Last High Human 6: And What Awaits Me, Again
A look on: RHOD.
What I looted could be accounted as follows: Iron knee-boots. Iron gauntlets. A black, sleeveless shirt. A dark green colored cape with a hood for equipment. In terms of weaponry, I got the dagger, a weird double-edged sword, and a shield. I have the bag on my waist and added a few things in it: a small water bottle, a whetstone, and a book that Lyshia gave me.
Lyshia managed to raise the barrier before the monsters could reach the towers. Right after that, we immediately departed. Lyshia took back her armor, equipment, and her spear. Newt wore leather gear, which I deemed useless in practical combat. He also carried a short sword on his waist.
The passage was fifty meters wide carved in a straight line of about one kilometer with the same walls on each side. The more we walked away from the towers and the barrier, the less grass there was. At some point we reached a part of paved road. That's where I found the remains of the Mantissar that tried to run away.
[Rhod] "And now? What's the plan, corporal?"
Lyshia remained quiet a few seconds.
[Lyshia] "First, we need to reach the outpost and tell them that the barrier was breached and that Dead Raisers were at work here. Second, we go to the base and hand out the report. Then I deal with my superior about what to do with you."
[Newt] "Third, we take a bath. I stink."
[Lyshia] "You always stink."
She often complained about him. Scolded him. Made reproaches about him being weak. But even with that, there is still some sort of warmth coming from those two.
Is that how two people's interaction is supposed to feel like? I have only known the coldness of my parents. The pain of their beatings. I have known the shame of being sold as a male prostitute. I have known the fear of running away from the buyer and the civil guards. I have known the violence of my first killing. The remorse of looting the purse in the inanimate hand, I too have known the horror of that.
[Newt] "Sir Rhod? You okay sir? Sir?"
[Rhod] "Just Rhod is enough."
[Newt] "But the corporal told me to add ‘Sir’ to your name because you are an adult."
[Rhod] "Newt, how old are you again? 17? You are nearly an adult yourself."
Lyshia started to laugh again.
[Lyshia] "Rhod, I swear! I thought you were a bit cultivated. Let me teach you something. Like you may supposedly know, an Elf looks half her age. But a Dragonkin on the other side does look like it's age, BUT! Their mental age is half their body age. Which means?"
She looked at Newt, trying to catch a butterfly.
[Rhod] "He is 17. But his mind is that of an 8 years old kid?"
[Lyshia] "Exactly. He do have flashes of maturity sometimes though."
Interesting. Weird, but interesting.
Nobody talked after that exchange. We calmly walked on the pavements. The end of the passage was in view and only one-third of the distance remained. I suddenly smelled the scent of blood and burnt wood.
[Rhod] “Corporal, how far are we from the outpost?"
[Lyshia] "It's right at the end of the passage. Why are you aski- Rhod?!"
I started running, sword unsheathed, shield up.
[Rhod] "The smell of fire and blood. The outpost may be in danger. Hurry!!."
[Lyshia] "Tchh! Won’t this shitty day end…??" She whispered to herself. "Let's approach and take a peek at the situation. Newt, take the front position."
We reached the end of the passage and took cover against the left wall. She put a finger on her lips, asking for silence. We both peeked around the corner of the wall. A tower was on fire, maybe a hundred meters from where we was.
[Rhod] "What's the plan?"
[Lyshia] "Newt has a good eye-sight but can't fight, he will be our watcher. I can't fight in melee because of my injuries. I will resort to magic but don't expect much. And you Rhod, tell me. What can I expect from you in our group? Can I trust you enough?"
Is she for real? There might be people in danger!
[Rhod] " Corporal Lyshia I will only say this once: you can order me like one of your soldiers, I don't mind it. But stop talking and start acting! There might be someone in danger and in need of help. You are in charge of us, so start issuing orders."
She made a weird face while intensely staring at me. Her hands were shaking, gritting her teeth, can hardly control her breath.
[Rhod] "Don't tell me you have no real combat experience."
[Lyshia] "What if I don't?"
I left those two and ran. The direct surrounding of the tower was only made of dirt. As I ran, I saw a person jumped from the highest window, somewhere about fifty meters high. The tower is high and huge, but not so large that it could hide an ample view behind it . I quickly took a toured around it, but didn’t find anything but the suicide soldier, a Dryad on fire.
I found the closed door of the tower and landed a kick on it, but with no results. I took a few steps back, ran some energy through my whole body, lifted my shield and charged.
The door exploded inward, liberating a great amount of smoke, noise from cracking wood, and heat. I jumped back out, took a long breath, then got back in.
I climbed the wooden stairs as fast I can. As I ascended, a portion of stairs suddenly collapsed along with a big section of the wall. Most of the smoke around me got sucked out. I replenished my lungs with fresh oxygen before clambering up by jumping above the hole in the stairs.
The first part of the climbing was relatively short and was made easier with the air coming from outside. But luck won't repeat itself. My skin started to sting a lot and was slowly drying.
If the Energy Dome could move, following the caster, it would be great. The heat was making me dizzy and my lungs were starting to hurt and burn.
I finally reached another door and opened it without any problem. The entire room was on fire except for what seems like a balcony. A man was crouching in there, covering someone with his own body.
[Rhod] "Hey! You!"
The man didn’t react. My voice must be covered by the ambient noises of the fire burning everything, the cracking wood, and the many things falling or breaking. There were three burning dead Mantissars scattered in the room, and around eight soldiers in the same state. I advanced between the wreckage and the corpses and managed to reach the survivors.
The survivor was male, a Beastkin, supposedly from the wolf tribe. He is protecting the upper half of another Beastkin. And everything below the bosom was missing and blood stains were linking the large wound to the inside. Undoubtedly killed by one of the monsters.
[Rhod] "Sir, we must evacuate!"
[Beastkin soldier] "LEAVE ME ALONE! HE DIED! HE’S DEAD!" The man started to cry, screaming all he could, holding the half-corpse.
[Rhod] "Sir, follow m-"
[Beastkin soldier] "LEAVE ME ALONE FUCKER! YOU DON T KNOW ANYTHING!"
He suddenly stood, sword in hand, flames of hate tainted his eyes blood red.
[Beastkin soldier] "THEY KILLED HIM! THEY KILLED MY HUSBAND!"
The soldier pushed me aside. I understood what he tried to do, but too late. He jumped in the fire.
[Beastkin soldier] "I’LL AVENGE YOU! I SWEAR I WILL!"
I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him back to the balcony. But as I feared, he struggled and tried to break free from my restraint, screaming senseless words, crying all he can. I hit the back of his head, and catched him as he collapsed unconsciously. I looked down the balcony. Newt just disappeared around the corner of the tower.
I lifted the Beastkin on my back and prepared to dash in the tower but I stopped immediately: the floor collapsed while I was struggling with the fool.
Then, the balcony suddenly cracked and separated from the tower. I lose footing and fell, surprised. I used waist and shoulder’s movements to turn mid-air and faced the ground, ready to deploy my feet and cancel as much damage using Body Strengthening. Once completely turned, my eyes met those of Lyshia, standing right under me, her arms froze in a weird posture while seemingly speaking to me.
When she realized that speaking was useless, she reached a hand in my direction and screamed.
[Lyshia] "Manifest, Wind Cushion!"
My fall suddenly slowed down. I deployed my feet and the landing was way less brutal than what I was expecting. I rolled on the ground to dispersed the kinetic shock. But still, it hurt..
[Lyshia] "Are you hurt Rhod?!"
She tried to put a hand on my shoulder, but I rejected her and pushed her away.
[Lyshia] "W- Why do you-"
Is she stupid?!
[Rhod] "Corporal, the tower is about to collapse, we must move!"
She looked up, and the light of comprehension appeared on her face.
[Lyshia] "Newt, run!"
She helped me get on my feet and carried the unconscious soldier, each of his arms around our neck.
Less than a minute later, the tower broke in pieces.
After the noise ceased, I turned to Lyshia. She and Newt were watching the ruins, unable to say or do a thing.
Why? Why am I always afflicted with this kind of things? This woman...! She's dangerous. For us and for herself.
[Rhod] "Corporal Lyshia. With all the respect due to your rank, I am asking you to transmit the command of this unit to me."
[Lyshia] "Wh- you ! Who do you think you are?!"
[Rhod] "I don't dare. But I’m sure that your inexperience in both combat, strategy, and inability to remain calm and lucid on the battlefield will cause our demise."
[Lyshia] "I am perfectly calm and lucid! YOU were the one charging in without thinking!" She said while trembling with rage.
[Rhod] "Really? Then how do you explain your choices? Sending Newt first, even though you know that he is inexperienced and too young to grasp the situation. That is a great strategical display. A corporal who never fought before? That shakes by the mere idea of fighting? Who can you fool but yourself?"
[Lyshia] "Stop! Shut up! I know! I know!" She started yelling, pointing a finger at my face "I'm not a field officer Rhod! I'm an instructor! I teach knight apprentices, I'm not allowed to fight! I failed! I failed the admission test! And this mission Rhod! This frigging, fucking shitty mission! It was... It was...!" She broke into tears, watching me with a gaze filled with hate. "This mission was my chance to get promoted as a field mage Rhod! And it's a failure. I failed it. I..."
She closed her eyes, clenching her fists with all her might.
[Newt] "Lyshia, I... I'm sorry..."
[Rhod] " Corporal, you are in charge of Newt, right?" She tried to answer, but I denied her this right with a movement of hand. "And to me, he seems pretty alive. Which means YOUR personal mission is still ongoing. Take a hold of yourself and command us, otherwise I'll take command of the unit. Stop your hesitation. You deserve your title and promotion. I will assist you with your decision making or whatever you need. My point is not to rub you from your career. I just want us all to be alive and kicking until we're in a safe place."
[Lyshia] "Ok... Ok, ok... Stop it! Stop it..." She looked at Newt, building some determination in her eyes.
She remained silent a long moment, her eyes plunged in his. Something seems to be happening between them. Like a discreet, gentle breeze is flowing between them. I suddenly felt out of place... And all that I said to her, all this after losing my temper.. This is something I never went through before. I never talked that much before. I never said what I thought before. Why now? What is this...? What are those emotions? I don't want that. This is something I don't need...
[Lyshia] "What advice do you have to give me, Private Rhod?"
Did she just called me Private? Wasn't I a trespasser not so long ago? I was a trespasser when she was controlling the situation. But now that she needs help, I'm a private? She sure takes things at her own pace, however it suits her. Silly Elf.
[Rhod] "Newt can't fight, but he has good eyesight right? We'll put him to the rear, to watch our backs. You take the front. I will carry him on my back between you two. If any of you notice a threat approaching, signal. Corporal, use your magic to slow down whatever approaches until I get him off me. Once I'm mobile, support me with your magic while I go on close combat. If your life is threatened, leave us here and run with Newt. Is that good with you?"
She looked at me with a half-angry, half-ashamed face, then nodded without a word.
Today I was able to speak with someone. It wasn't the conversation I hoped to have. But at least, I was able to speak my mind. That is something I couldn't do when under the king's influence. It feels like I exchanged something valuable for another, something with more potential.
I know what this is. I know what's happening to me.