Leguna remained unconscious for two whole days. When he woke, he still felt incredibly weak. The side effects of Host of Darkness were too strong. Fortunately, Annelotte managed to guess some of the properties of his new gift, so she had him rest in a tent where no sunlight could get him. Otherwise, whether he could wake was another story altogether.
He got up with some difficulty and looked around. He recalled what had happened. When he collected his memories, his face darkened considerably.
Vera heard the ruffling from outside the tent. As he had been knocked out for two days, they weren't in a rush to leave.
"Sis... any food?"
Though he had been fed water while he was unconscious, there was no way to feed him anything substantive. His stomach was a hole in his abdomen.
"Wait a bit."
A couple of minutes later, a petite figure leapt into the tent.
There was a hint of sorrow in the little girl's voice. Leguna froze for a moment. He realized the girl was Innilis. Vera must've told the rest of his awakening. He didn't think Innilis would be the first to rush to him.
"Ouch, Innie, you almost knocked me out again," cried he with a pained smile as he trapped the girl in his embrace.
Innilis realized she had been too rough and hurriedly backed off. However, her eyes were still red and she appeared about to cry.
"You're finally awake, kid," said Kurdak as he approached.
Vera handed some water and food to him. He immediately began wolfing it down.
"Slow down. You haven't eaten in two days. Better not eat so quickly all of a sudden," advised Vera.
Leguna slowed down. When he looked up, he realized the four were looking at him.
"What are you looking at?" mumbled Leguna, his mouth full of food.
"What in the world happened?" asked Kurdak finally.
Though they had heard the rough rundown of the incident, there were still some rather pressing details. At the very least, they were unsure how the high-order magus and knight were killed.
As Leguna gobbled his food, he told his side of the story. He didn't even bother to hide his abilities since there was no way to keep them under wraps any longer. He couldn't just cop out by saying that some random super expert came to kill the two before leaving. Even the naive Innilis wouldn't believe something like that.
They were all shocked by what they heard, both what happened to Jaehart and Minnie and Leguna's powers. They had thought the strongest one in their party was actually Annelotte, they didn't think Leguna would show such fearsome strength.
None of them could face both a high-order magus and a high-order knight easily. Yet, Leguna had managed to take on both at once all alone and even killed them! Was he really only an 11th-stratum assassin?
"Boss," Leguna muttered before stopping, as if he had something to say.
The huge man guessed what he was trying to say and waved his hand.
"Forget it. I know what you're trying to say. Don't even think about it."
"But it's the Eye! They have nothing to do with you guys!"
Leguna was getting rather anxious. The reason he admitted to killing Farsi to the Eye's people was so the others would be spared. But now Kurdak wasn't willing to leave it be.
"What do you mean they have nothing to do with us? Anything related to you is my problem! They're really going too far. Their precious little disciple came to hurt us and was killed because he wasn't strong enough, but they send people after us? Do they really think we're people who'll sit obediently and wait for death?"
Kurdak was incensed.
"It's not like we can fight them."
"Even so, I'm not afraid," Kurdak declared, "No matter what, this is the Eye's fault. If they want to kill us, they have to consider public opinion as well. I doubt Moonshadow will just sit around and let that happen!"
"The duke hasn't made its intentions clear yet," said Annelotte expressionlessly. Though she had asked Wayerliss about Leguna, Wayerliss hadn't responded, much to her dismay. She still decided to stay by his side. At the very least, the chairman didn't expressly ask her to leave, did he?
"...Well, no matter what, I won't leave you. If I did, how could I stay in this field in the future?"
While Kurdak was quite troubled to hear about Moonshadow's unclear stance, there was no way he would abandon Leguna. Seeing his words had no effect, Leguna stopped bothering. He turned to Innilis instead.
"Innie, what about you?"
"Innie doesn't know... Dad and Mom are gone, so are Big Brother and Sister... There's no one left to look after me... Sniff..."
She started to cry midway through. Leguna looked at Innilis guiltily. If he hadn't stayed at Jaehart's house, her brother and sister might've not been killed. Though the Eye was the true culprit, he was the one who had led them to the family. He was their accomplice.
"Innie, don't cry. I will find you a loving family that'll take care of you just like your parents. It's alright, stop crying," consoled he as he hugged the girl.
However, hearing it made Innilis cry even more fiercely.
"Uwaaaaah... Big Bro doesn't want Innie anymore. Innie will become a feral child... Waaaaah...."
"Of course I still want you. Why would I abandon you?"
"Then why are you trying to find another family? Innie doesn't want to leave your side! Waaaaah..."
"But it's incredibly dangerous to follow us around."
Leguna didn't want Innilis following him around. How could he, when his life was filled with so much fighting and killing? They also had to face the Eye, they might even have to become fugitives."
"Innie doesn't care! Innie wants to stay by Leguna's side! Big Bro will protect Innie when there's danger! That night, you said you'd protect Sis Annie, Sis Vera, and Uncle Kurdak, waaah... Why won't you protect Innie too? Big Bro Leguna doesn't want Innie anymore... Waaaah..."
She blurted out anything and everything that came to mind as her sobs intensified.
Annelotte's expression changed, but she remained silent. Tears streamed down Kurdak's face when he heard Innilis call him 'Uncle'.
"Alright, Innie, you can stay. I won't abandon you, so stop crying..."
Afraid that the girl would say more, he hurriedly promised not to leave her. Since the girl was going to travel with them for a couple of days, it wouldn't be too late to discuss the matter once her emotions stabilized.
"Really?" the girl stopped crying all of a sudden and looked at him anxiously.
"Really," said he seriously.
"Big Bro Leguna, you better not be lying! If you lie, you're a doggie!"
"Waaaah, Big Bro is lying to me... Big Bro doesn't want me anymore..."
"Fine, fine. I'm a dog if I lie," surrendered he.
Innilis's tears only stopped after she heard his promise.
She really thinks that'll make sure I follow through... Jaehart's as witty as a monkey, so why's his sister so naive?
After some discussion, they decided to head back to Starfall. Given the Eye's might, if they really wanted to hunt them down, being in the wilderness wouldn't be much safer. It was better to return to prepare and gather some information. They might even get Moonshadow's protection. After coming to a decision, they stopped hesitated and departed.
The party arrived at the city a few days later. The largest city on Lance was as busy as ever. According to Kurdak, who had asked around, it seemed the Eye hadn't made any moves. The Mercenary Association hadn't released any new bounties either.
Seeing all was well, the group breathed a sigh of relief. They returned to Shining Star to drop off their belongings and went to the Association to cash in their orc ears and other spoils. For transactional convenience, the Eye had set up exchange centers in the Association's headquarters. Kurdak's attempt to cash those in was also a test. He wanted to probe whether the Eye was truly unaware of their return. After obtaining his gold without incident, he was assured the Eye truly didn't intend to do anything about them at the moment.
Innilis slept with Vera the next two days. As for what they were to do with her in the future, Leguna was wracking his brains for a solution. After much thought, a name he didn't expect popped into his head. He went to Moonshadow the next day. Since becoming Wayerliss's disciple, he'd held quite a lot of power in the guild despite being known as a mere odd-job department lackey on the surface. He planned to use his power this time around to investigate the whereabouts of someone.
A beautiful female half-elf tended to him. The half-elf's alluring smell was boosted by her forward-leaning posture that made the curves beneath her clothes quite visible. Leguna was completely uninterested. After seeing Annelotte's impeccable visage, he had developed an immunity to the temptation of other girls. Wayerliss's teaching over the last two years had also helped strengthen his resolve.
He spoke calmly to the half-elf.
"I want to know the current whereabouts of someone."
"His name, please? If he's someone from the guild, we might be able to give you his location immediately," replied the half-elf with a smile.
"Daver. Rechto Daver."
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