24 – Three Months
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Letting go of the creature's horns, Aziel, turned around and looked at the staring spectators.

Turning his head towards the crash site of their brethren, he shared an inquiring gaze, howling a short cry asking:

"You… Friend… Okay?"

As if his words were the thing that they needed, the woman and the leader woke up from their daze. Quickly, without wasting any more precious time, they rushed over to check on the unconscious man. The rest of their hunting group following behind them, they checked the unmoving man's condition. Upon feeling his hot breath on their fingers, they sighed in relief.

"We… go… back." Aziel stepped toward them, asking whilst sighing.

He looked at the deer that was on the floor and was about to pick it up when one of the hunters, a fellow with a deep scar running across his face came and pulled back against his shoulders.

"No! You… rest… We bring… food."

Looking to his left, Aziel saw the man offering his hand to help him carry the heavy carcass.

He smiled, and shook his head, placing a hand on his chest, conveying.

"Thanks, but it's fine. I can take it."

Aziel then effortlessly picked up the animal's body and threw it over his shoulder, causing another wave of shock to spread across the group once again.

"HOME!" He exclaimed, walking at the front, soon vanishing in the thick tree lines.

Aziel's first-ever hunt as a member of a group has come to an end. Although it wasn't smooth as it could have been if he were to do it by himself, he believed that it was still a good bonding experience…

He wanted to, no, desperately wished for a better experience. Though even after countless years since the sorrowful event, the painful memory of his betrayal by the hands of his family, left a scar that not only time could heal fully.

He needed these people, he needed this chance… more than anything.

Three full months have gone by since Aziel had finally been accepted and integrated into the tribe. Ever since he has been joining the tribe hunts and often was sent out by himself as well.

Yet, his happiness, his hope of being accepted as one of their own, could never truly be realized. Their malice-filled, hateful gazes that they looked at him initially never fully left the corners of their eyes.

He could feel, smell their fear, Aziel could see the wary looks he was given. How he was still forced to sleep outside, in the corner, being treated like some pet that they owned.

Over time, the leader and the group slowly shifted the way they conversed or acted around Aziel. Their fear and dread slowly turned arrogance and contempt.

He knew that he was merely a convenient tool, a weapon they used to ease up the burden during their hunts. The tribe's women and children still avoided him like a plague even after these three long months of him doing nothing but trying to prove himself.

Strangely, or maybe because of the honest hatred they started out with, the only person that wasn't acting the way the rest was the female, the woman that had hated him back then the most.

Though they were a far cry from being on friendly terms, he was the only one that didn't treat him like an object. The only one that after a month, had been honest with him from the start.

Still, Aziel took all of that without showing any resistance. He allowed them to use him, to rely on him. He wanted this whole experiment to work, he wanted to be able to connect with these creatures, he needed this companionship, whatever sad it may have been.

Yet, even his childlike passion had begun to crumble and wane after months of abuse. After three long months of being treated nothing more than a slave had gradually pushed him over the edge.

Aziel realized he was too hasty, too eager. These creatures weren't on the level he needed them to be. They were primitive, violent, acting mostly based on their needs and instincts. If they were hungry, they hunted. If they were filled with lust, they freely mated out in the open.

They were indeed capable of forming some emotional attachments, like selecting a mate and forming a sort of bond ship with it, there wasn't that much more to it. They felt somewhat sad when losing one of their own, but unless it was the mate of one of them, they quickly got over the mourning.

In truth, that female, that lost her mate due Aziel's actions was one of the unique cases. She, after three full months, still felt some emotional attachment to that male that Aziel had absorbed. She still retained some of her initial anger every time they interacted.

Or perhaps, there was more to it, that anger, even unbeknownst to the woman has slowly transformed, turned into something else… It was just that Aziel was apathetic to the wooing of a monkey, whilst the woman wasn't ready to face these new emotions, thus their relationship was doomed, never allowed to blossom to anything more than this mostly neutral companionship.

Truth be told, his wish did come true in some fashion. He was accepted as a member of their group, although was kept on a metaphorical leash either due to being looked at like a weapon, a tool or because of the instinctual fear the weaker ones felt towards him.

"What… you… think now? Why… you sad?" The woman, that he decided to name as Dinah asked him, noticing the increasing wrinkles on his forehead. She reached out, using a piece of furless leather to gently caress it.

"You… feel better?" She asked howling animalistic noises.

Aziel could only sigh and flash a weak smile at the woman, nodding silently at the inquiry. Looking up, he gazed at the sky, lamenting, thinking inwardly, what he should do.

He spent three full months, trying his absolute best to give this whole thing, this whole experiment a chance.

Technically he was successful, and while the time he spent here was nowhere near enough for him to see any changes in their behavior or notice the signs of [Aether] in work, he felt that it was now pointless to continue this.

Worse, he felt that if he would have instead spent this time cultivating and working on himself to find an answer, he could perhaps have made more progress.

'I should leave… There's no point to this anymore. These creatures… they are just not ready for direct interaction, it would be best to instead watch from afar.' He lamented.

"You… leaving?" Suddenly a feminine voice reached his ears, bringing him back to reality.