"According to my observations, you are qualified to become my disciple. Now, it's your turn to make the choice. What will it be? Power? Or wealth? If you choose wealth, you will be one of my subordinates. Serve me with your abilities as a shadow dancer and I will provide you with endless wealth. If you choose power, you'll be my second disciple. I will make you powerful, far more than you can imagine. However, you have to face Balor and you might die. But the moment you defeat him, you'll inherit everything I have."
"President, if I choose not to fight with Balor, will he really let me off? Will he let Annie off as well?"
Wayerliss shook his head.
"I don't know. Balor's personality has become really hard to predict. I can't ensure your safety."
"Then, I never had a choice," Leguna said as he raised his head to look the tall elf in the face, "Including this time, Annie should've saved me four times already. Given how much she's done for me, how can I be so shameless as to watch from the sidelines without a way to ensure her safety?"
Wayerliss smiled as he looked Leguna in the eye. He saw the fire of his soul in them. A flame that could swallow the world whole.
"So, what's your decision?"
"I want power. I want to become stronger. So strong that I won't be at the mercy of others. So strong that I can protect the people around me, that I can give that crazy little brother a huge beating so he'll return to Sis's side!" declared Leguna solemnly.
He was resolute. It would take him very long to realize the price for these words was his life.
Wayerliss nodded solemnly.
"Very well. From today onwards, you are officially my second disciple. I gave Balor the moniker 'Nightblade'. I give you the moniker: 'Dark Requiem'. Leguna Dark Requiem, I hope this new name will inspire fear and reverence from all in the times to come. I hope you will become my most distinguished disciple, one of which I can be proud."
"Leguna will not let Teacher down."
Leguna tried to look as serious as he could, but he wasn't sure whether he'd answered in the correct manner. It would suck if he ruined the stern atmosphere his teacher was trying to create.
A few days later, in Kurdak's room in Shining Star of Starfall, Annelotte waved her hand to dispel the inspection spell she used with hidden surprise. Even though she'd already predicted her greatly decreased rank would affect her power a lot, she didn't think it would be that bad. A simple inspection spell cost her so much magical power. It was unthinkable not too long ago.
People used to being strong would have a hard time after suddenly becoming weak. While Annelotte was surprised, she didn't feel disheartened or regretful because. While losing four strata was a huge blow, it wasn't something she couldn't accept. She was confident it was just a matter of training and improving in time. Annelotte had always been highly confident.
"The millennium snowlotus was properly absorbed. Your lifespan's increased by ten years," reported she.
"Great! Ten years should be enough to find more things with which to increase your lifespan!" Vera was the first one to cheer out.
"Haha, I told you I won't be done in this easily. I'm tougher than I look, you know," snapped Kurdak. He had already made peace with the fact that he wouldn't live much longer. But now, he was surprised that he'd somehow managed to survive the ordeal.
"I have to remind you that this is only the time you have now. If you are hurt again, you'll eat up your lifespan. You're a mercenary, so injuries are commonplace. With this taken into account, you probably only have about 5 years."
Annelotte doused Kurdak's flaming passion without mercy. Ever since they'd returned from Snowrock, Annelotte hadn't bothered to act polite. Her tone always carried a tinge of insult and disdain.
But neither of the two present took offense. Given that it was Kurdak's fault for acting the way he did back at the inn, it was only natural that she show displeasure. In fact, her show of emotions was a good thing. It showed that she was no longer cold and indifferent. From another point of view, the young girl could be said to have accepted Kurdak and the mercenary party as a whole.
"Ah, no worries. A few years more to live is still something. We'll leave the rest to the future,"
Annelotte looked at Kurdak coldly. She didn't respond.
Knock knock knock!
Annelotte, being the closest to the door, opened it.
Leguna stood outside. After he'd spent a few days recovering at Snowrock, he had been rushing to Starfall without rest. He thought Vera or Kurdak would open the door. Unexpectedly, Annelotte was the first one he saw.
"Umm... Well... Long time no see," muttered he.
He'd been rather troubled about how to act in front of her since he'd learned about what she'd done for him.
He had been pondering what he should say to her when they met.
He had considered crying a bunch and holding Annelotte's hand as he said: 'Thank you. Thank you so much for what you did for me! I'm really touched! I'll remember this in the future!' However, he felt his pathetic look would only tempt her to send a fireball flying into his face.
He had also considered wearing a beaming smile and patting the girl's shoulders while saying: 'I already know everything. There's nothing to be said. Just watch me! I will protect you in the future! I'll beat them all, regardless of whether they're Balor or the orcs!'
But he felt feigning bravery and courage would similarly invite a fireball.
He had even thought of pretending to be mute, or pretending he didn't know anything. That way, Annelotte's proud and aloof appearance wouldn't be unraveled, and no fireballs would touch his face anytime soon. But he felt if he really dared to do so, he would be the one looking to smash his face into a fireball.
Even after having thought about it intensely for the last couple of days, he still couldn't settle on a course of action. Given that their meeting was a little unexpected, all he could say was 'long time no see'.
Annelotte nodded. When he appeared in front of her alive and well, an undistinguishable trace of joy flashed through her eyes.
Leguna smiled awkwardly.
"I know what you did. Well... thank you."
Seeing Leguna make a face that seemed to spell 'we did something unspeakable', Annelotte seemed to be affected as well. With an awkward look, she nodded without saying anything else.
"Oh! Brat, you're back!" Kurdak said as he marched out of the house and shouted, "Vera, Ley's back!"
Leguna heard Vera's surprised gasp. After some hurried footsteps, she came out as well.
Seeing his two elder siblings filled Leguna with joy. Had it not been for Annelotte, he couldn't have met the two again. At this time, the girl took a few steps back and stood behind Kurdak.
"Come in. Let's talk inside," said Kurdak as he patted on his back.
The kid was scrawny as ever, but in good shape and didn't seem to be hurting anywhere.
After going inside, Leguna told informed his companions of his experiences briefly.
The two were told that the poison was only neutralized thanks to the huge price Annelotte had paid. They also knew how he'd become one of the main targets to be developed by Moonshadow, and the fearsome enemy he would have to face.
Naturally, he kept some things to himself. He didn't tell Kurdak that he had become the personal disciple of the guild's president, and didn't say anything about the fact that his enemy was a disciple of the same master, or that he was Balor, Vera's brother.
It wasn't that he didn't trust the two. Just that carelessly revealing some things could get them involved in lots of trouble. Additionally, given the sensitive nature of Balor's identity, he decided it was best Vera didn't know about it for now.
"Boss, this enemy is incredibly dangerous. In the future, you should..."
Leguna had wanted to say something, but he couldn't. It didn't stop Kurdak from guessing what he was trying to say. He gave back of his head a smack.
"Stinking brat, what are you thinking?! I worked so hard to haul you back from Silvermoon Forest and brought you along as a fellow mercenary. Yet, now you have Moonshadow, you're going to leave us behind?! Forget it! There's no way you'll push us away so easily!"
"But Boss, that guy is really fearsome. You weren't there to see him strike. He..."
Before Leguna could finish, Kurdak waved to stop him.
"Alright, Ley. You don't have to say anything. Like you said, that enemy is incredibly fearsome. But you're not even that strong yet. Do you think we could hide and leave you alone to face him? Do you think your boss is this kind of person?"
Leguna opened his mouth but nothing came out. He was well aware of Kurdak's personality and knew this wasn't a matter he could leave alone. Given that his two companions were already so close, even if the two distanced themselves from him, he didn't think Vera's younger brother would let them off. That was why even he wasn't that convinced in his attempt to persuade them.
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