The moon was high in the sky and the day was now night. The village that had seemingly been abandoned and was left with only their friends and a group of 30 or so children, was now lit as though every house were full.
Thick flakes of icy snow began to fall and cover the ground, while everyone was lost in thought. They had been gone for maybe an hour or so and the sun had just risen. Now that they left the cave, it was the complete opposite.
“This doesn’t make any sense, how can it be night?”
Shin’s question was on point but no one had an answer for him.
“Not only that, why have the children lit candles or fireplaces in all of the homes. Arent, they afraid that the creature will pick them off one by one? What in the world are Danny and Tsura thinking?”
Asuna complained about the two. She didn’t understand why Tsura and Danny would allow the kids to that when they should all be sticking together.
Kazuki shook his head.
“Somethings not right. Sam, same formation as before. Everyone be on your guard. Even while we were escaping, something attacked me and Shin. I don’t see anything behind us from the cave but you can never be too sure. Sam lead the way.”
“Ryuta something was also in front of me. I took a swing at it but it vanished before I could connect.”
“Hmm, did you see what it was? Was it that insect-like monster the children described?”
Sam shook his head.
“Too much fog, couldn’t properly make out what it was exactly.”
The weird noise they heard earlier, like something sharp scraping against rock had disappeared and even the fog at the entrance of the cave unnaturally faded away. Kazuki was left puzzled. Add to the fact it was now night time just put another mystery into the mix. In the end, Kazuki decided to head back to the village and regroup with Danny and Tsura and discuss what had happened.
(I can’t explain what has happened but maybe Danny has an odd idea or two, he usually has something to add or maybe a weird theory when the crazy shit starts to happen.)
With weapons at the ready, Sam led the way. Coming down from the side of the mountain, they soon entered the village. As soon as they stepped foot into the village, a yell was heard.
“They’re here! Horray!!”
The sound of a large bell was heard in the distance, coming from somewhere in the village and soon door after door was opened and almost a hundred men and women came running out. All of them ran out carrying weapons of sort or sharpened tools. Suspicion plastered on their faces as they moved to quickly surround Kazuki and the others.
The group seemed ready to attack until one of the villagers spotted Mei and shouted at the top of her lungs.
“A child! They have a child with them!”
As soon as the woman said that, dozens more began to murmur and call out.
“A child oh my god!”
“It’s a girl, how can this be!”
“She’s in danger!”
The villagers seemed to be panicked and unsure of what to do but one thing was for sure, they no longer looked like they were going to fight.
The amount of confusion on their faces mirrored Kazuki and the others perfectly.
(Where are the children and who the hell are all of these people?)
Kazuki stepped forward and slowly lowered his weapon. He didn’t feel threatened in the least bit and none of the villagers gave off malice. Just as he was about to speak though, a large green-haired man pushed through the crowd.
“So the guild got our request, you’ve actually come to slay the monster.”
“The guild, you mean for adventurers?”
The large green-haired man furrowed his brows.
“Of course! aren’t you the adventurers we requested for a month ago. Our children were taken by the monster, you must save them, please!”
Kazuki and the others shared a look.
“It’s taken the children but from what we were told it was the adults who were taken.”
The large man shook his head.
“How did you know that. That’s only just happened. The children, it took them first, please help us.”
Hearing that the children have been taken repeatedly Mei grew worried and ran ahead to the largest building in the center of town. If the children were taken then what about her mama she thought.
Mei ran into the large building while screaming at the top of her lungs.
Asuna was slow but chased after her.
The two went in and were surprised by what they saw.
There were no beds laid out nor tables reinforcing the walls and windows. Even the buckets for the bathroom were gone. The building was completely fine. The tables were still standing and seemingly hadn’t even been moved. Everything looked just like a regular old dining hall, instead of a shelter for kids.
A woman sat at one of the tables slowly knitting something. When she heard shouts for mama, she turned with a hopeful expression. However when she saw little Mei and Asuna, when she realized that it wasn’t her child calling out to her, the woman lowered her head into her hands and began to sob uncontrollably.
Mei didn’t understand why the lady was so upset but she felt sad seeing it. Little Mei slowly walked over to the woman and rubbed her head gently while saying.
“Don’t cry don’t cry, everything’s going to be ok.”
The woman raised her head.
“Who are you?”
Mei smiled wide.
“Hehehe, my name is Mei. Mama says if you rubbed someones back while saying it’s gonna be ok, it will make them feel better. Lady, did it work, do you feel better now?”
The woman didn’t know who this little girl was but she did feel slightly better. Though deep inside there was still a soul-crushing feeling, she decided to put on a brave face for this young child. The woman wiped a few of her tears away and was about to introduce herself when Asuna punched Mei on the top of her head.
“Mei! who told you to run off? What would have happened if there was danger, huh?”
Mei gripped her head in pain and winced. A few tears collected at the edges of her eyes.
“Big sis is a meanie.”
Asuna’s eyelid twitched slightly as she delivered another punch.
“Now who were you saying was mean?”
Mei was about to say it again but the woman from before stood in front of her and hugged Mei to protect her.
“Stop! How can you strike this poor child? A woman like you, you can’t be the mother, s what do you think you’re doing?”
Asuna didn’t know who this lady was but she wasn’t one to back down either.
“Who am I? No no no…Who are you?”
Mei who was still in the woman’s embrace inhaled deeply. The smell she gave off was familiar.
“Mmhmm, lady you smell like my friend Hina, why is that?”
The woman heard that name and froze. Looking down at Mei’s pure innocent smile, the lady trembled.
“Hina, you know a person named Hina?”
Mei smiled even more ad nodded.
“Yep, Hina is only 2 years older then me but she’s really really nice and plays with me. Ah! you not only smell like her but you also have the same green hair like her as well. Tell me, do you know Hina, is that why you smell good like her?”
The women trembled more and more. Her heart wavered and she could barely speak.
“You, you know my daughter Hina? Is…is this the truth?”
This time it was Mei and Asuna’s turn to be shocked.
“Eh! your big sis Hina’s mama? Wow, this is great. I and big bro Ryuta and all of his friends came here to help get rid of the big nasty monster but if you’re here too then Hina will be so happy. She doesn’t like to admit it but I could tell that she was sad. But once she knows that you’re fine, she’s gonna jump and down like I do whenever I get really happy. By the way, where is Hina, I don’t see her anywhere. Hmm, now that I look around, this room seems different too. Where are all the beds and where are the poop buckets. What’s going on?”
The woman was so confused and she couldn’t help but shout.
“Hina was here, you saw her here? When, how? What…what is going on? Is this some kind of sick joke? How could you know Hina? This isn’t making any sense.”
Asuna who was listening along had a sudden thought and something clicked in her mind.
(That strange feeling I got from that fog, the familiarity. I was scared and running desperately trying to escape that cave but I really did feel something. At the time I pushed any useless thoughts out of my mind as I ran but somethings been bothering me. That strange fog, day turning to night so quickly and the adults here but no sight of the children, could this be…)