Unsealing Emptiness -
When Raven saw the condition of Ozul, she slammed the door open and arrived before him.
Upon seeing the haggard condition of Ozul, his wounds ridden body and his exhausted figure, tears formed in Ravens’ eyes.
“What happened!? Who did it!? Are you fine?! Who dares to hurt you!? Does it hurt anywhere?!”- Raven started to bombard Ozul with questions.
She radiated absolute bloodlust towards the people who had done this to her Ozul. Raven was ashamed of herself that she could not do anything for Ozul.
She kept checking his injuries, and from time to time, Raven would think how weak she was, how she was not capable enough to change anything, how she could not protect him.
Ozul, noticing the unstable state that Raven was in, decided to do something about it, or it might lead to something unexpected.
He created a hand using Ball of Purity and patted Raven’s head before he spoke in a firm tone;
“Don’t worry, I’m fine.”-
Even though this pat helped Raven to stabilize her mental state, but she was still dejected, knowing that Ozul was in this state while she could do nothing!
Ozul went towards the dining room and arrived at the couch before collapsing on it.
The twelve hours of travel together with fighting a Rank-6 Mage—depleted all of his energy!
Raven bit her lower lips as she followed behind Ozul. Her eyes could not look up straight as though she caused everything that happened to him!
She thought that if she were powerful enough, Ozul would not have gone alone on a mission just to obtain some petty resources for her.
She looked at Ozuls exhausted figure on the couch, his disheveled clothes, and the metal lumps that remained of what were prosthetic arms before.
Tears again started to form in her eye as she thought of how she could live if something had happened to Ozul.
Looking at the crying expression on her face, Ozul, for the first time, smiled for Raven!
His expression turned soft as he spoke in a light voice;
“Idiot, it’s not your fault.”-
Raven, though did not hear anything that he said because seeing the smile on Ozul’s face caused her brain to crash!
Raven kept looking at his face as if the time had stopped for her. It felt that spring had come earlier for Raven as flowers started to bloom in the surroundings.
The Sakura petals began to fall from the sky as the smiling face of Ozul was etched into her vision.
It took several minutes for Raven to come out of her stupor! She was embarrassed to think about how she had literally logged out for a few minutes!
Raven forgot all the negative thoughts earlier as if they were but an illusion. Only the feeling of pure delight remained as she couldn’t get enough of the smiling face of Ozul.
After her multiple rational breakdowns, Raven came into reality as she thought;
‘How can someone’s smile be so... breathtaking... hehe... He smiled for me...’- All kinds of silly thoughts started passing through her mind as some drool started coming out of her mouth!
When she noticed the drool, just as she was wiping it, she noticed that there was some blood on her hand!
Upon further inspection, Raven realized that she was having a nosebleed!! All those thoughts about Ozul had increased her heartbeat so much that the blood came out of her nose!
After wiping away all the blood, Raven furiously blushed as she began to think of her earlier behavior.
Raven then noticed that she had dozed off for so long that Ozul had gone to sleep! All the exhaustion and countless sleepless hours had caused him to sleep after he arrived at home instantly.
She sat near him on the couch. Noticing his uncomfortable position, Raven put Ozul’s head on her lap and began to pat his head gently.
Hours passed, and night had fallen. When Ozul opened his eyes, the sight that greeted him was of Raven with a gentle smile on her face. She was playing with his hair from time to time.
Ozul wanted to stand up first, but then he realized how comfortable the lap pillow was! And when Raven played with his hair, the intensity of his coziness only increased!
When Raven noticed Ozul looking straight at her, she was startled!
But she did not lose control and kept her position although her body went rigid and wouldn’t move even if she wanted to!
Raven was having the time of her life while giving Ozul the lap pillow and playing with his hair from time to time, but all of a sudden, Ozul had woken up!
She was again embarrassed to face him. But just as she was thinking of excuses to leave, Ozul spoke up;
“Why did you stop?”- Ozul was confused as to why Raven would suddenly freeze.
When Raven heard those words, as if her world had been lit up, she beamed in glee.
She again began to play with Ozuls’ hair, albeit this time she was flustered. Ozul did not mind, though—his position couldn’t get any more comfortable.
Ozul looked out the window and noticed that it was around midnight. He again closed his eyes after feeling the gentle hands running down his hair.
Raven had to stop herself many times from hugging Ozul whenever she saw his sleeping face.
. . .
The next morning came. Ozul and Raven woke up, feeling the sunlight enter through the window. They had both slept inside the house.
When Ozul woke up, he noticed that most of his injuries had healed, and his wounds had closed! Just overnight, Ozul had returned to his peak! Only the destroyed prosthetic arms remained a nuisance.
They both set off to Count Oliver’s Manor. After about thirty minutes, Ozul and Raven entered in the Count’s office.
Count Oliver’s cheeks were raised, and a smile was plastered on his face, which showed all of his white teeth.
Count Oliver was beaming in joy when he received the news that Ozul had returned from the mission!
He stretched his right hand to gesture Ozul and Raven to sit down on the seats in front of him.
Just as Ozul sit down, Count Oliver spoke with the ever-present smile;
“Haha, Ozul, so did you complete the mission?”-
“I did, as you can see.”- Ozul replied in his monotonic voice. He did not wait for Count Oliver to say anything before he continued;
“But first, let’s talk about compensation...”-
“You see these? A professional blacksmith made them with the Mathyx metal... I want 100 Gold Coins as compensation together with the previous reward we agreed upon for the mission.”
Ozul explained his condition while pointing towards the lump of metals which stood in the place of his prosthetic arms. The attack of the Rank-6 Mage had destroyed them.
But hearing those words, Count Oliver’s smile dropped, and the temperature in the room dropped by many degrees.
The mood turned solemn as no one uttered any word.
After some time, Count Oliver spoke in a cold voice;
“What is the meaning of this, Ozul!? I don’t think it is my responsibility to pay for your damaged equipment during the mission!”
Ozul was not fazed by Count Oliver’s stare and replied;
“Yeah, but it is your responsibility to provide me with accurate information. It would’ve been fine even if you told me that you don’t know anything as I would’ve prepared for the worst.”- Ozul continued after a pause;
“But you gave me the wrong information. You told me that the worse would only be fighting against some Rank-5 Mages. A Rank-6 Mage was not what I had prepared for.”- Ozul knew that Oliver needed to know his standing.
Count Oliver’s eyes opened wide when he heard that a Rank-6 Mage was involved!
He did not doubt any of Ozuls’ words as if a Rank-6 Mage was really involved, the behavior of his higher-ups will be justified!
They had explicitly asked for a Count to do the job himself. Oliver did not have a problem with that, but due to some urgent business, he could only send someone else.
Even Marquis Orbthorn, his senior, had cautioned him about this mission. But he did not pay too much importance on the matter.
“Sigh... It’s my fault.”
Count Oliver spoke up after a few minutes of contemplation. His hands held his now throbbing head.
“I will pay the 100 Gold Coins. In fact, 100 Gold Coins are too little compensation for putting your life at risk. You can ask something else as well.”
Oliver spoke up in a defeated manner. His eyes would not meet Ozuls’.
The butler Albert exhaled a deep breath, which he was unconsciously holding since the moment Ozul asked for compensation.
Ozul was not surprised by the sudden change in the tone of Count Oliver—he had already expected it to be such a case.
A 100 Gold Coins was nothing for a Count. It was just that earlier, Oliver thought that Ozul was being unreasonable and disrespectful.
“Something else? Hm... Oh, I want to know some information.”- Ozul thought before he replied.
“Huh? Information? What type of information are you talking about?”- There were some types of information that could be regarded as kingdom secrets.
And Count Oliver could not, in any way, disclose such knowledge.
Ozul noticed Oliver’s hesitation. He had an inkling about what Oliver was thinking. So, he spoke;
“Oh, nothing too serious.”- Count Oliver visibly relaxed at those words. Ozul continued;
“What I want to know is everything you could tell me about a certain Family in our kingdom.”
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