After leaving the cellar everyone glanced back at the doors for a minute in silence. They were all thinking something similar. They were about to leave the only place that could be considered remotely safe up until this point.
Not being as sentimental or as unsure as the others, Daichi put those thoughts aside and started walking while opening up his wrapper and eating his breakfast. Trying to eat as quickly as possible in case he needed his hands free.
Walking through the entire residential district and all the way to the eastern section of the town they didn’t run into so much as a single monster.
While walking in silence, trying to make sure nothing snuck up on them or that they don’t give away their locations to anything that might be lurking in the area.
Reach the eastern perimeter of the village by noon, the backpack was beginning to wear Daichi down. The sun getting higher in the sky and the weather turning hotter.
This was the first truly hot day since the it all began and as they walked through the town they tried their best to ignore and not mention the stench all around them. The corpses of everyone left from the town as well as monsters were littered in most places and the smell was finally starting to become noticeable.
Daichi was surprised it wasn’t an issue up to this point but figured they should consider themselves lucky for that point alone.
This smell would have been enough of a reason for them to have left town even if they hadn’t decided too last night.
Covering their mouths and noses with shirts that they wrapped around half of their faces they walked through briskly. Avoiding conversation and one another’s gazes so as to ignore the unspoken truth they were walking past.
When they finally saw the forest area past the perimeter they all began to inadvertently pick up their speed even more. All harboring the intention of leaving that smell behind them as quickly as possible. It’s only well after they were into the forest that the others begin to look behind and gaze in the direction of the town.
Unsure what to say, or whether he should say anything at all Daichi stayed silent while watching their complicated expressions.
Deciding to change the mood and that this was as good a moment as any, Daichi pulled off the shirt around his face and coughed once to get their attention, Kaden looks at him with annoyance, Ava sadness and Hannah indifference.
Looking at them all for a full second, Daichi tilted his head down and said what he knew they needed to hear, “I’m sorry. You were all right and I was wrong. I didn’t think we were a team. We were people who were staying together because there was no one else around. I’ve changed my mind though, we’re companions and as such I’ll act accordingly from now on.”
Its more or less true he thought. Looking back up at them, they all looked fairly surprised at Daichi.
I guess they weren’t expecting an actual apology, this might go pretty smoothly then he figured, “If you’ll all accept my apology, then I’ll make it up to you with some honesty on my end.”
Not getting interrupted like he expected, he continued “I learned a new skill that should be helpful should one of us be seriously injured, although I can only use it at most once a day. It takes up a lot of my mana. I’ve also learned a new skill that should be useful in case we run into a lot of opponents, but again, limited mana so limited opportunities to use them and once I do that’s it.”
Up to this point, that’s about as much as he wanted to reveal to them. They’re not all getting in line to tell me everything about themselves so this much should be enough he thought to himself.
Kaden finally looked at Daichi with some annoyance “I knew you were holding back dude. What level are you?”
Only half expecting that, Daichi gave him a quick look measuring the meaning behind those words before telling him the truth, “The night I couldn’t come back I ran into a pretty strong monster, by using these skills which I’d just learned I was able to defeat it and also heal myself. I was pretty close to death actually. After that I leveled up to 20.”
Which is true. Although I’ve leveled up since then too, but I’ll keep that to myself.
“Tch. So you’re that much stronger than us. How can I feel comfortable when you’ve been keeping stuff like this dude?” Kaden commented while crossing his arms defensively.
“Have you told me everything about yourself? Your titles, attributes or abilities if any? Mentioned your level to me or anything else along those lines? You haven’t jumped in line to share with me either.” Daichi pointed out but not wanting to push the issue.
Scrunching up her nose and looking at Daichi with what looked like disdain, “I told you about my melt skill, my identify skill and I’ve given you weapons, shelter and more. I’ve shared.” Ava said looking as if she’d been wronged.
Without missing a beat Daichi replied with a monotone voice, “Yes, but have you told me everything? Before this goes any further. I’ve shared with you all more than I’ve shared with anyone else before. I’m not a people person. This is me sharing and trying to make an effort. Up to this point I feel like you’e shared what you’ve had too, because you’ve clearly held back. Kaden, what exactly have you done for me? I’ve saved your life more than once, but what about you? Trust is earned and shouldn’t just be expected.” Daichi tried to bring it back at the end, not wanting to turn his apology into an argument.
Hannah hadn’t stepped in or even tried to mediate things. Looking at her Daichi got a chill down his back. Something about her feels off to me. She only ever speaks up when she needs too, it’s strange to me how someone who seems so similar can be so aware of what others need when I’m so far off from that he thought.
Clicking his tongue a few times Kaden finally spoke up in an even voice “Okay. You’re right. I’ve been pushing all of this on you because there was no one else. You’re right. Whatever. I’m sorry.” Barely speaking up when he said those last few words.
Not much of an apology if you have to say it begrudgingly, if you ask me. I’ll take it though. Daichi just nods at him.
Looking at Ava and waiting for her response, Daichi’s right eyebrow twitched when she just turned around and started walking ahead of them.
Calling out from in front of them without turning back “Fine.” Fine? That’s it? Daichi clicked his tongue in response before realizing what he did surprising himself a little.
Daichi had the amusing thought that Kaden was beginning to wear off on him a little. I guess that’s as good as it gets with her. Daichi looked at Hannah but she just shrugged her shoulders and started walking as well with Kaden following right behind her.
I guess that’s that. I can’t really tell whether we’re any better off than before though Daichi thought as he started to follow from behind.
They continued walking with little conversation between any of them for a long while, taking breaks every so often. Even without heavy back packs the girls didn’t have very good stamina and considering Daichi and Kaden’s backpacks weren’t as light as feather like theirs, even Kaden and Daichi were getting about as tired as them they went.
While walking Daichi began wondering whether they should make finding shelter regardless of distance or whether gaining as much distance from the town and it’s surrounding dangers should be the top priority.
A few miles from the town while trying to cut across the forestry, their clothes already starting to have rips,and their arms and legs were getting small cuts from the branches. Finding the discomfort too much Ava finally “Hmphed” in annoyance and just plopped down in front of a thick tree as her support.
“I’m taking a break. So we’re taking a break” she said while taking out more water to ease her suffering.
Not bothering to point out that they should keep moving but wanting too Daichi took off his pack and sat down near her while the others were doing the same.
While drinking some of her own water Hannah broke the silence “Mhmm.. I’ve never seen that fruit before? Is it something that’s always been growing near this area?” Hannah said pointing at a pale yellow pear shaped fruit dangling from a nearby tree.
Looking at the area she was pointing too, Daichi noticed the strange fruit and began to look around find a few more dangling from random tree branches meters off the ground.
“Strange. I’ve never seen that fruit either. Have any of you?” Daichi asked the others
Kaden shook his head while Ava just continued to drink more water ignoring them completely.
Not nothing with Ava, Daichi posed another question “This entire time I was sure there was path outwards from this side of the village. Not only that but I don’t remember the forestry being so thick in this area either… Am I just wrong on this?”
Looking at Daichi meaningfully Hannah responded “No. I think you’re right… What are you getting at though?”
Grimacing and then returning to a look of indifference Daichi just shrugged “I’m not getting at anything, I just found it strange. Never mind though.”
Once again he decided to ignore the strange circumstances surrounding him, without a way to get definite answers there was no point in asking an unanswerable question. More over Daichi was concerned that if he stirred the pot too much the others might fall apart. As it was Kaden was still on the cusp of distrusting him and he had no idea where Ava’s mind was at.
Getting up and walking over to the closest tree. Daichi began climbing upwards until he was within range of the closest dangling fruit. Instead of climbing onto that weak branch though, he pulled out his sword and chopped at the branch altogether. After taking two chops the branch fell to the ground.
Climbing back down Daichi walked over the plucked the fruit from the branch. It was soft but not too soft in his hand. It felt like a plum.
An oddly bright and yellow pear shaped plum.
Bringing it to his face he sniffed at the fruit and after thinking for a second Daichi briefly considered asking Ava to use her skill to identify the fruit. Only to instantly consider whether a fruit would be considered alive. Using his analyze skill on the fruit he discovered nothing. The skill wouldn’t activate.
Walking over to another tree with another fruit dangling from it’s branch, he activated the skill again. No success.
Daichi’s definition of life always considered fruits or trees alive, since the cells could still grow and has a source of sustenance. Considering how his skill wouldn’t activate he began wondering what could be considered ‘alive’, perhaps the only reason the skill hadn’t activated was because it wasn’t considered a ‘living being’ even if it was living.
Wondering about the limits of his skills, his mind wandering a bit he realized that if he began to meditate right now he would certainly reach some sort of insight into something either simple or profound.
Considering whether he should ask the others for a break so he could gain something from this line of thought, he head a loud high pitched scream.
Immediately whipping his head towards the direction of the scream Daichi saw Ava crawling backwards on her back as she eyed a large hideous creature dripping goblets of drool down the side of it’s mouth.