|Forest Dragon Slayer: My resolve becomes my blade.|
|The articles I make are mine unless it's a collaboration then it's their's too. If you use my content without permission, I will cut you down with my sword.|
"Kyaaa!" She exclaimed before punching him square in the gut with full force before running away. She was able to apologize though as she did. This was considered completely normal here. Usually, it'd be either Kurogane or Eugene himself that would take the blows from this girl. Knowing that she didn't mean to do it out of malice, Eugene continued on to the dining room peacefully, albeit with some pain in his abdomen. It made him wonder how she got so strong as Kurogane had gone through tons of training and would normally not be affected by a normal punch. He entered the room to see Mune and Eriko already chatting and seemingly having already finished breakfast. Kurogane had walked past Eugene, seeming to have not noticed the Dragon Slayer.
"Ah, good morning Kurogane-san." Eriko said while hand signing before bringing out to him a plate of bacon, eggs, and other such breakfast foods. Mune waved a hand in greeting as well. For once, he wasn't wearing the bandages that he usually had on but didn't really need. He didn't have any injuries nor was his face that ugly, it was actually quite handsome, that he needed bandages around his head but for some reason he usually had them on.
"Good morning Eriko, Mune." Kurogane said politely as he began to dig into his food. As always, the food made by Eriko tasted great. It was then they heard they heard tired sounds coming from the hallway.
"Good morning." Another member of the guild as well as the strategist, Ren said with a tired voice as he dragged himself to the table looking almost like a zombie albeit with a bit more color with the bags under his eyes.
"Ren, were you staying up all night doing research again?" Kurogane asked with concern in his voice as Eriko brought Ren breakfast and a large cup of coffee.
"No, video games." Ren replied simply as he put sugar in his already sweetened coffee and drank down the whole thing in one gulp.
"You shouldn't be playing that much video games, especially at night." Mune said, lecturing the slightly younger man who still acted like a teenager sometimes.
"With all the work I have to do around here, how else am I supposed to keep up with the other players?" Ren said weakly in response as Eriko refilled his coffee.
"Even if you fell behind, wouldn't you be able to catch up in no time flat with your gaming skill anyway?" Eugene said, seemingly coming out of nowhere and already sitting next to Kurogane with a plate of breakfast in front of him.
"Ahhhhh!" Everyone else shouted in shock as they did not notice him at all. Ren actually accidentally spilled his piping hot coffee on his shirt, causing him to scream even more from getting burned until Mune used his Temperature Magic to cool him down.
"Where the heck did you come from!?! How long have you been here!?!" Ren exclaimed, now fully awake.
"I've been here the whole time." Eugene said simply. "When I came down here, Mune and Eriko were already at the table so I just sat down. Eriko then reflexively handed me a plate of breakfast. Kurogane came in and sat next to me and then you came down looking all tired."
How are we not used to this yet? Everyone else thought in their heads, wondering how he kept walking around them without them noticing. In Eriko's case, she was wondering how she was able to give Eugene a plate of food without noticing him. It scared her a little. He really was deserving of his alias, "The Ghost Dragon Slayer". This was another thing that was (sort of) considered normal in this guild.
"Looks like you're causing a ruckus as usual." Said a young woman with long blue hair entering the room with a small smile. This was Shana, the guild's sniper.
"I didn't really do anything here." Eugene said in defense. In a way, he was right so Shana couldn't do much else but sigh at this as she sat down to breakfast.
"Good morning!!" An energetic voice came from the hall and a pink haired young woman entered the room full of energy. This was Sakura, the guild's second in command.
"So we got missions today?" Shana asked as she put a forkful of eggs into her mouth. She asked this because Sakura would normally come into the dining hall at the side of the guild master Ryuunosuke, whom she was obviously infatuated with but this time, she came alone.
"Aw, Why are you acting so cold Shana-chan?" Sakura said with a pout before brightening up again. "Indeed, we have some missions today." She said as she passed out the assignments for each person except for Eriko as she did not usually do any combat. Sakura also passed one to Atsuko whom was hiding behind the corner. Thanks to her training with Eugene and Kurogane, Atsuko can now be within 5 feet of a male without having the urge to hit them.
"Sakura, mind if I don't have a mission today? I have a prior engagement." Eugene said.
"Ah, it's that time of year again huh?" Sakura said with a small smile. "It's okay! We knew about this and decided not to assign you a mission today!" Eugene nodded in thanks before getting up to leave. A few minutes later, he arrived in Crocus via Dokodemo Door. His agenda for the day was to visit the grave of a deceased friend of his. Before Eugene began to trust humans normally, this person was one of the few he was friendly with, the others being Meredy, Ultear (sort of. It was hard to tell when she threatened to kill him a lot), Riku and his master. This person was named Miki Wood. It was easy to become friends with her that fateful day on a chance meeting because they were both Forest Dragon Slayers. Unfortunately, she had died at some point. Eugene was not aware of this until he was told a few years ago. Because of this, he decided to visit her grave at least once a year. Normally within a city, it was easy for him to get lost as he had a lousy sense of direction in said cities but it seemed he had at least memorized where the grave was.
When he had reached Miki's grave, he summoned flowers and put them on top of the grave before putting his hands together in a small prayer for the dead.
Standing still in silent prayer, he then heard a sound from behind. Initially paying it no real attention, his interest was soon peaked as the sound of light footsteps against the graveled ground. He turned his gaze towards teh sound, ever so slightly, to get a glimpse at the new arrival. Down the walkway was a young woman, clad in garments of red and gold, slowly making her way up.
Kiara held her head low as a way to show her respect to the resting dead. She often came here to honor the memory of a long since gone friend. Walking past the many gravestones that filled this cemetary she gently lifted her gaze from the ground to gaze up at the ever familiar sight of her friends grave. But something was off. A young man with a dark gaze and even darker hair. A man which she had never encountered before. And he was standing right in front of her deceased friend.
"Ah, hello. Are you here to visit someone too?" Eugene asked with a friendly yet sadened smile as he turned to face the newcomer. "You need not pay heed to me. I'm just here to visit a friend." He knew he wasn't a common sight within this city so he made sure to assure the woman that he was not a threat or anything like that. "If I may ask, who are you visiting today?"
Kiara eyed the man up and down, trying to evaluate him as a person just from the looks of him. There is nothing about hm that really suggests that he would be of any threat to her. And he seemed genuinely saddened. But for what reason, she did not know and perhaps she ought to find out. "I'm visiting a friend of mine. She passed away some time ago. As a matter of fact, you are standing in front of her resting place"
"Ah, so you're a friend of Miki." Eugene said in response. "In that case, it's nice to meet you. My name is Eugene Woodland. I had the pleasure of befriending Miki several years ago. And you are?" He asked with a friendly smile as he stuck out his hand. At the same time he was cautious in the case of any attacks. That was the combat training in him although it didn't show in his body or face.
Kiara took his hand and gave him soft shake with a frown plastered on her features. "My name is Kiara Yano of Dryad Locks. I had the pleasure to be in the same guild as her in our younger days. We were rather good friends." Kiara didn't even attempt to be on her guard before this stranger. With her lack of staves she would be in his mercy in seconds if he got any ideas. So she simply had to give him the benefit of the doubt. "Though if what you say is true, how come she never mentioned you to me? Sure, there were things she kept secret, but you seem like a decent lad."
"I heard from Miki that your guild is quite the gossip center. I'm sure there would be some things that she wouldn't want to have spreading around the said gossip center." Eugene calmly said in response. "I would believe that her meeting and befriending me isn't the only thing she's kept quiet about. I wonder how you never learned about me though since I've met with her multiple times." Eugene then thought to himself Why did she keep that a secret? It's not like making a new friend is anything to hide. He then began to think about how they met and then figured it out. The two of them first met with both of them being naked. Eugene due to not really knowing what clothes were nor bothered with them for a while and Miki because she liked being naked when in the forest for some reason. It was the same almost every time they met too. He could understand why she didn't talk about it now. There'd be several rumors if it was found out that Miki had met with him in this state. As he didn't really have a concept of nakedness back then he didn't mind at the time but now he felt somewhat embarrassed about it.
"Well you are absolutely right about the gossip. So i suppose that it is all reasonable that you never came to mention." Kiara said while for just a moment flashing one of her rare smiles but it was shortlived as she continued speaking. "You know, the guild pretty much crumbled with her death. Everyone lost their passion and love of life. Many would move on to different things. She was sorely missed. What did Miki mean to you and do you know anything about what happened?"
“At that time, she was one of the few precious people I could trust.” Eugene said with a somewhat bitter smile. “You see, back then due to certain circumstances, for a long time, I couldn’t trust humans which left me isolated and alone. Despite my mistrust, she somehow slipped through it and gained my trust and companionship, becoming one of my closest friends and somewhat rival. I feel like she was the catalyst to me being able to open up to other people again and for that I’m grateful. As for how she died, I found out about 3 years ago that she was killed in battle. I don’t know who it was though.”
"Well then, at least you have some knowledge. It saddens me though that we did not know of you. We could have shared the knowledge with you. You might even have enjoyed joining in on the payback. At least she died as a hero. I'm not sure if our guild, even united, could have stopped Hotoke if he had been allowed to rampage. She died to protect the likes of us. Maybe you too, i'd wager. Take some comfort in that. It's what i try to do."
“So Hotoke’s the name of the person who killed her.” Eugene observed as he pulled up a sort of data file on him. His guild not only specialized in combat but also in information gathering and since he was a guild master, of course his guild would have information on him. He scrolled through the information a little. “Well, that would explain some things. Now I know where to go now. Thanks for the info. You don’t mind if I beat him up a little right?” He said as he activated a Dokodemo Door, summoning one in front of him. “I have a few things to say to that guy.” He then opened the door, revealing the town that Dryad Locks resided in on the other side. He walked through the door before closing it behind him.
Hotoke sat in one of the booths of his little resturant, simply enjoying the smaller things in life. He took a few looks around, gazing across the tables to catch a few glimpses of his fellow guildmates. Garnett Mitsu and Sirius Akiyoshi were entertaining some young visisting children with their magics. Kiara was absent, which could be noticed just by the air of this place. Once so stiff beneath Kiara's ever watchful eye, the atmosphere was a whole lot more relaxed now, free of tension.Munching on his strawberries, he merely took in his surroundings. It was ever so peaceful. sadly it won't last for much longer. Kiara was coming home soon.
“Do you mind if we have a talk?” A voice came from behind him as a hand was put on his shoulder. All of a sudden, Hotoke would find himself just outside of town. “You are Hotoke Boneweaver right?” As the owner of the voice jumped over him and landed in front of Hotoke. The owner of the voice was revealed to be Eugene. “Answer me this, are you the one who killed Miki?” He showed some anger in his voice but remained calm.
Hotoke looked shocked at first but he quickly recomposed himself. He eyes the man from head to toe, trying to figure out if he knows anything about this guy. With nothing coming to mind, he focuses his golden gaze into the dark eyes of the mysterious man. Something he could gather though about this man, through his Lich Magic, that he was a very strong one. Regardless, this man seemed to know the young girl which fell all those years ago and as such, he deserved the truth. "Yes, I'm Hotoke." I wonder if he could... he thought to himelf. He steeled his gaze, straightened up with his hands behind his back and said: "And I am indeed the one who murdered Miki Wood."
"I'll apologize in advance." Eugene said before his arms became a blur as he hit Hotoke with full strength and speed. His first four punches hit Hotoke in the shoulders and the leg joint areas, them seemingly landing at the same time and the fifth hit got Hotoke in the stomach. I guess I went a little too far. Eugene thought to himself as his punches at full force could normally create small craters in the ground. These were further strengthened by his frightening speed. Against a normal human body this could completely crush and shatter one's bones. However, he didn't even use his full strength. "Why did you kill Miki?" He finally asked.
Hotoke reeled back, feeling the full force of every punch. Damn, I assumed right. He thought. Fast and strong. I wonder what else he can do... Hotoke slowly rose up, groaning as he moved with hs fractured bones. As stood up, loud and clear cracks could be heard as he broke and re-arranged his skeletal structure. "Impressive, haven't recieved injuries like these in ages. But it will take more if you really want to break me. As for your question, Why? Does a man really need a reason?" He said and the moment he said it, his arm got covered in wood and bark as he thrust his arm forward, shouting: "Reaching Branch of the Forest Dragon!". His arm reached forward towards Eugene at a marvelous speed.
"So slow. Your attacks are so slow compared to a machine gun." Eugene said before charging forward and dodging to the right. He then threw several kunai with explosives attached to them. The kunais were aimed around Hotoke as well as at him. "A person should not kill without any reason!" He exclaimed. He was disgusted with what he heard. "No matter how big or small, a life is precious and should be treated with respect!"
"Ugh, that old crap again?" he groaned before jumping out of the way from the kunai. And while none of them actually hit, the explosion that followed threw him a bit out of balance, thus causing him to tumble against the ground before getting up. He extended his hand towards Eugene in a taunting motion with the other one behind his back. "I used to recieve those lessons from Sylvan. Didn't care for them then, why should I now?"
"And here I was wondering who raised you to be like that. But it seems you chose to be trash yourself." Eugene said as he got into a stance. "This going to be a pain. You have Lich Magic and even Forest Dragon Slayer magic. It's saddening that you mainly use it for destruction. It looks like I'm going to have to bear my fangs a little, basic gimmicks won't do much." He cracked his knuckles. "By the way, you didn't think I chose this location out of random did you?" He smiled before snapping his fingers and an explosion came from underneath Hotoke's feet, not a fiery one mind you but of a smell. This was Eugene's stink bomb, something that probably was one of the worst smelling things ever made. To give an idea as to how foul it was, take all of the worst smelling things and mix them together and then multiply how gross it smells by 20. This would be even worse for Hotoke who had enhanced smelling from being a Dragon Slayer. Normally, this would be the case for Eugene too but he had an oxygen mask. Admist his foe's confusion, he activated another magic. Cost Channeling. Eugene thought the name of the spell in his mind as he didn't want to give any information about what he could do if he could help it. People shouting the names of their spells when casting usually gave their magic away. However, for this next spell, he wanted to say it out loud. "Forest Dragon's Gigas Forest!" He exclaimed with all of his might as he summoned a large ammount of Gigas Cedars, one of the most powerful and sturdy trees on Earthland. Hotoke would also notice that his magic power had almost been completely drained if not completely. The reason for this was Eugene's earlier spell which he used so that he could cast his magic at the cost of Hotoke's magic energy. Eugene then drew his black sword and pointed it at Hotoke. He also drew a second sword which was more of a light blue and kept it to the side. At the same time, he had aimed the energy beams from the Gigas Cedars at Hotoke, ready to fire. "Checkmate."
Hotoke bared his teeth, growling as he used his Lich Magic to block his nasal passages. "Checkmate? You pompous asshole, don't think it is over yet! BLOOD PACT!" he exclaimed in a rather funny voice. Feeling the blood that courses through his veins evaporate into nothing he suddenly felt a burst of magic in his body. "Lets see how you handle this!" Quickly as a flash he gathered up the materials he needed. Blood, bone, flesh, etc, around him. The elements of the body dematerialized into a goo. "Try some of this on. Singular Devasta-!". Hotoke freezed. From beyond the the trees and the beam of energy that they were unleashing he witnessed the wielder of this magic. But it was not the man that had engaged him in combat. No, in his place stood someone whom he knew had long since passed. "Miki...". Before him was the young girl who had bested him so very long ago. The girl which he murdered. Is this your vengeance, Miki? If that is the case, it is well deserved. Hotoke released the spell, letting the materials re-build and re-enter his body. He bowed his head, spread his arms out, and allowed the forest's judgement to fall upon him.
"Wow, you don't need to get all dramatic about it. This isn't some play where one of the characters inevitably receives divine retrbution because of a past deed." Eugene said before flicking Hotoke in the head hard, knocking him to the ground. "I'm not one to kill, even if they killed one of my dear friends. I'm a bit glad though that we had this fight. I was able to see your true thoughts in the end about this. There's a saying I remember being told to me. 'Humans can lie with words, and they can deceive with actions. One shouldn't fully trust their eyes, voices, or expressions. But when they're about to die, their faces show the truth no matter what.' When you thought you were going to die, your face showed your true feelings about all of this. I could tell that you truly felt sorry and that you felt that you deserved it. It was a face showing no resistance to the apparant end. Even if I tried, I couldn't hold bitter feelings towards something like that." He then held out his hand to help the guy up. "I guess it's improper that I know your name but you don't know mine. I'm Eugene Woodland, a Forest Dragon Slayer and the foster son of the Dragon Gardina."
Hesitant at first, questioning what had just transpired and why Eugene had suddenly pulled off a complete 180 in how he treated him, Hotoke grabbed on to Eugene's hand and allowed himself to be pulled up. "Heh, saw through me, did ya? Well, as you already know, Hotoke is the name. Forest Dragon Slayer, foster so- I mean, trainee of Sylvan. You did well in our little fight. Been a while since I've had to use blood pact, much less a devastation spell." He chuckled as he brushed the dust and dirt off of his robes. "Though I do have to ask, how did you figure out that I was the guilty one?"
"You haven't seen anything yet. I haven't even been given permission to go all out." Eugene said with a confident yet not conceited smile. "Due to certain reasons, unless I have permission from my leaders, I'm not allowed to use my full strength and certain equipment. You haven't even seen a quarter of what I have." As mentioned earlier, Eugene was not showing any conceit but rather said it as if it were a fact which it was since it was such a short battle, Eugene didn't do much. In some ways, he couldn't even consider it to be a true battle with the last tactic. As Eugene didn't grow up in human society, his social skills in some aspects are lacking. "As for how I found out, I'll let the informant remain anonymous for now as I respect the privacy of others. You'll have to figure that out for yourself."
Hotoke sighed. "Fine, if you say so. But if I find out who it was, remind me to thank him or her. Also, a quarter? By god, if that is trully the case, then we need to have a serious fight sometime. If you can accomplish that then by all that is holy, I have to see what you are fully capable of. And next time, I won't hold back either." He said with a grin on his features, stretching his hand forward in an attempt to do a handshake. "Would you perhaps like to come by the guild and grab a bite? My treat."
"Sure, let's fight for real next time." Eugene said with a smile. "Although I probably still won't be able to go all out. I'd probably kill you if I did and I 'd rather not kill people I haven't desgnated as my true enemies. Maybe you don't believe me but perhaps you'll see in the future." He said this with a bit of a sad smile before going back to normal. "Anyway, sure, I'll take your offer. Let's get something to eat!" He said this cheerfully as he shook hands with Hotoke.
"Excellent!" Hotoke exclaimed with joy. Both at the prospect of a promise of a future fight, and the opportunity to try and make amends to another friend of Miki's. He took a look around, trying to figure out where he was. Some of the trees were familiar to him, so he made an estimated guess as to what the direction was. "Come along then, Eugene. The guild is probably anxious to find out what happened. And i am willing to bet my Slayer Magic on that they will be interested in hearing more about you and Miki's time together."
"Okay, let's get going." Eugene said as they arrived into town. As his former guild was located here, he was quite familiar with the area and was at ease here. But today, he wasn't visiting the guild so he just followed after Hotoke although he already knew the way. "I've already been told of the gossip pool that is your guild but how bad should I expect it to be?"
"Heh, have you now? Well rest assured, it has been dampered. They will most likely pull your leg with it a bit, make a few jokes, but then Kiara should be quick to silence them all. Besides, what is there to gossip about? That she had a secret friend? While they might discuss it for a while, i can't imagine them going too far with it. Considering the age the two of you must have been at the time, I would be very disappointed if they pull any immature ones." Hotoke said with a hint of humor and a hint of grave seriousness. "Oh, and by the way. Do make sure to tell them of how you bashed me around. That should please the lot of them."
"I see." Eugene said simply in response. "However, I am not one to say things like that which would cause you to fall from grace. I'll just face it head on." At this point, they had arrived in front of the guild.
The guild doors stood open, members and visitors stood outside the hall, looking confused and some even distressed. As the two men were closing in on the guild, the members quickly took notice of them and rushed forward towards them. They started to ask questions about where he went, when and how he disappeared and what happened to him. Despite his best efforts, Hotoke could not calm them down.
Then the sound of distressed Dryad's and visitors started to die out. From the mass of people, two women stepped forward. One of them was pretty much the spokesperson for good looks and grace with her Yellow hair, fair skin and a warm and comforting violet gaze. While the other one was pretyt much the exact opposite. Rough and scarred skin, bristle-like hair, and cold dark eyes. Sol and Luna had arrived.
Sol was first to speak. She opened her mouth to speak, but closed it when she saw that Hotoke was ever so slightly bruised up. "Wh-What happened to you, master?" She asked, voice drenched in concern. Luna stood right beside them and eyed both Hotoke and Eugene. "And who is this?" Asked Luna.
Hotoke swirled his hand in an introductionary manner towards Eugene and said: "This, my friends, is Eugene Woodland. Friend of Miki Wood and my own kidnapper for the day." Hotoke said in a joking manner.
Luna walked up towards Eugene, stared into his eyes for a moment and then smiled. She extended her hand towards him. "Pleasure to meet you, Eugene. The name is Luna Akemi of Bosco."
"It's a pleasure to meet you as well Luna." Eugene said with warm and friendly smile as he took Luna's hand and shook it. Out of the corner of his vision, Eugene could also see that Luna was in the motion to slap him. He made no move to avoid it and only silently used Fortification Magic on his feet so that he wouldn't be knocked back, showing a smile that said 'Go ahead and do it if you feel compelled to'. At this close distance, Luna should be aware that Eugene had noticed but yet, he accepted what was coming.
Luna could very well tell that if he only so wished, she could block that which was coming his way. But she did not concern herself with such trivial matters. All that mattered was that she was able to deliver some well deserved pain. Quick as a flash, Luna delivered a heavy punch straight to his face. The impact was felt but he did not move for as much as an inch. Not feeling quite satisfied with the lack of flight, she pulled her arm back for another one.
"That's quite enough." came Hotoke's voice from behind. Her arm was grabbed and restrained behind her back. "I did not invite him over so that you could use him as a punching bag."
"But master, he-"
"Did exactly what i would have expected anyone in his position to do. Your fellow Dryads have done it, now he has has as well. Now, would you kindly relax so that we can give our guest a more appropriate welcome?"
Luna remained tense for several more seconds until she finally surrendered to her master's will. She relaxed and as she did so, Hotoke let her go. Luna let off an angry huff and walked away, her sister following her in her tracks. "Welcome to Dryad Locks."
"She's quite the cheerful person." Eugene said maintaining his cheerful demeanor although it did have a hint of sarcasm. "That girl has gone through some stuff huh?" He said to Hotoke with a bit of a whisper that he was sure only a fellow Dragon Slayer could hear. "I could tell cause her eyes seemed similar to mine in the past." He said this with a slightly sad expression before reverting back to normal. "Anyway, anyone else you want to introduce me to or do you want to let them introduce themselves?" He asked Hotoke in a normal volume enough for the people nearby to hear. It had gone silent and somewhat tense with Luna punching him so he wanted to ease the tension.
Hotoke smiled as if nothing out of the ordinary had transpired. "I'd rather allow them to introduce themselves if they so desire." said Hotoke as he continued into the guild. Well inside, Hotoke had the guild members prepare a big and long table for all of the guild to sit down at. Hotoke gave everyone their seat and started to have the waitresses take everyone's order. Eugene got to sit at one end of the table and Hotoke at the other, making quite the distance between the two. "It's all for the sake of manners. The most important ones sit at the ends." would Hotoke say.
"There's no need to be so formal." Eugene said as he was sort of at a loss as he wasn't used to such arrangements. He had lived in the wild a majority of his life and even in Fairy Tail, they never had such arrangements and people ate where and as they pleased. In Unchained Soul, there were so few people in their guild that they wouldn't be able to do that anyway. "Besides, I feel like it might be more difficult to get to know the people that are seated far away." He truly felt that with this arrangement he'd probably only be able to really talk to the two people seated next to him.
"In that case, feel free to sit wherever you see fit. I was simply trying to be courteous." Said Hotoke and gestured towards all of the members who had already taken a seat to rise up so Eugene could make a completely free choice.
"Um, no that's not what I meant." Eugene said with a somewhat nervous smile. "Wait a minute, that doesn't even solve the issue I mentioned earlier." He retorted, wondering why Hotoke interpreted what he said in that way. Eugene thought that sitting around such a long table and in such a formal setting like a tea party almost would make it difficult to get to know everyone but for some reason, Hotoke interpreted it as him wanting to choose where he sat. "Is there even a need for such a long table? Having such a tea party-like setting makes things a little too formal. Have you ever tried being lax about stuff like this?" He then wondered what Hotoke would consider lax in the first place. Perhaps this was supposed to be lax and he usually pays even more attention to formalities. Despite us having the same magic, we have completely opposite personalities it seems. Eugene thought to himself. "Ever seen how Fairy Tail does things? They are nearby here you know. I'm from that guild so I guess I just got used to something like that." He said with a sheepish smile.
A small grin spread across Hotoke's features as he leaned back. "Oh yes, I've seen how they do things. Have had to deal with them every once in a while. But as for the formalities... I suggest you sit down. Or lay down. Or stand. Or strike a naked pose on top of the table." He lowered his head again and looked at Eugene with a mischevious smile. "That's what everyone else does. One way or another, we all get to know each other."
"Okay then, let's see how you will go about this." Eugene said as he sighed and just sat down. He was curious as to how this would go although he was worried about the naked part. "Let's try to get each other well." He said with a smile.
Hotoke clapped his hands the the food started to get served. It went very much to everyone's expectations. At least, at the begining. Everyone calmly ate their meals in a calm and somewhat sophisticated fashion. Then, as the alcohol arrived, everything started to derail in to crazy oddity. Everyone left their seats to speak to their friends and comrades who sat at different seats, some got up on the table to do their conversations. More than one member approached Eugene and made a few jokeful jabs at him about him and Miki, some were legitimately interested to know more about him.
After a little time, Eugene could see from one end of the table, how Luna was still glaring at him with unobscured rage. The woman beside her however, a woman around Luna's age, the one known as Sol, made her way around the table and started to approach Eugene. Luna just stared, flabbergasted.
Sol moved gracefully, seemingly unaffected by the alcohol that had been served, as she approached the Forest Slayer. When she was right beside him she extended her hand towards him. "I don't think we have had the chance just yet. My name is Sol Akemi. And I wish to apologize for my sisters brutish behavior"
Although Eugene could feel the stares with almost a murderous intent, he was unfazed and he kept up his smile. He then saw the other sister walk over to him and introduce herself. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Sol.” Eugene replied with a smile as he took the hand and shook it. “No need to apologize. I’m sure she had her reasons. I hurt one of her treasured people after all. I can tell she also had a harsh past like me so I can understand the emotions of having one of the few people she trusts having been hurt.” He said this with a somewhat bitter smile.
Her smile grew ever kinder. "Treasured indeed. Be that as it may be, she was still acting out of line. It is not up to her to decide what is the appropriate way of approaching a stranger, least of all someone she does not know or have any idea of his intent or reasons for his actions." She motioned for the table. "Mind if I have a seat?"
"Don't worry about that. I've gotten used to it by now having to deal with my guildmate Atsuko on a daily basis just because of my gender due to her androphobia. The day I met her, we didn't even exchange words or anything and she just punched me in the gut at full power and she still does that." He said with a bit of a laugh. She then asked whether she could sit with him. "Sure, go ahead." Once they were settled, Eugene continued. "You know, you act similarly to another guildmate of mine named Kurogane, apologizing for other's actions and being kind like that."
"Really? It would be a pleasure to meet this Kurogane at some point then. Although I do hope that we are not too similar. Would lead to an awfully boring conversation." She raised her glass of wine to her lips and took many a mouthful gulps of the drink. "If you don't mind my asking, what is the name of your guild?"
"Don't worry, there are some key aspects that are different between you two. For example, he doesn't drink much, in fact I haven't seen him drink at all, and you seem to be perfectly fine with it. Although I will admit it'd be interesting to see you try to get him to try it. Also, Kurogane is a swordsman who specializes in close range combat. You on the other hand specialize in support oriented and ranged combat right?" He replied with a smile. "If you're wondering how I know, I figured it out from how you walk and stand. Your initial stance isn't as wide as a person's who is used to close range combat and your body's physique is more accustomed to sudden turns and jumping back at a moment's notice to make yourself a difficult target to hit rather than fight head on most of the time." She then asked about what guild he was from. "The guild I'm from is called Unchained Soul." He answered simply.
Sol tapped her bottom lip. "Unchained Soul... Can't say that that rings any bells. And here I thought i was keeping tabs on most, if not all, of our competition." Sol took a few more sips. Realizing that it was soon empty, she proceeded to refill it. "Where is your base? Where and how do you operate?"
"Our guild isn't very well known by most people so it's understandable that you haven't heard of us." Eugene said with a smile of understanding. Seeing that Sol's glass of wine was empty he decided to fill it for her. "Allow me." Eugene said as he pulled out a wine bottle. "Because of my ability to control and summon plants, I tried making wine to experiment my ability to fuse certain traits of one plant with another. Cana said it tasted good when she tested it for me so hopefully it will be to your liking. It's probably going to be a bit stronger than normal though." He said as he poured some wine into her cup.He then proceeded to answer her questions. "Our headquarters isn't located in any specific location but rather a dimensional space that can only be accessed with the right equipment. As for what we normally do, we take down dark guilds and other such evil associations. Our methods in doing so though vary person to person and we sometimes just help people we come across."
"My thanks, Mr Woodland." She said as she graciously accepted the wine. She took a little sip and immediately reacted to the alcoholic potency of it. Yet, the taste was so unique and special that she just couldn't resist taking a few more sips. "So fighting the good fight, are we? Glad to see that someone is."
"I don't think we're doing all that much." Eugene said humbly. "Dark Guilds keep popping up one after another. After we've destroyed one, it feels like five more pop up. Well, all we can do is do our best to protect the people. I'm sure people in the normal guilds also strive to do that right?" He said with a smile.
Sol shrugged. "Not as many as I would like. Most guilds just see Dark Guild hunting as a great risk and does therefore not often partake in such tasks. Even we are guilty of staying away from such matters."
"I see." Eugene replied simply in response. "Well, that would explain why it's been so difficult. But I'm sure people have their own reasons. It's not an inherently bad thing to want to stay alive. Many people have families and friends that they want to return to alive and well. It'd be saddening if so many people got needlessly hurt, causing suffering to those close to them."
"I suppose that you are right. It still makes me sometimes feel... insufficient. As I'm sure that you can understand, I just wish that I could be of greater good for... well, the greater good."
"A lot of people want that. But, it wouldn't be good to sadden others." Eugene said in response. "Just focus on what you can currently do yourself to help those around you. If everyone did that, that alone would be enough."
"Wise words, mr Woodland." Said Sol as she took another sip. "I gotta say, this wine that you make is quite good. Not the tastiest, but the unique flavor is enough for me to come back to it. Don't serve me more though, I doubt that I coulld keep a straight face if I had any more."
"That would be wise. I can see your face already beginning to turn a faintish pink." Eugene said calmly. He hoped that this wouldn't turn into a person who has almost never been drunk getting drunk scenario or something like that. Ah well, I know how to deal with this as I've dealt with Cana so much. And I can make a funny scenario."
"Hm, wise and perceptive. Well then, with that in mind, i should probably put the wine down... Just one more sip though." Sol said as she raised the glass back up to her lips.
Eugene watched as this 'one more sip' turned into a 'one more gulp' and the cup of wine was finished. "Sol, you okay?" He asked, checking in on the young woman. She just drank more than she said she would.
She separated her lips from the beverage containing glass. "Oh, I'm feeling wonderfuuuuul." Said Sol in a drunken haze. "This is some stuff you got there, Eugene. Got any more?" She asked, wiggling her glass in front of his face. Her expression said everything one needed to know at that moment. She was drunk and looked as if she was in paradise.
"Yeah, I do..." He said somewhat hesitantly as getting her anymore drunk might make things worse. It was then the whole bottle Eugene had poured the wine from all of a sudden appeared in front of Sol. When did that come out!?! Eugene wondered as he saw Sol spot the bottle, it being open so its sweet aroma could be smelled by Sol and attract her.
Sol's eyes glistened at the sight of the bottle. She reached forward to grab it, her mouth watering and her tongue gracing her lips as the scent enticed her beyond what any other form of wine had ever done before. Her fingers were just to grab hold of it when a voice called to her.
Sol turned around to see who spoke, and who she saw was none other than a rather ticked off looking Hotoke. He gestured for her to come to him.
"U-Um, excuse me for just a moment." Said Sol as she got up from the table and started to walk towards Hotoke. Even with her slightly wobbly walk, she somehow still managed to look graceful in a very drunken way.
"Hey, need any help?" Eugene said as he supported Sol as it seemed that she was about to fall over even though she had still kept up the graceful act. He then turned towards a pissed off Hotoke. "This one would be my bad. I originally made the wine with Cana in mind so it was too strong." He had a nervous smile on his face as he said this.
Hotoke raised a hand. "You are not to blame, Eugene. You merely provided drink, It was Sol's duty to be responsible with her consumption of said drink. Sol, we have talked about this, you are a Night Witch, certain standards are both desired and required of you."
"I know master *hic*. I'm sorry." Said Sol.
"We can't have you repeat previous mistakes again. Therefore I can't allow this drunken haze of yours. In other words, Let me in." Sol seemed terrified at those words. Her whole body started shaking.
"M-master, surely that's will not be required?"
"I deem it to be." Said Hotoke as he rose up and approached her, his hand extending forward towards her as he grabbed a firm grip around her skull and the other placed on her stomach. "Let. Me. In."
All of a sudden, a pair of hands gripped Hotoke's arms strongly and forced him to release Sol from his grip before catching the woman who was light headed from having her skull gripped so tightly and gently sat her down on a nearby chair. "There is no need to use such a method that strikes fear in others and from the looks of it, cause pain. There are better ways to solve the issue at hand." A young man now stood between Sol and Hotoke with a serious expression on his face. "That is no way to treat a lady nor your guild members." The all of a sudden appearance of the young man shocked many of the surrounding members.
"Ah, Kurogane you're here?" Eugene said rather nonchalantly.
For a moment, Hotoke was caught off guard, yet he was quick to recollect himself. "An associate of yours, Eugene?" Not waiting for Eugene to respond, Hotoke turned his attention toward the intruding man. "And who are you to try and tell me how to run my guild, or how to treat my members?"
"Yeah, a guildmate." Eugene said simply in response as he just let Kurogane say his bit.
"I am simply one who can't stand back and let someone suffer needless pain all for the sake of reputation." Kurogane replied in a serious tone. "While it is the duty and responsibility of guild members to follow the rules and expectations set for them to the best of their ability, it is the duty of the guild master to put their members first and to think of what's best for them as well as their well being. While I wish to believe that you have good intentions with this, you should try to think of better solutions that cause less harm before resorting to using such drastic measures." He said this with a strong conviction in his voice.
"And you call yourself a Forest Dragon Slayer. We use plants for crying out loud." Eugene said as he summoned some plants and began grinding them. "I would hope that you remember that there are some herbs that can counteract the alcohol and snap a person out of their drunken state. And besides, she isn't that drunk, she was clearly able to still follow orders and react for the most part. No need to pull out the last resort yet." He then finished with making a sort of powder and poured hot water in the bowl it was in, making a tea of sorts. He passed it to Kurogane who then walked over to Sol.
"Please drink this, it'll help you fully come back to your senses." Kurogane said as he offered it to her. After she had finished drinking Kurogane asked. "Are you okay now?" It seemed that it had taken effect almost immediately shown from her change in expression.
Sol nodded slowly as the haze was steadily fading away. "I... Yes. Yes, I am. However... Master..."
Hotoke simply raised his hand which seemed to immediately silence the blonde woman. "No harm would have come to her what so ever, it was simply a means of having her body neutralize the alcohol by natural means. Furthermore, don't even dare try to lecture me on how to be a Guild Master. It is for all our sake that I did what I intended to do before you so rudely interrupted. As for you, Eugene, I do not know about you, but I do not possess the ability to create such plants. I deemed my actions necessary. However..."
Hotoke took a look at his blonde Night Witch and gave her a gentle smile. "It seems like such actions are no longer needed. Just be watchful with the drink from here on, okay? The toast will start soon."