Several days had passed since the day of the announcement of an expedition to aid the kingdom of Erela. The people of the town of Agrona were in a great rush as they prepared for the upcoming expedition.
Inside the territory of the Fang faction, the warriors of the town of Agrona were gathered in a huge open space in front of the headquarters of the faction. Receiving their new set of armors and weapons.
“Woah! Just like before, another set of high-quality weapons and armor!” Said one of the demons while raising his hands holding a gray cuirass.
“Yes, sell it again,” Leo commented while staring at everyone currently getting their armor and weapons.
The demon just laughed while scratching the back of his head.
“Is that enough?” Karoon appeared beside him while staring at the massive crowd.
Leo jumped out and stared at Karoon with surprise on his face. He slowly exhaled. “You’ve got me startled there for a second. You’re so small that I almost didn’t notice you.”
“Lady Karoon!” The people waved their hands at her.
Karoon waved back and smiled at them. “When do you think the departure would take place?”
Leo put his hands on his waists and slowly tilted his head sideways. “2 days from now, we can finally start the expedition.”
“The preparation completed much faster than expected.”
He nodded. “It would have been much faster if not a lot of them sold their weapons and armors to the tourists.”
Karoon chuckled. “Don’t worry about it. Besides, I don’t think Mister Casimir is upset about it. He has been in a good mood these past few days while flying around the town with his golden throne.” Karoon smiled while staring at the crowd in front of her. “I think he likes that throne a lot.”
“That’s great to hear.” Leo veered his eyes on her and slowly scrutinized Karoon from head to foot.
Karoon stared at Leo with her narrowed eyes. “Please don’t stare at me like that, it’s embarrassing, you know?”
“Have you been doing some dangerous stuff lately? You have been getting a lot of wounds.”
Karoon smiled. “I’ve been doing some magic training lately.”
Leo nodded. “You should get yourself healed.”
“Ehh? Are you worried about me? I didn’t know that you have a soft spot for a delicate girl like me, Big Brother Leo.” Karoon smiled at him.
Almost instantly, Leo’s face grimaced while staring at Karoon. “Don’t. Ever. Say that phrase to me again… it’s disturbing!” Leo rubbed his hands on his arms while trembling.
Karoon just laughed while Leo watched her with disturbance on his face.
After a few seconds, Karoon stopped laughing and faced Leo. “To tell you the truth, I don’t want it to get healed, at least for now…” Karoon connected her fingers and put her lips between them. “This is the fruit of my hard work and seeing these wounds while still in training makes me feel like everything that I have been achieving is well earned.” She pointed her eyes back at Leo, she found him looking at her with seriousness. “Hardship is always part of the journey… if you embrace the hardships, you will appreciate the reward that you are going to receive. After all, don’t all kinds of hardships have their own reward?”
Leo’s mouth slowly opened as his eyes shivered. As if reminiscing something he shouldn’t. Something very painful.
“No. Not all hardship will be rewarded.” He exhaled. “You are weird. I really hate people with a very high sense of sentiment. I wonder how Boss can tolerate living with such a sentimental person like you.” He waved his hand. “You are too soft to be around me. Go away, go somewhere far before your absurd overly dramatic personality starts to rub off on me. Besides, Mehrad is not here for you to drool over.”
“Ehh! How rude!” Karoon said while walking away and pouting her lips.
Leo just watched Karoon walk away while expressing no emotion on his face. “Not all hardship will bear fruit. Sometimes, one’s hardship will end in a more tragic outcome. No matter how hard one tries to reach one’s goal, not everything will go as one desires. Regardless of how hard he wishes for it.” He raised his hand and walked towards the crowd in front of him. “Oy! Keep moving!”
Inside the territory of the Marionette faction, in the open grassland in front of Leal’s mansion. Leal was standing while staring at the wide-open area in front of him. His stoic expression remained as he veered his gaze to the person standing next to him.
Kuro was silently watching him and showing no emotion on her seemed to be a strict face.
Leal slowly exhaled. “A few days from now, we’re going to leave. While we’re away, just stay with Tanya. You will be a lot safer there.”
“I’ll go with you.”
Leal’s eyebrows instantly furrowed as he glared at Kuro. “Ha?”
Kuro bowed her head. “I’ll go with you, Master Leal.”
Leal raised his index finger while staring at Kuro with apparent irritation on his face. “What foolish idea got through that head of yours again that you came up with such a dumb decision, Kuro?”
Kuro raised her head and stared directly at Leal’s face. “That place is my homeland too, if you and the people of this town are going to fight for the people of that kingdom’s sake, so should I.”
Leal’s jaw dropped as he stared at Kuro with his shivering eyes. After a few seconds of silence, he shook his head. “No. We both know how dangerous that place is for you. The Elder council are just waiting for an opportunity to…” Once more, he shook his head. “Please, don’t give them that opportunity.”
“Then, I’ll just ask Mister Casimir instead.” Kuro walked out.
“You! You really are impulsive, aren’t you? Why don’t you just listen to me?”
Kuro slowly looked back. “For years… you have been protecting me on your own. I saw your struggle… all of it, but I remained not doing anything. But thanks to the words of a certain commander, I finally realized that all I have been doing all these years is to rely on you, to the point that I become too dependent on your protection… without the means to protect my own, even though I have the power to.” She veered her body facing Leal. “I just thought, maybe… It’s time for me to at least try to protect my own… and help you protect the other things that you want to protect. I won’t grow and learn if I’ll always rely on the idea that you are always there for me and so do you… because you are bound to the obligation that I made you put on your back. I was so insensitive that I just noticed this now, I thought everything was fine just like this… but I was proven very wrong. Now, I have decided, I want to grow and learn on my own and If I need to face suffering just to grow… then let me suffer because that’s the only way. I have to… After all, we are no longer children… Leal.”
Leal just stared at her for a few seconds before slowly releasing a huge sigh. “You know, sometimes, I really hate how stubborn you can be. That’s my most hated part of you.” He scratched the back of his head.
Kuro walked toward him and expressed a slight but beautiful smile on her red lips. “And here I thought that part of me was the thing that you liked the most about me, Your Highness.”
Leal’s face turned red, he immediately wandered his eyes around the area as if he was making sure no one was around before returning his gaze to Kuro standing in front of him. He looked away again and gently pulled his bangs. “I can say both…”