The muted roar of the prop engines was like a lullaby to Hitsu and the rest of the passengers as the heavy transport plane flew towards its destination. Seated on both sides of the cargo bay were members of Claymore One and a platoon from the Army's, First Rifle Regiment. Heavy equipment and gear were strapped down in the middle of the cargo bay while most of the men dozed off or made small talk.
Hitsu gave a yawn and grumbled, "I thought we no longer need to return to the Dungeon... Why are we heading there now?"
"Orders," The leader of Claymore One, Tyrier, now spotting the rank tabs of a warrant officer, had his eyes closed as he replied curtly.
"But didn't some adventurers took over the duty of clearing the dungeon?" Hitsu pressed on. "Why the hell are we going back again? I hate that place..."
"Did you not complained that you had nothing to kill lately?" Altied retorted from the side. "Now you could your chance! Why so many complaints?"
"But... Isn't it strange?" Hitsu grumbled. "Didn't they were doing well? Why suddenly they had to call us and a platoon of troops and heavy weapons to come?"
"Don't you guys think something is wrong?" Hitsu asked. "Feels like we are here to clean up their shit..."
"Isn't that our job?" Wolf mumbled under his breath. Thankfully the roar of the aircraft engines covered his voice or he will get 'blanket partied' by the rest.
"You guys signed up and get paid for this..." Tyrier snapped. "Stop your whining!"
Histu made a face and sighed, "Oh well... at least we do have something to kill... It's been boring lately..."
United Nations, Seacliff Mining and Dungeon Town
Irsival peeked out from the corner of the store at the large hangar like building. She could see some movement inside the opened sliding doors. She ducked her head when someone exited from the building and leaned against the wall of the store, one hand pressed over her beating heart.
Ignoring the stares of passersby, she timidly peeked out from the corner again and saw a young man that brought tears to her eyes. The image of a young boy that remained in her heart had grown up to a fine looking young man.
She wiped her tears as she dared out reached out to the young man, despite knowing that the young man was her younger brother who had in the past few months been looking for her. She had told the authorities to not disclose any information about her when they informed her about his presence and his search for her.
Hence, her brother did not find any information from the government, only what was passed down from the people's memories in the town of Seacliff. She was afraid to face him, as in a moment of weakness, she had abandoned her family and people to the Empire, by giving up on her life.
Even when her life was saved by Drake, who had later left her to enter the Gates of Heaven. She did not actively seek out her family and instead, had adopted to a carefree life. Now her brother has come to the United Nations to find her and she did not know what to do.
Will he feel that she had betrayed them by living a carefree life while they were constantly oppressed by the Empire? She felt frightened by that thought and she felt that the only thing she could do was just to watch from afar.
The news of him getting injured, made her drop everything and rush over. Now seeing him fine and all grown up, bittersweet memories surfaced in her heart and mind of happier times.
"Miss?" A voice called out from behind Irisval suddenly, startling her. She turned again and saw a short haired girl who eyed her curiously. "Are you looking for someone? Do you need any help?"
"I... no..." Irisval replied hurriedly. She recognized the girl before her from the file given to her. She was her little brother's companion, Ciel. Irisval quickly backed away, "I'm just passing by!"
She quickly walked away and disappeared around the corner of the street, trying her best to calm her rapidly beating heart, hoping that the girl did not recognize her. "I shouldn't have come..."
"What a strange lady..." Ciel mumbled to herself as she watched the white haired lady walked away. "But she looked kind of familiar... hmmm..."
"Good morning, Justze!" Ciel called out as she spotted Justze doing some workout outside the Adventurers' Inc. building. "I saw someone strange earlier."
Justze paused in the swinging of his sword and wiped his sweat off his brow. "Strange?"
"Yes... come to think about it..." Ciel frowned as she stared at Justze's sweat plastered hair. "Her hair and eye colour looked like yours..."
Justze froze and he quickly turned to face Ciel. "What did you say?"
"I said a silver hair lady was just acting strange just across the street there," Ciel pointed to the place where she had bumped into the lady. "She went off after I asked if she needed help."
"Where?" Justze dropped his sword and grabbed Ciel. "Where did she go?"
"Ow!" Ciel flinched back. "I saw her walk down Seventh Street!"
Without another word, Justze ran off, heading towards Seventh Street, leaving behind a confused Ciel who hesitated for a moment before she dashed off after him. He paused at the intersection looking up and down the street, trying to spot the person Ciel had seen.
Just as Ciel caught up with Justze, he sprinted off again and Ciel barely had any time to catch her breath as she followed after Justze down the street. He paused again at the end of the street looking left and right before asking someone walking down the street, "Did you saw someone where hair like mine?"
The passersby briefly glanced at Justze before giving a shrug and continuing on with his way. Ciel stopped next to Justze and asked, "I- Is that person... the one you have been looking for all these times?"
"Yes!" Justze exclaimed as he looked around frantically. "It should be my sister!"
"Really?" Ciel replied. "I... I am sorry! I should have stopped her!"
Justze waved away her concerns, "It's alright... you didn't know..."
"Wait!" He suddenly said, "Do you know if there's a river bridge nearby?"
"I think there is one on the other side of the town..." Ciel replied. "Why?"
"I remember since young if she was sad or need a place to hide..." Justze explained. "She will always hide under the bridge at our hometown..."
Ciel's eyes glowed and she grabbed Justze's hand. "I know where it is! Come on!"
Irisval squatted on the bank of the small river with her back leaning against cold lifeless concrete bridge. She pucked a round pebble, which she could feel a slight warmth of the energy of the earth inside. With a flick of her wrist, the pebble was spun onto the surface of the river and it bounced three times before sinking in.
She sighed and picked up another pebble when there was a crunch and she saw a pair of boots appear before her. "Come on, sis... Is that the best you can throw?"
She froze at hearing his voice and uncontrollably, tears spilt out from her silver eyes. The young man standing before her flung another pebble out across the river and said, "Remember? You taught me how to bounce rocks off the water!"
"Justze..." Irisval buried her head into her knees as she cried. "I- I am so sorry..."
"Did you know I was looking for you?" Justze sat down next to Irisval and continued flicking pebbles into the river. "Do you how hard I tried to find you for all these years?"
"The Empire said you went missing fighting demonic worshippers up there in the mountains..." Justze said. "I didn't believe it..."
"So I volunteered myself with the Imperial Army and came all the way here to find you..." Justze stared at the ripples made by the bouncing stones. "We nearly got killed a few times, but luckily we managed to made it and when the Emperor died, we stayed back to find news of you..."
"But why?" Justze asked. "You knew I was looking for you... Why did you not let me find you? Why?"
Irisval looked away and said in a soft voice, "Because... I abandoned you and everyone else..."
"Abandoned?" Justze sighed. "After you sacrificed everything to keep us safe from the Emperor?"
"Did you think that I was too young to know what the Emperor did to us?" Justze said. "No one blames you back home..."
"Noo..." Irisval replied. "I got too much blood in my hands..."
"Even so..." Justze said in a soft voice. "You are my sister... My only kin left in this world..."
His words made Irisval cried even harder and Justze clumsily embraced his elder sister which he had not seen for several years. "We are family... And family do not give up on one another!"
"Woah! Look at that public display of affection!" Hitsu commented as he marched across the bridge, seeing a couple hugging away at the river bank. "Damn... I feel jelly!"
"Don't you have that Billie girl?" Young said as the group of soldiers marched across the bridge. "Hey... that girl looks familiar!"
"She's that hooman Drake's girl," Wolf said as he took a look over the railings. "Yup, that's her alright..."
"Wow?" Hitsu said in wonder. "She got a new guy now?"
"Looks like siblings to me!" Altied said. "Same hair colour and looks..."
"Hey, Irisval!" Hitsu broke formation and yelled over the railings. "Irisval is that you?"
The two broke their embrace and looked up in confusion and Hitsu grinned, "Remember me? We the Claymore One guys!"
"Oh?" Irisval was surprised as she recognized the soldiers crowding at the railing. "It's been a long time!"
"Heh," Hitsu turned to the platoon sergeant of the First Rifle Battalion and said. "Hey, we will link up with you guys in a while! You guys carry on!"
The platoon sergeant could only shake his head as he had no command over the spec ops soldiers. He turned to his men and coldly gestured them onwards towards the town while Hitsu and the rest climbed down the river banks.
"Hello! Long time no see!" Hitsu said as he stood before Irisval. "Are you here to join us into the dungeon again?"
"Into the dungeon again?" Irisval was confused. "What do you mean?"
"Oh?" Hitsu grimaced as he scratched his head. "We have gotten orders to come down here to clear the dungeon's final level. I thought you will be joining us as support..."
Justze and Ciel both frowned at the soldier's words. "What do you mean you got orders? The Adventurers' Inc. is in charge of the dungeon!"
Both of them after experience life and death situation with the Adventurers' Inc. inside the dungeon had grown a sense of belonging and pride of their roles. When they heard that someone else was coming to take over the dungeon, especially the final stage where the way was paved by the blood of their fellow adventurers, they felt indignant.
"This kid, your little brother?" Hitsu probed Irisval. "Well, when the man upstairs tells me where to go, who to kill, then that's my job!"
"Kids like you should just stay home and go to school," Hitsu eyed Justze up and down and gave a chuckle. "Don't waste your lives!"
Justze felt his face turn red with fury and he took a threatening step forward. Irisval quickly stepped forward and grabbed Justze. "He... He is right... You should quit as an adventurer..."
"Why?" Justze looked at Irisval. "I am a grown up now! I can protect you now!"
"I... I had... lost someone precious to me..." Irisval said and even Hitsu who heard her words bowed his head low. "After what I heard had happened inside the dungeon... I rushed over here to... see you..."
"I do not wish to lost another person that is important to me!"