The Orc That Came out of Nowhere
"She must've been far too exhausted over the last couple of days."
Leguna pushed Annelotte higher up on his back. As he was afraid of waking her, he spoke really softly.
Because of what he had falsely uttered, Annelotte struggled really furiously on his back. But after expelling her frustration and anger, she gradually passed out. Though she had wanted to force herself to stay awake, fatigue rushed into her like an endless wave. Despite her resistance, the girl fell into a deep sleep on Leguna's back.
She could hardly be blamed, though. Ever since their escape, the people from the Eye had kept right on their tail. Only a magus could shroud them from magical tracing to hide their whereabouts. So, Annelotte had to resist the squads alone. While shrouding didn't require too much mana, it was quite straining on a person's energy. It was no surprise she fell asleep in the middle of their travels.
As if she was afraid of waking Annelotte as well, Innilis glanced at Leguna before whispering, "Big Bro, aren't you tired? You've been carrying Sis for the whole afternoon."
"Me?" Leguna hoisted Annelotte again and broke into a smile, "Some things aren't a burden to carry. They energize you the more you carry them instead."
For some reason, he was in a magnificent mood. Kurdak and Vera were both captured, and he was being pursued by the Eye. It should've been a really stressful experience, but he stayed optimistic.
Though Boss and Sis are captured, they should be fine. And though I'm being pursued, I have two beautiful girls, Annie and Innie, accompanying me. It's not as bad as it looks, right?
"Really?" asked Innilis as she cocked her head.
Leguna put on the ruse of an experienced man, "You'll understand when you grow up."
"Really?" the girl nodded as if she had understood something, "While I don't really get it right now, I can tell you like Sis Annie a lot, Big Bro."
"Ah, was I found out?" he cracked a smile and admitted frankly.
"Is it because Sis Annie is beautiful?" asked she dejectedly.
She was but a young girl not that adept at hiding her feelings.
"I don't really know," Leguna replied with an unexpected answer, "Annie is beautiful and is also a genius. Any man would be attracted to her. Even I don't dare say I'm not attracted to her. But I think it can't really be called 'like'."
"Huh?" the little girl widened her eyes and looked at him, befuddled.
He picked his words carefully. "How can I put this... That kind of attraction is only on the surface. If there were another person just as beautiful and talented, I would be just as attracted to them. But only attracted, not like. The reason I like Annie is not that the is beautiful or talented. It's because of all the things I've gone through with her, all the things she's done for me, her cold outside and warm inside, and many other things. That's why I like her."
"I see..." muttered Innilis softly, "Do you think I'm pretty?" asked she out of the blue.
Her question caught him off guard but he didn't overthink it.
"Of course you are. You're going to grow into an incredible beauty. I'm sure there'll be many young men who will come after you in the future."
I don't want them. I just want to stay with you, thought the girl.
Another silence descended on the pair. They continued forward wordlessly, making their way to the wild flatlands. There were quite a lot of orcs there but their existence would be quite troublesome to the large squad pursuing the trio. Given Annelotte and Leguna's abilities, they stood a good chance of surviving in the flatlands.
As for Innilis, though he had originally wanted to leave her in York, a place with which she was familiar, the girl cried and threw a huge tantrum when she heard his plan and refused to stay behind no matter how he tried to persuade her. York's inhabitants knew of her affiliation with him and she would no doubt be captured by the Eye if she were left there.
Having no other choice, he brought her along. He decided to head to Nightsong to try his luck. If he were lucky enough to encounter the elves there, leaving the girl with them wouldn't be a bad choice. As for how he would deal with her tantrum... he would cross the bridge when he got there.
He didn't know when exactly Annelotte woke up but she seemed a little confused and disoriented on his back. When she realized what was going on, she turned crimson and shifted on his back uncomfortably.
"Awake?" asked Leguna with a smile.
"How long was I asleep?"
"About three or four hours. You must've been really tired."
Annelotte's expression changed.
"What? So the Eye could track us for the last four hours?!"
"I know, but you looked too tired, I couldn't wake you. Don't worry. Nothing's happened yet."
"Put me down."
"Are your feet okay?"
"I'm fine. Just put me down."
She grimaced slightly when her feet touched the ground, but didn't complain.
"Since they didn't rush to us the moment I fell asleep, they've been getting in touch with others nearby and trying to encircle us. They must have changed tactics since we killed everyone we met.
"Sounds like trouble."
Leguna's expression darkened but he didn't regret not waking her up earlier. She was only human, after all. No matter how strong-willed she was, there were times she would run out of energy, too. Letting her force herself wasn't a solution. Rather than letting her spend three to four hours exhausting herself even more, he preferred letting her get the rest she needed and break out of the encirclement once she was better.
Annelotte dictated a hawkeye spell. While the dense foliage obscured much of her vision, she still noticed a number of oddities after some intense scrutiny.
"There's about a hundred but I don't know how strong they are. We're completely surrounded."
"Oh, the Eye is really going all out," Leguna facepalmed. Even if all one hundred were low-order warriors, it would still be very troublesome.
"Let's go. We can still break out if we move right now," said Annelotte, before she dictated a speed enhancement spell on the three. Taking her party into consideration, the girl had taken it upon herself to learn a variety of status enhancement and diminution spells.
She also dictated a levitation spell. That way, the slender and light girl's weight was reduced to negligible levels. Leguna tied her on his back with a rope and took off. His movements weren't impeded much.
"Look at how troublesome and dangerous it is to bring you along," said he as he stroked the girl's head.
"It's not dangerous with Big Bro here!"
Innilis had full confidence in him.
"Alright, this is what we'll do. I'll attract the bulk of their attention and you break out with Innilis. I'll come find you after you're safely away."
Annelotte couldn't help but laugh at the sight of Innilis tied to Leguna's back. But thinking about how she had been the one being carried on his back like that just minutes earlier, she couldn't smile. Her face reddened even more.
As the Eye had long set up spatial disturbance mechanisms, transference spells couldn't be used. So, they could only break through the old-fashioned way. Annelotte would first draw the enemy's attention so the others could escape, and then meet up with them later. While it wasn't outrightly stated, Innilis was a burden on the two, though neither thought of it that way.
Their enemies closed in. Leguna hid in the darkest corner of a tree while Annelotte stood beneath quietly. There was even a bright magical glow around her that drew attention like a fire in the night.
The voices of other people grew louder. Leguna could spot their silhouettes. Given the threat Annelotte had shown before, however, they stopped quietly at a distance when they spotted her. No one rushed forward straight away.
Annelotte made the first move.
A rampaging storm of glacial magic danced about the girl. The small fries were heavily injured before they could react. A few were even killed instantly.
Now our chance!
Leguna leaped between the trees and prepared to leave quietly. However, a magical beam shot at where he would land. A petrification spell.
"Damn you. Did you think the same trick would work on me twice?" cried the high-order magus gleefully.
He had been careless enough last time to let the two slip away. This time, he had brought enough men and would wash away the shame of his previous failure. Leguna lost control of his body instantly and tumbled about amidst the branches before falling to the ground.
Annelotte reacted quickly. Before the two landed, she dispelled the petrification spell, allowing him to adjust his posture mid-air and land on the ground stably. The moment she dictated her spell, though, the high-order magus's second spell shot at her. A fireball exploded right beside her. Fortunately, she had put up a few barriers just in case. Otherwise, the hate-infused fireball would have wounded her half to death.
Even so, a fireball spell from a high-order magus wasn't easily fended off. The huge explosion brought with it waves of heat. The girl was sent flying by its force and tumbled on the ground a few times before she stood up with difficulty.
"Annie!" Leguna rushed over. If his Annelotte was the price of getting away, he would rather stay and possibly die.
"Run, you idiot!" cursed the girl weakly as she spat out a mouthful of blood.
In her ten-odd years in this world, the times she had cursed others could be counted on two hands. It didn't change anything, though. Leguna still returned to her. Droves of enemies closed in. They would be hard-pressed to escape.
A loud, maniacal laughter echoed through the forest, rustling the leaves, sending birds scattering into the sky and small animals scampering into their holes.
"Ahahahahahahahahaha! You humans don't just kill my kin, you even enjoy killing your own in my backyard! And you say we're cruel and lust after blood… Hahahaha! Laughable!" mocked an orc as he approached. It seemed he'd completely forgotten about the constant wars his kin fought all the time. It only stopped thanks to Oljharok uniting all the tribes.
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