Farewell, My Brother
Within the headquarters of Moonshadow at Starfall, Annelotte said coldly, “Sir, I organized some information we got about Leguna.”
While she looked to be only 15 or 16, those who knew her well understood one would be making a grave mistake if one took her for a little girl. At the very least, the performance she showed when dealing with matters for the chairman carried an undeniable feeling of well-practiced stability which was incredibly rare for those her age. Many had suffered quite a bit for underestimating her, the most typical of whom being Arikos.
“Hand it to me then,” said Wayerliss, stopping what he was doing.
Annelotte flipped through the reports and took out a thin sheet of paper. The unprocessed report contained some unnecessary details of Leguna’s current life, including even what he had eaten over the past few days. But Annelotte knew the chairman didn’t need to know those things, so her job was to filter out all the unnecessary information. She reported only the content she deemed useful.
While that sounded easy, the truth was far from it. Despite that, she had always carried the task out flawlessly. She had already read the report she submitted carefully a number of times. Before that, she spent half an hour getting a rough grasp of the information before summing up the necessary parts on a piece of paper.
Wayerliss looked the report over and fell into deep thought.
“Is Balor still with the orcs?” asked he suddenly.
While the question came out of nowhere, Annelotte replied in a prepared manner.
“I believe so. As per your previous instruction, we sent orders for him to return. However, Balor has never followed the instructions. Since we didn’t discover any traces of him in the human realm, he’s probably still in orcish territory.”
Wayerliss furrowed his brow. It was apparent the person troubled him quite a bit.
“Contact him again. At the very least, establish his current location.”
“Understood,” nodded Annelotte.
Wayerliss returned to reading the report on Leguna.
“According to your experience, how long do you think he needs to awaken his power?”
“I can’t be certain, Sir,” Annelotte replied apologetically, “He’s never had any formal training or guidance. His situation might be a little unique. However, according to his performance in Nightsong Forest, the soonest his awakening will happen is in a year, three at the latest. All of his potential will be released at once when he does.”
“One to three years, huh?”
Wayerliss mused with his hand on his chin. He looked at the glacier girl with an interested gaze.
“You’ve been here for almost 15 years already, right?”
“That is correct, Sir.”
“Don’t you feel cooped up after staying here for so long?”
“You have given me life, Sir. It is my honor to serve you.”
Even though she suspected the intention behind Wayerliss’s question, her tone didn’t give her suspicion away.
“Are you interested in seeing the world?”
“Why are you looking at me like that? It’s not like I plan to eat you,” said Kurdak with a sound as rough as iron scraping iron the moment he noticed Leguna looking at him with wide, droopy eyes.
“Boss, you almost ate us yesterday,” said Leguna with lingering fear.
“Well, that’s the side effect of Moonsink Cycle. I couldn’t control it,” said Kurdak helplessly.
Kurdak had his first full-moon night the day before. As previously discussed, Leguna and Vera had tied him against a tree with a trunk as thick as a washbasin before looking awkwardly at how he turned from a bear into a werewolf. Not long after, the horrible affair began. The first things to change were Kurdak’s teeth.
In just one short minute, the upper two of his already long canines grew by a centimeter. They protruded out of his mouth. Their white glints would strike fear into any man. His hair also grew. Even though he didn’t end up covered from head to toe like a real werewolf, his already hairy body became more primitive, like a caveman, under the effects of the alchemical concoction.
Bloodlust quickly filled his mind, eroding his rationality and causing him to look at his two comrades wantingly. Even though his primal desires drove him crazy for a bite, the thick ropes bound him; he couldn’t move at all.
Chilling howls and roars echoed through the forest. At first, Leguna and Vera were worried it would attract some other scary fiends. But they had forgotten that werewolves were incredibly terrifying fiends themselves. The weaker fiends in the area shivered after hearing Kurdak’s howls. None dared to approach. It was the sole reason the tension-filled night passed without incident.
By the time dawn came, Kurdak slowly turned back to his old self. He looked weaker than ever. It didn’t surprise his two companions at all, though; any living being howling and struggling non-stop for a whole night would no doubt end up exhausted. Kurdak wasn’t the only one to run out of energy, though. Neither Leguna nor Vera got any sleep thanks to how Kurdak had been. Even if they were absolutely certain the rope would hold, they couldn’t fall asleep given the noise alone. Vera said she needed her beauty sleep and crawled into her sleeping bag the moment he passed out, leaving Leguna to himself. He was so worn out he had to give himself a few slaps to stay awake.
After the troubling matter, the one left the most tired was little Leguna. Just by looking at his sunken eyes, the puffy bags under his eyes, and his cheeks –swollen from the slaps — Kurdak understood why the youth was so resentful.
Kurdak and Vera woke by noon and Leguna was already numb from the fatigue. After the three had a discussion, they chose to look for Cyranos’s corpse first before resting properly.
While Leguna said he scattered some alchemical anti-rot agent on the body and had covered the surrounding area with beast repellent, even he felt the need to hurry. He felt guilty for leaving the corpse of a trusted comrade in the wild for too long.
Fortunately, Cyranos’s corpse remained where it was left, untouched.
“I’m back, brother,” said Kurdak as he slowly sat beside Cyranos.
His rough voice only made his tone sound even deeper.
Vera and Leguna looked at their comrade — who had entered eternal sleep — with teary eyes. While their journey after leaving the elven settlement had been a rather relaxed one, they realized they couldn’t avoid the fact of Cyranos’s death. They couldn’t just forget the silent, yet handsome man.
Leguna looked at the corpse and felt tears well up. Even though he had already avenged Cyranos by killing the orcs, the rush he got from exacting revenge could never fill the void left by Cyranos’s death.
Vera lightly patted on his shoulder. She gestured for them to leave together.
“Kurdak is the one this hits the hardest,” Vera said softly as she began setting up the tents, “Long before I met them, they were already together. I’ve asked Kurdak how the two met… He never bothered to tell me.”
Leguna looked quietly at the seated Kurdak. He was so used to the man’s usual noisy demeanor. Seeing him so quiet made him feel a slight wrench in his heart.
He’s really torn, huh? How could he, who still smiles after turning into a monster, be so somber?
“Since you haven’t slept for two days, I’ll take night watch tonight. Rest well. As for Kurdak… let him stay with Cyranos,” sighed Vera.
The wave of fatigue sent Leguna into an incredibly deep sleep. When he woke up, he didn’t feel refreshed at all. The moment he thought of Cyranos, his heart filled with sorrow.
Kurdak’s eyes were red and his hair was all messed up. There were rare signs of tears on his cheeks. He must’ve gone to sob somewhere the other two couldn’t see.
After paying their final farewells to Cyranos’s corpse, they cremated the remains. It was all too common for dead mercenaries to end up as animal droppings in the wild, so cremating the remains was a decent and widely accepted practice.
Looking at the corpse burning in the fire, Kurdak made a parting salute.
“Farewell, brother,” whispered he.
The three dealt with the ash and prepared to leave. Right at that moment, however, four humans appeared.