Chapter 1: Please Tell Me We Weren't Isekai'd!
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.
Chapter 2: What Voices Come When We Sleep?
Temper us in fire, and we grow stronger. When we suffer, we survive.
~Cassandra Clare, City of Heavenly Fire
Completely disheartened, you sat between Shizu and Kyoko in an alleyway with your arms around your knees and your head lowered to hide yourself from the world. The fact that your friends were mirroring your actions did nothing to bolster your spirits.
Ever since arriving in this world, very little seems to have gone right. The only good things about today were being saved by Relc and the ant man, and also the fact that you got to confirm that your Quirk still works and that it works on Drakes and Antinium. Everything else was just… discouraging.
Walking through Liscor was its own kind of torture. Dog people and Drakes alike wrinkled their noses or glared at the three of you as you passed by. Shizu, clever and observant, surmised that the three of you must smell like a city, and here in this world without cars or technology, that meant you likely reeked of air pollution and who knows what other smells that humans can’t perceive. She warned that smelling bad to the city inhabitants would likely make her plans more difficult to achieve.
‘Difficult’ was right. The dog men couldn’t be bothered to speak to ‘three smelly Humans’, and the Drakes were of like mind. In fact, when your group accidentally found the Adventurer’s Guild, it was a pair of dog men that practically threw the three of you out before Shizu could even finish her proposal to the receptionist the deigned to talk to her. Being ostracized was a new thing to you, and you wondered if this was how Izuku felt on a daily basis.
As if being treated as though you had the plague wasn’t bad enough, the three of you were hungry, thirsty, and in need of a toilet. In a city full of superior noses, stealthily using an alleyway to relieve yourselves just wasn’t in the cards. The sweat built up during the run for your lives part of the day had dried up and added to your collective discomfort.
“I wanna go home.”
Kyoko’s muffled voice came from your left.
Shizu sighed and you heard her lift her head. “I don’t think that’s going to be possible today, or even in the near future. This definitely isn’t some Quirk-based illusion, and that dog man touching me earlier means that this likely isn’t a dream either, not to mention we’ve been smelling things too.”
Your stomach grumbling at the reminder that you had smelled food earlier.
Kyoko’s voice came again, clearer and a sign that she probably lifted her head too. “Hey, (Name), do you think you could make, like, fruit out of that grass outside the walls? I mean, who would complain about us taking grass?”
You sighed and lifted your head to stare at the building wall opposite of you. “I could try, but I’ve barely ever used my Quirk to look at fruit. I would have to rearrange and remake cells until I found the correct pattern. Frankly, at most, I think I could make us some kind of edible paste… maybe.”
Kyoko wrinkled her nose. “That sounds disgusting.”
You glared at the wall. “It’s the best I can do.”
“We might not have any other option today.” Shizu looked up at the sky between the buildings. Orange colors were beginning to smear across the sky, indicating that sunset was near. “If we’re going to do that, then we should probably do so before they close the gates. It’s unlikely that they leave them open all night.”
“You are correct.”
Shrieks briefly filled the alleyway as the three of you scrambled in fright, abandoning your schoolbags, and ended up clustered together to face the speaker.
“My apologies,” the ant man said, once the three of you had stopped your frantic movements. “It was not my intention to scare you.”
Shizu, arms spread out in front of you and Kyoko, stared at him before asking in an uncertain voice. “Klbkch?”
The ant man nodded. “Yes, it is I. My shift on patrol ended a while ago, though when I was asked by a citizen to check on the Humans in this alleyway, I acquiesced as I thought I might find you. Are you okay?”
You grimaced. That sounded like someone wanted you three to get in trouble with the guardsmen for loitering or something. Then again, maybe they just didn’t like humans.
Shizu answered for the group, lowering her arms as she did. “We are experiencing difficulties in our plans. No one will hear us out long enough for us to establish (Last Name) as a healer. More pressingly, we are unable to find a public latrine.”
Klbkch’s antennae twitched slightly as Shizu stood up, followed by you and Kyoko. “I see. Have you tried the Adventurer’s Guild? I believe they do have public toilets.”
You grimaced at the memory of two towering dog men towering over you while forcing you all to back up out of the building. Shizu recounted the experience to Klbkch.
“That is unfortunate. For the record, those were likely Gnolls. Calling them ‘dog men’ in public may result in an altercation. I believe it would be best for you three to avoid that.”
So even the ant man can tell none of you have combat capabilities.
Shizu nodded. “I suspected as much.”
Well, she did clap a hand over Kyoko’s mouth at least two times before the lot of you ended up in the alleyway.
Once again, Klbkch stood eerily silent for a long moment. As his silence dragged on, you exchanged a concerned look with Kyoko, as the two of you were still hiding behind Shizu. You twitched as he suddenly spoke.
“I believe it would beneficial to assist you. Would you be amenable to a deal?”
“What sort of deal?”
“Ah yes. Hearing out the parameters of any deal before agreeing to it is a reasonable action.” Klbkch waved his arm, the one which he had purposefully injured and let you heal. “You have proven that your healing does work, and you have confidence in your ability to do even more. Given your situation, I would suppose that means that you are, at this point, willing to treat anyone who comes to you?”
Shizu glanced at you and you nodded in confirmation.
Klbkch saw this and continued. “Having a dedicated healer in Liscor would be a boon to the city. Letting you perish or leave would be a waste. Therefore, I offer my financial assistance for a week if you will stay in Liscor for six months. During this time, you will not turn away a patient based on their species or their unfortunate actions towards you on this day. Is this agreeable?”
“Let us confer.”
Shizu turned and the three of you huddled your heads. Her first question was to you.
“What do you think, (Name)?”
You frowned, nibbling on your lip. Six months was a long time, but as Shizu said, it didn’t look like getting home would be easy. Plus, none of you had any money whatsoever, and who knew if a deal like this would come again?
Kyoko seemed to read your thoughts as she snorted softly. “It’s not like we have much of a choice. We’re flat broke and no one else will give us the time of day.” She looked at you. “I say we take it.”
You met Shizu’s eyes and she nodded slowly. “Normally I wouldn’t even consider this sort of deal, or at least I would haggle, but I don’t think we should risk alienating the only helpful person we’ve met all day.”
Thinking about their words, you nodded grimly. “Go for it.”
The three of you broke up and Shizu turned back to Klbkch.
“We accept the terms stated.”
Kyoko sighed as she sank into the tub at a bathhouse. “I think I love Klbkch. Is that weird?”
You snorted. “I wouldn’t blame you. He’s basically, ugh, our hero at this point.”
(is that a traitorous thought to Izuku?)
Shizu made no comment as she continued rinsing her hair outside of the tub. The three of you were treating this place the same as any other Japanese bathhouse and that meant washing outside the tub and relaxing in it.
Klbkch had handed over twenty silver coins in the alleyway and gave you all a brief overview of the monetary system after Shizu asked about it. This made him curious as to why she would have to ask in the first place, and he seemed confused when she mentioned paper money as paper money made no sense to him. Shizu dodged further questions by redirecting his attention back to the coins he had given her. He told her that this amount of coins would cover the stay at one of the cheaper inns for at least four days, and that included a few meals. He added that he would hand over additional funds later, and then he had led you three to said ‘cheaper inn’.
He oversaw the payment for said four days, made sure you had a meal, and then he left your group to your own devices. The innkeeper, an older, possible female Drake looked down her nose (snout?) at the three of you and ordered you all to go to a bathhouse and ‘at least attempt to wash the stink off yourselves’. That brought you to the present moment.
Shizu finally joined the two of you in the bath, and you felt concern wash over you as a tenseness you hadn’t noticed before seeped out of her expression and body posture. The three of you luxuriated in relative silence, ignoring the voices that came from the other tubs around.
“Alright,” Shizu said, opening her eyes and making you and Kyoko look at her. “We majorly lucked out with Klbkch, but now we have to prove that he wasn’t wrong to take a risk on us. That means getting established as soon as possible and making… coin.”
You smirked in amusement. It sounded weird to say ‘coin’ instead of ‘money’, but ‘coin’ was more commonly used around here, so that’s what the three of you were trying to get used to using.
She shook her head. “Anyway. We are cleaner than earlier, but it will take a few days for our smell to become, how shall I say, less out of place in this world. Our clothes, however, still present a problem, and if we can, we should at least switch out the tops of our uniforms for something made in the city, even if it’s plain.”
Kyoko sat up suddenly. “What about bras? We can’t wear the same one forever!”
Shizu frowned. “We’ll think of something when the time comes.” She went back to her previous train of thought. “If our smell is less objectionable, I believe we will have an easier time convincing people to let (Name) use her… magic, on them.”
She flushed slightly as you and Kyoko stared at her. “Look, they clearly don’t have Quirks here, okay? Aside from the scales and fur, did you see anyone displaying special abilities? If this was the place we knew, then we would be seeing more mutations and instances of… power usage.”
She looked from you to Kyoko, eyes serious. “Do not explain how our powers work. Any of it.”
You clenched your hands beneath the water. Shizu was trying to warn you both not to explain how Quirks were passed on. She was trying to protect you from becoming a breeding slave. While it was unlikely that your child or children would get your exact Quirk, the odds were that they would get some kind of healing variant. There was a nasty possibility that you and your descents could become slaves.
Your face must have gone pale or something, because Kyoko and Shizu both sidled over to sit next to you. Kyoko nudged your shoulder with hers.
“Don’t sweat it, (Name). I can keep my mouth shut.”
Shizu nodded. “We will do everything we can not to let the worst occur. You are not alone.”
Taking a deep breath, you held it for a moment to steady yourself before you let it out. You nodded.
Putting on your unwashed uniforms again was not something any of you enjoyed. Even if Shizu hadn’t suggested switching out a part of the uniform, it wouldn’t be long before having clean clothes climbed up the importance list. Actually, on that list, you mentally added toothbrushes. While you could keep your friends perfectly healthy, you had to work for your health, and that meant taking care of your teeth, especially I this world that didn’t seem like they had dentists.
Arriving at the inn was a relief as you three were still getting looks of disgust. Even after a bath, the Gnolls and Drakes looked at you as though you were something on the bottom of their shoes. Again, was this how Izuku sometimes felt? It seems that you really underestimated just how bad being Quirkless could really be. You thought you had understood, but no, today just proved that you didn’t really understand discrimination before.
As your funds were limited, the three of you had opted for a single room. If the bed couldn’t fit all three of you, then you could take turns with one awake at a time through the night. The room you received from the innkeeper was the last room in the back, and indeed the bed was only big enough for two. Well, all three of you could probably squeeze in on it, but that wouldn’t be very comfortable, so it was agreed to have two asleep and one awake, the order of which was determined by rock-paper-scissors.
Kyoko lost and was therefore the first to take watch, but it would be a while before you and Shizu settled down for bed. Right now, there were things to discuss.
“All right, what do we have?”
The three of you stood around the bed and emptied the contents of your high schoolbags onto the mattress. The only identical objects were the textbooks you had all been given on the first day. Truthfully, while running from the Shield Spider, you probably should have dropped these heavy bags, but it simply hadn’t occurred to yo—well, actually, you and Kyoko tried to ditch them, but Shizu wouldn’t hear of it and had stopped to get them back. Since neither you or Kyoko was that heartless, despite screaming at Shizu, you both took back your bags and kept running.
You did wonder why none of the guardsmen stopped to check the content of these bags, but maybe because they were kind of small they didn’t really care? Also, with all the textbooks, the bags did take on a rectangular outline, so maybe it was obvious that all you had were books of some kind.
Not that books were the only things you had in there. While your phones had been stored in your skirt pockets, there were some miscellaneous items unique to each person, despite the fact that it was only the first day. Shizu had a black pencil case with pens, a mechanical pencil, regular pencil, sharpener, and eraser, and also a notebook, packet of tissues, small coin purse and packet of hand sanitizers. Kyoko’s pencil case was pink with nearly identical contents as Shizu’s, a small metal case with numerous hairpins, her own coin purse, a notebook, and, for some reason, a Rubik’s cube. Your pencil case was green (for no specific reason), had similar contents as Shizu’s, and your miscellaneous items were a wallet with paper money and pictures of your parents and Izuku, two notebooks, a new packet of All Might stickers you bought on a whim on the way to the ice cream shack (for Izuku, of course), and a small cat’s eye marble that Daiki randomly gave you that morning.
“Why do you have a Rubik’s cube?”
Kyoko shrugged at your question. “I bought it, like, yesterday, and just stuffed it in my bag this morning last second.”
“All right,” Shizu said. “Anything else, lay it out.”
You all laid down cellphones with different cellphone charms. Shizu’s had a golden temple bell with a red and white strap resembling rope, while Kyoko’s had three in the form of a mini female anime character, red heart, and string of different shaped pearl-like beads. Your charms were a small metal plate with your family name, and a miniature sword with removable sheathe that Daiki gave you last summer.
Shizu laid down a plain wallet and the plain headband she had been wearing. Kyoko added a half-used lip gloss and the hairpins she had been wearing since leaving school. You added the bracelet you had also donned after school, a simple multi-color beaded bracelet.
There, laid out on the bed, minus your school uniforms, socks, and shoes, was all you had in the world.
Shizu tossed down the small pouch of remaining silver coins she got from Klbkch.
The three of you stood in solemn silence.
Kyoko lifted her gaze to stare at Shizu in suspicion. “We’re not going to sell any of this, are we?”
You looked up as Shizu shook her head. “If we can avoid it, I would prefer not to. This is just to see what we have and so that everyone knows we’re not hiding anything.”
Kyoko folded her arms and grumbled. “It would have been nice if one of us was hiding a chocolate bar or something.”
You drooled slightly at the mention. Would you ever get to eat chocolate again? Wait, speaking of chocolate—
“We don’t have sanitary pads or Tampons.”
This time Kyoko let out a loud swear. Shizu waved her to be quiet, but she looked upset too.
“We won’t have to worry about that until late next week, probably.” She sighed. “Women used to use cloth, so I guess that’s what we will be reduced to as well.”
Kyoko eyed you. “Unless a certain someone—“
You scowled, pitiless. “No. I suffer, you suffer.”
Not for the first time you cursed the fact that your Quirk didn’t work on yourself.
“All right, pack up,” Shizu said, setting her schoolbag on the bed to do just that.
You and Kyoko followed suit, packing your things away in your identical blue bags with white straps. Setting things down, you all sat on different parts of the bed.
“We should turn off our phones,” Shizu said, already powering hers down. “There doesn’t seem to be any electricity in this world, so I doubt we’ll be able to recharge them. Turning them off won’t make them last forever, but they will last a little longer than if we left them on continuously.”
“Fine,” Kyoko grumbled. “It’s not like there’s an internet connection anyway.”
Turning off your phone seemed grimmer than it should have been. Already your old world was slipping further away.
(did mom and dad already know you were gone?)
“Okay,” Shizu said. “Tomorrow’s plan is relatively simple. We wake up, do our business, wash up if we can, grab breakfast, and head outside the walls to collect… grass.” She gave you a significant look and you nodded in reply. “(Name), do you remember the construct of an orange?”
You frowned. “Not really. I rarely looked at fruit.”
Shizu brushed some hair behind her ear. “Oranges are relatively simple. Easier to recreate than apples, I would think. But, we shall leave that project for later. For now, the grass you collect will be added to Kyoko and myself as additional fat stores.”
Kyoko groaned and flopped on her side but didn’t otherwise protest.
“I don’t think these Drakes and Gnolls would accept ‘donations’ from we Humans, but it would be best if Kyoko and I kept some extra fat in case of emergencies.”
You didn’t want to ask what kind of emergencies, so you let her continue uninterrupted.
“I don’t think I need to mention this, but I believe it would be best if we all stuck together.”
Kyoko snorted and sat up. “No duh we need to stick together.”
“That’s right,” you agreed. “No matter what happens, we shouldn’t go our separate ways.”
Shizu closed her eyes. “That’s good.” She opened her eyes. “Then when the times comes that we argue or even fight among ourselves, we agree that at the end of the day, we are a team.”
“We’re friends,” Kyoko corrected. She paused. “Oh, yeah, a team.”
Your eye twitched. “We are not a g—“
Shizu placed a hand over your mouth before you could say ‘gang’ and placated you. “I concur. Such a hierarchy would only work in a place where we knew the rules and where we could more easily blend in. For now, in this place, we shall be legitimate.”
Kyoko leaned forward eagerly as Shizu removed her hand from your mouth. “We need a team name! A way to introduce ourselves as a whole so that people can associate us as a group.”
The three of you sat and brainstormed, throwing out various names and discarding most of them. When sleep finally started making your eyelids lower, the names on the table were Glowing Beacon, Healer’s Hands, The Bonesetters, and The Kokoro. Completely off the table was the gang’s name Kami no Kage, as well as Miracle Well, and Life’s Herald.
“We’ll pick this up tomorrow,” Shizu said, stifling a yawn. By this time, darkness had fully settled outside and in the room, though your individual eyes had adjusted to the dark.
Kyoko seemed tired as well, but none of you would rest well if all three of you were squished in together, so she reluctant got up and went over to sit in the lone chair in the room.
Lying down next to Shizu, you settled into the thin mattress and pulled the blanket over you at the same time Shizu did. Then, you closed your eyes and waited for sleep.
[Healer Class Obtained!]
[Healer Level 1!]
[Skill – Healing Touch obtained!]
You bolted out of sleep.
Shizu bodily flinched and suddenly sat up, clenching the blanket in her hand.
“What did you say?”
You both looked at each other while Kyoko asked from nearby.
Shizu shook her head. “Who said that just now?”
You asked, “I heard something too.”
Kyoko sounded frustrated. “Well, I didn’t say anything.”
Silence fell for a few seconds before Shizu asked, “What did you hear?”
“I heard someone tell me something about a Healer class and a skill.”
Shizu reached up and held her head in one hand. “I heard someone tell me I obtained the tactician class. ‘Tactician Class Obtained. Tactician Level 1. Skill – Lesser Intuition obtained.’”
You nodded slowly. “I heard the same thing, only for ‘healer’ and instead of lesser intuition, I got the skill Healing Touch.”
Kyoko asked, “And what is that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know,” Shizu said, nearly hissing. “We don’t know enough about this w—this place to make any sort of informed decisions. For now, let’s just sleep. We can ask Klbkch about it later, if we don’t mind seeming ignorant. Goodnight.”
She lowered herself back down onto the mattress and resolutely pulled the blanket over her. Seeing that she really was going to leave this new mystery until the morning, you sighed and laid back down as well.
Kyoko muttered in the darkness.
“Yeah, fine. Leave me in the dark.”
You woke up to the bed jolting and Kyoko cursing.
“What’s a Runner class?!”
Chapter 3: Almost Enemies, But Thankfully Not Quite!
WARNING: self-injury of the eye-removal kind, and swearing.
Most of my important lessons about life have come from recognizing how others from a different culture view things.
~Edgar H. Schein, Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling
You had the last shift, so you were already awake when Shizu woke up. Bored out of your mind (and trying very hard not to think of home), you looked over at the bed when you heard shifting. Shizu sat up, hair messy as she yawned behind her hand. Noticing you staring, she mumbled at you.
“Morning,” you replied.
She got out of bed and stretched her arms. Her uniform was wrinkled and she tried to smooth them out. Glancing around the room and seeing nothing, she sat back down and started running her fingers through her hair. You had already done yours, so you turned your eyes back to the lone window in the room that faced a wall and overlooked an alley.
“Wake up, Kyoko.”
You glanced back to see Shizu poking Kyoko’s side. Kyoko’s response was to mumble and pull the blanket over her head.
“That wasn’t a request, Kyoko.”
Silence filled the room for a few seconds before a resentful mutter came from the lump on the bed.
Sitting at a table downstairs, you gamely ate a Western-style breakfast of eggs, bacon and bread. Shizu was the one most displeased with the food, but she didn’t say anything as she forced herself to eat everything on her plate. At least there was milk, though you did wonder if this world had cows or if you were drinking some strange creature’s milk.
Erg, wait, forget that, forget that!
“One of our goals should be a place of our own,” Shizu commented after a bite of eggs. “That way we can try recreating recipes from home.”
“I agree,” Kyoko said. “This isn’t bad, but I prefer egg rolls and rice for breakfast.”
“Rice,” Shizu murmured longingly, picking up her mug of milk to drink from it.
Idly, you tapped your foot against your schoolbag near your feet. Shizu insisted that the three of you carry those everywhere, and you could see her point as you wouldn’t want to lose your things to thieves. Granted, you doubted anyone in Liscor could read hiragana, katakana and kanji which was what most of your textbooks were written in. Although maybe they might be able to read the English parts since—
You frowned. “Are we speaking English?”
Shizu and Kyoko both paused to look at you.
Continuing your train of thought, you went on. “I mean, we’ve been talking to Drakes, Gnolls, and an Antinium without a problem. How is that possible?”
Kyoko waggled a fork in your direction. “It’s magic.”
Shizu frowned, setting down her cutlery. “(Name) has a point. I can’t believe I didn’t even think about it.” She inhaled and softly exhaled before speaking again. “Ohayou gozaimasu.”
You and Kyoko responded to her with the less formal, “Ohayou.”
Shizu thoughtfully chewed on the last of her bacon and swallowed. “It seems we would have to make a conscious effort to speak in Japanese.” She glanced around the largely empty room and lowered her voice. “We’ll use Japanese whenever we need to speak privately, but be careful not to use it in public too much.”
You both nodded.
Soon breakfast was done and you went in turns to use the toilet before stepping out into the street to face another day. Shizu reminded you both of the day’s primary objective and soon your group set off towards the wall in hopes of finding the gate.
Shizu watched as (Name) tiptoed around in the grass (she refused to crawl around on her knees), grabbing the tall grass and melting it down into biological paste. She called for Kyoko and the girl reluctantly stepped forward to let (Name) put her hand on her leg. As Shizu watched, the paste slid over (Name)’s arm and hand to seemingly melt into Kyoko’s body. Minutes passed, and when (Name) let go, Kyoko didn’t seem to be much different, but Shizu knew that Kyoko now had extra fat spread across her body.
“I feel pudgy,” Kyoko whined, lifting the top of her uniform to pinch at her waist. “Urgh, I can grab myself more easily now.”
“Don’t exaggerate,” Shizu replied, breaking her gaze from where (Name) was scooting around on her toes while collecting more grass. “It’s hardly noticeable at all. You’re just upset she won’t store it all on your chest.”
Kyoko pouted and folded her arms. That (Name) wouldn’t give her a boost in her chest size was a sore point for her.
After a minute or so, Kyoko spoke up. “Hey, I just realized this, but isn’t it kind of suspicious that the grass is just disappearing because of a human?”
They stared at each other for half a moment before both looked back at the gate and saw the guard was still there. The Gnoll didn’t seem to be staring, but who could tell? Plus, there were other guardsmen above, and they seemed to be watching.
Shizu frowned. “Well, it’s too late now. Besides, she’s not doing anything harmful.”
“She could, though, and easily,” Kyoko muttered.
Shizu glared. “Don’t say things like that aloud. We have no idea how good the hearing is for those Drakes and Gnolls.”
She sighed and stepped forward when (Name) called her. Her friend placed her hand against Shizu’s leg and she grimaced as the paste started melting into her skin. Truthfully speaking, Shizu didn’t feel anything, but her mind insisted that she could feel something spreading from the contact point. She distracted herself by looking up at the sky and thinking about what to do after this.
“Done,” (Name) finally said after an eternity.
Shizu lowered her gaze as her friend stood up and brushed at her skirt. (Name) didn’t seem tired, so perhaps making and distributing fat was less taxing than reforming bones or knitting shredded flesh. Or perhaps it was simply the lack of gore and stench of blood that made her seem less tired. (Name) never did like the iron tang of blood in the air.
Kyoko mused, “Should we carry around some paste?”
Shaking her head, Shizu dismissed the idea. “It would be too suspicious. Besides, do you really want to carry it around in your schoolbag?”
Her friend shuddered at the thought of biological paste coating her things. “Yeah, never mind.”
“All right,” Shizu said, picking up her schoolbag and turning to face Liscor. “Back to the city we go.”
She looked back to see (Name) staring down to her left, nervously clutching the straps of her schoolbag. (Name) hesitantly spoke up.
“The Drakes and Gnolls… really seem like they won’t accept flesh or blood from humans. I know you say we shouldn't bring paste, but what if we need it?”
Shizu thought about it. There were indeed any number of scenarios where (Name) might need paste to fully heal someone. The elderly, for instance, rarely had extra fat stores so that would necessitate outside contributions. Babies were also another such instance as (Name) was reluctant to use a baby’s own body to repair them. A missing limb was also something that would need a lot of paste, though such customers in Liscor would probably have to wait a while.
“Why not?” She shrugged. “At worst, the guard won’t us take it into the city, in which case you can just turn it back into grass. Still, how shall we carry it?”
“Grass baskets,” Kyoko pitched in. She waved at the grassland. “After all, we have a whole bunch right in front of us. I get that none of us know how to weave a basket, but (Name) can cheat.”
Shizu slowly nodded. “It could work.” She looked at (Name). “Are you up for it?”
Everyone set their schoolbags back down while (Name) returned to fiddling with the grass. Shizu and Kyoko came over to watch as (Name) manipulated the grass into a basket shape. She made three with covers that had a knob for easy removal. Then she filled it with paste that would keep fresh, as in lumps of non-sentient flesh that pulsed without a heart and processed air.
“That. Is. Revolting.”
No one disagreed with Kyoko’s disgust, not even (Name).
With that done, her friends picked up their bags and baskets before falling into step just behind her.
As they headed back to Liscor, Shizu reflected. With Daiki absent, it was up to her to lead them. She only hoped she could lead them well.
You cringed at the gate guard’s call, freezing in your step.
Shizu stared back at the imposingly tall Gnoll. “Yes?”
The Gnoll pointed in the direction you just came from. “What did you do to that grass? Also, what is in the baskets?”
“Is the grass important?”
The Gnoll glared. “Answer the questions, Human.”
She gestured to herself and then at Kyoko. “I and my friend, Maeda, are too thin. We had our mutual friend (Last Name) add some fat to our bodies.”
The Gnoll’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Neither of you look much different.”
“Well, we don’t want too much fat, so of course the change isn’t very noticeable.”
The guard’s eyes shifted over to you, and you struggled not to hide behind Shizu again. “How do you claim to accomplish this, Human?”
Shizu spoke up for you. “The ‘human’ you are addressing has a name. She is (Last Name), and she is a [Healer].”
The Gnoll seemed displeased by Shizu’s tone, but his eyes went from her face to yours. “I have never heard of a [Healer] using grass in such a manner. You lie.”
You have had just about enough of these rude people!
Despite having a grass basket with paste inside, you dropped to your haunches, grabbed at some trampled grass and melted it into paste. Then you stood back up and held out your hand where a small ball rested.
“I am a [Healer], and my friend Sasaki isn’t lying.”
You pinched the ball between your thumb and finger and held it to Shizu’s face. She calmly accepted your actions and didn’t move as you melted it into her. When you were done, there wasn’t a noticeable change, but the Gnolls eyes hadn’t looked away, so now he had proof with his own eyes.
His tail thrashed. “What level of [Healer] can do this?”
You lowered your hand, sudden courage gone, and Shizu answered for you. “She is a [Healer] and that’s all you need to know. Now, I believe you also asked what is in our baskets.”
Shizu lifted the cover and you and Kyoko mimicked her actions. The Gnoll’s mouth twisted in disgust when he saw what was inside. It was more of the small ball of paste you just made, but the basket contents were larger and seemed alive.
“Do not be alarmed,” Shizu said. “This is merely more of the paste you just saw. It is required for healing larger wounds or for replacing missing parts.”
The Gnoll’s mouth didn’t completely untwist as he ordered, “Explain.”
“This paste was once grass. Uncut grass is alive and therefore malleable under (Last Name)’s healing abilities. As I’ve said, she can use it to heal wounds and even regrow missing body parts. Observe.”
Both Gnoll and humans flinched as Shizu suddenly jabbed a thumb into her left eye socket near her nose and quickly popped out her eyeball without so much as a sound.
“What the fuck, Shizu?”
Kyoko swore angrily at Shizu as the latter calmly yanked out her eyeball and held it on her open palm.
“My eye,” Shizu declared, bleeding from her now empty left eye socket. She moved her arm and held it out to Kyoko. “Hold this.”
To Kyoko’s credit, despite her clear reluctance, she held out a palm for Shizu to drop her severed eye onto. She cringed and looked like she wanted nothing more than to drop it, but she managed not to squeal and pitch it away from herself.
Shizu turned her head slightly and looked at you with her remaining eye. Lips pressed together in displeasure and repressed worry, you opened your own basket and reached in for a small blob of paste. Disconnecting it from the whole, you brought it up to Shizu’s face and concentrated. Meanwhile, she had turned her gaze back on the seemingly stupefied guardsman.
You didn’t have to directly see Shizu’s eye socket to know that a mass was reforming inside it even as most of the blood slowly dripping down her face reabsorbed into her skin. When her new eye was fully reformed, you reactivated her pain sensors (mentally smacking yourself over the head because you forgot to do that yesterday after the whole cut-and-heal her arm demonstration) and let go.
“Voila,” Shizu said. “Notice how my former eye is still on Maeda’s hand.”
Kyoko cut in, sounding revolted. “Notice how Maeda is seconds way from throwing said eye into the grass!”
You held out your hand behind Shizu’s back and Kyoko gratefully dumped the slimy eyeball on your palm. You wrinkled your nose in disgust and melted it down, though there was a thin dusting of unusable waste left behind. Dropping the unusable dust, you wiped your hand on your skirt and looked back at the Gnoll.
Shizu asked, “Was the demonstration sufficient?”
The Gnoll’s tail swayed behind him as he glared, but finally he relented. “You may pass.”
“Thank you,” Shizu replied, walking forward.
You and Kyoko fell in step behind her while Kyoko muttered under her breath about washing her hand a thousand times. You were just glad that the energy you spent converting the grass into paste wasn’t wasted. Although—
“Shizu,” you called. “Next time you want to mutilate yourself, please give us some warning.”
“And don’t make me carry your body parts again, please.”
Shizu hummed. “I will consider your requests.” She paused to turn to you and pointed at her face. “Do I have dried blood on my face?”
“Yeah,” you answered.
It took a minute or two for Shizu to pull out a tissue from her schoolbag, wet it with her saliva, and clean her face without a mirror.
“I can’t believe none of us have mirrors,” Kyoko commented as you directed Shizu to the last of the blood on her face. “I mean, when’s the last time that happened?”
“A mildly unusual occurrence,” Shizu allowed, folding the used tissue and stuffing it into her skirt pocket. “I believe the start of a new school year is the reason we all forgot to carry a mirror. We were too preoccupied to think of it.”
Kyoko sighed and held her basket with both hands. “I miss my eyeliner. I went without makeup for the first day, and I regret it.”
You nervously glanced at the passing Gnolls. The Drakes didn’t seem to have a good enough sense of smell to know there was something in your baskets, but most of the Gnolls were giving curious or hostile stares in your group’s direction.
“Shall we move on?”
Shizu started moving again and you followed her while Kyoko brought up the rear.
Mngur, the guardsman taking the day’s post at the gate, called for another Gnoll from the street to speak with him. The older Gnoll listened as Mngur conveyed everything he had just witnessed and nodded as he was sent off. He was quick to travel through the streets until he came upon one of the Market Streets. There, he sought out a specific Gnoll and found her at her stall.
Krshia Silverfang listened as news was whispered to her. A [Healer] who could replace what was lost?
Gnolls must grab this opportunity first, before the Drakes learn of it and attempt to hoard such a useful ability for themselves.
She sent the same Gnoll to send some of the wounded to the Humans and their [Healer]. If the [Healer] could restore them, then Gnolls must make these Humans their allies.
Returning to her stall, Krshia worked as though nothing important had just been told her. However, as the day wore on, she began hearing about the Humans from her customers and in snatches of conversations from passing pedestrians.
Rumors began of three reeking Humans peddling lies in attempts to trick Gnolls and Drakes out of their coin. Slowly, the rumors shifted, becoming more about the stinky Humans healing Gnolls. One Gnoll had his right eye restored to his head for the price of spreading the word. Another Gnoll had her badly healed leg corrected so that she no longer had to painfully limp around, and the price was five silver coins. These two Krisha expected, but there were two more she was waiting for. As the sun passed high noon, she finally heard of them: a Gnoll hunter had a missing finger replaced, bones, flesh, skin and fur, and the last test she sent, a sick Gnoll child, had success as well, their illness purged from their body and their health restored.
When she heard of the last one, Krshia knew the Human [Healer] had to be approached.
She sent a messenger to bring them to her as soon as possible.
You blinked sleep from your eyes as you finished with one more Gnoll customer, a female (?) who wanted her missing ear restored. The ear was grown, fur and delicate nerves and all, and Shizu collected the agreed price of two silver coins. A long yawn escaped your mouth, and Shizu declared the day’s healing session to be over, much to the disappointment of the gathered Gnolls.
Honestly speaking, you aren’t sure how you went from wandering the streets to treating Gnolls, but as your group was now thirteen silver coins richer, you couldn’t really complain. The most strenuous case you had today had been a Gnoll with a badly healed leg that needed bone, nerve, and flesh rearrangement. You wish Shizu was charging more, but since this was the first day and you were still establishing your healing abilities, you understood why the prices were so low.
Kyoko, marking down the day’s customers and coins charged for each one, finished marking the last one in her notebook and closed it. Carelessly, she shoved the notebook back into her schoolbag and just tossed the pen inside without even putting it in her pencil case. Said notebook and pen had caused some interest, but all interested parties were disappointed as none of you were selling, Kyoko included.
“Come along,” Shizu said, still standing after all this time. “Let us return to the inn for food and rest.”
“Hear, hear,” Kyoko agreed, coming over and taking your hand to guide you.
However, less than three streets away, your group was waylaid by another Gnoll. This one seemed younger but didn’t exactly seem like a ‘teenager’, so you supposed it was a young adult. He had called from behind, prompting Shizu to stop only when she realized he was calling out to you. After all, ‘healer’ was pretty specific.
Shizu stepped between you and Kyoko that she was in front once again. The Gnoll trotted up to the group and nodded his head at her.
His nostrils were twitching, making you feel self-conscious. Thinking about it, all the Gnolls, including the ones you treated earlier, were still making faces as though you and your friends stank terribly. As soon as you could, maybe even before returning to the inn, you would insist on another bath.
“My name is Frul. Krshia Silverfang sent me to request that you meet with her.”
Rarely one to make an outright refusal, Shizu asked, “And who is this Krshia Silverfang? Why should we, when our healer is tired, make the journey to see her at this time? If she is someone looking for healing, I am afraid that will have to wait. (Last Name) is fatigued.”
Frul glanced at you. “Krshia Silverfang is an important Gnoll in Liscor, yes? She has asked for you specifically. It would be beneficial if you were to meet with her, I am sure of it.”
Shizu looked over her shoulder at you. Tired but not completely in a grumpy state, you shrugged apathetically. You could still walk.
She looked back at him. “Very well. If you will lead us to her, we shall meet with this Krshia Silverfang.”
The Gnoll seemed pleased. He turned and gestured. “This way.”
Krshia Silverfang was another Gnoll, tall, imposing, and hyena-like. She was a stall owner and was just finishing closing up for the day. Her ear twitched as she was hailed, and she turned to greet Frul.
“Good, you have returned.” She eyed your group. “These are the Humans and the [Healer] in question, yes?”
Frul nodded. “Yes, I am certain of it. There are no other Humans in Liscor except these three.”
Shizu heard her friends groan slightly. She empathized as hearing that they were the only humans around was not pleasant. Moreover, it meant that neither Daiki, Sora or Katsu had been seen. It really did seem as though only herself, Kyoko and (Name) had been unknowingly brought to this place.
Krshia waved in acknowledgement as Frul took his leave. She sniffed.
“I am Krshia Silverfang. I have heard about your [Healer] and wish to make friends with you. Is that acceptable?”
Cultural differences were going to be a pain in the neck, Shizu could tell. As far as she remembered, the gang didn’t make friends or even partners. They made subordinates. Somehow, adding someone to their circle of six as a ‘friend’ didn’t seem acceptable. But, how to polite refuse an extended hand? Or was it ‘paw’?
The Gnoll’s eyes narrowed as the silence dragged on. “You do not wish to be friends? You would, perhaps, prefer to be enemies?”
Shizu’s eyes narrowed slightly in response. “We typically do not make friends upon first meetings. Even among ourselves, we did not claim to be friends until sometime after our first meetings. However, if it is enemies you want to be, enemies you shall have.”
Not everyone buckles under the Kami no Kage. There are those who want to remain separate—and those are the ones who are destroyed.
The Gnoll’s tail thrashed for a moment before she sighed. “It is true there are many differences between Gnolls and Humans. It would be foolish to set my kind against you for one false step, not when I have heard of what your [Healer] can do. Come, let us speak at my house out of the street.”
She glanced back at Kyoko and (Name). Each gave her a shrug in response, leaving it up to her to decide. Since this Krshia was a stall owner and today’s customers had been Gnolls, despite the snag in conversation just moments ago, she decided to accept Krshia’s invitation.
After all, if something went wrong and they died, the Gnoll child’s sickness was already in Shizu’s lungs waiting for her to either stop breathing or for the organs to be punctured before being released, more deadly than before. It was a rush job, so they would have to rely on luck to see their revenge through for them, but hopefully it wouldn’t have to come to that.
The apartment that Krshia lead them to was an open space place with a lot of rugs, padded furniture, and pillows. It seemed messy to her, but Shizu reserved judgement as this was the only Gnoll living space she had seen so far.
“Sorry for intruding,” Shizu intoned at the same time as her friends.
Krshia paused and looked back to laugh. “If you were intruding, you would not be welcome, yes? I invited you, so you are welcome.”
She waved the group in, but Shizu still hesitated.
“Why do you loiter in the doorway?”
Well, walking into an inn with your shoes on was one thing. Keeping your shoes on until you got to your assigned bathing room was similar to the inn experience, but this was a home.
“In our culture, one does not walk into a home with shoes on.”
“I see,” Krshia said, arms folded. “Unless you have walked in dung, I do not mind either way. Come inside.”
Their host sat them down and disappeared into a doorway while Shizu and her friends removed their shoes and stepped further inside. Naturally gravitating towards the seating furniture, though none of the group moved to sit down.
Shizu asked quietly, “Do we have anything for the omiyage?”
When visiting someone’s home, a gift was considered appropriate. However, due to the unexpected nature of the visit, Shizu didn’t have anything on hand. Most of the group’s objects seemed inadequate and the only thing that came close enough to being a proper gift was—
“Kyoko, the Rubik’s cube.”
Kyoko wailed quietly as she dutifully unzipped her schoolbag. “My toy…”
Shizu saw it was now mixed. “What did you do?”
“I was bored last night.”
“You had no light to see.”
“I used my imagination. I broke several world records and I stand at the pinnacle of Rubik’s cube three-by-three mastery.”
Shizu refrained from dragging a palm over her face. Instead she used a few seconds to review the colorful cube, mentally dissecting it.
It wasn’t long before their host returned with a bowl of chopped meat and placed it on the table. “Sit, sit.”
“A moment, please.” Shizu held the Rubik’s cube in both hands, as was proper. “In our homeland, it is polite to bring a gift when visiting another’s home. Usually this gift is food or drink, something that can be easily shared.” She bowed, glanced away, and sensed her friends copying her actions. “However, due to our unexpected visit, we have nothing else to offer but this…”
Krshia took it from her hands with only one, but Shizu made the allowance as this wasn’t Japan. The Gnoll inspected the colorful cube and asked, “What is this?”
“A puzzle,” Shizu explained. “The goal is to solve it so that all sides are the same color.” She held out a hand. “May I demonstrate?”
The Gnoll handed it back and Shizu let her fingers fly, turning the sides of the Rubik’s cube until all sides were the same color. Her friends made impressed sounds, though at over thirty seconds, that took longer than Shizu liked.
She held it back out to Krshia with both hands and the Gnoll looked more interested. “I have never seen this kind of puzzle before. If I can have more made, I may make coin, yes?”
She seemed pleased, and that was the main thing. At last, Shizu allowed herself and her friends to sit while Krshia set down the Rubik’s cube and left again, possibly to fetch drinks.
While she was gone, Shizu nudged (Name) with her elbow and nodded at the bowl. Reluctantly, (Name) reached out and picked up a cube of meat between her thumb and middle finger to stare at it dubiously. She squeezed it slightly, rolled it a little, and finally put it in her mouth.
“Hmm. Not bad,” she decreed, reaching for another.
Shizu waited until Kyoko picked up a piece of her own before she reached for one as well. She eyed it suspiciously, but her friends weren’t spitting them out. This bowl was hospitality, was it not? Oh, but maybe they should have waited until Krshia sat down as well. Shrugging, Shizu put it in her mouth.
…Huh. It’s different, but, as (Name) said, not bad. Shizu wouldn’t try making the cubes on her own, nor would she let her friends, but they would eat some if offered.
“Ah, you like the scurry-food?”
“It’s not what I expected,” Kyoko commented while Shizu held her silence, chewing thoughtfully.
Krshia set down cups for all of them and took a seat across the small table. Kyoko picked up a cup and stared down at the… tea? She took a sip, paused, and took another. When nothing happened to her, Shizu and (Name) picked up their tea as well, but only Shizu drank some.
“You are recent arrivals to the city, are you not?”
“We arrived yesterday,” Shizu confirmed. “A pair of guardsmen found us out on the grassland and disposed of the Shield Spider that was stalking us. They then escorted us to the nearest gate before returning to their patrol. One was an Antinium name Klbkch, and the other was a large Drake named Relc.”
“I know of whom you speak,” Krshia said. She drank some of the tea, though that was no guarantee that she hadn’t possibly poisoned the cups on their side. The Gnoll continued, “I heard of your demonstration to the guardsman at the gate this morning. You startled him when you removed your own eye.”
“A demonstration was the quickest way to prove the validity of our claims on the paste we were carrying in our baskets.”
Kyoko muttered into her cup. “It’s also the quickest way to scare a year of life off your friends.”
The Gnoll seemed amused by her words. “How long will you be staying in Liscor?”
“According to our agreement with Klbkch, we will be here for a minimum of six months.”
Krshia lowered the cup. “You made a deal with the Antinium?”
“We made a deal with Klbkch,” Shizu replied, setting her cup down on the table before straightening her posture. “We were without coin. He proposed to assist us for a week in return for us to remain in Liscor for six months. We agreed to the terms. Our agreement is verbal only, but barring unforeseen circumstances, we intend to honor it.”
“What are these unforeseen circumstances?”
“If a way home presents itself, we shall grab it without hesitation. It was not our intention to come here, but it is our primary goal to return home. For now, we are concerned with keeping a roof over our heads and monsters such as Shield Spiders away from us.”
There was silence for a moment, and during that time, (Name) took a sip from her cooling tea. She hid a slight grimace behind her cup.
“Where are you from?”
The Gnoll paused. “I have never heard of this place. Where might it be?”
Shizu paused. Klbkch and Relc had asked where you three were from as well. Back then they had given the names of cities in reply.
“From here, we do not know. Japan is an island country, and we hail from different cities.”
“Your clothing. Are you soldiers or knights, perhaps?”
Shizu shook her head. “We are school children. We are not considered adults until we are twenty, though we may marry at eighteen if we have parental permission.”
Krshia seemed surprised. “Children for so long? Gnolls are considered adults when they mature and complete their first successful hunt.”
“We are considered children under the laws of our land. However, like any place, we may not always behave as children, or have the luxury of a childhood.”
Thinking back, things started when everyone was twelve, or close to. Things slowly escalated through middle school, and with high school they anticipated even more danger and daring. In fact, hadn’t they already planned to overthrow the high school hierarchy by force? Well, twelve years as children was a good length of time, though Daiki seemed to think it had taken much too long before finding a boss in (Name).
The Gnoll was getting in too many questions. Shizu didn’t like this interrogation, nicely sprinkled with hospitality though it was. She decided to cut to the heart of the matter.
“Enough questions. Why did you ask us into your home?”
Krshia eyed her as she set down her cup.
“I have heard tales of a high-leveled [Healer] in the north, living in a Human city. This [Healer] is capable of feats similar to the ones performed in Liscor on this day. Are you that [Healer]?”
“No.” Because (Name), Shizu and Kyoko all came from Japan on the planet Earth where, while there are dog and lizard mutations, there are no Gnolls or Drakes. “(Last Name) is in no way related to this other [Healer].”
“You have healed much for little coin. Am I right to guess that this will change?”
Shizu nodded. “You would be correct. We are charging relatively little at the moment because we are establishing (Name)’s healing abilities. Prices will soon rise, and it will not be unusual for us to charge gold coins for the restoration of missing limbs or body parts.”
The Gnoll leaned forward. “But healing is not all (Last Name) can do, is it? She has added fat to your bodies, yes?”
Kyoko groaned melodramatically and patted her face. Shizu ignored her and frowned slightly. “Healing is all (Last Name) will be doing.”
“You do not deny that she can change another’s body.”
No one said anything. The Gnoll went on.
“Be at ease. I do not wish to make an enemy of (Last Name), nor you other young ones. I invited you into my home so that I may make a deal with you, to offer my support in your endeavor to establish yourselves in Liscor. However, I find that I am too slow, and that Klbkch has already claimed the place I wanted. Still, it was I who sent most of the Gnolls you helped today. Perhaps that is worth something to you?”
Shizu glanced over at Kyoko who gave her a frown in return that said ‘Shit. She’s got us there.’ Glancing over at (Name), the hero-hating girl was biting her lip, an expression that conveyed ‘Fair is fair, but what is fair?’ Shizu tilted her head and glanced upwards to the side, wondering what Daiki would do. Actually, no, don’t look to Daiki for advice on what to do as he was likely to just threaten and punch.
She looked back at Krshia. “We thank you for your assistance, then. How may we repay you?”
Krshia growled softly, though that seemed more like a tic than done in anger. “Hrm. Two limbs replaced without coin given.”
“Not on the same day,” Shizu said. “It may be the same person if you so wish, but not on the same day. Such a restoration is taxing upon (Last Name).”
Krshia nodded. “It is agreed.”
“Then we are done,” Shizu declared, standing. Her friends stood up and she nodded at the Gnoll. “Goodbye for now, Krshia Silverfang.”
“I have been rude,” Krshia suddenly said, standing as well. “I have forgotten to ask for your names.”
Shizu blinked. “Ah. That is my mistake as well. I should have introduced us earlier.” She held a hand to her heart. “I am Shizu Sasaki.”
“I’m Kyoko Maeda.”
“And I am (Name) (Last Name).”
They all bowed slightly. “Thank you for having us.”
Krshia seemed bemused when they looked back up. “You are welcome. If you need to shop, come to my stall, yes? I will give you fair price, though not too fair. I will charge you no more than any other customer.”
That would be nice. Shizu and the others had yet to buy much, and buying from someone who wouldn’t overcharge them would be best.
They turned to leave when Krshia addressed them again.
“You may wish to bathe today, and perhaps tomorrow as well. Maybe even a third day. You reek of terrible things.”
Her friends groaned and buried their faces in their hands. Shizu just looked back over her shoulder and nodded her head.
Chapter 4: Am I A Treasure Or A Curse To You?
Be a worthy worker and work will come.
~Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words
You sighed as Kyoko washed your hair. There was a primitive type of shampoo here, but you were rather of the suspicion that it was meant for Gnoll fur. However, beggars can’t be choosers, so you let her continue washing your hair. For all of you, washing away the smell of the city as soon as you could was important. Stinking less might make the difference between having customers or not, and you needed the coin for the group’s continued survival, so the three of you spent longer than usual washing with the soap and shampoo.
Eventually, though, the three of you were relaxing in the tub.
Kyoko sighed and sank down to her neck. “This feels slightly wrong. It’s still the afternoon. Baths should be an evening thing…”
Shizu leaned her head back and stared upwards. “Let’s go back to the market. I’ve only just realized perhaps we should have stopped there before coming here.”
You frowned as you realized what she meant. “We should have bought new clothes to wear.”
“Our poor uniforms,” Kyoko sighed, emerging from the water with a shiver. “Let’s see, what should we buy? At least one change of clothes, and some underwear for sure.”
“Toothbrushes and toothpaste if they have it,” you said.
“Hm. Let’s leave it at underwear and a change of clothes for now. Anything else we should get from Krshia.” Shizu cupped water in her hands. “After all, she did say she wouldn’t overcharge us too much. I think we should take advantage of that.”
Remembering the stares that you and your friends had been getting from the Gnolls and Drakes in the city, you had to agree. “Yeah. At least Krshia seems straightforward.”
“Yeah, fine,” Kyoko said.
A comfortable silence reigned, but all good things come to an end and before long the three of you were getting out and getting dressed. The market awaits.
Shizu did the shopping and the haggling, but part of you might always suspect the shopkeepers of overcharging your group. However, the same would probably be true of human shopkeepers in this world, so you didn’t say anything. After shopping for new clothes and underwear, the first thing your group did was return to the inn to change into them.
“Blessed cleanliness,” Kyoko sighed dramatically, patting the sleeves of her new shirt.
“No bras, though,” Shizu pointed out. “I mean I’m certainly not wearing that skimpy top we’ve been seeing on some Gnolls.”
Remembering the skimpy strips of cloth used to cover what couldn’t even be seen on the Gnolls, you had to agree with Shizu.
“Are we going back out today?”
Shizu looked over at you. “Do you think you can manage another round of healing like that?”
You thought about it. “Eh… probably not. I mean, I could, but I’d be exhausted later, perhaps even into tomorrow.”
“Then we will stay inside.”
Kyoko groaned. “Come on, Shizu. It’s still just the afternoon.”
Shizu raised an eyebrow in her direction. “Do you want to be subjected to disdainful stares everywhere you go? We are still not a welcome sight—or smell—in Liscor.”
You plopped down on the bed. “I don’t want to go back out.”
Kyoko, knowing she was defeated, huffed and sat down on the lone chair in the room.
Shizu went over to her schoolbag and stared into it before pulling out the Japanese textbook. “Come. Let us peruse our Japanese textbooks. No need to let our minds go to rot while we’re stuck here.”
Neither you or Kyoko wanted to and groaned loudly in protest, but Shizu got her way in the end. She decided that part of everyday would be dedicated to lessons, and while you weren’t enthused about it, you couldn’t deny that at least it was a different flavor of boredom.
“We’ll have to learn the local method of writing,” Shizu mused at one point. “It would be good to be able to read the various signs at the market, plus I would like to be able to read any books we find, particularly if there are any on the history of this land.”
“We’d need someone to teach us, and I don’t think Klbkch would have the time or the motivation,” you said, holding back a yawn.
Kyoko hummed, “Maybe Krshia, or someone she knows?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Shizu said.
Nothing else was said for a long while, and only the turning of pages occasionally broke the silence.
That evening, while eating supper downstairs in the main part of the inn, a trio entered the building. Shizu immediately recognized two of the three, and she was recognized in turn as the largest of the trio waved and called out, “Hey, you Human females!”
Lowering the fork from her mouth, Shizu finished chewing and swallowing as the trio approached. Did she and the others ever actually introduce themselves to either Relc or Klbkch? With Relc, forgetting was understandable, but in Klbkch’s case, that was a neglectful oversight, especially in light of the fact that they formed a deal with him. How could she have been so rude and forgetful?
The guardsmen came to a stop and the one in front of Relc and Klbkch spoke. “I am Watch Captain Zevara Sunderscale. You may refer to me as either Watch Captain or Captain Zevara. You three are the ones offering healing, right?”
Shizu nodded. “We are.” She glanced behind Zevara at Relc and Klbkch before returning her eyes to the captain. “Permit me to introduce ourselves.” At Zevara’s nod, Shizu gestured at herself. “I am Shizu Sasaki. With me are my friends Kyoko Maeda and (Name) (Last Name).” She gestured to (Name). “(Last Name) here is the actual healer.”
Zevara turned her eyes on (Name), making her friend break her gaze away. “I have heard of the things you’ve done today, (Last Name). If even half of what the city is gossiping about, then that’s impressive. I would like to hire your services for the Liscorian Watch—“
(Name) raised a hand and then pointed at Shizu. “Her. Talk to her. I do what she says.”
The Watch Captain glanced from her to Shizu and took a moment to decide to do that. She spoke to Shizu this time. “I would like to hire your healer’s services for the members of the Watch.”
The deal with Klbkch was that they would not turn away anyone for six months.
Remembering the conditions Klbkch set, Shizu nodded. “We are happy to oblige the local Watch. In light of the services rendered to us by the fine guardsmen behind you, we will be giving the Liscor Watch a discount on all healing services for the next three months.”
Kyoko choked on her drink, prompting Shizu to lightly kick her under the table. It was better to try to get on the Watch’s good side rather than gouge them for coin.
Relc preened. “Did you hear that, Z? ‘Fine guardsmen’, she says.”
Zevara glared at him over her shoulder before looking back at Shizu. “That is… generous of you. Can you begin today?”
Shaking her head, Shizu explained. “(Last Name) has already reached her limit for today. We may begin as early as tomorrow, though be aware that she must be leery of overextending herself. How many guardsmen she can assist will depend on the severity of the injuries she heals. Basically, there is a daily limit on what she can handle, and that limit varies on the type of healing she has to administer.”
“I see,” Zevara said. “What about that ‘paste’ you were said to have used earlier? Will you be providing that as well?”
“It is likely (Last Name) will need it. However, since we will be going out to collect grass for paste specifically for the Watch’s benefit, may we trouble you for an escort? None of us are combat-capable, you see.”
Zevara opened her mouth but appeared to change her mind about what she wanted to say. “R—Klbkch, I want you to be their escort. Protect them while they make that paste and then escort them to the barracks tomorrow morning.”
Klbkch acknowledged her orders. “Yes, captain.”
The Watch Captain nodded once at Shizu. “Tomorrow morning, then.”
She turned. “Klbkch, figure out a time for when they will be arriving and then report back to me. Relc, get back to patrol.”
She left and Relc did the exact opposite of her orders by sitting down and waving down a barmaid for a drink. Klbkch seemed resigned to his partner’s antics and ignored him while he spoke with Shizu. They decided on an hour and a half after breakfast as that would be ample time for them to eat their breakfast and then go outside the city to make and collect the paste. With the details done, Klbkch left and took a reluctant Relc with him.
(Name) sighed and relaxed slightly in her seat. She had been tense ever since Zevara had briefly turned her attention on her. Kyoko was unperturbed and finishing the last of her food.
“Well, that happened,” Shizu said drily.
[Healer Level 4!]
[Spell – Minor Healing learned!]
You opened your eyes and saw Kyoko staring up at the ceiling.
“I just learned a spell?”
She turned her head to you and Shizu asked from the chair behind you, “What?”
You lifted your arms and stared at your hands. “The voice from before just told me I leveled up to Healer level 4 and that I learned the spell Minor Healing.”
Kyoko sat up. “Whoa. So, like, can you actually cast magic?”
You frowned, sitting up and flexing your fingers. “It… doesn’t feel like it?”
Shizu came over and sat near your legs. “Perhaps you need to visualize it?”
“Say the spell aloud,” Kyoko suggested.
Taking their advice, you closed your eyes. You didn’t exactly know what healing magic was supposed to look like, but maybe a glow around your hands? And the spell, “[Minor Healing].”
There was silence and you opened your eyes. Nothing seemed to have happened.
“Maybe you just need to practice,” Kyoko said. “I mean, if it’s actual magic then practice is probably the only way. Wait, do you even have MP?”
Shizu asked, “MP?”
“Mana Points,” Kyoko clarified. “It’s what they use in games to determine how many spells you can cast. At least, I think they’re called Mana Points. That, or Magic Points, but same difference.”
You nibbled your lip. “Uh… I don’t know?”
They watched as you tried to cast the spell but it didn’t seem to be working for you. Finally, Shizu put her hand over yours and made you lower your hands. “You can practice tomorrow after we finish up with the Watch.”
“Alright,” you said doubtfully.
Lying down again, Kyoko settled down next to you and Shizu went back to the chair.
The dark room was silent, and you slipped off to sleep while wondering if you ever would.
Klbkch, having fetched the trio and escorted them outside the walls, watched with interest as the Human healer worked. He observed that her magic worked through her hands as grass melted into a pale paste that was added to growing lumps in the grass baskets. He made a mental note to avoid touching her hands again if possible, particularly if she were in an agitated state. Of course, such an observation would be added to his report to Zevara, and no doubt that information in turn would be passed further along to other Drakes, perhaps even other Drake cities.
The ability to reconstruct lost limbs or missing body parts was a power which would be highly coveted. It would not be a surprise to him if Liscor gave her incentives to stay in the city, even if she was Human. Klbkch himself wanted to have them on good terms with the Antinium as he wanted to eventually have (Last Name) try experiments on the Workers. She was not an Antinium Queen, but her ability to manipulate living things had already garnered the interest (and envy) of his Queen.
Glancing from (Last Name) to the leader of the trio, Klbkch saw Sasaki keeping an eye on the healer while chatting quietly with the last member of their group. From what he had observed so far, these three were close. Back when he and Relc rescued them from the Shield Spider, they had been huddled together while attempting to protect (Last Name). It seemed likely to him that these three tended to stick together, so to drive away one would be to drive them all away, which was another note he would add to his report.
On an important side note, there was always the possibility that (Last Name) and her companions would leave for a Human city. He knows that they have been having a difficult time settling into Liscor, though the way Relc talks, it might have to do with how they smell. At least he knows that for six months, they won’t be going anywhere. Of course, by then, spring will be well underway and the Floodplains will be flooded. It is likely they will stay until the spring rains stop and the waters recede. This meant that anyone who wanted to make allies with them would have anywhere from half a year to over half a year to forge an alliance or friendship with them.
Klbkch suspected that he himself had the best relationship with them at the moment. Not only was he one of the two who saved their lives, he was the only one who was polite to them, plus, he was the one who lent them coin that kept them off the street and even fed and bathed. He was confident that theirs was a positive relationship, one he hoped would strengthen.
“Done,” (Last Name) said, standing with the last filled grass basket.
“Then let us head back to the city,” he said, waving them forward. He had been keeping an eye out, but there were no monsters this close to Liscor. He had seen a couple of Goblins staring from the grass in the distance, but nothing that warranted possibly upsetting the group by rushing over to kill them.
Once they entered the city, he took the lead and lead them to the barracks as per Zevara’s orders. It wasn’t long before (Last Name) and her companions were in a room where Zevara would be overseeing them treating several members of the Watch. He stayed to observe as well, and while the Watch Captain gave him a look, she didn’t dismiss him.
Staying proved to be an interesting experience for what he then witnessed as it was one thing to hear of what (Last Name) was capable of, and another thing entirely to see it with one’s own eyes.
Shizu kept an eye on (Name) as the patients started coming in. As they did, Zevara introduced them and Shizu retained the information while Kyoko kept a written record. At the captain’s request, (Name) spoke as she healed, describing what she was seeing and what she was doing.
“Bones healed wrong in the left arm, places pressure on nearby nerves, possible danger of severing nerves resulting in severe decrease of arm function. Numbing what I assume are pain receptors… Breaking bones, realigning… fusing back together… Healing minor damage to nerves, realigning them to original positons… restoring pain receptors… Done.”
The Drake she was healing blinked and flexed his arm. A grin broke out on his face and he enthusiastically waved his arm around. “It doesn’t hurt to move it anymore!”
“Great,” Zevara said. “Now get out and send the next one in.”
The male Drake happily complied and threw open the door, yelling, “Next!”
A Gnoll entered the room and took the seat the Drake just vacated. He sniffed wetly, making Shizu hide a cringe at the sound. At least this seemed like a simple cold.
“Give me your paw,” (Name) said, holding out her hand.
The Gnoll reluctantly did so and (Name) closed her eyes.
“An illness, purging… purging… purging… mild headache, soothing… done.”
The Gnoll blinked in surprise before pulling out a large handkerchief and this time neither she nor the other two could help making faces as he loudly blew his nose. (Name) cringed and leaded away from him. Finishing, the Gnoll sniffed loudly and his tail began wagging rapidly.
“The cold is gone!”
Shizu noted that his statement meant something to both Zevara and Klbkch. Was it really that amazing to be able to get rid of a cold like that? Didn’t they have magic for that sort of thing? Colds were simple for (Name), as were most illnesses. Frowning, she decided to ask either Klbkch or someone else about the common cold and its relation to magic.
(Name) was forcing a smile as the Gnoll heartily shook her hands before leaving, tail still wagging happily. The look on her face clearly said she wasn’t happy. For someone who germs couldn’t do anything to, (Name) really didn’t like it when people coughed or sneezed in close vicinity to her, something which played a factor in why the five of them were always in peak health.
“Next is a harder task,” Zevara said. She eyed the grass baskets. “Do you have enough paste to regrow a missing limb?”
(Name) shrugged. “Depends on the size of the missing limb, and even if I don’t, I can always get more paste, or, alternatively, finish the task off either tomorrow or the next day.”
The Watch Captain considered her words before nodding. “Very well.” She called loudly, “Come in, Ossmer!”
The male Drake who came in next walked with a wooden post below the knee on his left leg. He was big, but not nearly as big as Relc. He was glaring hard with narrowed yellow eyes and a deep scowl on his face. Neither Zevara nor Klbkch seemed bothered, but Shizu felt a trickle of concern for (Name). She doubted that Klbkch and Zevara would let Ossmer hurt (Name), but the Drake could always get in a hit or two before they pulled him off her.
(Name) seemed to be thinking along the same lines as she was slightly pale. Her hands twitched on her lap as the large Drake reluctantly sat on the chair across from her. Her voice shook.
“T-take off the wooden leg, please.”
The Drake snarled. “You don’t give me orders, Human!”
Zevara snarled back at him. “But I do. Off with it, Ossmer!”
The Drake glowered at (Name) and for a moment it seemed as though he would refuse the order, but at last he reached down and removed the wooden limb.
(Name)’s hands were shaking as she reached down and opened the grass basket. The paste was finally going to see some use today. Picking up the entire glob, she straightened in her seat and leaned forwards. She hesitated as the Drake’s body tensed, but Zevara slapped the back of the Drake’s head and told him to stop scaring the Humans.
“Proceed, (Last Name). Ossmer will not hurt you.”
Ossmer grumbled under his breath at Zevara’s tone but looked away from (Name). Her friend sighed quietly and then let the paste settle on the Drake’s knee.
“Connection made, missing left leg below the knee, amputation site healed over. Numbing pain receptors… beginning reconstruction of left leg, using right leg as reference…”
The paste started sinking into the Drake, making him tense. Zevara glared daggers at the back of his head, silently forcing him to stay still.
“Dissolution of healed amputation site, maintaining control of blood…” Shizu watched as the wound site reddened deeply. “Growing bones…” Bones started poking through into the air. “Muscles, nerves, and flesh…”
The paste was rapidly decreasing and the regrowth had barely begun, but that was normal. Without being prompted, Shizu opened the second grass basket and placed the new lump of paste over the shrinking supply. (Name)’s other hand came up to hold it in place and Shizu stepped back. This process went on until the last of the paste had been used, but the Drake’s leg wasn’t finished.
“Paste depleted, sealing amputation site… sufficiently thick scar finished. Restoring pain receptors… Done, for now.”
(Name) sat back and took a deep breath that she slowly exhaled. Both Zevara and Klbkch stepped forward to inspect the leg. Ossmer was silent, staring wide-eyed where his missing leg was now half-grown back. Zevara noted this and turned to (Name).
“Can you finish this?”
(Name) nodded. “Probably. I just need more paste.”
“Then go get more,” she ordered. “Klbkch, go with them.”
“Yes, captain,” he replied.
Shizu stood up and picked up her grass basket while Kyoko packed up her notebook and pen. Grass baskets in hand, they followed Klbkch out of the room and back out into the busy streets of the city.
“Your healing is most impressive,” Klbkch said to (Name). “I find myself glad that you did not die out on the Floodplains.”
“Yeah,” Kyoko chimed in drily. “We’re really glad about that too.”
“We are,” Shizu said more sincerely.
(Name) nodded. “Yes, I’m glad I didn’t die.”
Regenerating whole limbs wasn’t something you currently had a lot of practice with. Even the clients the others arranged for you rarely needed to have missing limbs replaced. On your friends, a couple of missing fingers was the worst you had ever had to replace (though you’re still iffy about Daiki’s explanation on how he lost them as ‘slipping the knife when cooking’ was out of character for him). In this world, though, something told you that you were going to get a lot of practice at it.
After Ossmer, things were easier as Shizu had informed Zevara that that would be the only regrowth for the day. You saw two more Guardsmen with colds and healed a deep cut on a Drake Guardswoman. Shizu said that was enough for the day and Zevara deferred to her judgement. Kyoko, taking in the discount for the Watch into consideration, tallied up the cost in silver coins, though Zevara added a gold coin for Ossmer’s leg and wouldn’t hear of a further discount.
Yawning now and following Shizu and Kyoko’s backs, you returned to the inn where you promptly laid down for a nap.
[Healer Level 6!]
[Skill – Soothing Presence obtained!]
You groaned. “Just let me sleep, you stupid voice…”
Chapter 5: In The Worst Case!
I was burnt out from writing so there weren't any updates yesterday. Today I feel better, so here's a chapter and you didn't even have to wait a month for it like you did for chapter four! :)
Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.
Ossmer was the guard assigned to your group the next day. He told you that Zevara recommended bringing a lot of paste as today she wanted you to see other Guardsmen who had been retired due to their missing limbs. He was still intimidating and stern, but not quite like he was prior to you regenerating his leg. After you had finished collecting paste, making the baskets heavier than usual, Ossmer took all three without a word and led your group back to the barracks.
Kyoko seemed to find this amusing for some reason as she silently giggled and nudged you with her elbow. Glancing at Shizu on your other side, you tilted your head at Kyoko and rolled your eyes, eliciting a slight smile from her. Kyoko was the one in the group who was most interested in romance and dating, and it seemed as though she was starting to feel comfortable enough to slip back into that mindset, although really, Ossmer had to be at least ten years older so no thanks.
As the group walked through Liscor, you wondered what the average age of marriage was for humans in this world. There didn’t seem to be a lot of technology—or any, really—so is this was a medieval world then wouldn’t girls get married when they were young? You, Shizu, and Kyoko were going to be sixteen this year, and you wondered if that was an age when girls got married here. Of course, being from a modern age and another world, marriage was the last thing on your mind.
Shaking your head, you focused on Ossmer’s back. By now Shizu was walking almost in front of you while Kyoko was still at your side. Eying Ossmer’s muscles, you glumly realized that without the advantage given to you by your Quirk, there was no way that you three would be able to take him down if he turned on you. The same applied to just about everyone else in the city. You and your friends lacked strength to protect yourselves.
You couldn’t do anything with your own body except train it the old-fashioned way, but Shizu and Kyoko? You could modify them easily. Nodding idly to yourself, you decided that you would run that by Shizu when you got back to the inn. For now, though, you had arrived at the barracks so it was time to get to work.
The Human healer had come and gone for the day, and now Zevara was writing her report. Yesterday’s report had been received with great interest by the Council. She couldn’t blame them, not when the regeneration of Ossmer’s missing limb was a feat unheard of before. Not even that other healer further north was heard of being able to replace what was lost and had been lost for over a year.
Ossmer had lost his leg to a Corusdeer when a squad attempted to redirect a small herd. He survived, but the loss of his limb meant a reduction in his effectiveness as a guardsman. He had been steadily becoming more aggressive and disobedient, and more than once other members of the Watch had to rein him in. If things had kept on, Zevara would have been forced to dismiss him, though that would have only further exacerbated his behavioral problems. Whether she knew it or not, (Last Name) had earned a great deal of his respect, if not his loyalty, with her action.
A miracle healer like that and it was the Antinium who had an in with her. Resting her head in her claw, Zevara glared at the report. If it had been Relc who lent them money instead of Klbkch then it was likely that those Humans would be more inclined to ally with Drakes, but at this point that was a moot thought. Klbkch had stuck while the iron was hot and now those Humans looked favorably upon him.
The Council didn’t like that, and neither would High Command when they found out.
Interlacing her claws, Zevara stared over them and grimly thought of the worst case scenario: there could be war over (Last Name) and her healing abilities, between Drakes and the Antinium. The regeneration alone might be considered worth it, and coupled with the fact that she could even eliminate the common cold, something magic was no longer effective in treating, and (Last Name) was more valuable than she even possibly realized.
If it did come to war, then the Human cities in the north might come to her aid. After all, she was one of them, and blessed with powerful magic to boot. If they came to her aid and succeeded in rescuing her, then she would be used to their benefit.
Of course, there was also the possibility that she might be assassinated for one reason or another. The outcome of that could go either way, though this early in the game her death might be negligible. Klbkch and the Antinium might bear a grudge, though they might be lucky in that regard since they probably wouldn’t go to war over a lost resource.
Scale rot. She’s already thinking of the Human as a resource instead of a person. The Council and High Command would probably think that way, or at least think of her as a tool.
Why couldn’t the Human have just been an average healer? She’s barely been here for a week and is already giving Zevara headaches while unknowingly putting more stress on her.
Grumbling under her breath, Zevara went back to writing her report.
Given that Zevara had paid two gold coins for the various missing fingers (claws and paws?) and/or bits that (Name) regrew on the guardsmen and guardswomen today, Shizu elected to visit Krshia’s shop. The Gnoll greeted them.
“Good day, you three. Do you go everywhere together?”
Shizu glanced back at her friends and realized, “Yes, we usually do, especially now that we are in a strange land.”
“Strange to you, perhaps, but home to us, yes? Now, have you come to chat or shop? I am not against either.”
“We have come to shop,” Shizu replied. “We need toothbrushes, toothpaste, and hair brushes. We would also like three nightgowns, though large shirts can be substituted.”
Krshia had all items in stock and soon handed them over, though it was Kyoko who took them. Shizu paid with a single gold coin and got back some bronze coins. Seeing as they still had two gold coins plus silver coins, Shizu then bought more clothes and underwear.
“Thank you,” she said, taking the bundle from the Gnoll.
“You are welcome,” Krshia replied. She looked over at (Name). “Healer, are you seeing any more Gnolls today?”
(Name) cast Shizu a desperate look so she answered for her. “(Name) is done for the day. Captain Zevara has been monopolizing her for the benefit of the Watch. Of those (Name) has treated today and yesterday, there were Gnolls among them. However, she will not be seeing anyone else today as she has reached her limit. Any more and she may exhaust herself. We have seen her exhausted and do not want to see that again.”
“Hrm,” Krshia said. Her tail was slowly thrashing. “So the Watch seeks to horde (Name)’s healing? That is unfair to those who have heard of (Name)’s abilities and wish to be seen by her as well.”
Shizu twitched. That people used first names so freely was going to take getting used to.
“Well, they are in charge of the city’s safety, are they not? Having their guardsmen and guardswomen in good health must be a priority.”
“Yes,” Krshia agreed slowly, but her tone said she would probably still be having words with the Watch captain.
Remembering something, Shizu asked for two last items: a thick cloth and a small knife.
Instantly, she sensed the suspicious stares of her friends on the back of her head. She ignored them and calmly paid for her knife.
Saying their goodbyes, Shizu led them away.
On their way back to the inn and still on the Market Street, Kyoko tugged at Shizu’s shirt and pointed wordlessly at a Gnoll selling kebabs. Giving in, Shizu paid for three kebabs and they stood to one side and ate the surprisingly good snack. Walking and eating was rude, so they remained close to the seller before moving on after finishing up.
Once they were safely back in their room at the inn, Shizu had them sitting in a triangle on the floor. (Name) was directly across from her and Kyoko was off to the side between them.
“We are going to try drawing out your magic spell.”
Both (Name) and Kyoko got wary looks on their faces and their suspicious stares deepened when she pulled out the small knife she just bought.
“I am going to give myself a shallow cut. (Name), you are going to try and cast that minor healing spell you mentioned.”
“But I don’t know if I actually can.”
Shizu was unconcerned. “Even if you can’t, you still have your Quirk to call upon.”
Some of the worry smoothed from her face. “Oh, yeah. Alright, let’s try.”
Nodding, Shizu proceeded to cut her left pointer finger. Blood quickly pooled in the wound and began to slowly drip down on the thick cloth she bought for this purpose.
(Name) stared intently at the wound and held up both her hands in Shizu’s direction. “[Minor Healing].”
Nothing happened, causing (Name) to blush. She scowled and tried again. “[Minor Healing].”
Nothing happened on either that time or the next two times. Kyoko chimed in and told (Name) to picture a small well of water in herself and to imagine that was the magic power she had available. Kyoko told (Name) to draw on that well and use it to cast the spell.
It didn’t work.
Sighing, (Name) reaching over and healed Shizu’s finger with her Quirk. Calmly wiping off the blood, Shizu dubiously eyed the bloodied cloth and remembered the dirty uniforms tucked away in their individual schoolbags.
“I suppose we should figure out how we’re supposed to do our laundry.”
Her two friends groaned and laid themselves on the floor.
Always with the dramatics.
You were glad that Shizu asked the innkeeper about the laundry issue. It turns out that either she could do it for a price, or they could hire a [Washer] who would do it, also for a price. Shizu chose the innkeeper and the innkeeper gave her a basket, telling her to just toss the clothes in there and leave the basket near the door to their room.
“Won’t thievery be a concern?”
The innkeeper rolled her eyes. “Not outside the room, Human. Just leave it near the door inside your room and one of my girls will pick it up whether you’ve gone out for the day or not. Don’t expect your clothes back the same day, though. You might get them back the same day, but more often than not you have to wait until the next.”
That was agreeable enough, and that was what you did.
“Small mercies,” Kyoko commented back in the room, tossing her uniform into the basket. “At least we don’t have to do laundry by hand.”
“We might have to, if it comes to it,” Shizu said. “Our coins have decreased significantly today. The price of healing has now increased.”
Taking out her notebooks, Kyoko started a new one for the group’s expenses. With Shizu’s help, she recorded everything you three had spent and what you had spent it on, and also where you had spent it.
“This will be useful,” Shizu murmured as she perused the expenses notebook. “We can compare prices and services when we change inns.”
You asked, “When we change inns?”
“Of course,” Shizu said, handing the notebook back to Kyoko for keeping. She gestured at the room around you three. “This place is… adequate, but when we can afford better we shall move on to better. At the very least, I would like a place with two beds.”
Yeah, spending a third of the night alone and awake wasn’t fun at all. You got paranoid and saw things that weren’t there.
“I see,” you conceded.
As Kyoko and Shizu started talking about money, you rested your cheeks in your hands and mused to yourself. Daiki wasn’t here, so you were grateful that at least Shizu was. She wasn’t strong like he was, but you could count on her to figure things out. If it had been you and Kyoko, or even just you, things would no doubt be vastly different. If she wasn’t here, you’d probably be starving in an alleyway.
Shizu was a silver lining, but… you just wished that it wasn’t necessary for her to be one. It would be infinitely preferable if only the three of you were still at home.
At Shizu’s concerned voice, you focused on her. Both she and Kyoko were looking at you.
At Kyoko’s words, you finally noticed the wetness on your face and hands. “Oh…”
“Are you in pain?”
You shook your head at Shizu’s question. “I just…” You burst into sobs and lowered your head, wailing. “I just want to go home!”
Kyoko started crying. “I don’t like it here either.”
You choked out, “I want my mom.”
Kyoko sobbed. “I want my mom, too!”
The mentions of moms was the final straw for even Shizu and you heard her sniffling. The sound of your usually unflappable friend crying made things worse and soon you were beyond words.
The three of you huddled together on the floor and cried for home, for rescue, for anything to change your current circumstances. There was no change in your reality.
The three of you cried until there were no more tears left.
“Let’s not do that again anytime soon,” Shizu snuffled, sunk up to her shoulders in hot water.
“Agreed,” Kyoko sighed, also up to her shoulders in hot water.
“No promises,” you muttered childishly, also in the same tub.
The three of you had actually forgone washing before entering, but thanks to the purification spells, washing before entering the water wasn’t necessary. The fact that the three of you did wash up on previous visits was just hardwired habit.
There was silence in your tub, but noise filtered in from the others outside the curtain walls.
“So,” you finally said, voice still hoarse. “I think, in light of the boys not being here, that it might be necessary if you two put on some muscle.”
Catching on to what you weren’t saying, Shizu hummed thoughtfully. “I can see what you’re getting at. The physique of the locals is quite something. Without strengthening ourselves, we are sitting ducks.”
“This is like a game,” Kyoko said quietly. “If we are allotted 100 levels each, then I have already wasted one on the [Runner] class. (Name) already has several in healer, and I wonder if that’s redundant?”
Shizu thought about it. “Perhaps not. Healing spells might prove useful, if she ever figures out how to use them.” She cupped some water in her hands. “My [Tactician] class… I wonder if it’s useful?”
“Groups always need leaders,” Kyoko pointed out. “I think you should keep on with it.” She sat up slightly. “The concern we should have is additional classes. The voice comes when we sleep to tell us whether or not we’ve leveled, and I would guess that it will tell us when we gain new classes. The question is whether we can refuse. For example, I wouldn’t want, say, a [Cook] class, so would I be able to refuse it if it came to me?”
“We have no idea how long we’ll be stuck here,” Shizu said slowly. “So what classes would be useful?”
Kyoko looked over at you. “(Name), if you can, refuse any other class and focus solely on the one you have right now.”
You sighed as you nodded. It wasn’t as though you would be good at anything else anyway. Throwing yourself at danger did not appeal to you in the slightest, so it was best if you stayed in the back and healed them when everything was said and done.
For the next while, the three of you discusses common game classes such as warriors, thieves, and others. A kid from the next tub over added his two cents in and yelled over that there were other classes like bakers, soldiers, carpenters, and seamstresses like his mom, and then he was shushed by what was probably his mother.
Kyoko perked up at seamstress and glanced over at the group’s folded clothes. “So… do we have to take classes like warrior? I mean, it’s not like we’re going to leave Liscor and go adventuring, are we?”
Shizu gave a short, low laugh. “We were terrified of a single Shield Spider. I rather think the outside would eat us alive.” She paused. “Perhaps literally.”
You all shuddered.
“Daiki and the boys would probably be gung-ho for being adventurers if they were here,” you said.
Shizu stared at the water. “…I can picture that with such clarity. Those idiots. No doubt they would have dragged us along with them.”
“And used the same name as the one from back home,” Kyoko added.
Shizu shook her head. “Well, they’re not here. It’s just us, and I vote we stay in one place. When you’re lost, that’s what is advised you do.”
“So we make a living here and hope that someone comes to rescue us?” Kyoko frowned. “And if no one comes?”
Shizu was quiet for a long moment and when she answered, her voice was solemn and low.
“Then we make a life here and make the best of it. That’s what our parents would want, I think.”
You felt tears threatening to make another appearance. You didn’t like being away from your parents but you could see the truth in Shizu’s words. Mom and dad would want you to live and to live a long and happy life.
There were a few quiet tears from each of you, but none of the broken crying that you did earlier.
If no one came, then you would live.
As long as Shizu and Kyoko were with you… yes, you would live.
Klbkch sat in his private quarters as the Listeners finished giving him a report. They weren’t in the vicinity, and indeed never left their special chamber, but he heard them in that way that only the Antinium could hear each other. In times of emergency, the Listeners would also directly report to the Queen at the same time they did to the Prognugator, but this was not an emergency, and she was busy regulating the Hive, so right now only Klbkch received their report.
He had assigned a Listener to each of the Humans, but if they continued to stick together then he would drop that number to a single one with orders for others to help out whenever one drifted away from the group. It seemed unlikely they would ever let (Name) wander alone, but it wasn’t impossible that one would split from the other two. In fact, he felt that sooner or later, Shizu would operate separately from them for one reason or another.
The Humans had reported to Zevara this morning and done healing for the guardspersons. It did not escape Klbkch that this time Zevara had assigned him so that he would not be present again. He doubted that he would be able to see (Name) healing at the barracks unless it was an emergency and he happened to be present, but no matter. There would be time enough to see (Name) in action if he so desired, though for now he was content to stay at a distance. Of course, he was aware of the interest the Drakes had in (Name), as well as the interest his Queen had in the Human, so he was left trying to find a balance.
For now, he had convinced his Queen that kidnapping (Name) would be a disastrous move that the Hive and the Antinium could not afford. In time that might change, but for now (Name) would not be dragged into the depths of the Hive.
It seemed that Krshia Silverfang might also have an interest in (Name), though that was to be expected since the Human could regrow limbs from repurposed grass. Gnoll interest was another variable he would have to juggle. It really was a shame that (Name) put herself under such an intense spotlight, but things should remain calm for a while yet.
The Humans had discussed levels and seemed unfamiliar with the concept, which was strange to Klbkch. Where could they possibly have come from that they weren’t aware of that much at their age? Not that he could discern their age himself, and he made a mental note to ask them at a later point.
Lastly, it seemed they were preparing for the worst. If they could not be found and retrieved by their home, they planned to live in Liscor. If they gave up on returning home, though, they might not actually stay in Liscor as there weren’t many Humans around. No Human males meant no mates so they would have to leave to find such eventually. Then again, it was possible and likely that Humans would be drawn to Liscor by (Name)’s healing abilities once the word spread.
Word always spread, so it was only a matter of time.
Chapter 6: What Do You See When You Look At Us?
When the time comes, let loose a tiger and a devil; but wait for the time with the tiger and the devil chained -not shown- yet always ready.
~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
During the next two days, you and Shizu were the only ones who leveled up. You rose to level 9 in your healer class while Shizu rose to level two in the tactician class. Kyoko was upset that she was the only one who didn’t level, but she made no effort to level up her runner class.
“I don’t want it,” she huffed when Shizu asked her why she didn’t just jog or run around to see if that would help. Kyoko glared down at her open math textbook. “I just… don’t want to be a runner.” She snorted. “I mean what use would that be? If something comes for us I sure as hell ain’t saving my own skin if it means you two die. I don’t wanna be alone here.”
Shizu nodded. “I see. Then, what do you want to level up in?”
A light brush crossed Kyoko’s face. “You’ll laugh.”
“I won’t. (Name) might, but I won’t.”
You wanted to protest but she had a point.
Kyoko mumbled under her breath as she tugged at the skirt of her uniform.
Shizu leaned in. “What was that?”
Kyoko put her hands on her knees and straightened her posture as she stared right between you and Shizu without looking at either of you. “I said I want to be a seamstress!”
She suddenly stood up and held her skirt out to both sides. “Look at this. This is our school uniform and the only one we have. If it gets worn or torn, who will fix it? What about when it’s beyond saving? And what about what we wear when we’re not wearing this? Our nightgowns are plain shirts, for goodness sake!”
She stomped her foot. “I wanna wear cute things! If I can’t have denim, polyester, satin or any other good stuff, then I want cute peasant clothes and maybe ruffles.” She eyed you in a way that made you wary. “Lots of ruffles.”
Shizu hummed. “I see. Then you desire the seamstress class that child mentioned a couple days ago, correct?” At Kyoko’s nod, Shizu tapped a finger against the textbook in front of her. “Then I suppose that means getting you cloth, needles, scissors if there’s any to be found, and thread. If you make clothes, the class should come to you eventually, and then you’ll have to continue practicing. However, are you sure you want that, Kyoko? If we only have 100 levels to allocate…”
Kyoko paused for a long moment and carefully looked you and Shizu up and down, and then she looked down at herself. At last, she nodded and folded her arms. “I’m sure. I want to be able to make cute clothes and that’s that.”
“If you insist,” Shizu said. She tapped her textbook. “But you’re still not getting out of math.”
Kyoko moaned and sank down to her knees. “But it’s hard. You’re making us do it mentally and aloud. It’s like, torture!”
“We need to save our notebooks,” she insisted. “I wonder if we could find little chalkboards around here. If not, we could try sandboxes when we’ve made more coin.”
You asked, “Sandboxes?”
“An alternative to paper for writing,” Shizu explained. “After all, instead of wasting paper or parchment by the droves, we could just write things in the sand. It’s not only our math we need to keep up, but we should also learn to write the local alphabet.”
“But that’s a project for when we’re not skating the edge of destitution,” Kyoko pointed out.
Concerned, you looked over at Shizu who waved her hand. “We’re fine, (Name). Tomorrow is another day at the barracks, and even if we don’t have them, I do believe we’ve garnered enough attention that we could find other clients if need be.”
“Yeah,” Kyoko agreed. “If Krshia—damn, it feels weird just using someone’s given name—is any indication, then we will at least have Gnoll patients.”
You looked down at your dominant hand and wiggled your fingers. “Scales and paws feel strange.” You paused before grinning sheepishly. “But scales feel nice, too?”
Kyoko solemnly nodded. “You will have a Drake boyfriend.”
You gave her a deadpan stare.
“You’re lucky I don’t have a pillow to throw at you.”
She grinned. “But wouldn’t a Drake be preferable? I mean, Gnolls look like they have a great sense of smell. I’d be self-conscious if I were dating one.” She looked off to the side and tilted her head. “Wait, do Gnolls have knots?”
Shizu thrust her hand into the air between the group. “Okay. No more chit-chat. Back to work.”
Bemused, you did as she asked, but a thought kept buzzing around your head. A few minutes later you finally gave in and looked over at Kyoko.
“What do you mean ‘knots’?”
Shizu buried her face in her hands while Kyoko giggled and turned her head away.
In the end, neither of them would tell you, and Shizu only said not to ask anyone that question.
Her eye twitched as Kyoko refused to meet her eyes, grinning widely. Shizu rubbed her temple as though she had a headache.
“If… if you start dating a Gnoll, I’ll tell you.”
“…So you want me to date a Gnoll, or do you just mean if?”
Kyoko slowly doubled over and held her stomach as she shook with suppressed mirth. Shizu cast an annoyed glare her way and clarified.
“If, (Name). Just… if.”
You had no idea why Kyoko found this funny while Shizu seemed to find it troublesome. Reluctantly, you dropped the subject.
Later that night, as you settled down to sleep after waking up Shizu to take your place, the voice returned as you fell asleep.
[Healer Level 9!]
[Skill – Numbing Touch obtained!]
Twitching slightly, you mumbled quietly in annoyance before deciding to keep that news to yourself until morning. When morning came, you sleepily told the other two about your level up.
“You’re leveling up quick,” Kyoko noted, brushing her hair with her hairbrush. Of the three Shizu bought, Kyoko marked hers with a flower she etched into the handle.
“It’s probably thanks to the limbs, digits and other things she’s been regenerating since she got here.” Shizu had changed out of her nightgown and into her school uniform. She sat down on the chair and began carefully brushing her hair. “I imagine that not all [Healers] would level as quickly as she does. Then again, what do I know about this place?”
You smoothed your skirt. “What day is it anyway?”
Shizu hummed thoughtfully. “If we were at home, I believe it would be Friday today.”
Kyoko sat up from pulling on her socks. “That reminds me. We should have at least one day off from having (Name) heal people each week.”
“Agreed,” Shizu said. “I will ask Zevara or someone else about the local days of the week and if they have a rest day. If not, we shall pick one and make it known that we do not operate on that day.”
The word ‘operate’ brought a surgeon’s job to mind. You mused. “I’m really glad I don’t have to cut people open. Could you imagine being a doctor or surgeon in this place? It would be a nightmare.”
“No sterile equipment, no specialized surgical tools…” Shizu looked over at you with a serious gaze. “(Name), you have to take really good care of your teeth, okay? I think we would be hard pressed to find a dentist or the equivalent in this place.”
You slid your tongue over your front teeth. “Yeah…”
Suddenly, your newest skill came to mind and you paused. “…Do you think my new skills and magic could affect me?”
The both paused for a long second before slowly turning their heads to look at you.
Kyoko trailed off and Shizu spoke up. “That question makes it more urgent that you do find out how to use your magic and skills. Later today we shall make a more serious effort to draw on your magic.”
You nodded. “Alright.”
Ossmer watched as the Human healer crept among the grass and harvested it with her hands, somehow turning it into that paste which she used to regrow his leg. Shifting his stance, he noted that while she was harvesting the grass, she didn’t take the whole stalk but left a bit of it behind. Probably so the grass would regrow, he reasoned.
Her two friends were standing away from him, but they were also keeping a wary eye out for danger when they weren’t staring at their friend. They whispered together, and Ossmer heard them. They were noting that the healer seemed to be doing this task faster than she had previously. He didn’t think that was strange since practice usually did make things easier, like practicing with a sword until you could wield it with ease.
He knew that today was another limb regeneration. Guardsmen who had retired due to lost limbs were coming out of the woodwork and pestering Zevara to arrange for the Human healer to regrow their missing limbs. They used the excuse that they would rejoin the Watch, and while Zevara was willing to do that for some of them, not all of them would be able to make use of the discount the Humans had given the Watch. Today the healer would be tasked with regenerating the missing half of a Drake’s tail.
He grimaced at the thought of losing even the tip of his tail. The Drake in question had ‘resigned’ in shame and had spent much of his time since the partial loss of his tail drinking at home. His sister was probably the only reason he was still alive as she brought him food and checked in on him every, though he did end up guilt-tripping her into providing him with alcohol. Ossmer’s tail thrashed. Today Zevara would get the Human to regrow Leissr’s tail and she would whip him back into shape.
“Done,” the healer chirped, standing up.
Ossmer went over and picked up the baskets from the ground. Making sure they were following him, he led them back towards Liscor. Technically, he didn’t have to carry their baskets for them, he merely did it because it was the least he could do in return for having his leg back. He could hold his head up with pride again, and carrying three baskets once a day was nothing.
You slowly backed away as the Drake you finished healing cried into his regrown tail. It’s partially because of reactions like this that the gang had you treat patients through a hole in the wall. Most of the reason is to hide your face, but part of it is to protect you from emotional reactions such as this one.
Seeing Zevara tilt her head at the door, you thankfully take the opportunity to escape. Outside, you gratefully breathed in a breath of air and relished in the fact that it didn’t reek of booze or filth like that Drake just now. What did they do, drag him out of some random hole to shove in front of you?
“Well, that was short,” Shizu said.
Kyoko stifled a snort, making Shizu realize that it just sounded like she made a disparaging comment against the Drake just now.
“I mean today’s healing appointments.” She half-heartedly glared at Kyoko and nudged her. “I was not referring to his tail.”
Kyoko waved her hand, grinning. “Yeah, I know.”
Shizu shook her head and looked over at you. “How are you feeling?”
You tilted your head one way and then the other. “Hmm… I’m good for a bit more. Nothing big like regenerating a missing limb, but smaller things like eyes or fingers would be fine.”
“Then let’s go tell Krshia,” Shizu suggested. “She seems like a Gnoll who can send clients our way.”
You agreed to this and before long your group was at Krshia’s stall. Shizu told her about the limitations on what you’d be doing today, but Krshia seemed pleased nonetheless.
“Missing limbs can wait,” the tall Gnoll said. “But you can regrow eyes, yes? What about blindness, is there something you can do for that?”
“She can make the blind see,” Shizu assured her.
Krshia’s eyes widened for a moment and her tail wagged. “I shall believe when the results speak for themselves. Wait here next to my stall, yes?”
She called a Gnoll over and spoke to him in growls. The other Gnoll rushed off and disappeared down the street.
“You three are settling in well, yes? No longer does the stench of terrible things stick to you so strongly. A few more days and the stink will be merely an unpleasant memory.”
You shuffled your feet self-consciously as she and Shizu talked. Ever since coming to this world, you’ve felt exposed and in turn that made you timid and shyer than you normally would be. You feel like a kid instead of someone who just started high school.
Helare returned leading young Emea. She was a Gnoll who lost her eyesight to sickness in her youth. Her world had been black for too long, and if (Name) could actually restore her sight then that would only solidify the fact that (Name) was useful.
Behind her, though, was her father. The older Gnoll had lost his mate to the sickness that took Emea’s sight and had coddled her ever since. He was stubborn and ill-tempered, but only to others who were not Emea. To her, he was nothing but patient and kind. From the look Helare gave her, Krshia knew that Emea’s father had probably tried to stop them from leaving, but Krshia leads the Gnolls here. She said come, so they had to come.
“What is this, Krshia? What lies are you peddling to my daughter?”
Krshia bared her teeth. “Not lies, Jeryl. (Name) has proven that she has powerful healing abilities. You have nothing to lose by letting her aid Emea.”
Jeryl bristled and glared at the three Humans, trying to guess which one was (Name). “You can’t trust Humans, Krshia!”
She sniffed. “I will not paint all Humans in one color. (Name) will help Emea.”
The Gnoll in question spoke up with a quiet voice. “Father. Father, please.”
Jeryl wilted at her pleading tone but returned another glare at the Humans. “If this is a cruel trick or lie…”
“Stand back, Jeryl, and let the healer treat your daughter.”
Reluctantly, he stood back. The Human called Kyoko gently pushed (Name) forward and she briefly quailed under Jeryl’s glare before Krshia reached over and slapped the back of his head.
(Name) capitalized on the moment to ask Emea for her paw.
Krshia watched as (Name) reached out and took the offered paw. She said nothing, but as Krshia’s looked from their joined hands to Emea’s face, she saw blank eyes regain light.
Emea froze as she stared back at Krshia and blinked. The young Gnoll turned in her father’s direction and saw him for the first time in years. Her voice shook. “Father?”
She sniffed back tears and smiled. “You look well, father.”
Jeryl wept and gathered his daughter in his arms.
Krshia frowned slightly as (Name) quickly backed away to hide behind her friends. Did she not like Gnollkind? That would be a problem if true.
Deciding to leave that for a moment, she reached down under her stall and pulled out a gold coin which she handed to Shizu. “I was the one who called Emea here, so I will pay.”
Shizu accepted the gold coin. “Thank you, Krshia.” She slid it into a pouch at her waist and asked, “Was that the only Gnoll you wanted (Last Name) to see?”
Krshia smiled widely.
“Not at all.”
You fell down on the bed and didn’t want to move for the rest of the day.
“Get up, (Name),” Shizu called mercilessly. “It’s time to practice your magic and skills.”
That was Kyoko and you weakly kicked a leg in her direction.
“Up, (Name),” Shizu said, coming over and grabbing your wrist to lift you up. “You’re not as tired as you could be, and it is practice time now.”
Grumbling, you eventually let her get you out of bed and onto the floor where you three sat in a triangle. Fully expecting failure again, you only made a half-hearted effort at casting the first spell you had been granted.
Then Shizu rudely snapped you out of your stupor by suddenly slashing her palm open.
Kyoko tried to slap Shizu’s head but Shizu calmly leaned out of the way. When you reached out to her, though, she held the thick cloth close to her injured hand and scooted away.
“No, don’t use your—stick to your magic.”
Kyoko glared at her. “Don’t be stupid, Shizu. Just stay still and let (Name) heal you.”
“Use your magic.”
Frustrated, you yelled at her. “Shizu!”
“Use. Your. Magic.”
Glaring, your lifted your hands and yelled, “[Minor Healing]!”
Shizu’s hand kept bleeding. Aggravated, you reached down inside yourself and willed that stupid spell to heal your stubborn friend.
This time there was a brief puff of white sparkles, though they died out before reaching Shizu. The three of you stared, stupefied.
Slowly, Kyoko brought her hands up and clapped them three times. “Congrats, (Name). You’re a magical girl now.”
Betrayed, you glared at her while Shizu turned a deadpan stare on her. Kyoko held her hands up innocently. “What? You are. You just have to make your magic, you know, useful.”
Looking away from her, you waved at Shizu to come closer. Warily, and ready to leap back, she did.
This time the sparkles lasted a second longer and reached Shizu. She stared down at her hand.
“A mild improvement. Try your Skills now.”
Frowning, you lowered your hand and tried to remember the Skills you had gotten so far. “Um… Soothing Presence.”
Both of your friends visibly relaxed.
“Oh, that’s kind of nice,” Kyoko said. “It’s like a tenseness I didn’t even realize I had just lifted off of me.”
“Hmm,” Shizu murmured. “Try the one you got last night.”
You frowned, “But what if I accidentally use my—“you cut off your words as Shizu quickly shook her head with a warning look in her eyes. You tried again. “What if I accidentally don’t use Numbing Touch? How will we know the difference?”
“Just try,” Shizu said.
Doubtfully, you reached over and touched the back of the hand that was holding the thick cloth under her bleeding hand. Holding back from using your Quirk, you deliberately did not ‘see’ Shizu. Instead you thought of your new Skill.
Shizu winced. “The wrong hand is numb.”
You wilted. “Sorry.”
Kyoko sounded unimpressed. “Well, at least now we know her Skills are inferior to her innate ability.”
Shizu hissed at Kyoko to be quiet and the other girl mimed zipping her lips.
Having had enough of this fiasco, you used your Quirk on her and healed her hand. Sitting back, she wiped at the blood. She stood up. “I’m going to go wash my hands. I’ll be right back.”
As soon as she left the room, Kyoko let out a long sigh and ran a hand through her hair.
“If this keeps up, Shizu is going to give us more gray hairs than anything else this world can throw at us.”
You frowned as you stared at the discarded knife she used to slash open her own hand. “Was she always like that? I mean, did we just never notice?”
Kyoko was silent for a moment before she carefully spoke. “I’m not sure, but let’s keep an eye on her, yeah?”
You nodded, worried. “Okay.”
In a basin of water that the innkeeper set out for her, Shizu absentmindedly washed her hands as her mind focused on the current situation she and her friends found themselves in.
This was a new world, and the rules from their own world had been thrown out the window. From what she had learned so far, Quirks didn’t exist in this world. Magic and levels were the norm, and those were earned through effort rather than given at the age of four. There were no laws to protect them, or rather, no laws that would protect (Name). Granted, the Kami no Kage never planned to rely on those same laws, but that had been in a world they were familiar with. Here, they stuck out like a sore thumb, more so now that others knew of (Name)’s abilities, if not the truth behind her power.
Clenching her hands in the water, Shizu glared down at nothing and everything.
She couldn’t see any indication of it, but she could feel the noose tightening around them. (Name)’s abilities were just too great to leave her alone. People would come, and they would try to bully her. Some may try to kill her, and other may try to use Shizu and Kyoko against her, perhaps as hostages or as pawns. (Name) and Kyoko were relying on her, so Shizu had to prepare them for what was coming, whatever it may be. If she had to hurt herself to push them forwards, then that was what she would do.
Lifting her hands from the water, she flicked droplets from the tips of her fingers and felt her expression smooth out.
No matter what happened or who came along, Shizu had (Name)’s loyalty. That would not change.
For now, (Name)’s implied suggestion would have priority. Shizu would let (Name) modify her and she would get Kyoko to let (Name) do the same to her. They would be stronger, better.
“I need another class,” she murmured, wiping her hands on the small cloth that was also left for her. “I need to wield a weapon. A sword, maybe?”
More than that, though, (Name) needed to start figuring out how to destroy Drakes, Gnolls, and Antinium with sicknesses. The contingency plans they had begun planning back in their home world would have to be applied to this world.
Calmly striding back towards the upstairs and their room, Shizu mentally repeated their grim oath against the world.
‘If we go down, we’re taking as many of you with us as we can.’
After all, it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.
Chapter 7: It's A Good Thing The Girls Aren't Here!
If you've ever had that feeling of loneliness, of being an outsider, it never quite leaves you. You can be happy or successful or whatever, but that thing still stays within you.
The city vanished in an instant, and they were left standing a small clearing amidst some trees. They froze instantly, Daiki mid-sentence, Katsu with his tongue on his ice cream, and Sora with a smirk that quickly faded from his face. For a second they didn’t move, but then without a word they stood back to back in a tight formation.
“What the fuck just happened?”
Daiki ignored Sora’s question and asked a more urgent one.
“Where are the girls?”
A rapid glance around didn’t reveal them. Shizu, Kyoko, and (Name) had been less than twelve feet away from them in their own little group and yet now they were nowhere in sight.
“Boss! Shizu! Kyoko!”
No answer came at Daiki’s call no matter how the three of them strained their enhanced hearing. Daiki called again but there was no response.
Right after Daiki swore, a crunching sound came from Katsu’s spot, and he turned his head to see the plain boy biting into the wafer cone that had held his ice cream. Slightly rueful, Daiki looked at the dirt where the remains of his own ice cream cone had been tossed aside in his urgency to call for (Name) and the girls. Sighing, Daiki rubbed the back of his neck and took stock of their situation.
One, they were no longer in the city and appear to have been relocated to somewhere out in the countryside.
Two, the girls aren’t in calling distance, so hopefully whatever happened to them didn’t happen to the girls.
Three, it is unknown if a hostile arranged this situation.
Sora suddenly piped up. “There’s no cell service and no Wi-Fi connection either.”
Okay, so four, their cellphones are useless.
He asked, “Either of you recognize the area?”
He got negative answers from his friends.
“Wait, where’s my bag?”
Sora looked around for his school bag and this prompted Daiki to look for his own but neither was in sight. They looked at Katsu who currently had his slung over his shoulder and tucked between his arm and body.
Sora grumbled. “So whatever happened didn’t take our stuff along unless we were holding them like Katsu is. Fucking great. I’m going to have to replace those textbooks with my own money, you know?”
Katsu gave him a half-lidded stare. “You mean the gang’s money.”
Sora protested. “I get paid.”
“Enough,” Daiki cut in, not in the mood for one of their arguments. He looked around. “We can’t stick around here, but which way do we go?”
They couldn’t agree so Katsu suggested leaving it up to a stick. Sora picked one up from the ground and they sat on their haunches as he stood it up and kept it in place with his right pointer finger.
Sora let go at Daiki’s command and it fell, pointing off in a direction between Katsu and Daiki. They all gazed in that direction and Daiki nodded.
“Alright. Let’s go.”
Sora picked up the stick as they left and Daiki led the way.
“Thank fuck, a town,” Sora praised when they broke out of the woods.
They stood on a hill and down the slope, there was a lake, and on the other side of that lake was a town.
“Still no signal, though,” Katsu frowned, cellphone in hand. He tucked it back into one of his pockets as Daiki started down towards the town. “So, is no one going to say anything about the fact that all those people aren’t exactly all people-shaped?”
It was true. With the enhanced vision given to them by (Name), they could see perfectly. Of the moving figures in the distance, many of them seemed to have mutant-type Quirks.
“A town of mostly mutant-type Quirk holders isn’t exactly new,” Sora pointed out. “It’s rare, sure, but not unheard of.” He pointed at the sky above. “I’m more concerned about the sky. I mean, did either of you look at it?”
His question prompted them to come to a stop so Daiki and Katsu could do just that. There was silence for a long moment before Katsu spoke up in an uncertain tone.
“Uh… I know clouds get big, but… I’ve never seen them that big before.”
It was as though the sky was somehow off-scale. Clouds hung huge and high, towering like floating mountains. There weren’t many, and none had blocked the sun’s rays so far, but none of the three of them could deny that they were colossal.
Daiki lowered his head to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I’m not even going to question it.”
He started stalking off towards town, leaving Katsu and Sora to catch up. Within twenty minutes they found themselves in the midst of a busy but medieval-like town. There was a distinct lack of technology and way too many of the same kind of lizard-people for all of them to have the same or a related Quirk.
Sora stared up at the overhanging bridges between the tall builds and whistled as he pulled off the jacket of his uniform. “Sure beats going down all the way to the first floor of a building only to have to climb the stairs to a higher floor in another building.”
Katsu frowned as he unbuttoned his own jacket. “That seems unsafe.”
It was hot here, and Daiki had already unbuttoned his jacket down. Sweat beaded on their foreheads, but summers could be hot, so they were able to endure the heat.
Sora agreed. “Well, I have to admit I wouldn’t want to risk falling without boss lady in the vicinity.”
They both turned their gazes back on Daiki as they heard their friend asking what town this was. The human he had asked wore iron armor despite the heat and had a thick beard. He told Daiki the name of the town, looked their friend up and down and then gave the two of them the same treatment.
“You lads looking to join a company? Especially you, with the blue hair. You a [Mage]? I heard they like to glamour their hair strange colors.” He pointed down a street. “Just follow this street until you hear the recruiters yelling. Can’t miss them.”
He continued on his way while Katsu and Sora came up close behind Daiki.
Sora ran a hand through his blue hair. “Why the hell would having blue hair make him think I’m a mage? And yes, Katsu, I did just hear him explain that mages like to glamour their hair or whatever, but that doesn’t mean I’m a mage.”
Katsu shut his mouth and pondered for a couple seconds before opening it again.
“Perhaps we were isekai’d.”
Both Daiki and Sora turned their heads to him. Katsu didn’t look offended but instead waved his hand around.
“There is no indication of modern society here, much less any other Japanese people. There is a lack of technology and no indication of Quirks of any of these people, be they humans like ourselves or those lizard men or other the other species we’ve seen so far. That man mentioned mages and glamour, meaning magic. He wore iron armor and a great many others are wearing armor too. The sky is different from home and I’ve seen no jets crossing the sky yet.
“We have ruled out that this is the illusion of some Quirk—“he glared at Sora who was completely unrepentant about punching Katsu earlier in the woods”—so that leaves the possibility that we have shifted…” He warily glanced around the busy street before leaning forwards to whisper the last of his sentence. “Worlds.”
Daiki boiled that down to ‘alone in unknown territory without support from boss’. He gestured for Sora and Katsu to lean in and gave them new rules.
“One, don’t mention Quirks anymore. Two, absolutely do not mention boss and her abilities. Three, don’t mention Earth or Japan. And four, stick together.”
They nodded back at him. Daiki glanced between them. “Do either of you have any idea of how we’re going to earn money?”
Sora shook his head and Katsu pointed out that selling his school bag and its contents would only get them so much before they were broke again. Slowly, as one, all three of them turned a reluctant gaze on the street the man from earlier pointed out.
Looks like they didn’t have much of a choice.
Ever since that man pointed out his blue hair, Sora had grown more observant. He did seem to be getting more looks than the other two and it was starting to make him nervous. He wasn’t actually a mage so anyone expecting him to make magic was going to be sorely disappointed.
Oh. Or wait, maybe he could pull it off by pretending his Quirk ‘Shield’ was magic? That and turning his hair blue could be the only magic he was capable of doing. Sure he’d probably be mocked for only knowing two spells, but at least he would have an explanation for both his shiny shield and his hair, right?
But if this was like an RPG then he didn’t want to be a mage. Katsu was better suited to be a rogue or thief, and Daiki was suited to being a warrior because of his stamina, but Sora always liked fighting by Daiki’s side. Ah, but he shouldn’t get ahead of himself when all he had at the moment were his fists. Then again, all Daiki currently had was his fists, so they were on even ground for now.
Shaking his head, Sora forced his mind back to the present moment. Walking just behind Daiki with Katsu nearby, Sora soon heard a cacophony of shouting. They definitely found the recruiters. Males of different species were yelling and trying to draw in new recruits to their booths. Sora couldn’t help but stare when he saw a Dullahan holding his head up as he called for others to join his company. Shaking his head, Sora followed Daiki’s attention and found himself listening to one recruiter in particular.
The man was saying that his company had a better survival rate and was explaining the difference between his company and other companies. His was recruiting for a suppression company instead of a combat one. When Daiki glanced back at the other recruiters, Sora saw Katsu nudge him and heard him whisper to their friend.
“Which company would boss want us to go for?”
Sora knew the answer to that. (Name) would want Daiki, Sora, and Katsu to stay alive, and since the suppression company had better survival rates, that’s the one she would want them to join.
Daiki frowned for a few seconds before shrugging. When the speech was over, they were part of the group that was joining the suppression squad.
The recruiter seemed pleased with himself and bellowed at them.
“Welcome to Untimely Demise!”
Both Sora and Daiki turned dead looks on Katsu who deliberately did not look back at either of them.
It felt wrong signing up to join a company, like signing up to join a different gang, but Sora and Katsu had a point: they needed money, and this was the only way to get it.
After signing on, he and the rest who had signed on were marched out of the lakeside town and approximately two to three miles away to where a camp was set up. On the walk there, Sora and Katsu had stuck close to him but not obnoxiously so. After all, even if they hadn’t seen lizard folk, armored folk, and centaurs in numbers like these before, they had seen quite a lot of people with different physical characteristics. Picked fights with quite a lot, too.
The recruiter told them to mingle and that later they would get equipment and weapons. There would be only one meal today, and tomorrow they would start the march and training before they were expected to see battle. As the group dispersed, Daiki motioned for Sora and Katsu to follow him. Walking to the edge of camp, he turned and eyed the place as his friends joined him on either side.
“There’s been no talk of strange girls,” Katsu noted quietly.
“Our uniforms got us looks,” Sora said, flapping the sides of his now open jacket uniform. “Man, I hope they don’t think we came from another company or something.”
“If they ask, just tell ‘em they’re school uniforms, which they are.” Daiki smacked a bug on his arm and scowled. “I wish boss was here. We don’t feel bites anymore, not after the mosquitoes feasted on Kyoko and Shizu last year, but it’d be nice to have her here to make sure we’re not getting infected with something.”
“Great, another thing to worry about,” Sora grumbled, slapping a bug on the back of his neck.
Katsu swiped the side of his face. “So, Sora, have you figured out how you’re going to explain your shield and your hair? I mean, it’s unlikely anyone will think anything too strange of Daiki for his stamina, and I can just say my ability to go unnoticed is a skill, but what about you?”
Sora didn’t seem concerned. “I’ll just say I’m a lousy mage. Conjuring a shield and changing my hair are the only spells I know. I’ll probably get mocked, but at least I’ll have something to say.”
“Fine,” Daiki agreed. It was a reasonable explanation for his Quirk without revealing the nature of his Quirk.
They stood and chatted in low voices, rehashing their arrival and actions since then, but none of them could come up with anything other than their being isekai’d. Eventually, someone called out, saying that it was meal time, and the recruits and soldiers were all heading in that direction, so Daiki and his friends joined the line.
Sitting together but with others in the immediate vicinity, Daiki listened as the others talked, and he saw Sora and Katsu doing the same. Apparently this company would be dealing with undead, something that made the three of them exchange wary glances, but they didn’t say anything unless asked a direct question.
“Are you a [Mage]?”
Sora made a face. “Not really. I’ve got a shield and a spell for my hair, but that’s about it.”
The person who asked laughed but seemed to accept his answer. Sora was welcomed, and the others hoped that he would use his shield on them if they ever needed it.
“If you’re close enough,” Sora replied drily.
“Why are the three of you dressed alike?”
Sora shrugged. “School uniforms. One minute we were there and the next thing we know, we’re here.”
“Did a teleportation spell go wrong or something?”
“Don’t know,” Sora said.
“I guess you three are trying to earn enough to get home, huh?”
Katsu shrugged. “True enough.”
And it was, though Daiki’s main concern was getting to wherever (Name) was. Without her, he was just another face in the crowd, as demonstrated by the fact that he was sitting in the middle of a camp and no one knew who he or the Kami no Kage were. Without her power to back himself up, he was just a lowly recruit, as were Sora and Katsu.
It’s… been a long time since he felt like this.
It’s been a long time since he felt like an ordinary person.
Daiki didn’t like it.
If he ever found a way back to (Name), he was going to grab it, even if it meant leaving one or both of his friends behind. Cruel, maybe, but he could live with just about anything if it meant that he was important.
He probably shouldn’t mention that aloud, though.
When morning came, Katsu woke with the others, ate, and diligently paid attention and helped dismantle the camp. He kept his bag close at all times and would only let Sora and Daiki both it, though neither actually did. The company marched, and by the time the first break came, Katsu could only join Sora in glaring at Daiki who, thanks to his Quirk, was unbothered by the march at all.
The first thing they got after water was light armor and a weapon to choose. Daiki managed to get a mace, Sora picked up an axe, but Katsu chose a sword because it was the better weapon to slice someone’s arteries open.
He asked his friends if that was a strange thought to have but Daiki didn’t think so and all Sora said was he already knew that Katsu could go from one to eleven in a snap. Apparently them not kicking him out of their little duo back at the start of middle school was partially fueled by the desire not to be pranked by someone who could disappear from their thoughts almost at will. Also, they might have also been slightly scared of him for the same reason, hence why they had been willing to become a trio after learning what his Quirk was.
Training also took place during the series of breaks on their six-day march to their contracted area. After getting a feel for their weapons, the more experienced members of the company gave them some battle practice, both sides using real weapons. Injuries were inevitable, and all three were diligent in keeping their wounds clean.
“I really fucking wish boss was here,” Sora hissed as he washed a cut clean with warm water that had been boiled and cooled.
“She’d hate it,” Katsu pointed out mildly, sharpening his sword as he had been shown.
“It would still be better if she was here,” Daiki said, siding with Sora.
Katsu shrugged. It would, but that didn’t mean she would be happy. In fact, it was probably for the best that she wasn’t here. During their march, they had learned about potions and seen them in action. Potions were like (Name)’s abilities in a bottle, but watered down. If she was here and people learned of what she could do… if she wasn’t assassinated, then Katsu could believe wars would be fought over her. God forbid anyone actually find out that her ‘power’, or at least a variant of it, could be passed down through her children.
He shuddered slightly as he imagined a terrible fate for his boss.
Yeah, no, no matter what Daiki and Sora thought, it really was better if (Name) was still in their original world.
She’d be safer there.
As long as villains didn’t find out about here, anyway.
…Damn, now he can’t stop thinking about her meeting a terrible fate in their original world, too.
Why does thinking about (Name) always bring a truckload of worries too?
Shaking his head, Katsu went back to maintaining his sword.
After setting up camp and while waiting for supper, Daiki and his two friends sat near a tent.
“Alright. So, confirming what we’ve gathered so far: this is a suppression company, meant for cleaning up after battles and dealing with any undead that rise from the fallen. Is that consistent with what we’ve heard so far?”
“Yes,” Katsu nodded. Sora nodded as well.
“Right.” Daiki stared ahead without seeing anything. He repeated, “Undead.”
Sora drawled, “Well, as long as you don’t die from it, getting bit doesn’t turn you into a zombie. That’s good, right?”
“The silver lining,” Katsu said sarcastically.
“A good one,” Sora insisted.
“Yeah, okay,” Katsu conceded.
“That explains the holding bag with all the shovels,” Daiki said, ignoring their little derail just now.
Earlier that day, someone dropped a bag and a number of shovels had tumbled out. He already knew about the bags of holding because most of the camp’s gear and supplies went into them, but that was the first time he’d seen so many shovels. The sight had hammered home that this was a company headed out to handle dead bodies.
Sora tilted his head. “But I heard we were burning the bodies?”
“Makeshift weapons, perhaps,” Katsu mused.
Sora shrugged. “Well, better to have them and not need them—“
“Than to need them and not have them,” Daiki finished absentmindedly.
“Speaking of items like condoms,” Katsu said, successfully derailing Daiki’s train of thought while also getting Sora’s attention. The plain teenager looked at them with a serious gaze. “We probably shouldn’t reproduce.” He eyed Sora. “Especially you, shield boy.”
Sora grimaced. “You mean no sex for the rest of my life?” He bowed his head into his hands. “I can’t. I can’t do that.”
Katsu shrugged. “It doesn’t have to be for the rest of your life, just until you find this place’s equivalent of birth control. I heard some of the females mention Birth Charms, though I’m not sure if those are for preventing pregnancy or for hopes of a desired pregnancy.”
‘Females’, because apparently calling them ‘women’ is somewhat derogatory since that term refers to humans. Or rather, Humans, with a capital ‘H’. Humans weren’t the only species in this world, so they were called Humans instead of humans. Mildly confusing, but not the worst thing about this place.
Pulling his dead phone out of his pocket out of habit, Daiki scowled at the dark screen. His phone had been the first to die, and Katsu’s was the last. Now they were without music and game apps. Grumbling quietly, Daiki put his phone away.
“Anyway, we’re supposed to work in teams of four. We’ve made it clear that we’re sticking together, so either we’ll be working in a team of three or we’ll be getting a fourth member each night while we’re in the company. The rules still apply, but unless our fourth member gives us a reason, we’ll be… civil, at the very least.”
“Co-operative, or we don’t eat,” Katsu pointed out.
“I miss burgers,” Sora grumbled.
Katsu had a report on the third morning of their march. Quietly, he told them that he gained a class.
“[Rogue],” he murmured.
Sora snorted. “You forgot, didn’t you?”
Katsu’s Quirk was involuntary. Either he consciously controlled it or it was always on.
Katsu scowled at him. “It’s hard, okay? Especially in a new environment where I don’t feel safe being seen.”
Daiki asked, “So, is it really like a game? You get a class, level and skill?”
Katsu nodded. “Yeah. I got [Stealthy Feet].”
Sora glared at him from the corner of his eye. “You better not sneak up on me. I swear, Katsu, I will gut you and I won’t even be sorry about it.”
Daiki smacked the back of Sora’s head. “You’re just jealous you haven’t gotten a class yet.”
Daiki himself already had [Warrior], though he was still at level 1. They had all laughed when he revealed that he received the skill [Lesser Stamina]. Daiki didn’t know if [Lesser Stamina] actually improved or hindered his Quirk, but there didn’t seem to be any change to him so he let that thought float to the back of his mind.
Sora huffed but didn’t deny it.
On the day before they were to arrive at the contracted location, they came across a group of undead. The sergeant decided it was time to put the new recruits to the test and he quickly organized them into a combat situation.
While this would be the first time they fought a moving corpse, it wouldn’t be the first time the three of them killed someone. Technically, since the zombies were already dead, this wouldn’t count as the third, third, and second times for them respectively (Daiki and Sora’s third, while Katsu had only one death on his hands so far). Either way, since all of them had killed before, in addition to the many fights they got into, neither Daiki, Sora or even Katsu faltered in the small battle.
Katsu sighed as he sheathed his sword. “Killing a skeleton with a sword is hard.”
“Zombies are grossly moist,” Sora scowled, wiping off bits of flesh from his axe by rubbing it against the dirt.
“They reek, too,” Daiki agreed, carefully shaking gore from his mace.
“I better fucking get a class after this,” Sora groused, putting the axe on his back.
“You will for sure,” Daiki said, clapping him on the shoulder.
They assembled and listened as the sergeant told the recruits everything they did right and everything they did wrong. He didn’t point out any of the three of them though, so they probably did a decent job of their fights.
“That was nothing like a game, though,” Sora said as they marched.
“Or a movie,” Katsu agreed. “I find that I prefer my zombies fake.”
“Like your girlfriends.”
Daiki didn’t reprimand Katsu for kicking out Sora’s knee from under him, though they did get told off for fooling around.
Sora did get his class—[Axe Warrior]—which was good because that day they finally arrived at the battlefield.
Due to their arrival mid-day, they were advised to stay away and out of sight for now. However, even from the distance where they set up camp, they could still hear the sounds of battle. Enhanced hearing had been one of the few modifications (Name) had given to them while they were third year of middle school, so Daiki, Sora, and Katsu could hear the screams from the battlefield more clearly than the others.
It was terrible.
Even for Daiki, who had broken the bones of others more than once, the cries of the fallen were horrible to hear. There were just so many of them. They could hardly imagine the carnage they would have to deal with come nightfall, and then they finally did go to see by fading sunlight, even Daiki had to admit it.
It probably really was for the best that (Name) wasn’t with them.
None of the girls should have to seen carnage like this, not ever.
(blood soaked the grass and turned the ground to mud, entrails strewn about, arrows and spears stuck through bodies, heads and torsos caved in, shredded bodies and bodiless limbs—they could handle that, but the girls?
oh, better it was that they were not here too, especially her from whom they hid so much)
Chapter 8: What Shall We Do Between Here And Finding Our Way Home Again?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Family. Friendship. Loyalty. These things have been my guiding stars, my light in these dark times.
~John Gwynne, Ruin
“This. Is. Abhorrent.”
Sora wrinkled his group came up on their first section of the battlefield for the night. He, Daiki, and Katsu were joined by another Human, this one a guy around their age, give or take a year. His name was Corlin and this was his first time as a recruit for any kind of company, same as them. The dead body Sora was referring to was a Lizard man who had practically been hacked in half.
All of them forcefully ignored the screams of the wounded who had been left on the battlefield for one reason or another. They didn’t have (Name)’s Quirk so there was nothing they could do to help. Better to ignore them until the screaming stopped.
Being both a smartass and uncomfortable with the sheer level of carnage in front of him, Daiki couldn’t help but make a comment in an attempt to inject some levity into the atmosphere of their little group.
“I didn’t know you knew what ‘abhorrent’ meant.”
Sora’s eyes became half-lidded. “I know Shizu.”
“Follow procedure,” Katsu said, drawing his sword and stabbing it through the nearest corpse’s head. “Remember, destroy their heads, before you touch them, and watch out for undead.”
“Yeah, yeah, I remember,” Sora groused. “Corlin, you hold the lantern this time while we grab a corpse each. When we come back we’ll switch who holds the lantern.”
Corlin, being the odd one out of the group in that Sora, Daiki, and Katsu already knew each other, nodded and took the lantern from Katsu.
“Katsu, think you can handle a corpse on your own?”
“Unless they are small or cut in two, doubtful.”
“Alright, so you and I grab one while Daiki gets another.”
They nodded and got to it. The work wasn’t pleasant, and the level of carnage was enough to make both Katsu and Corlin stop to puke at least once. Sora himself came close while Daiki worked in grim silence. They were lucky and didn’t see an undead for over an hour into their work and even then, it was after another group a couple dozen feet away.
“At least that thing wasn’t a Centaur,” Sora commented as that group slew the Lizard man zombie.
Katsu scowled. “You’re probably just jinxed us.”
Daiki shook his head. “Come on, back to work.”
A while later, there came another warning shout.
They turned in the direction the shout came from and noticed it was still a distance away.
Sora grunted as he, Katsu, and Corlin each tried hauling a body while Daiki held the lantern. “You know, not that I’m ungrateful that we haven’t had to deal with any undead ourselves since yesterday, but I’m not exactly thrilled to just be hauling dead bodies around.”
Katsu growled. “I swear, Sora, it’s like you want something to surprise us. They’re undead. It won’t be a nice surprise and I’d really rather not face any tonight if we don’t have to.”
“Wishful thinking,” Daiki said as his head turned to where the cry came from.
Shouts rippled through the battlefield and lanterns bobbed.
“It’s heading this way,” Katsu observed darkly, his tone making it quite clear that he blamed Sora for this development.
By this time, the three of them had dropped the bodies they were hauling. Daiki, stuck with the lantern, nonetheless held his mace ready in one hand.
Katsu sounded resigned, sword in hand. “I supposed this was always inevitable, taunting Murphey or not.”
“It’s just another pumped up punk on our turf,” Daiki said, trying to put things in perspective.
They had handled punks before, and even a few murderous or extremely violent adults. A ghoul was just an undead version of that.
(no, it wasn’t, but the comparison helped stop some of their trembling)
“Form up,” Daiki ordered, more for Corlin’s benefit as Sora and Katsu were already moving into place at his sides. Corlin jumped and together they formed a square, had their weapons out and were as ready as they would ever be for a squad of rookies.
“Is that the captain?”
Sora’s question made Daiki look, and yes, that was the captain running this way. However—
Sora cursed loudly as his Quirk activated. A ghastly form had launched itself at Daiki and moved at fast enough speeds to make Sora’s Quirk pop a shield into existence. The shield of shiny hexagons vanished and Daiki, accustomed to the limits of Sora’s Quirk, immediately smashed his mace against the Ghoul’s head. The Ghoul fell sideways and made a bodily spasm, ready to attack again, but Daiki was already there once again, hammering his mace down on the head of the monster.
The captain arrived as Daiki straightened, not even panting from the exertion. Corlin had fallen on his butt in surprise after tripping over his own feet when the Ghoul first slammed into Sora’s shield while Katsu and Sora remained on their feet. The older man laughed slightly.
“Not bad, boys.” He looked over at Sora, eyes glancing at his blue hair. “I guess that was your magic just then, right? That’s a useful spell. And you, with the mace, good job on taking the ghoul down quickly.” He nodded and then spun on his heel and bellowed. “Back to work!”
The Ghoul ended up as just another body on their pile to burn, but Corlin wouldn’t touch it for anything.
When the horn finally sounded the end of the shift, Daiki was had no visible signs he was worn out by the long night’s work. On the other hand, his friends and Corlin were sore and tired.
They may have resented him, just a little bit.
Sora woke up late in the afternoon the next day. Daiki and Katsu were already up, though only Daiki was present.
“Katsu’s out mingling. I’m just here to make sure no one slits your throat in your sleep.”
Sora let his head fall back. This time proper words left his mouth. “Didn’t need that image.”
“I’m not mingling.”
Katsu caught the poorly thrown school jacket thrown at him that had served as Sora’s pillow seconds ago. He tossed it back at Sora as he sat up. “There’s food, but don’t get your hopes up for anything good.”
Sora yawned and was soon shuffling out of the tent with Daiki in the lead. He ate, relieved himself, and then scrubbed himself down with dirt to rid himself of the caked blood from yesterday as water was too precious to waste on ‘hygiene’ (the girls would have been unbearable within the first two to three days, so at least they didn’t have to put up with their complaining). They walked around the camp, getting a feel for the place before sitting down to watch some others gamble food with dice. They didn’t stay to watch for long, getting bored quickly and leaving to sit around with just the three of them.
At one point Sora cursed as he suddenly wiped his forearm against his knee. Turning his arm, he saw a dead bug smeared on his skin. Cleaning it off, he wrinkled his nose.
“Hey, we’re not supposed to get sick easily, right? I mean, boss boosted our immune systems, right?”
Daiki cleared his throat, remembering the scolding he got from boss for coming to school with the flu and for not telling her sooner. After that, she boosted all of their immune systems and none of them had gotten sick since.
“It’s not perfect,” Katsu said, wiping sweat from his forehead. “She only did that with normal stuff in mind. There might be some freaky flu out here that is strong enough to make us sick.”
“Let’s hope not and just not think about it right now, yeah?”
Sora grunted at Daiki’s suggestion and heaved a sigh as he looked around the camp. Among the Humans, there were Lizardfolk, Dullahans, and Centaurs. He asked, “If we didn’t come from a place with mutations, do you think this would be harder?”
Mutant-type Quirks were those that altered the physical appearance of their owner. Scales, armor for skin, and half-horse bodies really weren’t that outside their realm of comfort. Little was, actually, though they did have their own dislikes and preferences.
Katsu hummed thoughtfully. “I believe so. Fantasy games would not have been sufficient on their own.”
“Kinda strange to see so little variation,” Daiki commented. “And the Humans, they’re so… ordinary.”
Sora leaned back to look up at the sky that was still blue. Being late summer, the nights were shorter which meant less time to work, but also more time doing nothing in camp. Still, better bored in camp than trying not to throw up while hauling dead bodies and trying not to get killed by undead.
“Boss was really fond of that ordinary kid, that one with green hair. Never understood why, though.”
Daiki vaguely remembered who he was talking about. He gritted his teeth as he realized that that kid was probably monopolizing boss’s time now that he, Sora, and Katsu were out of the picture. After all, he doubted Shizu would keep up the gang by herself. She’d probably convince (Name) to go small time with just her and Kyoko while leaving the rest of the gang out to dry.
“Shizu’d better be taking care of things.”
Katsu looked over at him. “She probably will, at least for a while. Kai and Haruto would likely help keep the others in line while substituting for us.”
“They’re not up to snuff for the long-term,” Sora dismissed, waving a hand. He reaching into his pocket and pulled out his phone out of habit. “Damn it, I keep forgetting…”
Sora flinched and nearly dropped his phone on the ground as someone spoke up from behind Daiki. Glancing over his shoulder, Daiki saw that several Lizardfolk had come over. The one who spoke pointed at the crude triangle of logs they were sitting around.
“Do you mind if we join you? We’ve been wanting to talk to blue-hair about his shield and also to all three of you about those magic devices blue-hair almost dropped just now. We’re Lizardfolk, though most of us are Lizard Men. I’m a Lizardgirl, though. So, what do you say? Can we sit down?”
All three of them stared, struggling slightly to process that continuous line of speech and questions. This female was worse than Kyoko on a sugar rush.
Daiki blinked, pulling himself together as he waved his hand. “Sure, go ahead. Blue-hair’s name is Sora. I’m Daiki, and that’s Katsu.”
The other two waved and tensed slightly as the Lizardfolk quickly joined them. Their attention was instantly on Sora.
“So, Sora, that was your shield last night then? We thought it might be so since you have blue hair and your friends don’t. Magic folk like to glamour their hair outrageous colors. Did you go to Wistram? Oh, wait, you said before that you only know two spells, right? How strong is your shield? Which one of you killed that Ghoul? That Ghoul almost killed one of the other Humans, did you know that?”
Sora swayed slightly. “Uh…” He cleared his throat. “Yes, that was my shield last night. I’ve never he—been to Wistram. Yes, I only know two spells for my shield and my hair. Daiki killed the Ghoul. We didn’t know about one of the others almost being killed.”
The Lizardfolk seemed pleased by his answer in that he had done his best to answer all of the Lizardgirl’s questions in one go. That was thanks to the rare events when Shizu would steamroller them with questions, to which she would want the answers to all at once. It was a side-effect from her Quirk, ‘Data’, something she had gotten control of and rarely did anymore. Truthfully, Sora had been glad that stage of Shizu’s was over with, but it seems as though that is the default way of talking for Lizardfolk.
The Lizardfolk stayed and chatted for quite a long while, something that was both a negative and a positive in Daiki’s eyes. On the negative side of things, the social interaction left the three of them mentally exhausted and physically drained, but on the positive side, they learned a lot more about Baleros, Lizardfolk, and a bit about Wistram, which was apparently a school of magic. The Lizardfolk split off when the dinner bell rang while the three of them were slower to get up and head over.
Katsu rubbed the back of his neck. “I feel like we just dealt with seven Kyokos in hyper mode.”
Daiki grumbled. “Or seven Shizus on a data collection frenzy.”
“Not to be a racist jerk, but I don’t think I can handle Lizardfolk in large doses.”
Katsu side-eyed Sora. “Careful now, don’t let anyone hear you say that.”
“I’m not tired. Just stupid.”
Sora blinked as his friends stopped to stare at him. He reviewed his last words and frowned.
“I mean, ‘I’m not stupid. Just tired.’”
Shaking their heads, Daiki and Katsu walked past him, leaving Sora to grumble and follow after them.
After dinner, there wasn’t much to do while waiting for the two companies battling nearby to stop for the night so they could get to work. The fighting slowly stopped as the sky grew a deeper red, and finally the captain gave the order for the suppression company to head into the battlefield. Corlin joined them again, and he carried the unlit lantern as there was still a bit of light to see by.
Katsu commented on the brutality of the scene, but Corlin, having lived in Baleros his whole life, shrugged.
“This is just a battle between two companies. At least it isn’t a battlefield between twenty companies, ten on each side, or even a war between two of the Four Companies. There’s only three suppression groups here because this is a small battlefield, but in the kind I just mentioned? It wouldn’t be strange to have ten or more suppression companies dealing with the dead on a battlefield like that.”
He paused, realizing that the other three were staring at him in disbelief. He frowned and asked, “What? Is there something on my face?”
Katsu rubbed his eyes. “Alright. I’m not even going to think about what you just said until after our shift is over.” He lowered his hand. “Let’s get this started. The sooner we start working, hopefully the faster time will pass.”
They worked all night, dealing with a few lower level undead, but it was a quiet shift. There was no need for Sora’s shield, though at one point, Katsu forgot to keep control of his Quirk and nearly got his gut stabbed by Corlin’s sword when he suddenly spoke up from just behind the latter. Corlin, after he was done calming down after the scare, was amazed by Katsu’s ability to remove himself from his thoughts like that. Katsu blamed it on a Skill. Near dawn, as they walked back to camp, Daiki nudged Katsu and whispered quietly.
“You have to try harder than that, Katsu. Otherwise someone might actually succeed in stabbing you. Boss ain’t here to fix you up if that happens.”
Katsu nodded grimly. “I’ll do better.”
Several nights later, Corlin wandered a few feet beyond the range of the lantern currently held by Katsu. The plain boy called for Corlin to come back, but Corlin said he was just going to finish stabbing the heads of nearby corpses so that they didn’t have to waste time doing it later.
“Forget that,” Katsu called. “Just get back here. Captain said not to go beyond the light of our lanterns.”
“Just a moment,” Corlin called back from the dark.
Sora, waiting impatiently by a body that Corlin was supposed to help him haul, cupped his hands over his mouth and yelled at him. “Get back here, you damn idiot!”
“I’m not an id—“
Sora’s Quirk flashed in the darkness, deflecting an arrow from Corlin’s face. The teenager yelped and fell backwards as three more arrows lit up three more shields. Crawling backwards desperately, Corlin returned to the lighted area of their lantern. Another shield lit up, causing Daiki to bellow at the archers in the dark.
Nothing happened for a minute or so, but then a Human stepped into the area just beyond the reach of the lantern’s light. They couldn’t see his face, but his voice was cold and stern.
“Don’t wander beyond your lights.”
Sora slapped Corlin upside the head, causing the other teenager to yelp. “We fucking told you so.”
Katsu watched with a grim stare as the man vanished back into the darkness. The area beyond their poor sphere of light was darker to them because of the light. He couldn’t tell where the man had come from or where he had gone.
He turned a severe gaze on Corlin. “This will be reported to the captain.”
Corlin whined. “You don’t have to.”
Daiki scowled at the teenager still sitting on the ground. “On the contrary: we do. You nearly got yourself killed tonight. If it wasn’t for Sora, you’d be dead. Think about that while you work. Now get your ass up and help Sora haul that dead Lizardman.”
Sullen and resentful but outnumbered, Corlin reluctantly obeyed.
Katsu remembered to report him first thing after shift and Corlin was yelled at the next day. Before the rest of the company went out again that evening, the captain warned them all to stay close to their lanterns, otherwise they’d end up as pincushions as that idiot Corlin nearly did.
Shamed and angry, Corlin switched places with another Human, this one another male teenager. Drunel was his name, and he came from the same village as Corlin.
“Sorry about Corlin,” Drunel grinned. “He’s a bit of a reckless idiot, but he doesn’t mean any harm. I switched out as a favor, though I have to admit that I didn’t mind the thought of a [Mage] watching my back.”
Sora grimaced. “Right. [Mage].”
The [Mage] class was still a lie and not actually a class Sora had. Thankfully, Untimely Demise didn’t have any identification items that could check a person’s classes and levels, so the lie was currently holding. They weren’t sure what they were going to do if they ever actually got called out for it, and so far their plan for that eventuality was ‘wing it’. Katsu said that was a terrible idea and not something they should wing, but he hadn’t been able to come up with anything better, so ‘wing it’ still stood as the plan.
Working with Drunel resulted in a slight increase in the group’s productivity as he had learned from Corlin’s mistakes.
There typically wasn’t much left to loot from the battlefield or the bodies, but even when something was found it had to be turned over to the company. Their team found a few weapons, some personal jewelry on a few bodies, and even a half-full bottle of healing potion, but all of it was turned over as ordered. Still, considering that they were fed and paid each day, Daiki considered things to be going more or less okay for their unexpected situation.
“The thing is, we’re not getting paid much.” Daiki paused as he stared up at the purpling sky. “Then again, I don’t really understand the local currency, so who knows.”
“Bronze and silver coins,” Katsu mused. “Coin we won’t actually get to see unless we make it through the rest of the contract, anyway. I wonder what they do with the coin that should have belonged to fallen recruits?”
“Keep it, probably,” Sora said from his end of their small line.
“Speaking of the end of the contract, I heard that it seems like the battle is drawing to an end. The Feral Hunters company has lost too many of its members to the Nomadic Troopers.” Daiki snorted. “Who comes up with these names?”
“Like you can talk,” Sora jeered. “The Kami no Kage. I mean, really? That’s just arrogance.”
“I’d ask you why you didn’t protest when I came up with the name, but as I recall, I didn’t ask either of you for your opinions.”
“Nah. You just came up with it on your own and somehow managed to sell it to Shizu.”
“I think she was under the impression that we all agreed to it.”
“Ha! I’ll have to ask her about that if I see her again.”
Daiki’s emphasis on the word ‘if’ sucked the humour out of the air.
“Now I’m depressed. I miss soda. Like, I would kill Corlin and Drunel for a single can.”
Katsu scolded Sora. “Don’t start that again. Saying what we miss just makes it worse.”
Daiki pulled out his phone. “I’d settle for a way to turn this thing back on again. I miss music.”
Sora pulled out his own. No matter where they went, they all carried their cellphones on them. He turned it over in his hands. “I wonder if we could sell—“
“Don’t you dare.”
Sora rolled his eyes and pocketed his phone. “Whatever.”
Katsu’s school bag was always in their presence as well. It attracted a few glances, but since it was just a bag it was overlooked. Inside, the textbooks he received on the first day of school remained mostly untouched. Katsu was the only one who studied and he only did it every few days for an hour or so before getting bored enough to put them away. The only extras he had had in his school bag before they were isekai’d were a packet of tissues, his wallet (with a picture of his little sister and mother), and a clumsy, handmade omamori charm from his younger sister. He refused to consider parting with anything, not even the textbooks he barely used.
Reaching up, Katsu pulled at his slightly lengthened hair. “Looks like we’re going to be growing our hair out for a while. Unless we can borrow some scissors from somewhere or something.”
Sora laughed. “Yeah, let’s all be isekai pretty boys.”
He dodged Daiki’s fist and laughed again.
By the time the campaign ended and their current contract with Untimely Demise expired, their levels had risen. Daiki was now a level 9 [Warrior]. Sora was a level 6 [Axe Warrior] and a level 2 [Protector]. Katsu was a level 5 [Rogue] and a level 1 [Assassin].
Daiki refused to take another class while Sora was certain that his Quirk’s automatic protection against projectiles was the reason he got his second class. Katsu had yet to reveal his [Assassin] class to the other two, have gotten it by using his Quirk to sneak into the Feral Hunters camp to see if he could. He had ended up killing someone to further test his Quirk in this new world, and then successfully returned to camp undetected by even Daiki and Sora. Katsu didn’t particularly like his [Assassin] class but was willing to utilize it if it meant helping his friends, even if they ultimately ended up stuck in this world for the rest of their lives.
From the first day they arrived to the end of their contact with Untimely Demise, thirty-nine days had passed and they were no closer to finding a way home. With only a modest collection of silver and bronze coins between them and no news of any other strange people, they decided to sign on for another contract with Untimely Demise in order to build up their savings and learn more about the world they had found themselves in.
For now, they were unremarkable and they liked it that way.
In time, they would become Named as Daiki the Tireless and Sora the Protector.
Katsu became forgotten to all but those who knew him well, those being his closest friends. To Daiki and Sora, he became Katsu the Unseen, the [Assassin] who watched their back.
While they fought, survived, and subtly searched for a way home, it would still be quite a while before they heard of anything that truly grabbed their attention.
But, when that moment finally came, it would be everything Daiki Hayashi could have ever asked for.
Next chapter we get back to Reader and the girls in Liscor.
Chapter 9: Sometimes We Aren't The Smartest Bunch!
Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another!
After departing the Watch barracks after another day of healing the guardsmen, Shizu suddenly came to a halt in the middle of the street. You nearly walked right into her back while Kyoko kept going for a few feet before she realized the two of you weren’t with her anymore. Looking back and jogging over, she asked Shizu why she stopped.
Shizu blinked and focused her gaze on Kyoko’s face. “What season is it?”
Kyoko shared a glance with you before she looked back at Shizu. “I don’t know. Is that important?”
Shizu’s eyes narrowed. She hissed. “Of course it’s important. (Name) can’t make paste if the grass is dead.”
Dread pooled in your stomach at the realization that she was right.
Kyoko shrugged. This street wasn’t particularly busy but she waved Shizu forward. “Come on, stop standing in the road. You’ll get trampled or run over by a cart.”
The three of you continued the walk back to the inn. Shizu was obviously worrying about winter, Kyoko didn’t seem to think there was a problem, and you didn’t like it when Shizu was clearly concerned about something, so the walk back was slightly tense. Once in the relative privacy of the room you were currently renting, Shizu dropped her empty grass basket and folded her arms to address you and Kyoko.
“We need to prepare for winter.”
Kyoko sat on the bed. “Why are you so worried about winter? Yeah, we won’t be able to regrow anything big until the grass is back, but people will still need healing.”
Shizu glared. “They might not come to us, Kyoko. They lived without us before and they can do it again. Right now, it could just be a trend to see (Name).” She ran a hand through her hair. “That’s probably not the case since regenerating limbs seems like a big thing, but still.” She shook her head and walked closer to where you were sitting on the lone chair. “We have no idea how long winter is here, nor how harsh the season can be. We will need proper clothing, not to mention a reliable shelter and a supply of food or a means of procuring food.”
You watched as she slowly paced the short length of the room.
“Liscor is not like home. There is no steady stream of deliveries, no preserved foods such as we are accustomed to. Here, we cannot simply go to the convenience store for a snack, nor to a grocery store that is reliably stocked with steady prices. Before winter comes, we must have a place of our own, warm clothing, and coins for buying food. We cannot be lax in this, you two.”
You slowly nodded. “I don’t fancy freezing to death, or starving out in the cold.”
Kyoko glanced between you and Shizu before sighing. “Okay, okay. I’m outnumbered here so I’ll be serious. What’s our plan of action then?”
Shizu came over. “We need to talk to a native, though probably not Klbkch since he’s, you know, an insect. He lives in a hive underground, so I don’t know what advice he would have for us. I think Krshia would be our best bet.”
“Fair enough,” Kyoko said. She frowned. “But, more pressingly, we need to figure out how we’re going to handle our monthly visitor.”
“Cloth pads,” Shizu answered. She smirked. “As our resident future seamstress, this shall be your first task. Foremost, I believe you should use soft cloth instead of say, something coarse such as the towels they use around here.”
You winced at the thought of the chafing the towels would cause and chimed in. “Please use soft cloth.”
Kyoko whined. “So I have to make enough for all of us? That’s like… a lot.”
Shizu shrugged. “It’s not as though we’ve seen anyone selling pads or the like. I don’t think Drakes and Gnolls bleed as humans do.”
“Lucky them,” you said feelingly. Cramps could be the worst.
It was late afternoon when Shizu decided that it was time to see if Krshia was available to talk, or to at least find out when she would be. Honestly speaking, Kyoko didn’t expect that Shizu would decide to go looking for Krshia on the same day they decided to talk to the Liscor native about the seasons and coming winter, but then again Kyoko shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Shizu wasn’t the brain to Daiki’s brawn for nothing.
Heading outside with schoolbags hanging over their shoulders and grass baskets abandoned in the inn room, Kyoko walked next to (Name) and they followed Shizu. In the absence of Daiki and the boys, Shizu had automatically taken the role of leading them through the city, something Kyoko and (Name) easily fell in line with, which… also isn’t surprising, considering that Daiki and Shizu were the main driving force of the gang.
Humming absently, Kyoko glanced around the city was they walked. Passing one intersection, she glanced left, saw that there was some construction going on with some beings who looked like Klbkch, and then returned her line of sight to Shizu’s back. Then, suddenly, a loud crashing sound came from the construction site which was accompanied by various startled or angry shouting from other citizens.
Attention caught, Kyoko looked back at the scene but couldn’t see anything beyond the crowd that had suddenly formed. Shizu was frowning in that direction and wasn’t a believer in hanging around accident sites, and neither was (Name), but Kyoko herself was a shameless rubbernecker.
“I’m gonna go see!”
She ignored Shizu calling her name and ran over to the crowd. She heard the muttering of the crowd and caught the words ‘worker’ and ‘die’. Someone was going to die? Perhaps this was a chance for (Name) to show off! Eagerly, she looked back and saw that Shizu and (Name) were just joining her. Taking the initiative and ignoring Shizu’s warning look, Kyoko piped up above the noise of the crowd.
“Healer here! Stand aside!”
The crowd parted slightly at her words as curious eyes turned towards them. Keeping a grin from spreading across her face, Kyoko repeated her words and walked forwards, hoping that (Name) and Shizu wouldn’t ditch her while she wasn’t looking. She’d look pretty stupid then, if she showed up at the scene without said healer.
Soon, though, she made it to the front of the crowd and got her first clear look at what happened.
A hand suddenly slapped her upside the back of her head, eliciting a yelp from her. She glared half-heartedly at the perpetrator, but Shizu wasn’t looking at her. Pouting, Kyoko decided that, since the other girl had resorted to physical violence, she had pushed Shizu far enough with this little escapade and that to push any further was to risk retribution, which would probably be a lot more math in addition to the math Shizu was no doubt planning to pile on her for running over here instead of ignoring the scene.
Looking back at the injured party, she saw that it was indeed one of Klbkch’s kind that had been partially crushed underneath a heavy wooden beam. The beam had already been moved from atop him (her?), but green blood was leaking out of the crushed part. The cracked chitin was oozing green from multiple places and quite honestly it looked as though someone had attempted to amputate its abdomen and abandoned it partially done. This being wasn’t human or even mammalian, but it was still alive so technically (Name) would be able to do something, right?
(Name)’s brow was furrowed as she stared down at the injured ant-man. Warily, she took a step forward. When no one told her not to, she went closer and Shizu was just a step behind her. Kyoko sidled closer as well, aware that the Drakes and Gnolls were staring and some of them were even muttering. Keeping her eyes on her friend, Kyoko watched as (Name) knelt next to the injured Antinium.
The biokinetic reached out and slowly laid her hand against its… chitin? Carapace? She laid a hand against its body, anyway. Then, after a moment of silence, she reached out with her other hand to touch just below where its injury was located. (Name)’s brows were furrowed, a look she always got whenever she ‘saw’ something new or tricky to manipulate at first.
The murmuring of the crowd increased and there was a tinge of hostility in it as the Antinium slowly but surely mended before their very eyes. Kyoko glanced at Shizu and saw that her other friend was also glancing at her, a slight frown tugging at her lips. Kyoko knew that look as well—that’s the one Shizu got whenever she thought they needed to vacate their current surroundings, usually because of some danger she perceived or worried would manifest.
“So,” Kyoko said conversationally, startling Shizu slightly. She gestured to the other Antinium who had continued working, leaving only two of their numbers to watch their injured comrade. Although ‘comrade’ didn’t seem like the right word, not with how dispassionate these Antinium were being. “They’re pretty cold, huh?”
Shizu returned her gaze to (Name). “They are as they are.”
A slight snort escaped her. “I’ll pry your true thoughts out of you sooner or later.”
“The sad thing is, I don’t doubt that.”
When you first healed Klbkch, you had gotten a short look at his physiology. True ants did not have lungs and instead got oxygen through holes in their exoskeleton, but since Antinium were larger they required lungs in order to live. In fact, Antinium required organs that true insects did not need and therefore did not have. Looking at Klbkch and this Antinium was like looking at someone with a mutant Quirk that changed their physiology—strange, but not impossible to manipulate.
The Antinium currently beneath your hands had suffered bludgeoning damage from a single strike resulting in crushed body parts. The wound on this Antinium was focused on its abdomen, close to where it connected to the rest of the body. There was some damage to one of its legs as well, but repairing the damaged exoskeleton was the easiest part but the internals took more time since they weren’t what you were used to. Come to think of it, you’ve never treated an insect-like person before Klbkch and this Antinium, and real insects were nothing like them, so that’s probably why this was taking longer than usual. It was like trying to assemble a puzzle using its blank back rather than by the picture in front—you could do it, but it was trial and error, would take some time, and you might not get it completely right.
Still, this Antinium was a living creature with living cells, and under your Quirk’s control you mended its body. Opening your eyes after what seemed like forever, you were greeted by the sight of a seemingly healed Antinium, but you had your doubts since this was the first one you had given extensive healing.
“How are you feeling? Are you in pain? Does anything feel strange?”
You stared down at it where it was laying on its side. It wriggled its antennae and its pincers moved but it did not speak. You twitched as it moved its arms—all four of them—but none of them grabbed you. It also moved its legs, but since it had an insect’s face, you couldn’t discern any expressions and therefore you could not tell if it was in pain like you would in a human by the way they would wince.
“This one does not feel any significant pain or loss of motion. This one can continue its assigned duties. This one expresses their gratitude for assistance rendered.”
You blinked, perplexed by the way it referred to itself as ‘this one’. Pulling your hands away, you replied with slight bemusement. “Okay…? You’re welcome. Be careful now.”
It stood up quickly, making you flinch. The sudden unease you felt in spades as it stared down at you was not helped by its silence. Shizu and Kyoko were tense next to you, and the crowd had actually scrambled back a little. Oh, no, was it going to hurt you?
No. It just nodded once and then turned back to the construction site. The other two who had been waiting to carry off its carcass also returned to the work site since there was no longer any need to remove a dead Antinium. You let out a sigh of relief and heard one from Kyoko.
“Well, that was interesting.” Shizu’s voice was dry, an indication that she was displeased. She held out a hand to you and helped you up. “Come on, let’s go.”
When you turned, the crowd parted like the red sea. It was disconcerting to be the object of so many stares and whispers, many of them hostile, but Shizu quickly shuffled you forward until the three of you were walking at a brisk pace.
Why had going to talk to Krshia ended up like this?
Shizu wanted to smack Kyoko again, but physical force was something she rarely used against others, especially her friends. Sometimes though, one or more of them needed a smack for their idiocy or thoughtlessness and while that was usually Sora who was administered hits from Daiki, occasionally Kyoko needed a physical form of admonishment, usually a pinch or sharp poke. Dragging (Name) into a scene with an Antinium—a species Shizu had quickly picked up on as being ostracized for some reason she had yet to discover—was deserving of the small slap she administered to the back of her impulsive friend’s head.
Holding back a sigh, Shizu felt that what just happened would only add to the complications she felt forming around (Name). It was one thing to be able to heal Humans, Drakes, and Gnolls, but insect-like lifeforms too? (Name) was a walking healing potion of the highest potency and honestly, Shizu wishes they could just cut their losses and bail from the city. Then again, she wouldn’t trust her own kind as far as she could throw them, so there was little chance of her taking her friends north towards where Humans were concentrated.
“Did I do something bad?”
She glanced over her shoulder at (Name). “It’s not your fault. It’s Kyoko’s—“
“—for dragging you into that. Mind, with Klbkch, it was probably inevitable that you would heal one of his kind, though that likely would have been somewhere less public.”
Kyoko put her hands behind her back. “Did you notice how the crowd reacted? There’s something we’re not seeing.”
“Maybe Krshia will know,” Shizu said.
They didn’t say anything else until they arrived at the Gnoll’s stall. They waited until she dealt with her current customer and as the older Drake walked off, Krshia greeted them as they approached.
“Good afternoon, you three. Something tells me you are not here to shop.”
“Perhaps not,” Shizu replied. “Unless you can provide a book on the Antinium?”
Krshia looked surprised. “A book on the Antinium, you say? I know of only one book that contains information on them for certain, one I heard called ‘The Antinium Wars’.”
Shizu pounced on that. “So the Antinium have warred with the Drakes and Gnolls?”
Krshia nodded. “And Humans as well. The book contains what information is known. You are interested in purchasing it? I do not have it but I can locate a copy if you so wish.”
“Please,” Shizu confirmed.
“Very well. You need not pay until I have it in my possession.”
“Thank you,” Shizu said. “On a different note, what season are we in right now, and how far away is winter?”
“This is the season of autumn. There are a few weeks left yet before winter comes and the snows with it. Are you looking to purchase clothing for the cold that is to come?”
She nodded grimly. “Yes. We are currently on limited funds, so clothing (Name) is our first priority.”
A slight whine came from said girl. “Shizuuuu…”
Krshia grinned, slightly amused. “Winter clothing is not that expensive. To clothe all three of you against winter will cost less than three gold coins.”
Shizu winced. They had enough, but three gold coins would leave them with only one gold coin, plus a bit of silver and copper. Still, that was better than what she was expecting, so she nodded and confirmed the purchase. Krshia didn’t have everything on hand, so Shizu opted to have a Runner deliver the shopping to their room at the inn they were staying at, a service that only cost a few coppers.
Glancing behind them, Shizu saw that there was a customer waiting. She frowned slightly before turning back to Krshia. The Gnoll smiled knowingly.
“You wish to talk more, yes? You can wait, or perhaps you would like to come back after I have closed up?”
Shizu decided to go for broke. “We would like to discuss our winter preparations as well as ask you about learning how to read and write the local language.” She gestured to the sign that indicated Krshia’s stall. “It is currently out of our reach.”
The Gnoll rumbled slightly. “I see. Your topics may take much time to discuss—or barely any at all—but perhaps we should leave it to a place not on the street. Come back near dusk and we shall talk more.”
Shizu nodded. “Very well. See you then, Krshia.”
The Gnoll waved goodbye and Shizu led her friends away, back in the direction of the inn. They were quiet, and (Name) was somewhat skittish due to the earlier incident with the crowd around the Antinium.
Glancing back at her and then up at the sky, she made a decision.
Submerged up to your shoulders in hot bath water, you wondered if you would ever get used to the stares and whispers. You rather hoped that they would quickly die down, but a part of you worried that it might never. Was this something Izuku experienced back home? But still, no one had used physical violence against you yet while Izuku often came home with scrapes, bruises, and sometimes mild burns. Even now you were still better treated than your young friend, and wasn’t that sad?
Sighing, you sank a litter deeper into the water.
Kyoko was humming some song under her breath and tilting her head from side to side, clearly lost in her own thoughts. Shizu appeared lost in her own thoughts as well, but she was much quieter about it than your other friend. You were still worried about healing that Antinium earlier and the reaction of the crowd.
That book Krshia mentioned, The Antinium Wars… that didn’t exactly sound like a pleasant topic, but if the Antinium had warred with Drakes and Gnolls, then why were they allowed to live in Liscor? You would just have to wait for the book to arrive, but even then, would any of you be able to read it? You supposed that the lack of ability to read and write must be what pushed Shizu in asking Krshia for a talk. You didn’t like not being able to read and write the local language, so as much as you didn’t like the idea of learning how to read and write in another language, you conceded that it would be an important if not vital skill to have, especially if you were going to stick around the city instead of heading north.
Closing your eyes, you thought back to that bit of information that you three overhead while walking around. Apparently Drake and Gnoll lands were to the south while Humans lived to the north. Liscor was basically a border city, though Humans were rare around these parts. Thinking about it, there did seem to be a bit of racism between the three species (so was that speciesism?). It was something out of a history book, back when Quirks first started emerging and people were freaking out about it. You were lucky to be born in a time long after that, really.
You opened an eye to look at Kyoko. She grinned sheepishly at you. “Sorry about earlier?”
Shizu’s hand came out of the water and flicked droplets at the other girl. Kyoko giggled quietly.
“Sorry about earlier. I should have thought before acting and realized that it probably wasn’t the smartest move to showcase your healing like that, particularly given who your patient was.”
You felt a small weight lift off your shoulders and you smiled as the resentment that had been lingering over you dissipated before her apology.
“Thanks. Yeah, it was uncomfortable, but at least he didn’t die, right? What if Klbkch got mad or something?”
Kyoko hummed. “Was it a male, do you think? I mean, Klbkch sounds male, and that Antinium sounded male, but is that true or just some kind of preconception on our part?”
“Ants are predominantly female, but they are vastly different from the Antinium. We should refrain from making assumptions.”
“But we can ask questions.”
“Only to Klbkch, Kyoko. I don’t like the feeling I get from the others. Klbkch has a personality, but as for the others of his kind…”
Kyoko gently slapped her hands against the surface of the water. “You know what? Even if we turn off our phones, they’re still going to die. So! In light of today’s events, I propose we go back to the room and turn one of our phones on to listen to a song or two. I volunteer mine because I want to hear The Song of Healing from that one old anime show. Like, all versions of it that I have on there.”
Shizu shrugged. “It’s your phone.”
Kyoko broke out into a bright grin. “Then it is agreed! We go at once!”
Shaking your head, you stood up a couple seconds after her. In a few minutes the three of you were dried and out the door, heading for the inn room to listen to music in peace.
Blissfully unaware that Gnolls had ears that could hear the music even from the street outside and the dining room downstairs.