“Ahh!” Alex yelled when he woke up several hours later. “Fire blast! Windblast!” He screamed in a panicked voice and let his magic fly to attack his enemies that were no longer there. As the large wall of fire shot into the sky above him, a powerful gust of wind simultaneously blew all around him in a circle. He rolled to the side as he cast the spells and hopped to his feet, alert for the enemies that had nearly killed him.
Rose yelped in surprise and alarm from across the clearing when she saw what was happening. “Alex! Calm down!” She yelled at him quickly. “The slimes are gone, we are both OK.” She said calmer this time when he looked in her direction, fear, and confusion on his face.
‘Alex, listen to Rose! We are safe!’ Alice stressed in his mind. ‘The fight is over.’
Alex stared at Rose for a few seconds in shock before plopping himself down on the spot and just sort of staring into the newly made fire that Rose had made. “What… what happened?” He asked in a slow, tired voice. Rose stopped the Ki circulation practice she had been doing while she waited for Alex to wake up and walked over to sit next to him.
As Rose inspected him she couldn’t help but feel a sense of great sadness. He looked so broken, so vulnerable. This world was indeed brutal and they had forgotten some of the most basic basics in their panicked and stressed states, but they also had still not begun their proper training yet either. They had never truly been out this far in practical training or anything, just theory and training within the borders of the town. They had literally been thrown into the deep end of life and were expected to swim.
She leaned over and gave Alex a tight hug which she held for a few moments before pulling back and beginning to recount the events of the previous night. “I woke to the sounds of what I later learned was your muffled screaming.” She began with a shudder. Alex did not show any reaction and simply stared at the fire while Rose continued.
“We were naive and forgot to have someone stay up and keep watch. The fire went out as a result and slimes snuck into camp. Before I even woke up they had already covered you and… did what slimes do.” She stopped again for a moment to take a few deep breaths. “I tried to get to you quickly, but there were too many of them and they were ganging up on me. I ended up having to fight for my own life first.” Rose saw Alex nod his head in agreement here, still staring into the fire.
“As I began dispatching the slimes, you suddenly exploded in a blast of raw mana. It shredded the slimes on top of you and several nearby. It created the crater over there and also blew the camp to pieces, scattering our bags and gear around with a lot of it unsalvageable due to being so close to you.” At this, Alex finally showed some life again. His face was a mask of surprise as he turned to look at Rose. He did not speak to her, however, and she simply stared back worried and confused. Unknown to her, Alex and Alice had engaged in a short conversation about the events that transpired.
‘Alice, what is the meaning of this?’ Alex demanded. ‘I do not remember sending a blast of pure mana out, just the… well, I won’t go into detail, but I do not remember doing so before the darkness claimed me. How did I cast magic while unconscious?’
‘Well…’ Alice began, unsure of how to proceed entirely. Would Alex be upset at what she had done? Happy at the new opportunities this opened? Scared of her perhaps? ‘You were dying, Alex.’ She said bluntly and matter of fact. ‘I could not calm your panic enough for you to cast a spell and Rose was unable to get here in time. So, I reached for the magic as I had when you gave me permission to utilize your mana for Jeod’s transformation. It was… not within my reach, fully.’ She paused for a moment again, letting Alex process the information so far.
‘I did not wish to die, Alex, and I did not wish for you to die either. I threw my entire being against the barrier between me and the ability to use your magic and on the verge of death I finally succeeded. There was no time to try and structure a real spell and so I let the mana run rampant and free. The rest is as Rose described to you.’ Alice finished sheepishly while still fearing what Alex’s reaction might be.
Alex sat in silence for a few more moments and was about to respond to Alice when Rose interrupted. “Alex, are you OK?” She asked worriedly. “You have just been staring at me with various emotions flying across your face. What is going on?”
He ignored Rose’s question for the moment and consulted with Alice. ‘I do not fault you, Alice, your actions saved the lives of us both and possibly Rose as well. We will need to experiment to find the full limits of your powers over me however when we get to our destination. For now, do you disagree with me telling Rose about you? She is quite worried and suspicious at this point and if we are to spend an extended period of time together in close proximity while we hide out here it will only get harder to hide your existence.’
Alice did not take even a single second to think, instantly replying. ‘Of course, Alex. If you believe that it is in our best interests to inform her then you have my permission to do so. As you said, we will all be together for a while and from my perspective I expect you to likely be friends for years to come. It would be hard to keep me secret that long and the longer you wait the worse the backlash from Rose will be.’ Alice concluded in a calm and collected voice. ‘Plus, then I can talk to her through you as well! I can make a new friend!’ She said excitedly.
“Alex? Alex, you are really starting to worry me,” Rose said in a scared voice. “Say something, please.” She begged.
Alex finally came back to his senses in the world around him, finished with his conversation with Alice, and he pulled Rose into a hug before she could respond. “Rose. Thank you. For everything.” He said with real emotion in his voice. He let her go and they sat facing each other, a look of confused shock on Rose’s face. “There is something very important that I must tell you, Rose. Someone special that I obtained within the dungeon after gaining my class, and someone that has been irreplaceable since awakening.” He said in a very serious voice.
“Someone?” Rose asked, confused. How could he have gained a person within the dungeon? Did he mean something? That seemed an odd mistake to make while sounding so serious, however.
Alex smiled brightly at her question and responded, “Yes, someone. Let me tell you about Alice.” He said and proceeded to inform Rose of the rest of his story that he had kept hidden from her. Finding the hidden rooms, the mithril orb, awakening the orb at Jeod’s and its transformation into Alice, and finally all about how she had helped and guided him so far and how she was responsible for saving his life the night before while Rose was preoccupied.
Rose was stunned for sure but recovered quickly. “Then I must thank you, Alice, for taking care of my best friend so well during these confusing times and for saving all of our lives last night. I doubt I could have taken the entire swarm of slimes on alone had you not destroyed many of them.”
Alex suddenly felt an odd feeling within himself, and then his mana responded without his will! Above his head and facing Rose was suddenly fire spelling out the words “You are welcome” before vanishing as soon as Rose finished reading it. ‘Alice was that your doing!?’ He asked panicked. They had not yet experimented with her level of control, but she had just cast a spell entirely without his knowledge!
‘Yes, that was indeed my doing, Alex. I am sorry for doing so without your permission but I was curious if I could still exert control over your mana and I wished to communicate with Rose. I will not do so again without your permission unless the situation is dire.’ She promised sincerely.
Rose, smiling awkwardly, said, “I assume that was Alice’s doing?”
Alex sighed heavily and replied, “Yes, although I did not even know she could do that. Enough of this though, we can get everyone introduced properly once we get to our destination. How do our supplies look after last night, Rose?”
She began giving Alex a report on what they still had, what was destroyed, what was unusable but possibly repairable when they had time at their destination and so on. When she was finished with the report they got ready to continue on their way, eager to get to a real building even if it was likely damaged and still in the middle of nowhere. It would at least provide more defense than camping out in the open had. Preparations having been taken care of, Rose, Alex, and Alice set off once more into the woods on their journey to the safe house that Thomas would hopefully meet them at after a short amount of time.