Chapter 38:

Volcano III

Sword Quest

Deep in the residential district of Castle Town, a slender woman ran down the quiet road, her black jacket and tights matching the shadow of the cherry trees that lined the road. Once she reached a small log cabin, she stopped and took a few breaths before bounding up a set of stairs and pounding on the door, not bothering to fix her disheveled hair.

“Hahh? What is it?” A muffled voice rang from inside the house. The woman simply beat harder on the door, ignoring the weary-sounding man.

“Okay, okay, I’m coming, gees,” he mumbled, before cracking the door open and slowly poking his face out.

“Get out here, Ango,” the woman loudly whispered, winging the door open and dragging the man out by his collar, his jet-black hair flailing about wildly.

“Ahh, what the hell, Tess?” Ango whined, still struggling to fully open his eyes. “I don’t care if you’re my sister, you can’t just drag a government official out of his bed at nigh-”

“Get your glasses, I need you to come with me,” Tess demanded plainly, staring daggers at his confused face.

“H-huh? What could possibly be going on this late? Do you know how much sleep I’ve gotten this-”

“Be quiet, it’s not my fault you sleep like such a sloth you couldn’t hear the sounds from the forest,” Tess cut in, stepping inside the house herself.

“What? The forest? What are you doing?”

“Here, now let’s go,” she replied as she returned, forcing a pair of spectacles and a long rapier onto the frazzled man.

“Okay, what in the Prince’s name is going on?” he asked desperately, slipping on his spectacles and following her down the stairs despite his confused state. His wrinkled black pants, suspenders, and white buttoned shirt hung loosely as he struggled to slip a pair of black leather shoes on.

“I’m sure you know something about the current Heir situation,” Tess answered with an icy tone, leading him by the arm down onto the road.

“Uh, well, you know that’s-”

“It seems like things are happening quite differently this time around, not like with Al and Hyd.”

“Ah, so that is why Al was so aggressive…so that means the boy from earlier today, or… is that yesterday, now?”

“My friends are in danger, Ango. I need you come with me, and tell me everything you know.”

“Ah, heavens…I don’t even know anything, Tess,” Ango complained, trying to stifle his voice to a whisper.

“Something’s going on with the Eraldin and Cillavier families- you’re saying you don’t know anything, even being around Shae all day?” Her gaze penetrated Ango with a fierce intensity.

“Hmm, well, I honestly didn’t know anything until a few hours ago, but you know it’s extremely confidential information, righ-”

“Ango,” she said as she killed her stride, raising a brow and bearing vicious eyes at him.

“Ah, okay, okay, I’ll tell you, though it’s nothing more than what I’ve gathered from the report from Al and the kid.”

“That’s better. We have some time till we reach the forest, so tell me in detail.” Tess replied with a lighter voice, picking her pace up once more.

“The forest?” Ango asked, stumbling as he evened her pace, “You really expect me to just go with-”


Tess gave a sidelong glare that froze the panicked man’s face in fear.

“O-okay, dammit, I’m coming. You know I haven’t fenced in over a year, though, so don’t expect me to just hop into a lopsided battle to cover for some kids, okay?” Ango’s tone lightened and his face relaxed as he began buttoning his shirt while he jogged.

“Don’t worry, I’ll use you as a distraction, if anything,” she said, looking over with a smirk before quickening her pace even further. “I have some firepower of my own, ya know?” She pulled her jacket open to reveal a shorter rapier, as well as belt lined with vials of liquid.

Ango raised a brow and sighed, speeding up to match her stride. The two sets of footsteps clicked down the river-rock road in the quiet night, just as the final remnants of red light floated down, illuminating the cherry trees on the path toward the forest.