The four block district in the inner city looked very depressing.
What was once a lively place filled with crowds was no more. Now, most of them were in bandages.
In the hospital, Andy and Goth were walking along the white corridor.
Both of them tried to hide their expressions as best as they could to prevent Jessica noticing that something had went wrong.
"Don’t worry. It’s fine. Everything will be fine." Goth patted Andy’s shoulder.
"Perhaps." Andy put on an unnatural smile.
As they arrived the familiar ward of Jessica, Goth opened the door and saw a man in grey robes peeling apples as he sat in front of Jessica.
He saw Jessica smiling at them, and he couldn’t think of an apt explanation.
As the man in grey robes heard the door being opened, he turned around and revealed a handsome, gentle smile.
"Goth, Andy, long time no see."
"Garen!!?? Goth’s voice was unusually high as he pointed at Garen in shock and disbelief.
Andy, who was at one side, was very surprised as well.
"Garen, didn’t you…?"
"Did you guys assume I was dead?" Garen started to laugh. "I was hiding in a corner of the ruins below and survived on the food I found inside. I took the opportunity to escape as the creatures were attracted by the battles in the inner city." As he told the story, he was very emotional and seemed to be traumatized as well.
Goth opened his mouth, as if he wanted to speak up, but he couldn’t utter a single word. He went towards Garen and gave him a big hug.
Andy was so happy he started to smile as well.
"It’s good to see you return unharmed."
Both of them were in a major slump due to Jessica’s unfortunate incident. Their moods lifted slightly as they found out that Garen was still alive.
Goth patted Garen’s back with a considerable amount of force.
"Don’t make me lose another friend again." He said in a deep tone.
"Why?" Garen was confused. "What happened."
Garen didn’t pursue further, and instead gave a smile to Goth, as he realized that Goth did not want to talk about it.
The three of them were talking about their recent life inside the ward. Jessica was lying in the bed listening as she smiled.
The group of four was finally gathered together again. It was worth celebrating, as none of them were absent.
Unlike the emotionless Goth, Andy could feel that Garen didn’t come back as what he had told. This person, who was once his partner had become more and more mysterious.
After the three of them chatted with Jessica, the three of them went to a restaurant together to have a proper meal.
Garen crossed his fingers as he placed them onto the table and calmly looked at Goth and Andy, who were sitting opposite him.
"Alright, can you guys tell me what actually happened?" He calmly stared at them as he asked in a deep tone.
The atmosphere had suddenly become heavy.
Goth and Andy’s expression was completely unnatural.
Garen noticed something was wrong and he stared at Goth.
"That’s not right! What happened to your left eye Goth!?" His voice was anxious. Deep in his heart, he had already recognized Goth as his friend. However, they were things that were out of his expectation, as if the history had started to change.
"Left eye?" Andy was shocked as he looked at Goth’s left eye. "What about your left eye?"
Goth awkwardly turned away.
"It’s nothing. I didn’t get any proper sleep lately and am feeling a little bit uncomfortable." He muttered as he tried to come up with an explanation.
"Don’t move!" He stood up and pushed away Goth’s left hand that was covering his left eye.
The took of them had a clear look at Goth’s left eye. That pupil’s color was not Goth’s original color, but a lifeless color of red. It was an ocular prosthesis.
Goth silently allowed his two friends to look at his left eye.
"It’s nothing big really. Actually… I was just trying to complete the quest. At least I survived. He muttered.
The atmosphere among the three had gotten worse.
Garen looked at Goth without saying another word.
"Goth, is it… because of Jessica?"
Andy gripped his fist as he lowered down his head.
Goth revealed a relaxing smile.
"My left eye was injured by a creature a few days ago and I lost my sight afterwards. Madam Madeleine had created an artificial eye for me. It’s nothing to be honest, since I can still see with one eye, right? Loosen up a bit you two. Relax. It’s a rare occasion that we are able to gather together and isn’t it good that everyone’s alright?"
Garen didn’t expect this to happen to Goth while he’s away for such a short while.
Although he wanted to rely on Goth to keep obtaining the potential points, he didn’t want to obtain it in such a fashion.
"Let’s talk about Jessica." He sighed as he sat down.
"Jessica is fine, trust me." Goth gestured his hand. "I found a doctor from the Duke Household to treat her. Have the people from the Duke Household ever failed in treating a sickness before? Don’t worry, I believe that Jessica will recover very soon, and the four of us, the Panther Group, will be together once again. We will then win the war, and obtain awards from the Duke, get knighted by the Royal family and reached the climax of our life as we become important figures. Hehe… It’s so exciting whenever I think of this!" Goth started to daydream as he spoke.
"You’re just daydreaming…" Andy couldn’t help but to give him a punch.
The food came just in time, and the atmosphere was no longer tense. The three of them started to talk about their current situation in life and future plans. Among the three, Garen was the one who was bombarded by the most questions. However, he was able to not raise any suspicions about his experience, as he had already prepared a scripted answer beforehand. He then added a few details along the way, and it was completely flawless.
Even Andy, who was calm and analytic, was fooled by him.
As they were eating their food, a young man in purple shirt came into the restaurant. This man was handsome and had an elegant smile. He scanned around the scarce restaurant and immediately walked towards Goth and the gang.
"Doctor Elielan!" Goth stood up immediately as he was the first one to notice him. "Why are you here? Come! Let’s eat together."
Andy stood up as well as he smiled wholeheartedly. After greeting him, he waved at the waiter to come and serve him.
Garen smiled politely as he had a good look at this purple shirted man. He could faintly feel a sense of familiarity from him.
"I am Garen, one of the members of Panther Group." He reached his hand out.
This man, Elilan smiled back as he reached out his hand and greeted Garen.
"I am Elielan, the specialist who will be responsible for Jessica’s sickness. It’s a pleasure to meet you."
With such a minor interaction, both of them knew that they were hiding something from each other.
Or rather, both of them could feel each other’s true personality with their own unique methods.
Both gently shook hands for a very brief moment.
Goth and Andy immediately asked about Jessica’s condition the moment Elielan sat down. On the other hand, Garen was sitting at one side as he listened to the three of them quietly.
They had their meal for at least an hour.
Goth and Andy invited Garen to sleep over at their place, but Garen denied.
After multiple large scale wars, the population of the inner city was reduced drastically, and most of the houses were vacant. Totem users didn’t even need a money to stay over at a place. They only needed to register from the clerk and they would be granted access to a space to live.
Garen casually found a decent house to live in.
The next morning, He went towards Jessica’s ward and found the ward doctor who was responsible for Jessica.
"The condition of No. 128 Jessica? Whom are you to her?" The doctor questioned Garen skeptically.
This middle aged female doctor, who was preparing to leave the office with a report was interrupted by this man in grey robe.
"Yes. I am her friend. It’s just that the rest of her friends are hiding her conditions from me and didn’t tell me the truth. I only wanted to know the truth." Garen nodded seriously.
"Her actual condition?" The female doctor frowned. "Patient Jessica has a rather strange sickness. It looks like a rare condition; we’re basically keeping her alive by using painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. However, she only has less than half a year left…" Perhaps the doctor had seen too many people passed away and her expression was rather regretful.
"I am very sorry. Jessica is a very wonderful lady."
"It’s okay. Thank you doctor." Garen’s heart sank, and he stood by the entrance, watching the doctor leave as she was welcomed by the nurses.
He walked towards Jessica’s ward with heavy footsteps.
It was early in the morning, and the sun wasn’t even up yet.
Garen stood at the ward’s window and looked quietly at Jessica, who was fast asleep.
"Reality and history had completely gone into different directions… What will happen next?" His emotions were fraught with complexity.
He opened the door and sat beside Jessica. Suddenly, she opened her eyes and looked at him calmly.
"Didn’t you go out with my brother yesterday? Why are you here this early?" Jessica smiled as she tried to get up from the bed.
"I came alone. I didn’t expect your condition to be so complicated. I have been wanting to check up your condition, since I have some medical knowledge that I have learned in the past." Garen answered softly.
"You have a medical background?" Jessica tried to laugh but couldn’t help herself and coughed.
"Alright. You should get some rest and have some faith in me." Garen used his finger and pressed onto Jessica’s pressure point at her neck.
It was a pressure point that supplied blood to the brain. He had learnt this when he was practicing secret martial arts. He can cure some sickness by pressing onto it gently and kill the person if he used an incredible amount of force onto the pressure point.
Everyone who practiced the secret martial arts had some basic understanding of a human’s anatomy. Garen, who stood at the peak of the martial art world, had immense knowledge in the human’s qi and blood circulation could be considered a medical expert.
Jessica yawned as she started to feel sleepy.
"Alright then. I’ll sleep a little bit more. I’m not sure why but I feel very sleepy all of the sudden." She laid down once again and was soon fast asleep as she covered herself with the blanket.
Garen stood up and looked around. Once he was firmed that no one was around, he took off Jessica’s blanket.
He placed his hand on Jessica’s head and a white golden aura slowly seeped into her neck as he tried to feel the blood circulation in her head.
He then checked her heart, internal organs and her physical condition.
After a thorough analysis. Garen sat down as he frowned.
"Her qi and blood circulation are normal, just weaker than usual. Her organs are completely fine as well. In fact, she’s much more healthy than average people. What is going on?"
Suddenly, rhythmic footsteps could be heard outside of the ward.
Garen immediately stood up. Although Jessica and Garen were good friends, Jessica was still Goth’s partnet, and he must maintain a certain distance towards her.
As he was about to turned around and leave, A mysterious silver light suddenly flashed on Jessica’s face.
"This is!!??" Garen stood still as he had seen this silver light somewhere!!
The ward’s door was opened.
Doctor Elielan who was in a purple shirt came in with a smile on his face.
"Eh? Sir Garen, you’re here too?" He was surprised to see Garen’s back.