Or so I thought for a very brief moment.
“Oh, I just recalled something. Asagi, there is something I must give you.”
Beowulf’s wounds were now almost completely healed for some reason. He called after me as we tried to return to our camp.
“We’re very tired and want to get back. It’s all your fault, you know.”
“Ah, do not act like that. One becomes very wise when they reach my level. I do not understand the mechanics of it, but I can do something called enchanting.”
“Yes. Beowulf’s enchantment. Be grateful for it. Use it. And when we meet again, we will fight without reserve.”
Without waiting for a reply, Beowulf took in a deep breath and howled long and loud. Then the cry that came from his mouth turned into particles that showered down on me. The forest-green specks were absorbed into my body, and I suddenly understand. Like him, I don’t know how, but I know that I have gained a new skill.
“‘Legs of the Forest Wolf,’ use it well.”
Beowulf says and then smiles, before dashing away like the wind.
“Hahh…what a riot that guy is.”
“It is a miracle that we are alive…”
We both let out a sigh. Actually, there was something that had been bothering me.
“Daniela, you seemed a little shaken back there. Are you alright?”
“Aye, uhh… Well… Yes, too shaken I think. I need to train myself more.”
“I don’t think it has anything to do with that… Did something happen?”
Of course, I meant in her ‘past.’
“Perhaps I should tell you while I can… First, let us return to our camp.”
We once again moved our tired bodies to the camp, which took quite a while.
□ □ □ □
There were no attacks by forest wolves on the way back. Not even a hint of their presence was felt. I suppose what Beowulf had said was right. I started a fire and began to make a meal of what remained of the food when Daniela began to talk.
“It happened nearly seventy years ago.”
“Wait a second.”
That far back? How old was she?
“Asagi, that was very rude. Though, as a hint, I will say that I am nearly two hundred years of age.”
“It’s a good hint…”
Miss Daniela was nearing her two hundredth year, apparently.
“My tribe, they were killed by monsters.”
A stampede. She says that was the reason. She says that this was not particularly unusual.
“A dragon stampede is something rare. After all, they are not a species known for breeding in large numbers. They are troublesome creatures and often the targets of hunters from a young age. It could take an army to kill a single adult dragon. But such were the monsters in this stampede. My tribe did not stand a chance.”
Daniela had witnessed this with her own eyes. She said that she had tried to escape with her family, and the moment that they were out of the house, the mad beasts had crushed her parents under their feet. In a frenzy and covered in the blood and guts of her mother and father, Daniela had fled back into the house and hidden in the cellar. She believed that the thick smell of gore on her was what helped her escape from the dragons.
“I was so scared that I dared not leave for quite some time. Fortunately, it was a pantry so I did not lack for food. It was exactly enough for two weeks. Somehow, I suppressed the madness that threatened to creep into me. I ate as little of the food as I could until an entire month had passed.”
When she finally did appear on the surface again, a hellish scene awaited her. Not even time had erased the smell of blood and corruption. Half-eaten bodies were strewn everywhere. She had vomited what little gastric juices remained in her stomach when seeing this.
But even so, Daniela had survived. She pulled out the armor that her father had bought for her from beneath the rubble and put it on. Then she picked up the weapons that her mother had used and left the light elf settlement behind her.
When she finished this story, she looked at her equipment that leaned against a tree. Now I knew…what they meant to her. I thought back on her expression when I told her to take the ancient elven weapons.
I pour the now ready soup into a bowl and hand it to her. She smiles warmly and accepts it.
“That scene still exists in the back of my brain. Even if I can live as if I have forgotten it, it always returns in my dreams. I will always have tears in my eyes in the morning after such nights. This thing that happened in the past, I will surely remember it until I die. It’s a memory that cannot be erased even when I think I’ve forgotten it.”
I think back on the moment when Daniela had clung to me desperately. It had been Beowulf’s foot that was pressing me down. Seeing me about to be crushed at that moment must have brought the memories back to her. I steal a glance at her as I brood over this. She was holding the bowl with both hands and drinking slowly. Something about it made me think of a young girl, exhausted from so much crying.
I too drink the soup. It was hot and sent warmth throughout my whole body, but I never did know what it tasted like.