A strong, burning hunger forced Leguna back into consciousness. He turned around and gazed at his surroundings. He was currently alone in a tent. Another, different pain shot up his spine from his stomach as he moved. The pain came from his wound, disturbed by even such a small movement. He grunted in pain reflexively.
"You're awake?" asked Kurdak, who opened the tent's entrance when he heard a grunt inside.
Leguna recognized the man, he was the one who killed the quickshadow drakes with one slash. He sat up with great difficulty.
"Were you the one who saved me? Thank you so much. May I know where this is?" asked he gratefully.
"Hey, you don't have to be so formal with me," the man said, "Let's introduce ourselves. I'm Kurdak, a mercenary."
The man flashed his badge.
"Nice to meet you, I'm Leguna," replied he.
He suddenly wondered whether telling Kurdak his story would be a good idea. It would do him no good to tell others he was an escaped fugitive of Hocke. If the empire offered a bounty for his recapture, there was a chance the mercenary would exchange him for the reward. And given Leguna's current condition, there wasn't much he could do to escape.
Seeing Leguna's hesitation, Kurdak seemed to realize something.
"I can somewhat tell you're a criminal of the empire just sent here from your clothes," said he with a smile.
When Leguna raised his head alertly, Kurdak raised both his hands in the air.
"Don't worry. Since we saved you even though we know your identity, we won't be sending you back. Even if we do, there's nothing in it for us," calmed he.
Seeing Leguna keeping his silence, Kurdak continued, "I know you have a lot of questions right now. I'll be blunt. You should know you've been transported all the way to the Continent of Lance. This forest, called the Silvermoon Forest, is near the coast. The other party members and I just finished a mission to escort merchants and ran into the quickshadow drakes on our way back to Starfall. It's just a coincidence we managed to save you.
"Look here," Kurdak said as he shrugged, "I've already told you so much. You can at least tell me your past, right?"
Leguna thought silently for a moment.
"I was originally an orphan living in Melindor. I was probably jailed because of theft... Somehow, I got sent over to Lance and then... I managed to escape. I've been wandering in the forest for days."
Kurdak furrowed his brow.
"I have two questions."
"Firstly, according to what I know, most prisoners transported to Lance are convicted of serious crimes, such as robbery, murder, rape, or the like. It's a little absurd for you to have been sent here for theft. Additionally, I heard Hocke wanted to simplify things and don't exile anyone who can use magic or impetus anymore. I saw you use fifth stratum impetus when you struggled against the drakes. Kid, even though I've saved you out of the kindness of my heart, you're still unwilling to tell me the truth? Are you still hiding something from me?" asked Kurdak, dissatisfied.
"I can't make you believe me," Laguna smiled bitterly, "I thought about the same things. I really don't know why things ended up like this."
Kurdak observed Leguna's expression, he was likely telling the truth. There wasn't much he could do but change the subject.
"What do you plan to do now?"
"Plans? I don't have any... I don't know what to do," said he uncertainly.
"Since that's the case, you should follow us back to Starfall. It'd be difficult for you to travel as you are now," suggested Kurdak.
"Starfall? Where's that?"
"It's the largest human-constructed city on the continent. I live there along with my partners."
Upon hearing about a human settlement, Leguna felt a rush of joy and appreciation for Kurdak's generous offer.
"Thank you... Thank you!"
"Alright. Didn't I say you don't have to be so polite? Also, saving you is completely Vera's idea, so she's the one you should be thanking," Kurdak said as he got up, waving his hands, "Can you move? Let's go out to meet my partners."
"Okay," said Leguna as he stood up with much difficulty.
"Hey, Kurdak! It's time for dinner! Oh?! The boy's awake? Come here and eat!" greeted Vera energetically.
"Thanks. Hello, I'm Leguna. I'm 15 this year," said Leguna with a troubled look.
Even though he was a little baby-faced and had a small physique, Vera looked no older than 20. He felt uncomfortable being treated like a child by someone only a few years his senior.
"Oh, Big Sis here is older than you by four whole years! Come on, have some meat I roasted for you," said Vera as she handed over a piece of drake meat.
"Umm... Thank you, miss... for saving my life," said Leguna as he chewed frantically on the meat he had practically grabbed from her.
"That's nothing much. Kid, you must've been quite badly starved, huh?"
Vera looked at Leguna with pity before she stroked his hair while he scrambled to replenish his energy by eating as much as he could.
"Hey, you're not that much older than him, you know. There's no need to go all maternal on him, is there?"
Kurdak couldn't stand seeing Leguna spoiled and finally complained.
"Hey, you've been starving for days. It's best if you don't eat too much at once," he reminded, patting him on the back, "Take your time while I introduce you to my partners."
"This impudent lass here is Vera. It was she who nagged me to save you," said Kurdak as he pointed at her.
Leguna nodded thankfully before he began to observe her closely.
Frankly speaking, Vera couldn't be considered much of a beauty. Her looks were average at best, but her fiery-red hair coupled with the fine features on her face made her quite pleasant to look at. Vera's most redeeming quality in terms of looks was her figure. Leguna had never seen a woman with such an amazing figure. Vera was decently tall -- and slender. Her two long thighs were nicely curved, unlike other slender women -- whose thighs were thin as branches -- or larger women -- who had trunk-sized thighs.
Those magnificent legs, coupled with her slender waist as well as her filled bosom, caused Leguna to go into a bit of a trance. Even though he wasn't perverted by nature, he found himself unable to resist staring at her body that oozed sexiness.
He quickly snapped out of his stupor and averted his gaze. He didn't dare to look at Vera for too long.
"Hehe, look at this guy! He's quite the shy one, huh? It's no wonder I'm often hailed as the most beautiful flower of our mercenary party!" exclaimed Vera haughtily.
"Well, I suppose Rafflesias are flowers too," Kurdak retorted, "You're the only female in our party so the title of 'most beautiful' doesn't mean much at all."
"Kurdak, a bear like you doesn't have the right to criticize me! Do you think I won't dare cut your filthy paws off and cook them for a meal?" barked Vera as she drew the dagger sheathed at her thigh and waved it around.
"I can't be bothered to argue with you," Kurdak said in an attempt to hide his embarrassment, before he turned to Cyranos who was skinning the drakes and yelled, "Cyranos! The kid we saved is awake! Come over here and see!"
Leguna looked closely at the approaching Cyranos with the help of the fire's illumination. Even though he wasn't as huge as Kurdak, he looked rather handsome. His cold expression added more allure to his looks.
"This is Cyranos, the one who tended to your injuries," introduced Kurdak heartily as he put his arm around Cyranos's shoulders.
"Thanks for saving my life. I'm Leguna," nodded he thankfully.
Cyranos merely nodded slightly. He didn't say anything in reply. His silence made Leguna feel a little awkward.
"Don't mind him. Cyranos has always been the quiet type. We hardly hear him speak more than ten times a day. Trust me, though, he's a good fellow."
"It's fine," said Leguna with a smile.
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