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Chapter 16: A Way Back

Splash! Splash!

The angry Xandra rose from the waters. But the nearby Kragg Hippos and the Bewilderbisons were now glaring at them.

“If we fight any more, these beasts will kick us out of this Habitat! Calm down! And stop exaggerating! What happened?” Flay asked.

“It’s your fault! You and that stupid ears of yours! We should have never followed you to that cave! The Might Wolves attacked!”

“The Elite Tamers decided that. I acted on orders and led them to that cave because of the thump! You were there that night! After we successfully tamed the Spike Tortoise, everyone decided to turn this hunting expedition into one that was to understand the changes in the Homeostasis in this land! The Master of the Hunt, Glum, asked me to do this! Why are you blaming and attacking me for following orders? And the Tamers are strong! Have you seen all of them die?!” Flay was enraged. If there was another creature, more terrifying than the Might Wolves or the Pteranodon who attacked and caused a wipeout, Flay would have heard it earlier. If the beast was strong but not massive, then the Tamers could still flee and use their many tactics to survive. A total wipeout has never occurred in the history of Hunts!”

Xandra continued to glare at Flay and wanted to charge, but suddenly, she couldn’t move her legs very well. The ground was muddy, and she couldn’t see that Kairo had secretly sneaked on the river and held her legs with their sticky properties.

“What?! I can’t move!” Xandra cursed.

Flay continued to observe Xandra. He noticed that Xandra's anger was so unreasonably intense.

“Wait… Only the Elites moved inside the cave and followed my leading. The rest were guarding the outside of the cave. Scouts… Your exaggeration and desperation… Your friend died. Elrik of the Montayo family.”

“Shut up! It’s your fault! It’s your fault that he's dead!”

“No. It was the monster's fault. As I said, everyone agreed, and you did not complain but even commended my ears at the start. Everyone had their hopes up and wished to solve the collapsing Homeostasis in these lands. But now that someone had died, you push it all to blame on me? Even when I told everyone that what I’m hearing may not be the solution to the changes? Xandra. When you argued with your father a few days ago about how you wanted to join this hunt and experience all of its glory, then here you have it! How many times have the Tamers returned with few remaining among them? This is the glory of the hunt!” Flay shouted.

Xandra was trembling in anger, but tears began to fall down her face.

“Tell me what you saw. Hate me in your past time. But right now, we need to get back to the Tamers and to camp. I saw what was causing the thump and have seen a monster that could be at the center of the destruction of our Homeostasis!”

“Liar! You just want to redeem yourself from your failures! You dud! You never even passed the strength test! Why did you ever join this hunt! You don’t belong here.”

Flay was silent, but instead of fighting the rage of Xandra, he decided to leave her alone and let her cool down.

“If you weren’t that beautiful…” Flay muttered to himself and turned around.

“Coward! Look at you! You must have bribed Dirk to vouch for you! That’s it! It was him, right?! He was the one who left those marks in the forest! It wasn’t you! Of course, why didn’t I see it? The wood in those trees could never have sword marks from someone below Rookie-6! It was definitely Dirk!”

“Marks in the forest? You guys went to the place where I trained? The woods at the back of the village?” Flay then realized that since his sword attacks were stronger, his training in the forest would have provided a great reason to join the hunt.

"Those trees are that hard?!" Flay didn't know that the wood of those trees was so strong that it could resist Rookie-6 attacks.

"So that's why no one cuts the trees there!" Flay realized.

"Master, for a Tamer who has shown great deductive prowess in analyzing the state of the Edge Lands, you really suck in observation sometimes."

"So that's how Dirk convinced everyone that I should join the hunt!"

It was a mystery as to how he was allowed to join the hunt even though he failed the test. He had only shown the strength of a peak Rookie-3 when he punched the Strength Measuring Stone. The requirement to join the Hunt was at least to have the strength of a Rookie-4. But later, the elite Tamer Dirk looked for him and told him that he could join the hunt.

“That’s why Dirk is all friendly with you! What illegal deeds are you two planning?!” Xandra sent accusation after accusation.

“Master, she seems to be still affected by the heat. Forgive her for being unreasonable. Her friend died, and it seems she had to cross the desert. No wonder she’s very angry and desperate. And she must have been traveling the entire night and had to cross the heat of the desert. She’s in shock.” Kairo telepathically communicated.

“Yeah. I can see that. She also lost her Tamed Beast. That’s another blow. She loved that horse. So it's like she lost two friends.” Flay agreed.

“So Dirk figured that out… No wonder I was allowed to hunt. Xandra, calm down and think back. I have a… condition with my Taming Hand, and I can’t release Brute power through it. And if you don’t believe me, think back. I just blocked your fist without the slightest trouble. That contained all your might, right?”

“No! You listen to me! I have crossed the desert and am without any strength! That’s why my-”

“I healed you. Well, actually, he healed you. I call him Kairo. The Water Slime.” Flay introduced, and Kairo jumped out of the water and moved towards Flay.

Xandra was stunned that her legs could now move. She then saw the slime standing next to Flay.

“What?!”

“I’ve finally fixed my little problem as a dud. It’s not exactly legendary, but my JewelJewel is now red. There were several issues that were also resolved, including my Brute Power. I should be stronger than you know.”

“What are you-”

“Check for any wounds you have. I found you collapsed in the sands earlier and saved you. This slime used a water element magic to heal you. Show him, Kairo.”

A faint blue light began to glow around Kairo. The moment Xandra saw it, she was shocked. That was similar to how acolytes and mages cast magic!

“A magic slime!”

“Convenient, right? My Taming Jewel is colored red. Unfortunately, it’s the weakest Jewel, and I could only tame a slime. But see? The slime here has magic!”

“A slime that can heal?!”

Kairo jumped and turned into a sword.

“It can also do this. Neat, huh? It seems to have some intelligence. I can somehow understand it, but it only squirms and wiggles around when it talks. Oh. But now is not the time for that. We have to get back!”

Kairo spat out two balls of green essence.

“Our most immediate concern is getting back to the village. We have to move now. I allowed you to recover, but we have to keep moving.” Flay took one and began to rub it around his face.

Xandra was shocked at the slime that obeyed Flay and how it transformed into a sword.

“This green thing is concentrated plant essence. It masks our scents. This will allow us to move back into the Craggy Rock Plains without being detected by the Might Wolves. If you can retrace your steps, we could find a shortcut on how to get back to the Craggy Rock Plains. Now tell me what happened to the Tamers.” Flay’s words had a more commanding tone.

Xandra continued to give Flay a suspicious look. The way Flay carried himself was far more different than the weak-willed youth he knew a few days ago. She still hated Flay, but Flay was right. She had fled because she would have died if she remained. Now, they needed to get back to the hunt.

“I don’t know what happened. When you and the elites went inside that cave to investigate the thump you kept hearing, the Might wolves attacked us. The Alpha was there. It chased after me. The Alpha had Elrik’s bloody scarf…”

“I’m sorry about Elrik.”

“No, you’re not! But you’re right. I don’t have time to hate and argue with you. If a Tamer decides that he or she doesn’t need others, then that Tamer is doomed. Let’s get back. That magic Slime could protect us from the heat and cast a spell if needed. We can also use the leaves of the trees like an umbrella. I think I can point the right direction towards the Craggy Rock Plains. My horse did its best, and we wandered in the desert for a time. But because of his sacrifice, I can bring us both back. So be thankful, Flay. Two lives have died so that you could find a way back home!” Xandra began to move out of the waters, and as she reached land, she began to look up to look for a huge leaf that they could use.

SLASH! SLASH!

Flay was already on top of a tree and made two cuts that caused two huge leaves to fall down.

Xandra was shocked. But he saw the Slime turning into something that Flay used to step on, which allowed him to easily scale and move down the tall tree.

“Interesting leaves… I think we should get more. It’s constantly in a state of moisture to resist the heat. Kairo. Let’s get a few more. Maybe you absorb this instead, and we can create some sort of moisturizer.” Flay immediately ran up the tree, and with Kairo, he scaled to the top and slashed another branch off the tree.

Xandra was amazed at what he saw.

“What happened to this dud?” She marveled.

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