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Promised Lands: Tears of Gaia [Rewritten]
Writer LeNosferatu
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Promised Lands: Tears of Gaia [Rewritten]
A - A - A
Chapter I: fyrstr
Jul 19, 2017
23 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!tvR4dOnmOrzjIXjMKN1zposted on PENANA

When darkness greeted her sight and her chest had gotten tight, she had all the reasons to have a fright.copyright protection95PENANAvTjtnaIzol

The air wouldn’t go in, no matter how many times she gasped for it. Instead, dirt and vile stench were all she’s inhaling. Wet earth. She could feel them on her tongue, squirming as she heaved. Some had rolled their way into her throat. Moist and crumbly—perhaps the soil, or worse, perhaps other things. Worms, maggots, anything. Why it’s there in the first place was a mystery to wonder. She coughed it out a few times before it suffocated her any further.copyright protection95PENANA8SQ0W4PkqE

Her arms flailed, thrashing around only to bump the surface all over her. The surrounding felt familiar against her skin. It was wooden, hard, and thick, enclosing her in like a box. Or a chest. Or a coffin.copyright protection95PENANAL0XtXhgI4h

Coffin. The mere thought made her shudder.copyright protection95PENANAhzbA3zKL99

I'm not dead yet, aren't I…?copyright protection95PENANA6i2XiY17is

Once, twice, three times. She pushed and pushed but the barrier wouldn’t budge. Not even an inch. Soon, came the growing panic, the whirling sensation in her head became overwhelming. Dizzy. She could feel death approaching.copyright protection95PENANAM4sJyq0O84

“Hey!” she screamed. Perhaps anyone would hear her distress call. But to her dread, her voice was stuck in her throat. Again and again, she yelled. No use. Nothing came out except for a wheezing noise of her asthmatic gasps. She began to lay punches, hoping to make a tiny bit of a fracture.copyright protection95PENANA6pEi0HRLs1

However, the more she struck the wooden topside, the more dirt fell through. A similar consistency of what’s once inside her mouth flopped onto her face.copyright protection95PENANAUzjXwCVxJe

Soil? Where am I? Am I buried?copyright protection95PENANA0vitfQTfF2

Her fear escalated as there’s nothing she could do to breach the casket. Her palm roamed all over the impeding structure, looking for some sort of gap to break away. But there was nothing. No panel, latch, handle, nothing at all.copyright protection95PENANAkMrZ4sGWd9

Except for the rift across her face, right where the ground poured through.copyright protection95PENANAX8Ig5fS1MC

She slipped her hand. The vertical opening was too small. Only three of her fingers managed to get outside. She could feel the damp earth. Moving up and down, her digits touched something chunky. Something she could not make of.copyright protection95PENANAfN8xgnoaD4

The texture was recognizable. There’s only one thing with such twisted fibrous strands—a rope. Someone had laid a rope horizontally across the surface. The supple cord wouldn’t bend no matter how many times she nudged it. This must be the thing that held the casket tightly.copyright protection95PENANAcXQEXU6DRj

I need to cut it down!copyright protection95PENANANOsw5xLYyy

Again, her hands wandered around. There must be something she could use. Something sharp. Wood fragments, a stone, a splinter, anything. Unfortunately, there was nothing other than the ragged outfit on her body. Not even footwear wrapped around her feet. Meanwhile, as seconds passed and the walls inside her chest stiffened, she began to panic.copyright protection95PENANABOmJmC7KNK

No, no, I don’t want to die, not like this!copyright protection95PENANAPZIFEFAKjr

She grabbed the fold of her tabard, loosening the collar in hope to breathe easier. She knew it was futile. Tight or not, clothes or no clothes, it’d be the same. There was little to no air to begin with. Perhaps it’s best to just give into the abyss.copyright protection95PENANA47gxEm4pkD

She was ready to accept the inevitable when her elbow poked something below her garment, a solid object with a definite shape right on her left waist. She pulled it out from its nesting place.copyright protection95PENANAXVskFOWMzK

It was a dagger.copyright protection95PENANAxoKg4oWE9g

A glimpse of hope returned to her. At last. A means of a way out. Whether it’d be favorable or not, she had to try. Clinging into a tiny spark of optimism, she inserted the blade into the gaping fissure.copyright protection95PENANA6ennL1JQr3

Thank Goddess…!copyright protection95PENANAupZWJELGqk

It fitted. Clumsily, she dragged the blade back and forth. Hands trembled that she couldn’t even cut properly. Ramming and ramming, the tear on the leash gradually became imminent.copyright protection95PENANAqYJaeNzarI

Come on. Come on, just a bit more…copyright protection95PENANAryWPVIQEyi

Her grip on the weapon became unsteady. The chest pain was unbearable she could feel her lungs closing in. A few seconds more and she would depart from this life.copyright protection95PENANAI3HHZqlK7M

…now!copyright protection95PENANA5xKOIZBha3

With her remaining strength, she gave the casket the strongest push she could make. She was prepared to embrace the air, but, to her horror, as the lid tossed open, a heap of soil collapsed through, smothering her altogether. Desperately, she clawed her way out as her throat filled with dirt once more.copyright protection95PENANA0BBXqxFhce

The sunlight welcomed her sight once she emerged from beneath. Rolling over, she threw herself flat on the ground, coughing and spitting lumps of earthen masses out of her mouth. Finally, she could breathe again. The expulsion had freed her air passage clear. Up and down, up and down. Her chest raised and fell with every breath she took.copyright protection95PENANAzUhhBhIX1P

Closing her eyes, she began to regain composure. Breathing was never been this delightful. Like a luxury, she did her best savoring all the fresh air she could. She didn’t dare to imagine what’d happen if she didn’t come out sooner. Or if no dagger was there to save her soul.copyright protection95PENANAJ7nuV5twnE

The dagger.copyright protection95PENANAAnfbkGJ0YV

She snapped her eyes open. It’s still there within her grasp. She brought it closer to her face. Suddenly, flashes of images started appearing inside her head.copyright protection95PENANAfxPwPrNxoP

People. People with pitchforks. People rallied with weapons. Screaming, crying, wailing. Fire. Huge fire. Hanging ropes. Bodies on the hanging ropes. People threw rocks at her, people threw rocks at…them. Someone grabbed her by the hair, pouring something into her mouth. Something hit her on the back. Darkness.copyright protection95PENANAm7WKCRP6oc

Who?copyright protection95PENANAKYA0aVHTVF

She shook her head. No faces. She couldn’t see faces in those images. It was a blur all over.copyright protection95PENANAOadEH25uzt

What happened? Why am I here?copyright protection95PENANAkWBgGd8wkx

She tried to stand up but her legs gave way. Beads of sweat rolled down her forehead as she glanced at her side.copyright protection95PENANAJ4wj5GeMAa

The shallow grave she just broke through. One amongst many others. Five. There were five of them, laid side by side six feet underground. All of the burials looked recent. The dead seemed to have suffered the same fate as her.copyright protection95PENANArplE33G8yg

Who are these people?copyright protection95PENANACScd9TriqL

Her heart pounded faster.copyright protection95PENANAP9QltV2IHC

…Why am I the only one alive?copyright protection95PENANAT81eN5itdQ

Holding the flagon closely, she finished her drink in one swig. Her hooded figure observed the whole tavern. The reek of alcohol and meat mixed with old boots and sweat wasn’t exactly unusual to look about. Something else had piqued her interest.copyright protection95PENANAKQIW3SQvag

The atmosphere. The expressions. The behavior of the patrons. Everything was different than weeks ago, the last time she visited. Men and women, young and elderly, everyone seemed to be in a festive ambiance. They danced, clapped, and sang along with the minstrels, unaware of a pair of eyes watching from the corner.copyright protection95PENANAg0q7mT2oBK

“Not feeling the party, eh?”copyright protection95PENANA1vT3KG82am

She turned her gaze to find a man stood by the table, pointing at the stool beside her.copyright protection95PENANASUcARgsHLD

“May I sit here?”copyright protection95PENANAY2Dp9ZjcoV

The man was holding a decanter in his hand. He wore peasant attire and a felt hat, looking harmless enough. She then nodded.copyright protection95PENANAWpqPtavCcF

“Want some?” he offered the drink in his metal jug, noticing her empty glass. She flatly refused.copyright protection95PENANAZ4AcFrs88e

“So why don’t you dance? Or sing along?” he asked again, attempting to initiate a conversation. The man didn’t seem to catch on her demeanor. This irked her since she wanted to be alone. But then again, she had to keep her calm or risked making a scene around. Perhaps this man could provide information she’s been looking for.copyright protection95PENANAL7goxqoQCM

“I don’t know what I shall celebrate for.”copyright protection95PENANALzcboFlUix

“Huh? You don’t feel happy with our victory?”copyright protection95PENANAAhBauhBWpK

“Is this what it’s all about? I keep hearing vampires being spoken.”copyright protection95PENANAbaSsypSWfv

“Ah,” the man clicked his tongue, “not from here, are you? Let me guess, a merchant?”copyright protection95PENANAJ05VbuBxpT

“Yes, from the north. Last week I heard the southern border is open for trade so I came here.”copyright protection95PENANA4ZbGaFXMCm

“It is. Damn, I envy you traders. Haven’t had a chance to go beyond the outpost myself. My work prevents me from leaving town,” he poured ale into her flagon, “my treat. Enjoy.”copyright protection95PENANAxNxpf5O824

“Thank you.”copyright protection95PENANAEL4KHgeiND

“Deep Woods is one hell of a trouble. Still, can’t believe we finally open the border. How was your journey?”copyright protection95PENANAcSDoyN4vzG

“Fine, I guess. I got lost so many times.”copyright protection95PENANAS7upwKvlTy

“Deep Woods is Deep Woods. Sometimes you can go in but not go out,” he raised his mug to his lips, “no vampire attacks?”copyright protection95PENANApxkuh1Kwky

She shook her head and sipped her drink.copyright protection95PENANA9xqMVYAZua

“Heh, of course not. Cause we’ve killed them all. Every last one of them.” He smirked, “Still, welcome to Svaros, though. Not much in here. We’re still recovering but hope you enjoy your stay.”copyright protection95PENANAGnhaNNUi9O

“Those vampires, I thought they’re extinct already?”copyright protection95PENANAQymb2DdNax

“They are. Not their sodding spawns, though. You know the halfbreeds?”copyright protection95PENANAlj5M60KH0f

“I’ve heard stories. They can walk in the daylight and all those things.”copyright protection95PENANARGC8QpWLI6

“Well let me tell you. The southern border was closed for a long time because of those animals,” he eyed the barmaid behind the counter, “what’s worse, they could be anyone and we never knew about it.”copyright protection95PENANAAzEWKHAXvK

He finished his drink and poured for another.copyright protection95PENANAvR4ADaBoRB

“Those…abominations. Mating with humans. How disgusting,” he growled, “first thing they’re your spouse, your friend, your neighbors, next thing they’re beasts. Draining your herds dry and kidnapping your children. That feeling when you had a traitor among your own people…”copyright protection95PENANADJigS9GPUp

She kept listening.copyright protection95PENANAVuYArJh1HN

“Every month,” he looked at her in the eyes, “we sent search parties to the woods. None returned. Grieving widows and widowers everywhere. Took my Gonzo too last year.”copyright protection95PENANALdEPNh0pGS

“Your family?”copyright protection95PENANA1kBjAtshjn

“My goat,” He gulped another glass, “sodding bloodthirsty demons preying on us poor folks. I raised that thing for years and it’s gone in one night!”copyright protection95PENANAGeSFOjo6k5

"Why didn’t the king send his Paladin Knights? They used to hunt vampires long ago."copyright protection95PENANAT5iyU6QVww

“He doesn’t care about us, young lady. He doesn’t care about southern lands. Hell, nobody does except for peddlers like you. Bet he doesn’t even know our messengers never made it to Irkalla! Bah, have to fend for ourselves all the time.”copyright protection95PENANANxQoQrSiIc

His eyes started to turn red as his speech became a slur. All those shots had finally taken control.copyright protection95PENANAFpqx4fQsma

“But tell you what, that doesn’t matter anymore, eh? You merchants are here. We rebuild. People are happy. And those things are sodding dead.”copyright protection95PENANAyfgQNbXE6t

“How can you be sure? You said anyone could be a halfbreed?”copyright protection95PENANAaU00iQsb9a

“Did you pass by the gallows? There we hung their chieftain and his underlings,” he said, “joined the militia myself. Drew them into our trap like a blind fish they’re.”copyright protection95PENANAnOzOmD4c6q

“All of them?”copyright protection95PENANAnEFEvtPs7W

“Some escaped. But we followed them to their camps. Burned them to the ground. Left no one alive,” he said again, “now it’s been two weeks and still no attack. We did it, you see. We won.”copyright protection95PENANAWiQXj9NLlW

She left the tavern after putting a few bronze coins on the table. The man had gotten even more intoxicated and started to make his way to the barmaid, leaving her alone in her seat. It didn’t matter. She’d heard enough. The plan had worked. Effortlessly so. Knowing that nothing she did for the town of Svaros was in vain, she could finally go back to her research, to her cure.copyright protection95PENANAWILvx79Bkf

Nothing can stop me now.copyright protection95PENANA1HUHmpbbSj

Food…water…copyright protection95PENANA7OBYLU7zFs

Four days. Four days she dragged her feet through the forest, or so she thought. She remembered witnessing four sunrises without a drop of water. The riverside path she took was as dry as a desert. It's as if this barren land was left by humans long ago, leaving it untouched and desolated. On top of that, not a single animal could be seen. Even insects seemed to have migrated somewhere else.copyright protection95PENANAwBbi7JphkJ

She had lost any sense of direction. First, she went to the north when it turned to be nothing but wilted jungle. Another time she decided to walk east, following the sunrise, again it was all lifeless trees. This bleak woodland appeared to be endless no matter how far she ventured. After the fourth sunrise, she just stopped counting as her body became weaker and her mind grew emptier. She was like a walking vessel with death lurking closer.copyright protection95PENANAxmrr3NQeZJ

She stood on a ledge overlooking the whole woods. The darkness limited her already feeble eyesight. Only dense, desiccated ground as far as one could see.copyright protection95PENANAx7x95j3dTJ

Where am I?copyright protection95PENANAFqlRItA7KU

The night air pierced her skin. She trembled when the wind blew slightly. Cold. Her tattered clothing and barefooted state provided no warmth to her body. Her grip on the dagger loosened as she shivered. She could only watch as the knife fell out her hands, hit against a rock and came off the ridge.copyright protection95PENANARhhjJk7zz7

No…!copyright protection95PENANAi7eQgkakx3

Her body reflexively jumped forward, attempting to catch the only thing she had. However, without grasping anything to hold on, she failed to keep her balance and slipped off the edge.copyright protection95PENANA4dup4cTFkD

Then, everything happened so fast.copyright protection95PENANAAcVRvEcDeL

The woods rustled as she tumbled for what felt like forever, rolling down hitting trees and branches along the way. She lost control of her own body. It’s as if she wouldn’t stop falling through the air.copyright protection95PENANAKxTZnakyuS

Halfway down, the trees gave way and before she knew it, she was hurtling over the dry grass, earth, and rocks, until her body run into a large tree stump and she finally fell into darkness.copyright protection95PENANABy55YaiRQC

She woke up by the sounds of anvils and hammers. An unfamiliar view greeted her sight. The stained walls, wooden furniture, and those bookcases were nothing she’d seen before her eyes.copyright protection95PENANAvqOrhk5uXk

What…?copyright protection95PENANAfIR9Ifj2NN

There’s that sound again. The clanging metals. She looked around. The windows were open wide. Curious, she tried to sit up. A cracking noise of her bones could be heard somewhere in her back.copyright protection95PENANAUpm0vkbNc1

I’m still alive…?copyright protection95PENANAqHse8Jyedw

She stared outside.copyright protection95PENANAytfqDXFW0s

There was a metalworking shack across the street. An old man with a lavish beard was giving instructions to the three teenagers before him—a girl and two boys—seemingly to be his apprentices. He was praising her for hammering the iron right and asking the others to follow through.copyright protection95PENANAJUS6Vnq7bD

Where am I?copyright protection95PENANA9BkBPtloIz

The neighborhood was full of mercantile establishments. She could see the forge, armorer, potter, tailor, butcher, and so on. People went back and forth with their carts and baskets. Children were playing in the street, chasing after each other with what appeared to be wooden sticks. She heard them saying ‘My turn! My turn to be the Dragonbane!’ While some of the adults yelled for them to move out the way.copyright protection95PENANAVh2aHF7nC7

How did I come here?copyright protection95PENANAQm2IsY5T5g

She swallowed. The last thing she saw was the massive stump before the blackout. She didn’t remember being near any civilization before. There must be someone who’d come to her rescue.copyright protection95PENANAweRRPHka53

Who brought me here?copyright protection95PENANAJ1kMb1sjp5

While she was deep in thought, suddenly the door creaked open. She turned to find a brunette woman in white smock under a brown kirtle. In her hands were a book and a sack of something unknown. They looked at each other for a few seconds before her brows creased in shock,copyright protection95PENANArfrtXTs3Nx

“You shouldn’t be up yet…!”copyright protection95PENANAkjMbaCTvNZ

She didn’t know where to begin.copyright protection95PENANAyx0SkbUMuk

Laid on the table was an amount of food one would expect to be several days’ worth. At the sight of what appeared to be some roast her mouth watered. On the side, plates of potatoes, cheese, sausages, and pickles with a basket of bread stared back at her. The wafting aroma kept luring, calling out her famished soul. She couldn’t keep her hands any longer.copyright protection95PENANASWzjqwdSA0

Without hesitation she grabbed the pork leg, ripping a chunk off with her teeth.copyright protection95PENANAqUjc5uPZZC

The brunette stood by the bookcase with her arms folded, watching in amusement. No words were exchanged. Only glances. She didn’t care if the woman would judge her in silence. She didn’t even care being watched gnawing clean on the bones. Everything, even the grease and pickle juice flowed through her fingers were ambrosial. As if losing control, her body moved on its own, stuffing her face like it’s her last meal on earth.copyright protection95PENANAYyaYruamhF

“I wonder when was the last time you saw food,” the woman spoke after a long silence. In her voice was a mix of awe and wonder. Meanwhile, she only looked at her wordlessly while munching on another handful of sausage links. The brunette continued to stare at her, hand on her mouth, obviously holding back her laughter. Perhaps she was still thinking about the loud stomach grumble she heard moments ago.copyright protection95PENANAG9Bfs1MFTm

A clump of meat got stuck in her throat as she moved onto the next plate. Along with the surging air, the pressure pulled the muscle of her chest. Weird noises started to come out of her mouth.copyright protection95PENANAFjgZwmtmlt

“Good lord,” she saw the woman rushed to the door, “I’ll get you more water.”copyright protection95PENANAYj19isDsOU

Dropping the bread, she snatched the napkin nearby. Eyes winced every time her body jerked in a spasm. She regretted having eaten way too fast like that.copyright protection95PENANA7u3JKwKwbE

“Here, hold your breath and drink slowly,” she returned with a metal carafe. She could feel the woman’s hand stroke her back lightly as she drank.copyright protection95PENANASRY8RuvkRQ

Only when the hiccups died down, she realized the disaster on the table. Plates, bowls, scraps, grease, and carcasses spread everywhere in a disarray manner. Guilt washed her. Hunger had taken over her conscience that she’d forgotten she was in someone else’s home.copyright protection95PENANAOQaPZtiCV6

“Do you wanna eat more?”copyright protection95PENANAw3BAMl6xSi

She shook her head. Her stomach felt full by just looking at the ruins before her. That was a lot of food. No normal person would satiate such amount of helping in one sitting. Sick and amazed at the same time, she couldn’t help but feel disgusted with herself.copyright protection95PENANAbKa9T1Epmv

“Alright, then,” she began taking the plates, “I’ll be back in a minute.”copyright protection95PENANAfalq0kTiXP

“Wait.”copyright protection95PENANAptS14Fmacf

To her surprise, her voice had returned. Though it’s still hoarse and somewhat inhuman, it was strange to finally talk after what felt like forever. She made a sound in between a cough and a sharp inhale in attempt to clear her gorge.copyright protection95PENANAtn0DxUEbj1

“Let me help, please.” She said again, much clearer this time.copyright protection95PENANAGzb1ZcmTuj

“I don’t think you’re able to walk just yet,” the woman nodded towards her legs, “you didn’t notice the bandages?”copyright protection95PENANAITNBURhh2t

She immediately looked below and found beige cotton fabric wrapped neatly around her right knee. A brownish stain could be seen in the middle, presumably dried blood.copyright protection95PENANAxvRx9orNAK

“Wh—what happened…?”copyright protection95PENANAPgk0ijdFcH

“I don’t know. Did you trip and fall or something? I found you here with your ligament torn already.”copyright protection95PENANAYVBMwwENOG

Her lips parted in a daze, “That…that bad…?”copyright protection95PENANAhlc9Slyk98

“You’re technically crippled right now.”copyright protection95PENANA5YppZHJcmV

She could only watch in silence as the brunette continued to wipe the table. And in that moment, instead of being a helping hand, her body decided to release a reflex, expelling a blob of foul gas in the form of a very loud belch.copyright protection95PENANAUlRv8n1MbQ

“S—sorry!”copyright protection95PENANAssbEC40ap9

The woman shook her head in disbelief. Suddenly, she wanted nothing more than to crawl back into the grave. copyright protection95PENANAiu8HU7pDkM

"You’re in Ceville.”copyright protection95PENANAze8qJgOL2Z

She turned away from the window and found the woman stood at the bedside, looking at her with a smile.copyright protection95PENANABvsN94Raeg

“My name is Morgana.”copyright protection95PENANAjxLrfGzFjT

"Morgana..."copyright protection95PENANArS7zjRQ7CS

“You’ve been staring outside the whole time. Figured you must be wondering where you are.”copyright protection95PENANA7dnz0xESHT

“No, I was just...well, yes. Yes, I was,” she blinked in confusion, “how…how did I come here?”copyright protection95PENANA91qVtGB3lU

“To my house? Elder Nerida wants me to look after you.”copyright protection95PENANAWNN4n7Vdfx

“Elder Nerida?”copyright protection95PENANA6mLtWM1BEJ

“The village’s elder,” Morgana sat down, putting her palm on her forehead, “hmm, your temperature is normal.”copyright protection95PENANAuNLVJfBkiX

“Is something wrong?”copyright protection95PENANAffK3j7aekp

“No. The opposite even. It surprised me that you woke up a day earlier than I expected.”copyright protection95PENANAMqMxUJjWkY

“A day earlier? How long was I asleep…?”copyright protection95PENANAGOMrKvGlPZ

“Two days. You’re unconscious when the villagers brought you to my door.”copyright protection95PENANAj5e38xbiMw

“Ah…” she looked at her leg again. Slowly, she tried to move it around. Painful. She bit her lips. The ache made her eyes begin to water. Morgana noticed what she’s doing and stopped her right away.copyright protection95PENANAIzXv6ReqOy

“Don’t. Unless you want to make it worse,” she adjusted it back up, “you’ll be able to walk in several weeks.”copyright protection95PENANAounaV7GCtw

That sounded like a really long time. She sighed and looked at Morgana again. Her eyes—green eyes were examining the bandage closely. Faint dark circles rested below those eyes. She could see tiny freckles across her turned-up nose and high cheekbones from this distance. Her downturned lips were of the light shade of red sandstone. She wore her hair in a side braid, loosely hung around her shoulder. Her pale skin was a little reddish, possibly from being outdoor working under the sun. The woman was fairly thin—her collarbones were prominent against her skin. If she had to guess, Morgana probably was around the same age as her, if not younger.copyright protection95PENANABMBPPJn02a

“How did you end up in Ravaged Woods?”copyright protection95PENANAwLJugQlvga

“Ravaged Woods?”copyright protection95PENANA3FErQAywd1

“They said they found you there lying on the ground.”copyright protection95PENANA2ONEEDo2Er

Ravaged Woods. So that’s the place she was lost in. No wonder it bore such a dreadful name, suitably so. It did look like something had pillaged and caused such extensive destruction to the whole forest. To find a civilization such as Ceville beyond the area was like a mirage, like an oasis in the middle of a wasteland.copyright protection95PENANAcbdVFuL1Z2

“I…” she mashed her lips together, not knowing what to say, “…I broke through my grave.”copyright protection95PENANAc3HQuyr34E

“Excuse me?”copyright protection95PENANA57tSM7wa9b

“I woke up inside a casket. I think—I think I was supposed to be dead or something…”copyright protection95PENANABmmPi2j34i

Morgana stared at her with her forehead wrinkled,copyright protection95PENANA6glO7QmyTr

“You’re actually serious.”copyright protection95PENANAcYzGRlNowX

“That must’ve sounded crazy,” she sighed, rubbing her temples, “I wish I was joking. I don’t understand what happened myself.”copyright protection95PENANAz8jWXBZgF3

“Why would you be dead?”copyright protection95PENANAyMjUAqLXZF

She shrugged, “I’m not sure. So I just kept walking. Next thing I knew I was in that…dead woods.”copyright protection95PENANApcEYSwkGUQ

Suddenly, she remembered the second before her body fell off the edge. The reason why she lost her balance in the first place.copyright protection95PENANADuYXrVzqbf

The dagger!copyright protection95PENANAtK2NFDerAd

Her fingers immediately crept into her pockets. Nothing. Moving inside her robe, again, nothing. The fold of her girdle, the backside, everywhere. Nothing. Nowhere. That thing must’ve lost somewhere, laid deep in Ravaged Woods.copyright protection95PENANA6ZqLYihiYc

“Hey, hey, are you alright?” Morgana saw her mumbling to herself in a state of distress.copyright protection95PENANA8CG6A729yd

“…no way.”copyright protection95PENANAp2YrPE445F

“What is it?”copyright protection95PENANAhbFHWD0eVY

“I lost it!”copyright protection95PENANAq4B6bbedlN

“What?”copyright protection95PENANArKPpcF3gJ8

“My dagger…”copyright protection95PENANAV1kAIheJv9

As if realizing something, Morgana bolted from her seat and walked to the corner of the room—towards a wooden dresser. Fumbling around a little, she returned back to the bed.copyright protection95PENANAIVej2pvhCQ

“You’re looking for this?”copyright protection95PENANA44BUtNzx3i

There, in her hand, a short knife with some sort of strap served as an extension on its leather scabbard. Nothing remarkable with the grip, a few scratches could be seen on the surface. The crossguard shaped like a two-headed serpent. Her eyes widened.copyright protection95PENANAGZj1A2iOLO

“That’s…! Wait, how did you get that…?”copyright protection95PENANAYtJcNMCi4e

“The elder asked me to keep it before some scoundrels exchanged it for a few silvers,” Morgana handed it over, “he said they found it near your body.”copyright protection95PENANA89iK3MxCkA

She rubbed the weapon nervously. Not believing it would return again. It was what kept her sane. As if she had any belonging worth saving.copyright protection95PENANAU0Ae1agkY2

“Thank you. Thank you for everything…”copyright protection95PENANA8XwS9jELCJ

“Not me. You should thank those children if you must.”copyright protection95PENANA0LSjvV62xq

“Children?”copyright protection95PENANADsrdHtoYNn

“You were lucky they frolicked in the woods.”copyright protection95PENANA0VkxOuRtgt

“I—I see…” she said, “…but still, I wish there’s something I could do in return.”copyright protection95PENANAcgf4AKZGNx

“You’ve helped me clean the pantry though,”copyright protection95PENANA6rZyFH13FO

Her cheeks reddened.copyright protection95PENANArFKLdyg41w

“I’m—I’m sorry…”copyright protection95PENANAxdNNioxh4l

Morgana chuckled, “I only patched your leg and give you my bed. It’s just part of my job.”copyright protection95PENANAObMOJrvKvb

“You’re a physician?”copyright protection95PENANAyWQjI3SY8U

“Unregistered one. Elder Nerida is the only physician here. I’m his apprentice.”copyright protection95PENANAvG8itqG1HL

“What does that mean?”copyright protection95PENANAmwW9lGARq5

“What, unregistered?” Morgana arched her brows, “It means I can’t perform a surgery or charge you a coin.”copyright protection95PENANA2Z2TjKWbI5

“That’s too bad. Why do you need to be registered?”copyright protection95PENANA5eLdweDdfl

“Wait a minute,” the brunette shifted in her seat, “are you a foreigner?”copyright protection95PENANAZBSWKdCl43

“…huh?”copyright protection95PENANAr62tZmdWxW

“You speak like an Irkallan though. Are you a Kelredano? Gailanese?”copyright protection95PENANA1DaMQH1uVg

All those words sounded alien in her ears. She didn’t understand anything Morgana was saying.copyright protection95PENANAQUSIQDWtY0

“I…I don’t get it?”copyright protection95PENANAwp7zT7V64t

“You don’t seem to understand the Alchemist Guild system here.”copyright protection95PENANA366eTXWUrR

“Alchemist Guild?”copyright protection95PENANAaiM30DGW6E

The way Morgana stared at her as if she had two heads. Suddenly, her expression turned serious.copyright protection95PENANAXD45cXc84g

“Who are you?”copyright protection95PENANAB7mHlgEha6

“Who…am I?”copyright protection95PENANA9loWopz4mG

She stared at her hands in horror. No names. No places. No familiar faces. Nothing came up in mind. The only thing in her head was the vague images of the angry mob in an unknown place.copyright protection95PENANAJjjNowKBEO

Who am I? What’s my name?copyright protection95PENANASfWfXivCAF

“You don’t remember who you are,” Morgana looked at her in the eyes. It was a statement, rather than a question.copyright protection95PENANAJJ08GpxftT

Her grasp on the dagger tightened as her sight began to spin. She wanted to dig deep into her memories but the effort was in vain. The harder she tried to remember, the more throbbing the headache became. It’s as if her mind rejected any attempt to reach self-cognitions. Morgana scooted closer, pushed her backwards gently, helping her lie back in bed.copyright protection95PENANAWcdf0BLLdq

“You must’ve received quite a blow in the head. You should rest.”copyright protection95PENANAz5GwkDOPgo

“It…hurts…!” she groaned. The dagger was dropped in an instant. It knocked onto the floor, its sheath disengaged. Morgana paused for a moment as she noticed something off. She picked it up, examining carefully.copyright protection95PENANAuZ8v7OUF4o

“Hestia?” the brunette muttered the carved letters on the blade.copyright protection95PENANAy0BLgBn2mA

The woman’s voice went straight to her head. Another flash of images rushed before her eyes. Like sequences. She heard people saying that name again and again; different voices yet still no faces. Eventually, she began to understand.copyright protection95PENANAsWF8sZMhP2

“Morgana,” she swallowed, clutching her head, “That…that’s my—I think that’s my name…”copyright protection95PENANAGk1OP9CKOH

Irkalla. 120 days ago.copyright protection95PENANA9mHK8XmwZI

Duchess Geneive had requested an audience with Grand Paladin Irvine, the kingdom's most renowned warrior for his achievement slaying a dragon in Cadaver Hills. The meeting was not to be attended by other than the two, for it was supposed to be clandestine.copyright protection95PENANA6rFMA8MmpB

"Your Excellency, Her Grace is expecting you. Please, come in." the duchess' personal servant bowed before disappeared, closing the door behind her.copyright protection95PENANAo5VqULAxvo

Irvine looked around. Not the first time he entered her bedchamber, yet everything never failed to amaze him. The drapery, carpets, furniture, paintings, and the fireplace. Not to mention some of her personal collection of statues and figurines. The aura of femininity with a sense of class and royalty, the place gave him a strange sense of serenity as well as chivalry. Deep down he wished the Paladin tower was as stunning with less reeks of misery.copyright protection95PENANAeELVpTTLpT

"Good to see you again, Grand Paladin Irvine."copyright protection95PENANAuwl9iVi4iH

"Your Grace, at your service," he bowed, lowering his hood. His silver hair was a contrast with the dominant red velvet of the room, shining like a sword on a bed of roses.copyright protection95PENANAGGNB7ImHfS

"Smuggled as a nurse again, aren't you? Varna is most genius indeed."copyright protection95PENANA5txRpWLjHa

"She is certainly an amazing servant, Your Grace."copyright protection95PENANAcbHxl0sD5K

"We don't have much time. People are going to talk if you linger for too long. I want the report on the halfbreeds."copyright protection95PENANAlLr8nzRJg6

"Preparations are complete.”copyright protection95PENANACmA9eZ5ZiM

“I don't want things to get to His Majesty before it’s time. Are you sure your soldiers won’t be suspicious?"copyright protection95PENANAauYR2jRvWX

“Worry not, Your Grace. I did not tell them the true objectives. I’ll make sure your seal is delivered.”copyright protection95PENANAfhIHq5hhPy

“How can I have your word on it? I have spent so much on this expedition, Grand Paladin.”copyright protection95PENANAnsUYB9XH8g

“I believe there’d be uproar if we told these soldiers what they’re facing against.”copyright protection95PENANAtiLsaNL2iH

“Yes, people would always jump into conclusions,” the duchess sighed, “very few people understood the significance of my family’s legacy.”copyright protection95PENANAZyZHgpNxHD

“And I’m honored to help you continue it, Your Grace, for the better future.”copyright protection95PENANA55503G91ni

He saw her smiled.copyright protection95PENANAhRA3jKQ5M9

“Eight garrison soldiers—new recruits. A small squad,” he said again “they will depart by sunrise.”copyright protection95PENANAMLIMtYbhwT

“Will that be enough?”copyright protection95PENANAUCYZC1GM34

“I don’t advise to send a platoon, Your Grace. It’s best to masquerade as a small pilgrimage.”copyright protection95PENANA4kWFnfqekc

“I see. Have one of your Paladin Knights guard them. I believe it doesn’t hurt to have a little protection.”copyright protection95PENANAn7Y6Ts45JA

Irvine cleared his throat in doubt.copyright protection95PENANAYDdXDQZjC2

“Paladin? I—I don’t think I can provide anyone from my rank, Your Grace. That’d be too risky. I humbly apologize.”copyright protection95PENANAoHnknLANZV

“No, you can. I have someone in mind.”copyright protection95PENANA0n2ZtWry2b

“And who that might be?”copyright protection95PENANA91OmYscXLP

“I believe there’s someone named Hestia. She’s as naïve as you think could be.”copyright protection95PENANA0axnuU84H8

Cause she never disobeys orders, just like Adonis.copyright protection95PENANAZIw2H0Z9y1

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