"Lass!" Kurdak yelled in the camp. Even though he was now a commander with five thousand subordinates, he didn't look all that different from the slovenly mercenary he was before.
But since the formation of his independent combat unit after the battle of Seatide, he was no longer the sole officer there. Blackie, Londo and Eibron had also been promoted from lieutenants to captains.
It could be said to be a coincidence. If a normal soldier was made to be Kurdak's subordinate, he would no doubt be filled with complaints about the whole thing.
Only thugs like Blackie and Londo could deal with him, and they even saw him as the most thuggish of them all. Even though the others call him commander and captain, they had personally thought of him as their boss. Even if they weren't at war, they would go around collecting protection fee for him if he wanted.
"What's the deal with the ruckus so early in the morning?" Vera looked sleepy and annoyed. While she would carry out his orders during wartime as his adjutant, when they weren't fighting, she was on the top of the food chain.
"Come in with me," Kurdak said with two black eyes.
"What are you doing?" A hint of wariness flashed across her eyes. Even though the two of them were in really close terms, she wouldn't be okay with him getting it on with her first thing in the morning inside the camp.
She happened to notice Blackie and a few other soldiers' lewd smiles at her, which only served to infuriate her.
"Hey! What else can I do in this weather?" Kurdak said with an accused look, "Come in with me! It's not like we haven't done this before."
"Kurdak, if you dare to pull me one more time I'll bite your ears off!" She shot a glare at the others and scared them away.
By the time Kurdak was inside the tent, Vera stomped on the ground impatiently. "Out with it."
"I gave it some thought last night and still can't figure it out," he said as he hurriedly poured her a cup of hot tea.
"What's this about?"
"Have you heard of what happened to Fort Kesta?" Kurdak asked.
"That's right. But isn't Eirinn safe?" When she first heard about the attack, she was at the brink of panic. Had Kurdak not stopped her, she would've took a few men with her to seek Eirinn out.
Thankfully, Lisana was sharp enough to notice that there would be others worried for her safety, so she wrote them letters after the rescue to notify them Eirinn was safe.
Kurdak had received word about it through the military and Grandmaster Myr received Annelotte's in her place. Myr believed that since Eirinn was safe, there was no need to tell Annelotte about it so as to not disrupt her research.
Yet, the letter that came later seemed a little urgent, so Myr thought it best to have Annelotte stop her research to go south. He wasn't too sure of the relationship between Annelotte and Eirinn, after all, and it wouldn't do for an old fellow like him to meddle too much.
"That seems to be the case... But let me ask you this. Don't you think it's weird Ley's bureau wasn't able to detect the movement of 15 thousand troops?"
"It should be impossible."
"That's it. So I kept thinking all day yesterday and figured this had something to do with the bureau itself."
"Are you saying there's a spy inside?" she asked hesitantly.
"I believe it's possible that Arikos and someone else are trying to get Ley."
"Why would that be the case?" She furrowed her brow in puzzlement, "Ley's also a member of Moonshadow. Why would Arikos want to harm him?"
"That's the least you can expect people from that guild to do," Kurdak said with a cold humph, "Don't forget that Moonshadow had never treated us properly ever since our search for the millennium snowlotus. I dare say they have a hand in most of our troubles! I don't trust them!"
"Then... what do you think we can do now?"
"How would I know?" he said with a shrug, "I still can't tell what that old fox Wayerliss plans to do, to say no more of stopping them."
"Then why did you call for me?" She rolled her eyes at the seemingly pointless action. Were they to panic together?
"There is something we can do, though," he said after a chuckle.
"What is it?"
"I want you to go to Eirinn," he said after some consideration.
"Out with it. What do you need me to do?" she asked solemnly.
"First, I need you to make sure how she's doing. Even though Lisana sent us a letter, she isn't too familiar with Eirinn, who I'm sure is in shock. I worry that she'll fare worse if nobody she knows if there with her."
"Second, I need you to stop Ley."
"I will." She knew what he meant by that. Given Leguna's rashness, it was almost certain that he'd do something reckless once Eirinn was put in danger, and who knew what he'd do in that state?
"I only hope you'll be in time," Kurdak said with a worried look. Even though he heard Leguna had gone to the northern highlands, he wasn't sure whether he was back. If Leguna went to Fort Kesta himself, then sending Vera there would be pointless.
"And finally..." Kurdak stuck out three fingers.
"I'll go to Melindor myself and have a good talk with Annie?" Vera guessed.
"Lass, I've noticed you've been getting rather sharp lately!"
"But of course!" She managed to figure out what he wanted. Even though Leguna was the bureau head, he wasn't really the type to be part of all that scheming given his naivete.
So, the only person who could serve as his brains would be Annelotte. However, it was still possible Annelotte would be biased, given that she had grown up in Moonshadow.
The reason he wanted to send Vera there personally was because of how unreliable normal letters could be. It was exceedingly possible that the bureau would look through the letter, and if the contents were revealed to those in Moonshadow, who knew what they would do with the letter?
"Lass... Do you think Annie is.."
"It's impossible!" She didn't wait for him to finish and barked out like a female panther, glaring at Kurdak with eyes filled with rage and disbelief.
"But she is..." he carefully tried to say.
"Impossible!" she repeated, this time even more harshly. She pointed at Kurdak's nose and said with a strict, but not loud, voice, "Kurdak, let me warn you! I won't let you suspect Annie, not ever! She definitely isn't someone the guild planted to spy on Leguna! Not even Wayerliss can control her!"
"Why do you think so?" He felt a little angered in response to Vera's wrath.
"Why? She's Annelotte Ladis, the daughter of the galestorm swordsaint, and the woman I respect the most! Is that enough?"
"Can you not be so emotional? It's not something we can factor our personal feelings into."
"Don't look down on personal feelings!" she shrieked as she patted her full bosom. "If Annie didn't act on her feelings, I would've died from Hladik's Death's Finger! You'll only be able to see my ashes if it hadn't been for her!"
Kurdak didn't really know what else to say. He knew that Annelotte had saved Vera before, but all he saw was her cold 'corpse', so it didn't really affect him much.
Vera on the other hand watched as Hladik dictated the spell before Annelotte charged in to block it for her. The reason Kurdak saved Vera all those times was because he loved her, but Annelotte was actually willing to sacrifice her life for one she considered her most important friend!
There was no question that Vera respected her the most in this world.
As such, she was incredibly touchy when it came to suspecting Annelotte. She calmed down and said, "You weren't there to see it for yourself. She didn't even have any magic barrier on and actually rushed to me, knowing that she'd die. That's why she isn't the person you say she is. I won't believe that even if I die."
He kept silent before bowing to her all of a sudden. "I'm sorry."
"I shouldn't have suspected her," he raised his head and said, "but please forgive me. I was just too worried for Ley."
"I only hope that you don't treat Annie like that in future," she said with a sigh and a forced smile.
"I won't ever let this happen again, I promise."
"Then all's good. Is there anything else?"
"Then I better make my move soon. The sooner I reach, the sooner I'll be able to stop worrying." She waved goodbye to him and left the tent.
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