~ Chapter 104: Fear and Madness (Part 1) ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
At the break of dawn, I stepped outside for some morning stretches. Normally, you would have thought that by now I had adapted to this planet's sense of time, but while my body was half-dragon and half-human, my mind and soul still held attachments to Earth. I still thought about an hour as having 60 minutes not 80 or 96 as others did. It was only pure coincidence or maybe an assumed choice that dragons thought about a day as having 32 hours, each with 60 minutes.
For me, having a mere 5 hours of sleep was enough, while 8 or 10 was just lazing around or relaxing. Dragons and dragonesses tended to sleep up to 12 or 14 hours, depending on the weather and how much Magic Energy they used during the day. Back in Albeyater, I would often wake up before Seryanna or when the sun's morning rays had yet to touch the tip of the tallest tree in the land.
Just how every civilization on this planet measured time a bit differently, they also had different names for weeks and months as well as points of beginning and end for them. The relliars, for example, split their years in two based on their mating season, while the dwarfs focused on the cycle of the two moons in the sky. Dragons in general had 10 months per year, all of which had between 30 and 36 days, reaching to a total of 348 days of 32 hours each.
Of course these were all just rough measurements, and no one knew the exact astronomic values. I vaguely remembered that Earth's days didn't had exactly 24 hours, they were slightly longer or maybe shorter? Probably shorter because it always felt like we didn't have enough time to do our homework.
Well, this sort of millisecond or nanosecond accuracy didn't matter on this world. After all, most people measured times by when the sun rose and set in the sky. It mattered little if one had an appointment at 16:05 or 16:30 because it was all the same for them.
As for why I was torturing my poor little sizzled brain so early in the morning with measurements about time, this was because I was worried about Seryanna.
That God-like told me three years passed since my battle with Kronius, but I don't think he was referring to Earth years... How long exactly have I kept her waiting for me? I thought as I continued my stretching exercises.
One of the patrolling guards walked passed by me and gave me a weird look. He probably wasn't used with people waking up so early in the morning just to move around their arms like a headless chicken.
An hour or so later, I returned to my room and sent another ping to Seryanna to let her know that I was alive and well. I missed her, and I wanted to see her soon. Flying in a bee line for it was an option, but I had to take into account the God-like's advice in regard to take my time and not hurry. He must have told me that for a reason, right?
Risha and Kalderan were the next ones to wake up, while Ildea was still sleeping. It was hard for me to imagine how difficult it must have been for this poor girl to find a moment of solace to relax and catch her breath when she knew that assassins were on her tail.
Seeing her sleeping so peacefully made me understand that she managed to find it in her heart to trust us with her freedom and life. As long as we were here, those bastards had no chance of getting close to her. After all, I was a powerful adventurer and my companions weren't to laugh at either. Well, maybe only Risha still had a lot to learn and train before she could be considered of any use? As for Kalderan, he was leveling up nicely. A little more and I could toss him in the Seculiar Forest for a bit of training.
After Ildea woke up, we had our breakfast at a nearby restaurant and then went to buy her some spare clothes and essentials for the long road ahead of us. We still had to pass through Mathias Town, Grinjar Trade City, and Olfango Village before we could reach Ten Swords Capital. For me, it was just a one day trip at most, but my companions could neither fly nor run as fast as me, which was an unfortunate predicament. Then again, a bit of sightseeing wasn't so bad either.
What worried me, though, was the fact that I was delaying my reunion with Seryanna.
We left Leveder City sometime around noon and made our way down the highway towards Mathias Town. It was a woodland area with small trees that grew scattered across tiny hills. The mountain from which Leveder's citizens drew their mineral ores was getting farther and farther away from us. The monsters were getting weaker as well, which meant that Mathias was a far more safer place to live in than the other one. After all, the chances for a monster horde to attack weren't as high as it was in there.
At our current pace, we would reach our destination in about three or four days, but this was only because Ildea walked at a slow pace when compared to the rest of us. To solve this small predicament, I decided to pick her up in a princess-carry and run on the side of the road together with Kalderan and Risha. The latter was having difficulty keeping up the pace, but since I was carrying all of our baggage, she didn't have to worry about any extra weight.
I didn't want to go running all the way to Mathias, but when we dropped by the stables, we learned that there were no carriages leaving towards next town. As for our horses, they were borrowed and had to be returned to the Merchant Guild when the mission report was submitted.
At one point while we were walking, I did mention the fact that it would have been great if we had a Khosinni to ride on, but when Risha heard me, this was what she said:
“Are you talking about that legendary monster with three pairs of feet and four eyes? That beast that grows larger than a carriage and travels faster than the wind? Those things cannot be tamed and would easily crush under their hooves any man or monster that dares to step too close to them!”
And Ildea had something to say about them as well:
“I heard from my father that our great grandfather once had one, a gift from the Relliar King Masgarikan. The Khosinni was the mount he rode in battle, and it was well trained, but it died of old age five years before my great grandfather did.”
“Why do you speak of such monsters, Alkelios? Have you seen one before?” Kalderan asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Hm? Yes, the dragons use them as horses.” I replied with a shrug.
“What?!” Ildea asked with a raised tone of voice, mouth agape, and big opened eyes.
“Well, I don't see it as being that surprising. The monsters on the Dragon Continent are usually over level 100, so a normal horse would stand no chance against them. The Khosinni are also faster and far more loyal, but their diet is also vastly different seeing how even the grass on the Dragon Continent can be seen as a powerful potion ingredient.” I explained.
“The Dragon Continent is nuts.” commented Kladeran.
“Ehehe... yeah, I don't deny it. They have some pretty crazy things over there.” I showed him a wry smile.
A little before nightfall, we made camp in a little patch of grass by the side of the road. The provisions we bought in Leveder were plenty to make a decent meal which even a noble would be envious of. The fact that I could carry within my [Black Hole] a complete kitchen may have had something to do with it. But seriously though, what sort of adventurer doesn't carry one with him?
Well, putting jokes aside, I knew that my cheat-like abilities allowed us a great deal of comfort. My strength as a fighter also put everyone at ease while we traveled. Risha never had the courage to travel on her own before, while Kalderan didn't even dare stray too far from Soldra out of fear of being killed by a random monster.
The things I was seeing on this journey were not only a first for me but also for my companions.
I was the first to stand guard at night. Princess Ildea slept together with Risha, and Kalderan fiddled with his guns a bit before the Sandman gave him a boot to dreamland. There was still a good amount of wood on the fire, and the crackling sound coupled with the soft breeze of the wind created a pleasant atmosphere.
If this was Earth, we would have all slept like babies, only having to fear a random bug that would come to bite us rather than a monster waiting to devour our entrails. In this world, traveling alone and even in group was considered dangerous for various reasons, but unlike my companions, I didn't feel that pressure, that fear I once felt when I camped out in the Seculiar Forest.
When I was training, I always had to be on the edge, always ready to jump and avoid an attack. I always wished to wake up before a dangerous monster attacked me, so every time I found myself springing up from my bed for whatever reason, I was ready to fight. In the Seculiar Forest, the upper branches were littered with giant spiders, the woods were crawling with monsters, and the ground was infested with lurking predators. Even the plants were ready to attack you if you weren't careful.
Back when I first arrived in this world and camped out with Seryanna, we were both extremely lucky to have such peaceful nights in that accursed forest. Once I wished for that 'lucky barrier' to be lifted and be allowed to feel the true horrors of that place, I more than once found myself overwhelmed by the high number of hungry monsters.
Speaking of which, this reminds me... I thought and then opened the [Black Hole].
Up in the tree I made myself comfortable in, from within my infinite inventory space, I pulled out a strange-looking egg. It was blackish in color with an green aurora flowing across its shiny surface. In size, it was as big as an ostrich egg, but from within it, I could feel an incredible power and a pulse of life that refused to give up.
I wonder when you'll hatch? I thought as I gently petted the egg.
A soft smile formed on my lips as I looked with caring eyes at it. When I first saw it back then, at the base of a volcano, surrounded by a raging river of lava held back only by an ancient barrier spell, I initially thought it was a dragon egg, but when I got closer to it, I saw that it was far too small to be one. I honestly had no idea what sort of creature it was protecting inside it. None of the books in the Albeyater Royal Library contained even a spec of information regarding it, and when I showed it to his Majesty, he didn't know either.
This egg is truly mysterious... I just hope I won't end up with a weird pet like an Ancient Divine Retarded Psychic Duck... or an earthworm. I thought and then chuckled to myself.
Because I believed it was too precious to leave it out in the open, I placed it back in the [Black Hole] for safe keeping.
The following hour was uneventful, with the exception of a moment when Ildea woke up in a panic to check where she was. Once she saw me, she calmed down and returned to sleep next to Risha, who was a slobbering mess that kept mumbling something about crispy chicken wings.
It was then when I saw the sky light up as bright as day for a fraction of a second and then 14 seconds later, the thundering sound of explosion reached us. The shock wave that followed nearly tossed me out of the tree and woke up everyone else. We were far away from the epicentre of that explosion so that we didn't feel terribly shocked by the after effects.
I jumped out of the tree and made sure everyone else was alright.
“I'm going to go and check it out. Kalderan, keep watch.” I told him.
“Sure thing and be careful out there.” he told me.
Ildea looked with worried eyes at me, but I just replied with a soft smile.
The explosion took place at four... no five kilometres away from here. I thought as I measured the distance based on the speed of sound.
It was something I learned in school and had fun with during lightning storms. Whenever I saw a lightning, I would count the seconds until I heard the thunder. The number of seconds multiplied by 343 meters was the relative distance between me and the lightning.
As for why I began to count the seconds since the flash of light showed up, half of it was because of boredom and the other half was out of reflex. There were a few cases when knowing the distance by sound proved useful, although not exactly like this. Back in the Seculiar Forest, I ended up falling in a dark damp cave filled with illusion-casting spiders that made themselves appear to me like a horde of naked Seryannas. I bravely fought my way out of there and only suffered from a massive nosebleed.
Anyway, it was clear that something or someone very powerful was casting some nasty boom boom spells. If it was anything like my [Itsy Bitsy BOOM!], we would have been dead by now, so at the very least it wasn't anything radioactive.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
This is the first chapter after my break! 😀
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