Chapter Twenty-Seven: Flashbang

While lying prone of the ground, Josh slowly crawled his way to the edge of the cliff that overlooked the plains outside Altaro. Arnold copied his movements and scooted up beside him and handed him a telescope. They were about 2 kilometres away from where their targets were supposed to be. And while it was unlikely they would be seen from that distance, they were not going to take any chances.

Josh looked through the viewfinder which zoomed in on the empty dirt plains of The Graveyard before them. Slowly adjusting the telescope upward, he scanned the ground for their target.

In a hushed whisper, Arnold asked, "Do you see it?"

"Not yet." He swept his view over the landscape.

They were looking for an excavation site Eca had told them about. It was where Exodus was supposedly buried. Sure, he could have taken the light mage's words at face value, but he was no where near close to trusting the man.

"I swear," Arnold grumbled. "If this is some sort of waste of our time, I'm going to... well... I don't know what I'll do, but it'll be an appropriate response to my annoyance."

"Uh-huh." Josh was barely listening.

He understood the young man's frustration though. They were supposed to be stocking up for their return trip, but instead had spent a whole day gathering information and tracking down leads. Josh felt it was necessary though, given what he knew about sentinels like Adelle and the Pyrerai and their ability to pilot sentient Titans. If the Pyrerai truly had Exodus in her grasp, she might have figured out how to control the beast. That would add a significant amount of firepower, one that could wipe Citi off the face of the planet. Of course, this information he kept from Eca and the man's rebel group. Any one with knowledge of super weapons is one more than he was comfortable with.

Arnold asked, "What does Exodus even look like, anyway?"

"No idea," Josh answered truthfully. "There aren't really any clear records of its description. Just that-"

"It's really, really big. I get it." Arnold sighed, scanning the scenery. "If it's so big, shouldn't we be able to see it?"

"The Leviathan hides in the ocean. It's entirely possible Exodus is buried underground." His telescope caught the glimpse of movement.

A cart was being dragged across the distant land back towards Ampyre. Josh traced the wheels' tracks backwards, going out further and further into the plains of the Titan's Graveyard until his line of sight was cut off by the overhang of a cliff next to them.

"Damn it!" Josh cursed. "Come on!" He got up onto a crouch and began making his way over to the next cliff.

His back ached from the crawl and his knees creaked from the crouch. He was in his mid-fifties now. Decades of running, crawling, and general misadventures had long since taken their toll on his body. He often lamented his human body, frail and quick to age. But he had to push on. This was going to be his last long journey. Once they saved his daughter, he was going to settle down. Maybe get a rocking chair. He had always wanted a rocking chair.

As they settled into their new overlook, they could immediately see their target. A dig-site had been set up at the edge of the Graveyard. There were no lit torches or high structures however, and the only way for anyone to have noticed its existence was to have gone far out of their way and taken the higher ground as they had. It the excavation management went far out of their way to hide the immediate visibility of such a large digging space.

The excavation had dug a crater into the landscape. In the middle of it, even without the telescope, they could see a silver orb the size of a man sitting ominously. Surrounding it were tiny figures of people. A flamboyant figure dressed in purple approached the orb and Josh instantly recognised the confident gait and bombastic violet dressing as that of the Pyrerai. He pulled up his telescope again and looked through the viewfinder, trailing the woman.

She walked up to one of the excavators surrounding the orb who got up to greet her. They spoke calmly for a few minutes. Then, the excavator seemed to shrink back in his steps as he delivered a line to Lachesis. Both of them approached the orb and the excavator seemed to gesture and mulled over contraption while Lachesis looked on annoyed. The latter slowly turned around, rubbing her temple. Suddenly, she swung her arms back and from below her cloak, she pulled out a short sword to cut the man straight across the neck.

Josh held his breath as he watched the excavator struggle to hold the blood in his throat. He dropped to his knees and everyone around shuffled back in fear. In the end, his head wandered around pleadingly to no avail before finally dropping dead on the ground, blood pooling around his body.

Josh muttered under his breath, "Psychopath."

"What?" Arnold asked.

"She just murdered one of her own men."

"That's hardcore."

"Yeah," he agreed. I think that silver thing is Exodus but they haven't figured out how to work it yet."

"You got that all from just watching them?"

"Just an educated guess," he answered.

"Alright," Arnold sighed. "Whatever. They can't use Exodus. Great. That means it's not our problem for now, right? Let's get out of here and get this information to Eca. He has more resources to handle these things."

Josh nodded in agreement and the young man slowly began backing away from the cliff. But the slight movement shifted the dirt enough that some chipped off from the edge and tumbled down the side.

It was not a loud accident, nor was it a visual spectacle. In fact, it barely made a noise audible to them. But within the view of Josh's telescope, Lachesis turned her head in their direction.

Josh gulped. "I think she sees us."

"How? We're klicks away!"

Lachesis began turning her body towards them, her head tilting inquisitively as she takes her first step in their direction.

"Okay. She definitely sees us. Hand me a stun grenade."


The woman took a curious step forward and stretched her neck out with squinted eyes. Then, she stood upright.

"Stun grenade! Now!" He reached his hand out.

He felt Arnold pass the grenade to him just as Lachesis teleported from his sight. He got to his feet and pulled the pin, throwing the grenade up and slightly behind them into the air.

The Pyrerai reappeared behind them. "Who are you?" she asked.

Josh ignored her and shouted, "Cover up!"

He and Arnold shielded their eyes and ears as best as they could wrap in their arms as the grenade landed back on the ground and exploded.

Even with their cover, the loud bang almost shook Josh off his feet. Even after opening his eyes, for a moment, he stood disoriented until Arnold pushed his shoulder. The shout from the Guide felt like a distant whisper in his ears.


He put foot to ground and ran. Almost immediately, he lost track of where Arnold went. But he did not take the chance to look back. For the moment, they would have to take care of themselves.

Stumbling, still slightly disoriented by the concussive shock, he headed for a downward slope where indents in the landscape would give him cover to hide behind. He strayed left and right, desperately looking for a place to stealth into. If it came to running, he would lose to a teleporting murderer without question. He saw a trench and sprinted towards it, sliding in the last leg as he rolled fittingly into the space. He held his breath and forcefully slowed his breathing. The effort to quiet his breath had his lungs hurting and begging for air.

Around him, the world grew silent. No sounds of wildlife or rustling foliage. No cursing from the Pyrerai or footsteps from pursuers. The loudest thing in the universe was him and his slow, silent breaths. He stayed, unmoving. In his mind's eye, he could the Lachesis standing just feets away from him, just waiting for him to pop his head out like a gopher. His curiosity to check his surrounding was strong, but his will to survive was stronger. The only way for anyone to see him was to look directly down into the ditch. Still, the silence meant he only had the time to think.

Maybe she had left.

Maybe she had gone after Arnold.

Maybe Arnold had gotten caught.

Should he double back to save him?

But what could he even do against a sentinel killing machine with possible access to a sentient Titan made for destroying the world?

If the younger Guide had truly been caught, the best course of action for him was to attempt to escape. Either to get help from Eca, or take an express route back to Citi to grab Adelle.

For now though, he had to stay alive. As uncomfortable as it was, the optimal thing to do in that moment was to keep hiding until dusk and sneak away in twilight's shadow. He snuggled into his hiding place and settled in for the long haul.

A tug at his left collar.

Fingernails dug into his shoulder.

With a strong pull, he was weeded out from his hiding spot and lifted off his feet. He was of no short stature or lightweight, yet Pyrerai Lachesis held all of him with a single hand. Hey eyes were red and watering, but the rage was left unhidden in her fiery stare.

"You used a stun grenade," she growled.

Struggling, Josh croaked out a reply. "Yeah. So?"

He could see her piecing the puzzle together in her head. He used a stun grenade because out of any available options, it was the most effective weapon against a sentinel. He had learnt from Adelle that they needed to be able to see their targets to teleport, so if they were blinded, they'd be unable to act on anything.

"The other sentinel," Lachesis began. "You know her."

"Green hair? Red eyes?" Josh answered with snark. "Never met her in my life."

The anger gave way to a grin. "Fortuitous. You're going to help me find her. Or I'm going to pull your body apart, limb from limb."

Author's Note: Hi everyone. Thank you for reading Tearha: Titan War, which will continue to release a new chapter every week on Friday until its completion. If you like what you've read so far, and would like to support my writing, you can buy one of my books at my website. Or you could check out my Patreon to help out for the long run. Of course, just sharing, commenting, and reviewing helps a bunch as well!

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