Chapter 108 Stranger in the Woods (Part 7)
“What the hell are you talking about?” Junior answered looking more annoyed than he meant too. Normally he could keep himself in check better than this, but suddenly he was faced with a riddle from a stranger who seemed to be looking down on him. All of this right after a pretty rough battle, had Junior with little patience as his nerves were frayed.
Daichi had to stop for a second before he realized something that would have been obvious to him had he not been in such a daze by the events he’d seen take place before his very eyes. On top of which he was a little nervous, he hadn’t spoken to another soul in so long, it almost felt like an illusion, a trick played on him by his own mind.
After taking a moment to think about the question Daichi instantly realized that while he may have named it that with his companions before, there was no reason why anyone else would name his life-changing event the same way. ‘Maybe nothing even happened anywhere other than our town… If that were the case, then how would I even figure out how long it’s been?’ he wondered to himself as a small seed of doubt crept into his mind before he just as quickly extinguished it.
“A while ago, there was an event. Everything changed…? Before the monsters came back I mean.” Daichi tried to explain while realizing how awkward he was coming off. He was never good with people, but he never came off as awkwardly as this.
‘This isn’t going quite as well as I hoped…’ he thought to himself as he hoped that was enough to get his message across.
Junior stared at him as he was staring at a piece of fruit that had just spoken. “What the hell are you talking about?” in his mind he thought the guy in front of him was really teasing him. There was no way the stranger before him could be such an idiot.
“You know what I mean. There weren’t monsters, and then there were. How long ago was that?” Daichi continued.
“Are you playing with me?” Junior responded, he was getting agitated and his friend to the side would have been even more furious than he was if it wasn’t for his disbelief. He’d never seen Junior lose his cool, and right now Junior looked like he was about to pop a blood vessel in his forehead.
“Not really. I said I would answer your question if you answered one of mine. Tit-for-tat. Are you going to answer?” Daichi responded trying to sound disinterested, something he used to so easily be accustomed too but now found hard to manage.
Junior was nearly trembling but he reigned himself in. He knew exactly what the other person was talking about but was certain he was playing a joke on him. Instead of letting him take it any further he decided to just play along so he could get some answers out of him instead. “Yeah I do. I know what you mean. You’re talking the merge. It happened 115 years ago. What’s your name? Who’s group are you with?”
Junior blurted each word out at a time barely registering the look on Daichi’s face as his excited and intrigued expression turned into one of shock.
Daichi shivered as he realized just how long he was stuck inside the mist and what exactly that meant for the world.
‘I knew it had been a while but… Everything I ever knew, everyone I ever knew is really gone now aren’t they…’ The shock didn’t plunge Daichi into depression like it might have someone else in his shoes. He was already prepared for this, perhaps not exactly for the amount of time as he’d figured he was stuck for maybe half that amount of time at most. Rather he’d already made his peace with everyone and everything he’d known being a thing of the past. Now that he’d heard how long it’d been, it just solidified something he’d already made his peace with. Daichi was only apprehensive about how these massive changes would affect him. He’d been stuck in one place for so long that now he realized that the world may have changed in far more ways than he had originally thought. A positivity he never knew he possessed welled up inside of him as he thought about how he was technically over 130 years old and yet he wasn’t but was.
‘My body is basically that of a 17 year old. My mind is that of 132 year old. My experiences are that of someone in-between more or less. I wonder how many people in history have ever been lucky enough to have been in such a strange scenario.’
“My name is Daichi” as he heard the monotone voice from the stranger as he seemed to have drifted off into his own thoughts Junior couldn’t help but feel his pride lingering on the last of its threads as he tried his hardest to keep himself from losing control of himself.
“Why didn’t you help us before?” Junior managed to say the words with only some mild discontent as he received a response immediately “Not my place. Where are you from?”
Daichi’s response would have been enough to finally trigger Junior’s anger but as he asked his own question a new feeling of apprehension swelled over Junior as he instinctively put a hand on his sword as he processed the words from the stranger’s mouth.
“What do you mean, where am I from?” Junior asked his voice completely under control again.
Both actions didn’t go unnoticed by Daichi as he realized he must have just said something that he shouldn’t have. ‘They must all be from the same place and assumed I was as well…’ he thought to himself as he glanced around at the others who were slowly walking towards them after having noticed Junior’s actions. They’d been with him long enough to know that he didn’t reach for or draw his sword unless a battle was about to take place.
“Have I said something to have offended
“Have I said something to have offended you?” Daichi asked while tilting his head to the side imitating a curious kitten but the gesture came off forced as Junior’s squinted his eyes. He had been on edge and insulted before, but now he was simply apprehensive.
‘Where am I from? We are all from the same place. Unless… He isn’t human. I’ve heard of high level beasts or monsters that can change shape.’ For the first time Junior questioned why the stranger’s eyes were lumiscent. There was something surreal about them which was partly what had contributed to his belief that he was one of the exceptional participants that was likely an elite. Now those thoughts had turned and made him wonder how he wouldn’t have heard of someone with such a notable feature.
“Who are you..?” Junior said as he slowly slid his sword out of his sheath and held it it with both hands in front of his body raised. The people around him took notice of his actions and slowly drew their weapons as well as they stared at Daichi and came to the conclusion he was an enemy.
All the while Daichi watched everything happening with interest. He hadn’t come here for a fight, if anything he came here because he wanted to make friends which was a foreign feeling for him. It was perhaps a first. Instead he’d shown up and acted far too much like himself and ended up alienating these strangers. Although even he could tell that he’d blundered somewhere although he just couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea that everyone was from the same place. ‘Perhaps where these people are from they have enemies, they must think I am one of them.’
Seeing as how he didn’t know where these people were from, Daichi figured he probably wouldn’t be able to convince them that he wasn’t an enemy. Especially since he hadn’t helped out earlier during their fight. When he’d been asked why he hadn’t helped out Daichi momentarily drew a blank as he realized that the idea of helping them out had never even crossed his mind. Not because he wanted them dead, but rather it just didn’t even occur to him. He’d been so intrigued by the massive differences from what he was used too that his mind had begun to come up with theories and he’d been lost himself in his thoughts. Although even he himself knew that was perhaps only a justification for never being the type to think of helping others when others were in need of help.
Daichi raised his hands in front of himself which may have seemed as if he was indicating that he didn’t mean to fight and that he was harmless but in reality he was preparing to try out a new technique he’d thought of years ago. He’d devised the concept for this before he’d even entered the mist and after he had, it had been one of the first things he’d delved into thought about as it was one of the few strings he’d had to tug on.
“I see we’re getting a little jumpy. We don’t need to fight. Although I may not be a friend, I’m not an enemy. Whoever you think I am, I’m not. I just want information.” Daichi said in an unhurried voice, not a trace of anxiety or pressure could be heard.
Junior instantly wondered whether he was lying or not. Although he wasn’t sure, he also knew that if he was lying it would a trap and they’d all die and if he wasn’t, then they could likely all kill this one person and the worst case scenario would be that they would have killed someone they’d perceived to be an enemy. ‘Worst case we say ‘Oops’ and write it off… But if he is… This could be what sets me apart from the others…’
Even though his thoughts were turning sinister, he didn’t neglect to notice the lack of anxiety Daichi was exhibiting. ‘He’s either amazing at bluffing or he really isn’t worried. Which only makes him an absolute idiot.’
Junior may have been worried had he had to fight this stranger on his own, but with over 30 people surrounding him. He knew that there was little to no chance that they would all be killed by one guy.
“Where are you from?” Junior returned the question back at Daichi.
“I’m from a small village outside of the forest. Hard to say where though, no idea where I actually am in the forest. Been lost for a few weeks.” Daichi almost assumed that these people either wouldn’t believe him or would try to attack so he didn’t bother to mince his words or try and say something more believable.
‘They’ve drawn their weapons. They’re going to try something. So if they do I’ll kill them’
Junior stared into Daichi’s eyes finding it slightly difficult to maintain eye contact. “What are you?”
Daichi shrugged and answered “Human, no different than you I assume?”
Junior’s eyes glazed over as he made up his mind. The absolute indifference that Daichi had shown him was enough to consider him an enemy. Although he’d never killed a human before, after having stared into Daichi’s eyes he truly didn’t believe Daichi was human anymore. Any lingering doubts were gone and he’d decided to make his move as his eyes darted to his friend next to him and in the next moment he charged forward.
Immediately everyone who’d been surrounding Daichi had been paying attention to the situation quite closely and as Junior made his move, most of them charged forward wanting to cut off Daichi’s paths of retreat or trying to attack simultaneously.