Volume 1 Chapter 3
“How much longer till we’re there?”
“Almost there, almost there. Frankly, if I was not leading you, I would be back before sunset.”
“We’re not staying in the forest for the night right…”
“Umm…” Karile looked up to the sky. “Ma…ybe. Why, do you not like camping outdoors?”
“Not really, it’s just that I’ve been living in the city for so long. I’m not too used to staying in the wilderness.”
“Heh, looks like you have a bit of a story to share.”
Realising the blunder I just made, I decided to shut up. The awkward silence lasted for a while before Karile spoke again.
“Why are you suddenly silent?”
“No reason, I just wanted to preserve my stamina.”
“Got it got it, being a traveller must not be easy, walking the entire day.”
Apart from preventing myself from spilling anything more, the main reason was to stay awake. My consciousness is already wavering and fading, and my legs are wobbling from the pent up fatigue. The exit of the forest was nowhere in sight, and the sky was now completely dark. Darkness enshrouded the surroundings, making the road harder to walk on.
Karile who was leading the way took out her bow and chanted in a low voice, “Silme.”
The tip of the bow started to glow. Karile then placed the bow onto her back. Although the glow was not very light, it was enough to show the way.
After an hour or so, we reached the exit of the forest and arrived at a convent. The convent was by no means large, and it was a typical Gothic style architecture. Inside the walls was a church with ogive doors and tracery windows, but strangely there was not a single cross in sight. Instead, a star-shaped obsidian was hung high on the church’s wall. There were a few houses to the rear of the church, and next to the houses was a graveyard. It was also quite odd as the tombstones had nothing engraved onto them.
What caught my attention the most was the extremely elegant and gorgeous bell tower right besides the church. The four pillars were made entirely from obsidian, and the silvery clock on top seemed as though it could reflect the stars in the sky like a mirror.
“We’re finally here,” Karile said as she took me to a spare room. “You can sleep here tonight.”
After bringing me to the room, Karile left me alone. The room was small, but it had everything that a room needed; a straw bed, a slightly tattered chair, and a small wardrobe. Small, but comfortable, at least that was what I thought. The dim flame from the oil lamp gave off a sense of security. I was lying on the straw bed and was about to close my eyes when the bell tower suddenly rang.
What the hell? Ringing the bell at midnight?
I thought it was weird, but I did not think too much about it. Tiredness and fatigue quickly brought my soul into a dream.
“Witsen! Witsen! Wake up!”
Someone was shaking my body. I struggled to open my eyes.
This is… Mauss?
“Witsen! Get up! Now!”
Mauss pulled me up and kept looking behind himself. Behind him was… a black, gigantic skeleton.
The word popped out from my mouth for some reason.
“What the hell are you talking about! Run!”
Mauss dragged me along as he sprinted. My legs followed, but my eyes were locked onto the obsidian skeleton.
I’ve… seen it somewhere before…
It was at this moment that the skeleton had caught up to us, its gigantic arms swinging towards us.
I sprang up and abruptly opened my eyes, my entire body soaked in cold sweat. So it was only a dream…
“Coming,” I replied as I went to open the door.
As expected, it was Karile. She looked at me and chuckled.
“Look at your hair. Pffft, were you rolling on the ground the entire night? Hahahahahaha, no way, you look too funny. Go tidy yourself up, I have something to tell you.”
I was a bit irritated with her laugh, but when I looked into the mirror, I completely forgave her. All my hair was scruffled and standing upright. After tending to my hair, I went to the church.
“Ah, you’ve come.”
I came across Karile at the church’s entrance. She was walking over with two bowls of soup, so we went inside the church and sat at an empty table.
“Rabbit soup. I also added some tomatoes I had picked up along the way yesterday. Here, give it a try.”
“Okay,” I took a sip with the wooden spoon and exclaimed, “This!”
The taste of rabbit meat and the sour and sweet taste of tomatoes blended perfectly. She also added a spice to give the soup a hot and numbing sensation. That’s right, it was Sichuan pepper!
“You added Sichuan pepper?”
“That’s the spice you added to the soup.”
I scooped one of the Sichuan peppers from the soup and showed her. Karile finally realised what I was talking about and gave off a bright smile.
“Oh, you mean the numbing nut. Yeah, I added a bit. I was wondering if you would like it or not, but it seems like you like it a lot.”
She looked quite cheerful after seeing me enjoy her soup. That’s right, she seems to be a ranger, so I guess she would know something about the obsidian skeleton.
“Numbing nut, huh. By the way, do you know anything about an obsidian skeleton?”
Immediately after I asked, I realised something was off. Karile, who was just laughing cheerfully a moment ago, now had a stern and serious expression.
“You… how did you know?”
“About the skeleton?”
“Yes! How did you know about it?!”
Karile hammered the table with her fists. The wooden table could not withstand the force and started to crack. Do girls in this world have such extraordinary strength?
“Calm down, calm down. We can talk about it.”
“I apologise.” Karile took her fists back.
Just like that, our breakfast ended in dead silence. Afterwards, Karile stood up and spoke, “Follow me.”
I quietly followed over to the graveyard next to the houses. Karile held up her bow.
“Take out the piece of obsidian I gave you yesterday and hold it in your hand.”
I had no choice but to do as she said. Although I had no idea what to do, I knew that there was no chance of dodging her arrows.
“Now, close your eyes and imagine you’re holding a weapon.”
“What kind of weapon?”
“Listen to your heart. You have to feel it yourself.”
I closed my eyes and imagined myself holding a weapon. It looks like… a sword? Not too light, not too heavy, just right for me, as though it was tailor-made for me.
Little did I know, Karile pulled her bowstring and aimed an arrow at me.