Chapter VI : Journey Home VI

Chapter VI : Journey Home

“ Enduring “

The edge of the town was completely surrounded by a wall of fire. Errol looked for a way inside but even as they walked around the wall, they found no opening. The only way to get into 27 was through the sky or from beneath the ground. But before they pestered Puppy into letting them ride inside its back once again, the group inspected the surroundings first. Eventually, they reached the area where they should have found a lake… and there was no lake.

“ Eh? What’s that stuff? “ Rina pointed at the bubbling green mess amidst a lot of small plants and oak trees.

“ Moss. It absorbed all of the water, “ Steel explained, “ It’s tame but problematic; usually, it doesn’t grow to this size. “

Instead of the familiar crystal clear lake, they found an uncoordinated and inexplicable mess of plant life, surrounded by a lot of moss. Beyond that monstrosity, an even bigger mess of plants towered to the sky and right in the middle…

“ The Citadel! “ Rina yelled. She compared the drawings in her history book to a large structure in the distance, illuminated by the aurora, and sure enough, it was the Citadel and the highest feature was the Overlord’s Tower.

All eyes were on Errol and the furious look on her face explained it all. Seven succeeded in raising the Citadel from the depths of the Overlord’s Sea. But the copy did not seem to be content with just that. The whole sea and the lake near 27 were gone. Instead of water, they contained various plant life, most of which were probably hazardous to humans.

“ We’re going… to 27, “ she muttered.

Puppy, despite his aversion to letting so many passengers in his back, opened his shell and let the group in. He then dove into the ground and soon, he emerged on the other side of the wall of fire. The tardigrade found himself surrounded by many humans who armed themselves with their tools. He cautiously opened his shell and as his passengers emerged, some of the townsfolk lowered their weapons.

“ I thought they finally tried to attack from underground, “ a familiar voice came from beyond the armed humans, “ I’m glad that you’re back. “

Hunter hurriedly jumped off of Puppy and ran through the crowd which parted. He embraced his father tightly. However, something didn’t feel quite right; he only felt one arm around him as the Captain reciprocated his son’s gesture.

“ What happened to you? “ the tamer stepped back and looked at his father’s left side. There was his shoulder… then, nothing.

“ They caught us by surprise, “ Xing explained. When Hunter’s eyes widened, the father ruffled the young man’s hair, “ Don’t look at me like that. I would have given more than an arm to save your mother’s life. “

A small, dark-brown haired woman ran towards Hunter and she embraced him tightly before the tamer could react.

“ I knew you’d be back… I just knew it, “ Huntress had tears in her eyes. There were scratches all over her arms and face, but she was completely intact and healthy-looking.

Some of the faces in town were unfamiliar, but the familiar ones were almost mostly there. Thyme, who lived with no one else but his grandmother, hurried to the Town Hall and was relieved when he found her there. He had Rina, also an orphan, in tow, and the strange little family sat down to tell stories. Steel got back to his farm where his friends greeted him and complained about how difficult life was without the vastly experienced farmer. Errol was left behind on Puppy as children curiously poked the tardigrade with oak branches. She didn’t want to ruin the tamer’s moment with his family, so the girl hopped off of her pet’s back and disappeared into the crowd. Puppy dove back into the ground, annoyed by the little human younglings.

The Overlord soon found out that the wall of fire was kept ablaze by farmers and gardeners who worked together. At least, she thought, the Greybloods were still able to maintain control over some plants. A large space with absolutely no flammable materials kept the wall of fire away from the town itself. Soon, she arrived at the human graveyard and noticed the many newly-erected markers. While they were away, the town suffered a heavy loss. At that moment, Errol thought about the recent events that transpired and she came to one conclusion. The droplets of Black Blood were placed there to lure her away from the towns so that Seven and Eight could set their plan into action.

“ I’ll tear your heart out with my own hands, I swear I will, “ she gritted her teeth as those words escaped her lips.

“ Tear whose heart out? “ said a voice that suddenly made Errol feel conscious of herself.

Hunter stood close to her and his parents were nearby as well.

“ Seven, and Eight, “ the girl answered though she shot a worried look at Xing and his wife.

“ I told them about it. Well, some of it… and about how you saved my life, “ the tamer shrugged, “ If you have nowhere to stay, you’re welcome to come with us. Or did you intend to sleep here? “

Errol stepped away from the graveyard and walked towards the captain. She bowed slightly and forced the usual smile that she had before.

“ It’s good to see y- KYAA! “ the Overlord screamed as Xing’s wife ‘inspected’ her, “ W-what? Why?! “

The girl stepped away from the woman who seemed to be as inappropriately friendly as Rina.

“ Oh~ I always wondered what was hidden under that cloak, “ the woman giggled, “ Hunter said that you’re the Overlord… and the Overlord was a she, right? I was just checking. “

Laughter and greetings echoed through the town amidst the crackling of fire. It was nighttime and, while animals hunted, plants were mostly asleep; Town #27 sat safely within a blazing ring and they had nothing to worry about… until sunrise.

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