Lazarus felt conflicted. Watching Syrawi’s small back as they rode on the scaly beast. He wasn’t wrong. But somehow this annoying prodding feeling in his head, was telling him otherwise.
“Rex….” Syrawi called out in a relatively soft tone, whispering every so softly. “I don’t care how much we have to pay….. Just please…. Promise me you can heal the sage….”
Lazarus sighed. One thing he knew what doctors did, was that they never made promises and it was the same for him. “I never make promises I can’t keep.”
Syrawi felt a tinge of disappointment. Somehow she wanted to hear him promise, even if it was just for a bit of comfort, even if it’d be a lie. But Lazarus didn’t notice.
Eris didn’t say a word; as she simply observed Lazarus as she always had. Keeping her sharp purple eyes locked onto him. Silently observing him.
It wasn’t long before they arrived back into the forest. Lazarus felt kind of strange seeing as how he just arrived back from where he’d just left. But the view wasn’t as welcoming as before.
Hundreds of elves were huddled around the great tree, with the guards keeping them at bay with a transparent blue barrier.
The Elven people shouted curses and questions that the guards, obviously couldn’t answer. Lazarus could feel the tension and the pressure from the atmosphere just from looking at them below. It was somewhat surprising how so much could happen in just a short timespan.
Turning back his gaze to Syrawi. Lazarus eyed her small back from behind as she gazed down at her people with a pained look.
Then one of the elves looked up towards them, noticing the flapping sounds. Upon seeing Lazarus and Eris behind Syrawi, his gaze turned to one filled with a burning fury. “It’s those humans again!” The elven man screamed making the crowd glance up to them with same burning anger in their eyes.
“Why did Lady Syrawi bring them back here?” A worried feminine voice sounded.
Not wanting to get stomped by the draconic creature, the people made way as the wyvern descended down, causing subtle gust of winds to blow and as it touched down, it lowered it’s wings like a stare.
“Let’s go...” Syrawi muttered, her voice as soft as a whisper yet seemingly about to break. This made Lazarus feel a bit guilty but he pushed it to the corner of his mind so it wouldn’t affect his decision making.
Exhaling a bit of air to calm herself, Syrawi walked towards the people who stared at her with anger and confusion.
Not even saying a word; she continued to march on while Lazarus and Eris silently followed behind her, not wanting to rile up the people anymore than they already are.
The people were silent. But their menacing gazes felt as if their glares were trying to pierce through their souls.
Upon seeing Syrawi, the two guards at the forefront nodded to each other before they lowered their arms and the transparent blue barrier partially opened up a space enough for a person to pass through.
The two guards eyes narrowed at the sight of Lazarus and Eris. As much as they distrusted the humans, they needed to follow orders so they simply kept quiet and kept their thoughts to themselves.
As Syrawi reached near the entrance, a wrinkled old man stood there blocking the path with a frown, clearly irritated by the sudden turn of events. This of course was Helven who didn’t expect Syrawi to bring back Lazarus.
“Lady Syrawi… you brought the humans back..?” Helven grumbled as he eyed Lazarus with a glare, clearly he didn’t want to see him again and he still stood on the path.
Syrawi sighed. “What choice do we have..?”
Helven could feel his head getting hotter. Just watching the hooded man standing there. Eris on the other hand just calmly stared at him, and this made him feel even more irritated.
Lazarus could feel the glares from every corner of his body, he felt a sort of pressure weighing down on him as all of the elves muttered curses under their breath, which he, obviously could hear.
“These humans are nothing but trouble….” One Elven man spoke under his breath and another nodded in agreement. “She shouldn’t have to bring these accursed animals back here...”
Feeling the unsettling atmosphere from the crowd. Syrawi could no longer allow this to be a democracy. She eyed Helven with her brows furrowed and spoke. “Move. That’s an order.”
Vein’s popped in Helven’s forehead as his fist balled up. He could feel it in his gut that Lazarus was going to kill the sage. While Lazarus himself silently watched the old elven man and hid his hand underneath his cloak. Preparing himself if things got out of hand.
But then a rigid voice from behind Helven spoke, his tone somewhat threatening. “Move”
The voice belonged to none other than the head of the guards. Zaiyus who was giving Helven a stern look.
“Hmph..!” Averting his gaze, Helven stepped out of the way and Syrawi calmly made her way towards the tree without even looking in his direction, and as she passed him, he spoke softly. “Should this fail…. YOU will be held liable priestess.”
Syrawi frowned but continued to walk pass him. And as Lazarus passed by the wrinkled old elven man. Helven simply huffed and continued to glare at Lazarus and Eris who didn’t pay any attention to him at all.
Just watching from behind them, the wrinkled old Elven man clenched his fist. Thinking to himself that he wouldn’t hesitate to put matters into his own hands if needed.
“Howaahh!” A hoarse voice echoed from above.
Lazarus brows distorted to a frown as he laid his eyes on a blue haired elven female who, was also giving him a glare while watching over a sleeping Sonia.
“What’re you doing back here?” she spoke in an irritated tone, things were already bad enough as it is, and just watching a rip-off casually strolling in here made it even worse for her mood.
But as Lazarus was going to speak, Syrawi intervened. “Under my orders.” And just like that, she
urged Lazarus to hurry and follow behind her upstairs, leaving Sylphi with no room to talk. And as they opened the door to the room.
Lazarus turned his gaze towards an Elven man on the bed, and as he did, his hairs suddenly stood up.
Feeling as if a ghastly sensation was gripping his heart just from watching the overgrown bulge in his stomach. It was pretty damn obvious that something was inside his stomach. Something that wasn’t supposed to be there.
And base from Sonia’s description from before, Lazarus had a hunch. But now, he was sure of it. There was a parasite in his belly.
Purple veins bulging from every corner of Mauris’ pale white skin and his eyes bulging slightly, making him look like a zombie straight out from a horror movie.
Beside him was a fox girl holding him down, and for a moment Lazarus was feeling as if he had seen her somewhere before.
And on the other side of the bed was a tall albino elven man holding down the other half of Mauris’ limbs. This of course was Nalar who Lazarus was seeing for the first time.
“Haaarrhhgaah!!” Mauris screamed and struggled, twisting and turning his body as he was being held down.
Then Eve suddenly turned her head towards Lazarus, giving him a glare. “What are you doing just standing there!? Aren’t you gonna do something?!” she shouted.
But it didn’t take long for Lazarus’ scent to enter through Eve’s nose. She had a look of shock while gazing at Lazarus and fell silent.
At first, she couldn’t believe it. And after taking several whiffs, she was sure. Though his appearance has changed a bit, it was the very same scent of the man she met on the ship.
Her lips pursed as she had so much she wanted to ask him.Shaking her head, Eve knew that now wasn’t the time and simply held back.
Eris simply watched there without a hint of emotion on her face while Zaiyus simply remained by the door, not knowing anything else to do other than watch in vain.
“Rex…. Sonia couldn’t tell us what you could do to heal the sage… She only told us what you did with the bandits..... But if you could do something to help him right now… Please. Do it.” Syrawi pleaded making Lazarus feel a heavy pressure weigh down on him as everyone seemed to be relying solely on his abilities.
Just from gazing at the zombie looking elven man. Lazarus felt as if he could kick the bucket at any moment. Time was running out. But assurance was what he wanted and, still he wanted to make sure.
Lazarus glanced towards Syrawi, giving her a deep gaze. “Elven Priestess…. I’ll get straight to the point. I’m going to open him up.”
“H-huh..? Open him up? What do you mean?” Syrawi’s eyes widened as she had a dumbfounded look.
“You and I both know that something’s inside the sage and by opening him up, I can probably get it out from him. I call this a surgery.” - Lazarus
“W-what did you say?” Zaiyus couldn’t believe his ears. To him, Lazarus was boldly declaring that he would kill the sage, but making it sound as if he was trying to help them. And it wasn’t just him who ended up thinking that way. Even Syrawi, who pleaded Lazarus at first was looking as if a bomb had just been dropped.
Not the elves, not the beastman or anyone in this entire world would dream of opening up a person to heal them. Magic didn’t work that way. Magic was closing an open wound. But science on the other hand was different.
But of course, none of them knew.
The room was filled with the agonizing cries from the sage, but the rest of the people were silent. Even Eve and Nalar were staring at Lazarus like some crazed lunatic. While it was only Eris who didn’t seem to think that way as she had a curious look.
Lazarus knew that they were ignorant to all of this, so he spoke. “If you don’t agree to it then we’re done here. I don’t care if you don’t pay me but that’s the only way I can I help the sage.” He didn’t want to get blamed for killing the sage so he wanted an assurance.
He knew that time was running out. But it wasn’t worth it to turn the entire elven race against you, for something you weren’t even responsible for.
So he thought that it was their decision to make. He wasn’t going to let himself be held liable, even if every second he wasted would put the sage closer to death’s door.
Is this man joking? Is he seriously asking that? Syrawi’s heart was beating in arrays she couldn’t understand. She felt as if, then and there she wanted to laugh. Somehow things suddenly felt funny to her.
Eve on the other hand could feel no lie in Lazarus’ words. Just from his gaze and his tone, she could tell, that he wasn’t lying. No, it probably was a facade. But…. the man she had met back on the ship seemed like a very kind yet lonely man.
She felt conflicted about his suggestion. But somehow, remembering his story. She couldn’t believe that a cruel man could tell that kind of story. At least, not in a way that Lazarus did.
As Eve held the sage’s arm, she could feel his pulse gradually growing weaker. She felt sorry for him and her instincts told her all she needed to know.
Heaving a sigh, Eve stood up, giving Syrawi a stern gaze. “His going to die soon. This man might sound crazy…. But I believe we should trust him...”
Is this woman crazy? She just met that hooded man and she says she trust him? Zaiyus felt as if he was gazing at two lunatics.
Even Syrawi was at a loss for words. No matter what she chose, the sage was going to die. At least that’s what she thought, until Zaiyus spoke. “The sage won’t die… not as long as we supply him with several Azalea flowers.”
He then turned his gaze towards Lazarus, his brows turning to a frown upon gazing at a jok of a man. “But this man...hahaha.. I can’t believe it. Open him up? You’re seriously asking us to let you kill the sage? Hahahahaahha!” Zaiyus couldn’t help but laugh.
Lazarus on the other hand couldn’t care less. If they didn’t want his help, then it wasn’t going to be a problem. “So should I take that as a no?” He calmly answered.
Eve’s brows furrowed slightly. It was a stupid suggestion. “You said so before. The flower will heal him temporarily but then he goes back to this in just a few days. You keep healing him again and again….. After running out of Azalea flowers. What then?”
It was true. They could heal him, but they would only prolong his death. Syrawi herself knew this better than anyone and at this point, she knew she had no choice.
And Helven, who was watching from outside of the door had already heard everything and he knew that look that Syrawi was having.
Left with no other choice, Syrawi decided and spoke.“Do it...”
Ziayus eyes widened from surprise. He thought that surely the priestess of all people wouldn’t agree to a murder. “Priestess!? W-what are you??”
Seing Zaiyus falter. Helven knew, that now was his chance. “I cannot allow this priestess. If we can prolong the sage’s death, maybe we can find someone else. If you choose to let this man do what he wants with the sage. Then I can no longer turn a blind eye to this.”
Even Syrawi herself was still skeptical. But this was a decision she had already made and she wasn’t going to let the sage suffer any longer. It might be risky, but in the end she knew that this was her best chance. “I will not risk the sage dying. Every second we’re wasting is already bad enough as it is. So I will have Rex continue.”
Veins popped on Helven’s forehead as his head felt hot. If Syrawi was going to force this decision, then there was only one thing left to do. Helven spoke. “Then if that’s the case. Then the people have a right to see for themselves. What this man would do to our sage.”
It was quite clear, that he was pressuring Syrawi. And if Lazarus would really kill the sage then there would no one else to blame but her.
She knew Helven’s intentions but he wasn’t wrong but Syrawi wasn’t going to give in. Glancing towards Lazarus she spoke calmly.
“I understand. Then Rex…. could you perform this operation in front of the people?” it was also to test Lazarus. And if he did something, then no doubt that many would bear witness to the murder.
Lazarus frowned, as he knew he was also being tested. But it didn’t matter, what mattered was if the operation failed because of any sort of intervention. He needed to let them know.
“This is a very careful procedure. If I perform it outside with all those people then the slightest mistake could kill the sage.”
To Syrawi, it sounded like an excuse. She spoke. “Then I’ll make sure that no one would say a word or even go near you.” With this, Lazarus had no more reason to back out.
Lazarus felt conflicted and wasn’t sure what to do. Thinking of the worst case scenario, he could always throw a flashbang and cloak his way out. But if he succeeded then he could get some serious cash. And as Lazarus was still weighing out the decision, he suddenly heard Sylphi’s voice from below. “Wait!” followed by the sounds of hurried tapping of footsteps.
Everyone in the room turned their attention towards a purple haired elf, panting and looking in distriss behind Helven.
And not long after Sylphi caught up to her and grabber her arm. “H-hey you shouldn’t be here!”
And as her gaze went towards her beloved family looking like a crazed zombie.Sonia screamed.
“My grandpa is suffering and all of you are just arguing!? What the hell is wrong with all of you!” Her tears trickled down her cheeks as she struggled to get free from Sylphi’s grip. It seemed like she heard every bit of the conversation.
Sonia glance towards Lazarus with her tear filled eyes and pleaded. “Please Rex…… Please… just heal grandpa… I beg of you! I don’t care what I have to do! If you want money then I’ll be your slave! I’ll give you my body if I have to so PLEASE!” she screamed again as she tried to reach her hands towards Lazarus. “Please…. Rex...” her voice broke down, crumbling down to a whisper as she fell down on her knees and sobbing.
Although she said that, Lazarus was already planning on doing it, seeing as the pros heavily outweighed the cons. Although her pleas simply convinced him a little to do it.
Lazarus also didn’t like the sight of someone begging, it disgusted him especially if someone was doing it because of him. Lazarus nodded. “Alright”
Sonia couldn’t believe her ears. She was expecting Lazarus to extort some more cash seeing as how greedy he always seemed. But still she felt grateful. “Thank you… Rex”
Eris noticed Lazarus expression soften up a bit. She had a hunch before, but now she was sure. He wasn’t the man who they all thought he was.
She had watch him for quite a while and she knew that deep down Lazarus wasn’t a bad person. He’s only the way he is because of some reasons she didn’t know.
But no one else in the room shared her opinion other than Eve. They all saw Lazarus as a mercenary. And somehow Eris could see that this was what he wanted. And most of all, he was relatively strong when they had a quick bout and not to mention that he was able to take out Leo.
Somehow Eris was even more curious about him than she ever has on anything.
Lazarus spoke. Then I’ll need you to bring me a table and someone to carry this Mauris. I’ll also need some fishing lines and a needle….Oh.. and some ropes.”
No one was sure why Lazarus needed them. But Syrawi was the first to speak. “Get everything he needs. Everyone get moving, we don’t have much time.” Ziayus nodded and immediately ran outside, shouting order at the guards.
Syrawi approached the sage and took out a small pouch from her pocket, containing a few transparent glowing white flowers.
And as she was about to hand Maruis an Azalea flower. Lazarus gripped her arm. “Don’t….. You’ll only make things harder for me.”
Syrawi frowned. She had intended to heal the sage a bit before the operation and this only made her even more cautious. But to Lazarus who knew that the parasite would feed on mana, it would only make things worse.
Syrawi’s eyes narrowed but as she was about to protest.
The Sage suddenly let out violent coughing sounds with a mix of red liquid on his saliva. Spraying it across the bed and on himself. “Raaaarrghh!” he screamed as his body convulsed,.
“Please….. For now just listen to him.” Eve pleaded and placed a hand on Syrawi’s shoulder.
Heaving a sigh, she stepped back and gave Lazarus a soft glare. “Alright…...”
With the quick movement of the guards. It wasn’t long before everything was prepared.
When Zaiyus and Nalar brought the sage down, the people were silent for a moment, until one man screamed in anger.
“Why did you hide this from us?!”
“The sage is..dying..” An elven woman cried at the sight of the sage.
Even the guards who saw the sage for the first time, felt as if a demonic hand was gripping their chest. They all had a look of fear, watching their sage dying.
Zaiyus carefully placed Mauris on top of a large wooden table at an open area where they were surrounded by the Elven people and only the guards were keeping them at bay with their mana barrier.
“Listen!” Syrawi explained to the people about the circumstances but her voice was muffled by the sound of screams and angry pleas from her people.
Lazarus was a bit nervous since this was the very first time he was actually going to operate on a living person, without the proper equipment and to make matters worse, he didn’t have the slightest idea about the elven anatomy.
And the loud screaming just made it worse.
As Lazarus carefully thought out his approach on the operation. A loud voice interrupted.
“What are you doing with the sage!? Have you lost your minds!?” A man screamed.
Lazarus couldn’t blame him. After all, the guards began tying the limbs of a nimble and sickly old man to four wooden poles positioned at the corner of each table.
“Is this alright?” One of the guards asked, his face showing a hint of disgust and confusion.
Upon noticing that Mauris was tightly tied down, Lazarus nodded. “That’s good enough.”
Mauris tried to struggle and scream but he could barely move as his chest was also strapped tightly down to the large wooden table.
Sylphi, together with Sonia and Eris were right behind Lazarus carefully watching him. But it wasn’t just the girls. Helven, Nalar and Zaiyus were also keeping a close watch on Lazarus as they were all ready to move the moment that he’d do anything suspicious.
“-This guy…. I can’t sense an ounce of mana from him….. Who is he..?-” Nalar silently thought to himself while gazing at Lazarus who took off his hood, revealing his attire that resembled that of a human villager.
Sonia was worried as she watched Lazarus from behind.
Exhaling a bit of air to calm himself, Lazarus took out a knife. At the sight of the weapon, the elven people screamed. “STOP HIM!!”
The guards didn’t say a word and continued to channel their mana into their barriers while Syrawi ignored the angry screams from her people.
Upon noticing the camouflage design of the knife, Sylphi’s eyes narrowed. She felt as if she’d seen it before. Then a voice interrupted. “Sylphi...” The voice belonged to Helven who was swinging his palm back and forth, gesturing her to come.
“What is it grandpa..?” Helven brought his lips close to her ears and whispered. “If that lad does something. You know what to do.”
She didn’t have to be told that. Sylphi knew what she needed to do and gave Helven a nod, before heading back to her position, a few meters behind Lazarus.
Now wasn’t the time to be thinking of anything else other than doing her duty. So she pushed the thought she had aside and concentrated on the person whom she knew as Rex.
As Lazarus gently placed his hand on Mauris’ stomach. A blue vertical line formed on Mauris’ stomach and of course, no one else could see this line other than Lazarus himself since this was only a projection by FS.
“Let’s begin...” He muttered to himself as he gently placed the tip of his knife to Mauri’s abdomen.
The moment he did. An Elven man who felt that the priestess was stupid enough to let some strange man kill the sage, immediately raised his palm and shouted. “Fireball!”
A burst of flame shot out from his palm and collided with the barrier, making it flicker for a moment before dissipating the flame like it was nothing. “W-what are you going?!” another elf beside him grabbed him by the collar and raised his fist. He was one of the few who listened to Syrawi’s explanation.
Lazarus knew it was only a matter of time before several others followed his example. He felt a rush of adrenaline shooting across his veins as he knew that things weren’t gonna end well for him.
Turning his focus back on the sage, Lazarus knew that now wasn’t the time to be distracted.
“-FS…. Disable my hearing….-”
-= I’ll be filtering the sounds you hear so you won’t be fully unguarded master =-
Without a moment’s notice, Lazarus began poking the man’s belly with the tip of his blade. Creating a slight vertical bulge where the blue line had been.
Lazarus immediately dug his knife a few centimeters into the man’s stomach, and suddenly skid the tip of his blade across the man’s stomach with careful and precise movements.
Even as Mauri’s screamed and the people shouted. Lazarus couldn’t hear a word as he continued to tear through Mauris’ belly, cutting in a second line parallel to the first.
Using a makeshift wooden clamp, he clamped Mauris’ skin on both ends and began opening his stomach.
As the people watched in horror. Some couldn’t help but throw up at the gruesome sight. Several others including Sonia averted their gaze as they didn’t want to barf out the fruits they ate.
The others continued to shout and scream in anger, completely ignoring the gruesome sight as their heads felt as hot as an oven.
As Lazarus finished opening up Mauris’ stomach. He felt his hairs stood up at the sight of a large purple parasite. It had an oval shape with purple veins protruding from every corner of it’s gruesome body.
The purplish veins wrapped around Mauris’ organs like some sort of octopus and dug through his tissues. Some were deeply rooted into his bladder and it made subtle wiggling movements as it contracted.
“W-what the fuck is this thing..???” - Lazarus
Syrawi, who saw the strange looking creature could already feel her lunch surfacing up to her throat. The elven people were silenced. And even Eris who was relatively calm, felt completely disgusted.
“-Incredible...-” Eve thought to herself, just watching Lazarus who seemed to have a calm look. His movements were precise and calculated and she felt it was a sort of medical art that only he himself knew. She couldn’t help but feel in awe, watching the swift and careful movements of Lazarus.
Although he looked calm, Lazarus wasn’t sure what to do. The parasitic thing’s veins were deeply rooted into Mauris’ organs that it was relatively hard to extract it.
Lazarus was curious, at this point it would now end up as trial and error. “-Maybe I could kill the creature?-” without thinking too much about it. Lazarus poked the overgrown tapeworm with the tip of his blade.
And suddenly, it let out a shriek and contracted, squeezing everything it was latched on to. “GUWAARRRGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!” Mauris screamed in pain.
The people who were watching felt a cold chill run down their spine. It was then, that one elf broke down. “T-that man knew exactly w-what to do heheheh”
The elves surrounding him, all looked towards him. “W-what do you mean..?”
“Kuh kuh kuwahhahah! It all makes sense now!” He couldn’t help but laugh in a cynical tone. His head began wobbling as he slowly pointed his fingers at Lazarus. “It’s it obvious?! Hhahaha! That man planted that creature inside of the sage!”
He continued to laugh like a mad man. But the elven people were silently glancing at one another. “H-he’s right...” one man spoke in the heat of the panic.
Syrawi could hear the people, but she still kept her focus on Lazarus every movement. She didn’t have the luxury of looking away. And as much as their baseless accusations were stupid, she understood that they were merely panicking.
And then suddenly, a few elves began reciting some verses.
Lazarus could slash the creature then and there but if he did, what if it contracted to the point of crushing Mauris’ organs? What if he slowly cut it’s veins? Nah, course it’d still do the same.
Then what the hell can he do? There was one thing he could do…. And that was nothing.
How was the creature absorbing mana…? And even worse, Lazarus wasn’t sure if this was only a small part of the creature. He had thought about killing the creature and using an Azalea flower right away but if this was only part of the creature then he’d only end up killing Mauris.
He needed to know more. But he couldn’t open Mauris’ entire body. There was no time, and judging from condition, it was quite clear that there would be no second try.
Lazarus felt his entire body go numb. It was suffocating to know… that this-... was already a lost cause.