With a few quick slashes, Kazuki and the rest finished off several wild boars. A few puddles of blood caused the ground to become slick with red mud. Picking up a dead boar, Asuna threw it over her shoulder and carried it back to camp. Sam and Shin collected the remaining bodies and piled them up in one spot with a few dried logs before they too headed back to camp.
Kazuki was prepared to light the corpses on fire but noticed Danny staring at him.
“Do you mind fetching a few more pieces of wood. I don’t know if this amount will completely do the job.”
Danny looked at the large pile of wood and argued.
“What are you talking about? With your blue flame couldn’t you light all those bodies on fire even without wood?”
“I could but the required effort and energy would be 3 or 4 times more. I don’t want to waste so much of my magic on this. So could you help me gather a bit more firewood?”
Danny rolled his eyes but shortly after disappeared into the forest to collect more firewood.
As soon as he was gone, Kazuki quickly made a few ancient hand signs and summoned a small golf ball-sized blue flame. With a flick of his finger, the flame landed on the pile of dead boars and lit them ablaze. It was less than a minute before their entire bodies were nothing more than ash and bone fragments.
The group had been traveling for nearly three weeks now and hadn’t made much progress forward. By now they had only traveled around 200 or so miles. With their speed, they could have easily walked 400 but obstacles were constant. Because they had to avoid every major road, as well as all the villages and cities, their travel took them through dense forest and their paths were not straight.
This all added up to wasted time, the payoff though was that they had hidden extremely well so far and no one had caught a single whiff of them. But traveling through the forest also came with a few burdens they hadn’t thought about beforehand, one of them being food.
Being in a forest though the food was plentiful but there was a major problem. No one, not Kazuki or Asuna, not Shin, Danny, Kimi, Sam nor Nunully knew how to cook. And since none of them knew what vegetation was poisonous and what wasn’t they didn’t take the risk. In the end their only source of food became protein-based. Boars, squirrels, birds, things that they recognized became their meals. Without seasoning though and chefs that constantly burned things, meals were the worst part of the day.
Danny returned a short time later with a hand full of firewood but seeing the aftermath of ash and bone, he threw down the sticks in a huff.
“Dude, what the hell!? You said you didn’t want to waste magic and I come back and it’s already done. What was the point of me going to get all this extra crap?”
Kazuki smiled and shyly rubbed his head.
“Hahaha, sorry I didn’t think I could spare it but trying it out I didn’t use too much energy. Guess my capacity to store magic has gone up by just a little. Don’t be mad, I really didn’t know, I swear.”
“Whatever, let’s just get this done.”
Danny stood in front of the ashes and concentrated on his Mage core. Extending his hand in front of him, his power welled up within him. A moment later and a large glob of water appeared in front of him and with a nod, he dropped it on the ash, washing it all away.
“Ok, it’s done.”
Kazuki shook his head.
Walking over to the few remaining bones Kazuki stomped on each of them quickly turning the remains into tiny fragments. After the ground dried it would appear that nothing had ever happened here.
To have so many boars, most would see that as a huge blessing and could stock their storage for many months with all that meat. For Kazuki and the rest though it was a problem. They had nowhere to store the meat and none of them knew how to properly dry it and they had no spare hours to properly smoke it either. At the same time, they couldn’t leave all of it in the forest in one spot.
They couldn’t be sure if there was some weird type of magic that could detect a bunch of dead things which could put someone on their trail, so they first opted to bury all of the dead boars but predators could come along and dig them up. In the end, the best way was to just burn all of the bodies and leave no trace behind just in case.
Danny didn’t understand why they even had to get rid of the bone fragments but Kazuki didn’t care to explain.
“Better safe than sorry.”
Danny rolled his eyes and the two of them headed back to their campsite.
No one knew how to cook properly but handling the boar’s body was a different matter entirely. Sam had gone hunting and camping with his father every summer since he was 7 years. He and his father would go into the mountains and forest back in Japan and enjoy the great outdoors for 2 weeks before returning. His father had taught him everything about dealing with a kill. From how to properly drain the body of blood all the way down to skinning and butchering it.
Sam had already hung the dead boar’s body from a tree. With no rope, he had to play around with his magic and over these three weeks he had figured out how to make a rope out of earth magic. He has made the rope so it is both flexible and yet sturdy, capable of holding a few hundred pounds. The boar was not particularly huge and weighed around a hundred or so pounds, so it was well below the earth’s ropes limits.
Later that night, everyone sat around a campfire and tried their best to eat their food.
Nunully sat by some wooden cups that Kazuki had made by burning out the centers of small pieces of wood. Water condensed in front of her and poured into the cups near her. Handing them out she saw the bitter expressions on a few of their faces and felt bad for them.
(This is my fault. If they didn’t have to escort me, they could have stayed behind in Tresta and wouldn’t have to deal with these sad conditions.)
Nunully wasn’t wearing her mask so Kazuki and the others noticed her bitter expression. Kazuki knew what she might be thinking but didn’t really care but Asuna and Kimi could see that she was upset and sat next to her. The three then began to have a bit of girl talk which seemed to lighten the mood but who knew if that was just a front from Nunully.
Shin took a large bite of a leg and tore with his teeth.
*Munch munch munch*
With a mouthful of boar leg, Shin almost spit a bit in Kazuki’s direction as he spoke.
“So what are we gonna do? I mean we’ve been traveling for 3 weeks now and have barely gotten anywhere. I think we need to change things up a bit or it’s gonna take us a million years before we see those Rin whatever mountain range.”
Everyone stopped chatting when Shin brought this up and turned to look at Kazuki.
“What do you suggest we should do?”
“We could go into a town one at a time. We go at night so not many people see us and we check into an inn or something. At least then we can get a decent meal and we don’t have to sleep on this hard ass ground.”
“You don’t think that might be a little suspicious?”
“Well, do you have anything better because being out here is a pain.”
Kazuki scoffed and sarcastically said.
“Really, being out here in the middle of nowhere is a pain, I didn’t know that.”
Shin had been feeling irritated already from being in the woods for so long and with Kazuki’s comment he snapped.
“What the hell is your problem…”
Just when it seemed like Kazuki and Shin were about to argue a loud noise spread throughout the forest.
A loud screech of sorts caused the leaves on the trees to shake and tremble back and forth. The noise had been so loud and abrupt that Kimi and Nunully hugged Asuna tightly in fear. Even Danny fell from the log he was sitting on and looked back and forth for the source of the sound. Kazuki, Sam, and Shin jumped up and gripped the swords at their waist, as they stared into the dark forest in search of whatever the hell that was. Asuna would have jumped up as well but she was being held tightly by Kimi and Nunully.
“You two get a hold of yourselves.”
Asuna yelled at the two before she shrugged them off and pulled out her two daggers.
With both the magic blood orb absorbed into his body and using his ki, Kazuki’s senses were highly attuned and he could peer through this darkness almost as though it were day. Looking around, he cautiously observed his surroundings but spotted nothing. Even though Kazuki was from this world, he had never heard such a frightening screech in his entire life. This sound was similar to a woman’s dying scream combined with the sound of glass breaking.
Everyone waited quietly for who knows how long. As the seconds or minutes ticked by, nothing happened. It was eerily calm. Asuna felt something off and whispered.
“I don’t hear anything.”
“Me neither. I guess it’s gone.”
Asuna though quickly shook her head as Shin had misunderstood her.
“No, I mean I don’t hear anything at all. The wind has stopped, the insects have gone silent, even the fire, I don’t hear it crackling.”
Everyone’s eyes went wide. Even Kazuki was no exception, especially since he could still see the leaves in the trees were clearly still shaking and yet he could not hear them whatsoever.
(Are we already under someone’s magic.)
“Everyone keep your guard up, something’s…”
Kazuki’s words barely left his mouth when he spotted something out of the corner of his eye. Once more that same terrifying noise echoed out.