Chapter 22:

Chapter 21. Forest Revelation

Zero to Hero


The resounding thud echoed through the forest as I was abruptly awakened.

“Get up already. It’s going to get dark again if you keep sleeping!”

“He just lets you kick him like that?”

“What’s he gonna do? Cut my legs off?” Tina remarked.

“Are you really capable of killing me when you let your girlfriend treat you like this?” Abigail questioned, her eyes narrowing at me.

“Not my girlfriend. More like a spoiled sister.” I replied, earning another inexplicable smack from Tina.

Surveying our surroundings, I realized it must be late afternoon when I was finally awake, feeling surprisingly refreshed after a good day of sleep.

“Why are you still in that circle?” I questioned, observing that Abigail was still sitting inside the protection I drew.

“YOU said if I left the circle I would suffer the consequences!”

“Oh yeah… totally forgot. Anyways, I guess we will stay at this spot another night and get going tomorrow.”

“Will my dad be alright?”

“The cut is clean so as long as they get the wound closed right away, his life won’t be in danger.”

“Should have taken both arms and the arms of everyone else and hers too!” Tina added, showing no sympathy whatsoever.

“If I take away all their ability to survive, it might as well be me killing them, and I don’t want to kill anyone.”

“She wanted to sell us into slavery! If you don’t get rid of evil people and they cause other people to suffer, then it’s your fault!” Tina passionately argued, making a valid point that I didn’t want to think about.

“Ken. I don’t want to admit, but I think Tina is right. I know it’s hard and you would rather avoid harming others, but if you let evil doers go, they would just commit more atrocious acts and harm innocent people,” Candace added, her voice carrying a weight of concern.

“Too much for me to handle right now. I can’t just go from never seriously hurting anyone to judging who deserves to be sentenced to death,” I replied, grappling with the moral complexity of the situation.

“Just another friendly warning because I don’t want to die either. I would not venture any further into the forest.”

“Why would we believe a criminal like you!” Tina accused vehemently.

“You think I enjoy tricking passersby and seeing people get enslaved?” Abigail replied angrily, defending herself.

“Well… I’m wide awake now, and we aren’t going anywhere, so why don’t you share your story. But don’t lie this time,” I suggested, sensing that there was another layer to the tale.

Taking a quick bathroom break with Tina guarding her closely, the pair returned with Abigail ready to share her side of the story.

“My people used to live deeper inside this forest. We lived a simple but happy life, but everything changed 5 years ago. Not long after the awakening, people started disappearing randomly, and eventually, we realized we were being hunted.

“A pack of wolves got corrupted during the awakening, and the pack leader seemed to have a grudge against us. By the time we realized what was happening, our village was already decimated, and most of our capable hunters were dead. We had no choice but to leave our village and go elsewhere because we were simply too weak.”

“The town you saw us in was a ghost town when we arrived about 4 and a half years ago. We weren’t sure why the town was empty, but we were glad to have found a new settlement. The happiness didn’t last long as we soon found out why the town became a ghost town.”

As we sat around and listened, Abigail continued her story into the night. Apparently, the entire town was sold into slavery by a ruthless and powerful group. When one revisited and saw the town repopulated, they were about to repeat until Abigail’s father made a deal, and his people became subordinates, doing what they were told just so they themselves didn't become slaves.

“I just realized I haven’t had any food the entire day!” I suddenly exclaimed after Abigail finished recounting her story.

With my sudden complaint breaking the silence, Tina and Candace swiftly began unpacking our rucksack and preparing dinner while I sat with Abigail, trying to process her story.

“So how did you track us down anyway? I still want to know.”

“My dad is a great hunter and has been tracking in this forest his entire life; he knows all the shortcuts, and you guys charging through made it pretty easy to follow, even for an average tracker.”

“Mmmm… Guess that was my bad. Should have teleported us now and then to break up the tracks. Good. Now I know for the future,” I replied, making mental notes to avoid the same mistake.

“You can teleport?” Abigail asked in disbelief.

“He can do everything! Your group never stood a chance,” Candace shouted happily.

“Do you think you are strong enough to liberate my people?” Abigail asked, her puppy eyes looking hopeful.

“You said they are a group of elves from Aenwyn, right? We are actually heading there, so it won’t hurt to take a look. But I’m not making any promises. I’m not some hero out here to save all the needy; I can barely manage my own issues without having a mental breakdown.”

“You are only thinking about helping her because she’s cute!” Tina added loudly.

“I have to be your level of dumb to be that shallow,” I replied as a wooden spoon flew at my head.

With dinner prepared, we gathered to enjoy a wonderful warm meal, a stark contrast to our situation just earlier today.

“Some of your people are still around, right? Let’s go meet up with them and have a quick chat.”

Nodding in agreement, Abigail provided me with the general direction of where her people have most likely set up camp just a few miles away from us.

Considering the place too dangerous to leave the girls unguarded, once the three girls and Yami had all grabbed on, I teleported us to the location Abigail provided, hoping to have a chat with her people.

“Dad! Are you alright?” Abigail shouted the moment we landed, having teleported right into the middle of their camp.

Shocked at our sudden appearance, the group of beastmen fumbled around as they tried to get organized. Having heard of their origin, the disdain I had for this villainous group this morning turned into one of pity.

“Calm down, everyone; he’s not here to harm you,” Abigail reassured as the rest gave us dubious looks.

“She told us your story. Obviously, I’m still against the acts you guys have committed, but if you are just helpless lackeys, I don’t think dealing with you all will change the bigger picture.”

Walking towards Abigail’s father, I could clearly see that they did a terrible job addressing his wound and that none in the group had any healing abilities.

“Let me at least close your wound so you don’t end up getting an infection,” I told the beastman as I started closing up his wound with my healing magic.

“You can teleport and heal? And have a ton of money?” Abigail asked, impressed by my abilities.

“He’s got no money! He just cheats and uses his magic to create gold whenever he needs to,” Tina spoke up, thinking she is somehow exposing me as a fraud.

“Isn’t that even more impressive? You must be one of them blessed ones like that elf who’s in control of our livelihood.”

“Nope. So your boss is blessed, eh? Guess that complicates things.”

“He is said to be blessed and extremely powerful. Some of his subordinates are corrupted and are quite powerful as well. I guess your natural ceiling must be really high to get this strong while only getting corrupted.”

“He's not corrupted or anything! He’s got the highest potential in the world! Even higher than Zishell.” Candace lied blatantly.

“Don’t listen to her lies. I could never measure up to someone like Zishell or Julius.”

After closing the wound for Abigail’s father, I conjured some gold for the people and told them our plan going forward.

“We will be heading for Aenwyn. I want to see those wolves in this forest, so we will be going through. You guys can head back to the town or go to Aenwyn yourself. Frankly, I don’t really care what you guys do as long as you stay away from me. Since I still don’t trust you, I will be keeping Abigail as a guide and hostage until Aenwyn.”

“Don’t underestimate those wolves; you might be strong, but they rule this forest and are extremely well organized and cunning. Once you travel any deeper, they will have you marked and hunted,” Abigail’s father warned.

“Like we will be afraid of some wolves. I could, for sure, deal with those like I deal with Yami,” Tina replied confidently as she harassed my pet.

“With your boss being blessed, I would most likely not be able to do anything, so don’t have your hopes up in gaining your freedom.”

After ending my chat with the group, Abigail had some final words with her dad, and with that, I teleported us back to our camp, adding even more to my already overfilled plate of tasks.

“Man, I'm exhausted.”

“You literally just got up like a few hours ago!”

“Tina… It takes a lot of energy when one has to use their brain, I know it’s not something you would understand.”

After having some fun bantering with the easily agitated wolf girl, the girls eventually took turns taking a shower as we got ready for bed.

“You really can just conjure whatever you need, can’t you?” Abigail commented, impressed by the bathtub I created.

“If I know the structure, I could create anything with enough time. But it’s easier if the material is common. I could create a pure gold bathtub if I want and have time, but obviously it would take forever.”

“Show off! Why don’t you make a teleport artifact if you are so talented,” Tina asked, somehow thinking I’m trying to show off when I was simply explaining what I can do to Abigail.

“If you would listen fully instead of picking and choosing what you wanted to hear. I have no clue how to craft an artifact. The magic used in artifacts and magic circles are different from the ones from combat, and I spent most of my time focusing on combat magic. I do know a girl who studied artifact creation, so maybe it’s a good idea to give her a visit.”

“Is she cute?” Candace asked, mostly only interested when the topic revolved around girls and my potential lovers.

“I mean. I don’t know what that had to do with anything, but she was pretty cute if you must know. She’s also the daughter of the hero Frederick Neremont.”

“You knew one of the ten heroes? The enlightened protectors of the world? The guardians and hope for our future?” Abigail shouted, naming a bunch of random titles I have never heard before.

“Tina… I’m not trying to show off, just telling the truth, ok? I knew all of them. Fought against all 10, trained with 7, and nearly killed by a few. But that was all before what happened 5 years ago.”

“Wow! Are you some prince or something? I can’t believe you knew all the heroes!” Abigail replied, admiring my past glory.

“Just some random orphan from a small kingdom. I do know quite a few princes and princesses. Most are big snobs, but a few were nice.”


As we chatted and I explained how Dragonspire worked, the trio of girls couldn’t stop asking me questions late into the night until I forced the conversation to stop just so we could get some decent rest for our journey ahead.

“Sorry, but still gotta keep you restrained,” I apologized to Abigail and placed the protection circle around her.

“Really? You think I have the guts to attack someone after learning he trained with the heroes?”

“Rather be safe than sorry. I don’t want to end up getting hurt again.”

Ignoring her questions on the more personal topics, I wished the girls a good night, and for the second time today, got into my warm sleeping bag and called it a night for the long and ever-shifting journey ahead.

[author]Hi everyone. Decided that I need a change in scenery soon so will be moving to another country in a few months. Took apart my pc so I couldn't create anymore pictures and the things I tried to use online are terrible =( Only got a picture created for a new character that will be introduced soon and most likely won't have many pictures until I actually make the move.[/author]