45.2. Emotions and Stuff
“What are we even doing, anyway?”
I turned to her half an hour later. We were now passing by street merchants— [Traders]— people selling their wares and goods, shouting and clamoring to be heard over all the noise.
“What do you mean?”
The Human glanced back at me, holding a necklace up around her neck.
“Does this look good?”
“That looks like a red rock wrapped in metal.”
“It’s a ruby pendant. But do you like the way it matches my hair?”
Edithe raised the jewel up slightly, putting it just next to her fiery locks. I nodded slowly.
“I… yes. I think it looks kind of… nice?”
I wasn’t really sure how to articulate it, however I thought it was pleasing to the eye. She grinned, turning back to the merchant.
“I’ll take it.”
She returned to me moments later and looked at me inquisitively.
“So, what were you saying again, Salvos?”
“What are we doing? We’ve just been walking around doing… nothing.”
“What do you mean? We are doing something.”
“Relaxing. Spending a girl’s day out.”
Edithe paused as I cocked my head, confused. She averted her gaze slightly.
“Plus, I’ve got to teach you a few things about being a girl.”
“Guys like those two earlier are quite common. Many men think that just because we’re women, they can push us around. You can’t let them do that.”
“Of course— if they push me, I’ll punch them back!”
“No. Not that kind of pushing. It’s the kind where they make you do what they want to do. You’ve got to stand your ground and do what you want instead.”
I cocked my head.
“I can see how this is kind of confusing for you. Of course it is. But you’ve got to know how to protect yourself as a girl. Not as an adventurer and not as a fighter. As a Human woman.”
“But I’m not a Human woman.”
“Still, I’d rather you not do something stupid or something you’ll regret in the future. You probably won’t ever care for it— this is more for my own conscience, I guess.”
Edithe mused to herself as we sat on the edge of a fountain. I could feel some light droplets trickling onto my face from the constant splashing of the water. Nodding, I smiled.
“I think I can understand what you’re saying. It’s like Lucerna— when I met him, he was trying to make Haec and I do what he wanted us to do. He didn’t care for what we wanted at all!”
“That’s… not exactly right. But close enough.”
She giggled. Not annoyed, not angry. She seemed happy— she was enjoying herself. I looked at this and… I felt my lips curling up. I found myself laughing with her, not really sure what she found so humorous or entertaining, but finding it nonetheless.
After a moment longer of just staying there, relaxing, Edithe spoke up.
“So, Salvos, what will you be doing?”
“What will I be doing?”
“Yes. You can’t really get to where you want to go for the foreseeable future. So, what now?”
I didn’t even think to respond.
“I’ll level, of course.”
Edithe shook her head, muttering under her breath.
“I don’t know why I expected anything else.”
I grinned and she chuckled.
“Well, if you really do want to level, there’s still the Silkfall’s Crevice Dungeon. It’s not that far, and it’s a place you already know. It won’t be too dangerous for you, plus it's still a good place for you to earn levels.”
I nodded slowly as she continued.
“I’ve spoken around. Talked to adventurers. It seems like that while not a lot of adventurers are swarming to tackle this newfound Dungeon, a few high Silvers are trying their luck. You could probably team up with them if it gets too dangerous.”
I raised my head up and down— and stopped.
“But why would I team up with them when I’m with you, Daniel, Mistshard, and Druma?”
The Human woman sighed. She looked over at me as her gaze shadowed over. She chewed her lip hesitantly, but eventually spoke out.
“Salvos… I’ll be leaving in a few days.”
I cocked my head.
“To return to my company. The Valiant Dreamers. I’ve already accomplished what I was sent here to do by them— and more. But now, with the Iron Champions Company threatening us— or at least, Stephen did— I need to go back. Tell them about what happened with him. Just in case the company really tries something.”
I stared at her, not really processing what she was saying.
“I wasn’t really sure how to tell you this. Honestly, telling it to Daniel was pretty easy. We’re both adventurers, so he simply took it as it is. But you? I wasn’t sure how you’d react.”
“Wait— but why?”
I blurted out, mind racing. She’s leaving? Aren’t we companions? Why does she have to go?
“Why can’t you stay?”
“I told you. I’m needed back home. And my team… is dead. I have to go back. Talk to their families. Their friends. And we need to grieve. Together.”
I opened my mouth and Edithe hugged me. I flinched, reflexively reaching out to push her back. Then I stopped, slowly embracing her.
“I’m sorry, Salvos. I know it’s sudden. And I know you wouldn’t want to come with me. It’s more weird Human stuff you can’t possibly understand. But I have to go. Return home.”
“Let me follow you!”
I sputtered, not even knowing what I was saying. Edithe cocked her head.
“Are you sure about that? It’ll be full of boring Human stuff. We won’t be fighting, or leveling, or doing anything in particular. There’ll be lots of sleeping and lots of eating. I don’t think you’d like that.”
“I… uh, nevermind.”
I slowly deflated. She sighed, grinning.
Slowly, the Human woman let go of me. I spoke up first.
“I… good luck.”
Edithe blinked. I hesitated, but managed to continue.
“Going back… it’s tough. Takes a long time. So, good luck.”
She looked at me, perplexed. Then her eyes widened, and a reassuring smile formed on her face.
“It’s not like your whole ordeal. It’s very simple. I’ll be back in less than a month, don’t worry.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. I’m more worried about you anyway. Just focus on yourself. Don’t jump into a Lair of Centinels because you think you can take them all. If there’s a Level 70 or 100 Centinel— they can get dangerous.”
I lifted an arm up.
“I’ll only do it if I know I can take them.”
“That does not inspire any confidence in me, but I do trust you. So I’ll take your word for it.”
I smiled. But I still felt uneasy.
“When will I see you again?”
“Whenever you want, Salvos. Just come visit me at the Valiant Dreamers headquarters at Viechester. It’s a large city west of here in the Sunmere Republic— not the Capital, since that’s where the Rising Veterans are located.”
“The Sunmere Republic?”
“Yes. Salvos— you’ve only been in the Mortal Realm for a few months. And you’ve mostly stayed around Falisfield. But this place is much bigger than you can imagine. Go explore it, and find a way back to your friend. We’ll meet again in the future, I promise.”
I nodded, looking at the red haired woman one more time. She had the pendant she bought around her neck— and it really did suit her. She shook her head and chuckled.
“Anyway, that’s enough of that for now. It’s not like I’ll be leaving immediately. It’s still a few days. I need to go to the temple and send a relay message back first…”
And yet, a few days came quickly. It passed like the wind carried by the breeze— not like an unmoving, static rock. It came and went, and so did Edithe.
Daniel and I bade her farewell. She left through the gates of Hazelbury with Mistshard by her side. I had already spoken to Druma— the [Yaksha] hadn’t evolved yet, but he was close. I hoped he would be a Greater Spirit the next time I saw him.
And as for [Elemental]— she nodded my way and I nodded back. That was more than enough for the two of us.
I watched as Edithe’s figure disappeared as the night did with the sunrise; she waved at us on the back of a horse, until she was no longer in view. I stayed there by the gates until it was noon, and Daniel returned to usher me away.
“She’s gone, Salvos. Come on, let’s go.”
I spoke softly, following the Human man as he led me away from the city gates and the staring guards.
“But I’ll meet her again. Just like how I’ll meet Haec again. I know it.”