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Ascenders Rift 22 Bidding Farewells, Alan’s Thoughts?

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As the night had fallen, Evan and the others had arrived at the gate of the Skyrise Mountain Passage. There, one would see that at a distance away, a myriad of bright lights had lit up from various buildings, breathing life into the world around it.

At this hour, a small crowd was coming in and out of the underground passage of the train station; some headed towards the nearby shops as most seemed to be heading inwards as the time for tonight's final train was near at hand.

Evan checked his watched and noticed that the time was roughly 10:20 pm, he then spoke softly, "It seems that I almost missed it, thank goodness I didn't waste too much time."
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The fat man called Hank, who was not too far ahead, seemed to have overheard Evan's words. He glanced towards him as he spoke, "Oh, so you're heading out? I take it that you are not from Kelna?"

Breya and Thomas, who seemed to have been similarly paying attention, also turned their sights towards Evan, as they looked on curiously.

Evan nodded as he responded, "Correct, I'm from Norkton. I only came here to calm myself, kind of like a short excursion before I start college."

"Ah... I see, so you're still not a student. Strange, most people at your age would have already been at university, did you take a break off to work?" Hank asked with a curious expression.

Evan's eyes grew distant as he stared at the starry sky and replied, "Let's just say, I had a few unexpected episodes..."

"Hmm, I see..." Hank muttered as his eyes flashed, he no longer questioned Evan.

The group had now neared the station, where there were two diverging paths. As they saw this, Angeline and the others halted along with Evan as they looked at each other.

"Evan, I couldn't help but overhear your earlier conversation. I'm curious about the name of that school you're planning on attending?" Angeline asked with a somewhat curious expression.

Evan looked at her and replied, "Ah, that, I am planning on attending the Morning Star College."

"Morning Star...? Oh, well, isn't that something..." Angeline said with a strange expression on her face.

Evan seeing her look, was puzzled, but it was at this time a voice sounded from a nearby loudspeaker.

"Last call for all travelers headed to Norkton City. The train will be leaving in 30 minutes!"

Evan, hearing this no longer wanted to waste time here, he reached his hand forward as he spoke, "Well, guys, this is where I take my leave. Thank you for the help, if it weren't for you all I'd probably still be lost in the mountains..."

Angeline smiled as she grabbed his hand and shook it before she spoke, "No need to thank us; it's what any good member of society would do. Please, be on your way and do take care now."

"Will do!" Evan said as he turned and headed down the path while waving his hand, not long after, his figure had vanished down the underground stairs.

Angeline looked at the location Evan left as she smiled and muttered, "I suppose we'll meet again..."

Breya, who seemed to have been curiously watching for a while, looked at Angeline and spoke, "Big Sister, you don't really believe he was lost, now do you?"

Angeline who heard this smiled as a strange look came on her face, she replied, "Breya, even if he wasn't it's not our place to inquire. Come now, let's get going."

As Angeline said this, she grabbed Breya's arm and carried her forward. Hank and Thomas looked at each other before shaking their heads and following. Not long after, Angeline and her party had left towards the direction of the city, their figures fading into the crowded night scene.

***

Far away from the Skyrise Mountain, within the distant Norkton City's Golden Palace Restaurant. A middle-aged man that wore a yellow suit sat around a desk with an in-depth look on his face. His expression was dark as he irritably spoke.

"What's going on? Even now, neither Harry or Ralph have responded to my requests. Just what the hell are they doing?" Alan muttered as he tapped the table with his fingers repeatedly.

"Dammit! I need someone to give me an answer, what's taking Nelly's investigation team so long?" Alan cursed as he looked at the cell phone on the table, seeing that it didn't even show a sign of receiving a call.

He was moments away from losing his wits, but it was at this time, his phone rang, filling the silent room with a popular tune.

"Tsk! About damn time!" Alan muttered as he quickly grabbed the phone and answered it, "What took you guys so long? Hurry up and tell me what the hell's going on?"

The voice on the phone replied flusteredly, "S-Sir, w-we've only just found out some details, but after hearing them, it just sounded too strange..."

"Hmm, what's strange?" Alan asked in a puzzled tone.

The voice replied, "Sir, we've looked into which train Agent Ralph and Harry had boarded, but what we came to find was very unusual. Ralph and Harry were seated in the same cart, but once the train arrived at the Kelna Station, the only one to exit that cubicle was none other than Ralph himself. We've viewed the recording clips in detail for the past few hours and interviewed all the staff on that train, only to learn from one of them that Ralph had declared that Harry went to the restroom. Yet, upon viewing all footages at the Kelna Station, we did not see any signs of Harry showing any more traces in the train, much less leaving it."

Alan, hearing this was stunned, his eyes narrowed as a solemn look came on his face when he pondered, "How can this be? How could Harry have vanished? Didn't Ralph claim that Harry had gone to search after that boy in the mountains? Yet now, I hear that Harry had never left the train? Dammit!"

Upon thinking here, Alan's eyes flashed with a certain thought as he muttered, "Could it be that Ralph has been a traitor? If it's so, then his previous behavior and lack of correspondence is, without a doubt, an obvious sign of him breaking off all forms of loyalty with the prince. But why would he do this? What could he gain from this act?"

Alan thought for a bit before his mind recalled when Ralph had personally volunteered to accept the mission of keeping an eye on Evan. As Alan thought to here, his eyes shrunk as he spoke out loud, "Damn! It must have been for that boy, Nelly! I want you to use all our resources, dispatch any hands we have to search that mountain range, find Evan right now! Also, I want you to do a detail background check on Ralph; I want to know all his contacts? Where he slept? And where he pissed on his days off? You hear me, leave no stones unturned!"

The man on the other side of the phone addressed as Nelly, stumbled a bit before he replied, "Um... Sir, I can comply with the request for Ralph, but concerning Evan, it might be a little troubling...."

Alan, hearing this grew angered as he shouted, "What do you mean by troubling? That brat has gone off into the mountains! If you don---"

Alan was about to curse once more, but Nelly promptly spoke to cut him off, "Sir, that's not it, he's not in the mountain range, he's already returned. At this moment, he's already on the last train, which is about to travel towards Norkton."

"What? Are you serious? Did he not go into the mountain range? Did Ralph not follow him?" Alan asked in surprise.

Nelly responded, "Sir, we've found footages showing that both Evan and Ralph had entered the mountains in the company of a regular team of explorers. However,"

As Nelly spoke to here, he swallowed his spit as he spoke again, "A few moments ago, we similarly found out that when he returned, he did so in the company of another group. As for Ralph, there are no signs of him following Evan anymore..."

Alan's eyes narrowed at these words; his finger tapped the desk in front of him in a set pattern as he pondered, "He still managed to return even with the suspected traitor Ralph following him, could it be that it's merely my speculation? Or is it that there's something more to this boy Evan? Although Battle Will is astonishing, it is not a representation of Battle Strength, especially in these soon to come times…"

Nelly noticing that Alan was silent for a while, hesitated before he spoke again, "Sir, should we continue our surveillance of him? Or should we take this chance to engage him before the train leaves directly? Maybe we could glean some more detailed information concerning Ralph and Harry after an interrogation session..."

Alan, hearing this had a distant look on his face, but soon. His eyes flickered when he rose from his seat and walked to the corner of the room, looking out the window towards the distant starry sky as he spoke, "No... you focus on dealing with the information regarding Ralph. Make sure to send a team to search for his whereabouts while you're at it, but please ensure that you keep it confidential, for its highly likely that we're open to that party's eyes. As for this Evan, leave him to me..."

Nelly, hearing this paused for a bit before he promptly replied, "Understood."

As the conversation ended, both Alan and Nelly hung up their phones. Alan then shifted his eyes from the stars before looking over the colorful hues of the city as he spoke in a soft voice, "Ralph... are you related to them? If that's so, then just how many in our forces have deflected? Sigh... I'll have to speak to the prince, for now, it seems that we'll have to reorganize..."

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