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‘What difference does it make to you?’ said Emerix. ‘You are only here to guard your prince, are you not?’
‘That, we are. I’m mainly just curious. No need to answer if you don’t want to.’
Emerix mulled it over a bit, then said, ‘The Vanguard attacked a Rainlord family.’
It was Garovel’s turn to hesitate. ‘What? Are you serious?’
‘I am, indeed.’
And to Hector’s surprise, Garovel had nothing else to say. He expected him to inquire further, but the reaper merely remained silent instead.
As they finally drew close to their destination, Hector couldn’t help gawking a little through the window.
The Golden Fort. Even Hector had heard of this place. It wasn’t difficult to see why it was one of the most famous fortresses in the entire world. He’d heard that it was constructed from pure gold, but seeing it now, that couldn’t possibly be true. It seemed obvious that the building’s yellow hue came from its gigantic sandstone walls. Swirls of golden paint ran all along them, becoming particularly ornate around the main gateway, and tall white turrets rounded off every corner, hanging golden banners from their topmost windows like fluttering tongues against the constant wind.
In the main courtyard, however, there truly did stand an immense statue of solid gold. It depicted a kind of strange plant--an octet of arching leaves, each one large enough to shield a grown man from the punishing sun.
Hector exited the vehicle last and then followed everyone else inside. From what Prince Meriwether had told him before leaving, their primary goal was to meet with Nasira’s father. He now wondered how plausible that would be. The castle was brimming with people, and Hector kept seeing even more reapers among the crowd as they proceeded on.
‘How many servants do they have here?’ asked Hector.
‘Don’t know,’ Garovel said privately, ‘but we’ve only been here a few minutes, and I’ve already counted nine.’
‘Geez... And they’re all crazy strong, I bet...’
‘Not necessarily. Most reapers and servants don’t go looking for trouble like you and I do, so they don’t grow as quickly as you have over these past seven months.’
‘And even the ones who DO look for it like we do probably still don’t find as fucking MUCH of it as we always seem to.’
‘Y-you think so?’
‘Yeah. Because if they did, they’d probably get fucking killed.’
‘...Was that supposed to be comforting?’