“While I was in imperial territory, I learned how to wield the gunblade, but I subsequently let my skills go to rust for want of the ability to replenish my own ammunition.”
While on the way back to Lydha Lran, Thancred was telling Cleo of how he learned to wield the gunblade, which was back at the Source. He held Cleo around her waist as if he was supporting her.
“When I decided to rescue Minfilia, however, I knew I needed a more defensively-minded style, so I placed a special order at the Crystalline Mean, and the rest is history…”
They could hear the pixies laugh when they reached the city, both Alphinaud and Alisaie looked tired.
“I dare not ask what happened in our absence...” Minfilia whispered to Thancred and Cleo. Alphinaud looked at them with relif when he saw them approach.
“You couldn't have returned at a better time. The pixies had just decided that it would be amusing to have Alisaie and I exchange outfits...” Alphinaud said, with an exhausted sigh. Cleo and the others made their best to not burst out in laughter.
“Ahaha, thank the gods you arrived when you did! Any later, and I don't think I would've been able to live it down!” Alisaie said with a sigh as well.
“We weren't expecting you all back so soon. We had scarcely begun playing with the twins...” Sul Uin said, but then the pixie saw the gifts that were presented to them.
“That said, your gifts are truly wonderful! Let me tell you, the milk and honey and biscuits won't last a day, and the wings are the loveliest we've ever seen! You've done us a great kindness, and it's fae custom to return the gesture. If you desire anything of us, you need but name it!”
“We are resolved to vanquish the Lightwarden of this land. To that end, we desire entry to Lyhe Ghiah.” Urianger said.
Nearby the forest close to the village, two shadowly figures appeared before glowing in pale light. One was a mystel woman with long brown hair reaching down to her waist, wearing a white kimono with a red belt and katana. Her green eyes were looking toward the village, seeing the Scions.
“Hmm,” the mystel woman said.
“It appears that something is about to happen.”
She looked toward the other figure.
“Or what do you think, Ardbert?”
Ardbert stared in shock as he recignized the Scions.
“I know these people,” he said.
“Back at the Source!”
Ardbert pointed toward Cleo.
“And she, is one of the Warriors of Light from the Source. She really looks like you, doesn’t she Nezha?”
“Whatever,” Nezha replied shrugging her shoulders. Ardbert continued looking at the group.
“I really wonder how many years have passed since our encounter,” he said.
“And what are they doing here?”
“Perhaps…” Nezha said while looking at them heading away from the village.
“They’re here to save the First?”
“It’s no use,” Ardbert said with a sad voice.
“Not even you could save this world. And you couldn’t even save the current Minfilia ten years ago!”
“Watch it!” Nezha hissed toward Ardbert.
“Hope is never lost! You said yourself years ago when I saw you!”
“Cleo!” Draco gasped wide awake. He looked around the little camp, Estinien and Gaius’s companions were sleeping. Draco sighed; he had dreamed that Cleo was being drowned…
“Having a bad dream?” Gaius asked watching the fire.
“Yeah,” Draco mumbled.
“Your daughter should be fine,” Gaius said.
“After all, she has the blessing from Hydaelyn!”
But will it protect the life within her womb? Draco thought.
“Worrying for her won’t help,” Gaius said.
“What would you know?” Draco hissed toward Gaius.
“If you were a father as well, you would be worried to if they were far away somewhere!”
Gaius remained silent; he lowered his cup with warm coffee while looking at the fire.
“I do know that feeling,” he said with a soft voice. Draco looked at him confused.
“Five children. Not my own, but I raised them as my own.”
There was an awkward silence between them.
“I didn’t know,” Draco said.
“Of course no one knew,” Gaius replied.
“Garlemald does withold personal information, what we do in our personal life… it has nothing with the politics!”
Gaius rose up.
“Well, if you’re not planning to sleep, then you can take watch now!”
Draco wouldn’t be able to sleep at the first.
Gaius and Draco looked around.
“What was that?” Draco said.
Estinien sighed annoyed, waking up from his sleep.
“Damn that woman,” Estinien mumbled sleepy. He was holding a tomestone in his hand. Looked like something a contact device or something.
“When I said that I wished to know how things were, I didn’t actually mean that she would send me this… thing and send pictures.”
Gaius and Draco stared curious at the device in Estiniens hand.
“Where did you get this thing?” Draco asked confused. It looked like allagan.
“That faerie friend of your daughter,” Estinien grumbled. He opened a message containing a picture. Estinien made wide eyes. It was a picture of Alphinaud, surrounded by the pixies braiding flowers in his hair.
“Strange,” Draco said scratching his head.
“My Cleo wouldn’t do such things!”
Estinien lowered the phone and glared out in the air.
“Skan!” he growled.
“WAKE UP!” A voice called out in the darkness.
“WAKE UP, DAMN YOU!”
Cleo slowly opened her eyes, what in the Seven Hells had just happened? She then remembered, they had been trough a quite wet ordeal to obtain the shell crown.
“She’s awake,” a female voice said. Cleo looked up at Ardbert and Nezha.
“You!” Cleo gasped pointing a finger toward Ardbert.
“The Warrior of Darkness!”
Cleo looked then at Nezha.
“And who are you?”
“You… you can actually see us both?” Ardbert asked surprised.
“I can,” Cleo confirmed. She swam up to them.
“There’s so much I want to ask. You and your friends…”
“When Minfilia brought us back here, both she and my friends used what they had left of their strength to hold back the light. Minfilia… she wouldn’t let me help, she left me bearing witness to it all!”
His voice was full of sadness. Cleo couldn’t help but feel pity for him. She then looked toward Nezha.
“And your story?” Cleo asked carefully.
“Name’s Nezha,” she said with an eastern bow.
“Like you, I’m not from this world either.”
“Did the Crystal Exarch summon you?” Cleo asked.
“No,” Nezha said.
“I am from the Thirteenth shard. When the Flood of Darkness happened, I got swallowed by a rift. How long I was drifting in the darkness, I don’t know, but then I just suddenly awoke at the shores of Eulmore.”
Cleo barely noticed that Krohman and the others had dived in to the water. Krohman found Cleo and qickly grabbed her waist, dragging her up toward the shore.
“Have you any idea how worried we were!? To wash up on the shore, only to find you weren't with us!?” Thancred cried. He was clearly mad for one moment before he then sunk down on his knees holding Cleo in his arms. He was sobbing.
“If you both had died now… I don’t know what I would do!”
“Oh, Thancred,” Cleo said and embraced him.
“I’m so sorry for scaring you all like that!”
“And the baby…?” Thancred asked worried. Both Urianger and Alphinaud knelt down placing their hands on her belly. They used their healing magic to examnine both Cleo and the baby. Alphinaud smiled relived.
“Everything is fine with the baby!” he said. Thancred sighed in relif. He then looked toward Skan.
“I was a bit skepical at first when Cleo told me about the enchantment,” Thancred said.
“But… thank you!”
“Oh! Thank goodness you're still here!” Sul Uin said appearing in front of them.
“Sul Uin!” Alphinaud said surprised.
“Is something amiss?”
“A great big mob of mortals is marching to Il Mheg. Mortals with ugly weapons and uglier faces!”
Sul Uin looked worried toward them.
“They wouldn't happen to be your friends, would they?” she asked worried.
“Rather the reverse, I fear. The Eulmoran Army, at a guess.” Thancred said.
“Meaning...we can play with them?” Sul Uin said with big hopeful eyes.
“Aye,” Thancred said grinning deviously in the next moment.
“To your hearts content!”
That pleased Sul Uin very much. But still, not knowing how it would go, Alphinaud and Alisaie decided to stay behing and help the pixies.
“We better hurry up and get the rest of the relics,” Krohman said.