"Does Sis Annie know about this?" Eirinn asked worriedly.
Ever since Fort Kesta, Annelotte had become another pillar she could rely on.
Annelotte had shown herself to be capable of almost everything over the years, ranging from becoming champion in the tournament, restoring her face, researching magic cannons which even the alchemists couldn't replicate, and killing Saron, whom even Leguna couldn't defeat. So, ever since Annelotte saved Leguna from Saron, Eirinn grew to depend on and trust in her.
"I will tell Annie, don't worry," Leguna replied with a smile.
Since Leguna wasn't going to hide it from her, that seemed to suggest it wouldn't be that dangerous. Though it didn't logically follow, that was simply how she thought about the matter. She nodded and said, "Alright. Come with me to tell Sis Annie and Innie tomorrow. I have to keep a tight eye on you!"
"Alright, fine," Leguna said with a helpless smile.
Leguna didn't pull anything the next day and did as Eirinn said. Thanks to his last few screw-ups, he grew far more mature over the course of the last month. Though he felt a little unwilling, he had to admit that Annelotte was better than him in almost every regard. So, it would always be wise to ask her for some advice.
Seeing Leguna come to her so honestly, Annelotte didn't stop him. She knew his abilities well. Though he couldn't defeat Saron, sneaking into the millennium capital to pilfer some items wouldn't pose any danger to him.
"There's another thing I want to talk to you about," Leguna said after getting permission, "It's just a thought, but since it has something to do with you all, I want to know your opinions on it."
"What is it?" Annelotte asked.
"Well--" Leguna looked both of them in the eye and whispered, "--I don't really want to stay in the bureau anymore. The scheming is far beyond my capabilities. Would you have anything to say if I want to quit?"
"I don't," Eirinn said immediately.
She had long wanted Leguna to leave that dangerous environment and couldn't be happier to agree.
Annelotte wasn't sure if she should agree or disagree. Just as she was about to say something, she stopped as if she had suddenly thought of something else. Her face reddened immediately as she huffed, "What does it have to do with me?!"
"Ah, well, why did I ever think it had anything to do with Lady Annelotte? And here I was thinking she could advise me…" Leguna said, feigning a troubled look.
Annelotte's face reddened even further. She kept silent for a moment.
"I don't object to you leaving."
"Just say you agree. Sheesh, you're so hard to deal with sometimes."
A chill ran down Leguna's spine even as he finished his sentence.
Annelotte shot him a fierce glare.
"But I think you'd run into trouble for quitting."
"I am aware. It wouldn't be easy to get out of that kind of rut."
"Do you have any plans?" Annelotte asked.
"Let's take it slow. It isn't really urgent. I just wanted to hear your thoughts about it. It's fine that you are okay with it, but don't speak about it. I'll test the waters first."
"Okay," Eirinn said.
"Alright. Take care of things yourself and find me if you need help," Annelotte said with a nod, "Come to think of it, I have something I want to tell you."
"What is it?"
"I think Innie isn't quite normal these days," Annelotte said.
"What do you mean?" He sighed inwardly and thought it was something serious.
Turned out it was just Innie. Wasn't she doing just fine? Annelotte was probably worrying too much.
"I can't say for sure, but she appears to be rather distracted lately. Also, she often avoids my gaze."
Innilis didn't show any obvious changes, but Annelotte could see the finer details. At the very least, the girl must have something she wasn't telling anyone.
"You're over--" Before he could finish the word, Annelotte's glare startled him.
After the battle at Fort Kesta, Leguna's fear for her only grew. He would much rather fight Marolyt than anger Annelotte under any circumstance.
"I… I'll talk to Innie about it when I come back," Leguna said.
It was a close save.
Since he was going to the millennium capital, it was best not to let him get distracted.
At the other end of the laboratory, Innilis was staring at her crystal ball in her corner.
[Even though you don't know spells, you understand magic. You can tell whether this is a hallucination or not,] her voice whispered in her ear.
[Does Big Bro Leguna… really don't want me anymore?] Innilis said. The magic cannon research was nearing its end, so Innilis had basically spent the good part of last month cooped up within. Annelotte, on the other hand, did leave more often.
In fact, she was busy dealing with the magic academy. Since it was newly formed, she would have to deal with many matters as its first principal, but her frequent departures made Innilis suspect her for visiting Leguna.
The voice's brainwashing caused Innilis's resentment for Annelotte to grow ever deeper. Coupled with the crystal ball that showed the frequent intimate interactions between Eirinn and Leguna in her room, Innilis's mind was almost at the brink of breakdown from the voice's constant harassment.
Yet, today, Leguna came to the laboratory but didn't talk to her at all. She didn't ask her to go out to discuss together and didn't seem that concerned when Annelotte reminded him about her situation. Did he stop caring about Innilis?
[No, it can't be! Big Bro Leguna isn't like that! He's the most important person to me!]
[Then why doesn't he care about you? He simply doesn't bother! Why doesn't he care?]
It's… it's those two! They're prettier than me! Big Bro is ignoring me because he's bewitched by their beauty! Even Innilis was shocked she thought about something like that. But the more she wanted to forget it, the deeper it drilled into her mind.
[What should you do? What do you want to do? What can you do?] The voice repeated those questions to her nonstop.
Helplessness, rage, fear, and despair. Innilis had never suffered so much, not even when Jaehart and Minnie died. Because back then, Leguna was there for her. At the very least, she wasn't alone in her suffering. She didn't lose everything.
But now, she felt that she had nothing. Her brother and sister were gone. Though she still had Leguna, what would she have after he abandoned her?
Why? Why take away my Big Bro Leguna? Why?! Why?! Tears began to fall from her eyes. Her shaky hands stretched out and pulled back hesitantly. But in the end, she touched one ingredient she left on her desk. It was the one the voice told her about a month ago.
Leguna didn't know that his casual dismissal of Innilis caused her to suffer greatly. He was busy preparing to get what he needed back and analyzing the reports he got and considering the approach he would go about it.
Ever since being slapped by Annelotte thrice, Leguna came to understand how irresponsible it was for him to charge head first without any forethought. Ever since then, he went about things properly.
Only after making sure his preparations were apt did Leguna bid them goodbye. Innilis was there with the rest. Leguna gave her a casual look and she seemed fine to him, so Annelotte was probably just worrying excessively.
He left with that thought, but little did he know that Innilis was staring at his back the whole time and repeating 'forgive me' to herself mentally nonstop.Previous Chapter Next Chapter