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A note from Blacky

Hello all, I know it's been a long time since I posted the chapter. And just to let you know, I have 4 chapters ready. I'll be releasing the next in just a few hours. While the other two will be per day.

I plan on getting back on track. Sorry my work was relatively demanding for the past few months and I had barely any time to write. 

That said, I hope you all enjoy the new chapter :)

Chapter 69: Approaching shadows

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With the meeting with Jensen a day away, Lazarus had nothing to do but wait.

As he continued to walk along the paved path and passed by some adventurers. He thought how repetitive their lives seemed to be.

Kill monsters, get paid, and repeat till time takes its toll. Then settle down, get married and have a family.

Was that all there was to their lives? Maybe they did have fun adventuring. Seeing new things, experiencing the thrill of battle and perhaps many more, but Lazarus just couldn’t understand that kind of thinking.

As Lazarus was alone with his thoughts, the hooded figure in royal white kept tailing him, wondering where he was heading to. The moment they reached the castle gates, the hooded figure realized that the mysterious man with the scent of the Valhearts was heading outside.

With the vast openness outside the walls, it was hard to go undetected with nowhere to hide. Knowing this, the figure snickered.

“Maybe I should stop for now. Sis will really kill me if she finds out.” The young pendragon spoke jokingly before retreating to a corner, leaving Lazarus to himself.

***********************************************************************************************************

As Lazarus reached a hill, further out from the city, he glanced around and seeing as this was far off from the path it was relatively devoid of people. A perfect place for Lazarus to relax.

Lazarus sat down on the inclined surface of the hill, feeling the fresh breeze of the wind on his cheeks. With nothing but the outstretched grasslands in sight.

“What am I even doing….” Muttered Lazarus accompanied by a soft sigh.

With how peaceful everything seemed to be, it was as if he wasn’t being hounded at all. And somehow, given this much peace of mind, he got to thinking how all this mess even started to begin with.

It was a sort of strange curiosity that grew in him because of his boredom.

Lazarus sprawled on the prickly grass, shifted his gaze to the ever infinite blue sky trying to relax himself as he gathered his thoughts.

[-After getting the steel, I should be heading back to the ship.-]

Although it was simple, somehow his family-.....Shaking his head, Lazarus corrected. Former Family to be precise--made it harder for him to move openly.

Thinking about it now, he was somehow reminded of how little he even remembers of them. He knew he lived in a kingdom before. He knew he was always being shunned, but as for the details of his daily life, he could hardly ever recall anything.

What did he used to eat? How did he use to speak to his family? How did he pass the time? Peering deep into his mind, driven by a deep curiosity, he tried recalling the vivid memories of the past.

Deep within; locked away in the furthermost corner of his mind was the memory he had felt a very strong stimulus to. As if it was just yesterday, the memory became vivid, almost as if turning back to the time it had happened.

Droplets of deep crimson red liquid, flowed down to his cheeks and dripped down from his forehead. Sharp shards of glasses riddled the floor, reflecting the terror filled face of the young Lazarus.

At this bitter memory Lazarus’ lips contorted to a soft smile.

Recalling the once forgotten memory, he stood on the scenery, looking down on his younger self. Turning his head to the side too look at the person who had done this to his young self, and as if on queue, his younger version also did the same.

But the difference was that the younger ones’ eyes were filled with confusion, regret and...despair. And in contrast was his current self, devoid of emotions and just carefully analyzing the culprit.

Beautiful sky blue tear filled eyes burning with fury, staring down at his past self. Her hair, a lustrous black, with each strand straightened and refined. The beautiful woman held on to a young girl who’s cheeks were flushed and breathing heavily.

“What have you done?!!” Shouted Emilia with all her might, her cries reverberating through the depths of his mind.

Both were her children, but it was clear who was more important. And just like that, the memory slowly faded back into the darkness and now he was back to lying down on the grasslands.

Back then, he had sought for acceptance, wished for attention and hoped for love from that very woman that had stared at him like a parasite. How naive of a child was he? Lazarus couldn’t help but shake his head in disappointment at the memory of his young self, disgusted by his very own weakness from before.

Lazarus somehow felt something close to that of a laughter surfacing from his stomach. And to answer the very question he asked himself, he snickered. “I was-...very-..very-.. naive.”

Shaking his head, Lazarus dismissed the thought knowing it was pointless. Boredom was quite the amusing companion in a way. Invoking memories that should’ve been long forgotten-- Lazarus was quite impressed with its powers.

As he continued his thoughts, his eyelids slowly drew to a close, and slowly, he felt the embrace of drowsiness until he had succumb to its influence.

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In the middle of the afternoon, inside a small tavern seated across each other, one a silver knight with an expressionless doll like face and the other, a white haired fox-girl smiling bitterly.

“Well, I couldn’t find him..” Said Eve with a downcast gaze, her foxy ears drooping down and shoulders slumped. She then glanced towards Eris with a soft smile. “Can you tell him I said goodbye?”

Eris nodded. Seeing this, Eve smiled. “Thanks, I’ll be going now. ” She then stood up and bowed one last time before leaving. As she was halfway through the wooden door, she glanced back and waved. “Bye-......”

Eris also waved back, her expression still unchanging. Somehow, her attitude sometimes make Eve wondered if she was ever truly considered a friend or not.

There was no point on thinking too deeply, after all, it was time to leave.

And just outside of the tavern, Edge was waiting for her, arms straightened and standing at attention. “Were you able to give them your farewells?” asked Edge to the approaching Eve, who nodded with a bitter smile. “At least, to one of them.”

“I see….” Said Edge. “Then shall we go?”

Though Eve had her regrets, she couldn’t bring herself to delay her departure any longer so she simply nodded to his question. “Yeah-.... Thanks for accompanying me...”

“ It was her highness’ request that you be kept safe at all times before the departure after all.”

“You really didn’t have to you know...” Said Eve. “It’s safe here in Garrion.”

“Perhaps.” Said Edge.

As the two began walking side by side, sitting in a dark corner, three hooded figures simply watched silently in the dark.

*************************************************************************************************************

Blinking a few times, eyes adjusting to the dimmed orange glow on the horizon, Lazarus wiped the small drool on his cheeks with the side of his cloak. He glanced around for a moment, still seemingly half asleep.

It took him awhile to process his surroundings. Once again, he rubbed his eyes and then looked around once more. This time, he had come to the realization that it was, indeed, late in the afternoon.

Heaving a deep sigh, he slowly got on his feet and dusted himself. After doing a few stretches, he began walking back to the city, but the moment he made it on top of the hill, the sight made his brow arch up somewhat.

The sight of the marching armored men in blue armor, coupled with the pendragon prince and princess made him somewhat cautious and curios. But the moment his eyes landed on the familiar white haired foxy girl between the two royalties, his brows furrowed.

[-They were here for her?-] Thought Lazarus as he looked at Eve from the distance. Somehow, her figure seemed small. The soft smile adorning her face, seemed to be coupled with some sort of bitterness.

He had no reason to call out to her and because she was surrounded by people whom Lazarus didn’t want to be affiliated with, he simply retreated back to the hill, away from sight before cloaking.

Now that pain in the ass royalties were leaving, nothing stood between him and his raw materials. With a grin, he dashed down the hill and headed towards the city gates passing through the army like a pebble by the side of a river.

“Eh..?” Said Eve, glancing around as she caught a whiff of the familiar scent. Noticing her reaction, Princess Viktoria asked. “Is something the matter?” with a look of slight concern.

“Ah.. N-no-.. It’s nothing.” Said Eve, however Genesis immediately refuted. “You probably smelled it too didn’t you..?”

“Smelled what?” Asked Viktoria, raising a curious brow. And to her question, Genesis grinned. “The scent of that Valheart.”

“Valheart? You mean someone of the twilight kingdom is here?” Asked Eve, her seemingly puzzled face telling Genesis they weren’t on the same page.

Although they were thinking of the very same person, the other wasn’t aware of the true identity of her friend.

“Huh?” Said Genesis. “You don’t recognize their smell?”

“Well…. I’ve never met the Valhearts before so-...”

Releasing a soft sigh, then smiling yet again, Genesis simply dismissed her thoughts with a wave of his hand. “It’s nothing. Just forget I said that.” After a brief pause, Genesis glanced towards Eve. “Wait-.... Actually, why’d you react to the smell then?”

“Ah-..no I just had a whiff of someone I know.. that’s all.” Said Eve. And hearing this, Genesis realized that it could’ve been anyone from the crowd and it actually could’ve been a coincidence that she reacted to the smell at all.

Although, thinking too much wasn’t his forte so Genesis simply dismissed the thought and carried on.

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After going through the crowd, Lazarus arrived back at Jensen’s mansion. There were a few people out on the streets as the rest were gathered at the city gates, seeing off the Pendragon’s.

Turning a corner, he quickly de-cloaked and headed back to the silver gates to Jensen’s mansion.

“Hello?” Called out Lazarus, looking around the vast garden surrounding the two story building.

But his calls were simply answered by the silence. Heaving a sigh, he simply waited and stood there. Someone was bound to see him and inform Jensen of his arrival. At least that’s what he hoped.

And after waiting for seemingly half an hour, a feminine voice called out.

“Ahh Rex.”

Hearing the familiar voice, Lazarus turned and glanced at the blonde hair man with brown vest with a long white sleeve shirt underneath, wearing a casual business smile.

“You were out?” Said Lazarus.

“Indeed, I was seeing off the prince and princess.” Said Jensen, loosening his tie a bit to breath better. “Well, now that it’s all done. I’m guessing you’re here for the raw materials?” he smiled, seeing the seemingly excited smirk on Lazarus.

“Why else would I be here? And before you ask-” Said Lazarus. “I’ve already prepared the payment.” Hearing this, Jensen let out a soft chuckle.

“Then that makes things easier.” Said Jensen, walking forth and opening the gate. “Right this way, I’ll have you sign a few papers.”

*********************************************************************************************************

After Lazarus signed a small scroll, he was lead to the back of the mansion where a storage house, half the size of the mansion was located. Inside, it was filled with barrels, crates and an assortment of goods tucked underneath a brown drape.

Jensen lead him to the far end of the room, where hundreds of crates were stacked up to one another, almost reaching up to the roof. They were grouped into several columns, and at the foremost front of each one, was a single crate.

Jensen headed over to one of them, applied some mana to the lock and opened it. Inside there was pure silver crystal like object with every inch of its body riddled in the very same crystal like spikes.

“Raw chromium..” Said Lazarus as his lips curved to a smile, then slowly revealing his teeth, turning to a wide grin. It was almost like watching a child with his very first toy.

“Indeed.” Said Jensen. “These are all of the raw materials you’ve requested, grouped accordingly.” He then glanced at Lazarus, rubbing his thumb with his index finger.

Knowing the universal gesture of ‘pay up’, Lazarus hid his hand behind his cloak, materializing one of the bags that Syrawi had given him, handing it over to Jensen. “Here.”

Jensen received the bag then glanced inside. At that moment, his eyes widened and his heart felt as if it was about to jump out from his chest from sheer joy.

The sight of the pile of shimmering gold coins, coupled with jewelries and expensive gemstones made for a jaw dropping experience for the merchant. And he too, almost looked like a child brimming with excitement.

“It truly is a pleasure doing business with you Rex.” Said Jensen excitedly, extending his opened palm to Lazarus who took his hand, giving him a firm shake. “Likewise.”

“I’ll have my secretary total them up. Then we can decide where to have them delivered.”

“Alright.” Said Lazarus. “As to where I’ll have them delivered. Could I just personally get them?” he then smiled making Jensen raise a curious brow at his sudden proposal.

*******************************************************************************************************

--Back at the smith’s shop---

“Hmm-...I wonder if this good enough?” Said Gallios, looking over a simple broadsword as he wiped the sides with a white cloth. He raised the to his eye level, and upon seeing his very reflection, he nodded with satisfaction. “Yep. This’ll do.”

As he admired his work, he felt a soft tug on his hem, followed by an annoyed yet innocent feminine voice.

“Hey papa-... can’t we just play? You’ve been here the entire day...” Said Leira, puffing her cheeks with a pout.

Seeing his daughter act so cute, Gallios couldn’t help but flash a smile as he reached for her head, ruffling her silky black hair.

“H-hey! Daad, stop that!” Said Leira with annoyance, shoving her father’s callus hands away. She wanted to stay mad and show her dad the consequences of putting work ahead of her, that is, banning him from ruffling her head.

To let him see her dissatisfaction,’Leira turned with a ‘hmph!’, crossing her little arms and seemingly ignoring Gallios, who, for a moment was baffled and was simply raising his brow, unable to understand his shortcomings.

“Leira, did papa do something to upset you?” Asked Gallios. For a moment, the young girl was silent, then she peeked from the corner of her eyes and spoke. “You always work, you barely play with me anymore. You care about work more than you care about Leira. Hmph!” She then averted her gaze and continued to pout.

Upon the realization that his very own daughter had felt lonely, Gallios heart felt a soft tug. Feeling that he had owed her an apology, he knelt down beside her and said. “Well I-...”

Just before Gallios could continue, the wooden door to the shop creaked open, accompanied by a chilling breeze of night.

Both the father and daughter looked towards the outside, where at the dim darkness of the night, under the blue light of a magical stone, stood a hooded figure. The skin on his arm, a faded green.

“Ah-...sorry, we’re already closed for the night.” Said Gallios politely. But he soon felt something amiss, the moment the hooded figure didn’t respond. Slowly, and casually, the hooded green skinned man stepped inside, then slowly closed the door behind him and from underneath his hood, he grinned.

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A note from Blacky

Butt note [][][][][[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][] 

I included a brief scene of the past just for a brief recap.


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Blacky

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