54 – A Group Together Again
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“So, all your memories are back?” Lerato happily asked after I finished filling in some of the details. I was careful to leave out my encounter with Akimitsu; it would have required explaining even more, and Azul, but I freely told them of my wandering on the monster world and my memories returning.

“Yes, and it seems that the hungers originated from my world.”

“Well, they woke up on your world; they could have originated from anywhere,” Pythagoras added in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Anyway! Now that we are all back together let’s have a party!” Orrin shouted.

“That sounds wonderful,” Casey added.

“I suppose,” Enas grunted.

I shook my head and turned away from the others. They might have seen a slight smile on my face otherwise. I feared they were rubbing off on me, but that might not be a bad thing.

The camp had been cleared of the glowing barrier, but they left the poorly made fence still standing. Maybe it had been a project that needed doing for a while, but I didn’t like seeing the poor workmanship—especially when I was partially to blame for it. My comments were withheld; it might spoil the mood as we walked through the opening

Behind the fence sat the girl I had pulled from the beast. The one I might be able to blame my whole adventure in the monster world on if I was trying to be spiteful. Considering I met the former emperor there, it might have been appropriate to thank her. The feeling was mixed and strange. As we got closer and she came more into view, my eyes trained on the pink fabric in her hands. The girl was sewing my kimono, and badly by the looks of it.

“We’re back!” Orrin shouted as we walked through the opening in the fence. The girl turned in my direction, and her round, white eyes lit up. I recognized her in an instant. Of all the people? Princess Sakura.

She shot to her feet and ran over to us.

“It’s good to see you all doing well!” the girl spoke in a flowery voice, befitting her title. She looked at me, then looked away a moment before turning back. We had interacted very briefly during the peace talk, so I wasn’t sure if she recognized me at all. I did my best to feign ignorance as the kimono was pressed into my palm.

“I tried my best to fix it….” She said sheepishly. If I lied to myself, I would have said her tone was from shyness around a new person. However, the way her white eyes repeatedly looked my way before turning away, even though her head stayed in place, told me enough. I took the fabric and did my best to ignore the poor seam in the arm. Honestly, she didn’t do too bad for a spoiled princess. It became even easier to overlook the quality once her hands were exposed from the kimono; all her fingers were wrapped in bandages from the many times she had stabbed herself.

“Th- thanks.” I stammered a reply.

“So anyway, this is Sakura, and Sakura, this is Kiko!” Orrin handled introductions, but we just nodded in reply. There was little doubt in my mind. She knew who I was, but did she know the extent of what happened on the day I killed Akimitsu? Would I be able to explain something like that? ‘I’m sorry, but I had a mission, but you’ll never guess what! He was actually alive in that monster world!’ It didn’t seem to cover it, and I hardly believed the princess would be convinced.

“I can’t stay too long,” I said as I draped the kimono over my shoulders. “I need to return to my world soon.” I could not tell whether I was making my claim due to my obligation to the former emperor or a desire to run away, I could not tell. A sudden pain shot up my injured leg, and I hunched low to grasp it. Pythagoras, who had kicked me, shook his head.

“You’re not going anywhere if it hurts that bad,” the goblin said.

“I agree, don’t take injuries lightly, Kiko,” Casey added. While Pythagoras’ tone had been cold, the tall warrior spoke more gently. I could still tell that both were concerned.

“Very well, I will give it time to heal.” Their arguments were hard to disagree with, given how sore my leg was.

The others were satisfied and quickly began cooking up whatever food they had on hand. A large bottle of liquor was carried out from Enas’ ‘secret stash,’ and we engaged in lively banter well into the night. Well, the others did most of the talking, but I didn’t find it as tiresome as before. I sat in place and swapped between heat and cold on my leg in an attempt to make it heal faster. The others couldn’t agree on the best treatment, so to placate them, I chose both.

“So, the last battle went well. But Hypatia Ultimate will need to be even better!” Pythagoras said as he quickly drank a glass of liquor.

“No talk about mechs!” Casey said. “We need to figure out where we get some more spears.”

“No weapons talk either!” Lerato added.

“Say, Mark, what should we call that monster anyway?” Orrin said to Enas. A vein on the bald man’s head popped.

“We should get you to call me by a proper name first!” he shouted at Orrin. The green man ducked as Enas tried to grab him.

“You guya are grwat! I'm. gappy to bw jere!” Princess Sakura mumbled as she smiled. She clearly was not one to do well with alcohol.

I kept my liquor light as the night carried on. Soon the drunkest, mainly Pythagoras and Orrin, had fallen asleep. Lerato and Casey carefully carried them back to their rooms and presumably crashed for the night, as I did not see them again. Sakura slept gently on my shoulder as Enas remained around our campfire. He looked sadly at his empty bottle and sighed.

“Don’t stay up too late,” the bald man cautioned as he stood up.

“Wait!” I whispered while pointing to the sleeping princess. Enas shrugged and left me. I had little chance to escape into the night without alerting Sakura. Maybe he knew that in some way. I sighed and relaxed my shoulders. Sleeping upright and in odd positions was one of the first things I was taught. The first step was to cut out distractions.

The image of my destroyed world entered my mind, though I had not fallen asleep. Whether what I saw was precisely how it looked didn’t matter so much. It was still my home, and it was as defenseless as the spoiled girl rudely using my arm as a pillow. Without Akimitsu, I didn’t have much confidence that it would recover, and since I had killed him—I needed to make things right. How could I do that?

My eyes flicked open long enough to see the dying campfire. It was burning through the last of its wood and would soon go out. Perhaps it was like my world if it had someone to fix it…. I was thinking nonsense. I shook my head and stared at the dark sky. The introduction of color brought with it some odd shapes that moved around in the night. I would have liked to think they were stars; maybe the alcohol was stronger than I imagined.

With a sigh, I closed my eyes once again. The time had come to stop all my idle thoughts and get to sleep. It was easy enough to drift away into a peaceful enough slumber. The colorful world went dark.