Hannah had stroked Ava’s hair and waited for her to wake up. The day had gone by and eventually she even fell asleep next to Ava as her grief and exhaustion overwhelmed her. Except instead of having a wonderful dream that made her feel peaceful and at rest like Daichi, she entered a nightmare that broke her heart over and over again as she replayed the last moments of Kaden’s life over and over in her mind. The physical torture coming in second by comparison to the pain she felt over the loss of her last family member.
She woke up sweating completely through her clothes in the middle of the night and only due to the exhaustion of her body did she eventually manage to fall back asleep as she huddled closer to Ava.
When Hannah woke up in the morning she felt no less exhausted than she had last night. The constant nightmares had exhausted her mentally far more than her physical body had recovered from her short bursts of sleep.
Staring at Ava who was still sound asleep, concern finally started welling up inside of her.
“It’s getting a little strange… Ava should have woken up by now.” Hannah thought with concern filling her thoughts.
Sitting next to Ava, her thoughts and feeling started to grow sour as the thoughts in her mind were making her feeling as if she would go insane. Unable to think of anything else but the loss she’d experienced the day before Hannah stopped sitting down and doing nothing and decided to fill her mind and body with something simple.
Hannah looked inside her ring and found Kaden’s daggers as she wistfully and painfully felt his corpse with her mana. He was there, just lying in her ring. Dead and forever lost to her.
It took a few minutes before Hannah pulled herself out of her grief and dedicated herself to practicing with the daggers. Although they were daggers they were still 12” without the handle. They were long, very long for daggers and they weren’t weapons she’d ever used.
Hannah filled her time swinging the daggers around trying to familiarize herself with them. Without realizing it she had decided that she would become proficient with the daggers and use them from now on.
She’d been holding the daggers after Daichi had pulled them out and dropped them next to her, she’d been clenching them when she was about to die. If it weren’t for Kaden coming in all of a sudden and grasping her and forcing her into a hug. She might have simply forgotten them or dropped them. Instead she’d absorbed them into her ring when she realized Kaden was dying and wanted to respond to his hug without hurting him.
She trained for a few hours, completely oblivious to her surroundings. Even as her muscles ached from the strenuous effort, or her stomach growled in desperate need of food. She ignored it all as she focused on the pain and discomfort which was a welcome distraction from her grief.
In the middle of one of her movements, she heard a rustle of trees behind her. Instead of turning around she made another movement as she used the blade to see behind her and saw enough to realize it was Daichi.
Hannah’s hatred overwhelmed her as she triggered her Death Follows skill Her mana circling her hands she felt an overwhelming desire to kill him.
Just as her mana exploded forth into her hands, it was just as quickly snuffed out as she was suddenly embraced by a powerful golden light. That light felt nearly tangible, as she heard a strange voice seemingly speak directly into her mind “I never imagined I would find someone so special like you so quickly.”
As the light embraced her, she turned around and stared at Daichi.
Throughout the conversation with Daichi that same voice had spoken to Hannah time and time again, hoping to get her attention but Hannah’s hatred and anger was focused on Daichi.
Hannah didn’t care what this voice was or if she was losing her mind. All she could focus on was Daichi.
“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.
Her grief and anger now bubbling over together, Hannah heard that same voice from before speak out again “Do you really hate this boy that much? How about this. If I help you kill him will you have a conversation with me then?”
Hannah’s eyes opened wide at that comment as the voice had finally gotten her attention.
“Hehe… So that worked? Good. Now respond in your mind if you agree. I will help you kill him and in exchange you have a conversation with me.” the voice responded to the slight fluctuation in Hannah’s expression.
Thinking it over, Hannah could only stare at Daichi. She hated him from the bottom of her heart right now. She wanted to kill him but something was holding her back.
But… The more she looked at Daichi’s unrepentant expression, the seemingly indifferent look in his eyes and the lack of remorse he had for his actions. The more Hannah’s hatred grew and in a moment of rage. She responded with a whispered “Yes” in her mind.
“Good… Then just attack him. When you do, I promise you he won’t be able to move, respond or defend himself.” the voice responded as if it would be the easiest thing in the world to do.
Even as she heard the words, Hannah didn’t once get the feeling of hesitation or wariness that the voice could deliver on the promises it was making. It was as if everything it said, regardless of it the tone was the truth.
Hannah stared at Daichi’s eyes and looked, looked everywhere. She looked for some sign of remorse. Finding none… Hannah stopped hesitating and made up her mind.
Clenching the daggers that Kaden used, Hannah ran forward towards Daichi looking at his eyes resolutely without rage but a cold hatred instead.
The rage helped fuel her courage and ignore her morals, but the hatred was what allowed her to follow through with her decision.
Hannah had made up her mind and without delaying any longer, she charged at Daichi!
“I’m not surprised but somehow I can’t believe she’s actually trying to make a move. Is she trying to get herself killed?” wondered Daichi as he positioned himself to make a move as she got closer.
Running towards Daichi, Hannah threw one of the daggers at him trying to distract him.
Daichi dodged the dagger by jumping out of the way and rolling on the ground and getting back up as fluidly as could be done. Utterly unperturbed by Hannah’s attack.
Using that same amount of time to move even closer, Hannah finally got within striking distance as Daichi merely lifted up one of his hands towards her and prepared to stun her.
“I’ll stop her, disarm her and try to talk some sense into her one last time. More than that and I’ll have to consider killing her.” Daichi thought as he lifted his hand pointing it towards Hannah and readied his Chaotic Eruption skill.
Just as he was about to trigger his skill everything in the area seemed to glow with that strange golden light from before completely blinding Daichi. More over, Daichi himself felt frozen in place.
“What’s happening?? I can’t even trigger my skill. My mana is dissipated and I can’t feel it anymore. What did she do!?” Daichi suddenly felt completely alert and an impending sense of danger as his eyesight returned but Hannah’s face was already inches from his now as she slid the knife in right in his chest.
Confusion and pain hit Daichi at the same time as he still couldn’t move but he could feel that Hannah had hit something important. Even his breathing became haggard almost instantly.
Hannah stared at Daichi and her hatred seemed to disappear for a second as she gazed at his confused and startled expression.
Backing away as if she’d done something wrong Hannah felt an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness over come her as the weight of what she’d done crashed over her. Instead of feeling relief, or justice. She just felt colder. Her hatred had been slightly satisfied but instead of feeling better she felt worse.
She stared at Daichi for minutes before he could finally move, but by then the amount of blood that had poured out had already left him pale and weak. Daichi fell on his knees and started coughing up blood the moment he was unfrozen. Daichi reached for the dagger that was lodged in his chest and felt the cold handle. It felt so solid. Somehow heavier than even his own swords had ever felt in his hands.
Hannah watched him coughing blood up repeatedly and finally when she couldn’t bare it any longer, turned away and turned around and walked back to Hannah ignoring Daichi altogether.
He was going to die but she didn’t want to watch.
“This is serious. I don’t know how she did it. But this is serious. Am I really going to die like this? What the hell! How’d I let myself get over confident again! I already made this mistake once, how’d I let myself make the same mistake again! That is not who I am! If I live, I will never make the same mistake again. I will learn from each and every mistake and grow!” Daichi pledged to himself as his mind remained fairly calm even as his body was racked with a coughing fit as he struggled to breathe.
Hannah had moved away from him and Daichi looked around for any way he could survive. He could still see her and she was near Ava.
“If I can reach Ava… I could take her life and heal…. Damn it! There’s no way Hannah is going to let me! The only reason she moved is because she’s just letting me die slowly!” Daichi continued to cough as he felt his options dwindling by the second.
Finally out of the corner of his eye, Daichi made eye contact with the mist which seemed slightly closer now. A slight glimmer of hope crossed through his mind as he realized where he needed to go.
“I hesitated going in before because something told me it wasn’t safe. Now I have no option. I’m going to die one way or another. At least in there maybe I have a chance. Maybe she won’t follow.” Making up his mind, Daichi started trying to make his way over, as he got up and stumbled forward a few times.
The amount of blood he’d lost was already making him woozy and each step felt like it took all of the effort he had in him. Finally giving way, he fell forward on the ground just a few steps from the mist. The gras felt differently as he hit the ground so much closer to the mist. It felt colder, alive even.
Reluctant to give up, Daichi started using his hands and elbows to crawl forward as Hannah finally returned her gaze and watched him.
The blades of gras actually cutting him and leaving cuts all over his forearms as he crawled forward, nearly oblivious to the pain of the cuts as his head was growing numb and weaker by the second.
“You don’t need to do a thing. He was going to die before. Now he’ll die an agonizing death. That mist is a part of the realm of gods. Even the gods themselves can only enter for short periods of times and with great risk to themselves. The moment he enters, his fate will be sealed” the voice murmured into Hannah’s mind as a look of relief and sadness simultaneously appeared on her face.
Finally only inches away from the mist, Daichi crawled forward without hesitation as part of his body entered it. The moment his arms and head entered the mist, it seemed to swallow his entire body whole as it expanded to include him. The entire mist seemed to visibly move forward enveloping an even greater area before receding backwards even further then before.
Its entire circumference growing far smaller than before.
Hannah looked closely as she felt a twinge of regret beneath the self justification her hatred was providing her.
On top of the cliff Tael made a surprised expression as his eyes nearly shined with awe.
He finally stood up as he decided it was time to make some introductions. Especially now that two of the kids had died. His enmity had concluded and this was an opportunity.
Taking a step forward onto what seemed like air in front of the cliff, Tael disappeared from the area.