Chapter 37:



"Ye promise?"

Jaiga looked up at her, blinking twice. "Yes, on my honour."

She stood there in silence and watched the half-demon run off. Jaiga then knelt down. Her hands went straight for Tommy's neck. The paladin planned to check for Tommy's vitals but was stopped halfway.

"I appreciate the concern, but I am conscious, contrary to popular belief."

Jaiga watched carefully. "I find Ceylica's restraint to be surprising."

"As did I, which is why I pretended to be unconscious halfway through."

"Quite a convincing performance you put up there."

"Hah. You flatter me." He smiled. "Acting remains but one of my many skills."

"Self-control, it seems, isn't. You would do well to avoid stoking Ceylica's anger in the future."

Tommy snorted. "I had not thought her so hasty." He held his head high, looking to the sky. "No matter. I am now well aware of how that knave acts. It would not deign on me to repeat the same mistake twice."

"Is that hubris or confidence I spot?"

"Confidence." Tommy firmly replied. "Pride is only in excess if proved wrong."

"Let us hope it is never then."

The boy shut his eyes. There was silence for some time. "So, aren't you going to fight that thing?" The way his eyes wandered only implicated one opponent.

"I will once the two need me. Otherwise, I am quite comfortable just sitting."

"Next question. When will you stop leaning over me and let me sit properly?"

Jaiga stood upwards. She pulled the boy along with her.

"Our comrades seem to be finishing up."

The Black Knight was attacked from a pincer formation. With Ceylica on one end and Valefar on another. The former grabbed onto him and tossed him to Valefar while the latter struck down. Smashing the Knight onto the ground. His armour was quite bruised at that point and was splintered with cracks. Eventually, the fissures spread like webs, causing the whole thing to break apart. By the end, only bits of black pieces were strewn on the ground.

Seeing the man beneath the armour caused no shortage of surprise for the students. It became clear that the Knight was, in fact, a person. Dressed in a buttoned shirt of white, and a pair of black shorts to match. He even possessed a youthful face, round in shape and topped with strange ears on his head.

Jaiga and Tommy ran forward. The Knight's face was too young. So much so that it looked to be of a student's age.

"Ode'go, it's really you!"

Ceylica rushed forward, arms open. She embraced the catboy and tackled him to the ground. Pinning his two wrists down into submission.

"Few men have my loveliness of a face, and skill, and dexterity, among other things."

Everyone stared in disbelief for some time. The situation was strange. Very much so. And therefore, the students came together, sitting in a circle near the pyre. Waiting for their questions to be answered.

"You remember the cafeteria, yes? Well, Azama never did kill me, you see. I was just teleported away afterwards and asked to help them with this plan of theirs."

Ceylica gleamed. "Heh, I knew it."

Valefar had a doubt. "You?"

"Of course. Ode'go's way too skilled and smart to ever be killed like that!"

"Ah, I see." The vampire smiled thinly.

A hopeful question came from Renra. "Wait, so does that, uh, confirm the captive students are safe?"

"Indeed." Ode'go gave Renra a wink. "Never been better if I say so myself. Despite being holed up in a dungeon, funnily enough."

The paladin held a raised finger. "If I may." Thinking about the dungeon, she went to say, "How much of this place is there left to conquer?"

Ode'go's eyes showed he understood. "Only the final boss awaits."

"Azama," Valefar mumbled, forcing the thought into everyone's head.

"Well, it's no fun to reveal it outright, so I'll just leave it to your imagination, yes?"

Aching for revenge, Tommy gave a preposition.

"Let us be done with it and destroy Lasagna once and for all."

"Is what a headstrong dumbo with no plan would say," said Ceylica.

Renra agreed in kind, scratching the back of his head. "Hate to say it, but she's right. You guys, uh, kinda got whooped last time."

Ode'go looked to the others. "To be honest, even with a plan, you can't hope to beat Azama. So you might as well just go fight."

"So, yer just saying it's hopeless then?"

"You could say that."

"He jests." Tommy watched the others and addressed their concerns. "This dungeon is a trial, one made to test our wit and skill. What sense would there be if it was incompletable?"

"So, yer saying it's doable then?"

"I'm not saying it's doable; I know it's doable. You lot are hopeless knaves if you think otherwise."

The half-demon nodded. "Tommy has a point."


"We need only have faith."

"I don't know much about this Azama guy, but I'm going to believe too!"

In the end, nothing could deter their spirit. Without fear, the ensemble proceeded onwards. They were at the river then, ready to board a boat. Standing face to face with a golem with an oversized oar.

"Goodbye, my dear, show that Azama a thing or two, eh?"

The catboy bid Ceylica fare well. He moved to her, eager and face forward. She responded in turn by hugging him close, then kissing back on the lips intently. Finally, Ode'go drew back and waved a final goodbye.

Thus, it began. The boat set sail and hurried down a river of azure, then illuminated by hundreds of fish, of colours and shapes never seen before. Upon a minute's passing, it then delved straight into a tunnel. Taking the students to their final obstacle and challenge.

Steward McOy
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