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Chapter 96: Cherish your friends, please! part

“Wasn’t this supposed to be a shortcut Helena?”

“It is a shortcut”

“Well then, aren’t shortcuts meant to take less time than the actual road? I think it’s time to acknowledge we’re lost and go back to mountainside”

“We don’t need to go back, just keep walking and we’ll eventually reach a city”

Anne replies to Helena’s complaints while pushing past a tangled bush. They were completely lost on a dense vegetation forest, they were supposed to have reached Celarent two days ago, but since they took a different path they don’t know where they are.

“If only we followed the road like everyone at Ironwoods told us we wouldn’t be in this situation”

“Thanks for stating the obvious Sherlock, but we’re already on this path and there’s not turning back”


“You can’t even call this a path, it’s barely walkable! We’ve been walking around blindly on this damned forest, I’m so tired of forests! sleeping in the cold is hard, we can’t even light a proper campfire and we’re even running out of food. I seriously can’t do this anymore, I’m so tired”

Helena weeps in despair and falls to the ground, she didn’t even make an attempt to stand back up again and just lied in there crying.

“Now you’re showing your true colors! You always put a mask of kindness and acted like a goody two shoes, when in reality you’re just mean and a coward!”

“Me a coward!? Me? what about you? you’re angry all the time and push away the people who care about you because you’re too scared to be hurt. At least I try to fit in”

It would be one thing to fight like that in the safety of their home, but they chose the worst possible moment to act like children. Their loud argument drew the attention of every living creature in the surroundings and, while some of them are weak and rn away immediately, some are not and took an interest in them.

Anne, with her sharp senses realized this and a shiver ran through her spine.

“Wait, something’s not right”

“And now that you run out of words you simply mhfmhfm hmfmfhm mhf”

Helena tried to speak despite Anne’s attempt to gag her with her mouth and only muffled sounds escaped her mouth, but then she noticed Anne’s worried face and didn’t struggle anymore.

“Helena, I think we’re in trouble. Keep calm but we’ve been surrounded by wild animals and by the sounds they are emitting they’re not friendly”

Anne whispers.

“How can you tell?”

“Herbivores either run away or stay still when they’re startled, but these things are moving towards us and they’re growling. it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Draw your weapon and don’t be scared, just take a defensive stance and stay by my side”

“Take a what?”

“Didn’t you pay attention during our training?”

“uhhh, no?”

“Hey Helena! this is not the time to be messing around. Anyway, just hold your ground and stay by my side, they are most likely going to circle around us and when that happens you need to defend yourself, everything’s gonna be fine”

Anne took Helena’s hand and they both nodded, Helena felt reassured and grabbed her spear with all of her strenght. The sound of her skin against the wood was gritty and loud giving her the much needed confidence for what was going to come.

They were completely surrounded by dense vegetation and Helena didn’t have the enhanced senses Anne possess, what scared her the most was the fact that she didn’t know what lied beyond the wild greenery that acted as a curtain.

The light dimmed down for a second as the sky got clouded and the little light that reached the forest ground dissipated. A sound in the distance that betrayed the presence of something fast moving behind the thick vegetation startled Helena for a second but she was ready.

A biped reptile, small in size pounced towards her and she hit it on the head with all her might making it bounce towards a tree. Helena yelled to the top of her lungs as another one came from the side, but she greeted it on the same manner by turning around and waving her spear. It was only for a short second, but her back was open for an attack and the enemy didn’t miss the chance.

The lizard that was faking to be unconscious jumped on her back and managed to bite her shoulder.

“It hurts! Anne help me out here!”

Helena tried to get rid of the lizard biting on her shoulder but it was impossible, every movement she made only made things worse as the beast contorted her body to take a piece of meat with him.

Helena looked at Anne’s side and there was a pile of corpses lying around, she had defeated at least ten lizards and they kept jumping on her from everywhere.

Anne waved her spear nimbly without wasting a single movement, allowing the inertia of the spear to hit hard on the lizards. One of the beasts attempted to pull the same trick that worked on Helena, but Anen didn’t fall for it and pierced it with the tip of her spear.

“Keee keee”

The beast squelched and died, it was as if the scream deflated its body until it was liveless on the ground.

Anne’s fighting prowess was so amazing that it left Helena in awe, with the writhing beast still nibbling on her shoulder.

Suddenly, the pain was nothing and she could feel a power surge from within.

Boldness 1%

She got a system message indicating she had just learned a new skill and didn’t hesitate to put it to work, despite not even knowing what it did.

A yellow light shone briefly and nothing else happened, none of them felt any different and just kept on fighting.

Helena thrusted her spear blindly, managing to hit some beasts by sheer luck, the fight prolongued for a while until there was not a single lizard left alive.

Both Helena and Anne were grazed here and there, their clothes were tattered and there was blood everywhere, but they somehow survived.

“I’m so sorry Anne, I shouldn’t have blamed everything on you, we came on this travel all because of my selfishness”

Helena cried as she hugged Anne.

“I’m sorry too Helena, I was just mad at myself because I trusted that sketchy villager that told me about this so called shortcut.”

They were both crying while holding on to each other, all the fatigue and the pain from the fight suddenly came back to their bodies and they fell to the ground but still refused to let go of each other.

They just slid down and fell on their knees, crying to their hearts content for a long while.

“So, what are we going to do now? You’ve been in the wild a lot more than I have, so I’ll listen to whatever you say”

“If it’s about living in the wilderness, I guess we should try to remember what Ryu always said. It was something about information, tools and whatever... uhmm... no, I can’t remember it. But it went something like, set objectives and work slowly towards them. Even if the chances are slim, there’s always a way”

“Yeah, he told me about how many times he was about to despair for things that semeed so little afterwards. Like when he made fire”

“So... should we make a fire?”

“I don’t know, I can’t move”

“By the way, when are you planning to get rid of that thing on your shoulder?”

Anne pointed at the lizard squirming on Helena’s shoulder.

“Uh, I was so scared, but this one is pretty small and cute”

“Do you think we should tame it?”

Anne loved animals and she too felt compelled to tame a pet. She was secretly envious of Ryu’s pets and cuddled Mochi everytime she could without being noticed. She also agreed on taking care of the Amarok while Ryu was away, in fact, being able to take care of it was one of the reasons she didn’t complain so much when Ryu said he wanted to go to Celarent.

“Don’t be silly Anne, what are we going to feed it? meat from its own family members? meat... from...”

Their eyes started glittering and they grabbed their hands and drew closer, almost touching their noses.

“Let’s cook them!”

Anne exclaimed.

“Finally we’re gonna have a decent meal!”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I thought you would be against eating them since they’re kind of ugly. Also, they’re reptiles and all”

“I don’t mind as long as they taste good”

They struggled to gather wood, they struggled to make a fireplace and, of course, they struggled to light the fire, but once the first skewered lizards were ready to eat they enjoyed the meal together and strengthening their friendship.

After a while, once they rested properly they managed to remove the small lizard safely from her shoulder. Helena was so angry that she threw it with all she had still left in her and it flew high in the sky, it was the first on its species to fly over the sky, but sadly for the poor lizard it was a trick that could be performed only once in a lifetime.

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