"It looks like they're back," Sed said when he noticed Kimmy carrying the members of the search party and the people they picked up.
Epsilon and Lyria gazed at their surroundings in awe like anyone who first entered the hidden city.
"Is that Vi and Magnus?" Jasmine was shocked to see their former allies tied and blindfolded.
Wen was the first to get off Kimmy and walk to his friends. "We need to build a makeshift prison for them at the oasis. It's not safe to keep them in here."
"What do you plan to do?"
"Interrogate. They know exactly who is behind this. Is Sphinx back?"
"Yeah. He brought along two players and the guildmaster of Hot Spicy Crabs."
They noticed a male assassin walking towards them. Behind him were two new faces, a knight and an archer. The unconscious Gaylord was being carried princess-style by the knight.
Sphinx smiled when he saw Astrid. "It's been a while, Ms. Guildmaster. Glad to see you alive."
"Right back at you," Astrid replied.
"No way!" Ileanna gasped when she saw the girls.
Epsilon smirked and folded her arms. "Humph. Well if it isn't Ileanna. Nice of you to turn up here suddenly after being missing for several months. Is this your new ambiguous boyfriend?"
Ileanna quickly covered Epsilon's mouth. "Shh!"
Li Yuan smirked at Epsilon's words. "So we look like that in the eyes of other people, huh?"
Lyria stared at Li Yuan carrying Gaylord like a fairytale prince. "He looks more like Gaylord's ambiguous boyfriend if you ask me."
Li Yuan frowned and dropped Gaylord ruthlessly on the ground.
"You're going to send him deeper into a coma!" Ileanna exclaimed.
Sphinx walked over to the bound and blindfolded Magnus and Lyngvi. "What happened to these guys over here?"
"We encountered them. They tried to attack. We knocked them out with pumpkins," Epsilon over summarized the whole incident.
"Luna, Tank, and Garth are still out there. We have to go out to look for them," Astrid said.
"Luna is out there? I'm coming with you." Ileanna volunteered to join the search party.
"We need people to stay behind and take care of these prisoners," Wen looked at the others for any volunteers.
Epsilon played with her chains. "Oh. Taking care of prisoners is my specialty."
Lyria glanced at Lyngvi. "I'll help with the prisoners too."
"We'll get to work on building the makeshift prison outside the city." Sed immediately went to search for other people with building skills to help out.
"Great. We'll get ready to continue the search." Wen turned around to replenish their supplies.
The fire inside the NPC hut was close to disappearing when it was about dinnertime. Garth was about to cook some potato soup for the three of them when he realized that they didn't have enough firewood. He was about to get some himself when Tank volunteered.
"I'll get some wood," Tank said.
"I'll help!" Luna followed.
"Thanks," Garth said as he grabbed some flour and yeast. He rolled his sleeves. The last time he cooked was a long time ago when all the members of Black Rose who had high cooking skills were down with a cold.
"Here. Put this on." Tank threw a chef outfit at Garth. It landed on the mage's face.
"What is this?" Garth examined the clothing.
"I found it in the closet. It's supposed to buff up your cooking stats."
When Luna and Tank left the hut, they looked up at the night sky. It was filled with stars. Tank was about to comment, but Luna spoke before he did.
"Tank! I challenge you to a firewood collecting contest!" Luna pointed at him.
Tank was amused. "What do we get out of this challenge?"
"I didn't really think about that." She paused to think. "The loser does anything the winner wants?"
"That's a really dangerous reward, you know that?" He smirked. "Let's do it."
Luna suddenly regretted saying that as a reward.
As Garth was working on the bread dough, the front door suddenly burst open. It startled him a bit. When he turned his head, he saw Tank and Luna with a whole lot of firewood.
"We're back!" Luna announced.
"That's way too much firewood," Garth remarked.
"We're having a contest."
"Sounds fun." He went back to working on the dough.
Tank and Luna counted their firewood. Tank collected 39 while Luna collected 38.
"It looks like I won." Tank laughed. "Now, what should I make you do?"
"I was so close!" Luna dropped down on her knees in despair.
"Too bad, Luna. Better luck next time."
Garth took some of the firewood and rekindled the fire in the kitchen. He began cooking the potato soup and baking the bread.
"I should make you do something embarrassing," said Tank as he thought hard for his reward.
"Tank, have mercy on me!" Luna pleaded.
"Oh hey. There's beer here." He poured himself a mug of beer and emptied it. "Oh. I know. How about you sit on my lap?" He laughed.
"W-What!?" Luna turned red.
"Ah. So lively," Garth commented as he served the bread and potato soup. He sat down with them and ate quietly.
"Come on, Luna." Tank patted his lap.
Luna hesitated. She couldn't bring herself to sit on Tank while Garth was around. It was too awkward. But, she definitely wanted to sit on his lap!
"Doesn't this count as harassment?" Garth said before drinking his soup.
"It's not harassment if she likes it," Tank replied.
"Do you like it, Luna?" Garth asked.
Luna covered her reddened face.
"See? She likes it," said Tank.
"She didn't even say anything."
"That's the face of 'yes' right there."
"You're just an old pervert preying on a young girl."
"Ouch. That hurts, Garth." Tank laughed and poured himself another mug of beer.
"Now hurry up and finish your meal before it gets cold."
Suddenly, there was a sound from outside. Something was approaching their hut at a fast speed. Garth was the first to notice. He stood up from his seat.
"Is something wrong, Garth?" Luna asked.
"I hear something." Garth moved to the window. It was too dark to see anything.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Three knocks on the door made all their heads turn. Garth swallowed hard before he moved to the front door. He slowly turned the knob and opened it.
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