By asking some people around, Ben finds a way outside. The place he goes to is a tea table at a veranda by the side of the house. This place isn’t as wide open as some other recreation areas in this house, but around him, Ben sees a gorgeous colorful assortment of flowers and, above his head, he sees a beautiful vine netted roof. In this open veranda, the winds flow, carrying with it the entrancing smell of the surroundings, and some rays of the sun find its way through the roof, creating a relaxed atmosphere.
After being served tea, Ben asks to be left alone for some time since he stayed so long in seclusion. No one seems too surprised about it since they knew basically who he was and what he went through, so he is given some space, and no one is called to accompany him.
Ben stays sitting there, enjoying the afternoon sun. While he seems peaceful in the outside, his brain is contentiously working. First, Ben clears the confusion of his mind by situating himself well inside his timeline of memories. At this time, he focuses again on where he is and what happened recently, basically reviewing the last year of events.
Second, Ben does an overall review of where he came from and where he is going with his life.
Third, he focuses on his muddled emotions, trying to remember what he felt after getting out of the trance and what may have triggered it. He calmly spends some time classifying the events and his reactions.
At last, he begins the pinpointing work. Regarding memories, Ben is clear on how much feeble they have become for him, so he doesn’t spend his time despairing while trying to remember what happened inside his daydream. Since this isn’t his first time, he knows a better way to spend his worries. His priority is to identify what has been forgotten accurately, and only after doing so, he can spend time trying to fix it, if need be.
Losing a memory always triggers Ben’s anxiety since a feeling of emptiness sprouts inside his mind, yelling that he forgot something extremely relevant. However, after so many times, Ben adapted to it, and while the buzzing reaction didn’t disappear, he developed a very systematic way of dealing with it.
It may take him some time, but he eventually discovers where the hole is in his timelines of memories, and consequently works on remembering things around it to fill the gap. While this is an imperfect solution, that has been the best Ben could do so far, as not even once he was able to reconstruct a lost memory fully.
After some introspection, Ben finally pinpoints which chunk of memories is gone. This time, a significant event was missing, so it didn’t take him too long to ascertain what it was.
‘Fellow monster, you are gone.’ Ben feels the gap between the excitement before the forgotten chunk and the disappointment after the encounter. Then, he readily fills the gap with whatever he can muster. After that, the meeting becomes only a fable in his mind, making Ben, like many other times, feel like an outsider towards his own life.
Since he can’t avoid forgetting something, the best and worst arises when it is an important event. While it is good that he can quickly pinpoint and fill the gap with detailed information, the alienation is much stronger when he considers the memory relevant. On the other hand, when he forgets a minor memory, it is much harder to spot where the hole is and, even when he finds it, sometimes he can’t even fill in the gap.
‘I didn’t expect a memory loss right now since it happened last year. Is my consciousness becoming fragile to too much activity? I saw no signs of such a thing so far. Another answer would be that those random events might become closer, which would be even worse. [sigh] So much damage caused by a mundane wolf skull.’
While drinking the tea, Ben’s mood slowly becomes colder, and he loses the little excitement he had towards socializing with the kids around. Although he identifies his mood swing, he lets it be since too much stuff has been happening around him lately. Compared to his daily life in his last hundred years, this has been overwhelming.
‘Maybe I should have fixed the clock some other time… No, I wouldn’t be able to hold back once everything was ready. Then, what do I do next? Receiving the payment comes first, but then I should ultimately leave after solidifying a good equal relationship. I really grew too old for this.’
After dealing with the critical details, Ben forcibly controls his emotions by fine-commanding his body conditions. However, even with the chemical shower and precise muscle control, the annoyance deep inside Ben’s head doesn’t disappear, as he still feels like his shoulder is heavy and the world is against him.
Despite everything, he continues to eat his afternoon snack. Besides, since he must do a detailed screening of his mind later, he would make the big resolutions then, when wholly focused.
Eventually, Ben cleans the table, and the afternoon comes closer to an end. Once the night approaches, Ginn finally appears and joins Ben at the table after shaking hands.
“Hello, Leo Moon, the affair related to your old and new identity has been solved with no mishap. Ah, it has been quite some time, more than nine weeks. Have you recovered? Do you need anything else? At that time, I didn’t have the opportunity, but let me tell you right now: I am very grateful for the incredible help you provided by extracting the poison from Eloise. Sorry for the harsh welcomed you encountered that day. Of course, the problem has been solved, and you can comfortably stay here for as much as you feel like it. My wife also expressed her gratitude, but unfortunately, you two will not be able to meet for a while, as she entered a deep body recovery process that will at least take two more months. But before she submerged in medicine, she asked me to pass this message: I will never forget the second chance you gave me.”
After the urgent treatment, they began to plan how to proceed so that Eloise could begin cultivating afresh. Since she was healthy again, they could finally focus on minimizing the sequels.
Looking at Ginn Aravyz before him, Ben notices smalls changes. While he always seemed like a bright young man, now he also carries a hopeful and ambitious atmosphere, like he feels much lighter and freer.
After thinking for a moment, Ben nods and answers: “I am good, thank you for asking. Also, you should tell your wife not to worry too much, as we already agreed on the payment.”
While a smile appears on his face, Ginn says: “She may not agree with it.”
To that, Ben only responds with a hopeless shrug of his shoulder.
“Anyway, here is another part of the payment,” Ginn says, as he takes a ring from his finger and gives it to Ben.
He then continues: “If you are okay with it, the biweekly auction happens in two days. You already have a reserved place, but if you have something else in mind, I can also reserve you a place in the next one.”
“Two days, it is,” Ben says as he inspects the ring and then puts it on.
“Also, thank you for sharing some of your insight with Dinna. While we can trade with a multitude of people, getting knowledge is particularly difficult. However, that can’t even compare to how difficult it is to receive guidance from someone experienced, that carries even more chains.”
“No worries, that isn’t much.”
[slighly laughs] “I don’t think she would agree with that either.” Ginn says as a big smile appears in his face.
“Alright, I also came here to invite you to join us at dinner. I would like you to meet this big family of mine. Since they all are around, you will be meeting all my sworn brothers and sisters. Sadly, Eloise can’t join us, but I hope we can repeat such an event once she is back walking around, then, the gang would be all together.”
“I felt like you would act more < young-master-ish >.”
< “I ain’t employing them, and there is no old master.” >
< “That wouldn’t stop some from role-playing.” >
< “I was never really into fantasy.” >
< “Imagine if you were.” >
< “Maybe it wouldn’t change much?” >
< “I think the difference between an experienced business person and a wannabe is pretty clear. Although, some do have it naturally.” >
< “Is your English not native?” >
< “Are you making fun of how unnatural I sound?” >
< “It does sound slightly off.” >
< “The issue is with muscle memory. Since I don’t have someone to talk with, it has slowly deteriorated over time, even with me practicing.” >
< “Oh, maybe, I will suffer from that in a few hundreds of years.” >
< “Maybe, young so young Young Master, but you probably will be young forever!” > Ben says in a humorous tone.
< “Oh, so funny.” > Ginn adds in a flat tone.
He then changes the subject: < “We will be moving bases next year.” >
< “Oh, where?” > ‘Is he telling me in advance because I may run away?’
< “If nothing goes too wrong, west of the Kingdom of Latwelia.” >
< “Quite far away, and not at Volcano.” > Ben says, surprised.
< “We will stay independent.” >
< “Such ambition. And your name choice is Dragons… Imagine if you loved fantasy.” >
< “Dragons is such a well-known word, and my ambition comes from somewhere else. Anyway, it is almost time for dinner, so would you like to refresh and change clothes? We did prepare some based on the simple style we saw you using before, so check inside the ring.” >
< “Sure. This set is too martial-arts-ish, and I find those quite suffocating.” >
< “Alright, someone will show you the way to your room. They will also wait to show you the way to the dining hall.” >
Leaving the veranda, a valet guides Ben to his room.
Later, after preparing for dinner, Ben looks at himself in the big mirror in his room. The clothes he found inside the ring have the style he likes: baggy, warm, resistant, and super comfortable. His pants are black, and while the outside is some fabric between cotton and plastic, the inside is super fluffy. His shirt is light blue with a more cotton-ish texture. And a dark-gray overcoat made of some material even stronger than his pants tops it all off, inside it, he finds a few common engravings.
Feeling satisfied, Ben leaves the room.
Arriving at the dining hall, Ben formally meets every single commander of the faction. They all carry the faction title < Dragon >, and Ben learns that quite a few of them have been around since its founding.
The conversation was still quite casual, and since there were fourteen of them, the greetings were quite fast. At most, they introduced their names, sometimes accompanied by their work, background, or interests.
A few of them were faces he clearly remembers, like the short twins’ brother, the short-fused young red-haired guy, and Dinna that still has the ember in her hands. Some other faces he finds familiar, but he isn’t sure when or where he met them.
‘I wonder when will she become decisive?’ he thinks while seeing the ember again.
After the long line of greetings, they sat down for dinner. The whole event had a light and bright atmosphere. Specifically, there was no talk about business or heavy topics, and there was no cycle of invitations.
After dinner, they went to another place where a few more people waited for them. There, light music filled the room, beverages were served in a bar, and people chit-chatted around.
Following, Ben met even more people. Then, talking became even more casual, as they approached topics like alcohol, tourism, other hobbies, and general news from around the world. To some surprise, Ben didn’t hold back as he talked a bit of everything, even after noticing some of them were purposely digging. In the end, knowing he knows something may help, but knowing he knows too much doesn’t, as that is as effective as knowing nothing at all.
Once the event gets closer to the end, Ben notices that a few of the commanders are nowhere to be seen, including the already angered Matt and the ember-obsessed Dinna.
The night was filled with discussion and gossip, and after turning down a few too many invitations to dance, Ben finally retreats.
Feeling a bit tired, Ben leaves the hall.
Right outside, he encounters a young teenage girl waiting for him.
“Good evening Sir Moon,” she says in a very formal tone and attitude.
“My master sends her regards and this gift. On behalf of Volcano Sect, I come to show our gratitude. In addition to this gift, my master and the Sect Leader also sends their willingness to meet you personally, if you have any request.”
‘Formal and precise. While willing to meet, granting it isn’t specified. Also, for the girl to use her master name in such a way, they must hold a very high position.’
Receiving the present, Ben opens the box. Inside, he sees an old book, a few pieces of old paper, and a letter on the top. A feeling of surprise rises below his calm expression.