Chapter 72: Let’s All Just Get Along
7 0 1
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

“I want to spar,” I declared to Tetora, holding out my bo staff. He and Aleph had just finished greeting the dawn with an early morning meditation session.

Tetora’s ears flattened some as he took a moment to consider my request, his whiskers twitching dubiously.

Aleph stepped forward, his hands clasping together. “Rae, perhaps you should seek breakfast before engaging in any training?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Come with me,” Tetora ordered, leading me off as Aleph sighed, shaking his head.

The small clearing we stopped in was somewhat secluded by several bordering pine trees. The ground was relatively flat in the middle, without any roots to trip over. Instead of readying himself, however, he dug around in a few scattered supply boxes, pulling out a wooden and straw dummy that he fastened to a large stump that hung off to the side. “Continue to knock the stuffing out of this until you’re no longer angry. Then we will talk.”

“This isn’t sparring!” I objected, feeling like I had been tricked.

“Correct. You are in no mindset for administering light blows to a friendly opponent. So take your aggression out on something other than me.”

For once, I did what I was told, well, without any extra argument. Because my bo staff was precious to me, and I knew my aim wouldn’t be all that accurate, I coated it in a healthy aura of amity, allowing me to strike both the dummy, the stump, and anything else that got in my way to my heart’s content. After said heart decided enough was enough, I collapsed onto the ground, covered in sweat.

Tetora leaned over me, his massive build blocking out the rising sun. “Better?”

I grunted without really answering one way or another.

“Tell me what happened.”

How could I explain it in a way that didn’t make me look like the bad guy? Relias was right; I had gone off on my own once more. Vernie’s excitement about the idea wasn’t a substitute for the majority’s vote. “I messed up again. Every time I think I’m doing the right thing, I go, and I screw it up.”


My eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, and?”

“Did you learn anything from it?” he asked, tilting his head.


“So, knowing what you know now, you would still do what you did?”

“… I would do it a little differently, I think,” I admitted with a sigh. I’d have still brought up the idea of sneaking in. Maybe talk to him about it sooner before making the plans myself.

“Then it was a good experience,” Tetora concluded, folding his arms in satisfaction.

“You’re not going to ask what I messed up?”

“Do you want me to?” he countered.

Part of me wanted to vent about Relias’s reaction, but I ultimately kept it to myself. Tetora would most likely talk to Aleph, and Aleph seemed quite close to Relias. It would just end up coming around again to bite me in the... “No…” I sat up.

Tetora dropped down to the ground beside me. “Things are different now, aren’t they?”


He took a deep breath. “Don’t spend too long in the holy city. I’m impatient, you know? You get in there, you do what you need to do, and you get out.”

“What will you do while I’m in there yelling?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

“Wait for you. Maybe yell, too,” he said with a nonchalant shrug. “I imagine there are protests outside of the city.” A sly grin crossed his face. “Tell me if you can hear me when you’re in there.”

“… You’ll be careful, right?”

He shoved me a little. “Ha! I should be asking you that! But I know Relias will be there to protect you.”

At the mention of Relias, I reflexively grimaced, giving away the root cause of my irritation.

“Oh...” he murmured, nodding knowingly to himself. “And Nora and Vernie will be there too, of course.”

“Of course…” I echoed just as my stomach growled.

“Let’s get you something to eat. Later today, I will teach you a secret technique.”

“I’m too tired to train anymore today,” I protested.

“Not for this technique. Let’s go.”

Reluctantly, I started to stand up with a frown, but Tetora quickly pulled me to my feet with a firm grip on my arms.

After a bit of breakfast, Tetora escorted me back to the wagon, where Nora was still asleep, not even recognizing I had left in the middle of the night.

“Really?” Nora yawned, rubbing her eyes as I gave her a condensed rundown of the morning’s events.

“And Tetora says he’s staying with us in the wagon today, too,” I added at the end of my truncated report, which avoided my idea of sneaking into Chairo and subsequent run-in with Relias entirely. She’d go after him if I said anything. To keep the peace, I should just ignore it and try harder to get along with everyone.

She slapped her face a few times and scampered out of her bedroll to glance out the window. “Lemme get some food before there’s not any left.”

And so, the three of us shared the wagon that morning, hitching it to the horses before heading out. However, Tetora’s choice to stay with us felt a little strange. He merely stretched out languidly before settling into a corner on his side.

“Carry on with whatever you two normally talk about. I assume it’s about how great I am,” he commanded with a lazy wave of his arm.

Our conversation devolved from there.

“So... it’s your turn to babysit us today, huh?” Nora eventually asked after we finished making fun of him.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” he replied with a loud yawn. “I just thought you would enjoy my company.”

His yawn was very contagious, and I found myself following suit.

“Ah! Time for the secret technique!” he announced then. “Rae! See where the sunlight hits the floor from the windows?”

“Uh, yes?”

“Lay down there. Put your head right on that spot.”

Bewildered, I complied awkwardly, noting that the path the wagon was taking seemed relatively bump-less, all things considered. “Like this?” I asked as I squinted, the sun shining brightly in my eyes.

“Yes. Now keep your eyes closed and enjoy the feeling of the warm rays on your face.”

“For how long, exactly?”

“I’ll tell you when to stop.”

Would you believe I fell asleep?


Sometime later, Tetora’s voice echoed above me, “So, what do you think of my secret technique?”

“I only took a nap!” I complained.

Only a nap? You slept like a baby! And in broad daylight, too,” Tetora scoffed, crossing his arms.

I rolled onto my side. “So, your secret technique is...”

“Catnapping! The key is to find a spot in the sun!” Tetora revealed loudly as Nora burst into laughter, slapping her knee in amusement.

I scowled at them both. “You two are ridiculous!”

“What you need is more rest,” Tetora said in a slightly more serious tone. “If you’re going to go wandering around at night, you should take some time to rest during the day.”

His advice was sound, but I couldn’t help but fret a little. “... I didn’t miss lunch, did I?”

Tetora paused. “That... is the one shortcoming of this technique,” he admitted sheepishly.

So, no perfect secret technique truly exists...


“It is both my privilege and duty to invite you all to share the evening meal with me,” Captain Corwin declared with a respectful nod from his warhorse after the wagon halted for the evening. “I must acknowledge that I have recently fallen short in my duties as a host. Now that we’re well out of the Blue’s immediate range, however, it is imperative that we gather for and engage in vital discussions together. Such camaraderie and strategic discourse are essential before arrival in Chairo.”

I was sure this was in response to my acts earlier more so than anything else, even the bit about being out of Blue’s vicinity. He wasn’t wrong either, however. Even though I hated to admit it, I would have to swallow my pride and accept his invitation. I’d even have to try and behave at dinner, too. At least we were finally being included in preparations.

“We’ll be there. Thank you for inviting us,” I responded as cooly as possible.

“Hey, Rae?” Nora asked from behind me as I watched Captain Corwin ride off. “Are you... alright?”

“Yes,” I replied as I turned, doing my best to smile. “It’ll be good to eat together, all of us, I mean.” Relias will undoubtedly be there. I won’t have to apologize in front of everyone, am I? I hadn’t backtracked my idea with Vernie yet, either.

“If it’s more hardtack though...” Nora pouted. “I’m going to make a scene. That’s construction material, not food!”

“Just don’t throw it at anyone,” I quipped. “You might just kill them.”

Venison. Dinner included fresh, savory venison with potatoes and carrots, a miracle that was certainly not afforded to the rest of the troops. However, I was pretty sure that the Captain didn’t indulge in such luxuries often while on the march, either. They must have gone hunting for it.

Captain Corwin held up a glass of wine. “I’m humbled by all who have joined me this evening.”

“Thank you for inviting us, Captain,” Relias replied from the seat directly across from me. I caught his gaze momentarily, and he smiled warmly as if this morning’s exchange never happened.

Even more unexpected was the fact that Vernie was sitting next to him, grinning happily. “Look at us all together again! Oh, and our new companion, too!” she pointed at Nora with a twist of her fork. “Now we’re even stronger!” What the...?

“Yes. Nora is quite skilled,” Aleph added. “To be able to set so many soldiers to slumber at once...”

“Her abilities are truly a blessing from Euphridia herself,” Relias confirmed with a nod. “It seems she has decided to officially welcome Dark Mages into her Covenant.”

Nora and I exchanged a quizzical glance, but I knitted my eyebrows together, signaling I didn’t feel comfortable following up with any more questions. However...

“Why weren’t they welcome before?” Nora asked plaintively, setting down her utensils.

“Animus,” Relias began. “It is energy reserved for the destruction of all things. To manipulate it...” he paused, folding his hands together. “Has been considered to be a misalignment of one’s Purpose.”

“So people with such skills should just ignore it?” Nora’s eyebrows twisted.

“The Church has prohibited assigning anyone the Purpose of becoming a Dark Mage,” Relias admitted. “Even while benefiting from those who use their skills for it, such as you. I have known many Dark Mages over the years and empathize with their plight. However, changing the tides of public opinion is simply that... trying to change the impossible.”

“Many people see them as simple extensions of Chaos,” Aleph sighed. “And the detestable behaviors of some have made it hard on the others who seek to stay true to the Church.”

“The tides will shift soon, however,” Relias continued. “Once everyone hears how the Chosen One was found and brought back to this world by a Dark Mage herself.”

“Wait a minute!” Nora exclaimed angrily, paling as she stood up. “I didn’t have anything to do it! Euphridia did it!” She turned and stared desperately at me, tossing her head towards him.

“She’s right about that part...” I swallowed slowly. “Euphridia was the one who pushed us through the portal.” Without asking!

Relias stood up. “Euphridia chose Nora to accompany you here, and I think all should know of her contributions to saving you and our world. To do that,” he paused to pick up his wine glass. “We must all embrace her as a true member of the Order of Gold.”

Startled, Nora’s eyes widened as she turned to face Relias. “...Me?”

“Yes, you, Lady Nora,” Relias replied as he inclined his head.

Vernie also rose from her seat, wine glass in hand. “To Nora!” she shouted gleefully. “Newest Member of the Order of Gold!”

“To Nora!” Everyone else echoed, raising their glass as they looked at me expectantly.

“...To Nora, my best friend forever,” I concluded as a shiver ran down my spine.



Thank you everyone for reading!

Feel free to join my Discord.

Last but not least, I want to thank my patrons for their support :)