9 Harsh Reality, Part 2

Clang!

The madman finally arrived and the swords clashed together. Sparks flew from metal collisions.

Erik could barely defend himself from the storm of blows. His hands were going numb and he was slowly getting pushed back. It has been a while since he trained with swords and his upper body strength was nothing to be proud of. He was quickly becoming completely exhausted and about to collapse.

Wooosh!

Bang!

"Aaaargh! " Just as Erik thought he was done, a stone came flying from behind him, hitting the thug in the left eye. Dazed and blinded the guy screamed and stumbled back covering his face. He was blindly swinging his sword in front of him to prevent Erik from coming closer.

Erik quickly lifted his arm and threw the sword with all his strength toward the man. The sword didn't pierce him, instead, it hit him, handle first, on his chest, cracking a rib. The man roared in pain again and stumbled back even more.

Erik then jumped forward gathering all his remaining Mana in his hands, palms pointing forward, and roared, "Fire! " A giant flame burst forward, enveloping the thug, burning his clothes and melting his skin.

"Gaaah!"

The man screamed while running around, his clothes flesh burning and falling off his bones. Erik and the girl were just staring at him as he slowed down, fell to the ground, and stopped moving. He burned to death in less than thirty seconds.

Erik gathered the little Mana he had left, just to ignite a flame on his right hand while turning to the last guy left, his eyes full of malice and bloodlust as he sneered, "Oooh would you like some too? Come here! Let me give you some warm Hellfire! Mwahahaha…"

Erik was laughing madly as he ran towards the man. He could see the fear and horror in the man's eyes.

Even though he was exhausted from the fight and ha almost had no Mana left, he had to pretend he was a crazy murderer full of energy and malicious thoughts. Bluffing was the only way to survive!

"Stay away from me!"

Sure enough, the guy was so scared that he dropped his sword and madly ran to the forest like the devil was after him. After he disappeared behind the trees, Erik finally stopped and fell to his knees, gasping for air.

After a minute he slowly got back up and picked up the sword the guy dropped. After the fight, his sword was basically done for, and it would be a shame to just leave such a nice blade laying around.

Then he went to check the corpse of the impaled ranger. He forced himself to ignore the gruesome sight as he searched the body. He picked up his crossbow, quiver, and a small bag of coins.

While he was rummaging through the dead man's pockets the girl drank some sort of liquid, gritted her teeth, and stood up. "Hey! What are you doing?" she yelled to Erik.

"Huh? " He was looking at her with a confused face. 'I'm looting the corpse, can't you see? Isn't that what you are supposed to do in a magical world?' He wanted to say, but didn't, and just kept it inside his mind.

"We need to leave this place! That guy went to get reinforcements. They will be here in a few minutes and there are at least twenty of them," she yelled and reminded him while limping in the opposite direction.

"Oh, damn! " Erik cursed and ran after the girl. He supported her and helped her walk faster. They traveled on the road for a while and then hid a few dozen meters away in the tall grass.

The girl sat on the ground and then took out a leather bag full of red powder and mixed it with a vial of water. She then held it with both her hands and made an expression like she was hesitating really hard. Finally, she drank that red liquid in one big gulp.

She took a few big breaths of air before she grabbed the bolt sticking out the back of her thigh and pulled it out with gritted teeth. A few tears came into her eyes but she didn't let them fall, but instead quickly wiped them away. Then she took a bandage and tightly wrapped it around her leg. During the whole process, she didn't release a single sound.

Erik was sitting in silence a few meters away from her, admiring her strong will. After the girl finished she lightly smiled at him and then introduced herself, "I'm Sera."

Erik was just staring at her for a while before it finally clicked to him, "Ah, yes. I am Erik."

"Pff, hahaha. If you don't wanna tell me your name that's fine. But Erik? Come on, it sounds like some kind of exotic fruit," Sera burst into laughter.

Just like Grim, she thought his name sounded extremely weird and funny. He felt somewhat offended and almost wanted to scold her on the etiquette, but then he remembered where he was and just sighed and shook his head.

Then he suddenly got an idea. If people think this name is weird and funny it could get him a lot of unnecessary attention. The solution was simple. He just needs to change it to something that won't raise any eyebrows. He tried to come up with something that sounded more like something these people would use.

And a new name was also perfect for a new world, right? New name, new life. It was brilliant.

"Alright, you got me, you got me. My real name is Gerald," he said with a smile on his face. He was testing the reaction Sera got from his name.

She squinted her eyes watching him closely as if she tried to figure out if he was messing with her again."Hmm, so you are called Gerald huh? I can't tell if you are being honest or not. I never heard of that name before," Sera said.

"Well, you can't know every name in the world. You won't say that my real name sounds like fruit too, right?" he protested.

"Okay fine, I guess you are right," she responded. Then she proceeded to pronounce the name a few more times, getting used to it.

'It seems like this name could work. I guess I'll consider myself Gerald from now on. A new world, a new me,' he thought. They both kept quiet for a while, sinking in their respective thoughts, trying to recover from the recent shock.

Gerald was the first to break the silence and said, "I should probably thank you for giving me a hand before. You intervened at the perfect moment."

"Haha, oh please, I just threw a pebble. I should be thanking you instead. If you didn't kill those guys, I would be already dead. Or worse." She shook at the thought of what could have happened to her.

Gerald wanted to say something to comfort her, but just as he was about to open his mouth, Sera continued with a sad voice.

"We were on a quest around Bloodhorn village. Supposedly, the wolves were making problems around these parts and we were supposed to kill ten or so. Just enough to discourage them from attacking the village. Unfortunately, instead of us stalking our prey, we got ambushed by the bandits." Sera was telling him what was on her mind. Gerald just listened and nodded, letting her continue.

"They had no mercy. We were five against twenty. We had no chance to escape. They even killed my best friend. She… She used her life to give me the chance to escape. I will never-"

Sera almost started crying when suddenly she jerked her head up and listened intently to the surroundings. Then she signaled Gerald to get down and be quiet. He could see panic and fear in her eyes. They both laid down on their stomachs not daring to make a sound.

Soon they heard many people running. A few of them came dangerously close to their hiding spot. They were going on the main road to the city, searching for clues.

A loud voice was heard from the back cursing at another, "You fool! How could you get scared of a little kid? So what if he used Fire magic, he was obviously bluffing to scare you away. There are no Demons around these parts and you actually got tricked into letting her escape. Idiot!"

The one that sounded like a leader was cursing and yelling at his subordinate. It was like the scolding was never going to stop.

"Stop standing around like a stupid rock! Get your ass over there and find them! Don't you dare slack off or I will feed you to the dogs," he was screaming at the top of his lungs, barely holding himself back from killing his incompetent underling.

"Yes, boss. I will go find them right away, please call your anger," the man humbly replied and then ran away as fast as he could, cold sweat pouring from his back, not daring to slack off.

"Useless trash! Now what am I supposed to tell the Lord?!"

After the verbal beating ended, the boss snorted and walked back into the forest fuming from anger after this incident. He lost a target as well as two of his men, and above all, he couldn't believe he actually got such a coward among his group!

If he didn't need all the manpower he could get his hands on, he would just kill the guy.

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