Chapter 92 Stranger in the Woods (Part 2)
Haeru was chuckling and about to reply when he saw Leo tense up and reach for his sword. Noticing the change, Haeru started manipulating the mana around his body as he looked around to see what was going on as he noticed a beautiful woman standing on a tree branch not far in front of them.
Something about her demeanor looked ethereal but the beauty of her features left him breathless.
This woman had an oval face but just a little of baby fat in her cheeks, somehow it made smile seem even more radiant as it made her dimples stand out even more. Her large black eyes with long eye lashes matching her straight and long dark hair that came down past her shoulders completely accentuating her body that looked skinny and frail but gave off an imposing figure.
Haeru’s eyes were glued to this woman and while Leo had also been momentarily stunned, as he’d looked at her from top to bottom, he couldn’t help but glance back at her eyes. The smile on her face didn’t seem to reach her eyes. They looked cold and distant and there was no reason or way a woman could just be casually standing around in this forest.
Leo felt an overwhelming sense of apprehension as he heard her speak “You shouldn’t have come.”
“I don’t know who you are, but if you would be so kind as to tell us your name and who you are we would be glad to help you in any way we can.” Leo finally spoke up as he desperately tried to come off as friendly. Everyone around him was watching the woman, eyes glued to her naked body.
She was naked with barely two scraps of rags covering her two most important areas, but even so the skin that showed could make a man salivate. Her pale skin only made all of her exposed skin stand out even further, and as she was standing above them, some of the boys in the group who were a bit on the older side were wishing they were standing a bit closer to Leo and Haeru’s positions.
‘I wish I was that damn Leo dude right now… Oh my god from where he’s standing… If he just takes a few steps forward he’d be able to see up that rag and see her…’ a blush spread across his face but before he could get embarrassed the boy looked around only to find a few of the other participants making the exact same expression likely thinking the exact same things he was.
She looked like an exceptionally beautiful woman in the prime of her life, it was only natural that these boys were drawn to her, but the smarter participants who weren’t so easily swayed by beauty or were too young to be sexually aroused into forgetting the obvious were focusing on the more pressing question at hand.
‘Why is there someone else in the forest? She’s clearly not one of us… How could she survive out here all alone?’
Leo was one of the few staying level headed enough to wonder who this beautiful woman was and whether she was human at all.
‘Something about her seems so surreal. She’s dangerous…Shouldn’t have come? Is she an enemy?’ Leo thought to himself. He couldn’t break his gaze away from her eyes. He wasn’t mesmerized by her beauty nor was he enthralled by the deep pools of her eyes, rather his keen intuition was telling him that he was in a dangerous situation and she was the source.
Everyone was was waiting in rapture wondering whether the woman would reply, somehow having ignored her initial words and focusing solely on what her reply would be, so when she finally started moving her lips, some of the boys had to tear their gazes away from some of her other body parts to focus enough to listen to what she had to say “The others you were with are being attacked right now.”
It took a few moments for most of them to register what she had said, but Leo and Haeru’s gazes darkened after hearing her one sentence.
‘Is she threatening us?’ Haeru wondered
‘Is this a trick?’ Leo immediately began trying to contemplate the possibility of this being some sort of trick and whether she was part of a group who were about to attack them.
Haeru finally managed to break his gaze away from the woman on the branch as he took a look around him and noticed how mesmerized everyone was. Even the girls had a slightly glazed over look in their eyes, not to mention the boys who seemed completely far gone and lost to the strange woman’s beauty.
Turning his head back to look at the woman in the trees, Haeru started to feel the same apprehension that had struck Leo from the moment he’d laid eyes on her.
‘Dangerous.’ was Professor Lydia’s only thought as she stared at the woman and her group of participants from nearly a mile away. She had followed closely and had been underwhelmed by the performance of the group thus far. Even the stand outs in the group hadn’t impressed her, but she wasn’t too surprised or disappointed in them. They had gotten lucky up until now and hadn’t come across anyone strong enough to challenge them. Although it was lucky for them in terms of their safety, it was a detriment for them since up until this point they hadn’t done enough to impress Professor Lydia.
After all their fates were in her hands, if she thought them worthy of entering the academy the doors for them would open up both literally and metaphorically. If she deemed any of them worthy of becoming her own personal disciple then the benefits they would receive would be so overwhelming that you could even say that instead of changing their prospects for the future it would instantly change the quality of their lives from that very moment.
On the other hand, if they weren’t up to her standards, they could just as easily be denied entry to the academy. That would be akin to closing the doors to their futures, limiting their potential not only for their quality of life but also the possibility of growing stronger as a whole. Lumea Academy had far too many resources for the students to get stronger both physically and intellectually. The books in their library could be categorized as holding the most important information regarding the worlds geography, the passages of time and methods for increasing strength. The wisdom of the greatest minds and strongest humans had been placed within the library, in the inner floors where the most important books were held, each individual book could be categorized as a treasure that simply couldn’t be bought with money.
After the two groups had split up, Professor Lydia had chosen to follow Leo’s group because it contained both Haeru and Leo and some of the other candidates from some families she was aware of.
‘How could I have expected that these little fellows would get so lucky and avoid every single strong monster in this entire damn forest! Do they know how bored I’ve been!? How inconsiderate could they be?? Ugh. Seriously though, what kind of luck do these kids have!?’
Lydia was particularly incensed because almost as if intentionally, Leo’s group had managed to avoid specific sections were strong monsters had made their territories. Even more aggravating, on numerous occasions they group had been going in one direction or another and just as they would have run into a horde of beasts or the home of some monster their direction would change ever so slightly somehow ending up with them avoiding a potentially life ending battle!
The only monsters they had come across had been weak and not even worth mentioning, the fact that they managed to end the battles swiftly and with no injuries were proof (to Lydia) of how mundane these monsters had been and how unimpressed the battles had been. Not a single situation had been worth paying attention too, and she had begun to both be annoyed by their terrible luck and curious whether she would have had a more entertaining time following the group spearheaded by Damien.
It was only until she’d taken another glance back at the group that she had noticed their gazes and a woman standing on top of a tree branch. Lydia’s heart immediately started to speed up as she realized she hadn’t sensed her presence at all. Lydia’s specialty was using mana to augment her senses. Instead of using the elements, she’d spent the majority of her life building a foundation. In her mind, she had begun a path and had refused to change half-way. Not until she had reached the end of the road she was on, would she train in something new. It was something she’d made her peace with and had gained various benefits from. That sort of strong willed “refuse to budge” mentality had helped her focus and further her progress to the point where in could probably be said some degree of truth that she was the strongest augmenter in all of Lumea City.
She had been using mana to augment her vision and hearing from the moment she had begun to follow her group of kids so that she could keep a tight watch on any dangers that might befall them and so that she could monitor them from a longer distance. She didn’t want them to feel too safe and that they could rely on her at any moment, so she did her best to try to keep as long a distance as possible to keep herself hidden.
Although she was nearly a mile away, her vision and hearing had been focused specifically on them as she moved along the tree tops with a grace and agility that could never be achieved by a normal person. She had been momentarily lost in her thoughts as she’d questioned whether a single interesting thing would happen today as well when she noticed the group had stopped moving. It was only as she noticed where they were looking that she’d noticed there was someone else. Someone else she hadn’t heard or even sensed.
Lydia immediately put the pieces together and realized the woman in front of the kids was masking her presence. Even though she was looking right at her it felt as if she wasn’t even there. When she heard the words the woman had spoken, her guard had been brought all the way and she’d gone from surprised to apprehensive. The woman hadn’t merely spoken, but had somehow infused mana into her voice. The words she’d spoken could only be heard by the ones she’d intentionally sent the message too.
Since Lydia had heard these words, her heart had grown heavy as she’d come to realize all of the implications. It meant that the woman whom she hadn’t sensed had somehow managed to sense her instead, despite the distance. It also meant that the amount of control and insight into sound manipulation through mana that the woman had reached was far above her own insight.
‘Dangerous.’ was Lydia’s only conclusion as she stared at the woman in the distance and hoped with everything she had that it wasn’t an enemy.