[Omake] Dead Flowers
[Untold Tales] Before it all begun...
Ekada’xahr, 4043 AOT
At the border of Surus and Uar
Azalea is standing at the edge of a steep cliff. Her large spear-like staff floats not far behind her. Opposite her are a group of men that are slowly and cautiously approaching her. The dried leaves and twigs softly crunch with their every step. One after another, the men emerge from behind the big trees and thick bushes. They are wearing light armor and they are wielding mana-enhanced weapons.
“How many are there?” Azalea’s eyes surveys the group of men that have been chasing her up to this point. “One, two… six… There’s like a dozen of them. Are these all, though?..”
On her way to Uar, Azalea encountered a group of mercenaries who are a little too well informed with the recent events in Aesbyl Region of the country Surus. She has been trying to lose them this past week but they are more capable than what she initially thought.
“Because of their persistence, I haven’t been able to get any decent rest for how many days now… But… I was sure I felt another group chasing at farther distance behind this one. Did I sense it wrong? Is it because I’m so damn tired?..”
She is watching them cautiously approach. Their stance is full of alertness as they find a chance to attack. At the same time she observes the designs of their armor and weapon. They look like the standard designs sold in local armory. None of them seems to have been customized, which is more expensive but have special functions to complement and enhance the wielder and wearer’s abilities. Their group must not be so well off. That explains why they would go this far after her bounty.
“Don’t get too close!” A man commands as he stands not too far behind. His posture is relaxed but his eyes are very observant.
Azalea turns her sight towards the man. “He must be their leader.”
“Be on your guard! There might be traps set around her!” He adds.
“How about we settle things here? Considering everyone’s benefit, of course.” Azalea raises her voice to strike a deal. Her tone is lax but her attitude exudes a certain degree of arrogance.
The men’s foreheads furrow while looking at each other with disbelief and confusion.
“Ha! We have already cornered you! You think there’s still a need for us to negotiate?” Someone from the group shouts.
“You have nowhere to run!” Another one adds.
“You think you have cornered me?” She raises her brow. “What if I can fly?”
“Y-you can fly?!!”
She sneers at them. “Okay, you got me. I can’t fly.”
“Is she making fun of us?”
“Boss, can I stab her now?!”
“So, how about I give you my arm?” Azalea offers while ignoring the mob’s angry grumblings. “You can take it and then claim the bounty.”
“No.” A deep voice rings overpowering her seemingly cheerful tone. “At the very least, we need to return with your head.” Their leader speaks with a commanding tone.
The rest of the bounty hunters start nodding at each other while whispering their agreement.
“Whaaaaaaat~?!” Azalea pretends to be in shock. She then smirks and continues with a teasing tone. “I don’t think I can regrow my head. If I let you take it, I might be as good as dead.”
“Isn’t that entirely the point why they’ve put a reward on your head?!”
The bounty hunters are starting to become noisy once again.
“She cannot regrow her head?” The leader mumbles. “Does that mean she can regrow her arm?”
While the murmurs of the men are echoing in the background, Azalea focuses her senses on the surrounding. Aside from the group in front of her, it does not seem like there is anyone else close by. She is not sensing any other group around that might be observing them.
“I’m tired.” She repeats in her mind. “How vexing…”
Did she already lose the other group of pursuers? Or could they have taken a different path? Could they be setting a trap somewhere else? Maybe, there was no other group from the beginning. She has wasted enough time trying to figure it out. She is done dealing with them.
“Mrow~” A cat comes out of her hood as if reminding her to wake up.
“Fine.” She says.
“Is she giving up?” Someone asks.
“It’s come to this after all. Why did this kid even waste our time?”
One scoffs. “She shouldn’t have messed with Aesbyl’s nobles in the first place.”
“And then run away.” They laugh.
“I’m not running away.” She smiles at them but her tone is cold. She lets out a short chilling laugh. “I’m just done dealing with them. I have ignited a fire, and it’s slowly burning. I don’t know who, or how many, are going to be set aflame… but it sure is burning.”
She then takes a step back which alerts the group’s leader.
“Damn… I’m so tired…”
“S-she’s not planning to-!!”
“This head…” She stretches her arms to the side. Her lips curve up to a mischievous smile while taking another step back to the edge.
For a moment, they are caught in daze as they look straight into her lifeless eyes. They pause while listening to her tone that has suddenly gone so deep, a nerve-freezing chill runs down their spine.
“If you can find it, then you can have it.”
With a soft blow of wind, she lets herself freely fall backward.
“Grab her!!!” The leader exclaims alerting his people to act immediately. “She’s escaping by falling down the cliff!”
They all run towards her but they are all too late. They are too far and too slow to reach her. They can only watch as she falls down the steep cliff.
The leader cannot help but ponder on what exactly just happened. Was she only making a fool out of them? She could have just jumped of the cliff without making it look like they have cornered her. Why confront them?
There are no traps in the cliff at all. With her ability, she could have blown that part of the cliff taking all of them to fall with her, knowing that only she has the ability to survive. Why did she choose to fall alone?
“Are we going to follow her?” One of his men asks.
“From this height, won’t she be dead? We can just collect her corpse.”
“Yeah, easy money.” They laugh.
“Even if she survives, she won’t be completely unharmed. It’ll be hard for her to keep running away.”
“I might have underestimated her since she’s still young and might be inexperienced.” The leader says while gesturing for them to follow him away from the edge of the cliff. “I was betting on the rumors being exaggerated since I believe it’s easier to capture a child than hunting monsters.”
“Don’t bother.” He responds while staring at the cliff. Before he can continue, a loud noise echoes. “It’ll take us too much time to travel down with a different route. She probably has gone far by then.”
“Boss, you’re talking as if that brat can survive this fall without getting any injuries.”
He takes a deep breath. “That girl is a licensed demon hunter who took down an A-rank demon alone. She won’t jump off a cliff knowing that she’ll die.”
“A d-demon hunter?”
“Right.” He takes the lead down the path leaving the cliff area. “She is trained to survive in harsh environments. Chasing her farther would only waste our resources. We are not familiar with the forest beyond this part, so we do not know the boundaries of different monsters territories. If we get ambushed by a group of high ranked monsters, some of might die, you know.”
“What if she’s the one who meets an accident and die?”
“We can just check the forest from time to time, but we cannot go too far in without enough information.” He smirks. “Remember, whatever grudges she and those nobles have is none of our concern. But if we can make money of her corpse then that is a good thing. However, this time… The risks outweigh the reward, so we will not pursue it any farther.”
“She could have killed all of us here and make it look like an accident… But she decided to keep running away… Why?...”
On the other hand, some time ago after falling…
As she falls, Azalea stares at the blue sky. The weather is fine. There are barely any thick clouds that float above.
“The sky is…” She thought while she slowly closes her eyes. “…so fucking bright.”
She can hear her clothes fluttering with the rasping of the wind. It feels like she is flying though in reality,
gravity is pulling her down. Somehow, it is peaceful. Maybe she can stay like this a while longer… just a while longer…
Just a little bit more-
Q’s voice wakes her up.
“What a silly dream.”
She swiftly moves to use magic that can assist her landing. Magic circles glows around her and below. A gust of wind forms around her like a ball while a small tornado forms beneath. It helps her decelerate enough before crashing down.
“I thought I was going to die!” She puts both her hands on her chest after safely landing on the shaved ground.
The tornado-like wind magic cut the plants and trees around her. For a second, she floated above the grassless land before settling down. She looks around her, sensing the area for possible threats. The animals and docile monsters have fled the area. It will be troublesome if the stronger monsters shows up to check on the commotion.
“Yes, yes.” She pats the cat’s head. “That fall could have injured you. I’ll be more careful from now on.” She starts to walk in the direction away from the cliff behind. “I wanted to go to Westar but… I think, I should avoid big cities for now.”
She looks at her staff that fell stabbing the land not far from where she stands. She touches it then magic circles glow. It moves itself of the ground and then floats following behind her.
“So tiring… so tired…”
“Right… I’ve flung our luggage somewhere since it’s hard to keep running with all the extra weight... There’s the possibility that a different group of bounty hunters have gone to take it or… they could be waiting there to ambush. It’s too risky to retrieve it.”
“I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me, but it’s about food, right?”
“The forest has plenty of natural resources… Mhm…Right, I should go hunt.”
∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞××× End ×××∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞
This happened a few months before book 1 chapter 1 timeline.
It’s not that important but I think it’s a cool scene… like, yup. This is how she usually is.
I have the details written about the Aesbyl events in my handy-dandy notebook like 4 years ago. I just thought that I need to have these information ready any time it comes up in the plot. I haven’t really thought where to put it… well that’s because it’s a bit too long for a flashback. I can’t condense it in 5 chapters or less because it’s a very important event. Putting a very long flashback in the middle of the main story which has a linear timeline (except for some back stories that was 2 chapters at most) would make it feel really out of place.
And just having the summary of events be narrated won’t really do it justice. The situation and the character’s experience needs to have the details to be understood well… Like the readers need to experience this with the MC because I want to hurt them- *cough* I mean, it’ll give them a better understanding of why she does what she does… and maybe give them a different way to view the MC…
So I decided that I should flesh out more details in the 4 year time skip between prologue and chapter 1, and the whole Aesbyl events… in a different story that’s not particularly part of the main novel. So yeah… I decided I should write it as a side story of its own.
Reading the side story or the main novel first won’t really spoil either one… I think. Like reading either of the two first would only give the reader a sort of different first impression of Azalea… I think… lol
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