Ch 43: Traveling with strangers
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Author Note:

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As we travel, when we slow down so Azur and I can catch our breath, Teresa offers to teach me and give me tips on mana control and I accept. 

My ability for being able to share my energy with Azure allows us to run for longer, but our combined energy reserves also have a limit. 

It is irritating to see how, even though a few moments ago Teresa was running at such a speed that she seemed to be sliding along the ground, she doesn't have a sign of fatigue. While Azur and I are panting exhausted. 

I don't know why I'm so bad at controlling my mana, the instructions are simple. 

I just have to try to change the shape of the mana sphere in my palm to a conical one and make it spin on itself…

But I can't do it. 

I try and try, but I can't get the mana sphere to change its shape in the slightest. Let alone about trying to make it spin on itself. When I try to perform that I only get the sphere to shoot off in some random direction. 

"There's something I don't understand" I say in an irritated tone, trying to distract myself "If your father wants to talk to me why didn't he come looking for me himself?" 

"That's none of your business..." Gideon starts to say mirroring my tone but is interrupted by Teresa.

"There's nothing wrong with telling him, Gideon. He'll find out when we get there anyway" Teresa says in a calm voice. It seems to be the only kind of voice she has. "Our father is indisposed. To find you he had to connect with the remnants of Debi's mind, and that… That reactivated certain instincts. He is forcing himself to sleep until he can regain control over those instincts." 

"And why does your father want to talk to me?" I ask, glad to have something to distract me from my nefarious control over my mana. 

"Because you have extraordinary abilities. When we find people with abilities that exceed the norm he tries to establish communication" explains Teresa "They are usually people who use these abilities for bad purposes, as in the case of our daughter… in those cases we eliminate them, and that's why we don't blame you for what you did. For as my father says 'who spills man's blood for man shall see his blood spilled'. Anyway, the final verdict on what to do with you is up to our father, but I don't think you have anything to worry about."

Easy to say, you're not the one being taken against her will to an unknown place.

When we stop to make camp a few hours before dawn, Gideon offers to train me in swordsmanship. 

Before my eyes, he creates a reddish weapon in his hand. The sword has a shape identical to mine.

Against Debi, I had not seen the process of creating these weapons. But now I can see how the blade of the sword begins to appear as a translucent image, which gradually takes on solidity. 

"How do you do that? is that magic?" I ask intrigued. It would be very useful if I could learn to do that.

"Yes, but it's not something you can aspire to" says Gideon. My thoughts must have been mirrored on my face "considering all the trouble you're having following my partner's instructions" 

Unsheathing my sword, I charge forward to vent my irritation at my incompetence with mana manipulation. 

Which I had forgotten about until Gideon reminded me. 

But this is far from a training match. It feels more like Gideon is toying with me. 

It's frustrating to see how he blocks my attacks with apparent reluctance, as if it comes absurdly easy to him, which is how it probably comes to him… 

Out of frustration, I was about to tell him I didn't want to train anymore but, after training for a few moments, I see a notification indicating that Hunter moves up a level. 

Surprised by that, and to catch my breath a bit, I ask Gideon "If you don't know what you will do with me. Why are you training me? won't it be harder to take care of me if I get stronger?" 

At this Gideon pauses and laughs "assuming you managed to reach the level of our capabilities in a few months, which seems impossible to me, you would still be facing our father, not us. He is many times stronger than us."

"Besides, it was a request from Regis, our father, as a kind of compensation for what Debi put you through" says Teresa, who is sitting on a log watching our training, with Azure on her lap. I don't know if it's some kind of magic or what but, for some reason, the little dragon likes to be near her " I know that you have lost a friend because of her actions… I'm so sorry, I know that nothing we do can make up for our daughter's crimes." 

At the mention of Joseph's death, I remember Agustin's words 'you are cursed'. 

With this in mind, I launch into an attack on Gideon trying to channel into the sword all the contempt I feel for myself at the thought that my parents and friends might have died because of me.

… 

At dawn, we stop our training. Hunter went up 3 levels in total, while the other two classes went up none. This further confirms my theory about the difficulty curve for leveling up classes. 

While we are resting, I watch as my companions seem to fall asleep, like statues sitting with their eyes closed. 

Trying to take advantage of this opportunity, I get up and start to slowly walk away from the camp. 

Carrying Azur on my shoulders to make as little noise as possible. 

But, before I get 15 steps away from the camp, I hear Teresa's voice behind me. 

"What are you doing?" she says in a calm voice, but one in which I notice a hint of tension. 

"n-nothing" I say, as I think of a hasty excuse "I was just looking for wood for the fire. We've used almost all my reserves, and without fire, we won't be able to cook." 

Since we always camp to sleep during the day, we don't need to light a fire and I only light a small fire for cooking. So, I still have lots and lots of wood stored in my inventory. 

But my companions don't need to know that. 

And, if my assumptions are correct, they are not very accustomed to the basic needs of the common people.

 They don't even seem to need food... at least I haven't seen them eat anything since we started traveling. 

That's why I decided to use this excuse.

"Ahh" says Teresa and her voice relax "sorry, we should have thought of that. We're not very used to traveling with other people." 

"no need to apologize" I say, as I pretend to look for dry branches and bushes that can be used to make a fire.

 It seems that at least one of my assumptions was correct.

Apparently, they don't sleep during the day… I don't know if the sun weakens them, but I'd rather not make another attempt for now.

 I need more information.

 I also don't know if I should let them take me to their lair, but for now, I have no other choice. 

***

When it gets dark we resume our march and I ask them why we always stop during the day. 

Apparently, it is a question of comfort, as the sunlight makes it difficult for them to see. 

According to them, walking during the day is as uncomfortable for them as it would be for me if I were to walk while looking directly at the sun. 

They can move perfectly well and be guided by other senses, but they prefer not to move during the day. 

It seems that I really have no choice but to let them take me to their lair. 

Anyway, If I really am cursed and the people who hang out with me die, I guess the world won't lose anything if some bloodsucking monsters die because of me.

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