Chapter 35 Cheating Death – New Members (Part 3)
Everyone had now agreed upon allowing the two Mare girls to travel with them. Kaden was the only one thrilled about it though and he immediately showed his enthusiasm by beginning a seemingly one sided conversation with the girls. Hannah and Ava stood nearby listening occasionally nodding their heads.
“We heard humans are all magic users. Are you all magic users?” the taller and seemingly more forward girl asked.
“Where’d you hear that from?” Daichi cut Kaden off and responded to the Mare for the first time.
“Our tribe. The stories say humans are filled with mana.” the shorter mare responded.
“Do the Mare use mana?” Ava asked her own question.
“Yes. We live with nature and we are at one with the world. Energy is our source.” the shorter girl replied.
It had almost become a pattern, the taller mare would inquire and the shorter one would answer.
Daichi decided not to say anymore and just watched Kaden prattle on about their town, and just about any single thing he could think to make an impression on these girls.
Personally Daichi didn’t care whether they were human or “other”. In his mind in came down to a simple balance of risk and reward. There was more risk than reward in allowing them to travel with the group.
Too many variables unaccounted for. Up until now he thought of the others as useful companions and without realizing it. His last ties to humanity, and the life that ended on the day the world changed.
Daichi had begun to protect these other people since the day the gods woke up in order to protect the remnants of what used to be. So protecting the group had become a priority. Not Daichis main priority, but a priority none the less.
In Daichi’s mind if he had been the one to follow them for half a day in order to find out more about them before approaching them, then perhaps this could have worked but being in a position of weakness in regards to knowledge was not something Daichi was accustomed too.
After discussing pleasantries, which mainly consisted of Kaden speaking without thinking and the mare girls occasionally responding. Daichi had realized how little the girls had said. Regardless of how they would answer, they wouldn’t say anything about their past, where they came from or anything specific about themselves.
Even Hannah and Ava had noticed this and were slightly perturbed by these two similar looking girls but for different reasons.
Both girls were feeling a little uncomfortable with the way Kaden was staring at the mare girls and with how little concern they seemed to have over his leering. Moreover since the girls were only wearing what were basically rags, Hannah and Ava felt uncomfortable for them instead of because of them.
Finally speaking done speaking about his own past and group, Kaden seemed satisfied with the new companions and inquired whether they would like something to eat.
Both girls glanced at each other before the shorter girl responded “Not necessary. We just ate.”
Daichi’s eye twitched at the comment but thought nothing more of it. The group proceeding to begin walking in the direction the mare had come, Daichi decided to be tactful and not ask them why they had been following them before making contact. There would be too many easy and logical responses, and he wouldn’t believe anything they said anyways.
Daichi asked them how far from the direction they had come they had passed, after all that was the direction they were going.
“We walked in circles, in fact earlier today we were in the general direction you just came from. As such we haven’t explored that section much ourselves.” the shorter mare answered on cue.
Finding that answer interesting, Daichi noticed the girls expressions changed about as rarely as his. Then considering the information at hand. Daichi inquired whether even if their forest had changed, whether they knew their way around the area at all.
“Even if it changed, some of it must still be familiar right?”
The others were walking alongside the mare with only Daichi now trailing behind them. Daichi wouldn’t let the mare walk behind him just in case.
Not turning back to respond “Yes and no. Our forest seems the same but the locations of many things have changed. As such we do not know our way around.”
Daichi had begun to notice that even though the girls had not said anything specific about themselves they had yet to blatantly lie to them, as far as he could tell.
The group had been traveling while making small pleasantries, every so often they would stop to rest and the two mare girls would wait together while the other four original members would sit off slightly to the side on their own.
Despite Kaden’s mediating between the two groups. There was some lingering tension in the air.
Even more so because the group couldn’t tell if the mare girls were being guarded or whether their indifferent demeanor was just them acting what passed for “normal” for mare.
Ava was the first to bring up the most obvious question “What is a mare?” she whispered to the others.
The others glanced around looking at one another not expecting an answer but hoping for one.
“We could always ask them. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.” Kaden said
“I doubt they would give a real answer. Not just because they don’t know us, but because they don’t seem to be fond of useful answers. They’ll just say something sage-but-not-really like ‘Mare are mare’.” Ava said in response
Daichi gave her a long look surprised by her countenance. Ava had voiced his thoughts. Feeling more in tune with the group than Kaden for the first time, Daichi realized that without saying anything the others would voice his natural concerns.
Leaving Daichi with only the responsibility of making sure they weren’t lead into an obvious trap or caught unaware. Feeling slightly less burdened, Daichi took decided to just take a back seat to the conversation.
Daichi would listen, watch, and wait.
After their quick they began walking in what felt like a straight line since they had begun their journey knowing it wasn’t.
Walking ahead of the group with the two new girls, the shorter one spoke up for the first time without being prompted “If we continue like this we’ll end up making a turn towards the direction we’ve come from. Would you like us to lead?”
Kaden couldn’t hide his surprise, before voicing it “Can you actually tell which way is which way? Could you guide us in the direction we would like to go?”
“Of course. We live in the forests. We can tell where we are going even without the sun and the shadows.” the shorter girls response came in the mares seemingly trademarked even tone.
Daichi’s eyebrows had twitched at the mention of being led by the Mare. Finding it suspicious. Looking at Hannah and Ava, they also seemed to be a little uncomfortable by the idea.
Kaden continued unaware of everyones feelings or simply ignoring them, “That’s fantastic! We want to go east! In the a straight line! Can you have us walk in that direction?”
“Yes.” the shorter mare responded. Her one word response immediately followed up “Why east?” by the taller mare.
“We’re trying to head for one of the bigger towns that we know of. Hopefully there will be people that can help us there.” Kaden said
“Help with what? What is your goal?” the taller mare inquired finally facing him for this question.
“Goal? I mean, we just want to find other people.” Kaden answered a little confused and unsure of what the mare were getting at.
Not getting any further comments from the mare Kaden continued “Once we find more people, we’ll be safe obviously. You two as well! We’ll tell anyone has a problem with you that you’re with us!” Kaden pointed at his chest with his thumb and made a righteous pose feeling confident in himself
“Mhmm” they responded in unison while continuing their walking now slightly ahead of Kaden.
Hannah was thinking about their comments and wondering that as well. Where there any human cities still left and fine? If there were, would they even be safe? When their parents died they were lucky they had been left with a home, money and people who knew them enough to try and look out for them. Now they had none of that.
Hannah knew that despite their parents deaths they had been lucky in this life thus far. Especially Kaden who had been the least affected by their deaths. Glancing at Ava without her noticing, Hannah wondered if they would have to rely on her. Thinking about the ring on Avas finger…
Hannah immediately thought her line of thought. That wasn’t her and she wasn’t even going to think it!
Ava had ignored the entire portion of the conversation. In her mind it was obvious to head for a city. With people there is safety. Her skills are supportive and her name would likely still carry some weight if she managed to get to the capital.
Since beginning their journey Daichi only had the goal of getting stronger to survive. Then soon after he’d made the resolution to gain knowledge, his passion he’d learned had been gaining a deeper understanding for the intangible.
Until now, his only purpose for leaving his home town and heading for the capital with the others had been to keep them all safe. Taking the time to really think about their destination and not just getting there alive but what it would mean to actually get there, Daichi realized the realm of possibilities waiting for him.
If they managed to get to the capital, he would possibly be able to get access to their library. One of the four greatest libraries in the world!
Thinking about the prospect of being able to get his hands on all of those books… All of that knowledge… Daichi temporarily dropped his guard and his indifferent expression and wore a rare expression of longing.