Lucky was currently staring at the distant, enshrouded sky from which a familiar aura leaked ceaselessly. There was a faint, warm smile on her face, her eyes exuding pride. She was half a mind away to shout ‘Yeah, that’s my best friend!’ before realizing how embarrassing that would have been, quickly reprimanding herself for ever conceiving the thought.
Behind her, a middle-aged man sat tied to a bone-crafted chair, his eyes, lips and the whole body trembling in terror. He had cloth tied around his mouth and mawed chains around his limbs, causing trickles of blood to repeatedly collapse onto the floor, forming a not-so-small pond beneath the chair.
After staring at the sky for a few minutes, Lucky turned around and faced the man, her previous smile and gaze vanishing completely, replaced with frigid indifference. She walked over calmly and removed the cloth over the man’s mouth as the latter winced in fear.
“Finally done screaming?” she asked.
“...” the man remained silent, seemingly too afraid to even look her in the eye.
“Good,” she cracked a brief smile before crouching down and forcing the man to look her directly in the eye. “Now... are you ready to start talking?”
“... y-you... you c-can... c-can kill me...” he barely managed to stutter out before suddenly feeling as though his entire body burst out into flames. Lucky held tightly onto the dagger pounded in his abdomen, its blade chillingly red like fire. “Aaaghh... p-please... I... I can’t... I can’t... please... please...”
“I know you can,” Lucky said apathetically. “I’ve chosen you specifically because you’re one of the few who hadn’t sworn the Vow of Soul, but merely the one of Heart. You will die either way, Silver Saint; however, you still have a choice as to how. If you keep pissing me off... you won’t. And, believe me, if there’s one thing no one ever realizes... it’s that they truly, deeply, madly wish to have a choice on how to die.”
“... n-no... please... p-please...” the man, however, still remained seemingly adamant, despite crying out in pain.
“Do I look like someone who gives a shit about your pleas?!”
“AAGGGH!!” Lucky pushed the dagger further in, causing the man’s entire body to spasm for a moment, his eyes drawing back over for a brief second as he lost consciousness temporarily due to pain.
“I know you have someone on the inside,” Lucky continued. “And I know they’ve been feeding you information about us. I want a name, Silver Saint. I want a name and I’ll grant you a swift death.”
“... n-no... p-please... kill me... please...”
“...” after a few moments of silence, Lucky sighed as she sleeved the dagger across the man’s neck, killing him instantly. Looking at the floor for a moment, she got up and sighed once more, wiping the blood off the dagger before putting it away. Glancing sideways, she saw Ty sitting on the bed with a somewhat confused expression. “There’s no point to torturing them just out of vanity,” Lucky said with a faint smile. “He wasn’t gonna talk no matter what I did. Steadfast man. Good lot.”
“... however saintly what you just said sounds,” Ty said. “You’re still beyond terrifying. No escaping it.”
“Ha ha ha, oh shut up you little twerp,” she laughed as she walked over toward the window and glanced out at the city streets. “This is really bad.”
“... yeah.” Ty nodded solemnly. “So far the fortress’ position hasn’t been disclosed as they move around a lot, but it’s only a matter of time. Before the Lord and the Lady return, we are at our weakest. We can’t afford to be exposed.”
“Why do I get the creeps each time you refer to them as the ‘Lord and the Lady’?” Lucky glanced at him as she shuddered. “Fuck, I keep forgetting that to the rest of you they’re these holy figures.”
“What are they to you then?” Ty asked with faint interest. “Friends?”
“... more like a couple of kids stuck inside the bodies of adults,” Lucky shrugged. “They can spew so much shit it’s genuinely beyond astounding. Do you know that, quite a few years ago, when I first met Hannah, the bitch played a joke on me? And not just any joke, no. I mentioned kids and how they should never have them, and she told me she couldn’t have the kids, you know? I felt like genuine shit in that moment. Then, the two fuckers burst out in laughter. I swear, one day, I’ll shove something down their throats so they never utter another sound let alone a word.”
“... w-wow... that’s... a lot of anger there...” Ty mumbled.
“... ha ha ha, nah,” she laughed, walking over and ruffling Ty’s hair. “Yeah, they’re professionals when it comes to pissing people off... but, they’re also genuinely the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Lino, for instance, ever since I met him, has bent over backwards to do everything he can for me. And despite the fact that it backfired many times over, he’s never given up on me. Not when I was riding high or hiding low. It’s not really his strength that drove so many people to his side, or even his title of the Empyrean,” she added, smiling genuinely for a moment as Ty found himself flustered. “It’s his charisma. His ability to make everyone believe anything is possible. You know?”
“.... y-yeah...” Ty barly managed to stutter out, hiding his face.
“But, if you tell either one of them what I just said, you and I will be having a dungeon date. A rather long-lasting one. Got it?”
“And stop blushing,” she slapped the back of his head gently as she got up and walked over to the table where a stack of papers lay scattered. “You’re twenty-years-late to be having intentions towards me, little twerp.”
“Anyway, everything is ready,” Lucky said as she suddenly took a few papers and brought them over to Ty. “Your identity is forged, your credentials can’t be any cleaner, and you’ve finally grasped the basics of their Mantra. I think it’s time you joined the Holy Ground, Ty.”
“... ugh. I know this is my first big mission and I should be excited... but what if I screw up?”
“Then you die.”
“What? Were you expecting some encouragement?”
“... m-maybe?” the boy mumbled.
“We don’t sell that here,” L’ grinned, handing him the papers. “Failure isn’t an option, Ty... mainly because I don’t want to groom failures. So, if you screw up, find your own way in the world.”
“Oi, oi, isn’t that a bit harsh?!”
“Well, let’s see,” Lucky said. “Lino is currently fighting a Dragon, Ella is single-handedly keeping the Holy Grounds at bay, Val is tracking virtually every single spy on the Central Continent, Eggor is single-handedly crafting our entire armory and weaponry, I’m single-handedly trying to snuff out a spy in the fortress, Jack and Edward abandoned smithing and learned formations for the sole purpose of maintaining the fortress, even young Ion is currently speeding through the realms at an astonishing pace in order to go and participate in the upcoming Selections... you pretending to be someone else and just keeping your head low for a few years... well, it doesn’t seem all that harsh now, does it?”
“... that’s unfair! You know damn well I can’t hold a candle of any of you guys!!”
“What are you talking about?” Lucky glanced at him dubiously. “I didn’t chose you just because you have a perky face, little twerp. You’re far more talented than both Lino and me, with a much higher starting point. Not everything in life will be handed to you. In reality, you have to reach out and grab for everything that you want. If even with everything you’ve been given thus far you’re unwilling or incapable, then just leave. I’m sure that by now we’ve found a few more talented seeds to replace you. We aren’t participating in a beauty pageant Ty, but in a war. You think I enjoy going around, hunting old men, bringing them here and skewering them open in hopes they’ll tell me what I want to know? You think that’s what I dream of doing every time I wake up in the morning? You think Ella would rather fly around the Holy Continent than stay at home and spend time with her kid? You think Lino really wants to fight a Dragon--no, scratch that, that crazy bastard probably dreamed of that moment since his birth. Khm, anyway, most of us don’t want to do plenty things, but it’s in the cards we’ve been dealt. So, make a choice now.”
“... I was just yanking your chain, you know?” Ty mumbled lowly, getting up off the bed. “You didn’t have to spiral into a freaking lecture over it...”
“... that crazy bastard really rubbed off on me...” Lucky mumbled in response, remembering how she felt when Lino spiraled into one of his monologues. That bastard’s capacity to corrupt others... ugh, it’s fucking terrifying...