~ Chapter 7: Friendship ~
The Bloody Mushroom wasn’t categorized as a Magic Plant, so Seryanna was able to pick up and store as many as she desired inside her [Purse], however, she didn’t take more than twenty. A lot more were left behind, but from what she explained, that much was enough to help cure her grandfather. The disease he suffered from was curable, but if left untreated, it could prove fatal.
I also carried two of those mushrooms in my backpack, just in case something happened to the ring. Although Seryanna highly doubted such a possibility, it did happen before, so she didn’t want to see a repeat of her past experience. When I asked her about the full story, she simply glared at me and kept silent. It must have been a rather embarrassing one as far as I could guess.
Once we finished picking up those mushrooms, we heard the calls of the Griffins announcing their return to their nests. We hurried out of there because if they saw us snooping around, they would have attacked us. Seryanna was confident in her strength and didn’t doubt that she could defeat them, but she needed them alive in order to procure more mushrooms in the future.
About one hour after we left the clearing, we took a small break and checked the state of the mushrooms. Seeing so many of them brought a smile on the dragoness’ lips.
“On our way back… erm… should I try looking for any other plants which we could sell or use?” I asked her.
She furrowed her brow and thought about it for a moment.
“Yes, we probably should. Hm, look for…” she stopped and looked as though she remembered something important. “I forgot to harvest the Cupula Flower… Remind me when we get back there.” she told me.
“Sure. So, what should I look for?” I asked her.
“Hm, if you see anything interesting, please let me know. I may not recognize all the plants around here, but there are some I know for sure. We can bring the others to the herbalist in town.” she explained the plan.
“Alright!” I said with a smile.
Once the break was over, we continued our journey through the forest, but this time, our objective was reaching the exit and returning to civilization. The gathered plants on the way were supposed to be a delightful bonus. Of course, that was unless we managed to pick up only poisonous and useless ones.
As I walked, I wondered if we could indeed find some good plants and hoped they wouldn’t be as expensive as the golden one in my backpack. If I were to pick, I would have desired to find something that can be sold easily for a few silver coins or used for a potion or two. I had no idea what sort of potions could be made, but judging by the blue crystal Seryanna used to ward off the spiders, I guessed some of them were used to infuse semiprecious stones and offer them magical properties.
“I think I found something!” I said at one point when I saw a dark-green fern.
The difference between it and the other ferns was in the shape of the leafs as well as it’s darker color.
“What?” the dragoness asked.
“That!” I pointed at it.
After a quick look, she picked it up and placed it in my backpack.
“What do you think it is?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but it’s different, and you found it.” she told me bluntly.
By the time we were ready to set up camp, I found a few types of mushrooms, some other plants, including a Cupula Flower and a Rosiette. The latter one was a tiny, red, bell flower which was used in high-grade healing potions. It was interesting to see so many different types of plants with so many possible uses. Honestly speaking, I was wondering if any of those could even cure cancer or if the healing potions handled that. If among all those 10 million people a doctor from our world was brought, then maybe they were already making breakthroughs in medicine.
One thing I found interesting was the fact that I could stay up for more than 20 hours without feeling tired at all. It was strange, but that time felt the equivalent of 14 or 15 hours back on Earth, but thinking about it logically, I did travel for quite a distance and didn’t feel that tired.
Maybe that God-like did something to me? I asked myself as I was helping Seryanna set up the camp.
“Is it normal for humans to stay awake for more than 20 hours?” I asked the dragoness after we sat down in front of the camp fire.
She looked at me for a moment and then shrugged.
“I do not know how humans work. Since you can, maybe?” she told me and then took out some spider meat to cook over the fire.
“Is that so… I guess you haven’t seen too many humans around…” I said hugging my knees and looking down at the embers inside the bustling flames.
“You are the first, but I have heard of your kind from many. Your knights never keep their word. Your kings never think of their people. Your nobles enslave others. Your peasants never dare to rise up above their meager conditions. You are pirates at seas and infidels towards your own wives. Your armies pillage and rape wherever they set foot.” she explained harshly as she looked at me with squinted eyes.
“You hate me too?” I asked her directly.
She didn’t answer, but I could tell she was struggling a bit with the idea. I didn’t exactly fit the normal definition of a human.
It’s sink or swim now, isn’t it? I thought as I decided to make the first move. I got up, walked around the fire and sat down next to her.
“What?” she asked furrowing her brow.
I looked into her eyes and put on a serious expression.
“Besides breathing, have I done anything to earn your hate?” I asked.
She blinked surprised.
“N-No…” she replied stuttering a bit.
“Then, you don’t hate me, right?”
“N-no, but I don’t like you either.” she declared.
“It’s normal. We just know each other for a few days… I’m not an idiot to think that you would fall for me so quickly!” I shook my head.
“W-What are you t-talking about? A dragon would never fall for a human like you!” she declared, but her cheeks were already catching a bit of pink in color.
Is she embarrassed? I thought.
“Why? Just because I’m a human?” I asked squinting my eyes at her.
“YES!” she shouted.
It hurt a bit, but hate towards my species was normal, especially if they acted like a racist and xenophobic bunch. Even back on Earth, humans usually hated each other for simply being a bit different. It didn’t really matter what color your skin was, where you worked, what console you liked, or to what god you prayed to, in the end, only one difference was required to earn you the full hate of an entire group. Anyone who was weaker than that group wouldn’t dare move against it either out of fear of being targeted by their hate or to avoid looking bad in the eyes of others.
If I were to give an example, maybe the way bullies acted? I never was bullied in school, but there were a few who threw their cold glares my way just because I didn’t like a certain artist with the name of an appetizer. It wasn’t my fault I found the heavy metal and rap genres far better than manele.
Well, getting back to the story, I was faced with a dilemma. If she truly hated the human species, and the way she characterized them was the general view, then I had absolutely no chance of gaining any friends for my ability unless I proved that I wasn’t like that.
But how? I thought as I looked in her charming dark-brown eyes. My heart skipped a beat for a moment, and I clenched my fists.
“I don’t believe it.” I told her.
“What?” she asked furrowing her brow.
“If I am such a pest, such a destructive insect in your eyes, if I am not worth breathing, if I am what you believe I am, then…” I knelt before her. “raise your sword and cut me down!” I shouted.
I am so going to end up dead! Stupid brain! You watched too much anime! I shouted in my mind, but I was frightened of the possibility of ending up killed just like that.
Technically speaking, we were in the middle of the forest. There was no one for miles who could pin my murder on her, but if the other dragons saw me in the same manner, then without her help, I was bound to end up dead.
“Cut you down? Are you mad?” she asked me a bit annoyed by the thought of doing the deed.
“Maybe, who knows?” I shrugged.
“I will not cut you down, rest assured!” she declared and looked away.
“Then you don’t hate me! Yes!” I said with a gleam of joy on my face.
“W-What? I guess so…” she said blinking a bit confused.
“This means that I still have a chance with you!” I showed her a big smile.
“What? Do you even know what you are saying? I’m a dragon! I’m a knight!” she said grabbing me by the collar of my clothes and glared at me.
“And you are beautiful too. Do you think I care about you being a knight or a dragon?” I asked her as I looked defiantly in her eyes.
Oh God! Please don’t kill me! Please don’t kill me! On second thought, God, please don’t let me soil myself! I whimpered in my mind.
If she pulled me up and forced me to stand, I might have fallen to my knees because this dragoness was emitting quite the killing aura. I felt like a man at a beauty convention who just told all the girls there that they looked a bit chubby, or my father, who once commented on how bad grandma’s soup tasted when she was right there behind him.
“GRRR!” she seriously growled at me.
“You know, you might be right about most humans being like that, but could someone without a status, money, or power, a weakling like myself dares to speak such words to one such as you? I have no way of fighting against you and even if I could, I wouldn’t! Even if I had the power to conquer continents, I wouldn’t! Even if our roles were reversed, I wouldn’t force myself upon you! I am not like THOSE humans!” I declared with my fist clenched, eyes locked with hers, but feet trembling like there was no tomorrow.
“GRRR!” she growled again at me.
Aya? Am I dead now? I’m dead… I’m certain about it… I thought and tried hard to think of what else to say.
“A relationship between me and you isn’t impossible!” I shouted and closed my eyes.
I waited for my imminent doom, but nothing happened.
Am I dead yet? I asked myself.
Opening an eye, I saw Seryanna blushing and looking down.
Is she embarrassed? I thought.
“You…” she said and looked up at me. “Do you have any idea what you are saying? Humans and dragons are mortal enemies… I never even heard of a human liking anything else except elves, dwarfs, or maybe one of the beast kin. Even then, their kingdoms and fellow humans forbid it!” she told me.
“Well, I’m pretty sure they are just jealous.” I joked.
“Grrr!” she growled at me and then let me go.
“Listen, I’m not an idiot, I know a romantic relationship would be rushing into things… Besides, I don’t know if you like someone or not.” I said and sighed. I scratched the back of my head and continued to speak “My point is that I do like you, I find you attractive, although not yet in a romantic way. I hold some respect towards you because of your strength, devotion and honor. That being said, I don’t think it would be bad if we were friends? Hearing what you just said about humans, I’m starting to wonder if I should even attempt to go back there, maybe I’m better off here, you know? But if that’s so, I can’t do it alone, I need people to help me out because I’m an idiot when it comes to many things. I need friends.”
Seryanna listened carefully and looked into my eyes for any hint of me lying to her. She held a serious look on her face, but so far, she wasn’t willing to reach for her blade. A single swipe would have been more than enough to cut off my head or simply injure me and leave me at the mercy of the wild monsters all around that forest.
“Are you an idiot?” she asked and then her expression softened a bit. “Maybe I am one too.” she sighed “For a moment there, I thought you were going to confess to me…” she looked relieved.
“Yeah, too early for that. I’m still hoping for you to confess to me.” I joked, showing her a small smile.
“Like that will ever happen!” she giggled.
“Still, I’m glad you aren’t mad at me or thinking of killing me.”
Raising an eyebrow at me, she asked “Mad, I am a bit about you thinking that I would kill the one who helped me find the mushroom for my grandfather.”
“Oh! I completely forgot about that… I thought you would have found them anyway.” I told her.
She shook her head and showed me a small smile “I think I passed by that place more times than I could count, but I never thought of searching there. You even found so many other herbs as well. I actually don’t deny the fact that without you, I wouldn’t have been able to finish my journey so fast!”
“No way! I’m sure it’s just luck that I…” I stopped and blinked surprised.
Could it be? I thought for a moment.
“Luck or not, it doesn’t matter. You were there, and you helped me. That’s what matters to me. As for the other thing, I actually never heard of a human acting as friendly as you do towards another species. Maybe those stories never reached my ears, but I do find it quite strange. You aren’t threatening either. You are weaker than a bunny.” she giggled.
In my mind, I was looking at a movie that showed a cute little fuzzy bunny with 20 points of strength beating the hell out of me. I had the feeling that it was quite possible for that to happen. Then again, what if a bunny was actually the name of a vicious man eating monster?
“Then are you willing to protect this foolish little human against the ferocious bunny, Sir Seryanna?” I asked with a small bow.
“Maybe? But if you turn out to be like those foolish humans I kept hearing about, I’m going to be the one hunting you down!” she smirked at me.
“I understand. So does this mean I can be your friend?” I asked with a smile.
“I don’t know, maybe?” she giggled.
I got up and made a half bow with one leg in front of me, imitating a true gentleman.
“Sir Seryanna, will you be willing to be my friend?” I asked.
She smiled and nodded.
[You have made a new friend: Seryanna Draketerus]
“What-What’s this?” she asked surprised.
“What’s what?” I asked.
“Can’t you see it?” she asked pointing at something invisible in front of her eyes.
Could it be? I asked myself.
“A floating message…” she told me.
“What does it say?” I asked.
“Ah! It’s gone now.” she blinked surprised. “Is that some kind of spell?” she asked.
“Erm, probably my skill…” I told her.
“I’ve never heard of such a skill, but it said something weird. That I’m your friend now, and I will be getting stronger two times faster. How can that be possible?” she asked surprised.
“Well, my ability allows me to help my friends grow stronger much faster than usual. I don’t think it works unless we consider each other friends. You can call it a bonus of our relationship.” I said with a smile.
“This is a very powerful ability you have…” she said with a nod.
“Yup!” I smiled and nodded.
“So this is what you were after all along?” she asked raising an eyebrow.
“Part of it, but being your friend after what we’ve been through doesn’t sound too bad now, does it?”
“You have a strange way of making friends. A simple ‘do you want to be my friend?’ would have sufficed. Next time, don’t ask for them to be your mate, just ask them that.” she sighed.
“Noted! But yeah, I just panicked a bit… Sorry!” I apologized.
“No need. I found it funny! Usually, males come to me with such words only when it’s mating season. Afterwards, they completely forget about it.” she told me with a shrug.
“I’m a human, therefore, I’m in heat all year round!” I laughed.
She squinted her eyes and took a step away from me.
“Don’t worry, Seryanna, I’m not going to attack you, but don’t hate me if I fall in love with you.” I smiled.
“Stupid…” she looked away and then blinked surprised. “AH! The meat! I forgot about it!” she said as she rushed to pull the nearly burned meat away from the fire.
After we ate, I went to bed, but not before I checked out my stats. I remembered that I gained 25% of the stats of each Dragon Friend I made.
[Name]: Alkelios Yatagai
[Magic Excellence]: 1%+6.75%
[Skills]: Show? Y/N
[Skill Points]: 0
[Stat Points]: 0
My first reaction when I saw the status screen was:
Would you look at that? I gained two points in strength and two in magic! Yay!
My original stats looked like a joke when compared to the bonus I got from Seryanna, unfortunately, I couldn’t see her stats yet, but from what I could guess, they were probably at the following values:
[Name]: Seryanna Draketerus
[Magic Excellence]: 27%
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