Chapter 29:

Whirlpool of Fate


When she'd realised there was nothing more to be done (which she did after a few seconds), Jaiga walked behind the reception.

The Paladin gave the two receptionists a nod. She walked over, picked up Tommy, and then proceeded back to the centre of the room. There she took hold of Valefar in her left arm (alongside Tommy) and Ceylica in her right.

Before long, she'd set her course on the outside world. Intending to leave the guild with the people in hand. However, the creak of her footsteps, which seemed more like stomps, soon came to a halt. Some strange boyish voice had come from behind.

She'd thought it a ploy by Azama at first, but when faced with its origin, remembered something.

Yes, there was another.

The Paladin recalled a blonde boy at the scene of the fight. Dressed in a plain white shirt and black trousers. With skin of light olive, as befitted the Crilandese, and locks of hair that touched his shoulders.

In that precise image, he stood before her. Back straightened, eyes widened, and an awkward wave of his hand in addition.

While she'd not seen him since, the faint recollection of his outbound footsteps and bravery in yelling "Ahhh" did strike a chord.

"You may speak without fear, civilian." On remembering his status, the Paladin acted with proper courtesy. Civilian students without magic, Idiosyncrasies or Resolve were commonplace. In the end, they could not be burdened with the task of fighting. Much less a mercenary capable of apprehending several students with Resolve by themselves.

"My name is Renra Seltiel, and I, uh, would like to help you with what you're doing!"

Renra Seltiel? Jaiga thought. That's a peculiar name if I've ever heard one.

Renra was a common Crilandese first name, however, all Crilandese had two last names, one of the grandmother and one of the grandfather. So, for Renra to only have one was strange. Jaiga was no linguist, but she knew the name 'Renra Seltiel' strayed from semantic standards.

"Very well then, Renra." exclaimed the Paladin. "If you would kindly help me take Tommy here..."

Renra dashed forward without a word, then carefully wrestled Tommy out of Jaiga's grasp. He muttered a 'Gotcha', but otherwise remained silent from then forwards. The duo then left the building and, for the entirety of their walk back, shared only silence between one another.

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"So, Rainee, how do you feel?"

I stand alone under a forest, with a cellphone pressed to my right ear.

"I feel good, yeah, pretty good, probably," Rainee replies uncertainly.

"Well, you better! Because guess what, Rainee?"

"Uh, what?"

"The final act is coming soon."

My call recipient exhales loudly. I prefer to think he's content with how things are progressing. After all, things have been going good so far. We got the students in peril, forced them to unite, and built a huge dungeon for them!

When can you say something like that happens very often? The answer, which I'm going to give, is that it does not. No, it doesn't.

"So, have you got our mini-boss ready?"

I speak in gaming lingo, referring to the concept of a weaker enemy, that is a sort of side-diversion to the main boss in the same level, or in this case, dungeon. By the time my reference reaches Rainee, his voice strains with dejection.

"Do you really have to call him that?"

"What else, Rainee? Video games are all the hype these days. It seems only natural that we both stay in touch with the modern generation, don't you think?"

"Right. But it's literally just uh, the two of us talking right now," observes Rainee. "Well, either way, our uh 'mini-boss', as you put it, is quite excited."


"Would you like to get him on the phone?"

"Maybe in due time, but for now, I'm content with what I have."

Rainee doesn't retort, and neither do I have anything else to contribute. Therefore, we conclude and make a mutual hang-up after a few seconds. Rainee resigns to tidying up the dungeon and setting up what is to come and I watch the students, studying for any signs of progression.

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"Damn that wretched knave!" Was the first thing Tommy yelled when he woke.

The boy, it must be added, had a terrible dream. During the extent of which the treacherous fiend, through acrobatics, dance and song, had eluded his grasp yet again. Tommy cursed under his breath.

The reception to his words were stares, smiles and sighs.

"Hope ye had a nice sleep, pretty boy," Ceylica said as she grinned, seated on a brown sofa.

"I did not." Said Tommy in reply, then quietly looking around the room. In the course of his inspection, it came to Tommy that he was in the infirmary.

Luxurious by any standard, the room's floor was a deep blue and adjourned itself with furniture such as desks, leather sofas, and king-sized beds. It was also large enough to house dozens of students at once and was tended to by several golems wearing oddly misplaced but cute white hats.

"So, which one of you had the pleasure of taking me here?" Tommy inquired.

He found Renra nodding and replied with a firm "You have my thanks."

Renra, at those words, gave a thumbs up and yelled, "No worries!" Though continued with an cumbersome inclusion of "It was Jaiga's idea."

Unbothered by his sudden display of energy, Tommy instead chose to stare at the others. His eyes instictively lingered on Valefar. But the vampire only continued to look at his phone. The sounds of what was around him were reduced to a faint whisper, given that Valefar wore both noise-cancelling earphones and listened to music.

"Alright, long story short, we gotta climb a big ass tower," Ceylica stated.

"So be it". Tommy begrudgingly remarked. He strained the muscles in his body and climbed out of bed. Realising he was wearing a hospital gown, Tommy looked around and saw his old clothes on the chair next to him.

"It's not that simple," Jaiga sighed. "We are without information on what enemies await, how long it will take, and the resources we must gather amongst other things."

"Awwww yeah, information gatherin' time. Yay, so fun."

The Paladin didn't reply to Ceylica's words, and hastily elaborated. "We discovered that save for us five, that the rest of the school has vanished."

"Large-scale teleportation, I assume," suggested Tommy, to which Jaiga nodded.

"Indeed. So it's in our best interest that we proceed with haste and fulfil our task as soon as possible."

"Yeah, and who knows what's up there? All sorts of monsters could be scaring the students right about now!" said Renra.

Tommy, as he was listening, only just recognised an unfamiliar voice and face amongst them. Looking at Renra, Tommy understood that he was the irregularity, the odd one out of the bunch.

Do I know him?

He made an effort to parse Renra's features with vague memories, faces down hallways, cafeterias and libraries, but came to no avail.

"What is your name?" Tommy asked.

The blonde boy coughed into his hand, flashed a smile, and gripped his right bicep with his other arm. With his preparation done, Renra then shot up and announced, "Name's Renra Seltiel, my speciality is cooking, and my goal in life is to do good and be a hero!"

After a pause, he sat back down and gave another thumbs up.

The reaction was a chuckle from Ceylica, a smile from Jaiga, and the unchanged monotone face of Valefar.

Tommy perceived his liveliness with a faint smile. Those words of his were overly bombastic but tinged with an undertone of honesty all the same.

Offering his respect, Tommy paused a little and replied, "Very well then, hero"

While yet he spoke, Ceylica lifted too; on her face a grin and a glimmer of want.

"Why don't we go check out the Tower?" she proposed. "It's only gonna take ten minutes or so to get there, and we can come back and make plans after."

Jaiga disagreed. "Would it not be better to just prepare in advance then head there? What is there to gain from visiting it so closely? The entrance may yet close upon our entry, and we would be left woefully unready as a result."

"Never said anythin' bout going inside. We could always just feel it up or somethin. Get to see it first hand and all".

Tommy interjected. "I agree with Jaiga. Seems like a massive waste of time to trek back and forth."

"I'll carry yer there, Tommy, if ye want."

"Knaves like you are better reserved to touching grass."

Renra, hearing their conversation, raised his hands upwards. The paladin gave a nod and the room fell quiet.

"Well, I mean, Ceylica does have a point. If we get close, we can like, you know, test it and stuff."

"Test it?" asked Jaiga.

"Yeah, like to see if we can break through parts of the Tower. Or maybe send a drone or magical familiar inside to scout it out."

"That's exactly what I was thinking!" rejoined Ceylica with her head held high.

When the company of students were lent to a standstill and were no doubt pondering over the question, did they come to a conclusion. That being, they had none, and needed the opinion of another. Focusing their gaze on the right of Ceylica, they waited.

Although they weren't friends by any measure, the half-demon playfully poked Valefar in the side.

"Oi, edgy boy, it's about time ye join the conversation."

Trying his best to remain level-headed, Valefar inhaled a deep breath and exhaled. He saw that he had no choice but to participate and thus gave a thin smile.

The vampire signified his involvement by taking out his earbuds.

"I agree with whoever made the most sensible decision," Valefar went on to say flatly.

"Well, it's settled. Seems that Valefar's agreeing with me ere".

And as Ceylica expressed her contentment, she wrapped her arm around Valefar, looked at him smiling and laughed. Though none too pleased, the vampire nevertheless remained silent and proceeded to plug his earbuds back in.

The opposition, consisting of Jaiga and Tommy, were at a loss for words. While they knew that Valefar's opinion was null, the understanding that Ceylica may have had a point was beginning to take hold. So, with consensus, they stood silent, keeping any additional arguments to themselves.

"Let me change, and we can leave," Tommy relented while picking up his clothes. "I'll be there in a few minutes."

No more words were necessary at that point, and so, the students, save for Tommy, left the infirmary. Heading into the bathroom, Tommy changed and groomed his hair with water. He heard a faint knock at the window, but when Tommy saw no one there, he assumed it was the wind.

The mage stared in the window for a good second and understood that although there was a bruise on his forehead, he was still relatively handsome. Tommy assented to his belief with a nod and grasped the door handle. Leaving the bathroom, the boy marched down the marble hallway to meet the others.

Steward McOy
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