Vol. 5 – Chapter 56
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Hi guys! Emperor93 here!
Before I leave you to the chapter of Guardian Chef, I take this opportunity to give you a rather important communication.
As you may have noticed, it’s been two months since the last chapter of The Guardian Chef. I ask forgiveness for this but also your understanding: between work and private life, I had little time to dedicate to Guardian Chef, but that does not mean that I abandoned it. On the contrary, it is still on track, only that the time of writing and publishing has decreased dramatically because of my private life.
Now I have a few more hours to write but this, unfortunately, does not guarantee the same frequency of publication of the beginnings.

I also take the opportunity to inform you, for those who have not yet noticed, that in chapters 14 and 35 there are new illustrations, and I also corrected all the other chapters from a grammatical point of view using the help of the Grammarly system. The same is also for this one but if you find and want to point out mistakes or similar please do not hesitate.

Now without further ado, enjoy!

— • — • — • — • — • —

***(Bassilla's POV)***

"I enjoyed it~" I said as I walked back to the hotel

"Ugh... at least you enjoyed it."

"Why? Isn't that the same for you, Ishgat?"

"...... When you are the one carrying all this stuff, let's see if you have the courage to make that statement again."

...Maybe I exaggerated a little bit. Turning to Ishgat, I noticed that she had at least three bags on each arm and was holding a stack of four packages that hid her face. Added because of her short stature, some might think that she was about to be crushed by the weight of the various packages.

"I'm sorry."

"I accept it if you take at least a couple of bags." she said handing me two of them while with the other hand she held the packages "And let's try to find another way to distract you."

I make a wry smile when she said it. After all, I haven't heard from Graeval yet and I'm very worried. I know I shouldn't know how powerful he is, but my heart squeezes at the thought that he's been hurt or worse.

I used the lesson of this morning and the shopping I did this afternoon, to divert my thoughts from the source of my concern, but with little effect. During the morning, Arryn gave me a few pats while this afternoon Ishgat called me repeatedly when I was lost in thought.

Speaking of Arryn... I'd like to know how her date went~?

"*Sigh!**Sob!*"

When I opened the door to our room, the first thing I heard was a girl sobbing and crying. I recognized her immediately... and I immediately wanted to punch myself for the thought I did just a few moments ago.

Setting my bags down and, followed by Ishgat, I moved into the next room and saw Arryn sitting on her bed as she hugged her pillow, her face sinking into it.

"Arryn!" I called her worried and taking me to her side "What happened?!"

She looked up at me. Her blue eyes were red and her face was streaked with tears that continued to roll down her cheeks.

"*Sniff* Bassilla... *Sob* It didn't happen-"

Although she tried to do a strong person, she didn't stop crying and instinctively I hugged her.

"There is no way that nothing has happened if you say it with such an expression." I said tightening my grip even more "Don't keep it all inside."

As soon as I finished that statement, Arryn cried like a baby. She cried on my shoulder and I let her do so, while Ishgat went into the other room to get some handkerchiefs.

She cried for a few minutes before calming down and telling me what had happened. When she finished telling me, three words came from my lips.

"THAT INSENSITIVE BASTARD!!!" I exclaimed aloud

“Lower your voice young girl. They could hear you!" Ishgat called me back.

“Let them! After what that infamous did to Arryn is the least!!" I jumped to my feet. "I'm going to talk with him face to face!!!"

"Calm down." Ishgat stated forcing me to sit down again. “Doing so could cause problems both for you and for the relations between nations. Have you forgotten what they taught you?"

"Tch!" I clicked my tongue

Unfortunately, she is right. Although as a girl I cannot accept such behavior, as a princess of Thirus I cannot afford to be controlled by my feelings and go and scold the prince of an allied nation for such a thing. Not only could it have negative effects on the relationship that has formed between the two kingdoms, but it could also undermine the good name of the prince by starting rumors. If I have to scold him, I have to do it in a private place, but it's not that easy since we are outside the academy, and inviting a boy to my room could trigger unpleasant gossips.

“Ishgat is right *sniff*. Unpleasant inconveniences could arise." Arryn stated. "But I'm grateful to you, for being angry for me."

"...I'm sorry." I said apologetic "If I had let you refuse his proposal, now-"

“Now maybe I wouldn't cry. But at the same time... I wouldn't have been able to clarify what I feel."

She turned to me with a beautiful smile "I'm grateful."

Arryn... you are a strong girl. I thought admiring her strength of spirit.

***(Arryn's POV)***

It is said that you should never judge a book by its cover. The Lifeless Vault is one of those buildings that fit this expression perfectly. If viewed only from the outside, it would appear to have a simple and rather crude architecture, given its stepped pyramid shape, but when you enter the tomb, the impression you get is completely different. Upon entering, the entrance hall is composed of rounded and graceful architecture, with high and incredibly refined round columns due to the numerous high-reliefs where in particular dominate the rose of Aphy. The frescoed walls are illuminated by magical torches that allow you to admire the various scenes represented, in particular, what appears to be the burial rite held for the guest of this tomb.

"Although magnificent, in some places the frescoes are still affected by the disfigurement caused by the previous occupants of the tomb" explained the guide "But despite this, it is still possible to obtain a lot of information in the non-vandalized points."

The guide hired by the academy is a native of this town and appears to have explored the tomb right from the youth, also participating in various expeditions. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he knows the tomb like the back of his hand. Of all the Lifeless Vault experts, he is considered the highest authority.

The whole class, or at least most of it, listened attentively to what he said and occasionally asked questions, while others looked around or chatted in a whisper, with someone who ended up getting caught by the teachers and taken to a secluded place to get a lecture.

Although I listened diligently, I always felt a gaze upon me. The only time I turned to see if it was real or if I was imagining it, I noticed that it was none other than his Highness.

He looked at me with sad, apologetic eyes. I looked away immediately.

"He Doesn't take his eyes from you." Ishgat said, scratching the back of her neck.

I just sighed.

I didn't know what to say, but it was something that would eventually happen, given how yesterday's appointment evolved. The atmosphere between us has become very strange... we greet each other normally, but it ends there. Neither he nor I have said a word and we are keeping our distance.

While I stayed with Bassilla and Ishgat, out of the corner of my eye I could see how Dessielle was close to him, trying to encourage him as she worried about him.

Soon, we arrived at the third floor of the tomb which is the most recently discovered and explored.

Compared to the first floor whose frescoes mainly represent and document the burial rites, the second floor represents what appear to be scenes from the daily life of the deceased as many children are represented.

“The third floor is the most recently discovered and explored. There are others, but they are not safe and we are waiting for the explorers to free the next floors from traps or find possible structural weaknesses so that they can later be repaired. However, we are very optimistic about it."

"Thank you so much for your guidance Mr. Kelvhan." one of the professors thanked him and then turned to us.

"Now we will form groups and each of these will have to choose one of the frescoes on this floor and write a report in which you will expose what it can represent and extract as much information as possible about the characters represented there, such as social class, role, etc."

When he gave that assignment, most of the students complained slightly, but the complaints went unheeded.

"The groups were decided using a random draw, so if you have anything to complain about, complain about your luck."

I felt like smiling when he made that statement. If I complained every time my luck turned its back on me...

In the end, my group consisted of Bassilla, Ishgat, two other girls and... Dessielle. I didn't expect it. Anyway, after a short presentation between us, we walked around the room to choose the fresco on which we will make the report.

Huh? Ah, I haven't told you about it yet. The third floor of the tomb in which we find ourselves is wider than the previous ones and there are also many sculptures in addition to the frescoes, which are framed with various high-reliefs with a festoon above each of them. The frescoes mainly represent scenes in which some young people seem to be our age.

After touring, we finally opted for a fresco that appears to represent a declaration or a vote between a boy and a girl, while they are surrounded by various people.

"Who knows why this halo always recurs above the girl's head."

"Now that you point this out, it's curious."

"Does it have any religious significance?"

Ever since we chose it, we have begun to analyze it by making as many assumptions and theories as possible. Since these frescoes tell a story, it is told through symbologies so that the illiterate can understand them... at least, speaking of the people of at least a millennium ago. Although my race is long-lived, 9 centuries is too long for us too.

"Lady Lianelis." Dessielle called me "Can I speak to you privately?"

This is new..."Sure"

Upon my positive affirmation, we moved to a nearby corner of the room, where prying ears could not hear us. Dessielle's expression was... concerned "What did you want to talk to me about?"

"Did something happen between you and Ehrendil?"

The question left me baffled. Not so much because I was expecting this question... in fact, in a way I expected that such a question would be asked to me by the people around me, but I would never have believed that she would be the first to do so.

"Why are you asking?"

“Well…” she began scratching her cheek, “since this morning- since last night, Ehrendil looks downcast… sad. Until recently he was much more cheerful."

"*Sigh*" I sighed "Did you ask his Highness before me?"

“Honestly, yes. But he said nothing had happened..." she said, taking her cheek, accentuating her concern "but his eyes say the opposite."

“I understand… I am grateful to you for caring for him however, it is not your job to meddle in the private life of others. If you want to know what happened, I certainly won't be the one to tell you, Lady Torkian."

Dessielle's worried expression changed to surprise and confusion. She should have expected such an answer from me, but she believed I would tell her everything... Her naivety never ceases to amaze. The exchange was short. Even if she wanted to add something else, for me the discussion was over.

Back to our group, we resumed the task entrusted to us by the professors but suddenly, the room began to shake. At first, imperceptibly, the room began to vibrate more and more

"An earthquake?!"

"TO ALL STUDENTS!!!" called one of the teachers "PROCEED IMMEDIATELY TO THE EXIT."

That earthquake became stronger and stronger and we could feel it especially when we started to head towards the exit as indicated when suddenly we began to hear sounds where the walls seemed to be giving up.

*CRICK**CRACK*

"Uh?!"

I felt the floor beneath my feet disappear. What seemed like seconds became a life. As I fell, I saw the surprised expressions of my group and when it looked like I was going to fall for good, my hand was grabbed firmly.

"Bassilla?!" I called her noticing that it was her hand that had grabbed me "Lady Lianelis!" called Dessielle "Grab my hand!"

"Fool! It is too dangerous-!!!" Ishgat said as she hurriedly approached the two. Suddenly, the fall that had stopped a moment ago resumed and I noticed that in addition to me, Bassilla and Dessielle were also falling with me.

"DAMN!" cursed Ishgat.

Ishgat rushed towards us and when she caught up with us, she spread her robust wings to slow the fall and began flapping them to try to regain altitude.

“ISHGAT! WATCH OUT!!"

When Bassilla shouted that warning, I noticed that large boulders were falling on us.

Despite the surprise, Ishgat used his wings and all his skill to dodge the stones, succeeding, but giving up the idea of ​​regaining altitude.

Although slowly, we fell into darkness, while the little light of the torches above us faded more and more, covered by the rubble that began to close the chasm that had created under our feet.

*****

"*Huff* *Huff*" Ishgat breathed "Next time, I will refrain from entering any ruins." she asserted confidently

"Are you feeling well Ishgat?" Bassilla asked

"I was better 5 minutes ago." she sarcastically stated "I thought this tomb was safe."

"Apparently not." I stated looking behind me.

A mountain of rock, boulders, and bricks blocked our 'entry' to this place. That sudden earthquake and collapse scared me, but what frightened and reassured me at the same time was when I saw Bassilla grab my hand just before I began to free-fall through the chasm created on the floor.

"I know you had the best intentions, but please avoid other reckless actions like the one before." Ishgat stated

"Are you telling me I had to abandon Arryn?!"

“Realize that, as your bodyguard, my priority is you in dangerous situations like those of a moment ago. If anything happened to you, I would risk much more than a simple lecture."

"Ugh!"

"Now, we don't know how far we've come and the light isn't exactly abundant." she started taking stock of the situation as she watched us "First, let's get something that can act as a torch, and then let's think about getting back to the surface."

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