The Story Continues

It Started With A Photo

After his chat with Dr Stiles, the head doctor had issued Lynus with the order to take the rest of the day off. And he was grateful for that. Though Dr Stiles did not know the full extent of his past (Lynus honesty afraid to tell him at this point as he didn’t want the man he saw as his mentor to look at him differently), he knew that he was upset from the memories of a man he knew as Shiki.

As Lynus made his way out of the hospital, he glanced up to see a familiar redhead walking up the stairs toward him and he couldn’t help but smile when his gaze locked with Axel’s.

“Ah, I was wondering if I had to drag you away,” Axel said with a half-smile and a slight teasing tone as he quickly made his way over to him. However, his smile abruptly disappeared and he placed his hands upon Lynus’ shoulders. “Did something happen? You’re pale.”

“I’m always pale,” Lynus returned with a half-hearted smile before he shook his head slightly and leaned forward, prompting Axel to immediately wrap his arms around him and pull him against his chest. “I just...I was going through some old files and a name popped up that was similar to someone I used to know, and it made me remember things I didn’t particularly want to remember.”

He felt Axel’s wince and tighten his arms around him as he rested his chin atop of his head. “A hostage?” he asked quietly.

“Yeah...”

As he rested in Axel’s arms, the feel of his muscles and the inner strength he possessed, Lynus couldn’t help but let his mind wander to Simmons’ mother, Sandra. She was a landsknecht. Landsknecht’s had the greatest of physical strength than other classes. Who could have possibility have the strength to overpower a landsknecht? To not only kill them, but…slaughter them?

Lynus pressed himself closer to Axel and gripped the front of his shirt with his hands. It was a terrifying thought. And to think whoever was responsible was still out there somewhere.

“Do you want to return to the inn?” Axel asked as he kept one arm firmly around his waist as the other slid up his back to gently toy at his hair, pulling it free from its bindings.

Lynus shook his head to both answer and to loosen the strands of his hair. “No, I’m all right. Can we head to the bar? There’s something I want to see.”

“Sure,” Axel said as he kept arm around Lynus’ shoulders and led him in the direction of the bar. He kept looking at him with a concerned look from the corner of his eye, though.

As they approached the bar, Lynus felt his heart suddenly skip a beat with trepidation. What if the picture he saw of Simmons’ father was in fact the man he remembered from his past? What would he do? How would he react?

He was…actually kinda scared.

Walking in, it was unsurprising to find Jhon, Tobyn, and Hamza already there, the three talking to Cass and handing over a few requested items.

“Good day, you two,” Jhon was the first to greet them, as polite as always. However, his smile faltered a little as his brow furrowed with concern when his gaze fell upon Lynus. “Are you feeling all right? You look a little pale.”

Lynus gave the blond-haired protector a small smile. “I’m fine, don’t worry,” he reassured as Tobyn and Hamza also turned to him, their brows furrowed ever so slightly. “Honesty, just a slight headache.”

“Then you should retire back to the inn,” Hamza promptly suggested as his gaze studied him critically.

“I will, there’s just something I want to see first,” Lynus said as he glanced around the bar for a moment before he turned his attention back to Hamza. “I had to heal Simmons once again and he mentioned his parent’s guild. He also said that there’s a picture of them here at the bar. I’m a little curious, I suppose you could say.”

Hamza’s eyes widened and a slight wince appeared on his face. But it was very subtle and dissipated as quickly as it had appeared. He opened his mouth to respond when a shout from the other side of the bar interrupted him. As he turned to idly glance in the direction there was another yell and the sound of chairs scraping quickly across the floor.

The sound was unfortunately familiar.

Lynus immediately glanced up at Axel, only to watch as his eye twitched at the loud voices and his face creased into a purely agitated look. “If they don’t sort out their grief with each other in the next ten seconds, I’m going to have to throw them out of the pub.”

Jhon winced while Tobyn snorted with disinterest. “If you use a window, make sure it’s open first,” Jhon said. “Cass is starting to get a little fed up with always replacing them.”

“Ah, well perhaps it would be best if you two defused the situation before it has the chance to escalate,” Hamza suddenly suggested with a half-smile. “I’ll show Lynus the Wall of Fame, as Cass likes to call it.”

Axel frowned a little (though, honestly, it looked like a disgruntled pout) and was very reluctant to remove his arm from around Lynus’ shoulders as he was still clearly worried about him. But at the sound of a glass shattering, he muttered something tersely under his breath and unfurled his arm from around Lynus.

“Give me five seconds,” he muttered as he spun on his heel and stalked in the direction the impending fight was occurring.

“I’ll, ah, m-make sure to open the window this time,” Jhon said as he hurried after Axel while Tobyn followed at a more leisurely pace.

Lynus couldn’t help but shake his head slightly in exasperation before he turned his attention back to Hamza.

As Hamza led him toward the wall covered in photos and plaques on the other side of the bar, Lynus glanced over at the bar to find Gerald there, face down with a cold beer in his hand as per usual. Normally, Lynus would have inwardly ‘tisked’, wishing that the older gunner wouldn’t drink so much as too much alcohol was bad for his health. But this time he could only wince. He now knew and understood why he drank so much.

Drowning your sorrows in alcohol wasn’t the most ideal way to deal with grief. But for some people…they didn’t know what else to do.

“Here we are,” Hamza said, pulling Lynus from his musings. “Guild Nova, yes?”

As Lynus turned his attention to the war magus, he followed his arm to where he was pointing. The photo in the middle of the wall was slightly faded, but taken well cared off. The frame was sturdy and without a mark, and the glass covering it was spotless.

Lynus took a step forward to allow himself to get a better view of the photo. First, his gaze was drawn to the woman in the middle of the picture. Wild blue hair, a cheeky and confident smile. She must be Sandra. No, she had to be. She looked like Simmons in a way. All the way to the cocky stance.

His gaze was quickly drawn to the man closest to her, who had a hand on her shoulder and standing proudly behind her and…Lynus felt lightheaded as his breath hitched in his throat.

The dark red eyes. The wild grey hair. The stance of confidence and talent. The half smirk. The whip on his side…

Tears abruptly blurred Lynus’ vision once again.

It…it was him!

“Shiki…” Lynus murmured as his knees suddenly felt weak.

He would have dropped to the floor in shock if Hamza didn’t abruptly grab onto him, one arm around his shoulders as he held Lynus’ hand with the other. “I need a chair, quickly,” he said to someone, but he didn’t know who.

Shakily, Lynus sat down on a chair with help from Hamza before he leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands, his fingers hastily threading through his hair. He could barely believe it. The man that had tried to shield him and Rahas, the one that instilled a sense of righteous defiance, the man that was taken away from them after a struggle was…Simmons’ father.

Did that…did that mean that Taksony’s influence stretched all the way to Lagaard? He knew that his ‘legend’ did, but could his wretched touch reach all the way here? He thought Taksony only went after those from Etria. Why Shiki? He was a father, a husband, a veteran explorer! He wasn’t…like the others.

Why? How?

“What?” The sound of Axel’s voice filled with concern caused Lynus to pull his hands from his face, only just realising that he had been crying. Again. “What happened?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know,” Hamza answered as he took a slight step back to allow for Axel to reach Lynus, to move in front of him before he dropped to a knee in front of him and place his hands upon Lynus’ arms. “He took one glance at a photo and started crying.”

“What is it?” Axel asked him gently as one of his hands shifted to gently wipe the tears from Lynus’ cheeks. “What’s wrong?”

Lynus swallowed thickly as he tried to find the words to speak. “S-Shiki…”

“Simmons’ father?” Hamza asked him as he knelt on his left. “What of him?”

Lynus drew in a shaky breath as his eyes flickered over to the photo once again. “He was…a hostage, too,” he whispered. “L-like me.”

Axel’s hand on Lynus’ arm unwittingly tightened while Hamza drew in a sharp intake of air. “What?”

“He was a dark hunter…” Lynus found himself mumbling as he turned his gaze back to Axel, to look at him with a sense of desperation and guilt. “Taksony w-wanted him to train Rahas into a mindless s-soldier, but he…”

“Shiki?” Hamza asked him with his own desperation as he pointed at the photo of Guild Nova. “This Shiki?”

“Yes,” Lynus answered, unwilling trembling as the memories returned and he lifted a shaky hand to rub the tears from his cheeks hastily. “He tried to protect us. If he…if he just did what he was told, he m-might still be alive…”

Defiance only brought pain and suffering. And eventually death. Why was he so reckless with his own life?

“Are you sure they are one in the same?” Hamza asked, seemingly not quite believing him.

Though Lynus understood his reluctance to accept what he had learnt, an unfamiliar sense of anger still appeared in Lynus’ chest and he turned his attention to Hamza.

“Yes,” he said firmly as he looked into the war magus’ eyes. “Yes. He’s name was Shiki. He was a dark hunter with dark red eyes. He had the habit of climbing things. Using his whip when it wasn’t necessary. I’ve healed him more times than I can remember. I know, Hamza.”

That anger soon dissipated and Lynus turned back to Axel and reached out to him. Axel immediately leaned forward to wrap his arms around him and ran his fingers through his hair in a comforting manner, whispering to him that he believed him, that it wasn’t his fault, and not to cry.

But he couldn’t help it. Poor Simmons didn’t have a clue what happened to his parents. He thought they were just missing. But they…to have both his parents murdered…

They couldn’t let Simmons know. They couldn’t.

“That…” Hamza was heard muttering lowly, more to himself than to anyone else. “That would actually explain so much. To think someone like Shiki could…Thank god Taksony is dead. He’s too dangerous…”

Lynus squeezed his eyes tightly shut to will away the memories of his time under that oppression.

“I…I need to talk to Rahas,” Lynus said as he nudged Axel lightly, to motion to him to help him to his feet. “He knows. He has to know. That’s why he’s been hanging around with Simmons. He blames himself for Shiki.”

But as Axel slipped an arm around his shoulders to ease him to stand, Hamza grabbed his arm and caused him to turn to him. “Don’t,” he unexpectedly said with a stern expression, one Lynus had only seen once or twice. “You’re too upset. Nothing can be done. Go home. You’re overwhelmed with memories of your own, which is understandable. I’ll talk to Rahas.”

Lynus wanted to protest, but the way Hamza was looking at him, the firm grip he had on his arm…

“Ok,” he relented. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I’m making a scene, aren’t I? I’m sorry.”

Hamza’s expression softened and he released his hold he had on Lynus’ arm. “Don’t apologise. Though it may be difficult, do try to get some rest. This is very upsetting for you, so take as much time as you need.”

“…Please tell him about Sandra,” Lynus requested.

Hamza hesitated for a moment. “I’ll tell him everything I know,” he thankfully promised before he turned on his heel and made for another exit of the bar, his strides full of purpose, his posture tense.

Lynus didn’t know how Rahas would take to the news, but he had to put his trust in Hamza.

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