Dungeons of the Abyss and the Unchosen Heroes
"Oh please, if he had really hurt you, why didn't you arrest him on the spot?"
"Are you kidding me? What makes you think that I can apprehend that hulking bunch of muscles without backup? Is your head filled with piss, woman!?"
"Maybe it is, for thinking that you're actually competent enough to arrest one man."
"That's it! I didn't want to be violent, but you've forced my hands. We're taking him in with us, dead or alive."
"What gives you the right!?"
"We've plenty of rights, Elaine, here's the warrant issued by Lord William."
"Tch! That spoiled brat of a lord ought to have better things to do."
"Cease your ramblings, Elaine! Otherwise, we might have to arrest you too."
In the morning, before the sun had even risen, Finn was awoken by a ruckus at the front door. With his mind still drowsy, he forced himself out of his bed and left his bedroom, which was just large enough for a bed and space to stand. Pushing aside a thin curtain that divided his room from the rest of the shack, he arrived into what could be called a living room with the front door in direct line of sight. There, Eustace stood with at least a dozen guards by his side. His right arm, the one he used to punch Finn the day prior was covered in bandages, appearing to be injured. Apparently, he had twisted his wrist against Finn's guts.
"There he is!" Eustace exclaimed the moment he saw Finn. "Get him!"
However, a commanding shout from Elaine stopped them in their tracks. Letting out a deep sigh, she then turned towards Eustace.
"I was the one who raised him to be this way. If you have to take someone, take me instead," said Elaine.
"Oh? I take back what I said. I see that your head isn't quite filled with piss after all," said Eustace as he showed his big ugly grin.
"Wait, Elaine, you can't just-"
Finn tried to stop her, but with a single glare from Elaine, Finn quickly fell silent.
"That's quite enough Finn. You have work to do, don't you? I'll take care of this so get onto it already."
Finn froze on the spot. He couldn't for the life of him go against his sister. He knew very well that there was nothing he can do, that whatever his sister decided upon has to be right. As far as Finn was concerned, his sister was always right, the fact that he was able to grow so big and strong was proof enough of that for him. If she pointed to the sky and said that it was the earth, then to Finn, the sky would be the earth from that day forth.
In the end, he just stood there and watched them take Elaine away, unable to do anything, knowing that doing something would only make it worst for her. Drowning in his own helplessness, Finn made his way to work. Yet, his feet would not take him there. His mind understood how it was, but his heart rejected it with all it had. There must be something he can do. There must be.
Finn recalled the conversation he had with his sister the other night. She said that a witch had entered town. That was it, a witch. If anyone could do something, it would have to be a witch. The tales told of the witches varied greatly. Some involved them eating children and summon plagues, but there were also those that told of witches who rewarded the kind-hearted and punished those who committed evil acts. Finn didn't know what kind of witch this one would be, but he had to meet with her, he must. This was his only hope.
That day, Finn did not head for the forest up north. Instead, he ran all over town, trying to find someone wearing black robes and a pointed hat. He had no money to offer, but fortunately, witches rarely have use for such things. If it weren't money, there were plenty of things he could offer, he could offer his service, let them take an eye or two, or even let his heart be dug out while he's still alive, whatever it takes to get his sister back.
"Damn it! Why is every single damned lodging in this town so costly?" A young man could be heard complaining while walking down the streets. Form his attire and luggage on his back, it was safe to assume that he was a traveler.
"I've heard that merchants and travelers frequent this town," replied a young woman in black robes traveling by the young man's side. "In fact, if they wish to head east, they're more or less forced to pass through here. The folks here take advantage of that."
"You'd think with so much business going on, they could afford to lower the price a little."
"Such is human nature, what can you do?"
"I'll be camping outside is what I'll do."
"Let's hope no vipers decide to visit you tonight then."
"Damn you, Morgan! Don't remind me of that!"
"P-please!" A voice came from behind the traveling pair, calling out to them. "If you may only spare me a moment!"
"What do you want?" said the young woman in black robes, stomping the ashen staff in her hand onto the ground.
"Are... Are you a witch?"
"Indeed I am. Do you need something?"
"Please... Please save my sister!"
The young woman turned to exchange glances with the young man she was traveling with, both quite unsure of the situation they've found themselves in. And while they were still undecided as to whether or not they should just keep walking, Finn was already blurting out his problem at them.
"I am afraid this is beyond my powers," the young woman replied after inadvertently hearing Finn out.
"To begin with, this one here is only an apprentice," the young man by her side added.
"A former apprentice."
"Right, so she was kicked out before she can even complete her apprenticeship."
"I left on my own accord."
"So there you have it, buddy. Besides, your sister said that she'll handle it, right? Perhaps you should just stay put," the young man advised.
"But..." Finn was about to protest, but no words came. Nothing came to mind because Finn knew that the young man wasn't wrong.
"What else are you going to do? Storm a warlord's manor by yourself? You would have just gotten yourself killed and your sister's sacrifice would have been for nothing."
Finn clenched his fist as he listened. Everything the young man said was painful to hear and the fact that he might very well be right made it even worst.
Dejected, Finn left with his head hanging. He thought that he should head back to work so that if and when his sister returns, they could still afford meals. However, he simply could not find the strength within himself to continue on his day as if nothing happened. In the end, Finn headed back home and sat right by the front door, waiting for his sister's return, not knowing if she would.
It was morning in the marketplace of Wilmot. While by all means, the place was bustling with people going to and fro, Auguste did not find it crowded in the slightest. This was due to the fact that he traveled with a pointy hat wearing witch by his side, and the moment the citizens of Vestal laid eyes upon the said hat, they would reflexively try to avoid whoever was wearing it. It felt somewhat uncomfortable, to have so many people wary of you.
"Let's just get our supplies and leave," said Morganna, not too happy with the cautious stares.
"Right," Auguste curtly replied, his heart not in it. The encounter prior still weighed heavily upon him despite him pretending otherwise. The pleas of the young man called Finn still echoed in his ears.
Auguste could sympathize with him, with the feeling of helplessness and not being able to do anything but to sit still and wait. Auguste had done his waiting, he had done so for three years and the one he was waiting for never came home. If Finn's sister never returns home, if that was the last he saw of her, what would Finn do? Nothing. There was nothing he could do. That was the heartbreaking answer Auguste arrived at.
With his thoughts elsewhere, Auguste and Morganna went to pick out some foodstuff they'll need on their way to Fortuna.
"Maybe some dried fruits would be good? What do you think?" asked Morganna.
"Hmm? Sure. I don't see why not."
"It's somewhat pricey though. Can you afford it?"
"Then maybe not?"
Morganna sighed at the half-hearted answers.
"So do you want them or not?"
Hearing the impatience within Morganna's tone, Auguste willed himself to snap out of it.
"You know what, yeah, let's get some. Having only dried meat all the time gets tiresome after all."
In a bit of a panic at the thought of having to deal with a moody Morganna for the rest of the day, Auguste hurriedly picked out the dried fruits.
"Oh, pardon me," said Auguste upon bumping into the hand of another in his hurry.
"That's fine. No harm done."
The reply came in a gentle voice, one rather familiar to Auguste. Turning towards the owner of the voice, Auguste found a man with hair as if made from golden silk, worn in a neat ponytail, and blue eyes that seemed to be reflecting a clear sky.
"You're... Albert," Auguste muttered, feeling shocked and surprised.
"Hm?" Hearing his name being called, Albert turned with a slight smile.
"Do you remember me by any chance?"
Albert thought about it briefly before putting on an apologetic smile, the charm of which would make any minor slight disappear.
"I apologize, but I am afraid that I do not recall you," said Albert, his smile still on his face.
"Oh... That's fine. That was some time ago. We met in a village near Lars. You saved both my friend and me from a burning Demon."
"Ah, now I remember. You're Helena's friend, Gusty, yes?"
"It's Auguste, actually. Gusty is just what Helena calls me."
"Alright then, Auguste. Well met."
"It's good to see you too. Um, how is Lena- Helena, I mean."
"She's doing well. She's a lot cheerier nowadays compared to before."
"Good. That's good to hear."
Occasionally, Auguste would hear about it, bards singing songs and tales of the ventures of the one called Albert of the Lightbringers. He had gotten quite well known in the three years since Auguste came across him. Helena's name was also mentioned in a few of these tales. That was how Auguste knew that Helena was still traveling with Albert.
"And you, what are you doing so far away from home?" Albert asked.
"Me? Just traveling around, I guess."
"Is that's so? That's good. It's always good to see more of the word. I'm sure the experience would be of use to you someday. It sure has done me plenty of good."
"I see... Say, Albert, can I ask you for some advice?"
"I have no qualms with that, but are you sure this is the place you like to have the discussion?"
"Oh! Perhaps after we're done shopping then?" said Auguste, remembering where he was and what he was doing.
"That would be for the best."
After they were done with procuring their supplies, Albert, Auguste, and Morganna moved to the town square. They proceed to have their talk by a fountain.
"Go on, what's on your mind?" Albert invited with a gentle smile on his face. He seemed sincere in wanting to hear Auguste out and his smile made Auguste feel that he could hit the man with anything and he'd accept it wholeheartedly.
And so, Auguste consulted with Albert about the encounter he had previously, the encounter he had with the one called Finn.
End of Chapter 27