On with the chapter, for I have nothing to say here...really, I don't, lol.

The Annoying Thingy

We were back at Legram and inside Gwyn's cabin where we resumed with our discussion about the highlands and the watchtower.

"An orbal wave jammer?" Rean asked.

"That's right. There's one set up at the very top of the watchtower." Gwyn answered. "A pretty big one, too."

"I had no idea." Gaius said.

"Wave jammer, I remember reading a book on those." I pondered. "They were annoying things when the Allies raided enemy bases with tanks, humvees and...wait, wrong story, I'll say no more."

"Good grief." Celine sighed. "I can't pretend to be an expert on orbal technology, but that jammer is the reason everyone's been unable to use orbal communications, right?"

"It's a safe assumption." Gwyn replied. "It's likely designed to intermittently release orbal waves of its own to disrupt communications."

"Huh, I think the Intelligence Division has something like that, actually." Millium said.

"The RMP does as well, and we do use them from time to time in our operations." Claire added. "But I can say with confidence that I've never seen one power enough to cover an area as vast as the highlands."

"Those sneaky foes..." I sighed. "...I think we can assume that the Noble Alliance have a way to contact each other while we can't in some way."

"The 3rd Armored Division is doing their best to even the odds however they can." Rean said. "But it's getting more and more difficult to hold their ground."

"As long as that device remains active, I can't see the situation improving for them, either." Alisa added. "We've been trying to see if we can find a way to turn things around, but so far, no such luck."

"No matter the reason, the situation on the highlands at present is perilous." Lucan hummed. "We've managed to escape harm so far by fleeing here, but there's no guarantee that will always be the case."

"Then ignoring all of this is definitely out of the question." I turned to Rean. "It's down to you, ring-leader."

"This war was started by the Empire, and the responsibility for dragging Nord's people into it is Erebonia's alone." Rean said. "Why should you have to abandon your homeland because of something you have nothing to do with? That can't be right."

"Well, I agree, but..." Alisa wanted to say more, but she couldn't.

"It pains me to leave as well, but I don't see what other choice we have." Gaius said. "You saw the dangers we face if we stay. Jaegers hiding near our settlement, bloody battles cropping up every day. If protecting our family means we have to lose our home, then so be it."

"And you're really okay with that?" Rean asked.

"If I recall, you said to us how much you and wanna protect this land." I added. "It's the same with me when I think of Crossbell. However, those days where I can do that are over, but yours isn't. So why would you go back on your promise by saying that?"

Gaius looked at me and now he wasn't so sure.

"He's right. There's still a way to make it so that you can stay here and keep everyone safe." Rean nodded. "So why not give this a shot before we give up completely?"

Gaius blinked. "You couldn't mean stopping the jammer ourselves?"

"Oh I think Rean could...and would." I said, smiling.. "We should know by now that when Rean has his heart set on helping others in any way possible, he won't take no for an answer."

"That's true." Fie nodded.

"The Noble Alliance is focusing all its energy into fighting the 3rd Armored Division. So if a third party like us shows up out of nowhere..."

"Then we can infiltrate the watchtower and take out the jammer from behind." I finished. "It's an ideal off-guard tactic."

"Are you sure you want to go through with that?" Claire asked. "Whether you intend to or not, you'll be fighting against the Noble Alliance."

"Well, you could say we're more like an independent group. We're doing what is right and besides, we're only going to help the Imperial Army...indirectly."

"An indirect assist is the best way of putting it." Rean agreed. "We can't stand back and allow the people of Nord to be threatened like that."

"Yeah, it's only fair that we help out, right?" Millium asked.

Fie nodded. "Yup."

"Looks like we gotta be ready to give it all we've got." I declared.

Claire giggled. "If you've made up your minds, then that all I have to say."

"Thank you, all of you." Gaius smiled. "To hear you guys say that you want to protect this land as if it were your own means more than words could ever say."

"I'd grumble about how you can't help but poke your noses into trouble every single time you find it." Celine said. "But I've just accepted that's what you do at this point."

Lucan nodded. "Leave contacting the lieutenant general to me and Gwyn. And we'll leave this matter entirely in your capable hands. May the winds and the Goddess guide your path."

"Thank you, we won't let you down." Gaius said.

"Right on." I stood up and posed. "Let's go, folks, we gotta boogie!"

We left the cabin and had a moment to double check ourselves.

"Well, we'd be ready to boogie if there was a secret way to the dance floor." I said.

"Are you gonna milk your jokes, everytime there's something serious?" Celine asked.

I smirked at her. "Well, when I'm a good boy, I do."

Millium giggled. "It's so cool you're back with us, Alex. I've missed your humor."

Alisa was pondering to herself before her eyes blinked. "Wait! I know!"

"Did you think of something?" Fie asked.

"Yeah, one of the areas we investigated during our field study."

"Oh, I remember, it was where we found those mortars that were left by the jaegers soldiers, right?" I asked.

Rean nodded. "That's right! You can't see that area from the watchtower. I doubt the alliance is aware of what happened then, either, so it wouldn't be on thier radar. That's the perfect spot to sneak in."

"It sounds like our best choice." Gaius said. "We should travel there on horseback as soon as we're prepared."

"Hmm, maybe we should talk to the elder before we leave?" I suggested. "Because if we're really gonna protect everyone in Nord, we might as well do some favors."

"Yeah, that's a good idea." Millium agreed. "They've all been really, really nice, so we should return the favor."

"Fair enough." Rean nodded. "We can drop by there before leaving, then."

Gaius smiled. "I appreciate it."

And with that, we walked over to Elder Ivan's home to see if there was anything we could do for them.

"Ah, welcome ladies and gentleman. What brings you to our home?" Ivan asked.

"We're wondering if there is anything we could do to help you people out." I replied.

The elder seemed surprised. "Hmm? I was under the impression that you had somewhere you needed to go."

"Sure, but we can help you out, too!" Millium said. "Multitasking ain't nothin' for the likes of Class VII."

"Yeah, it's kind of our thing. Always has been." Rean added.

Ivan smiled. "Well, if you would, allow me to take you up on your kindness. These are the tasks I have that I would appreciate some help on." He handed us a list of tasks.

"A lost foal and some monster slaying, that's right up our street." I said. "Also, since we're going to do these, we'll have to do them right away before we think of heading to the watchtower."

Millium nodded. "Tally-ho!"

We left the elder's home and we got on the horses, ready to do the tasks.

"You know, I just had an idea." Rean said. "Why don't you lead the way for a while, Alex?"

"Huh? You're saying we swap positions?" I responded.

"It could be good for you." Gaius said. "After all, you said you wanna make it up for what happened last month, this could be a good chance for you."

"Yeah, it would also keep you focused and not worry over something we can't do yet." Alisa added.

'They're probably thinking about how worried I am for Emma.' I thought. "Alright, I'll lead the charge until we reach the watchtower later. First things first, let's find that foal."

"The task said that it was last seen on the northeast area of the highlands, right?" Claire asked.

I nodded. "Yep, so we've gotta take a left and go straight till we're at the northeast area where we fought that cryptid."

"Sounds good, let's go." Rean agreed.

I led the way as we traveled across the top part of the north area of the highlands and over to the northeast area.

"Okay, time to go on an animal search party." I said.

We traveled on our horses and kept an eye out for the foal. We then saw it as it was grazing on the grass.

"Look over there." Rean said.

"That's the foal we're looking for, all right." Gaius added.

"Alright horsey! Come here horsey." I called. "Come on! Come on!"

The foal saw us and it galloped away and across the precarious bridge.

"Well, that didn't work..." I sighed.

Fie frowned. "You don't say."

"We'll just have to catch up to him." Millium said.

We went after the foal, galloping across the bridge and to the other side, we took a left turn and then saw the foal again.

"Right, let's try to surround him this time." I advised.

But before we could, the foal neighed and ran away up the hill and then through a hole I could just see.

"Wait, did it just laugh at us?" Millium asked.

"Horses have excellent memories." Gaius answered. "It probably knew about us and thought we were fools."

"That's just rude!" Alisa exclaimed.

"Come on folks." I said. "I know we have our tasks, but we're not horsing around all day."

"Uhhh..." Claire groaned.

Rean frowned. "I think you need better material."

"Quiet, temporary vice-captain." I sighed.

We resumed chasing after it and through a hole, it wasn't a cave at least. We carried onwards on the narrow hill bridge and found the foal that was next to a ruin building.

"Huh? This one looks familiar." I said. "It's the same one we saw back at Garellia Byroad."

"Yeah, they do look familiar." Rean added. "Are they related by any chance, Celine?"

"Maybe. It wouldn't hurt to stop by here." Celine answered. "It'll be a good test of strength if nothing else."

"Well, that's foreboding." Fie muttered.

"It sounds like we should be well prepared for battle before going inside." Claire advised.

"Yep, but before that...there's nowhere to run for this foal." I said.

We had it surrounded.

"All we have to do now is take it back to the settlement." Gaius said. "I can do that while you're exploring the ruin if you like."

I nodded. "That would be a great help if you could. We'll be alright exploring the ruins, I'm sure."

"All right, I get this done as soon as I can and come back here."

We got off the horses and whilst Gaius got a lasso around the foal and took it with him, the rest of us stepped inside.

The interior was well lit and there was a breeze travelling around.

"Seriously, where are we?" Alisa asked.

"This place is so weird." Millium added.

Celine hummed. "Well, if you're gonna walk around, try not to get yourselves killed."

I sighed. "Please Celine, a little more faith in us."

We walked down several stairs and then through a door. A somewhat maze-looking path was next and with a few monsters roaming around. Guess it'd be boring if there weren't any. We took care as we made our way through the hallways, slaying monsters and pulling levers so the our way would be clear. We then reached a big room at the end and a bigger door, but a few monsters suddenly appeared.

"Tch...typical. There's always something big at the end." I sighed. "Alright, time for a fight, folks!"

The battle began with us fighting against three green floating heads. Before I made the first attack, I heard a voice inside my head.

Say the word...overdrive...

I was wondering who was saying that, but I refocused and Rean asked me to form a link. We did and then I felt a surge of power.

"Here it goes!" Rean exclaimed.

"OVERDRIVE!" He and I said at the same time.

Suddenly, I felt like I could attack more and move faster, Rean was feeling the same way. We used this new found power on one of the monsters and it was destroyed. The other four worked on taking out the second one. Rean and I damaged the third one, knocking it off balance, Claire then moved in with her s-craft, finishing it off.

"Well...that was really something." I said. 'But what was that? Who said the word overdrive and why?'

"At least we won." Fie added.

"But what was that you and Rean just did?" Millium asked.

"Yeah, you both said overdrive and went all out in seconds." Alisa added.

"I have no idea...all I heard was a voice telling to say it." I answered. "I wasn't the only one though?"

"Yeah, I heard it as well." Rean replied. "It gave us a lot of power, but I don't know why it happened."

"Hmmm, this is getting more curious for me now." Celine said.

I hummed. "Still, the main thing is we won, now we can move forward."

We went over to the big door, but it wasn't moving at all.

Alisa sighed. "Well, this is about as far as we can go."

"Yeah, it doesn't seem to wanna move, we'll have to leave this for now." I nodded. "Besides, Gaius should be done with this task by now. We have one more to do when we get out."

We then left the ruined building and saw Gaius who just returned, saying the foal is now back at the settlement safe, so that was one task complete. Our second task is slaying monsters roaming around the north area of the highlands. We found one that looked like those armored dogs we saw with the jaeger soldiers.

"There's one...let's take it down quick!" I ordered.

We worked as a team and eliminated it easily. We traveled around the rest of the area and spotted a second one. We made good use of our crafts and defeated it. We explored the last parts and found a third one, this appeared to be the last one. We we went all out with our arts, eliminating it in a short space of time.

"Alright, there should be all of them." I said. "There aren't any more around here."

"Then we should head back to the lake and let the elder know about this." Gaius added.

I nodded and we traveled back to the settlement to let Ivan know, he seemed pleased when we told him.

"You were able to defeat the military monsters, were you?" Ivan asked. "That's wonderful news."

"I admit, they were a challenge, but we pulled through in the end." I replied.

"But those jaegers will surely release more eventually, too." Claire added.

Rean nodded. "All the more reason why we have to stop them for good."

"Regardless, you have my thanks for helping us today." Ivan said as he held out an accessory. "Please, take this Nord bracelet as a token of our gratitude."

I took the bracelet from him and put it on my left wrist. "Looks well made."

"Take care, and may the winds and the Goddess guide your path."

Our tasks were done, now it was time to resume with our main objective. We got the horse and rode across the north area, past the old settlement and then entered the south area of the highlands. We then travailed over to where we found the rope ladder during our field study months ago.

"That plateau was around here, right?" Rean asked.

"Yeah. We ended up climbing, hmm...somewhere around there." Alisa answered.

"Well, we're here...but there's no sign of the rope ladder this time." I said. "So how are we gonna get up there?"

"I've got you covered." Gaius responded. "I brought a rope ladder from the settlement for us to use."

"Good thinking."

"Mind if you set it up for us, Millium?" Rean asked.

"Sure thing!" Millium answered as she brought out Lammy and set up the rope ladder. "There you go, all done."

"Is this thing sturdy enough for all of us to climb?" Celine aske.

"Well if one person climbs it at a time, it should hold well enough." I answered. "Allow me to head up first, gotta respect everyone and lead the way after all."

I climbed up first and reached the top, standing close to Millium whilst waiting for everyone else to get up. We then walked up to the top area, those mortars were long gone.

"We're here and there's top part of the watchtower." I said.

"And somewhere on that rooftop must be the jamming device that we're looking for." Claire added.

"Alright, looks like my role as ring-leader is done. You can guide us the rest of the way again, Rean."

"Hehe, okay." Rean replied.

"If we follow this cliff, we should be able to reach the area behind the tower." Gaius said. "Ready to go, guys?"

"Oh, I sure am." I answered.

"We are." Rean nodded. "It's time to return these highlands to being the peaceful place they're meant to be!"

"Right!" Alisa replied.

"Let's go go go!" Millium exclaimed.

We sneaked around the cliff and then jumped off the to the ground near the entrance to the watchtower, we crouched down when we saw a ship leave the area. Fie and Claire were more brave to sneak behind a corner and they let us know that it was safe to move up. When we regrouped, we made a run for it to the entrance and inside the watchtower.

"Oooh, there's a potential welcome party." I said as we spotted three guards.

"Oopsie. That didn't take long." Millium added.

Gaius drew out his spear. "We'll force our way through!"

"Yep, offence is the best defence here." I drew out my gauntlets.

"Knock 'em out, guys!" Rean ordered.

We got into battle and although the guards put up a fight, they were still weak, so the battle didn't take long.

"D-damn kids..." One of them grunted before they passed out.

"K.O!" I commented.

"They were pretty tough, but the rest of this place should be no sweat if everyone here's like that." Millium said.

"Let's hope so, I can sense plenty of others inside." Rean added. "Let's try to get to the rooftop before they know we're here."

We took a left and rushed up the stairs, going around the tower interior and then up another flight of stairs before we were stopped by jaeger solders.

"Nidhoggr!" Fie exclaimed.

"So we meet again." Claire added.

"Well, if it isn't the brats from the settlement." The jeager solder responded. "You're either very brave or very foolish to try forcing your way in here."

"Why not both, that's how I roll." I smirked.

"Those who threaten the peace of my homeland will receive no mercy!" Gaius said.

The battle started, this was our chance to finish what we started. We brought out our finest crafts and our combat links to overwhelm them with power before we overcame their numbers and defeated them, the armored dogs were gone and the soldiers were knocked out.

"Glad that's done." Alisa sighed.

"Yeah, piece of cake." Millium added.

Rean hummed. "They may not be the last, stay sharp!"

We resumed making our way around the floor path and then up another set of stairs and going upwards to another floor path. More jaeger solders appeared, but there were more behind us. They caught us in a pincer tactic and we took a few bad hits, but we turned it around when Alisa pulled out her s-craft, we turned the tide and won at the end.

We took a deep breath and relaxed for a moment before we carried onwards, going up another flight of stairs before we reached a door. We opened it and found ourselves outside. We didn't have that far to go now, just a little bit more. We turned a corner and then ran up the stairs, we had now reached the top and in the left corner was the orbal wave jammer we were looking for.

"So that's the wave jammer...well it doesn't look special, but it has caused a lot of trouble." I said.

"So how are we gonna stop it?" Millium asked. "If you want Lammy to bust it up, just say the word."

Alisa sighed. "Must breaking things be your solution to everything?"

"Maybe she wants to be the female version of Michael Bay when she grows up." I shrugged.

"One thing's for sure, we need to put a stop to it before reinforcements arrive." Rean said.

"I sincerely regret to inform you that won't be possible." A voice intervened.

"Huh...who's there?" I asked.

We looked up to see a well-dressed man with an eye mask on.

"So you've finally revealed yourself, Phantom Thief B...or should I say Bleublanc." Claire said.

"Oh...you mean the same guy who made us go on that treasure hunt at Heimdallr?" I asked.

"Yeah, that's gotta be him." Fie added.

Claire nodded before looking at him. "I take it you're here as one of Ouroboros's Enforcers?"

"Hehe. It's a pleasure to meet you, Icy Maiden." Bleublanc replied. "I'm flattered a woman as stunning as you is so remarkably well informed of yours truly."

"Yeah, yeah, why don't you take that flattering charm somewhere else?" I remarked.

"Oho! Well if it isn't the fair students of Class VII. I need no introduction I'm sure, but if I may kindly refresh your memories. I am Bleublanc, Enforcer no. X of Ouroboros, also known as the phantom thief."

"So you folks come off from an enforcer assembly line? Mind if I break it?"

"Haha! Your wit has grown in the last few months. But if I may change the subject, you must also be the one who wields the powers of the demon lord."

"Not surprised to hear you know about it, I bet Crow was the one who told you."

He said nothing, that more or less confirmed my thought.

"If you're planning on getting in our way, we're not backing down without a fight!" Rean said.

"Hehe, please there is no need to be so aggressive." Blueblanc replied. "I live for the pursuit of beauty."

"And I live for the pursuit of kicking your ass, which is what I'm looking forward to." I remarked.

"Oh my, you are quite on edge today. It seems that I may have to call for an ideal partner...who is already here."

"Lord Bleublanc, that should be enough playing around." A voice intervened.

We then saw another person appear and it was the girl who kidnapped Alfin and Elise.

"What's with that doll?" Claire asked.

"The Ashen Awakener and his supporters have been sighted." The girl said. "While currently doing so is not outlined as part of our objective, I think it may be best to capture them while we have the chance.

"Why, I couldn't agree more!" Bleublanc added. "And yet there are times when the prologue to a battle is sweeter than the finest of wines. Simply carrying out orders without taking the time to enjoy the opportunities they present seems rather a shame, don't you think?"

"I think not."

"Hey, are you two actually gonna walk the walk or are we going to do this the hard way?" I asked.

"Tell us, just who are you?" Rean asked. "And what did you do with Elise and Princess Alfin?!"

"We don't have time to waste with idle chatter." The girl answered. "I believe this discussion has gone on for long enough."

Her black doll floated outwards the rooftop ground and the girl got off, she was now several feet away from us.

"My name is Altina Orion. My code name is Black Rabbit, and this is Claiomh Solais."

The black doll behind him made a noise that was similar to Lammy.

"Orion?" I responded before it clicked. "Wait, that's Millium's second name as well."

Millium hummed.

"Commending apprehension of targets." Altina said.

We drew our weapons out.

"Yeah, that's not gonna happen." I replied. "You caught me off guard last time, but I won't let that happen again. And regardless of your cute factor, I won't go easy on you!"

Millium giggled before she brought out Lammy. "C'mon, Lammy! I say we give her what she wants."

Bleublanc leaped onto the rooftop ground. "Haha! How wonderful! A contest of strength between black and white!" He drew out a staff. "Ready yourselves, Class VII! Allow me to feel a sample of your power, if you can, Alexander."

"You're focusing too much on me, when you should be paying attention to the rest of us." I replied. "But whatever, I may be recovering still, but I'll give you a sample of what my power is like!"

The battle started and I got the first strike on Bleublanc whilst Millium and Altina were having their own confrontation. With our s-crafts ready, we began to turn the battle in our favor. Then came an opening for me, Rean and Alisa caught Bleublanc off guard and I went in for a pummeling session, defeating him in seconds. We then focused on Altina, overwhelming her with our numbers before we she was knocked down, ending the battle.

"Hah...hah...not so brash now are you, trendy-man." I said before looking at Altina. "And I got a little payback for that ambush attempt as well."

"Hehe...marvelous. Your taste was so much sweeter than I was expecting." Bleublanc said. "It looks as though they don't intend to be taken down without a fight, my lady."

"Raising threat level appropriately." Altina responded. "The white doll fought more ably than the specifications, I was informed of, suggested as well."

Millium smiled. "Still, you're connected, too, aren't you?"

"So, ready to start talking, Altina?" Rean asked. "Where are Elise and Princess Alfin?"

"You better answer the guy, or are we gonna have to start playing rough?" I added.

"I don't know the answer to your question." Altina answered. "I've yet to be informed of their whereabouts since I delivered them to Lord Rufus Alberia."

"What?! He's involved with the Noble Alliance?!"

"Isn't that Jusis's brother?" Celine asked.

"So Crow's not the only traitor, huh? Why would he be involved in all of this?!"

"He's been making quite the name for himself as the Noble Alliance's Chief Of Staff." Bleublanc answered. "It was largely thanks to this skill that the Imperial Army's armored divisions have become split throughout the country. His sharp mind for politics has played no small part, either."

"Why would he do that?" Alisa asked.

I sighed. "Well either way, we have you down and you ain't going anywhere until we take out that jammer." I said.

"Hmhm, it seems you don't realize that we still have the upper hand." Bleublanc then stood up and he casted a skill.

It was too late, we were now caught in some kind of trap.

"What the heck did you just do?!" I exclaimed.

"Is this...shadow weaving?" Rean asked.

"Indeed, it is one of my many skills." Bleublanc answered. "And now, each and every one of you are caged birds, powerless to fight back."

"How could I have been so careless?" Claire asked.

"This isn't over yet!" Rean exclaimed before an aura glowed around him.

"Wait, you're gonna force that to come out?" I asked.

"That won't be necessary." A familiar voice intervened.

Suddenly, the swords around us were removed by wires, we looked up at the top of tower to see a familiar maid.

"Sharon?" Rean asked.

"How in the world...is that really you, Sharon?!" Alisa added.

She leaped to the ground and bowed to us. "But of course, I've come to collect you my lady." She answered. "And I'm relieved to see so many of your classmates are in good health...especially you Alex, when I heard what happened to you."

"Yeah, I worried just about everyone, didn't I?" I responded. "I'm still recovering, but I've been getting stronger again."

"Now here's a face I wasn't expecting to bump into on foreign soil." Bleublanc said. "This, too, must be the will of the Goddess...nay, perhaps it would be more fitting to think it was the guidance of our grandmaster? It's been some time, enforcer No. IX!"

"Heehee, I'm afraid it's neither." Sharon replied. "I am a loyal servant of the Reinford family. What more reason do I need to come to Lady Alisa's aid?"

"Thank you, Sharon." Alisa responded, smiling.

"What are you all doing down there?!" A voice intervened.

We saw an alliance airship show up, then a few soldats appeared from the entrance. I looked at Rean and he nodded, he called for Valimar and in a few seconds, he arrived and he was floating, Rean and Celine leaped from the rooftop before being teleported inside Valimar.

"Okay, that was reckless to the extreme!" I exclaimed.

Valimar landed on the ground, we could only watch as Rean dealt with the Soldats whilst we kept an eye on Bleublanc and Altina. When Rean's battle was over, the soldiers got out of the Soldats and retreated on the airship before it flew away.

"So what about you two, you wanna try your luck against us, Sharon and Valimar at the same time?" I asked.

"Ahhhh...I suppose it's time we take our leave." Bleublanc sighed. "Know that I leave with no regrets. I was able to behold the famous Ashen Knight in person, and for that, it was all worthwhile."

"Being presented the opportunity to adjust the threat levels of multiple targets at once proved beneficial for me as well." Altina added before she sat on her black doll. "Orion, Airgetlam, may we meet again."

"Ahaha, yeah, totally!" Millium replied, waving. "And see ya, Sammy."

"Please refrain from confusing Claiomh Solais."

"Haha. I bid you all adieu." Bleublanc added before the two of them teleported away.

With the coast clear, we shut down the orbal wave jammer and contacted the general to inform him the news. His group of soldiers then occupied the watchtower, bringing it back to their control and thus, peace was resorted to the highlands once again.

It was time to use the Spirit Path to travel back to Ymir, along with Sharon and the three of our friends we reunited with.

There was only one location left to go now. 'Just hold on a little longer, Emma.'

Next time! Rean's chosen members travel to Legram to reunite with the last remaining three members of Class VII.