Getting lost is just another way of saying 'going exploring.
~Justina Chen Headley, North of Beautiful
Getting ice cream with your friends wasn’t supposed to be life changing. Standing in two clusters of three near each other while licking ice cream cones and talking wasn’t supposed to result in a cliché isekai event.
At least, it wasn’t supposed to, and yet here was yourself, Shizu and Kyoko standing on a grassy plain instead of on a city sidewalk near Daiki and the boys as reality demanded. In the seconds since the sudden shift of scenery, none of you moved or made a sound, too stunned by the change to instantly react.
Eventually, Kyoko was the first one to break the silence as a strong breeze blew fresh air, rippling the grass like waves on the ocean and ruffling her hair.
“Did we get hit by a truck?”
Shizu, the most studious of the group and therefore the one most unlikely to know about fantasy fiction plots or clichés, asked, “Why would that be relevant to the current situation?”
As Kyoko explained the term ‘isekai’ to her, you robotically licked at ice cream. You knew what the isekai genre was there were a couple old manga series you read. When she was done, neither Shizu didn’t seem especially inclined to believe that your group had been isekai’d.
“It’s probably just an illusion Quirk,” she rationalized. She glanced around, “Or some other kind of Quirk. If we are still in the same place but are now seeing this, then it’s possible we might accidently run into someone or something. With that in mind, please be careful as there was a relatively busy street near that ice cream shack.”
Kyoko inhaled deeply and loudly. She slowly expelled the breath through her nose. “Well, if this is a Quirk, it’s very convincing. I swear I haven’t smelled air like this before, not even—shoot.” She quickly dipped her head and licked at a melted ice cream line dripping over her fingers. She waved her ice cream cone. “Look, our ice cream is melting. Let’s finish it, chill out, and then figure out what’s going on. If it’s a Quirk, maybe it will wear off by the time we finish.”
You felt your eye twitch at the casual approach she was taking, but did you really want to waste your ice cream by throwing it on the ground and yelling about it? What if it’s your last ice cream ever? No, better to savor it and then figure out what was going on.
Everyone proceeded to continue eating their ice cream while they looked around, and you were no exception. There seemed to be nothing but grass for miles, but there did seem to be a mountain in one direction. It looked nothing like Mount Fuji, though, so that ruled out this somehow still being Japan. And the sky. The cloud were huge, though thankfully they weren’t dark with rain or a storm. Being from urban Japan, this place was alien in a way you didn’t like because there were no modern conveniences in sight. No roads, no buildings, and that meant no running water, electricity, or assistance from adults.
Kyoko had pulled out her phone by this point, crunching down on the wafer of her cone. “There’s no service out here.”
You and Shizu pulled out your phones to check and sure enough, she was right. Shizu frowned while you let out a mild curse.
“All right,” Shizu said, swallowing the last of her wafer and putting her phone away. “What have you noticed during our short break just now?”
“The sky is really big,” you said. “These clouds are huge.”
“There’s a mountain that way,” Shizu contributed, nodding towards a distant mountain range.
“Is… Is that a spider?”
You both turned to Kyoko, saw her looking off in one direction, and turned your head to see what she was staring at. There, some distance away, was a rather large spider. Staring at it, you couldn’t tell whether it was coming or going. Also, if you could see it from here… just how big was it?
“Hey…” Shizu sounded uneasy. “That thing is moving towards us.”
No one said anything for a long minute. It was Kyoko who voiced the question everyone was thinking but no one wanted to say.
“Is that thing… giant-sized?”
Silence reigned again as the thing disappeared behind a slope.
The word slipped out of your mouth as you thought just how large that arachnid had to be to see it from this distance. You repeated yourself, waving your friends to start moving in the opposite direction of the giant spider.
“Go. Go, go, go!”
You grabbed Kyoko’s hand and started pulling her, forcing her stunned feet to move. Shizu kept pace near you as the three of you started jogging and quickly broke out into a run. Refusing to look back, you kept your eyes glued forward. Remembering a stubborn boy, you yelled to the others.
“Where is Daiki?”
Daiki had been right there less than ten feet away from you and the girls. Why weren’t they here too? Where were you anyway?
You wanted to be back in the city!
“I don’t know,” Shizu answered, panting slightly. “I didn’t see Sora or Katsu anywhere nearby either. Let’s just keep moving.”
Three pairs of feet ran across an unknown land.
Behind them, a single set of eight steadily pursued.
You jog every day with Izuku, but even the stamina you built from that doesn’t last very long at the speed your group is running. Still, you can run for longer than Kyoko, who is the first of the group to falter, slowing from her run. She slows down you and Shizu as neither of you actually contemplates leaving her. Kyoko keeps moving, but the group is slowed to a brisk walk.
Out here on an open plain, even with the slopes of the land, it’s easy to see for long distances. The spider is still following, and you can feel fear creeping down your spine every time Shizu looks back and confirms that it is still in pursuit.
The sun crosses a portion of the sky before Kyoko staggers to a stop and falls to her knees, sobbing that she can’t keep going. Shizu is in almost as worn out a state as she kneels too, and you are nearing your limit as well. If the boys were here, you know that Daiki would barely be touched by the exhaustion, and that Sora and Katsu were likely to have been able to keep going. However, none of you are them, and physical exertion is less common for all three of you. You are forced to stop running, and the place you stop is halfway up one of many hills.
“We may have no choice but to fight,” Shizu announced grimly, eyes locked on the stalking predator.
Kyoko breathed hard from her position on the ground, sweat dripping down her face as tears well in her eyes. “A-are you crazy, Shizu? That thing is huge even from here. We don’t stand a chance!”
“It’s been following us for almost three hours now,” she reminded her. “And I don’t think it’s going to stop until it gets at least one of us.” She glared solemnly. “And don’t anybody think of doing some stupid heroic sacrifice.”
Kyoko lifted her head to glare back at her. “I don’t think any of us want to be that thing’s next meal.”
“No kidding,” you grumbled between pants.
The three of you watched the spider still heading your way. Ergh. It was getting bigger the closer it got. This thing was tenacious. Was it going to just keep following until it either caught one of you or one of you dropped down dead?
“If you’re alright, then it doesn’t matter how badly we get hurt,” Shizu pointed out.
“Correction,” you panted. “I can’t fix dead, and I’m not sure I can put your brains back together properly if they get smashed.”
“Lovely image,” Kyoko laughed hysterically, hands clenched against the ground.
“I’m sorry,” she added, sniffling as she wiped at the tears tricking down her cheeks.
“We would have had to stop eventually,” you soothed, nervously eying the eight-legged giant still approaching. Your hand reached over and clenched hers. “We’ll be facing it a little sooner than we otherwise would have, that’s all.”
Kyoko was shaking as it got closer, and you weren’t doing much better. Your world was in an age of Quirks and physical mutations, but somehow, seeing an oversized spider actively stalking you was, in a word, horrifying. There was fear there, and the natural fight or flight instinct. Flight had been the first option, but with one or more of the group unable to continue for much farther, things had been forced to ‘fight’.
However, none of the three of you were fighters of any worth. If you got your hands on someone, that was one thing, but fighting? No, you had very little experience in that department, and you were betting that neither Shizu or Kyoko had much either. Besides, even if you were fighters, how were you supposed to fight a giant spider?
Kyoko’s voice is soft and shaky at first, but as the spider begins climbing the hill you are on, she starts screaming louder.
“Help! Someone! Help! Help us!”
You want to tell her that no one is coming. No one saved you or your mother back when you were four, and the resentment lingers to this day even with Izuku’s presence in your life. You don’t believe in heroes, and Daiki and the boys aren’t here to protect you three. You want to tell her to save her breath, because no one ever comes.
You don’t get a chance, because this time, someone answers the call.
He is halfway through a complaint about the Watch captain when a voice is carried to them on the breeze. It’s a call for help, and without even waiting for the other, the two of them are racing across the grass and up a hill. They stop briefly at the top, taking a split second to assess the situation—Shield Spider advancing on three Humans—and then they are zipping down the hill to engage the threat.
Relc stabs his spear forward and flips the monster on its back. Then Klbkch is there, two swords striking down at the exposed underbelly. He joins in the fun and between the two of them, the Shield Spider is quickly dead. Feeling cheerful after the easy win, he flicks shredded spider meat off his arm with a claw and grins.
For a creepy bug, Klbkch isn’t that bad of a partner.
Turning around with a grin still on his face, he greeted the Humans in good humor, despite the stink around them.
He paused when they flinched and immediately huddled together, two of them pushing the third behind them, almost as though he expected him to attack them. Well. That was rude.
Hrm. Looking at them, they all had mammary glands, so these three were likely females. The short dresses were also a clue, though not a sure-fire indication. So, what were three Human females doing out on the Floodplains on their own?
Klbkch sheathed his swords and came to stand beside him. He calmly observed the Humans’ eyes flicking between them, as though unsure of who they should be keeping an eye on. Personally, he thought they should be keeping an eye on Klbkch, because he was an Antinium, whereas Relc was a respectable Drake. His partner broke the awkward silence.
“Greetings. I am Klbkch. This is Relc. We are guardsmen in the Liscorian Watch. We heard your call for assistance. Please. Are any of you injured?”
Almost as one, the three Humans slowly shook their heads, eyes settled on him.
“That is good. Please, tell me. Are you three lost? Were you separated from a group?”
One of them latched on to that. “We were! There were three boys with us before we came here. D-did you see any other… humans?”
Relc shared a glance with Klbkch. He shook his head and answered this time.
“Nah. Haven’t seen a Human around here in ages. You three are the first I’ve seen in a long while.”
Their faces changed. Disappointment? It was so hard to tell with Humans.
The same Human spoke up again. “We are lost.” It paused, glancing over at the companion next to her, and then over her shoulder and the one behind her. She looked back, voice solemn. “Very lost.”
Aside from a few mild differences, the three of these Humans were dressed alike. Uniforms usually meant soldiers, and while these three hadn’t even been able to take on a Shield Spider and were clearly lacking in weapons, Relc had to ask.
“Are you three [Soldiers]?”
They blinked. Their spokesperson answered. “No. These… are school uniforms. We are high school first years.”
“Education,” the Human clarified. “It was our first day.”
“Bad luck, huh? You get hit by a bad teleportation spell, or was it something else?”
They all exchanged looks again. Grah. Fleshy faces were so hard to decipher. A glance at Klbkch showed that he didn’t seem to be having much luck in that department either as he was glancing back at him. Relc shrugged and turned back to the Humans.
They really did stink. Maybe they went to a school for Human [Alchemists] or something?
He scratched near is head spikes, not quite sure what to make of these three. As a guardsman, it was his duty to identify any possible threats, but so far these three didn’t seem like they’d make any real trouble. People might complain about their stench, but he wasn’t going to shell out coin for them to go to the bath house.
“Where are you from?”
They answered Klbkch’s question, but the third one behind the first two said a different town than their companions. Apparently their high school was in their town and the one in the back had to travel each day just to get there. The rest of the low-key interrogation didn’t reveal anything interesting, and personally Relc thought they could safely mark them as not dangerous.
Klbkch must have come to the same assumption, because he offered to escort them back to Liscor. The two who hadn’t spoken much seemed reluctant to walk with a Drake and a bug, but their leader made the decision for them and accepted Klbkch’s offer, though they did make a point of walking next to him rather than Klbkch. When they crested the top of the hill, the Humans gaped at the sight of Liscor. They hadn’t realized just how close they were to civilization.
Resting his spear on his shoulder as the group headed back to Liscor, Relc asked the leader of the group, “So, stranded in Issrysil and far from home… what’s your plan for getting back?”
She glanced over at her friends and stared at the furthest one for a long moment. Relc noticed that she and the middle one were holding hands, and they looked at each other. It was another moment before that one looked back at the leader and nodded. The leader turned her face back to him.
“We will attempt to collect money by healing people. The primary use of these potential funds shall go towards our living expenses while we save up for the journey back, if it can be safely made.”
The disinterest that had been settling over him was gone in an instant. He leaned a little closer.
“Healing? Is one of you a [Healer]?”
The leader nodded. “(Last Name) is a potent healer. Do you know the regulations of offering such a service?”
He shared another look with Klbkch and let the Antinium take over as he cared about the rules a whole lot more than Relc did.
“I believe the first issue would be proving that your companion has healing abilities. Are you able to provide a demonstration?”
The females came to a stop, prompting him and Klbkch to stop as well. By this time, Liscor’s walls weren’t far off. They seemed to communicate without words, because their leader looked at the supposed healer and didn’t say a word before turning her attention back to them. She held out her bare arm.
The healer reached over and grabbed the proffered arm with her hand. Nothing happened, no light, no chant, but she nodded as she let go.
The leader spoke again. “Injure me.”
Relc opened his mouth to protest, but Klbkch stepped forward while drawing one of his daggers. Stunned, Relc didn’t react in time before Klbkch had made a short cut along the Human’s arm that quickly leaked red blood. The iron tang in the air stunned him again as the healer reached out and touched her leader’s arm.
Right in front of their eyes, blood melted back into the arm and flesh knitted together before the skin closed. Only the lingering scent of blood remained, and the arm looked as though it hadn’t just been cut.
Klbkch nodded. “Is this the extent of her abilities?”
They exchanged another look, but this time the healer looked concerned. The leader looked back at Klbkch and requested in all seriousness: “Amputate my hand.”
“Whoa!” Relc reached out and grabbed Klbkch’s arm, though this time the ant hadn’t made to move. He glared at the leader. “Are you out of your mind? You don’t just ask someone to do that! Worse, you never ask an Antinium to do that. They just might!”
Klbkch somehow looked offended. “I would not step that far over my boundaries as a guardsman.” He paused. “Though I would do so if Captain Zevara gave me permission to do so.”
Relc groaned and let go of his arm to rub at the scales between his eyes. “Dead gods…”
“You seem very confident that your healer would be able to reattach your amputated hand, should I have done so. Has she healed that sort of injury before?”
The leader answered Klbkch’s question. “Yes. She has also done other things pertaining to the body, although I will admit that that has only been to human bodies.” She hesitated. “We are unsure if this healing would extend to… your kind as well.”
The way she said it made him look at her. “What? You’ve never seen a Drake before?”
They all shook their heads. He jabbed a claw at his partner. “I guess you haven’t seen a bug this big, either, huh?”
They shook their heads as Klbkch spoke up.
“I object to your description of my kind. As you well know, the proper name for us is Antinium.”
He waved a claw. “Yeah, yeah.” He stared down at the coinless females and sighed. He held out his arm. “Klb, cut m—ouch!”
He grabbed at his suddenly bleeding arm and snarled at his partner. “What was that for?!”
The Antinium tilted his head slightly. “I apologize. I thought you intended for me to injure you.”
His tail thrashed. “Well, yeah, but you could have given me a warning!”
“It was your idea. You should have been prepared.”
They saw the leader pointing at his injured arm. “May (Last Name) try to heal you then?”
He glared over at (Last Name) who was now standing behind her leader, hands on her shoulders as she timidly peered at him. He grumbled and winced, holding out his arm. “Yeah, go head. If you can save me some of my potion, I’d be grateful.”
“An injury of this shallow damage would be fine if only treated with a bandage.”
“You shut up. You cut me.”
“You asked me to.”
With a glance from Shizu, you stepped out from behind her and approached the… Drake? The Antinium said their names earlier, but you’ve already forgotten. You’d ask Shizu later if she remembered them. For now, though, you reached out and touched his arm.
You almost drew back, because whatever you had expected, the cool touch of his scales was not it. It was… different. Of all the people you had used your Quirk on, lizard-type mutants were not among that number. Frowning in determination, you pressed your fingers firmly against his scales and looked. His biology was different from a Human’s, and in this moment you confirmed that he lacked any sort of Quirk Factor indicative of a Quirk.
Dismissing your probing, you concentrated on his injury. You healed the damage, repurposed what blood was still useful, and closed up the wound. Scales were different from skin, but thankfully you were able to knit the split scales back together as well.
Letting go, you came back to yourself to see that his wound was gone. Well. That was a relief. Maybe Shizu’s plan would actually work and the three of you wouldn’t be homeless.
He startled you as he shouted, puling his arm closer to his face so he could inspect it. “You can barely even tell I was injured! And you say I’m the first Drake you’ve healed?”
At your nod, he grinned widely, making you sweat because whoa, those teeth might be yellow, but boy do they look sharp.
“You know what? I think you actually have a chance of not dying of starvation!”
Shizu’s deadpan voice cheered. “Hooray…”
You quickly retreated behind Shizu again as Relc started swinging his previously injured arm around.
“It’s good as new! It’s like I wasn’t injured in the first place!”
Kyoko made a strangled sound, and the reason why quickly became apparent as the ant man held out a bleeding arm. You froze at the sight of his green blood. Wait. Did bugs have blood? Wasn’t it called something else?
“May I request that you try your healing abilities on myself as well?”
The Drake’s voice was dry. “How about asking before you cut yourself up? What if her magic doesn’t work on bugs?”
“Again, I remind you, the proper term is Antinium.”
Cutting into the impeding argument, you stepped out from behind Shizu again and stepped forward to touch the Antinium’s arm. Your fingers recoiled from the first cool touch of chitin, but you forced yourself to put them back. Looking at him with your Quirk, you noted that he definitely was a bug as his insides were nothing like a Human’s or even a Drake’s. Still, healing him was the same thing you’ve always done because he was alive, and anything alive was under your power.
Pulling your hand back, you watched apprehensively as the Antinium brought his arm closer to inspect it.
“Well done. I think it won’t be very long before you find yourself making good coin. Not everyone can afford potions, and quite a few find healing naturally to be frustratingly time-consuming.”
You nodded mutely as Shizu verbalized. “I hope that is a correct prediction.”
The Drake, who seemed stunned that you were able to heal the Antinium, put a smile back on his face and clapped his fellow guardsman on the back. They started talking to each other and the group continued on its way to the city. Once you were close enough, the Antinium spoke up, saying he and Relc had to get back to their patrol (so that’s his name). Relc looked surprised.
The Antinium nodded. “Yes. Captain Zevara will yell at us if we abandon our shift.”
Relc lifted a finger. “Or. Or we would escort these Humans to the Adventurer’s Guild so they don’t get lost.” He paused before stroking his chin. “Or is it the Mage’s Guild?”
The ant man seemed to consider something. “I would surmise that they lack funds to register at either, in which case the point is moot. Although, since only one of their party is capable of healing, perhaps the Adventurer’s Guild would be a better choice.”
He looked at Shizu. “You may have better luck offering (Last Name)’s services at the Adventurer’s Guild. Adventuring can be a dangerous occupation, therefore there is a greater chance you will find a willing customer there.”
Relc snorted, looking annoyed for some reason. “Those weaklings. No adventurer around here is high-leveled, and they don’t take as many risks. Really, you’re better off just wandering around until you find either an injured person or someone who just got hurt.”
Shizu nodded. “Thank you both for your assistance and advice.” She bowed. “We are in your debt.”
You floundered for a half-second before copying her, and a glance to your side showed Kyoko doing the same. You both thanked them for their help.
“We’re just doing our jobs,” Relc said, though his tail gave away how pleased he was.
“It was our duty,” the Antinium replied.
You blinked in surprise as they suddenly seemed to disappear quickly into the distance. Next to you, Kyoko let out a soft whistle.
“Damn they’re fast.”
Shizu was quiet. “Maybe it’s magic?”
“Or a skill,” Kyoko put in. “I’ve heard the boys talking about that kind of stuff.”
“They accepted (Name)’s healing abilities rather easily,” Shizu mused. “This world must have something similar.”
“Not too similar, I hope,” Kyoko said. Now that she was close to a city and away from the giant spider, she was in a better state of mind. “After all, we’re counting on (Name)’s Quirk to earn us money.”
“Indeed,” Shizu said, turning around to stare at the city gate.
There was another Drake at the entrance, and it reminded you of something you saw in Relc. You lowered your voice. “Careful. Relc’s eardrums are more developed than a human’s. It’s possible that that one there can hear us.”
Kyoko leaned closer to you. “Then why are we whispering?”
You paused. “Uh… it’s something we should be aware of from now on?”
Kyoko gave you a skeptical look before you both looked at Shizu for her opinion. She stared at the city for a long moment before nodding.
“I agree with (Name). Also, it is now a rule that we don’t talk about where we really come from, or how it is (Name) is able to do what she does.” She glanced over at Kyoko. “What you and I do is subtle, so we likely won’t have to worry there. With (Name), it is the same as always.”
The first part of ‘always’ is: keep you safe. The second part of ‘always’ is: keep your true abilities hidden.
The first part you hope they are able to uphold, what with them not being Daiki or the boys. The second part, however, is probably going to be thrown out the window. You can already picture Shizu holding a blank humanoid with ‘Biokinesis’ stamped on its forehead over the ledge of a window, what with her revealing her plans to those two guardsmen and then showcasing a fraction of your ability to them.
Wait, stop thinking of your best friend holding a construct of your Quirk out of a window.
It’s time to enter Liscor. No money, no food, no shelter, and now you’re about to enter a city of Drakes and Antinium… If you’re not skewered on the end of a Drake’s spear or cut to pieces by an Antinium’s swords by the sundown, you will call this… well, it’ll still be a terrible day, honestly.
(mom, dad, Izuku, Daiki)
Just not as bad as it could have been.
Shizu held her chin up. “Let’s go.”
She strode off as though she’d been to Liscor many times. Exchanging an apprehensive glance with Kyoko, you grabbed the straps of your schoolbag and ran to keep close to Shizu. Kyoko followed suit.
Liscor, home to Drakes, Gnolls, and Antinium—did not easily welcome three Human females.