20. The Piano and the Puppy
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❮ ◈ ❯

Lv.10 Hobgoblin killed.

You have dealt the final blow. 100% of experience acquired.

Requirement for level up updated.

Current progress: 20/80

❮ ◈ ❯

 

Rakna flicked the blood off his claws then looked at the remaining goblins nearby. “Scram,” he uttered and triggered his Intimidation at the same time. The green skinned monsters screeched and bolted away without looking back.

 

Rakna looked in the direction where they were running to and managed to catch a glimpse of the school grounds from the gaps in the trees’ branches.

 

“Leia! You’re okay?” Leis ran to his sister and Rakna looked at them. At the same time, Flavia and Allan arrived and walked to him.

 

“Damn, man, you’re too fast,” Allan grumbled as he looked at the corpse of the hobgoblin on the ground. He glanced at its head and saw the ten small puncture marks before sniggering.

 

“I’m fine, I’m fine. Geez,” Leia stood up while pushing away the people next to her with a huff. Leis sighed in relief and turned toward Rakna.

 

“Thank you, Xiorra. I can’t imagine what would have happened if you didn’t intervene,” he said.

 

“No problem.”

 

“Hey,” Allan raised his voice, catching everyone’s attention. “Aren’t you guys the Wing Walkers?” He inquired with a tilt of his head.

 

Leis blinked in surprise. “Yes… I’m surprised you know about us.”

 

Allan shrugged. “I met that guy last year,” he pointed at one of the members behind Leis who pointed at himself in confusion. “Yeah, you. I never forget a face, or anything else for that matter. I was passing by when I heard your introduction. You all have the same tattoo as well, no need to be a genius to make the connection.”

 

“Wing Walkers…?” Flavia muttered. “What is that? Some sort of organization?”

 

“A gang,” Rakna, who had been silent until now, spoke up. “Or to be exact, they’re a bunch of military trained orphans who roam the streets to fight the crime and help citizens.”

 

At his words, the entirety of the group in front of him stared at him wide eyed. It was as if they had just heard something impossible.

 

“You… that’s not something that should be known to the public,” Dan uttered. “Where did you hear that?”

 

“Not relevant,” Rakna replied.

 

“You-!”

 

“Calm down,” Leis put his hand in front of Dan. “There’s no point in fighting here. Much less caring about that kind of stuff when we’re not even sure to still be on Earth. Xiorra, I guess you were not here just to say hi and save my sister, right?”

 

Rakna nodded. “Correct. Let’s say that I need… allies.”

 

“For what?”

 

He answered by pointing at Aquila perched on the statue. “To kill that thing.”

 

“Wait, I thought that gathering these souls was precisely for us to leave without fighting that eagle,” Gantt frowned. “Are you saying that it’s wrong?”

 

“Actually, we can’t say for sure,” Leis refuted with thoughtful expression. “The mission prompt said that gathering fifty souls would open the exit. As for the failing case, those with less will die after time runs out.”

 

“Indeed,” Rakna nodded. “From that perspective, that eagle is either a blatant threat to people who do not gather enough souls in time or a simple guardian. I lean toward the latter. The System told us that those with less than fifty souls would die; with a wording that left no debate. However, I checked that bird’s attributes.”

 

“What?” Dan was surprised. “How? I tried as well, but my scan was nullified.”

 

Rakna glanced at him indifferently. “Try to use it on me.”

 

“On you?” The spectacled teen scowled but nonetheless cast his skill. A prompt instantly gave him a result that startled him.

 

❮ ◈ ❯

Scan Failed. Target possesses a higher grade of analyzing skills.

❮ ◈ ❯

 

“That’s why,” Rakna said and continued on without waiting for an answer. “In any case, Aquila, that eagle, is powerful for sure, but nearly not enough to kill every participant without fail. Additionally, this is a hunt against its own race. The souls might actually be needed to get through the exit, but I don’t think that the ‘Eagle God’s Avatar’ would let us go happy merry after we’ve murdered hundreds of its kin.”

 

“Eh? Aren’t you overthinking it?” Leia commented. When she spoke, Rakna looked at her and she briefly blushed but covered it up with a cough. “I-I mean, this is a sort of game quest, right? I don’t think it goes that deep.”

 

“That’s where you’re wrong,” it was Flavia who retorted her argument. “We have to take this seriously exactly because it’s not a game. This is real life. No matter how close to a game you think this is, you can’t just go off that thinking. Didn’t your shop keeper tell you? This System is full of people like us, who were suddenly abducted.”

 

“She’s right,” Rakna followed and looked over his shoulder to stare at Aquila. “It’s very likely that the bird over there, is an actual divine being from a place like our world. Something that was not created but someone who was taken in by the System. This is the reason why we can’t think of this as a game.”

 

Everyone fell silent until a member of Wing Walkers lifted his hand awkwardly. “Um, I have a small question.”

 

“Hm?” Rakna looked at him.

 

“Where… do these come from?” He pointed at two gray wolves who were silently sitting on the side, wagging their tails.

 

“Wait, they’re the ones who stalled the hobgoblin earlier,” Leia finally remembered that just before Rakna came to kill the monster, it had been attacked by wolves.

 

“You’re asking good questions,” Allan laughed. “I too have no idea.”

 

“Same here,” Flavia added and everyone turned to Rakna who casually brought his fingers to his lips and whistled for the wolves to leave.

 

“It’s related to my Nirvana Skill,” he ultimately said after they had left.

 

“Nirvana Skills, huh?” Leis repeated. “How did you awaken it? I have one, I think, but it’s marked unknown on my status and my AI isn’t giving me any definite answer.”

 

“I can’t say. Personally, mine awakened when I was about to die,” Rakna said impassively and Leis cringed a little bit. “Don’t worry. I really don’t think that near death experiences are the only way to unlock them. For instance, Flavia had hers available almost immediately.”

 

“I see…”

 

“So, what do you think of my suggestion?” Rakna asked. “Can I rely on your group? I believe that I can’t find anyone more competent than any of you in our school.”

 

“You might be surprised,” Leis snickered. “There are black horses everywhere after all… I met one a few moments ago in fact.” Rakna raised an eyebrow and he chuckled. “In any case, I accept your proposal. Looking forward to work with you,” he said while extending his hand.

 

“Likewise, Leis Walker,” Rakna said and shook his hand.

 

Leis bitterly smiled. “Seems you do know something about our orphanage…”

 

“That I do. Someone I know used to live there,” Rakna explained and turned toward the school grounds from where he could already smell the auras of both the goblins and the eagles thanks to his wolf senses. “I assume not all of you have gathered the quota, right? That’s why you’re here.”

 

Leis nodded. “You’re right. We still lack a few souls.”

 

“Makes sense with so many people,” Allan remarked nonchalantly.

 

“Yes, unfortunately. And I refuse to ever leave anyone behind,” Leis replied firmly. His group smiled at his words as if they didn’t expect any less from him.

 

“I see. You make a good leader,” Rakna commented. “Then, let’s not waste any more time. First thing we need to do is to assess the situation. Who amongst you is the fastest and stealthiest?”

 

Dan raised his hand. “That would be me.”

 

“All right. You and me will go scout the school grounds to see what we can expect. Leis, you’re fine with that?”

 

 

Leis nodded. “No problem. We’ll wait for you two to come back.”

 

“In that case, let’s go. We’ll be sure to be back in less than thirty minutes,” Rakna declared and he and Dan nodded at each other before leaping on tree branches and vanishing inside the forest.

 

“Those two… their speed really doesn’t look human anymore,” Allan sighed.

 

“Well, the same could be said for any of our specializations,” Leis added as everyone sat down, preparing to wait. “This is just the tutorial, as they called it, and we’re already becoming something that normal humans never could have imagined possible. I wonder how far we’ll go like this...”

 

“Who cares, come on,” Leia said while lying on the ground with her hands behind her back. “Do you really need to get existential for nothing?”

 

Leis snorted. “I guess not…” He then looked at Allan and Flavia. The former was leaning against a tree and the latter was sitting on a rock with her legs folded. “What about you two? What is your opinion on all this? Personally, I still haven’t taken the time to properly think about what we’re going through.”

 

Allan glanced back with one eye and shrugged. “What is there to think about? Whether it’s this thing in our heads, the midget monsters in the school, that big bird over there, or the fact that we can now crush stone barehanded or run faster than a car, what kind of conclusion do you expect to reach? The only thing we can and should do is just continue living our life like we always did.”

 

“Don’t you think that your words are a bit too callous?” Gantt uttered while planting his shield in the ground. “Some people have family and friends back on Earth. While we indeed are orphans as Xiorra stated, there are still things we care about. And don’t get me started on the fact that there are thousands of people dying because of this. Half of our school is missing and I’m not optimistic enough to think that they were safely returned to Earth.”

 

Allan sighed and spread his arms with a shrug. “I understand what you’re saying but those feelings are misplaced at best. What are you even debating? If this situation is a good thing or not? I’m pretty sure the answer to that is already pretty damn evident. Of course, it’s a bad thing. Now the question is, are you willing to just take it like a man, or whine about the fact that you survived?”

 

Gantt frowned but didn’t reply.

 

Flavia let out a breath. “Stop that, Allan... You’re being a too insensitive.”

 

“Tch… can’t blame me. It’s not really my thing to solace others.”

 

Leis closed his eyes for a moment then turned to Flavia. “What about you, Miss Jeina? As a teacher, I was curious to know what you thought about a bunch of students thrown into a game of death and life.”

 

“Well, I don’t know if this appropriate to say but… I believe that I practically lost every relation to the job of teacher the moment we woke up here,” she said and looked at the sky. “Both my father and grandfather are military men. My grandpa even participated in the battles of the cold war that made Aurora take over the world. I was taught since young about values that were slightly different from others… I guess?” She scratched her cheek with a wry smile.

 

“What I’m trying to say is, you and I both know that this became a survival game the very second we heard a voice speak in our minds. So, please, don’t give me too much credit as a ‘teacher’. Because instead of trying to help my students, I decided to go along with the two persons I trusted the most and whom I was sure would give me the best odds of survival.”

 

Following the fading sound of her last word, a comfortable silence installed itself and Leis sighed again. “I see… I was often told to be mature for my age but it seems I still have ways to go. Just take Xiorra, for example. I’m sure that he didn’t even flinch when he saw the kobolds.”

 

Flavia chuckled softly. “You’re plenty mature, Leis. Rakna is a special case you could say.”

 

Allan snickered. “True. You wanna know my assumption on what Rak thinks about this mess?”

 

Leis blinked and Leia tilted her head in interest. “Shoot,” she uttered and the rest of the gang shared her curiosity.

 

Allan cackled. “I have a question for you, what time was it when the school was taken away?”

 

“Time?” Leis scowled. “You mean… around 2pm?”

 

“Yeah, exactly. Right after lunch break,” Allan smirked.

 

Flavia quickly realized what he was coming at and couldn’t hold back her smile.

 

“Usually, Rak sleeps on the roof between 1pm to 5 pm. It’s his personal ritual. You can be sure that he hates being interrupted.”

 

“Wait… you’re not saying…” Leis was baffled.

 

“Yep, from how I see it, Rak is probably going through this game so diligently because he’s pissed to not be able to have his daily nap and wants to complain to whoever’s responsible.”

 

“You can’t be serious…” Gantt muttered.

 

“I’m afraid he is,” Flavia quipped. “Rakna hates anything that breaks his ‘internal peace’, so speak.”

 

“He also has a very weird sense or priorities. Imagine; what if you were walking on the street and saw a piano about to fall on a puppy? What would you think first?”

 

“To save the puppy?” Leia said.

 

“That would be the most normal thing to do. But Rakna isn’t like that. He wouldn’t even need to think to rush to save the puppy but on the other hand, his head would filled with but only one concern: ‘Where does this piano come from?’”

 

“…”

 

Allan’s laugh soon resounded over the silence caused by the Wing Walkers while Rakna suddenly sneezed for no reason.

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