Chapter 12: Becoming Acquainted With the Sword Mistress
Waking up to a searing pain in one’s midsection was probably the least desirable thing, and when Riy opened his eyes he immediately reached for his midsection. Gasping and feeling a coldness around his waist, he slowly looked down to see, with horror the blade sticking out of his midsection. Only its tip protruded there, but even that was enough to keep the Wolflian from moving much. He managed to turn his head slightly to the left, then to the right with a moan and closed his eyes.
Okay, so I have no idea where I am at this point. I’m alive, but… where? The youth chose to listen at this point, as opposed to looking around because even so much as turning his head made more pain flare up in his neck. Perhaps he hurt his head too? He did fall a good ways, at least that’s what he thought. The youth, unable to move from his position chose to lay there with the blade tip sticking out of his chest, closing his eyes and doing his best to take his mind off the pain.
At the same time, in the same place only a few feet away a female Wolflian, Renne, laid sprawled out on the ground, her face hanging dangerously close to a pool of murky water. It wasn’t until the tip of her ear touched the surface that her body’s instincts kicked in, sending a chill down her spine that almost immediately woke her, springing to a sitting position. Her vision still blurry from just waking up, she looked around while rubbing her eyes to get a sense of where she was.
“This place is…” Her gaze passing over the other Wolflian present and she squinted, unsure if what she was seeing was real. When she was able to make out his features, her eyes shot open, recalling the events that had transpired only moments ago, at least in her memory. She began tentatively crawling towards the boy, feeling a small rush of guilt upon seeing the tip of the blade sticking out of his midsection, and lightly brushed a hand against it.
This guy… why did he just do that back there? The Wolflian girl was unable to comprehend the actions that Riy had taken to protect her, as she barely knew who he was. She closed her eyes to think about what she was going to do next, and then when opening her eyes tightly gripped the tip of the blade with one hand, while gently pulling the sleeping figure of the Wolflian youth towards her.
“This is probably gonna hurt more than it should, but-” Without hesitation, the girl send a pulse of static electricity using a spell through the metal, causing a reaction that forced the blade to eject itself from Riy’s midsection and clatter against the ground with a few sparks. Once she did this, Renne laid the youth back on the ground as carefully as she could and stared at the now bloody uniform he was wearing, cringing at the sight.
I might not know him, but the least I can do is bandage this. She told herself, reaching towards the flaps of the uniform and gently pulling them apart, revealing the gruesome wound beneath. The girl’s immediate reaction was to flinch, as she wasn’t expecting to see it so messy, but upon taking a closer look noticed something else.
“He took that, from behind, and not a single organ was hit…” She said to herself with awe.
“A person’s body can’t do that normally. How did…” Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, Renne told herself that all she needed to do was clean the wound and then bandage it to clear her debt. She began to search her pockets for anything that could be used as a bandage, quickly realizing after a short while that she didn’t bring such things along and scowled. I need to remember to bring more along with me, she thought while looking down, her gaze stopping on her white knee socks. “Or I could use…
She immediately, and rather hastily tore at the hem of her socks, pulling it apart until she gathered enough fabric that she was confident would work as a makeshift bandage. Next, she hummed and pulled some water up from nearby, using a simple spell to purify it and then lightly soaked the cloth in her other hand. Once she did this, the Wolflian girl proceeded to slowly wrap it around the boy's midsection, taking care not to disturb the wound too much for fear it might aggravate it and make it bleed again.
Careful, careful… got it! Using a second piece of fabric from her other knee sock, she tied the end of the makeshift bandage neatly, and with a content smile she breathed out while dusting off her own clothing, having amassed a good amount of dirt on it after falling from such a height.
“Alright. That should do it. Now I should probably” While rising to her feet as she talked to herself, she was only able to get to her full height and take a step forwards before a shooting pain flooded her leg and she immediately collapsed to the ground with a shout. Grabbing at her ankle, she pulled it close while biting her tongue, and pulling the knee sock back discovered it had turned an unsightly color, prompting the girl to roll her eyes. “Dammit… I must’ve sprained it. That fall really got me…” Grasping at the dirt in front of her, she stared at the dark tunnel in front of her and narrowed her eyes.
“If only… if only I had been careful…” Feeling the exhaustion from earlier return, her breath became labored and it took the willpower she had not to fall back unconscious. “Not yet… not until I, find my mother-” Stopping short when the pain infiltrated her midsection, she wondered if it was more than a sprain and cursed her forgetfulness to bring her sword with her like Astria had done, resting her face against the floor and groaning with frustration.
While she laid there, Riy woke up again after falling unconscious, turning his head with a moan and blinking a few times, bringing his arm up and rubbing his eyes.
“I lost consciousness again. I wonder how much blood I lost…” He said quietly to himself while doing his best to sit up, looking down at his midsection and stopping when he saw the makeshift bandaging. “Huh? That wasn’t there before…” While also realizing that the pain wasn’t as severe as it had been minutes ago, he turned his head unknowingly in the direction where Renne was sprawled out on the ground and gasped.
“Hey! Are you alright?!” His instincts kicked in and he sprung to his feet, ignoring the pain that flared up upon standing, scrambling over to the collapsed girl and crouching by her side.
“Hey…” Renne’s voice made him freeze while he was reaching towards her in an attempt to roll her over, and just sat there awkwardly. “Why did you do that back there?” Although the sudden inquiry made the Wolflian boy pause, he didn’t need to really think it over. It’s because I care about you, was his thought but he couldn’t say that out loud. given that this Renne and the one he knew were two entirely different people. So he chose something else.
“Because I felt like it.” He said half seriously, something that earned a huff from the girl on the ground.
“You're an idiot.” Her words were sharp, and may have stung someone else but to Riy it simply made him recall the first time he met with the Renne he knew, and made an embarrassed expression cross his face.
“Y-yeah well I get that a lot.” He said with a small stutter, shaking his head and putting a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Anyways, we need to find someplace we could get out of here from.” Another huff from Renne who rolled her eyes while her face was out of sight.
“I never said I was going anywhere. It’s better to stay here.” She lied, not telling the youth about her hurt leg for fear of what might transpire next. He didn’t seem to agree with this, as a frown formed on his lips and he crossed his arms.
“It’s not safe here! If that thing is even a little bit alive-”
“It’s not.” Renne cut in, closing her eyes and beginning to pretend Riy wasn’t there. Becoming more and more frustrated, the boy put a hand on each knee and exhaled loudly.
“I’m not taking any chances.” With those words, he reached towards the girl and pulled her closer, rolling her onto her back to reveal her startled expression.
“W-what the hell do you think you’re-” Before she got a chance to finish her sentence, the youth had already hooked one arm under her knees and wrapped the other around her shoulders, lifting her off the ground and standing while holding her in a princess carry. “H-hey I said what do you-” Riy ignored her protests and started walking towards the dark tunnel, quickly distancing them from the carcass of the monster that had caused this whole mess.
Once they were a good ways away from it, Riy stopped walking for a moment to collect his thoughts and closed his eyes, only to start moving again a few seconds later much to Renne’s dismay. The entire time they were moving, the Wolflian girl was bright red from embarrassment and was trying to convey this to the boy carrying her, but he either didn’t notice or completely ignored it in favor of moving quicker.
“Are you even going to be considerate of the girl whom you’re carrying around, despite her protests?” Renne mumbled while Riy came to a stop at a fork in the paths, two tunnels now before them. The Wolflian boy didn’t immediately respond, as he was too focused on deciding which way to go, only furthering the girl’s frustration. “Hey! Listen to me for once!”
“Shhh! I hear something!” Riy replied harshly, surprising the Wolflian in his arms. His eyes were intensely focused on the left path, and when the sound he mentioned started to get louder he hurried over to the right, sprinting down the path.
“Hey, you hear something?
“Couldn’t be. I was sure we got that royal chick with the Narquiph before. There’s no way she’s alive still.” Riy froze upon hearing this, pressing his ear against the wall and trying to listen closer to the voices on the other side. Apparently this was enough to shut Renne up, as she too was surprised to hear someone else down here, more so at what they were saying.
“Humph. Lord Kruez is gonna be pissed if she heard this though. Him and that other chick he’s working with.”
“That’s why we’re checking to make sure the deed is done. Once we find the corpse, we’ll get rid of it.” Riy narrowed his eyes while listening, not noticing the stunned expression on Renne’s face as she heard this. Her face was ghost white, and when the boy carrying her looked down to see this, he frowned and started walking again without a word, moving quickly but quietly. The tunnel ended up being longer than he expected, and coming right to the end of it there was a pocket cave in the wall that he could fit into, quickly doing so with Renne still in his arms.
The youth walked to the center of this space, crouching down and gently laying Renne down before taking a seat himself and stealing a short glance around. The cave was illuminated if only by the dim crystals in the wall, and a single one overhead. Crossing his legs and putting a hand on each knee, he looked to Renne and couldn’t resist feeling sorry for her, after hearing what they had.
That guy Kruez… he’s supposed to be Renne’s boyfriend in this pseudo world, but is he really conspiring against her? Lowering his gaze to the floor while thinking, he was quickly absorbed in his thoughts to the point that he failed to see the emotionless face on Renne’s face, until he looked back up and was startled by how pale she was.
“Y-you alright? You look like you might pass out at any time-” He reached out to her with concern, but she stubbornly swatted his hand away while simultaneously clenching her jaw.
“Spare me your sympathy. I don’t need it.” She spat venomously, her face turning to one of hate and anger. Recoiling in shock, Riy swallowed hard before scowling and placing a hand on the ground beside him.
“Now listen! I get that you’ve had to deal with a lot, but if someone is genuinely offering a shoulder you shouldn’t-” He was shouting back on reflex, forgetting to keep his voice down but Renne swiftly cut him off by sending a death glare his way.
“I didn’t ask for it. So leave it be.” She hissed. Riy was inclined to respond with a huff and childishly ignore the girl at this point, but for some reason he couldn’t bring himself to. Maybe it was because this girl, who looked exactly like the girl he’d come to know, or because it was truly sympathy, but either way he shook the feeling off and breathed out. Then, without warning he suddenly lurched forwards and wrapped his arms around the Wolflian girl in front of him, pulling her close and not giving herself a chance to pull away.
“W-what do you think you’re doing?! I said I don’t want your-” Her shouts were immediately cut short by the Wolflian boy who just hugged tighter.
“Quit trying to act so damn stubborn!” He shouted with such intensity that even startled the girl who was angry, forcing her to pause with wide eyes. Gritting his teeth, Riy tried to get his emotions in check while talking to this girl. “You’re trying to find your mother right? You’re not going to help yourself by alienating yourself from those around you!” Although they were harsh words, Renne began to struggle in the boy’s grip and shook violently.
“I don’t need anyone’s help!”
“Yes you do!” Once more shouting, he made the Spiritist stop thrashing about and sit there in his grasp. Once she stopped moving, Riy relaxed somewhat and closed his eyes. “I saw it. That lonely look in your eyes. You don’t really want to be alone like this.” Renne wanted to refute the boy’s words immediately, but found herself unable to, as they unknowingly hit deep.
“Y-you don’t know anything about me. Quit trying to be so damn pushy.” This time, the girl spoke in a much softer voice, like she was tired of struggling. Hearing her drop in tone, Riy smiled softly and breathed a sigh of relief, having succeeded it getting her to calm down.
“Maybe not, but I might want to give it a shot.” Her words made Renne blush unconsciously, and after arguing back and forth like this, she got the feeling he wasn’t going to let up and let out a prolonged sigh.
“...you aren’t going to drop this until I say yes, are you?” She asked softly, surprisingly the Wolflian holding her close. He thought about it for a moment before sporting a cheery grin and nodding.
“Yup.” Having this confirmed, a mix of emotions welled up inside the Wolflian girl in his grasp and she closed her eyes, her heart started to thump with slight excitement.
“I-I guess I don't have a choice.” Hearing her give in, Riy finally released the girl from his grip and leaned back, rubbing the back of his head with a smile.
“Then feel free to count on me when you need to.” For some reason, hearing his voice and seeing the cheery smile made Renne feel a bit happy, but also a bit annoyed and stubbornly turned her gaze away, folding her arms.
“That doesn’t mean you get to follow me around all day at the academy.” She stated sharply, something that made Riy stare blankly for only a moment, before bursting into laughter and startling the Spiritist. “W-what the hell is so funny?!” She was a bit annoyed by his response, but rubbing his eyes and settling down, the male Wolflian couldn’t resist the grin forming on his face.
“I-It’s nothing. You just reminded me of someone that’s all.” Renne knitted her brows upon hearing that and tilted her head to the side.
“...what do you mean by that?” She asked hesitantly. Riy put a hand in his lap while looking off to the side and hiding the growing smile on his face.
“Someone back home, I mean. You remind me of her in a way, since you're both so stubborn.” The words left his mouth before he could stop them, and immediately felt an intense gaze pierced him and made him shrink away slightly.
“Stubborn you say?” She growled menacingly, though given the situation the male Wolflian across from her was unable to take the threat seriously and just avoided eye contact with the girl. “Hey! I’m talking to you!” She pressed the boy for an answer while crawling over to him, reaching towards his arm and pinching him tightly.
“H-hey easy! I’m still wounded you know!” While saying this, he looked over his shoulder at her, not realizing how close their faces were and stopped talking. Her pout, her features, everything reminded him of the Renne he knew well, and it was a relaxing feeling almost. Their faces so close, made both of them freeze in place, and it wasn’t until a heavy thumping sound reached their ears that they broke away, putting a considerable amount of distance between each other. Right after they did-
“I found them! Instructor Miria, they’re over here!” The two Wolflians looked towards where the voice came from to see Nemia poking her head into the cave, a relieved smile on her face while staring at the two.
“We’re coming over! Keep them still Nemia!” This time it was the instructor who spoke, shouting back from farther back in the tunnel. The blonde nodded while squeezing herself into the small pocket cave, squatting down on the ground and looking from Riy to Renne with a worried look in her eyes after noticing the state they were in.
“Wuu… I’m so glad you’re both okay.” She said with a whimper, causing a bittersweet smile to fall over Renne’s face the blonde crawled over to her. When she grew close enough, she leaped forwards and wrapped her arms around the Wolflian girl with a cry, hugging her close and earning a shout from her friend as well.
“A-ah! Nemia that h-hurts! I’m not exactly in one piece you know!” She said as gently as she could while nudging the girl in the stomach. Hearing this, she reluctantly let go and crawled backwards a bit, stopping to sit in a cross legged position and looked over at Riy who just watched with a soft smile on his face.
“Thank you for saving her. I owe you one.” She thanked him, a few tears welling up in her eyes. The Wolflian boy just nodded in reply, placing a hand to either side of him on the ground and closing his eyes.