Chapter 36:

035 ┃ The final battle (Part 2)

The Isle of the Forgotten

To Spud, it seemed as if the world had come to a standstill. The dizziness and pain from the blow vanished instantly, and his eyes could only focus on Dawn's abdomen, from which blood was starting to gush.

For a few seconds, he wondered if this was real or if he was still asleep with Dawn in the cabin in the woods. When he realized it was real, a scream tore from his throat so loudly that it hurt.

Dawn had taken that blow for him. She...

The monster lunged at him, trying to impale him with its tail, as it had done to his partner. Spud threw himself to the side at the last moment, receiving a deep cut on his shoulder that made him scream in pain.

"Dawn!" he shouted, watching as his partner slowly fell to the ground, losing her strength. He had to help her. He ran as fast as he could towards her, but the stalker attacked him again, this time trying to charge him with its head.

Spud barely managed to dodge, but a relentless fury was building within him. He couldn't get to Dawn because the stalker kept attacking.

Grinding his teeth in frustration, he changed his plan. He sprinted towards his bow, which lay a few meters away from the monster. Before he could reach it, the beast struck him with its tail, sending him flying through the air and leaving him breathless for a moment.

Spud immediately got up and ran for the bow. He felt he was going to faint from the pain, but he couldn't stop. He had to kill it, or Dawn would die.

He dodged the next blow from the stalker and finally grabbed the bow and an arrow. This time he couldn't miss. He ran toward the monster with the bow drawn. As it attacked with its tail, Spud ducked, sliding on the frozen floor until he had a clear shot. He released the string and the arrow embedded itself in one of the stalker's red eyes, causing it to reel in pain.

Without wasting any time, Spud drew his sword and sprinted toward the tail. He narrowly dodged the desperate attacks the beast was throwing and jumped onto its tail. Trying to maintain his balance, Spud ran up the body of the monster.

Realizing Spud was on top of it, the stalker began thrashing around the room, slamming into walls and columns to try to crush him. Somehow, Spud managed to keep his balance on the beast and kept running until he reached its head.

In a leap, Spud plunged his sword into the monster's neck as deep as he could. The stalker let out a scream of pain as it tried to shake him off with its hands.

It wasn't enough. Spud gripped the sword with both hands, grunting with effort. Using his weight, he tore through the monster's flesh with his sword, creating a huge gash and causing black fluid to pour from the wound.

He dropped his sword and ran away from the beast, which was shrieking in pain as it bled. It fixed its red eye on Spud and lunged desperately to attack him one last time. Spud stood still as if challenging it. Just a few meters before it reached him, the stalker collapsed to the floor with a thud that shook the room and lay motionless.

Spud didn't even wait to watch it turn back to dust. He ran straight to Dawn. The girl was now lying on the floor, a pool of blood forming around her.

With the battle over, Spud felt despair take hold of him. He fell to the ground where Dawn lay, cupping her face with his hands to look at her. Tears blurred his vision.

"Dawn! Dawn!" he called her over and over. "You're going to be okay. I promise."

Breathing heavily and unsure what to do, Spud looked at the wound in her abdomen. It was so large he could fit his hand in it, and blood continued to flow at an alarming rate. He put his hand to his mouth, crying as he tried to think of something. He had a lump in his throat so big he could hardly breathe.

The girl seemed to be barely clinging to consciousness, but her eyes found his and she managed a weak smile.

"You did it," she murmured, her voice barely a whisper. "Now we can go home."

Spud nodded as he tried to smile back at his companion. However, his expression vanished in an instant, and he broke down crying inconsolably. There had to be something he could do in a moment like this. If he didn't think of something, Dawn would die.

"Hey, Spud..." she called, trying to lift her hand to touch his face. Halfway there, she ran out of strength and let out a pained moan.

Spud held her tightly, hugging her as she groaned.

"I'm... I'm so glad..." Dawn continued with difficulty. Now even breathing seemed to cause her immense pain, " have met you."

Spud tried to hold back tears as he looked at his partner.

"I'm glad too. So please, don't leave me alone," he replied, his voice cracking. His blood-stained hands were smearing Dawn's face, but she didn't seem to mind.

The girl smiled at him one last time as her breathing became more and more faint. Suddenly, her eyes stopped looking at him and stared into nothingness as her body went limp.

Spud gripped her clothes until his knuckles turned white and tried to hold her face so it wouldn't fall.

"Dawn... Dawn!" he cried out, shaking her desperately. The girl did not respond.

Spud let out a heartbreaking scream that echoed throughout the sanctuary. He embraced the girl with all his strength, sobbing inconsolably. He felt a pain so deep in his chest that he thought he was going to faint.

"I'm sorry... I'm so sorry, Dawn," he sobbed, hiding his face in the lifeless chest of his companion. "It's all my fault. If I hadn't asked you to come to this stupid place, none of this would have happened."

Spud clenched his teeth in frustration. From the beginning, she had been right. He should have forgotten about finding answers and just stayed with her in the cabin. He wept intensely, remembering the promise he had made to Dawn just a few days earlier. He was going to live with her forever and start a family, but now all of that was gone. He wished he could go back to that moment and tell her that they wouldn't go on the expedition, that she was all he needed.

"It looks like things didn't turn out the way you wanted," said a male voice, causing Spud to raise his head in alarm.

At first, he thought it had been his imagination, that the blow to his head was making him see things, but he was stunned when he saw it. A few meters away from him stood a figure.

Overwhelmed by emotions, Spud could only look up, astonished.

The figure looked like an attractive teenager with snow-white hair and eyes. He wore an expression of self-assuredness, and his eyes seemed as deep as the sea. He was dressed in a large white robe tied with a belt, and he wore sandals that contrasted with the cold of the room.

Spud felt a shiver run down his spine as he recognized the figure's features. This was not a person. This was the god of the island.

"Still, I must admit that you managed to get here, so..." conceded the young deity, nonchalantly. He walked over and stood right in front of Spud.

Spud tried to say something, but his voice wouldn't come out. He was petrified.

"You wanted answers, didn't you?" the god asked, crouching down to his level. With a murmur, he said, "Well, here they are."

The god snapped a finger, and everything went black.

A. Hoshino