Chapter 171: Hostage
As the strongest species of intermediate demons, Midnight Walker, were not much inferior to humans in terms of intelligence. Seeing that their companion was easily defeated and flew into the distance like a rag in the wind, the demons didn’t hesitate and ran away— Without delay, faster than a rabbit with its tail on fire.
Nemo put away the dark shadow. He chose to stand silently against the wind, facing the endless darkness, rather than turning his head to face the suffocating embarrassment. He decided to throw the difficult task of explaining to the sociable Oliver, leaving only an inscrutable back to everyone.
Thanks to Nemo’s abyssal magic, there was not a single beast in the vicinity. The early morning sky turned slightly cyan, and the original scattered stars were becoming sparse as dawn approached.
Oliver put away his sword skillfully and coughed. Then he took a deep breath, trying to make himself look serious, but when his gaze swept onto the expressionless Leonard’s face, his whole demeanor quickly deflated again. While Oliver had dealt with all kinds of difficult guests when he worked in the hotel, he had no experience in this special situation.
At least those guests wouldn’t praise him to the sky before they trouble him.
He was embarrassed enough that his eyelids were twitching. At this moment, he couldn’t stand well. He looked at Nemo, who was looking for the scenery rigidly in the distance. Oliver realized that he couldn’t escape this disaster after all.
"Ask. There is a safe place ahead, we’ll talk as we walk," he whispered, taking a little shaky step.
He didn’t even have the courage to say, "We’re not suspicious people." From the perspective of outsiders, there probably were one of the most suspicious people in the world right now. Instead of racking his brain to think of a less explosive opening statement he decided to delicately throw the problem to back.
The students followed mechanically, but no one said a word.
Marilyn stared at the back of Nemo’s head, as if trying to ignite the short ponytail behind his head with her gaze. Hayden turned pale again, and finally felt like shrinking again. An expression finally began to appear on Leonard’s face. He narrowed his eyes, and his face grew long.
Elmer himself couldn’t tell what his mood was. During this time, Oliver taught him a lot in private, and he could faintly see his strength. Unfortunately, Elmer was limited by his own abilities. Before, Elmer couldn’t estimate the level of the opponent’s strength, but now he was clear.
However, the Midnight Walker retreated too quickly and Elmer couldn’t dig out the slightest sense of reality from his mind.
"Oliver is not a deserter." He could only be the first to speak out, trying to break this awkwardness. "During the last training… Uh, he actually threw the snake mongoose on the snake-maned lion. I can tell. He actually helped us, but I don’t know why…"
"Why hide your strength?" Leonard took over the conversation and successfully stabilized his expression without showing too much shock. "Mr. White uses abyssal magic. That meant a person who used abyssal magic sneaked into Alban’s largest military academy. He might as well just put a label on his forehead that said, ‘I love abyssal magic, come and catch me’."
The little nobleman cast his gaze on Oliver, and his facial muscles twitched a few times. He seemed to want to raise his sword to defend, but out of some emotion he didn’t want to do that, so he had to twist into a nondescript posture. "Black Chapter or criminals on the run?"
"Black Chapter." Oliver only felt that he was about to suffocate in thick embarrassment as he carefully said those words. The center of the maze was right in front of them, and they could already see the abnormal sphere suspended in the air. Oliver accelerated his steps and stood beside Nemo, praying that the thing would distract the students.
"That thing… Oh my god, it’s the ‘Eye of God’." Marilyn staggered in place, seemingly trying to stabilize her soft leg. Her voice was a little shrill for the first time. "Praise Zenni. We… We’re at the center of the maze. When you said ‘safe zone’ you meant the center of the maze?!"
"Nn." Oliver nodded stiffly and tired to make a stoic appearance. "There’s a teleportation array leading to the outside over there. We’re indeed Black Chapters, and we entered the academy in order to… Uh, perform a certain task."
"The academy doesn’t conduct this kind of cooperation with the Mercenary Guild," Leonard said stiffly. When he heard the words "center of the maze" he shook his entire body involuntarily.
"That’s why we snuck in." Oliver tried to be sullen.
"So what is your goal? ……We are in the depths of the maze, and it’s impossible for a Black Chapter to do this kind of work out of ‘kindness’. Only a spider-level Black Chapter could guarantee their survival in this kind of place, and of the spider-level… I don’t remember anyone so young. When you entered the school, you must have been tested for any illusion spells. Obviously, you haven’t disguised your face and age in any way. There’s only one possibility, and your mission goal is among us, so you have to risk chasing in."
"Maybe they are really here to help," Hayden finally spoke, although the person was still shivering a little, his voice was very calm. "Do you remember when you pushed me in the hallway? If White doesn’t want to attract unnecessary attention, he could leave me alone… You have to come here a little bit, Leonard. Miss Lawler’s healing technique is great, but you are losing blood and need to drink some medicine."
The first half of his words could be called cautious, but the last sentence immediately became a lot tougher.
"But they repelled the Midnight Walker, and there are still surface creatures that are stronger than the Midnight Walker here. It’s not the same thing to go out on a limb and put your life on the line. Even mercenaries won’t do this kind of tiring work for free. I know that there is only one team that will do this," Leonard snorted and leaned forward silently showing a little more embarassment on his face.
"If it’s Tumbleweed, it’s normal to do this kind of thing." Speaking of his favorite Black Chapter team, Leonard’s eyes lit up.
Oliver held his breath.
"…But they can’t be Tumbleweed. Although there’s no image, I have heard my chef describe them— Oliver Ramon is a two-meter-tall burly man, and the mage in their team is a gloomy and fierce murderous guy." Leonard squeezed the glass vial, shook the muddy dark green liquid in it, then pinched his nose and poured it into his throat in one go.
Hayden looked at the scratches on Leonard’s skin critically and seemed very happy to use this to divert his attention. Regardless of Leonard’s instantly distorted face, he carefully used the liquid to eliminate the poison.
Oliver, who was only 1.81 meters tall and of moderate size, fell into complete silence. Nemo pricked up his ears and finally stopped pretending to watch the scenery…
"Forget the gloomy," he said in shock. "Murderous? What do you mean murderous?"
"That’s what he said. I also know the other three members— the former Chief Justice of the Knights of Judgement in a monk’s uniform, the terribly beautiful pirate, and the remaining female warrior that has a strange fire spell. It’s a gun with feathers on it. The two of them don’t meet the characteristic at all," Leonard said solemnly. His mouth was hissing with pain from the disinfectant. "And I haven’t heard of anyone on their team being in a relationship. That’s the most rigid and pure team I’ve ever seen."
‘This is hopeless,’ Oliver thought numbly, looking at the dragon breath stone orb that was getting closer.
He couldn’t think of any way to confess without hurting Leonard’s feelings. Nemo was still immersed in the "murderous" evaluation, looking a little confused.
Suddenly an unexpected person saved the day.
"Oh, captain." Jesse crossed lightly from behind the gap in the stone wall, raised his hand and greet. "Why are you treating your wounds here? Since you’re here, it’s nicer to clean up at the center."
He raised his eyes and scanned the students behind the two of them with words of concern in his mouth, but those eyes were full of indifference.
The students looked straight at the person who came out of nowhere, making huffing sounds of different volumes. Jesse was obviously a little satisfied with this reaction. He blew a kiss at the fledglings and showed a charming enough smirk.
"Too beautiful." Hayden wiped Leonard’s wound with a soft cloth stained with liquid medicine and lowered his voice.
"’Jesse the Viper’, Jesse Dylan?" Leonard’s tone was a bit daze, and it was not a good kind of daze.
"Uh-huh?" Jesse nodded.
"Actually, I don’t like this name very much, but I can’t help it. Who made the head our household have earth-shattering taste; earth-shattering in various meanings."
"He called you captain." Leonard turned to Oliver in disbelief.
Oliver looked at him bitterly, and said "Nn" as if confessing. He glanced at Jesse Dylan and his expression became more complicated.
"Does the medicine you just gave me have a hallucinogenic effect? Its side effects are likely appearing." Leonard turned to Hayden with a stiff expression.
"No, I heard it too." Hayden’s movement of treating the wound became a bit rougher.
"We didn’t mean to hide it from you, sorry." Without a second thought, Oliver poured it all out. "Mr. Leonard, you seem to have a lot of, uh, misunderstandings about us. Anyways, that’s the way it is. If you…"
"Dear captain, if you want to chat, now is not a good time." Jesse moved his shoulders. "Let’s go to the center and settle these people down first."
"Captain," Leonard murmured and repeated, staring into Oliver’s eyes, trying to find any traces of guilt that he might be lying. As a resort he only found a ton of embarrassment.
Oliver took a deep breath, grabbed Jesse and Nemo, and dragged them away from their temporary classmates. "Let’s talk here."
Nemo finally broke free from the shadow of the "murderous" evaluation. Unlike Oliver, who was still madly embarrassed, he was relatively detached from the situation. He keenly smelled something. "Where’s Mr. Cross? ……Why did you come to pick us up?"
"Oh, about that issue." Jesse tuck a wisp of brilliant blond hair behind his ears, glanced at a few confused young people not far away, and threw up a mute array. "He’s fine for the time being. He’s waiting for you in the center of the maze."
Oliver instantly suppressed the embarrassment in his heart, and his voice became serious. "It’s okay for the time being?"
When facing Jesse Dylan, Oliver and Nemo’s sentimental student aura disappeared instantly, and the momentum of the strong was naturally suppressed. Although he couldn’t hear the content of their conversation, Leonard couldn’t help but take a step back. His mind was still blank from shock. Hayden continued to work mechanically, and he was about to disinfect his entire body. Elmer and Marilyn remained silent, but their shoulders collapsed a little, and they wanted to shrink a bit.
"Should we… Take this opportunity to talk about the current situation?" A few seconds later, Leonard suggested a little blankly.
Marilyn frowned and nodded slightly. The four young people gathered in a pile, unable to figure out what their mood was. Gratitude, shock, and a trace of fear were all mixed together. Regardless of whether the other party was malicious or not, they couldn’t passively accept everything.
Indeed, they were reserve soldiers, not civilians to be rescued. They should never be confused with the status quo and blindly follow it, no matter who the other party was.
"Godwin Lopez is waiting for you. They just arrived not long ago." Jesse on the other side ignored the two auras and spoke in a calm voice. "Cunning guy. He must’ve used a special passage of the Alban royal family. Mr. Light, you should know the particularity of this place. I can’t use communication magic to contact you two in front of him."
"He detained Mr. Cross and asked you to come to us." There was a bit more unhappiness in Oliver’s voice. "Godwin Lopez doesn’t look like someone who would do this kind of thing. I think they should have good reasons."
"Very simple, important members of Horizon decided that you specifically detained these little guys as hostages." Jesse raised his chin at the four students.
"You didn’t clarify it?" Nemo stared at Jesse. Knowing Godwin’s past, he didn’t think that the man who lived like a textbook would do anything too much to the former knight commander. He was more worried about the position of the guy in front of him. Since Jesse Dylan didn’t come for himself, it was even more unlikely that it was for Oliver or Ann. After thinking about it carefully, whether it was the timing of joining or the habit of action, it was Adrian Cross that Jesse cares about.
Now that Nemo probably knew what Jesse was, he wasn’t going to believe in that love at first sight crap.
He was very curious about this guy’s position.
"You have forgotten my abilities. I am a ‘diviner’." Jesse bent the corner of his mouth. "My darling Adri will be fine. At any rate, we’ve already spent a warm night, so I can’t simply leave him alone."
Nemo stared at Jesse in disbelief, and Oliver looked like he had been smashed in the face with a hammer.
"That’s it for small talk." Jesse clapped his hands. "Now the problem is here— We have to escape, captain, or we’ll just treat it as if we really took these little guys as hostages. If the situation goes wrong, I have the confidence to take Adri away."
"No." Oliver forcibly recovered from the shock, with a very determined tone.
"Ann is still in the academy, we can’t just leave her like this." Nemo’s focus was elsewhere.
"Well, this answer isn’t really surprising. As for dear Ann, I have already contacted her— She’s in the labyrinth, and it is estimated that she’ll be able to catch up in a bit," Jesse said indifferently.
"Even with Bagelmaurus, this is the Great Isamel Labyrinth. If you start from the outermost layer…"
"Believe me, she definitely has a way to handle this. Miss Savage is not the kind of tragic character who wants everyone to leave her behind."
"Then before she arrives, I will meet Godwin," Oliver said in a deep voice. "Since we can’t avoid it, it’s time for us to make a clean break."
Nemo wanted to nod, but a vague shadow suddenly appeared in front of him, and broken voices got into his ears. This situation was a bit familiar. He shook his head abruptly then tentatively covered one eye.
The image became clear.
After spying on Telaranea and Vance in the archives, he put the little spider back on its web and gave it the ability to completely hide its aura. Besides its hunting life will become smoother, nothing else would change.
But it still followed Telaranea and even took the initiative to send back images this time. Did he accidently make its intelligence too high? With a faint guilty conscience, Nemo began to observe the images that were being shown…
Then he understood the reason why the picture was sent.
"Completely lockdown the academy." The old principal announced in front of a group of professors. "A Black Chapter with unknown purpose has taken a group of students hostage and is now hiding in the Isamel Labyrinth. Horizon has already dealt with the matter, but just in case, we must block their possible paths."
"At this time?" Mrs. Mandy— Telaranea raised her eyebrows.
"Yes, madam." A sneer gradually appeared on Salter’s old face. "I’m afraid you won’t be able to go home for the time being. I’m very sorry."
"…" The beautiful female professor in the picture was silent for a while, covering her lips with her hands. From the angle of the little spider, he could see that what the hand was blocking wasn’t a gasp, but a distorted smile.
"If you must," she said. "The hostages of the First Academy are in your hands, Salter."
The author has something to say：
Godwin: I borrowed my ID card and went to the VIP channel.
Ann: I myself am the proof! ……Walked the VIP channel.
Leonard: Tumbleweed is just and pure! There is no ambuguity among colleagues!
Poor Leonard. His image of Tumbleweed was crushed. He turned out to be pretty cute despite being somewhat annoying.