Chapter 19:

Chapter 17: The Forest

Your Healer

Chapter 17: The Forest

“Why?” That was a good question from Alex, not that I would doubt Luna´s decisions, but we just learned that the enemy was smart enough to relocate a dungeon gate. I wasn’t even aware that something like that was possible.

“We don’t need to stress it… we got some more weeks to work.” Krystoff steered in.

"So, you think it's a good idea to just leave the dungeon and let the enemies do whatever they want? You do realize that they have built a village and relocated a gate to another world in a mere four weeks."

Luna's voice sounded calm. She wasn't really trying to convince us. She was simply sharing her concerns, but whatever she said, you could sense that the team wasn't feeling very encouraged.

“Let’s do it. I would suggest everyone who’s afraid to simply leave. We don’t need to do that together.” Wace said, looking into our faces. I had no problem checking out the forest, but I knew who did.

“I will wait here,” Krystoff stated in a low voice. I don’t know the whole story, but he was clearly afraid of entering that place.

"Me too." In the end, Alex was the one who offered to stay with him, and with a wink, she gave us the okay to leave them alone.

“They got great chemistry, don’t you think?” Wace asked as he was walking in front of us.

"Who?" Miko was clueless as always.

“Alex and Krystoff, the two of them really take good care of each other. Krystoff is always looking at her.” Luna explained.

"I bet he's just afraid of having another girl die under his care." Wow, I am glad they didn't hear that statement from Miko right now. Even a stone had more sensitivity than she did.

"You do have your radar running, don't you?" Luna asked Wace, who smirked, "Obviously, but I don't sense anything, but if you all open your eyes, you might spot something interesting."

What did he mean? Until now, I saw nothing but trees. In some places, the forest was so thickly vegetated that you could not see further than a few meters ahead. The thought of being attacked here by an enemy seemed even more terrifying now.

"Oh, now you don't even have to see it. I can smell it already." Wace began to cover his nose. I took a deep breath and tried to catch the scent he was talking about, only to be hit with a foul smell comparable to a piece of meat gone bad, like very bad. A moment later, I wasn't the only one gagging out loud.

"Is that a corpse?" I asked, staring at something that resembled a leg lying on the ground behind a tree. The first oddity I noticed was the greenish color of the skin remnants on the rotting flesh. After we passed the leg, I could see the rest of its body. It was a goblin. The first one I had ever seen was a dead one, definitely a good omen... I guess?

Do I need to mention that the sight of a maggot-infested goblin corpse combined with the delicious smell of death was not so easy to take, yet I endured it like a big girl.

I was optimistic enough not to throw up in front of everyone but then came Wace. He approached the dead goblin, crouched down, dipped his finger into its torso, and then licked it. My brain couldn't even process what my eyes had just seen. Still, my stomach turned immediately anyway, so I ended up spilling some of today’s breakfast on the ground.

“What and why?” I knew he wasn’t doing that for laughs, but I was curious if tasting the goblin was the only way to do it.

"I won't go into details since this spell is my very own creation. But this goblin was not killed by a mage from Krystoff's guild... And since the gate was closed, he must have been murdered by something from inside the dungeon."

“Quarrels between goblins aren’t that rare,” Miko commented.

"But killing one of their own is strange, considering they have built a village where they seem to live together peacefully," Luna added to the discussion.

Meanwhile, I was just standing there, unable to contribute anything. So, I began to walk a little ahead of the other three in search of more clues about what might have happened here. After my first few steps, I saw Miko staring at me, not in a creepy way, but she wouldn't let me out of her sight.

With a refreshed sense of safety, I moved on and discovered more dead bodies. Even more interesting were the remains of tents and huts in a clearing.

Not wanting to shout into the woods, I channeled mana into the headphones in my ear and began to speak at an average volume. However, no one responded to my message. I had felt the device connecting to my mana system, so I repeated myself. Again, no response. I immediately felt a small rush of panic as I walked back the way I had come... only to see the three of them still standing there talking.

"What's wrong?" Miko ran to me the moment our eyes met. I breathed out slowly and gave her a faint smile.

“I found a goblin camp nearby.”

"Funny, we just assumed that they probably built one after or maybe even before they fought the guild." Wace explained, walking past me and patting me on the shoulder, "Good job finding it."


"Well done," Luna said, also giving me a light pat.

“Thank you,” I replied quietly. I did not expect that this praise would make me so proud. But it did, and I couldn't help but break into a big grin.

"And I was afraid you would have a panic attack." Miko sighed before we followed Luna and Wace. It's scary that she can already read me just by looking at my face.

As we reached them, I saw how Luna walked around the place, taking photos with some kind of old-school digital camera. I don’t remember any images from the report we got to read before the mission.

“You are making photos?” I asked as I walked beside her.

"Yes, I would like to search the archives for similar things. I must confess that I'm totally clueless at the moment. I've been very focused on my role as a ranged weapon during my dungeon days." She laughed and continued taking photos of the remnants of that camp.

"It's funny how similar this is to our situation. If we changed places, it would be a big tragedy. If we were lying around dead and cut into pieces in our destroyed camp." Miko said.

“Cut into pieces?” yes, I was the first one to discover this place. Still, the moment I saw something resembling the dead goblin from earlier, I adjusted my eyes. Just now, I realized what might have happened here, this camp got attacked.

“Definitely no quarrels among themselves. I first suspected that the orcs who should also be in the dungeon would be responsible for it, but even these are lying here.” Wace shared his thoughts and nodded toward a corpse that was easily four times the size of a goblin.

I walked over to take a closer look. The only similarity between the two creatures was their greenish skin color. Apart from that, this orc resembled us humans much more. It was missing its lower body, but I'm sure it would be at least two meters tall.

By the way, wasn't this orc missing something? For example, innards peeking out from the open part of his body? Curiosity won out over disgust, and I squatted down to take a look inside, and really just a glance.

"It's empty." A voice suddenly spoke behind me, giving me a scare I didn't need. It was Wace.

“How the fuck do you walk over the leaves without making noise?”

"I'm making noise, but your mind wanders too much. Not that I blame you, but I'm sure these first impressions are harder to take than you may realize."

“However,” I don’t want to talk about my mental health right now.

“You think some animal is responsible for that?”

"To neatly snack on the innards of this orc that has been cleanly split in half? I don't think so." He seemed absent-minded for a brief moment, staring into the forest behind me without blinking once.

That gave me the chills. It was as if time stood still. What made someone like him stare the way he just did? But before I could even try to turn my head to look for myself, he smiled, "Sorry, I just had a train of thought."

“Luna?” Wace called out for her. A moment later, she emerged from behind a tree. “Yeah?”

“We should leave. I want to research something before continuing our work here.”

“Fine for me, I got enough photos. What do you think, Miko?”

Just like Wace before, Miko's mind seemed to be elsewhere, "Huh? Oh yeah, we can leave." she said after looking at the treetops. This is creepy. I can't hear or see anything in this forest. I only catch my team staring into emptiness.


That's what I call an exciting encounter: "It almost seemed like they could see us." I said in a quiet voice.

“Shut up, that is why I said we should hide.”

"Let's kill them!" I suggested, knowing full well that this group was a hindrance to our goals.

“We will, but not yet.”

"Got it... By the way, I had a feeling that this black-haired guy was staring right into my eyes."

"Impossible, no one can see through our invisibility spell." I knew she was right, but with a little imagination, it was possible to think that one of these people was actually able to notice our magic.

“I know. As I said, it just felt like it. And I must admit, he is cute. Maybe I keep him.” He definitely looked like he would last longer than my last pet.

"I’m not sure if your father would be fine to let someone like him into the palace."

“He can sleep in the stalls.” I chuckled. Maybe I could build him some kind of kennel.

“They started moving.”

“It seems like they leave the forest. I guess they’ve had enough. We should head back home, too.”

Without some fighting, there was no need for me to continue rotting in this dungeon, even though it was nice to see so much green.

“Fine, but don’t forget our mission.”

"I won't," I replied with a big grin.


“Hey, Miko.”

“What’s wrong, Wace?”

“Please tell me you felt it, too.”

“You mean the feeling of being watched?”

"Exactly, but I couldn't detect anyone even after focusing my perception spell. If our instincts are somehow reliable, these creatures are capable of using A-rank magic. If that's true, we need to ask for reinforcements and get people like Alex and Nada out of here. And I'd also advise leaving Kayla in camp."

"Stop whispering and get back in formation!" shouted Luna, who was about twenty meters behind us. Kayla and Alex hadn't even noticed that Wace and I had let ourselves fall back for our short conversation.

At that moment, Kayla turned and walked over to my side. "Are you cheating on me?" She's stupid, but I like her humor.

"I'm sorry I borrowed your girlfriend, Kayla. I'm really sorry." Wace smirked and ran ahead. I expected her to blush heavily at his comment, but she just smiled at me as I looked at her.

I am not her girlfriend... he didn't even give me a chance to say that. I get it. Kayla and I make no secret of the fact that we like each other. But other than that, we don't do anything couple-like. We don't hug, hold hands, or kiss.

“What are you thinking about? You look troubled.”

“I am troubled.”


“Because of you.”

Kayla looked confused, understandably. “What have I done?” she asked, giving me an almost sad stare.

"Nothing, you didn't do anything wrong, but thinking about you makes me sick."

"Ouch. I'm sorry."

"You don't have to apologize. It's my fault for being stupid."

"I don't quite understand, but please tell me if I can do anything to make you feel better.”

"You can keep walking!" Luna yelled at us from behind, "What's wrong with all of you? Is it so hard to walk and talk at the same time?"

Kayla and I looked at each other and just started laughing. We both felt slightly sorry for Luna, so we ran to catch up with Wace.

We finally exited the forest a few minutes later and reunited with Alex and Krystoff. Both looked relieved to see us again; don't tell me they were worried.

“Did you find something?” Krystoff was the first one to ask. Luna displayed a surprisingly satisfied grin on her face. She took out the camera to show Alex and Krystoff the photos she took.

While she shared her work with them, I remembered that we had some drinks and snacks with us.

“Can you give me the bag?” I asked Kayla, who was carrying everything the whole time.

"Say please," she said while already opening the bag to take out my favorite drink. I hope she hasn't developed some kind of mind-reading magic, not that my thoughts are that exciting.

“Please, and thank you.” As I thanked her, a cold shiver ran down my spine. Hear me out. The reason for that is actually a bit embarrassing… I involuntarily imagined myself giving her a kiss on the forehead.

Don't ask me why. In my entire life, no one has ever given me a kiss on the forehead, nor do I remember seeing it in any kind of media, but she was kneeling on the floor, holding out the drink to me with that carefree smile. I could run my fingers through her hair, hold her head, and lean in for a short smooch.


“You want something else?” Kayla asked me, looking at me a bit concerned, still holding the drink in her hand.

"Oh, no. Thanks." Hastily, I snatched the bottle from her, turned around, and took a big chug after opening it. I've never daydreamed so much. We're in a dungeon right now, and I imagine getting weirdly close to Kayla.

But really, I can't help it. Ever since I met her, I have heard nothing but ambiguous comments from everyone around us regarding my relationship with her. Everyone wants to see us as lovers. Now that I think about it, it's really annoying.

All of my experiences with relationships have come from stories told by others. When did I ever had time to form such a relationship with anybody? I have no idea about anything in this regard.

And now I'm being pushed to start dating the first real friend my age I've ever had. Who says we don't ruin everything we have when we make more of our relationship than we should? And why am I wracking my brains over this right now?

Wace is to blame! He called me her girlfriend! And I thought I had a crush on him all those years ago. Not once did I feel about him like I do about Kayla now!


Why are they like this? I just want to get out of this dungeon and return to Nada. What if some thugs walk through the veil and harass her? What if the goblins happen to leave the dungeon and attack her? This nerve-wracking pressure is not worth the money!

"The way back, we will run. Are you all able to use acceleration magic?"

Everyone gave me a few affirmative gestures, and Wace started pacing. Behind him, Miko, Kayla, Alex, Krystoff, and finally me. With this formation, we wanted to enclose our weakest members.

I was surprised to see how well Alex and Kayla could hold the tempo of Wace. Surely, he was holding back quite a lot, but nevertheless, we managed to arrive at the gate within thirty minutes.

"Oxygen, I need oxygen!" Kayla was lying on the ground wheezing after we arrived at our camp.

“And you need a shower,” Miko said, helping her up.

“Do I smell bad?” she asked shocked.

"No, but you're all sweaty."

I couldn't help but laugh at their conversation. "But don't take too much time, girls. I want to have a meeting tonight."

A moment later, Nada came up to us beckoning.

"Why didn't you answer my messages?" she asked, looking at me sternly.

“We didn’t receive any. When did you send it?” Now that she said it, none of us used the headsets at all.

"For the last two hours, I've been trying to contact you at least every ten minutes," she explained, puffing out her cheeks.

“Hmm, it could be that we have no signal in the forest.”

“When I was there with our guild, we had no problems with it,” Krystoff interjected. So maybe it was the devices themselves.

Nada looked glum. "Actually, I had already maintained and tested them. But I'm going to take another look."

"I'll help her," said Wace, who looked totally refreshed, unlike Kayla. And so, he followed Nada into her tent after she had collected the headsets from all of us.

And with that, the first mission day would come to an end. The second gate we were supposed to explore has disappeared, and we found a bunch of dead goblins and orcs in the forest. It can hardly get any better.