Chapter 1: to vanish without a trace (and somehow end up in the middle of nowhere)
Go somewhere you know nothing about and see what happens.
~Karl Ove Knausgård, Min kamp 5
Yagi had gone off again somewhere and if he wasn’t quick then he was going to miss the train that was now pulling in. Sora, wearing his clever ‘disguise’ of common winter clothing, had already stepped forward in preparation to board the train. Glancing around, you saw that the station wasn’t crowded much at all, and you wondered how the station was able to stay open if it had so few patronages. Maybe this was just an off day? But it was Saturday…
Shrugging and dismissing it as none of your concern, you stood up from the bench and stepped forward to stand just a couple feet away from Sora. Neither of you said anything, being ‘strangers’ at the moment and not knowing if Yagi would make a sudden and unexpected return.
The train slid to a stop and the doors slid open. Half-heartedly hoping Yagi wouldn’t miss the train, you stepped forward a pace behind Sora—
Only to sink into deep snow instead of onto the train.
Sora’s curse and your startled shriek are cut off when you both fall face first into the sudden snow.
When Yagi stumbles onto the train, you aren’t there to tease him about almost missing it.
(he doesn’t know your name and ends up learning it in the worst way)
Trying to get up only results in your arms sinking deeper into the snow. For a couple seconds you panic and flail, hysterically thinking that you are going to drown in the snow, but then your limbs find solid ground and you force yourself up so that you can breathe.
Sora sounds almost every bit as shocked as you are, but there’s a tinge of concern as well.
You hear snow shifting and then Sora is helping you back on your feet. A cold gust of wind makes you shiver as you finally get a look at your new surroundings. Your mind stalls as you try and fail to process the information your eyes are giving you.
Your voice is tiny and squeaky.
His voice is strained and tense.
“Where the hell are we?”
“I have no fucking clue. Weren’t we just at a station?”
You don’t even have the energy to remind him that you don’t like swearing around you. Instead, you are equally concerned as to why civilization is suddenly and conspicuously absent. You can’t see anything except snow-covered hills in every direction.
Another gust of cold wind makes you shuffle closer to Sora. In anticipation of waiting all morning for Yagi to show up—not that you had known his name before he told you after you gave him organs—both you and Sora were moderately dressed for long-term exposure to the cold, but neither of you were prepared for survival in the middle nowhere. Sora pulled you closer with one arm while the other dug out his phone from his pocket.
“There’s no cell service.”
He sounded pissed and you couldn’t even blame him.
You both stood there for a long moment before Sora pulled the hood of your coat over your head.
“Well, we can’t stay here all day. Let’s move.” He pulled away to slowly turn in a circle before gritting his teeth.
“There’s nothing to indicate where the nearest town or village might be so let’s just start walking.” He turned his head towards you, his dark sunglasses hiding his currently black eyes from sight. “Do you have a preference for which way we go?”
You shook your head, hands in your coat pockets.
Sora pulled up his own hood and pointed in the direction you’d both been originally facing when you suddenly arrived… wherever here was.
Nodding, you started walking but immediately stopped as the high snow was making that difficult.
Sora sighed. “Follow my tracks.”
You felt a little bad, but hey, he was a guy with more stamina than you had, and with the enhancements you had given him thus far, walking through this knee-high snow would take longer to tire him out than it would you if you were blazing your own trail.
At least neither of you was walking directly into this bitter wind.
After cresting the third hill, Sora suddenly came to a stop.
“Please let that be civilization. Please let there be a convenience store.”
Peering around him, you saw a collection of buildings on a hill some distance away. You brightened, mentally echoing his hopes. Maybe there’d be a vending machine or a café where you could get a warm drink and a snack. Even with Sora doing most of the hard work, walking in all this snow was tiring.
“Come on, boss lady,” Sora encouraged, sounding more cheerful. Glancing behind him to make sure you were still there, he started down the hill.
Less than a third of the way there, though, something suddenly burst out of a small snow mound just a few feet in front of Sora.
Sora threw out his arm to hold you back while the other one came reflexively came up to guard his own torso. You both stared as his shield flared into existence several times, hard snow balls futilely cracking against it before falling into the snow in broken clumps.
“Is that… a moving snowman?”
Indeed, a large, malevolent-looking snowman was currently pitching snowballs and ice at you and Sora. Of course, since Sora’s shield activated against projectiles, this was doing nothing except adding to the surrealism of your day.
Sora groaned, straightening from his defensive position. “It’s probably some kid just dicking us around with their Quirk. They might only get to use it when there’s a bunch of snow like this, so they’re probably making the most of it. Still…” He inhaled and bellowed out. “Hey, kid! Or whoever! Quit it, before I find you and kick you in the balls!” He paused and added, “If you have them!”
He muttered under his breath. “Don’t know what I’m gonna do if you’re a little girl, to be honest… Hit you over the head?”
“Never mind them, Sora,” you said. “I’m starting to get cold, so let’s just move on.”
He eyed the evil Frosty before nodding. “Alright.”
He led you around the construct, his shield flaring quite often, but it didn’t follow you. Until you were out of range, Sora kept himself between you and it just in case it demonstrated mobility. Once you were both far out of range, you looked back but saw that it had sunk back down into snow. You traded a look with Sora.
“I don’t even play games, but did that feel like a game element to you too?”
Sora nodded. “Strangely enough, yeah. I hope that’s all we have to deal with, though.”
You both looked at a second, larger mound that was in the straight path from your current position to the buildings still in the distance.
“Uh, how about we avoid the snow mounds for now?”
“Works for me.”
Even before ascending the hill, your stomach had dropped. Even without getting close, you could just tell that this was not the civilization you were hoping for. There were no people there that you could see, but more than that…
“Fuck, shit, goddamnit!”
This place was falling apart and clearly abandoned. Loose shutters banged in the wind of the bleak wooden buildings as a sense of abandonment settled heavily over you. Whatever this place had been, no one had been here for a long time. Part of you doubted there was even a paved road beneath the snow. You couldn’t even see any street lights or signs.
Sora stopped swearing long enough to pull off his sunglasses. His formerly pitch black eyes were starting to clear up with the black lessening, but it would be another hour or three before his eyes were back to normal. His cheeks were red with cold and you wondered if yours were too. Probably, since you’d both been sharing the same day so far.
“Let’s just find somewhere to warm up for now.”
Sora glanced at you before grimly nodding. He carefully eyed the few buildings and immediately discarded most of them. Finally, he pointed at the largest.
Following him over to the building, he opened the door and stepped inside. He warily looked around before waving you in, which you did posthaste. As Sora closed the door against the outside, you unhappily noticed that it was still very much cold inside this place.
“Not much of a difference, huh?”
Sora slowly walked forward, testing the integrity of the floor. He silently waved you to follow in his steps and he led you over to a dusty chair. As he brushed the thick layer of dust off you glanced around the darkish interior and noted that the dust was everywhere. Yes, this place was definitely long abandoned.
“At least there’s a fireplace.” Sora left you to go over to said fireplace. “Luckily for us, there’s a small pile of wood, too. Does wood go bad? Nah. Right?”
“Dunno,” you said tiredly, sinking into the chair.
As Sora tried to get a fire going, your thoughts turned to outside. The sun was starting to go down now, so wherever you were, you’d been here for at least half a day and it looked like it was going to be a whole night, too. As for tomorrow, who knows how long it would take to get back to the city.
Because you would. You and Sora will totally get back to civilization and the others and your parents and Izuku and—
“Yes! And Katsu said I’d never need a lighter when I don’t smoke anymore. Hah!”
You looked over to Sora where he had gotten a fire going. You watched as he coaxed it into a blaze and came back over to you.
“Come on, boss lady. Sit closer to the fire.”
You stood up and followed him as he carried your chair over to the fireplace. It was nicer closer to the fire. But…
“Where are we, Sora?”
The grin on his face dimmed. “I don’t know, (Name).”
He rubbed his face with both of his hands, his voice muffled.
“I really don’t know.”
After a long moment, Sora left you sitting there while he went to check out the rest of the place. He disappeared through a doorway and yelled that he’d found “an old-ass kitchen”. Dimly, you heard him opened and closing drawers and cupboards, calling out that “yeah, definitely a kitchen”. In the midst of this, however, his voice suddenly changed after a moment of suspicious silence.
“Hey! I found flour! And butter! And they’re not rotten! Can we make anything with flour and butter?!”
You didn’t know. You’ve practically never cooked before a day in your life. Helping out mom once in a blue moon probably didn’t count. Plus, Sora was talking about butter and flour and nothing else. Could you make something with just flour and butter? You were at least eighty percent certain that you’d need at least water, and maybe oil? But where—
Sora popped back out from the doorframe and held up a bucket. “I’m going to go get water.”
You blinked. “Where?”
He gestured vaguely at one wall. “Somewhere in that direction. I guess you didn’t notice, but there’s a stream or creek nearby. I’ll be right back.”
You were reluctant to let him go, but if he said he had to go get water then that probably meant the tap wasn’t working, right?
He nodded and strode out the door, letting in a gust of cold air.
Suddenly, you realized that this place was empty. As a Japanese person who has never been far from other people, this place and Sora’s absence was a heavy leaden weight in your gut. The only things you could hear were the crackling of the fire and the whistling of the wind through cracks in the closed window shutters. You… didn’t like this. Huddling into yourself, you pulled out your smartphone and desperately tried to find a signal.
After what seemed like forever, he was back with another cold gust of air. After closing the door, he paused to see you standing on your chair, boots off as you held your phone in the air. After a second or two, he asked, “Any luck?”
You shook your head ruefully.
“Shit,” you heard him mutter under his breath.
He sighed and stamped the snow off his boots. Neither of you had even thought of taking off your footwear despite that being against what you’ve grown up with your whole lives, but you didn’t think anyone would give you flak about it if they could see you now.
“Come on. Let’s see what we can make.”
Getting back down, you put on your boots and followed Sora into the kitchen.
You both stared down at what constituted your entire food supply: a bag of flour, a block of butter, and a bucket of water. Of these, the water could be replaced easily. The flour and butter were both perishable and currently unavailable outside of what was on the table. Which… was a strange and scary thought. You and Sora could actually starve out here in the middle of nowhere if you weren’t rescued soon.
“I’m really glad you and that guy stopped at that restaurant earlier. At least we had a good meal before ending up in this mess.”
You nodded grimly.
“We don’t even have an egg to make the flour stick together.”
Both you and Sora stared down at the assembled ingredients.
“…Are you hungry?”
You shook your head. “Not particularly.”
“Then let’s leave it for now. I’ll just put these back where I got them.”
“Where did you get them?”
He ended up showing you a cupboard that had glowing words etched into the wood. He warned you not to touch them as in at least one game he’s played, disrupting runes even a little could cause them to break and stop working. Taking several long moments to put the butter and flour back into their cupboard, you both held your breath as Sora stepped back. The ‘runes’ kept glowing so you both let out a sigh of relief.
After Sora cleaned a couple of cups and you both stood there slowly quenching your thirst, you lowered your cup and stared at it. Finally, you looked over at Sora.
“Are the runes someone’s Quirk?”
He shrugged. “I guess?”
Going back out into the main area, you and Sora took a seat near the fire that wasn’t burning quite as merrily as the first while it had been lit. Sora wanted to conserve the wood and you could see his point. Who knew how cold it was going to get later?
He turned his head. “I’m going to check upstairs. You stay here, just in case I fall through the floor or something.”
“Alright,” you said dubiously.
Sora stood up and took several steps towards the stairs. Then, for some reason, he froze. You were just about to call his name when he turned and strode towards the front door instead. He reached out but instead of opening it, you head a lock click. He then followed up by pushing a table against the door.
Turning to you, he said in a serious tone, “If you hear something at the door, you call for me right away, okay?”
It was only a minute or so after he’d disappeared upstairs that you realized he said something and not someone.
You didn’t want to think about it, but since you were in this situation with him, you couldn’t exactly bury your head in the sand. So. ‘Something’… Why would he say that? It was probably because of your new situation.
Instead of boarding a train, the two of you had fallen face first into a pile of snow. Your location was no longer the seaside town but the middle of nowhere and the only water source was a creek (or a stream, whatever). There had been the evil Frosty the Snowman and a clear lack of people living in the area. This place was abandoned. There were glowing runes that kept food fresh. There was no signal for your smartphones. Neither of you had any clue where in the world you were.
Sora locked the door.
You frowned deeply, folding your arms as you stared at the dirty floor.
What did all of this mean?
Sora reeled back from the door he’d just opened. Thus far, all he’d found were empty rooms, but in this one! A skeleton grinned up at the ceiling, a chilling sight he was glad to have spared (Name). He wouldn’t be telling her about this and hopefully she wouldn’t come up here when he took his eyes off her.
Bringing his coat sleeve up to his face, Sora leaned in slightly and stared hard at collection of bones wearing rotted clothing. This man, whoever he was, had been dead for quite some time. Sora couldn’t tell what had killed him, only that it didn’t seem to have been foul play. It could have been, but Sora would likely never know for certain.
He coughed as he closed the door.
Sora returned from upstairs with ragged cloths and dirty blankets. Honestly speaking, you didn’t want to have anything to do with the blankets, but it was getting dark and it looked like you would be spending the night here, so beggars couldn’t be choosers. As Sora rambled on about the filthy state of upstairs and advised you not to go up there, something tickled your nose.
As you slowly inhaled, you could sense your Quirk destroying tiny invaders.
The tone of your voice made him cut off and look over at you. Leaning forward, you inhaled again, seeming like you were smelling him, and you were. You were because the tiny invaders were coming off of him. They were multiplying like crazy and even as you stared, Sora coughed.
You quickly pulled off your mitten and didn’t wait for him to move. Pushing off your chair, you closed the short distance to him and fell on your knees near him. Your hand shot out and pressed against his forehead.
You closed your eyes, scowling as you used your Quirk to quickly fight Sora’s battle for him.
The sickness rapidly spreading in his lungs and through his bloodstream was captured and disassembled. It was tenacious though, as every time you thought you had it vanquished, it would pop out in small pockets elsewhere in his body. Finally, frustrated, you flared your Quirk throughout his whole body until the last bit of the disease was broken down and completely restructured into harmless sugars.
When you opened your eyes, Sora’s orange eyes were staring back at you without a hint of black to them.
You lowered your hand and leaned forward to rest your forehead against his. ‘Looking’ at him again with your Quirk, you were reassured to see that the disease was truly gone. Your voice was quiet as you answered him.
“You were sick with something, Sora.”
You leaned back and frowned slightly at him.
“What did you find that could make you sick? Fungus?”
He grimaced. “A dead body.”
You reeled back, casting a frantic look at the upstairs. “What?!”
He raised his hands. “It was a skeleton. Really! No icky rotting parts to make me sick.”
You both paused and thought about it.
What had made him sick, then?
In the time before bed, as Sora fixed up a sleeping area near the fireplace, you couldn’t help but interrupt him several times to check his health. He was patient enough, pausing in his work whenever you came near, but you couldn’t help but fret that you were annoying him.
Later, as Sora was staring at his smartphone and muttering under his breath about how the hell you two were going to charge your phones, you stared at him from your chair.
You had never seen a disease that quick or tenacious before, and you had made the monstrosities that were the Seven and the Sleepers. If you hadn’t been there or if your Quirk had been anything else, what would have happened to Sora? That sickness was fast and deadly. It was breaking down Sora’s insides and you got the sense from it that it would have started doing something to his skin layers. Bruises, or pus pockets, perhaps? Whatever it was, it would have killed Sora with days, if not hours. That’s how fast it was. He would have died quickly, but in agony, drowning in his own blood and who knows what else.
If something happened to Sora, how would you ever be able to look at Daiki and Katsu again?
(if something happened to her, how could he ever look at Daiki and the others again?)
You don’t know where you are or how far from home you are, so you don’t know how long it will be before you see the others again. But, regardless of how long it takes, you know that you want to have Sora by your side until the very end. Then, once you are both home again, things can go back to normal. You don’t want to think about it right now, but yes, somehow, surely, you two will get back to everyone.
It’s scary right now, but you aren’t alone. You’ll take care of Sora, and Sora will take care of you.
You just have to stick together and everything will be alright.
“Are we leaving the flour and butter issue until tomorrow?”
You startle slightly at Sora’s question but think about it. While it was true you were getting somewhat hungry since your meal with Yagi was hours ago, you felt that since it was cold and snowy outside and that were no stores nearby that the two of you should stretch out what food supplies you had. That battle against the sickness in Sora’s body has probably made him hungry though…
“I say we leave it until tomorrow, but Sora—“
“I can deal,” he said, correctly guessing what you were about to bring up. He grinned. “Don’t worry about me. I can handle a little hunger for a night.”
Dubious, you nodded anyway since the food issue was still stumping you.
Sora stared at the fire and the small pile of wood. He frowned. “We need more wood for the fire or we’re not gonna last the night.” He stood up and looked around the room. “For now, let’s make due with some of these chairs. Tomorrow we’ll look around outside for a better supply.”
“Alright. Do you need help?”
He waved a hand. “I’m good. I just gonna smash the chairs, right?”
You rolled your eyes at the smile on his face at the thought of causing some destruction. As he worked, you winced at the loud noises that accompanied the dismantling of some of the chairs for the firewood supply. At least the chance that someone would come and lecture you both was depressingly small. Or was that a bad thing?
Seriously, what the heck happened and where did the rest of the world seemingly vanish off to?
Sighing, you pulled out your smartphone and took a selfie with Sora in the background.
So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.
~Lee Iacocca If you're scared, do something.
Okay, so I was reading up on Book 6 for The Wandering Inn and it so happens that non-native English speakers DON'T actually start speaking English. Once I realized that I lost all will to update The Greatest Healer in a Fantasy World because I was suddenly thinking about re-writing the whole thing to account for that, but that seemed like way too much work. So I compromised with a new story with Reader at a different point of time in life and threw in Sora as her companion. This is that story.
Thus, with this particular itch finally scratched, I now feel the urge to continue my other stories. Starting next week I will begin updating my stories for The Wandering Inn, plus a couple of my BnHA fics.
EDIT: Btw, in case you are curious, the first drabble takes place in chapter 77 of The Greatest Healer in the World.
EDIT: Did some minor editing for spelling/missing words. The most prominent is the italics between brackets in the first drabble.
Chapter 2: to try to not die in the cold (and unknowingly be stalked by goblins)
Humor keeps us alive. Humor and food. Don't forget food. You can go a week without laughing.
Sora temporarily solved the issue of answering nature’s call by washing out and setting up an old chamber pot in one of the rooms upstairs. Dubious rags were left near it as ‘wipes’, and yeah, you didn’t think you’d have much of choice when the time came. While you didn’t fancy using a non-flushable loo in the cold of a dusty room with a skeleton in one of the other rooms nearby, it did beat out having to go outside with your butt at the mercy of the cold and beat out having the chamber pot in the common room with you and Sora. At least by setting it up in an abandoned room you wouldn’t have to risk someone seeing you.
Or ‘something’ as Sora said and has yet to clarify despite you asking.
The fact that Sora picked out the strongest piece of broken wood and was trying to sharpen it with a dull knife from the kitchen was doing little to appease your growing paranoia.
It was night outside now, and your smartphone said it was getting close to ten o’clock.
Sora paused in his task at the light from your phone and looked over at you. “Hey.”
You looked up at him as he pulled out his own phone. The light came on and he scowled down at it. He lifted his gaze to yours.
“I haven’t seen any plugs or light fixtures. I don’t think this place has any electricity, like, at all.” He waggled his phone at you, looking reluctant. “Plus, since we don’t have a signal anyway, we should probably try to conserve what charge our phones have. I’m going to turn mine off, and you should probably do the same.”
You frowned, seeing the logic in his words but not liking it. Your shoulders slumped. “Yeah, that makes sense.”
Sora finished turning off his phone just a couple seconds before you did. After the phones were off, the only light in the room was coming from the fireplace. Then, you both pulled out your ‘work’ phones and turned those off as well. Hearing the wind howling outside, you hugged your knees and stared at the flames.
You could feel tears wanting to well up in your eyes, and some did, but you did your best not to cry. This situation probably wasn’t any better for Sora—heck, it was probably worse since he was doing the dirty work, plus you were clearly relying on him for your safety—so you didn’t want to add another burden on him with your crying. Trying not to sniffle, you decided to settle down to try to sleep.
The noise from Sora quickly tapered off and you heard some rustling from close to you. He settled down nearby, his head close to yours, and you thought that he was probably facing the fire, same as you. It was uncomfortable there, lying on a couple of ragged, dirty blankets on a wooden floor, no blanket to cover up. Not to mention, the room was still cold away from the fire. In that moment, it felt as though it was only you in Sora in the whole world.
You reached out a glove-covered hand and Sora’s own quickly came up to grasp it. He was real. He was there with you.
You weren’t alone.
Was it selfish that you were glad he was there too?
Boss lady’s breathing had finally evened out. Without looking at her, Sora could tell that she was asleep at last. He could probably let go of her hand now, but he honestly didn’t want to, not when the only other sounds he could hear was the crackling of the fire and the wind blowing around this empty inn. It isn’t exactly silent, but this is certainly the quietest night he’s ever experienced.
He doesn’t like it.
He hates it, really. Give him the bustle of the city any day, with its constant lighting, dark alleys, crowds of people, and abundance of stores and eateries. This place is practically hell. Wasn’t there a cold level of hell?
Closing his eyes, Sora reflected on the past day. Someone probably used their Quirk on them and teleported them into the middle of fucking nowhere. That would be the most logical explanation for their current shitty situation.
But. That snowman, those runes in the kitchen, the skeleton upstairs, the lack of electric sockets in this place, the fact that their phones couldn’t get a signal despite being top of the line… Sora didn’t like the picture that was forming.
Then, earlier, while he was out fetching water, those shapes on the hill on the other side… Of all the modifications boss lady has given him, better eyesight is one of them. Sora—along with Daiki, Katsu, Shizu, Kyoko, and some of the other guys—can see a lot better than most people without a vision-related Quirk. He’d been able to make out what the shapes had been and he hadn’t liked what he saw. Did that make him racist? Speciescist? Whatever. The point was, Sora was about eighty percent certain that he saw freaking goblins.
He was pretty sure they were goblins. That, or people with a mutant Quirk that made them small, green, ugly, and gave them pointed ears. He was probably lucky that they were on the other side of the stream, but he’d have to be extra vigilant going down there again. He should probably find a weapon of some kind, maybe a knife from the kitchen, or even a pointed stick. He could probably kill them with a pointed stick, right? In self-defense, of course, if anyone asked.
Grumbling under his breath, Sora shifted, trying to get more comfortable on, well, the floor, basically. He was still for a moment before the day flashed by him again—teleportation to a place without cell service, a violent snowman, runes, and now what were possibly goblins. This was like those manga he and Katsu were briefly into back in middle school, but—
But that was impossible, right? It was just a plot device for light novels, manga, and the occasional game. It couldn’t be real. They were just in the middle of nowhere, right? They couldn’t be…
His brow furrowed as he shoved aside the uncomfortable word and tried to believe that they were still home.
(still on Earth)
Daiki is the first person to suspect that something is wrong.
It’s one thing for (Name) not to update him on her whereabouts, but it’s another story altogether when Sora fails to check in at all. Calling Sora’s phones—both ‘work’ and personal—don’t connect at all. Texts and emails bounce back, undeliverable. When the same things happen when trying to contact (Name), Daiki doesn’t waste time alerting Shizu and Kyoko. He checks in with Katsu but Katsu hasn’t heard from either of them either. Within two hours, the four of them gather at headquarters.
The girls try, and fail, to contact (Name) while Katsu did the same for Sora. Daiki waited, hoping they would succeed, but their results were the same as his. Shizu was the last one to stop trying, turning a grim look on him, a look mirrored on the faces of Kyoko and Katsu, and no doubt on his own face as well.
The somber mood was shattered by a comment from Kyoko.
“Did they elope?”
Katsu looked at her, completely baffled as that thought hadn’t occurred to him in the slightest.
Kyoko deadpanned, “No, separately, with partners we’ve never even heard of before.”
Katsu opened his mouth but Shizu held up a hand and he fell silent as she talked.
“Be serious, you two. (Name) wouldn’t elope, nor would Sora easily let her. If he had lost sight of her, he would have called, right?” She glanced at Daiki who nodded. She continued. “Maybe their phones are dead. It’s not impossible to think that they’ve run afoul with some Quirk that messes with electronics, even our enhanced phones. But then, Sora would have found an alternative means to contact us by now. Did anyone think to check the newsfeeds for that area?”
When everyone confirmed negative, there was silence as they all did an internet search. When nothing showed up, Shizu made the decision to call (Name)’s parents’ apartment, something they were generally forbidden to do as (Name) insisted she had a phone they could call if they needed her.
As they watched, Shizu’s frown became more pronounced as she listened to whoever was on the other end of the call. Just by listening to her half of the conversation, they could tell that (Name) wasn’t at home either. After ending the call, she shook her head at them.
(Name) and Sora were missing.
If it had just Sora, then they would have waited at least until dawn before becoming worried and beginning a search. However, (Name) was the foundation of the gang, and without her Quirk they would lose the majority of their income. They could not afford to wait in beginning a search for her so they wasted no time. Daiki immediately sent out his boys while Shizu began the investigation, hours before the police would begin their investigation at the behest of (Name)’s parents.
It is Shizu who finds the first real clue. It comes in the form of the video surveillance from the lone train station. As they watch at her insistence, they see what they’ve been told is the last known recording of both (Name) and Sora. Between one frame and the next, the two of them just vanish in attempting to board the train.
They all head out to the station in question, determined to find some answers, not yet aware that there are none to be found.
(none of them care about the thin blond man that stumbles onto the train at the last second
not yet, anyway)
It’s cold and uncomfortable on the floor, and you wake up each time Sora gets up to put more wood on the fire. You don’t say anything though, being exhausted and suspecting that Sora is even more exhausted than you are. This is easily the most miserable night of your life.
You wish someone would come and rescue you both.
That said, you don’t blame Daiki and Shizu too much, not with there being no signal out here. If there had been then surely rescue would have already been on its way. No doubt the two of them were looking for you and Sora right now. You just had to hold on until they could find you.
Your friends wouldn’t dream of letting you down.
Although, you wouldn’t say no to even a professional hero at this point. Endeavour would be really handy right about now, but he was more into criminal catching, right? You’d probably have a better chance with the Wild, Wild Pussycats since they were a rescue team. But didn’t they tend to lean towards mountain rescues? Wait, there were mountains outside, right? So it’s not totally beyond the realm of possibility…
(he wonders if she knows she’s mumbling)
It feels like forever before Sora finally drifts off for the first time that night.
[Carer Class Obtained!]
Only for him to jerk awake at the intrusion of a voice in his head. Worse, he doesn’t even know what the voice said, though he does suspect it was said in English.
With narrowed eyes, he also suspects that the voice hadn’t finished speaking.
Part of him wants to yell at whoever is dicking with him to come out and face him, but (Name) is sleeping. Whatever bothered him apparently hadn’t bothered her, so there’s at least that small mercy.
Bristling, Sora tried to stay awake, but he was exhausted. His day was more physically exerting than boss lady’s had been, and while he could pull an all-nighter he knew that he would have to be awake the next day so that (Name) wasn’t alone. Daiki would never forgive him if (Name) got hurt doing something foolish while he was sleeping. Reluctantly, he laid down to try to sleep.
The voice came back and he clenched his eyes shut. It didn’t speak for long and it left even though he shouted at it in his head to show itself. He called it names but got no response.
He fell asleep before he knew it.
Morning doesn’t bring relief, exactly, but at least there’s daylight to see by. After returning from the makeshift toilet upstairs, you find Sora at the door with the water bucket on hand. The two of you had used one of the old pots in the kitchen to warm up some of the left over water from yesterday to wash your faces and now he had to fetch more. You asked Sora if you should go with him this time, but he told you to stay inside where it wasn’t as cold. He reassured you that he would be back as soon as possible, but until them you were to stay inside and lock the door.
He disappeared out into the grey day and you dutifully locked the door behind him. Left alone once more, you couldn’t help but notice just how much dust there was in the place. There were trails where you and Sora had walked. Shaking your head, you made a mental note to either take some water from the bucketful Sora was getting or melt some snow to try and clean the place up.
Cleaning the place was probably useless, but it would be something to pass the time. Plus, if you and Sora were going to be stuck here until rescue came then at least you’d like the place to be cleaner than this.
A lightbulb goes off in your head as you remember the chipped bowl with the water you used to wash your faces. Surely that wasn’t good for much else now, right? And if Sora got mad at you for using it… well, what could he do except maybe yell at you? Though if so much as raised his voice at you over freaking water…!
Shaking your head, you went over to the designated wash bowl and stared down at its contents. Hm. Maybe you should use a different container since the water was going to get filthy from all that dust in the main room. Opening cupboards—while avoiding the one with the food and runes—you soon found another old bowl. Blowing out the dust, you then poured water into it.
That left you with the need for a washcloth… Hm. The only cloths around were those dirty rags Sora brought from upstairs. Okay, you’ll use one of those.
With your cleaning materials in hand, you stood in place as you face the common room. The filthy, caked in dust common room.
Well, it was either clean or do nothing. Thinking about it, if you were here long enough, then you would eventually buckle and clean anyway, so why not cut out middle part and jump right into it?
You let a minute or so pass before sighing. Okay.
Cleaning it is.
Sora was not exactly happy as he trudged back to the inn. It was an inn, probably. It had rooms upstairs, a common room, and a kitchen to make food, so it fit the definition. Then again, maybe it was a bed and breakfast? Heaven knows that it isn’t a respectable ryokan.
Fetching water was one thing, but he’d been paranoid the whole way to the stream. Just because he couldn’t see anyone or anything around didn’t mean he was actually alone. That snowman yesterday popped out of the snow, so it wasn’t as though the snow was a reliable indicator for the presence of other things. He had a knife concealed on him, but it was dull as hell. It didn’t exactly fill him with confidence. He wished he had thought to carry a butterfly knife on him yesterday. No, instead all he had was a lighter, his phones, and a practically worthless Quirk-negation gun with two shots. What would two darts do against, well, anything that wasn’t a person with a Quirk?
The only good thing about this most recent trip outside was the fish he was dragging in his other hand. It wasn’t much of a bonus since it nearly slammed itself into him by leaping out of the water without warning, but at least it was something. Cold kept things relatively alive, right? He doesn’t want to put it in the bucket because then he’ll have to fetch another bucket of water, and really, Sora doesn’t want to come back out here for at least an hour.
Shivering as he arrives at the front door, he kicked the door instead of putting down either the twitching fish or bucket of cold water. He yelled out that it was him. A moment or so later, he heard the lock click and the door opened, revealing (Name) with her sleeves pushed up. Hustling into the building, she closed the door behind him as he walked over to the nearest—and suddenly clean—table to put the bucket of water down.
“What the hell is that?”
He glanced over his shoulder to see (Name) staring down at the fish he was dragging. Her nose was wrinkled and she clearly didn’t like the sight of it any more than he did.
“It’s a Nopefish,” he said sarcastically, raising it up. He held it a little more away from him as it twitched in response. “Gross.” He looked hopefully over at her. “Do you know how to make, like, normal fish?”
She waved one hand in a so-so motion as she explained. “Dad loves Bluefin tuna, but do you know how big they are? Plus, it’s, like, expensive.” She shook her head. “Anyway, I asked Shizu to get me a live Bluefin tuna back just after we graduated high school, so that I could learn its ‘shape’, so I might be able to here and now? It won’t be the whole fish, though.”
Sora was already drooling at the thought of fresh tuna. He held out the fish to her. “Quick, before it completely dies.”
She wasn’t wearing her mittens so she reached out and put her hand on the slimy subject. She made a face but kept her hand there. Gradually, the strange and unpleasant fish morphed into a heavy slab of tuna flesh. The slime on the scales collected off to one side and (Name) wiped it off, letting the slime splat on the floor. There was also a protruding blob and when he eyed it she explained that it was the unusable material they were going to have to throw out. She pulled away the blob and what was left in Sora’s hands was a beautiful slab of ‘tuna’.
They both stared at it and (Name) was the first one to break the silence.
“I wish I had thought to learn how to make eggs.”
Sora broke his gaze from the glorious tuna. Yeah, eggs would have been good, but he couldn’t picture boss lady sticking her fingers into an egg yolk for no reason, but on the other hand he’s definitely seen her touching other things with her bare hands, so…
“Do you know how to make fruit?”
She blinked. “Uh…”
Several minutes later, the tuna flesh was smaller, but they now had an apple, a mandarin, and a tomato.
“Why do you know how make tomatoes?”
“I used to eat them like that back before middle school.”
“Like, just a whole tomato?”
“I had a tomato phase.”
“…Can’t say I’ve heard that phrase before.”
“Should I make another tomato?”
“Stop shrinking the tuna!”
“…You really like fish, don’t you?”
The tuna boss lady made was completely free of mercury levels and void of any potential bacteria, so Sora had no second-thoughts about cutting off a slice to eat right away. (Name) pointedly stared at him until he cut off a piece for her too, and then she wandered off to the kitchen while he took a seat. Sitting there, he kept taking small cuts of tuna to munch on while (Name) cleaned up the kitchen a bit. The tuna wasn’t perfect, but it sure beat whatever it originally was.
Eventually, boss lady yelled out to him to bring in the fish and stuff. Feeling content now that his stomach wasn’t attempting to eat itself, Sora did as she asked and brought her the now dead tuna flesh and the fruit.
“Why is a tomato a fruit?”
Boss lady just stared at him. “I… don’t know?”
He stared at the tomato and shrugged.
They both stared down at the counter where the food was now laid out. Neither of them moved or said anything until Sora addressed the elephant in the room.
“Do you know how to cook?”
Boss lady shook her head. Sora scratched a finger against his cheek.
“Well, I don’t either, not unless it comes prepackaged and with instructions, anyway.” He brightened. “At least we can eat the fish uncooked.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Without rice?”
Sora’s eyes gleamed. “I don’t eat sushi for the rice.”
“Of course not…” She sighed. “Well, you’re right about the fish thing. But maybe we could fry some of it with the butter? I’m pretty sure there was a frying pan here somewhere…”
Eventually, they did manage to fry up part of the tuna. It wasn’t exactly good, so they decided to leave the tuna as it was. (Name) ended up rolling her eyes at him as he cut up a section of the tuna and served it up as is. The rest of the tuna was sliced up and carefully put into the cupboard with the runes, sticking it in around the flour and butter.
After that, Sora seemed to be in a better mood. He surprised you by saying he was going to check out the rest of the dilapidated buildings, and he wanted you to stay in the inn.
You blinked. “This is an inn?”
He blinked back. “What did you think it was?”
She shrugged. He scratched his cheek again.
“Well, I’m heading out. Lock the door behind me.”
She nodded and he left.
Standing in the middle of the abandoned village, Sora slowly turned in a circle as he critically eyed everything.
“This place is a dump.”
He paused and scowled as he remembered the night spent on the floor.
“I’d set fire to the whole place for fun if we had anywhere else to go.”
Sighing, he trudged over to the nearest building that looked least likely to collapse on him. The door to the place was hanging open with some snow drifting inside. The shutters in this place were hanging loose so there was light inside. He couldn’t see much from where he stood, but the place had an even more abandoned feeling to it than the inn had before they arrived.
Steeling himself, Sora set about carefully exploring the place. The last thing he needed was to fall through the floor or stumble into a zombie unawares. Healing boss lady could do, but he had doubts she’d be able to turn him back if he got turned into a zombie. Why was he even thinking about zombies? It’s probably that skeleton’s fault. If the ground wasn’t frozen and hidden beneath a fuck-ton of snow, then Sora would bury its bony ass six feet under!
Wait, that sounds like too much work. Four feet under? At least three feet deep, anyway.
Sora smacked his face. “Focus, man. You got a job to do.”
Nodding decisively, he returned to the task on hand.
(but still kept a keen ear and eye out for the undead)
The human with the shield had left the other human in the building. The door was locked but there was more than one way to get inside. Yellownails led the way, planning to get in through one of the upstairs windows.
Coming up the hill from the side neither human had yet climbed, three goblins stealthily approached, closing in on what they thought would be easy prey. Two lone humans who didn’t look or act like adventurers or the dangerous guardsmen from the nearby city? They had no weapons and while one looked like they could use magic, the other one didn’t seem to have any skills at all. Now, while the shield human was away and exploring the furthest building, they would take this opportunity and hunt the other human! Winter was hard, and bringing down at least one of the humans would provide them with food.
This place was where the bad sickness was four springs past but the two humans weren’t sick. They would have been screaming with agony if the sickness was still around. Since they were not already dying then the sickness is not a danger. Or so chieftain said before sending them.
Holding back grumbling, they came to a stop below a window with a broken shutter. That would be their way inside. Two lifted the third one and he managed to climb up and into the window. It was dusty from being empty for so long. Truthfully, Yellownails would prefer to be one of the two outside because there was more space to run away, but the other two were heavier than he was so he ended up being the one they picked to go inside.
Sniffing the air, Yellownails thought he could smell human piss. They were probably using one of the rooms to pee in instead of going outside. Yellownails wished he could pee inside the cave but chieftain does not let any goblin do that, not even himself. Scratching under his nose, Yellownails carefully walked over to the door to crack it open.
There was only one human, but it would be best if he could catch it by surprise, to give it no time to fight back. Clutching the rusty dagger chieftain gave for this hunt, he slowly crept out of the room and into the hall. There was some noise from downstairs, the human moving around. Tilting his head, Yellownails did not hear more than one human. Good.
Still creeping carefully, Yellownails made it to the top of the stairs. He felt the urge to sneeze, but he must not! He must not sneeze or the prey will know he is there. He must either kill the human or open the door so Rocknose and Grasseater could get in and then the three of them together would kill the human. But they must do it quickly and quietly before the other human came back!
Stalking silently down the stairs, Yellownails paused at the bottom. The human was in the kitchen but he was frozen. He wanted to cough! Of all times, why now? Why did his nose and mouth want to make noise? He must be quiet!
Shutting his eyes tight, Yellownails held a hand over his mouth. His chest heaved with the urge to cough and his nose tingled with a sneeze that wanted to come out. He stood there shaking for what seemed like forever—
When Yellownails opened his eyes, the human was already swinging a chair at his head.
We each survive in our own way.
~Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass
I meant to tackle 'Supreme' this week but real like hit me like a sucker punch, so yeah, it didn't happen. :/
I did update 25 Years, which is a BnHA fic, and I've now updated one of my TWI fics (this one), so I consider my promise from last chapter partially fulfilled. :)
Also, since neither Sora nor Reader speak or read English, neither of them has/will have any idea of what classes and levels they have. Fun!
Chapter 3: to make due with what is on hand (and make use of what is found)
Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.
At first, you thought it was the building just creaking or settling. Surely that was the most logical explanation for the slight sounds you heard coming from upstairs while you were in the kitchen. But, when the stairs started to creak, you started to freak out because that sounded an awful lot like someone—something—coming down the stairs. Holding your hands over your mouth as you stood petrified, the sound of strangled hacks drifted over to your ears. The sound had continued long enough for you gather some courage to peek out into the common room.
You recoiled at the sight of the green humanoid trying to cough silently into their hands. It wasn’t working much since you had heard. Instinctively, you understood that this thing had been trying to get the drop on you. The dagger clutched in one of their hands was clue enough that this thing didn’t mean you any good. You knew you should try to get to Sora or at least scream to alert him, but you doubted you would be able to make it out the door in time, or, even if you did, doubted that you would be able to get very far before this thing came up from behind.
Then again, there was a small chance that they didn’t mean any harm. But, Shizu and Daiki were always adamant that you never gamble on the kindness of others. No, they told you to put yourself first, and if you were ever left alone, your primary objective was your own survival.
Leaving no time to second guess yourself, you rushed forward and grabbed one of the chairs that had survived the night. Then, just as the ugly humanoid was opening their eyes, you viciously swung the chair down, striking hard. The thing let out a guttural squawk as it hit the floor. Nearly hysterical—you are alone, this thing has a knife, you’re not strong, where is Sora— you proceeded to viciously whack the smaller humanoid with the chair.
(if your friends could have seen you, they would have been tempted to laugh once the danger was over)
Suddenly, it wasn’t about being scared anymore. Well, not just that, anyway. Muffling sobs, you felt your arms tiring, but you continued beating the intruder as blood started to appear. Why were you here? Why hasn’t anyone come to rescue you? It was cold. The floor was hard. There isn’t good food. It’s scary. It’s lonely. You want your mom. You want your dad. You want the city. You want home.
(but the temptation would have passed quickly as (Name) began to scream and cry, still whacking away as the goblin’s blood began to splatter around)
Slightly worried about (Name) but reassured by the fact that she was in a locked building, Sora went about his task of investigating their new (and hopefully only temporary) surroundings, though for now he stuck to the dilapidated buildings rather than wander out into the wilderness. Having no idea how long it took for mainly wooden buildings to rot and fall apart, Sora couldn’t even begin to guess just when this place had been abandoned. Though, considering the dead person upstairs at the inn and the fact that Sora got sick immediately after finding that, he would wager that this place had been hit by a sickness of some kind. The kind that kills and forces survivors to run away and not come back.
Looking up at the cloudy sky instead of where the roof should have been in the last building, Sora felt his stomach sinking even lower. A plague in Japan would have been news. There would have been a quarantine, and a health scare in the general populace, but he hadn’t heard of any such thing. Surely it would have come up in conversation if it had happened in Japan…
Sora doesn’t want to think that this place isn’t Earth, but he’s starting to think that there isn’t any other explanation. After all, there are nearly no dead spots in modern day Japan. A person should be able to get a signal almost anywhere, and certainly in a wide open area. But here, there is no signal. No way to contact the others, or even the authorities. Here, there are strange fish he’s never seen before, snowmen that move on their own without anyone nearby, and… goblins.
Sora has played enough games to know how goblins look. Small, green, ugly… he’s almost one-hundred percent certain that those things he saw on the other side of the stream were goblins. A few years ago, being curious, he’d done an internet search and found a small family with a goblin-like appearance, though they had been living in Europe. Was this Europe? But no, even modern day Europe had extensive cell coverage. Plus, where were the people? Or the distant sounds of traffic? The glow of city lights at night?
That voice in his head from last night was something to take into account too. He should ask (Name) if she heard anything, but wouldn’t she have said something if she did? Maybe… maybe someone was just fucking with him? Trying to scare him? If he brought this up with (Name) and she got scared, then was the goal to divide them?
Sora’s eyes widened.
Had the goal been to separate them for an extended period of time?
Like this right now?
Sora turned on his heel and bolted out the doorway, yelling boss lady’s name in his head.
You were crying on your knees with the possibly dead humanoid just a few feet away. The chair was discarded between you two, lying on its side.
You startled and screamed when something suddenly started to loudly bang at the door.
Oh. It was just Sora.
…Just Sora being chased by more people like the one near you?
Getting up to your feet, you quickly staggered over to the door to unlock and pull it open. Sora’s face stared back at you, wide eyed with red patches on his face. His eyes quickly darted up and down your body, looking for the reason for your distress.
“Why are you crying?”
Wordlessly, you pointed further into the room. Opening the door wider, Sora saw what you were pointing at.
“Fucking hell.” He turned back to you, putting his hands on your shoulders. “Are you hurt? Did it hurt you?”
You sniffled and shook your head, wishing you had some Kleenex for your runny nose.
Sora sighed in relief. He patted your shoulder. “Good. That’s good.”
He eyed the chair for a moment and grinned back at you. “I didn’t think you had such violence in you.”
Annoyed, distressed, and still feeling anxious, you angrily pulled away from him, turning your head so you didn’t have to look at him. He was silent for a moment, then you heard the door closing and locking. Footsteps went over to the fallen humanoid and you heard the rustle of cloth.
“Well, shit. That’s pretty much a goblin.”
“That’s not polite,” you groused half-heartedly.
“No, I mean it literally. I’m pretty sure this is a goblin. That’s practically a guarantee that its buddies are also goblins.”
Your head snapped in his direction. “You mean there’s more?”
Sora folded his arms and nodded grimly at he stared down at the so-called goblin. “A lot more. I saw at least six the day before but there’s no way to tell if that was all of them or just a few of them on an errand or something.”
The last word reminded you of his earlier phrasing so you pounced on it. “Is that why you told me to lock the door? Because you saw freaking goblins?”
“Pretty much,” he said. His head cocked to the side. “Wait a minute.
“How did this guy get in?”
Sora almost left to go check upstairs, but then he stopped and stooped down to check if the goblin on the floor was still alive. Surprisingly, it was, so he coaxed (Name) into making sure it would stay under and also would not have any mobility if it somehow woke up. With that done, he went upstairs and dutifully checked every room.
It was mostly thanks to the thick dust on the floor that he found where the goblin had come from. This room in particular had broken shutters, so it clearly had come in through there. Cautiously sticking his head out of the window to look down, Sora saw tracks in the snow. He frowned as he saw the trail leading up and down the hill the inn was on.
The goblin hadn’t come alone. There was a trail leading to the corner closest to the front door, but the trail then went down the hill and eventually out of sight. It seemed as though the goblin downstairs was meant to open the front door. The thought made Sora’s skin crawl. Boss lady had done well enough against a single opponent, but three at once? He shuddered and shoved away the thoughts of what could have happened to her.
A minute or so later, Sora had to admit that there wasn’t really a way to close the shutters and keep them shut. He didn’t have a hammer or nails to nail them shut either. He scowled, knowing now that any open window was a way for the goblins to get in. If they returned, and in larger numbers…
Slamming a hand against the windowsill, Sora stalked out of the room.
You listened grimly as Sora told you about what he had found. You guessed that other goblins had helped lift the one on the floor closer up to the second-story window. You could practically picture it, a small pyramid of goblins helping get one of their own into the building where the weak human was all alone.
The joke was on them today, but what about next time?
A flash of inspiration struck you and you looked down at the goblin.
You gestured down at the prone creature. “This thing has the same sickness you did.” Seeing him raise an eyebrow, you explained. “That sickness is hanging around in the air. I can feel it trying to invade my body. You’re immune now, but this goblin wasn’t. It’s sick. The disease is spreading through it as we speak.”
“It’s not perfect, but what if I made sacs and we put them around the windows? That way, even if they do get in, and maybe overwhelm us, they’ll still die in the end.”
You weren’t exactly happy at the prospect of dying at the hands of goblins, but if you were going to die, then you wanted to bring your murderers down with you.
Sora thought about it. “Won’t the sacs freeze?”
You shrugged. “Maybe. It is cold outside and upstairs. What if I put some in the hallway too?”
He shrugged. “It’s not like I have a better idea. Do it.” His eyes widened. “Wait.”
He paused, visualizing something as he slowly spoke. “Instead of putting them out in the hall—where we’ll have to walk to get to and from the toilet, by the way—how about making it so they can’t open the doors without bursting a pod?”
Your eyes widened in response. “That’s ingenious! I’ll do that, then.”
Nodding determinedly, you knelt down and reached out a bare hand.
(you used him up and left only his waste in a thick membrane for Sora to throw far away)
The chieftain was angry that they returned without a human. He didn’t care about losing Yellownails, but he did want to kill the two humans and add them to their food supply before they could be found and taken by the Drakes and Gnolls from the city. The smoke from the old building would be noticed soon, if it wasn’t already.
After he finished beating them, their chieftain took a long time to think. Glaring down at them, he announced the plan. They would go again that night in greater numbers, and he would lead them to make sure they didn’t fail again.
Tonight, those two humans would die.
Sora went out again, but this time you went with him. His shield was the best protection you had, plus he didn’t feel comfortable leaving you alone anymore. Thus you ended up going outside where it was even colder in order to go back for the stuff Sora thought would make good kindling. Together, the two of you collected old chairs and some sparse wood that had been sitting or lying around in the abandoned homes.
“I guess the plague hit them during a warmer season,” Sora mused after they were done. “I mean, wouldn’t they have had more wood or even coal if it had been winter?”
“I… suppose,” you said slowly. It did have some logic to it. “Doesn’t really help us one way or another, though.”
“Guess you’re right,” Sora said. He stretched and groaned. “Man! I’d kill for a cheeseburger and a soda.”
“Or rice,” you said wistfully.
The day wasn’t over with, but Sora looked just about done. Fair enough, considering he had done most of the work yesterday and had kept the fire going through the night. You let him sit around as you tackled the task you had wanted to start before the whole goblin mess.
You shuddered as you dipped your hands into the cold water in order to soak a rag. Wincing at the cold air as you lifted it from the bowl of water, you then wrung the water out. Sora, watching you work at the counter, piped up as you started wiping the dust off its surface.
“Why are you cleaning?”
You scowled down at your hands. “I’m bored. We’re stuck here. We might as well not squat in a total pigsty.”
“…Fair enough,” he said. He then proceeded to pull out one of his smartphones and turned it on. “Fancy some music?”
A famous game theme filled the inn.
Sora had to melt snow for (Name) twice before she was even remotely satisfied with the state of the counter, tables, and surviving chairs. He then had to scour the building for a broom—which he found, though it wasn’t in the best shape—so that she could sweep the floor. Instead of sweeping the dust into a corner, she swept the dust out the door, dirtying the snow, not that either of them particularly cared. When all this was done and door securely locked, she surveyed her domain with a satisfied look.
“There! Now we don’t have to get mad that there’s dust everywhere.”
Sora turned off the music and the sudden silent put a damper on her mood. There was still no signal and the power was down to just under fifty-percent, so Sora powered it off.
“Good work,” he praised. It wasn’t much, but having a clean space did make their situation a little less terrible. And, now that her cleaning spree was done, he grinned. “Let’s eat.”
They had eaten the mandarin yesterday, leaving the apple and tomato. Truthfully, they probably should have at least eaten the apple by now, but neither of them had an appetite this morning. So today would be more tuna and either the apple or tomato.
“Maybe we should leave the apple for now,” he suggested once they were looking at the cupboard and their food supply.
“For tomorrow,” she agreed readily enough.
Sora cut off a large piece of tuna he then proceeded to cut into smaller bite size pieces. One for boss lady, one for him; one for boss lady, one for him… At the end, they finished off with half a tomato each. It was an unusual meal, and not very filling, but better than nothing.
Going over to the small, shuttered window in the kitchen, Sora peered outside and noted that it was getting dark.
“Shit. I probably should have done another water run.”
(Name) peered into their water bucket. “I think we’ll be fine.”
Sora came over for a look and agreed, mostly because he didn’t want to go back outside and make the walk to the stream where he could possibly be attacked by another freaking fish. Sora suspected that the fish was their best chance at surviving until either rescue came or they figured out how to procure food through other means, but that didn’t mean he was looking forward to dodging fish in the future. Sighing, he followed (Name) as she headed back out into the common room where it was warmer.
Sora paused and looked around the inn. The common room was large, too large for the fireplace to warm it adequately, at least not with the bit of wood they had. Plus, the cold and wind was blowing in from the cracks in the shutters, ready to freeze them if they let the fire go out.
Sora then looked back over his shoulder at the kitchen. The kitchen wasn’t nearly as big as the common room, and it had its own fireplace, meaning the thing they had used to cook a bit of the fish yesterday. Surely the stove was capable of keeping the kitchen warm? Or at least, warmer than the large common room.
She looked over at him from her chair. He pointed a thumb over his shoulder towards the kitchen.
“Let’s sleep in here. It’s a smaller place, so it’ll be easier for the stove to keep the room warm.”
It didn’t take much to convince her to try it out.
There was a noticeable improvement in moving from the common room to the kitchen. Sora had been right. The smaller area was easier to keep warm, especially after he hung up a dingy blanket in the doorway. There wasn’t enough wood to make a larger fire, so it wasn’t exactly warm enough to discard your jackets, but you already liked being in here more than being out there.
Sora finished plugging up most of the gaps in the small kitchen window. When you pointed out one, he said it was to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. There was a gap beneath the blanket in the doorway, but having some fresh air coming in would put his mind at ease.
“I don’t really get the specifics,” he confessed, taking a seat next to you on one of the two chairs brought in from the common room. “I just know that it would be majorly bad. As in, ‘we could die’-bad.”
You slowly nodded, vaguely remembering something like that.
The two of you stared at the stove that was giving off heat.
Usually, either of you could be doing any number of things. You know the guys liked games, even if they didn’t have much time for them, and it was pretty much universal that people messed around on their phones, not to mention that you often used a laptop, so this whole ‘nothing to do’ situation was… awkward. Did you talk to Sora? Say nothing and leave him alone? What would you even talk about? There’s not much to do to distract yourselves from each other, and this silence was getting stifling!
You tried not to claw your knees as you mustered up the courage to break the silence.
“So, um… h-how did you and Daiki meet?”
Face slowly burning, you kept your eyes on the deceptively cold-looking stove as you waited for his reply. At first, Sora didn’t say anything, and you nearly glanced over at him, but you managed to keep your eyes on the stove. Finally, he chuckled.
“I picked a fight with him when we were kids. It was at a park. My family had just moved and I wasn’t exactly happy about it…”
Due to having smartphones, neither you or Sora wear a watch. Why put something on your wrist when you can just pull out your phone? Out of everyone you know, only Shizu wears a watch and even she rarely looks at it. It was gift from her father, so even though it was sleek and stylish, she wore it mostly out of obligation. Point being, unless you turned on your phone, you had no idea what time it was.
It felt late, but that might be because it was dark outside and that you didn’t have much to do inside. You and Sora had told each other stories about your lives (mostly to do with your currently absent friends), but the two of you had fallen silent. As Sora stoked the fire, adding more wood, you sighed and declared that you were going to try and sleep.
Hearing this, Sora closed the stove and the two of you shuffled around, moving the two chairs to set up the blankets near where it was warmest. Sora remained sitting on his bed while you lied down and tried to get comfortable. It was nice, not to have the cold biting at your back this time.
You weren’t sleepy, though, so you lied awake listening to the fire crackling inside the stove.
“Do you think anyone is looking for us?”
He snorted. “I know for a fact that Daiki and Shizu have mobilized the gang by now. If it were just me stranded here, they’d put in an effort, sure, but for you? They’re gonna tear Japan apart until they find you.”
Hearing that, you couldn’t help but wince. Regarding the Sleepers, things you tried to keep hidden from even Shizu, the only mercy was that they wouldn’t wake unless the Seven were unleashed. Thankfully, Shizu could substitute for your dead man switches for the Seven, but nothing except your own self would be able to stop the Sleepers from waking. Gut churning with dread and guilt, you tried to think of something else.
Instead of continuing the conversation, you closed your eyes and tried to sleep. You don’t know how long you laid there, but eventually sleep came.
[Innkeeper Class Obtained!]
[Innkeeper Level 1!]
[Skill – Basic Cleaning obtained!]
[Skill – Basic Cooking obtained!]
…What was that?
I don’t like my job but my job likes me.
~Alain Bremond-Torrent, running is flying intermittently
Looking at it, I realize that Reader's reaction is the same as Erin's, only Erin says it aloud. lmao
Because the last bit is basically the same as chapter 1.01, let me remind you all that I do not own anything from The Wandering Inn. The wonderful pirateaba is responsible for The Wandering Inn web serial, so all credit to them. I'm just borrowing stuff for fun.
Chapter 4: to be outnumbered and still win (and yet to feel like we lost anyway)
Relax. They're not going to kill us. They're going to TRY and kill us. And that is a very different thing.
~Steve Voake, The Dreamwalker's Child
Sora frowned as (Name) told him about the voice she just heard in her head. Like him, she didn’t understand what it was saying, but she thought it might be in English. Thinking back on the voice he heard and comparing it to the vocal exercises Shizu would sometimes do within earshot, Sora would wager that she was right.
Not that it really helped them, as both of them were terrible at English. The only thing Sora could remember about English class was the phrase ‘This is a pen’, and the words ‘fuck’ (not that they learned that in class), ‘fight, and ‘boss’. Asking (Name) what she remembered from their high school English classes, she sheepishly told him she only remembered the words ‘hello’, ‘heal’, and ‘money’.
That… probably said something about their personalities.
Since the voice wouldn’t communicate with them, Sora told you that there was nothing either of you could do about it at the moment. He suggested forgetting it and going back to sleep as ‘there isn’t anything else to do anyway’. Knowing that he had a point, you settled back down and tried to sleep.
It didn’t seem like very long before you thought you heard something moving around outside. Feeling uneasy, you turned from facing the fire to resting on your back so that you could look over at the only other person there with you. Sora’s alert pose didn’t put you at ease. He held a finger to his lips as you moved to get up. Quietly, you got to your feet to stand near Sora. The noise continued and Sora gripped one of the knives from the kitchen.
Straining your hearing, you thought you could hear what sounded like garbled voices. Then, with a chill up your spine, you heard scraping against the walls, as though something were climb—
Both you and Sora flinched as a loud bang came from the front door in the common room. As though that were a signal, hard, rapid pounding started at not only the door but also the shuttered windows. You screamed, afraid that tonight was the night you died, because the two of you were clearly outnumbered by a hostile party. You flinched into Sora as banging started on the lone kitchen window’s shutters.
“Fucking goblins,” Sora cursed, grabbing your hand and hauling you out of the kitchen and into a small corner near the fire place.
You noticed one of the kitchen knives in his hand and you wondered what good that blunted blade could do. Huddling against the wall, you held your arms to your chest, afraid of the impending violence and scared for both yourself and Sora. Your friend stood in front of you, ready to defend you with Quirk and body.
(to the death?)
Clenching your eyes shut, you hoped that the goblins were foolish or clumsy enough to break the small sacs sticking to the window sills on the inside. Opening the doors wide enough would break the ones on the floor. Each one was filled with spores that paralyzed the breathing system, and that was coupled with the disease that Sora contracted earlier. There had only been so much biological material in that one goblin, but the defenses you made out of him would have to be enough to level the playing field for Sora.
If not… you didn’t want to think about the fate lying in wait for the two of you.
Not all goblins had [Danger Sense], but the tribe still had seven who did. The chieftain was one, and [Danger Sense] was warning them about the building on top of the hill. Looking at the doors and windows, even the ones on the second floor, something prickled at their senses, warning them to stay away.
The chieftain of the Hidden Cave tribe disdainfully eyed the inn. He felt his [Danger Sense] telling him to leave, but the winter had been harder on his tribe than usual. Their food stores were starting to get unhealthily low. Without the two humans to bolster their food supply, he was going to have to start killing and eating his own tribe. Even with the humans, it would probably come to that anyway, but with the humans it could be put off for a little longer.
Glaring at the goblins on one side of him and then to those on the other, Strongbelly waved his tribe forward. No matter what [Danger Sense] told him, this hunt would happen.
The humans would die and be their food.
The hammering on the doors and shutters went on, quickly becoming more violent.
One of the shutters gave way first, cracking as one half broke half-off. It was pried open, allowing a green-skinned, skinny goblin in ragged cloth and furs to tumble inside. You felt a vicious sense of satisfaction as the sac on the windowsill was smashed against their torso. A slight puff of yellow spores was visible as Sora took a half-step forward before stopping himself with a glance back at you. In the scant seconds it took to lock eyes with each other, the goblin had rushed to unlock the door.
A squawk and the slamming open of the doors diverted your attention back to the inn’s only entrance. The sacs on the floor burst open, filling the air with more yellow spores. The goblin just outside froze in place, allowing both you and Sora to get a good look at him as he glared suspiciously at the yellow stuff in the air.
The goblin in question was large, easily bigger than the one you had harvested. Dingy furs hung over him and ragged cloth seemed to be the norm for the goblins. Large canine teeth protruded from his bottom lips, and what appeared to be either boils or warts were scattered along one side of his face. The green skin did nothing to improve his looks. All in all, you rated him as a solid ugly bastard.
Another gust of winter wind seemed to dispel the spores in your and Sora’s direction. Breathing in, you felt your Quirk grab onto the spores and air-borne virus to deconstruct and contain for flushing. Sora shook his head, his new immunity allowing him to brush the effects of the spores off. Of course, he was now immune to the sickness which had tried to settle in him previously.
The big goblin at the door grinned unpleasantly, a jagged-toothed smile that spread wide across his face.
He stepped forward, not knowing he had already fallen into your trap.
The big ugly goblin was posturing as he swaggered into the inn.
Sora glared at him as he mentally measured the large goblin, trying to get an approximation of his strength. It was bigger than Daiki, but size wasn’t everything. Sora knew that Daiki would have been able to outlast this big goblin if he had been here, but stamina wasn’t Sora’s forte or even his Quirk. No, Sora’s Quirk would be able to protect (Name), at least for a while and as long as he was conscious, so staying conscious was Sora’s priority, just above boss lady’s safety, but only because he needed to be conscious for his Quirk to remain active.
More goblins slid into the building behind the big one, and Sora could see a few more waiting outside. The banging from upstairs had stopped, so most of them were probably out front. Of course, there was the possibility that a few had entered from the rooms upstairs, but from the looks of things, they would be the smaller goblins instead of big ones. That was something in their favor, if only a little thing.
Sora resisted the urge to flex his fingers on the handle of the knife as the first goblin that entered the inn began coughing. The big goblin was greedily eying (Name) over Sora’s shoulder, no doubt identifying her as a female. Remembering how goblins were portrayed as raping, pillaging scum in manga and games, Sora bristled. He didn’t want for this to have to come to boss lady getting skin contact, because that would mean he had failed to stop them. She would be able to defeat them all just by getting her hands on the big one, but Sora didn’t want her to have to go through being manhandled and possibly stripped.
The big goblin was in the middle of saying something he didn’t understand when the first goblin began wheezing loudly. Clearly annoyed, the boss goblin—because what else would he be—yelled something that led to the wheezing goblin being struck over the over the head by another goblin.
A goblin on the other side of the lineup coughed, earning a cold glare from his boss. The goblin in question shrunk in on himself (herself?) and covered his mouth with his spindly hands to prevent more noise from coming from him.
A sudden sound of rushing feet came from upstairs and Sora watched as three goblins came rushing down the stairs, only for the one at the end to trip and fall, causing all three to tumble down the rest of the way. Everyone watched as the small heap of goblins writhed. One shakily got up, wheezing and frantically pointing at their chest. One more goblin coughed, and suddenly the rest were panicking, pushing and shoving to get out the door and escape into the night. They clearly recognized the symptoms on display.
The boss goblin bellowed at his followers, but only four stopped running to stay. After a moment when no more returned, the big goblin turned a dark glare on Sora and (Name). Sora took a ready fighting stance.
He hoped the big one would start suffocating soon.
You wanted to breathe a sigh of relief now that it was only five against one, but one of those five was rather big. Big usually meant strong, right? But then strength wasn’t everything. Skill could bring someone down, and your boys weren’t just street fighters. They actually took lessons on martial arts, though they all studied different ones. Would Sora be okay?
Fretting and wishing you had made the paralytic spores stronger, you watched as the big goblin confidently approached Sora. Your friend stepped away from you, taking three steps forward. The big goblin was easily at least a head taller than Sora and two, maybe three times as heavy, but your friend didn’t back down. If you made it out of this, for his sake, next time you would be more ruthless when it came to making spores, poisons or whatever. With Sora’s safety on the line, perhaps even his life, you shouldn’t pull your punches.
Your hands stifled a scream as Sora ran forward, blunt kitchen knife in hand, and launched himself at the big goblin. The big goblin in turn tried to hammer your friend from the air, thick arm swinging a large club so fast you almost couldn’t see the movement. Sora’s shield flared into life, hexagonal blue shapes taking the blow meant for him. His opponent’s eyes widened in shock before Sora plunged the knife into one of them.
As the boss goblin roared, you had to break your gaze from the fight because two goblins had skirted around the central area in order to menacingly advance on you. Teeth gritting, you tensed your shaky legs as your flexed your sweaty palms. You wished you had retained enough biological material from that first goblin so that you could utilize it as paralytic liquid you could fling from your palms. As it was, you had to rely on the thin hope that you would be able to grab on to the goblins to use your Quirk on them. You doubted that you were going to get through this unhurt.
Sora cried your name as he wrenched the knife free from the goblin’s messy eye socket, his Quirk averting the goblin’s frantic attempts to grab him. Pushing off with a kick, Sora rolled back between you and the advancing goblins. His next movements were rapid and had force behind them as he kicked the goblins away. Pressing up against the wall, you briefly recalled that Sora and Katsu both had requested strong leg muscles. Katsu was someone who fought with his legs, Sora fought with both hands and feet, and Daiki preferred his fists. You shook your head, reprimanding yourself and telling yourself to focus on the present.
Just in time too, as the big goblin bellowed and charged at you both. Sora held his ground but was still knocked back closer to you as his Quirk flared brightly. You gasped as the shield disappeared, allowing the big goblin to stumble forward. Sora swore and stumbled back.
Only his Quirk kept the other goblins from stabbing him on both sides.
You wailed into your hands, trying to shut out the world.
You want to go home!
Sora ground his teeth as he heard her cry out. A goblin on his right sneezed messily and Sora chose to take that to mean that the disease was settling into it. If he didn’t have to worry about her, then Sora would be more certain of his chances of winning here. As it was, this was a waiting game, and he hoped the spores would hit hard soon. As she explained it, this modified version would start slow before hitting the lungs and heart hard. From there, the disease would take its course, liquefying flesh over a period of time—this is not the time!
His Quirk—he was pushing it to the maximum range and reaction it could have without him being boosted—flared again as the big goblin lurched forward, face ugly and twisted by rage. He felt his Quirk flaring again in order to protect her. From behind him, he heard a goblin screech and suddenly the air was filled with yellow spores.
Sora jumped upwards and kicked the big goblin’s head with all the force he could muster. He winced as his foot made contact with the hard head, but he achieved what he wanted as the bastard toppled over. Landing, Sora coughed hard as the yellow spores were thick in the air. Jerking his body to turn slightly, he looked behind and saw that the smaller goblins were writhing on the floor.
Meanwhile, she was teary-eyed as she breathed hard into her palms. Yellow spores settled on her eyelashes and dusted her from head to toe. A clump of rags on the floor told him that she had definitely used up one of the goblins. That was bad, as a reshaping that fast took a lot out of her. Then, just as he feared, she started sinking down against the wall, eyes beginning to close.
He stumbled over to her and grabbed her hand.
He broke into a coughing fit and bowed from the force of it. Her hand twitched in his and suddenly it was easier to breathe. He lifted his gaze and worriedly called her name.
He could only watch helplessly as her eyes slid closed, not knowing when they would open again.
Sora’s knuckles ached as he punched the floor. He cursed again as the spores in the air swirled at the action. The choking and gurgles from the goblins lying prone on the floor did nothing but agitate them. Picking up the knife he’d dropped, Sora spun on his feet and threw himself at the big goblin, swearing as he plunged the blunt knife into its neck. Green blood spurted freely as cold winter wind blew into the inn. The flames flickered as Sora slowly turned, malevolently eyeing the other goblins.
Two of them were too busy trying to breath, but the third saw the look on his face and tried to raise its arm, silently pleading for mercy. His blood boiled as he glanced at her again, slumped against the wall.
If not for them...!
Sora slaughtered the goblins, stabbing again and again, giving vent to his helpless rage. There was nothing he could do for her except destroy the ones who forced her into a corner. Later, his frustration was not helped when he realized that he’d made a mess and would have to clean it up.
First, after expending most of his violence, Sora laid her by the stove in the kitchen and put more wood on the fire. Grimly, he knew he was in for a long night.
Maybe even long days before she’d wake again.
Sora carelessly tossed out the first goblin into the cold winter night. He’d drag them further away later, but right now he just wanted them out of the inn so he could close the doors and make an effort to get their blood off of him. Cursing under his breath, he continued hauling out the dead goblins.
The big one he had to chop into pieces.
It was still pitch dark out when Sora finally threw out the last body part of the big goblin. The doors weren’t in too bad a shape, which was the only bit of luck Sora had had so far, so he was able to close and lock them. He groaned as the smell from the drying goblin blood on him let him know that he was in desperate need of a shower.
Sadly, there was no available shower. Instead, he had to make do with the water he had set to warm up near the fireplace in the common area. The water wasn’t very warm at all, but he was able to wash his face and hands clean of the goblin blood. The gunk in his hair was another story, and he quietly cursed up a storm as he tried to save his hair. Eventually he decided the job was done well enough for the moment, and he turned his attention to his clothing. His jeans were splotched with blood, and his coat was nearly a lost cause. Thankfully, his shirt, while sweaty, was not soaked with goblin blood. Sighing, Sora set to the task of washing his clothes.
By the time he set his jacket on a chair to dry, he was aching and exhausted. He still had his jeans to salvage but he decided he didn’t particularly care at the moment. Abandoning the bucket filled with filthy water, Sora staggered into the kitchen and settled himself on the floor behind her. She was on her back, and Sora copied her position. His eyes slid closed and he hoped that sleep would take him easily.
It did, but then—
[Fighter Class Obtained!]
[Fighter Level 1!]
[Skill – Lesser Strength Obtained!]
[Slaughterer Class Obtained!]
[Slaughterer Level 1!]
[Skill – Lesser Endurance Obtained!]
[Tactician Class Obtained!]
[Tactician Level 1!]
[Skill – Lesser—]
[Level Ups Cancelled]
Sora held himself frozen for a moment in the half-risen position he had jolted into in anger, but the voice did not come back. Sighing, he laid back down and wearily let his eyes close.
This time, the voice did not interrupt his fall to sleep.
For a couple days now, smoke had been rising from the abandoned village which was once hit with a deadly plague. It had been noted immediately, but the Watch Captain had held back on sending anyone. That proved to be a wise course of action as a pair of patrolling guardsmen saw a goblin tribe they had planned to attack was infected with the plague.
On their initial approach to the cave where the goblins lived, two goblins had run out of the entrance, apparently in panic. Given that the eyesight of Drakes and Gnolls surpassed Human eyesight, they were far enough away and upwind enough that they were in no danger. They watched as three other goblins staggered out into the snow, and the Drake guardsman’s eyes widened as he recognized the symptoms they were displaying.
His partner did as well, and without a word they turned and ran back to Liscor.
Whoever had been at the abandoned village was likely dead by now, and besides which, with the goblins displaying symptoms of the plague, both the Watch and the citizens of Liscor were forbidden from heading in that direction. Furthermore, anyone coming from that direction was to be killed at a distance.
There would be no taking chances in bringing the plague to the city. If it were a choice between one person, or even a group of persons against the health of the city—well, there was no question which was more important.
Tough times don't last, tough people do, remember?
Chapter 5: to take steps forward (and to not know they were taken)
It's hard being left behind… It's hard to be the one who stays.
~Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife
As Shizu once again watched the last known footage of (Name) and Sora, Kyoko sighed from the chair a couple feet off to the side.
“It would have been so much better if it was just them eloping.”
“But it isn’t,” Shizu said tersely. “They didn’t elope, they just vanished into thin air.”
Thus far the search hadn’t gone anywhere. Various CCTV cameras have fleeting footage of the two, but they’re only together on the station when arriving and trying to leave the seaside town, and then nothing after they disappear. Phone calls to them still don’t connect, texts rebound, and the tracers on their phones are also out of the picture. Their families were informed, but while Sora’s doesn’t care enough to report him missing, (Name)’s parents have already filed a missing person report. Her face is up in the missing person’s database, and her parents are already printing up missing person flyers to hand out. Daiki’s men are pounding the streets and keeping an eye out while Digital Jack and Digital Jane have made a program to search CCTV cameras they can hack into in order to try to find (Name) that way.
Experiment 13 hasn’t come out of his future visions yet, which doesn’t bode well for the search.
Kyoko doesn’t say anything as Shizu rewinds and watches the footage again. With the way the two of them just disappear, none of them can think of any other alternative than that someone had used their Quirk to abduct them. They’re treating this like a kidnapping and Shizu and Daiki are burning resources like crazy trying to find them. Of course, poor Sora is a secondary objective, but Kyoko can’t exactly argue against that since they do depend heavily on (Name)’s Quirk.
When Shizu rewinds the footage for the umpteenth time, Kyoko decides to intervene. She drags Shizu away from the monitor and insists that she do something else. The footage never changes and watching it over and over again isn’t going to do much except drive them both up the wall. Besides, if Shizu wants to keep doing something about the ongoing search then she can certainly be more productive doing something else.
Kyoko regrets intervening as Shizu railroads her into going with her to the seaside town to do interviews with some of the gang’s own missing person flyers. Not that they’re advertising the missing leader of the Kami no Kage, rather that they’re friends searching for their missing friend.
Still, there is a silver lining to being dragged all the way out there. They learn of a clue:
Their friend was seen with a ‘suspicious’ man, blond, skinny and sickly looking.
Izuku is worried because none of his texts are getting through to her. When he goes downstairs to ask her parents if they’ve heard from her, he gets a grim look from her mom and an explanation at the door. He pales as she tells him that no one has seen or heard from her, not even her friends. That’s…
Isn’t that pretty much the worst case scenario?!
Just like they’ve feared, she’s finally been kidnapped!
He is fast to offer his services to aid the search for her in any way. Her mom is grateful and asks him to join her later in handing out flyers. He agrees and trudges back homeward. He breaks into a run and rushes home to his bedroom where he picks up his phone and tries to call her again. Breathless, he dashes back into the hall and towards the kitchen, loudly asking his mom if she’s heard from her. His mom is only just learning about the worrying absence and has to sit down. Worry crosses her face as she watches him try to call her and get upset when he can’t.
He drops his arm down and asks his mom, “Is she okay?”
(he sounds so small)
Sora officially hates the Nopefish. He doesn’t need any extra at the moment, and even if he did, there’s no way he’s going to eat something new and possibly poisonous without boss awake and ready to heal him. One of the damn things leapt out of the water and nearly nailed him in the face! All this for a single bucket of water. Plumbing was invented for a reason!
Grumbling, Sora kicked the fish back near the water’s edge and took his bucket, heading back to the inn. He hadn’t wanted to leave boss alone, but neither of them can exist without water. Fasting is easier to endure than dehydration, not that either are fun.
Damn it! Sora doesn’t know how to look after boss when she’s knocked out. They have staff for that, or Shizu in a pinch. Hell, they even have the option of taking her to a private health practice or a hospital!
…Had. Had the option.
Out here, all she has is him to rely on.
He can protect her. That’s what his Quirk is for, and he’s not a bad fighter. He’s killed with his own hands before, so if that’s necessary, he can do it and not be squeamish about it. But take care of her when she’s going to be unconscious for days?
Sora is pretty much up shit creek without a paddle and she’s laying at the bottom of their drifting canoe.
Moving his feet faster so she was alone for less time, Sora hoped that she wouldn’t pee or go number two, but that might be asking for the moon. Frustrated, he opened and inhaled to scream at the sky.
And ended up choking on a thick snowflake.
Pissed, Sora arrived back at the inn and kicked the door shut behind him. It’s a good thing that snowflakes melt, otherwise he might have died out there. What a way to go that would have been. He could just picture his obituary, penned by Kyoko: This idiot was killed by a snowflake. The gene pool thanks him for getting out.
He snorted, slightly amused.
Heading back into the kitchen area, he breathed a sigh of relief to find boss just the way he’d left her. Setting the bucket down near the stove so it wouldn’t freeze, he noted with satisfaction that the room was still warm. They still had some tables and chairs to burn, but Sora would prefer to stretch that out as long as possible. He might go scavenge for other furniture after she wakes up again, but that won’t be for at least a day.
He dearly hopes that it doesn’t stretch past two. He’s slept for two days in a row himself on occasion, and while he felt tired after waking up, he’s never peed himself. He’s hoping the same sort of rule applies here. He’d never really asked what happened during this so-called recovery period as it didn’t seem as though it would be information he’d need, but that’s come back to bite him in the ass, hasn’t it?
Sighing and feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders, he pulled out his personal phone and turned it on.
He deserves a song or two to fill the silence and distract him for a little while.
Waiting for boss to wake up was… not something he’d like to go through again.
For one thing, without her, he didn’t have anyone to talk to. At some point into the first day he’d started talking to her even though she couldn’t answer. He did this because without water or scavenging duty, there wasn’t anything else to do. He didn’t like the silence, the lack of traffic and human noise, so he started talking to her out of a mix of boredom and paranoia. At first he talked about the man she’d gone to meet and cursed him to hell and back because if it wasn’t for him then neither he or she would have been out there in the first place and thus neither of them would have ended up wherever ‘here’ is. After that, he alternated between silence and telling her stories about how he and Daiki had grown up.
Due to him being paranoid about his surroundings and leaving her for any length of time, he moved the ‘toilet’ downstairs and into a far corner in the common room. He tried to make his bucket of water last without dehydrating himself and used snow to wash his hands.
There were no signs of the goblins coming back, which was a small mercy at least. The last thing he needed was to try defending an unconscious woman. She was at her weakest like that. The goblins would actually be able to, to assault her and she wouldn’t be any wiser until after she’d woken up. That’s not something he wants happening to her, ever.
As the only one awake to watch for dangers, Sora takes his sleep in short naps. Sometimes he rests in the chair he dragged in, and other times he rests on the floor near her, between her and the doorway to the common room. Sleeping in this place isn’t comfortable, and he has to keep the fire lit otherwise they’ll freeze to death.
Nothing funny about that obituary.
Five times he pulled out his personal phone to play some music, to hear anything besides the sound of the fire and the howl of the wind outside. The battery life dropped down to forty-three percent, but it had been worth it to have his paranoia ease.
Waiting for dawn each day was the worst, and also when he was most likely to whip out his personal phone. Days were bad, but at least there was light. Nights were even worse because it was so dark, and every dawn seemed to never want to come. Even though boss was right there with him, he’d felt all alone.
He nearly hugged her when her eyes opened sometime on the third day, but instead he had to help her to the ‘toilet’ because she was unsteady on her feet.
Honestly, he was just glad he didn’t have to deal with changing her pants and underwear, because what would he even replace them with? Not to mention how awkward it’d be to clean her.
Despite all the rest you’ve had, you feel tired and irritable. At least you’d managed to regain enough of your balance that you could banish Sora back to the kitchen and tell him to cover his ears while you did your business. Washing your hands and face with snow wasn’t fun, but it certainly helped wake you up.
Breakfast was the apple Sora should have eaten during the two-and-maybe-a-half days you were out. Instead the idiot’s been living on tuna and even he admits that it’s getting old. With the ‘runes’, the food isn’t spoiling, but even eating your favorite thing all time makes it lose appeal.
Heading out into the day, you note the heavy grey clouds overhead and how today isn’t as cold as the last time you remember being outside. Walking behind Sora, the two of you head for the stream. No fish launches itself at Sora as he fills the bucket, nor is he attacked when his back is turned. He brings the bucket over and sets it in the snow near your feet before returning to the shore. You’re a safe distance away while Sora stands there waving his limbs, trying to get the attention of the fish.
It takes a while, but one eventually does burst out of the stream and attempt to knock Sora down. It crashes into his shield and he’s quick to grab it, lifting it and then slamming it down in an attempt to knock it out. You move quickly and get your hands on the fish as Sora pinned it down with his foot. It’s still conscious and trying to fight, so you fully knock it out and preserve its body functions to keep it fresh.
Having achieved your objectives, you both head back to the inn, though to be fair to Sora who’s dragging the smelly fish, you carry the bucket of water.
As if to mock you both, halfway back to the inn, a heavy rain falls from the sky, but it takes you both a couple seconds before you realize what it is.
“Do you hear that?”
You screech as rain sneaks up on you both from behind, and you’re both so gob smacked that you stand there for almost half a minute before Sora groans, lifts an arm and yells at the sky.
“What the fuck?”
Trudging back to the inn, Sora asks his Quirk why it didn’t do anything about the rain even though it’s so heavy, or at least, you think that’s what he’s yelling. It’s a little hard to tell, but you are mostly certain that’s what he’s saying. Both of you were now holding your burdens with one hand as Sora had taken one of yours in his, but it’s not unmanageable. You think he did it so that neither of you get lost, and you don’t have to energy to protest.
You are both cold and soaked by the time you return to the inn. Dripping water everywhere and not giving a damn, Sora ditches the fish on a random table and you do the same with the water from the stream which now has rain water mixed in it. The common room is cold, but neither of you are keen to get your sleeping area wet, so after confirming that your phones have all survived mostly dry, you put them down and start stripping in the common room in order to wring water from your clothes.
You help each other since it’s an easier task with two pairs of hands, and when the time comes, neither of you say anything about the fact that you are both down to your underwear. You chant a mantra in your head, saying it’s no different from a bikini, completely clueless to the fact that Sora is doing his best not to look at you while reminding himself that you are practically Daiki’s sister and also that this is totally no different from swimwear.
Neither of you are particular successful at convincing yourselves, but you are both pathetically grateful that neither of you bring it up, not even as a joke.
Eventually, Sora retreats to the kitchen twice, first to get their phones somewhere warm, and secondly to try to hang up at least one layer of clothing to dry in the kitchen while you turn your attention to the Nopefish. Wrinkling your nose in distaste, you touch it again and get rid of the slime and unusable material, once again flinging it onto the floor to clean up later. Sora returns soon enough and the two of you try to figure out what to make.
There’s still a bit of tuna left, so you only make a smaller slab of it. Both of you liked the mandarin orange, so you make two more, as well as four apples. Cucumbers are a simple vegetable, so you made one, and daikon are simple too, but you don’t have enough material to make a whole one. In the end, this Nopefish is turned into a bit more of Bluefin tuna, two mandarin oranges, four apples, one cucumber and a thick slice of daikon.
Sora stares at the small pile of food before turning his head to you.
(he nearly makes a joke proposal before mentally backpedaling)
“Boss, I love you, but you just woke up. Please don’t overextend yourself so soon.”
You want to protest but he might be right. You don’t like being out any more than any of your friends do.
“Fine. But dude, I’m starving. Let’s eat.”
After deciding to eat, you abandon Sora to bring the food because you are freezing. Standing in the cold common room while wet was not a good idea. Fleeing to the stove you get as close to it as you can without burning yourself. It doesn’t seem to help much, but it is infinitely preferable to having no fire.
Outside, the winter rain continues to fall and you find yourself wondering if you should give Sora a hard head the next time he had to go out there. Rain on snow made a slippery surface, right? You don’t want him to slip and crack his head open, because then you’d have to go out there and risk slipping and injuring yourself.
Hopping in place, you didn’t look in Sora’s direction as he returned with the food. Carefully, he placed when he could in the rune cupboard before coming over and handing you a cut of tuna. Raw fish when it wasn’t properly presented sushi isn’t your favorite, but it’s still full of things your body needs, so you eat it without much complaint.
Sora leave and comes back with another chair and the two of you sit. He gets the cold chair and you wince in sympathy when he hisses upon sitting. He settles soon enough, and the two of you stare at the stove while you hope he isn’t looking at you.
The two of you are practically naked and alone. Your mind is going places you don’t want it to go, and you blame a combination of Kyoko and daytime television. After all, while you do count on Sora, you’re not interested in him in a physical way. Cursing the rain, you sulk and wish you were home. At home you could take a warm bath after getting caught in an unexpected rainfall, not to mention have your clothes washed by machine, and even dried in a machine depending on where you were at the time. More importantly, you could be in your own company, or in female company at least.
Stupid rain. Stupid winter. Stupid place!
Stupid Yagi, and stupid you too.
The tension slowly but surely seeps from Sora the longer they’re both quiet. This is good. This is still awkward, but at least neither of them are making it worse. Hopefully this is the only time this kind of situation will happen. He doubts she enjoys it any more than he does.
It’s not that he’s never thought about it at least once, it’s just that he really doesn’t want to know what happens if she loses control of her Quirk during sex. Would she warp her partner? Accidentally kill him? Melt him into biological paste?
He wonders sometimes, but doesn’t actually want to find out, especially if it’s him as the hypothetical partner in any of those scenarios.
Noooo, thank you.
It’s a nightmare waiting for your clothes to dry, and you haven’t even brought in your winter clothing yet. Your jackets and other stuff are probably frozen solid in the common room by now. And this rain hasn’t let up yet either.
Neither of you talks much, and you do stand a couple times with your backs to each other, but you are almost pathetically grateful when both you and Sora finally agree that your shirt is dry enough to put back on. Sora’s isn’t, but somehow you wearing a cover makes the situation much more tolerable for both of you. It’s still a little awkward for you since Sora is in his boxers, but you firmly keep your eyes above the waist.
A lot of time has passed, so you agree to eat something else, this time choosing to slice the daikon ‘steak’ in half. Eating it raw isn’t exciting, but it feels good to eat a proper vegetable. Sora wishes they had a better knife for cutting things. You could have had daikon noodles, or had them diced. A good knife would go far in cooking, really. Again, neither of you knows how to cook much of anything, but having a knife is better than not having one.
Sighing, you stop nibbling at your daikon and stare up at the ceiling. You know it does no good to wish you were home or that someone would come find you, so you don’t say that. Instead you agree with Sora that a knife would be good.
(it doesn’t cross your mind to be wary of a knife-wielding Sora because you equate him first with safety, though this thought doesn’t come to you until much later and even then you don’t voice it)
You finally register something and turn to him, surprised.
He’s not looking at you as he shrugs. “I had carrots noodles once. Carrot, daikon, same thing, yeah?”
You pouted. “Well damn. Now I want to try both.”
He chuckled. “Let’s try making it sometime then, yeah?”
You nodded. “Yeah. I’d like that.”
Feeling more comfortable, you both relaxed and quietly enjoyed the rest of the daikon.
When in doubt, ingest carbs.
~Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Chapter 6: to search high and low for the missing (and for the missing to worry about never being found)
At least I find solace in searching.
~Justin Wetch, Bending The Universe
It rains through the night and it’s still raining when you wake up the next day. Even though there is only you and Sora in the inn, the atmosphere is gloomy. Having dried your clothing with much effort and time, neither of you is eager to step outside, so you remain indoors. At one point, Sora notes that the rain has made an impact on the snow, melting away much of it, but, as he points out, there is a potential for dangerous icing if temperatures freeze the wet snow. At least he doesn’t have to go to the stream for more water since he can just set it outside while getting minimally wet instead of soaked.
Today you turn on one of your phones to listen to some music, though you fear that your tastes don’t match Sora’s all that much. He doesn’t complain about the music you choose, but you worry that he doesn’t like it. Still, the sounds help lift some of the gloom and inject a little positivity into you both.
Sora thinks that the rain signals warmer weather, so perhaps this is the end of winter wherever ‘here’ is. You really don’t want to think that this is a different world, but with the evidence slowly piling up, what other option is there to believe in? Perhaps an illusionary Quirk of some kind? If you’re lucky, then you’re lying somewhere on a hospital bed with Shizu and Daiki trying to find a way to wake you up and raining hell on whoever is responsible for this.
But somehow, you just don’t think that you’re that lucky.
Turning their resources upon the small seaside town, it isn’t too long before they find more CCTV footage of their friends and the mysterious blond man. Granted, most of the footage came from a fish packaging plant, but it’s something.
Still, Shizu makes a mental note to remind her friend to check for cameras before she uses her Quirk outside of headquarters or other private buildings. The camera recording the interior of the large packaging area catches the biokinetic reaching into a crate of fish and the fish themselves dropping out of sight. It also records her touching the blond man and later showing one of the workers peering into the crate and lifting it, showcasing its emptiness by doing so with only one hand.
Unfortunately, no one got the names of either her friend or the man with them. In fact, no one in town knows the man’s name, but most express concern and condolences about their missing friend. Having arrived at another dead end, Shizu decides to take the man’s picture to the police, who by now are aware of the missing person’s case. Or rather, she goes to her friend’s parents and they and her both go to the police.
In the end, the man’s face is printed, asking people to come forward if they have any information on the ‘suspicious man related to a missing person’s case’.
(his detective friend asks him to meet up and when Toshinori arrives a newspaper article is practically shoved in his face
he blanches at the realization that his benefactor—the savior of All Might—is missing)
Three days have passed in tedious succession with rain coming and going. There is definitely an uptick in the weather, but it’s so unlike what you’re accustomed to that you have a hard time believing that the seasons are actually changing. Wasn’t it just a few days ago that there was snow piled up to your thighs?
At least Sora agrees with you that this sudden change of weather is disconcerting. Both of you are more used to a gradual change, and rain isn’t usually part of the transition from winter to spring, at least not anywhere near the current quantity falling from the sky.
Still, you can’t deny that it is good fortune that the bitter winter is ending. Cold could kill you much easier than it could kill Sora, though your friend would probably starve to death without you around to change the Nopefish into edible stuff. Yeah, neither of you has tried to eat the Nopefish as it is, not when you can easily substitute is for something better and more familiar.
You’ve been cleaning this ramshackle building in the meantime. Normally you wouldn’t bother with something so menial, but there isn’t much else to do. Plus, as more time passes, the stronger the sinking feeling in your stomach gets. Shizu and Daiki might be looking for you right now like Sora says, but you can’t help but think they might… well, never find you.
Sora finally came outright and said the two of you might have been isekai’d, so if you two were truly in another world, then how were your friends supposed to find you and bring you home? It wasn’t like they could just drive here to pick you up, right?
Then again, this whole mess is probably because of someone’s Quirk. If Shizu and Daiki could just find that person, maybe you and Sora could go home.
But there are millions of people in Japan and billions in the whole world! There’s no telling who is that has the Quirk responsible for your situation. It’s like searching for a needle in the biggest haystack imaginable!
Frustrated, you swiped hard on the handrails of the staircase.
Hearing his boss making an angry sound, he glanced up from his chair to see her trying to vent her frustrations via cleaning. It was her new method of coping, he supposed. His was being bored while being on the lookout for goblins and dangers.
Looking back up at the ceiling as he leaned back on a chair, Sora wondered if it was possible to get back home. Sure, Daiki and Shizu could tear up Japan trying to find them, but that doesn’t actually mean they’ll succeed, not matter how much all parties want that. He doesn’t doubt that boss wants to go home as much as he does—probably even more, considering that she and her parents actually have a good relationship—but he’s played games where the protagonist ends up stuck in a new world for one reason or another, sometimes even by choice.
He really hopes that that’s just a worst-case scenario, but he shouldn’t discount the possibility that… well, that there might not be any going back.
Scowling at the thought, he changed his mind and decided to not entertain that possibility. He would operate under the assumption that their goal of going back home is achievable, one way or another.
After all, in a world with hundreds of millions if not billions of Quirks, surely there’s a way to bring them home, right?
(he doesn’t think of how if they can only bring one back, he knows he’s not the one they’ll pick)
Toshinori tries not to sweat bullets as he waits for the parents of his savior to show up. He’s in Naomasa’s precinct building, but not in an interrogation room as that’s too impersonal, and besides, he knows that he had nothing to do with that young woman’s disappearance. He was probably one of the last to see her, certainly, but he didn’t murder her or do any other nefarious deed, and Naomasa knows that too.
The detective still questioned him, yeah, but that was his job, even regarding All Might’s civilian identity.
Of course, his friend had been… incensed that the young woman in question had used her Quirk on him in an authorized manner, and he got lectured about how he should know better (he really should). He’d been ordered for a full checkup, which he’d gotten, getting back a clean bill of health from Recovery Girl. Finding out why he needed a checkup, Toshinori got another lecture about letting people do unauthorized Quirk usage on his person, and after she confirmed that his new organs were perfect, he got another lecture for letting the young woman slip away without so much as her name.
Yes, he knew more than anyone just how use that Quirk could be, how the government would likely overlook her high school education in order to make a hero out of someone with a Quirk like that, but he also knows that that young woman hadn’t wanted any of that. If she had wanted to be a hero, she’d already be one they knew.
Hell, she’d have probably been his personal doctor after his final fight with All for One.
Thinking about might-have’s isn’t productive, and Toshinori pushed away those useless thoughts. He needs to be in the present, ready to speak to that young woman’s parents.
And, speaking of, the door opens and there they are, a pair of haggard looking people who look as though their world is crumbling beneath their feet.
(it isn’t a productive meeting because he doesn’t know what happened to her any more than they do
but he offers them his contact information and says he will keep an eye out for her
perhaps they think he just means well, but he definitely will, because it’s the least he can do for what she’s done for him)
Daiki and Shizu agree on emergency measures and make cutbacks in the gang’s operations. They can no longer rely on their friend’s Quirk, so Shizu and Kyoko cancel all future appointments while Daiki cuts loose many on the lower ranks. They shave off non-essential personnel and create alternate ways of generating revenue. For this, Shizu delves into businesses while Daiki leads the effort of cleaning out and abandoning the headquarters under the club. The nightclub will continue to function for a while in order to generate money, but they agree that without their friend, they can’t risk keeping the gang’s headquarters in the same place, and Daiki had already begun the process of selling it.
Kyoko takes charge of the brothels, immediately issuing orders to practice safe sex and for the girls to go back on prevention medication and items. She also begins the cultivating of the drug plants that were left over from the last growth they were put under. While they weren’t true reproducing plants, they could be cloned by using and potting the cuttings. There would be a slower output of drugs, but they weren’t completely high and dry in that area yet. The hallucinogenic snails were healthy and didn’t really need the application of their friend’s Quirk, so that was another thing they didn’t have to worry about.
Everything would need to be relocated, and that took most of their attention to make it go smoothly. Still, they both agreed that they wanted it done as soon as possible so they could get back to the most important thing: finding their friend.
Oh, wait, friends.
Sora is missing too, but they hope that at least he’s with her so that they can be found at the same time.
Katsu wished he had fought harder to meet up with Sora when boss lady headed off to that beach again. Neither of them was sure why she kept going, only that Sora had long since had his orders to discretely follow her wherever she went. Apparently she’d been going to either wait or meet up with a weird skinny, blond guy, or at least that’s the current theory from Kyoko. Katsu rarely went with Sora since his shield Quirk was more useful for protecting boss lady, but ever since the alert went out, Katsu had been wishing that he’d gone with him that day.
Even if he went missing too, at least he would know what happened to them.
Regrets are useless, though, so he tries to make himself useful in the search. Digital Jack and Digital Jane have mostly got the digital aspect covered, but Shizu has been using him as a means of spying on that man, Yagi Toshinori, the last man who saw their friend.
Katsu follows at a distance, farther than usual, and he’s lost sight of Yagi more than once, but he remains dogged. One of these days, if Yagi is responsible for the disappearance of his friends, then the man will slip up.
He’s going to find out everything about Yagi Toshinori, or die trying.
(faces laughing and saying his name, in constant remembrance of his existence, but now no more, and their absence hurts)
There are no more signs of life from the cave where the infected Goblins had occupied. No doubt they’ve all succumbed to the plague, but smoke still rises from the abandoned settlement where the plague first originated. Are there actually living beings there, or is the fire just mysteriously burning on its own?
The intermittent rain makes spying difficult, but the guardsmen manage it. From what they can see, at least one Human is occupying one of the buildings. They only seem to leave to fetch water from either a bucket left in the rain, or from the nearby creek which they know will soon overflow. It is unknown why the Human was squatting in an abandoned place, but they were probably the reason why the plague was active again.
And yet, if that was true, why wasn’t the Human already dead?
It was a conundrum, but one the Watch Captain decided to leave. She didn’t want to risk losing her guardsmen to the plague, and gave the order that the Human was not permitted to approach the city.
If the Human was still alive in a few weeks, then she would revisit the issue.
Personally, she hoped they wouldn’t be and that they could go back to ignoring the abandoned settlement.
The rain replaced the snow, and the falling water droplets seemed endless. It seemed that the seasons had gone from winter straight into a rainy season. It was… an improvement over the cold, you supposed. Sora wasn’t happy, though, since any nearby wood was wet and therefore useless until it dried out.
In the days since the rain started, you have pretty much cleaned the entire place. Scrubbing the walls and floors of the upstairs rooms was probably pointless, but it helped pass the time which was about the only thing both you and Sora had in abundance. You had left the ceilings as they were, because you weren’t that desperate to pass the time, nor were you cruel enough to make Sora do it when there wasn’t really a point to it.
The ground was too wet for grass to grow, leaving the Nopefish as your only source of biological material. It felt strange constantly eating food you had reshaped from something else, but there was little choice in the matter. Neither you or Sora wanted to starve, so you both ate without complaint.
Cooking wasn’t very adventurous either, not when you had a limited supply of flour and butter. Boiling was the most common method of cooking, followed by grilling, though the tuna you kept making was mostly eaten as sashimi. Bacon was a rare treat, mostly because of the butter limit again. After all, after humans, pigs were the animal you were most familiar with.
As days went by with nearly constant rain and no sign of rescue, the idea that you might never be rescued surfaced again as you sat next to Sora in the kitchen. Reduced to watching the fire for entertainment, you were both practically hypnotized by the fire burning beyond the open stove door. It probably shouldn’t be open, being a fire hazard, but at this point having the inn burn down around you wasn’t looking like a bad option.
Sighing, you scooted your chair over and leaned your head against Sora’s shoulder.
“What if they can’t find us? What if… Sora, what if there’s no way home?”
Goblins and runes and snowmen that move on their own. He said that you two might have been isekai’d, and if that’s true then how were you supposed to get back home?
Your friend grumbled under his breath, but you caught his words anyway as he answered your question with blunt honesty you weren’t ready to hear.
“Then we’re screwed.”
(he feels a rush of anger, annoyance, guilt and panic when he realizes that his words made her cry)
Sora yells at you not to cry and you banish him from the kitchen in retaliation for his callousness. He goes in a huff, and it isn’t long after that when music drifts in from the common room. Crying quietly as you wished someone would come get you, the music only made you feel worse because you knew there was no electricity here. Hell, even if there was, neither of you had chargers for your phones. Once the battery was used up, that would be it: no more music.
The thought of not having music anymore sets off a new wave of tears, sobbing which you muffle as best you can. You try telling yourself that you’re not alone, but you just feel guilty because Sora needn’t be here with you. If you just hadn’t gone to wait for Yagi, then neither of you would be in this position. If you had just minded your own business…!
There is a creeping suspicion that only gets stronger the longer you are out here without contact from home: that you are lost in a place where you cannot be found.
You want to go home, and you know Sora does too, but there are no clear directions, no beacon declaring that that was the way you needed to go. There are no signs of civilization here, and from what you saw outside, there are only hills around for miles. Sora can’t even go looking for clues, not when neither of you know if the danger of goblins will return.
Plus, you suspect that he is just as afraid as you are that you will get lost out there, that you won’t even have the comfort of a roof over your heads like you do now as long as you stay in this inn.
What if he’s right and this is a new world? What if no one speaks Japanese except the two of you? What if there were worse monsters out there than just the goblins?
What if Sora abandoned you?
It’s stupid to think that because you know that your Quirk is invaluable, especially if modern medicine isn’t available to him, but you can’t help but fear being abandoned. You know that aside from your Quirk that you were dead weight. You have no particular skills or talents outside of what your Quirk allows you to do. How could you make a living if this world was where you were going to have to spend the rest of your life?
Would your Quirk and Sora’s Quirk be seen as witchcraft? Would you two be hunted down and killed? Or worse, held captive and studied, forced to use your Quirks for the benefit of your captors?
You know that you won’t be able to handle being tortured. Just falling and skinning your knees or heels is enough to make your tears well up, so how could you possibly handle something hanging you from chains or whipping you or anything else? Sora’s Quirk is useful, but even it has a threshold that it buckles under, and not to mention that he is only one man.
Your thoughts chase each other around and you get so lost in them that you don’t notice Sora’s presence until he’s pulling you to lean against him. His body is firm and the hand on your shoulder is reassuring. Letting go of your knees and putting your feet on the floor, you turned and hugged his waist.
“I’m so sorry, Sora.
“I’m so damn sorry.”
(he’d been blaming her, if only in his head, but her apology helps him let go of his anger
they only have each other, so he promises himself to do his best to make it work
if only until they get home, at least)
Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
Chapter 7: to realize that what is being done is not enough (and to finally contact other people)
Harsh reality is always better than false hope.
Shizu rushes back to headquarters after getting the text ‘he’s awake’ from Daiki. Kyoko is with her and they’ve both abandoned their afternoon classes because this is more important. The club is quiet, and headquarters is a mess of boxes as they’re in the process of moving out. They quickly make their way down to the clinic where Experiment 13 has been being kept since he went into his vision-induced coma.
Bursting into the room, she looks wildly over at Daiki, but her stomach sinks when he shakes his head.
“Well, what did you see?”
Kyoko stalks past her, prompting Shizu to move again. They join Daiki near Experiment 13’s bed. The medical staff, Dr. Word, Dr. Cutter and Night Nurse, are not present. Katsu isn’t here yet, but they can fill him in later. Right now, Shizu wants answers and so does Kyoko.
Experiment 13 slowly shook his head.
“I looked into the future as far as I could, close to ten years. I did not see a time when she came back.”
Daiki clenched his fists.
“What about Sora, the guy with blue hair?”
Experiment 13 shook his head again. “No sign of him, either.”
Shizu frowned. “But that’s only when you followed one path, isn’t it?”
He hummed softly. “Correct. There are more avenues to explore. In that vision, I simply stuck around under your authority, waiting. You do not find her with your current methods.”
So their search was going to end up in a dead end? Unacceptable, there must be something they can do.
“How soon can you look again?”
“A week, perhaps longer.”
She nodded. “Rest, recover. Inform someone before you go under again.” She snapped her fingers. “Record anything you remember, and keep track of what methods we try in searching for her.”
Experiment 13 nodded but didn’t say anything. Kyoko, overhearing the order, dug around for a blank notebook and pen. Finding them, she handed them over to him and he began writing as the three of them moved away to converse.
“Shit,” Daiki muttered. “I was really hoping…”
“I think we all were,” Kyoko sighed.
“We need to cast a wider net and try different methods of searching,” Shizu said. “If we can’t find her with our current method then that’s definitely a reason to change things up.”
“But how can we ‘cast a wider net’?” Kyoko listed things off on her fingers. “We’re trying missing person flyers via her parents, CCTV cameras via the program made by the Digitals, searching manually with the guys Daiki hasn’t let go yet, daily attempting to contact either of her phones, and the newspaper thing. Hell, we’ve gone as far as contacting freaking heroes about it, and apparently from 13’s vision, they’re about as useful as we expected.”
“We try less legal methods. Not that the CCTV thing is legal,” Shizu added. She looked over at Daiki. “Perhaps a little more aggression when asking people if they’ve seen her or Sora?”
Daiki glared at nothing. “I’ll pass it along, but we’ll probably have to be careful since we’ve lost a lot of strength with boss’s disappearance. If the boys get hurt, they’re going to have to heal the old fashioned way.”
Shizu nodded. “Point. It would be a shame to lose any of the people you’ve elected to keep since the cutbacks.”
Daiki looked over at her. “What are our finances like? Can we hire any of them back?”
“I’ve been keeping track of the money coming in and going out, and if things keep steady, we can revisit that line of thought at the end of the fiscal year.”
Kyoko looked up from her phone. “So, who’s going to update Katsu?”
Daiki volunteered. “I’ll do it when we meet up later.”
“Alright. If there’s nothing else…” Neither of them spoke up so Shizu turned. “Come on then, Kyoko. We can still make the last class.”
Kyoko groaned but followed her anyway.
Experiment 13 was troubled. The glorious future he’d seen had just suddenly vanished as completely as Damsel had. Clearly the future he longed to make reality required her presence as without her the rest of them just wait and search and never advance toward anything except maintaining a place for her to come back to. The current search yielded nothing in close to ten years, so more drastic methods are probably called for.
Well, his Quirk allows him to abuse possibilities, so it may be that it’s entirely up to him to locate her. While true that he could leave and live as he did before joining this place, that thought didn’t appeal to him. He wanted to see humanity reach for the stars, but that’s just not going to happen without her. He wants that more than anything, so he hummed quietly as he stared down at the nearly empty page on his lap.
If ‘drastic’ was called for, then drastic he could do.
You wake up snuggled next to Sora on the floor and wish that you had a futon, even if you had to share it. Stifling a groan, you pushed yourself up and carefully stretched your arms. Sitting in the quiet of the morning, you had only your thoughts for company.
Did Mom and Dad know you were missing? Were they okay? What about Daiki and Shizu? Oh man, you were so going to fail this semester is you didn’t get back soon. Then again, with the gang’s money, you can just retake the semester, but it would put you behind Shizu and Kyoko. Ahh, wait, Izuku! Does he know that you’re missing? How was he taking it?
You want to go home, but there’s nothing outside for miles except rain and hills, apparently. Oh, and freaking goblins. Maybe you’re lucky and that plague has killed them off by now. But in games, don’t they usually roam in, like, different hordes or something? So some probably haven’t succumbed, so yeah, you’re probably not lucky.
Sighing, you laid back down and closed your eyes. There was nothing to do but sleep anyway. Well, that and try to clean or fix this place up. Since winter has passed, at least you don’t have to worry about preparing this place for it. That’s pretty much the only piece of luck you’ve had, that winter just suddenly ended.
…Unless this was a lull in the winter? Damn, you hope not. If the snow comes back, you might as well just make your peace that this place would be your grave. But Sora is here, and he might not let you give up so easily, even if you have to risk trying to find some kind of civilization by leaving this old inn.
You don’t want to leave this place to wander in a random direction. It was pure luck—hey, more luck—that you found this place, otherwise you two might have frozen to death out there. This place used to have people, but you have no idea which way they went if survivors left this place. There had to be other places with people, right? But again, no idea which way you could go in order to find them.
This place was a new world, and it had goblins. Did it have other races, like elves and dwarves? If there’s any dragons or griffins around, you two are pretty much dead meat. Sora’s Quirk can only hold out for so long, and there’s no guarantee that you’d be able to subdue a magical creature with your Quirk, or even have the time or opportunity to touch them without dying.
If only it was spring or summer with lots of grass everywhere and weather that isn’t either freezing cold or almost constantly rainy. In that scenario, even if there was the danger of monsters, you could imagine leaving this place to search for more people. As it was, Sora had pointed out the rising water, so the two of you were seemingly going to be trapped on this hill with only the Nopefish for biological material to reshape into food.
No change of clothes, no reliable source of food, no electricity, not even a freaking outhouse… you were not looking forward to coming days. Even with Sora here to protect you, you don’t think either of you is going to relish being trapped here with just the two of you. Already you’d had a spat, though thankfully it seemed to have passed over with your apology.
Feeling restless, you turned over so that your back was facing Sora.
You just want to go home…
Sora glared at the water, waiting shirtless in the rain for a Nopefish to launch itself at him. The creek was wider now, and still rising with no sign of the rain going away. Was it possible to flood the whole plains? That might explain why that abandoned settlement was on a hill, and this was apparently a fantasy world, so why not? On the other hand, deeper waters might mean more dangerous fish… Well, not like they have much choice since there’s basically nowhere else to go around he—
Yes! Fucking finally.
Grabbing the flopping fish that had rammed into his shield, Sora unceremoniously dragged it back towards the inn, moving quickly to get out of the rain. With this, hopefully it would be a couple more days before he’d have to venture outside again. While he can’t get sick with boss around to manage his health, it’s not much fun to stand out in the cold rain for any length of time.
“I’m back,” he announced, rapping on the door. He couldn’t hear anything with the rain, but it didn’t take long before the door was opened. He greeted, “Hey.”
She stepped away from the door and he walked in, running a hand through his wet hair as he dragged the fish in the other. Heaving it, he dropped it onto a table and sat in one of the chairs to drip and watch her reshape it into edible and more appetizing things.
He perked up when he noticed that she was making strawberries, and she saw this. Smiling slightly, she handed both of them over. Sora inhaled the sweet scent of the strawberries and slowly ate them as she made one for herself and ate it while keeping one hand on the valuable fish. Not that the Nopefish was valuable for its taste since neither of them had dared eating it as it was; no, they both preferred that she remake the fish into more familiar foods. The strawberries were probably a treat though, since she went back to making vegetables.
Sighing, Sora leaned his head back to stare lazily at the ceiling.
They couldn’t stay here forever, but he wasn’t about to take her out into that constant rain. She says she can’t get sick, but he’d rather not tempt fate, thanks.
Not to mention, separate worlds or no, Daiki would probably find a way to skin him alive. Plus, if she died, then he was up shit creek by himself, and that’s the last thing he wanted.
Damn it. In all good conscience, Zevara has come to realize that she can’t just leave the mystery Human to their own devices. They’re in the area, and if there is a chance that they might harm Liscor or anyone from the surrounding farms, then she can’t just leave it any longer. Besides which, the plague had a quick kill rate and that Human was still around, so it was probably safe enough to approach.
The magic shield was what pushed the issue. If the Human had magic, then it was up to her guardsmen to make sure that he wasn’t a threat.
But the plague… even with the quick kill rate and the fact that the Human was still alive, Zevara couldn’t help but remain wary as some of the local goblins had been killed by it.
After conferring with Klbkch—who had recently obtained Senior Guardsman status, finally matching Relc’s rank—she decided to leave the issue of the Human for two more days, after which she would send out a pair of Senior Guardsmen to make contact with the Human. Klbkch and Relc couldn’t go, as Klbkch was an Antinium and couldn’t swim, and Relc was his partner, so it would have to be a different pair.
Deciding on a pair, she made a mental note to inform them so they could prepare themselves for the trip out there. There was a chance that they could die, struck down by the plague, so she had to warn them accordingly. If they declined to go, she would move on to the next pair until she found someone to go. If the plague was active again, then they needed to know.
She wasn’t looking forward to giving the order.
Quite a bit of the furniture in the inn had been sacrificed to the fire to keep you and Sora from freezing to death, but there was enough left to set up three tables. You had Sora help you arrange things so that there were chairs at the tables and that the tables themselves weren’t too far apart from each other. The table that Sora used to dump the Nopefish on was set apart.
“There,” you said with satisfaction. “Now the place doesn’t look like a complete dump. It actually looks kind of like a proper inn.”
“It’s not really an inn if there’s no place to sleep,” Sora pointed out, the party pooper. He noticed your glare and hastily amended, “But you’re right, it does look better now that the tables and chairs aren’t randomly scattered about.”
There was a brief silence as you wiped down one of the tables again, and then Sora spoke up from a nearby chair.
“But it’s not like you’re actually going to get customers, you know? I mean, we’re pretty much in the middle of nowhere with nothing around for miles.”
You sighed. “I know, but I find that it helps to keep busy.”
“I guess you’ve got a point.”
You heard some shuffling and then a curse. “Damn it. My phone’s almost dead.”
You felt a jolt go through you at the reminder. No electricity of charger meant that the two of you had tried to conserve the charges to your phones, but there was only so long you could stretch that out. Your phones had already died—you’re not proud of the crying session you had when your personal phone ran out of its charge—and Sora’s work phone was the last one left.
Sora stood up as he swiped at the screen. “We might as well get some last bit of fun out of it.”
Music started playing, some kind of heavy beat, and you felt an embarrassed grin cross your face as you turned around to find Sora holding out a hand to you. Trying not to blush too badly, you took his hand and let him lead you to one of the cleared spaces in the room.
The two of you danced next to each other and reveled in the last of the music until it suddenly stopped.
Pressing your head against Sora’s chest, you sniffled and pretended not to hear him do the same.
The days were different somehow now that you both knew there would be no more music. It was… harder to get up and do things. You still did, it just took longer. There was more silence now, and it seemed that the two of you just couldn’t find anything to say beyond the usual things of eating and sleeping.
Still, that didn’t prepare either of you for the knock at the door that came out of the blue.
Sora fell out of his chair and landed on the floor while your heart leapt into your throat as you stood up from the chair you’d been sitting in. Sora scrambled to his feet and put himself between you and the door as you both stared at it.
The knock came again, this time accompanied by a voice in a language you didn’t recognize.
Sora’s head cocked. “English?”
“No idea,” you said, whether or not he was asking you.
The knock and voice came again, and this time the doorknob rattled. You took in a sharp breath as Sora tensed, but the door was locked. The knock came again, and the voice called a little louder.
Sora looked over his shoulder at you. “Should I…?”
You frowned and glanced around at the many windows. “Well, it’s not as though this place is really secure if someone wants in…”
“Better to know where they’re coming from then,” Sora said. He straightened and held up a hand. “Wait here. If it’s someone or something dangerous, be ready.”
You want to ask him be ready how, but he’s already moving.
He cautiously approached the door and called back, “Hello?”
There was a pause and then the voice called again, still in incomprehensible words.
Sora reached the door and cracked it open. “Excuse me, what?”
He didn’t jump back or anything as he and the person at the door tried to explain themselves to each other, but with no progress being made, Sora paused before stepping back and opening the door further.
You did not gape at the dog-person or the lizard-person at the door—you were more likely to take a second look at someone with a cactus or speech bubble for a head—since you’d seen more shocking Quirks. The two strangers stepped further inside and Sora closed the door behind them before walking past them to stand mostly in front of you. The lizard person leaned over and muttered something to the dog-person who nodded back. You noted that they were both wearing matching badges and briefly wondered if they were a couple of some kind. They both looked male, but you could be wrong; then again, maybe they were a same-sex couple. Wait, that shouldn’t be your focus at the moment.
Unless they were here for a room, in which case you’d have to disappoint them. Not because you had anything against same-sex couples, just that you didn’t really have any good beds upstairs.
The dog person spoke, causing both you and Sora to glance at each other.
Sora apologized. “Sorry, but I don’t understand? No speak English?”
He said the whole thing in Japanese and a small part of your brain snarked that the last three are usually attempted in English.
The two strangers looked at each other before the lizard person chipped in, about as successful in making themselves understood as their companion.
You nervously licked your lips. If they were speaking English…
”Hello. Heal. Money.”
They jolted and started speaking quickly to you, but you shook your head. “I don’t understand. I’m sorry. Hello. Heal. Money.”
They looked at each other again before looking back at you. The dog person spoke slowly, making you frown because hello, speaking more slowly doesn’t equate to either you or Sora understanding them any better.
“Maybe they need a visual? I mean, it’s obvious that they understand you can speak three words, but it doesn’t mean anything to them. For all they know, you could be asking for healing and saying that you’ll pay.” Sora frowned before holding up a finger. “One moment.”
He then abandoned you to return to the kitchen and left you alone with nothing between you and the two strangers. You tried not to tense up, but your unease probably showed on your face because they raised their hands in a placating manner while murmuring softly, possibly trying to reassure you that they meant you no harm.
Sora returned with a knife in hand, causing the two strangers to tense up. Sora raised a hand in a placating manner.
“No, I’m not going to hurt you. Look.”
He then proceeded to slice his forearm diagonally and as the two strangers got wide-eyed, you wanted to smack either your hand against your face or Sora up the head.
Neither won, and instead you thrust your arm out while berating Sora.
Beilmark watched as one Human grabbed the other who had just injured themselves. There was a brief shout that sounded like anger and worry, but that observation fell aside as the injury knitted itself together in full view.
Jeiss snapped his claws. “So that’s what the Human meant by heal and money. They heal for money.”
Beilmark frowned. “But it sounds like they don’t speak the Common Tongue? So how would they peddle their services?”
His partner shrugged. “Don’t know. Still, maybe that explains why they’re not dead. Hey, if they can heal the plague, do you think they can heal a cold too?”
“That’s not our mission,” he reminded his partner. “Our primary target is to find out if the plague is still active, and our secondary target is to discern whether or not either of these two are threats to the city.”
Jeiss gestured at the Humans. “And how are we gonna figure that out since they apparently don’t speak in understandable words except for hello, heal and money?”
Beilmark was stumped. “Well… huh. Guess we’ll have to pass that along to the captain.”
“Provided we can even return,” Jeiss said grimly.
They’d been briefed on the risks of coming here, but it was either them or someone of lower rank, which at worst case could be pushed all the way back to a pair of rookies. They were Senior Guardsmen, so they had decided together to take up the mission given by the Watch Captain. If they died out here, well, their families would receive some money and they had agreed that their spouses could handle themselves if the worst should happen. Of course, they hadn’t accepted the mission without talking about it to said spouses, but after some argument, both had convinced their wives that this was their duty as Senior Guardsmen.
Beilmark sniffed the air. “I don’t smell anything that could be sickness. There’s some strange food scents here, and the stink of the two Humans, but nothing that screams ‘plague’ at me.”
Jeiss coughed slightly, covering a laugh. “Just because we suspect they can’t understand us doesn’t mean we should talk about them in their presence as though they’re not here.”
“Mrr, perhaps you have a point.”
He turned his attention back on the two Humans. There was some blood on the floor now, but the Human’s arm was completely healed. One of them was a [Healer], and fairly high leveled to be able to heal without the assistance of any potions or plants. That was definitely something they’d report to Captain Zevara, maybe even pass along to the citizens if they wanted to come out here for healing, though that would be up to the captain. Beilmark hoped not, since that would probably mean increased patrols to make a safer journey out here.
Urgh. They couldn’t head back without trying to get some kind of information from them; names, at least. He heard Jeiss let out a small, aggrieved sigh and suspected his partner was thinking along the same lines.
Well, they had to try.
It was strange, though, that they didn’t understand the Common Tongue. Neither Human had jumped or otherwise reacted to either he or Jeiss, so this couldn’t be the first time they’d seen a Gnoll and a Drake, surely? He’d make note of it in his report to Zevara, but for now he had to try to communicate with them.
You and Sora stared at the strangers as they slowly spoke and tried pantomime to convey their words. You and Sora kept exchanging glances, completely lost.
The dog man seemed to be at his wit’s end (identifying him as male was a guess on your part since he was big and seemed built more like a male bodybuilder than anything else, but you could be wrong). His lizard man partner’s slumped shoulders suddenly lifted. They put their hands (claws?) on their chest.
You blinked as his partner seemed to catch on and repeated the same motion.
“Hoh,” Sora said softly, once more exchanging a glance with you. “Think that’s their family name or given name? Shall we give them our family names or given names?” He paused. “Come to think of it, do you think they put their names like we do or foreigners do?”
“It might be easier if we had paper to draw on,” you replied. “I mean, if we did, we could draw a family, circle it and say our family name, then circle a single figure and say our names to differentiate between them. But we don’t, so… family names?”
“Yeah, I think that’d be best. I’d get annoyed if they started calling me by my name when we’re not friends at all, or even close.”
“Alright, you going first or should I?”
“I’ll do it.”
Sora lifted his hands and placed them on his chest. “Tanaka.”
You brought a hand up to your chest to indicate yourself and said your family name.
The dog man repeated, pointing at each of you in turn and saying your family names without much butchering. When he gestured for the same, though, both you and Sora stumbled over both names. The embarrassing attempt made them exchange glances, but apparently it was enough.
The lizard man raised a hand and gestured to the whole inn. You couldn’t exactly convey how you two had ended up here, so all you could do was shrug. Sora did the same, and Beilmark and Jeiss seemed to give up on it.
Beilmark gestured at you. “Heal.” He pointed at the door and then to you. “Heal for money?”
Sora leaned over. “Think he’s asking if you’d heal other people for money?”
You frowned because you weren’t an expert any more than he was. “I have no idea.”
“But would you?”
“Where would we even spend it?”
“Wherever they’re coming from?”
Your eyes widened and you looked over at him. He nodded slightly and went on.
“If they direct people to us, then couldn’t we follow them back to wherever they’re coming from? Then, if we actually get money from them, we could but stuff.” His nose wrinkled. “Like a set of different clothes.”
You winced at the reminder that you’ve been managing with only one set of clothes, just barely.
“Alright, point.” You nodded at Beilmark. “Heal.” You opened a palm and tapped it. “Money.”
They nodded and soon they were gone with words you couldn’t understand and waves from their… paw and claw, respectively. Sora stared out the door into the rain after them and only shut it when he seemed to have lost sight of them.
“Alright, so either there’s a town that way,” he pointed, “Or they’re just heading that way to mislead us. Either way, someone knows that we’re here, even if they don’t speak a lick of Japanese.”
You sighed and ran a hand through your hair. “Man. Never thought I’d regret not taking English class seriously beyond just passing. If Shizu were here, she’d be able to talk to them.”
Sora sat back in a chair. “Great. So not only are we not in our own world, we don’t even speak the language of this one. Fuck.”
You snorted. “I bet you know that word in English too.”
He smirked a little. “Well, yeah, but that’s a misunderstanding I don’t need, get me?”
You laughed at the thought of either Beilmark or Jeiss taking Sora at his word.
Zevara stared at the Senior Guardsmen across from her. “A [Healer] you say? And she really didn’t use any magic or poultices to heal the other one?”
Beilmark shook his head. “No. She simply reached out with her hands to touch the other Human.”
Zevara raised an eye ridge at him. “’She’?”
“She had mammary glands while her companion did not.”
“Was the Human fat? Sometimes fat Human males get them too, though I heard they’re not milk givers.”
“No, neither was fat. They did not look starved, despite how long they’ve seemingly been out there by themselves. As you know, winter ended recently, and there was no garden nearby. Perhaps they’ve been fishing.”
“Perhaps,” Zevara agreed slowly. She met his eyes. “Senior Guardsman Beilmark, as you are here in person reporting to me, is it safe to assume that the plague is no longer active?”
Beilmark had straightened at his title. “I believe so, Captain. Neither Human exhibited the slightly hint of the plague, nor was there any scent of illness in the air of the inn.”
“I see. Alright, then lift the order that bans the Humans from approaching the city. They can approach, but I’d like a Gnoll to give them a sniff before they enter the city. If they smell sick, keep them out and let me know immediately.”
They both nodded. “Yes, Captain.”
She looked up from her desk when she noticed they hadn’t moved. “Yes?”
“Regarding the [Healer], are we allowed to speak of her to others?”
Zevara held back a grimace. “You may. If people start going out there, let me know at once and we’ll increase patrols to cover that area. Though I don’t know how they’d even communicate with the Humans if they can’t even tell the [Healer] what their problem is.”
Beilmark nodded. “Yes, Captain.”
They finally left.
Sighing, Zevara leaned back in her chair. So, there were a pair of strange-tongued Humans living at the abandoned inn, huh?
She just hoped they wouldn’t cause her any trouble.
Maybe then you comprehend, speaking one language only is a prison!
~David Mitchell, Black Swan Green