"This is my fault," Kurdak said with an apologetic smile, "I was so focused on finding out the extent of your abilities I didn't let you understand ours. Well, let me explain it to you briefly.
"I have impetus of the 8th stratum and am familiar with close combat with a two-handed sword or axe and shield. I know many techniques for other weapons as well, but fighting up close is my preference, so I rarely use anything else.
"Cyranos has impetus of the 9th stratum and is a rather good shooter, well, at least he's better than me. He's also rather strong at close combat but he's more accustomed to using a dagger and a one-handed longsword. He's the strongest as well as most well-rounded person in our party.
"Vera has impetus of the 7th stratum. While she's bad at close combat, she's our best shooter. Even though her stratum is the lowest, she poses the most threat to our enemies. She's most comfortable with a bow and a dagger."
"Since you've only just joined us, you'll need time to get used to our pace. It's no surprise a hiccup happened. You'll have to try harder, alright?" said Kurdak as he patted on Leguna's shoulder.
"I will, Boss," said Leguna, before he stopped in his tracks.
"Thank you. You really saved me this time," thanked Leguna sincerely.
"What's with this?" Kurdak chuckled, "Perhaps, there'll come a time you help us out instead!"
In accordance with Wayerliss's notebook, Leguna poured out half a bottle of healing potion and handed half for Kurdak to drink. He took out two bloodclot grass and one trigreen leaf before putting them in his mouth for him to chew.
"What are you doing?" asked Kurdak with some confusion.
"Oh, if you mix these two herbs with half a bottle of potion and spread it over a wound, it will recover even faster," Leguna said before he spat the chewed herbs onto a bandage and handed the other half of the potion to Kurdak, "I bought these herbs before we left just in case we needed it. I didn't think we would need it so quickly. Well, if you are feeling generous enough to use another bottle of potion, then your injuries will recover completely in three days."
"Well, there's no need to rush since the mission's over. A bottle of potion costs two gold coins you know!" said Kurdak as he shook his head.
Even though potions were great healing items, their prices were just as high. The lowest-grade potion already cost as much as a poor family's annual cost of living. One could only imagine how much a high-grade potion would cost.
Kurdak always ensured that he had a stock of five bottles of potion before setting out for a mission in case of emergency. Using one alone was enough to make him feel down.
"Did you learn this from the notebook as well?"
The pain abated quite a bit when the potion was applied.
"Yes," Leguna revealed with a nod, "I've been reading it quite a lot for the last couple of days. It has too much information. I only managed to read the basics, only about a tenth of the whole book."
"That's good. Make sure to treasure it and read it more often."
"I know," nodded Leguna.
By the time he finished bandaging Kurdak up, Vera and Cyranos still hadn't finished taking the bear apart. It was really too big. It might take two or three days to completely butcher it; the two could only limit their efforts to the most precious parts, leaving the rest behind until they found a better way to deal with it after returning to York.
As the skies turned dark, the group set up camp. They departed Shimmer Lake at dawn the next day. Given Kurdak's injury, he found it rather difficult to walk normally through the forest and had to be supported even though he wasn't completely immobilized.
Leguna had wanted to act as Kurdak's walking stick but was refused. He felt rather down because of it.
"I have to bend down to rest my arm on a midget like you. It's bad for both of us. It's best someone else does it," consoled Kurdak, trying to make his reason sound as reasonable as possible before he glanced in Vera's direction.
"Oh, right!" Leguna exclaimed when he understood Kurdak's intention, "I completely forgot how tiny I am. You should help Boss instead, Sis."
"Why me?" asked she confusedly.
"Only you or Cyranos can help Boss. If Cyranos does it, then who'll carry the bags?" asked Leguna, pointing at the two bags hung on either side of Cyranos.
One was Kurdak's, the other contained the bear's pelt. It was easy to see how heavy it was.
"Good job, kid! I didn't think you'd catch my drift so quickly! I'll treat you to a meal or two when we get back!" said Kurdak, throwing Leguna a thumbs up.
Leguna threw a thumb in return.
His acted soon landed him with unnecessary work, however. Vera gave him the honor of carrying her bag. It wasn't as heavy as Cyranos's, mind you, but for someone with as petite a body as Leguna, it was still quite the burden. Not to mention that Leguna had his own bag to carry as well. It didn't take long for his legs to shake from exhaustion.
Kurdak wore a blissful expression. He was convinced it had been the right decision to take on the mission. Not least because he would get a good reward and a boost to his reputation in Starfall. The main reason for his conviction was that it had allowed him to develop his relationship with Vera.
Sigh… It would have been perfect if only Leguna's eyes weren't boring into my back...
Nobody expected Kurdak's joyous time would come to an end so quickly. Whether because of his amazing natural recovery abilities, or because of Wayerliss' extremely effective treatment methods, his wounds healed almost completely by noon. While they weren't completely healed, they no longer impeded his movement and he could walk on his own. He had tried to keep the act up for a bit longer, but Vera quickly figured out what he was up to and threw a tantrum. Fortunately, or not, he escaped unscathed.
The party set up camp again that night.
"Your treatment really is something," said Kurdak, on the verge of tears.
Not only did Vera stop talking to him, Cyranos also handed his bag back without a word. His time of bliss was as transient as snow.
"It's thanks to the potion," snickered Leguna.
"I think you'd be better off as a priest. You actually managed to increase the potion's effectiveness three-fold!"
Kurdak knew it would usually take at least half a month to recover from an injury of that magnitude using normal medication. Even if he consumed a bottle of the potion, it would still take at least three days before he could walk properly. This time, however, it had taken less than a day.
"Kurdak, go fetch some water. We're running out," said Vera, shaking her empty flask.
"Why me? You want an injured man to do your chores?" grumbled Kurdak.
"This woman here hauled your bear-like body for a good half a day and carried the bag for a good amount of time in the afternoon. I also had to help you set up the tent. I'm worn out. It's time for me to take a good, long rest," said Vera as she stretched her body.
Her already tight outfit revealed even more of her curves.
"Ley's also here, you know." Kurdak didn't mention Cyranos as he had already carried their luggage for a good amount of time in the day.
"Come on, I also hauled the bag for a long time today, you know. Also, I don't know the way around here. What if I get lost?" said Leguna with 'proud to be directionally challenged' written all over his face.
Seeing that he was the best fit for the job, Kurdak no longer protested and was about to do it himself. But upon seeing Leguna's happy-go-lucky expression, he suddenly felt a little displeased.
"Alright, I'll go with Ley. If I come along, you won't get lost, right?"
Leguna had already been trying to sneak away the moment Kurdak started speaking. The scrawny youth turned around and looked at Kurdak with puppy-dog eyes.
"Why did you have to bring me along? Boss, aren't your injuries healed already?" resisted Leguna.
"Even so, you'll have to come with me. I'll need you to carry me back here in case my injuries act up again," said Kurdak, ignoring all of Leguna's struggles.
"Sis, say something!" complained the youth with a whimper at his last hope.
Vera looked at him with a smile.
"You better learn how to navigate from Kurdak so you don't get lost in the future."
He glared angrily at her but had no choice but to follow along.
Only Vera and Cyranos were left at the camp. Even though Vera was a rather outgoing woman, even she wouldn't have much to say to the quiet Cyranos. So, she went to find some other things to do to pass time.
"Thanks for these past two days," said Vera after she finished organizing her luggage.
"I'm glad everyone's fine," said Cyranos, smiling.
The two of them sunk into a long period of silence. Vera knew Cyranos wasn't someone who liked to talk. At first, she felt rather awkward whenever she was left alone with him. But as time passed, she got used to the feeling and no longer thought much about it. She poked the fire out of boredom, causing the flaming wood to crackle and embers to fly about in the air. She couldn't help but think about how beautiful the little flecks were.
A soft sound rang out near the camp.
Vera raised her head and mumbled, "They got back so quickly?"
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