Chapter 36:

Volcano I

Sword Quest

On a long, torchlit balcony protruding from the castle’s highest tower, three men gazed out into the distant forest and beach, which had erupted in smoke and flame.

“Are you certain it’s okay to leave things to a few boys, Valblin?” A stern looking man with glossy black hair asked the old man, brushing his splendid robes aside as he turned his back to the balcony railing.

“Indeed, this is the way we must let things play out, Chief Allen,” Valblin answered, stroking his long beard as he stayed his eyes on the forest.

“I do trust your judgement, but you have to understand my concern,” Allen responded, following his gaze. “If there truly are enemies within the wall, how terrible would it be if our potential Heir was killed, and we lost the sword as well? We could not hope to recover from that, as I’m sure you’re aware.”

“You’re right, the war will be all but lost if this fails,” Valblin answered, narrowing his gaze. “However, if our Heir fails their very first trial, it is over from that point any way. We do not have the time to wait for another Heir; and while I could wield the sword myself, I’m afraid I would be powerless with it. It is a risk, but the fate of the Teutons lies in his hands now.” The old man spoke with only a small trace of his usual playful self.

“I know it’s a lot to ask of you, Chief, and we appreciate your cooperation,” Gambell added with a polite smile.

“Yes, I know,” Allen said as he looked down with a sigh, before directing his gaze back toward the forest. “Though I’m still having a hard time accepting that Melvin Cillavier’s inner circle actually planned something so treasonous. It’s taking everything I’ve got not to have my men drag him out of his house and throw him into the volcano.”

“Believe me, we understand,” Gambell replied firmly, taking his spectacles off and rubbing his temples. “Though, he should show himself for us by the end of this night if our understanding of him is accurate, and we might even be able to pinpoint his co-conspirators as a package deal.”

“Yes, I can only hope so,” Allen said, turning his head back toward the inside of the castle, shadowing his frustration.

“Hoh, but speaking of volcanos...” Valblin added with an excited look.

“Ah, yes, the start of our Heir’s journey,” Gambell followed with an enthusiastic smile of his own. “The treacherous hell that, despite never erupting in our history, has spelled the end of many brave, curious, and foolish Teutons.”

“The beginning of the tour to collect all the relic shards that man spread out, huh?” Allen mused. “What a place to hide the first one, honestly…”

“Hoho, but I can’t think of any better place than the home of our old cyclops neighbor,” Valblin chuckled.

“Shoram, huh?” Gambell added, narrowing his eyes as he gazed out at the last bits of falling red light. “The menace that made the place his own personal castle and earned it a name like the ‘Volcano of Disasters’.”