve endured because I know you say its for my own good, but I feel like I’m going to go insane if I stay within these borders any longer!”
“Didn’t you hear our guests talking about their travels? The blazing sands in Arak, the freezing waters of Azer, the lush gardens in Pale Heaven Mountain! Laurent said he would love to take me and I wish to see those places with my own eyes but I can’t because you say its too dangerous for me. Just once mother please can I leave your borders? For a single day? Can I not have that?”
“Nie… please, I told you when you graduated that once you gain your own divinity you can do as you please but right now you can’t leave my side. Understand me when I say I only do what is best for you.”
“Best for me!? Best for me!? Obtain true divinity!? Are you insane mother! How many years will that take? How many did it take you? And don’t say soon enough like you do to placate me, I’ve found your achieves. It took you ten thousand years in the Black Continent! And how many would it take me here mother!? Tens if not hundreds!!”
“I feel as if I have not lived mother… I feel like I am not living a life that I am choosing.”
“I can’t mom… I can’t stay here any longer. I promised Laurent that the day I can leave your side I can finally be with him. What a foolish girl I was not knowing what your words would be a decade ago. I know he will sit and wait for me no matter the length of time but that’s too cruel! There isn’t a day where I don’t feel wracked with guilt feeling as if I’ve chained him to a mountain.”
“Nie, is that what you truly wish? Can you no longer endure a little longer for me?”
“Mom, I love you so dearly, but I can’t any longer.”
“Haaa, I always knew this day would come no matter how hard I pushed for it to never arrive.”
“Resplendent Mica could you bring some orkis tea for Nie?”
“Look at me Nie, I’ll grant you your wish but you have to listen to what I have to tell you…”
The memory suddenly faded to black once Mica left Niefule’s bedroom only for the memory to return back with her return with a try in hand.
“N-not destined? What do you mean mother that I’m not destined?”
“Great Justice, I have brought the tea.”
“Thank you, Mica.”
“I think you understand already my dear child. You are not destined to exist or were not destined to exist. I’ve kept you by my side because only with my interference with fate through my divinity can your thread stay invulnerable.”
“But Laurent and I both have illustrious mana bodies in the dominion stage. The divinity is false but it should be enough? What could hurt me in this side of the world?”
“Fate is not so simple that it can be overcome with pure strength Nie. You know this the most as a gifted diviner you must see what it means to not be destined and the impossibility of your continued existence? Fate will always try to correct the path of a mortal.”
“Y-you’re just saying this to scare me, mom. How could I not know that I’m an undestined being I’ve divined hundred of thousands if not millions of truths about my future how could I have not have seen this?”
“Nie it’s because you’ve always been within my sphere of influence. Inside my boarders, my divinity protects you and overwrites to a future of your making, but its only temporary the moment you leave the battle against fate will be…”
“But I have Laurent. With the two of us no matter what fate tries we could fight it.”
“Two illustrious dominion fields might be enough which is why I have some confidence now. Even then I believe it’s just too dangerous I don’t want to risk losing you Nie.”
“Great Justice, Laurent is outside.”
“Call him in. I have something to tell him too.”
“Great Scale, I’ve come to request—”
“Be quiet Laurent. I know everything so don’t pretend to be so righteous when you were both going to leave like a pack of thieves if I had said no. So come sit beside my beloved daughter you must hear this too.”
“I know you’ve resolved yourself to leave with or without my blessings so you will be leaving with them, but please Nie whatever you encounter or where ever you explore if you feel its too much just come home okay? I cannot leave the people unprotected and I know you won’t ask me to come to you so just come home when you feel you’ve had enough.”
“And you, promise me this Laurent that you will protect my daughter knowing she is an undesinted existence, that you understand the risks of her leaving my area of divinity, and have resolved yourself to fight at every breath and every second against fate with her. Fate is fastidious, silent, and unfeeling never stopping to obtain the result it has derived you cannot ever let your guard down. The moment you lose your footing the oncoming torrent will make it impossible to regain the ground towards your chosen future.”
“Good. Well then, when are you two leaving now that you don’t need to sneak off? We can have a celebration as a send-off. I can prepare various gifts too.”
After taking a sip of tea Liion removed her magic and broke the silence.
“From there, over thousands of years, the two love birds founded and seeded the many kingdoms of the current Niefule Empire. It was a precursor for the future were Niefule obtained true divinity and took over those borders as a new Goddess. With both of their efforts all going to her it seemed it would happen in time, however…”
“The world knows what happened in the end to Niefule but Laurent’s involvement was suppressed then after many generations completely forgotten.”
“Her death scarred him deeply he feels intense guilt towards Niefule’s mother and remorse of not being able to protect Niefule as he promised. So he will do anything to fulfill Niefule’s final request to return in her place back to Scale to act in her place as a chosen. Meaning protecting, developing, and helping the Allegiance. However, he isn’t a true chosen, more of a retainer to one, which is why within the Scale Church he can’t surpass my authority and ask for you.”
I stayed silent for a while to process this gigantic bomb of information.
So Laurent isn’t a spy.
[It was never a coincidence that you’ve been entwined with Laurent and the Niefule Empire Lucid.]
Eurval stated the simple truth. Out of guilt towards Niefule he wants to protect the Scale Allegiance in her place which meant he probably knew of the unclear future she couldn’t predict and just like the empire he is trying to prepare for the absolute worst.
Did he have something to do with the malfunction Eystil talked about? It’s possible he tried to summon us too…
[It could explain the split between the soul and the bodies Lucid. But regardless without the Akashic Orb we can’t find the bodies nor the souls.]
My hate didn’t change but I could at least sympathize with the asshole as to why he was such a piece of shit to me. Still inexcusable and I will gladly kill him if I can. Though now that I have Eurval, and Alra who must be bored out of his mind waiting in the Tole Forest, I can at least say my anger towards him isn’t to a point where I am willing to trade my life if it means killing him.
At the moment I just want to finish this rescue and move on with my own life. I’ll take solace in the fact that Eurval came back but Niefule might never.
Chuckling secretly by my last thought the room went silent as I began to further piece together what I had learned.
Things feel a little clearer don’t you think?
[From what we’ve shared this should mean Laurent must have had access to Niefule’s journal of the divined future and possibly additional happenings she only told him in person.]
Both the Empire and the Laurent know the future will be filled with unknowns, dangerous or not, and add on the freak Tole Forest Dungeon appearance the higher echelons of the Niefule Empire and Laurent must be really on edge now about the situation.
Luckily, it hasn’t gotten worse but now they must feel somewhat certain the world here is at the cliff’s edge ready to plunge deep into strange waters.
[Don’t forget Laurent said chaotic, Lucid. It makes me a little more sure that he knows more than the empire or at least more than Eystil knew.]
Chaotic waters then.
Really, I don’t care all that much about this world’s problems. In some ways I am thankful for the second opportunity at life, we were supposed to all die on Earth, but similarly, their intention was never for us to really live.
I also, now, don’t care all that much about my classmates either. Saving them is a way to wash my hands cleanly of my old life. Only with this will I feel truly free of all my ties to go explore this world at my own pace.
[And we will work for that leisure Lucid.]
Eurval’s words felt the most reassuring. With our ability to meld I felt more confident to be able to retrieve their bodies and souls once we found out where they are.
“And about Laurent’s last words before he left. He said chaotic times are coming. It’s related to my almost kidnapping, he must know something about the future considering he was with Niefule for so long. Do you know what he was alluding to?”
I was sure they didn’t and took the chance anyway but like I expected Rose and Liion shook their heads.
“That’s… only he knows. Not even Scale has been able to convince him to spill all that her daughter told him, but she trusts him enough to know that he does things only in the best interest of the Allegiance.”
Hmm, I guess in the end it was worth it to come. I did have some reservations but from what I’ve learned I’m starting to understand.
“This helps me a lot! Really, thank you I’ll try my best to avoid any more trouble with Laurent. I hope you’ll keep your promise and allow me a peaceful time for the next few years.”
“Please don’t worry Lucid. We’ll fulfill it in fact we will both swear to do as such so you can feel at ease for those years.”
Doing as she said the two made promise and swore an oath without a single trace of reluctance. Well, it’s not like it was an oath of servitude.
I sighed inwardly as I listened to it. They really were good people just a shame our situations were the way they were.
“I appreciate it you didn’t have to… It’s just I have my own circumstances. Maybe once I graduate we can get to know each other better.”
Rose and Liion looked at each other then turned to me with gentle smiles.
“Then we’ll be waiting for you here. You may not remember me but I only have fond memories before you gain consciousness so waiting a little for you to warm up to us is nothing but time.”
Hearing Rose say those words didn’t make me feel any better. I wouldn’t be graduating from Laurent Academy and I doubted if I would see her or Liion again once I finished my task. Truly a shame! Good and honest people were rare to find and even rarer for them to come into my life. How unfortunate that we stand on opposing ends.
[So dramatic, Lucid.]
Let me be dramatic Eurval it helps. I do feel bad and I do like them and I do doubt I will see them again.
[Lucid, you talk as if you’re mortal enemies but from what we’ve seen there is no black or white.]
Shhh, it helps.
I parted ways with a cheery smile after telling them the guarded caravan to Laurent would be coming soon. After they forced me to promise to contact them if I needed absolutely anything so much so I thought they would force me to swear an oath but they didn’t and I left with a good impression.