The three of us swam after Delmare, the Siren leading us through the network of tunnels without stopping at any of the intersections.
I chanced a look back and realised we were not fast enough as there were a pair of those smugglers swimming after us, the two of them obviously having spotted us and were trying to chase us down.
Delmare looked back and seemed to have realised this too as she quickly swam back to grab my hand, prompting me to make a grab onto Odeta's hand as well who in turn grabbed Emilia's arm.
There was a moment where we stopped moving before Delmare suddenly shot forward like a torpedo, pulling all three of us along with her.
Despite having to pull three of us along, she still managed to propel herself through the water like it was nothing, pulling us away from our pursuers easily.
Soon enough, we managed to lose them in the tunnels as Delmare took a few more turns to confuse them before bringing us out into the open sea.
She pulled us up and we broke through the surface of the water, finding ourselves just a short distance away from the island.
"Delmare?! What are you doing here?!" I couldn't help but shout out the moment we emerged.
She looked at me before doing a cutesy pose, "Umm… Teehee?"
ƥαṇdαηθνε|"What do you mean 'teehee'? Where are your sisters?"
"Umm… I decided not to follow them after all…"
"Eh?! What?! Why?!"
"Eheheh… Aster promised me that you would listen to my singing right? If… If I were to leave… Then I don't have anyone else who can listen and understand my songs anymore."
"Do your sisters know about this?"
She nodded quickly, "Of course, of course! I had a very thorough discussion with them before I left!"
Odeta threaded over to us, "And they let you go just like that?"
"They umm… They were very supportive of my choice actually… They… They said they understood why I would want to follow Aster…"
I'm actually surprised to hear that. I thought for sure that Cherith would be against it or something instead of supporting it, since she seemed to want her sisters to stay together.
I guess Delmare was just very convincing in her arguments or something? Or perhaps Cherith had expected something like this from the start.
Either way, I wasn't too surprised by this turn of events.
"How did you even know we were there?" I asked.
""Oh! I was following you in the water all this while actually. And I had actually explored these tunnels with my sisters earlier since it reminded us of our old home. They're staying in one of the caves here for now, actually."
Huh… I guess old habits die hard.
"Well, first things first… Why don't we get back to land before talking more?" Emilia suggested while nodding her head towards the island.
The four of us made our way towards the shore, climbing out onto dry land while we tried to dry ourselves as best as we could.
"So… Do you think we're safe from those guys? The two following us might have seen us…" I asked, pulling off my dress to wring the water out of it.
Emilia also started stripping herself of her wet clothes, "I wouldn't be too worried about them actually. I'm pretty sure they are lost in those tunnels by now and would most likely drown inside them. Everyone else did not get a good look at our faces."
Odeta turned to her, "What about that Nekomata guy? He was the one who spotted us."
"Oh, all he would have seen is just a few black blobs moving towards the water at that distance so I wouldn't worry about it."
I pulled out one of my spare clothes from my bag while handing Odeta hers, "But would this actually make them target Merrick?"
"Ohohoho~ Because they just lost a whole ton of money, they're definitely going to look for someone to blame for this. And since they don't know who it was exactly that took the Grey Powder, they would go after that little traitor instead~"
"Hmm… Wouldn't Merrick just tell them that we are the ones who took their things and then send them after us instead?"
Emilia gave me a sympathetic look, "Oh Lady Aster, is this your first time out in the World?"
"Umm… I guess you could say that. I'm still twelve if you remember."
"Ah… My apologies… Lady Aster just acts so mature that I sometimes forget… Ahem… The thing with outlaws like these is that they usually attack first and ask questions later. I have no doubt that within the day, news about that little traitor's unfortunate circumstances would have made their way around the town and every pirate and smuggler worth their salt would know about it by then. This group in particular would feel that the traitor most likely scammed them one final time before running away so they would definitely seek him out to kill him before asking questions."
This time it was Delmare who got curious, "Why wouldn't they be asking questions?"
"Ohohoho~ As you know, those boxes of Grey Powder are worth a lot of money and the captain of that group most likely had to convince the rest of his crew that it would be worth their money to buy them. As valuable as it is, it's useless if the crew do not have the appropriate people to sell it to, right? It's like handing you some gold but you don't know where the nearest jeweller is."
All three of us nodded in agreement.
Emilia took out her own spare change of clothes to start putting them on, "That's why that crew would most probably be angry at their leader for causing them to be in this situation from his bad decision making. He would thus need a scapegoat for their anger and it's better to target someone his entire crew knows the face of instead of just three strangers that they don't even know what they look like."
Huh… That's certainly interesting…
Aso… The fact that Emilia was familiar with all of this really drove home the fact that she was once part of this as well.
We quickly changed out of our wet clothes and now I decided to address our current situation.
"So what do we do now? You said that you were planning on contacting some smuggling groups to take over your smuggling operation right?"
Emilia nodded, "That's right, although it would be best if I do that on my own since it might put all of you at risk if they were to see your faces. Go back to the Guild and ask Maurice for a room there, I will go and find you all there once I'm done. I'll also look for a ship to sail us out of here while we're at it but I doubt I would be able to find one at this time. We should be staying at least another night here. Just tell Maurice about it and he'll arrange everything for us."
Delmare pointed at herself, "Umm… It wouldn't be a problem if I came along right?"
"Hmm? Of course not. Don't worry about it, I'll handle everything here. Consider this as my compensation for getting all of you involved."
That was… Actually quite nice of her. Until I realised that she's also probably doing this so that she could secure more share of the loot for herself since she would probably also be going around reclaiming all the assets that Merrick has. Without us there, she wouldn't need to share any of it with us.
Oh well, it's not like I need that money anyway and this whole thing is actually Emilia's operation to begin with. We're all just along for the ride.
We did as she suggested and went our separate ways for now.
Delmare ended up being given a piggyback ride by Odeta for the walk to our destination.
Initially she wanted me to carry her in my arms but Odeta was quick to shoot that down by offering to help her instead.
Not sure why she was so eager to help though?
Walking through the streets of the town again, I realised that the place was once again full of life as the pirates have returned from their looting and pillaging out at sea.
Not sure if this was just a coincidence or being a pirate is like a day job?
Thankfully, aside from some stares and catcalls from a few of the pirates, we managed to pass through unmolested. Part of which I suspect was due to Odeta's imposing size that deterred them from approaching us.
Some of them did look like they were thinking of trying something but a quick look from Odeta would send them backing away from us quite quickly.
Not to begrudge Odeta but… I'm quite surprised that they would be intimidated that much by her since it didn't look like people perceived her as a threat before.
The answer to that question soon presented itself.
Entering the Guild once again, we were immediately greeted by a male Wrunch being punched in the face and sent sprawling on the ground.
"Hell yeah! That will teach you to challenge me!! The only people who can beat me are my little sisters!!"
I looked up at the person who had punched the Wrunch and my eyes widened as I saw a face that I didn't think I would find in a place like this.
"Sister Ardi?!" I gasped.
"Big sister Ardi!!" Odeta cried out almost at the same time as I did.
The older Amrap turned around at the sound of our voice and her face brightened up immediately.
"Ahahaha! My cutest little sisters!! The Gods must be smiling upon us today to meet here!!"
What's with today and unexpected reunions? What are the chances that Mother and the rest are going to show up through the door next?
Oh well… It was worth a shot…
Still… It's been so long sister Ardi!!