“Lucia.” Durandal’s so cute when he blushes! “I love you.”
If this is a dream, please, never let it end. “I, I—” Before I could say anything, he rushed up to me and embraced me, covering my lips with his. So forceful! So aggressive! So Durandal-like!
“You have to live, Lucia.”
Eh? “You’re leaving?” His body began to lose its color. He pulled away and smiled at me before he dissolved into dust. “D-Durandal?”
My eyes shot open. It’s nighttime? A dream then. Well, even if I asked for it to never end, it was getting depressing, so it’s a good thing it did. “What time is it, Durandal?”
“Durandal?” Where’d he go? He always watches over me when I sleep in case I’m about to fall over while sitting in my horse stance. Eh? Why aren’t I in my horse stance? “Snow…?”
Did, did they abandon me? What the heck? The fire’s out too. “T-this isn’t funny.”
Rustling sounds came from the nearby bushes. Glowing eyes appeared in the darkness. Moonlight wolves? I don’t have the patience to deal with you! “Get lost! Flying Qi Blade!”
Seven whimpers rang out at the same time as my projectile slashed into the darkness, cutting down the bushes and trees. The remaining eyes closed, and their owners ran away. What the heck was going on? At least I still have my fire starter. …Why’s there a pot of burnt stew above the campfire? Was Snow in the middle of cooking when he left? First things first, light the fire to prevent anymore beast ambushes.
Okay. I can see. Now, what was I doing last? I drank Snow’s stew, then I got super tired and fell asleep. That’s it? …What are these pictures of arrows on the ground? Are they pointing at a penis? Wait, no. That’s a hilt. Why does it look so ugly? And those squiggles…. Send my qi into mini-DalDal’s hilt?
Durandal’s voice flooded my head. “Lucia. You were poisoned by Snow. I will try to remove the poison, but if I succeed, I’ll fall into a deep sleep. Snow’s still alive. Be careful. The fastest way to wake me up is to get stronger. I left some rudimentary knowledge in my weapon body. This is not a drill. You have to survive, Lucia. I believe in you.”
…Eh? Snow poisoned me? What the f***? “If this is a joke, it’s a really sick one, Durandal.” Didn’t Durandal say if he was separated far enough from mini-DalDal, he’d automatically enter the weapon? I don’t know where he is, but if I go far enough away from here, he’ll reappear, right? Or this is a training exercise Snow and Durandal came up with. Some mental fortitude test. Definitely. I’ll play along then and pretend it isn’t actually a drill. Our massive bag of materials and supplies is still here. I should take it with me. I should also remove the pictures to prevent Snow from discovering them. …Durandal left his metal spear behind. Maybe this really isn’t a drill. F***. F***ity f***, f***, f***ing f***. F***! F***ing whore of a rabbit! I’ll kill Snow the next time I see him. Gah!
Calm down, Lucia. Deep breaths. Durandal said he left rudimentary knowledge in mini-DalDal. I should check it with my qi; that’s how it works, right? I sent my qi into mini-DalDal’s hilt again, and I felt it right away. Durandal’s presence. A giant glowing ball of light in the middle of a room filled with darkness. Beside it, there was a speck of blue light that floated towards my qi tendril. Was this it? My qi touched the speck, and I regretted it right away. Nausea. Lots of nausea. My head hurt as something buried itself inside my brain and pulsed. It felt like someone was repeatedly hammering my head while shouting at me.
The art of bone engraving. Engrave runes on bones to draw out their power. Turns bones into consumable items. Rune of strength. Rune of speed. Rune of intelligence. Rune of perception. Rune of…. Dozens and dozens of symbols flashed by my eyes. Rudimentary knowledge my ass! My head’s going to explode! …And I passed out again.
When I woke up, the sun was shining overhead. I sat up. The fire was gone, and there were deep grooves in the ground where I had stamped out Durandal’s scribbles. Last night hadn’t been a dream. Was the art of bone engraving real? I rummaged through our materials bag and pulled out a bone, a small skull from a scavenger crow that Snow had told me was valuable. Let’s see…, a rune of focus? I roughly carved out the appropriate rune with 32 strokes of mini-DalDal, inserting my qi in the process. The skull flashed with an orange light. Did it work?
I squeezed the skull with my left hand, and it disintegrated. Work! Lots of stuff to do, Lucia! Carve more runes! Strength! Speed! Focus, focus, focus! Lots of focus runes! Use all the bones in the bag! String them up around your body like some macabre decorations for easy use! What are you waiting for, start now! You’ll only be focused for another 59 minutes and 32 seconds! 31 seconds now! 30! …Yup. It worked. Busy, busy.
An hour later, I looked like some kind of decorated holiday tree with bones instead of shining crystals. Thank you for the last gift, Durandal. I’ll definitely be able to survive with this. But I’m exhausted now. Maybe I should look for something to eat? Or…. I looked at the skull hanging from my wrist. I squeezed it, and it broke. Focus! Hunt! Train! Become stronger! Pick a random direction and flee in case Snow comes back! Kill more animals, consume more cores, create more focus bones! Repeat process until death! Oh, and sleep and eat. Don’t forget to do those on occasion.
I can do this! I’ll grow stronger, so Durandal will wake up faster! He left me the greatest footwork in the world, the strongest close-ranged burst attack, and … an alright long-ranged attack, I guess. What more do I need? With these focus runes, I don’t need head pats or ear rubs for motivation! It’s a shame I don’t have a guide, but I don’t need one. I just have to follow the screams of the scavenger crows!
“S-someone. Help me!”
There! Time to acquire more skulls!
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