“Anyway, you’re keeping that sacred sword a secret right? That’s the right choice, keep doing that and don’t let yourself be targeted. If you have a problem with that, become strong enough to beat anyone that goes after you. It’s not just a matter of physical strength though, it’s also about power and money.”
“Tell me more about those people that might come after me. And did you say Karios?”
“I can tell you but…”
Leon pointed towards Nick’s back with his chin.
Nick looked back, and saw that the knight from the Order of the Sun had gotten up from his chair and was approaching them.
“…Ah, I get it.”
“Bring me something next time you come. Ah, I don’t need booze, but you can bring me some paper rolled tobacco or candy. The food here’s terrible.”
“You can deal with that much. Didn’t you say you were comfortable?”
“I-it’s fine, aside from my eating habits.”
Nick smacked his lips as he stood up.
He accomplished what he went there for, but felt like an even bigger problem in need of solution was thrust upon him.
Nick let out a sigh of exhaustion as he exited the Order of the Sun’s detention facility
“This isn’t your home.”
Nick opened the door to Tianna’s apartment, and was greeted by an exasperated Tianna.
In the back were Bond, Sem, and Karan, chuckling.
“How about renting a place like a conference room or something? Or renting a big apartment for everyone, or a detached house to be used as both a storage room and conference room?”
Said Nick, but it did not improve Tianna’s mood.
“I don’t want to take rent money out of our wallet every month! That’s why I let you come here in the first place!”
“It’s the best option.”
“So you better be thankful.”
“Yes, yes, I am.”
Said Tianna with a self-important smile as she crossed her arms.
“So, Nick, how did it go?”
Asked Bond. Nick’s party gathered in Tianna’s room, waiting for him to come back, as the result of Nick’s conversation with Leon could very well dictate their next course of action. Everyone was curious, waiting for Nick to speak, but he looked puzzled.
“You already know don’t you? Bond heard everything with Telepath.”
“I thought it would be insipid for me to tell everyone so I stayed quiet.”
Everyone glared at Bond, who laughed with a fresh look on his face.
“Come now, this sort of thing should be heard from the man himself.”
Bond looked at Nick meaningfully. It was true that Nick should tell this story directly, and it was too heavy for Bond to relay to everyone else.
“…Oh alright. No one knows, at least for now. He’s not going to tell either.”
“I see, that’s good.”
Sem let out a sigh of relief.
It was difficult for Nick to say, and he looked at Karan.”
“What? Want some?”
Karan was wolfing down peeled oranges.
The town market was full of citrus fruits at that time of the year. Karan bought a mountain of fruit and placed them on top of a table.
“You can keep eating, but I have something to say.”
Karan couldn’t see where this was going, and nodded.
Nick started telling everyone about his conversation with Leon, and the softness on Karan’s face slowly faded away.
“Let’s summarize. First, there are strange bandits targeting artifacts, so we need to watch out. Second…”
Nick looked at Karan.
She had the same intense look on her face she had when she faced tough opponents on their adventures.
With that intense look on her face, Karan crushed on orange in her mouth and swallowed.
“…Leave that sort of serious stuff until after I’m done eating.”
Karan complained, as her face became a little red.
“Anyway… That’s a clue about Karios isn’t it?”
Whispered Karan, and Nick nodded.
Karios was the name of the leader of the party that led Karan into a trap. His blond hair and him using a longsword also matched Karan’s description.
He took Karan’s Dragon King Orb and ran, and was an enemy that had to be tracked down no matter what.
“Yes, it seems he was active here in the Labyrinth City a few years ago.”
“And Leon’s artifact was stolen?”
“So, do you think he got away from the Labyrinth city because he managed to get his hand on a huge sum of money?”
The man calling himself Karios stole something very valuable from Leon’s Silver Tiger Crew, and yet, he continued scamming people like how he tricked Karan. So, it seemed logical that those items brought him a tremendous level of wealth.
Karan’s guess may have been correct.
“I get what you’re trying to say, but we don’t actually know where he is right now…”
“Yes, I know, it happened a long time ago anyway. It’s the same name, but that means he used that fake name all this time, which is kind of weird.”
Karan was calmer than Nick had anticipated.
She had a serious look on her face as she processed what she was hearing, but she did not seem anxious or angry.
“But it’s good that we have more clues. Thanks Nick.”
Nick’s face became a little red as he heard such a sincere thank you, and he looked away from Karan.
“…Anyway, I’ll look into this Silver Tiger Crew. If they got into trouble because they had artifacts, that also concerns us.”
“Yes, we need to brace ourselves.”
Said Bond, before once again being the target of everyone’s glares.
“Y-you must realize I am a victim as well. I had no way of knowing about artifact robberies while I was sealed away.”
“Then start acting like this concerns you.”
“Of course. You can rest assured knowing that I will be assisting you.”
Bond proudly puffed his chest, to which, Nick only shrugged.
“Anyway, we need to be careful and not rush things, Karan.”
“Come on, don’t worry about me. Is it really that surprising?”
Said Karan, sounding discontent.
“Don’t be mad, but I was thinking about what I was going to do if you just rushed out of here.”
Karan threw an orange at Nick, who caught it with his right hand.
“…I feel like I understand, after that duel with Claudine and Leon.”
“Problems can’t be solved just by hitting and being hit.”
“No, we hit each other a lot, and just the other we almost killed each other.”
“That’s not what I mean!”
“I know, I’m joking.”
“Geez… You pick some weird things to joke about.”
Karan cleared her throat.
“Investigate, formulate a strategy, and investigate further to make sure there aren’t any holes… I’ve never done something like that, but I assume it comes naturally to smart people…”
“I can’t do that now, at least not by myself, but I need this sort of thing if I’m ever going to find Karios and get my treasure back. That’s why I learned a lot this time.”
“In more ways than one.”
“Yes! I spent so much time solving problems, and when the duel was over, you told me I had more homework to do!”
“It’s important to train every day.”
Nick grinned while Karan complained, but she was making a serious effort, even as she complained.
Tianna knew this, and pat Karan’s head.
This sight felt like a ray of sunshine hitting Nick’s heart. He didn’t really feel that good after defeating Leon and Claudine, even though he did feel like a bone stuck in his throat had been removed.
He had some lingering bitterness in his heart ,but now, he felt as though it was being cleared away.
The way Karan was moving forward and growing step by step gave Nick a real sense of accomplishment.
“…What? Why is everyone laughing?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Before she knew it, the other three had joined Nick and were also smiling.
Karan felt a little embarrassed.
“Don’t make those weird faces! Listen!”
“This whole thing finally ended and I’m tired of staying inside studying! I wanna go out!”
Everyone agreed with Karan. Survivors had to concentrate completely on the duel with Leon, and Nick haven’t even gone out to watch live shows for a while.
“…Yes, I tried going out to release stress, but it turned into a huge mess.”
“That’s right. I guess we can finally feel relieved.”
“Being holed up inside is bad for your health.”
Tianna, Sem, and Bond all cheerfully laughed.
“Right? Nick, first, you need to sit down and rest. You’re tired aren’t you?”
“Yes. Should we make some tea?”
“Sem, why do you use the teapot in my room like it’s normal?”
“Shouldn’t I? There’s some good medicinal herb tea.”
“It’s fine but… Is medicinal herb tea good?”
Nick thoughtlessly interjected as he looked around the room, “Haven’t you been getting too much stuff for your room Tianna…?”
“You have so many magic books and tools for magic experiments, that your room has a tendency to become dirty.”
“Stop! That goes against the rule to not meddle in others’ private business.!”
“That’s true, sorry.”
“I think this is the part where you are supposed to help her clean.”
“It’s fine like this.”, Tinanna remarked.
Nick sipped the medicinal herb tea that Sem handed to him, and its refreshing taste permeated through his tired body.