“I don’t believe in what you are advocating for,” Evelyn said.
Amelia responded with silence, to which Evelyn sighed. Perhaps she expected a glare, a twitch, or even a slight frown, but none of those happened to climb on Amelia’s face. She was unperturbed.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Evelyn raised her brow. It was a surprise. An overwhelmingly unexpected behavior, but she was careful not to express it through her actions. However, her thoughts were thrown into confusion.
Is she that different? Like, really?
Evelyn searched her experience with LMOs. She did not boast it, but she had met several NPCs, both Royals, and Nobles alike. Among those, it was not rare to see such people advocating for an idealistic cause. At times, even, they were blinded by those ideals that they served to be a zealot of their own belief. And so, she, after declaring her stand on the matter, expected an outburst from Amelia.
Evelyn took a glance to the side, observing the movements of her party members. A party of five including herself.
On the left was the young knight who first pledged his loyalty to Evelyn. His name was Oswald Dwight, the second son of the House of Dwight. Overall, he wore a thick set of leather armor with bits of steel protecting his chest, shoulders, knees, and elbows. On his face was an open-faced helm that revealed his sharp facial features, as well as a twinge of brown fringes. His dark-brown eyes peered through the horizon, seemingly bored of the dark, harsh sea.
Next was the girl, Marina and the man, William. Handpicked by Evelyn herself, Marina served as the groups’ supporter while William served as the main vanguard.
Marina sported a hair a few inches down her shoulder. On her head was a wooden headband, keeping her somewhat fluffy hair at bay from covering her childish face. At the age of 19, Marina was considered an excellent rearguard, which made her fall into the category of being a supporter. Armed with a wooden staff spearheaded by a rectangular metal, she kept her head down while leaning on the side of the boat. From what it seemed, she took advantage of her long brown robe and took a nap.
William had a large build. His shaved head and his rotund features invited a sense of caution. His sharp eyes and sharp nose further invited unease. However, William was not all look. Knowing that he could not help himself from eating and from drinking in large amounts, he used the state of his body to add weight to his attacks. In Libet, he was known to be almost unmovable, a testament of his weight coupled with his favored full plate armor. However, this time around, his armor could not be seen.
Last but not the least was Veight. Veight was not originally a party member. After he trained Evelyn in the art of using the rapier, he chose to accompany Evelyn. This fact was what bothered Amelia dearly.
From what it seemed, the sloshing of the waves was able to drown Evelyn’s mutters. Perhaps her party members thought she was about to interrogate Amelia, to which they gave way and moved towards the front of the boat.
No matter the case, Evelyn frowned and again cast her eyes towards Amelia.
“I think you understand the situation right now… or you don’t?” Evelyn held a high expectation of Amelia. Though little did she know of her in person, her exploits, which turned into malicious rumors in Libet, made Evelyn think otherwise. After all, Evelyn did not have a religion, and her views made her evaluate Libet on a standpoint leaning towards the negative side.
“Whatever… do you mean?” Amelia questioned, keeping her eyes cast on the rugged surface of the wood.
“I think you already know that. Something that obvious should have already popped up inside your head. If it didn’t, then I guess you’re just an average royal.”
Amelia knew what Evelyn meant. In fact, Amelia wanted to revisit the scene and laugh her guts out. In the literal sense, she found the matter as a surprised. A surprise worth laughing her to her heart’s content.
In all honesty, Amelia found her move, to be held as a captive, as a ridiculous choice. However, it seemed to have paid off immediately, disregarding Kanna’s condition. After all, she herself became a witness. It was an evidence enough to write Liz off as a traitor to the crown—and possibly Mark too.
Despite that, Amelia played the fool.
“If you tell me more… maybe I would. There is no way for me to confirm. Not unless you speak of it.”
Evelyn clicked her tongue. “I’ll tell you if you accept my proposal.”
“…” Amelia shifted her sigh towards Evelyn. “And those are?”
[I’ll tell you anything I know about Libet. It’s nobles, the priests, the people whom I met before this request and so on. Practically anything I’ve scrimped up during my stay in Libet.] Then Evelyn grinned. [I’ll also act as a witness and as an aid to root those who of Laurel’s Nobles who still has connections with Libet.]
[And what do you want in return?]
[Support. Weapons, materials, new party members, legal passes, rights to a certain piece of land, and a contract. The contract would have both of us end our relationship after each of us has given what the other side needed. Basically, a one-time alliance. After all, I don’t want to be a gofer for somebody else.]
Amelia frowned. [How could I trust one that is willing to betray their comrades? It is not an action fitting for a Hero, so why would I place my trust in you? A person who, in the first place, intended interfere with the relationship with Brent and Laurel?]
[Hero this, Hero that. I don’t intend to do what I was entitled to. You people were the one who gave me that title after being summoned. And anyway, wasn’t that title supposed to be given to someone who achieved great feats? For me, being called a Hero just because I was summoned was a flawed logic.]
[Maybe Libet wanted us to feel shame, or to fear the disdain of the people if we commit a crime. But that won’t cut it for me. Being in this world and being called a Hero won’t make me act like a saint or something. I am here to have fun and experience new things. And sadly, being a person whom the people would revere is not on the list of my goals.]
[A self-serving Hero, huh.]
Evelyn chuckled. [You could say that.]
Evelyn was just being Evelyn. There was nothing wrong with being selfish and self-centered. Since this world is a game, at least in Evelyn’s mind, it does not matter whatever she wanted to achieve. She could hope to do whatever she wanted. And if she was not able to, she could always quit and start all over on a different server.
[But just like I said earlier, I don’t want to fight for your ideals. So, with that in mind, we have to cut ties after the contract’s conditions are met. But oh, let me warn you. This is something based on my experience, so I think it would be helpful for you.]
[And that is?]
[Trying to unite the people and changing how they view the demi-humans would cause a disaster.]
[I have no interest in what you think.]
Evelyn sighed. [If you kept this up, and if ever the war reaches your kingdom, you’ll probably end up crying in regret. Just in case you achieved what you wanted, your people would think twice when they encounter a demi-human. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. But that moment of hesitation would cost them their lives.]
Did you think I have not thought of that? Amelia wanted to retort but refrained.
[From what I saw in Libet, there is just reason for the seething hatred between the humans and the demi-humans or demons in their term. That hate has already been passed on to their next generation of people. It would take numerous years after one side has been vanquished before that hate stabilizes. And from the looks of it, that won’t happen within your lifetime. Not unless the war ends too swiftly.]
I know. I know that very well. Even I could foresee that. And besides, who has told you the scope of my ideals? You know nothing. Nothing at all.
It was fine and all for Amelia. She has long realized that being too idealistic is not what she had to take. Besides, she herself knew her bias. She did not intend to save Libet. In fact, Libet struggling against the demi-humans is what she wanted. They could exhaust themselves for all she cared. In truth, it has already begun. Supplying Brent with supplies and withholding it from Libet, it was like spitting in the face of those people who branded her as a demon. Besides, not all non-human races deserved peace. It was ingrained within Amelia’s core after meeting the Fairies.
But those thoughts are wasted on Evelyn, so she refrained from speaking.
Either case, there was a reason for Amelia to be around Evelyn. And thus, she replied, [I know. And doing something is better than doing nothing.]
Evelyn cracked a smile. “Couldn’t agree more.”
[Our difference aside, how about it? Willing to sign up?] Evelyn leaned forward, pressing her fingers on the wood before Amelia’s eyes.
“Let me… think about it.”
“Okay, but you only have a few more hours and a day, probably.” Evelyn stood and walked towards the back of the boat. She sat down on a plank and crossed her arms and legs.
There were numerous benefits in store from Evelyn’s proposal. In fact, being able to return and immediately driving the nail on Liz would be favorable, so Evelyn’s proposal was tempting.
In addition, though Amelia has forgone the state of Libet and had been focusing on the Angels alone, information is information. Even knowing the slightest movements in Libet would make a great reference for the future. However, in her current situation, just the matter of the Angels was already mind-wracking. But perhaps, for her mother, Diane, it would be of great use.
More importantly, aside from those discussed between Amelia and Evelyn, the matter of her necklace has lingered—far more than she had ever thought.
Celes kept on teasing her, or so she thought. Celes would utter words that accompanied a deep meaning, but those words were either pitfalls or oases. If she delved deep into her vague words, it would stem to several specifics, which was obvious. But that was what it made quite a task for Amelia. She had to plow her way through to find the meaning of Celes’s words. Often, it was complex, but sometimes rather simple.
Among those was the reason for controlling mana in its natural state.
Looking back to the time she fought against Celes in the lake, she first thought that controlling mana was a huge waste. In fact, it was impractical, a waste of resources.
But then, it became useful. Very useful in the realm of chantless magic. Not to mention the task of controlling the doll’s body.
But what else was it useful for? Amelia did find another use for it, but it made no sense. Simply, it was expanding her capability to see things that a normal human could not. It reached the point where she could see spirits, but technically, she was unable to communicate with them. Thus, she shelved it in her mind until she finds a mode of communication.
She did ask Fenrir regarding spirits, but Fenrir told her that it was useless. Rather than ask a spirit, which is lower than a Divine in every sense, she should focus on what a Divine is capable of.
That point aside, Amelia had a glimpse of it. A glimpse of what she concurred as a ‘soul’, or at least a part of it.
After she surrendered herself, she had herself cuffed, collared, and weakened to some degree to reduce the risk of retaliation. Unexpectedly, when Oswald tried to remove her necklace, in part of eliminating Amelia’s odds of surviving when she retaliates, a shock was generated and knocked Oswald back.
“Gh!” Gritting his teeth, Oswald tried once more, but the same result occurred.
William chuckled at the sight of Oswald and approached to stop him. “Let me try,” he said in a calming, yet low, voice.
Unfortunately, William met the same fate. And that was when Amelia found it odd.
Though it was true that Amelia had never let anyone try to remove the necklace aside from herself, she never thought it had that kind of defensive mechanism. However, recalling that Celes embedded countless, small-structured magic circle, it may have had that kind of mechanism. But Amelia did not know, for it was almost impossible to understand what had Celes placed inside it.
From that point on, Amelia expanded her vision by roiling her mana onto her irises. Though faint, Amelia saw the flow of mana on Marina’s staff as she tried to cast a disarming spell. And in turn, she saw how her necklace twinkled and propagated some sort of barrier to negate Marina’s spell. In short, the necklace was retaliating on its own.
At a certain point, Evelyn arrived and found the situation confusing. In all likeliness, Amelia’s necklace looked and felt nothing but an ordinary sacrificial crystal. Struck by curiosity, Evelyn tried to verify her party member’s statements.
From that moment, Evelyn was struck by a result that far differed from what the others felt.
“AHHHHCK!” A continuous, sharp pang crawled on her skin and made its way to her core. It was a burning, searing pain that numbed her senses.
However, her party members were quick to act and had pulled Evelyn away, leaving her panting for air.
Evelyn and her party members were not the only people who were puzzled. Amelia herself could not reason why the effect had been drastically different. But Amelia saw it for a moment, something inky and mist-like that had traveled from Evelyn’s body, towards her hand, and into her necklace.
The closest semblance she knew were the contents of the black marbles scattered around the Grave of the Heroes. Or in other words, a Hero’s soul.