Evolet sighed blissfully as she ate a bag of cookies from the Floor Advancement Test's rewards. Bam was sitting beside her, occasionally feeding his share of the snack to Evolet who seemed to enjoy every moment of it. Of course, the other team members stayed far away from them since they knew better than to disturb them unless they wanted Bam’s signature glare on them. The other team members were off doing their own thing nearby, some of them still finishing off the snack while chatting or other activities.
Goseng had been looking around The Box for more information when she suddenly called everyone over to look at a certain post she found. They huddled around Goseng, marvelling at the post she found. Evolet hummed lightly as she peered at the post from Goseng's back while she kept eating her cookies.
"I found this on The Box. Doesn't he look similar to Horyang?" Goseng said excitedly.
"He's got wings and he also has a cape around him."
"No way. He's a lot more handsome than the Teddy Bear."
"Shut up. Mr. Devil is cute enough."
Curious of what the commotion was all about, Horyang went over to them to see the Lighthouse. His eyes widened in surprise, completely taken aback by the figure in the picture.
"W-what… Do you really know him?"
"Cassano Beniamino. He's the Devil's Right Arm."
"You called me out later than I thought you would, Horyang-san."
The brunette stared impassively at Evolet who seemed to have predicted he would have a talk with her. She kept calm, showing him a smile that was no less gentle than usual as she showed to the team. Though the knowing gaze in her blue-violet eyes said otherwise.
"You didn't seem surprised when I told the team about my past."
Evolet exhaled lightly as she made a small Shinsu platform, lifting herself up to sit on it as she prepared herself for the conversation. "Let's just say I'm rather well-versed in FUG affairs, unlike Viole. Things can get quite troublesome when you're dealing with FUG without knowing the bare minimum."
She could see how he fisted his hands and trembled in anger from the newfound information. It was to be expected, he had a right to know the truth after all. His eyes were shadowed with his bangs, voice full of frustration.
"So FUG is behind those experiments. Eve… let me ask you this. Were you involved with the experiments?" She couldn't say that she wasn't the slightest bit offended when he asked if she was involved. But it was something to be expected since she did say she somewhat implied it.
"Even before Viole and I began to climb the Tower, those experiments were already in progress long before. They're still in development even now to be honest… Most of the FUG members welcomed it with open arms after all."
His gaze sharpened to a point, and Evolet could read the flow of Shinsu around his right arm in slight disarray. He was holding back so he wouldn't attack her, that was something she appreciated. She could see that despite the slight hesitation, his mind was already set on leaving. A small sigh escaped her lips as Horyang turned around.
"There's a big possibility that this is a trap since Cassano is affiliated with FUG. Are you still going while knowing that?"
"I… want to confirm the truth with my own eyes. Please tell the others they're like my family. I was really happy with this team. Every time I saw you guys in the morning, I feel like I did when I saw my first snow. I knew I would have to leave one day, but I made excuses to delay my departure. But… winter is over now. Please take care of the others Eve, they can be a little reckless at times."
Evolet stared thoughtfully at the small Floating Ship that was going away. The Workshop has always been like that, whether it's inside or outside. She's never been the one who would willingly involve herself with the Workshop, it brought about… unpleasant memories of the past that she'd rather not remember. Sometimes she wondered why most of her teammates were too stubborn and reckless for their own good. Not to mention they tend to disregard warnings and such. Though then again she already signed up to this. Soft footsteps could be heard as Bam approached her and gazed at the distance with worry filled eyes.
"Is it really okay to let Mr. Horyang go alone?"
Her silent sigh morphed into a soft reluctant smile, she could see the Shinsu strings telling her of an unfolding chapter. She already knew what to do. "Should we go back first and tell the others before going after him?"
Bam considerably perked up at that, nodding gladly at the fact that Evolet always had some sort of plan. She grabbed his hand gently, leading him back to their rented house. And Bam couldn’t help but stare at the smaller hand holding his hand in a firm yet tender grip. He could feel the slightest bit of Evolet’s Shinsu coursing through his hand as a sign of reassurance. The warmth it radiated was the same as the first time he experienced it. As if there was nothing that could hurt him, an irreplaceable sense of safety that brought solace to him.
It feels like home by her side
A smile unknowingly found its way to his expression. Evolet was always by his side, supporting him in any way she could and lighting up his path in the dark just like the moonlight. He wondered what he did to have someone as wonderful as her by his side, of how fortunate he’s been.
She suddenly turned around with the same loving smile that would never fail to take his breath away. Sweeping him off his feet in one smooth motion, carrying him with care as lavender wings spread out behind her and she took flight back. He couldn’t say a single thing as she carried him gently in a bridal carry. Brain malfunctioning as he laid his head against Evolet’s chest and listened to her calming heartbeat. While it was true that he couldn’t fly like she did, he was capable of using the Blue Oar as an alternative. Yet Evolet decided to throw that out of the window and just lifted him like he weighed nothing.
To put it simply, he was reduced to a blushing, spluttering mess as he tried to hide further in the crook of Evolet’s neck with little success. She’s done this too often for his liking, as if she doesn’t even need to try to make Bam flustered. Evolet seemed a little too nonchalant about it, simply humming softly as usual. If Bam was brave enough, he’d want their positions to be reversed and see a much flustered Evolet instead. But seeing how Evolet was gazing at him tenderly with those playful blue-violet eyes, he’ll have to gather his courage some other day.
As much as Evolet didn't mind playing along with people's schemes every now and then, there's always something unnerving when you walk into a trap willingly. She stared suspiciously at the hooded informant sitting in front of her. Considering the sign up front had Xiaxia written on it, that should be her name. She didn't recognize her, so that should mean the girl isn't in FUG's database. Though Evolet can't seem to shake off the odd feeling, especially with how the Shinsu strings were telling her to be cautious. As she transferred the payment from her Pocket, Evolet couldn't help but feel that things are starting to take an unwanted turn.
Just as an explosion rang out in the distance and Bam speeded up, her blue-violet eyes widened slightly in surprise as she caught sight of a certain Shinsu string she was all too familiar with. While she did expect them to reunite soon, she didn’t know it was going to be in this kind of place. She should’ve heeded her feelings earlier, worry starting to build up as she accelerated.
She could hear the calls from Xiaxia, telling the both of them to slow down slightly. Though none of them actually had time for that, especially when that explosion might have something to do with Horyang. They promised to bring him back safe and sound after all. She didn’t miss the small movement from Xiaxia, most likely meant to be inconspicuous despite the trap it triggered.
A giant stone hand rose out of the ground, ready to strike Xiaxia who pointed the trap out. The FUG pair didn't waste any time, Evolet picked Xiaxia with ease before rushing to the Hand of Arlene and Bam was close behind her after destroying the trap with a solid Shinsu punch.
Evolet glanced at the younger girl in her arms, giving out directions as she held onto Evolet's shoulders so she didn't fall down because of the speed. Her gaze trailed to Xiaxia's bunny ears, her thoughts split between wanting to pet the fluffy looking ears and the suspicious actions she did earlier. She knew about the Rabbit Ear race, they care about their members though at times it might not seem like it because they're always motivated by money. It's not surprising when you take their situation into account.
They stopped at the entrance, frozen by the sight that greeted them once they arrived. Horyang was laying on the ground, a gaping hole on his side that was steadily pooling blood beneath. Evolet could already feel the rage building up in Bam as he spoke with a chilling tone.
“You… What have you done… to Mr. Horyang?”
She recognized the two male that were standing nearby Horyang. Ran and Novick from Khun's team which could only mean this was a trap from FUG, and Cassano was somewhere nearby. She could hear the small movements and a shallow breathing with the help of the Shinsu strings. She predicted they would make a move soon, but certainly not in this situation with this type of method. Their little compromise wasn't exactly a good one in her books. And while she's discussed it with several others on her side to dish up a plan, she'd much prefer it if FUG actually went about things with less… threatening and blood-spilling ways.
As if that wasn’t enough, Xiaxia suddenly said Horyang was dead and accused the two Regulars in front of them of the deed. They couldn’t even deny it because they did attack him, but the one who delivered the fatal blow was gone. Bam didn’t hesitate to immediately launch an attack when Novick admitted that they killed Horyang. Just as Novick skidded back from the punch’s impact, Bam was already prepared to strike again with three Baangs at the ready while Ran’s fist crackled with lightning.
Evolet didn’t think twice before leaping in between, both hands outstretched with Shinsu shields as she fended off the assault. The shields smoked lightly as an aftereffect from her actions, although Evolet herself was unscratched. She breathed in a sigh of relief as they stopped momentarily and eyed her. If she let them get hurt then what was she supposed to tell Khun?
The shields dispersed back into water Shinsu as she turned to Novick, a reprimanding frown etched on her expression. "Please don't say things that will cause a misunderstanding, especially if you didn't do it. Besides…"
Completely ignoring Xiaxia's enraged shouts of accusations in the background, Evolet looked over Horyang's figure for a moment. She pursed her lips in slight guilt before turning to Bam. He was watching her with stormy eyes that held worry and anxiety despite the lingering anger. "Horyang-san is still alive. If I apply proper first aid then rush him to the hospital then it should be–"
Evolet stopped speaking abruptly. Her gaze snapped to the entrance just in time as a certain bluenette arrived, shouting out his two team members' names. Just for a split second, blue-violet eyes met with cobalt blue ones as she ran to Bam while putting up her cloak. She tried to make herself as small as possible, hiding behind Bam's back.
Khun was standing at the entrance, a confused gaze raking over his teammates who seemed relatively unharmed. Though said teammates were staring at the hiding Evolet confusedly. He was huffing out of breath from all the running he did, silently questioning the other presences in his mind. It seems like Xiaxia was already at the end of her wits Khun's arrival after being ignored by the rest of them.
"WAAAAAAAAIT!!" She took out a switch, bringing it up to the air with an extremely annoyed look on her face.
"DON'T TAKE ANOTHER STEP OR EVERYONE HERE DIES!!"
All of them looked at the girl quizzically, not quite understanding how the situation came to this. Bam was all too puzzled with all the misunderstandings, Khun's appearance and now Xiaxia's threat. He only came here to take Horyang back home, because they were his family now. But what Bam found was a critically injured Horyang instead, two strangers standing beside him as they claimed they were the one who did it.
Evolet shielded them, telling the red eyed brunette to not cause misunderstandings that didn't happen and that Horyang was still alive. Of course Bam trusted her words over Xiaxia's shouts, because she's always been with him and he's never once seen her wrong. That being said, it did bring some relief to him but he didn't fully relax. After all, even if the two didn't kill Horyang, they did fight with him.
Then Khun came running in and Bam couldn't process what was happening anymore. He wasn't allowed to see his old teammates. An image of Hansung flashed in his mind, threats lingering in his thoughts despite the happy memories that he recalled along with it. He couldn't meet him no matter how much he wanted to do so. Not with FUG breathing down his neck, not when his friends' lives were on the line.
“I installed a bomb inside the Hand of Arlene. If I press the button, the Hand will be blown up and we’ll die. So don’t move unless you want to die.”
Bam whipped his head, staring at Xiaxia with all the intention to ask about the turn of events. Said girl’s red Lighthouse lit up beside him and Evolet, a clear message for them to stay still lest they want everyone to die. Evolet wasn’t amused to say the least. The message just confirmed her suspicions and she was quite eager to deal with this predicament and go home.
She was sleep deprived and her annoyance meter was going up because she knew how much paperwork would swamp on her after this incident that FUG caused. None of this was going well. Cassano emerged from the stack of rubble when Xiaxia called him out, hoisting Horyang on his shoulder. Both Evolet and Bam’s focus were on Xiaxia’s Lighthouse, keeping their eyes peeled at the new incoming messages.
She could hear Bam gritting his teeth as Khun demanded for answers which Xiaxia gave to him gladly, telling him of the FUG’s Slayer Nominee and his partner. She informed them of how an anonymous man came to her and said that the FUG pair will visit soon, promised her if she helped them then she would receive wealth and honor. An utterly fake story, crafted by FUG in the image of their God.
“The God has come here to kill you himself! Khun Aguero Agnis! That’s why we sent a spy to your team and how we succeeded in bringing you here! Everything was planned to make you come here! Khun Aguero Agnis!!”
It was clear that Khun was taken aback, Evolet could see that much from her spot behind Bam. His hand grasped hers behind his back, trying to find consolation and the courage to act the part he hated with a burning passion. Evolet could only grip his hand to show reassurance as her eyes trailed over to Khun’s teammates.
"Yes, what she said is true, son of Khun. I tried to kill you. That's why I laid this trap and waited for you. But I've changed my mind after seeing you. I seek to be the embodiment of your biggest fear. I would enjoy seeing you run in fear more. I will be more merciful this time and let you go for my amusement. Run away… Khun Aguero Agnis. And wish that… we will never cross paths again."
Admittedly, Bam has never been a good actor. Normally, Evolet would've stepped up and put up a facade of the FUG member. But there was no way she could do that unless she wanted to be found out instantly by Khun. As to be expected, Khun saw through Bam's mask immediately.
"Hey, Slayer Nominee. I don't know where you're from, but you should practice more to seem like an evil king. Your evil act is like right out of a lame novel. It's too obvious that you're acting. What was that? Your acting made me cringe. You're trying to let me go on purpose aren't you? Why? Tell me honestly, don't beat around the bush."
Bam was internally smiling, taking comfort that Khun hadn't changed much if he could see through his lame acting. He still couldn't say a thing, instead telling Khun that he meant what he said. He was about to turn around, walk away from all of this. And yet Khun smirked, a sly confidence portrayed in his expression.
"Sorry to disappoint you, but I can't leave either way since I have some business to take care of with your partner. Isn't that right, Miss Slayer Nominee's partner? Or should I say, Eve?"
Evolet could practically hear the smirk in his tone. Sometimes she wondered about her own actions. Like how she only changed her name to something similar in FUG or how she didn't bother to get a disguise. She wished Khun wasn't so observant at these times.
She was legitimately screwed.