“The three questions you just posed, are crucial,” Wayerliss nodded, “I suppose the first one is pretty intuitive. According to Balor’s own words, Vera had abandoned him. She forced him to face off against an enemy far more powerful than him, alone. After being betrayed like that, it’s only reasonable that he doesn’t want to see her again.”
“Sis isn’t that kind of person,” Leguna argued all of a sudden with a flushed look, “She’s regretted her decision for the last seven years. President, I hope you don’t talk about her so distastefully again.”
Wayerliss was shocked. He didn’t think the meek and humble little kid would snap so easily. Given that he was the head of Moonshadow, not many would speak to him in such a manner. Leguna quickly realized how rude he had been and lowered his head, embarrassed. But he had no intention to apologize, he felt doing so was would be acknowledging Wayerliss’s judgment.
“Very well. It might be as you say, child, but it’s still true that she abandoned him and escaped alone,” sighed Wayerliss.
Leguna was a little surprised that the president would compromise so easily. He realized Wayerliss wasn’t wrong, though. Even if Vera regretted her decision later and changed for the better, it didn’t change what had happened. She had left her only relative for dead and escaped, and that couldn’t be changed no matter what. Regret did not excuse the action. What happened in the past would stay the same regardless of what was done in the present or the future. It was but a fact of life.
“So, did I answer your first question?”
While he didn’t want to admit it, he had no good reason to criticize Balor’s actions. If he himself was betrayed by someone he trusted immensely, how would he react?
“Very well. Now, for your second question. I’d like to ask you this: If the orcs had taken everything from you, what would you do when you finally had power?”
“Me?” Leguna gave it some thought. While he’d never had any family, he had experienced the pain of having everything he cared about taken from him.
“I would take revenge,” Leguna said with certainty, “I would want to let them experience my rage. I would want to let every single one experience the pain I’d have experienced! I would do anything I could to achieve that!”
“Correct. That’s what Balor intends as well,” concluded Wayerliss with a snap of his fingers.
Even though it was a gesture only humans used, given that he was an elf that had lived among humans for many years, it wasn’t surprising that he understood their culture better than his own race’s.
Leguna finally caught on.
“Ye. Balor’s abilities have improved at an incredible rate over the last couple of years. His desire to use his power to take revenge has grown proportionally as well. His target is naturally the orcs, and the necromancer that almost killed him. Kurdak and Cyranos killed the necromancer already, though. So Balor changed his target to the Eye.”
As Wayerliss spoke, he handed a stack of documents to Leguna, believing that he could understand them.
“It wouldn’t be hard to see from these reports that Balor’s power has indeed grown over the years, allowing him to slowly escape the guild’s control. He’s already started to ignore my orders.”
Leguna flipped through the documents. Everything about Balor and his life from the moment he joined the guild was recorded in them. There was even a brief description of Balor’s assassination of the noble at Brisoniss.
In actuality, the Brisoniss incident’s true culprit wasn’t Orwen, but Balor.
Balor had been mobilized the same time Orwen had. Orwen was sent to Brisonis to stall for time and cause chaos without him knowing the true purpose of his mission, whilst Balor used the commotion to kill the noble. Given that his identity was to be kept hidden, Orwen got recognition for the kill instead. The most pitiful one in this whole business was no doubt Orwen. All he had been tasked with was to cause chaos, only to end up Balor’s scapegoat. After the incident, Orwen somehow got credited with the kill. The poor fool didn’t think for a moment about the fact that he was used as a scapegoat and instead basked in the limelight, causing him to be known as a maniacal murderer in Starfall.
Leguna was greatly surprised by the documents’ contents. Not only was he awed by Balor’s impressive feats, he was also taken aback by Moonshadow’s information-gathering prowess. Even though Wayerliss claimed Balor had already escaped the guild’s control, the reports made it seem like they still had a firm leash on him. If Wayerliss wished, Leguna didn’t doubt he could know everything down to what he ate or drank.
He felt a deep sense of reverence for Moonshadow’s mastery of information gathering.
“Balor had been inciting conflict between the orcs and the Eye in the last couple of years with the goal of causing a fight between the two factions. Now, it seems he’s succeeded.”
“So, the orcs showed up in Nightsong Forest because of Balor’s provocations?”
“Yes. As for whether he intentionally found your location and led the orcs to you, I can’t be sure. However, I doubt he’d change his plans even if he knew about your presence.”
“Damn!” Leguna felt a ball of fire rise up in his throat.
Not only had Balor provoked the orcs, he also indirectly caused Cyranos’s death and endangered his one and only sister’s life! It seemed his personality was utterly twisted. As if he knew Leguna’s thoughts, Wayerliss dictated a small elven magic spell calm him down. He breathed slowly and comfortably. Now that Cyranos was dead, there was no point in staying mad. He tried his best to calm his feelings and continue analyzing the reports.
Most of the funds Balor used in his plots came from Bjord’s wallet. As for what he promised in return, it was probably something along the lines of using his status as a member of Moonshadow to make Bjord the mayor of Starfall. After a few moments, he couldn’t help but start. According to the reports, the Eye had already united with the other factions to wage a war against the orcs in the north. Even though it wasn’t war in the traditional sense, one between nations with clear borders, most of the human experts on Lance were invading orcish territory and stirring up storms between the two races.
“President, these days…” asked he, pointing at the report.
“Just as it says, Eye of Arcana is offering huge bounties to attract experts to invade orcish territory. The war should’ve been going on for two days already,”
“Then, President, since Moonshadow is aware of this, why didn’t it stop them?”
He might not know much but he understood a war between races like this would spill blood and end countless lives.
“What would you have me do? Do you want me to tell the Eye that there’s a misunderstanding between them and the orcs, and that everything was my disciple’s fault?”
“That’s why the guild cannot, and will not stop this. The main actors are the Eye and the orcs. No matter how it turns out, our guild probably won’t suffer too much. In fact, there’s a good chance for us to reap huge profits. I don’t see the need to stop this.”
“But President, these are countless lives we’re talking about…”
Leguna had wanted to say something more, but he stopped.
Wayerliss suddenly stretched both his hands to Leguna.
“How much can these hands hold?”
Leguna gazed back at him, not understanding the intention behind the gesture. The elf didn’t wait for his answer.
“Little; far too little. This world is huge, unimaginably so. Even the hundred-armed giant’s many hands are far from enough to grasp the whole world. I will not waste my energy on things that have nothing to do with me. We need to keep what we have clutched tightly.
“To me, Moonshadow is what I have, so I will hold onto it for dear life. I don’t care much about anything else. I couldn’t care even if I wanted to.”
After a period of silence, he asked Leguna, “What do you hold in your hands right now?”
Leguna hesitated. He didn’t know how to answer.
Wayerliss didn’t expect an answer anyway.
“Annelotte was the one who helped detoxify you.”
“Yes. You were poisoned with something with a lot of heat energy. Annelotte used the glacial essence in her body, the essence she’d accumulated over many years to neutralize it. She used nearly half for your sake. As a result, her level has dropped four strata.”
Wayerliss dropped another bomb on Leguna without hesitation.
“What?!” cried he with widened eyes.
He might have known the poison was very strange, but he didn’t think Annelotte had to sacrifice this much for his sake.
“You’re a shadow dancer, so I’ve been secretly monitoring you since you arrived on Lance. I’ve been considering whether to take you on as my disciple. Balor felt threatened by you as a result and has made the first move against you.”
“Is this why he wants me dead?”
He didn’t think Vera’s brother had such a ridiculous temperament. He hadn’t done anything to or against him, but because he might become his junior, Balor didn’t hesitate to plunge a dagger into his chest.
“Well, you can say that. Only truly distinguished disciples of mine can get my inheritance and Balor feels you are a threat to him. Naturally, he held himself back when he acted against you. If he’d used his gift, ‘Black Curse’, when he struck you, there would have been no way you could’ve survived.”
“Then why didn’t he just kill me?”
“Because of me. He was worried killing you would enrage me, so he chose to heavily wound you instead and use this opportunity to weaken Annie, who’s already chosen to stand on your side.”
Leguna finally understood. He and Balor were like two crickets locked in a boxing arena, and Wayerliss was the audience. He would pick the stronger cricket and properly develop it as his successor. Though Balor could’ve killed him before he developed and end it all, Wayerliss’s presence made him have some reservations. Annelotte had appeared on Leguna’s side all of a sudden, though, and the alliance of two gifted put a lot of pressure on him. He had no choice but to take the action he had to even the playing field, to whatever he considered even anyway.
He chose to wound Leguna, knowing that Annelotte would be forced to weaken herself to save him.
“At first, I had Annelotte stay by your side as a warning to Balor that I was observing you so he wouldn’t run amok. I didn’t think he would interpret it as me placing Annelotte on your side. That’s what prompted his desperate attack. I had no choice but to reveal myself to you and tell you the whole story. I don’t really fault Balor, though. Based on how intimate Annelotte was with you, she has indeed chosen to stand on your side.”
Wayerliss shook his head and laughed bitterly. He didn’t think his obedient Annelotte would make this choice of her own volition.
Annelotte? Intimate with me?
Leguna couldn’t believe it no matter what. The girl’s personality was completely unpredictable and even he had a hard time dealing with her. Most of the time, he didn’t know what to do about her chilling aura. He couldn’t see the intimacy Wayerliss mentioned no matter how he tried.
“Alright. I’ve answered your three questions. Now, can you make your choice?” said Wayerliss, returning to the matter at hand.