"She's not gaining consciousness. There's also no Arcana in sight."

Maro sighed as he stared at Asa and the frozen Vaizer. His eyes contained hints of worry, and guilt riddled his mind.

'Was I being too ambitious? It's really my fault for choosing such a risky tactic...'

Sure, they had won, but at what cost?

"Tch, let's head back. I'm sure Jared can do a better job in fixing her up." Asa glared.

He still hadn't forgiven Maro for granting Aloe Vida such a dangerous mission, but he also wasn't in any position to complain.

They had won, and it wasn't as though Aloe was dead. Besides, without Maro's guidance, they would have probably lost.

'As frustrating as it is... we owe this victory to him.' The boy thought to himself.

It wasn't like he planned on saying such a thing to Maro's face, though.

"Besides, we got our hands on an enemy and his Arcana, right? That had to count for something."

Maro's eyes brightened once he heard Asa's words. They were rather optimistic, as expected of a kid.

'He's right, though...' The older fellow smiled.

Jared could probably fix Aloe up, and they had achieved quite a lot in this mission.

Sure, they didn't find what they were searching for, but one could argue that what they raked in was far more valuable.

"Alright, Asa. Let's return." Maro brought out his Spell Card.

"What of this Vaizer guy? He's still suffering, right? You sure he won't die on us?"

"No. That dosage shouldn't be enough to kill him, though most people would have perished a while back."

"Ah, I see..." Asa murmured, sticking close to the red-haired adult.

Maro carried Aloe on his shoulders while Asa kept guard over Viazer's body. Upon activation, the Spell Card created a distortion in space, instantly transporting them to their destination.

"I hope the others are fine..."


"Well done, guys!"

I smiled at my comrades as I saw them appear from the warped space behind me.

Thanks to their Soul Brands, I was already aware of their imminent return, but seeing them up close gave me comfort.

It seemed like I hadn't seen them in forever, though it hadn't been up to two days.

"To be fair, I didn't think you guys would be the first to return."

In front of me were Lemi, Edward, and Ivan—the merry trio.

'It's not like I doubt their skills, but...' I laughed internally.

We were currently in our base, located in the outskirts of the Eastern Kingdom. The vast sky and ever-expanding field just seemed like the perfect location for a welcome.

"Hehe, mission complete!" Lemi grinned, excitedly flashing the Arcana that was locked in her fingers.

It brimmed with energy, and I could sense Aether brimming from within it.

'It looks like they got the real deal.' My smile widened.

"[Wheel Of Fortune], eh? I guess it suits your team well. You guys are lucky."

"H-hey! What do you mean lucky? We worked hard for it, right guys?"

Edward and Ivan jointly nodded. Something about them seemed off... like they were completely exhausted.

'Lemi has the least amount of stamina, yet she seems fine. The boys on the other hand...'

Just what happened during their journey?

"Did you work them to the bone? You used them, didn't you?"

Lemi shrieked upon hearing my voice. Her surprised told me I was spot-on. She had always been quite easy to read, after all.

"W-well, I just did what I had to do! It's not like—"

Moving swiftly, I closed the distance between me and the trio, embracing the chattering girl. I felt Lemi's body tremble as my arms got wrapped around her.

"You did well, Lemi. I'm proud of you."

"W-what are you—!"

She seemed to be in protest, so I quickly detached myself from her. It was probably inappropriate, anyway...

'I just wanted to congratulate you like a father would. Maybe...' I observed Lemi's extremely flustered face, thus deciding to place my hand on my shoulder whole giving her a thumbs up instead.

"Nice going!"

Even with the boys lifelessly groaning in the background, I couldn't have foreseen these results she showed me.

'You used them to achieve your goals, but everything turned out fine. That meant you were careful and precise. You weren't reckless too. Amazing, Lemi...'

Seeing my own daughter evolve right in front of my eyes brought me satisfaction that I couldn't quite explain.

"Yeah, yeah. What did you expect? I'm awesome!" She huffed, swelling in pride.

'Okay, that's enough.' I stopped praising her and appreciated her partners for their help.

"You guys did well. I'm proud of the results... and thank you."

I didn't plan on being biased, though it seemed inevitable. Still, Lemi couldn't have achieved what she did without them—their exhausted reactions showed that much.

'Now I really want to know what happened.'

"Ah, where's Maria, by the way?" Lemi started glancing around, as though that would make the girl in question appear.

"She's in the Capital, dealing with some legal issues. Some things happened in your absence. I'll fill everyone in once they arrive."

"Hmm? Kay..."

Thankfully, Lemi didn't further the discussion. I didn't want to have to repeat myself on the whole Netherlore saga.

Maria was busy with the arraignment and dispensation of justice on the Netherlore household.

I let her get involved since she was a victim of their antics, and also an important eyewitness. Plus, since we finished our mission early, she could as well spend it on other important affairs.

'She's with [The Pope], so she should be fine. Plus... I'll instantly rush to her side if there are any issues at all.

So far, so good.

"Let's go inside. I'd love to hear about your adventures." I spoke to the trio, to which they were all eager to.

Life slowly returned to the faces of Edward and Ivan. It seemed they desired the comfort a good old sanctuary provided.

Thus, we decided to retreat inside. However—

'Hmm? What's this? Another batch?'


Another blue portal appeared, and within it emerged four figures—only three of which I recognized.

My eyes widened the moment.I realized what was going on.

'T-this is—!!!'





Jared is baaaacckkk!!!