Chapter 53 Cheating Death – Hunted (Part 1)
As Kaden ran through the woods with Hannah on his back he didn’t stop for anything. He could hear footsteps behind him and knew his friends were behind him.
He’d glanced back once as he hit the woods and knew Ava was running behind him. He could only hope Daichi had made it out of there as okay as well.
He ran for about 20 minute before he started to feel completely exhausted and dropped to the floor. All of his energy gone, Kaden put Hannah and down and started checking to make sure she was alright.
Hannah had been shaken up at first, and when Kaden had grabbed her she didn’t register what had happened. As they ran through the forest guilt started to eat away at her.
Hannah knew Daichi had likely not been any better off than herself after they’d been thrown to the ground. After Kaden had hit the woods she could hear loud earthquakes. She could hear the deafening sounds of the land behind her being destroyed. Not even thinking of an alternative, she knew it was Daichi trying to fight those beasts.
Hannah felt a slew of emotions, from fear and shame to anger and restlessness.
There was no way that Daichi didn’t have an idea of how strong those things were. He still led us into that battle! Was he actively trying to get us killed!
And…. What the hell is he doing battling them! He should have run away the second he got to his senses instead of trying to continue! It’s suicide!
Hannah toiled over her anger at Daichi’s recklessness until she began to wonder whether the only reason Daichi was still battling the beasts were because he’d been given no other choice.
Daichi was occasionally a little reckless and bloodthirsty but he wasn’t an idiot. The second he realized how much stronger those beasts were he should have come to the same conclusion as all of them: run.
If he was doing battle with them it must have meant that they left him no other choice.
Torn between her anger and worry for Daichi, Hannah did and said nothing as she let Kaden carry her.
It was only after the sounds seemed to quiet down that her anger seemed to dissipate and her worry and shame bubbled over to win that emotional battle in her mind.
As Kaden finally came to a stop and trying to inspect her wounds, Hannah brushed him off. She’d been next to Daichi but the second she felt the heat she’d covered herself up. She’d been blown back but her arms only had some 1st degree burns. Although they hurt and itched all at the same time, she was fine.
As they heard some rustling of leaves, it was a short while later that the shorter mare and Ava appeared.
Ava appeared winded and terrified. She must have ran for her life with everything she’d had to catch up to them so quickly.
Ava didn’t say a word as she made eye contact with Kaden and Hannah.
Unlike them, she actually felt like she had betrayed Daichi. They’d run because they’d had no options, and running was the only thing to do to try to save their lives.
Still… As Ava thought back to what happened she couldn’t help but feel as if she’d made a choice. A chore between who to throw her hat in the ring with and who she valued more.
Thinking back to every experience she’d shared with these people… She replayed various images in her mind. Events flowed like running water and the more she saw these things the more she felt like she’d made the wrong choice.
Daichi was suspicious, dangerous, bloodthirsty and she could never put her finger on it, but she just couldn’t figure him out. Despite all this, she could not argue with the facts. Among all of them he was the strongest and barring any situation like the one they’d just been in, he was the most likely to survive.
He had adapted to their surroundings since day one, and were he to make it out of this mess tonight. Things were going to change.
Kaden stared at the shorter mare and asked her “So, where’s your sister?”
After hesitating for a moment, he followed it up with “Do you know what happened to Daichi?”
The shorter mare gazed at them individually before responding, “She stayed with him. He was still alive. Although it’s hard to tell now.”
“Why didn’t she come with you?” Kaden immediately asked not wanting to dwell on the news about Daichi but feeling slightly optimistic that the guy was still alive.
“She can find me if she wants too. We can sense one another’s mana after all. Distance is not an issue.” the shorter mare responded as if it was only obvious.
Ava stared at her and feeling the frustration welling up inside of her, couldn’t help but snip at her “How are you so okay?! Weren’t you scared of those things?!”
The shorter mare merely gave her a glance “I don’t fear that which I can run away from.”
Then she turned around to look in the direction they had run away from, no longer paying attention to the rest of them.
As the others rested in silence, each one of them experiencing a different slew of emotions they heard rustling in the area.
All three of them got up in an instant but it was too late, as the assailant had jumped out from behind Ava and grabbed her neck.
Holding her neck and pressing the back of her body against the front of his, Jeremy stared at the others looking a bit crazed and excited.
Ava felt shocked and didn’t move.
The others stared at him in shock and anger as they realized what was happening.
“What do you want!?” Kaden immediately said as he placed his hands on his daggers.
“Exactly. Good boy! That’s exactly what I want. I want you to take those out and drop them to the ground. After you do that, kick them over. In fact, drop them with the scabbards on. Wouldn’t want to scratch the handles or anything you know” Jeremy called over grinning from tooth to tooth.
Hannah stared at him in anger. This night had been a disaster and now this man which they had helped was trying to steal from them!?
The mare glanced back at the group before muttering in a barely audible voice… “That’s the second time you’ve snuck right by me.” in a voice that could have been construed as annoyance however slight.
Ava realizing it was Jeremy behind her felt her rage bubbling over as well. First she had been terrified by beasts and now this idiot had tricked her into being scared of him as well!?
“Now now, it’d be rude if all you handed over were those daggers. Let’s make it a full set. Tell me where you left those supplies back there and I’ll be glad to go back and get them for you hehe…” Jeremy spoke feeling supremely confident in his position.
Ava put her hands lightly on the arm grabbing her neck, “Get. the. hell. off. of. me.”
“Stop moving foolish girl or I’ll snap that pretty neck of yours! That would be such a waste too hahaha!” as he pressed his lower body up against her even more.
Ava’s eyes widened as she felt something stiff pressing against her behind.
Immediately feeling her dignity and pride had been completely stepped upon over and over by this absolute idiot. Ava activated her <Melt> skill in her hands without hesitating any longer.
Immediately the mana bubbles that formed in her hands began to corrode Jeremy’s arms.
“Arghh! What the hell!” Jeremy reacted in an instant as he felt his skin bubble over he tried to pull his arm away and feeling a slight resistance he punched Ava in the area where he figured her kidneys should be from behind.
Ava gasped as she felt the pain and hunched forward. She was barely trying to grab his arm anyway.
Even with all her anger, she was still reluctant to seriously harm another human.
Staring at his arm as the sleeves had been melted too and slightly blended into his skin. He stared at the third degree burns. The skin was deformed and no longer hurt too bad. He could tell it was serious.
Staring at Ava in shock, she had done that in less than a second. Jeremy realized that had he hesitated for even a moment or moved slightly lower whatever she did would have burned through to the bone or worse.
Feeling a shiver run down his spine he wondered what the hell she did as she noticed Kaden pulling out his daggers and Hannah taking slow steps forward barehanded.
Before getting too close all of them heard another earthquake and the sound of two loud beasts bellowing towards the sky. The sound piercing through the entire area causing wind to shake the trees even from this distance.
The others felt a moment of hesitation as they heard these shocking sounds.
Feeling freaked out by these kids, and noticing their distracted gazes. Jeremy no longer hesitated as he turned around and ran like the wind.
He’d been putting his money on being able to steal from these lucky rich kids but that was no longer the case. They were scary little things!
As he ran he slightly changed directions as he realized that they weren’t chasing him. He grinned realizing that these kids may be strong but they were still soft. They’d clearly never killed anyone before, that would be their downfall!
“Hahahah! No problem then! I’ll go get the packs! I’’ll take their food and supplies and wait until they’re starving and then make my move!” Jeremy thought no longer feeling as panicked as before as he moved at a quick but cautious pace.
He had been used to the sounds of the monsters of this forest. He’d’ lived here for years and even with those two crazy beasts, he knew that as long as they didn’t want to eat him then he could just carefully avoid their path and be on his way.
Not too far but not too close from both of these locations, the taller mare’s eyes were wide open as she felt her soul quiver.
She had tried to taste Daichi’s mana for the first time since they’d met. She’d been curious for a very long time now, but he was never defenseless. Taking the opportunity to get a little taste, just a little she felt her soul quiver as her mind touched his mana.
It was filled with a chaos she’d never encountered. It felt like purgatory and her mind and soul had been rattled at the slightest contact.
This slight fluctuation was enough to cause Daichi to come to his senses. As his mind came back into focus.
Daichi opened his eyes.