And here's chapter 13! Surely, being numbered after an unlucky number can't possibly mean things are gonna go wrong, right?
Let's answer some reviews:
* Where's Milo Murphy when you need him? XD
* A new sister appears here. That's all I'll say ;)
And now, to the chapter!
"So, let me get this straight," Mera sighed wearily. "Not even a week has passed since the whole "living together" thing had been made..." Mera looked at Molly, who was washing the dishes. "And you already spilled the beans?"
"Without even consulting me or Indus first?!"
Molly lowered her head in regret. "Yeah..."
"Hey, while we're at it, why's she washing the dishes right now?" Ronnie Anne asked. "Don't tell me she's living her as a maid or something!"
"Indus and I have to go to work, and Lincoln's too weak for most chores. Besides, Molly suggested it herself," Mera folded her arms. "I can't exactly have her living here with us for free, so this is the best compromise we got."
"Okay, so that's one doubt taken care of," Ronnie Anne narrowed her eyes. "Here's another one: why is she living here with you?!"
"My caretaker had to go on a business trip, and I don't like being alone, so I asked if I could stay here for the time being," Molly explained, keeping her eyes on the dishes. "It's not a permanent thing, either; maybe just a month or two, until I can figure out what to do."
"I... see..." Ronnie Anne sighed. "I'm not going to say I didn't expect Lincoln to accept, but the fact he convinced you to take her in as well..."
Mera sighed. "Lincoln, how about you go to your room for now?"
"I wanna talk to both Ronnie Anne and Molly about a few things, and I'd rather you not be present for the massive argument we're bound to have."
"You'll still explain what you do for a living when you get the chance, right?"
Mera narrowed her eyes, and Lincoln quickly got the message. He got off his chair, and bolted to his room, closing the door as he caught his breath.
"Mera can be really scary sometimes..."
"That's a mother for ya."
Lincoln flinched and jumped, but not enough to receive minor fall damage when he hit the ground. Because yes, that was something he suffered too.
He turned around, and inside his room was... a squirrel? He'd be a bit more shock and confused as to why it was there if he didn't remember he left the window open.
As for the idea of the squirrel talking to him, he had a very good idea as to who it could be...
"Hey there, Lincoln!"
"Lynn?!" Lincoln remarked in disbelief. "What are you doing here?!"
"Please, call me Ratatoskr: that's the name I use while I'm on the job," Lynn replied, rubbing her nose with a smile. "As for what I'm here for... I came to deliver a message."
Lincoln frowned. "A message?"
"Don't worry, it's not another message from one of your ex-girlfriends, or someone wanting to figure out what your Epithet is," Lynn snickered. "However, the message could be considered just as alarming..."
Lincoln frowned. "Why's that?"
"Well... ugh, there's no easy way to say this: you're living with a Decrypted."
Lincoln's eyes widened. "A... Decrypted? What's a Decrypted?"
"I'm sorry, Lincoln, but I can only deliver the message they told me, I can't add anything else. Also, I'm just as clueless as you are," Lynn jumped to the window. "But hey, you got school tomorrow, right? You can just ask your teachers about it!"
Lynn promptly ran down the tree nearby, leaving her brother behind to think about what he had just been told.
"And that's the first time a slang word was used as an Epithet," Mrs. Johnson said as she wrote something on her chalkboard. "Now, let's discuss Epithets with similar meanings-"
The woman paused and turned around, raising an eyebrow when she saw it was Lincoln who raised his arm.
"I know this might seem off-topic but, what's an Encrypted?"
The classroom gasped as the teacher dropped her chalk, slowly turning to Lincoln with a surprised expression.
"W-Where did you hear that word?"
"Oh, one of my sisters, while disguised as a squirrel, walked up to my window. We talked a bit, she said an Encrypted was living in my house, and then she spread her wings and flew away before I could ask for more."
The class fell silent for a moment...
"That makes sense," Paige remarked.
"I'm afraid I'm not the one you should talk to about this stuff," Mrs. Johnson sighed. "Considering what it's about, there's only two people who can tell you what it is."
Lincoln raised an eyebrow, but he quickly connected the dots...
And next thing he knew, he was with Sylvie and Lisa.
"You discovered the Decrypted?!" Sylvie exclaimed. "How?! When?! Where?!"
"What my co-worker's trying to say is, where did you hear about them?" Lisa asked.
"Lynn came to my room while she was on the job and told me that I was living with one of those," Lincoln shrugged. "And yes, I could've just assumed she was joking, but bad jokes are Luan's thing."
"I see, so that's how you found out," Lisa hummed and scratched her chin. "Well, I can say I'm surprised that Lynn was the one who told you that. I never expected her to be the one to do it."
"Can we stay focused here? I still have no idea what an Encrypted is."
Sylvie adjusted his glasses. "Well, long story short, an Encrypted is an Inscribe that possesses more than one Epithet."
"They do, but their existence is kept a secret from the general populace, and for good reason: Epithets are dangerous enough by themselves."
"To try to mix any random combination together..." Lisa lowered her eyelids. "Such an act can only result in pure chaos."
Lincoln frowned. "I can imagine..."
"Fortunately, Encrypted only go mad when they attempt to use both Epithets at the same time," Sylvie added with a smile. "As long as they stick to only one Epithet, they're fine."
"However, if they do use an Epithet, it has to be the one they were born with," Lisa added. "Should they use an auxilliary Epithet, their status as Decrypted will be revealed."
"But what are the chances that of all people that could end up housing a Decrypted, my family would be the one?"
"I think the better question is, who's the Decrypted?" Sylvie asked. "If we can find that out, we can begin taking measures to ensure this Decrypted doesn't cause any chaos."
Lisa glared at Sylvie disapprovingly. "You just want an excuse to capture and experiment on them."
"It could help with future Epithet and Decrypted research!"
"Alright, fine, I won't do it! But you can't deny that we need to take precautions!"
"On that part, we can agree," Lisa faced her brother. "So, Lincoln, don't go around doing crazy stuff, okay? Stay alert."
And with that, the trio bid farewell, and Lincoln left their office, taking a moment to catch his thoughts before he met a familiar face.
"Lincoln!" called the familiar voice of Molly. "I heard you would be here. Are you okay?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"I mean, you suddenly mention something called an Encrypted and then you're taken to the coach's office," Molly twiddled her fingers. "And since they, or at least Sylvie, can be kinda rough-"
"Molly, I have to ask you something."
Molly paused, then tilted her head. "Yes?"
"Are you... an Encrypted?"
An awkward silence developed between the duo, with s tumbleweed even going past them to further set the awkwardness.
Then, Molly walked to a wall, and lowered her head.
"I should've listened to Phoenica and Trixie."
"They told me, time and time again, that people in Royal Woods catch things faster than in Sweet Jazz City."
Molly raised her head and chuckled a bit. "Guess that's what I get for being stubborn."
Lincoln's eyes widened. "Wait, ate you admitting..."
With another chuckle, Molly took a deep breath, and faced Lincoln with a serious expression.
"Yes, Lincoln... I'm a Decrypted."