"It's been a while… No… It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance again, Gustang-san."
Evolet paused for a while, frowning as she continued her words. "But, please don't mistake me for Euterpe-san. I am not her and I will never be. Besides, you were the one who invited me as Muse instead of Evolet or Yvette."
Gustang quirked up a small amused smile at that, and Evolet found anxiety bubbling inside of her. She didn't like dealing with him.
"I would've invited you using other methods if it was possible. Otherwise I wouldn't have gotten out of my way to call you here when I know of your history. Both Muse and Yvette are merely well-made fake identities. While Evolet Euterpe simply doesn't exist. Yet on the other hand you deny the fact that you are Euterpe. If so, then who are you?”
“You know best what I am, all of you do. Especially when he was the one to start all of this.” The bluenette narrowed her eyes, unwilling to back down under his scrutinizing gaze.
“Is that why you won’t crown him the true King?”
“I could ask the same to you. Scheme too much and he might run out of patience eventually.” Evolet shot back at him, glaring at the man as he proceeded to sit down and brew a cup of coffee. Somewhat reluctantly, she also sat down across him when he motioned her to. He didn’t seem to have any more intention of riling her up, so Evolet relaxed a little although she didn’t let her guard down.
Evolet was aware of that fact, showing no signs of surprise instead exhaling an exhausted sigh. It hasn’t even been an hour since she met Gustang and she was already tired out of her mind. Evolet was sure some of the best Lightbearers would’ve immediately noticed her entering the Tower. But there weren't many that knew of her existence and purpose.
The legend was long forgotten. There was no way the legend wasn’t hidden and sealed away so that the Regulars wouldn’t know. The greedy fake King of the Tower wouldn’t let the Crown slip out of his hands. He needed the Crown to become the true King of the Tower before someone else overthrows him. But Jahad wouldn’t know a single thing unless he saw her for himself. She’d be fine as long as she stayed hidden from Jahad, as long as she steered clear from him then it’ll work out just fine.
And she knew for a fact that Gustang would never inform Jahad about her. Her eyes wandered to the old radio in the corner of the room briefly, knowing that someone was listening in on their conversation. She reckoned it was someone on Gustang’s side, considering that the brunette didn’t hesitate to imply that he was scheming against Jahad. Yet another sigh escaped her lips, head pounding from the headache she felt.
A part of it was also Gustang’s fault. Though at the same time she couldn’t hold it against him either. He was the one who offered up the Thorn to FUG which triggered Karaka’s faction taking action. They were carrying out their plans step by step as if Evolet didn’t notice a single thing. As if she wouldn’t when it comes to Bam. They were idiots for thinking it’ll go as smooth as they planned it. And she was all to adamant on making them regret it.
Said mastermind who pulled the strings to make this possible was sitting right in front of her, a calm look on his expression as they held a bored staring match against her. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, the Thorn fragments will be a great help for Bam onwards as they continue to climb. That didn’t mean she preferred to use this method to give it to him. Though Gustang wouldn’t accept it any other way unless Bam proved his strength on his own.
So instead she settled for a one-chance interruption and a promise that he'd stop before anything got out of hand. In exchange she had to come here and meet him for who knows what reason. Evolet couldn’t pinpoint why he would even want to meet her anyway. And from what she could see, Gustang had no intentions of telling her either. Though if his purpose was to rile her up then he’s succeeded at that by inviting her to the Workshop.
“Your Slayer Nominee hasn’t made it up to the Archimedes.” Gustang had muttered it in a small unamused voice, but Evolet heard it clearly and let her gaze wander to the glass panels as she stared outside with an evident frown.
“He will.” She is sure Bam will make it up here one way or another, but goodness knows what kind of trouble he found himself in again. On the other side, she also had no doubt that Khun was having a headache dealing with Sweet and Sour though he'll manage somehow. Evolet felt like she could sigh all day long. Things would've been much easier if she could accompany Bam, then she wouldn't have needed to worry about anything.
“It seems like he did make it here.” And Evolet smiled at Gustang’s words, faintly hearing the announcement of the first game ending. Then the next thing she knew there was a stack of papers in front of her and she skimmed through it briefly, noticing the contents was basically a rundown of her schedule for the upcoming days in the event.
She didn’t miss how despite the jam-packed schedule, Gustang deliberately left her an empty slot so that she could watch the competition with him. A thought passed her mind if he’ll finally reveal what he wanted during then, but she didn’t expect much anyway. She looked at the brunette once he stood up out of the blue, the coffee cup left empty on the table as she stared at him questioningly. An eyebrow raised, the High Ranker told her that he’ll walk her to her room. Completely dumbfounded by the unexpectedly kind offer, Evolet stayed silent for a whole minute before promptly saying,
“You… are Gustang-san… right?” The bulging veins on his forehead and the exasperated look he was donning conveyed the clear answer to Evolet. She didn’t waste any more time to stand up and follow him albeit skeptically.
He did keep his word to safely escort her to her room, although there was only awkward silence along the way. Though she certainly didn't rest in the room like he told her to after that. At first Evolet thought she'd just spend the night reviewing the details of the Workshop Battle's events. But that finished far sooner than she expected, so in the end she was out wandering on the Archimedes for a small midnight tour.
The deck was silent, completely void of the Regulars who've surely gone to sleep after the exhausting game. Evolet could sense that her quarters were deliberately placed the farthest from the Regulars' accommodations, most likely to prevent her meeting Bam or Khun and the team. Which was the right call, considering that Evolet would've visited Bam otherwise. She could faintly see the gold and blue strings swaying around her, as if tempting her to just follow them and see the two who were at the opposite side of the Archimedes.
Just as she was about to make her turn around the hallway, Evolet was suddenly greeted by the sight of someone or rather, a certain mini sized crocodile figure. Mini Rak was standing there in all his glory, red eyes darting around until they landed on Evolet's disguise. Somewhat surprised but didn't want her disguise to be found out yet, she opted to muster a small polite smile before going on her merry way to walk away.
She hadn't even gotten a few steps away before Rak called her out. “You! You’re the purple turtle aren’t you?!”
To be honest, Evolet was wondering if her disguise even had any meaning at this point. Her eyes wandered below, staring at her dyed hair while frowning. There wasn't a tint of its previous light lavender color, replaced by a sky blue shade that highly resembled those of the Khun family. How do people keep discovering her disguises on and on?
On second thought, maybe she should just run now–
The next thing she knew, there was a head crashing to her back that successfully knocked the wind out of her. Evolet staggered forward a few steps, slightly leaning on the wall.
Rak was pointing a finger at her, spouting more words that currently didn’t make any sense in Evolet’s mind such as how the purple turtle turned into a blue turtle instead.
The situation sank into her mind soon enough, and the first thing she did was break out in laughter. It was still so familiar with her, Rak’s loud voice and his shouts that she’s used to. Honestly, they never went along with her plans one way or another. But then again, she supposed she'll just have to improvise around it just like she always had. With Bam being an Irregular, things tend to derail ever the slightest bit anyway. So she might as well enjoy what's happening, shouldn't she? She missed them too.
Rak was taken aback by the sudden burst of laughter, watching dumbfoundedly as she continued to laugh without restraint before abruptly hugging him. Needless to say, Rak was puzzled with her actions but otherwise didn’t escape from her hold and instead hugged her back while laughing proudly and telling her of his greatness.
"Where have you been, purple turtle?! You just went missing without saying anything!"
It somewhat felt like Rak was reprimanding her, but Evolet still smiled as she answered, "Just a bit here and there, Rak-san. Thank you for taking care of Khun-san in my absence, Leader Rak."
He seemed to be appeased by her words, cackling to himself while claiming it was obvious that he'll do a great job taking care of his turtles since he was the best leader.
"Red turtle told me everything. Black turtle was with you all along, wasn't he?" His piercing red gaze was staring straight at her and Evolet couldn't help but let out a resigned sigh at his spot on intuition as she nodded.
"Yes. How did you know it was me though, Rak-san?"
"Leader Rak will always know which turtle is which!"
Rak exclaimed it without hesitation, huffing proudly as he did. Evolet's mouth was agape, confused as if she was about to say something before she ultimately decided to close her mouth shut with a sigh. Hwaryun was most likely the one who told him about her disguise too. While she couldn't say anything to his answer, she could certainly guess why he was here.
"Rak-san… You got lost while looking for Khun-san, didn't you?"
"A...AHAHAHA! The great leader Rak would never get lost, small turtle!"
The awkward laugh he let out was more than enough indication for Evolet that he was covering it up. She was absolutely sure he got lost while looking for Khun. Well, it would be either Khun or Bam. But it would make more sense for him to search for Khun first since the news of his death wasn't long ago.
"Hall number 3, room 24 A on the 6th floor. That's where Khun-san is. But… you're on the wrong side of the ship, Rak-san. Khun-san is on the west wing. This is the east wing and the Workshop Battle participants are forbidden to enter here."
Rak blinked incomprehensibly a few times, trying to process the information given to him before he stuttered out, "O-of course I knew that."
Evolet couldn't help but stifle the small giggles threatening to spill from her lips. It was painstakingly obvious from his expression. But then he stared up at her, a piercing red gaze as he asked an extremely important question.
"By the way, when are you going to let me go from your hug, purple turtle?"
At some point during the conversation, Evolet had even started patting his head without even realizing it. She didn't let him go after hearing his words, instead smiling brightly as she leisurely continued patting his rocky head without a care in the world.
"Rak-san… when you meet Bam later, please do give him a hug. I'm sure he'll be happy if you do that."
Taking a peek at Evolet's expression, Rak could only huff indignantly. "Purple turtle is stupid. Of course Leader Rak will do that without even being told! The great Rak always knows what's best for his turtles!!"
"Then, I'm counting on you, Rak-san. Win the Workshop Battle with Khun-san. And please tell Bam to sleep properly for me if you meet him."
"Yosh. You can count on me, purple turtle!"
Hearing the confidence in his answer, Evolet chuckled lightly as she finally released him from her hug and put him down. Rak observed the disguised Anima with a frown on his expression.
"Purple turtle, you're not planning to disappear again, are you?"
Evolet blinked confusedly for a moment, before a smile overtook her expression as she ushered him away while answering. "Of course not, Rak-san. I won't suddenly vanish again or anything. This time… I'll properly stay."
"Good." She could only laugh softly at his short answer, handing him to the security and telling them to escort him back to his room so he wouldn't get lost again. A simple smile was more than enough to make them move. Rushing away with a painted pink hue on their face while a few of them offered to walk her to her room, though Evolet promptly shut them down before leaving.
There was a small smirk on her expression as she walked away. She still had a promise to keep to Bam. She'll make sure everything works out just fine. Bam's been suffering enough in FUG, and an opportunity to free him like this won't come often. Even if it's harder to take care of FUG while dealing with the team's shenanigans, she'll just do whatever it takes to ensure her promise is kept and Bam is safe and happy.