– Kruyuuuuuuk Kruyuuk…
That pink-haired lady’s cheeks turned rosy red when her stomach rumbled loudly.
Granted, she hasn’t been eating for the last 48 hours, since they’ve been trying to survive this rainforest a day before Serein even started her journey. And considering that she’s been overusing her mana yesterday– the day when things get extremely wrong, worse than the first day of their arrival– well, it’s only an understatement that she’s famished.
Thankfully, she’s not as dehydrated, thanks to Sam who allowed her to have some sips from their water supply.
Gil was about to open his mouth to talk when someone else was faster than him.
A nutrient bar appeared in front of both of them. Neatly wrapped in plastic, therefore it wasn’t soaked wet from when they jumped into the lake yesterday. The giver was none other than Serein herself who just finished eating her own portion for breakfast.
“It doesn’t taste anywhere close to a decent gourmet, but it is edible.”
Just as the two were about to accept the snacks, two chirpings could be heard from next to Gil.
“I want it”
“Human! Hand over that food!”
The two Wyrms, Sam and Pam, who have been silently slithering closer, demanded while showing off their fangs as if trying to threaten them if they don’t do as they said.
Honestly, how many times had Serein thought of them as adorable for the past hours?
Serein especially found the younger and the chattier bluish-green Wyrm, Pam, to be extremely cute and more friendly than his brother Sam, the greenish-blue Wyrm who’s more stern than him.
That young hatchling, Pam, was actually the one who slipped up to Gil the fact that their caretaker, one that he keeps referring to as Ceva-chi, is an offspring of an archmage and a dragon.
He was bragging that his big brother is awesome and simply the best out of anyone he ever met in his whole one-year experience as his eyes rounded adorably.
Sam sounded perplexed and panically told the young knight Gil not to tell anyone else, not knowing that at that moment, Cherry was hardly asleep as she tried not to have the corner of her lips twisted up, while Serein herself was frankly woken up from the loud chatter, therefore listening to that part of the conversation before succumbing once more to her lovely slumber just as Sam arrived at the scene and ended up scolding his older brother for outing their caretaker to strangers like that.
Well, either way, Serein ended up even opening the plastic before then crouching down to let the two of them eat from her hands.
“It’s not tasty. But please do enjoy.”
Serein did not even hesitate to gift them her food despite how she’d only left with one nutrition bar left that should last for two days… for possibly three people.
Which should be concerning considering that in this Woodland they couldn’t hunt nor could they look for mushrooms or any other edible plants.
Food and the evergoing rain are certainly one of the biggest struggles in this place. Knowing this, Serein has come prepared for three days worth of food while she planned to gather water from the rain to drink.
Then again, she wouldn’t mind being starved for a bit. It’s not like she couldn’t eat as much as she wished after getting her 20 gold coins.
It was then…
Serein found it amusing to see the two hatchlings actually enjoying the nutrient bars.
“Is it tasty?”
She couldn’t help but ask. In all honesty, she did not expect any sort of reply, but to her surprise, two pairs of sparkling orbs are staring back at her excitedly.
“Give us more!”
Sam and Pam chirped as they wagged their tail like how dogs would.
Now, Serein would love to do as they asked if only she has some more. But she’s out of stock, so…
“I’m sorry, but that was the last one.”
Serein smiled apologetically while holding back the urge to pet their head. While this could be seen as her bribing her way to be their good side, with their adorable reaction she can’t help but feel so, alas she knew that she shouldn’t.
Therefore, she just watched them pout as they mumbled to themselves.
“Why didn’t you say so? Ceva-chi didn’t get a taste then…”
“Bad. So bad. Brother Cevahir couldn’t have that goodness…”
They sounded disappointed, which tugged at the corner of her heart.
But, as she had said earlier, Serein has nothing else to share. The ones that they ate are basically her last meals for the next few days as well if she didn’t get paid properly for this escorting mission.
‘So, his name is Cevahir.’
Serein kept the name in mind while her mouth opened to say something else.
That’s all she could say to the two hatchlings who stared at her lastly before leaving the three of the humans again. Probably to return to their caretaker’s side.
Which is good, since they needed to get going anyway.
‘If we can move fast, then we’ll return before sunset.’
That’s the ideal situation though.
The initial plan was for her to stop here for one night, and have a back-and-forth trip to the Ervenyl Mountain, before then returning back to this cave and leaving Blasphemos Woodland on the third day. Such a packed schedule. However, she was planning to go alone, so that shouldn’t have been too difficult to do.
In the original story, Cherry was having a hard time because she did not know about the cave, but she ended up finishing the task in three days as well. Which is why Serein was confident— But now, they have a deadweight on their side.
Hazel pair landed at the cut-off limb of Gil’s.
‘Okay, calling him a deadweight is rude.’
Even so, carrying him around would be troublesome indeed.
She’s not up to wasting her energy on carrying this knight when she could very well die from the forest mutants that are obviously going to be lurking around, waiting for the walking tasty meat which they are to them.
“You can leave me here.”
Gil’s voice suddenly resounded.
That one-legged young man realized Serein’s concern and thus decided for himself that it was for the best.
“What? What do you mean leaving you here?”
Cherry, who nearly choked when she heard of that, is now glaring at her best friend.
“This idiot… are you really going to go through this conversation agai—”
“Sounds good to me.”
Serein cut in and agreed to the smiling Gil. Which caused Cherry’s glare to shift from the brunet to the monochromatic-haired adventurer.
“Serein-shi, we can’t just—”
“With all due respect, princess.”
Once again, Serein cut her sentence short with an emphasis on her title.
“He’s just going to slow us down.” —Gil wouldn’t be any sort of help to them. That’s the truth and everyone present knows about it, whether they’re willing to acknowledge that fact or not.
“If he’s going with us, the best thing he’d end up being is a meat shield or a bait.”
Serein has no problem laying out the harsh truth even as Gil’s lips twitched and Cherry visibly became agitated. However, before any more arguments can ensue, that smokey voice could be heard once more.
“You think you can just dump your leftovers here however you wish, human?”
Serein turned to the newcomer who decided to join their conversation at that moment, before then replying to him.
“Of course not, sir.”
She said, still talking with respect although this time she doesn’t lower her gaze as she did before.
“We have overstayed our welcome. So, if we don’t get your permission to broad him out here, then we might need to get him somewhere else first.”
“Regardless of my decision, you’re not going to bring him along the way.”
Serein simply smiled.
There’s no need for a verbal reply since everyone there understood the situation already anyway.
“When do you plan to return?”
Cherry and Gil were surprised to find out that the half-blood dragon Cevahir didn’t seem like he was going to just kick them out and rather sounded like he was willing to hear them out.
“If there’s no explicit hurdle along the way, by sunset. Or the latest, by the next day tomorrow.”
The ashy-haired male hummed though he’s still not out from the shadows. Which is too bad, since Serein couldn’t check on his condition.
“He can stay.”
Cevahir stated, making the childhood friends stare at each other wide-eyed, not expecting this at all. Different from that monochromatic-haired adventurer.
‘As I thought.’
Serein was not all that shocked that things went as she had predicted.
Dragons may be known as selfish and arrogant. But, above it all, they are beings that owe nothing to nobody.
[If you did something bad to them, you better expect some if not destruction to commence. Although, at the same time, if you were to help them in any way, they’d definitely pay you back with something equivalent.]
In a matter of fact, the elixir that has been passed down in the Prairie family, one that Cherry’s brother snuck her some, is none other than distilled blood of the ancient dragon lord itself, which was gifted by the Lord to a Sage who was later known as the first Queen of Amaranth Kingdom.
A long story of a praised hero party in the past who managed to save this world from the wicked warlock that terrorized the lands…
‘What’s his name, again?’
She couldn’t remember at the moment.
Serein’s hazel pair calmly eyed the silhouette within the shadow when she replied to him.
“Would that be alright? You’re not in any way indebted to us just so you know. You have allowed us to rest here for the night, after all.”
Despite how it’ll be a great help for them, Serein couldn’t just accept Cevahir’s offer blindly like that.
Regardless of what happened yesterday, they’re still overall strangers. And if the two Wyrms Sam and Pam’s actions were in fact due to a human’s betrayal in the past, who could guarantee Gil’s life once they left him alone in the hands of these three?
“A life for a life.”
Cevahir the half-blood dragon said.
To which, now that she listened more carefully, he sounded less breathy than the first time they met. Depending heavily on this lone fact, she hoped that it means the half-blood dragon is doing better than last time.
“You saved mine, so I’ll let that kid stay here a bit longer. While the time you had stayed… Well, think of it as my way to express regret on behalf of these two.”
The three humans listen carefully as Sam and Pam, who are on top of each of Cevahir’s shoulders, lowered their heads, not wanting to agree with what their caretaker was saying. Dragons and their kin would never admit or say sorry to anyone even if they were proven to be wrong.
Which is why Gil and Cherry were shocked to witness this even though they’d never seen an actual dragon before this.
Meanwhile, with Serein…
She traced the bandages on her neck. The place where she was bitten still hurts but supposedly, it’s no longer bleeding as badly as yesterday.
‘I mean, although it was Cherry who wrapped me up, these are undoubtedly Sir Cevahir’s items, right? Shouldn’t that be enough of a payback then?’
Although she still holds some suspicion for now it’ll be profitable to accept the offer rather than decline it in vain. It’s not like she’ll suffer any significant loss even if things went wrong here.
‘Well, there’s this too I guess’
Watching as the two cuties flinched in guilt, she finally decided to go with the situation before then removing her hand and bowing respectfully toward the half-blood dragon.
“He’ll be in your care, then. Thank you very much, Mister.”
Cherry also said some words toward Gil before then standing up herself, ready to go next to Serein.
“Well, we’ll be going now.”
“Once again, thank you for your hospitality, Cevahir-min, Sam-shi, Pam-shi.”
Serein’s ears perked up at that moment.
‘Right.’ She felt amused hearing what the disguised princess just said.
When she wrote this draft, Min Suhyun had thought that it would be humorous to change the suffix used in her world and tweak the pronunciation or the syllables a bit to make up new words.
‘-nim to -min and -ssi to -shi?’
She had been hearing these attached to her name but hadn’t been paying attention till now.
‘hmm, Looks like I need to keep this in mind for future interactions.’
Serein internally shook her head as a thought crossed her mind at that time.
‘I really REALLY need to get that relic…’
Anticipating the possibility of her actually getting stuck in this world, she really needs to come prepared with many things. First on her list is definitely that Archaic Relic…
Yeah, anyhow, off to the Ervenyl Mountain they go!
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~!