Chapter 9:

009 ┃ Expedition

The Isle of the Forgotten

Spud hadn't dared to tell Dawn that he had no idea how to grow potatoes. It had been a big achievement for him to establish a positive relationship with the girl, albeit on all her terms, but if she found out he couldn't even do the job she'd asked him, she'd throw him out of the house without a second thought.

Since Dawn had left at early in the morning to hunt, he had tried to find more information about the potatoes he had found. He tried searching in the book that had allowed him to recognize the flower, but he had leafed through to the last page for the second time and found nothing. Judging by the drawings, at least, it was just a book about the anatomy of flowers. The vast majority were normal without any apparent use and until he learned to read the text, the illustrations were the only thing he could study.

In the end, he had opted to plant the smallest potatoes among those they had collected yesterday. Since he didn't even know if it would work and wanted them to have a few left to eat in the following days, he only planted a dozen. It should serve as a test. He had even driven four wooden stakes at the corners of his makeshift garden so that it could be recognized from a distance.

When he finished, sweaty and with his hands covered in dirt, he couldn't help but admire the project that had taken him all morning. It may not have been the prettiest and he had certainly wasted his time, but he was still proud.

Just in time, Dawn returned from the forest. She had the bow hanging on her back, but today she came with empty hands. Spud approached the porch to greet her.

“What happened?” he asked in a worried tone. He had gotten used to the idea that Dawn would bring another delicious prey that they could prepare.

“Not my luckiest day,” she simply replied as she approached the house. Spud made a sound of disappointment. “You better get used to it. At least we still have leftovers from yesterday's meal.”

Dawn fixed her gaze on the garden that was several meters from the house.

“Did you do that?” she asked, as cold as ever. Spud turned his head to observe his humble creation.

“The garden? I did what I could. With a bit of luck, we'll soon have many more potatoes,” he assured her with a big smile on his face.

“Good. I'll leave it in your hands then,” Dawn replied, heading for the door.

Spud followed her inside. He thought that after their deal yesterday she would finally be a little nicer to him, but it didn't seem to be the case.

“By the way, I wanted to ask you something,” Spud said as he watched Dawn hang up her bow and quiver. The girl let out a loud sound of tiredness and he wondered if she had done it on purpose.

“What?” Dawn asked without turning to look at him. When she finished hanging her things, she headed to the kitchen, forcing Spud to follow her.

“I was thinking we could go to the village this afternoon too. There are a couple of things I want to investigate,” he proposed, with a submissive tone like a child asking to go to the park.

“Impossible,” she replied, curtly. She prepared a clean plate and picked up from the countertop a pot covered with a cloth. “I have to head back to the forest to try to hunt something.”

“Well, you can still go tomorrow, right? Besides, we have plenty of potatoes and we can always pick berries.” Spud tried to argue, but only received a killer look from his companion.

“It's not that easy. Winter is coming and it only takes a couple of bad hunting days for us to run out of food. We have to gather provisions if we don't want to starve.”

“Okay, I understand,” Spud accepted, not wanting to pressure the girl too much lest she scold him again. He had to be more careful with his words if he didn't want to anger her. “Then I could go to the village by myself…”

“That's out of the question,” she snapped.

“Why? I know the way. I can go and come back without problems,” Spud justified.

“I don't care. It's very dangerous,” she disagreed.

“Come on, I'm not a child. I just want to look at a couple of things. You won't even notice that I'm gone.”

“I said no,” Dawn snapped as she poured half of the remaining stew into the pot. She approached the kitchen table and before sitting down she looked at Spud seriously. “You said you would do what I told you, right? Then we’re done.”

“I promise I won't do anything dangerous. Besides, if you're going to go hunting there's not much else I can do. Wouldn't it be better if I go investigate something that could be useful to both of us?” Spud reasoned. Dawn did not respond and instead gave him a look that gave him chills. He clasped his hands together, pleading with his eyes. “I'll only be out for a couple of hours. Please.”

After a few seconds, Dawn closed her eyes and let out a sigh of annoyance.

“Do whatever you want. But if it gets dark, I'm not going to go rescue you like last time,” she finally agreed. Spud contained his smile and nodded his head forward.

“Thank you. I promise I'll be back before sunset.”

Spud walked happily along the dirt path. He carried over his shoulder a cloth bag that Dawn had reluctantly given him so he could bring back a few books from the town hall. Yes, she agreed to let him go exploring alone, but in return, she seemed even angrier with him than before.

He still hadn't completely figured out his companion. She was very cold and strict and undoubtedly seemed not to want friends. He was quite sure she hated him, like when she scolded him or practically murdered him with her gaze when he did something wrong.

However, Spud couldn't help but like her. Of all the times she had scolded him in the last two days, it had been for mistakes he had made that could be dangerous for both of them, such as leaving the fire on or making too much noise at night. Even today when she had adamantly opposed him exploring on his own, she had said it was dangerous for him to go alone. She had taken care to provide him with food and shelter, and of course, saving his life when he arrived on the island. She had been very kind to him... in her own way. Maybe they could even get along with a little luck.

He didn't take long to arrive at the village. It was already the third time he was there and the familiar smell of mold and the houses consumed by vegetation welcomed him. The eerie atmosphere of the place remained, which made him wish Dawn were there with him. Still, he was not so afraid now. This time it was different. He had already accepted his amnesia and now everything in that place was a mystery to be solved. Besides, as long as he returned before nightfall, there was no danger, or so he believed.

He wandered around the village for a few minutes, drawn in by the silence. Although he was curious about exploring all the standing houses, in the end, his instinct guided him to the place he was most eager to explore. The previous time he was so nervous that he hadn't even stopped to observe the place, but now he definitely saw that this place would provide some answers.

After a quick glance at the bell that had saved his life two days ago, Spud entered the church.

A. Hoshino