Without Catching Up
Red and Master exchanged looks with each other after that announcement. Both of them looking surprised and worried. As for myself was feeling confused but their looks seemed to say that things aren’t going in ways they had expected.
“Didn’t you say we would have a week?”
“Aye. I was right there as he said it. Unless that man is really fickle to just ignore his advisors all of a sudden.”
The rest of us waiting for Master’s explanation looked at the two expectantly and waiting. He turned to the rest of us and gave a shake of his head. Muttering something under his breath as he began to pace back and forth across the table, his claws tapping across the rough wood.
“I went to go see the trouble yesterday and I listened in to some conversation about the invasion. They said they didn’t have good reason to invade yet and were going to give it another week to cause trouble and see if they could ignite the war from this side.”
“Do you think they are working with Captain Hook?”
I asked quietly, trying to see if anything pieced together. Master gave a tilt of his head and then a shrug of his wings.
“Anything is possible. It’s highly improbable, but putting the kingdom in such disarray would certainly be a good modus operandi for both of them. It’s possible Hook’s intention was to create this amount of chaos so the invasion would go more smoothly.”
We all sat quietly for a few moments trying to process this thought. Vi and I exchanged a quick glance with each other. We both knew exactly what the other was thinking about. She gave a shake of her head. We shouldn’t tell them everything. I didn’t even understand all of it myself entirely. But still, I figured I should say something.
“This Baron… He’s gigantic and he’s stronger than anything else we’ve seen. He just seems to be able to shrug off magic that can kill normal people. Can cut down multiple people with just a swing of his sword. He’s like a nightmare to face against if you don’t have enough power to fight him.”
Vi glanced at me with eyes of warning, I had a feeling of what was coming and already had a good enough answer, as much as it pained me to lie to the main reasons I was able to do what I had so far. Master gave me a sideways glance, walking up along the table to stare at me suspiciously.
“And where have ye heard all of this Blue?”
“I… I might remember his story from somewhere. But I cannot remember the title. Just that he was, I think, supposed to be the main character and he’s pretty ruthless.”
Master gave a nod of his head and seemed satisfied with that answer. Turning back to the others as he marched back to the center of the table.
“What pieces of the Territory Lord’s personal armies reside in this area will likely be banding together to face off against Baron Ran, They might only be trying to stall his encroachment long enough for the main army to arrive. I think we should go see for ourselves what this man is truly capable of.”
Another glance was exchanged between me and Violet. This wasn’t going to end well trying to face the Baron. But I wasn’t ready to give up just yet, things were going wrong but it hadn’t reached a level I thought things had become irrecoverable.
“You don’t expect us to fight him do you, Master?”
He turned back around to look at me, his bird expression rather unreadable as he paced back over as if trying to gauge something about me. Walking in a half circe from one side of me to the other while pacing the table.
“I expect ye not to make it a last stand effort. But, I want to see the three of ye give it a try. And as soon as it looks bad, turn ‘round and run. We have more than one chance at this, and trying to throw everything away on the first attempt is pointless and stupid. If ye can’t handle him we can attempt other methods.”
“Why not use Elysium to come back when we are stronger, Clarion-sama?”
“It’s something that is possible, but it’s also dangerous if there is a possibility of another story happening in this same timeframe we could end up losing this story while working on that one. Because we can’t exist in the same timeline we are already inside. And..”
He hesitated a second looking between me and Violet before shaking his head. And turning to look at Dark Queen Allouise. She had still been sitting there with a near blank look on her face, possibly partly out of boredom as well as mourning since we had mostly been ignoring her and speaking in Japanese.
“Do ye have the power to make soul vessels visible?”
She seemed startled for a moment as she had finally been addressed as a member of our quiet little party, A nervous glance around seemed to be more out of worry about the other patrons more than a talking bird speaking her language.
“Y-yes… It’s not a power I like to reveal about myself. Too many here believe it is close to necromantic arts.”
Master nodded his head slightly and shuffled over landing on Red’s shoulder using his wing to gesture at Violet and myself.
“If ye would be so kind as to use it on those two. I need confirmation of something.”
Violet stiffened visibly, giving me a glance that showed a great deal of worry. I felt some sense of foreboding myself, but I had no knowledge of why. Allouise gave Master a suspicious look and folded her arms over her chest.
“And why would I use such magics on Maitre and the Purple Witch?”
There was a glance from everyone else at the table, Red with eyebrows raised slightly, Master with a tilt of his head, and Violet with half jealousy and half confusion on her face. I could certainly feel myself being caught in the middle of something I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in the middle of or not.
“I want to see if their vessels have been damaged, and how much damage has been accrued. It could mean the difference between life and death depending on how bad things look.”
Allouise joined the looks toward me, one of worry and concern before steeling herself to turn back to Master with her face set in firm denial to his request.
“I’d only use such magic with consent. And it’s dangerous for me to use it in such an open area. Maitre, who are these people? Aren’t they heroes of the kingdom?”
“They are my friends and collaborators. Mast- Clarion-san, has knowledge of things beyond this world that I have trouble understanding. Red and Violet help me with making sure things go the way things should happen, however they need to happen.”
“Ah, so servants and a familiar. Maitre is quite amazing to have such strong people under his power.”
I ignored the glares everyone else was giving me. I can’t help what things she picked up on, I guess future me likely was alone then. Something good to note about later.
“Ye could say that….” Master said slowly, out of the three he seemed the least offended, with Red behind him. In fact, really the most uncomfortable looks were coming from Violet, though she didn’t seem angry her expression had cooled considerably as the shadow over her face grew darker. Why do I feel like something is crawling on my back?
“And what concern of a familiar is Maitre’s soul?”
“That if it too badly damaged it could fracture or break completely. Even you should know what that means.”
“But, such a level of magic goes beyond even Dark Arts I would ever touch… Not even Katharina and she delved deeper than I ever did.”
“There is magic that isn’t dark that still has similar costs. And ‘Maitre’ might have unknowingly been using them. Would ye risk that?”
She paused at that question, looking at me and Violet, my face was full of confusion and Violet’s unreadable as her face set like stone now outside of her eyes looking at me with mixed emotions. Allouise sighed and gave a quick apologetic glance to me
“Get us privacy and then I will give an attempt if Maitre assents to having this done. I wouldn’t wish to see his vessel shatter if he doesn’t know what he is doing,”
Violet shot me a look that said I should refuse, trying to be inconspicuous about it but Red was catching our silent conversation even if he didn’t understand it all he seemed pretty good at reading things.
“Whatever you two have been doing, or done. We need to know or we can’t help anyone. Are you going to trust us, Violet-san? We’re here with you now, and anything that went on before, we need to have an idea so we can help.”
Violet sighed quietly, getting up from her chair and moving closer to me. Placing her hand semi-possessively on my shoulder with a light grip. She gave a half glance over to Allouise as if declaring something. For her part, the Dark Queen seemed to be playing innocently oblivious to things, I say playing because she moved her hands along her arms and gave a slight wince.
“Ooph.. still so sore… Maitre, you were too rough with me last night.”
There was still slight spots of red on her arms where I had gripped her in my unconscious state last night. But the effect seems to be what she wanted as Violet’s fingers dug into my shoulder a bit harder. Master and Red giving me looks of surprise, but I wasn’t in a position to say anything as I winced in pain and felt Violet tugging on my shoulder.
“A word. Blue-san” I internally winced at the emphasis of her use of san with my name. This was probably going to be more painful for me than facing down that Baron wasn’t it? Allouise was giving an innocent smile and trying to play it off as simply being ignorant about things.
We excuse ourselves outside, moving away from the other three who mostly seemed glad to get out of the line of fire. Hell hath no fury like a woman. Is that the right phrase to use here? I gulped louder than I intended to as we moved outside and behind the inn. I was ready to confess everything right then and there, my mouth opening to speak when she suddenly pushed forward and pinned me to the wall, her lips pressing into mine hungrily.
I was taken aback by this sudden move, but I wasn’t going to deny it. Wrapping my arms around her and pulling her closer. My thoughts completely blank as I lost myself in this moment, not really sure if it was earned or not and feeling guilty about possibly taking advantage of this situation.
I’m not sure how long we stayed like that, lips pressed tightly together. Her mouth seemed unable to pull away from mine, her tongue tentatively seeking out to play with my own. Our arms merely stayed wrapped around each other. Just holding each other and enjoying the moment without the need for anything else.
When our lips parted, she looked at me with an expression of studying my face, her eyes gazing into mine. “I know what game she’s playing… I lost boyfriends in high school because of it. Even if I have to deal with all these damn hormones again, I want to know what you want.”
I smiled quietly looking at her. I really didn’t feel like I earned anything like this, that was a me that didn’t exist at the moment who won this with her. But at the same time. If I had fallen for her then there wasn’t a reason I wouldn’t want to now.
“I might not completely remember. But I don’t think I would intend to ever forget you. She’s a story, a character that will be in a book and never be anything more. We get to keep going and growing and move beyond that.”
She smiled and leaned in to kiss me again. “Good. After all that we’ve been through. I was worried you would go back to how you were in the early days.”