Meeting Gerd Again
Leguna began his huge undertaking the moment he returned to the inn.
"Please use the crystal core!" Leguna said during lunch.
"I'm sending it back."
"Don't think I don't know where you went today. Why ask if you already know?"
"I expected I couldn't hide it from you," Leguna murmured, "I was at the Galestorm Manor this afternoon."
"Didn't I tell you not to tell him, Alaine?" Annelotte asked with an accusatory tone.
Alaine sunk her chin.
"It's not something embarrassing or anything, and you've already done so much for this lecher. Why can't he know about it?"
"This is a family affair. I don't want outsiders poking their noses where they don't belong," Annelotte said emphatically.
"But it's my fault, right?" Leguna interjected, "And does this mean you acknowledge Mister Marolyte as your father? It wouldn't be a family matter otherwise."
At a loss for words Annelotte pushed on, depositing her utensils on the table and staring at the brat.
"Sis..." Innilis whispered weakly.
"Alright, fine!" Leguna raised his hands, "I don't care what relationship you have with Mister Marolyt, but you've accepted the gift so you can't give it back. He almost cut me in half when I stopped by. I'd be dead if I have to go give it back."
Annelotte didn't speak, but her eyes said she couldn't care less what happened to him right now.
"Just use it," the boy begged again, "He gave it to you with the best intentions. He's trying to make up for his mistakes. Give him a chance!"
Annelotte continued to stare at him silently.
"I beg you."
Annelotte's eyes wavered at the words, then she gazed at him with deep suspicion. She knew better than to believe he actually meant what he had said, but she could not find the trickery, the mocking arrogance, she knew had to be hidden somewhere on his face.
First Innilis, then Eirinn, and now Leguna had spoken out for that bastard. Her gaze froze even more, if such a thing were possible,
"You're begging for that man's sake?"
"No," Leguna said as if he'd finally hit the jackpot, "I'm doing it for you."
The young woman stared at him, her suspicion never higher.
"You'll become stronger once you absorb the crystal, and that can only be a good thing as far as I'm concerned."
Her was regained the slightest hint of colour around her cheekbones, though no one present allowed themselves to notice it. The young woman stared at the boy for a long, pregnant moment, then sighed as if giving up on a lost cause child.
"Fine, whatever gets you to shut up.
Damn she was hard to deal with! Leguna shouted out silently.
The crystal core contained dense glacial essence, so if it was absorbed raw, it would cause the whole inn to freeze. That could not be accepted, so Annelotte left the next day for the court magi association's headquarters. The three brats tagged along like old gum stuck to a shoe.
Leguna thought, at first, it would take only a few hours to absorb the crystal. He didn't think he'd wait a whole day without any news. Frustrated, he sought out another magi, and only then learned it would take at least a week for her to finish. Her core was not an ordinary one either, so it could take a whole fortnight!
Leguna couldn't just sit around for that long, so he left with Innilis soon after. Alain, however, decided to stick it out for her mistress.
Leguna rushed to Galestorm Manor after dropping Innilis off. Marolyt's rage seemed had calmed somewhat thanks to his disciple's careful ministrations and hearing that his daughter was finally making use of the crystal core did a lot to assist her work.
It worked so well, in fact, that the old man dragged Leguna out a drink before hurrying to the palace to protect his daughter.
Leguna lazed around the inn for four days before anything else happened. He couldn't but admit, lying on his bed and staring aimlessly at the roof, that he felt lost without all those people there to give him things to do.
"I'll bring you dinner later, Innie. Just focus on your research," he said as someone knocked on the door to his room.
"It's me, sir," a man's voice answered.
"Oh!" Leguna slapped his forehead, "I might be bored, but I don't want to see you..."
He still opened the door though. Gerd stood outside respectfully.
"I had planned to wait patiently at my training center, but you've not come to see me since you returned. We cannot put this off any longer," Gerd said apologetically but resolutely.
"You don't have to act like this. This was going to happen eventually," Leguna shrugged.
He should've sought Gerd out long ago, but he had just returned from six months of carnage and wanted to take some time off first. But Gerd was here now and there was no more putting this off for later.
"You snuck into an enemy stronghold and took Haden's life. I am impressed," Gerd said stiffly.
"Didn't anyone tell you you suck at flattery? Just get to the point."
"There was one," Gerd smiled awkwardly, "Xeno, a self-proclaimed Stokian assassin."
"That idiot actually revealed his identity to you like that... Isn't he worried he'll be killed?" Leguna asked.
"I was also taken aback by his rashness at first, but since he said you introduced him, I didn't act on him. I am an informant the chairman sent, not many people, even those in the bureau, know my identity. I didn't give him too much trouble even though I didn't believe everything he said."
"You did well. Where is he now?"
"At the training center. I didn't restrain him, but I'm not willing to let him loose, so I've had people tailing him. He seems quite cool-headed though; he hasn't caused any trouble despite I'm certain knowing about our surveillance."
"I might as well make sure he's telling the truth since you're back."
"It started..." Leguna briefed.
"...Could he merely be playing a part? He couldn't be a Stokian spy, could he?" Gerd reminded cautiously.
Xeno was an enemy, despite all else, and Gerd was not in the habit of trusting enemies, especially not given both their professions.
"He isn't." Leguna said, shaking his head.
"No Stokian knew I was going to kill Haden. He couldn't have been planted there in anticipation. Additionally, Haden did in fact die by my hands. I can attest to that, at least. I doubt they'd pay Haden just to get a spy on me."
"I see... Then, how do you intend to deal with him?"
Leguna pondered it over for a few minutes before answering.
"Let's keep him under observation for now. We can put him to work once we're sure he's clean. He's got quite the talent so I won't complain about having him on my side, or by it, for that matter."
"As you wish."
"Anything else? You can't be here just for that."
"It's about Sir Arikos. He said you've been slacking off enough and it's time you 'go to see him."