Chapter 8: Questions
I opened my eyes and blinked a couple of times to process what I’m looking at. I’m back in my old body from the looks of it. I get up from the couch I was sitting on and open the door, walking out of my room in The Castle. A maid who was waiting for me outside of my room greets me immediately on sight.
“G-good morning King Grey.”
Not even glancing towards her direction, I keep walking as she follows a couple meters away.
Reaching the courtyard where all of the trainees were lined up with swords held in front of them; I see the instructors yelling at them about proper stance and breathing. When one of them sees me, he immediately turned and gave a firm bow, with the other instructors and trainees following suit.
I motioned for them to continue before walking to where I was headed. Pushing the double doors open, I arrive in front of an aged man with pearl white hair that matched his long beard, and emerald eyes that shined a sense of wisdom and knowledge. His name was Marlorn and was the head of The Council.
While I hold the position of “King” I can’t help but think of myself as a glorified soldier. The one’s who actually governed the country, managing the politics and economy, was The Council.
So what was my job?
The t.i.tle of King means I’m actually more of a one-man army. Due to the decreasing numbers of children born and limited amount of resources, The Councils of each country gathered and came to a conclusion to replace war into a different form of combat. Getting rid of war meant two big things: decreasing the death count, leading to a population growth, and less land destroyed from the result of nuclear arms.
What replaced wars became known as The Duels. Whenever there was an international dispute, a duel would take place, each country sending in a representative that they deemed as the strongest.
Looking up, Marlorn exclaims with the standard fake, picturesque smile that seemed to be an inborn trait amongst politicians, “King Grey! What brings you to my humble dwelling?”
Without even giving him the chance to react, I unclip my badge and walk out the door.
What have I been living for all these years? I was an orphan who was brought up in a camp designed to raise future Kings. I’m thirty-eight but I’ve never dated, never loved. I’ve spent my whole life so far for the sake of being the strongest.
Admiration? Money? Glory?
I had all of that but never in a million years would I choose to have that over what I had in the town of Ashber.
I miss Alice. I miss Reynolds. I miss Durden. I miss Jasmine. I miss Helen. I miss Angela. I even miss Adam.
I open my eyes again, but this time, the excruciating pain that I’m welcomed by tells me I’m not dreaming. I’m lying on my back looking straight up, trees and vines filling my vision.
Where am I?
How am I alive?
I try to get up but my body doesn’t respond. The only thing I manage to do is turn my head and even that involved a series of throbbing pain in my neck.
Looking to my right, I spot my knapsack. I slowly turn my head to my left, gritting through the pain.
My eyes widen at the sight and I immediately vomit. To my left was what was left of the Conjurer I dragged down with me. A pool of blood surrounded the corpse, whose body probably had more broken than ones still intact. I see his ribs jutting out of his chest and some of his innards leaking out. His limbs lay at unnatural angles. The mage’s skull was shattered in the back, with some brain matter oozing out, his face showed an expression of surprise and disbelief, except his eyes were completely red, a trail of dried blood still visible from his eye sockets. I can’t turn my head away fast enough. I puke what was left in my stomach until all I’m left with are dry heaves. A decomposing corpse like that was different from a clean killed opponent. With the pungent stench and insects feasting on the gore, I can’t help but feel sick. With parts of my face and neck covered in my own regurgitation, I finally manage to turn my head rid my sight of the mage’s grotesque remains.
How am I still alive?
I couldn’t help wondering what happened while I was unconscious. Clearly, the mage was awake the whole time up until the landing… so what happened to me?
No. That’s not important.
Why I fell asleep wasn’t the issue. I should look very similar to that corpse right about now, maybe even worse, but not only am I okay, I don’t even seem to have any broken bones.
I pondered over the possible answers until I was interrupted by a strong grumble from my stomach.
Again, I tried getting up, fighting through my body’s protests. The only parts of my body that seem to be listening to me as of now is my right arm and my neck up. I will mana into my right arm and use my fingers to claw my way, dragging my body, to my knapsack. It couldn’t have been more than two meters away but it took over what felt like an hour until I finally managed to reach it. Pulling it closer to me, I rummage through it with my only able hand until I find what I’m looking for. Mother’s dried berries and nuts!
I succeed in pouring a mouthful of the snack that I brought only because Mother nagged me to. I choke on some of it and I start coughing again. This leads to another round of agony in my body. Fumbling for the water sack inside my knapsack, I slowly pour a little of the water into my mouth before I place another handful of the snack into my mouth. Tears rolling down the sides of my face and into my ears, I continue chewing on the dried rations until I pa.s.s out again.
My eyes fluttered open as I stirred awake from the cold. I look around and notice that it’s dawn, with only the first rays of light peaking through the mountains.
This time, I’m able to get up, but only with the help of mana. I carefully inspect all of my body, making sure everything is in place before I relax just a little.
First thing’s first. I make my way to the corpse of the mage while trying to avoid looking at the heinous injuries that caused his demise. Spotting the knife I was looking for, I quickly jerk it out of his thigh.
I’m not sure how long I’ll be here so having a weapon will be necessary.
“Oh, you’re awake”
I instantly get into a fighting stance, knife in hand, turning to face the carca.s.s.
I swear to G.o.d if this corpse is the one that’s talking…
“No. You won’t have to worry about that corpse reanimating.”
This voice that seemed to come out of nowhere had quality that seemed almost divine. It was powerful and resonant, yet silky and soothing sound that made you want to trust it.
Still on guard, I manage to respond with a less than elegant reply.
“Who are you? Are you the one that saved me?”
“Yes, to your second question. As for the first, you will find out when you arrive to my dwelling.”
This voice seemed awfully sure that I would try and find it.
Almost as if reading my thoughts, she continues, “I am the only one that will be able to get you home from this place so I advise you to make haste.”
That jerked some sense into me. That’s right! I had to get back home! Mother! Father! The Twin Horns! My baby sibling! Are they all right? Did they reach Xyrus safely?
If the voice can really take me back home, I have no choice but to find it.
“Dear uhh… Mr. Voice. May I ask for the directions to your location so that you may bless me with your presence?”
“Don’t you think it’s a little rude to call a lady ‘Mister’? And yes, I’ll show you the way.”
Ahh… so it was a lady.
Immediately, my vision shifted into a bird’s-eye view. Zooming out, a location that was roughly around a day’s trip to the east came into sight and lighted up before my vision turned back.
“I recommend departing immediately. It will be a lot safer traveling in the day than when it gets dark.” Gently chides the voice.
“Yes Ma’am!” I quickly picked up my knapsack before trotting towards my destination.
It was a little less painful with each step and by midmorning I was only left with a couple of aches here and there. Whatever that lady did was powerful stuff. I’ve never heard or read of casting a spell with that much of a distance. Or maybe she left after casting the spell right before I landed? Then how could she have known that we were falling and why did she only save me? The more I tried to solve the mystery, the more questions I seemed to end up with.
Hearing a faint gurgling sound, I walked towards the direction to see a stream.
“Yes!” I exclaimed.
I was absolutely filthy. My face and neck still had the stench of stomach acid, while my clothes were torn and caked with grime. Almost sprinting, I cannonballed into the stream, vigorously scrubbing my face and body. I took off my clothes and after briefly washing them; I laid them down on a nearby rock to dry. After finishing the refreshing bath, I walked towards my still damp clothes when…
“Kukuku… How cute.”
Reflexively, both my hands cover my precious area and I curl my back, trying to make my body as small as possible.
“Don’t worry, there wasn’t much to see.” I shuddered as I almost felt The Voice wink at me.
How rude! My pride…
Grumbling, I chose to ignore The Voice and put on my clothes.
“Aww… don’t pout. I apologize.” *Chuckle*
GRR!!! I must persevere!
After I put on my clothes, the perverted voice seemed to go silent. Not minding too much, I rummaged through my bag and dug out the last of my dried rations. Water wasn’t going to be a problem for a bit since I refilled my water sack, but I will need food soon; hopefully the voice would provide me with something.
Looking around, I begin wondering where I was. Since I fell off the mountain towards the east, I must be near the elves’ domain. I don’t think I’m in the Forest of Elshire because I’m not surrounded by fog. Am I in the Beast Glades? No. There weren’t any mana beasts… I see a few rabbits and birds, but I’ve yet to see anything else. Something even stranger that I noticed a bit before was the abundance of mana in this place. It was mostly due to the richness of mana that I was able to recover from my initial state so quickly. Although that still doesn’t explain how I survived in the first place, I’m guessing that voice will tell me anyways.
I better hurry.
Aside from the fact that there was no road, it turned out to be a pretty uneventful trip, with minimal obstacles and terrains I had to go around. As I drew near the location of the voice, the density in mana was getting thicker and thicker. Ignoring the temptation to stop and absorb the surrounding mana, I ventured on. Training wasn’t important right now. I needed to get home.
Everyone probably a.s.sumed that I’m dead. I’m worried about Mother and Father. Not so much physically but for their mental health. I’m concerned Mother and Father won’t forgive themselves for my death. The only thought that comforted me was the fact that my mother was pregnant. Yes. At least for the sake of my unborn brother or sister, they’ll keep strong.
I reached the area where The Voice directed me towards, but I don’t really see anything besides a cl.u.s.ter of rocks surrounded by a cl.u.s.ter of trees.
“I’m glad you made it~” the voice echoed.
“Nice to meet you uhh… Ma’am? Miss. Rocks?
“I’m not a rock, nor a cl.u.s.ter of them. There is a crevice between the back of the adjacent rocks. That’s where I’ll be”
Looking around, I manage to spot the small gap that was the width of an adult, between two of the bigger rocks that were leaning against each other. I knew I found it after I felt a slight breeze coming out from the crevice. If it wasn’t for the voice directing me to this exact location, I would never have even noticed the small fissure.
“Child. Go on and enter through the crevice but strengthen yourself with mana before you do.”
I can finally meet Mother and Father soon!
Without a second’s hesitation, I slipped in through the gap easily while willing the mana to strengthen my body.
The voice failed to warn me that I was going to be doing a vertical fall. I guess that’s why she mentioned using mana to me.
Rubbing my b.u.t.t, I groaned as I slowly supported myself up.
“We finally meet child.”
I felt the color drain from my face as my mouth gaped open and eyes bulged. Feeling lightheaded and my legs failing to support me, I crumbled back to my aching b.u.t.t as I just stared at the one who’s been helping me this whole time.