Chapter 65 -
“So, where is this, person?” Asked Lazarus, crossing his arms and leaning against a tree.
They were relatively far from the city, beside a river where a single tree stood near by. The two horses, brown and black casually drank up some water to quell their thirst as their masters continued to talk it out.
“He’s already on his way.” Said Syrawi as she also leaned on the tree, just behind Lazarus. “What do you intend to do with that much steel anyway?” she asked, intending to start a conversation and hopefully reach a certain topic she wanted.
“Nothing.” Replied Lazarus promptly, it was quite obvious he didn’t want to say what his intentions were.
“I see...” Said Syrawi in a somewhat low tone, she wasn’t really expecting him to tell her but she could tell he was still holding a grudge over what had happened before.
Silence fell as the two continued to wait. Lazarus, who was looking around, narrowed his eyes to a person who was riding a horse, headed their way. [-So that’s the person-]
After arriving, the cloaked figure jumped down from the horse, glancing at Syrawi who was beside Lazarus. “So is this the Rex person that you spoke of Syrawi?”
Syrawi nodded. Seeing this, the figure grinned happily while Lazarus eyed him cautiously.
“My, my, no need to be so alarmed young one.” Said the figure as his arms reached for the side of his hood. “After all, I am the man that you had saved.”
With his skin almost sticking to his cheekbone, and a long smooth greyish strands of hair. The old elven man still smiled heartfully despite looking malnourished.
Lazarus’ eyes, as if like glue, simply stuck his gaze to the wrinkled smiling face of the old elven man.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Rex. I am Mauris, the grand sage of the elves.”
Lazarus continued to stare with furrowed brows. It was as if he was numb for a split second before he could utter out a few words. “And I thought you wouldn’t be able to get up for a month. Well, it doesn’t matter. Why are you here?”
“Should not the question be….why wouldn’t I be?” Said Mauris with a smile. Implying that it was indeed strange if he had not personally come to give thanks to the man he had owed his life to.
Lazarus looked at Syrawi for a moment, who simply nodded with a faint smile, as if to tell him to continue, before turning his gaze back to Mauris. He huffed. “My, isn’t this quite the honor that the Sage himself came to see me.”
His voice carrying no hint of respect neither the tone of mockery. A sentence neither containing meaning nor intention.
“Although I am indeed curious and perplexed as to how you have came to accomplish my recovery, I will simply skip them over.” Said Mauris. “Because as of now, I merely wish to have a simple talk with you. That is if, you do not mind?”
Lazarus was slightly surprised meeting someone who put priority in senseless talk rather than asking the important question. Not that he’d answer them if asked anyway.
Having affirmed that the old man didn’t want anything private, Lazarus nodded, to which the old man happily smiled, revealing long and deep lines riddling his cheek, akin to his old age.
“Come, let us have a seat.” Mauris gestured to the grass beneath them and sat down first crossed legged with a seemingly childish grin of excitement unbefitting his age.
Lazarus also sat down crossed legged, both of his hands on the ground as a sort of support to his leaning back while Syrawi stuck her legs together and leaned them sideways like a lady as she sat down.
“You don’t mind if i’d join you, do you?” Said Syrawi.
“Isn’t it a little late to be asking that?” Replied Lazarus, pointing to how Syrawi was already comfortably seated and just letting out a soft “Fufufu-”
The three, forming a sort of triangle to face each other.
“So young o-” Before Mauris continued, Lazarus voiced out. “Rex is fine.”
“Ah yes, Rex. So tell me, how do you find elves as a whole?”
Hearing this question, Lazarus quietly thought to himself [-Annoying, barbaric and impulsive-], and trying to find the right words to say, he said. “Tolerable”
For a moment the Sage was quietly staring, before he burst out in a fit of laughter. “Hahhahahahah!” Syrawi could only force a smile having remembered how Lazarus was at the hair’s breadth from getting ganged up on.
Wiping a small tear from the corner of his eyes, the sage calmed down and let out a soft “Haa-..” before continuing. “I have heard from Syrawi what had happened but I would have never guessed that after all of that, you had come to the conclusion of ‘tolerable’.”
It was slightly irritating to get laughed at, but Lazarus simply ignored this and let out a soft sigh.
“Rex, though it may be presumptuous of me, I’d prefer it if you didn’t minced your words.” Said Mauris.
Lazarus smiled. “Then you wouldn’t mind if I’d say I find Elves relatively annoying.” He peeked to the corner of his eyes, observing Mauris’ reaction.
To his surprise, Mauris was smiling, not an ounce of anger nor any hint of any negative reaction, just a very wide smile that somehow made Lazarus question whether if this man was sane or not.
“That, my friend, is better.” Said Mauris. “I thank you.”
[-What kind of idiot would give his thanks for an insult??-] Lazarus looked towards Syrawi with brows furrowed.
As if to answer his question, Syrawi turned a soft gaze towards Mauris, her lips contorting to a soft and ever tender smile. “That’s just how he is.” she said softly.
“Then.” Said Lazarus, turning the gaze of both elves on him. “I’d also be expecting an honest answer from you I suppose?”
Mauris nodded, seeing this, Lazarus continued. “How do you feel after I’ve went and made your village go broke?” he smiled darkly, testing to see if he could get a sort of reaction from this, supposedly overly nice elven man.
“I was-....” There was a moment of silence before Mauris continued, his wrinkled old face showing a troubled smile. ” Saddened...however-...” he then looked towards Lazarus, his eyes showing resolve. “Above all else, I am still grateful.”
“Lives are worth more than money.” Added Syrawi. “Wouldn’t you agree Rex?”
Lazarus, having seen the history of Earth, simply shook his head slowly. Syrawi softly asked ‘Why?“ as the Sage also stared at Lazarus, wanting to know his reason.
“Though, I don’t entirely disagree with you.” Said Lazarus, gazing up, staring into the deep blue sky with his eyes narrowing somewhat. “Money may sometimes be worth more than lives. At least, that’s what I came to realize.”
Hearing his answer, Syrawi looked down and felt a faint tinge of pain having recalled a bitter memory. “I-... can’t deny that.”
“Now.” Said Mauris with a clap, making Lazarus and Syrawi look towards him. “Let us not make this a gloomy discussion.” Lazarus simply smiled bitterly to himself as he himself had longed realize that he had a nak for making things gloomy.
“Rex, you are young.” Said Mauris, trying to stir the conversation elsewhere. “Tell me, do you have any sort of dream? Perhaps to be an arch mage? Or perhaps to master arcanery?”
Hearing the word ‘arcanery’ caused Lazarus’ brows to furrow as it reminded him of the reason why he was kicked out of the castle. He let out a soft sigh, trying to push the bitter feeling away before continuing.
“Nothing grand or anything like that. I just wanted to build-....” Blurting out an almost reflexive answer , Lazarus instantly held his tongue.
“Build what..?” Asked Syrawi curiously, leaning forward, urging Lazarus to continue as she was interested in what somewhat like him wanted to create.
“A very tall house, I suppose.” Said Lazarus with a soft snicker. “Maybe one that would reach the sky.” He wasn’t one to lie easily but he also wasn’t one to let out the truth, he had always prefered to put things as vaguely as possible if it was about him.
“Why?” Asked Mauris, with his years of living, he knew there was some deeper meaning in Lazarus’ words, and so did Syrawi.
“Let’s just say..” Lazarus straightened his back, slowly stood up and dusted himself showing that he was already disinterested in continuing; as this was the last answer he’d give them. “To reach someone.”
“Hmm? and where do you think you’re going?” Said Syrawi playfully, opening her pouch and taking out the flower while waving it slowly in front of Lazarus.
Like a sudden jolt of needle getting thrusted to his brain, Mauris suddenly saw the world spin for a moment.
“O-owhh...” Mauris gripped his forehead with his left palm. Lazarus and Syrawi both looked towards him, and it was Syrawi who approached him, looking concerned. “Are you alright? What’s the matter?”
“I-it’s nothing… I just got a little light headed..” Said Mauris, trying to reassure Syrawi, but the droplets that was forming on the side of his forehead didn’t do him any justice. His head felt as if he were in a swaying ship.
“He probably needs some rest. After all, it was just a few weeks ago that I did the operation.” Said Lazarus. “He shouldn’t be straining himself.”
“I-I see….” Said Syrawi, feeling responsible for his pain as it was her fault for agreeing with his selfishness. “Then I guess we need to head back.”
Mauris, although reluctant to go as he was just getting to know Lazarus, the nausea he felt made him think otherwise. “S-sorry-..... truly I am...”
“It’s really isn’t a problem.” Said Lazarus with a wave of his hand.
“Here.” Said Syrawi as she handed the Azalea flower back to Lazarus, who received it was a soft “ Thanks..” and hid it in his pocket, de-materializing the flower to confirm that it was indeed, the one he owned.
As Syrawi supported Mauris up, the elven Sage slowly reached to his pocket and timidly offered his closed palm to Lazarus, mustering a smile despite his throbbing head. “This-..... I wanted to give this to you, friend.”
“What’s this?” Asked Lazarus with a slightly raised brow, staring at the small glowing green orb that was in cased in brown vines, the size of a marble that Mauris had dropped on his palm.
“Keep it with you…. It may help you someday..” Said Mauris. “This is-... my personal thanks to you...”
Though he had been given enough for his trouble, he simply kept on receiving more and this made him feel a little, no-.... A lot guilty.
As much as he wanted to give it back. He couldn’t. After all. The Sage was showing him a near ear to ear grin, as if he was the happiest man in the world. Syrawi was showing a subtle smile like a mother with a face that said [What am I ever going to do with you?] while glancing at the elven Sage.
“Rex it was nice meeting you, but we shall be taking our leave.” Said Syrawi as she nudged her head forward like a slight bow.
“I hope to see you again soon, friend.” Said Mauris with a wink before Syrawi began helping him towards his horse while holding on to his arm.
“Yeah-... bye.” Said Lazarus, his gaze lowering to the ground, and his left fist clenching. The moment the two boarded their horses, they waved once more, with Mauris meekly waving while holding on to his forehead and Lazarus, simply waving back but his gaze still on the ground.
The two then whipped the reins of their horse, with their backs pointed to the lone man under the tree.
“Sorry….” He muttered softly. It was his fault. It made him feel guilty. The goodwill of the Sage.
-= Master, I have downloaded all of the elven Sage’s recent activity since the operation =-
Spoke a robotic voice in his head.
[-Good work FS…..-]
-= Are you feeling guilty Master? =-
[-Why wouldn’t I be? After all, I was the one who caused his headache just so I could leave.-]
-= But wasn’t that primarily a test? A test to see if the nanites; that you had planted in his bloodstream to be fully functional? =-
[-Yeah…. The effective range should be ten meters. We can even trigger some emotional responses as well as cause minor headaches… and if we have to, then…..-]
Lazarus didn’t continue, he smiled emptily, simply staring to the ground as he felt that he was becoming more of a villain as the time passes by.