Chapter 56 Cheating Death – Hunted (Part 4)
Immediately after they heard the deep bellowing sounds echo throughout the forest the entire group tensed up. In that moment of distract, Jeremy took advantage and ran away from them without a single glance back them.
Ava barely glanced his way when she realized he’d run off. The bellowing from those beasts dissipated all her anger and left her feeling weak in the knees.
The idea of having to face them was terrifying beyond to her.
Hannah and Kaden looked annoyed that Jeremy had run away, neither of them had actually wanted to kill him (for different reasons of course) but the idea that he could still pose a threat to them and get away with what he had just tried didn’t sit well with them.
Still looking in the direction they had fled from and thinking about the bellows that must have been caused by them… They all made eye contact wondering the same thing “What do we do now?”
Ava was the first to speak up as her voice cracked “Should… Should we look for Daichi?”
Perhaps it was because she had made a choice already, but she had already been wondering what their path would be like without his assistance.
Kaden shared a glance with Hannah thinking about what to do… He wanted to look for Daichi and make sure he was okay… Even with his stupid decision he was sure that Daichi hadn’t meant them harm by it…
Thinking about how the bulls might be chasing after Daichi made Kaden hesitate. If that were the case then even if they tried to help him, there just wouldn’t be anything they could do. Thinking to that point, Kaden was worried about Hannah and Ava.
How can I put them in danger when there’s nothing we can do to help?
Hannah was thinking something along the same lines, she’d been so close to the bulls and had felt she’d come so close to death. Her hesitation was more centered around the fear caused by her sense of self-preservation.
“Not necessary. The bulls seem to be heading our way.” the shorter mare casually said pulling everyone’s thoughts out of their own heads and causing their eyes to widen with fear.
“What the hell? Why?!” Kaden stammered as he realized they hadn’t run far enough.
“I don’t know. I can consume some of your mana and use an ability of mine to hide us… But they already know we’re in this general location… We would need to go elsewhere and you would have to carry me as I do this.” the shorter mare responded giving them all a piece of hope.
Taking the initiative, Hannah immediately spoke up and agreed.
In Hannah’s mind, if there was a way to buy time before having to make a choice then it was clearly the right option. Moreover if they could find a way to avoid having to have any contact with those bulls, then that would be the right choice.
As the mare got onto Kaden’s back and and wrapped her hands around his neck, Kaden’s face immediately began to pale.
Almost immediate he could begin to feel a sense of desolation. Kaden still hadn’t fully mastered the meditation technique his sister had tried to teach him. His mana was slowly being drained every step they took trying to get some distance from where they were and find shelter.
They began trying to jog through the forest as the mare tried to give them some general directions in order to stay away from the bulls and keep them on track.
The tension in the group only heightened as they tried to avoid anything and everything. Even if they weren’t particularly hurt, with their stamina so low after the day they’d had, getting into a battle with anything would prove too arduous for them and they knew it.
After finding some shelter after nightfall, they resorted to climbing trees for safety again, and with the mare eating. Kaden could only try to meditate to restore some of the mana being taken from him.
They tried to sleep… But in the distance they could hear the rumblings as the bellowing of massive creatures shook the forest and their anger heightened and seemed palpable in their voices.
Taro and Khalko had not come across lesser creatures that could mask all traces of their mana in a long time. Suddenly being forced to do work in order to catch their prey, their frustration began to mount.
They had not expected an easy task of picking off an insect who had annoyed them to become such a burden and a sense of indignation began to seed itself within them.
They stomped through the forest as they destroyed anything in their path, they held themselves back from using their flames solely to stop themselves from burning every single living in the forest down to cinders. Even enraged, they didn’t want to kill all of their food at once.
Throughout the night the bellowed and stomped causing the entire forest’s landscape to change wherever they passed through.
Every single beast and monster in the forest with any sense of self-awareness began to retreat as far from the areas near the bulls. Their sense of fear pushing them out of their territories and even causing them to come into contact with other creatures they might have normally felt some animosity of caution towards. In the face of the overwhelming aura of these divine beasts though, all of these monsters trembled in fear.
All except a few brave creatures strong enough to stay. These few monsters were the ones who refused to leave their territory, their homes.
They tried to sleep… But the sounds of those angry bellows had kept them all too stiff to do more than worry for their lives. It was only after pure exhaustion had set in that they had managed to get a few uncomfortable hours of sleep before the early morning light from the sun began to wake them all up.
Looking haggard, uncomfortable and paranoid they all eyed each other uncomfortably.
They began to have a conversation they had avoided last night now that they felt a slight quiver of safety that they knew was nothing more than an illusion.
“Let’s… Let’s leave. I think Daichi is going to make the same decision. He saw those things up close and he should come to the same conclusion as all of us, that trying to face those beasts would be impossible. Since it’s the only decision, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t make it.” eyeing the mare whose face looked no different than always, Hannah continued.
“Once they get a far enough distance, he’ll probably have your sister make it so that we can sense them again so we can find each other. That’s the most efficient choice… I think that’s how he’ll probably think and it’s what we should do as well” as soon as Hannah finished she could sense the hesitation on the others expressions.
No one felt comfortable just leaving Daichi behind, even if they all shared different reasons for feeling as such.
With no one disagreeing, they all all stayed in silence for a few minutes as they came to terms with their decision.
The shorter mare watched in silence, not giving an opinion either way. No one could tell what she was thinking, but she was secretly weighing her options.
After making up their minds, they came to a decision to continue trying to go east in order to get as much distance from the bulls while still going in the direction they were heading.
No disagreements, they got out of their trees and started going their way.
They traveled for hours with no problems and the shorter mare still being carried by Kaden was beginning to feel hesitant even if she didn’t voice it.
She could feel the difference in the forest. After all of the destruction the bulls had caused throughout the entire night suddenly they had ceased their rampage and stopped moving altogether. They had stayed put for the last two hours or so and their inaction was what was beginning to trouble her.
After walking through the day into the afternoon the group ran into their first obstacle which they didn’t anticipate.
The shorter mare had been working diligently as her technique was not meant to shelter so many others without a constant large supply of mana. Unlike her sister, she had to cover the mana of 3 others and not just one.
The strain coupled her her vigilance on the mana of the two bulls despite the growing distance between them, caused her to no longer her as sensitive to the mana of those around them.
After coming to a stream and immediately wanting to get some water to cool their faces and take a rest the others remembered what Daichi had said after their first troll encounters.
Trolls love bodies of water, and make those their homes.
As they stood stock still in front of the small creek they were at, they began to look around and finally calmed down as they realized there wasn’t anything else around them.
That moment of relief didn’t last long as Ava pointed to a large with her eyes wide open and mouth hanging ope, “T-Troll!”
The others had already been sensitive to their surroundings and now looking in the direction Ava was pointing immediately cast their gaze on a troll that was staring right back at them.
Their faces darkened instantly as they realized this wasn’t a normal troll… This was one of those special trolls Daichi had spent all of his effort in order to defeat…
On the edge of the creek up on higher ground stood a large thick tree, thick enough that five people would have to try and hug it together to make up it’s circumference. On one of the lower thicker branches, leaning up against the trunk of the tree sat an ornate looking monster. Purple skin, muscular and wearing only rags to cover it’s unmentionables, it’s ugly features stood stark in contrast with the beauty of the scenery.
The beauty of the lush thick majestic tree situated next to the clear crystal waters of the creek as the foliage gave the entire area a scene of serenity sat this purple skinned troll.
He sat making eye contact with three humans as his stomach began to growl.