Chapter 1014 Elephant in the Room Part 2
"I like your guts and I would have given you a chance if you skipped the bullshit about love. You don't know the first thing about me, the only thing you are infatuated with is my appearance.
"Love is too strong a word to be abused like that. Only a shallow person that knows nothing about their own feelings can use it so freely with someone they have just met. I've been asked out by a lot of men like you.
"You all think yourself unique, but aside from your face, you're all the same. Goodbye." Friya walked around him and this time the youth didn't stop her.
Sfarzen felt even more idiotic than the day before, wondering if his brain and mouth had actually been disconnected by some unknown illness.
"Would you have really gone out with him?" Quylla had to walk briskly to keep up with Friya.
"Yes. If you don't date, you can't find anyone. He had the guts to face me again and admit his mistakes, which is rare considering that most men think themselves a godsend that I must welcome with joy. Yet that cheesy part was a deal-breaker.
"Quylla, what would you think if a random stranger claimed to love you at first sight?" Friya asked.
"I would either think he's after my money or he thinks I'm an easy woman." Quylla replied, suddenly finding Sfarzen's confession more tasteless than romantic.
"Then we are on the same page." Friya nodded to Quylla before turning to Phloria. "What do you want us to do, today, Commander?"
"Captain, not Commander." Phloria rolled her eyes at her sister's ignorance about military hierarchy. "The Prospectors will search for crystals, but examining things properly will take too long and in battle knowledge is power.
"The three of us will explore the underground network of caves and search traces of undead activities that might not be strictly related to gemstone veins. Quylla, your mana perception succeeded where even arrays failed, you'll be our guide.
"Friya, between your Mage Knight and Dimensional Mage specializations, you can fight or summon reinforcements according to the circumstances. You take the rear. I'm just tall, mean, and strong. My role will be to protect Quylla and buy you time in the case something goes wrong."
"Just the three of us?" Friya asked.
"Yes. We might be dealing with Odi ruins and I don't want to babysit anyone. Quylla can read their language, the gods only know why…"
"Lith needed help for a thing." Quylla said, but Phloria continued, uncaring for the explanation.
"I know how to find their runes, and the three of us are used to fight together. Our teamwork will allow us to move fast and don't worry about dead weight."
"Any special order I should give to my men in the case Captain dumbass tries something funny?" Friya said.
"Actually, yes." Phloria was amazed by her own naivety.
She had spent so much time in the army to consider orders as absolute decrees no one would dare to defy. Her recent missions, however, had taught her better, and the mercenaries were the perfect solution to her problem.
"Have them keep an eye on both Kortus and the Captain who led the reinforcements here, Lotta. Have your men take short turns so their marks don't notice being observed and have them report anything unusual. We can trust no one." Phloria said.
"Give the Crystal Shield some credit. We know how to tail someone!" Friya sighed.
She instructed her men, making it clear that they should not share any intel with the army unless it was vital for the success of the mission.
"It will be done." Wyra, one of Friya's seconds in command, gave her a bow so deep that she almost kneeled.
Friya didn't like being worshipped by her guild members, but at least it guaranteed their loyalty. On top of that, she knew that being the strongest sword, shield, and mage among them who also taught specializations to those she deemed worthy, made it easy for them to put her on a pedestal.
Quylla guided her sisters to the passage she had found just a minute before the undead attacked the Prospectors. It opened on a natural underground network that closely reminded to Phloria the one Morok had led them on the way to Kulah.
She used earth magic to look for hidden runes or marks in the rock, but her spells didn't find anything. Meanwhile, Quylla focused on the hostile mana, trying to find its origin.
There was no spell that could guide her, forcing Quylla to rely solely on her mana perception and instinct. They ended up in a dead-end more than once, forcing them to retrace their steps and pick another corridor.
Friya and the others knew the arrays necessary to search for crystals and might have used earth magic to open a passage, but they had no idea how to alter the walls without the risk of causing a cave-in.
It was the reason why Prospectors were vital during an underground exploration and why Lith needed Nalrond to cheat his way to any kind of underground treasure.
"I really envy you two." Phloria said during a short break for lunch. "We have both been to Kulah, yet my mana perception isn't as good as yours, Quylla. I can feel we're getting closer to the hostile mana's source only when it becomes so much stronger that it's impossible to miss.
"As for you, Friya, your dimensional awareness is outstanding. Not even the members of the Queen's corps I worked with were capable of using Warps the way you do."
"I feel the same. I always considered Lith and Quylla our Manohar. Together they have his same amount of genius and madness. You and Yurial were our Marth. You are strong, talented, and determined to the point that you know exactly what you want and how to get it.
"Which leaves me the role of Vastor." Friya sighed.
"The one people turn to only when the other two are busy. Let's be real. Put me in a dimensional sealed area and my skills are no better than the average mage. Sometimes I wonder if there's really nothing more to me than a pretty face."
"I would kill for breasts like yours." Phloria said, patting her left shoulder.
"Do not get me started about your ass." Quylla took care of the right shoulder.
"Very funny! That was the moment when you're supposed to tell me how talented I am. I'm already pissed off because Lith told you something that neither he nor you shared with me. Don't make it worse by spreading salt on my wounds."
Friya's sisters froze realizing that she knew about their little secret.
While they were in Kulah, Lith had treated Quylla with Invigoration, restoring both her body and mana. On top of that, she had seen him use magic without chants and turn into a Wyrmling.
Phloria knew even more than Quylla and after discussing the events of Kulah among themselves, aside from terms like "Awakened" or "Accumulation", they had figured out most of Lith's abilities.
Yet they didn't share any of that with Friya to respect his privacy. Phloria and Quylla were certain to have been discrete, yet the elephant in the room they believed to have brilliantly hidden was actually rampaging through the house.