Meanwhile, in Hocke's capital, Melindor...
An attendant knocked on the door softly. Once he received permission from the other side, he entered.
"Mister," greeted the attendant, bowing. "We received a magic signal from Lance. You will soon be needed at a magic conference, please be prepared."
"Understood," Wayerliss nodded.
He took out a letter and handed it to the attendant.
"Hand this to Emperor Larwin. If he has any questions, tell him I'll explain everything later."
The attended put the letter away and left.
Wayerliss sat down.
"I hope you haven't let me down, you insane old man..." he murmured.
Wayerliss arrived in the conference room five minutes later.
"We prepared the formation, Mister," a mid-order magus said, "You just need to infuse some mana into the crystal to begin. The crystal should last for ten minutes."
"Thank you. You may leave."
He waited for the mid-order magus to leave the room then took hold of the crystal. The intricate engravings on the stone and the wall opposite him began to glow. A light-screen slowly took shape. The acting chairman of Moonshadow, Arikos, stood within.
"Chairman," he greeted, bowing.
"What is the news?"
"Eye of Arcana lost three high-order magi. The fourth, Marie Jinx, is heavily injured. She isn't in mortal peril, but she will be out of commission for a considerable while."
"Ha! That old bastard didn't disappoint. How are the others?"
"Mister Marolyt fought three high-order magi at the same time, he was gravely injured. The worst of his injuries comes from a wilting spell with which a necromancer struck him. I doubt he'll be back on his feet anytime soon."
"How daring. Only he can face off against three high-order magi at once."
"Mister Marolyt is one of the top three human saints, I would expect nothing less," Arikos chuckled, "Leguna killed Hladik. He wasn't badly injured during the fight but used Host of Darkness forcefully. The side effects should have kept him unconscious for the last two days at least. Annelotte… She was struck by a Death Finger. As far as we know she was dead when they left though I think Frozentear should have protected her so this state shouldn't be permanent."
"Of course it isn't! Frozentear was a quasi-divine item. Death Finger is nowhere near enough to kill her!"
"... Kurdak's werewolf bloodline's been revealed," Arikos continued, "It'll be hard for him to move openly among humans ever again. Vera is by his side. The four are en route to Ogrimma as we speak."
"Good! Stabilize this situation. I will come back in two days."
"By your will, Chairman."
Kurdak carried Leguna, Vera Annelotte on her's. It was difficult for them to cross Azurewater. Leguna took them away from Starfall, but soon fell unconscious as the effects of Host of Darkness faded. The half of the party still conscious didn't dare rest though, the Eye could easily still catch up to them. They headed north, following Leguna's instructions, to the land of the orcs, to Ogrimma. The boy had told them a group of orcs would meet them along the way. Though they were unsure how the kid could have an affiliation with the orcs, they had little choice — there was nowhere else to go. At least following his instructions gave them a chance of safety.
"I'm afraid we can't come back to Starfall again," Kurdak said with ragged breath.
"It doesn't matter. We can always go west, across the sea. There's a whole continent where nobody will know anything about us." Vera replied.
Her breathing was no less ragged than her lover's. She still carried the lifeless body of the little girl in her arms. Leguna insisted she wasn't dead before he fainted. If there was even the faintest hope that the girl could be revived, she could not leave her behind. At first they thought the smitten boy had gone insane, but the girl's corpse slowly astounded them over the two days that followed. Her body was cold and stiff, as one would expect from a corpse, but she had yet to rot. This was unnatural and gave the two some hope that perhaps the boy had not lost his sanity.
"We'll worry about it later," Kurdak answered, "For now, let's focus on getting to the flatlands. Lay said Innie is waiting for us in Ogrimma."
"Okay." Vera nodded.
The woman had a horrible impression of the orcs, which was understandable given her history, but right now they were her only hope, so she plod on.
The sound of hooves and wheels slowly caught up to them. It was Marolyt; he'd come rushing over as soon as he finished dealing with the three magi from the Eye. He looked leisurely seated upon it but his face was pale and his skin dry.
"You run really quickly," he commented as he pulled up beside the group.
The two bowed as best they could considering their loads. They didn't know what background the old man had, but they knew he was powerful. His power had also saved them twice now, so they had to show him proper respect and gratitude.
"Get on. I'll find us somewhere to wake Annie."
The two obliged, and the carriage headed to a nearby clearing. Marolyt carefully placed his daughter on the ground and took out a vial from his pouch. He uncorked the top and poured the liquid into her mouth. Kurdak and Vera were shocked to smell a thick odor of alcohol a few short moments after the bottle was opened.
The corpse slowly warmed. Annelotte's chest slowly started moving, and Kurdak became slowly started hearing a soft heartbeat separate from the four already present. Vera sighed next to him and nearly collapsed as the tension left her body.
The girl's eyes slowly opened. In front of her were two familiar faces and one old man. The latter was masked by an expression of unhinged concern.
"Where... Where am I?" she stuttered, "Aren't I dead?"
"No, child," the old man whispered gently, "Wayerliss gave you Fronzentear. You're very much alive."
She rubbed her temples and raised herself upright as best she could.
"Here. You must be hungry."
The old man held out a small loaf of elven bread. Her years of etiquette training failed her, and she grabbed the loaf. She listened to her companions recount the tale of their rescue in turns as she gulped down the bread in small, half-chewed bites.
Frozentear. Its legend was that it was made from a tear of the elven goddess of life, Angress. It fell to the earth as an intricate, radiant stone and human alchemists fashioned it into an enchanted necklace. It could absorb any fatal strike aimed at its wearer, but, in return, the wearer would all but die until they were later revived. The necklace got its name from both its shape and of the cold touch of the body after its use.
Luckily, it was not difficult to undo its side-effects, one need only warm the body enough to kick-start the heart and the other bodily functions. The quickest of these methods was to feed the sufferer strong liquor.
The item changed hands many times as the years ticked on. Its last owner was Wayerliss, who gifted it to Annelotte.
Across the centuries, Frozentear changed hands multiple times before ending up with Moonshadow. Wayerliss had gifted it to Annelotte. At the time she had thought that it was nothing more than a gift. Though she wore and cherished it, she never realized the power it contained.
Frozentear was a onetime-use item. It could not be recharged. The power contained within it over the centuries was now expended. The guild had estimated it could only resist two more disintegration level spells. They were wrong.
Annelotte took some damage despite Frozentear's protection. The necklace was now nothing more than normal jewellery.
Annelotte played around with the pendant.
"Who are you? Why do you know this?"
Annelotte's sudden question flustered the Galestorm Swordsaint.
Since it's come to this, there's no point in hiding it anymore, thought Marolyt.
"I am your father, Marolyt Ladis."
"What?!" the two bystanders shouted.
Kurdak tugged on Vera and gave her a glance.
"Ah, I'll need to take a walk," he announced.
"I'll get some food. Mister Marolyt, is there any left in the carriage?" asked Vera.
"Yes. In the trunk in the back."
The old guy realized what the two were up to and thanked them in his head. He was reuniting with his daughter; it'd be awkward with others around.
Annelotte's eyes widened. She had lived on her own for more than a decade. Now her father popped up out of nowhere? She couldn't believe it.
Marolyt was silent for a moment.
"Wayerliss will tell you this is true. I am the one who gave you to him. And... I also had blue hair when I was young."
"That's not enough!"
Wayerliss wasn't here right now, he couldn't verify whether this old man's claims. Marolyt himself now had a silver head, so his second explanation was also useless.
"You have a birthmark in the shape of a snowflake under your left breast."
Annelotte's face turned wax pale. Marolyt was right. Nobody was supposed to know about this. When she scrutinized the old man intensely, she noticed he did have a few bits and pieces that looked similar to the same on her. It was far from irrefutable proof, but it was at least enough for now.
She raised her brows slightly. Her mood was horrible within. She had lived without parents for over a decade. Why had her 'father' suddenly showed up? Her cold reception of this was much better than expected. Nobody could expect her to leap into this old man's arms and call him 'Dad'.
"I know I've wronged you. I don't have an excuse. I will explain everything clearly in the future. But I need you to come with me now."
"To the west, to Chino."
"I'm leaving right away."
When he returned to Melindor, Larwin had expressed his wish that he stay and deal with the war. He was an old man worried about his daughter, however, so he rushed back here immediately. Now everything had been settled, it was about time he returned.
"You want me by your side?"
"Yes. I can tell Wayerliss is more interested in using you than protecting you. Leguna wants to protect you, but he can't. It's far better to have you by my side than with others."
"What if I don't want to?"
"I won't force you. If you think there's anything you still hold dear here, then stay. I don't think you do though. Leguna doesn't trust you, nor can he protect you. Wayerliss only cares about his guild. And, while the guild did raise you, it couldn't give you a happy life. I don't think there's anything worth staying here for."
Annelotte looked at the chatting pair of companions and the carriage.
She stared at it for a long time… and finally made up her mind.
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