Pumpkin King

Chapter 65

Jack and his group of guild members trudged on down the winding staircase with heavy hearts. They had lost track of how long they had been descending since Lorelai and Azusa fell. Everything looked the same in the meager lighting. And every step down only revealed more steps to be taken. Just how far into the ground they were going they didn't know.

Dante lagged behind the group, constantly looking over his shoulder. Some small part of him hoped that the two would run up behind him, out of breath but unharmed. He knew it was pointless. That fall was a long one. They couldn't see where they fell after the darkness overtook them. That had been a deliberate attack against them. They were falling behind. It was only natural for them to be targeted.

Erk and Charlotte kept glancing at him. They hadn't wanted to leave the two behind either but there was nothing they could have done for them. It was different for Dante though. He and Lorelai had grown really close since they had gotten together. It was probably killing him not to chase after her. They wanted to go and console him, but when they tried, Crest stopped them and shook his head. Even so, they wanted to talk with him. To try and reason with him.

But it wasn't them that stepped back to do it. Nobody stopped her, not even Crest, when Becky slowed down to match his pace.

They walked together in silence for a moment before Becky spoke up. "Stop worrying." Her way with words was something to be desired.

Dante hunched his shoulders and tried not to get angry at her. "And you would like me to do that how? She's my girlfriend. I'm going to worry that she fell into a god damn hole!"

And it was at that point that Becky grabbed him, swung him around, and pinned him to the wall. "And what the hell are you going to do by worrying?" The rest of the guild stopped, even Jack. They all turned to see what was happening but none of them stopped it.

"You're dragging behind and making the rest of us slow down as well." She hissed at him. He tried to argue back but before he could Becky cut him off. "You keep back here because you hope you'll get attacked like Lorelai and Azusa were." He went still. She was right. Deep down he had been hoping that would happen. "You want to end up like Lorelai. So you can help her or protect her or some shit?"

Dante tried to push her off but she wasn't moving. "And where would that leave us? Not only would we be missing two members, but three. We would be severely undermanned. Our chances at getting out of here alive would plummet."

This time Dante did manage to get away from her. He took a few steps, putting himself between her and the rest of the guild. "And what the hell would you know? Can we even call ourselves a guild if we leave our friends behind like that?" He demanded. "How can we call ourselves the good guys if we abandon them just because we have to keep moving?" He glared at her. "What gives you the right to make that call?"

Nobody saw it coming when Becky slugged him. Right in the jaw. Erk and Charlotte rushed forward only to be stopped by Crest and Will. The two looked up in confusion only to see Crest, Will, and even Jack watching the exchange attentively. Like they were trying to read every emotion that crossed Becky and Dante's features.

The earth wizard staggered back from the blow. Becky was visibly shaking. "You don't get to say that to me." She walked up and grabbed him by the collar just to punch him again. "I get to say it because it's true." Another punch. "Because we have to put the guild, no the world, before an individual." A punch. "Because I…I had to make it before." Her anger evaporated. Her fist lowered but she kept her grip on him. "I've left people behind. I left…him…behind. Because I had to. Because there was no other choice. Because he wanted us to go without him." Images of Lighten Town swam into her vision. Of the one they left behind.

Crest visibly tensed while Charlotte tried to suppress her tears. Erk didn't even try. He knew what she was feeling right now. The weight he felt for that decision followed him every day. It had been their decision, his and Becky, to leave…to leave Latran behind. Well really it had been all three of theirs decision. But they were the only ones left to feel the burden. So he let himself cry. Not only because of his own pain though, but for her as well. He choked back the sobs but that was it. He had to cry enough for Becky too.

Dante finally flinched. He took each blow head on, but it was her words that hurt him the most. He had been so wrapped up in his own worry and anger that he hadn't even bothered thinking before he spoke. Becky was probably effected the most by the decision. He loved Lorelai. He really did. And it had clouded his judgment. He wasn't the only one feeling worried. Becky, Erk, Charlotte, even Jack was probably worried. But they all trusted their guildmates to keep themselves alive.

Dante swallowed a few times before he finally got the words out. "I'm sorry." He said.

Becky took a few deep breaths before she managed to get herself under control. "Good. Now let's keep moving."

She pushed her way passed Dante, Erk, and the others until she was passed Jack. But the guild master didn't let her pass. He grabbed her shoulder, lowered himself, and whispered, "Your anger could very well get you killed just as much as his worry."

She paused. "The difference is that I'm not slowing us down." She replied just as softly.

He sighed. "Killing them won't bring Latran back, you know."

She stiffened at his name. She never spoke his name anymore. It hurt her too much to even hear it. They were silent until she said, "No. It won't." Jack about let out a sigh of relief when she continued. "But it will put me to rest."

The veins on Hyde's forehead were fit to burst as Jilo knelt before him. The news of Angel and Rose's defeat angered him. A lot. To the point that he wanted to storm out of this room and reign death upon the Pumpkin Filth that had entered his domain. He wanted to lash out at Jilo for bringing him such news.

Jilo could read his Master's mood. Which was exactly why he didn't speak any more than necessary when relaying the information. No snark, no commentary. Just the facts. One wrong word and he would be…disassembled. He suppressed a shudder.

Hyde rose from his throne to tower of Jilo along with everyone else still in the room. His jaw was clenched so hard that it hurt him to open his mouth and shout, "Nightmare's Begin! Allies! No more waiting!" He leapt off the raised dais and landed a few steps from the exit.

"We. Move. NOW!"

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