“Sometimes it’s worth lingering on the journey for a while before getting to the destination.” ― Richelle Mead, The Indigo Spell
The next few weeks continue in a daily routine of either helping out in the villages or fighting on the front lines alongside the knights of the Kingdom of Zeal. The group also learns that the strange creatures that have been helping the Gestahlian Empire are indeed shadows. Blake has even speculated that this war might have been the reason that shadows came into contact with our world. And that the Middle Ages was actually the first time shadows became known to man, which could also indicate that the Shifter organization started to exist around this time period.
In these few weeks they have been able to earn the trust of the villagers, knights and the king and queen. While Aiden, now known as ‘Big Bro’, and Teddie have become legends around the village children, Blake continues to amaze all the priests and doctors and Relm has become favourite student of the village painters, Jude has been able to free around thirty more Mitama. After the fight with the bird shadow he had been able to free around ten at once. And, after many missions that often included not only fighting against the Empires forces but also shadows, he had freed around fifteen more. Thanks to these missions little Teddie’s fear of shadows also seemed to lessen. But, not even noticing it themselves, these few weeks soon turned into three months. And, becoming closer to the civilians, Glenn, Luna and even their own group, the Kingdom of Zeal has really started to feel like home. Everyday it becomes harder and harder to leave.
Still, even after everything they’ve done to help, the war was far from over. Luckily for the group of Shifters they were not the ones who had to make all these difficult decisions because, towards the end of the third month, they were suddenly called to the throne room by the king.
“I am glad to see how you have all come to feel so at home here. But the news I just received is not good at all. It appears that, even with all our efforts, the odds of us winning this war have worsened. We have lost many soldiers, our food supply is running low and it seems the Empire has been able to create or call upon some new kind of weapon.” The king states upon entering the room himself.
“Worsened? But we seemed to be doing so well.” Teddie says, saddened by the news.
“What kind of new weapon are we talking about?” Aiden asks, stepping forward.
“We are not sure. It looks like the creatures we have already fought, only much bigger. I’ve heard they asked the help of a dark mage too.”
“What if it’s another large shadow? These knights can’t possible handle those things on their own.” Aiden whispers to Jude. And, understanding that they all want to help, Jude speaks up.
“In these past months we have already been doing the best we can and I have a feeling this fight will be the hardest of all. But we would still be honoured to help the Kingdom of Zeal in this war, sir.” He says, even noticing the sparks of gratitude that appear in the king’s eyes.
“Thank you, the kingdom owns you all so much. Now you should get ready, you will leave with the remaining knights this afternoon and spend the night in the forest. I wish you all good luck.” The king says, while standing up to leave the throne room.
Getting everything they need for the short night of camping in the forest they suddenly notice how much the villagers have actually given them. Being stranded in two eras without any real resources would have been so much harder if it weren’t for this wonderful kingdom. But it also made them realise how long they’ve been gone. How Dyne, Yuki and Captain Grant must be worrying about them right now. But are they still worrying? What if they gave up already? And is the village even safe with a whole team of Shifters gone?
“You know guys, I really love it here. But I’m starting to miss home.” Relm finally dares to say all of their thoughts out loud.
“Relm is right, we should try to stop the second Big Rift and return as soon as possible.” Blake comments, while gathering his weapons.
“And everyday it’s getting harder and harder for the people in 3528 to survive.” Teddie adds.
After the team is ready to leave they say their goodbyes to everyone in the castle and decide to wait in front of the entrance of the castle for the rest of the group.
“Hello everyone. Are you ready for tomorrow?” A familiar voice asks. As they all turn around to find the source they see a group of knights, accompanied by Luna, walking towards them.
“Luna? What are you doing here?” Jude asks.
“I will be accompanying you on this trip.” Luna answers.
“Are you sure?”
“Oh, please do not worry about me.” Luna responds with a reassuring smile. “Shall we go?” She says after a short silence, while following the group of knights that had already began to leave the castle. Walking behind her, Jude manages to catch a glimpse of the golden crossbow she carries on her back and the few patches of armour she added to her robes.