Afrita Hanim

Chapter 42: On the positive effects of a nosebleed


They rode on for a whole day, setting up camp in a clearing only when night began to fall. Dawn was deathly tired now, merely wishing for a place to lay down and sleep for a while. But even now, Aaron kept her at his side, insisting that she needed to eat something before lying down.

She hardly knew what she put into her mouth, almost falling asleep while she was sitting on the ground. At last, Aaron led her to his tent and insisted that she should sleep in it with him. Somehow, that pierced her mental fog, and she protested weakly. “This isn’t right Aaron. I can’t sleep in your tent with you.”
He frowned fiercely at her protest, but spoke calmly. “It is only to keep you safe, Dawn. You never know if monsters or bandits will attack in the night. You will be safe with me.”
She subsided at last, too tired to fight anymore, and entered the tent with him. As soon as she lay down, she fell asleep, only dimly realizing that Aaron looped a rope around her wrist and bound it to his own.

Despite her total exhaustion, she slept uneasily that night. Her dreams were tangled and absurd, the demon queen mixed up with her family and the rangers, pictures of the runes she had memorized scattered in between. When Aaron shook her awake early the next morning, she felt leaden and unrefreshed. He left her alone for a moment, so she could change her clothes. She felt thankful for the privacy, her head hurting again. “What is it with these headaches?” She muttered, annoyed. “I never was prone to them before.” Squinting her eyes, she cast Nurture on herself once more and sighed in blessed relief as the hammering in her head subsided.

But only a moment later, Aaron was already calling her name impatiently. “You need to come out now, Dawn. We need to pack up the tent and be on our way.”
For an instant, Dawn was annoyed with him. Couldn’t he leave her alone for even a minute? But when she left the tent he grabbed her hand and she lost the thought. Of course Aaron wanted only what was best for her. Why was she so ungrateful?
They mounted Aaron’s horse again after everything had been packed away, and he told his men to set out. The party hadn’t been attacked by any beasts, even though they were making a lot of noise. When Dawn wondered about that, Aaron told her. “Most beasts won’t attack the bigger groups. No matter how aggressive they are, they have a sense of self-preservation. It would take a high-leveled beast or a big group of them to attack my men.”

As they made their way through the forest, Dawn was trying to recognize landmarks from before, but wasn’t successful. Anxiously, she told Aaron that she might not be able to help him, because she didn’t recognize the area. He calmed her down, saying. “We know the general area, Dawn. We should reach it before nightfall. Once we’re nearer to the city, I’m sure you will be able to tell us where the original entrance was.”
“Of course, Aaron. I’ll do my best.” She smiled softly at him, relieved that she hadn’t let him down.

Early in the afternoon, when they had stopped for one of their usual short breaks, Aaron was arguing with the leader of his men at arms.
“You’re setting an insane pace. The horses are tired, Aaron. They need a longer break or they will founder.” The older man said, exasperated.
“They can rest once we’ve arrived in the vicinity of the city, Zed. If we need to search for an entrance to the caves in rocky terrain, we cannot go on horseback anyway.” Aaron replied, shrugging off the other man’s concerns.

Dawn had been left to her own devices as the men were talking. Separated for a few minutes from Aaron, she once again remembered that she had wanted to get away. What was she doing here? She didn’t want to go back to the city, didn’t want to encounter any more demons. And Yasema, Grinna and Teren would be so worried, after she had disappeared without a trace. How did Aaron influence her so easily? Anxiously, she looked around. Could she get out of here before he found her again? Looking at the soldiers surrounding her, she doubted it.
Once again she got a notification that her mental resistance had leveled up. Maybe mental resistance would help her against his charm. How high would it need to be, for her to be unaffected by him? But in the end, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t high enough yet, and that was all that counted. A little voice inside of her told her to run away, get away from him as fast as she could. She needed her mind to be her own. But she didn’t get the chance to do it. Already, the break was over. Obviously Aaron had prevailed against the soldier he had been arguing with.

Back on the horse and in close contact with Aaron, she had no resistance against him. Dawn wasn’t able to act against his wishes. Neither her skills nor her blessing mattered when it came down to it. In the little corner of her mind that was still her own, she resolved to take the first chance that opened to flee. Maybe she could find an opportunity when they had to set up camp this night. She had to.

Shortly before nightfall, they reached the abandoned camp site of the hunters. The soldiers were astonished to find their belongings lying around, almost untouched. But Aaron only shrugged. “A group of hunters who weren’t alert enough to survive some beasts, I expect.” He said dismissively. “Nothing that needs to concern us. We can use the camp site. It should be just big enough to fit all of us.”
He helped Dawn to dismount and told her to sit down and keep out of they way, while the men put up the camp. She sat down obediently on the rock, hoping he would be distracted by the other men. But no such luck. He sat down next to her, keeping an arm around her, watching as the men around them worked. “Will you be able to find the entrance to the city from here?” he asked. Dawn replied eagerly. “Yes, of course. It is not far now to the Kharlin village and from there it’s only a few hours distance to the cave-in.” He nodded, satisfied and took out his small notebook to write down something.

Dawn was thankful to be sitting still for a moment, once again almost crippled by a headache. Suddenly, she felt wetness on her face and had a metallic taste in her mouth. When she wiped her hand over her face, she realized her nose was bleeding. Abruptly, she felt her head begin to clear. She sprang up, holding her hands to her nose, surprising Aaron who was turning to her indignantly. “I told you to sit down, Dawn.” But he fell silent when he saw the blood on her face. “I see. Well clean yourself up then. But don’t take too long”

Dawn stepped down to the brook, splashing water on her face to clean away the blood. For the first time in days, she was completely free of Aaron’s influence. It was as if her blood had washed it away. It was such a relief that she almost felt lightheaded. She cast furtive glances around her, to get an impression of her surroundings. Only two soldiers were next to her, one of them was filling up water flasks, the other leading a horse down to the brook to drink. She sidled away a few paces, ostentatiously to give both of them more room. Looking behind her once more, to assure herself that no one had taken notice of her, she crept away a little further and then activated Shadow Play.

With her stealth skill activated, she fled away from the camp site rapidly in the direction of the Kharlin village. She would get to the rock formations as fast as she could. It was easy to get lost between them even without a stealth skill. She would have to spend the night out in the open, it was too dangerous to go to the Kharlin village. The location was known to the demons, and she had told Aaron that it existed and its general direction, when she had been under his influence. If he searched for it specifically, he had a good chance to find the place. It wouldn’t be a comfortable night for her, but that didn’t matter. She was free again. Finally rid of the mental fog and Aaron’s malevolent influence.

She cast Nurture on herself to get rid of the last remnants of her headache and hastened her pace as she heard a commotion from the direction of Aaron’s campsite. That arrogant, greedy excuse for a man wouldn’t get his hands on her again. She would make sure of it.

A note from Afrita Hanim

Finally a beautiful day, after it has been raining for more than a week. The nature and the surroundings here in Norway are breathtakingly beautiful and I relish having an entire lake to myself if I want to go swimming. The only drawback at the moment are the horseflies.

I hope you enjoyed the chapter and had a relaxing day. I would greatly appreciate it, if you could leave a rating, or if you want to take the time, a review.

About the author

Afrita Hanim

  • Germany

Bio: Hello everyone.
This is my first time writing a story. I'm still learning as I go along, so there may be some hiccups down the road. I am a voracious reader myself and especially adore science fiction and fantasy. Recently I have discovered the genre of LITRPG for myself and it fascinates me.
Please feel free to comment. I'd love to hear from you.

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All in Vane ago

Heya, thanks for the fast chapters. I appreciate it😀

heriani ago

She might need to invest some future points into Will, to better resist mental influences.

Kombart ago

Thanks for the chapter

When I read the title I was hoping that it would be Aaron with the Nosebleed ^^

Btw, I dońt really know the policy about content warnings here on the site, but maybe "getting charmed and losing your free will" already qualifies as traumatising content.

I am not sure and I don't really think that your story is like super hardcore or traumatising, but I remember an author once adding the tag because of a similar situation to Dawns.

    Afrita Hanim ago

    Ok, thank you for the information, I didn't think of it.

    I will add the tag, to be safe.

    Regarding the nosebleed, I agree it would be more satisfying if Aaron developed it after a punch on the nose by Dawn. One problem with that: I don't see how she could get away from him after. Too many men at arms around.

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