Chapter 5: Conflicting Conclusions
Thin golden beams lit the path ahead as rays from the sun pierced through the tiny gaps in the thick canopies above. I was flanked by tall, towering trees that formed endless rows both in front and behind me, as if seemingly stretching far beyond the horizon with no end in sight.
Frankly speaking, I was starting to feel tired of the evergreen forest. Every step I took into the damp undergrowth and deeper into the forest felt more and more demoralising as the scenery never did change much. It was always the same row of trees with maybe the occasional group of fungi at the base of a tree or a rotting log mixed between them. It was boring.
However, that paled in comparison to what Valtan had put me through this time. We were supposed to be walking through the forest together, but halfway through our trek into the forest, Valtan impulsively said “I’m gonna scout ahead for a bit” and ran off, climbing towards the treetops without any explanation whatsoever. As a consequence of his spontaneous actions, here I was, left alone with the behemoth Asclepius looming behind me.
Do you know how scary being left alone with Asclepius is?!?!
I resolved myself to definitely ask Valtan that question when he comes back later. Especially since I wasn’t too sure if the ominous feeling that emanated behind me since he left was related to Asclepius. In the end, I somehow managed to convince myself that Asclepius probably had nothing to do with it.
Thinking about it now, what was up with Valtan’s body during his fight with Asclepius? Golden skin and fiery red eyes… those aren’t normal, are they?
However before I could brood over it for long, a peculiar but also familiar sour scent infiltrated my nose, pulling me back into the uninteresting forest.
Is that the smell of the Harbinger’s camp?
I quizzed with a glimmer of hope as the strange odour of sweat amidst the fragrance of fresh wood wafted straight into my nose.
Unfortunately, I was let down by my scent of smell as only Valtan’s bulky figure appeared from the dense treetops, perching himself on a nearby tree branch.
“Hey Aegeus, the encampment is just right ahead. We’re almost there!”
With a happy smirk on his face, he trumpeted before performing a somersault as he launched himself off the branch and towards the ground, scoring a perfect landing.
Watching his unnecessarily flamboyant movements, I couldn’t care less. After all, being stuck with him for the past few days have already desensitised me to his absurd level of fitness. Moreover, my mind was also preoccupied with other thoughts…
Oh my god finally! You clearly don’t know how happy I am to finally be able to put an end to this madness.
Unable to contain the excitement within me, I forced the last few ounces of strength into my legs as I sprang forwards towards the vine curtain that blocked the path ahead, stopping just before it while grinning like an absolute madman.
Despite taking a deep breath to calm myself for the final step to my salvation, I hastily swept aside the vine curtain. Staying true to what Valtan had claimed, just past the edge of the cliff ahead, the image of a sprawling encampment immediately came into view below us.
It was the same familiar encampment that I had woken up abruptly from a week ago. Rows of dimly lit shacks bounded by the jagged wooden fences were arranged randomly around the main centerpiece of the encampment, which was a giant tree with a thick and sturdy base that grew upwards towards the tangy orange skies above, seemingly as if touching the heavens themselves. It was humongous, to say the least.
Woah! I’ve never seen a World Tree from afar before, but wow this is huge!
My jaws dropped as I stared in awe at the world tree, compounding on my heightened eagerness at returning to camp.
Looking at the World Tree from afar really is different than standing on one. From the canopy of the world tree, everything looks tiny to you, but from afar, it really puts into perspective how tiny we actually are.
Seeing that I was being entranced by the World Tree, Valtan sneaked up to my side and attempted gently pushed my lower jaw up.
However, I had seen it coming.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
I glared at Valtan.
“Uhhhh… you don’t want a fly to get in do you?”
With a wry smile, Valtan replied while cheekily scratching his cheek.
“*Ahem.* Well the view sure is nice, isn’t it?”
Avoiding eye contact with me, Valtan quickly directed his view to far beyond the cliff, slowly relaxing his shoulders as he admired the amazing landscape.
“Yeah. It really is… extravagant. We never had scenery like this back in Varich. If only Andromeda were here to see this too…”
My words slowly trailed off as I followed Valtan’s gaze.
Yeah if only Andromeda were here…
“Woah there kiddo, you know I’m really sorry about everything that’s happened and whatever I say probably wouldn’t matter much to you… But what’s done is done and harping over it wouldn’t do you any good either. I think we should let the dead rest and right now… The best thing we can do for them is to honour their will in the living…”
Valtan grabbed my shoulders forcefully, turning my body to face him.
“Huh? Yeah… I guess we should do that…”
I stared blankly back at Valtan, before looking away into the distance and letting out a sigh.
Easier said than done, you know? He’s right through already!
“Alright! Come on let’s go down and meet everyone else back at base. How about you take your mind off all of this with some properly cooked food and wine? Maybe even a shower too since you haven’t had one for the last few days?”
Valtan slapped my left shoulder energetically as he brought his face closer and shot a wink at me.
“Yeah sure… let’s go…”
(Author’s note: Sorry guys but there won’t be a new chapter next week due to me being on vacation (without internet 🙁 ). But if I can manage to get some writing in, I’ll try and post it before I leave!)
Written by: Emelia-Tan
Edited by: Schwarz13 and Mega14343
Proofread by: Yakult