Chapter 22:

Part 21

Fragile Phantasy

Deep inside the walls of the facility, Magnus stood tall and imposing, surrounded by his chosen disciples who were training rigorously. The disciples, most of them beggars, abandoned or scattered on the streets, had found a new purpose under Magnus' leadership.

As Magnus entered the training room, his disciples stood in awe of him, lining up with their eyes fixed on their leader. Magnus approached the center of the room, his gaze piercing through their souls. "If you wish to join my ranks," he bellowed, "you must be willing to trample over each other. This world is a survival of the fittest, and only the strongest will survive at the top."

The disciples, mostly teenagers, became nervous and anxious, sensing the gravity of the situation. They started fighting amongst each other until only a few remained standing. Magnus pulled out a list and began to read off the names of those who had passed the test. "Ariel, Qougre," he said, continuing down the list until he reached the last name. "Edgar," he announced.

Edgar's face lit up with joy as he raised his hand and jumped up and down. "Yes, I was chosen!" he exclaimed.

"For those who were not chosen, you may enter the other room," Magnus said, gesturing to a suspicious door. "But for those who passed, follow me." The chosen disciples fell in line behind Magnus, their hearts racing with excitement.

Magnus led them into a room filled with magnificent weapons, each one gleaming in the dim light. The disciples looked around in awe, unable to believe their luck. Magnus walked to the center of the room, his eyes glinting with pride.

"This is just the beginning," he said, his voice low and menacing. "Together, we will rule this city, and no one will stand in our way."

As the chosen disciples entered the room, their eyes fell upon a strange gauntlet adorned with sharp spikes. Magnus, the enigmatic leader, stood before them, his piercing gaze fixed on the group.

"That's a cestus," he said, his voice grave. "Forged from the strongest lightning, it is a weapon unlike any other. However, no one has used it yet, as it they dissolves in the electricity it releases."

Maximus turned to his disciples, his expression serious. "But the person who could wield that can become my right hand," he said. "Which of you is willing to take on this weapon?"

Without hesitation, some disciples lined up, each one determined to prove their worth. But one by one, they were dissolved by the power of the cestus, until only Ariel remained standing. The lion element had chosen him as its wielder, and all of his colleagues envied him, especially Qougre.

"Good job, Ariel," Magnus said, nodding approvingly. "The lion has chosen you as its protector."

The remaining disciples then chose their own weapons, each one selecting the tool that suited them best. But for Edgar, there was only a measly dagger left, and he felt a pang of disappointment. He had been chosen as a disciple by Magnus himself, rising from a young thief on the road. But he always seemed to be last on the list, never quite good enough.

"Now, you will undergo my rigorous training regimen," Magnus said, his voice commanding. "I will assign you roles in high-risk missions, and you will be pushed to your limits."

The disciples braced themselves for the most challenging training they had ever experienced. But they knew that with Magnus as their leader, they would be unstoppable.

With each mission, Edgar found himself barely hanging on by a thread, always on the brink of surviving. He felt like a burden to the team, constantly questioning whether he was good enough to be there. He knew that if he couldn't improve, he would either be removed from the team or killed on a mission.

Desperate for protection, he looked to Ariel, Magnus's right hand the strongest members of the team. Using his pick-pocketing skills, he managed to snag an extra ration of food from the person assigned to distribute it. When he saw Ariel's stomach grumbling from hunger, he knew what he had to do.

"Hey Ariel, don't be shy," he said, offering her one of the extra rations. "I have a lot more of these."

Ariel hesitated for a moment, but her hunger got the best of her, and she accepted the food. "Thank you very much, Edgar," she said, her voice soft.

From that day on, Edgar made a point of giving Ariel food every day, slowly building a friendship between them. Ariel didn't judge him for being the weakest link on the team. Instead, she saw something in him that he didn't even see in himself or others.

As their friendship grew stronger, Edgar began to see himself in a different light. Maybe he wasn't the strongest fighter, but he had other skills that were just as valuable. And with Ariel by his side, he knew that he could face anything that came their way.

but on the other hand while seeing edgar and ariel happy, as Qougre who was the second in command behind ariel was growing jealous because she couldn't get past Ariel to be magnus right hand man, he looks scheming at the two friends. at night before going to bed qougre went to see edgar. "Edgar I made a shocking discovery"he announced . "What's that qougre?" Edgar asked confused because this was the first time qougre had spoken to him. "Come with me" Qougre whispered as edgar followed as they go to to a secret tunnel.

The darkness of the tunnel only amplified Edgar's fear as he followed Qougre. As they emerged from the tunnel, Edgar saw the unthinkable. Magnus, the leader he had idolized and served, was standing over the unconscious bodies of his own disciples that didn't passed, their life force slowly draining into him. Edgar's heart pounded as he realized that he and his friends were in grave danger.

"How did this happen, what are we going to do?" Edgar whispered, his voice quivering with fear.

"We could run away," Qougre suggested, edgar eyes darting nervously around the room.

"I know a way out. Take those you want to save, while I keep watch."Qougre added.

Edgar hesitated for a moment, But as he looked at Qougre's determined face, he knew he had made his decision.

"Okay," Edgar said, steeling himself for what was to come. "We'll do it. But we have to be careful. Magnus can't know what we're doing."

Edgar revealed the truth to Ariel, telling her everything he had found out. They both knew that they could not continue living this way, and so they decided to make a run for it. But as they tried to escape, Qougre revealed their plan to magunus.

"Sir, they ran away, Ariel and Edgar, but I found out where they were going," Qougre reported to Magnus.

Magnus, in turn, saw this as an opportunity to test Qougre's loyalty. "Very well," he said coolly. "This is your last test before you become my right hand. I leave it up to you to catch the kill those two. Use the Dark Bow, the strongest weapon in our arsenal, but make sure you succeed. If not, your life will be forfeit."

Qougre bowed and took the weapon, determined to prove himself to his master. Meanwhile, Ariel and Edgar were running as fast as they could, with Qougre hot on their trail. Suddenly, a great flash of darkness enveloped them, and everything went black.

As Edgar and Ariel attempted to escape, an ominous wave of dark magic suddenly surged toward them, threatening to engulf them both. But with a flick of her wrist, Ariel managed to summon the power of her cestus, and the magic dissipated in a blinding burst of light that sent shockwaves through the surrounding forest. Astonishingly, both Edgar and Ariel emerged unscathed.

But before they could catch their breath, Qougre let loose another arrow, this one aimed squarely at Edgar. Panicking, Edgar cried out for Ariel's help, but she was already moving, darting in front of him and using her body to shield him from the attack. The arrow pierced her flesh with a sickening thud, and Edgar could only watch in horror as she crumpled to the ground in agony.

"Ariel, no!" he screamed, his heart pounding with fear and despair. As he held her limp body in his arms, she weakly gasped out a final plea. "Promise...don't let this happen to others."

But even as Ariel drew her last breath, Qougre stepped forward, a self-satisfied grin spreading across his face. "Plan succeeded," he crowed, his voice ringing with triumph.

Enraged, Edgar lunged forward, determined to make Qougre pay for what he's done. But as he charged at his former comrade, Qougre raised his weapon, and Edgar was suddenly overcome with a sense of dread.

As Qougre pointed his weapon at Edgar"dont try to act good, just like me your a user, your using ariel to survive", edgar couldn't help but feel a sense of despair wash over him. Was it true? Was he really just like Qougre, using others to survive? The words cut deep, striking at the very core of his being.

"Don't lie" answered Qougre, pointing the weapon even more. "face the facts you and i are the same, only seeing others as a means to an end"qougre retorted

But Edgar knew in his heart that it wasn't true. He had cared for Ariel, not just as a means to an end, but as a friend. The thought of her dying had shattered him, leaving him with a heavy burden of guilt and regret.

"Thats not tr..." he stammered, trying to find the right words to defend himself.

Qougre only laughed, his eyes glinting with malice. "Save your excuses for someone who cares," he sneered. "We're not so different, you and I. We both want to survive, at any cost."

Edgar bowed his head, feeling a wave of shame wash over him. Maybe Qougre was right. Maybe he was just like him, selfish and ruthless.

But as Qougre put on the cestus and felt its power course through him, Qougre sneered, "You're not worth killing anymore, like me, you have no honor." He claimed Ariel's cestus as his own, its power surging through him. Edgar knew he couldn't stay there any longer. He turned and ran, his heart heavy with sorrow and regret.

Edgar jolted awake from his dream of his past, his heart racing and his mind foggy. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, trying to shake off the remnants of the nightmare its been 3 years after that. Today was his birthday, but he didn't feel like celebrating. He missed a
Ariel terribly and wished she were here with him.

Suddenly, there was a knock on his door. Before he could answer, his adopted kids burst into the room, dragging him out of bed. "Come on, promised that you would feed us something delicious on your birthday!" they exclaimed.

"Did I?" Edgar looked confused, but he couldn't deny their excitement. He got dressed and followed them out, wondering where they were taking him.

As they walked through the capital, the kids pointed to the most expensive restaurant. Edgar almost fainted when he saw the price, realizing that his budget wouldn't be able to afford it. But he couldn't disappoint the kids. "It's up to me, even if I have to work as a dishwasher," he said determinedly as they entered the restaurant.

However, as they approached the entrance, a large man blocked their path. Edgar raised his head to see that it was Qougre, and his heart sank. The children were startled by his menacing gaze and hid behind Edgar.

"What's this, Edgar? You wouldn't get anywhere with those weakling children," Qougre sneered, grinning hideously.

"I'm not going to treat these kids the same as Magnus!" Edgar retorted, his protective instincts kicking in as he moved the children away from Qougre's reach.

"Those children of yours are so weak they cannot even be use as a human shield"qougre said as edgar was ready to square off to his anger.

a group young people came out from qougre's back protecting him and edgar noticed that they had magical collars around their necks.

"What did you do to them!" Edgar shouted in shock.

"Easy just like the methods of Master Magnus but more efficient, this collar is to prevent someone from acting like you did and escape" qougre explained

"You!!"edgar tried to jump at qougre but was stopped by his boys with collars doing qougre bidding and qougre's laugh"remember edgar i once spared your life your testing my patience, im not gonna do that again"as he left with a smug look on his face belittling edgar as he was not worth killing with that weak family.

Edgar took a deep breath and calmed himself down "Kids I promise today my reputation will increase and we will eat everywhere you wanted," he said, his voice resolute. ", but for now you wait and I will get a mission."

With that, he scooped up one of the children in his arms and set they off towards Mang Andok's farm field. The sun beat down on his face, and he felt his heart race with nervousness as he plan to get the hardest mission he could see.

As they approached the field, they saw KC lying down, his body ravaged by wounds from his last mission. Edgar's heart sank at the sight, but he pushed the feeling aside, determined to focus on the task at hand.

"How are you guys?" Edgar asked, his voice filled with concern. "Can you look after the children while I go on a mission?"

"I still have a day off today," KC replied, his voice weak but resolute. "But I guess they can help me with planting."

With a smile, KC beckoned the children over. "Kids, do you want to learn how to plant?" he asked, his eyes twinkling with kindness.

"Yes!" the children shouted in unison, their faces alight with excitement.

Edgar rushed through the streets of the bustling city, his mind racing with thoughts of the mission ahead. He knew that he needed a strong team to accompany him, and he had come to the right place to find one.

Edgar's heart raced as he rushed through the unfamiliar territory. He had no time to waste - every second counted. He needed to form a temporary party, and fast.

Finally, he arrived in Yunya territory, where he was greeted by vica. "Sorry, Edgar," she said apologetically. "Sister Yunya is resting and cannot receive visitors."

Edgar knelt down, desperation etched on his face. "Can someone temporarily join my party for a mission, please?" he pleaded.

The vica eyed him warily, but one woman stepped forward. She was huge, with armor and shield, and her presence alone filled the space. "Are you with KC?" she asked.

"Yes," Edgar replied, his heart lifting at the possibility of help.

"Alright, I'll come with you," the woman silva said with huge armor and shield.

Edgar nodded gratefully. "Can I ask your name?" he asked.

"I'm Silva, and we owe a debt to your partner KC. I'm sorry that I'm the only one who can help right now everyone is still recovering."

Edgar felt a surge of gratitude at her words. Together, the two set off towards Kilan's territory, hoping to find more allies for their mission.

When they finally arrived, Edgar saw Kilan and begged him for help. "Please, bro, come with me on this mission. I really need your help."

"I'm sorry, Edgar," Kilan replied regretfully. "I have an important trip today. But you seem desperate - I'll call Blake to help you."

Silva suddenly gasped. "You don't mean Blake, as in one of the territory leaders?" she asked, her eyes wide with surprise.

Kilan nodded as he teleported away. "Okay, just wait for him," he said.

Edgar felt a flicker of hope at the possibility of Blake joining their party. He didn't know what lay ahead, but he was ready to face it, with Silva by his side and a potential ally on the horizon.

Blake arrived fashionably late, as he always did. "Alright, let's go," he said, his voice confident and commanding.

Edgar and Silva nodded, ready to embark on their mission. Together, they made their way to the guild to pick up their next assignment.

"This is my choice - Class A+," Edgar announced, his eyes shining with excitement. "There's a sighting of a rare animal in the Trialic Labyrinth."

He handed the mission details to Blake and Silva, and their eyes widened at the incredible reward - 5000 reputation and 3000000 silver its as good as 5000 gold.

"If we succeed, we'll live as kings," Silva breathed, her gaze fixed on the mission details.

Blake wasted no time. "What are we waiting for? Let's start it," he said, his voice determined.

Silva added. "The Trialic Labyrinth is the home of unpredictable high-level monsters," she warned.

Edgar felt a flicker of fear in his heart, but he quickly stamped it out. "We can do it," he said firmly. With that, the group set off towards the labyrinth, each lost in their own thoughts.

As they approached the entrance of the labyrinth, Edgar felt a thrill of excitement and fear course through his veins. He knew that this mission would test them to their limits - but he also knew that they were up for the challenge.

As the group entered the labyrinth "They said the bunny is very rare, even if we search for a week there's a little chance we would see it," Silva explained to Edgar and Blake as they set up their tents.

"Oh no, I promised the children that we would eat at an expensive restaurant at the end of the day," a disappointed Edgar replied, his stomach grumbling audibly.

Blake, one of the territory leader, looked around for a small pond and, finding one, placed his hand on it. "Well, I too will be impatient for searching for a week. This would take a heavy toll on my magic, but it will speed up the search." He lifted his hand, and the water droplets floating in the air formed small circles before quickly scattering in every direction, like drones searching the environment.

"It's a high-level magic, the water drop tracker. Half of the user's magic will be lost by casting that. This will act as eyes of Blake, searching the whole labyrinth," explained Silva, who was even more amazed than Edgar. Edgar was grateful for the effort Blake was making.

"It's time to search for it," Blake said, his tone shifting suddenly. "There! I saw it!"

They immediately set off in the direction Blake had pointed, catching glimpses of the bunny's thin, ruby-adorned form. They drew closer and closer, their hearts pounding with excitement.

"Do you know that catching the animal is the most difficult part?" Silva cautioned them as they crept closer.

"Attack in front, Silva. Edgar will attack from the side, and I will surprise him from behind," Blake instructed, signaling at the same time.

They sprang forward, launching themselves at the bunny in an attempt to catch it. But it was too fast, hopping out of the way before they could even come close.

As the three friends ran through the dense forest, chasing after the elusive bunny, they were completely oblivious to their surroundings. They were so focused on catching the playful creature that they failed to notice the beautiful pond that lay hidden behind the thick foliage. The water sparkled under the sunlight, its surface still and peaceful, giving no hint of the danger that lurked beneath.

Blake's voice shattered their carefree attitude, his tone urgent as he warned them of the impending danger. "Get out of there!" he shouted, his eyes scanning the surroundings with a keen gaze.

Edgar and Silva quickly turned around, their hearts pounding with fear. They were just in time to see the sharp fangs of two predatory crocs lunging towards their faces. Silva instinctively raised her shield, but it was no match for the brute force of the monster's bite. The shield gradually crumbled under the croc's relentless attack.

Blake, thinking fast, conjured up water blades, creating shuriken-like projectiles that he threw with precision. The creature was forced to retreat under the relentless assault, giving the group a much-needed reprieve.

The bunny laughed playfully at them, seemingly unbothered by the danger that it had just led them into. Edgar, his temper getting the better of him, shouted out in anger, "You little!!" as the group chased after it.

As they ran, they noticed that the rhinobull was hot on their heels. Its horn glinted in the sunlight, and the group knew that they had to be careful. A single stab from that horn would mean certain death.

Silva quickly came up with a plan, using her earth magic to create a mud wall that stopped the rhinobull in its tracks. Kilan, seizing the opportunity, used his water magic to slow down the creature's feet, giving the group a chance to flee.

Edgar, determined to catch the bunny, used his lightning magic to dash towards it. But the bunny was too quick, jumping out of his reach at the last moment. Edgar's momentum carried him forward, and he found himself trapped in the sticky web of a honey bee spider.

The spider, sensing an easy meal, was about to pounce on Edgar when he summoned up all his strength and plunged a sharp needle into its back, paralyzing it.

Blake rushed to Edgar's aid, pulling him free from the web and fending the spider. They resumed their chase, but the bunny seemed to be always just out of reach. They were exhausted, panting heavily from the exertion.

Silva spoke up, her voice laced with frustration. "We can't catch him. He's using the predators in the surroundings to lure us in. We need a new plan."

Edgar's eyes lit up with excitement, his mind racing with an idea that could finally lead them to the elusive bunny. "What's that, Edgar?" Silva asked, her voice brimming with curiosity. With a grin on his face, Edgar explained his plan to the group.

As they approached the bunny, it noticed their presence and attempted to flee once again. With quick reflexes, it hopped and jumped, evading the trio as it darted into the many holes of a centipede ant hill. But to its dismay, it found itself stuck, unable to enter any of the holes.

Because earlier, With Blake's water droplets help, they had searched for the bunny's position and discovered that the creature's nature was to seek refuge in the turf of predators to protect itself. Using Silva's knowledge of the predators in the labyrinth and Blake's droplets, they quickly determined the bunny's next destination: the anthill nest of a nearby centipede.

Without hesitation, Edgar filled all of the holes with the sticky web they had collected from the honey bee spider earlier. And just as they had predicted, the bunny would go to the ant-hill enabling him to be ensnared in the web.

With a victorious shout, Edgar scooped up the trapped bunny and held it up for all to see. "Mission success!" he exclaimed, his heart racing with excitement.

The group's triumph quickly turned into chaos as someone snatched the bunny from Edgar's grasp and darted away. Edgar recognized the thief's collar immediately and bellowed in frustration, "Qougre!"

Silva and blake exchanged worried glances, their exhaustion forgotten as they rallied to support Edgar in his pursuit. Blake, ever the quick thinker, had already summoned a water barrier to protect them from the explosion that he sensed was coming. with the thief's trail leading to a secluded area. Just as Blake managed to catch up with the thief, a devastating explosion rocked the area. Blake quickly reacted, enforcing the water barrier that protect themselves from the impact.

But even the blake's foresight and reaction wasn't enough to stop the massive explosion. The force of the blast sent Blake careening backwards, his body slamming against the rock. With a loud thud, he slumped to the ground, unconscious.

Through the haze of smoke, Qougre emerged, holding the bunny in his arms. Edgar's eyes narrowed as he confronted the thieving traitor.

"As always, Edgar, you're so easy to fool," Qougre smirked. "And now you've brought me the unconscious body of Blake, one of the territory leaders. I won't spare your life now."Qougre's slave appeared in the background, a collar around their neck that will explode as qougre's wish. It was clear that they were forced into serving Qougre, and they stood there against their will, waiting for their next command.

Edgar's mind raced as he struggled to regain consciousness being throwned by the explosion, his thoughts scattered and fragmented like broken glass. The sight of Qougre holding the bunny and the unconscious body of Blake, filled him with a deep sense of despair. This wasn't the first time he had seen the cruel reality of the world he lived in, but it still pained him to see his friends and loved ones suffer on the hands of qougre once again.

As he slowly regained his senses, Edgar's mind drifted back to the reason why he had taken in the beggars from the streets and made them a part of his family. He couldn't bear the thought of them suffering the same fate as Ariel, who had sacrificed herself for him so he could escape the life of a slave like the qougres men with collar right now, He couldn't bear to see them become mere tools, devoid of emotion and humanity.

"Don't let this happen to others," were the last words Ariel to him those years ago, and they still rang in his ears today. With a fierce determination, Edgar rose to his feet, his eyes fixed on Qougre. "Not this time," he declared, his voice ringing out, he wont back down this time.

Qougre sneered at him, clearly taken aback by Edgar's sudden bravery. "At last you've grown a pair, but it's too late, . You're too weak to stop me now" he spat, his hand hovering over Blake's body. With a swift and deadly movement, Qougre lunged at the unconscious Blake, brandishing the cestus that could dissolve anything it touched. Edgar's heart raced as he watched the scene unfold, his mind racing for a way to intervene.

In a flash, Edgar darted forward, his lightning-fast dagger slicing through the air towards Qougre. Their collision produced a thick cloud of smoke that obscured the scene from view. When the smoke finally cleared, Edgar was left dazed and on the verge of unconsciousness. his attack having failed to land.

"You know what they say expect the unexpected," he muttered, his voice barely audible. "But I'm always ready."qougres laughing as he used one of his own men as a human shield to block Edgar's attack. But Silva was hot on his trail sneeking behind the laughing qougre, but still qougre could notice her and He Countered a powerful kick that sent both Silva and Edgar crashing into the nearby corner "Pathetic" Qougre added.

Qougre looked down at his lifeless slave and kicked him callously, while the other men looked on helplessly. For a moment, it seemed as though all hope was lost. But Edgar refused to give up as he forced himself to stand up.

Edgar stood there, facing Qougre with a determined look on his face. He had been outsmarted so many times by this man, but not anymore. Edgar remembered the faces of those young people he saw wearing collars, and he knew he couldn't let them suffer the same fate as Ariel.

"No matter what you do, Edgar, I'm still one step ahead," Qougre said with a smirk.

"That's where you're wrong," he said, pulling out an item from his pocket that he had taken from Qougre earlier while his attention was on Silva.

Qougre's eyes widened as he realized what it was - the detonator on the collar of his slave. Edgar pressed the button and the collars fell off, freeing the slaves from their captivity.

The freed slaves advanced on Qougre, their voices a chorus of retribution.

"You will pay for what you did to us, Qougre!" they shouted in unison.

Qougre was clearly irritated, but now his former slaves circled around him, confronting him for what he had done to them. "I will remember this, Gardo!" Qougre yelled in frustration and made a desperate dash for the sky, holding the bunny tightly in his hand.

Edgar turned to face the people he had just saved from a lifetime of slavery, and they looked at him with a mixture of gratitude and awe. They thanked him for his bravery and promised to seek out their own destinies, free from the tyranny that had plagued their lives.

Edgar tended his teammates injuries, after blake and silva regaining consciousness they went back to the capital.

Edgar on his way back at Andok's farm together with blake and silva, feeling heavy-hearted after the events of the day. He had failed to retrieve the bunny from the clutches of Qougre, despite his best efforts. He feared that his adopted children would be just as let down as he was. But as he entered the farmhouse, he was met with a warm and joyous welcome from his adopted siblings. They shouted with excitement and pulled him towards a large table filled with an array of delicious foods. It was a feast fit for a king, and it had been prepared especially for him.

"Bro Edgar is here!" they exclaimed, rushing to greet him. They shouted with excitement and pulled him towards a large table filled with an array of delicious foods. Vica who also invited on the party pulled blake and silva along and quickly gathered them all around the large table.

"We've been waiting for you," KC said, grinning from ear to ear.

As they sat down to eat, they sang a happy birthday song to Edgar. It was a small gesture, but it meant the world to him. the children singing him a happy birthday, Edgar felt a sense of comfort and belonging.

"Bro we help on making this dishes just for you" they said, beaming with happiness. hearing that edgar felt tears well up in his eyes.

"Thank you, everyone," he said, his voice filled with emotion. Looking around at the faces of the children he had taken in off the streets, he realized that this was all he needed. Despite the dangers and hardships he had faced, the love and support of these children was worth more than any treasure or victory.

"Okay, let's eat!!" he said with a smile, and everyone happily dug into the sumptuous feast before them. The air was filled with laughter and chatter, and for a moment, all their worries disappeared. They were together, and that was all that mattered.