Heroes: Into a New World

Chapter 2 Intermission

Strange as it was, the Heroes found themselves thinking more and more about school. Maybe it was the fact that they all had their childhoods ripped away. Or didn't have a childhood at all. Elwin didn't see the Heroes return to Maple World, so he entered the dorms as a dog, only to find the Heroes sitting on the floor just outside the closet in casual clothes. Books were flipped open, and markings were made all over the place on the pages. The room was quiet, save for breathing. Occasional questions were shot across the group, then pages were flipped quickly. Once the Heroes found the answer, they would scramble to note it down. Once they were done, each book was tossed aside as the Heroes threw on their battle gear and rushed past Elwin into the Maple World, each calling a greeting to the confused dog.

Elwin followed them as a dog, only to find Lily sitting upon a tree branch at their destination. Beckoning to Elwin, she flipped open a book. Elwin turned back into human and scrambled up the tree.

With a clear voice, Lily asked, "Portugal's capital?"

Hands shot in the air, with Lily picking Evan, whose tiny arms were waving around frantically. Evan smiled widely. "Lisbon!" Lily nodded, and he turned to the other five. Raising his wand, he called out Dragon Thrust, slamming into all five and pushing them back.

Lily continued, "What’s the integral of cosine x?"

This time Luminous yelled out as he moved, dodging any attacks that came his way. "Sine X!" With that, everyone was hit once by a large dark spear. Elwin blinked.

Turning to Lily, he inquired, "So, uh, what's going on?" Lily sighed at Elwin's cluelessness. "Combat training and studying. Their test are coming soon." Elwin just stared. Couldn't Lily just tweak their scores? Lily seemed to read his mind, for she answered, "And I'm not helping them. I've been using my powers a little too much, and Grendel says I can't use them for a while. Which means I'm on break. And that means I can't manipulate their scores." Lily paused, flipping the page, and called out another question. Aran answered, though she got it wrong. All other five heroes jumped on her, attacking her with everything they got. At this point, they attacked as they answered. Lily was testing their theory.

This went on for about an hour, until all the Heroes were worn down. Panting, they got ready for another Alliance meeting. Elwin just cocked his head. Talk about intense studying. He followed the Heroes as a dog, remaining hidden in Ereve. The Heroes arrived at the Alliance meeting out of breath. Taking their seats in the assembly, they all relaxed on their seats. The meeting started, with each area relaying the current situation of their areas.

Everything was alright in both Ereve and Edelstein. Victoria Island was also at peace. Aran reported Rien being normal, other than in the Riena Straits, where explorers are working to remove the Black Wings. Mercedes relayed that Elluel is still frozen, though the ice has been melting. It was all going nicely, until Aran dropped a bomb.

"So, since recently the activity of dark magic is high in Henesys, we'll take care of it. Since we are busy there and all." Nineheart raised an eyebrow, staring at Aran. "What do you mean by that? Henesys is meant for beginners, no?"

Aran nodded, and opened her mouth to explained when Luminous slapped a hand across her mouth. "Nothing, Nineheart. Just, ah, some trouble in Henesys, that is all." Nineheart frowned. "What trouble do you speak of? Do you require assistance?"

Evan immediately shook his head, jumping to add on. "Uh, just some trouble in Utah's farm, that's it!" Claudine stared at Evan strangely. "I do hope you aren't putting your family matters first, Evan. So far, the produce from Utah has been alright. Athena, do you know of their activity?" They all turned to stare at Athena, who shook her head. "That reminds me. I wanted to know what you were all doing in Henesys. I have seen quite the light show just before I came here. Care to explain?" The Heroes were visibly sweating, with Mercedes pinching Aran for blurting out their activities. Shade got up. "Nothing much, H-Athena. Just some training."

Aran ripped away Luminous' hand, as if to patch up her mistake. "Yeah! Just factorizing, you know?" Everyone stated at Aran. Elwin, hidden, groaned and buried his head in his paws. They were giving too much away?

Cygnus, who had not spoken during the meeting, finally spoke up. "Heroes. We don't appreciate secrets among us. If it is important, tell us immediately." Silence. The atmosphere was heavy. Finally, Phantom who was lounging on a chair, explained, with complete ease, "That's a new combo for Aran, Empress. Nothing big, just some old-fashioned combat training we used to do back then. The things you heard, Athena, were macro names. And we were doing some training on Utah's farm seeing that we can't exactly train in the mushroom hunting grounds, can we? You probably saw the last phase, where we moved from place to place attacking one another. I hope this clears everything up?" He smiled, and the rest of the Heroes stood stock still. If their accomplished liar wasn't going to get past Cygnus, they were in deep trouble.

Athena shook her head. "I don't remember..." Mercedes cut in, before Athena said anything else. "We didn't do it with you around, Athena. It's a free for all." Confusion washed over Athena's face, but she didn't question Mercedes. Nineheart and Claudine looked questioningly at the rest, who modded vigorously. Cygnus smiled at Nineheart. "I'm sure it's only training. After all, the Heroes did have their power drained when they woke up. And maybe it is a little more comfortable for them to train among themselves, unlike the newer methods." Nineheart grimaced. Claudine sighed. She seemed to accept the lie, while Nineheart was still suspicious. After a short while, he gave in. "Fine. But don't do this sort of thing where the beginners are. Go to Temple of Time, perhaps. We cannot risk anyone getting hurt." The Heroes nodded, afraid to say anything else.

Cygnus got up from her seat, a serene expression on her face. "I trust the meeting is adjourned?" When everyone nodded, the people parted. The Heroes rushed back to the Lumiere, all collapsing out of relief. Elwin scrambled onboard, transforming back to himself.

"Renault! To Henesys, and make it double!" Phantom called from the deck. The ship started to move. Mercedes pinched Aran, who whimpered. "You almost let the cat out of the bag! What were you thinking?" Aran shook her head, looking apologetic.

"Sorry. My bad." She patted Phantom on the back, who flew across the entire deck. "If it weren't for this guy, though, we would have been toast!" Phantom got up, adjusting his skewed hat and glowering at Aran. "And whose fault was it we almost got busted?" Luminous got up, helping Shade and Evan up. He glared at Phantom. "Very nice story you came up with, liar. Now everyone expects us to yell those names as macro names, and what if they ask Utah, huh?"

"Enough, both of you. Fighting among us is not good." Shade finally intervened, parting the mage and the thief. He raised his hands, and both flinched away. Shade sighed and folded his arms. "How about this. We don't train or study in Henesys. Any training involving this sort of thing, we take it to the roof of the dorm at night. It's normal to have light at night." Everyone nodded. Elwin frowned. "But eh, wouldn't you all be using your powers? What if someone comes up?"

Shade thought for a moment, but came up with nothing. What was stopping the students from coming up? Evan looked at everyone anxiously, before speaking, his meek voice loud in the silence. "Lock the door?"

Aran slapped a hand on her forehead. "Of course! No one is like Phantom, and we can easily get a magic lock! You are a genius, Evan!" She wrapped her arms around the Dragon Master, while the others looked on, amused. Trust Aran to call Evan a genius. Elwin nodded. "I have a lock you can use, but first... to bed! If I'm not wrong, the tests start tomorrow!" Everyone rushed to take a nap, before the day started and the school rush began.

The Heroes scrambled to school, finally collapsing onto their seats. Now, the tests they take in Maple World could be akin to this version, but one thing was different. There was no practical to pull up the marks. It was all theory based. Not to mention Physics, which was their hardest subject yet. Somehow, it didn't make sense to the Heroes. They could jump as per normal on the Moon. Mercedes could double jump. Luminous' light magic didn't work the way it was suppose to in the books. Clearly a dragon the size of Mir would have a hard time flying Evan around. Not to mention the force in both Aran's and Shade's attack was classified as illogical when applying Physics. Phantom's cards are no better. This subject often left the Heroes in a mess, and there were a couple of times when the teacher had to corrected them. Well, Von Leon had to.

The days passed by in a flash, the Heroes juggling combat training and studying. They managed to avoid Nineheart and Claudine, though one would wonder why they were muttering math equations under their breath. The Heroes had already memorized those.

Finally, the tests were over. Back in Shisoo International, Hawkeye jumped for joy. "Finally! It's time to relax! No more mugging, let's go!" He hooked Shade and Phantom, laughing. "You guys looked like you were going to die or something." Phantom just smiled and shrugged. With his impeccable memory, memorizing things were a piece of cake. Puking them out on the paper, though, was another. Shade sighed, unhooking himself from Hawkeye's arms. He flopped over his table, tired out.

Just as he was about to doze off, he saw a vague figure in front of him. Looking up, he saw Orchid. Hmm? Didn't she say... oh well. Her face was bright red.

"Hey, Stalker."

Shade frowned. "As I said, I'm not-"

Orchid cut him off, waving six tickets at him. "L-look! I just got some tickets to my concert and I have to invite someone, so here! You can go with your stupid friends! Not that you have to go or anything! I'm not expecting you, so there!" She huffed. Shade stared at her, then at the tickets. A concert? The last one they had been to was Angelic Buster's. It had been a blast, but then again, most of the Heroes were fans of her. With the exception of Luminous. Shade took out his phone, asking Orchid when the concert was. It was tomorrow, on a Saturday evening. "Hold on, I do believe I do not have anything on..." Shade opened his phone, before remembering he didn't put anything about his daily activities in here. Hmm. There was this new fangled thing called messages, and it worked like the lightbulb they had. Sending a message, he waited for a reply.


[ 1:04 P.M.]

Shade: is there anything on for tomorrow evening

[1:05 P.M.]

Aran: hunthijt

Mercedes: Correction: Combat training, the usual. Why?

Shade: there's a concert tonight do you want to go

Evan: imin

Evan: I mean I'm in

Shade: okay

Mercedes: Whose concert? Angelic Buster?

[1:06 P.M.]

Shade: orchid

Phantom: going

Shade: you could have just told me you are sitting right in front of me smirking away

Phantom: icu

Mercedes: That's a surprise. Never thought Phantom would go.

Aran: hunrjekdk

Phantom: lolwut

Aran: fooooollld

Mercedes: Aran is banging on her phone. I'm typing whatever she says through my contact.

Mercedes: Aran says Foooooooood. Emphasis on the 'o's.

Evan: Elwin says it's okay tI go.

Evan: to

Shade: we have clearance

Mercedes: I'm in then.

Aran: Merxedes whyyyyyyyyuuyyyyy

Mercedes: Can you not even get my name right? And besides, I do feel quite tired. A concert is perfect.

Aran: dine

Mercedes: Assuming you are saying fine and not thinking about dinner again.

Aran: Imbgoing

Phantom: Every1 but Lumibutt. 404 not found white cabbage lololol

Shade: hold on

Share looked up at Luminous, whose head was buried in his book. "Luminous! There's a concert tomorrow! Do you want to go?"

Luminous turned to face him, shaking his head. "Not really. The last time I went to one, the petty marigold danced on his chair. I would like to avoid such an experience again."

Phantom grinned and poked his tablemate. "Says the wet blanket who brought a book to study at a concert! You were asking to be used as a stand."

Luminous glared at Phantom. "Pfft. But then again. Only someone like you would dance your embarrassing moves.”

Phantom was speechless for a second, before he smiled wickedly. "Mhmm. But everyone seemed to love my moves. I wonder, who is the old man here, white butt?"

Shade sighed. As the two bickered, he returned to his phone. Orchid looked impatient. "So?" Shade shook his head. "Five of us are available, so hold on..." Motioning to Orchid to take the empty seat next to him, Shade typed back Luminous' reply.

[1:08 P.M.]

Shade: lumi says he doesn't want to.

Luminous: I would rather spend a day with Lania than the petty idiot.

Phantom: so now u use the phone. Ohohoh.

Luminous: im a stick in mud and I suck at lifejsjskd

Shade: someone help they are fighting again

Shade: never mind they both shut up already

Aran: youmakequickword

Mercedes: Well. How many tickets are there?

Shade: six

Mercedes: Don't waste it, ask someone else.

Shade looked up to see Phantom already awake. He had taken a ticket from Orchid and was dancing around avoiding her hands. He read out the ticket, "Premium ticket! Access to back stage after the show. Seating... at the front?"

Orchid snatched the ticket and marched back to Shade. Shade smiled sheepishly, to which Orchid flushed. "Sorry about him. But a premium ticket?"

Orchid flicked her hair over her shoulder, her face turning red. "Yeah! Just some extra ones that no one wanted to buy!"

Shade looked around the classroom, spotting a Hawkeye staring at him with a wide-eyed puppy look. Luminous closed his book, getting up. "Shade. Give my ticket to someone else. As Mercedes said, don't waste it." He left the classroom, presumably going back to the dormitory. Shade frowned. Who would want to go? He looked up at the other trio of students in front of him, two of which who were currently getting bugged by the chatty boy in the cap. Ah.

"Hawkeye. Do you want to go?" The other two second-years beside him turned to stare at him, then turned to face Hawkeye, before Phantom quickly turned away to stuff his books into his bag. Hawkeye feigned ignorance, trying to look surprised and failing miserably. His large hopeful eyes were a dead give away. "W-what? To Orchid's concert? Well... if you want me to..." He acted as if he didn't have a choice, avoiding the glares from the other two. Shade covered his mouth to block a chuckle when the ruler landed smack dab on Hawkeye’s shoulder with a thwack.

"You have to finish your homework first. Or Mr. Stan will get you!" Mihile huffed, pointing the ruler at his friend’s face. “You still owe him three weeks worth of homework!” Hawkeye froze, before laughing nervously. "I’ll take care of it, don’t worry! I’ll just pop by to the concert and back, nothing to it!”

But immediately he whirled back and his palms were face down on Shade’s table, his eyes shining bright enough to rival Luminous’s crystals. “So Eunwol. Really?"

Shade sighed. Hawkeye hiding his wants? No chance. He turned to Orchid, who looked devastated. "Orchid. We'll be there. Thank you for getting these tickets, we appreciate it."

Orchid folded her arms, looking away. "I said they were leftovers! I-I didn't specifically request for these! Now go and give them to your stalker friends already!" She pressed the tickets into Shade's hands and ran away. Phantom chuckled at Shade's expression and took a ticket. He passed one to Hawkeye, who didn't seem like he could hold in his excitement. "Okay! Meet you in the dorm lobby tomorrow!" Shade and Phantom nodded, and quickly got out of class before Aran decided to come in to haul their butts out.

Aran decided that morning till evening was to make up for combat training, and the training ground floor was very cleanly wiped with their butts by the time they were released to get ready. The Heroes returned to their specific homes to get ready, while Luminous returned to Lania. He seemed rather happy when he was finally allowed to go home. Phantom whispered something about a lolita complex and was promptly given a impromptu sparring fight.

Somehow, the winner of that fight was Aran.

In the dorm lobby, Hawkeye was dressed casually, though he was pacing around. When the rest arrived, he was shocked. Evan was dressed in a plaid shirt and a pair of shorts and sandals with Mir trotting beside him. Shade came in a frilly white shirt that Hawkeye was pretty sure that pirates wore only in movies. He also wore a pair of long pants and shoes, with a red sash tied at his waist under his shirt. Aran was dressed... in her usual outfit, no surprise there. Phantom showed up in a cat-eared hoodie with a long-sleeved shirt and dress slacks. All for a concert. But then, Mercedes was no better, with her picnic sundress, straw hat and neon bangles.

“What….. What are…” Nah, Hawkeye thought better of it. These dorky transfer students wouldn’t know a troop of walking fashion disasters even when they were in front of a mirror.

Mercedes flicked her hair behind her, looking pleased with herself. "Come on, we are going to be late. Where is the concert?"

Shade looked at the tickets, confused. How did addresses work here again? In the Maple World, the concert venues had the largest signs indicating where they were. Not to mention that the concerts were usually held in the same place, be it the Event Area or in one of the towns. It's usually the Event Area.

Hawkeye laughed nervously. "So, uh, this means you don't know where to go?" All the people in front of him shook their heads. Sighing, Hawkeye gestured for them to follow him. "Come on. I'll lead. Let's go!" They walked towards the concert venue, and Hawkeye kept flinching when he saw someone staring. The fashion disasters behind him seem to be unaffected, laughing and discussing what the concert would be like. Hawkeye noted that for some reason, they kept talking about not wearing their casual often. Their definition of casual... Hawkeye hoped they didn't pass by any fashion designer. They would faint on the spot.

Once there, everyone was ushered to front. One thing about the front, they could see and touch Orchid's hands if she reached out to them. Everyone settled into their seats, waiting for something to happen.

The hall dimmed, and the spotlights turned on. Silence across the concert, until the spotlights focused on the stage. Smoke billowed out onto the stage, and the idol appeared, clad in black and gold. It was similar to Wing Master Orchid, but then again, it was in accordance to her theme of the concert.

Lights started to flash different colors, and everyone started to scream. Orchid on the stage sang and dance, people waving light sticks and singing along, though some were a little off tune. The ones at the front were enjoying the concert, though they weren't singing. Evan was sitting on Aran's shoulder, hugging Mir and waving his lightstick, humming along the music. Mercedes waved as well, her neon bangles actually glowing in the darkness of the hall. All around them, people were screaming Orchid's name and yelling various forms of 'I love you'. Hawkeye was already dancing on his chair, singing along. Shade and Phantom were pretty much standing on their seats, avoiding Hawkeye. When Orchid stretched out her hands to touch the fans, her eyes landed on Shade and she flushed. Her voice became louder. Evan, sitting on Aran, gave a high five to Orchid, laughing and giggling.

Nearing the end of the concert, Shade looked up and spotted something. His eyes darkened. His attention focused on Orchid as she moved, then he glanced up again. In that split second, he saw movement near one of the spotlights just above Orchid. And it happened.

A loud snap, and the spotlight was falling. Everything slowed down. The sounds around him became muffled. Shade drew back his hand and whispered, "Blade Imp."

The familiar purple spirit formed around his arm and Shade threw it forward. It hooked around Orchid's outfit, and yanked her towards him. She fell off the stage, Shade wrapping his hands around her before they both crashed to the ground. Then a crash was heard, followed by screaming. The crowd had seen the spotlight crash where Orchid was standing. Panic ensued. Everyone started to run. Shade hugged Orchid close, as the crowd started to turn into a stampede. Spotlights were starting to fall, and no one wanted to be crushed.

Shade felt feet trampling on him, as he kept Orchid underneath him. He could feel Orchid trembling. Shade gritted his teeth, trying to wince. He could hear Evan calling for him, but Shade could not speak. If he did, Shade would have yelled in pain. Once he felt the feet on his back were gone, he looked up to see if it was safe. Shade heard a loud snap, and looked up. A mistake. He saw a spotlight coming straight for him. Shade gripped Orchid, tearing her from his clothes that she held tightly and threw her. Her bounced onto the floor nearby, and Shade felt a searing pain on his head. Black spots danced around in his vision, and he felt glass shards near his fingers. He could see the rest of his teammates and Hawkeye from behind Orchid. Shade felt himself tip, and the last thing he saw was Orchid staring at him with fear and shock. How funny. Shade thought, as the world turned black. How similar it was to when the seal was casted.

"Shade! No!"

The rest of the Heroes were pushed out of the concert when the panic occurred. They had seen Shade fall, but they could not do anything when they were pushed away. Once out, Hawkeye seemed to begin fretting. "Orchid! Eunwol! Where are they?!" Evan pointed back into the hall, his eyes large with shock. "He's still in there! We gotta help him!" Everyone nodded, and Hawkeye gulped. "Wait, we are going back into the danger zone!?" Phantom nodded, staring at him. Hawkeye took a deep breath, adjusting his cap. A determined expression on his face, Hawkeye gave a thumbs up. They ran back in only to see Orchid being tossed towards them and a spotlight landing on Shade's head. Glass shards shattered everywhere.

His head was bleeding. His health was low. Shade's face had a few cuts, all bleeding. His fingers twitched. Shade's eyes started to close, and he fell forward, landing on the glass shards.

Orchid let out a shriek. Everyone froze. Evan let out a cry, "Shade! No!" He ran towards the body, Mir hot on his heels. Everyone else was stunned. Evan picked up Shade and started to tug, his eyes growing tearful. Phantom looked down, Mercedes had her hands over her mouth. Hawkeye tipped his hand to hide his eyes. Aran grimaced and walked over, lifting Shade over her shoulder. "Oi! Orchid! Where's the infirmary!" Orchid seemed stunned, but her hand lifted and pointed towards a direction. Aran nodded, and yelled at the stunned idiots. "Come on! We gotta get this guy back up!"

Hawkeye and Orchid seemed stunned. The rest followed after her, rushing after Aran. Hawkeye turned to Orchid, fidgeting. “So.. uh, shouldn’t we call the ambulance?”

Aran dumped the bleeding pirate onto the bed, with Evan rushing over. Pressing on the wound, Evan let out a sigh of relief. “He isn’t that badly injured yet. It’s a critical hit, he’s dangerously low on health. I’ll work on the wound, Phantom, could you heal him for now?” Phantom nodded, and tapped his cane on the floor. Magic swirled around it and formed a staff, commonly used by mages. Phantom grasped both hands on the newly formed staff, and began to heal Shade. Evan was tending to the wound, taking out a health potion and rubbing some of the liquid on Shade’s wound.

The wound sealed up after a while, and Evan got to cleaning Shade up. His outfit was ruined, that was for sure. The rest of the Heroes sat there, quiet. Mercedes got up. “There has to be some reason why the spotlights all fell down. Evan, we are going to check what happened.” Evan looked up, corking the bottle. “Wait. I’m following you. I want to know what caused Shade to fall. It must have been pretty powerful. Come on, Mir.” He gestured to the dog next to him, and followed Mercedes. Aran stayed behind. “It’s kinda high, and I don’t think I can do much. I like my feet on the ground.” Phantom remained silent, watching as Shade’s health went up. He was still unconscious.

Evan and Mercedes went backstage. “Seems like Orchid and Hawkeye are gone. Come on, let’s hurry up with the investigation.” He pointed up at the ceiling.

Mercedes nodded. She aimed for the ceiling and jumped. Once. Twice. She grabbed one of the cables on top. “Up here. The stuff holding up the spotlights seem to be these trusses here.” She waved to Evan. Evan nodded. He couldn’t get up there, but at least Mercedes can. She examined the trusses. “Looks like they were cut. They are quite clean. There’s a burnt part as well. Either someone attempted to melt it. That’s what it seems like. What about down there, Evan?”

Evan had been investigating the entrance to the dressing rooms, and he paused. “I sense negative energy here.” Mir piped up next to him. “I think there was a Dusty here! It’s gone for now. The energy left behind is quite…. oh!”

Evan turned around when Mir suddenly exclaimed to see a large crowd of Dusties materializing behind him. He turned back to see another large crowd already advancing on him. Gulping, he took out his wand. “Mercedes… Ambush!”

He waved his wand, and Mir resumed his normal form. Mercedes clung onto her cable, taking out one bowgun. She looked around, and spotted the flying Dusties. She pointed her bowgun at them and shot. They were taken down, but with Mercedes still on the cable, she was unable to use both bowguns, and that extended to her skills.

Meanwhile, Evan below was taking care of the mob quite alright. Activating Dragon Booster had been a good move. Now, Evan was just using Magic Flare over and over again. The Dusties were all defeated quickly enough by both people. Mercedes smiled and gave a thumbs up to the Dragon Master. She turned back to the trusses, examining them once more.

“Now that I think about it. It reminds me of the Poison Dusty. And with the sudden amount of Dusties appearing, I think there might be a chance of a Troublemaker. Though, I wonder who it belongs to.” Mercedes got down from the cables, landing on the floor nicely. Evan nodded.

Digging in his pockets, he pulled out his phone. “I know Luminous shouldn’t be here, but I think it would be best to inform him. And Elwin. They don’t know about this.” He sent a message to Elwin. Mercedes nodded. “Come on, Evan. Let’s go back to the rest. Shade should be up by now.”

Meanwhile, Shade was already sitting up. He was already getting off the bed when they arrived. Phantom grinned. “His health is back up to full. I checked.” Shade nodded, though picking at his hair. “My hair is sticky…”

Aran laughed. “Yeah! ‘cuz you got both blood and potions in it! It gives your hair a nice gradient though!”

Everyone gave her a deadpan stare.

Evan sighed. “Come on, let’s go out.”

The Heroes were just about to exit when suddenly the door flew open. People clad in white rushed into the room, having at least two people grabbing one Hero. Aran required ten in order to stop all movements. And even then, the ten people had to be replaced every second. The Heroes were dragged out of the room, and they spotted people in blue rushing into the area. Mercedes and Evan could only hope that there were no more Dusties.

They were all given a check-up outside the hall. One person kept questioning why Shade had blood in his hair. He didn’t get a response. Shade ignored him all the way. After a while, they were released, though one person kept yelling at the rest to find the injured kid that protected Orchid. The Heroes remained silent. Phantom kept nudging Shade, who pushed him away.

Hawkeye found them, after a while. “Hey! Are you all okay?” He looked genuinely worried. “I called the ambulance.” He looked at Shade strangely. “Aren’t you injured? You seem fine to me now! Are you okay?”

Shade nodded. “Yes. I’m alright. Just a scratch and some bleeding. I passed out for a few minutes. There was nothing to be worried about.” Hawkeye patted Shade on the back, sighing and hanging his head. “Thank god! You worried me there for a second, Eunwol. Did you know that Orchid was actually fr-EOWCH!” He flinched away from Orchid, who had pinched him in the arm. She shot daggers at him, before her attention was turned to Shade.

“You! Stupid Stalker! Next time, don’t drag me off the stage! That was not the time to be stalking me, you stupid stalker!” Orchid huffed, before storming off again. Shade looked more confused than anything else.

Mercedes sighed, before she noticed her phone was ringing. Picking it up, she saw a message from Luminous.

[8:11 P.M.]

Luminous: Coming over. I hate you all.

As soon as she put down the phone, she heard barking, and who else was it but Elwin who rushed to their side. Evan bent down and hugged the small dog, with Mir looking on jealously. Behind him, Lily and Luminous shifted through the crowd. “Let’s go somewhere else where there isn’t that many people.” Everyone nodded, and followed Luminous. Shade paused and turned to Hawkeye, who was tagging along. “Hawkeye. No. Could you go to the backstage instead? We will meet you there.” Hawkeye frowned, stopping. He tilted his head, studying Shade for a moment. “Okay…? Is it the country boy secrets thing? Or more of a clique that I’m not part of thing?” Shade shrugged. “Neither? Just… it doesn’t concern you. And if you do go, I think Luminous wouldn’t like that. He is kind of grumpy right now.”

Hawkeye looked shocked. “But doesn’t he look like that all the time?!”

Shade had to stifle a laugh. Of course Hawkeye would point out Luminous’ face was always a scowl. “Well, yes and no. I can tell. But please, just to help both you and me, go backstage. If anything happens, I’ll call you, okay?” Hawkeye nodded, and turned and returned backstage.

Shade quickly caught up with the rest, who had retreated to the side of the concert hall. Luminous stopped, turning around. His red eye flared up as he glared at everyone. “Of course on the day off when I actually do get to go back to Lania and relax you find trouble. Of course.” Aran raised her hands in the air. “Sorry, Luminous. It just happened, you know? So just take it into your stride.” Phantom shrugged, grinning away. “Maybe that’s why you shouldn’t leave us alone for more than a minute.”

Shade whacked the two of them before they could start arguing. Lily meowed, getting everyone’s attention.

“Look, there is a lot of negative energy here. If we don’t tend to it quickly, a Troublemaker might appear and we wouldn’t even be here to deal with it. So we need to draw it out.”

Evan looked thoughtful. “What sort of negative energy? Who’s the source?”

Elwin shrugged, or shrugged as much as a little puppy can do. He looked towards the audience outside, pointing a paw at them. “I think it’s from them. You know how hardcore fans can be. All of you should know. Whatever negative energy must have gathered in the hall, causing Dusties to manifest.” Mercedes nodded. “Makes sense. But what can we do to drag out the energy…”

She paused, before a sly smile appeared on her face. Aran looked at her, a little uncomfortable. “This is going to be so good, I’m kinda scared.” Mercedes chuckled darkly, nudging Phantom. Phantom blinked at her for a bit, before a scary look came over his eyes. His smirk was evil, his low laughter was pretty much sending chills down everyone’s spines.

The resident shippers were on board.

“I do hope we are on the right track, Mercedes.” Shade finally asked, as he was being pushed.

Mercedes smiled sweetly at him. “Don’t you worry, Shade. Everything will be just fine with Elwin and Lily. All you have to do is go out on stage and wow the audience, hmm? It’s just that simple. You are Orchid’s saviour, after all.”

The Heroes, or well, Phantom and Mercedes, and Luminous once he got what they were trying to do, convinced Orchid to continue the concert. They offered to be her bodyguards, just in case anything happened. Well, they volunteered Shade. Orchid had at first rejected the idea, until Mercedes dropped that the fans were just dying to know what happened, and if their idol was safe. That drove Orchid to call everyone back into the hall. Luminous was to shine the light on her, though no one questioned why he was able to do such a thing when the spotlights were down. He still managed to with ease.

Mercedes was busy cleaning Shade’s outfit as she hummed. The manager had thought it was a brilliant idea to give Shade a medal of honor, for saving Orchid. Of course, a medal Mercedes provided herself. Or maybe it was the fact that Orchid said it was a good idea. Maybe. Though she took back her words once Mercedes requested her to give it to Shade on stage. She had stuttered, before yelling at Mercedes. Phantom just slid over, and told her that if she didn’t, Shade would be given the medal by the police, and her chance at embarrassing Shade was gone forever. After all, who wouldn’t want to be given a medal by the police? An idol, not so much, right?

All they had to convince Orchid was suggest the idea to Shade in front of her, and once she saw Shade backing away, she believed Shade was actually embarrassed. So she agreed.

Now, her songs were going on, and Shade just stared ahead. The blood was cleaned off his clothes to the best of Mercedes’ and Evan’s abilities. Evan looked apologetic, while Mercedes just looked excited.

“There’s your cue! Put on that hat and rescue the prisoners from Orchid!” Mercedes placed a hat on him, hiding his face and pushed him out on stage.

Shade, on stage, immediately went stiff. What was he suppose to do? Save the prisoners? Oh. He walked forward cautiously, only to see Orchid whip the area before him. He flinched and moved back a little, before remembering what Mercedes told him.

“Orchid isn’t exactly going to hit you. All you have to do is to pretend. And dance a little. Don’t worry, Shade. It’s the perfect plan.”

Of course. Elwin and Lily would seal all the Dusties into a Dust Zone, preventing anyone else from seeing them. It had to be swift. Luminous was above, just in case something else happened. Phantom was nearer to the audience, as with Aran. They can deal with handling the group.

Phantom below started to laugh. Hard. Aran was smirking next to him, watching the show.

“Have you seen anyone dance so bad it looks good?” Aran nudged Phantom, who had to try and stop his laughter.

“Clearly I’m looking at one such example now.”

Once the song was over, Shade stopped, his face slightly red. He had heard Phantom and Aran’s laughter, so it was really embarrassing. Other than that, it was a good workout, he guessed. Orchid walked up to the front, and started to speak.

“Hello to you all out there! Everyone apologizes for the sudden accident earlier, but we are back!” Cheers could be heard, and Shade started to slink towards the backstage. It failed? He was just about to get backstage when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Mercedes. He gulped, and was pushed back on stage. Orchid was just concluding her address to the audience, then turned around.

“And earlier, as you all know, I was nearly crushed! Who would want to crush me?! But thanks to someone, I was able to survive for another day. Today, we have a s-special guest! Come back here, Eunwol!” She grabbed Shade’s arm and dragged him on stage. She huffed, glaring at him.

“S-so this guy was the one that saved me. Okay?! Done?!” She was getting more and more flustered, as the manager came out. Passing her the medal, she hastily pinned it onto Shade. Shade glanced down to see his medal name change from ‘Member of the Pointy-Ear Fox Village’ to ‘Orchid’s Protector’. Trust Mercedes to play such a trick. Orchid flushed. “There! Done! Now get off the stage!” She shooed him away. Meanwhile, Aran glanced around. “It’s increasing alright.” she muttered, noting the sudden increasing in dark magic.

Phantom nodded. It just wasn’t enough. Now if only… he grinned. Immediately standing up, he cupped his mouth. “Ms. Orchiiiiid~ If I might ask, why are you so flustered around him? Is he something special to you?” Orchid shot a glare at him, but then the noise from the crowd erupted. “Ms. Orchid! Is he your boyfriend?” “Ms Orchid! Who is he?” “Ms Orchid! Over here! Is he your secret bodyguard?!”

The questions kept coming over and over again, with Orchid growing more and more flustered. Her face grew redder and redder, while at the back, Mercedes spotted Shade hiding his face. When Orchid finally yelled, “He’s not my anything! He’s just a stalker!”, Elwin froze.

“Lily! It’s here!”

The cat nodded, and quickly chanted the spell alongside Elwin. Sealing it in the backstage, Lily motioned to Evan. Evan nodded and tugged on Mercedes.

“Good job. Now, to chase away everyone!” Mercedes shot an arrow near Luminous, who immediately threw out a light orb. It started to vibrate, then a bright light was emitted. Phantom and Aran shielded their eyes in time. When the light faded, everyone was blinded. Aran sighed. Her turn. “Everyone! Out! Out! Something is here! Eeeek!” Her voice boomed across the hall, and everyone started to scream and run out at once. Phantom and Aran escaped, while the blinded manager grabbed Orchid and tried to run out. Evan and Mir guided him outside. When he was outside, one man wearing the blue uniform approached him.

“Uh, did you drop this?” He held out a hairband with dragon wings on it. Evan stared at it, before checking his inventory. It was gone! It must have dropped during the concert. “Yeah… sorry. It’s really important. Thank you very much!” He smiled cheerfully at the man, who tipped his hat. “No problem, kiddo. Remember to take care of your belongings.” Evan nodded, shoving the hair band into his bag. Shade will scold him, that’s for sure. Mir whined, looking up at Evan. He pressed a finger to his lips, before rushing off..

He watched Evan pocket the hair band and ran off. Good. He didn’t notice it. It was a stroke of luck he found the hair band on the floor near the stage. He had to make great efforts in convincing Officer Helena that it was nothing suspicious. At least she believed him when he said it was from Evan. And even then, if he hadn’t found the hair band, who knows what sort of shenanigans they might be up to? Orchid didn’t usually do this.

He sighed and flicked open his phone. Pressing a button on an app, he closed it. The recording begins… now.

Evan sighed and returned to the group, who was waiting for him outside the backstage door. Aran grinned. “Ready to go? Come on, put on your gear already!” Everyone else had already don their armor. Evan nodded and quickly discarded the singlet and shorts, switching to his robes. Grabbing his wand, he pointed at the door. “Let’s go!”

Aran nodded and walked up to the person finally standing guard at the door. Apparently, after everyone left the building, it was his job to make sure no one entered backstage. Aran grinned at him. “Hey. We got them backstage tickets. Let us pass.” The burly man took one look at her and laughed. Even when Aran waved the tickets in his face, he still refused to move. Aran started to get angry.

“Look! Big guy! We got some cleaning to do! If you don’t let us pass, I’mma go right to the manager and tell him that you won’t let us clean up the dust! And since you weren’t here earlier, I’m pretty sure the manager will be quite angry that you left your post? Not to mention, if there are any troublemakers in there, you wouldn’t know a thing, would you?” The man paled. Aran smirked. Leaning forward, she poked him. “Now be a good kid and get out of my way, yeah? We will clear out any troublemakers for you, and we can finally start to clean the dust!” The man quickly moved away, and Aran stalked in, everyone else following after her, a sheepish look on their face. Luminous had his hand on his face, and his forehead looked red.

Once inside, they saw the Dusties. One. Two. Go!

As they continued, they heard whimpering. Hmm? Aran frowned. “There’s a separate room here. Come on!” Shade nodded, and everyone rushed into the dressing room.

There, they saw Hawkeye, curled up in a fetal position, whimpering. “Go away! Someone help me!” Shade paused, before looking ashamed. He completely forgot about Hawkeye, who was in the backstage! Oh dear. Phantom laughed, patting Shade on the back. “We all make mistakes. Now let’s see here…” Aran patted Shade on the head, which had him curled on the floor for a few seconds. That hurt a lot.

Aran swung Maha around, clearing away the Dusties. She picked up the Hawkeye, who struggled feebly. She dumped him outside.

“Okay. So who let the wimp in?” She poked the crying Hawkeye. Shade sighed. “Sorry. I’ll get him…”

“No you won’t. Elwin and I will do it.” Lily called out. Hawkeye looked up and stared at the cat, rubbing his eyes. “Come on, you big baby.” Elwin smiled at them sympathetically, before disappearing with Lily and Hawkeye.

“Now that’s out of the way, let's hurry. We got one heck of a training session!" Aran swung Maha around, everyone ducking to avoid the large polearm. Aran turned and spotted the large group of Dusties. Her grin stretched from ear to ear, before she yelled out a battle cry and rushing into battle.

They slowly destroyed the Dusties, slowly. There were many stages to this Dust Zone. As they moved, they heard something. Feet shuffling. They pause. Who could it be? Phantom crept to the door, before flinging it open. And he was promptly smacked with a bottle of... hair dye?

"What the heck! Get out of here! Huh? Stalker?! What are you doing here! Get out!" Orchid was in her dressing room. Shade blinked and gaped. Evan seemed shocked as well. "B-but didn't Mir and I put you outside?"

Orchid rolled her eyes, sighing. "I came back. I needed to pick something up. Why?"

Everyone groaned. Great. With Lily and Elwin out, how would they get Orchid out? Shade shook his head. "It's dangerous. Let's go." He grabbed Orchid and led her out. "I'll take care of her, the dressing room is getting a little stuffy. With negative energy. Let's get out of here!" Just as he said that, a large crowd of Dusties formed where Orchid had been standing. Aran took care of them easily.

With Orchid with them, the Dusties seemed to swarm a lot more around them. But because of Orchid, who was protesting then screaming, no one could do much except Aran and Mercedes, who could stay behind Orchid and shoot. Luminous, Phantom and Evan were pretty muvh useless. Phantom could only heal.

Shade on the other hand was not faring well. Sure, he had the highest defence, but with the Dusties apparently going for Orchid, he kept taking hits for her. And each time, she would complain loudly, before criticizing everyone else for not helping. She stayed close to Shade, gripping his clothes, which made it harder for Shade to move around. It was clear she now knew of the danger . But her inexperience with danger made it hard for anyone to protect her, for she just kept running into danger.

It was a rest stop, and the negative energy had waned a little. By then, Shade was almost dying. He was panting, plucking coins out from his hair. His robes were torn, and he kept coughing. Poison. Dammit. There were burn marks all over his face. He collapsed on the floor, coughing. Evan crouched down next to him, Mir in his dog form licking Shade's arm. Phantom was on the other side, checking his injuries.

Aran sat down, leaning on Maha as she drank a bottle of reindeer milk. Ah. She needed more. Mercedes was sipping her Mana potions while Luminous stood aside. All three of them were blocking Orchid from grabbing Shade.

"Hmph! If you all knew there was danger here, then why didn't you get the police! Stupid stalker! In order to stalk me, you rushed in here? I can't believe you! And all of you! You are kinda useless! Eunwol was getting hit everywhere and all you could do was stand at the side and watch!" Orchid was complaining again. Aran huffed, looking away, while Mercedes closed her eyes, not wanting to flare up. Luminous' red eye flare up, but he didn't say a word. Orchid continued, "Useless! And Aran's just hitting everything and anything! Mercedes, you could have helped Eunwol but you didn't! Hmph, I can see why he has you as friends! Stupid stalker! I would have been alright on my own! And don't give me that look, Evan! Mir is a dog, for goodness sake! He can help too right?!" Mir growled, glaring at Orchid. He didn't like how Dusties tasted, thank you very much!

The tension was building up as Orchid continued to complain. Luminous made a move to shut her up, but was beaten to the punch.

Something had snapped.

Phantom pushed past the girls and walked up to Orchid. She blinked at him in surprise, before folding her arms. "What? Got something to say, you useless idiot?"

Phantom's eyes were trained on Orchid, but everyone else knew this aura. Except Evan. This was the same aura he had when anyone mentioned Aria, or Lotus. It was the same aura that appeared when anyone crossed the line with the Master Thief.

He was furious. A rare emotion displayed in his face.

Phantom remained quiet as Orchid prattled on. A few seconds, and suddenly Orchid was slammed against the wall behind her, a hand around her throat. She wasn't choking, not yet, but Phantom's fingers were twitching.

"Shut up. Like you did anything. Or did you think we were your bodyguards, listening to your every command?" Malice was evident in the words Phantom spat out, his usual smug grin gone from his face, replaced with a neutral expression. His grip on his cane tightened, as he stared at Orchid. "What makes you think we aren't trying? What gives you the right to tell us all this? What gives you the bloody thought that you are entitled to this?" His voice was dangerously low. No one made a move, watching as Phantom continued. "We can't do our thing because of you! And Aran's clearing the big groups, but you keep running into larger ones! Mercedes can't shoot because your giant head is in the way! Shade getting injured?! Because someone would not stick to him made him take hits for her!" He glared at her, his gaze furious. Orchid was scratching at the hand around her throat, but to no avail.

Phantom paused, before a chuckle passed through his lips. "I bet you think you are perfect, so you can tell us all this. Free from fault? I get it, that’s because you are Orchid. You don’t have a single damn fault."

Orchid finally found a way to make a comeback, snarling back at Phantom. "Oh yeah?! Says the person who kept running from the bloody things! What makes you think you are any better, you coward! You can’t even defend Eunwol, idiot!"

Something clicked in Phantom, and his cane dropped to the ground. It landed on the ground with a thunk. Phantom raised his hand, as if to slap her. Orchid flinched, but the slap never came. Phantom turned to see Shade, fully restored, gripping his arm.

"She's not the same person. Don't, Phantom. It's not worth it. Calm down. I'm alright, everyone's alright. No one is dead."

Phantom stared at Shade, before snatching his hand back. He released Orchid, who fled to Evan. Phantom picked up his cane, tipping his hat such that his eyes were hidden. His trademark smirk came back, though it looked forced. “Oh dear me. I seem to have done something wrong. I do apologize, Orchid. I’ll go on ahead and do a little scouting, hmm? Tata!" He called out in a cheery voice, before walking off into the next area.

Everyone remained silent. Evan just shivered a little. "He... snapped. He snapped, didn't he?" Aran sighed loudly and nodded. Shade shook his head. "Let's give him some time to himself. Sorry, Orchid. Perhaps it would be better if you don't say anything to Phantom right now." Orchid just stared at Shade. She didn't look convinced. The group followed after Phantom after a while. Orchid clung to Shade’s arm the entire time. The area after them was cleared of any Dusties. At the end of it all, they saw Phantom, sitting with his legs crossed on his chair. He looked up, though his eyes never met anyone’s.

“Oh, hello. Are you all done resting? The final stage is just next door, I do sense a powerful presence.” Phantom tilted his hat, though he didn’t get up from his seat. Mercedes nodded. “All right then. Are you not following?” Phantom shook his head, a forced smile on his face.

“Actually, leave Orchid here. I’ll make sure she’s safe. I did clear the rest of the area while you all were resting up, so you can take over from here. Besides, I am quite tired.” Phantom leaned down and relaxed on his chair, his legs still folded. Orchid scowled and shook her head. “Why should I stay?!”

Phantom didn’t say a word, though Aran put in her comment. “That’s because in order to leave, we are going to have to do something. And in order to do that something, it’s kinda like having a secret. You don’t want your own secret to be exposed, do you?” Orchid seemed speechless. Shade untangled his arm from Orchid, nodding. “It would make everything a lot easier. We can go all out, and we don’t have to worry about hitting you.” One look at Orchid’s expression could tell that she didn’t want to stay. Phantom shrugged, adjusting his position such that he was lying on his chair, his head propped up by the armrest. “Whatever it is, I’m staying. If she wants to follow. don’t blame me if she gets badly hurt~”

Shade groaned. Of course Phantom would act this way. He wasn’t cooled off yet. But at least, he was making an effort. Though Shade would give him a C. Shade took out his chair and set it up. He took a step back to examine it, before turning to Orchid. “Here. Sit down and don’t lose my chair. Take care of it, will you?” He smiled, before rushing into the portal, everyone else hot on his heels. Orchid had not even agreed. She frowned, taking a step forward.

“Really now? Your stalker just asked you for a favor, and even lent you his favourite and most precious chair. Are you just gonna leave it here? You disappoint me, Orchid!” Phantom waved his arms at the frustrated girl. He smirked, folding his arms across his chest. “Imagine how sad Eunwol would be, after knowing his one and only present from his family was lost because someone didn’t do their job.” Phantom sighed deeply, as if depressed, watching as Orchid paused, turned and sat down on the chair with a huff. “It’s not like I’m doing this to make sure nothing happens! The stalker was stupid enough to leave this here, so I’m going to use it! So there!” Phantom smirked and laid down. Mission accomplished.

Meanwhile, inside the dungeon, everyone else was ready for the battle. As they entered, the surroundings changed. It was in the audience area. On stage, was a Troublemaker. A Troublemaker? Why would there be one?! Aran frowned, scratching her head. “Enough energy to make one appear out of nowhere? Now that’s something.” The Troublemaker was holding a microphone of sorts in its hand, and it twirled around. Suddenly, large swarms of Dusties appeared around the fighters, and the battle began.

Luminous felt his anger rise, and his eye started to glow. “Get that thing up on that stage. I’ll stay to deal with all these. Annoying little monsters, I was suppose to stay with Lania today!” Unleashing his anger upon the summoned creatures, Luminous cleared a good number quite quickly. Shade, Aran and Mercedes all scrambled onstage, while Evan remained behind to help out with the growing number. The Troublemaker kept summoning more.

Aran yelled and attempted to land a hit, only to have the Troublemaker disappear. She looked around, confused, and Mercedes spotted the Troublemaker behind Aran. Aiming her bowguns, she fired a couple of arrows. Too late, the Troublemaker disappeared, the arrows narrowly missing her teammate. Aran whipped around, miffed. “Damn that thing to hell! Where is it?”

Shade found it soon enough, and immediately used Spirit Trap. With it trapped for a moment, all three launched attack after attack at it. Once it was released, though, it twirled, and more Dusties appeared. And with that, its health was restored.

The cycle continued for some time. with the health of the Troublemaker being replenished each time. Shade finally stopped, wondering what the heck is wrong with their technique. Studying the Troublemaker, he glanced at the Dusties that were summoned. There was a large crowd, and each time more came, the more the Troublemaker’s health was replenished. It was also moving a lot faster, and its attack was getting more and more painful. Could it be…?

“Mercedes! Aran! Focus on the Dusties! Remove them to get the Troublemaker to slow down!” yelled Shade, who then turned his attention to the Dusties. Not knowing what Shade had in mind, Mercedes attacked the crowd. Aran turned and landed in a large crowd, taking out a couple at a time.

As the crowd was growing smaller, Evan noticed a change. “I-It’s getting slower! We can do this!” He waved his wand at the Troublemaker on stage. Aran grinned widely, hopping back on stage. “Time for the main star to appear! And it sure isn’t you, Troublemaker!” Aran waved Maha, slamming the weapon into the Troublemaker. A considerable damage was dealt. Mercedes hopped onto stage, shooting as well. The Troublemaker disappeared, and more Dusties appeared. The boys took them out as fast as possible, while the girls took down the Troublemaker.

As the health of the Troublemaker was nearly gone, it waved its arms, as if pleading for mercy. Aran swung Maha for the final blow, when the Troublemaker suddenly disappeared. The Dusties in the audience area also died on the spot. The Heroes were left, confused. “What the…? We didn’t even kill that Troublemaker! My experience points! No!” Aran yelled out, stomping. Mercedes glanced around. “Seems like this area is cleared. Look, there’s a portal there. Someone get Phantom and Orchid, we need to leave this area as soon as possible.”

Shade nodded, returning to the previous area. He looked to see Orchid sitting on his chair, pouting, while Phantom was laughing away. “Oh hey, Shade! Did you know that the lady here tried to take something while I was asleep? She tried to pickpocket me? Me of all people!” Shade frowned, shaking his head. Was Phantom high or something? He wouldn’t ever let his guard down on just anyone. Phantom calmed down, getting up and keeping his chair. “I haven’t laughed this hard ever since I saw Lumibutt sit down on that whoppee cushion.” He walked past Shade, into the portal. Shade glanced after him. “I hope Gaston gives him his tea,” he muttered, walking to Orchid.

“Thank you for ta-”

“It’s not like I was taking care of it for you! You left it here, you stupid stalker! Next time, take care of your own things better! Idiot!” Orchid pouted and marched away, storming into the portal. Shade rubbed his head, taking his chair along.

The Heroes managed to get Orchid out, and saw Lily and Elwin. Lily was not pleased.

“You all are idiots! Someone should have taken her out immediately! Nincompoops! Morons!” Lily fumed. Orchid stared at the cat in surprise. Lily turned and stared at Orchid.

Orchid fell, with Shade catching her. “I just adjusted her memory, so no one speaks of this. And Hawkeye is fine, just bawling his eyes out. Adjusted his memory too. You idiots. Next time, Grendel’s going to hear about this!” Lily snapped, with the Heroes nodding, a frightened look on their faces. Another one of Grendel’s lecture was enough to send them running for the hills.

“Now that this fiasco is over, I’m leaving.” Luminous grumbled, turning to leave. As he took a step, something caught his eye. What was that? He stopped and walked over to Evan. “Hold still…” he muttered. Evan froze, wondering what Luminous was doing.

“What’s this?” Luminous picked something from Evan’s headband, a metallic object. Huh? Everyone gathered around it, frowning. “It’s nothing I have ever seen before. What sort of gadget is this?” Mercedes stared at it. Aran picked it up, holding it above her head. “Eh, nothing like I have seen before. What the hell?” She dropped it back into Luminous’ palm. Phantom stared at it, before grimacing. “Hey, Aran. You and your strength destroyed that thing.” Aran blinked, before bending down to Luminous’ palm. The gadget was bent. Aran huffed. “Sorry. Didn’t think it was this weak.”

Evan scratched his head. “I don’t get it. Where did this come from? What is it?”

“A listening device. And if I’m not wrong, a spy camera.” Phantom’s face was serious, studying the chip. Luminous frowned. “Are you saying that…”

Everyone’s hearts sank when Phantom nodded.

Lily slapped a paw on her forehead. “You idiots! Attracting so much attention! And now that that’s broken, we can’t trace it! You are now all on high alert, do you hear me!” The Heroes nodded. Someone was spying on them, but who?

Their thoughts were interrupted when a yell could be heard. “Oi! Eunwol! You guys! You all left me behiiiiind! What’s with the cosplay again!?”

Hawkeye was reunited with his group of ...friends? Was that what he saw them as now? He didn’t know. Well, at least he had gotten valuable information. And that dog by Evan’s side was most certainly not a dog. A dragon, no less. He adjusted his blazer, closing the computer. The chip was an expensive device, too bad Aran destroyed it. He would have to find another way to get more information. The video was saved. Though…

He quickly set up a notification. Just in case the cat wiped his memories, he could restore them again. And a note to himself as well. The wonders of technology that was rarely seen in the world they were from then.

Elsewhere, the Troublemaker thrashed around as it regenerated its health. The man patted the Troublemaker on the head. He had gotten his information as well. Though, he didn’t expect someone else to beat him to the punch. The boy was quite clever. He would need him on his side in order to take out the nosy little group. Though, now that he knew that people from the other side was here as well, perhaps he should quicken up the process.

No matter. They would not stop his actions or movement. And for the fellow that barely escaped through his summoning…

The man chuckled. Perhaps this one would be put to use again as well. He got up, leaving the area.

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