3 Colleen Valanar

In a tavern located somewhere in the Earth Tribe's territory of Lunargard Faction, Blaze slammed her shot glass on the counter once again, tipsy from the amount of alcohol she had consumed in the past hours.

A few days had passed since the mass burial of her Ember tribesmen, but Blaze couldn't move on, trapped within the torment she felt from the day she was met with tragedy.

'Winter, of all of the days you've ignored me… why, oh why, did you choose to do it with me on that specific day?'

Though Blaze didn't want to keep thinking about it, the thoughts always found a way back to the focus of her mind. She couldn't think of a plausible reason for Winter's questionable disappearance, nor could she justify the odd, out-of-place behavior of his that she noticed when they were last together. With all that she had come to realize within the past few days, she knew better than to say that these were all just coincidences.

There was something different about him that she couldn't quite explain. What was it? Although she enjoyed every fetching bit of ecstasy with him, the peak of euphoria she was brought to during her last moments with him cut above the rest.

It was something she had been longing for since then, to experience it all over again, in hopes to bring herself out of this shitty world she was stuck alone in. But no! She couldn't just fantasize about her older brother's presumed killer, no?

But hey, she knew for a fact that Winter was with her just a few minutes before the attack even happened…so the culprit couldn't possibly be him. She was certain. That was why she allowed herself to keep him in her fantasies despite the unending accusations and pointed fingers that pointed towards him.

Should she reveal their relationship to the public in hopes to clear Winter's name?

No, that would no good. Unless she could find him to explain his sudden disappearance, her confession would hold no value in the Lunargard Council's eyes. At worse, she could end up drawing suspicion onto herself for disclosing the fact that she had been with the prime suspect before the massacre took place.

Winter, Winter, Winter, Winter...

If only Winter was with her right now, with his help, she could move on from this misery a lot faster. Perhaps by indulging in a round of sex–

Her train of thought was abruptly put to a stop as an oh-so-familiar woman stepped into view.

"What in the world is wrong with you? Well, never mind. I would like to tell you to stop drinking but I know you wouldn't listen so... for heaven's sake, please hear me out...," the woman said.

Perhaps it was because she felt sick of her or was disappointed in her that Colleen Valanar, Blaze's best friend, sat down on the metal stool beside her at the front counter to accompany her in her imprudence. Collen was also a dragon-slayer from the Earth Tribe herself and had crushed on Blake, Blaze's older brother, when he was still alive. 

"Wha... ish... it?" Blazed slurred. With her cheeks painted a bright shade of pink from excessive alcohol, she hiccupped as she ogled at her best friend.

"While you're up to no good, I investigated your older brother's demise."

Colleen leaned close and whispered towards her ear, "An elderly woman was awake in the middle of the night when 'it' happened. She said Blake was assassinated by a masked dragon-slayer, a twin dragon-slaying sword user to be precise. If what you told me about Winter being with you that night is true, then the killer must be someone among us, hidden in plain sight."


Despite being drunk and drowsy from taking multiple shots of alcoholic beverages earlier, Blaze's eyes widened incredulously upon hearing Colleen's speculation.

The killer was someone in the Lunarguard Faction? If that wasn't the case, Winter wouldn't feel the need to hide if the person he assumed killed Blake wasn't prominent and powerful; they had to be an official like himself, an elite dragon-slayer that had political power, someone that served the Faction Emperor directly to have sent Winter into hiding like such.


Winter must be needing help after he escaped alone. If the killer was one with great influence in the Faction, there was no way he could entrust the council with his fate if he surrendered to clear his name.

For the past few days, Colleen busied herself with taking care of her best friend and simultaneously investigating Blake's passing. She didn't want to bother waiting for Blaze to sober a bit before letting her know what she had found.

She knew Blaze full well, their friendship started when they first entered the faction's Dragon-slaying Academy. At first, Colleen used Blaze to try getting close with Blake, but the latter had simply ignored all such requests. Who would want their best friend to be their older brother's girlfriend, anyway?

At least in Blaze's mind, best friends' brothers should be off-limits. Or at least that's how Colleen thought Blaze felt.

However, Colleen had been so obvious that Blake easily found out about her intentions himself. No, Colleen was never hiding from the start. Yet she was let down once more, for Blake didn't respond to her advances even though he knew, leaving her exasperated.

Now that Blaze really thought about it, Colleen was mourning for Blake too. Although it wasn't of the same gravity, it was still painful.

As Colleen's best friend, she knew what lengths Colleen would go, apart from giving Blake a straightforward confession, to get her older brother's attention. The love she nurtured for so long seemed to end up waste as now she would never again have a chance to properly confess to him. But instead of being depressed or whatnot, Colleen allowed her strong feelings to drive her to investigate Blake's rather peculiar and unexpected death.

If she hadn't been so selfish and helped Colleen back then, the situation might have been different. If Blake and Colleen ended up together in a relationship, he would have never stayed an official, since involving oneself in a sexual relationship with another was against the officials' norms.

If they ended up together… he might be alive now.

Blaze turned to stare at Colleen, her eyes suddenly beginning to brim with tears.

Colleen grunted, her eyes giving a brief roll. "I don't like that look you're giving me right now, Blaze-"

"Colleen," Blaze interrupted before her best friend could continue. She wanted to tell her something that she had promised to keep a secret for a long time…there was no longer any reason to keep quiet about it anymore.

"Mmm... hmm?"

Blaze took in a deep breath and bit down on her lip, contemplating on her decision before finally admitting. "Blake, he…he liked you back too, but he kept it a secret."

Colleen froze. "…what?" Her voice barely came out in a whisper, and a hint of sorrow flashed across her look of disbelief.

The next thing Blaze knew, Colleen had seized her shoulders and shook her much too roughly, confusion was written across her face. She couldn't believe what she just heard. She was hurt, to know that the one she loved had loved her back all along only now, when he was already long gone.

"Are you telling me the truth?" Colleen pressed, shaking Blaze by the shoulders with each word that came out of her mouth. "Why are you telling me this only now?!"

"I'm sorry, Colleen. He didn't want you to know. He was torn between you or the council position…but in the end, the dumbass still chose the council position," Blaze admitted forlornly.

Colleen's shoulders stooped helplessly, trembling ever-so-slightly.

After a long moment of silence, Colleen spoke up, her voice filled with despair. "It's okay, Blaze. Thanks for helping me behind my back. I thought you didn't want your best friend to be with your brother, so I was surprised to hear that. But... stupid, Blake. He could've at least let me know about it instead of letting me think I had no chance."

Blaze reached out and pulled her friend into a tight embrace, and together, they wept.

They spent the next several hours drowning their sufferings away with alcohol.

Colleen stared down at the empty glass she held tight in her hands, her hair now a tangled mess. "Before I forget," she began. "Don't worry about the information I told you. I didn't reveal it to the council. But don't get me wrong, I never had and still don't trust that Winter guy. I only trusted your and Blake's judgments of him. So…let's go home and plan how to find him. We need to know what happened from him in order to investigate any further."

Tired and tipsy, Blaze agreed.

And so Colleen dragged Blaze to her home where Blaze currently resided, having no home after the entirety of the Ember Tribe was reduced to ashes.

Next chapter