In the midst of the knight’s intense rambling, it wasn’t his childhood friend slash liege who stopped him from continuing with his crazed murmuring any further– no.
It was someone else. Or, to be exact, a certain soft yet unsettling yelp coming from the expected–
Pam and Sam exclaimed in worry as the adventurer staggered a bit before rooting back on her spot while wiping the black substance that tainted her pale lips as if nothing significant ever happened. Or well, the young lady was definitely expecting this turn of events, looking at her terrifyingly calm demeanor.
“What did you do?” Cevahir asked in suspicion while Cherry hastily helped the young guide to get seated because this disgusting smell he caught a whiff of was definitely not the smell of normal blood.
Rather, it was the smell of rotting blood. There was no way he would mistake such a major difference.
Injuries would usually lead the victim to let out some fresh blood unless it was contaminated by poison such as his own wound before.
However, puking nasty black blood such as this was unheard of unless there was dark magic involved, and as far as he knew, black magic had been long since shunned by humans; enough that they even got rid of innocent races that were tied up with ‘dark elements’ due to that.
Massacred, even though they’re not necessarily affiliated with dark magic itself.
Vampires, Sirens, and Harpies were examples of races inhabiting the land, water, and air that were banished by everyone else and were forced to live by disguising themselves if they were to mingle in this ‘Light’ world—
Even the mixed breed that came from their offspring and other races’, such as Nirwesthians and Tenebrarum were not spared.
Cevahir hadn’t been outside of the forest ever since he rescued Sam and Pam, therefore he’s lacking information and rather detached from the rest of the world. Supposedly, it had been a decade or two thenceforward— or probably more, given that he never really counted his days ever since he was kicked out of The Island.
All that this silver-haired half-blood knew was that this type of magic had long since been used within the continents– per his last experience on the outside world.
Squinting his eyes, Cevahir waited for the human to answer his previous question.
“Nothing, really.” she answered, but they all knew that she was aware how they wouldn’t buy that excuse in the slightest.
They were patiently waiting, when Serein opened her mouth once more after properly wiping her mouth clean with a cloth that acted like a makeshift handkerchief.
“Just made a deal with a broker. Buying an item from them.” Casually shrugging over the statement, Serein then continued, “I’m planning to survive after all. It was a gamble I’m willing to take a risk on.”
Besides, Serein got what she needed to buy the antidote. She had made a deal with this broker prior to heading to the Blasphemos Woodland.
Not that she would tell Cherry nor Pam that she kinda used them for this.
The Adelweirn flower.
Flowers with five petals would have seeds that would become a priceless ingredient for an alchemist.
Flowers with six petals would be extremely toxic if ever brewed, and last but definitely not least, the flower with seven petals.
The anomaly, which also acted as the heart of The Ervenyl Mountain.
Their quantity was like a pyramid. With the ratio 100:2 for the five-petal flowers against the six-petal flowers– while there’s only one flower that would bloom as the anomaly for every four years of its life.
While she was planning to trick Cherry into keeping the seeds of the six-petal Adelweirn Flowers, she was supposed to collect a whole pouch of the seeds from the five-petal ones.
Knowing that she couldn’t collect them on her own, Serein had told Cherry that there’s no way for them to find out which was which other than by checking the seeds one by one which would definitely take a long time.
Don’t get her wrong; she felt sorry. She was indeed very guilty to use the two of them for her own selfishness, but it wasn’t like she could afford to die; not when she realized how this world was her new reality and not a dream.
Still… This wouldn’t change what she did…
While Serein was fighting her guilty conscience of enslaving Cherry and the ever so-adorable little Pam, Gil’s voice entered her hearing, which was slightly ringing.
“There’s a broker at Anren Kingdom…?”
That one-legged knight asked in disbelief since the place was known to be a peaceful kingdom.
Whereas, despite the strictness of the applied rules, the said kingdom was second to their own in being the cleanest nation from any dark magic and its users. And as far as he knew, the official entry of this woodland was located there; in the place where they hired some mercenaries to protect them on this trip–
Then again, it’s always been said that even the most experienced daredevil would be thinking twice before going to the deepest part of the woodland.
Being mauled and completely owned by the vicious rainforest and its inhabitants, just a shy ten minutes past the safety boundary on the map was unfortunately not completely out of their expectations.
Cherry and Gil both knew just how dangerous it was to enter this damned territory. There’s a reason why this place was infamous as one of the treacherous regions. Though, sadly, they needed to come here for an important reason—
‘—ah, I got distracted.’
Probably, it’s because he himself had been quite exhausted– mentally drained while physically recovering– that his mind wandered around. However, it seemed like he still received the answer he’s seeking, after all.
“I’ve never visited that place before.”
Those words made it obvious that Serein did not enter from the main entrance. Therefore, he could only know one other place where she could possibly come from.
The red path which was known to be more of a trail for a one-man journey was located in the neighboring kingdom, which was led by a tyrant of a king. That path was definitely closed off and no one ever dared to walk any closer to the said entrance other than equipped officials that exploited their side of the ‘safe land’.
Looking up to ask for a confirmation of his second guess, he was met with another cough instead. Harsher this time, and definitely making the adventurer lose more blood… If that nasty black goo still counted as one anyway.
“You idiot.” Cherry grumbled in annoyance to mask her worry. “Seirin-shi, you’re such an ignorant fool.”
Glaring at the weary adventurer, that mage tried to use her healing magic to help the guide.
“Aye, it’s fine. There is no need.”
Serein waved her free hand in dismissal, trying not to croak out her reply and tainting her own words with a rasp that would definitely cause these people to give her even more unnecessary attention.
“I said that I’ve got what I needed to get my health back, didn’t I? It only started now because my time is up, and no need to worry much for this will only last for a bit until I get a hold of that broker I met at the Kiraan Kingdom.”
She said casually as if it was nothing at all, but again they were talking to this crazy woman. Despite that, the people around her wanted to either scream or facepalm.
‘How could she be so casual..?’
Cherry frowned in disbelief mixed with anger towards her idiotic guide who seemed to give zero fucks about her own life, or maybe she just didn’t know what the word ‘human limits’ stood for–
If she was even a human to begin with.
“Haaaah.. How did humans become like this in the short time I didn’t see them?”
Cevahir himself looked rather perplexed due to Serein’s unique antics. If not caring about her own life and jumping into the middle of the most dangerous and chaotic situations could be considered ‘antics’.
For some reason, Gil felt like chuckling nervously was the only proper response he could come up with in this situation, especially when Serein’s reply came quickly to refute the half-blood dragon’s words–
“I don’t think I can be considered a normal human. Though, I do appreciate your kind compliment.”
“My words were anything but a compliment.”
Hearing that, Serein tilted her head as if she wasn’t able to understand what Cevahir meant, which in return earned her a deep sigh from the silver-haired man.
“Little human, Ai-shi told you to sleep–”
“—After eating and washing that yucky yuck from your mouth.”
The siblings, Sam and Pam, said it one after another while Cevahir curtly nodded in agreement.
Now, while Serein would love to do so and get some rest after experiencing such a tiring day, she really couldn’t.
“I still need to collect the seeds of those flowers we have collected– it was the cost of my antidote.”
She rejected the idea with an apologetic smile, especially towards the youngest two who looked agitated and melancholy, respectively.
“Seeds? You mean from the flowers that we were gathering earlier?”
Nodding to Cherry’s question, Serein shrugged simply.
“I need to collect the ones that came from five petals of Adelweirn flowers. While it has the most quantity than the other flowers, I do need to collect a lot of them. If I don’t start now, who knows when I will be able to finish it.”
“Then, If I do it instead, would you do as Sam-min and Pam-min say?”
Gil offered. He had been pretty useless on this trip, and despite his mental strain and the loss of one leg, he wished that he could do some other things rather than being a burden to his childhood friend and liege.
To top it off, after he saw how the situation unfolded, that knight was able to find this as an opportunity for him to be useful, even if it was just a little.
‘I need to convince her highness and Serein-shi to rest.’
Obviously, the three draconic members were out of the question as well, after all–
W̶h̶o̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶h̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶s̶e̶e̶k̶ ̶h̶e̶l̶p̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶s̶u̶c̶h̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶e̶a̶s̶y̶ ̶t̶a̶s̶k̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶e̶s̶t̶e̶e̶m̶e̶d̶ ̶b̶e̶i̶n̶g̶s̶ ̶s̶u̶c̶h̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶m̶?̶
–Therefore, he could only do this task all by himself. If he was allowed, that is.
Will he actually be allowed to?
“Yes, Serein-shi. I don’t see why not.”
“Huh. Okay then, since you’re offering.”
Surprisingly, she wasn’t difficult to convince this time.
‘Was it because she’s too tired?’
Cherry found this response rather ominous despite how normal their guide sounded when she replied to him.
They barely knew each other for more than 48 hours, and yet that pink-haired mage had never seen the adventurer willingly accept help or any sort of support without questioning if she needed to pay back for it or blatantly rejecting the idea itself instead.
‘What’s the difference this time?’
While the disguised princess pondered over this matter, the tired woman in question was completely clueless about her thoughts. Her mind was actually blank as she didn’t really think of anything that far and just accepted it for a simple reason.
After all, isn’t it only fair?
Gil was the one who was supposed to escort this royalty all the way to the mountain and back. Even though Serein was indeed overpaid now with all of the riches she owned from the Sage, that didn’t mean he would be alright with doing nothing.
Seeing how eager the knight was when he offered his assistance, Serein felt like she would be more pressured if she were to decline this one.
“Just make sure not to mix it with others. The seeds of the five-petal flowers; that’s all I need.”
Repeating her instructions after she rinsed her mouth with water, she saw him nodding as he accepted the magic bag full of the Adelweirn flowers that the gang had collected.
And thus, while Serein and the others ate their share for the night before then resting, Gil found himself peeling flowers for hours away.
Sam often went to take a peek at him from time to time, but not too often for the baby wrym to lose precious sleep. But as little time as Sam’s visits lasted, it may have aided in shaving off a bit of his sleepiness.
Gil could only blame himself whenever he felt bored or tired as it was his own request that threw him into this situation.
Author Note: Heyya folks! Anemic Bunnicula here~! Here goes another update for the week + Art that you can check on the discussion channel. Hope you all would enjoy it, and I’ll see you again in the next chapter, Chao~!