"I don't want to be annoying, but since we are reaching the guild I will ask you one more time, are you sure you want to come today?" Ragnar asks, looking at me.
""If you don't want to be annoying, please don't ask me the same thing over and over again" I say with a smile "I already told you 'yes' the first 2 times, why would I change my mind now that we are already arriving?"
"I know..." he laughs "It's just that Julia is worried about the way you came back yesterday and she asked me not to take you with us if I see you undecided."
"Well... " I say without stopping smiling. "I'm not undecided… I am grateful that Julia cares about me, but what affected me yesterday is exactly why I go to the labyrinth."
We meet up with my group mates and enter the labyrinth. Ragnar takes us to the 9th floor and we start exploring. While yesterday I did not notice any change after adding the stats points, in the fighting the difference in agility is very noticeable. I can make decisions much faster and use the strength of my body much better. My companions are as surprised as I by the change, but the most surprised was Sabrina, who congratulated me with a tight smile when she saw that I can now perform the magic bullets.
After exploring for about an hour we found a challenge room and were about to enter, but Ragnar stops us.
"Wait, don't you see anything strange in that door compared to the previous ones?" Ragnar asks as he points to the threshold frame.
Joseph, Agustín and I answer "no" in unison.
"Those two bright spots at the top... they don't follow the pattern of the rest of the engravings" says Sabrina, coming closer to look at the engravings on the threshold "I think the previous times they didn't have those points, am I right?"
"Right! That's how I like it, remember to always be alert in the labyrinth. These points indicate that it is an adaptable room, that is, that it adapts the level of difficulty to the number of people entering. There are three ways in which it can be adapted: it can increase the number of enemies, separate the group in several places and, finally, it can enhance the capabilities of the enemies. The way to know if an enemy is being specially enhanced is to look him in the eyes, when they have a red glow you should be cautious. Empowered enemies can be found even outside the challenge rooms, but they are not very common." says Ragnar with the monotonous tone that he always puts when he explains something related to the labyrinths "this is the reason why we came to this floor, I was hoping to find one of these rooms on the last day so that you have an example of the explanation. In the first few ten floors it is very rare to see them, but being the last floor of the initials there is a better chance of finding them. These rooms have a limit of adaptability, this can be verified by looking at the threshold frame in search of the points Sabrina noticed a moment ago. This specific room has an adaptation capacity of two points, so, being 4 people, you would still have an advantage, but you should not forget that there are challenges that have specific clearance conditions, and without discovering them it becomes very difficult or impossible to defeat the enemies. You only have to remember your first room to know what I'm talking about "
"ok, but we'll go anyway, right?" Joseph asks doubtfully.
"Yes, I think it won't be a problem. If the room separates us we just have to meet again and if it is one of the other options... I think you can face it, but if you can't… Well, that's why I am here." says laughing "It is better for you to have the experience now that you are with me"
We enter and I see that we are in a dense forest. Only Joseph is by my side, so it seems that the room just pulled us apart. We stood still waiting for some sign of Ragnar and after a while we heard his scream indicating his position.
We walked, slowly, in the direction of the call, looking in all directions. The trees do not allow us to distinguish almost anything in the distance. Shortly after starting to walk I see that, parallel to us, a few meters away, a pack of 4 wolves goes in the direction of Ragnar's call. My mind goes blank and I paralyze when I see them, since they remind me of the moment when I lost everything. Beside me I hear Joseph exclaim excitedly.
"Wow, look Xelean, wolves! I've never seen one before"
At this, wolves turn their heads in our direction and after analyzing us for a moment they rush in our direction.
"Oops, sorry" is all Joseph says as an apology and prepares to shoot the first wolf.
Joseph beats one before they reach us, but the other three reach my position and I see two of them jumping with their jaws open to bite me, while the other goes for Joseph. Azur prompts me to move, but I remain paralyzed and despite the fact that I slowly see how the jaw of one of the wolves approaches my neck, while the other wolf goes to my leg, I can't think of anything to do. I feel helpless, like a year ago. I feel the sword that I hold in my hand as a dead weight. Azur panics when he notices that I don't react and gets between the wolf and me, whereupon the wolf bites her neck instead of mine. I feel the pain and anger through the bond, as I watch Azur's body disappear, dissolving in the wolf's mouth. The second wolf throws me to the ground by biting my leg, but it cannot penetrate the boot. However, when I fall, I come back to myself and I realize what just happened because of my stupidity. Anger engulfs me and I light my sword on fire. Annoyed, I slash the wolf that bites my leg, decapitating him. I get up and see the other wolf approaching to attack again. Still shaking with fury from my incompetence, I launch myself to attack him and in the middle of his jump I cut two of his legs with what it falls to the ground. I get closer and nail the sword into his neck "I will not let them take anything away from me again" I say as I do so, and I hear Joseph's scream. "Hey Xelean, if you're done, could you help me?"
I turn around and see that Joseph is lying on the ground on his back, stopping the wolf with his bow as best he can. I launch myself for the wolf and with a cry I give him a cut that decapitates him, whereupon blood splatters all over Joseph's chest. I stay where I am, shaking, while Joseph stands up saying "thank you." A short time later, Ragnar and the rest arrive.
"What happened?" Ragnar asks "We ran in this direction hearing the sound of fighting, but we encountered 5 wolves along the way, which delayed us a bit."
"We were heading towards you when we saw the wolves and... It may be that, inadvertently, I have drawn them towards us" explains Joseph ashamed.
Even though I hear Ragnar scolding Joseph for his stupidity, I hear it as if I were in a distant place. Now that the tension has passed, I am left with only disgust and shame for my reaction to the wolves, and at the same time, I still feel Azur's anger towards my actions through the bond.
"I... I'm going to go back first" I say in a low voice and leave the labyrinth.
I head to the exit of the guild and, once I cross the threshold, I start running.
What good is it to become stronger if I freeze when I see something that reminds me of my past?
Stupid! They could have killed Joseph for your moment of indecision.
I keep running, faster and faster, as tears run down my face.
Listening to my thoughts I feel, through the bond, that Azur's anger is giving way to curiosity about my past. Seeing a circular water fountain, I stop and sit on the edge. I propose to mentally tell my story to Azur, transmitting images of my memories, and as I do so, little by little, my emotions calm down.