"Yes," she said as she bit her lip, as if she was still uncertain.
However as she made up her mind, her expression started to relax.
"Whatever I’ve told you here, please don’t spread it. Regardless if they are your friends or relatives, you mustn’t tell anyone anything. Can you do that?" Celine asked sternly.
Garen and Su Lin both looked a little shocked upon hearing that.
"Is it really that serious?" Garen asked softly.
"Of course," Celine nodded, both her eyes still looking weirdly serious.
"Alright, no problem," Su Lin nodded in agreement.
"I also have no issue with it. Alright, now would you please tell us what is the matter?" Garen too felt something was wrong with the way Celine was acting.
"Actually... Duskdune Shura is probably here because of this. The Golden Sword Throne is supposed to be a key, a key whose presence can only denote danger and opportunity."
Celine started to recount from memory,
"This world of ours is incredibly big, bigger than anyone can ever imagine. Even if a man were to take a modern day jet plane, fill it with infinite amounts of fuel, he will still not be able to fly to the end of the ocean. Therefore sometimes it is possible to find some inexplicable places not previously known to anyone before. Found at random, most of these places tend to have existed for a very long time, and within these ruins: sometimes one would find artifacts from millennia ago, or even phenomena not explainable using conventional logic.."
"Artifacts from millennia ago? So what exactly does this have to do with the Golden Sword Throne? Just tell us already," Garen frowned.
Celine nodded,"Alright, I’ll skip the unimportant introductions and get down to it. The Golden Sword Throne, is from a mobile ancient ruin that the Ancient Endorian and Nabudas Empire have both explored before. The Golden Sword Throne is actually a relic key retrieved from within the ruin."
"What is within those ruins?" Garen asked directly.
"The legendary Blood of Secrets, some say it is the key to immortality, others say it gives tremendeous power. Nobody really knows or agrees on its true nature, but one thing is for sure: this item is incredibly valuable," Celine explained, "The locations of these ancient ruins are usually very hard to predict and pin-point. The times in which they appear are also not set. If it isn’t for the Golden Sword Throne, it would be next to impossible to open the entrance to the site."
"What you mean by that is..."
Celine nodded again, "Exactly, there are all kinds of ancient ruins, and each of their contents are vastly different from the other, it’s as if every ruin contains traces of the existence of a different civilization from the others. However one thing is for sure, each and everyone of them contain their fair shares of dangers and opportunities. Each ancient ruin contains a plethora of items of different values, we call these items ‘Secret Treasures’. The ancient ruin in which the Golden Sword Throne used to reside, was found and explored by the Ancient Endorians a long time ago, only to be explored by the Nabudas Empire shortly after as well. It is believed that the ancient ruins still exist, in fact there is even the possibility that those two great civilizations might have left some souvenirs in there during their time within. But for whatever it is worth, because of their explorations, the Golden Sword Throne became known to be related to the Blood of Secrets. In fact, since then, Ancient Endorian Ruins and the Golden Sword Throne practically became the pronouns for the Blood of Secrets."
The trio fell silent after, as Garen and Su Lin tried to swallow and digest what Celine just told them.
The bonfire continued to burn, as it slowly got smaller and smaller. The room’s illumination also started to get darker, the stars in the sky outside the window also started to become visible, as if they’d just woken up.
Celine looked at the both of them,
"Well? Do you still plan to leave?"
The both of them were still silent.
"There might be lethal dangers inside the ancient ruins, but there could also be opportunity. Some say that the ancient ruins hold strange weaponry and armors. You might even find mysterious animals in there. Some people even suspect that these ancient ruins are what’s left of a dead civilization,"
Garen stood up, and looked outside.
"Let’s wait till the Slash Brigade gets here. I suspect that Duskdune Shura baited us here for something malicious. The Slash Brigadewill definitely find us here eventually, maybe even the werewolves will find us."
"Just count the hours, those werewolves have probably already made out our tracks." Su Lin nodded, "They might just show up anytime now."
The trio then fell silent once more. After they finished eating, they started searching the house for some broken furniture to pile up against the windows. This way, the light from the bonfire would not be visible outside. Then they all fell asleep around the bonfire.
Not sure how long after...
Garen opened his eyes, half awake, he looked at the bonfire in front of him. He thought he had heard something.
The bonfire made a small crackle again, small sparks flew up from underneath it. The bonfire was long out, the only light one could make from it was the soft red glow of hot charcoal.
As for Su Lin and Celine: one of them was dead asleep against the wall, while the other had made a small bed out of some stacked clothes on the floor, she too was dead asleep. Her face illuminated a faint red by the embers.
Garen was the only one awake.
He got up quietly, and went around the furniture, where he then stood beside the window and looked down.
Icy cold winds blew from the jungle outside, and with the winds came sounds from far far away.
Garen tried to look faraway, to the presumed source of the sounds.
Beyond the black ocean of trees, there were some specks of yellow light moving about. Now and then, one would be able to make out the weak banging of gunshots and wolves howling.
"Someone’s coming…" Garen frowned, and sprinted back to the bonfire to wake Celine and Su Lin up
"Wake up! Someone is coming, stop sleeping!"
Both already well prepared mentally, Su Lin and Celine darted up awake. Without even saying anything, they both cleared their heads, found their water bottles and took a gulp, then went to the window together.
Celine sniffed the air carefully.
"There’s the scent of werewolf, and also the scent of humans. There is also the scent of blood and gunpowder. Looks like they must have started fighting"
"Can you tell what kind of blood it is?" Garen asked softly.
"What do you think my nose is? That I would be able to tell where the blood came from?" Celine rolled her eyes at Garen.
"Leave that to me," Su Lin took out small telescope from her bag and pulled it to look at the source of the speckles of light.
Immediately, her face turned into a whole new shade of seriousness.
"It’s the Slash Brigade!" They’re fighting with the local werewolves! It seems to be quite a big fight!"
"Let me see," Garen took the telescope from her and took a look for himself.
Within the telescope’s sights, he saw dozens of werewolf corpses littered about the light, while the Slash Brigade ran alongside the source of the light. Many amongst them looked like there were injured, obviously from being surrounded and then attacked by the werewolves. There was also Beo in the group. That usually stern cold blue haired genius, it seemed like for once he was looking absolutely miserable, and he definitely looked like he was having a tough time fighting the ambush of werewolves from every direction around him.
"It’s the Slash Brigade, they’ve finally gotten in over their heads, they actually walked directly into the hunting area of werewolves. It doesn’t seem like they even thought of approaching it with some sort of strategy or tact, they just overconfidently walked right into it!" Garen shook his head, "no surprise that they would come into conflict with the local werewolves."
"Should we go help them?" Su Lin asked.
"What do you think?" Garen shook his head again, "If it were the werewolves that we encountered earlier, there wouldn’t be any need for our intervention, but from what I see here, these werewolves are way more powerful than the ones before."
"You mean they might be in serious trouble then? Sure we don’t want to go help?" Su Lin took the telescope and observed the scene once more.
"Not necessarily, they will eventually enter the ancient ruins. The Slash Brigade probably just made a mistake, they’ll catch up soon enough, I doubt werewolves would be able to slow them down at all." Garen decided, "When they resume their journey, we will enter right behind them."
"Made up your mind on entering?" Celine didn’t seem convinced.
"Mm, I have decided. With the Slash Brigade leading the way, we will be much safer," Garen nodded with certainty.
"I better not go." Su Lin thought, and shook her head, "my presence will just slow you both down. Better if I just wait here until you both made it out and then rendezvous with the Slash Brigade after."
"That works too, who knows what dangers await us within. We might not be able to take care of you amongst all of that," Garen nodded in agreement.
"Then let’s wait." Celine said softly.
The trio continued standing beside the window, staring into the distance as the small speckles of light grew brighter as the came closer in their direction.
Slightly over ten minutes, the lights arrived at the outskirts of the village. Everyone in the squad looked like a mess, only three were left, one was missing. In this small squad, two of them were holding torches. It seemed, for now, they had repelled the werewolves.
One of the three who remained cursed the werewolves aloud, while another was using the bark on a tree near him to rub off the blood from his machete.
Under the observation of Garen’s trio, the Slash Brigade went straight for the entrance to the tomb.
Very quickly, they found the already opened entrance to the tomb, they hesitated for a second, and then one by one the Slash Brigade disappeared into the entrance along with their lights.
Obviously, they had known about this entrance all along judging by the way they found it without any delays.
Garen turned and led the way down into the tomb entrance. Celine jumped, and landed right beside him, following him in.
"Please help watch over the entrance for us, just find something to cover it up."
"No problem," Su Lin answered quickly.
Garen led Celine back to the side of the tomb entrance once more, this time without hesitating, they both went down the stairs.
The rocky stairs were long and deep, leading down to a rock corridor that was definitely not a tomb. The corridor was long, dark and tight, every ten steps or so there were opposing holders for torches on the walls.
Garen turned on his flashlight and shone the way ahead. The corridor seemed to lead downwards endlessly, towards an unknown destination.
"Celine, pay attention to the scent of the Slash Brigade in front of us, make sure we don’t get too close to them or else they might find out we’re tailing them," Garen noted.
"No problem, just leave it to me." Celine nodded, "But why don’t we just rendezvous with them?"
"In these ancient ruins where there might be some secret treasures, we cannot trust anyone," Garen shook his head in disagreement.
"I thought you were planning to catch up with them." Celine looked at Garen as she continued to walk.
The duo walked and stopped now and then to make sure there weren’t any traps. Sometimes they would find steel needles stuck to the ground, obviously from traps triggered by the group in front of them.
The most well known symbol of Ancient Endorian culture, is their ability to connect earth and hell with their infinite stairs. The duo walked for over half an hour before they finally reached a brown door. It was ajar, and from the dust prints on the floor, one could easily make out a fresh set of footprints.
What was intriguing, was that there were two line of texts carved onto the walls around the door.
Garen leaned closer and shined it with his flashlight carefully.
"Be careful of sprites."
He read it softly, the walls were full of Endorian words, he could only roughly make out these few.
"What does it mean?"