The Red path soon comes into view. Serein watched as five people were withering in pain and slowly dying along with the 2 horses.
“S-Save me! Save me!”
That armored man’s voice died out as his body melts ever so slowly at the rising acid on the ground.
Serein closed her face with a cloth that soon covered her mouth and nose. Wearing her scarf like a mask, her brows furrowed slightly as she tried to get closer.
‘This strong acid…’
Pitcher fly trap.
Blasphemos Woodland is basically a gigantic Pitcher fly trap disguised as a rainforest.
“Cherry… hurry up and go.”
As she got into hearing range Serein heard a weakened voice of a young knight whose right leg looked like it had touched the acid. Watching from afar, she can see him leaning pitifully on a robed girl who refused his plea.
“Stop saying nonsense and save your energy, idiot! I’ll get us out of here!”
The latter sounded desperate as her bright pink hair was no longer disguised by magic. Seeing this sight actually confirmed the young adventurer’s initial guess on the real identity of this mage and the injured knight. By now, she also knows for a fact that this Cherry-girl won’t be able to cast flight magic on both of them to even get to a safe distance, let alone teleportation. The young mage has exhausted herself to fend off the monsters for hours. They both looked shabby with the sense of death looming above them.
“It’s okay. So, Please. You couldn’t stop here because of me–”
The young knight looked like he had accepted his fate as the acid slowly ate up his right foot as well as the two dead horses that they were using as stepping grounds.
“Shut up already. I need to concentrate,” The girl snapped back.
“No. Listen to me—”
“I. Am. NOT. Leaving without you!”
The young knight was about to convince her some more when another voice startled them both.
That nonchalant voice of Serein’s had caught their attention as they finally noticed her presence.
But the owner of that husky voice was faster than the knight.
“Hey, little girl”
Serein called out to the mage who’s barely in a better situation to be compared with the other survivor, the one-legged knight.
“There’s no place for me to land there. But if you can cast flight magic to this branch, I’ll lend you a hand for 100 gold coins each.” Not wasting any precious moments, that adventurer offered while rearranging her previous plan that’s ruined due to this very encounter.
“What in the world—?”
Distrust and shock can be seen in those eyes, but Serein knows better.
“Yes. 100 gold coins EACH. Which means, 200 coins of gold in total”
—She understands well that these people are desperate and thus very likely would agree to her term than not.
‘I don’t want to be their hero’
Being a savior of these punks would only bring misfortunes for her in the future. She would rather be labeled as a conman or something instead of getting all tangled more than necessary.
If anything, she’s actually impressed at the young knight who has lost most of his energy yet somehow can still manage a piercing gaze toward her. The knight even tried to point his sword toward this suspicious newcomer despite his apparent disadvantages.
‘Great. It works.’
The corner of Serein’s lips twitched upward as she manages to reel him up. Afterall, not only she’s planning to sever ties with them once her part is done, there’s another reason why she taunted the two, especially the heavily wounded knight.
She couldn’t save anyone who had given up before the fight, hence, why she decided to liven up the tension for a bit with some dramatic sprinkles to spice up this first meeting of theirs.
‘At least he’s a proper knight alright.’
Serein then glanced at the mage who looked flabbergasted at the condition mentioned. Perhaps she found it incredulous that someone would ask for money in this kind of situation.
Not that it matters to her.
‘She has the money and they obviously needed some help’
It’s only a fair trade since she knows exactly why these two are going so far from their homeland to this dangerous place.
“Well? Can you or can you not do that little girl?”
Serein merely tilted her head slightly, knowing that she has the upper hand here. All the while, Cherry finished biting her lip and made a quick decision right then.
That pair of magenta gems then maintained eye contact before she spoke.
“That many gold coins are impossible to acquire as of the moment. But if you could really save us then I swear upon my life that I’ll definitely pay you back.”
Cherry then levitates both of them with flight magic to the branch that Serein pointed to. That being said, it was unfortunate that she ran out of mana way too quickly since she needed to cover up to two bodies rather than one, as it has in the original plot.
She nearly failed and slipped down had it not been for Serein’s grip on her clothes.
‘Great. This secured me 200 gold coins at least.’
The young adventurer snickers under her mask as she helped the pink-haired to regain her balance on the branch before supporting the young knight so he wouldn’t fall as well.
She then said again, not leaving a gap for them to question anything.
“That leg can no longer be saved, So there’s nothing we can do about it. However, if you can endure for another 5 minutes jumping onto tree branches as I did then at least you won’t die, little lamb.”
Serein casually said as she glanced at the glaring knight.
Little lamb, because that’s the meaning behind the knight’s real name.
Well, his name and his thick and curly hair made him resemble the said mammal.
“I can go on.”
Fortunately, before the other can say something stupid, the robed figure cuts in first.
“Please help Gil with the move.”
Serein nodded once before properly supporting the knight.
Cherry and Gil.
Serein knows the real names of these two childhood friends. She also knows for a fact that Gil was supposed to die here while Cherry had a hard time finishing her personal mission with a broken heart after losing her dearest friend.
‘This dream has distorted the plot a bit.’
Serein wasn’t supposed to meet Cherry until later. But honestly, it’s not so bad.
Min Suhyun has always felt pity for ‘killing’ Gil too early anyway. That guy has so much potential in the future yet she treated him as nothing but a stepping stone for Cherry’s growth.
‘It can be done in other ways.’
After all, although growth through despair is relatively strong and quicker when it’s done right, now that she has matured and has more experiences with real life, she realized that it doesn’t always be the best solution out there.
There are many other ways to motivate someone to be a better version of themselves. In fact, having a person witness someone they cared about dying is more effective than having the said beloved die before their eyes.
Min Suhyun learned about that the hard way.
‘We’re getting close.’
Serein held back a tired sigh as she propped the knight on her back as she advanced.
Her stamina is not lacking, but it was still challenging to carry someone that weighed almost twice as much while jumping from one branch to another without slipping to their doom. She didn’t even have to look down to tell that there’s thick acid below them, ready to gobble them up as this forest’s nutrients. The smell itself was sharp enough to make them a bit lightheaded.
Well, either way, soon enough, they could hear the sound of water and found themselves at the top of a waterfall.
“What now, Guide-min?”
Cherry turned to their guide who easily replied.
“We’re going to jump.”
Her voice is as calm as a lake yet her words make their hearts sink as low as this waterfall beside them.
Gil gripped her shoulder as if trying to stop her from committing the crazy idea.
“We can’t even see the bottom of that! Are you out of your mind!?”
Perse, Serein was… unimpressed.
‘Why does a royal guard this wimpy?’ Perhaps it was from the long hours of fighting, but regardless of the reasons, Serein deadpannedly commented towards the chatty knight.
“Haish, for a dying person, you sure are a chatterbox. Look at your companion, she’s not even complaining.”
The girl, Cherry, was indeed silent as she tried her best to look past the thick fog below. It’s not like she’s not in doubt, but she has chosen to trust this weird person for the time being— at this point what else the choice she has, right?
and so, all she ever asked was…
“We’re not going to die if we do as you say?”
That pair of magenta looked at the pair of hazel for confirmation when she heard her knight slash friend cry out.
The two of them ignored Gil’s protest as Serein replied to her with a simple nod.
“See you down there.”
With that simple greeting, Serein made her jump with Gil holding onto her back like a lifeline. A terrified scream of the young knight could be heard echoing in the forest until a huge splash followed afterward.
Serein was surprised that she could actually feel the water around her. Usually, at this point, Min Suhyun would wake up from her dream and begin to write all of her experiences in real life in the form of a draft for her novel.
Curious about this new experience, she thought to herself.
‘Will I wake up if I drown in the oasis?’
Whenever she died as a character in one of her dreams, such as this one, she would soon wake up with a jolt, however, she oddly feels more dread at the thought of death than she ever had before.
Well, Serein didn’t wonder for too long, since the tug on her back brought her back to her senses as she swam up in the direction where the air bubbles lead her.
A Series of coughs could be heard afterward before another splash followed.
“Cherry…! Are you okay?”
Gil asked after his friend finally emerged to the surface.
“I’m fine. You?”
The two confirmed that they were not harmed from the fall when Serein chimed.
“You should also feel no pain anymore now, little lamb.”
Gil blinked for a bit before taking notice that their guide was right.
“Huh… that’s true.”
Cherry, who looked confused at first, soon had her eyes slightly rounded in realization.
She has always been a quick-witted person after all.
“Is it this water?”
Serein spared a slim smile as she hummed in agreement.
“Correct. The poison above and the poison in this part of the land are different. This ‘lake’ is the only place where the two of them meet and form an antidote. Which is why—”
She trailed on the explanation as the three of them could finally sense that they were not alone.
Cherry got closer to the two as she gripped her staff as if trying to shield them despite her mana-deprived state.
“It’s okay. They won’t fight us as long as we stay pacifist.”
With a hand stretched out to block the path and prevent that pink-haired mage from casting another spell, Serein assured her as she put a hand on the stiffened shoulder.
Gil was also taken by surprise. Nonetheless, what she had said was true. None of the monsters chased after them.
They merely looked at the smaller creatures that they are before minding their own business.
“They’re not attacking? Huh?”
Cherry was in disbelief but was forced to accept this situation despite clearly noticing one of the monsters that had escaped her group earlier among these monsters.
“You see. This place is a peace zone.”
Serein said as she motioned Cherry to follow her.
“This forest is both their homeland but also their biggest threat. And this ‘oasis’ is the only place that could heal them if ever they failed to return home before the sun sets.”
That young adventurer explained as she swam to the like side, still dragging Gil with one arm while continuing with her words.
“It is the fact that everyone in this forest could not survive against the environment itself, thus resulting in a silent agreement not to prey upon lesser beings in this sacred place. Or at least during night time.”
She led the two into the cave behind the waterfall. The safest place to rest since this temporary peace would be broken the moment the sun rises.
Gil was laid on the ground as Serein performed first aid at the cut-off limb. After all, now that the poison has been neutralized, he’ll begin to bleed again. Wordlessly, Serein began to clean up the wound, before then wrapping it up with a ripped part of Cherry’s robe.
That princess identity is worth less than one’s life in Serein’s opinion. Then again, Cherry herself consented to it. Which is why Cherry’s pink hair could now be seen in the open.
“Ah, thank you so much”
Finally, Gil said once they’re done with the temporary treatment.
“200 gold coins doesn’t sound so expensive now, huh?”
Serein was amused with Gil’s reaction to that.
Author Note: Heyya folks! Anemic Bunnicula here~! I’m back now with the recovered chapters and updates. Hope you all would enjoy it, and I’ll see you again in the next chapter, Chao~!