The Story Continues

The More You Know

After Lynus had sent Simmons on his way after healing his arm and fixing up that adorable plushie he carried, he found himself wandering into the hospital archives. He gave the woman in charge of the filing a quick nod before he made his way over to the recent entries. He had never personality seen Simmons’ file, although he had added quite a bit to it through his own dealing with the blue-haired man. He never saw the need to sit down and look through someone’s personal file. They were private, after all.

But after what he had just discovered, he was interested to know if anyone else had sensed that dark, dangerous spot in Simmons’ aura before he did. If not, then maybe he could try to find the possible reason for it being there. That anomaly wasn’t new. It wasn’t recent by a year or so. Many years it had been there. Had no one else noticed it before?

It wasn’t hard for him to find Simmons’ file, it was quite extensive after all. He hefted the overflowing file into his arms and carried it over to a table in the middle of the room. He placed it down carefully so not to lose anything and pulled out a chair. He immediately headed to the back of the file, to where he entered the hospital for the very first time.

Lynus couldn’t help but allow a small smile to appear on his lips when the very first thing was Simmons’ birth certificate. However, when glanced up at the birthdate he felt a frown tug on his lips. It didn’t add up. Simmons was said to be 25-years-old, but according to this date he was only 20-years of age. Though, he acted a lot younger than that, too.

His eyes wandered over to the names of the parents and found Sandra’s name, and underneath hers was...

Lynus felt his eyes widen and his hold on the certificate falter. A lump formed in his throat as he felt himself tremble. “S-Shiki...?” he murmured.

He dropped the birth certificate onto the desk as he clutched at his heart that was beating erratically in his chest. T-that name...he couldn’t be the same Shiki he once knew, r-right?

Memories he wanted to forget flooded back in a painful rush. He was back under the oppressive control of Taksony. Where he dutifully healed whoever he was told to. He remembered a dark hunter with dark red eyes. He was older than the other hostages. Older and more defiant than Taksony’s usual targets.

He...he tried to shield them the best he could. He received so many beating in their place. He...was also so injured. Lynus always patched him up the best he could. He was...always grateful for his healing. Steadying him when his hands were shaking from fear. He never complained. He...didn’t belong there. He wasn’t like the others.

But he...had a purpose nonetheless. To train Rahas. To make him become a dutiful and loyal dark hunter. To brainwash him into becoming a mindless soldier. Instead he taught Rahas defiance and loyalty to only those that deserved it. T-that’s why he had to be...

Lynus covered his mouth with his hands as tears began to pool in his eyes. He remembered that day when Shiki was taken away, forced into the Etrian Labyrinth. And he never returned. He didn’t remember the man’s appearance, but he remembered his eyes. They were...sad with regret but still defiant. He knew...he knew...

“Lynus?”

The sudden voice of someone else nearly caused Lynus to fall from his chair in surprise and in fright. He snapped his head up toward the door of the room to find Dr Stiles standing there, a deep frown of concern on his lips.

Skittishly, Lynus dropped his head forward and hastily brushed away the tears from his cheeks as he tried to reason with himself. It was just a name to him at the moment. He was sure that there had to be more than one ‘Shiki’ in this world. I-it was just a coincidence.

“What’s wrong?” Dr Stiles asked as he briskly crossed the room to stand next to him.

“Sorry,” Lynus immediately replied as he continued to rub at his cheeks. “Just…I saw a name that immediately made me remember someone. S-someone who died a long time ago.”

Dr Stiles placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently to comfort him before he glanced down at the file sprawled on upon the table. “Is this Simmons’ file?” he asked, confusion evident in his voice.

“Yes, I was just c-curious about something,” Lynus replied as he dropped his hand from his face and sat up straight in an attempt to gather himself. “Sorry.”

Dr Stiles, however, brushed aside his apology as he removed his hand from his shoulder to instead pull out a chair and sat down upon it. “What name was it?”

“…Shiki.”

“Ah, Simmons’ father,” Dr Stiles murmured as a wince appeared on his face. “Did you know him?”

…Maybe.

“I knew of a Shiki,” Lynus replied instead as he gave him a shaky smile. “I’m not sure if they’re the same of course. It’s just…memories are fickle things, aren’t they?”

Dr Stiles sighed as he rubbed his forehead. “I knew Simmons’ parents,” he unexpectedly said. “They were both good people. A little eccentric, but what explorer aren’t these days?”

Lynus immediately picked up upon the past tense he used. “What happened to them?” he asked gently.

Again, Dr Stiles sighed and leaned back in his seat. He tilted his head back slightly to look up at the ceiling, a deep frown on his lips. “A few years ago Shiki went missing. He just…vanished from the face of the earth almost. Though the man was flighty, as most dark hunters are, he would never enter the labyrinth without at least telling someone.”

A knot of emotion suddenly lodged in Lynus’ chest upon learning of this Shiki’s class. But he managed to swallow back the feeling and keep his attention focused upon the doctor next to him.

“And his mother, Sandra, she…” a strange expression of pain and frustration suddenly appeared on Dr Stiles face. “She…died a year after Shiki went missing.”

There was a sense of reluctance in Dr Stiles’ voice, so Lynus was hesitant to ask what had happened to her. But he needed to know. For Simmons’ sake. “How?” he asked softly.

“…She was murdered.”

Lynus’ hand immediately flew up to his mouth to smother a gasp. “M-murdered? But she was a landsknecht, r-right? Who-?”

“We still don’t know,” Dr Stiles interrupted, his tone bitter. He glared at the space in front of him for a moment before he sighed, his shoulders drooping. He then turned to face Lynus, an eyebrow arched in curiosity. “What brings you to Simmons’ file?”

“Oh, I…saw something in his aura,” Lynus admitted. “It’s been there for years it seems.”

“What did you see?”

Lynus pressed his lips together tightly for a moment as he thought back to his encounter with Simmons only an hour or so ago. “A dark spot in his mind. It’s…nothing like I’ve encountered before to be honest. It’s so…deep within his psyche. I was just hoping to find a defining point in his life that could have created such a dark anomaly.”

Unexpectedly, Dr Stiles shifted through the file notes and pulled out a few pieces of paper that were pinned together. “This is probably what you’re looking for.”

Lynus glanced at the notes before he grimaced. “This…? This is the same night Sandra was murdered, wasn’t it? Did he witness it?”

“She fought gallantly for the life of her son,” Dr Stiles answered. “Even so, her injuries…were brutal, to say the least. Perhaps worse than any I’ve seen from the labyrinth. And Simmons didn’t get away unscathed. Both in mind and body. He was in a coma for three days after the event and when he awoken, he didn’t remember a thing. Only his name. And he insisted that he was older than he really was. He…doesn’t know what really happened to his parents. As far as he is aware, they’re missing.”

Lynus carefully placed the notes back into the file and idly tidied it up as his mind sorted through all the new information he had just learnt. He had…no idea that Simmons had such a rough past. Well, surely that’s because Simmons didn’t know either. He didn’t remember. Because of that dark spot…

That dark spot…didn’t seem natural now that he thought more about it. It could have been created as a desperate attempt to keep Simmons’ sanity, to keep him safe from remembering what happened that terrible night. But what if it was hiding something else? Something more…harmful than the truth?

And Shiki. Was he really the same man he remembered from his past? The dark hunter that was a hostage alongside him and Rahas for a few years?

Wait…did Rahas know this? Did he know of Simmons’ father? The name Shiki? That would…explain quite a bit, actually. He had wanted to tell him something about Simmons but always backed off at the last second. He…

“So this dark spot,” Dr Stiles questioned, his voice pulling Lynus from his thoughts. “What did you learn? Can you remove it?”

Lynus found himself chewing on his bottom lip. “I…can’t,” he whispered with a small shake of his head.

“Can’t or won’t?” Dr Stiles unexpectedly returned.

“I won’t,” Lynus answered firmer this time as he turned to face the other man fully. “It’s buried so deep, hiding something equally painful and dangerous. I can’t risk it. It…if I do release that dark spot, the outcome would likely result in Simmons going mad from the memories or…”

Dr Stiles’ eyes widened for a moment before a grim expression appeared on his face and he seemed to clench his jaw tightly. “Is that so?” he murmured.

Lynus sat silently for a long moment, watching as the other man stared at the table with narrow eyes, no doubt contemplating what Lynus had just informed him in return. “What happened to Simmons after he awoke from his coma?”

“Gerald took him in,” Dr Stiles explained as he leaned back in his seat and folded his arms across his chest. “He was, after all, a member of Guild Nova back in the day. He was best friends with Shiki, and was the best man at his wedding, so felt it was the right thing to do. Gerald…hasn’t been the same since they both left him, and Simmons was really all he had left.”

“I…had no idea,” Lynus whispered softly, his heart breaking at the pain Gerald must have endured.

Guild Cosmos was a guild that the locals would roll their eyes and shake their heads at whenever someone mentioned their name. They were the guild that people would snicker at while simultaneously surprised that they were still in one piece after a potential near-death encounter in the labyrinth.

To think that they carried such dark secrets…

“Do many people know about Simmons, and ultimately Gerald?” Lynus found himself asking.

Dr Stiles shook his head. “No. Besides myself and Gerald, only Cass and Hamza.”

Hamza?

“There’s a photo of Simmons’ parents at the bar,” Dr Stiles suddenly explained to him. “Guild Nova was one of Cass’s favourites back in the day. If you want to know more about them, ask both Cass and Gerald. Although, I’m not sure how much they’re willing to talk about. It’s quite painful for them, since they knew Shiki and Sandra so well. Perhaps you should talk to Hamza first? He wasn’t exactly close to either of them, but he knew them nonetheless.”

Lynus nodded his head slowly in understanding and acceptance. “I’ll try not to be too nosy,” he promised as he took to his feet and held the file against his chest. “Thank you for telling me, though.”

Before he started asking anymore questions, he needed to look at that photo. And if the man was indeed the Shiki he knew, he needed to talk to Rahas.

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