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A note from MelasDelta

Hope y'all had a good weekend :)

“Deon… Deon… Deon!” a voice echoed in the far distance. Each word grew louder and louder, until finally, the Virtuous Guard his vision returning.

“Ugh, my head… what happened?” Deon groused as he blearily blinked his eyes open. His entire body was numb. He could hardly feel his hands, even as he raised them to his head. He massaged his temples as he took in the room around him. “Where am I?” he wondered aloud.

He sat on the cold stone ground, leaning against a wall at the bottommost floor of the Fallen Wyvern’s Keep. Looking up, the Virtuous Guard saw his partner peering at him with a worried look.

“Deon! You’re finally awake!” Skye exclaimed, and he rubbed his head as he tried to get to his feet.

“I just had the weirdest dream… I was trapped with a minotaur in a labyrinth beneath the Fallen Wyvern’s Keep,” he said, shaking his head. “But some crazy girl showed up and just started doing so many insane things like—”

“Like saving your life,” a voice cut him off.

Deon froze. He glanced past Skye, staring at a brown-haired woman. His eyes grew wide, and his mouth hung open.

“I-I-I… y-you’re…” he started.

“The crazy woman, yes.” Amelia crossed her arms at him. “That wasn’t a dream. That did happen.”

“That’s—”

The Virtuous Guard couldn’t speak. He didn’t have the words to express how he was feeling right now. Skye blinked as he sat back down and closed his eyes.

“Please don’t pass out again,” Amelia said flatly.

He buried his head in his hands. “But I want to.”

 

—--

 

While we were waiting for Deon to wake up, we had investigated the Fallen Wyvern’s Keep for a little bit. We searched the desks at the second last floor and found a few notes strewn about, confirming my suspicions that this lair belonged to Zolan.

Apparently, he had settled down here just under a year ago, having somehow found the location of Ar’elith’s skull. He had plotted a map to the final piece of the First Lich King’s scattered body— the spine— right in the middle of Briar Glen.

It must’ve taken him a while to find it, considering that his notes stated that Ar’elith’s spine had been buried at a random location. No guardians, no indication of where it was. It was left to be simply lost in the forest.

I almost admired Zolan for his dedication to reviving Ar’elith. But I remembered the fact that he was so completely beholden to his duty without any justifiable reason— even when I had killed the Lich King— and… well, I didn’t find it so admirable anymore.

Anyways, with Deon now finally awake, it was time for us to leave the Fallen Wyvern’s Keep. We first had to head over to Northon to report that Skye, Deon, Nolan, and Nicole were well and alive. I wanted to expedite our travels via my usual means of transportation, but Noele was adamantly against that.

“You’re going to give my parents a heart attack.” She rolled her eyes at me. “We can just walk. I want to chat with them, anyway.”

I shrugged in response. “Alright, then.”

So we trudged through the snowy landscape of the Frozar Mountains. Skye the Silver Shade was in much better condition now, although she was still struggling to walk. Deon helped her along, while Noele walked alongside her parents, carefully hovering over them.

That left Saros with me. He stood on my right shoulder, since he would otherwise be falling over in the tall layer of snow. Sure, he was an A-rank adventurer and a gnome, but he wasn’t a [Rogue] or even a [Warrior] who could brute force through the snow— quite the opposite, really. He spent most of his time sitting at his desk, tinkering with scraps or unused artifacts to make something out of them.

I didn’t speak much with Saros. I hardly knew the man, and he honestly seemed quite unhappy about the fact that he wasn’t getting any of the reward money. I felt a little bit bad about it, but he did activate an unintentional trap, and he did get to keep the necronomicon— for whatever it was worth.

I just watched as Noele continued to catch up with her parents. The blonde girl spoke of all the adventures she’d been in ever since leaving Whiteridge. They listened intently, gasping and reacting in awe of the feats she’d accomplished. When they heard she was now an A-rank adventurer, they hugged her… again.

They kept hugging each other, which was expected, I guess. They hadn’t seen each other in-person in ten years. It was heartwarming— wholesome. But each time I saw Nolan laugh— each time I saw Nicole tear up— I only felt a pang in my chest.

I only remembered my family.

“You seem jealous,” Saros spoke up, interrupting my thoughts.

I glanced at him as he peered over my shoulder— quite literally. “How so?”

“I know your type. You’re just like me. You never had a good home life, did you?” he snorted. “My family treated me like trash, too. They never even congratulated me when I became an A-rank adventurer.” The gnome chuckled bitterly.

“Why not?” I raised a brow.

“Because they didn’t care for me, of course.” Saros shrugged, slightly exasperated. “My parents had nearly two dozen children. Why should they care about me? Why should my siblings care about me?”

“They must’ve been wild in bed.”

“That’s not an image I wanted in my head.” He rolled his eyes.

“You became an A-rank adventurer. Surely they at least cared for the status or money you brought them?”

Saros waved a hand dismissively. “I didn’t give ‘em shit.”

“That’s probably why they don’t talk to you,” I said flatly.

“You think I’m some selfish snob, but they abandoned me, Amelia.” He folded his arms across his chest. “My family didn’t care that I couldn’t move to Alius with them. They just left me by myself. As they always do.” He gritted his teeth as he finished.

I eyed the gnome. He evidently had a lot of resentment for his family. I wasn’t aware of the full story, but I wasn’t going to criticize him for how he felt. I also wasn’t really sure how to reassure him, either. I tried, and did a bad job.

“Your family sounds like they suck. I’m, uh, sorry you had to go through that.”

“It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s in the past.” Saros harrumphed, raising his head. “I am better than them, and I’m not going to curse them and hope a Seraphim descends from the heavens and condemns them for it. I wish them the best, but I don’t care for them.”

“I see.” I nodded slowly. “That’s understandable— but you’re wrong about me.”

“Hm?” He quirked a brow my way. “How so?”

“I am not jealous of Noele. I am very happy for her,” I said simply. “And my parents treated me with nothing but love and kindness. They always supported me in everything I did, and my friends were great too. Honestly, I feel like I had the perfect life.”

“Brag about it.” Saros scoffed. “So what happened, then? Why are you out here doing all this instead of living your perfect life?”

I closed my eyes and sighed. “I just can’t see them anymore. That’s all.”

He frowned, but didn’t press me any further. We continued on until we reached a lonely road cutting through the mountain range. Saros hopped off my shoulder, landing on the cobblestone ground as he ushered us forward.

“Come on, we’ve still got a ways away before we reach Northon!” he called out.

Deon, Skye, Nicole, and Nolan hurried after him. But Noele actually slowed to face me. I smiled at her.

“How do you feel?” I asked casually.

“I am… happy. Content. I feel a lot of things, Amelia,” the blonde girl said as she brought a hand to her chest. “But most of all, I feel grateful to you. This would never have been possible if not for your help. I’m not sure how I can ever repay you.”

I grinned back at her. “You can repay me by giving me gold, of course.”

“I was already going to do that.” She rolled her eyes. “You can keep the reward for the job, since you basically did all the work.”

“That was a joke, but I’d gladly accept the 75 gold coins.”

Noele shook her head chuckling. We walked next to each other for a moment, and she eyed her parents up front. Finally, she took in a deep breath and faced me.

“Amelia,” Noele said, meeting my gaze.

“What’s up?” I raised a brow at her.

She spoke slowly as she held my gaze. “I was talking with my parents, and I decided I want to accompany them back to Whiteridge for now. I’m not going to quit being an adventurer just yet, but I want to return home for now. I want to spend some time with my parents at their farm. I haven’t seen them in years, Amelia. Years.”

“Oh.” I blinked. “Well, that’s fine, I guess. I can’t force you to do anything. You can do whatever you want, Noele.”

“I mean, you’re my… mentor.” She pursed her lips. “I just feel bad for making you take me on as your student, only to run off and do this now.”

“I got paid, at least,” I said with a shrug. “And it’s not like I can’t follow you to Whiteridge, anyways. I did say I wanted to check out your parents’ farm.”

Noele paused. “Oh, right.”

I tapped a finger on my chin. “Although, I do have to go back to Windrip to gather my belongings from Brynn’s inn.”

“You have belongings?” The blonde girl raised a brow at me.

“Mostly useless things I bought on a whim— but I still have plenty of things.”

“Right. And I’ll have to escort my parents all the way to Whiteridge. It’ll probably take a week— a few days at the very least.” The blonde girl nodded at me. “I’m not going to let you… you know…”

“Yeah, yeah. You hate fast travel, I get it.” I smirked at her, and she sighed.

“Amelia… they’re old, and they aren’t adventurers.”

“I got it,” I said, giving her a reassuring look. “I’ll head back to Windrip first, then I’ll meet up with you guys in Whiteridge.”

“That’s a good plan.” Noele smiled at me. “You don’t have to rush to meet us there. Take your time, Amelia. Or you’ll arrive at Whiteridge before us.” She laughed, tilting her head back.

“I’ll probably nap as soon as I get back to Windrip,” I said as I waved a hand off. “I’ll find something to do until then.”

Honestly, I was interested in exploring what other job options there were for me to try out. Especially if it could result in me getting a Class. Sure, that experiment with setting up a food stall failed, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t try out other avenues of earning an income and figuring out what was wrong with the System.

I could probably try working as a [Lumberjack] or a [Smith] for a bit. Maybe even try out as a [Receptionist]— although, I wasn’t sure if Justyn would be too pleased about me stealing his job. Anything would do, since I had nothing but time.

I considered my options as we continued on down the winding road. Noele returned to her parents soon after, telling them that I was going to join them in Whiteridge. Saros walked briskly at the front, leading the way, while Deon and Skye held up the back due to the latter’s state.

But eventually, we arrived back at Northon. It was a rather large snowy city bordering the Frozar Mountains. It had been the capital city of a different nation long ago, hence its relative size compared to Windrip.

When Noele and I arrived at the city early this morning, it was bustling and busy with life. However, even though it was only the afternoon, it was quiet. It should be lunchtime— market street should be at its busiest. But for whatever reason, even though the weather was clear and there was no snow falling from the sky, the streets were empty.

Those who did wander these empty roads kept to themselves, avoiding even looking our way. I narrowed my eyes, and Noele pursed her lips, wondering aloud.

“What’s going on? What happened to the city?”

It almost looked like the city had been attacked, except without any of the damage that came along with a siege. And the guards had been on high alert when we passed through the gates.

We arrived at the Adventurer’s Guild of Northon soon enough, but even the normally rambunctious crowd were gathered in a deafening silence. Noele hurriedly approached the [Receptionist] at the front desk, glancing about with a frown.

“Did something happen to Northon? Why’s the entire city so empty?” she asked.

The [Receptionist] raised his head, furrowing his brows at us. Noele, Skye, Deon, Saros, Nicole, Nolan, and I stared back at him as he spoke.

“Didn’t you guys hear? Everyone’s talking about it.” The [Receptionist] sat up straight as he spoke, and Noele’s eyes grew wide. “The Kingdom of Kal has declared war on the Astrad Kingdom.”

“What…?” The blonde girl blinked, proeccessing this.

But the [Receptionist] just finished, “As of today onwards, the entire country— no, the entire continent is at war.”

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MelasDelta

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