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A note from MelasDelta

Thank you for all the votes <3

Hope you enjoy this chapter :)

It was them.

They were a pair of older [Farmers]. Commoners, as evident from the way they were dressed, with calloused hands and rough tanned skin. Their names were Nolan and Nicole. No surnames, for that was reserved for only the nobility class in the Astrad Kingdom. They were an unassuming couple— nothing about them really stood out even if they were passed on the street.

But they were Noele’s parents, and that’s why they mattered.

The blonde girl hadn’t seen the pair in so long, but she recognized the elderly man and woman immediately. They were so different. So much older now. They were almost unrecognizable. However, who wouldn’t recognize their own parents who raised them from their birth?

But still, she saw how much they changed. They had aged— their appearance had wizened over the years. Her papa’s hair had begun graying when she last saw him, and her mama walked with only a slight hunch on her back. Now, her papa’s hair was completely white, hairline receding halfway across his head, while her mama had a full hunch now and walked with a stick.

The both of them were dehydrated and starving too, but that was clearly because of their current situation. They must’ve been locked in this vault for two weeks— maybe even longer. It was likely they either ran out of food and water, or were rationing whatever they had left.

Noele could hardly control herself as soon as she saw them. It had been ten years since she ran away. It had been ten years since she first became an adventurer. She hadn’t seen them, touched them, or hugged them in ten years.

The moment she recognized her parents, she was sprinting forward as fast as she could, before throwing her arms around them. Their eyes grew wide. They probably didn’t recognize her because it had been so long. She was a [Farm Help] when they last saw her— barely a teen with her rosy cheeks and foolish outlook in life.

But now, she was a full-fledged adventurer. An [Arcane Blademaster]. An A-rank adventurer. Perhaps she still had that foolish outlook— but it didn’t matter anymore. Because…

“Mama… Papa… I’m back.” The blonde girl sniffled as she hugged her parents tightly.

Nolan blinked, and Nicole just stared. Noele wasn’t sure if they recognized her. They were probably confused as to why a random adventurer was hugging them. But she didn’t care. She just held onto them as tears streamed down her face.

“I-I… I’m sorry…” she said, choking on her words. “I didn’t… I didn’t mean to take so long…” Trailing off, the blonde girl raised her head and met their gazes with blurred vision.

She wiped away her tears, and the pair of [Farmers] just looked down at her. What were they thinking? Noele didn’t know. She expected them to be upset— to be angry at her. But they simply hugged her back warmly.

“We missed you, Noele,” they said softly. “We missed you so much.”

Noele paused. Her chest filled with warmth as tears streamed down her cheeks once more. She opened her mouth to say something, but decided against it. She just hugged them tighter. They luxuriated in each others’ arms for a long moment. Not a single word being uttered.

Just joy in their embrace.

 

—--

 

I watched this scene unfurl— I looked on as Noele and her parents held onto each other wordlessly. I wasn’t going to interrupt them. I felt happy for the blonde girl. But also, I felt… odd inside.

For a moment, I remembered my own parents. I thought about my mother and my father back on Earth. It was a memory I hadn’t had in so long— and I dismissed the thought as I saw the final figure in the vault staggered out.

A white-haired woman barely took a step from the room before collapsing. She groaned as she lay on the ground, clutching at her stomach. Looking up at me, she rasped.

“T-thank you, kind adventurer. For saving us.”

I blinked. “Oh, uh, sure.”

This woman was incredibly dehydrated— significantly more so than Noele’s parents. I probably had to reassure her or whatever, but I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to say in response to that.

Fortunately for me, Saros was here. The Gnome Inventor stepped forward, staring at the collapsed woman.

“You’re Skye the Silver Shade, aren’t you?” he asked, wide-eyed. He looked at her state— her gray had been torn and shredded, and she was covered in stained bandages around her arms and neck. Saros bit his lower lip. “What happened?”

Skye forced herself to a seating position, leaning against the wall.

“It was…” she trailed off.

Her eyes darted over to Nolan and Nicole as they finally drew back from their daughter. The Silver Shade sighed.

“I found a necronomicon while investigating one of the floors. But Nolan took interest in it— he wondered if there was a spell inside to revive his dead daughter. I tried to stop him from taking it, and we accidentally activated one of the spells inside.”

She swept her gaze over all the dead undead littering the room. She chuckled as she closed her eyes.

“It seems you experienced the same thing as me,” Skye said softly.

“Yeah, because someone thought it was a good idea to steal the necronomicon without telling us.” I eyed Saros.

He flushed. “T-that’s…” But he had no words to say.

The Silver Shade shook her head as the gnome struggled to protest. “I just hope Deon is still alive...”

“Deon?” I raised a brow. “He’s fine. He’s right there.” I gestured to the unconscious man.

“What?” Skye raised her head, blinking. Her eyes widened as she caught sight of her partner. She immediately scrambled to her feet, only to collapse again. She crawled her way towards him. “Deon— are you alright? Is he alive?”

I rolled my eyes. “He’s fine. And you probably want to get some water down your system before you accidentally kill yourself.”

She pursed her lips as she clung onto Deon’s hand. “R-right.”

“Here, let me get you something to drink…” Saros said as he reached into his Bag of Holding.

Since Skye was severely dehydrated, she couldn’t drink too much water all at once. She drank droplets, squeezed out of a towel as she leant against the wall. I eyed her, before glancing back at Noele and her parents. They were catching up as they sat inside of the vault, laughing softly and speaking quietly. The elderly [Farmers] slowly ate a few of the rations Noele had given them, drinking from a bottle of water just fine.

They weren’t nearly in the same state as Skye.

“Why are you in such bad shape anyways?” I asked, peering into the white-haired woman. “Deon seems pretty fine to me— comparatively.”

“We didn’t pack much rations in the first place since this was supposed to be a short escort mission. And Deon had most of them, anyway.” Skye sighed deeply as she glanced at the still-unconscious Virtuous Guard. “When those skeletons attacked, and Deon vanished, we ran straight to the vault. I barely managed to survive that undead wyvern, and when we were locked inside, we had to ration our food.”

“So you gave most of the food to Noele’s parents, then.” I nodded. “That’s good. At least everything is resolved now, and we can go back without any more trouble.”

Saros furrowed his brows. “We still need to figure out who set up this lair. It’s dangerous— it has to be the home of an S-rank [Necromancer], at the very least.”

I waved a hand off dismissively. “It’s nothing to worry about— I’m pretty sure this lair just belongs to Zolan.”

“Zolan?” The gnome frowned.

And Skye’s eyes snapped open. She dropped a loaf of bread she’d been nibbling on and leaned forward.

“You mean Zolan the Dark Sorcerer? The Bane of Deleria?” she exclaimed as she faced me.

I scratched the back of my head. “Uh, maybe?”

Skye tried to rise to her feet. “Then this is a matter that needs to be reported to the Adventurer’s Guild— no, to the whole world— immediately! Zolan is an S-rank [Necromancer]. He has spent the last hundred years tormenting both Laxo and Alius, before disappearing ten years ago. He has to be dealt with immediately.”

“That won’t really be a problem though,” I said with a shrug. “Because I killed Zolan like… two months ago?”

I wasn’t really sure, to be perfectly honest. I hadn’t been counting the days that passed. There were some days where I didn’t sleep, considering that I didn’t have to. But I had gone to bed at least forty times since arriving in this world— which probably meant it had been two months at most.

The Silver Shade blinked. “You… what?” She stared at me with round eyes.

“Yeah— he revived some guy called Ar’elith or whatever,” I said simply. “But I killed them both.”

“That’s… impossible. That doesn’t make any sense. You killed the First Lich King— the Lord of All Undeath— Ar’elith himself?” She fell back down, still gaping.

Saros sat next to her as he shook his head. “Just don’t question it,” he sighed. “I still think everything that’s happened so far today has been a fever dream.”

I rolled my eyes and glanced over at Deon. He was still unconscious— I wondered if he was dead. Probably not, but he wasn’t going to wake up any time soon.

“At least you guys aren’t passing out on me,” I scoffed.

 

—--

 

This is the skull of the guardian of the Fallen Wyvern’s Keep. An undead wyvern; an A-rank beast. It has taken the lives of hundreds of brave, daring adventurers over the centuries. Its reign of terror was finally put to an end, slain by a C-rank adventurer, to save an expedition of B-rank adventurers.

This is proof of Nora the Noble Sworddancer’s eternal bravery.

 

Noele stared at the inscriptions engraved onto the wyvern’s skull. Her vision no longer blurred. She had cried all the tears she could when she reunited with her parents. Now, her eyes were dry. Nolan and Nicole had given her space as she approached her sister’s memorial.

This was the first time she had seen it— this was the first time she had ever been here. Nora had wanted to show it to the blonde girl a long time ago, but the opportunity never came up. Because shortly after that… shortly after Nora returned from the Fallen Wyvern’s Keep… the Miststorm Riders had attacked.

“Are you proud of me, Nora?” Noele asked, placing a hand on the wyvern’s skull. She brushed over the words, mustering up a small smile. “I did it— I became an A-rank adventurer for you. I… I…”

The blonde girl trailed off. She thought she’d want to cry again, but nothing came out. Because seeing this— the height of Nora’s achievements? The Noble Spellsword only felt pride.

She was proud of what her sister had accomplished. She was proud of who her sister was. Even if she still felt lost, she was proud.

“Why did you become an adventurer?” Noele had asked her sister so long ago.

And Nora’s reply forever inspired the little girl.

“To become strong.”

It was a memory that had been forever burned into Noele’s mind. It was the reason why she even became an adventurer in the first place— to pursue her sister’s dreams. But after encountering Jax, the blonde girl had begun to doubt herself. And now, she had a different question.

“Why did I become an adventurer, Nora?” Noele asked in the present. Her voice came out a whisper, and no answer came in return. “What is the point of becoming strong in the first place? I’m an A-rank adventurer— I’m strong now, aren’t I? But what comes next?”

These were questions. Just questions. The blonde girl didn’t expect to hear an answer. She simply wondered aloud as she hovered over the wyvern skull. A moment passed, and nothing was said. She remained in mournful silence, until a hand rested against her shoulder.

Glancing back, she saw her parents standing there. They smiled at her, before bowing their heads at the memorial.

“We’ve wanted to come here with you for a long while, Noele,” Nolan said in a somber voice. Her papa raised his head and met her gaze. “We knew that you’d want to see this.”

“I…” she trailed off, and her mama spoke up.

“Nora would’ve been proud of you,” Nicole whispered, eyes welling up. “To see how much you’ve grown— how far you’ve come.”

Noele’s eyes widened. Her lips quivered as she opened her mouth. But both parents turned to face her and spoke together.

“We are proud of you, Noele. We have always been proud of you.” Nolan hugged the blonde girl again.

Nicole spoke with tears streaming down her cheeks. “We regret pushing you to run away all those years ago. We just wish you’d return sooner, so we can support you in becoming who you are today.”

Noele stared at her parents for a moment. They spoke from the heart, and it pained the blonde girl. She wished she returned sooner. She should’ve returned sooner. She closed her eyes and smiled.

“Thank you,” she said, holding back tears. “Thank you, Mama, Papa. For everything.”

It was such a foolish question. Why did Noele become an adventurer? She still didn’t have a reason. But Amelia was right. Even if the blonde girl was uncertain about why she became an adventurer, there was no need to give up now.

After all, it was her dream. It was her sister’s dream. And she was going to continue living it for as long as she could.

 

—--

 

I looked on as Noele embraced her parents again. It really was a heartwarming sight. Skye choked as she watched, while Saros had to avert his gaze. And I…

I thought of my family back home again.

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