Lead vs Fantasy 5-7

5-7 Epilogue

 

Edge ran his fingers along the glossy surface of the table in front of him.  As expected, it was addictively smooth.  He kept petting the pleasing surface for a few minutes until he was interrupted by a female voice.

“She should be here any second,” Evelyn declared, squinting apologetically.

“I’m used-“ Edge started with a wave of his hand.  Then he stopped mid-sentence and amended his words.  “I guess I haven’t met her enough to say I’m used to it, but she’s never been on time when I have.”

Evelyn gave an exaggerated nod of agreement and the room fell into silence once more.

After a few seconds, Edge went back to feeling up the table.  When Evelyn seemed about ready to speak again, the door to the intimate conference room opened with a click.  Then an older, but not elderly, woman in a white lab coat strode into the room with the airheaded confidence of one in a perpetual hurry.  Catching sight of Edge, her face contorted in confusion.  She stayed staring at him for a few seconds before recovering and taking a seat across from him.
“I didn’t expect it to be you who took this up,” Inari said bluntly after settling into her seat.  “…did he…?”

“The Captain wasn’t very happy about the assignment when he found out what we were sent to get,” Edge answered in as even a tone as he could.  There was always something a little uncomfortable about interacting with Inari.  He didn’t know if he should be cold out or respect to the Captain’s convictions or respectful out because she was his wife.

Inari’s face became complicated for a few seconds.  Then she closed her eyes and gave a deep nod.  “Then, this is a courtesy visit?  To report the jobs failure?  I appreciate that you often help my husband, but I’d rather not waste my timed with this sort of formality.”

Rather than answering Inari’s question, Edge reached into the bag nestled between his feet.  Then he withdrew a sealed glass jar and brought it up onto the table’s surface.  Inside the jar floated what looked to be the failed offspring between a human and a hedgehog.

As soon as her eyes fell on the jar, Inari’s brows raised dramatically and she asked, “His professional pride overcame his convictions?”

A complicated subject, Edge didn’t want to talk about.  So he didn’t, merely averting his eyes.

Inari seemed to understand his meaning there and she gave another deep nod.  “He doesn’t know you brought this here?”

“I’d rather it’d stay that way,” Edge answered, still refusing to meet her eyes.

Inari gave another nod and observed, “It appears my husband’s protégé understands the value of inquiry.”

“We can’t afford to work without getting paid,” Edge responded with a shrug.

Inari frowned slightly before saying, “Then a practical man it is.  I suppose my husband could use a few of those around him too.”

“All mercenaries are practical,” Edge declared easily.

“And yet he is not,” Inari responded, raising an eyebrow.

“The Captain will never be a mercenary,” Edge answered.  “He’ll always just be the Captain.”

“You can take the man out of the job, but you can’t the job out of the man?” Inari gave an extremely subtle smile which Edge didn’t entire understand.  “How was the job?” Inari changed the subject after a few seconds of silence.  “Uneventful, I hope.”

“There were some complications…” Edge squinted into the corner of the room as he remembered running, blind, through the darkness.  Then he recalled the shattering sounds that echoed behind them as they entered the tunnel.  “I wouldn’t expect to find any more of those.  It’s not worth a second expedition.”

Inari frowned again for a moment.  Then she looked at the jar on the table and smiled.  “This should be good enough.”

“That’s good…”

Inari nodded and grabbed the jar before standing up and turning to the head of the table.  “Evelyn, can you handle the payment without me?”

Evelyn hurriedly nodded and Inari smiled.  “We really should meet more often.  I love to hear how my cute niece is doing.  Perhaps tea, next week?”  Not even waiting for Evelyn to give a response to her invitation, she turned back to Edge.  “Thank you, for the fetus.  Now, if you’ll excuse me.  A merchant that was supposed to bring us a different tissue sample is almost two weeks late now.  Things have been quite hectic lately.”

Edge watched the woman stepping quickly out the room.  Then, just before she passed through the door, he thought of something and spoke up, “Actually, there was something.”

Inari turned back and raised an eyebrow at him, prompting him to continue.

“We encountered a strange monster in the depths of the ruins,” Edge spoke, scowling at the air as he tried to recall the details of the girl’s appearance.  She’d been non-specifically innocent and cute in the way children tend to be.  However, he hadn’t spent much time looking at her.  He was more focused on the golem.  “It looked like a little girl and led us into a trap with dwarven golem.  Seemed like she activated it somehow and we lost sight of her.  After that, she apparently ran out of the exit of the ruins.  The new- one of my teammates tried to grab her arm, but it came off and turned into sludge.”

Hearing his description, Inari raised her second eyebrow and took a few steps closer.  “What color was the sludge?  How human did it look?”

“Black… and very.  Does that tell you anything?”

Inari bit her thumbnail and stared into space for a moment before mumbling, “Some type of undead?”

“That’s the guess for anything human looking, but I don’t know of any type that falls apart so easily.”

“Definitely a mutant of some kind,” Inari responded with a nod.  “Is there anything else you can tell me?”

Edge shook his head.  “We were a bit busy, so…”

Inari shrugged and brought the jar up to her face as if she’d just remembered it.  “I suppose there’s no helping that.”  Then she turned her gaze back to Edge and poignantly added, “If you find it again, try to capture it if possible.  At the very least, get me a sample of that sludge.  The country would pay handsomely for it, I’m sure.”

“We’ll see what we can do,” Edge responded.  He fully expected to never be able to fulfill her request, but there was no reason to burn bridges.

After turning away from Edge again, Inari stared intently at the jar in her hands as she left the room.  After the faint click of the door closing signaled her complete departure, Edge turned to Evelyn and found she was already standing and stretching out an envelope towards him.

“It’s a lot of money,” Evelyn observed looking into Edge’s eyes with a faintly suspicious gaze.  “What are going to do with it?”

“It’s not like I can just pass it out.  The Captain would hardly approve of what I did here,”  Edge answered, giving a half smile as Evelyn’s gaze grew noticeably colder.  As he stood and grabbed envelope, he added, “So I’ll supplement everyone’s wages with it for a while.  Up to 3% increase on material exchange can be explained away as doing some really good bartering.”

After Edge withdrew his hand with the money, Evelyn took on a thoughtful look.  After a few seconds of silence, she uncertainly asked, “How mad was he…?”

“Betrayed I think was more of the feeling,” Edge answered with a sigh.

Evelyn flinched at the word and took a step backwards.

Edge closed his eyes for a second and ran his fingers along the table as he said, “It didn’t seem like Inari requested us for this job like the Captain thought she did.  So, I wonder whose idea this all was?”

When Edge reopened his eyes, Evelyn refused to meet them and she quickly spat out, “I thought, if they worked together, met like this, they’d both realize how stupid this all is.”  Gaining a bit more energy, she turned to glare into Edge’s eyes and declared, “He’d be happier if he came back for good.  If he lived with his wife.  It’d all be better.”  Finally, in a small voice, she added, “…I want my uncle back.”

Edge closed his eyes again and tried to sigh out all the uncomfortable tension of the scene in front of him.  Then he responded, “I can’t say you’re wrong, but what you did here did more harm than good.”

“…you won’t tell him, will you?”  Evelyn asked, staring at her own feet.

“I think I will,” Edge answered easily.  At the unexpected response, Evelyn looked up to give him a cold glare, but Edge ignored this and continued.  “Would you rather he think his wife is a conniving bitch or that his cute niece is lonely?”

Evelyn couldn’t respond to that question and bit her lip irritably.

Edge tried to think of something good to say, but he was really useless in these situations.  After almost a minute of failure, he gave up and said, “Thanks for today.  I’ll let myself out.”

Like that, he awkwardly fled from the room and eventually building.  Stepping out onto the busy streets of Narabesque, Edge took in the atmosphere.  It wasn’t exactly his style, but it was always a little regretful to leave.  Not that he wanted to stay.  In two days they would headed south for the winter, and he was absolutely looking forward to the moderate cold of the southern countries.
Of course, this, like most things in his life, didn’t to exactly as planned.  Though, for the next couple of days, he could hold onto the dream that it would.

 

Lead vs Fantasy, Volume 1 END

Author’s note: 

Short Chapter this week, but I felt that it would’ve been strange to roll this into 5-6 considering how long it was and that it already had a perspective change.  

So, with this, I’ve finished what I consider the first volume of this work.  It didn’t end where I initially expected, but I think I like this pacing.  Like this, the first volume has kind of become the beginning of the end of normalcy for this group and ends with the revelation of an over-arching plot.  From this point on there will be more over-arching plot driven arcs along side the moments we take to learn of the team’s past.  

Though, that’s all for later.  Since I’m ending the volume here, I’m taking the opportunity to take a break for a few months.  I have some other obligations to take care of and I also want to be able to refresh myself and get new ideas.  

If you’ve read this far, thank you so much.  You have no idea how much it means to be getting even a few views on an original work.  If you want to come back for the second volume, expect it sometime in the fall… hopefully.  

If you want to be updated when I release a new post, you can follow me on the twitter: @BovinePirate.  Also, you should be able to sign up to receive email updates when I change the site… No idea how, but someone has done it, so I know it’s possible.  

Ok, cool.  Love you all… please don’t hate me for taking a break…  I’m out.  

 

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One thought on “Lead vs Fantasy 5-7

  1. Pingback: Lead vs Fantasy 6-1 | Dakotah Sicking Web Novels

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