Pumpkin King

Chapter 38

Everyone was seated around the fire in the middle of the guild, listening to Erk tell stories about the mission as he stood on a table. Tamashi was sitting with everyone else sipping a drink. She preferred to let Erk take the spotlight, only adding things that he accidentally (or purposefully) left out.

Everyone was laughing at how perverted he described Sissy. Tamashi couldn't help but smirk. "This is coming from the guy who crawled in to my bed when I was naked." She commented. That got everyone else either blushing (Charlotte and Sara) or laughing at the embarrassed blush that was reddening Erk's face, except for Rosemary who just sat sipping tea. Except for Julio who jumped onto the table with Erk and slammed his foot down.

"Erk, you bastard!" You yelled, grabbing his friend by the collar. "Why do you get to see the naked chick?" He shook him. "Give me details, man!"

Erk was about to say something until he saw a dark aura coming off of Tamashi. "The 'chick' is sitting right here, asshat." The red head said darkly. Standing up, she grabbed him by the back of his shirt and pulled him off the table. "And the only reason he got to see me naked is because I'd prefer him in my bed compared to a dunce like you."

That caused everyone to look at the embarrassed Erk and start taunting him. "Damn, you move fast." Lucinda said pointedly. "Already getting into bed with a naked woman? Better slow down before you two bring another member into the guild."

The blush on Erk's face darkened to a near scarlet shade. But before he could say anything, Crest put a hand on Erk's shoulder. "Erk." The bigger man said sternly. "Do we need to have a talk?"

If people were laughing before, they were practically crying now. Even Bertrand chuckled. Lucinda and Julio were practically rolling on the floor.

Erk's jaw was on the floor. Then he shook himself and glared daggers at Crest. "No!" He jumped off the table and sat down with a huff. "To hell with you people. Have Dante tell you the rest."

While everyone laughed, Charlotte scanned the room. Dante was nowhere to be found. Neither was Lorelai. "I wonder where they went."

Outside the guild in the pumpkin patch, Dante was walking up to Lorelai, who was standing in the middle of the field and staring into space. When he got close, he rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "Uh, hey." He said. "What are you doing out here by yourself?" Lorelai didn't answer him. She just continued to stare off. Dante stepped closer, careful not to step on any pumpkins, until he was right behind her. "Listen," he said hesitantly, "I know that mission meant a lot to you, but it's over now. We won. I thought you'd be happy…"

Again she didn't answer him. Crestfallen, Dante started turning to leave until he heard her finally say, "They killed my family." Her back was still turned to him, but Dante kept looking at her, hoping she would say more. "Ever since it happened, I wandered around not know what to do with myself. I almost lost the will to live." That surprised Dante, but he didn't want to say anything in case it made her stop. "Then Master found me. He knew about what happened with Demon Horn. He offered me a place in his guild. He gave me a chance to get revenge for my parents and brother and the rest of Angel Wing. 'I'll find a way for you to get revenge.' He told me. That's why I joined Pumpkin King. And for a while, I found a new reason for living. But now that we've taken them down, I don't know what to do anymore."

It was then that Dante realized she was shaking. Her back was turned because she didn't want him to see her crying. But she couldn't stop herself anymore. She turned to him, tears running down her cheeks. "What should I do?"

Dante stood in stunned silence. He wasn't that good at these kinds of things like the Master and Lucinda were. But as she cried, he finally said, "Just…stay with the guild." She hiccupped and tried to wipe away the tears, but they kept on coming. So he kept talking. "If you can't think of anything to do, stay with us. Go on jobs and work at the bar and keep everyone happy. When Latran died, you were the one that tried cheering everyone up. We need you here. And…" he was blushing at this point. But he pushed passed it and growled in frustration before turning his eyes away." I…kinda need you too."

Lorelai stared at him wide eyed. Then it dawned on her what he was saying and her tears started flowing even more. Running over to him, she wrapped her arms around him and cried into his chest.

When Lorelai and Dante walked back into the guild holding hands, everyone broke out in cheers. Erk and Julio wolf whistled, much to their older friend's chagrin. Lucinda, Sara, and Charlotte practically squealed and dragged Lorelai away for questioning while Tamashi and Rosemary rolled their eyes. Becky gave her a small smile.

Crest grabbed Dante's shoulder and turned him around sternly. "We should have a talk."

Bertrand smacked the earth wizard in the back with his cane as he went to stand with Crest. "Indeed we should. We'll be having a word on the correct ways to court a lady as fine as our Lorelai."

Dante laughed half-heartedly. "Great…can't wait."

Everyone's cheering was cut short as Master Jack barged in through the door. "Gather around my seedlings! I have a big announcement!" Once everyone was turned to him, he smiled. "We have a new member!"

Without further ado, he stepped away from the door and everyone started cheering until they went into a confused silence. The man, for he was clearly a man, had a black sack over his head, tied shut with a rope around his neck.

"Oops!" Jack said. "Forgot about the bag. Those prison transport protocols, even though I told them the bag wasn't necessary. Let me get that off."

As Jack started untying the rope, Erk, Tamashi, Dante, and Lorelai studied the man curiously.

"All those pockets." Lorelai noted.

"Plus the candles." Dante commented.

"Those white and black pants look familiar." Erk mused.

"And didn't Master say something about a prison transport?" Tamashi finished.

The four looked at each other and blinked. "It couldn't be." They looked over at the figure just as Jack finished removing the sack, revealing fading grey hair and eyes to match.


The clearly confused Will looked around the building with an astounded look. "This isn't-.
Then he saw the smug looking Jack and he turned angry. "I told you I wanted to go to prison. You had no right bringing me here."

Jack just laughed. "Ho ho. That's where you're wrong. I had every right bringing you here. I couldn't let such a talented young man throw his life away just because of some past mistakes." He looked at the four, particularly Lorelai. "Any objections?"

Erk and Dante immediately answered, "None!"

Tamashi just shrugged, a slight bitter tone leaking into her words. "Not the first time you forced someone to join while they were bound in chains."

But despite their approval, Lorelai hesitated. This man had helped in her family's murder. Even though he had turned against his master in the end, she still couldn't help but feel resentful to him. But then Dante grabbed her hand and squeezed it softly with a grin.

Looking back at Will, Lorelai force him to look her in the eye. "You've done horrible things." Will didn't answer, but a look of pain flashed through his eyes. "But you aren't a bad person inside. I think…you deserve a second chance."

Will looked shocked. But before he could say anything, Jack stood in front of him. "You're an exceptional wizard, Will. You did great things while working in the dark guild. Imagine all the good you could do on our side?" He held a hand out to him. "You have a lot of power. More than most in this room. I'd like to do the things the rest of my seedlings aren't capable of. When their power isn't enough, I want you to be there to lend them yours. William Torch, will you become Pumpkin King's first S class wizard?"

The entire guild waited in anticipation for Will's answer. Even Val was quiet in his sleep, not even snoring a little.

Will stared at the crowd, then at the building around him. He sighed. And then he finally smiled. "You leave me no choice. I accept."

The words had barely left his mouth when Erk, Dante, Julio, and Lucinda started cheering. "Go grab the stamp and break out the booze! Party time!"

Jack couldn't help but smile at the spectacle. Then he looked at Will and said, "You'll have your hands full taking care of these kids. But I have faith in you." Then he shoved the man over to the bar, "Now go and enjoy yourself, time to celebrate!"

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