Passage Chapter 14

On Our Way

Several days passed, and Richard’s health was improving more by the day. In fact, he had been able to get out of bed and walk around a time or two. Relieved by this progress, everyone was in better spirits, but there was still the matter of the retreated assassins to deal with. Fortunately, many of the people’s fears would soon be put to rest...

“Your Majesty!” shouted a royal guard, barging into the audience chamber.

Lymsleia stood up from the throne. “Yes?”

“The detective agency is back, and ready to make their full report!”

There were murmurs among those present in the room. Lymsleia looked at Luserina, and then at her knights, who were all nodding back at her.

The queen’s eyes then returned to the guard. “Thank you. Please send them in.”

“Right away, Your Majesty!”

“This is good news, Your Majesty,” Galleon was saying as the guard left. “If they’ve discovered the hideout of these cretins, we can take action immediately!”

“Great!” Kyle exclaimed. “I’m getting tired of all this waiting.”

“Then wait no more!” called out a woman’s voice.

Everyone looked as Fuyo, Shigure, and Sagiri entered the room.

“Welcome back,” Lymsleia greeted them. “I understand you have something to report?”

“Indeed!” the small woman answered, a hint of pride in her voice. “We’ve pinpointed the exact location of the ones behind this plot. It is near Lunas, as we’ve suspected.”

“But where?” Lymsleia asked. “The clerics are constantly monitoring Lunas and the area around it, and I’m sure Isato often checks the elven road.”

“Well, the terrain around Lunas is hilly, and there are several caverns, such as the one leading to the Arshtwal Mountains. The plotters took advantage of this knowledge and set up a small, crude base of operations to the west of Lunas, not easily in sight.”

Shigure then interjected. “Yeah, about that, Your were right about them being ex-clerics. That’s probably why they knew about these caverns.”

“But...wouldn’t the present clerics know as much about the area as the former clerics?” Miakis asked, confused by the report. “Why would they stay so close? That...doesn’t sound like a smart move to me.”

“Maybe their obsession with putting Haswar on the throne is blinding them to all the flaws in their plans,” Kyle suggested. “Or maybe we’re so used to the intricacies of Gizel’s schemes and expected more than what they’re actually capable of. Or, hell...” The knight scoffed. “Maybe they’re just not that bright to begin with.”

“Whatever the reason is,” Fuyo continued, her pleased smile spreading, “we’ve found them. Raven is scouting the place as we speak, keeping tabs on their movements.”

“So you know what they’re planning next?” Lymsleia asked eagerly.

“...Not exactly. They haven’t moved or shown signs of moving. There are about twelve clerics and five assassins, but nothing has happened since they returned. It seems the remnants of the Nether Gate even grow weary of the inactivity. At the risk of making assumptions, I think anything could happen at this point. They could withdraw, or they could make one last desperate move.”

The queen let out a sigh. She felt frustration and disappointment, neither of which was directed toward the three before her. “That’s...what I was afraid of. Well, thank you for your hard work. I need some time to discuss a plan of action with everyone, so could you stay in Sol-Falena for at least a few more hours?”

“Of course, Your Majesty.”

“Sounds like a plan!” Shigure said, stretching his arms. He turned to leave the room. “I could use a good nap, anyway.”

“Ohhh no, you don’t,” Fuyo declared, grabbing him by the sleeve. “The queen might need our input, and I’m not going to have you stand around half-asleep.”

Sagiri, who had been silent the entire time, smiled at the sight of Shigure protesting and pathetically fighting off the small woman. This time, however, it was definitely a smile of amusement.

Just then, the doors opened up again, and Wilhelm and Mueller appeared.

“Hey,” Wilhelm greeted everyone, stopping as he saw the detectives. “Oh. Are we interrupting something?”

“Not at all,” Lymsleia told him, gesturing for the Lindwurms to enter. “Please, come in. Fuyo and the others were just telling us they’ve located the assassins and former Lunas clerics.”

Mueller was intrigued by the news. “Really?”

* * * * *

Richard sat up in bed, legs crossed, looking lost in thought. He held his rapier in one hand, gliding the thumb of his other hand across the clean blade. He would occasionally turn the weapon over, a half, wistful smile playing on his lips.

“Hey, kid.”

Breaking out of his thoughts, Richard turned his head to the door as Wilhelm and Mueller walked into the infirmary. “Oh, there you are!” He then noticed the serious looks on their face. “ something the matter?”

“Looks like our contract’s coming to an end,” Wilhelm told him. “But we’ve decided to go out with a bang.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oboro’s detective agency has fully investigated the situation,” Mueller explained. “All that’s left to do is to subdue the threat and bring the conspirators to justice. And...”

That’s when Richard realized Mueller wasn’t looking at him directly. “What? What is it?”

Wilhelm looked at his first officer in understanding. “We’ve, uh, decided to take the job,” he said, turning back to the teenager. “We’ll be exploring the hills to the west of Lunas, and the detective kids are going to assist us.”

The smile returned to Richard’s face. “That’s great! When do we leave?”

We aren’t leaving,” Mueller clarified, though saying so seemed a difficult task for him. “Wilhelm and I will be taking all the mercenaries who weren’t wounded in battle, and head toward Lunas at tomorrow’s sunrise.”

This left the teenage boy silent for a moment as it sank in. “But...well...I can come too, right?” he pressed, unaccustomed to this situation. “My injuries are almost completely healed, and I’m walking everyday. I’m sure all I need is another day of rest, so I can--”

“No, Richard,” Wilhelm said, shaking his head. “This time, it’s just me and Mueller. Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to have the assistance of the Blademaster. But the truth is, you still need rest.”

“Well...what about you?” Richard asked. “You were wounded, but you’re still going.”

“First of all, this is just a flesh wound...that’s pretty much healed anyway. You can’t compare it to everything you experienced. Second, I’m the commander of the unit. Of course I’m going! Besides that, between our forces and the detectives’ guidance, we can handle five assassins. I’m sure we can.”

“But...but...that doesn’t mean I can’t come along, does it? I promise I won’t get in the way! Really! You won’t even know I’m there! Just as long as I can be near Mueller, I won’t--”

“What is the matter with you, boy?” Mueller suddenly erupted. “You can’t follow me forever. And have you forgotten your duty? Your place is here, beside the queen. Don’t you remember? You took an oath, and that oath still holds until the threat subsides.”

Red-faced by the reprimanding, Richard lowered his head shamefully. “Oh...I...I guess I did.”

“Yes, you did. And when we come back, I’d better not hear about you slacking off! You’re Commander of the Queen’s Knights, so act like it!”

Instead of his normal reply dripping with enthusiasm, the teenager simply turned to Mueller with a half-hearted smile. “Yes, of course. I promise I won’t let you down, Mueller.”

This reaction, along with an inexplicable guilt Mueller already felt, would haunt the man for the rest of the evening.

Chapter 15

All That Glitters Is Cold 3 Fanfic Competition

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