Khun stared at the monstrosity of a room, the word FUG painted with blood on the wall. Dan tied up and passed out on the floor while Gyetang was dead. The rest of his teammates were gone, he had let his guard down. Evolet didn't say anything as she entered the room along with the others though she narrowed her eyes at the bloodied wall. Leaning down beside Dan's unconscious body, she took a glance at the repetitive stab wounds on both of his legs before giving out instructions.
"Arkraptor-san, could you take him to another room and help me tend to his remaining wounds?. His legs should be fine, he just passed out because of the blood loss and energy needed to heal himself. As for Prince-san, please find a hospital and contact them. As for the rest of you... could you take care of…" Her words trailed off as she glanced at Gyetang's cold body with a guilty frown. The others seemed to understand the implication, moving on to do what was needed.
The team waited nervously in front of the door, anxious for the news from Khun as he exited with a solemn look on his face.
"How is he?!" They were all obviously concerned about Dan despite how they were practically strangers.
"I think he'll survive. His legs are severely injured though…"
Wangnan was hesitant to say this out loud, not knowing how Khun would react to it. But he had to at least convince him that the FUG pair on their team had nothing to do with it. "...y–you know… I don't know anything about FUG and you might not believe me, but this has nothing to do with–!"
"I know." Khun had cut him off, not even bothering to listen to the rest of his sentence. He already had the culprit in mind, no one else other than Rachel could've done this. His eyes narrowed the slightest bit, an apparent cold gleam on those cobalt blue eyes before it vanished and replaced with a more relaxed expression as he continued speaking.
"I'm going to get some air. I want to clear my thoughts.”
Wangnan could only stutter out a short reply, confused as to why Khun said he knew but thankful nonetheless. Already a few steps away, Khun stopped walking before turning to the team members. His eyes raked over them, noting how Evolet wasn’t there before he asked her whereabouts.
“Ah… If you’re searching for Eve then she stepped out for a bit with Goseng to the supermarket." Khun raised an eyebrow at the statement, but closed his eyes momentarily as he released a sigh before heading to the roof.
He stared at the blue sky contemplating. He actually searched Evolet earlier because he wanted some clear answers to confirm his unbelievable theories. While in his mind it was already cemented that if Yvette was Evolet then Bam being Jue Viole Grace wasn't out of reach. It was rather hard to imagine Evolet partnering up with someone that wasn't Bam that easily. But he needed a concrete proof to complete his theory.
"Jue Viole Grace is the 25th Bam."
Snapping his head up at the arrival of a new voice, Khun found a person that he least expected. Hwaryun who failed the Floor of Tests was standing before him.
"Long time no see, Khun Aguero Agnis."
"Hwaryun…? How… did you get here? I remember you failed on the Test Floor, so how did…?!" He asked confusedly, perplexed by the new presence.
"I can go anywhere. Because I'm a guide." She wasn't the least affected by his questions, answering them with a calm smile that you would expect from a Red Witch.
Khun on the other hand, was still trying to make sense of all of this while dashing out more questions. "A guide?! What do you mean…? You are–!"
"I took a test as a Regular because of my job. I'm helping FUG at the moment."
His cobalt blue eyes dilated slightly, focusing on the particular word and the Guide standing before him almost dangerously. "... FUG… Did… you plan all of this…?"
"Yes. It's exactly what you're thinking. FUG wanted the Irregular, the 25th Bam, to make the wish come true so they made it look as if he died on the test floor and changed his identity to Jue Viole Grace, the Slayer Nominee. And the Guide who took him on that path… was me."
That snapped the last string of his patience and rationality. Without even thinking twice, his body had moved to deliver a punch to the red haired girl. Hwaryun wasn't shaken at all by it, her golden staff shielded her from Khun's fist and blood slowly dripped down from his new wound.
"... Where did they take Bam…?!" He asked impatiently with a threatening tone. There was a cold glare on his expression, a prominent will to kill should it come to it.
Hwaryun sighed as she closed her eyes in exasperation. "This must be what they call favoritism. If Eve was the one who told you about this, you wouldn't have attacked her."
It was true, a part of Khun's mind thought. But Hwaryun wasn't Evolet and he had no patience left when he's been betrayed by the blonde he's been suspecting about Bam's apparent death. She lowered her staff, answering that she didn't know where Bam was. Clearly, it wasn't an answer Khun could accept easily.
"I wasn't involved in this one. It was planned by FUG Elders and some Slayers who were interested in the politics and powers within FUG."
She might have stated it with a relaxed expression, but Khun was less impressed now. He knew what it meant. "So… you were also backstabbed."
"Yeah." She answered nonchalantly with a placid smile before continuing.
"They want to have Viole under their control. So that's why they want to put Viole in the team they made. Though of course that means Yvette is also another obstacle in their plans. Which is why they're desperately trying to keep her out of the picture with all their power. She's already taking precautions on her own, but the sooner we finish this the better. So, I have a favor to ask of you, Khun Aguero Agnis."
"Win the Workshop Battle… with Viole's teammates."
He's been saying too much "what" today, but he couldn't help but repeat it again. It was an outrageous idea, trying to win with a team he wasn't even familiar with out of nowhere. Not to mention they looked ordinary. He had too much doubt about their capabilities, even if Bam and Evolet were on a team with them.
"That's so sudden! You want me to enter the Workshop Battle with them?!"
"After the incident at the Hand of Arlene, they offered this wager. Whoever wins, between the team they chose and the original team, will get to be Viole's teammates. To be honest, the only reason Viole is able to get some freedom is because a High Ranker in FUG and Yvette's interventions."
That had caught Khun's attention. He understood how a High Ranker had a say in the decision, but he didn't see how Evolet could affect the matter herself. Though… His mind drifted to the first letter Evolet sent. She had known about Bam and told him to be cautious around Rachel. It wasn't much of a stretch to say she might know about the two other betrayers on his team, going with her letters he's accumulated over the years. Hwaryun paid no mind to his lack of attention, simply resuming her little speech.
"He's a monster, even Slayers will have a hard time fighting with him if fights seriously. Yvette is covering the rest of the matters within the political field. Despite how she might seem, she holds a considerable amount of power inside and outside FUG though she can't beat the Rankers in the term of firepower. The Elders in FUG hates her because she keeps interfering in Viole's matters. That's why they beat us to the punch but made a compromise like this. The problem is that most of those in FUG seem to consent to the wager. Yvette has been protesting fervently against the matter, but there's only so much she can do when they didn't make any direct moves."
"So you want me to take them and win the battle? No way!! What changes if I help you guys? You're also taking advantage of Bam!!"
Hwaryun raised an eyebrow unimpressed at his claims. "Us FUG aside, can you really say such a thing about her? Besides, you don't have much of a choice. What can you do at the moment? You've lost your team and you're the target of FUG. Are you planning to give up on everything and run away?"
Khun gritted his teeth, fully knowing that he'd run out of options. His bloodied fist was clenched, he needed to do something. The rooftop door suddenly banged open, Wangnan running with short gasping breaths as he informed Khun that Dan was awake. For now, he should go see him and think of a plan afterwards.
Meanwhile, Evolet and Goseng were at the nearest grocery store. Not long after Arkraptor helped Evolet tend to Dan, she suddenly said that she wanted to go to the supermarket and Goseng had kindly offered to go along with her. They were currently in the fruits and vegetables aisle, searching for the ingredients they needed to make dinner.
“Thank you for accompanying me, Goseng-san.”
“No, it’s no problem at all. You seem like you needed it so...” Goseng hesitantly said, pushing the cart forwards as Evolet added more vegetables. Evolet’s lips twitched slightly, releasing a silent sigh at Goseng’s words. She didn’t show any other reaction, simply walking on as she surveyed the aisle. Goseng stared at her with worry plaguing her mind as she contemplated to speak up her thoughts.
“Hm? What’s wrong, Goseng-san?” Evolet asked, a nonchalant tone in her voice as she continued on.
“You… shouldn’t blame yourself for all of this...” That got Evolet to stop in her tracks, blue-violet eyes narrowed slightly as she took the words into consideration. Maybe she was making it too obvious that she was feeling somewhat guilty over the whole incident. She already discussed this with Jinsung and Yunuen beforehand, so there was honestly nothing to worry about as long as Khun was willing to win with their team and she could take care of the things on her side on the Archimedes. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t worried about this whole fiasco. After all, it was Bam’s freedom that was on the line.
“I’m sure none of us think that you’re at fault. We all know that you cherish Viole too much for doing something like this. You told us that Horyang would be better off with them because we wouldn’t be able to provide the proper treatment for him. We all believe that you didn’t have a hand with what happened with Mr. Khun’s team either. And you said so yourself to us, a Defender’s job is to protect the team. That’s why, we trust you, Eve.”
Evolet turned backwards, rather taken aback by Goseng’s declaration. The Lightbearer blushed as Evolet stared at her, flustered by her own words as she saw Evolet let out a soft smile at her. “Thank you, Goseng-san. I’m sorry if I made you worried.”
“E-eh?! Oh, no– I mean– We were just concerned–” Evolet smiled amusedly at her slip ups, stifling her laughter with her palm as she watched Goseng trying to regain her composure.
Almost with a smirk, Evolet started throwing in various ingredients nonchalantly. Goseng struggled slightly to keep up with her pace, making sure none of the groceries dropped though there wasn't any need to worry about it.
"Is it... sweet and sour pork today?"
Evolet nodded lightly, humming with a soft tune as she did. "It'll help get their spirits up. They'll need it if Khun-san is going to take charge."
And it'll take my mind off things
The remaining sentence left unsaid, but they've been teammates for several years after all. Goseng could easily notice the hidden implication. She stepped up beside Evolet, checking the list for other ingredients they were missing. Though she knew Evolet was the team's Defender not only in battle but also many other aspects, it was in the nature of their team. She doesn't know what kind of support she can provide, but for now she'll just have to stay beside her and see.
"I'll help you cook tonight, Eve."
"That'll be nice… thank you, Goseng-san. But maybe you should put in soy sauce instead of curry roux…?"
Said brunette blinked once, glancing at the item in her hold and confirming that what she took was indeed curry roux which they didn't need in sweet and sour pork. Dumbfounded, Goseng could only say, "Oh…"
"Pft–" If anything else except her little blunder of ingredients, Goseng thought it was worth it since Evolet was laughing now.
They came back to Khun shouting out that he’ll make a team with them and enter the Workshop Battle, even telling them that he’ll be sure to win it. He introduced himself briefly to them, as the previous teammate of Bam– Viole. As usual, he was confident as always and Evolet truly wouldn’t have it any other way. It worked in their favor to boost up the team’s morale after all.
This was why she thought Khun as an all capable leader. She wasn’t surprised when the team was all in favor of his words. She’ll have a lot to prepare now that their goals were aligned. Her gaze met Hwaryun for a moment as the Guide nodded to her. They were on track to finally get Bam out of FUG. All that’s left to do is train the team and see if she can get help from a certain person.
“Eve, we need to talk.” She could feel Khun’s stare at her as she showed him a small reluctant smile. After all, she owed him a proper explanation for all the years. She wasn’t prepared for any of this, but she supposed she already put it off long enough. She’ll be fine. Khun was here and so was the team. He already agreed. They’ll save Bam without fail.