Joining the Bureau
Annelotte looked at the people around her. Marolyt was staring at her calmly and patiently awaiting her answer, and Lisana knew this wasn't something in which she had a say, so she ate in silence. Innilis was quite concerned, but she only stared at Annelotte.
Her gaze finally landed on the brat. She said nothing, but her eyes screamed.
"I already made my decision," he shrugged.
"I want to stand at the peak of the world. That's the only way I can protect everyone, so I'm joining the bureau."
"...I promised Boss I would keep you from getting into too much trouble, and I don't break my promises," she said eventually.
"Ugh…" Marolyte stared at the two bitterly, "So you're not going to see reason?"
"It's my choice. You can accept it or not, but you can't change it," Annelotte resolutely, actually looking at the old man.
He smiled sadly.
"I said I wouldn;t try to make you see reason. But I have two conditions."
She stared at him silently.
The old man met her gaze with a helpless, but rock solid, resolute smile.
"First, be very cautious about those people. Call me if you need help."
"Also..." Marolyt paused solemnly, "Trust me, everyone but me might hurt you in this world."
Annelotte cringed inside herself, had he not already hurt her, but she said and showed nothing.
The old man waited for her acceptance for several long seconds, but when he didn't get it, he sighed.
Whatever, when you're up against someone with my blood, you have to accept you'll never win.
The rest of dinner was awkward. Even Leguna, determined to stay by Annelotte's side as long as possible to win her back, finished his dinner quickly and basically ran out of the room.
Marolyt got up just as the boy started darting for the door, however.
"Kid, wait for me, I'm done so let's walk out together."
"Okay..." Leguna replied suspiciously.
"Pops, are you going to ask me to look after Annie?" Leguna asked, half irritated and half hopeful. Asking him to look after Annie again would be an admission and acceptance that he was going to be her man no matter what, after all.
"No. I don't think it needs saying that you damn well better look after her like gold," the old man dodged skillfully.
"So you just want to chat?" Leguna asked, even more suspicious.
"Of course not!" The old man spat like someone had just asked him if he had a vulgar fetish, "I want to discuss something about you with you."
"About me?" Leguna pointed at his nose in an exaggerated, half sincere, manner, "What's wrong with me? Is there a problem?"
"A huge one!" Marolyt snapped, rolling his eyes.
"Why can't I tell?"
Marolyt stared at the brat intently.
"Have you ever become ruthlessly violent out of the blue, or felt a strong bloodlust you can't control?"
"How did you know?!"
The boy's eyes turned into saucers. He had never resolved specifically to keep it a secret, but he'd also never gone out of his way to tell anyone about it, either. And he certainly never told or hinted, or suggested, intentionally or otherwise, anything about this to Marolyt.
The old man didn't answer him. He only nodded as if this was expected.
"Heh... After all... power... how could it be that easy to control? No... Balance... If this goes on, this brat..."
He mumbled to himself for several minutes, then snapped back as he suddenly felt Leguna's eyes boring holes into his skull.
"What are you saying, Pops?"
"You don't have to know yet!" He waved and planet leguna firmly in the ground. "Listen, kid, I have some bad news for you."
"You want to say I'm changing into a shadow creature, yes?"
This time Marolyt's eyes turned into saucers.
"How did you know?"
"It's my body! Of course I would know!"
"And you know how to cure it?"
"No," he shrugged, "The best way I have right now is to use Host of Darkness as little as possible. I can only slow it that way though, I can't stop it, and I can even less undo what's already done."
"Heh, so you're not completely brainless after all! You at least managed to guess that the worst issue is Host of Darkness."
"You're the weird one! How do you know so much about my gift?"
"Your gift..." Marolyt's tone sounded complex.
He was born with the gift after all, so could he have inherited it from his absentee father?
"You're not wrong," Marolyt sighed, "You've met Saron, right?"
"I fought him a few times."
"Did you see his Host of Flame and Host of Gust?"
"I've seen Host of Flame, but not the other..." he hesitated for a moment, then his eyes twitched, "He has Host of Gust?! Impossible!"
"H-h-he... he already has five gifts! How could he also have Host of Gust?"
"Tch! Dimwit! I'm certain his other gift is Hot of Gust. He might just not have shown it off in a fight yet, he might even not have awakened it yet, but he definitely has it."
"Why? What's going on?"
Leguna might have humble beginnings, which meant he had less of an ego that those brought up in the situation, but he was still the top genius he knew -- Annelotte aside -- and he was Moonshadow's scion. He couldn't accept there was someone else so far greater than him, so much more talented and powerful than he was. And the boy was no older than him!
Marolyt shook his head slowly.
"You'll see it eventually, you're going to work for the bureau, after all. As for Host of Darkness… there is a way to deal with it, but it's pretty crude."
"Go find Alissanda. He's a light breaker. He can burn away the shadow essence gathering in your body."
"Oh, that..." Leguna said unenthusiastically.
Gahrona used that very method to cleanse him last time. He hadn't experienced it's full horror, only the aftertaste once Gahrona fainted and couldn't shield him from it any longer, but that alone was already bad enough that he felt his stomach lurching at the mere suggestion that he might do it again.
"That's all. Let's go back."
"Wait, Pops, what's the deal with Host of Gust?"
"Find out for yourself. It's not good to just learn from everyone else. Some things you have to learn on your own. Not to mention it's f*cking embarrassing and I don't want to bring it up!"
Leguna stayed away from the bureau for a couple more days. Mostly because he was waiting for Annelotte. But also because Kurdak and Vera were about to head out, and Leguna wanted to visit them one last time.
He arrived at the camp, a proper military camp this time, and saw actual soldiers walking around. They were nowhere near anything that could even be put in the same hemisphere as Alissanda's order, but they were worlds away from the rabble that had greeted him when last he was there.
He had to admit, rough as his boss was, he had his ways.
Their final goodbyes were melancholic, which was to be expected. Kurdak was being dispatched to the southeast, far away from from both Leguna and Eirinn.
The realisation made Leguna realise his friends and companions were now scattered all over an empire, half a continent. He would not have known what to do, or whether what he was doing right now was worth it, if not for his two women staying by his side.
He wanted few things more than to return to those first two years in Starfall. If only he'd found Eirinn there. Then again, her daily life would have been little different than it had been at that inn had he found her in the city. Though her life was better this way, they were still apart, and he hated it.
The universe didn't care about spindly little brats, however, and it was time to say goodbye to his boss and his mistress, and it was finally time to grow up and take on the responsibility of an adult and take over the bureau.
That is exactly what he and Annelotte did. Arikos very quickly handed over everything to the two of them, and within a month he was only there ceremonially, and had nothing to do with the bureau's daily running anymore. The emperor's government found it really hard to accept that two youngsters had taken over one of the empire's most important wings. Geoffrey certainly didn't do anything to help. He was so furious when Annelotte left his side that he killed the first two attendants he could find.
Leguna didn't know any of this, however. His head was buried in the paperwork and grind of managing the bureau's daily workings that he didn't even notice several months come and go. His name was also slowly becoming synonymous with the dark world of espionage at which the bureau was so adept. Leguna Dark Requiem very quickly became a curse, a nightmare story parents told their children to scare them into being obedient. He was the mysterious, cruel, heartless young man in command of one of the most feared organisations on the continent.
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