Liri left the ruins immediately. Sure, she could have farmed more, maybe looked through the library for any spell she could use, but her desire for freedom took hold of her. From the moment she realized she was free, every second spent in those ruins felt like rats were squirming over her body.
That one memory specifically, nearly dying at having been slashed across the body by the Grand King, how could she want to spend more time in the place where that happened?
Now, at least a month and a half since she'd started traveling to Torasan, she was experiencing the closest thing to rest that she could.
An ominous wind ran through swinging trees. In the darkness, nocturnal animals sounded off in a constant symphony, but not necessarily a relaxing one. The stars above, violet, blue and white, meshed together in a celestial mosaic that could serve as a fixture of meditation for anyone willing. In the middle of a natural clearing, overseeing one of the Twin Lakes to her left, and hugging a manmade road to her right, there was such a person.
Liri stared up, her will to sleep countered by the visions she saw when she closed her eyes. An ethereal woman made of an ocean blue aura, whispering to her as she bled out inside an abandoned cemetery. She had this problem for a while now, it was one that usually went away when her tiredness reached an unbearable level. It was not going away at this moment though.
"Hero," Liri whispered. "Like I could ever be that."
As if in response, nature seemingly sent a small frogbull with tusks protruding from its lips to land down beside her head. If it were daytime, this would be Liri's lunch, as she'd been surviving on small animals that granted close to no EXP, but right now, Liri simply smiled at it.
"What do you think?" She asked, raising a finger to slide down the frogbull's funny feeling body. "Could I be some kind of hero?" Instead of answering, the animal hopped away. Liri sighed and put her hands behind her head, once again staring up at the night sky.
As her consciousness wouldn't fade like it was supposed to, Liri decided she may as well be a little proactive. She got up, patting some of the dirt off her black shirt before walking up to the equipment that she'd placed beside a tree.
There lied Kairo, the Ancient Helian Sword, and Arelia's Grace. Next to these blades, on the belt they were tied to, was one flask that used to be a blue potion she used at the cemetery, that was filled with blood. It was the best source of water she had.
She looked down at her attire. She was wearing Arelia's Veil. The black outfit contrasted heavily with the ripped pajamas she had been forced to start this journey with. Liri smiled. She felt like a noblewoman.
Finally, her eyes started to grow weary. Before she succumbed to sleep, she checked her stats.
Stamina: 102/ 102
Waste of Space
Oakheart, Shadowform, Soft Heal, Fireball, Flame of Arelia
With a satisfied smile, she drifted away.
The next day, she wasted no time before looking for more food and walking further up on the road to Torasan. Although recent events had left scars on her heart, Liri hadn't forgotten her mission. She had to reach Stin's group, and give back Kairo. After using the weapon back at Arelia's ruins, she understood how precious the item was.
Of course, the thought of just keeping the weapon for herself flashed through her head more than once, but to put it simply, if she didn't give herself this goal, what was she to do?
Would her life be spent here? Hunting and scavenging for anything she could find to survive one more day. It was a pathetic existence.
This objective, this mission was the only thing giving her existence purpose.
After walking a few miles away from the ruins, Liri managed to encounter a stone road that faded out as it neared the ruined lands Liri had come from. However, the road wasn't what made Liri shed a tear.
Just up ahead, she saw a tree. Next to that, a few birds singing happily as they migrated from one place to another. The ground changed from an ash-covered floor to dirt and grass. The bushes that stood proudly enveloped the scene in a haze of green.
One tear fell, then two. Liri was full-on sobbing in a moment. She had done it, she had escaped the wasteland. She walked up to a bush and grabbed a small leaf in her hands. Pulling the leaf up, she inhaled its sweet, welcoming scent.
As much as she wanted to lie down and bask in the glory of it all, she had to keep moving. Stin's group surely wouldn't stop for such trivial things, even if they seemed amazing to Liri now.
She walked along the road, eventually finding that the road split in two, one path that led further up, and one that led down, maybe coming around the wasteland. Liri followed the path up.
An hour passed, and Liri was forced to stop. There was a sound nearby. It sounded like... A man crying for help?
Curiosity forced Liri to move closer. The sound came from further up the road. Liri paused when she saw the outline of a fallen carriage and three people standing around one man, probably the source of the voice.
It was clear now what was happening. Liri had seen it before, back in Ora. Homeless men would sometimes wait till nighttime and move to rob the resting carriages of traveling merchants. This was a similar situation.
A part of Liri whispered in her mind to leave the man to his fate. The world had never tried to help her why should she be kind in return?
Then, Stin's face flashed through her eyes. She was wrong. The world, or rather, one of its inhabitants had helped her. Even if it was just one person... Maybe that was all you needed sometimes.
With that, she breathed in.
"Hey!" She called out as she got closer.
The three attackers stopped, the man, dressed in a white shirt and brown pants like many of the travelers Liri had seen over the years, snapped towards her.
"Please!" He called out. "Plea...." Then he stopped. His eyes widened when he saw Liri, but she paid it no mind.
She scanned over the three attackers. Each one had black hair, cut in one form or another, along with bright, yellow eyes. Liri stuttered for a moment. They looked like her.
"If you think you're taking this score away from us, you're sorely mistaken." One of them, a tall man said.
"Which faction you with?" Another one called out, a shorter boy that looked like the man's little brother.
"You don't see?" Another one spoke. A woman, taller than the last one. They were all dressed in scraps. "Look how she's dressed. She's a fucking noble. Probably straight outta Ora."
"Stop what you're doing." Confused, Liri only replied with that.
"Or what? Ain't no fuckin' traitor like you gon' tell us what to do. Best jump the fuck outta 'ere." Liri stood. Her hands drifted towards Kairo.
"Fuck it." The woman said. "Getting as good a score as this, and killing a traitor? Sounds fine to me."
"Oh, well shit, I hear ya!" The short boy ran forwards, a small dagger in his hands.
The last several weeks flashed before Liri's eyes. Her body reacted before even her mind had. She reached down, grabbed Kairo, and readied herself for the attack.
The boy raised his hands up, Liri ducked and stabbed him in the gut. Quickly, in case there was an ambush being planned, she removed the blade and readied herself again.
"W-What?" The woman said. "I... I didn't see it!"
"Gohr..." The man whispered, staring at the fallen boy's body. Liri looked down.
EXP Gained: 14/100
Already dead? Liri thought. I hadn't meant to kill him straight away. I thought this would injure him.
Before she could continue her train of thought, the man charged. Liri's eyes widened and she sidestepped his tackle. Seeing an opening, she dashed forwards and brought her blade into his side.
"Bonn!" The woman cried out.
Once again, the attack inflicted far more damage than Liri had thought would happen.
How much stronger have I gotten? She asked herself. The man tried to get up, but couldn't. Liri ignored him and walked towards the woman.
Her eyes were fixed on the dying man behind Liri, but they snapped up as Liri drew closer.
"P-Please..." She muttered. "We're one of you... How could you do this?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about... But there aren't any thieves I could consider 'one of mine'." She spat out. "If you don't want to end up like them, I suggest you run."
The woman cried for a moment, but as Liri made a show out of raising up Kairo she scampered away.
"Well," Liri looked behind her to find that the man had bled out. "I guess that's done." She turned towards the merchant. "Are you okay? Can you walk?"
"Y-You, you're from Ora?" He said as Liri lifted him to his feet.
"What the hell is a noble Gen doing out of Ora?" The merchant asked, but the question seemed more directed at himself than anyone else. He appeared more confused than scared. "W-Wait... Are the rumors true?"
"Has Ora fallen?"
Liri's eyes widened. Rumors? Have news not spread to the other nations? If that was the case, with Stin's team headed north, I must be closer to them than I thought! Otherwise, they would have certainly informed the authorities.
"Yes." Liri replied, nodding gravely.
"That's... A real tragedy." He stated. "Well, miss, I guess since the bandits are done for, I can afford to give you some kind of reward. What do you want? Please, anything. I owe you my life."
Liri's response was instant.
"I need a ride to Torasan."