If I’m completely honest, I don’t remember much about the palace itself. At least when I was here for the very first time. I had too much adrenaline running through my blood to remember it all. But those few hazy memories that I do have were all about white. And it was true. All the walls were pure white. There wasn’t probably even a single spot that would’ve been even slightly dirty. Even the furniture itself was usually made of lighter colors.
All the hallways were wide, leaving a lot of room to move. Of course, there were also a lot of guards... Everywhere…
We were lead straight towards the throne room, but just before reaching it, we were stopped by a person I could still remember.
“Captain?” I muttered, looking at the guy.
The captain’s smile widened immediately, as he walked towards us. “Hero!” he said, stopping in front of me. He immediately reached out his hand to shake my hand intensely. “I’ve already heard many great things about you!” he said, enthusiastically.
I gave him one of my weak laughs. “Yeah, I guess?”
“Yeah. What’s up?” I said, looking at him, changing the topic. “Anything to tell me before entering the throne room?”
“The King and The First Elf are ready to accept you,” the captain said, starting to walk towards the throne room. I followed.
“Qildor? Why is he there?” I asked straight away, slightly surprised.
“I don’t know. I was only asked to get you two straight to the throne room.”
Alice sighed. “I guess I’ll-”
“No!” I interrupted. “You’re coming with us!” Aldrynte gave me a stare. “What? She’s in our party now. And I do trust her.”
“It’s fine,” Alice said, hurriedly. “I’ll-”
“Come on... If it’s really something that you can’t be around for, we’ll ask you to leave,” I said, looking at the captain afterward. “It’s fine, right?”
“I’m sorry, but I was asked to lead only you two into the throne room.”
“I’ll be fine, Hiro. Just go! I’ll wait outside,” Alice said, giving me a smile.
I frowned. “Fine.”
We reached two large doors, the only things that were full of fancy golden carvings. They were immediately opened by the two guards who were keeping a watch. Me and Aldrynte entered, while Alice and Captain stayed behind, looking at us.
“This is stupid,” I frowned.
Aldrynte sighed. “It’s really not. We need to talk about things without worrying about what we have to say. Sometimes you’re like a kid, Hiro. Think.” I rolled my eyes, like a kid.
We reached in front of the throne where King Rowley was sitting. Next to him stood Qildor, finishing his final quiet sentences.
“Hero!” the king said as we stopped, giving me a wide smile. “I’m very pleased about your work of late.”
I gave him a slight bow, Aldrynte following my lead. “I’m very thankful for all the trust you’ve placed in me.”
Rowley gave me a dismissive wave of his hand. “Sometimes changes are necessary. And you’ve proved yourself more than trustworthy. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to achieve in the future.”
I gave him a nod, trying to hold my smirk down. I couldn’t help but enjoy the compliments.
“Can we get down to the business?” Qildor finally interrupted, looking at Rowley.
“Yes, of course. Hero, it wasn’t really me who summoned you, but Qildor. I’ll let him explain,” Rowley said, leaning comfortably back.
Qildor took a step forward, coughing once to get his throat clear. “It wasn’t a coincidence that you happened to get a teacher’s job, or why this school was approved and built with haste.”
I already frowned. It had come to me as a huge surprise that this project was moving as fast as it was. But I never really spent too much time questioning it, until I heard about the summons. Somewhere I still hoped that the summons was just a coincidence.
“We communicated with Aldrynte, and she - as an observer - recommended taking this approach. This way it seems that you’re here for the school, at least for the public eye.”
I sighed, heavily. “And what’s the real reason?” I asked.
“Something is happening in The Capital. Mystical disappearances. Sometimes some bodies are found. Some of the dead are the common folk, while others are important figures. We - as the protectors of our country, Dehod - have tried to find the source of the problem, but we haven’t been successful.”
I smirked. “You haven’t been successful in many things of late. The mine incident should’ve been the protectors’ job too.”
“And once we heard about it, we did come. I think you misunderstand our job, though. We’re still counting on adventurers to take care of some of the problems, especially when it comes to monsters. In the end, we are not monster slayers, but the ones who keep the law.”
I sighed. “So, you’re assuming that whoever does the killing in The Capital is a monster?” I asked.
Qildor shook his head. “Probably not. We do not know. But now that you’ve redirected a lot of young new adventurers here, the importance of safety has increased a lot.”
“Then why the school project? Why approve it?” I asked.
It was Aldrynte who opened her mouth next. “To keep the young new adventurers in one place, and to guard them all at once. It’s a double-edged sword situation, but there are fewer risks. It will also keep them occupied and not make them do anything stupid.
“It also reduces suspicion. Everyone knows that the hero is supposed to be in Kirkwall. Now you have a good reason to be here for a while,” Qildor explained. “To be fair, we are not asking you to solve the problem. We are still doing everything we can to figure out who’s behind the murders and disappearance,” Qildor continued, looking at me. “But we are asking you to keep an eye out and keep students safe. But if you can figure something out, it would definitely help us. However…”
There was a moment of silence. “However?” I asked.
“We’ve recently found out that the murderer, or we like to call him now as an assassin, is very interested in your whereabouts.”
Aldrynte’s eyes widened. “You didn’t tell me anything about that!”
“As I said, it’s the newer information. Maybe the assassin heard about you coming to the capital and has reacted to it. It’s the first information we’ve gotten about the assassin in the long while as well. To be honest, we hoped that your coming would get a reaction out of that mysterious killer. And it did. We now know that it’s probably an individual.”
“We need some guards with the hero all times!” Aldrynte said.
I raised one of my eyebrows. “Aldrynte?”
“Seriously, Assassin isn’t a joke,” she said, her arms crossing. “Even if you’re good, you can’t do anything if your throat gets slit during the night while you sleep. Even the strongest can fall. And they already have fallen, as I heard.”
She was right, however... “I’ll be fine,” I said, keeping up my composure. “It’s not the first time since-”
“Shush you. You’re right now a hero that has built a huge reputation. All eyes are on you. It would be very bad if you would suddenly get assassinated. You will have guards! No exceptions. At least during the night.”
I sighed, looking at Qildor. It seems that both Qildor and Rowley were smirking. It made me even more annoyed.
“Anything else?” I asked.
Qildor shook his head. “Just that. What you do with that information is up to you. But do be careful. There’s a reason why Aldrynte got assigned to your party.”
I looked at Aldrynte, eyes squinted. She raised her one hand as an apology. “Sorry, I wasn’t allowed to tell you anything until now,” she whispered.
I sighed, finally giving everyone a nod. “I understand. But never lie to me again. I’m a hero. It’s not like I can or will run away.”
Qildor shook his head. “It’s not that. It’s that we can’t allow any possibility of information leak. Your coming here for the teaching had to seem genuine. So until you got here, we had to keep you in the dark.”
“Fine~!” I said, slightly annoyed. But I understood why they did so. Not that long ago, I had lied about myself to a bunch of adventurers as well.
I only wish it had been one month vacation, but of course, the destiny had to disagree with me. Now I had to worry about three things, instead of one. Thank you very much, fate.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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