Ch 41: Life being alone
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Author Note:

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Thanks to my patrons.

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I left them the 100 gold that I had left after paying for the mithril dagger. I also left them the horse, Sophia's mana storage ring, my necklace to change appearance, and a letter for Julia. 

Since I figured I wouldn't need much money where I had planned to go, and they could use it to get back. Besides, I could always get more money by killing some monsters.

I saw it unnecessary to take the horse with me. Since, now that Azur leveled up, he can become even bigger than the equine. Size more than enough to ride him. 

And, although it is a bit uncomfortable to ride Azur because the saddle I take off the horse is not designed for the body of a drake, we can share our energies, so he will be able to run longer than the horse. Also, considering the speed he had with 60% of my stats, now that he has a 30% more he probably will be able to run faster than a horse. After all, a draco's body seems to be made for speed. 

It seemed ugly to me the idea of taking the ring with me since I don't know when I'll see Sophia again, or if I'll even see her again. Besides, it has a tracking enchantment and I'd rather not be found. So, I called our deal off and decided to leave the ring with Sabrina.

The reason for leaving the necklace is quite simple. Since I won't be living in the capital anymore, it doesn't make sense for me to use an artifact to change my appearance. And they can sell it to get some extra money.

In the letter to Julia, I explained to her what happened and my decision not to return for the time being. I didn't tell her anything about the fact that I think I may be cursed, as even to me it seems ridiculous as it sounds, even though it may be true. I just told her that I needed time to think while alone. 

While they slept, I rode Azur into the forest and we went through it in a few hours, running in the dark guided by the map of my interface and the moonlight. 

The saddle enchantments didn't seem to affect Azur, but he didn't need them. If my assumptions were correct, he can run really fast. 

Luckily, the enchantment that prevents the wind from affecting the rider when traveling at high speed still works, as it only requires a small injection of mana from the rider to work, and it has nothing to do with the animal that is being mounted.

And, while we could go even faster if we flew in Azur's dragon form, I didn't want to tempt fate, since the saddle is not very firmly attached.

We ran for most of the night and, at dawn, I decided to stop at a village. 

In the village, I bought some leather straps to better adapt the saddle to Azur's body, and some food with the little money I decided to keep. 

The villagers were a bit frightened when they saw such a large draco approaching, as they are creatures that normally live in the demon empire and that are rarely seen in the Liones kingdom. 

But they calmed down when they saw that Azur was apparently harmless. 

We moved away from the village and I set to work on the leather using the dagger and some fire magic. 

I managed to get the saddle to fit Azur's body perfectly. 

To equip it, Azur simply has to squeeze into the middle of the leather strips in his small form and grow in size little by little. 

With everything ready and having eaten something while working, we set off again, under the cover of night. This time flying through the sky. 

It's a beautiful feeling, I think euphorically. But then I imagine how much Joseph would have loved to enjoy this… and my spirits drop to the floor. 

Azur tries to comfort me through the link, but there is not much that can be done.... Joseph is gone, and maybe it's my fault.

'You are cursed' those words echo in my mind.

My destination is the forest we passed through to return to the capital at the end of our previous journey.

 In it, we faced wolves and goblins several times. So, I guess it's a good choice for further training since I won't have access to the labyrinth for a while. 

The only way to know if my fears are correct is to strengthen myself, so I can get to the end of the labyrinth. 

For that reason, I will get to the forest and not leave it until I feel confident enough to try to go to the last floors of the labyrinth. And if I don't get any answers there... 

Well, there's no point in worrying about the far future.

******

I've been in this forest for three weeks now. 

I have faced groups of goblins and wolves, as I expected. But I also discovered that goblins create dens where they breed and have a sort of community. They even tame wolves for the smaller goblins to use them as mounts. 

Each burrow has a queen, which is really huge compared to the goblins of the opposite sex. And it is in charge of increasing the number of the little monsters. 

The first time I discovered a burrow, I felt sorry for the mass killing of the goblins. 

After all, the hatchlings hadn't done anything bad yet and maybe not all goblins were bad. That's why I would go into the caves to kill only those that were hostile. 

But then, I discovered that the goblins had magically refrigerated rooms filled with equal parts animal and human flesh. And there were even small arms and legs, which could only have belonged to children. 

Since then, I decided to kill them indiscriminately in the most efficient way I could find each time. The only good goblin is the one that does not leave its burrow.

Ozy's bombs and elixirs were ideal for this purpose. 

 Thanks to them I was able to easily take down 3 burrows since I've been here, each containing about a hundred of the little monsters.

 It's a pity that I had such a limited number of them, because my life was in danger several times, even though I had the advantage that the bombs offered me. But thanks to this, my Survivor skill went up a level.

The Spiritual Fusion skill was also very helpful.

 I can now move much better with it, and I even discovered that I can fly while the skill is active. 

Since I can shape the blue energy surrounding my body to some extent. 

But I can only create shapes related to my partner's original body. 

So, I can't create weapons or armor, but I can create wings, a tail, claws, or horns. 

However, even though I have been killing a lot of monsters and fighting almost every day, I went up only one level in my classes. 

So, I suspect that the more levels my classes go up I would need more powerful enemies to keep up with leveling.

To test my theory, yesterday I bought a bow in the village near the forest. The same one we came to during our journey.... 

It was not a pleasant visit since, although I did not meet the village chief, approaching the place revived memories from our trip that are now painful. 

Joseph and his jokes. The bickering between Sabrina and him over time he spent practicing on the flute. 

But it was worth it... 

My theory was correct! 

Today I broke the bow by pulling the string too hard, after shooting half the arrows I had bought. 

Shots of which I missed most of them. But I acquired the Hunter class and it went up 1 level, while Warrior, Sorcerer, and Adventurer didn't change at all. 

And, although I didn't acquire a new passive skill called [Bow Specialization], as happened to me when I practiced for a while with the sword in the past, I don't care.

 I don't plan to use a bow as a regular weapon so just acquiring the class is enough for me.

I added the status points I acquired to Constitution and Will, to try to match more and more their numbers with Strength and Agility. So, now I have 39 points in Constitution and Will.

While I'm camping, I replace the Sorcerer class with Hunter. Since neither I nor Azur uses much mana, the current mana regeneration we have is more than enough for me to keep practicing my spells. So, it's not so beneficial to us for the Sorcerer class to level up.

I'm cooking the meat from a rabbit I hunt. I still can't reach Joseph's cooking skills, but whatever… food is still food, even if the taste is not that good....

These days I've been trying to keep my mind occupied with the hunt, since at the slightest distraction my mood goes down, due to the memory of those I lost.

When I finish eating, I go to sleep. While I think that tomorrow I will go to the burrow that I discovered today. Hmmm, how many levels will I get to raise the hunter class by killing a hundred goblins? 

***

While I was sleeping peacefully, Azur woke me up. And I see with fear that two individuals with pale features are approaching me in the darkness.

 

 

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