A silent whisper was heard inside the forest. Erin was still curled, sleeping on the ground, her aura spreading out in the surroundings. There was nothing brave enough in the forest to come close to her.
"Richard!" Her eyes snapped open. She sat down on the ground. Her rough breathing and the sweat on her forehead were evidence of the nightmare she had.
'Where...' Erin looked around, confused. 'Oh, right...The forest.' Her body relaxed as she took a few deep breaths. Her face was swollen from crying, her eyes red and hair, messy. The clothes she wore were covered with dust from her sleeping on the ground.
'Why do I have to dream about Richard?' She put a hand on her forehead, confused about the dream. In it, she dreamed that Richard went missing again, his presence disappearing. She desperately looked for him, but in the end, she couldn't find him. That made her grieve, as Richard was a pillar she was used to having by her side. Even more, with her feelings for him, the grief only became stronger.
'Should I...return to the castle?' Her breathing stabilized. She looked around and saw the wolves' corpses not far away. That made her nauseous. Even though there was blood everywhere and a mess of body parts, there weren't any animals that came for the feast. Erin gulped back her urge to vomit and stood up. With shaky legs, she moved away from the corpses.
'I won't return to the castle yet. Richard was right from the beginning. I need to get stronger myself, I can't always let him protect me.' She had to if she wanted to protect the people she cared about. The last battle with the humans was like a lesson for her. Without Richard, she wasn't able to protect those that were close to her. Erin felt a strong need to increase her powers.
'And for Lyse...' Determination flashed through her eyes. 'I will make her recover.' With that settled, her mind fully relaxed. 'But, for those humans...I will have my revenge.' A killing intent showed on her face. At the next moment, a frown replaced it. 'What should I do with the magician?' She started thinking and finally made a compromise. 'I will let him live, only because of Richard, but that doesn't mean I will ever forgive him.'
The crying before Erin fell asleep finally helped her to calm her mind. She wasn't sure how long had passed while she was sleeping, but she felt exhausted and hungry. The dirt all over her made her itchy, too. 'I need to find something to eat and take a bath.' Finding food wasn't that hard. She was in the forest, the only thing that Erin had to do was to hide her aura and she would be able to find prey. But the bath was a different thing.
'Hopefully, I will find a river or a lake soon.' That was the only solution. 'But how can I become stronger?' She paused in her walking, tilting her head. Erin had no idea how she could become stronger. 'I will go hunting, for now, Richard told me that we can become stronger with only drinking blood. And I need to get used to my new powers, too.' Thinking about her transformation, she felt happier. But that power she had gained wasn't enough for her.
Erin's aura retracted to her body and her pace increased. The trees entered her vision one by one as she looked for prey. Her movements were silent, like a trained assassin. Finally, after a few minutes of searching, a boar came into her vision. That wasn't a challenge for her at all. With swift movements, she came next to the boar and lunged her nails in its neck. Retracting her hand, blood sprouted out and the boar's whole body shuddered while trying to squeak. But the wound was on its neck and nothing came from its mouth.
Erin didn't even wait for the boar to die. She sank her teeth in the wound and started drinking its blood. The boar twitched a few times and fell to the ground, dead. She drank all the blood from it and finally felt satisfied.
'If I want to become stronger, I will need stronger opponents. That means I will need to go even deeper into the forest. Let's head north for now.' With that decided, she started heading for the north. 'I will be able to train my skills, too. I need to master them to perfection.' Plans already started to build in her mind.
The trees brushed past her while chirping sounds of birds could be heard from time to time. Even though the forest was shrouded in mist, it was still a lively place. Erin enjoyed the nature around her, relaxing her mind as she sprinted forward. Though her worries were still there and she was still sad, at least her mind cleared enough and she could face her problems with new determination.
"Yes!" After a few days of exploring, Erin finally found a stream. A smile plastered on her face as she stopped by it. Extending her hand, she checked it. The water was clear and cool. It wasn't too cold, so a bath was an option.
"A bath, finally gonna clean myself." With excitement in her voice, she started to undress on the spot. In those days, the dirt all over her body and clothes made her itchy and irritated. In a few moments, she was already naked and hopped into the water.
With a small yelp, her body slightly shivered. The water was cool but still not warm enough to be fully comfortable. Though Erin relaxed again after a few moments. She started to scrub herself. A lot of dirt was washed away from her body and the water downstream became muddy.
'My hair...' With a lot of rubbing, she tried hard to wash her hair. It was the hardest to wash and was all tangled in a mess. While she was cleaning and brushing it, she felt a pain on her scalp from time to time. It was really painful to untangle her hair. With a lot of effort, she succeeded in the end.
With a big sigh, she relaxed in the stream, totally enjoying the feeling. 'Soon I should start to find stronger opponents. There were only wild animals and some weak magic beasts so far.' Thinking about her journey so far, she felt a bit proud. It was her first time wandering alone in this world. Though it was lonely and depressing, she could still go forward with her determination.
'Hmm, was it a mistake to go out of the castle all alone? I wonder if the others would be worried about me.' Erin frowned. 'No, I can still feel their presence, so they could mine as well. That should be enough.' Her frown eased. She hopped to her feet and left the stream.
Going to her belongings, she took out new underwear and one of the dresses they bought last time from the city. After finishing with her dressing, Erin looked at the heap of leather clothes that were thrown to the side. 'Guess I will have to wash them, haa...' With a sigh, she reached for them and headed back to the stream.