Ah, I finally get to stretch and run; I don’t have to be cooped up in that tree any longer. It was so stifling. Hunting for food, and making sure the cart is safe — those are my only concerns now. Life is good. I am so excited to finally have a place to call home this time around.
I had a house in my last life, although I don’t think I would call it a home. Still, I loved working on it, improving it. I bought all sorts of smart devices that I used to automated what I could. Automatic doors? Check. Automated lights? Check. Automatic temperature control for each room? Check. All the fun gadgets.
At the beginning, it was barely a shell of a building, it needed so much work. I worked day and night, watching online tutorial videos, learning how to do the repairs myself. After I finished fixing it up, years of sweat, blood, and labor… My wife insisted on moving. It was another chance to give my wife what she wanted in hopes of her loving me.
So we sold the house I poured my love into, and bought another junk house. Not only did we spend more on this new house, but it was bigger and required even more work. Since it costed more, the payments were larger, and I had less money to use to repair it. This lead to the repairs being slower, and some down time. The wife figured this was just me slacking off, and held it against me. The relationship with my wife just got worse from that point.
The result? I felt even more lonely and less appreciated. She used the opportunity to threaten me with leaving, if I didn’t work harder on it. Between her attitude towards me, and my apathy towards her in return, the mood was always sour when we were both in the house. This led my daughters to hate being around us both. Specifically, they hated being around me. Their Mom took care of them, after all. Me? I just paid the bills. What was there to like? Maybe in their teen years…but we never got that far.
Now, though, it seems like Melsy appreciates me, not just in her own way, but in a way I want to be appreciated! I really don’t want to mess that up. I hope I can make her as happy as she makes me. It makes me nervous.
Somehow, I have to balance that with taking care of my new children. That will include things like building houses, hunting, and foraging. It isn’t just a lot of work, it’s also time consuming, and will take away from how long I can spend showing my appreciation to Melsy.
Adulting is hard.
I shake my head and focus on my surroundings. I can’t worry about that now. That criminal is with us, leading the way. I need to keep an eye on him. He is one of the best trackers, supposedly, and has agreed to take us to our destination. I trust him to do that. The Arbitrator has assured me that he would. It is the things she wouldn’t say that has me worried. What condition will we arrive in? What will happen when we get there? I’m not sure it’s any better than having a wild animal free among us.
Not only him, but I also need to be wary of threats from this forest we’re in. Orckin, Dragonfolk, Bearfolk, oh my! I chuckle to myself, retrofitting the old movie line to the situation.
And then there is that ‘Shielded’ fellow. He is literally a black hole. I can’t feel anything from him, except there is an absence of everything around him. I have gotten used to my senses in this new body and its ability to sense rune energy around virtually everything. If it wasn’t for my eyes seeing him, I would swear he didn’t exist. He also doesn’t talk much. I don’t blame him. The criminal he came with did some terrible things to his family. Apparently Gaia sent him for two reasons.
“Tristain!” Melsy crashes through a branch, landing next to me.
“You,” I pause and think if saying it will insult her, but decide she’ll probably think its funny. “You have so little grace when flying, it amazes me. Sure, you can’t be hurt…but still.”
Melsy smiles back at me mischievously. Yes, she’s going to do it on purpose now, just to get a reaction from me. I guess that’s okay. As long as she’s having fun.
“Oh! Right, there is an orckin just a bit aways,” she says, pointing east of us, “It would make a great dinner, as it is a full-grown male.”
“Let me go tell Otsu, then we can head over there. I don’t want to leave that guy with the girls. Actually, I’m more concerned about the kids.” Thinking about it, any of the girls could probably take him head on.
“Ah, okay. I’ll be waiting for you somewhere on the way.” She takes off quickly, and avoids every single branch. How? No idea. With a canopy this thick, that should be impossible. It’s almost as bad as an Earth jungle.
No time to keep being stunned, though. I rush over to Otsu, who was just out of both earshot and sight. Maybe a thousand feet away? Not that it’s hard to lose sight of someone in this tangle of trees.
“Otsu! Melsy and I are going to hunt an orckin. Keep the children safe for me? What we talked about yesterday.” He nods and grumbles to my statements and question.
As I continue away to catch up with Melsy, I hear Mika ask him: “Otsu, what does he mean by that?” No use in trying to hide it from her, buddy. She has your number. You don’t let someone ride on your back after a fight, just because. He’s definitely in the doghouse, and trying to make up. The girls would find out sooner or later, anyway. Mika isn’t dumb. Er… Unintelligent. Yeah, dumb but very intelligent.
Thanks for the support! I am in your care! We are on the homeward stretch for this volume.
After writing this arc, I realized there wasn’t a hard “yup, this is the end of a volume.” That said, Where this one ends… there is definitely a hard end to a part of the story.
I didn’t realize how sad I was going to be, until I wrote the ending. I hope too many people aren’t upset with me. I write this story, and try to make these characters with real ‘<insert race name here>’ flaws.
Too often, you read things, and realize “That character is really fun to read about, but it never changes.” That sort of entertainment is really good in a lot of ways. That’s not always how things work out, though. People do things you don’t expect, and act in ways very uncharacteristic of themselves at times.
Sometimes, unexpected things happen. I’m still really upset about the ending of this arc. I hope you understand why, when we get there. When I write characters… Sometimes, they end up doing things I didn’t plan. And when it happens, you just need to flow with it. Sorry.