The sun has already set when I disembarked the train on my home station. My apartment itself was admittedly not much to look at; only 1 room plus kitchen and a restroom and located above an antiques shop. Considering my budget though, I'm satisfied with it for the time being. As I stepped inside, I heard my phone making a beep. It turned out to be a message from my brother Makoto. Apparently he wanted to enter the Unseen Lands once more tomorrow. So soon after that last detour just 3 weeks ago? I nonetheless gave him the affirmative and then set out to the kitchen to make some tea. As a tea connoisseur, I've always appreciated the different kinds of teas made across the globe. For now though, I settled with a simple matcha. As I warmed the water, thoughts raced across my mind. What is the crisis the Unseen Lands needs our help for this time? Was there something we missed the last time?
As the night turned to day once more, I saw an another text message from Makoto. His urgent tone clearly meant that I had to go now. Luckily, it was Saturday and thus no work duties. One bread and a glass of milk later, I dressed up and began to walk towards the abandoned house just beyond the outskirts of the town containing the Portal to the the Unseen Lands. As expected, Makoto was already expecting me at the door.
-There you are Akio! Makoto yelled and immediately began to pull me into a hug. Surprisingly enough considering his lanky frame, Makoto's hugs always manages to nearly crushing.
- Ok, I am here like you request. So, what's the deal? After what we did last time, a crisis so soon is really testing my patience.
- Nah, I can assure you it's not that. The Monarch simply asked us to do a simple recon mission.
- Well, if it's just that, I suppose I can go with you. But should we wait for the others first?
- I already tried to contact them but they were all kinda busy. Sora was rehearsing for her talent show, Ryuji was studying for his exams...
- Ok, I get it. So it's basically just the two of us then.
The Portal, like usual, was located in the house's kitchen. While usually invisible to naked eye, special medallions are able to reveal it's form. No one from party knew where they came from, they simply appeared in our hands one morning. After we completed the ritual, we entered the now-manifested portal.
Like before, the Portal took us to the Circle of Stones near the Peaks of Five Sorrows. And like before, our clothes changed. The worry I felt inside soon turned into a delight when I saw a familiar face walking towards us: the jackal known as Yinz Karuja.
- So you've arrived? Good, the King is expecting you posthaste! But why is it only two of you? I've expected more.
- Sorry Yinz. The rest have their own busines to attend to.
- Well, that's a shame. In any case, we better get going. You're still Bonded to your Spirits, right?
We both nodded, knowing that we can still feel their presence. Yinz made a whistle and as if on cue, our ride in the form of dragon Moravos descended from the sky. After the ride which went above such landmarks as the the Valley of Tears and the Labyrinth of Selection, the castle of August Monarch Ephoramus XIV soon rose into the view. A couple of guards were already waiting for us near the designated landing point.
- Greetings. Brothers Akio and Makoto Yoshizawa of the Golden Fellowship are here to meet His Majesty The August Monarch upon his request. Yinz told the guards as soon as we landed.
They immediately returned a salute and beckoned us to follow them to the Audience Chamber. The situation must indeed be very important if the king requested to meet us personally. The Audience Chamber itself was as big as I remember. Everything was gold and marble and between the pillars were 6 statues representing the 6 virtues each of the Monarchs are supposed to embody.
The August Monarch himself was already sitting on his throne, surprisingly clad in more casual yet still fine clothes instead of the usual royal robes. Approaching the throne we made the requisite bows.
- Glad to see you two before me. the Monarch greeted.
- Just what is so important for you to have summoned us here Your Majesty? I asked as I stood up from the bow.
- As you probably might have heard, we need you to accompany the Golden Company to the Furthest Marches. Last week, we received reports of suspicious activity possibly related to a ritual meant to summon an Abyssal. Which one is it I'm afraid we have no clues at the moment. But even one of them fully materialized can cause plenty of destruction to the world. The Monarch explained in a gravelly tone.
Looks like the situation was dire after all. By Six and the One, this honestly sounds like too much for only two of us to handle. If only the rest of our friends were here...
- Their Captain can fill you in with more details. The carriage taking you to the outpost is waiting just outside. Go forth, brave Warriors from the Outerworld! The monarch continued.
- Yes, Your Majesty! We both shouted while making a salute.
As promised, the carriage was waiting for us in the courtyard. We climbed inside, wondering if this is gonna be an yet another long stay. May the Six and the One grace us on our mission.