A loud bang resounded within the room which resembled Auguste’s broiling emotions. His face twisted in anger and disbelief, scanned once more the reports beside his fist. Amelia was yet to be found. Traces were hardly visible. Nonetheless, the report, though failed to trace Amelia’s whereabouts, helped in narrowing down the possible options of escape the suspects used.
“They arrived from the port,” Diane concluded, a sour expression plastered on her face.
It has been two days since Amelia went missing and it has left Diane and Auguste deeply concerned. A Royalty could be used as a bargaining chip when it comes to foreign discussions, but they were more concerned with Amelia’s well-being.
“Has anyone found any suspicious vessels docked in the port that day?” Auguste’s sights remained on the reports. He wished not to let Diane see what expression he wore, though he believed she knew.
“None.” Diane shook her head in exasperation. “All the ships docked were reserved months ago—at least that was what the records we have on hand say. If our conclusion held water, then someone who had connections with the merchants had a hand in this.”
“We’ll recall the soldiers outside Aves. We’ll have them head to the east.”
Since Amelia was reported missing, soldiers in small numbers were dispatched all around Aves and its vicinity. Receiving Kanna’s help, the perimeter around Aves was considerably widened.
“Auguste, don’t work yourself too much. You don’t have to carry all the blame.”
Auguste gritted his teeth. “No. I’m partly at fault. I’ve isolated her from her original guards.”
“Auguste…” Diane approached Auguste from the side. Lifting her hand, she consoled Auguste as she slid her hand on his back. “Everything will turn out well.”
“I’ve only wanted to keep her away from harm, Diane.”
“I know. I know it very well.”
“This is the second time around. I’ve failed to keep her safe.”
“A king who can’t even protect his daughter, pathetic.”
“Uwaa—aah!” Kanna stretched her arms as she yawned. She slapped her cheeks and shook her head. “This is enough.”
Bags hung underneath her eyes—a mark of her unending nightmare.
Lifting her legs from the bed, she skillfully slid her feet into her boots. In a flash, a knot was fastened on her boots. Once standing, she swept a leather vest hanging beside the bed.
“I hope Birby had enough rest…” With quick steps, Kanna approached the door.
Upon turning the knob, a usual comment came out of Kanna’s lips. “You’re getting annoying.”
“I could say the same.”
The person before Kanna wore a similar set of bags. However, for a Princess, it was far from commonplace.
“Can you please not bother me like this, Clarissa?” A tone of respect has completely vanished from Kanna. However, knowing the situation herself, Clarissa understood.
“I’ve told you, I won’t rest if you don’t.”
“That doesn’t mean you should ambush me before I even leave the room. And I think you have larger bags than me, you know? So go and sleep. It’s not common for Princesses to stay awake—unlike me who is both a tamer and a hunter.”
“Then I guess you can call me a hunter too? I hunt those who don’t give themselves a proper rest.”
“I can’t believe you’re not hunting yourself.”
“Anyway, since I haven’t had a proper rest, then you too haven’t had a proper rest.”
“No. I’m sure I had a proper rest compared to you.”
“Those circles says otherwise.”
“Tsk.” Kanna expressed a frown. “Clarissa, please, let this issue rest. Unlike you, I’m used to having a varying length of sleep. It’s pretty common us from the Tribe whenever we are tasked to take lookout and scouting duties.”
“Still, I refuse. You’ve been swaying as you walk yesterday. You need rest, or you’re bound to miss small details regarding Amelia’s whereabouts.”
Kanna clicked her tongue once more. “Just where are those people tasked to keep you in check?”
“They fell asleep.” A light, proud smile was etched on Clarissa’s face. “Guess they can’t beat my will.”
“Your will to what?” Kanna was taken aback. She never knew someone would be proud of staying awake more than her servants. “Nevertheless, you’re the one who needs sleep.”
“I will.” Clarissa nodded. “But I wanted you to know this before I take a rest.”
Kana grimaced. “Please hurry up. I need to look for Amelia.”
“It’s not your fault. Don’t kill yourself over it. Else, Amelia would be saddened by your state when she comes back. So don’t push yourself and that wyvern too much.”
“Is that all?” Kanna was puzzled. She expected Clarissa to keep on blabbering to keep her from leaving the palace.
“Yes. That is all I wanted to say.”
Kanna’s expression softened. “Well, then, thanks.”
Kanna no longer bothered. All that matters to her was to find Amelia. She even failed to notice Clarissa sliding down the wall, holding her chest hard-pressed for air.
“Not resting… sure is hard.”
Not a wink of sleep. Clarissa forced herself to stay awake in order to impede Kanna and force her to rest. Since she did not know when would Kanna wake and start searching for Amelia, she remained at Kanna’s doorstep. As a result, every time Kanna opens the door, Clarissa would always welcome her like some sort of nightmare.
“You did great. This time, you’re the one who needs to rest.” Argent slid his hands underneath Clarissa’s knees and back. “But I guess you’re already are resting.”
Argent was originally against Clarissa’s idea to force Kanna to rest. However, due to the indignance Clarissa was expressing, Argent gave in and supported her.
“Everything is moving because of you. At least consider what is happening around here, sister.” Opposite the direction from where Kanna took off, Argent carried Clarissa.
Ahh… Since when did I become like this? I could have just ended everything. I was confident. I felt like I could win her by force. However, despite what I believed was what I would do given the situation, I was not able to act on it. I was at an impasse, contrary to what my reactions expressed.
She does not deserve this treatment. She’s an enemy—a terrorist who tried to tarnish the ties between Brent and Laurel.
A number had died with the first encounter with Evelyn. Even so, it was a battle. They were guards. They faced an enemy far above what they could handle. It was logical that they were defeated, that they died. And as what their job entailed, it was normal for them to die in battle. If nothing, it was simply a sad fate. Nothing more, nothing less.
Nonetheless, I believed they deserved a burial, or at least their mementos returned to their respective family.
But I need to know more. And if possible, delay the impending battle.
Frankly, I could hardly believe the time limit Celes gave me. Though it was safe to assume that it could happen within that time frame, I could not rely on it. I could not trust it. Because I for one knew that situations kept on changing. The truth today, may not be the truth tomorrow.
In the first place, Celes never told me the reason behind the three-month limit. She did tell me that she was tricking the Angels by impersonating the one I had killed. But why three months? Given what I knew about Celes, I believed she could trick the Angels for all eternity if she wanted. The only reason I had arrived at, is that something will happen that would disable Celes’s trick—or I was simply overthinking things and Celes only wanted me not to rely on her much? Honestly, I had no idea, I believed it leaned more towards that event rather than a whim.
The problem was how that something would occur or arrive.
“I could give you what you wanted, but of course, slightly different from what you requested. However, it’s still up to you to decide. In any case, the night is long, but the waves won’t stop whispering into your ears until you decided.”
Evelyn clicked her tongue. Her eyes were drawn to the necklace peeking between my legs. It was in plain sight—her eyes quivering in hesitation, her lips bit in indecision.
I’ll have you spill everything.
Aside from the Angels, Celes’s actions bothered me. Or if must say, I was curious about what she was doing. Besides, I was a being like Celes. A day might arrive where the need for me to do what she does arises. That was one thing I could not rule out. However, it was doubtful when I could do such, or if it was even possible for me—an incomplete being.
Evelyn kept her silence as I observed.
I can keep this up without sleep, but how long could she last?
I had caught a glimpse of the silhouette of the volcanic island recently. However, since Evelyn has yet to answer my demands, I refrained from propelling the boat.
“I’ll take a nap. Maybe I can think better afterward.” Evelyn pressed her forehead on her knees.
“Really? A nap? Now? Aren’t you afraid of falling to the sea?”
“Haah… So be it.”
“AAAAAHHHH! Just what in the hell did I just got into!” Evelyn stomped her feet as she walked out of a capsule. Her hands curled into a fist, she hit her bed just across the capsule. After a round or two of hitting her bed, she threw herself onto it face-first.
Muffled by the sheets, Evelyn said, “I have to formulate a plan or two. I need to get out this. But which? Which combination of items would get me out of that alive?”
Intuitively, Evelyn reached out to a small cube with a round protrusion on the top. “Let’s see. What items did I have in store again?”
After a quick tap on the cube’s sides, a holographic menu revealed itself. It was a device paired with her Virtual Capsule to check her character’s status.
“Let’s see… I have lost about 87 arrows, but I gained a few more armors and weapons. Their quality is a lot better than what I got from the Nobles. Well, their partly ceremonial armors anyway, so that should be expected.”
“And there’s the gunpowder. I never thought I’d see this one from Dwight’s house. But I guess it’s not as popular as I thought it would be. And I didn’t see any guns or canons around. Maybe they really did stop exploring this thing.”
Wait, maybe I can take advantage of it? But a gun huh. How does it even work? And the mechanisms… And if it’s manufacturing the parts, I better get those specialized shards from Academia. Wait, now is not the time to think about this!
Soon her stomach started to grumble. “Right. Now that I remember Amelia’s words, I have to eat. At least here I can fill my stomach.”
Evelyn’s feet took her to a small fridge in the same room. After a while of tapping her feet and staring at the contents of the fridge, Evelyn decided to take the milk out. She then took a bowl and a cereal box from a nearby cabinet.
More or less, the room was a simple studio flat painted mainly in white.
Seated, a bowl filled with cereal and milk, Evelyn swung her feet as she viewed the outside through the balcony. “This really suits my needs.”
As a lab rat since birth, Evelyn has proven herself to be a great source of information for researchers. Through that, she earned the right to select a quarter of her own, though limited to the organization’s partners.
“Let’s review once more.” Evelyn placed the cube on the table. She skimmed through her item list as she ate. “I don’t have many scrolls left. And the shards I have are useless on the sea. Boulders won’t do anything to her either.”
“But what if I accepted the terms? Would it really be that bad? No, she’ll probably use me as soon as we reached the island. Her surrendering with those abilities… she probably was aiming to lynch us.”
“I knew she was bad news, but not this much. But if we retreated immediately from before, things might have not gone this bad…” Evelyn shook her head. “No. The Queen will probably doubt my abilities if I failed to present anything. Failing to capture a powerless princess… I guess that’s quite harsh to accept.”
Evelyn munched and crunched her Cereal. “Now, how should I go about this.”
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