Author: x-SystemRestore PM
It's been 3 years since we have lost Victoria Island to Krylin's forces. Morale and trust in the Aegis is declining. I don't think there's any hope for us at all...Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 33 - Words: 209,372 - Reviews: 249 - Favs: 39 - Follows: 35 - Updated: 05-02-13 - Published: 08-05-11 - id: 7256625
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Meg Aomori – 13 years old – Cleric
Sean Everard – 14 years old – Fighter
Ciel Clawrence - 15 years old - Ranger
Alice Everard - 20 years old - Dragon Knight
Lia Kaji - 47 years old - Archmage (Fire/Poison)
Isabelle Alfort - 21 years old - Corsair
Xin Jian - 21 years old - Hero
Minna Sukoyaka - 18 years old - Bishop
Ivan Alfort - 21 years old - Corsair
Dante Kyudo - 22 years old - Bowmaster
Cedric Windsor - 23 years old - Shadower
Eternus - ? years old
Krylin - 28 years old - Dark Cleric
Mytsu Arai - 17 years old - Dawn Warrior
Ada Diskenths - 20 years old - Hermit
Mary Kelley - 24 years old - Paladin
Froid Hermes- 35 years old - Archmage (Ice/Lightning)
Kaito Shinrai - 22 years old - Marksman
Saya Shinrai - 20 years old - Bowmaster
Chapter 23 - Bloody Murder
Alice let out a tired sigh as she stood up straight. She wiped away at the sweat that had gathered on her upper lip with the back of her hand as her other hand tightly held her blue Eviscerator.
It was hard to concentrate on her training, even with the invasion in just two days.
The only thing that dwelled in her mind was what Dante had told her a few days ago.
"Your mother...is Lia?" Alice sat there in shock, staring at the archer with wide blue eyes. "But...so then-" Alice stumbled upon her own words. "-you were the son that she was talking about?"
Dante let out an amused chuckle. "So, she does talk about me."
"We-Well," Alice stammered, "not you personally, but she mentioned that she had a son once or twice."
The bowmaster smiled wistfully as he bent over and leaned his elbows down against his knees. "That's foolish of her, especially if she wanted to keep her cover."
Alice noticed how Dante's hands were trembling as they remained laced up tightly in front of his lips. She knew how sensitive of a topic this was to him.
"Dante?...Were you mad at your mom earlier?"
"That woman's not my mother."
Dante turned his head slightly to face her. "What kind of "mother" leaves her child in the time of a conflict?"
"But I'm sure Lia had a reason! Lia would never-!"
"It doesn't matter anymore. Now that I know she's alive, I want to sever all ties with her. She must have known I was her son all along and yet she didn't even bother saying anything. I'm tired of not knowing and her lying to me."
The blue haired woman dropped her head as she flopped down on the cool green grass. Her light gray top was damp with sweat so, it felt relieving when a breeze rolled past her.
"You shouldn't be lying down when the invasion is only a few days away."
Alice sat up at the sound of Dante's voice and frowned. "I was training," she argued.
Dante stood over her and smirked down at her. "I know. Your stances could use some work."
"And what do you know about warrior training?" she asked.
"But you did look distracted."
Alice faltered, turning away from him. She didn't want to tell him that she was still thinking about their conversation concerning Lia. It would bring down the mood.
"Get up," he told her, bending down to pick up her discarded Eviscertor. It took him a little bit of effort, but he picked up the heavy weapon nonetheless.
As Alice got up to her feet apprehensively, Dante handed her the polearm. "I still don't know how you manage to run around carrying that thing," he said as he went around behind her.
She felt him get up close so that his chest met her back. He wrapped his large hands around her smaller ones and handled the polearm.
"What are you doing?" she asked skeptically.
Alice quirked an eyebrow up, not really sure what he was talking about.
"Run through your stances. I'll follow."
Unsure what he was getting at, Alice uneasily started to move her arms and legs. She felt Dante move with her.
"Uhm, Dante?" Alice asked. "I don't really get it..." she mumbled, confusion in her tone.
"We should be in sync more."
Dante stopped for a moment, stopping Alice as well. He leaned down so that his lips gently brushed against the top of her head. "I want you as my martyr again," he muttered, closing his eyes.
Alice shut her blue eyes and gently pried herself away from him. She turned around and looked up at him. "I know I told you I would help you with anything, but I can't do this."
"I know you want to sever your ties with Lia, but...she's my platoon leader. I can't just leave her."
"You wanted to leave me back when you got assigned to be my martyr."
She rolled her eyes slightly and stabbed her Eviscertor into the ground beside her. "That's different. You were an asshole."
Dante looked at her sourly, but said nothing back because he knew that it was true.
"But Lia...she's very important to me. I know you hate her, but don't make me hate her too for your sake." Alice saw Dante's disappointed reaction and she cautiously raised a hand to touch his cheek. "I'm sorry...but trust me?"
"About what?" he grumbled.
"Lia does everything for a reason. She's kind and caring...she would never abandon you without a good reason."
Dante moved away her hand from his face as he muttered, "don't praise her so much in front of me."
"I'm not. It's just the truth about her." Alice turned away somberly and muttered under her breath, "I know she's a better mother than mine." She clenched her fists and looked up at Dante, her lips pursed in determination. "I can't leave Lia. I'm her martyr."
The archer stared at her for a while, before letting out a sigh in defeat. He smiled just slightly and chuckled. "I already knew you'd say something like this. You're just as stubborn as you claim me to be."
"You're still more stubborn than I am."
Dante let out a stifled laugh. "You're being stubborn again."
Alice blushed and stammered out, "I-I'm not! You're the one that's-!" Her voice faltered when she saw him looking down at her with a rather loving gaze. She blushed lightly and grumbled out, "what...?"
"I'm not sure if it's you who changed or it's me who's changed."
"It used to annoy me you know? The way how you were naive and on top of that, stubborn about everything."
The blue haired girl frowned slightly.
Dante noticed this and laughed. "Idiot..." He took hold of her hand. "Actually...uh-"
Alice quirked an eyebrow up in question when she saw how Dante suddenly looked somewhat embarrassed. "What is it?"
He ran his thumb over her smooth knuckles and mumbled out incomprehensible words. Finally he cleared his throat softly and mumbled, "there's this celebration...or no- festival. I was wondering if you could go with me..."
"Huh? I can't hear you-"
Dante glared at her as if it was her fault that he had to repeat himself. Loudly, he said, "there's a pre-battle festival! Just go with me!"
Alice stood there blinking at him in pure confusion before she asked, "did you just ask me out?"
The raven haired man blushed wildly. He scratched the back of his head and spoke very quickly. "It's not a date if that's what you think it is, idiot! Athena just thought it would be nice to boost the morale of the Aegis before we head into battle. It's just a silly little festival. Cedric said he wants to go with Ada so-"
He faltered when he felt Alice take his hand in hers.
Alice giggled at how embarrassed he was. "I'll go with you then."
"It's not a date!"
She simply smiled, causing him to blush even more. "I know."
All Dante did was growl under his breath at how hot his face felt and how much his heart was beating inside of his chest. What was he doing acting like a stupid love struck teenager? He was past that!
"Should we get these too?" Minna hummed as she picked through the different selections of colorful cupcake sprinkles. "Excuse me," she called over the vendor, "can I get these two sprinkles?"
Ivan watched as the vendor took out a small paper bag and scooped up the two different sprinkles from the display jars.
The bubbly cleric smiled, turning towards Ivan. "Hopefully Alice won't mind us dropping by for a visit! I'm sure Sean will want to help us make these cupcakes anyways." She paid for the bag of sprinkles and placed them in her basket filled with a variety of cupcake making ingredients. "Okay! I think we're done! I wanted to get everything before the festival starts
Minna took Ivan's hand in hers and giggled when she saw embarrassment cross over his normally stoic expression. Despite the fact that Ivan was not very expressive most of the time, he never failed to express himself towards her.
When both of them neared Alice's house, they saw a familiar person step out from it.
"Alice-!" Abruptly, Minna stopped herself when she saw the face of the woman. It was Alice's mother, Dr. Everard. Immediately, she felt Ivan's hand stiffen and tighten around hers.
The older woman closed the front door and turned towards them at the sound of her daughter's name. She raised an eyebrow and finally a look of realization passed across her face.
"Ah...well if it isn't my prototype."
Minna knew how this encounter was bothering Ivan greatly, so she tried to steer the conversation to a quick close. "U-Uhm, Ms. Everard..."
"Doctor," she corrected.
"Uhm, Doctor Everard...we're in a bit of a hurry. You wouldn't happen to know where Alice is?"
The doctor scoffed, crossing her arms over her chest. "For all I know, she could be gallivanting around with that boy, Dante or something." Carelessly she waved her hand before adjusting the thin glasses on her face. "No matter, she could do whatever it is she wants."
She smirked a little when her blue eyes rested on Ivan.
"Nice to see my prototype is still doing okay. Not bad for a failed experiment."
Minna felt Ivan tense up and quickly she held him back with a gentle tug of his arm, silently telling him that it wasn't worth it. Once the doctor walked away, Minna told the gunslinger in a soft voice, "don't believe a word she says."
Ivan looked down at the young woman and saw her smiling up at him.
Silently, she pulled on his arm, leading him towards the front door of Alice's house.
Just then a girl ran past them, so quickly and hastily that she bumped into Ivan's shoulder. He flinched at the impact and stumbled slightly, letting go of Minna's hand in the process.
"I'm so sorry!" the girl exclaimed. She got up on her feet and apologized profusely, bowing multiple times before running off again.
Ivan had opened his mouth to tell her it was okay, but by then she was already halfway down the street and out of earshot.
"Are you okay, Ivan?" Minna asked, gently patting his shoulder that had gotten bumped into.
"I'm fine." Ivan muttered, looking over towards the direction where the girl had run to. Something didn't feel right - his hand went down to his holster around his waist and felt for his gun. When all he felt was an empty holster, his green eyes widened and immediately he looked down.
"My gun," he said under his breath."
"Huh?" Minna looked down at his empty holster and saw that his weapon was missing. "Did that girl take it when she bumped into you?"
"Probably a thief..." Ivan narrowed his eyes down the road.
"Should I help you look for her?"
"No. Something was off about her...I can't really quite say what, but-" Ivan turned towards Minna, "I'll search for her after I get my spare gun from our room. Just in case..."
The cleric nodded. "Be back soon."
As soon as Ivan left, Minna looked on after him until he disappeared from her sight. She suddenly felt uneasy with what he had said. "Just in case?" she muttered to herself, already starting to feel worried.
Everything was looking blurry and distorted. The ground seemed like it wouldn't stop shaking and her head felt as if it would explode from the pressure she felt.
Meg swayed slightly as she walked down the busy street. She let out a little whimper from the pain she felt inside of her. It felt as if someone was sticking her whole body with a thousand arrows.
"Ow..." she whimpered softly as she held her chest.
The pains started to happen as soon as she had returned from her quest with Sean and Froid. She had thought that it was just a small head cold she had gotten from the cold weather in El Nath, but when the pains persisted and increased dramatically in pain, far beyond what a simple cold could offer, Meg knew that it was something serious.
Meg closed her eyes tightly and fell to her knees off towards the side of the street. No one really seemed to be paying much attention to her as she knelt there doubled over in the growing aches.
In her mind she saw brief images of a clear environment. A beautiful, grand tree in the middle of it all, bearing gold embellished fruits that looked ripe to eat. A clear spring surrounding the whole thing with water so clear she could drink it...
"Meg? Is that you?"
The blond opened up her eyes weakly and turned her head to see who had mentioned her name. It was Sean's older sister, Alice.
"U-Uhm..." was all Meg could manage to stammer out as she felt the pain doubling inside of her.
Alice, with Dante following behind her, knelt down in front of the young girl and worriedly placed her hand on Meg's back. "Meg, should we take you to the infirmary? Are you hurt somewhere?"
"I-I don't know," Meg said, tears starting to form in her eyes. "Just make it stop. It hurts so much..."
"We should probably get her to the infirmary," said Dante.
Alice made a motion to attempt to pick Meg up in her arms, but was stopped by Dante.
"I'll carry her," he stated, "you go to the council and find Grendel." Dante gently touched Meg's shoulder as she began to break into a cold sweat. "This looks serious."
"It's hard to say at this point."
"Eh? What does that mean?" Alice asked Grendel. "She'll live...right?"
Judging by the silence she was met with, Alice pursed her lips in distress. "Then...she won't?"
"Like I said, it's hard to say at this point, Miss Everard. I'm sorry, I know how close Meg is to your little brother. Perhaps notifying him of this situation would be best."
Alice watched as Grendel walked back into the room where Meg was being treated. She had absolutely no idea how Sean was going to take this news, or how she was going to tell him.
"I'm sure Grendel will do his best," Dante said, placing his hand on Alice's shoulder.
Sadly, Alice placed her hand over his and nodded, trying to be optimistic. "Of course...he's the best healer."
He sensed her worry and turned her around gently. "What's wrong?" he asked, facing her.
Alice let out a soft sigh. "I guess I just don't like stuff like this. People dying..."
"No one does." Dante gently pushed his index finger against her forehead. "You'll get wrinkles if you keep making a worried face like that."
The spearman frowned and clapped her hand over her forehead. "But...I-!"
"Everything will be fine."
"Even with the invasion coming up?"
Dante saw Alice's big blue eyes fill with worry and at that time he knew the real reason behind her downtrodden actions. "We're all working hard to make sure there are no unnecessary deaths." He tilted his head slightly to look at her face. "...Is that what you were worried about?"
"Of course, but...maybe also..." Alice held her arm and cautiously peeked up at him. Then in a soft whisper, she said under her breath, "I don't want things repeating itself."
The raven haired man peered down at Alice's small hand as she gripped at the long sleeves of his black shirt. She tugged at the soft cotton material and mumbled, "I just don't want to lose you again. I don't want to lose anyone."
"You won't." Dante gently pulled away her hand and wrapped his arms around her. He gently ran his fingers through her long blue hair. "You won't lose Ada, Minna, Sean...even me. And Meg will be fine. Grendel is doing the best he can."
"Really...?" she asked, feeling some sort of small relief even when she knew that Dante couldn't be absolutely right, but she felt comfort in his words.
"Xin has sent word that Princess Mytsu and Queen Nackt have gathered together their resources and are already finalizing the plans for the invasion."
"They're fast," Dances commented.
Athena rolled up the small scroll that was sent by Xin. "That's how it needs to be done. The invasion in only in a few days. The platoon leaders should be finishing up their final battle plans and collaborations soon." She sighed and set the scroll aside before she focused her attention on Dark.
"What became of Kyrin?"
Dark showed some level of discontent on his face at the mention of the Pirate Queen's name. "We shouldn't count on her to help in the invasion. It's virtually impossible to get in contact with her anymore. The Nautilus disappeared along with her and her crew."
"She isn't one to back down from a fight...but I suppose we're just wasting time on her, especially if she has no interest in helping." Athena pursed her lips, obviously in the same amount of disappointment as Dark was. While Kyrin showed no real interest in fighting off Krylin, she didn't know that the pirate would downright ignore her fellow council members.
"There's...no chance that she could have sided with Krylin already, right?" Dark asked suspiciously.
Athena narrowed her icy blue eyes at him. "Don't even joke about that, Dark. She may be a ruthless pirate, but she would never support Krylin. She's not that dishonorable."
Minna worriedly looked out the window as she laid out the freshly baked cupcakes on the kitchen counter.
"Minna? Is something wrong?" Sean asked as he whipped up the frosting in the small mixing bowl.
"Eh?" She turned back around towards the young boy and quickly shook her head. "N-No! Of course not!" A little nervous laugh passed her lips as she gently patted the head of one of the cupcakes.
"Are you sure?"
The strawberry blond's lip twitched just slightly as she lowered her head. "We-Well...maybe...a little. It's just so late...Ivan should be back by now." She stole another glance outside.
Sean noticed the cleric's worrisome expression. "You can go and look for him, Minna." He smiled sweetly at her. "I can finish up here."
Minna nodded and thanked him, taking off her apron and keeping her eyes locked against the window. She rushed out of the house, a bit more hastily than she had wanted to, and ran down the streets of Orbis.
While the soft light from the many street lamps kept the surrounding illuminated, Minna still had a problem looking around and identifying the various faces of the people that she passed.
"Ivan?" she called out, breathing heavily in panic. Something definitely wasn't right.
"Ivan!" Minna ran towards the still crowded marketplace, now brimming with the beginnings of late night festivities. The night air felt bitterly cold to her as she searched for the pirate. Her voice and her actions became more frantic when it seemed as though she had no hope in finding him.
Dante glanced down at Alice, who was sitting beside him on the bench. It was obvious that she was still bothered by what happened to Meg and the reality of the upcoming battle.
All around them, the joyous festivities were taking place. Children running around and playing with sparklers, street vendors selling scrumptious food, bards and performers singing and dancing along to cheerfully uplifting music...and yet, they seemed like the only ones that weren't affected by it all.
"Are you okay?" he finally asked her.
Alice fiddled with her fingers for a while before responding. "...How am I supposed to tell Sean about Meg? He'll be so devastated. I don't want to lie to him...so..."
"Easier said than done."
Dante crossed his arms over his chest and sighed. "And Cedric says I'm gloomy."
Pursing her lips up in annoyance, Alice muttered, "I can't help it if I worry."
"You're worrying too much then. Sean can handle himself-"
"It's not only Sean I'm worried about!" she shouted, getting some attention from the people around them. "Everything's starting to go downhill so, I'm getting worried for you too!"
"Did you already forget? You said Mary infected you with Krylin's magic again."
Dante motioned with his hand, silently telling the blue haired girl to lower her voice. He noticed that she was getting attention from more people around them. Seeing as how they couldn't carry out a private conversation like this in public, Dante took hold of her hand and quickly muttered under his breath, "come here."
He dragged Alice into a small, isolated alleyway, away from the festivities and people.
"What are you talking about?" he asked in a hushed tone.
Alice furrowed her brow slightly and crossed her arms over her chest. "You're not even remotely worried about Krylin's magic being inside you again. I found out that the spell Athena casted to remove it before was really difficult."
"There's no point in worrying. It'll do no good right now with the battle coming up."
He hushed her right up when he placed his forearm right beside her head against the wall. His gaze was steady and unwavering, showing her that he was firm in his decision to ignore the situation for now.
"Remember how long it took Krylin's magic to work on me last time? This can wait for the next few days, right?"
Alice, still discontent with this decision, unwillingly nodded. "I guess so..." she muttered.
"It will be different this time."
Dante smiled at her and gently stroked her cheek with his other hand. "I told you everything this time and...you'll be by my side?" he asked of her gently.
Without any delay or second thought, Alice nodded. "Of course I will!"
At her immense willingness to help, Dante let out soft laugh. "You don't have to be that adamant about it."
Alice pursed her lips in embarrassment and shouted, "but you told me that other time in the infirmary that I could save you!"
"That I did." Dante leaned down and lowered his eyelids. "Just so we're clear, what I said that time wasn't a request. It was an order. Save me this time."
She trembled as she saw him lean in closer for a kiss. However, just before their lips met each other's...
The sudden noise of the loud gunshot startled both of them and quickly Dante pulled away.
"What was that?" Alice asked.
"It sounded a lot like...-"
They both looked down the alleyway and at that precise moment, they saw a familiar blond gunslinger running past the entryway of the alley.
"Isn't that Ivan?" Alice ran out of the alley and got out onto the main streets.
It was pure chaos. The joyous festivities had halted and people were running all over the place. The mere sound of a gunshot was enough for some of them to think that Orbis was under attack. Amidst the crowd, Alice could see that a few platoon leaders were trying to quell the chaos, but it wasn't enough.
"Why was he running away?" Dante asked as he came up behind Alice.
"I don't know. I don't even know where he went!"
"We need to find him. No doubt that he knows of the gunshot we just heard."
The two of them ran down the street in the direction where they saw Ivan run away. Neither of them paid much attention to the crowd that was now gathering at the opposite end of the street.
"Help! Someone! Someone's been murdered!"
"Get back everyone!"
Blood stained the pale white cobblestone ground and trickled down slowly from underneath the mass of blue hair. Her glasses lay beside her head, the lenses cracked. Her blue eyes were wide open and staring off into the night sky above.
One of the platoon leaders knelt down beside her and sighed when he saw the single bullet hole right in between her eyes. Froid came up beside him and stared at the bloody scene in front of him.
"What happened?" he asked.
"Tell Athena that Julia Everard has been murdered."
"Do we know who?"
The elderly platoon leader grimly stood up, keeping his eyes on the dead doctor. "It was brief, but I was sure of it." He turned to Froid and answered, "it was one of our own, Ivan Alfort."
He knew something was going on. He knew it the moment his gun went missing and when he had returned back to their room, he saw that a few articles of his clothes were gone.
And now all this was happening...
Ivan had caught a glimpse of the attack. It all seemed to happen in a split second. One minute he had spotted the back silhouette of the doctor and in the next minute she was falling backwards lifelessly.
His breath hitched in his throat when he saw the person standing in front of the doctor, the one that had shot her.
He saw himself.
Briefly, he made eye contact with the shooter and something inside of him clicked. The look that he saw in those green eyes...there was no mistaking it.
"Isabelle..." he whispered through clenched teeth.
Just as he said her name, chaos broke out in the whole marketplace. He was shoved and bumped into as crowds of people screamed and tried to run away.
He tried to look over the heads of the people, hoping to see her again, but he saw no signs of her at all. Just like the wind, she was gone.
Ivan then raised his head and widened his green eyes when he spotted her hiding in the shadows on a low rooftop. They met gazes again and she ran away. He gave chase to her, running and occasionally brushing past several people hard enough that he knocked them over, but he didn't stop to apologize.
Once he got out of the large crowd, he saw the flap of his brown coat out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head and saw the female gunslinger running off into Orbis Park.
He chased her, never letting his eyes off of her figure.
"Stop!" he shouted.
When they reached a dark area of the park, she had stopped running, letting him finally catch up to her.
Ivan panted as he kept his eyes on her back. Indeed, she really had taken on his appearance. She had on his brown coat, his brown tricorne hat...it explained all the missing clothes in his room.
She finally turned around to meet him with a slight smirk. "This was revenge." Isabelle took off his hat and tossed it onto the ground out in front of him.
"I never did anything to you."
"Not me." Isabelle closed her eyes and pulled off the short blond wig she had on. She let loose her long, knee length hair and shook it out. "This was on Krylin's whim."
"Is this for betraying her?" Ivan asked, his emerald green eyes narrowing.
The female pirate said nothing as she pulled out Ivan's gun from her holster. She waved it in front of him before she carelessly tossed it onto the ground beside his hat. "Now the Aegis will eat you alive."
Ivan clenched his teeth and quickly pulled out his spare gun. He shot off a round at her, but she dodged it and quickly made her escape. She had jumped up into one of the high trees and looked down at him.
"I'm disappointed that we're even part of the same experiment. Mother shouldn't have wasted her time creating you. Wasting all your time on that little cleric...she's the reason why you betrayed Krylin and she intends on making her pay."
Her eyes flickered over to the sound of footsteps approaching the area. Ivan heard these footsteps too and whipped around to face them.
He saw Alice and Dante running up to him. There was a rustling of leaves behind him and he turned back around, briefly forgetting about Isabelle.
She was already gone.
"What were you running from?" Alice asked suspiciously. She leaned over slightly and spotted his discarded gun on the ground behind him.
"I wasn't running," he said a bit harsher than he wanted it to be. "I was chasing Isabelle."
"Where is she?" questioned Dante, having his own suspicions as well. He saw the gun lying on the ground as well as the spare gun that Ivan held in his hand. "Was she the reason you decided to fire your gun in a crowded marketplace?"
Ivan frowned and furrowed his brow, not liking how they were starting to imply things. "I didn't fire my gun. It was Isabelle."
"Then where is she?"
"She just ran away as soon as she killed Dr. Everard!"
Alice blinked in shock. "Wh-Who...?" she asked softly.
Although the damage had been done, Ivan bit back his tongue when he realized that the doctor was Alice's mother.
"It's hard to believe you when no one has seen her," Dante stated, hoping to pull the conversation away from what happened to Dr. Everard. He glanced over to Alice and saw that she was in a state of slight shock.
Ivan clenched his fists in frustration. "I'm not making anything up! Why would I?"
"Well...you were on bad relations with Alice's mother in the first place. We all disliked her, but you seemed to loathe her."
The pirate squeezed at the handle of his spare gun and Dante started to eye it warily.
"Even though I may have some human emotions, I won't do something so irrational like murdering someone like that. I haven't completely abandoned my instincts as a bioweapon."
Interrupting their conversation, Alice asked in a shaking tone, "i-is my mother really dead?"
Seeing as how arguing and having an open interrogation wasn't doing her any good, Dante stepped in and said to the blond gunslinger, "let's just discuss this back at the council building with Athena."
"Why?" Ivan asked, glaring at the bowman with his emerald green eyes. He was suspicious. "I don't think I need to explain myself any further. Isn't it obvious that it wasn't me?"
"No, it's not. The fact that there was a gunshot, you running away from it right after, the person you hate the most is now dead...you really think we don't have the right to be suspicious? And the fact that you're acting so defensive isn't helping either."
"You're only going to take me in just to throw me in prison."
"Only if you're guilty. If you're innocent, then you have nothing to worry about."
Ivan backed away, wary of Dante.
"Forget it," he whispered.
"What?" Dante suddenly stepped back and took Alice's wrist when he saw the pirate draw his spare gun as well as pick up his discarded Shark Tooth Sharpshooter. "Ivan..." he said in a warning voice.
"By the way you're talking to me, it's like you've already pegged me as guilty." Ivan clicked both of his guns and held them tightly as he backed up slowly. "No matter who I talk to, you or Athena...you'll all see me as guilty. You need someone to blame for Everard's death and Isabelle isn't enough for you."
"Ivan, what the hell's wrong with you-?"
"Everyone saw it!"
The pirate applied some pressure on the triggers, but not enough so that they would fire. "Everyone saw that it was me that killed the doctor! Isabelle stole my weapon, my clothes, she dressed up as me and went out to kill her!" Ivan motioned to the discarded hat on the ground. "That's mine and she even went as so far to break into my room! So many people saw her shoot Everard, but they saw her as me! No matter how you say it or present it, the council will find me guilty."
Dante shook his head. "I'll talk to Athena then-"
"Don't even bother. You may be a platoon leader, but the majority saw what happened and will tell her I murdered the doctor. You can't do anything about it."
"Don't do anything stupid, Ivan..."
The corsair pulled out a small grenade from his coat pockets and struck it against a tree, lighting it up. Just before the fuse went out, he closed his eyes and whispered, "tell Minna I'm sorry."
Ivan threw down the grenade right in between them. The small bomb exploded once it made contact with the ground, sending a cloud of smoke into the air as well as debris.
Dante quickly took a still stunned Alice into his arms and ducked down behind a tree. It seemed as though the explosion brought her back to reality.
"Where did Ivan go?" Alice asked as she looked around.
"Damn it," Dante muttered under his breath, peeking out from behind the tree. "He's only making things worse on himself. I don't understand why he would do that. He's innocent."
"Really? But he-"
"His answers were geniune. I'm sure Minna would say the same thing."
Alice looked at the small crater that was formed from Ivan's grenade. "Minna..." she whispered sadly. "Minna's not going to like this."
A/N I'm sorry for the late chapter QQI kept deleting, rewriting certain parts to this so, that's why this is such a late release. I know that there's not much "Exciting" stuff happening in this chapter, but next chapter will be the start of the invasion and as I promise, there much more information and an explanation on Dr. Everard's bioweapon/artificial humans experiments, World Tree, Xeros, Ivan's fate, and the mystery behind Lia's actions of "abandoning" Dante when he was a baby.
I thank all the people that have reviewed and that were patient with this chapter. I know you were all probably expecting a lot more and I promise I'll deliver those plot twists and such in the next few chapters! This chapter's just sort of setting the stage for the next few chapters which will be the invasion.