Chapter 27:



“HURRY! WE NEED A DOCTOR HERE RIGHT NOW!”- A scout said, tending to an injured Adventurer.

A group of doctors and nurses can be seen rushing through a large field, filled with combatants from both sides. People are tended to by the nurses, doctors making runs all around checking on people and treating them. It is now morning, the outcome of the battle is quite clear, with Sanc Gladius completely crushing the opposing force. Luckily, they still have a good conscience to treat the wounded from both sides, something that Lorcan wouldn’t have done.

“Our members have done such a great job in this battle! We were outnumbered 1 to 5, yet our casualty numbers remained low.”- Garnet joyfully reports, looking fatigued from the night before.

“I hold very high expectations for my members, of course they would do well. They have managed to exceed my expectations in this battle.”- Vera smiles, looking over the field.

“What do you plan to do about the defeat?”- Garnet asks.

“For now, we’ll treat them. They can go back once their wounds heal.”- Vera said.

“Are you sure? Wouldn’t they attempt to free their leader once they return?”- Garnet states her worries.

“Tch, tch, you still have a ways to go. If I let them go now after treating them so well, they wouldn’t want to come back here. Lorcan was too selfish with his decisions. There must have been doubts within his ranks already. Plus, they can spread the tales of the mighty Sanc Gladius after they get back. It’s a win-win situation for us.”- Vera explains.

“I’m not sure I completely understand that, but it’s fine regardless.”- Garnet said.

The two glances over the field, looking and directing doctors towards the injured. From the distance, silhouettes can be seen getting closer towards where Vera is. As they get closer, Vera can see that it’s Gawin and his party, heading over in a hurry. Gawin jumps off of his horse, looking around at the scenery in surprise, walking up to Vera. His party members followed closely behind him, all dismounting from their horses. Ori rushed over to Garnet to say hi, hugging her in the process. Ana looked at the battlefield. As a fellow cleric, she can’t really just let the wounded be. She heads over, helping the doctors and nurses to tend to the wounded.

“There she goes. I wish she would show this kind side of herself more in front of us.”- Sylfie sighs, saying a prayer for the wounded as he is a paladin.

Nia’s hair has now grown a lot longer, similar to the length in which Amber wore hers. She calmly walks up behind Gawin, joining in his conversation with Vera.

“I’m sorry… For… Being late…”- Gawin pants, trying to catch his breath.

“Take your time, slow down. The battle is already over so there’s no need to rush.”- Vera laughs.

“She’s right, nothing we can do now so you should take it easy.”- Nia said, patting Gawin’s back.

“I see you two are so close now.”- Vera teases.

“Oh, it’s not what you think.”- Nia blushes.

“So what took you guys so long?”- Vera asks after giving Gawin a moment to catch his breath.

“Forgive me, we were investigating some Demon Lord army’s movement down South, near the border of Dwarven Land. Of course, we tried to rush back as fast as we could after I received your mail.”- Gawin explains.

“We did win the battle without your help, but your presence here would have been a lot more helpful.”- Vera cheekily says.

“Once again, I would like to apologize. I know it was certainly an important battle for you guys.”- Gawin bowed his head.

“I was just teasing you. It's also the messenger’s fault for taking so long to deliver the message. Let’s just say you owe me one.”- Vera smiles.

“Will do, I won’t disappoint you next time.”- Gawin said.

“She demanded something crazy from us in such a short amount of time and it’s still somehow our fault?!? She’s a cunning one.”- Nia thought, putting up a fake smile.

“Um...One more thing…”- Gawin hesitates.

“What is it? Feel free to ask away.”- Vera said.

“I heard Amber was with you guys, seeking your protection. Is she alright? Can we visit her right now?”- Gawin asks.

“Yeah, how’s Amber right now?”- Nia follows up.

“You guys seem so eager for Amber. Trying too hard to atone for your mistake?”- Vera teases.

Nia and Gawin couldn’t give an answer, both just standing there speechless.

“Just kidding, don’t be so tense. Your friend seems to be doing very well, she even found herself a new party to hang out with.”- Vera said.

“Really? I’m so glad!”- Gawin let out a sigh of relief.

“So where is she right now? I don’t see her here.”- Nia inquires.

“Well, let’s just say certain things happened and now she isn’t with us.”- Vera answers cryptically.

“What does that mean? Are you saying that she left the capital?”- Nia becomes concerned.

“She isn’t right now, but she’ll be back soon. I happen to know the location of the house that belongs to this one idiot’s parents. He happens to be the leader of her party, I’m sure they will come back after I invite his parents over for dinner.”- Vera gives off her signature evil grin.

“How nice! He would come back to the capital to join his parents for a meal at The Garden. What a nice guy! I’m hoping we can see Amber too. I want to apologize to her.”- Gawin said, with Vera’s evil intention completely going over his empty head.

“She is planning to blackmail Amber! I hope she and her group can sort that out.”- Nia thought to herself.

A scout can be seen running up to Vera. He has a concerned look on his face as he reports:

“We spotted Giza sitting on a boulder south of here! There seems to be what looks like the aftermath of a battle.”

“Giza? What is he doing here? He didn’t participate in the battle?”- Gawin asks.

“I’ll explain later. For now, let’s see what he has to offer.”- Vera says.

Vera takes her leave, along with Garnet and Saura. Gawin decided to follow along, curious about the situation. Nia, Ori and Sylfie would also accompany him, with Ana opting to stay behind for the injured. They all went on horseback, quickly following the scout’s lead towards where Giza is. Just like he reported, Giza can be seen sitting. He has a somewhat bored look on his face as he is peering down at the crater.

“My, my. What do we have here?”- Vera asks.

Giza sits there aloof, still staring down at the crater and ignoring Vera.

“Ahem… I guess I was too far, maybe moving closer will help.”- Vera said, walking closer.

“Let’s try again. What do we have here?”- Vera asks.

Giza still ignores her, looking down at his blade and staring at his reflection.

“It’s kind of rude pretending to be deaf, especially in front of…”- Vera said.

“I wasn't the one the one that fought this thing, just so you know.”- Giza interrupts.

“So you could hear me this whole time. All you Elqium people are just as rude as one another.”- Vera becomes irritated.

Gawin and his party members finally arrive, looking down the crater in surprise.

“Judging from this energy… It has to be the source of that dark beam from earlier. What could possibly have happened here?”- Garnet wonders.

“Look at the remains! Gawin, it's...”- Sylfie points down at the crater, his head looking over at Gawin.

“Yeah...Without a doubt...That’s the remains of the Demon Lord apostle that we fought before. The sentient black armor.”- Gawin answers, looking very surprised.

“We have been trying to find this thing. How did it turn up here?”- Ori asks, looking around.

The four search around, looking at Giza. Since they all arrived slightly later than Vera, they couldn’t hear what he said.

“Were you the one that fought this thing?”- Gawin asks, walking up to Giza.

“I wouldn’t go up any closer to him if I were you.”- Vera warns, stopping Gawin in his tracks.

Gawin was confused by what Vera said for a moment, but upon closer inspection, Giza did seem to be quite on guard even though he looked relaxed.

“Sigh, I already said that I wasn’t the one that fought this thing. You people are so annoying.”- Giza answers in an annoyed tone.

“It’s safe to assume that this thing was the source of the attack earlier. Then one last question would be ‘Who did it?’ “- Vera ponders, looking at Giza.

“It was that group of people you had in custody.”- Giza reveals, looking back at Vera.

“You could have said so from the beginning.”- Garnet sighs.

Vera was surprised by what she heard, she did not expect Leo’s party to be capable of defeating a Demon Lord’s apostle. Gawin, on the other hand, looks focused as he seems to be thinking.

“Amber’s group managed to take down this thing? That’s incredible!”- Ori looks at the crater in awe.

“Looks like you’ve pulled it off sis. I was so concerned after you left, but it sounds like everything will be alright after all.”- Nia gave a faint smile, one of melancholy instead of content.

“I’m so frustrated with myself.”- Gawin said.

Ori, Nia and Sylfie all look at him.

“If I had been stronger, we would have been able to beat this thing and Amber wouldn’t have suffered so much.”- Gawin said, looking down.

“Not to ruin your emotional moment, but what’s the outcome of the battle?”- Giza ignores Gawin, asking Vera.

“Your guild lost miserably even with Doppel’s help. We captured Lorcan, it’s safe to assume your second in command is going to take over.”- Vera said.

“Sigh, I expected as much. Why fight each other when we can fight void creatures?”- Giza expresses his disappointment.

“So that’s why you were here. For that thing.”- Vera deducts.

“Just a word of advice for you. Elqium is done without its leader, I give them 1 month max before the guild implodes. I’m sure you aren’t happy with Lorcan, how about you join us?”- Vera offers.

“I came here to do something today and yet I failed. I’m not in a good mood right now, just so you know. Next time you offer something as ridiculous as that, I won’t hesitate.”- Giza warns.

“Wow, SO scary! I’ll keep my distance.”- Vera sarcastically smiles.

Giza stands up from his spot, stretching and taking his leave. He didn’t say a word to Vera after that. Garnet wanted to chase after Giza to capture him, knowing that they have quite a number’s advantage. Vera suddenly stops her, gesturing for Garnet to back down. As a very cunning person, there was no way Vera would just let Giza leave like that. She understood that since Zorgis isn’t with them and with both Garnet and Saura tired from the battle, their chances of winning are slim. As great as the hero’s party is, they stood no chance against Giza either. With that knowledge in mind, Vera let Giza leave.

“Saura, what were the names of our guests? They have proven their worthiness to peak my interests.”- Vera unexpectedly said.

“Very well. Amber Zauberei, I can assume that you would remember her. The girl with brown hair is Natalie Encia. The elf is Sophia Olohorn. The void creature is Claudius. Finally, their leader is Leo with no last name.”- Saura explains.

As each name left Saura’s mouth, the members of the hero’s party also seemed to be taking note of it, especially Gawin.

“Leo and Natalie from the Academy? That’s such a big relief for me! I’m glad she’s in good hands. It’s great that Leo managed to become an adventurer.”- Nia breathed a sigh of relief and smiled.

“Rejoice, you all have received the honor of being remembered by me.”- Vera grins (evilly of course).

“All the more reason to get them back here. Escaping my clutches won’t be easy.”- Vera thought to herself.

“Let’s not stand out here anymore. How about we head back to The Garden to finish the rest of the talk?”- She offers.

“That’s a good idea, let’s head back.”- Gawin said, gesturing to the group.

The group take their leave, get on their horses, and head back into the capital. Gawin looked back to the crater for a brief moment. He reaffirms his resolve and turns around, not looking back.