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Introduction:

Noah, Valia, and Shannon reach Welindar.
City of Beasts

Noah and Valia were late to meet back up with Reynolds and his men, but fortunately, they were still waiting at the agreed location, though they were far from happy about it. The fact that they arrived on a sled pulled by a partially dismembered fiend helped distract them from their anger.

“What in the world happened out there?” Reynolds asked.

“The centaur tribe was raided by a small army of fiends, and its members were captured and dragged away,” said Valia. “This is Shannon, a survivor. She’s coming with us.”

Shannon was understandably timid in the presence of the Utheric knight and soldiers. These were the people taking over her country and enslaving the citizens. Had the Profane not done it first, these men might have been the ones to capture her people.

“At the very least, I was able to gather a lot of information about our enemy,” said Noah.

“Then I suppose this wasn’t a complete waste of time,” Reynolds huffed. “However, I insist we head for Welindar with no more delays.”

“Agreed, lead the way.”

Thus, they resumed their journey across the plains. While the men rode on horseback, Noah and Valia sat on the sled, dragged by the captured fiend. Shannon galloped beside them in her centaur form, and when they made camp that night, she fell asleep before dinner was prepared.

“She’s exhausted,” Valia sighed, draping a blanket over her.

“With everything that’s happened since last night, it’s no wonder,” said Noah.

Watching them, one of the soldiers got annoyed. “Bad enough we wait for days for you two traitors with our thumbs up our asses, but now we have to take care of your little pet too?”

Noah and Valia ignored him and resumed their conversation in elvish. “The ghoul I fought, Tysinger, concerns me. How many more like him are there?”

“You said he was able to detect you while you were cloaked?”

“He couldn’t sense my location, but he could sense my attacks. He called it my killing intent. I suppose it’s similar to the feeling of being watched.”

“Hey! I’m talking to you!”

“I wonder why he bothered trying to save that other one. Did he say anything?”

“Only that Deacon still had some value. Perhaps he possessed some trait or ability that’s rare for hosts, something not given to him by the parasite. Perhaps he was being used as a test subject.”

The indignant soldier stormed over. “Don’t ignore me!”

Noah calmly stood up, faced him, and rendered him silent with a punch to the throat. The man dropped to the ground, gasping for air and paralyzed by agony. “We are trying to have a conversation, and our friend is asleep. Please keep the noise down. And that goes for the rest of you, too.” The other soldiers wisely obeyed and ate in silence.

As they were breaking camp the following day, Noah noticed Shannon cleaning her grandfather’s sword. Along with some supplies Noah scavenged from the destroyed village, the sword and bow were all she had left of her home.

“Are you any good with those?” he asked.

“Women do not take part in the hunt or in battles, but we are trained at a young age to defend ourselves.”

“That’s good. I admire resilience and capability. Indulge my curiosity, will you? How about a quick match? I’d like to see the fighting techniques of your clan.”

The challenge surprised her, but Noah gave her a second to gather her courage. “As you wish,” she said, trying to keep her voice steady.

Shannon assumed her centaur form and brandished her sword, facing Noah. Sensing what was happening, the soldiers moved out of the way to observe. The two moved in a circle, keeping their distance as they gauged each other. Noah could read her expressions like a book. She was fearful, distraught by everything that had happened, but there was determination in her eyes, trying to climb out from under the pile of her doubts.

“See that sword? That’s more than just a piece of metal in your hand. You’re holding your destiny, the power to change the world.”

Noah made the first move, closing the distance and swinging at Shannon. He used the flat side of his sword and held back his strength and speed, wanting to ensure he didn’t end up wounding her. She blocked the attack, and rather than countering with a slash of her own, she reared onto her hind legs and tried to kick him with her forelegs. Noah moved back, not wanting to be coldcocked by those tough hooves. He went around the side, aiming for her lower body, but she turned and warded him off with her sword. Thanks to the long handle, she could defend herself from all angles.

She reoriented herself, able to turn and pivot with surprising dexterity. Noah went in for a third attempt, laying down some easy swings for her to block. She was out of practice but able to fend off his attacks, and her growing confidence drove her to counter with several slashes and thrusts. She kept her legs moving at all times, not letting her large body hinder her agility. Noah dodged and blocked each of her attacks and would slip through and tap her with his sword, pointing out the weaknesses in her defense.

After a couple minutes, he called an end to the match. “I wouldn’t bet on you beating a fiend, but you should be able to handle the average human just fine.”

“Thank you,” she said, bowing her head.

“Now it’s my turn,” said Valia. “I know where you can make some improvements. I may no longer be a teacher, but I can still give you a little help.”

“Yes ma’am,” said Shannon, but as Valia drew her sword, Noah noticed a tremor move through Shannon, with her tail swishing anxiously.

The two women faced each other, and Valia made the first move. Like Noah, she held back against her unskilled opponent, yet though Shannon withstood Noah’s attacks, she fled from Valia’s. Every time Valia swung at her, Shannon would back all the way out of her reach, and every time she blocked, it was with a noticeable flinch, automatically closing her eyes and shying away.

“Come on, you can’t fight like that. Show me what you can do,” said Valia, but she, too, was aware of what was happening. Shannon was absolutely terrified.

Valia held out her arms, daring her to attack. Shannon gripped her blade with trembling hands as she tried to build up her courage, but as she stared at Valia, her mind kept drifting back to that tragic night. She’d look at her sword, the same sword that had killed her father, and wonder if he felt this fear when he stood where Shannon now was. Her breathing was becoming more frantic, and the soldiers exchanged nervous glances as they picked up on the tension.

“Come on, you can do it,” Valia implored.

With a cry of fear and frustration, Shannon forced herself forward on shaky legs and lowered her sword towards Valia, who blocked her. As soon as their blades met, Shannon reared back as if physically repelled, dropping her sword and falling to the ground. Noah kneeled beside her, finding her drenched in a cold sweat and hyperventilating. He cupped her cheek and tried to calm her down.

“Shhhh, shhhh, easy. It’s ok, you’re safe,” he whispered.

Regardless of his words, she cried into his shirt, dampening it with her anguished tears. Noah looked over to Valia, cursed with a shroud of guilt hanging over her and seeing the sorrow in her eyes. Once Shannon calmed down, they set off from camp, and no more words were said. Everyone wanted to forget what had just happened and used the journey as a distraction.

Eventually, they arrived at the beastman city. From an ocean of fields and farmland, an island of stone buildings arose, carved into the slopes of a lone mountain. Originally built by the dwarves, the numerous beastmen tribes that occupied it had spent centuries improving its architecture, expanding it for more residents, and inscribing it with their culture. Now, the flag of Uther adorned the walls and posts, and human soldiers patrolled the routes once used by the beastmen of the old order. The scars of war were old and many, but things appeared to be bustling under Uther’s leadership.

Noah’s party received strange looks at the front gate and surrendered the captured fiend to be taken away by the guards. They entered the city without further issue and continued towards the palace. Many soldiers walked the streets, but that was to be expected. Shannon gazed in all directions with wide eyes and her mouth agape, having never seen buildings beyond the level of a log cabin. Here, she was surrounded by brick homes and paved roads, unable to believe the world held so many people. Welindar had a population of easily over 100,000 citizens.

Reynolds led the group up to the castle, past countless guards filling the halls and into the throne room. There, Prince Lupin stood over a table covered with maps, discussing troop movements and logistics with his advisors.

“Your Highness,” Reynolds said, crossing his chest with his arm and taking a knee, “I have returned.”

“Sir Reynolds, welcome back. You were gone so long, I feared the worst.”

“There were some close calls, Your Highness, but my mission was successful. I have with me Sir Noah and Lady Zodiac, just as you requested.”

Lupin approached and kissed Valia’s hand. “Lady Zodiac, I am glad to have you assisting Uther once more. Your strength and wisdom have been sorely missed.”

“To you as well, Your Highness. You’ve accomplished great things here in Handent, but Colbrand misses its favorite son.”

Noah glanced over to a young blonde woman dressed as a healer and holding a staff. Seeing Lupin greet Valia left her with a subtle pout.

Lupin turned to Noah, who was wearing the green cloak Elisandra gave him but seemed more confused by how old he looked. “You are not Sir Noah, not the man I spoke to.” Upon his words, Paulman nearby gripped the handle of his axe.

“You are half-right. You met a younger version of me,” said Noah, releasing his illusory guise and shocking everyone with his sudden youth. “My apologies for the mix-up. My age is something I can control, and certain ages provide certain benefits. Looking young helps me enroll in prestigious academies,” he said before regaining his adult face, “while appearing older gives me more credibility and charisma. If you indulge me, this conversation will go much easier.”

“My Lord, this is not a man you should trust,” Paulman warned.

Lupin appeared understandably wary of Noah. “Are you, or are you not, Alexis Veres’s friend, who I spoke to at the gala?”

“Indeed I am. Sir Noah, the Wandering Spirit, reporting for duty. I have arrived to offer counsel, just as I did then.”

“So, we meet once more. I welcome you, Wandering Spirit, to my city. As I’m sure you can imagine, you and I have much to talk about, and not simply in regards to the Profane. Considering what transpired between you and my brothers, I need your word that you are here as an ally, and have no ulterior motives against me.”

“Unlike your brothers, you are someone worthy of respect, and have done nothing to instigate conflict or do me harm, so there is no reason why we can’t work together. You have my word that we are your allies in the fight against the Profane. I believe I can offer insight into your parasite problem.”

“And for that, I shall pardon you, but I need to know what happened between you and my family. All I’ve gotten is outrageous rumors. I need to hear it straight from you, the real story.”

“As you wish. Seraph and I naturally didn’t get along, and he believed us to be archrivals competing for academy supremacy. As for Galvin, he challenged me to a duel, wagering his betrothed, a duel in which I won. In retaliation for losing, he tried to kill me by burning down a brothel, murdering almost twenty of his own citizens, wounding countless others, and destroying a treasure trove of magical research that was invaluable to me. Seraph knew about his plan and didn’t bother to intervene, letting Galvin commit mass-murder.”

The gravity of his brothers’ sins made Lupin and his subordinates gasp in shock. “My God, to think they could be so heartless.”

“And for that, I’d say I handed down a fitting punishment. I publicly humiliated Galvin and his conniving mother, and I left some wounds that would never heal, both body and mind. As for Seraph, I gave him the ultimate battle he wanted, and then some. I beat him, and beat him, and beat him, until the man he was no longer existed, reduced to a bloody husk. I allowed them to keep their lives, despite all the innocent lives they had taken. It was not out of mercy, but so that they could continue to so-rightly suffer for their crimes. I would say I went easy on them.”

Lupin covered his hand over his face in despair. “How did it all go so wrong? I should have done something years ago about those two, and now our family tree is drenched in the blood of our own citizens.”

“Your Highness, none of this is your fault. You aren’t responsible for the sins of your brothers,” said Nell, trying to comfort him.

“She’s right,” said Noah. “The sins are theirs and theirs alone. Your only obligation is to be better than them, to be the man that they failed to. Regardless, that is all in the past. What matters is I am here now as your ally to help you, so tell me where I am needed.”

“Come with me, you should see everything we’ve gathered.” Noah, Valia, and Shannon followed Lupin out of the throne room, along with Reynolds, Paulman, and Nell. Walking through the corridors, Noah and the prince continued to talk. “Sir Noah, what can you tell me about these parasites? Do you have any theories so far?”

“I believe that they are replicated organisms, perhaps cultivated from the flesh of true Profane. Typically, being poisoned by the Profane is enough to turn a person into one of them. A single bite, and they are forever powerful. The parasites, however, produce a weaker, less stable form of the venom, which only provides temporary effects if not continuously supplied, and is prone to rampant disfigurement. Have you been able to extract any information from prisoners?”

“Even if we manage to take the fiends alive, interrogating them is difficult. They’re ready to die for their cause, and can use their parasites to commit suicide if we try to torture them for information, not to mention their pain threshold is far greater than that of an average person. If we try to remove the parasite, very rarely does it ever work out.”

“What I’m wondering is how they got the equipment and know-how to create these things.”

“Once I returned to Welindar after the gala, I did as you suggested and searched the palace for any hidden rooms where the king’s death might have been orchestrated. I was successful, and found a chamber with some burned documents and destroyed tools. Since then, all the clues we’ve gathered have been stored there, waiting for someone to make sense of them.”

They reached an ordinary-looking corridor, where two guards stood under one of several torches mounted to the wall. They bowed as Lupin arrived, and he pulled down the torch, activating a hidden lever mechanism. The door opened, revealing a windowless room with tables stacked high with documents, equipment, and preserved body parts. Valia grimaced at the sight, and Shannon averted her eyes, but Noah was interested. He pulled a spell card out of his sleeve and activated it, creating several floating spheres of light that illuminated the room.

“What was originally an infestation of mindless beasts has been weaponized into an insurgent militia, seeking to overthrow us.” Lupin showed Noah a piece of parchment, upon which a sigil had been drawn, resembling a paw print. “The insurgents all bear this mark, and call themselves the Pack. Their tactics and methodology have grown more refined, same with the parasites, and they consistently strike us where we are weakest. Not only are they driven by ideology, the power they offer enslaves the minds of those who receive it,”

“We’ve encountered those slaves. Just a few nights ago, while Valia and I were gathering information from the Petosic horse tribe, a group of armored fiends, led by a ghoul-type host, attacked.”

Lupin turned to Shannon. “Are you a member of the horse tribe?”

“Yes, sir, I am,” she said nervously, afraid to meet his gaze.

“This is Shannon, the only member who wasn’t killed or captured. They used the parasites like a drug to brainwash her father so he’d lead them to their village,” said Valia.

“And pulling the strings from behind the scene was a real ghoul, ancient and powerful. The Profane’s ambitions go beyond Handent. In Sylphtoria, a succubus released a plague and tried to assassinate Queen Elisandra. The succubus was genuine, not like these imitation fiends you’ve been fighting, and used a specially-designed parasite to enhance her powers. Had I not been there, the Anorvan Forest would be in flames by now. I believe the Pack are just a small subgroup in a much larger organization.”

Noah moved around the room, examining everything. He came across one of the cylindrical tanks that had once held a gestating parasite. Lupin watched intently as Noah wiped his finger on the inside of the glass and examined the residue. “Givingstin…” he muttered.

“Givingstin?” Lupin asked.

“It’s a byproduct of synthetic amniotic fluid exposed to actinides, and tends to gather on the inside of the tanks. I could never forget that citric smell.”

“In layman’s terms?” Valia asked.

“To create life artificially means to duplicate the processes by which life forms naturally, through alternative means. Basically, you need to create something that the organism can gestate in until it can achieve some manner of homeostasis. Part of that is creating a fluid medium that can sustain prenatal growth while—”

“LAYMAN’S TERMS,” Paulman grunted.

Noah sighed. “This is a glass womb, originally filled with fake womb juice for the little baby parasites to grow.” He then looked over to a nearby table. “And what do we have here?”

Several items were laid out, made with materials he couldn’t identify, and shapes that concealed their purpose. They appeared magical in nature but were constructed similarly to puzzle boxes. Several cables were also linking the items together, likewise made of synthetic materials. The problem was that they were all broken and had been painstakingly pieced back together, at least partially. Even if the fragments were collected, magical items were nearly impossible to repair and couldn’t regain full functionality.

“That is destroyed equipment we’ve uncovered. My experts have done their best to try and recreate them, but they still have no idea as to how they work or what they do.”

“If the Pack went to the trouble to destroy this, that makes it the most important stuff in the room.” Noah laid multiple spell cards on the table like he was performing a tarot reading and placed one of the broken boxes on a blank card. “Rune View,” he cast. Like all spell cards and scrolls, he couldn’t perform the magic, just replicate any visual or auditory effect, but that was all he needed.

A holographic copy of the item appeared in the air, but rather than the actual device and its structure, it showed merely the runes and their configuration. Many runes weren’t visible due to the damage the box had sustained and the pieces missing, but it was enough for Noah to get the gist of what the box was for. All these lines of runes were peculiarly written, almost like code, which overlapped with each other like a three-dimensional crossword puzzle. Using flicks of his finger, Noah caused the apparition to open up and reveal its inner secrets.

“Interesting,” he muttered to himself.

“What is it?” the prince asked.

“Magic is great for simple, powerful tasks, like combat spells. However, for small, detailed, intricate work, well, it’s like trying to cut your hair with an axe. In a way, the smaller the task, the bigger the rune sequence. These parasites weren’t made by simply throwing ingredients into a bubbling cauldron or raised on a farm. Variables had to be aligned and maintained, data had to be received and processed, and all those tasks needed a way to be performed quickly, efficiently, and simultaneously. To do all that, you need either high-level technology or magic that mimics that technology.

This device appears to be a kind of processor, something that receives information and responds to fulfill a task. Each line of runes is a function waiting to activate in response to either a command or an event, and they all overlap each other perfectly, with multiple separate spells using the same runes. I’ve been working on something similar.” He placed down a new arrangement of cards and scanned the puzzle box again. “Chemical Diagnosis.”

Several magic circles appeared in the air, displaying a complete chemical breakdown of the item. Every elemental and molecular ingredient had been converted into a runic sequence, similar to binary code. Multiple elements didn’t appear on the periodic table due to what Noah suspected to be quarks bonding with mana particles to create new magical substances. It was only a theory, as subatomic alchemy was still beyond him.

He rearranged the cards and put down a few more. The display changed, broadening the chemical analysis to show the sources of the substances, whether they were mineral, metal, or biological. He couldn’t determine the exact species, but the ink consisted of blood and fluids from multiple creatures. There were several synthetic materials as well, further stimulating his curiosity. Everyone watched as he read through the magic circles, wondering what he saw in that sea of runes.

He performed the same sequence of tests on other mystery pieces, then turned to the prince. “I know how this all started.”

“What do you mean?”

“All of these pieces show varying levels of intricacy and craftsmanship, but one stands out.” He held up a small crystal shard and performed the Rune View spell, filling the air around him with symbols. “This one little shard has countless runes overlapping each other in all directions, using materials and skills beyond mortal means. I think this is a fragment of an Enochian craft. More than some simple relic like a mighty sword or enchanted artifact, this is supremely high-level magic tech and would take centuries, if not millennia, for human minds to recreate without help.

I believe that the Profane found a source of Enochian technology built for a similar purpose and have been reverse-engineering it to create these lesser crafts here, using more common materials mixed with unique ingredients. It’s the only way they could have built such advanced technology in so short a time. They could have never created these parasites with such precision and speed using simple scrolls and crossbreeding.”

The prince’s expression eased with the relief of answers, and his eyes alight with the promise of more. He had long pondered if recruiting Noah was the right move, even before dispatching Reynolds to find him. Could this stranger, who had broken the back of his family, not only be trustworthy, but capable to uncovering the hidden secrets? Now he was sure he had made the right call. If there was any man he could trust to know what he was doing, it was Noah.

“So how do we stop them?”

“Thanks to what I learned from Shannon’s tribe and the soldiers I’ve spoken to, I’m close to mapping out the progression of these beasts, and once I know the steps that went into making them, I can find the weaknesses built in. If I continue looking through this room to find the specifics, I’m sure I can create a weapon that will work against them.”

“Before you continue,” said Lupin, “I need to know where your expertise comes from. Knowledge like this isn’t something normal people possess, and it doesn’t come from wholesome endeavors. Where have you been, and what have you done to be so informed on this?”

Beside him, the healer girl, Nell, and Shannon could not hide their confusion, looking like the ground was buckling under their feet. Paulman and Reynolds were on guard, as though Noah’s explanations were actually an incantation for a curse. Valia had a small smile, always enjoying seeing Noah’s hidden talents.

“I mentioned how I wear this face to appear more charismatic. It is not simply a made-up disguise; it’s the face I once wore long ago, just one of many. For thousands of years, I have been caught in a cycle of death and rebirth, with each new life taking me to a new reality and timeline.” He changed his appearance as he spoke, flashing through numerous faces and surprising everyone.

“In all that time, I’ve accrued lots of life experience. I’ve lived as a soldier, healer, artist, builder, conqueror and liberator, and every other profession you can think of.” He held out his hand and formed illusory items, from tools to weapons.

“What the Profane are doing goes beyond magic and into the realm of what is known as science, a realm I am well versed in, in all its most beneficial and destructive forms. I’ve crossed every line that man is not meant to cross, and that knowledge is now at your disposal.”

“Demon,” Paulman hissed.

“Maybe I am a demon. I would certainly welcome an explanation. But to Uther and Sylphtoria, I am Noah, the Wandering Spirit, and I’m here to help.”

The prince hesitated for a moment, then exhaled. “Very well. I shall trust in your expertise in good will, and I thank you for any aid you can provide.”

“There is one more thing,” said Noah, holding up a gold knight emblem.

“Where did you get that?” Lupin asked.

“I took it from Leuca Aithorn after besting him and his troops in battle, but he decided I should keep it after everything I accomplished in Sylphtoria, that it would help me. I ask that you honor his wishes and make it official. It’ll be hard to head up this investigation as a bronze-rank knight, and I understand most gold-rank knights received their titles through special recommendations and service, rather than climbing the ranks over time.”

“Who do you think you are to demand such—!”

Lupin raised his hand, silencing Paulman. “Lady Zodiac, is this true?”

“It is. Noah earned the respect and gratitude of Leuca and the rest of Sylphtoria, and before returning to Colbrand, Leuca bequeathed it of his own free will, trusting Noah as worthy to carry it and wield the due authority.”

“I’ve always known Sir Aithorn to be a cold but well-qualified man. To think that you could thaw his frozen heart and earn such favor from him. If that is his judgment, then I will respect it. You may wear that emblem within the city for the sake of your investigation. However, much like your pardon, in order to keep it and officially attain gold-rank status, you must earn it.”

“I will, Your Highness. You have my word.”

That night, Noah, Valia, and Shannon retired to their rooms. They were given three separate accommodations in the palace, but Valia didn’t pretend for even one moment that she would sleep anywhere other than Noah’s bed. She arrived at their room in a robe, drying her silver hair after washing up.

“Nothing beats a hot bath after days of travel,” she sighed blissfully. “What about you?”

“I already gave myself a quick birdbath in the wash basin,” replied Noah, sitting at a table near the bed.

He was busy reading a stack of documents from the evidence room. They were written in another language, but Lupin’s subordinates had translated them. At first glance, it looked like gibberish, and from the scribbled notes, several attempts had been made to try and decode what was believed to be a complex cipher. However, it wasn’t gibberish to Noah. It was data from experiments, listing compounds, mathematics, and bio-stats. As he read through it, Valia could hear him mumbling to himself, sometimes uttering a “pfft, amateurs” or a “hmm, clever.”

“You look like you’re having fun over there.”

“It’s just very nostalgic for me. I was once part of a group of scientists trying to push the limits of human knowledge and understanding, and sometimes, to get ideas or overcome a challenge, we’d all take drugs to expand our minds and make us see and experience crazy things. These notes are stirring up memories of a lot of acid trips.”

Valia giggled and leaned against him, her arms wrapped loosely around his neck. “Seeing you drugged up would be pretty interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed you truly intoxicated before.”

“I’ll have you know I can be quite the hedonist. I spent several lifetimes in a haze of drugs and liquor, always searching for the ultimate euphoria, trying to stay longer and longer in the sweet delirium, free from the monotony of time. Sometimes I’d end up blathering about my past lives, and people would just assume it was a hallucination. I can arrange an elegant dinner gathering for the most sophisticated, classy people in the world, and a I can throw a booze-soaked world-ender of a party that’ll lead to a thousand hangovers, a hundred pregnancies, ten out-of-control fires, and even a civil war.”

“That sounds both intriguing and terrifying. I was never a big drinker, at least before I met you. I’m a warrior, I have to remain focused, and wine and spirits dull one’s instincts.”

“Plus they cause you to wake up in bed with other women, right?”

“That too.”

Valia stepped over to the bed and began sorting the things in her bag. Noah glanced at the damp robe riding up her exposed legs as she leaned over. The next moment, Valia fell forward like a downed tree, letting out a yelp of surprise as Noah buried his face in her ebony ass and ate her out with spine-tingling ferocity.

“Oh! Where did this come from?!” she exclaimed, struggling to gather her strength and remain upright.

Her efforts were for naught as Noah bent her over with nothing but his oral skill. He was absolutely voracious, making Valia shudder happily as his tongue drilled every nook and cranny, leaving her with nothing she could hide from him. Whether it was her front entrance or her back door, there was no boundary Noah wouldn’t cross as he sampled her flavor. His hold on her was secure, giving him all the leverage he needed to go down on her like his life depended on it. With each passing second, Valia felt her mind slipping into the sanity-sapping sea of lustful intoxication as if Noah was licking out her soul.

After all the times they had been intimate, he knew how to unlock the highest levels of her pleasure, using his tongue to open the floodgates. Noah didn’t stop after she climaxed. If anything, he became even more intense, trying to siphon every drop of her arousal until she was an empty husk. She let him have his fill, serving up her ass like a beer mug. Once satisfied, he finally pulled away, gasping for air and leaving her laid out on the bed, limp as a rag.

“I may be an old soul, but I still have a young man’s libido, and I’ve been all pent up since we left Sylphtoria. Now we have a room to ourselves, and you stroll in fresh from the bath. How can I resist?”

“Well first, pull out the noise-canceller.”

“No need.” Noah activated his concealment spell and his mana enveloped them both. “Now no one should be able to hear us.”

Valia rolled onto her back and opened her robe, flashing him with her naked body and a lurid smile. “Well then, give me everything.”

Noah took her up on her invitation and drove in with a mighty shove. Ravishing her in missionary, he made the bed quake and bounce with the intensity of his thrusts. Holding her tight against the wall, he made her cry in euphoria as he pumped her like a well. Taken from behind, Valia leaned against the window, fogging it with her frantic breath while her tits knocked against the cold glass and her nipples hardened. Sitting at his desk, Noah embraced Valia as she bounced on his cock, making the wooden chair creak each time she dropped her ass upon his lap.

The two fucked fast, hard, and continuously, making up for lost time. Valia moaned to her heart’s content, trusting Noah’s shroud to contain her voice and the slapping of flesh on flesh. With how Noah stirred her up, there was no way for her to remain silent. However, though he was able to contain most of the noise, all of their movement and his lack of focus left the veil of mana perforated, and their voices slipped free.

In the next room over, Shannon couldn’t help but overhear. Living in a close-knit village where everyone slept in tents, the sounds of fornication were far from new to her. Still, hearing Noah and Valia going at it made her heart race. They had saved her life, protected her, and taken her with them when she had no one and nowhere to go, and she knew that they were her allies, but after everything Shannon had seen and heard these past few days, the fact of the matter was that they scared her. She felt like a tiny animal sitting in the palms of their hands, and all they had to do was close their fingers to crush her. Hearing their lewd grunts and moans didn’t help. It wasn’t until they finally fell silent that she could drift asleep.

In their room, Noah and Valia were lying in bed, winding down after their vigorous passion with the windows fogged from the breath and sweat. Valia, lying with her head on Noah’s shoulder, sighed. “What do you think about Shannon?”

“Normally, when a woman asks me a question like that after coitus, it’s a trap.”

“Well this time, it’s not.”

“That’s what they all say.”

“I’m serious. I don’t mean what you think of her as a woman, I mean… what am I supposed to do? You saw her this morning when she and I sparred, she was terrified of me. Seeing that fear in her eyes, seeing the pain I had inflicted on her, it made me sick. I’ve fought for centuries, killed countless warriors, and in doing so, I’ve wounded all those who cared about them in ways I can never make up for, but I’ve never felt like this.”

“I could tell you that you made the right choice. I could tell you that Shannon is alive because of what you did, that Korbin was a lost cause before he transformed into that monster. I could say it all, but what would be the point? You already know it. Everything I could say to comfort you, you’ve told yourself, and it’s all true.

I admire you for feeling guilt, for facing the lives you’ve taken and not letting yourself go numb, but your guilt doesn’t determine what is and isn’t true. You did nothing wrong. Every decision you made was the correct one, and had you done things differently, Shannon would be dead and you’d be cursing yourself for it. You were dealt a bad hand, but that’s not your fault.”

“I never wanted to forget the value of life, to dismiss the consequences of my actions, but now I have this knot in my gut, and I’d sell my soul to undo it. I wish I should block it out, tell myself none of it matters, be like you.”

“You don’t want to be like me. Even I don’t want to be like me. Listen, you didn’t kill Shannon’s father, you just weren’t able to save him, and you aren’t to blame for that. Not everyone can be saved.”

Valia sat up and turned away from Noah. “I know that. I realized it on Kisara island.”

“Don’t go blaming yourself for Valon. He slipped through our fingers once, but as long as he is alive, we can still bring him back.”

“You said it yourself, not everyone can be saved. What if he’s one of those people?”

Noah placed his hand on her shoulder. “We won’t know that until it’s too late, and it’s not yet too late. Our journey has only just started. We still have time.”

Valia lay back down, snuggling up against Noah and holding him tight. “I’m going to help Shannon save her tribe; it’s just something I have to do, and I’m hoping you’ll help as well.”

“As you wish. I’ll take her on as my assistant.”

“You’re not allowed to bed her.”

“Oh please, have a little faith in me.”

“I do have faith in you, but if the spirits start giving you instructions, you have to ignore them.”

“An elf telling me to turn my back on the spirits! What is this world coming to?”

Valia enjoyed a much-needed laugh. “Just promise me you won’t seduce her or try anything.”

“I can only promise that I won’t intentionally do anything to make her fall in love with me, but I can’t help it if I’m naturally charming. If she starts pining for me, it’s your fault.”

“Ugh, what am I going to do with you?” she sighed. “I was surprised today, seeing how open you were with the prince about your abilities. I thought you were all about secrecy.”

“With the addition of my guns, I now have enough of a spell arsenal that I don’t need to be so stingy about using magic. Until recently, all I had were invisibility and my clone, and I was forced to use them carefully, but now I can keep them in reserve as a trump card. But it’s more than that. I realized something in Sylphtoria: I no longer need to hide myself, to pretend to be just another guy.

In a world of magic and dragons, I am finally free to be the Wandering Spirit. I can finally have a backstory and be looked at for what I truly am, no matter what face I choose to wear.” He held out his hand, and an illusory cellphone appeared. “These are more than just memories and phantasms; they’re proof of what I’ve done, where I’ve been, who I am. They let me finally tell the truth and be my real self.”

“That’s wonderful. You deserve to be honest with yourself and others. I’m sorry that you’ve had to hide your real self for so long.”

“Thank you. Whether or not I break my curse, I am grateful I came to this world.”

The next day, Noah returned to the evidence room with Shannon. She was nervous, not just because of what she had learned about Noah and his past, but from everything she heard the previous night.

“From now on, you’re my assistant, and you’re going to be helping me here.”

“What would you have me do, sir?” she asked, wringing her hands.

“First, I would have you relax. You needn’t be so nervous.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re shaking like a leaf. What is it that’s making you so uncomfortable?”

“Is… is everything you told the prince true?”

“It is. Do I intimidate you?”

“You said you’ve done the same things as the Profane, the things that made my father what he was. After learning what you are, what you’ve done, what am I supposed to feel after hearing that? How can I trust you?”

“It’s true, I’ve ruined and ended countless lives, but so too have I devoted entire lifetimes to altruism, from curing diseases to ending wars, and saved numerous planets from meteors, dictators, and all manner of doom. That’s what I’m doing here. My past is my own, same with my experiences and knowledge, and right now I’m using them to fight the Profane.

Look, you don’t have to trust me, you don’t have to like me, you don’t even have to stay here. You are completely free to pursue your own desires and goals. You can leave right now, go wherever and do whatever your heart tells you, and I’ll wish you luck, but in order to rescue your loved ones, the Profane must be stopped, and this room right here is where the fight is happening. I need your help and you need mine, so, what’s it going to be?”

Shannon bowed her head. “I’ll help you.”

“Good. Now tell me, what do you know about alchemy?”

From then on, Noah and Shannon worked together in that room. Shannon helped perform all of Noah’s alchemy and ran any errands he had, such as gathering materials and passing messages. She had come a long way from weaving blankets in a yurt on the plains, but Noah was kind to her, and routine and repetition extinguished the anxious flames of confusion. She didn’t have Sophia’s thirst for knowledge, but she made a good assistant.

At noon on the first day, they stopped to eat. They went down to the great hall, where soldiers and other Uther workers dined on bread and stew. Though Noah dove in, Shannon was hesitant.

“Is it really ok for me to eat this?”

“Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I keep thinking back to everyone from my tribe, and I wonder what they are going through. For all I know, they could be locked in cages, forced to eat rats and sleep in filth. And here I am, safe in the castle, eating good food and sleeping in a warm bed.”

“Punishing yourself won’t help them. You’re not obligated to suffer and be miserable just because they are. You want to save your tribe, right? What do you think you can accomplish by depriving yourself of food and rest? You need to take care of yourself, gather your strength and focus your mind, otherwise, you’ll be too weak to do anything.”

“I just wish I knew what was happening to them.”

“They probably wish to know what’s happening to you. However, I’m sure they’re thinking to themselves, ‘at least Shannon got away.’ If they could see you now, do you think they’d want to find you starving in a gutter, just as miserable as them? Or would they want to see you safe, healthy, and working hard to save them?”

“I understand,” she said, trading her somber mood for a small smile.

“Good, then eat up, because we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Noah was true to his words, and they labored in the evidence room for several days. The main goal was to recreate the labs where the evidence had been gathered, putting the pieces together like assembling a puzzle. First, they had to be repaired, using alchemy to merge broken pieces back together like fusing ice cubes, with Noah writing in missing runes to solve what was perhaps the most difficult Sudoku puzzle he had ever faced.

Other pieces had to be rebuilt entirely from the ground up. Once mended, they slid and screwed together in grooves, locked and snapped into place, and were even linked together by cords, not unlike wires. When not busy with her assigned tasks, Shannon often stopped to look over and see what Noah was doing. Watching how fast he was assembling everything, seeing how naturally he pieced them together and arranged them on the table, she eventually spoke.

“Have you done this before? Piecing together magical tools like this?”

“Oh sure, but they weren’t magical. Well, you could say they were similar to magic. In the worlds I come from, people can’t do things like transform into animals or send lightning bolts from their fingers, but they built tools and machines that perform incredible tasks that you might call magical. A long time ago, I was a government scientist, sort of like a magic researcher, and my team was tasked to reassemble an alien craft that had crash-landed.”

“A what?”

“The world we’re on is just an island in an ocean of stars, and to cross that ocean, you need flying metal ships. One such ship landed on my planet, much like a regular ship running aground and getting smashed on the rocks. The pilot—or sailor, as you might call him—didn’t survive. He was an alien, a member of a species originating from another planet. He had a scrawny gray body, a large head with big black eyes, and four long fingers.

Anyway, my team and I had to put the ship back together and learn everything we could from it. That meant we had to determine the purpose and functionality of tools and components built by a race very different from ours. However, with enough intuition, you’ll find that there are only so many different ways to create a device, and when you can figure out the order of priorities, you can determine what is what. For instance, when dealing with human technology, most people are right-handed, so the right side is usually where the most dexterous controls are placed, while on the left side are components for making adjustments.

Besides, I know a computer when I see one.”

While Noah and Shannon worked inside, Valia turned her attention to the front line. Since she couldn’t use alchemy or help Noah piece together broken tech, she decided her talents were most needed on the front lines and hunted for fiends. She spent her days out roaming the streets, or rather, the rooftops. From dawn to dusk, she prowled the city from above, guided to trouble by her elvish hearing.

On one sunny day, her ears drew her to a scuffle in the city's western section. A squad of patrolling soldiers had come under attack by three fiends, all carrying weapons and wrapped in armor. Through repeated battles against the fiends, she had learned the Pack’s patterns. They focused on guerilla tactics, killing patrolling soldiers too far away to call for help or attacking military cargo and shipments between Welindar and Colbrand. They also tore down flags or any sign of Uther’s dominion over the city. Though they could easily slaughter soldiers, they tended to retreat as soon as their mission was completed, lest they draw too much attention and set off a war in the streets.

She arrived at the scene to find several dead soldiers, pulverized into bloody splatters by the blades and clubs of the fiends. They were led by a bronze knight, realizing he was horribly outmatched. Mustering what little courage and mana he had, he aimed his hand at one of the hulking brutes. “Fireball!”

Spheres of burning mana shot from his palm, hitting the fiend and exploding like Molotov Cocktails. The flames splashed off the metal plates while exposed hair and flesh burned as if doused in oil. Standing three feet taller than the knight, the burning fiend snarled and charged, wielding a massive cleaver.

“For the Pack!”

“Zodiac: Badtha!” Valia intercepted, and her sword shattered the fiend’s, sending shrapnel in all directions. “Zodiac: Teez!”

She then spun around and slashed the fiend across the chest, carving through metal and flesh alike. The fiend staggered back, pouring blood like a waterfall, and Valia cut off one of his legs. Her goal wasn’t to kill the fiends, but to take them alive so Noah could study them. Removing the limbs was the only way to keep them down, and even then, she had to be sure they couldn’t reattach them.

A reptile-based fiend held out his hands, and mana blades extended from his claws. He chased Valia, slashing at her with the long mana blades, and though she managed to dodge, one swing struck a soldier and chopped him into pieces. It was not Profane magic, but beast magic augmented by the parasite. Valia swung wide towards the fiend’s shoulder, only for her arm to be grabbed with monstrous speed.

“Die, Uther filth!”

“Zodiac: Rakshon!” Valia instinctively cast, strengthening her body as the fiend bit down on her neck. Her skin and muscles were as tough as steel, but still, the fiend’s clenched jaws made her cry out in pain, and even when his fangs broke against her flesh, he just bit down even harder, trying to crush her bones. “Zodiac: Baol!”

She pulled back her free hand and punched the fiend in the face with all her strength, shattering his skull. Disoriented but resilient, the beast released a garbled howl of fury and tossed her aside, sending her crashing through a nearby house. Though dizzy, she was unharmed and got back to her feet. As she rushed outside, a shadow enveloped her, and she looked up to see a great pair of wings.

A bird-type fiend dropped out of the sky towards her. She narrowly dodged his talons before he blasted off back into the sky, but failed to block the headbutt of a charging fiend. The blow knocked Valia through the air, and she hit the ground without her usual elvish grace. This time, she was slow to stand and found that the fiends had escaped, scattering back into the city and leaving behind several dead soldiers and a slain knight.

“Damn it!” Valia hissed as she punched the ground.

After seven hundred years, seeing comrades die on the battlefield was something she was accustomed to, but these days, every loss burned her, filling her with anger and pain. Once again, she’d failed to save someone who needed her. She was shaken from her thought by a stone flying towards her. She cocked her head to the side to avoid it and looked over, seeing a crowd gathering at the other end of the street, shouting and throwing things.

“Get out of our city, witch!”

“Freedom for Welindar!”

“Death to humans and collaborators!”

“The Pack will save us!”

Valia sheathed her sword and calmly approached. They continued to throw rocks and garbage, but anything that hit her bounced off. As she drew closer, fear moved through the crowd, expecting her retaliation. Finally, she stood before them.

“I don’t blame you for wanting freedom. I don’t blame you for hating Uther or humans. They are the natural response to conquered peoples throughout time. But I warn you, no good can come from the Pack. They promise you the power to win your freedom, but they enslave you to the will of the Profane. Your cries for revolution have been hijacked to suit dark ambitions, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll lose your souls as well as your lives.”

“Liar! You’re just Uther’s whore!” one man shouted, with many agreeing.

Valia sighed and turned around. “I said what I said. You’ll either listen to me or doom yourselves. Good luck,” she said before walking away.

Valia’s stomach was twisted in knots, and she felt a smoldering ember of despair filling her head with smoke. She needed something to help soothe her riled feelings and decided to return to the palace and check in on Noah and Shannon. Upon arriving, her thoughts of the belligerent crowd and her anxieties vanished. However, it was due to the overwhelming sense of revulsion. Atop a large table, a captured Pack member was unconscious and laid out on his stomach. He was sedated, strapped down, and even dismembered. Armed with scalpels and forceps, Noah was about to perform an operation, but not on the fiend.

On the prisoner’s back was his parasite, loosely attached. Noah had pried it off the fiend with great care and effort without severing the tendrils or detaching the proboscis. Scaffolding had been built to keep the parasite elevated above the host while letting it draw blood and secrete venom, which Noah siphoned from the exposed tendrils. Noah was garbed in a smock, mask, gloves, and even made protective goggles. Shannon, assisting him, was likewise dressed.

“What in the world are you doing?” Valia asked.

“Hey, Val, welcome,” said Noah, standing atop a step stool over the fiend. “In order to defeat the enemy, I must know the enemy. Feel free to observe, but for your safety, I insist you wear proper protective clothing. Shannon, would you please?”

“Yes, My Lord,” she said with an obedient bow. She had started using the honorific after hearing about his time in Sylphtoria. As someone recognized by the spirits, he would naturally command her respect, and she had fully immersed herself in her role as his assistant.

Shannon approached Valia with a spare surgical getup. “This will protect you from comtanimation.”

“Close, it’s contamination,” Noah corrected.

“I hope he’s not making you do anything too scary.”

“N-no, it’s fine. I’m learning a lot from Lord Noah, and it’s nice having a way I can help.”

She didn’t make eye contact when she spoke, but it wasn’t because of the scenery around them. Whenever Shannon looked at Valia, she was reminded of that night and her father. Valia could hear it in her voice and see it in her downcast eyes. There was no blaze of hatred or the desire for revenge in her heart, just an aching wound that refused to scab and fear of a memory that hung over her head like a circling buzzard. Still, that despondence encouraged Valia, and she placed her hand on Shannon’s shoulder, forcing her to look up.

“I’m glad. I’m not cut out for this kind of work, so we’re lucky to have you with us.”

“Thank you,” Shannon replied, with a hint of relief.

“Enjoying yourself, are you?” Valia asked Noah as she put on the smock and other garments.

“You could say that. As a scientist, there are few things more exciting than cutting into something I’ve never seen before.”

Valia got up on a step stool on the opposite side of the operation table and looked at the parasite, shivering and agitated, aware of its vulnerability and the attention on it.

“It doesn’t look very friendly.”

“I have something for that. Shannon, the needles.” Upon his word, she presented a tray of needles, each coated with a drug. “I would have liked to perform this on a dead one, but their bodies melt to sludge too quickly for any real study. I’m starting to think they were designed that way to keep their secrets. I went through many parasites and hosts just to find the right combination of drugs that would put them to sleep.”

With a steady hand, Noah began inserting the needles into the parasite. Initially, it hissed and thrashed, even trying to ward him off with sharp barbs growing out of its back, but the drugs worked their way into the creature’s system and silenced it. Once the parasite was sedated, Noah made a long incision down its back. He then used the forceps to widen the opening, showing the wrinkled gray tissue underneath.

“Valia, you’ve seen what people are made of. What does that look like to you?”

“I think that looks like… brains?”

“That is definitely brain matter.” Noah continued the operation, slowly carving into the spongey mass without killing the parasite. “Snakes have their poison gland beneath their eyes, but though the Profane fangs are most similar to snakes, their venom gland appears to be situated in the actual brain. How fitting for what is essentially liquid evil. Ah, there we go.” He pointed his scalpel at a small balloon-like nodule. “That must be the gland, and this line of tissue here is the compressor muscle that pushes it through the system.”

“Fascinating, but revolting. How is this helpful?”

“Because now I know what to target. These monsters are resistant to most drugs and poisons, but they aren’t completely immune. Hello, what’s this?” He exposed another gland similar to the first. “Shannon, the syringe, please.” She handed him a glass syringe, and he stuck it into the fleshy pocket. As he pulled back the plunger, the syringe filled with fluid. “Well, now, this is quite interesting.”

“What do you think it is?”

“I’m not sure, but I’m going to enjoy finding out.”

After days of work and research, the prince visited the evidence room, which Noah had repurposed into his lab. Lupin’s need for results felt like an animal in his mouth, trying to fight its way out, and he wanted to vent his impatience, but the sight before him took the wind from his sails. All the gathered tools and equipment had been put back together, resembling the amalgamated labs they came from. Beakers and test tubes full of various potions sat on racks and over fires, and jars full of preserved body parts and tissue samples were arranged on shelves.

At the far end of the room, Noah stood before an array of screens, all projected into the air like holograms. Beneath the screens was a table covered in magic pieces, some sporting intricate mechanical designs and others shaped into abstract forms and engraved with runes. By moving his hands over the devices, Noah could control what appeared on the screens, be they lines of runes, graphs, or other forms of information. Standing beside him was Shannon, awaiting his next order.

“What in the world is all this?” Lupin asked,

“Ah, Your Highness, welcome. Please, come in.”

“I can’t believe you actually got all this stuff working. None of my experts could make heads of tails of this.”

“It’s all a matter of experience. The Pack is clearly utilizing some impressive equipment, but I thought a few improvements were needed, so while putting everything back together, I made some changes here and there.”

“Have you learned anything from this?”

“Most of the stored information was erased, but I got some pieces. More importantly, I’ve been using this setup to perform my investigation. Through gathered samples and interviews, I’ve mapped out the parasites’ genetic progression.”

“Their what?”

“I know how they were made, at least in part, and I’ve identified some weaknesses. Like their venom, the parasites are highly unstable and require constant maintenance. Though they feed on the blood of their hosts for sustenance, they need much more in order to properly function. All those labs your men have busted weren’t for making new parasites; they were for caring for the ones currently alive.” Noah walked over to a table with potion-making equipment. “I’ve been analyzing residue left behind on these tools, and discovered numerous plant species vital to the Pack’s operation. They’re used for what I suspect to be medicine and the gestation liquid in the glass tanks.”

“What kind of medicine?”

“A stabilizing agent, or at least the means to produce it. Why do the fiends continue to transform after the parasites have been removed? It’s because the parasites also inject their hosts with something to control the mutations and keep the body from degenerating into a twisted mass of infected flesh and gnarled bone like the basilisk. It must be administered continuously with the venom, or it wears off, and the host falls apart. However, they need particular substances to produce it, things not found in their hosts’ diets, and that’s where the medicine comes in.

Shannon, if you would please?”

“Yes, My Lord,” she replied with a bow. Shannon approached a metal box and pulled a lever on the side. A cloud of steam shot from an outlet, and once all was quiet, she opened the box with a pair of gloves and pulled out a glass bucket filled with an opaque liquid.

“What is this?” Lupin asked.

“An allergen, something that the fiends’ bodies won’t be able to handle. It neutralizes the stabilizing agent in their blood, allowing the poison to cause rampant mutations. If your soldiers apply this to their arrows, it’ll make the fiends sick and easier to kill. It’ll just be a matter of time until the Profane find a way around it, but for now, you’ve got your game-changer.”

“Finally, some good news. Not only do we have a potent weapon, but if we can cut off their supply to these medicinal plants, it would cripple their organization.”

“Most certainly. One of the plants, however, was a kind of seaweed.”

“Seaweed? Handent’s coastline is all the way in the north, requiring months of travel across wetlands, prairies, and mountains. Even the fiends would struggle to make that kind of journey efficiently. That would mean it either came from Uther or Vandheim.”

“I had the same conclusion. I’ll put together a list of the plants I found. I suggest you have your men search the countryside for any farms growing them. As for the seaweed, I’m going to look for the origin myself.”

“How do you plan to do that?”

“I have my methods. Besides, I can’t save this city while being cooped up away from it. I need to truly understand Welindar and our enemy.”

“Very well. Do whatever you need to do. You haven’t let me down yet.”

“Thank you, sire,” said Noah before Lupin departed.

That night, when all was dark and quiet, there was movement in the corridors. Lighting her way with a candle, Shannon arrived at the lab and yawned before opening the doors. She expected it to be empty, but was shocked to find Noah there, facing the array of screens.

“My Lord? What are you doing here?”

“Oh, hello Shannon. I came down here to get some work done. What about you?”

“I came to get this,” she said, picking up a small book nearby. “This book of poetry has been helping me improve my reading skills, and sometimes lines get stuck in my head. I was tossing and turning, trying to remember one such poem, scratching at it like a bug bite in the back of my mind. Finally, I decided I had to get up and reread it to know for sure.” She approached Noah, looking at all the screens. “This isn’t about the Profane or the Pack, is it?”

“No, this is something a little more personal.” He held out his hand, and a large magic circle appeared over his palm, more intricate and using more runes than any spell Shannon had ever seen. “This is the spell formula for my reincarnation ability. When I was in Sylphtoria, the spirits of nature gave me the ability to manifest it. My goal is to break the spell and end the cycle of rebirth, so that I may finally rest peacefully. I’ve been struggling to make any headway with it, but this technology is giving me a lot of help.”

“So you’d stop being reborn? Isn’t that the same as dying?”

“I’ve died countless times already, some of them under circumstances so strange and horrific that you’d have to be drunk to believe me. I want my next death to be my final one, to be free of the monotony of time and the highs and lows of living.”

Shannon clutched the poetry book to her chest. “That’s… that’s so sad. How can you talk like that?”

“Everything that has a beginning has an end. Haven’t you ever wanted to go to sleep just so that you wouldn’t have to think or feel anything? To fall into a long, dreamless slumber and just let the world move on without you instead of dragging you along like you’re on a leash? Believe me, I haven’t missed out on anything. I’ve experienced every pain and pleasure you can imagine, every accomplishment and tribulation. I have loved and been loved, I have mourned and been mourned. There is nothing left. We all write our own stories, but every story has an end. I’m ready to write the final chapter.”

Shannon reached out and gently clutched his hand, leaning her head against him. “I hope that chapter doesn’t come for a long, long time.”

Please comment! Tell me your thoughts!
1 comments

Ryojin JakkaReport 

2024-01-24 21:46:51
Another excellent chapter! I wish I was better at writing so I could give a better comment. All I can say is I look forward to the next chapter.

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