Mari felt the rotting stench of the creature’s breath beat down hard on her neck she released her muscles slouching against the tree, she was ready for her second life to end with her only hope being that their wasn’t a second reincarnation.
The creatures hissed as warm blood splattered her face wiping the blood from her eyes Mari looked towards the creature in a daze, a spear of light had pierced the creatures head causing it to perish immediately upon impact.
“Hang on Mari!” Lilith shouted.
“Flare Magic: Lustre Claws
Striding forth with elegance and speed Lilith danced her way through the remaining creatures killing them each a single swipe of her enormous light claws. Mari had no idea that Lili was able to move like that it was beautiful like watching a professional ballet dancer only you know more blood and guts and less abuse of children.
Mari braced herself against the tree trying to stand but her legs refused to carry her weight, so they buckled sending her straight to her ass with a dull thump. God I am stupid and pathetic. You might have changed externally but inside you’re the same useless fool.
“I’m still Atsushi after all.” Mari sighed.
Lilith hurried to her side and in one sharp motion pulled her in to a tight hug, embrace was welcoming and soothing. Like an oasis in the middle of an arid desert.
She ruffled her fingers gently through Mari’s scraggy and knot stricken hair this act of kindness was enough to calm Mari enough to collect her thoughts and engage in an actual conversation.
“Thanks for saving me Lili”
“Don’t thank me! Just be smarter.”
“Huh?” Mari gulped surprised.
“You blindly into a dangerous area you know nothing about and almost perished as a result.”
“We’ll be at war soon Riri sloppy decisions like that will get you killed.”
“I know, my bad, sorry…I just.”
“Save it we can talk tomorrow for now let’s sleep.”
Mari struggled to move her stamina spent her legs felt like they were encased in slabs of concrete.
After a long trek they made their way back to the camp Madoka had returned to sleep but Maya and Aeolous were conversing around the campfire.
Lili helped Mari to the ground before taking a seat next to her the silence had grown thick enough that you could have cut it with a knife. Maya was the first to attempt to shatter the silence, but Mari cut her off.
“Wait Maya I need to say something”.
“Okay…” Maya said caught of guard.
Mari had been thinking about everything that transpired back in Shikishima village and the part of Maya played in the travesty was minimal at best. Sure, she used nasty interrogation techniques, but she was an undercover agent, so they forced her hand.
When Mari went crazy and started attacking everyone, she did not intervene she stood by and let it happen, how hard must it had been for her watching Shi and god only knows how many other people get ruthlessly killed.
She was just looking for some to project her feelings of hatred and self-loathing onto another so that she would not be buried underneath it’s monolithic weight, Maya fell into place easy and thus became the object of Mari’s wrath.
“I’m sorry for everything I said and did.”
“Mari, you don’t need to apologize…I”.
“But I do I was being childish and passing the blame.”
“You’re surprisingly kind Mari but I don’t deserve it.”
“You don’t get to decide to that, Maya.”
“But I’ve done unforgivable things.”
“I’ve tortured and killed people, good people.”
“You didn’t have a choice idiot.”
“I almost died tonight, and it made realize something important.”
“What’s that?” Maya said wiping tears from her eyes.
“My vendetta lies with the royal family and the church that’s where I should direct my searing fury nowhere else.”
“Let’s follow Usa’s example and get some rest.” Aeolous yawned.
“That’s a great idea we make for the temple at dawn.” Lilith added.
“Sweet dreams, Maya.” Mari beamed.
Falling asleep proved easy as her body was pushed well past the point of exhaustion her shoulders felt lighter and muscles had unclenched, her anger towards Maya had diminished and Mari felt a sense of ease that she relished the feeling knowing that it would likely be short lived.