CASeries #2: LEGEND
Chapter 34 ♕ Interference
Things were going exactly as planned.
Charles allowed the briefest smile to brush his lips before letting his face return to its apathetic state. He could not wait to have the curtains close on this case. This was a good record to add to his achievements as one of the Twelve, and he would be proud to list it down without any hesitation.
Fact was, it was not every day that the Twelve managed to solve a Level A assignment—in fact, there wasn’t a single record in the history of Celeste Academy that any of the previous Celestial Circles had accomplished such a great feat.
Well, looking closely, the assignment was as actually a Level B or C, but Charles would let the people think what they were going to think. In the records of the Celeste Dispatch Division, the assignment was a Level A—considering that a lot of soldiers had lost their life. Most of the danger was actually at the entrance, but once they broke through the shell, everything had been a piece of cake.
He forced a smirk back as he fixed his glasses.
Of course, he couldn’t have done it alone. He admitted to himself that the presence of the others had been a big help. The fourth was sure that he would receive a reprimanding from the Headmaster, since . . . he basically broke a few rules and went against the orders—but he would let the Circle find out about that themselves. Rowe, Corvan, and a few others were already aware. He doubted they would miss this for the world. But of course, there would be Valeriana’s reaction . . . perhaps it was only her.
Once they finally got outside, Aneeka swiftly appeared beside him.
“Charles!” she said, a bit breathless. “It’s as you foretold.” She made a special emphasis on the last word, making another smile find its way on his lips.
This what he liked—when everything went as he predicted.
“Alright, assemble in the assigned groups and do the jobs I asked you to do.”
With a nod, she dashed to the direction. The fourth turned to the first.
“You know what to do.”
Corvan gave him a brief nod, albeit a little irritated at the way he put it before setting off to do his part of the plan. Charles made his move.
Valeriana didn’t know what in the world was happening.
Of course, the trip to the dungeon had been fairly short and uneventful (save for the occasional rattling of the ground due to the battle probably happening between the demon and the Twelve). Valeriana was particularly grateful she wasn’t being involved in the fight. As much as possible, she disliked the idea of violence and would rather not be around whenever it happened.
However, she also felt the strong need to watch the Twelve whenever they fought. Wherever they were, there was sure to be some good action scenes to watch out for. The only thing missing was popcorn and/or potato chips. . . and a sofa.
Movie marathons were Valeriana’s weakness. However, in this case, she was actually a part of that scene so she pushed the urge to just sit down aside and got to work.
When they arrived, it appeared that Tamara did not need any help at all. She easily broke out of the cell she was being kept in, with a slightly drowsy Courtney right behind her. It appears as though she had just recently woken up, judging by the messy hair and groggy eyes.
It was a refreshing sight to know that Courtney could look the way she was looking now. She seemed to be always primped and proper whenever she went around, with a seemingly permanent frown—if not a scowl—on her face. At least to Valeriana.
But, really. Though obviously cool, Tamara was a show-off.
Valeriana wanted to admit that the third ranker was plain awesome, but then she would be blowing some more air into her head and make her even more cocky than she was now. Instead, she bit her tongue and cocked her hips as she stood back and let Tamara break through the bars of another cell.
“Get outta there, you old man.” She kicked the bars which weakly vibrated upon the impact while a voice groaned from under the darkness.
“Do I really have to?”
“Come on, know your responsibilities.” Tamara grunted.
She should really say that to herself.
“Good lords.” With a sigh, a man emerged from the cell.
Valeriana quirked a brow at the sight of him. He had wild, unkempt brown hair and a thick beard that covered the entire area around his mouth. His face was marred with dirt, a pair of mismatched eyes peeking from under the thick fringe of poorly kept hair.
They exchanged glances.
“Ah!” The man exclaimed, walking over to Valeriana. “Who are you? A friend of Tam?”
“Tam?” She questioned. “That’s a good nickname. I gotta call you Tam from now on.”
“Yeah, sure, Val.” Tamara laughed as she shook her head. “Anyway, that’s Valeriana.”
“Lazaro. Laz for short.” He grinned. “Oh, we’ll be very very good friends, I assure you. You’re just my vibes.”
“Huh? Do you mind me asking how old you are?” she asked, quirking a brow at his attitude. Well, it didn’t matter. Older Valemnians were easier to get along with than the current generation.
“I’m hurt.” He sulked. “I’m young at heart.”
“So I guess you do mind.” Valeriana turned to Tamara instead. “Did you really need me to fetch you?”
“Mm.” Tamara tilted her head, as though innocent. “Not really.”
Valeriana rolled her eyes. “I shouldn’t have bothered.”
“Can we just get out of here?” Courtney impatiently quipped, massaging the bridge of her nose and pushing Tamara aside.
“Yes,” Marcy cleared his throat. “I do believe I can lead you to a safer place.”
“No. We have to meet up with Corvan and the others. With all these quaking going on, there’s gotta be a fight, right? I’m itching for some action,” Tamara said, swiftly following the path Courtney began treading.
Valeriana shrugged as she exchanged glances with Laz and just went along.
“Wait! Do wait a moment!” The old butler exclaimed, going after them. “I need your help with something even more important.”
“Something better than a fight?” Tamara turned with a questioning look on her face. “What the heck is that?”
Marcy merely gave them a solemn look and went ahead. “This way.”
While Valeriana started scratching her head in confusion as she watched the old butler. Tamara sighed in disappointment, Courtney gave a displeased grunt of impatience, and Laz acted entirely indifferent.
“God.” The third ranker’s shoulders sagged. “This had better be worth it.”
“Do not worry,” Marcy told them. “I will try my best not to bore you.”
“What’s it about, anyway?” Courtney asked them.
“I believe that there is a way to permanently put a stop to everything.”
“Oh, please.” Tamara rolled her eyes. “Is that peace talk? I don’t think so.”
“This is not just any peace talk.” Marcy told them. “I have already sent someone ahead to inform the citizens of the situation currently going on inside the family manor.”
“Wait. Why are we telling the people?” Tamara asked.
“They have the right to know.” The old butler pointedly looked at the third ranker. “Time has come for Lady Asthore to snap out of this childishness and know the true responsibilities of a leader. She will not learn without seeing for herself—not without the people telling her their dissatisfaction directly.”
“That is quite reasonable, but are you sure that’s . . . recommended?” Valeriana queried, unsure of them pursuing the idea.
“There is no need to worry. I know the citizens of Loquin quite well.” Answered Marcy, his wise eyes glimmering as they continued. “I have quite a few people on my side, you see. I may seem just an ordinary butler, but I once served under the city lord for public purposes.”
While everyone listened carefully with interest, Tamara seemed to be the complete opposite. She picked on her ears and said, “Yes, and?”
Laz pinched Tamara’s side to scold her.
“You tell me to do my work.” He paused. “You should try following your own words.”
The third ranker glared at the older man through her lashes and huffed indignantly. “I am doing my job! I’m following, ain’t I? That doesn’t mean I have to listen!”
Laz continued his assault on Tamara, knocking his knuckles on top of her head. The redhead retaliated by kicking his shin, making the man howl from the pain. In no time at all, they were exchanging punches.
Marcy sighed at the exchange between the two. “I may need the help of your friends as well. Knowing what had begun to happen since the death of the previous lord, the rebels would probably think that this would be a good opportunity to attack. There are more than a few of the citizens who seek to overthrow Lady Asthore from her current position, you see.”
“The citizens are planning a coup?” Courtney asked.
“They’ve been planning it even before Lady Asthore ascended. The only reason why everything has been kept in order is because of the presence of Tod.”
“Who is this Tod and why do I keep hearing his name?”
“It’s the demon. The cool demon servant, remember?”
“Oh, you mean that hunk?”
Valeriana and the others stared pointedly at her.
“Hey.” Tamara raised her hands in surrender. “I may have called him a hunk ‘cause he is kinda one, but demon hunks aren’t my type, ‘kay? That guy looked more like he’s obsessed with ‘serving his lady’. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t have the ‘master-servant’ fetish.”
“So what are your types? Blue-eyed blondes wearing glasses and have a knack of scolding and bossing people around?” Valeriana guessed, rolling her eyes as Tamara deadpanned at her.
“Are you insinuating something, Valeriana Kerrigan?”
“Uuhhh-ohhh.” Laz sang. “She’s calling you by your full name. Uuhhh-ohhh.”
“I prefer the cute-type of hunk with dimples and washboard abs, excuse me.”
Laz grinned. “That’s exactly me!”
“And isn’t older than me for more than fifteen years!” She added. “Without a thick beard and is properly groomed! Who do not drink and thinks about his work!”
Marcy cleared his throat. “As I saying.” He made unnecessary emphasis on those three words, as they went terribly off-topic for some reason. “I would need your help in restraining these people.”
“So it’s still fighting? Great.”
“But I don’t want anyone to get unnecessarily hurt.”
Tamara grunted. “What’s the use of fighting without crushing skulls?”
“I said restraining, not fighting. That is a job very simple for the Celestial Twelve, yes?”
“Agh. I hate it when people use that against us.”
The redheaded third ranker continued to mutter a stream of complains under her breath while Marcy decided to elaborate on the matter at hand. The others simply remained quiet and listened to the old butler talk. Tamara breathed heavily, letting her blue eyes roll. What in the world made Valeriana think she liked blue-eyed blondes wearing glasses? Goodness. She didn’t mean Charles, did she?
Utterly. Horribly. Disgusting.
“Tamara.” Laz called to her.
She stopped and turned to meet the eyes of the older man. “What?”
“You don’t hear it?”
Tamara strained her ears and her senses to try and make out whatever he was talking about. It was only then that it came to her attention that there were two presences approaching them, two which had already grown very familiar.
“They’re coming.” She whistled, making everyone stop and turn to look at her.
“What? Who?” It was Valeriana who asked.
However, before her question was answered, a flash of white came running for them. Tamara merely sidestepped to prevent being tackled whereas Courtney and Valeriana were both knocked down simultaneously.
Marcy seemed to be getting impatient from being repeatedly interrupted.
“Va-ler-ia-na!” A singsong voice echoed. “Courtneeeyyy!”
“Keelan!” Courtney groaned, shoving him off her. “You resemble a dog with a wagging tail! Stop it!”
Valeriana was more elated than irked unlike a certain someone, but she did agree to Courtney’s statement. Truth be told, if Keelan was an animal, he would really be a dog. In exception for his appetite, the friendly manner he often expressed himself through and the often unnaturally childish and over-enthusiastic way of conducting himself really did resemble the animal.
Really. If there was a person most likeable among the Twelve, it would be him. Valeriana took a mental note to nominate him for Most Friendly Person of the Year award. Still, she continued to wonder where in the world he got that insatiable appetite of his. Until now, he smelled of . . . chicken seasoned with garlic? The scent was all over him.
“Haha!” Valeriana laughed, pushing herself up. “You smell like chicken!”
“It must be because I used my shirt to hide the food a while ago.” Keelan stood upright before looking inside his top. “I think I still have some bread left in here.” He pulled out a loaf of bread and offered it to Tamara. “Want some?”
“Ew! Gross.” Her face twisted in disgust. “No. Thank you. I don’t know where the heck that thing came from or where the heck you put it.”
“It’s still fresh.”
“Good gods.” Courtney rolled her eyes. “You didn’t even bother wrapping it with some cloth before you shoved it to god-knows-where.”
Keelan shrugged and decide to bite into it. “Well, that leaves more for me.”
“Ladies,” Raziel’s flirtatious voice echoed. “Missed me?”
“Like hell we did. Shove that ugly face of yours somewhere that can’t be seen!” Tamara spat, making Raziel look absolutely horrified. “Really. You guys are insufferable.”
“And you think you aren’t?” Lazaro’s hand shot forward and hit her on the back of the head.
Tamara seethed at him. “You don’t hit a woman!”
“You call yourself one?”
“Just shut up, you old man!”
Valeriana sighed. If she was asked, the whole Twelve was insufferable.
“Are they like this all the time?” The old butler tiredly inquired. “They’re worse than the kids I had taken care of during my time as the Loquin family’s butler. Not really the way I expected the Celestial Twelve to act.”
“Every minute, every freaking second of the day,” she answered, nodding at him in sympathy. “But they’re not all that bad when you get to know them.”
“However,” Marcy began. “There is no time left. If you and your friends wish to help at all, I believe you would have to conduct yourselves properly.” The dangerous edge to his voice made everything go quiet.
“What’s going on?” Keelan asked. “Who’re they?”
“Well, young man,” said he, giving a smile that did not quite reach his eyes. “If you wish to know, why don’t you listen?”
“O-o-okay . . .”
“Good. Now, let’s get this over with.”