24. The Temple

Today was the day of Zael's knighthood ceremony, and Arganan was proud to have Zael be knighted in front of the castle, out in public for the people to see. Usually these ceremonies were done in private, but Calista had insisted on it being public for the sake of giving hope to the people, boosting their morale. And besides, it was Zael that had a huge role in ending the war and all, so he deserved to have such an honor.

The entire event went off without anything going wrong – and he saw Zael's eyes light up as he heard the cheers of the people, his friends, and comrades supporting him as Arganan knighted him himself.

But after the ceremony was over, Arganan found himself trying to find Zael and Calista – he'd hoped to congratulate them privately, after all.

That was when he found them in Calista's room, the door cracked open enough to see the two of them standing together – right in front of the portrait of Calista's parents. The Count swallowed – it was a shame that Calista's own parents couldn't be there in person to know that she and Zael were happy together.

"I'd like to visit them," He overheard Calista murmur. "They were laid to rest in the family temple…"

"There's a temple?" Zael sounded a bit surprised.

Calista nodded, looking toward him. "It's more of a burial ground than a temple, but all the members of the Arganan family are laid to rest there. My mother and father were buried together in the same grave, so…"

"Do you want to go visit them now?"

She nodded. "It would be nice if we could…"

Arganan quickly knocked on the side of the open doorway, and the two turned to face him. "Sorry to eavesdrop, but I wanted to congratulate you on the knighthood privately." He managed. "You wanted to go visit your parents at Arganan temple?"

"Yes." Calista nodded, swallowing lightly. "I know it's been a long time since we've visited – do you want to come with us? I'm sure it's been a while since you last visited too, Uncle."

"If you two don't mind me coming along, I'd be happy to." Besides, Arganan knew that the temple was one of the last bits of castle property being looked after due to all the repairs from the war needing to be done first. "I just hope there haven't been too many monsters that invaded the area since the last time…"

"Since last time?" Zael echoed.

"Remember how I initially hired you, Dagran, and the other mercenaries to clear out the Reptids infesting the underground?" The Count tried to suppress a sigh. "I was going to have you clear out the Reptids in Arganan Temple, but because of the war, that got delayed indefinitely until now…"

"Ah. I see. Well," Zael scratched the back of his head, "I'm pretty sure we can take them all out easily. I'll just have to make sure neither of you get hurt."

"Do you think we should bring the others?" Arganan frowned. Then again, it would be hard to ask them last-minute to do so, and this situation was more of a family affair than a full-on mission.

"I think we'll be okay." Calista reassured both her uncle and Zael, looking between both of them. "Two out of three of us have healing magic, and Zael can keep us both safe. If it's really that bad, we can retreat and come back with others."

"Alright, then." Arganan conceded. "We'll prepare to visit your parents as soon as we can."

Arganan Temple was definitely a wreck, and the Count wished he'd been able to clear out the Reptids in it sooner. There were so many of them that he wouldn't trust one group of mercenaries to take them out alone, let alone a small group of his own castle knights.

However, Calista had her magic, and Zael had the power of the Outsider. It helped balance out the battlefield, and Arganan supported them however he could with his own healing magic.

"Maybe we should've brought the others after all." It was Zael speaking, and Arganan glanced toward the other, frowning lightly.

"Do you want to turn back?"

"I think we can still make it." Zael reassured him. "How close are we to Calista's parents?"

"Probably just one or two more rooms up ahead to get there." Arganan hadn't navigated the temple in a long time, but he was familiar enough with the layout, despite it falling into ruin for a while.

"Then we might as well press on ahead." Calista concluded, before opening the doors to the next chamber. The three stepped into the area, lokoing around. The area seemed to be empty, much to Arganan's relief, but then he noticed Zael look up, before stepping back.

"Back up!"

Good thing Calista and Arganan did so in time, as a large creature suddenly fell from above, snapping its jaws at them. Its golden body and eight legs had Arganan realizing what it was –

"A Gold Spider!?"

The Gold Spider roared at the trio, before scuttling forwards on its eight legs. Arganan knew that it wasn't going to go down without a fight – but neither were he, Calista, and Zael.

Author note: Thank you so much for reading "Avoiding His Doom" so far! I just want to give the heads-up that next chapter will be the final chapter. I hope you look forward to reading the finale when it comes next week!