The Star of Annihilation
Chapter 85 – Ezrest (2)
Written by : eleven
* * *
Making their way through the crowds after taking a brief stop to look at the colosseum, Roy and Lucius finally arrived at the location where Roy’s spell had shown.
It was another inn deeper within the inner city of Ezrest; just a few streets away from the downtown area and market district.
Roy slowly turned to Lucius, stopping in his tracks.
Lucius started to sheepishly scratch his head, pretending not to know what Roy was feeling.
“Hey, what the hell is this? Why does our place look like it belongs in the slums compared to theirs?”
Roy glared at Lucius, who was looking around as if he didn’t know who could possibly save him from his angry disciple.
“Man, this sucks.”
Roy grumbled but went to the door of the inn and opened it without much more complaining.
Lucius followed him inside as a ‘ding ding’ noise could be heard from the bell above the door signaling there were customers entering.
The inn where the group was staying was much quieter and seemed to exude a rather homely aura inside.
The bar on the right side had a very well-polished mahogany and the glasses behind it were neatly lined up in rows. The bar was empty but from a door in the back, a man came out briefly and smiled at Lucius and Roy.
“Welcome to the Homesake Inn, how may I help you today?”
“Just visiting some acquaintances, they’ll be here soon.”
Roy replied and let his mana flow out towards the rooms that were located upstairs.
Taking a seat at one of the tables across from the bar since he was too young to drink, Roy sat down comfortably and created a small ball of mana in his fingertips and practiced the control of his mana by experimenting with its size and malleability; a very basic method of mana control known to anybody who walked the road of magic.
The man who was at the bar lifted an eyebrow at it but shook his head as if he were getting used to weird sights like that.
It seemed that even just running basic shops would require one to be prepared to see any kind of sight since the Tournament brought in all kinds of people from across the continent.
* * *
After a bit of time, footsteps could be heard from the stairs leading up to the second floor. Some guests were descending and their figures could be made out.
Elizabeth, Elias, Nate and Ferneth walked down the steps and came out into the lobby.
Ferneth still had a skin mask and cloaking spell activated on him at all times since the Holy Church that represented the Empire’s main religion would go berserk if they found out an undead was the newest Tower Master.
Roy’s eyes shook a bit as he looked at his friends walking down the stairs.
At that moment, their eyes met.
Elias and Elizabeth both shouted. Elias was steadily getting closer to him and really did see Roy as a friend.
But more than that, Elias saw more of the mysterious part of Roy still since Roy’s first impression on the day of admission to Titanius had been something that was incomprehensible to almost anyone who didn’t know him beforehand.
Elizabeth hopped up and hugged Roy and Roy smiled at her and hugged her back lightly.
Letting his eyes wander away from Elizabeth’s shoulders, Roy faintly nodded to Elias.
But Roy still felt his shoulders slightly shake and he knew why.
When his gaze landed on the last person to walk down, multiple emotions surged in him and the biggest one was confusion.
How should he react? Roy didn’t know.
Jealousy, admiration, pride, respect, camaraderie?
‘Why did he….’
Nate stepped forwards and smiled lightly at Roy.
When their eyes locked, Roy was certain.
Nate had hit 5-stars.
* * *
“So what’s our plan of events?”
[We have to prepare for the Gala coming up tonight. I suspect that they will be present.]
Lucius nodded at Ferneth’s answer.
Elias and Elizabeth were taking a nap upstairs in their rooms, while Ferneth and Lucius discussed their future plans.
Since Lucius and Ferneth were in their own room, Ferneth could take off his skin mask and deactivate his cloaking spell so his words came out how they originally did as a Lich.
“When you say they, do you suspect the one in charge will be coming forward?”
[….I’m sure you felt it as well.]
Ferneth nodded solemnly as memories flashed by in his head.
The horrible slaughter of the other continents that had happened without their own continent being able to even notice.
It was something that frightened Ferneth, despite becoming a 8-star Grand Lich.
The Dragons in number were low but based on the memories in the memory orb of the Necromancy Wizard that Ferneth had found, that didn’t matter.
Even after fighting against them first-hand, Ferneth had finally thought he had gotten a gauge of their overall powers.
Lucius agreed as he recalled the presence he had felt while they entered Ezrest.
Multiple powerhouses were showing up for the Tournament as bodyguards or envoys. Lucius could even feel the strength of some of the Demon Kings and Swordmasters from other countries and kingdoms.
Although these powers were strong and Lucius would have felt pressured by them slightly in the past…. The incidents and fights he had been involved in recently had skewed his senses.
The first fight against Argenta, one of the Dragons who seemed to be a regular soldier, was already something Lucius would not have been able to win 1-on-1. That’s even after the training he had undergone in the Demon Territory with his disciple and reached 8-stars. He could feel that despite reaching around the middle of the realm of 8-stars, it wouldn’t be enough to fight a single Dragon 1-on-1 and win.
Then there was the fight that had just happened in their own capital a few weeks ago.
Even with Trent Freeman, the 9-star Sword Saint present, they would have lost if it weren’t for Ifrit materializing and descending to their world from the Spirit Realm.
Based on the power of those two Dragons in particular, Lucius asserted them as “commanders”.
Upon entering Ezrest, he felt the power of at least one commander within the City.
The problem that he and Ferneth felt was imminent, was the fact that there was another presence.
One much stronger than a “commander”.
On the Northern Continent, there were maybe 3 individuals that could be said to rival Trent, the 9-star Sword Saint.
If a 9-star Sword Saint could not defeat one of those commanders 1-on-1, how in the world were they supposed to face the creature above them?
[I don’t know what they have planned to show up here like this, but if I had to give a guess…. They’re here for one of two reasons.]
Ferneth spoke after Lucius took some time to think.
“What would those reasons be, you think?”
[The last time they sent those stronger ones in our capital, they seemed to have a clear target of Roy. They wanted to eliminate him there and then because they probably feared his potential. But I don’t think it was that since their intentions seemed split.]
The fight against the two “commander” level Dragons, seemed odd since their agenda seemed almost as if to confirm the presence of Roy, and if possible to eliminate.
But, they put their safety above all else.
[I think that the one leading them wanted to confirm something about Roy. If that’s true, then that Dragon being here could mean that he probably wants to meet Roy for himself.]
Lucius’ brows furrowed in anger but he held himself back from exploding.
“….. You said there were two possible reasons. What was the other?”
Ferneth sighed and took a deep breath as he saw Lucius’ agitated expression about hearing Roy might continue to be targeted before he could even mature.
[The other reason to show up in front of so many of the continent’s powers, would be to send a message.]
“That they will start moving more openly.”
A deep silence dropped upon them.
It was a dark but highly probable outcome. The worst part was that there was no saying that the being involved, the leader, didn’t come for both reasons.
And if it was true….
After this tournament, the entire continent would have to prepare.
Because a war would be coming.
Lucius shook his head and muttered under his breath.
“I hope those two are sorting things out.”
* * *
Roy and Nate were walking down one of the streets after leaving the inn.
Roy had requested some time to speak with Nate and Nate looked like he had the same idea.
Luckily, the rest of the group didn’t babysit them and let them have their own time and space to talk.
The street was bustling; people brushing shoulders, vendors and merchants shouting and competing over prices… there were a lot of things going on.
Despite that, Roy walked slowly in front of Nate without caring much to the surroundings.
The two of them were in their own space and were speaking using mental messages via mana.
[You got stronger.]
Nate didn’t respond when Roy spoke first.
They didn’t have any place they were looking to go, they were walking aimlessly through the streets, but Roy knew Nate was probably thinking how to respond.
In truth, Nate and Roy both felt incredibly awkward.
There was an elephant in the room and Roy addressed it immediately. It was bound to be even more awkward if they made small talk since they were both very direct people.
[Yeah. I wanted to see you, but things didn’t go as planned.]
Nate spoke after some silence to gather his thoughts.
[It seems nothing ever does with us.]
Nate didn’t know why, but after Roy had said that, he felt a warmth in his chest. It wasn’t a comfortable warmth though. He was irritated- angry even.
Nate was never really one to let his emotions sway him, but for the first time in a very long time, he said something uncharacteristic of his behavioral tendencies.
[I wonder why that is.]
There was sarcasm and anger clearly evident in his voice as he sent the message to Roy.
Roy stopped walking at those words.
[…. I don’t know either.]
He looked down at the pavement blankly as a passerby brushed his shoulder and gave him a glare but neither Roy nor Nate paid them any attention.
[Are you saying that because you really don’t know, or because you want to pretend like you don’t?]
Nate’s words were sharp and filled with emotion.
Even Roy felt his mind shake from the new side of Nate that he was showing Roy.
Despite this, Roy still couldn’t turn around and look Nate in the eye.
He felt like if he did, something inside of him would break out and he wouldn’t be able to control himself.
[Roy. Don’t make any excuses. I don’t want to hear them.]
Nate and Roy stood wordlessly in the busy street of Ezrest.
Something fell from Nate’s cheek as they stood there in silence.
It was a teardrop.
Nate didn’t even bother with it though. He didn’t know what was going on with himself, but if he didn’t speak to Roy now…. He felt that this was his last chance for Roy to tell him the truth.
There wasn’t any logical reason behind this feeling.
He just felt that if he didn’t talk to Roy and confront him now, he would probably never see this person again and there would never be a chance to reconcile.
Nate looked at Roy’s back and silently watched every detail of Roy’s movements.
His shoulders were shaking ever so slightly, his legs seemed weak.
This wasn’t the image of his best friend that always seemed to have a plan or a way out of things.
Roy was being weak, and something about this side of him, made Nate feel lonely.
Chapter 85 – Fin