Chapter 100 The Hundred Years – Seventeen Years (Part 6)
The men were looking at Hannah as if they were seeing a monster or goddess for the first time.
The man by Hannah was slack jawed as he looked at Taeger disbelievingly “Yo…You… You hea…Healed him…”
“Yes I did” Hannah stood up and acted as if it was the most common thing in the world. Although she looked relaxed, she was on guard. She didn’t trust anybody, and just because these people were human it changed nothing in her eyes. She had just employed a new technique she’d been working on from the insights she’d gained over the past few days. If a subject was so weak that he or she couldn’t stop her or if they willingly allowed her (although this took more control) she could use her subject’s own mana to heal him instead of using her own.
She’d used this technique instead of her own mana because she wasn’t sure whether these men would attack her, therefore she used Taeger’s own measly amount of mana which was just enough to heal him but had completely drained him and exhausted him all in one go.
The men crowded around Taeger and her as they looked at Taeger’s fully healed body as the man who’d spoken this entire time inspected him and verified that everything was as it looked. ‘She healed him! Amazing! Who.. Who is she!?’
After realizing that the person he was standing in front of was no ordinary young girl. The man’s demeanor changed. He was no longer abreast with concern for Taeger’s life and he finally stood up and introduced himself. “I’m sorry for having been so rude up this point. You’ve even saved Taeger’s life! My name is Ishwin. I am the leader of the warriors of our small village. If there is anything we can do for you please state it!”
Ishwin then bowed to Hannah and while the other men were conflicted about his actions, they couldn’t disagree that she’d just saved Taeger’s life without having asked anything in return.
“Think nothing of it” was Hannah’s only reply “Would you like me to heal the wounds of the rest?”
Ishwin’s back straightened immediately as he gazed at her in wonder “Please do!”
Hannah began moving to one person after another, using their own mana and increasing her own knowledge as she healed them. They all mistook her look of utter concentration and focus for her expending a great amount of effort and mana to do so. In their eyes she was likely using some extremely powerful or consuming technique!
Ishwin watched her the entire time as he wondered who she could be ‘A young girl. In the forest alone… She didn’t even bat an eye at the corpses of the orges as if it was an every day sight. It’s something most of the men here who aren’t true warriors but just work fields aren’t even comfortable with! Moreover the skill she’s employing and the amount of mana it must take to do what she’s doing repeatedly is absolutely incredible… I don’t know who she is, but she is certainly very important…’
When Hannah finished, the men looked more tired than she did. Although Taeger had been the only one with any deep wounds, a lot of them hadn’t escaped unscathed and it seemed as if none of them had a sizable amount of mana which only further surprised her.
“Please, if you will. Follow us back to our village. We need to repay this kindness you’ve shown us. We’ll throw a celebration! A feast for you!”
“Hmm. Okay.” Hannah nodded.
Ishwin smiled at her as he got two of the men to carry Taeger and two more men to carry the man who’d been speared by him. He wasn’t dead but he was in a lot of pain screaming at them to help. Hannah had ignored him the entire time and hadn’t offered to heal him and Ishwin hadn’t asked her too.
What Hannah didn’t expect was that in under an hour not only were they within sight of the village, but the village was in a vast and wide clearing. ‘It’s almost as if the village is in a plateau instead of a forest.’ Hannah thought to herself as she realized that it actually was.
Inhaling a huge amount of air, Hannah gasped as her steps slowed and she keep to the realization she had just stepped through and left the forest. Even though she’d never intentionally meant to leave the forest, she’d never intended to stay in the forest either.
The men had continued walking without stopping until Ishwin turned around and noticed Hannah’s reluctance. “Is there something wrong?” he noted the strange expression Hannah was making but didn’t know what to make of it.
Hannah turned around to look back at the forest and the strangest sensation came over her. An eerie sensation that made her feel as if she was leaving home. ‘Has this forest truly become my home or something’ she wondered as she stared at the forest feeling… Free.
‘I’ve left the forest. I’ve actually left.’ Hannah thought to herself. She had absolutely no idea where she was, and after 17 years she knew she could very well have been back where she’d first entered the forest but the concept that she had somehow left the forest felt so foreign to her. A small part of her had begun to wonder whether she would live in that forest for the entirety of her life.
“Nothing’s wrong.” Hannah turned back around and continued walking without thinking too much about it as she followed everybody as Ishwin tried not to stare. He didn’t want to leave poor impression on what he considered their savior.
They walked towards the village and made it to the vicinity of the homes within under an hour. The village looked simple to Hannah, they were simple homes made of wood resembling Cabins and they weren’t set up in any special formation. Just a cluster of homes, most of which were close to one another. Hannah wondered whether there was a reason they were so close together considering the vast expanse of land around them. A lot of the villagers came to greet them with enthusiasm as they met with their loved ones and hugged them tightly and asked about the excursion and whether they had managed to kill the ‘evil beasts’
Ishwin was greeted by a beautiful woman that looked to be in her mid forties. She gave Ishwin a big hug and then whispered something in his ear, as he whispered something back. Her eyes widened and couldn’t help but focus on Hannah who’d been staring. Hannah made eye contact until the woman looked away with a shy glance and the gesture felt so familiar and foreign all at once.
‘That used to be me wasn’t it?’
Ishwin turned around and then gestured for Hannah to come over “You’ll be coming to my home. My wife will give you some spare clothes and prepare a bath for you clean up and relax in. We should be able to set up a feast in the meantime. Some of the villagers had already been preparing something in case of success. Haha. Some of them had been expecting the worst but had been hoping for the best. Even though plenty of tragedy struck them quite often, they had grown used to it. Instead of focusing on their loses, they were constantly looking for the bright silver lining in any given situation.
Hannah only nodded as the wife led her in, she introduced herself but Hannah wasn’t listening. She felt a little overwhelmed being surrounding by so many people. She’d gone too long without hearing or seeing another human that it felt so strange to be surrounded by so many happy and easy going people. Despite their troubles none of them seemed particularly worried, they were going about their lives as if it was all common place.
Hannah was led into a room with a small bath drawn in a large wooden barrel. It seemed as if the wife had prepared this for Ishwin but he had opted to allow hannah the privilege. There was no other explanation as to why it was already prepared and the water was already heated as well. Hannah was left alone in the room by herself and given her privacy. It was only then that Hannah noticed herself in the mirror. She hadn’t seen her reflection in years. Even though she could have gazed at herself in the lakes or large puddles she’d come across, she’d never had any interest. She’d been so broken for so long and then so focused on learning. She had completely ignored her appearance. It wasn’t the out of place and shockingly long hair, or the dirt and ripped clothing.
She’d long since run out of new clothes years ago. She’d made due with what she had and had preserved the clothes as well as she could considering the terrain of the forest and constant battles she was embroiled in. None of this is what left her staring at herself in a daze. It was her face. She stared at herself and couldn’t help the shock on her face. Her face had barely aged at all. If it had it was barely noticeable!
‘Why do I look the same!?’ A small part of her was in shock but another part of her was basking in the wonder of maintaining her youth.
The voice appeared to answer the thought as a barely perceptible shimmer moved in the air next to her “You were chosen by me. There are various gains in being chosen by a god. You’re fate is now tied to mine to some extent. You aren’t immortal in case your mind leads you there next. You will still age, in case you believe yourself to have attained some form of eternal youth. You will age, just very slowly. Your natural life-span has been greatly expanded, and unless you end up having to expend your own life-force you will live an extremely long life barring an untimely end.”
Hannah wasn’t even the slightest surprised by the goddess sudden appearance. She had grown accustomed to the goddess appearing when she pleased and replying to unasked questions as if she could read her mind. Hannah had long since realized the goddess was keeping tabs on her which only furthered her annoyance and detachment from the goddess who did as she pleased and only helped when she wanted. If she so desired, she could have long since aided Hannah and given her the help not only to survive, get her revenge, clear her heart, revive Kaden and left the forest. Except this goddess had chosen to do none of those things.
Hannah felt the answer was adequate. She would live a long life. Hearing these words felt like a curse to Hannah, and they would stay a curse until she managed to bring Kaden back from the dead.
Hannah didn’t ask any more and stripped her clothes off and entered the water. She scrubbed herself off and then cleaned her hair. She then let her long wet hair hang loose as it had grown long enough to reached past her waist as she put on the clothes left for her by Ishwin’s wife. They were simple pants and a tank top. Putting them on, they fit a little strangely but it felt much better than the torn rags she’d basically been wearing up until now.
She left the room and didn’t call on or inform anyone. She wanted to walk around and take stock of the village on her own. Walking around she saw everyone mainly gathering at what Hannah guessed to be the center of the village as she surveyed her surroundings. Everyone looked strange to happy. They all seemed… Happy.
It was so strange to her to see so many people living so happily despite the mediocre conditions, although even if the conditions and been much better they would have still come off as strange to Hannah. Happiness had grown to be such a foreign concept that she didn’t dwell on it too much as she found someone she hadn’t expected to be walking around so soon. Taeger was being assaulted by a few of the other youths “I can’t believe you came back from the dead! I heard from my dad you were as good as a goner!
“Yeah man! Apparently you were even saved by a girl, how’dya feel about that??”
“I feel lucky! Very lucky!”
“Eh? You still have that attitude.”
“In all seriousness. Our village is small, and as glad as I am that you managed to make it back alive man, you must have personally seen first hand how rough it was out there. Not everyone made it back.” A man around 20 was speaking, and only then did Hannah notice that he only had one arm. His torso had been facing the other direction when he’d first spoken hiding the other side of his body from her gaze.
“Look I know. I know how weak I am and I know what you’ve gone through and that you have way more experience than me but that doesn’t change anything. I won’t become strong if I don’t try and I refuse to not try. I’m going to take the exam. I’m going to enter Lumea Academy and I will change my life! I’ll bring everybody back to Lumea City and force them to let us in!” Taeger spoke with a fire in his voice that emphasized both his passion and desire to fulfill his words.
Hannah only heard the words Lumea and remembered a conversation long past. ‘Lumea City…’
The one armed man looked at Taeger with resentment “The exam is in one month! Do you really think you can reach the level necessary to pass the exam in one month!? I’m your brother. I’m saying this because I care, because I don’t want you to go down the same path I did!” without even waiting for Taeger to respond the man brushed past him and walked away leaving Taeger to look at his leaving back, but unable to say anything.
Taeger wanted to say something to refute his words but had nothing to say. Regardless of whatever his brother said, his mind was set and he was determined to either succeed or die trying.
The one armed man stopped him but turning back and seeing Taeger’s resolute gaze, the words he was about to speak seemed to have been caught in his throat. The resolute gaze gave him all the answer he needed. He knew he couldn’t change Taeger’s mind and it only served to further frustrate him more.
Hannah stood still no longer focusing on them as her mind grew clearer as she thought back to what Lumea City held. She remembered Daichi going on about the marvelous opportunities at Lumea City due to the library and her own interest was finally piqued. She had spent years trying to find the smallest insights into a path she knew wasn’t easy to tread. ‘How much easier would it be if I could read the insights of others who’ve tried walking down the same path? At the very least I could avoid making the same mistakes others have trying the same…’