5 – LOST
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Here is your weekly dose. There is going to be another essay page next week, meaning a Tuesday - Friday double release.

Please don't refrain from writing comments, or maybe I should open a discord server already. What do you think about it?

Spoiler

"Lorem Ipsum"  : Dialogue

'Lorem Ipsum'   : Internal Monologue

(loremipsum)    : Unstructured Mental Dialogue

[collapse]

 

*CAUTION*
DON'T READ IT IN DARK MODE. THIS CHAPTER IS HARD TO READ IN DARK MODE DUE TO TEXT COLORS.

(The Man’s POV)


This place was certainly not Sema. I had no doubts remaining by now.  I may be in one of the many neighbors of the Republic, and even be in one of the unclaimed buffer regions between the Republic and one of its neighbors but I hardly believed so.

First of all, the language the woman and the man spoke was completely alien. I can’t say that I know every dialect of every language spoken in the many neighbors of the Republic but many words were interchangeable and some concepts were impossible to skip such as Authority. But the woman obviously had no idea what authority is, despite being an authority holder herself.

Moreover, the climate was different. The last time I remember, it was near the winter solstice, and the clothes on me are obviously winter uniform with the waterproof coat and thermal underclothes. However, there was no sight of snow which is a common view of the Dagarası border during winter solstice despite being in a shady hillside forest. The climate felt more like early autumn or late spring of Dagarası region which meant, either I have months of holes in my memory or this place is not Dagarası.

Apart from the terrain and the language, the clothing, the equipment, and even the wildlife were different. Despite all the different survival trainings I took, there was not a single plant animal or even a rock that I know of. 

‘The question is, where am I right now.’ A few possible places that I could think of were not plausible simply because of being too far away. If I don’t have holes of a few months in my memory, that means I am thousands of ranges away from where I last remember.

A possible explanation of such a thing may be a gate incident however, as far as I know, gate usage does not cause memory loss and I had no memory of using one. Could I be drugged and tossed in a gate tough? I don’t want to consider the possibility of such a thing when I was surrounded by countless comrades in a military garrison. Simply surreal.

'Gate incidents are urban legends.

Are they really though? Is there any other explanation you can think of?

Doesn't matter. What really matters is that what are we going to do?

And what are we going to do?

When in doubt, just act according to The Black Covered Book.

Yeah. Just remove your brain and act without thinking.

There is a reason for that book to be covered in black and you know that too.

I know, but it is not necessarily mean that I enjoy it.'

The best possible action was, to assume that I was behind enemy lines and the worst thing I could do is to encounter too many people whose culture I don’t know of and language I don’t speak. I was alien to them as they were alien to me, and people fear the things they don’t know or understand. I simply didn’t want to risk it and learn the outcomes from sheer prejudice the locals might show against someone or something alien and obviously didn’t want to hear the famous quote.

‘We don’t like strangers here.'

'Yes. Especially broke strangers.

That is just another one of our problems but if you are going to start you should start with clothes.

What about clothes?

Clothes are always the first thing that gives away who you are.'

I don’t like strangers myself too, so there were no hard feelings on that part. However, absolutely the worst thing to do right now is, to go straight into a settlement of any size without any money on, wearing non-local clothes and at that with a companion whose loyalty is questionable at best. Hostile in this particular situation.

'The first thing I should do is to find a good shelter at a high ground with a good vantage point nearby. I could spend enough time interrogating the woman so that I could understand the situation better.'

Yes. The best course of action would be to follow the regulations of the Black Covered Book. When you don’t know what to do, always follow the book. Stay away from any civilian settlement or military installment, find a temporary shelter at a high ground with a good vantage point nearby, and interrogate the captive to gain a better understanding of the situation.

The rations I found among her belongings could sustain two people a week to a fortnight depending on the usage. The water was limited though, two or three days of worth at most. Although these could sustain me and the woman until I decide what to do, I had my own reservations to consume food and water of unknown origin.

Despite I was unconscious during most of it, I haven’t eaten or drank anything approximately in a day and I was walking from the late morning till now to put some distance between myself and possible allies or pursuers of the woman. She said that she left the Ponytail for dead but I had no reason to trust her word on this.

'Yeah. It's not like we are bonded mentally and emotionally, thus she can't lie without us detecting.

You know it too. Her, thinking the man dead and the man being actually dead are two different things.'

I started to feel losing strength during the walk and thus, decided to take a break and rest while filling myself. I must eat and drink but nothing raw or nonboiled. I can’t even risk light diarrhea or food poisoning and anything more serious could cause death.

Although I can’t imagine the effects of unknown food and water in an unknown environment with a different climate in unsuitable clothes, I know enough to realize that I could get infected with dozens of things that may not even necessarily be infectious to the local population.

I know enough that soldiers sent to Eleli borders are usually vaccinated for at least eight different types of diseases. I should take any necessary and even seemingly unnecessary precautions to reduce the risk of infection. Even if it is not possible, these precautions may reduce the number of contaminants contacted and increase the incubation time which may save my life and help me to deal with it in a safer environment.

‘Screw it! Don't think, just act. Drink something already. We are dying of thirst.

Patience! Don’t exaggerate. We have seen worse.’

And then there was him. Passion… This is absolutely the worst time to get lost behind enemy lines. Just five days after the second awakening of my mind.

Although Reason was trying to restrain Passion, the new guy was already starting to lose it.

‘I can hear you just fine. You know that, right?’

He was too young and immature to be of any use even in a controlled environment let alone in a hostile one. He had already caused an uncontrolled explosion thus, left me to the woman's tender mercies. When I think about it I couldn’t help but shiver. Thank god I was still alive. Even she didn't harm me intentionally if the woman would have left me out there, I would have died horribly. Probably eaten alive by a predator.

‘Nothing happened though. Just relax already.’

At about noon, we reached our destination. We found a vantage point that is concealed enough not to be seen easily. There, we stopped for a break. 

The clearing was near the edge of a precipice. It was a good vantage point that gives a good view of the road that connects one of the towns nearby, to a village further away, both of which I didn’t care enough to remember the names of. I simply had no intention to learn the names of villages and towns which I probably never visit. All I know was they were not places that I heard of and that was enough.

The first thing I realized was the road -that spans towards what could be called a middle-sized town- vertical to our position. The road was arching with a downward slope which let me see the town, probably less than seventy to eighty lengths which approximately a range away. There were scattered travelers on the road some of them on foot, others riding some kind of animal. There were a few carts that were drawn by another kind of animal and one caravan which consists of a few carts, a dozen riders, and plenty of people on foot.

‘We will stay at this place for the night. I want to observe the road thoroughly. However, one thing is certain. We are not going to that town.

Why though?

The road is too crowded and that makes the town some kind of hub. I want to stay away from attention until we know more about this place.

I don’t care. Just let me eat and drink, and then find some stream to clean. I hate dried blood on my skin.

I am going to think something about food and drink. There were some utensils and ingredients in the backpack. I will prepare something as soon as I find somewhere to lit a discreet fire. I don’t want to be seen because of the smoke. However, you have to make do with a wet towel for today. We will not soak ourselves into an unknown body of water even we find one.

Whatever. Just drink some water and eat something.’

I informed the woman through the bond that we are going to descend a little bit to avoid being seen and find a camp place. I left her with our load and started to walk around to find a suitable place for the fire. After some time, I find a good clearing, surrounded by rocks and short bushes, less than half length lower than the precipice. I climbed the slope again to take the woman with me.

When I arrived, she was sitting under the shade of a tree, resting her eyes. However, before I call her, I realized the commotion on the near side of the road. Multiple men blocked the way of travelers both from the front and the back. There were glints of weapons on their hands, already drawn, and they looked like discussing something. I have prepared the appropriate image and pumped more power towards my eyes to increase my eyesight, hoping it will not hurt like the last time.

 “[Rasad]” I murmured under my breath. Then turned and (What’s happening?) I asked the woman which confused her first. After a few moments, she trailed my eyes and realized the commotion below.

(▯▯▯▯▯▯▯) She tried to describe using the bond and then added aloud when realized that I didn’t understand.

“Dumruls”

(Thieves… Bandits… Highwayman… Dumruls! theytake fivewhitiesastribute ifyou crosstheroad and tenwhitiesfine afterbeatingyoutoabloodypulp ifyoudontcross)

I thought about the word, dumrul while listening to her explanation. It was not translated on the first try, which means either it is a proper noun or is an abstract fact. Not that it matters.

As far as I understand whities are some kind of white coin. The coin probably contains some kind of white metal alloy and is therefore named as such. There were also reddies and yellowies. The bandits, dumruls, cut the road and demand tribute from the travelers. All the more reason not to travel through roads and move towards towns and the cities.

'Villages maybe?

Just maybe...'

(What if you don’t have any money?) I asked, already knowing the answer.

She did not answer and simply shrugged. Then I watched these dumruls a little bit more as they started to beat a couple with a child and started to tear their clothes. I didn’t watch the rest. Whether it is just for humiliation, rape, or murder I better not know of.

‘Not your problem. These are not our people. Better not know what happened.’ I sighed internally.

‘Away from the eye, away from the mind. Clear your conscience.

I know already. You don’t have to babysit me.

But it is my job to babysit you.

F**K YOU!'

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