A band of mercenaries, over ten of them disappearing from the face of the city.
No matter how one looked at it, this didn’t seem like a simple coincidence.
Mat and his gang were a group of silver-ranks, and with the leader as an experienced gold, it didn’t make sense if they were to die together while undertaking some kind of monster subjugation mission either. Veterans tend to avoid places beyond their limits, and earn their keep taking quests that are at least one difficulty rating below their rank.
Of course, nothing was absolute or certain in this world. They might’ve really encountered something really strong, and were killed off.
But. It didn’t feel right.
It was a gut feeling that was based on his own instinct.
Like an itch that he could never scratch, crawling insidiously along his body since the series of mysterious incidents that kept occurring in Halvan. In his hands were bits and pieces of an elaborate puzzle, all in disarray yet at the center of everything, White knew he was involved.
He had came here looking for answers. A resolution, old-fashioned revenge.
But the information that he had obtained merely clogged his thoughts. More questions, more answers he needed to find. He needed those thugs to find a connection. And with them missing, he couldn’t find proof.
Proof? What kind of proof? Did he still long for a way to clear his own name? Did it matter anymore?
A sudden thought came to the young man. Why was he even staying in this city for as long as he did? Was it because he had conformed to the concept of being bound as a Stray? Or was it that small willfulness inside of him that wished to persevere in hopes to reunite with the adventurer who brought him here?
Was it worth the effort he needed to put in to mend his relationships in this place that had abandoned him first?
His reputation was long ruined, both as an adventurer and as a person. The few familiar faces he saw in the diner that day. He had remembered them clearly. Some of them he had helped out during his time as a handyman doing small quests for the city folks.
Yet they abandoned him.
White didn’t blame them, they didn’t have any real obligations to help him. And even if they did, they would probably get caught up in the same hell that he had gone through for the past week.
But humans were emotional creatures. White still felt bitter about everything. He too, wished for acceptance and help from others. He had put in the effort, but in the end, nothing mattered between strangers. There was never a tight bond. He could never understand what people truly thought inside. It wasn’t as if he could see their emotion levels as if they were slaves.
White slapped his cheeks tiredly. His thoughts were derailing by the second. Either way, he would decide everything after he finds Vincent and gives him a good beating. He wouldn’t hold back this time, and if he kills the man on accident, then so be it.
The receptionist Fiana had given him information on the Ambercott estate, and he was prepared to make a visit soon.
She had an expression that seemed reluctant for the young man to part, but did not manage to stop him from leaving after he had acquired the information he had paid for.
He left through a separate set of stairs, leading him to another exit on the surface.
White held up the map before him, and followed the directions towards… towards…
White felt lethargy assaulting him, his vision turning doubles.
“Hey! Watch where you’re going!”
A roadside prowler yelled at him as he had flopped to the side in an unsteady gait.
White didn’t reply to him, and instead hastened his pace, realizing that his body had been running on fumes. Mental fatigue could not be treated with just potions.
And on the contrary, the overuse of potions would lead to some costly side effects.
A painful migraine haunted his head, causing White to lean against a wall for support.
He glanced around him.
It felt familiar to him. A red Victorian-style building. Ah, of course.
—This was the library.
Up on the second floor, a familiar face seemed to be looking down at him.
When he blinked his eyes, the figure was gone.
It should be past closing hours.
Feeling intrigue alongside his compulsion to rest in a safe place, White pushed his body past the doors and entered.
The interior of the library was the same as before. However it gave off a different atmosphere than usual. The dead silence from the lack of people made echoes with every step he took.
White walked up quietly to the counter, and slid his fingers along it with a sombre look. The starlight cast onto the pile of books pushed him into a brief moment of reminiscence.
White turned to look towards the second floor.
There was a familiar scent of cocoa lingering in the air.
White ascended the stairs, towards one of the entrances on the floor. He looked under the rug, but the key to the room was no longer there. Instead the door seemed to be slightly hinged open, as if to show that it was unlocked, but just barely enough for him to notice it.
White paused for a second before he entered. Slowly and cautiously, he stepped into this quiet space where he’d always read undisturbed.
All of his items were just like how it was before. The coffee machine, the music player, the small stash of food… those had probably gone bad by now.
White looked outside of the window, where he was sure he had seen someone there. He noticed the bird nest that used to be parched outside the window. It was now an abandoned nest of sticks.
And once again, he smelled the pleasant aroma of coffee.
It came from the porcelain cup of coffee on the table, brewed recently it seemed.
As expected, was it really Lyndel who was near the window earlier?
White couldn’t sense her presence anywhere, however. Was she just afraid of showing up because she heard he was some kind of criminal?
White smiled bitterly to himself, realizing that he still cared enough about his acquaintances. Knowing Lyndel, she must very well feel that way. But she was still kind enough to receive him, the past owner of this small hideout with this small token.
...Not everyone in this city is bad.
The young man lifted up the cup and finished the coffee quickly. And with familiar movements, he went to brew a second cup. This time he remembered to put on gloves.
Leaving the new cup on the table, White rested his back on the couch and rubbed his nose bridge. Right, he remembered something else.
Since he was already here, he should retrieve it.
White leaned forward to a shelf nearby to look for his journal... but it was replaced with an ordinary book.
Someone had taken it?
...It should be fine. The journal was not written in the language of this world, so they’d probably not understand it.
Ending his thoughts there, White gradually felt his heavy eyelids giving way. The comfort in this space lulled him into a sense of security. He didn’t intend to sleep for too long, but just long enough for him to pull through the hours ahead. He wanted to complete his revenge before anyone involved in his set-up realized his disappearance.
The days of Moonhalo extended the night skies, so he could probably rest for a good hour or two. White laid down and closed his eyes. Within his diminishing thoughts, the only figure he chased after, was but a lone girl with wolf ears waiting to be saved.
When his eyes had finally closed, a shadow moved from behind a pile of books.
Taking small steps careful not to wake up the young man, the petite figure bent down and caressed his hair with a small, forlorn smile.