42. Bro… That’s not how one consoles others
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Hours passed, and the morning sun shone gently over the horizon as Luz awoke from the nightmares haunting him.

Frightened by what he had seen, Luz immediately bore his nails into Lewis's leather armor while pleading in a stutter, "Please… I-I tr-tried my b-best t-to save y-you all."

As he relieved his nightmare for the last time of the day, tears rolled down his cheeks.

Lewis, who had still been carrying Luz via piggyback, slowly halted his steps before gently placing Luz onto the ground. Lewis felt nothing more than pity upon seeing his best friend in such a broken state. After sighing loudly, Lewis gently placed his shaky hand on Luz's shoulder before whispering, "Bro… wake up…."

But the latter ignored his words and relieved the events in horror again, and the situation grew worse. Luz gripped his hair tightly as he continued pleading to the dead and the lost.

This continued for a few minutes, but over time, Luz's weeping grew quiet. After patiently waiting for an hour, Luz finally returned to his senses.

"Finally," Lewis sighed as he watched Luz pathetically weep while hugging his legs. "You are finally back to your senses."

Still trembling, Luz slowly shifted his gaze into the distance before opening his mouth. "Four-hundred-and-fifty-four times…" were the only words that left his mouth.

Confused by what these numbers were supposed to represent, Lewis cautiously asked, "What is with that number?"

But like in a trance, Luz resumed talking. "Four-hundred-and-fifty-four times, that's how many times I saw everyone dear to me burn to ashes in my dreams…."

After that, Luz's eyes were opened wide before he stuttered. "I still hear their screams as if it happened today…."

Filled with pity, Lewis placed his hand on Luz's shoulder before telling the latter, "Bro, you fought for your life yesterday, killed tons of wolves, and even mercy killed a girl. Yet… you let your past drive you crazy."

Lewis's pathetic attempt at consoling him made Luz laugh, and color slowly returned to his face. "Bro… That's not how one consoles others suffering through a trauma."

"Yeah, you are right. But you better shut the fuck up. YOU BASTARD SLAPPED THE SHIT OUT OF ME WHEN I WAS SUFFERING THROUGH MY TRAUMA, AND WE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW EACH OTHER," Lewis laughed loudly.

The duo immediately began bickering about who of them was more pathetic when it came to consoling the other.

A few minutes passed, and Luz finally felt better. But the events of yesterday continued bothering him. "Bro… We need to talk about what happened yesterday."

"About the wolves? Or about you crying like a child while burning an innocent girl with a maiden's heart?" Lewis asked in amusement while looking into the distance.

"Listen here, you little shit. At least I cried like a man while killing someone and not in the goddamn shower like you," Luz began to curse, ready to jump onto Lewis. "But yeah, you guessed correct. What the hell was going on yesterday with that girl? Why were insects leaving from all her orifices and from her chest!?"

Lewis shuddered at his description before answering bluntly, "Bro… I got no idea."

"I thought so," Luz sighed, but before he could plague Lewis about his theories, the latter resumed his talk. "Maybe something laid its egg in that girl? Perhaps it's even worse, and someone used a forbidden spell, like a curse. Anyway, we should move. Otherwise, the quality of the herbs will degrade even further."

Sighing, Luz stood up and immediately realized something was missing. "Wait, we forgot something," Luz stated as he began looking around.

"What do you mean, bro?" Lewis yawned, and Luz replied in panic, "Where the hell are the two carcasses I had been carrying!?"

Lewis chuckled before informing him about what happened to them in his absence. "Well, I had to throw them aside to carry the stuff important to me… my homie."

Touched by his words, Luz placed his hand on Lewis's shoulder before saying, depressed, "so you mean we went empty-handed after fighting against wolves for hours…."

"Yeah…"

"FUUUUCKKKKKK."

Half a day later, the two finally reached the guild hall. By now, the evening sun was glowing over the horizon, and the duo was depressed and hungry.

"Don't lose hope," Luz replied while pointing with a shaky finger at the guild. "We are almost there, hehe."

Inside, Erena sat quietly in the guild hall while playing with her nails. But upon hearing the squeaking sound of the door opening, she welcomed the guests as demotivated as possible. At the same time, her gaze remained on her fingers. "Welcome… to the guild tavern… how can I help you?"

With a croaking voice, Lewis stated, "hunger," before He and Luz crashed onto a bench.

Hearing Lewis's voice, Erena got jolted out of her memories. She had been worrying about him since that bastard took way too long for a simple quest. But when she saw the pathetic state of the two, she immediately walked to them as the ground began to shiver.

"We fucked up," Lewis sighed with a smile while raising the bag filled with the herbs.

Luz nodded weakly before closing his eyes, ready to accept his death.

"You two… Why the hell have you taken so long for a fucking F-Rank quest!?" she cursed while shaking Lewis awake, who weakly groaned, "food."

"Fine, fine. I will bring you some food," Erena sighed before immediately running into the kitchen. There, she threw everything that remained from today's cooking onto a giant plate before bringing them to the duo.

Luz and Lewis immediately drooled at the sight of so much food, and as expected, they ate the remains like animals.

"My, my, you two really turned into animals," Erena sighed upon seeing their complete disregard for table manners. 'What the hell drove them into such a state of hunger!?'

Only after they stuffed themselves full did Lewis narrate what happened. "You see… we forgot to pack our rations… and only realized that on our way back. But on our way back, we couldn't find a single animal that we could eat. I mean, we still had the herbs… but why should we eat our main source."

"That's it!?" Erena blinked as she expected more.

Lewis nodded before giving Erena the back.

A smile formed on Luz's face as he noted that Lewis refrained from telling her about the duo's fight with the wolf pack and the mysterious girl in the woods he killed.

Carefully, Erena took the back while stating, "Give me a second," before leaving.

A few minutes later, she came back with a satisfied smug.

Tired, Luz asked, "How much did we make!?"

But she only shook her head before answering, "Guess."

"500 silver coins?" Luz sighed.

"No."

"200?" Lewis asked while grabbing his hair in frustration, expecting the worst.

But Erena repeated her earlier answer, devoid of any emotions.

"Have we made any money!?" Luz asked in despair, expecting the worst while weakly hitting the table with his fist.

But Erena chuckled before placing three gold coins. "You better be thankful that I negotiated with the person. Otherwise, you guys wouldn't have seen even one gold coin."

Author note:

As always, thanks for reading and meh. I'm unsure how I should feel about my writing since my current work rarely gets feedback, or none at all, which is kinda depressing if I'm honest XD.

Well, nobody owes me feedback or success, but it would motivate a writer a lot if he knew what readers enjoy about their book, what he should refrain from now on, and so forth.

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