Our Journey Through Radiance
"Be positive. You never know what will happen." Is what a thief girl told herself while returning 'home'.
She'd never expected to ever come back so early…
It was a quiet night in front of the airship docked at the kingdom of Ketran. A place of know its magic.
They say that the current era was a marvel or technological development. The largest community of citizens that could live peacefully besides one another, and it was all thanks to the acting regent.
Knowledge of magic had been spread so far that even your average bum carved in a Spell or two.
Strong soldiers, advanced airships, and a capitol much larger than even the home of art… Lancia.
But such vastness didn't make the thief girl lost.
She had been living in these districts for quite a while. Each stone of the pavement was memorised.
All paths lead to her 'home' in the Theatre District.
The Tartarus Troupe had managed to snag an area where their airship parked as a portable theatre.
"Ahem… Guys… Guys? It's me, Lily. I'm back." The girl called out after stepping onto the outer stage.
A deep silence was all that had responded…
The place was dark, and she didn't have good night vision. To take a look around, she made a choice. After a stable deep breath, she lifted her hand in front of her and congealed magical energy.
Her palm started to glow like a flashlight.
Maybe doing so would give away her location, but that was the entire point of doing things like this.
She wanted her presence to be known.
Lily made her way backstage and traversed the compartments where stage preps were done.
The place was empty…
'Where did they go?' She thought with a frown.
Unless they were out on a job, leaving the ship unattended was the biggest crime for the troupe.
This place wasn't cheap.
It was only thanks to the depth of the riches gained as acting as a theatre troupe they got so far in life.
That, and just her being lucky all the time.
She remembered how their first performance went well even though it was the first for the lot of them.
How many would flock to see the Tartarus crew.
Little did they know this exterior was a veneer that hid a secret. For this was actually a pirate ship…
…which doubled as a den for thieves.
Finally, she came across the room where they'd normally hang out. Right next to the office.
A few candles were placed at the room's centre.
Since it was too dark to find a light, Lily had to do things by herself. She touched each unlit candle.
A flame would appear atop upon every touch.
The room gradually became lit, but that also revealed those lurking in the dark the entire time.
Lily jumped, almost knocking over the candles.
"Heeeh!" She made a strange noise of fright upon getting caught off-guard by the group around her.
Her retracted ears and tail had sprang up.
They seemed quite odd. Almost like biologically engineered attachments on top of her regular ears.
The wolf ears and tail was recognisable to the troupe. Two figures from the crowd approached.
They lunged at her while giving no room to escape.
One man was chubby beyond belief, and made rumbling sounds with each step he'd taken.
While the other had limbs as long as a spider.
The two brothers seemed excited.
"Lily~~~!!! It really is you!" The brothers hugged her tightly, which would've hurt a lot for others.
If not for the mechanical-eared wolf girl having greater strength than the average person, she wouldn't have been able to keep a pleasantly surprised look on her face when being hugged.
She returned the intimacy to the two brothers.
The 'Nero Siblings' might have looked a bit strange, but they were the most innocent of guys.
"Freed, Gurd… How have you two been?" Lily rubbed her face on them while wagging her tail.
Not bothering to hide her foreign traits.
Ketran was a place that welcomed everyone, so she didn't have to hide and retract them anymore
The chubby and long-limbed siblings responded:
"Worse without our lucky charm!" The two freakish brothers cried while refusing to let go of her again.
She had already left them behind once…
Seeing that they needed some time to regain some composure, Lily let them cry on her and looked up.
There were four other members looking at them.
"Ehe~ Hi guys~!" She swallowed her saliva while seeing how the four females were staring at her.
The first thing she noticed was the odd one out.
Because even though all four of them looked like girls, there was one who was merely wearing drag.
"Erm… Dwinley, you've gotten much prettier. How have things been?" She asked the disguise wearer.
The man flipped his hair and snorted, but was gradually melted by the bright eyes looking at him.
Their gold yellowish tint like luxurious jewels…
"Not the same without you." He turned his head.
Dwinley was the first to leave after saying that. It looked like he'd only came just to see her face.
One of the other girls tried to follow him.
"Oh no you don't!" Lily broke out of the embrace from the Nero Siblings and charged at the woman.
Her speed was as fast as it had ever been.
The masked figure trying to get away was tackled in a messy way. Both their figures fell to the floor.
"Lily, get off of me…!" A dangerous voice came from the masked woman. Two black daggers had manifested into thin air. They were held close to the back of the wolf girl's head, ready to stab her.
"Friend~ I missed you so~!"
"I'm pretty sure I told you we're business partners… Not 'friends'. I'd kill you in a heartbeat."
"H-hey, are you really listening…?!"
"Fear, I've missed you too~~!" Lily ignored the masked woman's threats and gave a big hug.
The two arms holding were wrapped in her embrace. She'd attached herself on like a sloth.
The person being hugged didn't know how to react. She looked at the two troupe members left.
"Get her off of me, Linda." Her first request went to the ship doctor, who was looking with interest.
Even though the masked figure looked physically the same age, the white-gloved woman treated her like a child. The ship's only doctor, Linda Arcadia, only gave a smile while talking to girl called Fear.
"How can I stop girls the same age bonding?" If not for the teasing look, she might've sounded honest.
The black eyes peeking through the mask turned to the only person left. Someone younger than her.
…She didn't even have to make a request.
*Munch* *Munch* *Munch*
The little girl was snacking on some rock candy while looking at them being 'intimate' with interest.
Curiosity filling her eyes…
'Damn…' Fear thought. She no choice but to say something to pry this person off of her big chest.
"I'm pretty sure I told you not to get close to me. I am NOT your friend." The deceptively young voice was heard. Lily understood without being told that the masked girl she hugged was a bit immature.
Still, she kept embracing tightly.
Because her friend wouldn’t talk if she didn’t.
Lily herself looked around 15 of age, while the masked figure herself had seemed ten years older.
It was a mismatched pairing, but none of the troupe found the physical age difference that odd.
The rest of them were weirdos anyway…
Looks didn’t mean much to the easygoing group.
The Nero Siblings were an example of that. They might be twins, but they looked nothing alike.
You might even think they were different species.
But now wasn’t the time for that, the most important person in the troupe made an entrance.
The last to arrive at this reunion was the Troupe Leader. A young man not much older than Lily.
One could hear the creaking of a wooden door, and a person with a formal appearance walking out.
He seemed like the most 'normal' person here…
At least, that was only on the surface level.
"Alright, disperse." The leader of the Tartarus Theatre Troupe gave his crew a direct order.
One that made the masked girl feel saved.
As if given mercy, Fear forcibly pried the wolf girl off of her with her superior strength and ran off.
"Let's go." Linda helped the masked girl up, and quickly left before she could even stop them.
Almost as if they were escaping a horrifying entity.
"Hey, Linda. Wait, Rachel! I haven't hugged you two yet!" Lily tried stopping them, only to see the door shut. The newcomer had somehow made himself appear on the other side of the room in a flash.
The Troupe Leader gave her a business smile…
'Hot damn…' She knew she was already done for.
With the rest of the troupe having left, the only people left in the room stared at each other silently.
Lily was the first to speak out:
"Hehe~ Boss, you also want a warm hug?" This hugging monster shamelessly opened her arms.
The Troupe Leader looked at her silently…
'She has grown taller.' The young man thought while looking at the innocent face of the wolf girl.
"If I was your boss, you wouldn't have left. Just call me Jack." Even though he was making things informal, the thief girl didn't like that. She seemed unhappy to call him by his actual name directly.
It meant he was drawing a line between them.
Lily was in tears. Her arms were still stretched, and she seemed close to the verge of having a tantrum.
"Boss, don't you love me?"
"…You're making things sound weird." Jack looked at the nearby door and knew the rest listened in.
He didn't want them to get the wrong impression.
Lily was just like this to everyone. This hugging monster was the one initiating too much 'intimacy'.
"But I love you~!"
"Stop throwing that word around. I know exactly the type of 'love' you mean." He held his head.
Already forgetting his initial anger towards her.
"Boss~!" She lunged at him to give him a clingy koala hug, but the young man resisted her beauty.
The rest of Tartarus couldn't help closing their eyes when they started to hear the crashing of furniture.
Jack just wasn't the type to take hugs from her.
Not now, and not in the future.
When one of the theatre troupe members peeked in to see what the fuss was about, they saw her being held up by an iron claw. She was repeating the word 'Ouch!' in pain while waving her arms.
"Sorry. Won't do it again!" When she finally fessed up, Boss Jack let her down and released her face.
A hand print was just around the eyes…
Jack ignored the peeping toms and sighed, he knelt down to look at the girl holding her face.
"…Why did you leave?" He wanted to ask this for a long while. He thought this place was her home.
Every single one of them new how much Tartarus meant to her, so why did she leave without a word?
"I wanted to see the wider world." She spoke.
"Couldn't you do that with one of us?"
"Sorry… I didn't think you all would let me." When she said this, Jack didn't know how to respond.
It was true they were overprotective of her.
Those mechanical wolf ears she hid under a hat weren't normal. They knew how this was treated.
If she was to leave the magic kingdom of Ketran, it wouldn't be long before someone attacked her.
After all, she could be classified as a 'Beast'.
Also known as the enemies of humanity for more than a thousand years. All kingdoms were still being attacked even as they spoke. They were constantly under threat from the endless monsters.
How could any of them had let her leave…?
Lily also understand this, which was why she'd left home herself. Her curiosity was hard to handle.
The wolf girl was taken to the next room, where Jack filled her in on the mission they'd taken in.
"This job… Did you hear about it?" Jack spoke while handing her the form in his personal office.
Just the next room from the place from earlier.
"It's just a coincidence. Linda contacted me and said you might need my help. It's a big job, and I'm your lucky charm." Lily was confident in herself. A trait that Jack had sincerely missed all this time.
"Right, you're our lucky charm." The boss resisted from patting her head, even if she was adorable.
He wasn't going to spoil her too much.
"Alright, since you guys won't leave, let's get to doing a strategy meeting. Come in." He spoke to the door loudly, and watched them all come in while coughing embarrassedly from being noticed.
Jack sat them around a miniature model of the capitol of Lancia that he'd brought with his funds.
It definitely wasn't because he wanted the model as a collector. This was for the sake of the job.
He had pure intentions!
In his hands were two dolls surrounding the targets for todays job. They had to get things done cleanly.
"Now… We're heading to Lancia on a job to kidnap someone. Can anyone tell me who it is?" Like a teacher speaking to his students, Jack made sure the 'class' could hear him. The girls just snickered.
As if on cue, the drag queen called Dwinley joined the meeting and gave an 'honest' assessment:
"King Darren, right?"
"Yes. We're going to kidnap the fat, blue-skinned, ugly- Wait wait, that's not it. Don't mess with me."
"Then you meant Prince Vhalen?" Lily was the first one to get it right, which Jack was grateful for.
"That's right. You and Fear are going to be in-charge of kidnapping the midget prince of Lancia."
"…Can you call him that?" The wolf girl thought Jack was saying blasphemy against true Royalty.
The boss merely rolled his eyes away from her.
"Ahem… Anyway, the other princes and princesses have left for their own reasons. King Darren was known as a powerful magic user, but hasn't been able to use his Mana anymore after getting sick."
"So all we have to do is complete the mission and get out fast, right?" Fear unusually gave a thought.
"Right! Now, let's set sail and talk more on the way there." He got the crew to prep up the engines.
It was time for them to get there… fast.
Lancia's defences without the other princes and princesses was the lowest it could ever have been.
They had to snag the opportunity while they could.
The only thing that bothers Jack was the masked girl. He scratched his head while thinking inwardly:
'Had I ever called this a mission?'
He had been sure to call this a job ever since they first started doing dirty work like this at the side.
His eyes narrowed while she was leaving…
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