The Selection

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Chapter 40 - Princess Irene - Siblings

Xedeus’ blade is approaching Luna’s neck. Suddenly, Luna raises her right hand and shouts, ”Blow!”

Xedeus’ sword swerves off its path and clangs with the stone floor next to her neck. Tearfully, she screams, ”Kai!”

I keep my eyes open wide while my heart pounds rapidly. The tears don’t stop coming out of my eyes. Her voice sounds just like back then. I curl my twitching lips upward. She’s back to normal…!

“Luna!” I exclaim. Numerous Earth magic spikes appear in the air behind her. They speed toward Xedeus at an angle from above. He jumps back. The spikes hit the floor and slide along it.

“Kai!” Luna shouts with the same tone.

“Luna!” I exclaim again.

“Kai. Calm down and empty out your thoughts. Don’t be hasty,” Leila says quietly. My tears stop as she moves her right pinky.

She’s moving…? That means… I raise my eyebrows. I stop thinking about everything. I close my eyes while taking a deep breath in and then out. I keep at it.

“It’s useless!” Xedeus shouts. “It doesn’t matter how many rocks you throw at me, I’ll cut it down.”

I open my eyes and then try moving my toes and my fingers a little. Nothing is holding them back. An Earth ball appears ahead of us. It’s heading toward Xedeus, who is facing it. He cuts it vertically through the center. Fire appears out of the ball, but the flames appear to be cut too. Both pieces swerve around Xedeus. Luna’s slowly standing up. I figure she’s completely out of Mana with the gust of wind she used a moment ago. I prepare instructions for my magic. Luna runs away slowly. Xedeus turns around and then Luna falls forward. She flips her body around.

Suddenly, her hands are around her neck as if she’s gasping for air. She flails her legs around. I yell, “Luna, what’s wrong?!”

A fireball, ball made out of water, and a ball made out of rock appears around Luna. They head the space slightly above her on a straight path. All three of them stop short of her as if they’ve hit a wall. They fade into nothing after several seconds. I grit my teeth. Shit! I don’t have any more time!

I release my Mana. A second later, a purple gate appears in the air behind Xedeus and next to me. I roll into the portal, just tall and wide enough for my body and weapons to enter without a problem. I appear in the air on the other side. I grab both of my swords and then throw my arms above me. Die!

I slam my arms down using the added force of gravity. My blades stop an inch away from his body. A noise resounds from the space between us. What?!

“I told you, it’s useless,” he says.

I grit my teeth and exclaim, ”Strength!”

My weapons go slightly deeper, when suddenly, a gust of wind pushes me away. Xedeus flips in the air forward as Leila emerges from my portal. Luna isn’t moving anymore. I land on my feet, waiting for the momentum pushing me to fade. I run toward Luna and yell, “Luna!”

I sheathe a sword and then kneel down next to her face. Xedeus chuckles and then says, “Don’t worry. The girl that you’ve killed is still alive.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I ask and then reach for her pulse. She’s still alive. I look up.

“Kai, Kai, Kai… You’re the one who pushed her away, weren’t you? You rejected her,” Xedeus says. I knit my eyebrows. “Still confused? I’ll let you in on a little secret… It was the result of your own actions.”

He laughs. I raise my eyebrows and then look at the ground. I drop my sword. No way…

I think about my past actions and the result. I look at Luna’s face. Everything was…my fault? If I had just accepted her earlier…

I clench my fists and grit my teeth. “To think that you’ve been this emotionally invested in this girl all this time.”

“Xedeus, stop playing around!” Leila exclaims. “What in the world are you planning? When you are not taking this fight seriously.”

“I don’t have to worry about one or two ants crawling beneath my feet. What you do doesn’t concern me in the slightest. As for my plans…you’re not qualified to know yet…but you’ll find out eventually whether you want to or not,” Xedeus answers. He sheathes his weapon and continues, “Well, I’ll give this one to Kai for the hard work he’s done to advance my plans.”

A Cascabel mask drops to the floor in front of me. I look up, focusing on his face for several seconds. I drop my jaws and widen my eyes as a cold chill shoots down my back. A face I’ve seen before. One that seems familiar to me, but I can’t pinpoint why. It’s one of the strange referees from the Academy’s end of year tournament event. I gulp and ask, “Who’re you…?”

“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten already? After your brush with death…”

I raise my eyebrows and respond, “You… You’re the one responsible for that…?”

He smiles. “It was a disappointing sight to see how little you’ve progressed your Void magic...”

I quiver. He knows about that too?! Wait a minute…

I recall my first meeting with Xedeus. “Well, I’ve overstayed my welcome.”

He turns around and walks away. I exclaim, “Wait! What’d you do to Emdos?!”

He stops walking. A second later, he answers, “Ah, that’s right. You can’t find him, can you? You won’t see him for a long, long time… The choice isn’t up to me, him, or you. It’s up to chance.”

He continues walking away. I stand up and run after him. “Wait! What do you mean by that?!”

A gust of wind stops my advance. I put my arms in front of me to shield my eyes. The wind stops. He’s no longer in our sights. I knit my eyebrows. Where’d he go…?

“What a mysterious man… He’s more powerful than I’ve ever imagined,” Leila says. I sigh.

“Yeah…” I turn around and then kneel next to Luna. I gently stroke her cheek with my fingers.

“Irene! Are you okay?” Leila asks. I look up, finding that Irene’s peeking out from the vault. “Come over here. I’ll treat your injuries with my magic.”

Irene runs over and then replies, “I’m okay for now.”

She points her eyes away. I ask, “What’s wrong Irene?”

“I-it’s nothing. I’m just a little worried about Reid and Aurora.”

“What happened to those two?” Leila asks.

“They’re in a room nearby,” Irene says.

“Let’s go,” I say while picking up Luna and then standing up. “Lead the way.”

Leila and I follow her. I ask, “By the way, how’d you open the vault? Did you remember something?”

“Well... When that man brought me to the vault, he demanded that I open it, but I didn’t know how or what he was talking about. He did something to me. Memories I’ve forgotten flooded into my head. I remembered the last day daddy visited me. He was arguing with my mom about something. I don’t know what they were arguing about. When I got closer, daddy turned to face me. He said that he had something really important to give me. He told me to never use it no matter what. This blue stuff came out of his hand and then went into my body. Knowledge flooded into my head. My consciousness faded after that.”

I knit my eyebrows. “Blue stuff…? That sounds a lot like Mana…and how knowledge flooded into your head sounds like what a Magic Scroll would do. I’ve never heard about being able to instantly transfer magic instructions or Mana between people… What about you, Leila?”

“It’s a first for me as well.”

“It’s this room here,” Irene says and opens the door. She goes in and we follow. Reid and Aurora are both tied down to chairs next to each other. Aurora’s arm next to Reid is not tied down and there’s a small metal club tied to her hand. They both make muffled noises through their gag.

“Xedeus… What a sick bastard…” I say. Leila loosens the cloth wrapped around their mouths.

“Thank god you are here! What happened to that masked man?” Reid asks. Leila begins untying them, starting with Reid.

“He’s gone,” I answer. He sighs.

“Good. We do not have anything to worry about now,” he says.

“No, we still have a problem… There’s a crowd outside waiting for your announcement, Reid. I mean, Osmir,” I inform.

“Oh, shit… What am I going to do?!” Aurora knits her eyebrows.

“What are you talking about?”

“You don’t know? He’s the hero that saved Xantho from the raids on villages by the villain Velyn. He declared himself King of Xantho yesterday, promising to redistribute the stolen wealth today,” I explain.

“What is with that?!” Aurora shouts and raises the arm with the mace attached in the air. She swings at Reid, but he’s already untied and dodges. “So you have been living the lavish life… When things turn a little bad, you do not want what you originally usurped? Take responsibility! It is the least you could do for me…and Seirus.”

Tears pour out of her eyes, but she doesn’t make a sound. Reid frowns and looks down. Leila starts untying Aurora, beginning with the mace in her hand. I ask, “So you’ve already heard the news from the masked man?”

“Yes. He told us that Velyn and Seirus were no longer with us,” Aurora informs.

“How’re you holding up, Irene?” I ask.

She looks up and says, “Huh? Oh, yeah. I’m fine. I’ve been preparing for the worst since I heard he was missing…”

Reid looks up, smiles, and then says, “I am going to confess. I will tell everyone that I am a fraud and the truth about everything.”

“No, you should not do that,” Leila says. “The last thing this kingdom needs to hear right now is more bad news. You need to let the current wounds heal.”

Reid widens his eyes and asks, “Then what do I do?! I cannot stay the King… It is too much responsibility…and I do not deserve it… I do not even know what to do next. It is only a matter of time before they find out the truth anyway…”

“If you do not try to do anything, I definitely will not forgive you!” Aurora exclaims while standing up.

Leila sighs and then says, “I have an idea. One that you might not approve of, Kai. Ultimately, the choice is up to Irene.”

“Alright, let’s hear it,” I say.

“Reid will reveal the existence of Irene being the rightful heir to the throne. He needs to come up with an excuse of how he found her and then announce their marriage.”

She pauses and looks at me. I say, “Go on.”

“We will still play on the facts the people think are true. Velyn remains the mastermind behind everything. Kai and I helped you kill Velyn in one final skirmish while Seirus and Aurora are still at large.”

Leila turns to Aurora and continues, “This means you can never leave the castle. No one can find out that you are here.”

“I understand.”

“Do you have any knowledge in economics or politics?” Leila asks.

“I was tutored in economics and I know a little about politics through my family.”

“Good. That will help. You’ll have to advise Irene and Reid from the shadows. You will need to decide how to make changes to the economy gradually because just handing people random amounts of money is not going to solve anything. You may also need to rebuild the political system. It is going to be a lot of work. Can you do it?”

“Whether or not I can do it is not a choice… I have to do it,” Aurora responds.

“Good answer. What do you think, Irene? If you don’t want to do it we need to come up with a different measure,” Leila says and then turns to Irene. She doesn’t answer. I turn toward her too. She’s looking at Luna.

“Irene?” I ask.

She looks up and says, “No, it’s nothing.”

I knit my eyebrows. I look at Luna’s face for a second and then at Irene’s. I say, “Hey… They really do resemble each other. I’m not just imagining it.”

Leila comes closer to me and takes a look for herself. “You’re right… Do you know something, Irene?”

“Yeah…” she mutters. “I think Luna is…my sister.”

I widen my eyes and exclaim, “What?! Sisters?! That’s impossible… Luna said her mom died when she was six… Did Velyn have another affair? No, wait…”

I think back to the story Irene told me yesterday. She said her mom lied about having a previous husband…

I raise my eyebrows as I remember what Luna during that day. She asked, “Are you gonna abandon me too…? Just like how mom did…”

They’re both lying…?

“We’re technically half-sisters,” Irene informs.

“How’re you so sure?” Leila asks. Irene doesn’t answer for several seconds. She looks down.

“I remembered more than just the day daddy last visited me… I also remembered things I saw when I was really little. These memories just flooded into my head in a single moment. I don’t remember these at all so it’s a little hard to believe…” she explains.

I widen my eyes and exclaim, “If you know something, tell us!”

“Well… Luna’s father wasn’t a good person…and my mom turned a blind eye to everything that transpired. I won’t say more than that. You should hear it from her instead.” I look down at Luna while remembering the nonsense she blabbered on about during that day.

So she had a father after all… Was the smile she was putting on every day a lie? I didn’t see through it at all… I shake my head.

“Sorry to interrupt…but you still have a problem you need to solve,” Reid says with his hands clasped together. I sigh.

“It’s your problem too. Actually, it’s only your problem,” I say.

“I know but… I just…” Reid shakes his head and continues, “I just do not know what to do.”

Leila frowns and asks, “Did you not hear a word I said?”

“I did hear but…you need to tell me what to do. Just tell me what to say, and I will do it.”

Leila sighs and then says, “Well, I need to explain again for Irene. At least try to put some of your own thought to it.”

“Since you want my forgiveness, I will not give you a choice. If you do not try, I will kill you,” Aurora adds.

“Go-got it…” Reid answers weakly.

I walk over to the bed in the room and put Luna down. I walk toward the exit and say, “I’m gonna check out the rest of the castle. We didn’t get a chance to do that before. I’m still curious what happened to all the guards. Maybe they’re imprisoned somewhere.”

“Don’t be gone for too long,” Leila warns.

“I know, I know. I’ll be back soon,” I say and then leave. I wander the hallways. Hmm… The first order of things is to check where that Ogre came from. I think I ran from over there…

I retrace my steps to the stairs down to the first floor and then the stairs on the opposite side. I find the room I discovered Reid and Irene in last night. I go in the direction I saw Leila and the Ogre running from. It should be around here somewhere…

I search the area, eventually finding a broken wall up ahead. I walk toward it. A familiar scent lingers in the air. This smell…

I have a bad feeling about it. The disappearance of the guards… An empty castle…

I know what I’ll find in here, and it won’t be pretty. I enter the room through the hole. I find exactly what I imagined. Scraps of armor are scattered across the entire room. There are blood stains on the floor along with an Ogre footprint. There’s a pile of bones in one corner of the room and a pile of heads in another corner. The latter is where the smell is strongest. I walk toward it, finding a guard I talked with yesterday on top of the pile along with a horde of flies. I close my eyes and shake my head.

With nothing else to discover, I leave the room where I came from. I search through some of the other undiscovered hallways, but I don’t find anything that stands out. I head back to the others. I arrive in the room, but only Leila and Luna are here. Leila’s sitting in a chair with her arms and legs crossed. She’s looking at Luna. I cock an eyebrow and ask, “Where’re the others?”

She turns her head toward me and responds, “Took you long enough. They’re outside informing the people about the situation using the script we prepared.”

“What? Even Aurora? I thought we were going to go with that we helped Reid take down Velyn.”

“Yes, but then I changed it. It’ll be better if we’re not in the picture. They might start asking us about our origins. Besides, Aurora won’t be a prisoner to this place anymore.”

“Hmm… So what are they telling the people?”

“Seirus knew about the corruption surrounding Velyn. He found out that Velyn gave something important to an illegitimate daughter he had when she was born. Velyn later regretted it. The real reason for the raids was to locate his daughter and take back his possession. Seirus and Aurora left to go find his illegitimate daughter before Velyn got to her. Seirus died in a final clash against Velyn today. Well, that was the change. Find anything on your end?”

I sigh and then reply, “Yeah. There’s this room around the center of this floor that you might need to clean up. The guards were fed to the Ogre.”

“That would be something,” Leila says and then stands up. “Take me there.”

I start heading to the room again. Leila walks alongside me after closing the door. “By the way, how’d you figure out Xedeus’ magic?”

“It was an attack I couldn’t see, feel, or hear. I figured it must have been Fusion magic between Wind and Lightning to the brain or spine. If he took the special property of invisibility and Base from Wind, the paralyzing effect from Lightning would not be as pronounced and won’t last long. He used Alteration afterward to play mind tricks on you to make you think you still couldn’t move. I still can’t figure out his motive in all of this…”

“Hey… Can he use Alteration magic to speak to people directly in their mind or control them in any way?”

“No, that should be impossible. What’s bothering you?”

“No, it’s nothing.” Leila sighs.

“What was that about earlier?” Leila asks. I cock an eyebrow. “You’ve met Xedeus before in the past?”

“Oh, yeah… It was at an event during my Academy days. I didn’t know at the time, though. I was just a kid, clueless about the world…”

“You don’t need to keep blaming yourself, Kai,” she says while patting me on the back. “Wh-what’re you going to do now?”

I think about it for several seconds. That question never occurred to me until now. I lost half the reason for pursuing Xedeus, and I’m too weak to fight him…

“I’m not sure,” I answer. “I don’t think we can show ourselves in Cascabel anymore, so we’re back to square one. I’ll probably stay here for a while.”

“I see.”

“Well, we’re here,” I say as we arrive at the room in question. “I’m gonna see if there’re any clues inside that vault.”

I start heading back. Suddenly, Leila follows and says, “I’m coming with you.”

I stop walking and turn around. “What, why? After I just led you here…”

She looks away and asks, “Just what do you think my magic is? I can’t clean this up by myself. This is just manual labor.”

I sigh and then say, “Whatever.”

We head to the vault. Aurora is on the side of the library near the hole. I interject, “Huh? You guys are done already?”

“Yes. Surprisingly, Reid sounded amazing just now. Do not tell him I said that,” Aurora says.

“Where’re the other two?” I ask.

“They’re by the vault. There were some people who wanted some proof of what we were saying.” I cock an eyebrow while we make our way there.

“Leila, wait!” Aurora exclaims. I glance over my shoulder finding Leila has stopped and turned toward Aurora. “Can you give me some advice on what I should do in the coming weeks?”

I continue ahead without Leila. Reid is standing outside of the open vault. Irene isn’t here. I ask, “Reid, what’s going on?”

He turns his head toward us and exclaims, “Oh, you are here! I did not know what to do about them so I just let them in. Was it the wrong choice?!”

“They are coming back…” he says quietly and then turns away. I widen my eyes as Marin and her bodyguards walk out. Irene is with them. Reflexively, I put my hands on my weapon grips.

“Marin! You wanna fight again…?” I ask. She stares at me blankly and then sighs.

“No, I don’t want to fight you… What this man over here said was a bit of a stretch…but there’s no doubt that this girl is special. I was just thinking you might’ve been telling the truth after all…” she says with little energy. I relax and sigh.

I ask, “So, was there anything in the vault?”

“Not a thing. The material the room’s made out of has me interested, though. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

I groan and then mutter, “So it’s really back to square one…huh.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“It’s Xedeus… We fought but it could hardly be called a fight. He was too strong. I was trying to sneak up on him in Cascabel, but he knew about that too… Now I won’t get another chance for a long time…”

She looks down with the same expression and says, “I see…”

She looks around her and asks, “Where’s Ruby?”

“She’s unconscious on a bed nearby,” I answer with a smile.

Irene cocks an eyebrow and then asks, “Ruby…? You mean Luna, right?”

Marin knits her eyebrows. I say, “Well, some stuff happened… She’s back to her old self…no…I mean… Never mind. You wanna see her, right? Follow me.”

I start walking toward the room. Marin follows and says, “The six of you stay here.”

“Yes ma’am!” her bodyguards exclaim. Leila is still talking to Aurora when she turns toward me. She knits her eyebrows for a few seconds and then relaxes.

“We’re gonna see if Luna’s awake yet,” I say as we walk past her.

“Wait! I’m going to come with you too!” Leila exclaims. Her footsteps resound a few times.

“Leila, wait! What about our discussion?” Aurora asks.

“Fine… What else do you want to know?” We arrive in the hallway. Marin follows me in silence.

It feels like she’s staring me down from behind. I curl my lips inward. This is awkward…especially on how we ended our last meeting…

Sweat forms on my palms. I say, “Listen… About the—”

“You don’t need to say anything. I’m sure you were trying to protect me in your own way…” It’s awkward, but I don’t say anything for the rest of the way. I open the door to the room and then go in. I widen my eyes. Luna’s sitting up on the bed.

“Luna!” I exclaim and run over to her. She smiles.

“Kai…and Marin.”

I smile, grab her hand, and ask, “How’re you feeling?”

“I feel fine except that I’m low on Mana.”

“Actually, I’m going to ask Irene more questions!” Marin exclaims and walks away. “I’m glad you’re okay…Luna.”

“Yeah,” Luna responds. Marin leaves and closes the door behind her. Luna pulls my hands closer to her, forcing me to sit down next to her. I blush and look away. I gulp as several seconds pass. Her grip tightens on my hand. “Hey, Kai…”

Her hands are warm and sweaty. Or maybe it’s my sweat, I don’t know. I turn back, finding that she’s frowning and her eyes are shaking. “What is it?”

“Sorry… I haven’t… I haven’t been myself lately.”

“No, that’s wrong!” I exclaim immediately. She looks up into my eyes. “You’ve always been yourself, Luna. I’m the one who should be sorry. I thought you were a different person…but I was wrong. You’ve always been you, so don’t apologize for it.”

She smiles, her eyes glistening. “You know… I’ve always liked that part about you, Kai.”

I cock an eyebrow. “What part?”

“You’ve always treated me normally… You looked at me at an even level instead of on a pedestal like everyone else in our first year, despite that your scores were so much lower than mine.” I blush and stop holding her hands. I put my hands on the bed behind me while putting some of my weight back.

“We-well… I never had any friends growing up…so I wanted to take whatever I could get,” I answer quickly. I smile, thinking back to my childhood. “Yeah…back then was nice. All I wanted in the world was to have friends…” Luna copies my position.

“So we were the same…” Luna mutters. I widen my eyes. “That’s all I wanted too. I never had any friends before our first year either. Well, that wasn’t the only reason I took an initial interest in you… To be honest, I thought you were really weak and pathetic.”

I frown. She chuckles and then continues, “I didn’t mean it in a bad way! It was more like… I thought I could be a mentor of sorts…like your big sister or something.”

My heart pounds as I remember what Irene said earlier. I gulp before asking, “Why’d you wanna be my big sister?”

She doesn’t answer for several seconds. “Because… I actually have a little sister. I haven’t seen her since…”

“Since?” She frowns and looks down, her eyes quivering. “Oh, no. If you don’t wanna answer, that’s fine.”

“Hey, Kai…” she says as she suddenly turns her body toward me. “I still love you… I’ve always thought about you every day. I wanted to help you in whatever way I could… What about you…?”

I frown and look down. I can’t tell her…that with Marin… But I thought about her too. More than I wanted to.

Suddenly, Luna leans in on me. It catches me off guard and my hand slips. My back falls on the bed. She climbs on top on me and continues to lean in toward my mouth with her eyes closed. My heart rate accelerates. I close my eyes while thinking about my own feelings. I open my eyes and put a hand between our lips before they touch. I respond, “Sorry.”

Luna opens her eyes, tears pouring out. Some of it drips on my face. I continue, “I loved you too… I thought about you a lot… I wanted to reconcile and start over…but…”

She gets off me and sits back on the edge of the bed.

“It’s okay. I understand…” She sniffles. “That Elf really did take you away from me…”

Women’s intuition’s really scary… I sit back up too. “By the way, your little sister’s here.”

“What?”

“Her name’s Irene. She’s here at the library.” Luna wipes away her tears with her arms and then sniffles again.

“Re-really?” she asks, her eyes practically glowing.

I smile and respond, “Yeah. Wanna go meet her?”

She stands up and exclaims, “Yeah! Let’s go!”

I stand up and walk to the exit. I knit my eyebrows as I pull the door open. It was slightly open? I could’ve sworn Marin closed it…

Luna runs out ahead of me. “Hey, wait! Do you know where you’re going?”

“Yeah! I remember this hallway!” I sigh and walk at my own pace.

Hmm… What should I do now? I gulp. I think I’m gonna confess my feelings for Leila after all. Elves and Humans aren’t compatible? To hell with that. I don’t wanna give up just because of the first obstacle we encounter. We’ll show everyone that we’re different… That it’s possible to have a healthy relationship between a male Human and female Elf.

I think about my word as on my way to the library. Aurora is reading a book against the wall near the hole. I ask, “Leila’s done giving you some tips already? Where is she?”

She looks up and answers, “Yes. I think she went to go talk to Irene.”

“Alright, thanks,” I say and then walk around the library. I find Irene with Luna, Marin and the guards. “Hey, Irene. Where’s Leila?”

“Huh? Leila told me she was going to see what you were up to. Did you not see her?” I knit my eyebrows.

“I must have missed her. I’ll catch you guys later,” I say and then walk back. I arrive at the room Luna was in, but Leila isn’t here. That’s strange… Did she decide to clean up the mess in the Ogre room?

I quicken my pace, arriving at the Ogre room. The room is just as I last left it. Leila isn’t here either. My palms sweat as a chill goes down my spine. I might just be unlucky… Did Leila already go back to the library?

I run back, joining up with Irene and the others again. Leila isn’t here. Irene asks, “Kai, you’re back already? Where’s Leila?”

“That’s what I wanna know. You were the last person to talk to her. What were you guys talking about?”

“Hmm… While she was healing me, she was saying how she was jealous of me. How I’m strong and able to accept all these new responsibilities without complaint. I don’t—”

“And? Was that it?”

“Oh, I also told her you were calling for Luna in your sleep during our ride to Byzia.” I knit my eyebrows.

“Wait… Is that when I woke up and… I thought you said I didn’t say anything…”

“Sorry, I lied. I was thinking about the name, Luna…”

Luna exclaims, “Kai! You were really…”

I get lost in my own thoughts, blocking off all other sounds. I think about the way Leila has been acting strange for the past few days. I think about my last few interactions with her, piecing together the information Irene told me. I gulp. The door was closed when Marin left…but it was open when I left…

I widen my eyes as a cold chill courses through my body. Luna asks, “Kai, what’s wrong?”

“Irene. How long ago did you last talk to Leila?”

“Hmm…” My heart pounds progressively faster. “20 minutes…maybe 30 minutes ago?”

I left to visit Luna with Marin about 30 minutes ago… Marin’s not saying anything, so that must mean Leila avoided her… I can still catch up. I turn to Marin and ask, “Marin, where’s the Transportation Center here?

“In the north—” I turn around and run toward the exit of the castle. “—Kai, wait!”

"Haste!” I exclaim and then feel power surging through my legs. I feel bad about leaving Marin and Luna behind just as we reunited…but…this is more important. I know where to find them when this is resolved.

I leave the castle and head for the gates. The gates are open with two guards standing watch. Are they part of Marin’s unit? Well, whatever.

I run past them, finding the large crowd dispersed. I head toward the northern part of the city. Leila, you can’t leave like this… I won’t allow it.

I look around everywhere but can’t find the Transportation Center. I click my tongue. Shit!

Panting, I approach the nearest person in front of me and then say, “Excuse me. I’m looking for the Transportation Center around here. Where is it?”

The man answers, “You’re looking for it in the wrong place. It’s in the eastern part of town. Big red building. You can’t—”

I immediately turn around and run toward the eastern part of the city. I frown and grit my teeth. Marin lied to me… Is she trying to keep me away from Leila?

I soon arrive at my destination, the big, red building. Marin’s standing there by the entrance with two bodyguards. I exclaim, ”Marin! What’s the meaning of this?!”

She turns to me calmly and then says, “I’m not going to let you leave me behind again. We’re coming with you.”

I relax and ask, “We?”

She turns her head toward the entrance of the Transportation Center. “There’s Luna with the wagon.”

She turns back to me and continues, “You wouldn’t be able to get one without the Xantho emblem, an Adventurer’s license, or the proper Trading license, remember? You probably were thinking about taking one by force…”

“Well… Wait, how’d you guys get one? You don’t have either of those three either.”

“Luckily, Reid had a Xantho emblem on him, so we borrowed it.” Luna stops the wagon next to us.

“Deliver this back to Reid,” Luna says as she tosses something shiny to one of the bodyguards.

“Yes, Captain,” one of them answers.

“I want you to report to Sergeant Jetia as we discussed earlier and give him my new orders,” Marin says to the other guard.

“Yes, Lieutenant!” the guard exclaims and then the two of them run away. Marin gets on the wagon, and I follow.

“Kai, where’re we going?” Luna asks.

“Hmm… I think Leila’s going east so let’s head in the same direction,” I say. Luna signals the horses to move and we head out.

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