~ Chapter 109: How she was viewed by others (Part 2) ~
Indeed, I was the strongest among them, but this didn't mean that they were children who didn't know how to fight or were easy to get themselves killed. Some of them had managed to survive quite well long before I showed up in their lives. I wasn't some sort of god that brought them salvation, I was more like... erm... a worrywart bigger brother?
Yeah, that was probably the best way to describe myself right now. I was worried about them, I was afraid to lose them when I knew I could protect them. It wasn't easy to simply admit that even someone weak could survive in this world, but then again... maybe this was just something similar like that fear I had about my own humanity.
Thinking about that, I decided that it would be best to come clean with them. They were my friends, and they had the right to know if I was worried about something, especially if it concerned their well-being.
“Actually, I had something to tell you... You see... for a while now I've been having some rather strange worries.” I confessed.
“What do you mean by strange worries? I'm sorry, my friend, but I don't swing that way.” Kalderan said.
I narrowed my eyes at him and tossed glaring daggers at him.
“I wasn't talking about that, besides, I'm a married man, remember?” I pointed at my ring.
“Relax, I was joking.” Kalderan laughed.
“Sigh... well, leaving that aside, the worries I hold are related to your safety. I just... well... I'm very powerful when compared to the rest of you, so you see... I feel like I might lose you if I don’t go an extra mile to protect you.” I told them.
“Lose us?” Ildea raised an eyebrow while Coshun narrowed his eyes at me.
“Boy, you told me at one point that you participated in a great war, didn't you?” the draconian prince asked.
“Yes, it was a defensive battle against a the rebellious Draejan Andrakaryus Doesya.” I replied with a nod.
“Did it take place on a large battlefield where thousands and thousands of draconians fought against each other?”
“Yes... There were a lot of Breakthrough-ers as well. If I didn't give my wife and my friends my weapons and armors, I fear that they would have died by their sword.” I replied with a nod and lowered my head.
“I see now.” Coshun said and then leaned back against his chair while crossing his arms at his chest.
“See what?” Ildea asked.
“The rest of you never participated in a grand-scale battle, have you?” he asked them.
“No.” was the overall reply.
“I didn't, but I've seen records of the battles from various wars.” Kalderan said, and I had a feeling he was referring to the documentaries of Earth’s World Wars.
“Reading about it and participating in it are two very different things. That experience can change a dragon or a man. It can turn friends into foes and enemies into allies. War has many faces, but for the most part, the most painful thing about it is when you realize that you weren't able to defend and protect your loved ones. A lot of us simply can't recover from something like that... it haunts us.” he said.
“Are you saying that...” I looked up at him.
“Alkelios, from what I've seen so far, you aren't a man born on the battlefield. You aren't someone who was hardened through fire and steel, you made yourself tough in order to survive the blows aimed at you. I may not know your past or what lurks in your heart, but my instincts as someone who also participated in a similar big battle and had to witness the loss of loved ones, I can tell you that the fear of losing anyone else you hold dear is strong and at times... it can be overwhelming.” Coshun spoke in a tone of voice that held a deep wisdom and also a note of sadness.
Just like he said, I was indeed overwhelmed at times by the fear of losing those around me, maybe it even drove me a little over the edge. I wasn't ashamed to say that this was probably my greatest weakness as well, however, I didn't know how to handle it. The people who came from Earth weren't warriors or fighters, we didn't know what to do in these situations.
If not for the whole transportation to another world, right now I would have been worrying about my exams at University or what new game to play. Wars, battles, the very thought of losing someone dear to you because they got attacked and killed by someone was as much of a foreign idea as it was peace among all nations on this planet.
“Overwhelming, huh?” I said in a low voice as I looked down at the table.
Kalderan nudged me again with his elbow and then said “You worry too much, you idiot.”
“Maybe...” I replied.
“Alkelios, it's commendable that you care so much about us.” Ildea said as she placed her hand over mine “However, you should understand that you are indeed in a league of your own when it comes to combat power. We aren't foolish enough as to challenge someone of your caliber, but we won't back away from those we consider to be just as strong or a bit weaker than us.”
“Nya~ Fish not care about when fish becomes Tamara's food! Fishy just be fishy and let the world take care of the rest!” Tamara said, and for some weird reason, I felt as though her words made the most sense.
Instead of worrying about who I was right now and what I could do best on my own, I was worrying about how I could sacrifice myself to make others feel better, but in doing so, I might end up hurting them because I hurt myself for them. It was such a weird thought for me, but in a way it made sense. I mean, it wasn't as if I wasn't going to jump in to protect them from now on, but maybe having a bit more faith in them wasn't such a bad thing, after all?
“Thank you, everyone.” I showed them a smile.
“Heh, even the mightiest of warriors could easily fall prey to the matters of the heart!” Coshun declared.
“Yeah, and I have a feeling that if my wife was here, she would have said the same thing or maybe something similar... She's always good at encouraging me and helping me see the light where I stumble around like an idiot in the darkness.” I said.
“She sounds wonderful, I hope to meet her someday.” said Ildea.
Meanwhile, Amadeus and Drumora didn't say a single word about this. My first thought was that they might have been a bit too young and inexperienced to understand what we were talking about or maybe they simply didn't know or didn't want to say anything.
“Thank you...” I told them in a small voice.
It was good to have friends who cared so much about you. It was both a relief and a gift, which for the most part, maybe I didn't know how to treasure it properly. So far, friendship was something confirmed to me through a skill, but... when you didn't have something like a skill to connect you to them, when you didn't rely on it, how could one determine if the other party was indeed a friend or just a sheep in wolf's clothing.
So far, I didn't have any reason to suspect them as being the latter. I went on the basis of believing and trusting in them until proven otherwise.
Then again, even if they back stabbed me, wasn't true friendship proven when you were able to forgive them and gave them a second chance? At the very least this was what all the games, movies, anime, and manga were trying to teach me back on Earth, but in this world, it felt as though such high morals would only end up getting you killed. If they back stabbed you with a very sharp knife, chances were you would never have the chance to forgive them in the first place. But what if their betrayal was manifested as injury or harm brought to the ones you loved? Could you still forgive them even then?
Such useless thoughts crossed my mind as I looked down at the ground.
Coshun said that I made myself tough in order to survive the blows aimed at me or my loved ones. Maybe it was because of this fact that I have found myself in this pathetically confused state, but just as I was starting to fall deeper and deeper into that sense of dread and impotence, someone placed their hand on my left shoulder and met me with a gentle smile.
“Nya~ You think too much!” Tamara told me as she twitched her whiskers.
Maybe I really do... I thought.
As I let go of all those useless thoughts, I felt a sense of relief and ease, which made me smile.
“You might be powerful, Alkelios, but sometimes, I get the feeling that deep inside you are no different than a child who is still learning about the world around him.” Risha told me.
This was probably a very harsh truth that I didn't want to admit. In a way, maybe all of us Earthlings were like that. We were brought up in a different world, with different morals, and somehow, we ended up believing that the world would tell us what to do and help us with our problems every time. True, the world would lend its hand, but what I realized now, after my mind cleared up, I was also responsible of trying my best to work things out.
“Most likely.” I laughed.
After we had our meal, we decided to go for a stroll through the city to check out the various stores here and see if there was anything good to buy. We needed some essentials for Amadeus and Drumora, since so far, they lived a very modest and poor life with little to no room for self-indulgence. On another note, they were both well aware of both the prices and the quality of the luxury items on the market. When it came to armors and stuff like that, I could just make some for them, but I just couldn't bear to see them not having any clothes to choose from.
Ildea bought for herself during our recent stops a bunch of clothes, Risha as well. Tamara was made to wear clothes and acted as a dress up doll for the two women in our group, while Coshun borrowed a bunch of draconian clothes I had, since they were all enchanted with size readjustment magic. Kalderan had his own stuff, and I wasn't even going to mention the amount of clothes and armors I had stacked up in my [Black Hole], although, in any case, I could always just give some of them to the two, since they had size readjustment enchant.
That afternoon, our luck seemed to be smiling upon us as we found several stores opened, and we more or less bought everything we needed. The merchants had nothing to complain about even when they saw the big ol' Coshun entering their store. As long we paid for the stuff, everything else were details.
The city itself wasn't that spectacular in my opinion, the streets were dirty, the smell from the horse manure annoyed all of us, and the people weren't the best to have around. From time to time, I caught the more sleazebag-looking individuals tossing dirty looks at Ildea, Risha, or Drumora. While I was replying with a glare, when it came to the human princess, Coshun seemed to be a bit more protective as he added a bit of killing intent to his glare, a reaction which I personally found to be rather interesting.
At one point, I decided to visit one of the local stores that sold armors and weapons. I was curious about whether or not there was anything inspiring among his wares. I long since given up on the prospect of finding a good or better item than what I had on me, but when it came to models and types of weapons and armor, there was still a lot I could learn.
From this store, I bought a pair of shoulder protectors I found interesting, and a dagger with a double edge and a slightly curved form. Both of them didn't cost me more than 17 silvers, as they weren't enchanted and weren't recommended for anything other than training or hunting weak monsters.
When we left that store, however, a drunkard bumped into Amadeus.
“Bah, stinkin' Akutan brat... To the dayuks to with that empire! They makin' life of everyone here and there more miserable than it already is!” he spat at him, but I pulled the boy out of the way before he was hit.
Coshun glared at the drunkard once, and he pissed himself.
With a cry of fear, the man ran away from us. It was a rather pathetic sight to behold, but there were always resentful folk like him both here and on the Dragon Continent, individuals who tried to put the blame of their own misfortunes on others. I should know because I was one of them too until a certain silver-scaled dragoness punched me back to reality.
I do hope that Kataryna's doing well. Maybe she made new friends while I was gone? I thought for a moment before turning my focus back to Amadeus.
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!
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