The Stokian Pursuers
The incantation Pyro just gave Eirinn was called Purify. It could be used to dispel the evil intentions of the target, and when Alpacino got hit by it, his vile desires were vaporized in an instant.
By the time he snapped out of it, he was appalled at his behavior. He stretched his hand out hesitantly. “Eirinn, listen… It isn’t like you thought… I…”
She didn’t speak. A look of hurt and grief appeared on her face.
“Eirinn! I wouldn’t harm you!” He panicked when he saw her expression. He was filled with regret and shame. What did that say about him as a person for doing something like that?! He even said that his feelings for her were genuine, yet he had hurt her! He hurt the girl he professed to love the most.
Alpacino wanted to get her forgiveness. He stood up and approached her.
“Don’t come!” she said as she backed away fearfully.
“No, Eirinn! I won’t harm you!” He got into a non-threatening pose.
Eirinn fell silent. While she didn’t want to hurt anyone, she no longer dared to face Alpacino, who had just betrayed her. She shook her head and steeled her resolve. “I… I don’t trust you.”
Those words turned Alpacino’s face pale immediately.
He knew Eirinn well. For her to be able to say something like that… meant that he had truly harmed her thoroughly.
Eirinn felt a wince at the sight of the pitiful man. However, she still feared what had just happened. While Pyro had saved her once, she wasn’t sure there would be a next time.
The reason she didn’t leave in the first place was to see whether Alpacino was hurt by Purify. Now, it seemed he was more or less fine. Relieved, she no longer wished to stay there. She gave him a last look before preparing to leave alone.
“Wait!” he called out in a hurry.
Her heart skipped a beat at that voice. Was he going to assault her once more? How did he become so?
Unexpectedly, he didn’t approach her. He sighed and said, “Are you leaving?”
“Yes… I have to find Big Brother Leguna.” She didn’t like to lie or ignore anyone.
A few minutes ago, Alpacino was filled with rage and envy at the sound of that name. But now, he felt only pain and remorse. He forced himself to say, “Can we travel together? I promise that something like this wouldn’t ever happen again. I will shield you from dangers!”
Eirinn didn’t know how true his words were. Regardless, the frenzied look on his face before still remained fresh in her mind. She had truly lost all trust for him. She didn’t dare. Though she didn’t dare to refuse, she couldn’t agree to his request either. In a rare moment, she chose silence as a response.
“I understand.” He smiled bitterly and thought, who’d be willing to travel with someone who almost assaulted her. He didn’t bother to talk her out of it and took out the dimensional pocket Nancy handed him. “Take this along with you. There are some things you can use on your journey.”
She hesitated and didn’t approach him to retrieve the pouch. Alpacino clicked his tongue in self-mocking and put it on the ground before backing away a few steps.
Only then did she scoot over gingerly like a kitten approaching a stranger. She looked at the pouch before taking a rock beside her and tossing it in its direction.
Alpacino couldn’t help but smile. He took a few more steps back to give her some more room and nodding to her. “I know I hurt you back there, but please trust me on this!”
She paused for a moment before picking the dimensional pocket up carefully. She heaved a sigh of relief after making sure that nothing about it was amiss.
“Your teacher used some kind of anesthesia to knock you out. I carried you on my back away from Fort Kesta. By the time we left, the fort was filled with Stokian soldiers,” he explained.
“What about Teacher?” she asked with worry.
“Madam Nancy will be fine. Don’t forget that she’s among the top few medics on the continent! The Stokians won’t harm her,” he said with an encouraging smile, “But she was concerned about you, so she had me take you away from the frontlines.”
“Is that so…” Her gaze looked rather crestfallen. It all felt a little ominous to her, but she didn’t have any bearings and it was almost impossible for her to make it back to the fort.
“Go along this road in that direction. That will take you into the heartland of Hocke. It’ll take you around a day of walking for you to reach safety,” he said, after seeing how lost she seemed. “You have to be careful when traveling alone. That dimensional pocket is very valuable, so don’t let it be seen by anyone.”
“I won’t,” she said with a nod, “Sorry, Big Brother Alpacino… I… I’m really…”
“The one who should apologize should be me, right? I was the one who disappointed you. It’s only natural that you don’t trust me anymore. You don’t have to feel bad about it.”
She nodded to him and said, “Then, I’ll be going now.”
“What else is there?” She turned around nervously.
Alpacino gulped and said, “While it might not be fitting of me to say something like this, this might be our last time seeing each other. So, I want you to know that I like you, for real. I know I’m not a good match for you, and also know that the person who has your heart is Leguna. But at least, I don’t want to wallow in my own loneliness. Telling you this might make me feel a little better.
She nodded to him solemnly. “I’m sorry…”
“Go, now. There’s a lot road left to travel! If you encounter danger, try using your Breath! You should be far stronger than me, you know!”
“I will. Farewell, Big Brother Alpacino.” She turned around and left for good.
Alpacino looked dazedly in the direction she left in and only snapped out of it around an hour later.
“I became a deserter for her sake…” Alpacino smiled. Fort Kesta was in complete chaos and the various units were gathering up as Alpacino escaped with Eirinn.
He would definitely be convicted as a deserter, but he didn’t regret that one bit. At least, Eirinn would be able to return safely to Leguna’s side. At least she had forgiven him for doing something so foul. He was willing to give up on everything for her sake!
But now, when it all ended, he didn’t know where he should go. Well, maybe he could go back to Fort Kesta! He was a warrior after all. The country’s borders are waiting for him to defend it. Though he had deserted, he chose to return at the last moment. Even if it would mean facing the judgment of the empire, he still chose to go back! He resolved himself with his newfound bravery.
He ran back towards the fort and saw some 20 riders appear further in the distance.
“Stokian soldiers?” He subconsciously got into a battle stance, only to notice that he was still dressed in casual wear from before. While Stokians were cruel and savage, they wouldn’t kill a normal civilian, would they?
So, he pretended to hide at the roadside fearfully and hoped they would ignore him.
“Thank goodness,” he said.
But just as he was about to continue his journey, the Stokian riders turned back.
“Hey! Have you seen a silver-haired woman with bad burns? She looks around sixteen or seventeen!” a soldier said.
Alpacino’s heart almost stop beating when they heard their intentions. Were they there to kill Eirinn?
All of a sudden, he had an idea. He nodded and pointed in a random direction. “I did! I did! An hour ago, I remember seeing her head there!”
“That place?!”" The soldier said, “That’s weird. Madam Trey’s divination said it was that way!”
“Divinations aren’t always correct. It’d be called precognition if they were that accurate!” Trey said with a face full of wrinkles, “So it’s possible that this fellow’s right.”
“Madam Trey, what do you think we should do?”
“Let’s split up! You take a team of men there and I’ll follow the original route. I heard that while she’s a priestess past the 10th stratum, she doesn’t have an ounce of fighting capability. Even a normal adult man will be able to subdue her. Let’s split up for now As long as we don’t run into Hockian soldiers, we should be quite safe.”
Powered by Froala EditorPrevious Chapter Next Chapter