One more chapter for the day coming later in a bit.
Daichi stared down at the book in his hands and wondered what exactly it was. He felt as if he was holding a peerless treasure capable of unraveling both secrets of the universe and everything he was.
Except all he could was stare at the book in frustration, because as he tried reading the words he realized that he the moment he stopped reading them, he forgot them. If he tried to read them inside of his head, his mind would just go blank. The only way to read the page was out loud.
Moreover, every time he tried to read the words on one of the other pages his mind would just space out and cause his body to turn the pages back to the first.
The frustration he was feeling was still overwhelmed by the realization that he was in possession of something extremely valuable. Which only led Daichi to wonder how Ava or her family had come to be in its possession.
However Daichi couldn’t have known that Ava had been unqualified to open and read even the first page of this mysterious book. If he had known that then it is likely he would have come to realize that not just anyone could read even a few words from this mysterious book. The importance it would have had in his heart would have multiplied, as it’s value was somehow still being understated.
Feeling clear headed and as if he’d gained something marvelous. Daichi came to the conclusion that whatever the book was, it was valuable and it wasn’t that the words on the other pages could not be read but rather he was currently unable to read them.
In fact, Daichi had a feeling that if at some point he could read the words and truly understand them, or perhaps stop them from disappearing from his mind he would gain something truly spectacular.
Putting the book away, Daichi began moving forward his mind resolved to find the mist he’d seen before jumping from the cliff above. Only after he started moving forward did Daichi wonder where Ava and Hannah were and whether they were alive.
“I’m alive, so they should be as well. It’s not like I had any signs of taking damage on my way down, so the fact that Ava was unconscious shouldn’t have mattered. I’m not their babysitter either, I saved their lives. If it weren’t for me they’d both be dead, so I don’t owe them anything either. If anything they owe me, so there’s no reason why I should bother to look for them.” Daichi thought.
Justifying his actions, Daichi shrugged off the passing thought of their whereabouts and began moving through the forest that seemed no different than what he’d already passed through these past few days.
As he moved through the forest, Daichi's mind wandered from time to time as nothing seemed to making his senses wary of his surroundings.
"I wonder if there are more books as valuable as this one inside of the ring... I'll take a good rest later on and check them out. I may have stumbled upon a gold mine." Daichi thought as the very idea of new and interesting books perked up his demeanor and gave him something to look forward too.
The forest seemed the same, no different. The trees, the bushes, leaves and all. It was seemingly the same. The further he walked the more it all seemed similar. It was only after walking for more than a few hours in no particular direction that Daichi’s expression turned into a frown as he began to feel uncomfortable. His thoughts churning, he’d ignored the strangeness of the area up until now because of that strange feeling of safety he’d experienced earlier.
After walking for a few hours though, his thoughts couldn’t help but notice the oddities in his environment.
There was no noise… There was no birds, or any sort of living creature. He’d walked for hours and somehow he hadn’t encountered a single living thing.
The plant life was fine, but there wasn’t a single living breathing animal in the area that he’d covered.
Something about not passing a single living soul in a forest made Daichi’s hairs stand on end as the absurdity of that sunk in.
There was a moment of silence as Daichi momentarily reconsidered moving forward. The eeriness of the location made his rational mind advise him to leave, but his instincts were pleading for him to continue.
Closing his eyes, Daichi calmed himself down and calmed his thoughts. He’d decided he would go, and he wouldn’t change his mind now.
“Danger has been around every tree in this god forsaken place where there is a tree no matter where you look and danger doesn’t even bother to hide. Why would I turn back now just because this place might be more dangerous? Just a day ago I met with something so strong I couldn’t even make myself stand up to him. How could this be any worse? Why not move forward.” Daichi thought as he steadied his mind and decided to move forward regardless of the consequences.
Daichi moved through the forest the entire day and chose to rest at night. Instead of meditating like he normally did, he chose to sleep once again. He wanted to dream again, perhaps if dreamt he’d learn something new.
“Nothing is impossible, and stranger things have happened.” Daichi figured as he felt more relaxed than he’d been in days.
Instead of entering another surreal-like dream, Daichi just slept. It was a comfortable sleep, but not as worth it as it could have been. He slept against a tree, uncomfortably on the ground. His muscles were only slightly less stiff than had he sat cross legged and meditated.
Picking up the pace, Daichi continued forward. Daichi wasn’t sure exactly where he was going, nor was he following a specific path or direction. He was moving in the direction his instincts were telling him to go. He felt like he was being drawn towards a particular direction and wanted to find out what would be at the end of the path he’d set himself to walk.
Towards the afternoon, his torn clothes were soaked with yet more sweat but to his great shock he could see the mist he’d seen from the cliff and in his dream in the distance.
His expression turned wry as he prepared himself for the worst. Instead of excitement, he felt wary of where his instincts might have led him and slowed his footsteps instead of rushing forward.
Instead of simply entering the mist, Daichi decided to trace a path around it.
“Perhaps I’ll learn something before trying to enter it. It can’t be so simple as it seems.” Daichi prudently decided. He’d made up his mind he would enter it, but he would try to learn as much as he could about it before he did.
Walking around the perimeter of the mist, Daichi soon came across an unexpected surprise.
Up ahead in his line of sight was Hannah striking out at a tree. She seemed to be practicing with daggers.
Even as he got closer she still hadn’t noticed him. Her mind and body solely focused on her practice. The closer he got the more his attention shifted to her daggers, they were the daggers Kaden used!
“Now when did she have the time to snatch those up? Even I had focused too much on Tael at the time to bother picking them up…” Daichi thought with some surprise.
Stopping a few meters away, Daichi leaned up against a tree as he noticed Ava on the ground asleep before returning his gaze to Hannah.
“I could say something but… I’m pretty sure she’s going to try to kill me. Knowing her personality and how much she cared about Kaden… She probably thinks I betrayed her or something. If she were stronger I’d be worried… But I shouldn’t be cocky. I underestimated the bull spawn even when I knew how strong they were. If Hannah touches me it could be a problem, I doubt she has more mana than me but I shouldn’t risk it just in case.” Daichi thought as he stared at her.
“Even so I can always stop her with my Chaotic Eruption skill. Just because the bull spawns and probably Tael can stop it. There’s little to no chance Hannah can. Now that I’ve saved her, it would be a waste if I had to kill her.” Daichi thought as he resolved himself to try and patch things up.
Pushing himself off the tree, as Daichi was about to step forward and call out her name a bright light blinded him for a second.
Opening his eyes again, Daichi was startled as there was nothing there. There had been something bright enough to completely blind him for a second and then nothing. Except now that he had gained his barring, he noticed Hannah staring right at him.
“Hello again.” Daichi said almost awkwardly.
Hannah clenched her jaw and fists as she looked at him with so much hatred that Daichi almost instantly realized there would be room for a conversation amongst friends or companions.
“Still, if I don’t try then what’s the point?” Daichi figured as he tried to start a conversation that would hopefully lead her to understand why he had done what he did.
“If I didn’t do what I did… He would have killed himself from the pain of losing you to what he did. I offered him a chance to die in peace instead of regret and pain.” Daichi said with a look of nonchalance that underscored the words he spoke.
“You killed him. You killed him because you didn’t like him and you valued me more than him. You didn’t do him a favor, you made a selfish choice.” Hannah spoke softly as she enunciated every word.
She was clearly struggling to speak past her anger. It was clear to Daichi as it would have been clear to any one else.
“Hmm. Should I just tell her that Tael was going to kill him anyways? That his life was limited the moment he’d used whatever skill turned him so mindless? I doubt she’ll believe me…” Daichi tried to decide how best to proceed.
“You’re selfish. Everything you’ve done has been for you. If it weren’t for you provoking those bulls that we never even had a chance to defeat none of this would have happened!” Hannah’s tone rose as did the veins in her forehead.
“Well… Damn, she’s got me there. I am selfish and most of my motives were pretty selfish. In fact yeah, if it weren’t for what I did none of it probably would have happened. Don’t I get points for coming back?” Daichi thought but instead said “I did what I did because I thought it was best for everybody. I attacked those bulls because I thought we could kill them. Even if I didn’t are you really going to blame me for something I couldn’t have known? That those bull were some overpowered freak’s pets? If that were the case we should have been scared to touch or harm anything we’ve come across!” as he yelled the last few words for dramatic effect.
“Do you even take his death seriously… Do you even feel bad for what you did…?”Hannah spoke the words and for the first time something other than hatred and anger lingered in her tone. Her eyes were getting moist and Daichi wasn’t sure what she was thinking due to her change of pace.
“I did what I thought was best. I don’t feel bad for that, and I don’t feel bad for his death because I didn’t kill him. The man that forced us into that scenario. The one who had Ava nearly killed, you tortured, and Kaden controlled. He’s the one that really killed Kaden.” Daichi answered resolutely.
In Daichi’s mind it really was Tael’s fault. Daichi had only occasionally considered killing Kaden, but even then he’d held himself back.
“It was only because of Tael forcing my hand that Kaden ended up getting killed by me. Otherwise I would have probably stopped myself from killing him a few more times.” Daichi thought.
“You don’t even feel bad… You don’t even feel bad for killing him! He didn’t trust you and now you’ve proven him right! You ended up doing exactly what he thought might happen!” Hannah screamed the words as tears fell from her eyes.