37. Decision
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Chapter 20 10...

Ah! Excuse me, 30...

Wanted to post the chapter an hour or two earlier. Editing sucks...

Self-editing sucks-er(just a short version of 'sucks more')...

The sound of hoofbeats approached Bloom. Her nerves strained taut, the instinct to run almost becoming too much to bear. She breathed out to release the tension from her muscles. Wasn’t easy, just like forcing her feet to stop wasn’t either.


Here we go!


All signs of unnecessary emotions vanished from her face. Slow and deliberate, she turned around while studying her surroundings, and waited for Eric and the two riders behind him.


“What’s the meaning of this?” she asked cooly as they arrived.


“You are an Immortal?” Eric asked back, his voice cold as stone.


“Yes, I am.”


“Then why did you lie to me?”


“Lie?” Bloom frowned. “When? I don’t remember ever saying I’m not one.”


Eric’s cheeks flushed. “But you said you came from the west.”


“I’m from Caramis and the last I checked,” Bloom crossed her arms before her, staring the man down, “it was to the west of here.”


The obese guard opened his mouth, but under Bloom’s fixed stare, he shut it again.


“Is that what all this is about?” Bloom raised her eyebrows, her voice tinged with annoyance. “I can’t believe it! Don’t tell me you’re keeping me here just cause of that? What, this whole... ‘Immortal’ thing is a crime now?”


“Well, no, but you—”


“But what! I don’t know how you found it out, but if this is the result...” The girl scowled, her face drawing closer to the guard’s. “Guess why I’m not screaming ‘I’m Immortal!’ everywhere I go? You can’t?”


“That- that’s not it!” Eric took a deep breath. Such a tricky immortal.


Can’t get swept up in her pace!

He glared at her, jerking his thumb at the two riders. “These two from Caramis came looking for you all the way here, and you are saying you did nothing wrong?”


“Caramis? Looking for me?” Bloom turned her confused eyes to the riders. “Why? I don’t even remember spending much time there. Wasn’t really a pleasant place to be in.”


Geralt took his hood off as he urged the horse forward. “You should remember me.”


Bloom tilted her head. “Who are you?”


Geralt frowned. That attitude was... irritating. “I am—”


“Scratch that. I’m just messing with you.” Bloom waved her hand dismissively. “I do remember you. Cause I have an excellent memory.”


“You…” Geralt growled, grinding his teeth audibly.


[Geralt’s affinity decreased by -3]


The sound of laughter and loud clapping drew Bloom’s attention to the other rider. His black cloak gleamed in the firelight, likely made of silk. Much fancier stuff than what his companion wore, telling of who was in charge between them. He lowered his hood and saluted. “Greetings, miss Blame. With such a phenomenal memory, no doubt you also remember me.”


‘Blame’? Bloom raised an eyebrow. What was that? Her name? She shook her head, stifling the incoming laughter.


All the better.


“I do remember seeing you, at the...” she tapped her chin for a moment before looking at the guy again, “mayor’s mansion, wasn’t it? But I don’t think we know each other?”


“Of course not! It was only a passing encounter. But let me introduce myself.” the brown-haired youth bowed his head, somehow making it look elegant even from horseback. “I am Argon Farner. The butler in service to the esteemed village chief of our respected village, Caramis, sir Vogan Brensen.”


“The village chief’s… butler,” Bloom mouthed, pushing two annoying locks of hair behind her ears. “So the butler of the village chief and the guard captain! Such major characters came chasing after me all the way to another village?” She frowned at him. “What the hell do you guys want?”

“Ah, no, no! It’s nothing serious!” Argon shook his hand hastily. “We didn’t mean to inconvenience you. We just wish to invite you back to the village for—”


“Like nope!” Bloom shook her head vehemently. Let’s try a bit of Rahul. “That place is so horrendous like I don’t even wanna say anything! You want me to go back? Does that like make any sense? I mean, you know, the people there are like so mean all the time...”


Words exploded out of her mouth like a truckload of firecrackers. Geralt’s face dropped more and more as the barrage continued nonstop. As for Argon, he frowned. The girl in front of him wasn’t at all like he imagined her to be. Was their guess wrong?


Could it be someone else who looks like her?


“Don’t even mention going back to that awful place. I won’t do it!”


Argon took his chance as she stopped. “I know you must have suffered some grievances in Caramis—”


“Ya think?”


“Miss Blame…” Sighing, Argon rubbed his face. Should he just let her go? She was probably not...


He shook his head.


Let’s err on the side of caution.


He presented Bloom with a soothing smile. “My lord Vogan is a strong advocate of befriending immortals. In fact, we have already built close ties with the other immortals staying in Caramis. He has recently received news of your arrival and intended to contact you. Though it seems,” He sighed, “we were too late. You have already suffered some grievances. That is why he extends his invitation to you for an official apology. We promise not to treat you unfairly anymore, so please give us another chance.”


He sent a glare towards Geralt and tilted his head. The guard captain’s eyebrows scrunched up in blatant displeasure, but he forced it down and bowed towards Bloom. “For my earlier behaviour...” his jaws hardened, eyelids twitching from extreme humiliation, “I’m sorry.”


Bloom sent a critical stare at the two of them, then shook her head. “Nope! Don’t wanna!”


Argon took a deep breath, making his voice even politer. “As I said, It’s the village chief’s request. He—”


“Like I don’t want to! Leave me alone, man!”


Argon narrowed his eyes. Few Immortals would turn down a chance to reconcile like this. Not unless they had a reason not to.


Well, let’s try that, shall we?


“My lord, the village chief, wishes to see you,” he said after a moment of silence, with a slight smile on his thin, pale lips. “So I insist you come with us.”


“And like I—”


[Quest Alert!


An Invitation


Quest difficulty: F


Quest limit: Requires an immediate response


Travel back to Caramis with Argon and Geralt and meet with the village chief of Caramis, Vogan.


Quest objectives.

  1. Travel back to Caramis.
  1. Meet with the village chief of Caramis, Vogan.


Quest Rewards.






Quest failure.




Do you wish to accept this quest? YES/NO.]


Bloom rubbed her chin, looking from the quest window to Argon. Especially at the mischievous smile hanging around the butler’s lips. Maybe...


The jig is up, huh?


She squinted, taking a slow and deliberate look at the darkening villagescape. Still a lot brighter than her personal world. In the end, her eyes ended up on the smirking face of the butler. Her lips curved slightly. “Well, since you’re asking like that, it might not be bad to pay a visit, I guess.”


Argon raised his brows, surprised by her answer before relaxing visibly. And so did Geralt. “Then...”


Bloom lowered her body. With liquid grace, she glided forward, swiftly slipping through the legs of Geralt’s horse, and dashed for the village interior. For a second, the unprepared riders and the village guard simply gawked at her running back.


“Burning balls!” Geralt exploded first, working on the reins to turn his horse around, but Bloom had already disappeared in the shadows of the darkening village.


Argon blinked, staring at the back of his fellow rider. “She played us good.”


Although it wasn’t for certain, her running still pretty much confirmed it.


She should be the one.


But why would she run inside the village? “Are there any other gates along the walls?” he asked, keeping pace with Eric, who’d joined the chase with the other guards.


“Not... many,” the guard said, huffing and puffing as he pushed his obese body to a half jog. This turn of events had given him a good scare. “Other than... the main gate... all others get locked... as soon as the sun sets.”


Argon nodded. Glancing at the walls surrounding the village, his eyes narrowed. He turned his head to look at the gate. Only one measly guard stood there. “Tell your men to open—”


“Found her!” one of the chasing village guards shouted, pointing at a running figure that darted out from the shadow of a house just in front of them.


“Tch!” Argon led his horse forward. Geralt was close to the bridge, and won’t be able to come back immediately.


“Miss Blame!” he shouted. “There’s no way out! Stop your struggles and come back here!”


Bloom turned her face and looked at him. “Sure,” she said, changing her course and rushing towards them.


Eric and the guards halted their steps, forcing Argon to stop too. “What is she—”


Suddenly, Bloom pivoted on her right foot, zig-zagging by a few meters away from them, and made a dash for another direction.


“Bloody—” Argon clamped his teeth shut, intending to spur his horse on, but the stopped village guards stood in his way.


Bloom cast a fleeting glance at him. She was lucky. Before the guy could circumvent the guards, she should...


It didn’t take more than a second for her pursuers to sort themselves out and begin chasing her. Bloom clenched her teeth, turning around to focus on her goal. Just like when the deer herd had chased her, the sound of rapid footsteps and horse hooves drew nearer; though they were a lot slower than the herd. In front of her, the village wall also zoomed forward.


Slightly over twenty feet high, it should be low enough, but could she make it?


Just like the tree!


A fraction of a second away from crashing into it, Bloom leapt, putting her foot against the wall, and pushed herself up. The roughly hewn wood gave her boots enough grip. Step by step, higher and higher, she ran up the wall. The further she reached, the more the chains of gravity tightened their hold on her body. Suddenly a blinding light flared behind her, turning the entire wall blue, except for where her ascending body cast a shadow. Her racing heart instantly escalated.


Don’t slip! Don’t slip!


The pull of gravity became too much on her body. The top edge of the wall was only a meter away, but her feet already began losing their hold.




[Would you use your elemental affinity of fire to raise your strength? YES/NO]


Hell Yes!


[Elemental Affinity: Fire, activated. Strength doubled for 10 seconds]


The warm flow of raw strength once again filled her body. She didn’t wait, pushing it all to the tip of her toes. The wood under them cracked and splintered, exploding as she broke through the shackles of gravity and launched herself upward. As her body somersaulted in the air, she glimpsed the source of the blue light. A swirling ball of blue liquid-like fire in front of Argon.


[That one… avoid it at all costs!]


Bloom didn’t need the message to remind her. She felt the threat with every raised hair on her skin. Just as her feet landed on the wooden ramparts, a flash of blistering heat flared behind her. A brief glimpse, and a blinding blue beam of fire nearly scared her heart out of her mouth. She sprang forward, past the shallow fence and into the pitch-black darkness beyond the walls. The beam screamed through where her head was moments before. The dark sky darkened further as a straight line of vivid turquoise cut through it.


Then it exploded.


A new, bright blue sun seared a mark in the vision of the falling girl. It overshadowed everything, turning the dark night into a blue day, submerging her senses with volcanic heat and a peal of dozens of thunder.


Argon’s narrow eyes thinned into slits as the darkness returned once more. He lowered his sceptre, turning to Eric and Geralt, who’d just caught up. “Open the gates,” he said calmly.


“Chase her down.”

Geralt slammed the door open and marched inside. The flickering candle flame cast shadows on his face like seething storm clouds.


“So you lost her,” Argon stated apathetically.


Geralt frowned. “You don’t sound too worried.”


Argon put the cup of tea down on the table and stood up. “Well, at least it confirms one thing,” he said, smiling at the other man. “She has... issues.”


“Was that not obvious?”


“It wasn’t. Not until she started running.”


Geralt fell silent, staring at the floor for a while. “So what do we do now?”


“Return to Vogan.” Argon shrugged. “There’s no point in wasting time on her. We still have to prepare for the next plan.”


Geralt frowned. “But if she returns…”


“I don’t think she would, or she wouldn’t have run,” Argon said as he walked towards the door.


But I hope she does…


A hint of a smile curved his lips. Though their interaction was brief...


She’s more fun than the other two.

Bloom sat on the grassy floor of a clearing in the forest with three small books spread in front of her. She’d had a brief talk about these with Thoringar before she left her this morning.


The first skill book, [Flash Sword]. It was Greyvern’s self-made technique. And also the one she was free to learn. A [Special] grade skill. Enough to give her an edge against enemies at her own level or maybe even a level above. But her opponents weren’t just one or two levels above her. And to bridge the gap of five or more levels...


Her eyes went to the other two books. The odd, cryptic letters on their cover shimmered pale silver in the glow of starlight. They were the skills Greyvern and Ragnar had used during that duel, [Split Moon] and [Rend Earth]. And sufficed to say, they’d left an impression on her. They could help her bridge that gap for sure.


But these skills...


[Skill: Split Moon


Grade: Legendary(Offensive)


One of the four forms of [Therusen Imperial Swordsmanship].

Warning: Automatically activates the quest [Gathering of Four Swords].


Requirement: Must accept the quest [Gathering of Four Swords].

Do you wish to learn this skill? YES/NO]


[Skill: Rend Earth


Grade: Legendary(Offensive)


One of the four forms of [Therusen Imperial Swordsmanship].

Warning: Automatically activates the quest [Gathering of Four Swords].


Requirement: Must accept the quest [Gathering of Four Swords].

Do you wish to learn this skill? YES/NO]


Another quest. Maybe related to that chain quest thing she’d come across during witnessing the duel.


“Choosing to learn them is a grave responsibility, the responsibility to search out and unify the four imperial skills, the responsibility to revive our fallen empire.”


Yeah. She remembered the old man’s words, loud and clear. Thoringar had also said something similar. Bloom sighed.


Responsibility, huh...


Couldn’t say she cared much for that. Her plate was already pretty full with so much else. Moreover, Thoringar had also warned her about the demerits of these skills. Especially how infamous they and their wielders were throughout the continent.


They were wanted. With huge bounties on their heads. And if she learned these skills, chances were, she might also end up with one.


Also, she... wasn’t really a sword person, though admittedly those two skills were one of the coolest things she’d seen in her life.


Cool and powerful. Fit for an emperor. Fit for Marcus, who should’ve been the one to learn them, if not for her arrival.


A sense of bitterness filled her heart. She leaned on the grass. The cacophony of the nightly forest played like background music as she silently watched the star-studded skies. Even now, their brilliance never ceased to amaze her.


She hated the circumstances that landed her in this hot mess. It made her bitter, sad, and... angry! But since they were already here, the least she could do was solve whatever began all of this. Solve Vogan.


And for that, she needed strength.


She sat up once again, eyes cold and jaws set, and looked at the three books. She had no time to take it slow. Whatever came afterwards, she’d just have to handle them as they come.


Once again, she looked at the window floating in front of her and made her choice.



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Now I'm off to Ruins...


See ya!!!