Everyone was still minding their own businesses, but Anfey knew they were all listening, waiting for his answer. It seemed like all intelligent beings enjoyed hearing gossips.
"You remember the first time we encountered the knights of Sacred Flame Legion? The time when those people appeared to save us? I’ve been thinking about it. If they could follow us from the Sacred City without us noticing, then maybe they are still around us." Anfey said slowly, "one of those people was a woman. I found a scrap of cloth then and it had smelled like a woman. So after Zubin and I found the pond yesterday, I remembered that cloth. So after everyone fell asleep I returned to the pond and I wanted to wait them out."
"For them to bath?" Sante asked.
"I don’t know about the others," Anfey said, "but women liked to be clean. Of course, the possibility is low, and I just wanted to try my luck. I had nothing better to do anyway."
"Then? I found the two siblings?" Christian asked.
"Yes," Anfey nodded. "I thought she was the one I was waiting for, so I was bent on subduing her. Then we fought in the pond."
"And you won?" Christian asked, remembering the strange expression on the girl’s face.
"Of course," Anfey said. "Had I lost I wouldn’t be sitting here."
Everyone started laughing, but Christian sighed. "Anfey," he said, "next time if you wanted to do anything, you should tell us. We can all help you. No one want to see you hurt. Don’t forget we are your team leaders and your companions. You brought us here safely, and you are the only one that can bring us safely to Master Saul."
"Yeah, Anfey," Niya repeated. "We can all help you."
"I told you, there is a small chance that I will even find anyone. I didn’t want everyone to wait up for nothing," Anfey said.
"If you can wait, surely we can as well," Christian disagreed.
"Alright," Anfey said. "I will be more careful next time."
"Anfey, who do you think they are?" Christian asked.
"Someone going to the same place as well, I figured," Anfey said. "I feel like they are only here because they are on the run from someone."
"Interesting…" Christian said. "Anfey, what if they come with us?"
Anfey shook his head. He had considered the possibility, but in the end he decided it would be the best if they go their separate ways. "You see the older, more powerful one? She is skillful enough to be a senior swordmaster, or maybe even higher. How powerful are the people who forced her into this forest? Going with her means we will be placing ourselves in danger as well."
"Anfey, think about it. How powerful can her enemies be? As powerful as Phillip? Unlikely. If Phillip and that girl’s enemy come at the same time, then we will be in trouble. But how possible is that?" Christian said slowly. "If Phillip and that girl’s enemy find us separately, we have an advantage."
Anfey lifted a brow and looked at Christian. He focused on the dangers, not the benefits, and so had long given up on the idea of cooperating. Christian, however, looked at the problem from another point of view, and had enlightened Anfey on a new perspective. When enemy strength remain the same, cooperation benefits both parties. Unless, of course, their enemies join force as well.
"Her enemy may not be that powerful after all," Christian said. "You see the little girl? Her strength magically is almost as bad Anfey. I say, she is running because she is concerned about her little sister."
Everyone chuckled. Joking fun at Anfey’s magic was, after all, hilarious. Anfey rolled his eyes and sank into his own thoughts. Anfey welcomed advices, because he knew he wasn’t perfect, but he would still be the one to make the finally decision.
"Anfey, we only have one swordsman, and only one person stands between us and the enemy. This too dangerous, especially when you don’t have any combat power. It’s too dangerous for you. If she is here with you, we can use our powers to the maximum."
"I agree," Sante said, nodding.
Everyone around them nodded, agreeing with Christian’s words.
"Alright," Anfey said slowly. "Let’s try working with them, then. I have one condition, though. They have to answer to me, or cooperation is off the table. Of course, our mission is to protect the young sister, so we won’t let any harm going to her way." Anfey felt that Shally was the girl’s biggest weakness, and would be a good leverage in negotiation.
"Why are you telling us that?" Christian asked, smiling. "Whatever your conditions are, go tell them."
"I…" Anfey suddenly remembered the events from the night before, and shook his head. "No, no. Christian, you should go talk to them"
"Me?" Christian asked. "Anfey, you’re the most suited for the job. At least you are acquainted with them, and they trust you more."
"No, I can’t be the one," Anfey said, shaking his head harder. Trust? The way they look at him, they want to eat him alive.
"Shally, slow down, slow down a bit," Suzanna said softly, trying not to let her emotions show.
"Ok," Shally nodded, taking a large bite of the sausage. The meat was all gone but she kept chewing on the casing.
Seeing Shally like this, Suzanna couldn’t hold her emotions back anymore and bursted into tears. She shot up and hid behind a tree, sniffling.
A few moments later, Suzanna felt someone tugging at her shirt, and found Shally standing there, terrified, holding a sausage in her hand. "Sister," she said hurriedly. "I didn’t eat your sausage. Here. Eat it. Don’t cry. I won’t anger you again, please don’t cry."
"No, Shally," Suzanna forced a smile and said. "I’m not hungry. Go ahead and eat."
"No, I’m full," Shally said, flushed red. "I know you’re hungry, sister. Here." Shally said, sticking the sausage in her sister’s hands.
Suzanna sighed. Of course she was hungry, especially after that fight with Anfey. Anfey had only put her joints back into place, and Shally was not much help. She had came out of her bonds purely by her own combat power. She would be lying if she said she wasn’t hungry.
But what could she do? They had left in a hurry, and brought nothing with them. For the past few days they had survived on bitter shrubs and berries. The smell of sausages reminded Suzanna exactly how hungry she ws.
Suzanna took a bit of the sausage, and swallowed it without even chewing.
"Don’t throw away the casing," Shally said, concerned. "It taste good, really." She stared at the sausage and swallowed.
Suzanna widened her eyes, and hugged Shally. Her sniffles became loud sobs.
"Sister," Shally said hurried, wiping her hand on Suzanna’s face. "Please don’t cry. Did I angry you again? It’s my bad, my bad, please don’t cry anymore. If you keep cry, I, I will cry too!" Before she could finish, she bursted into tears herself.
The sisters held each other and cried. Suzanna was still a senior swordmaster, and had better control over her emotions. She stopped crying first, and wiped away her sister’s tears. "Shally, don’t cry, it’s my fault for not taking care of you," she sobbed.
"No, sister," Shally said, crying. "I’m happy. Really happy."
"Shally, listen. Stop crying now, ok?" Suzanna sighed. "I have some more coins. Let’s go back to those people and buy some more food, ok?"
"Really?" Shally rubbed her swollen eyes and asked. "Will they sell it to us?"
"Of course," Suzanna said. "If not we will just give them all of our coins." She forced a smile and patted Shally’s cheeks, "come, Shally. Let’s go wash our faces so they won’t laugh at us." Suzanna was a strong woman, and didn’t like the idea of using tears to win sympathy from others.
"Ok!" Shally said. She was a child, after all, and it was easy to cheer her up again.