10 The Shivering Fores
"Bonjour, Madam Joan." The french woman said as she detected my wild yawn. My eyes were drowsy. Suddenly, I grabbed her back as I shriek from the grand white mare I was riding with. I love animals, but I respect horses. I tried one time getting on a horse but that was, well, a disaster. I did get on one particular horse that didn't like my presence, so I instantly panicked when the horse started to go wild in a rampage.
"Where the hell are we?" I asked while shutting my eyes. I felt the horse galloping a little faster.
"We are in the west road, intersecting the Shivering Forest. We have a mission on the Frankish Kingdom. Not a moment to delay, oui?" Jeanne said, glancing at me.
I was mad at her, deep inside. That moment when she used god knows what on me, I knew she will be an interference. I don't even know her, and she's forcing me to follow along on her quest for a Crown that even I don't know if exists. The only thing I want is Alister. I have to save him. That's what matters.
"I thought we were at war. Why would we need to go there? I told you that my friend is in the golden castle. And I'm not leaving without him."
She studied me. "This friend of yours, is it really important to you?"
I nodded. "He's my best friend. I will do anything for him."
"Really? I can see in your eyes something sparkling inside. Is it love?"
My cheeks burned red. "What are you talking about? Why the sudden questions?"
She focused on the road. "Love can be a distracting emotion. In war, our emotions must be focused on one thing: survival. I suggest you forget about him for the time being. In fact, what Gallifrey said to you on the Sanctuary, it might be too late to even save him. He might have caught out in the middle of the battlefield. After all, there are Masters and Players who are battling with each other. We don't have time for looking a single person. Entendu?"
I didn't say anything. I bit my tongue because if I were to say something, I will break her. And I don't have time to waste.
The Shivering Forest was a oak tree forest, much of them with little leaves on their branches. Due to this, it looks more like something out of a horror movie, especially to a creepy name like that. Jeanne warned me that the forest is dangerous due to creepy spirits and terrible beasts, lurking in the shadows to grab their prey. While looking around, I felt that something was looking at me. I turned my eyes to see the stalker, but as much as I looked, the presence is gone.
Jeanne grabbed her banner on her right hand and waved it around. The glistening white flag with golden lily flowers sparkled as the wind dragged a calming presence. In a moment, a sphere enveloped us.
"This will protect us from the lower level enemies. But it can't block an attack from Masters and Players." She said while continuing waving her flag.
Indeed, the forest was filled with low level enemies. Goblins, rats, wolves. Those were not a threat for us, at least. But still, the forest was quiet, like keeping someone in silence. But our journey came to a stop after Jeanne told me it was time to hunt some monsters on the forest for the evening dinner.
I was armed with a sword and shield, and to be frank, it was a great idea for us to stop our journey to do this. With this, I can practice my skills more smoothly. That way I can survive. Jeanne and I walked toward the deep forest until we stopped in a river. There, she planted her banner on the ground and flipped a stone to her fingers.
"This is a Sound Stone. This will attract the enemy toward the stone. That's when you will begin your attack and submit the creatures to death, oui?" She said while flipping the stone.
"What about you? Aren't you going to help?"
She shook her head. "Non. I'm merely a support class. I use holy magic to grant the bearer different boosts in their stats. But don't worry, I will heal you when you are hurt. Now, then. Let us begin." She threw her stone to the ground and it cracked, making a chirping sound that vibrated my ear drums. One, two and three… A savage beast appeared on the field.
The beast was at level 5 which was not bad. I centered myself on the enemy 'Wild Wolf', grabbing my sword and focusing on how to proceed. Thus, the wolf growled and attacked me with a glaring fang. I instantly used the shield to block and swiped my sword clean to his flesh. I saw his HP taking a huge hit, which won't be long until he dies.
"Focus, Joan. More will come." Just as she said, another Level 5 Wild Wolf appeared on the battlefield. I gulped and ready myself for their attacks. The weakened wolf made a last attempt to bite me but I instantly stabbed him. The other one was more quicker which bit me on my arm. Although I have armor, I felt my skin get damaged. More wolfs appeared now, and this time I was outnumbered.
"Joan!" she said as the banner glowed with light. It granted me a boosted stat for this kind of situation. And so, I instantly went berserk now. This time, I went for the offense. As I ran toward the raging wolves, I took out my sword and started to attack more quickly. One by one, they fell into dust. It was an exhilarating moment that I felt invincible. After smashing the wolves into dust, I saw on the ground floating spheres, which represented the 'loot' from fallen enemies. I instantly picked it up and said: 'Raw meat'.
"May God grant their souls eternal rest for granting us food for survival." She said as she touched her heart with humility. Jeanne is a serious woman, but in truth, a woman in faith.
The night came and we started to cook our prized meat. She decided to wait for the next day to continue the journey toward the Frankish kingdom. The meat was cooked well, and it felt so juicy and crispy. It's beyond me how delicious it feels eating this, especially in this strange world. Jeanne really is an extraordinary chef.
"Jeanne," I said while gulping the last meat. "It's sound strange, talking to a woman who died centuries ago."
The hearths waving shadow enveloped her silver amor. Her eyes were focused on the calming fire.
"I always get those tormented memories each night. But, I still continue on, toward the future. It's my duty as God's messenger." She said with a strange melancholic voice.
She continued, looking at the darkness. "My duty was not complete when the English killed me. My desire was to stop war. I knew instantly that I was to be put to death, because they saw me as a witch. A heretic speaking words of the devil. But, I served the French well. And here I am. Back in this world. It all feels too real, oui?"
The hearth crackled. "You know, the legend of Jeanne de Arc is a phenomenon in my civilization. There's a bunch of movies and series, telling your tale. Especially in pop culture."
"Pop culture?" she asked confused.
"It's popular culture. It's what people enjoy in our lives. Arts, music, movies. That's what it is."
She smiled a little. "Fascinating. How humanity has progressed throughout the years."
She stood in the hearth for a while, until she spoke again. "I want the Crown of infinity, to end all wars. I want a new world, filled with a glistening paradise, with perfect people. It sounds strange, but it feels like gaining a part of God's powers. But, if this is true, I will achieve my dream."
I questioned her. "How do you know this crown really exist? Did someone told you that?"
She remained silent for a moment and she answered. "Non."
After our long conversation, she decided to sleep for the morning, laying her banner as a beacon of protection. The white horse was also sleeping, tied up in a tree. She laid down on the ground with a blanket and closed her eyes. I, on the other hand, faked my own sleep. I was waiting for an hour for her to get her sleep as I heard her slow breathing. I gathered a few provisions, my sword and shield, a few gold coins and left the camp slowly in silence. I traced the steps back where the we were and quickly went into the forest. My objective now is t find that castle. And I wasn't going to be Jeanne's lackey. To what end, I have no intention to be in this war. All I want is to find my own way and help Alister. That's what matters to me.
In the darkness, I took out my inventory and grabbed the Firefly item which gives me light on dark areas. In the Shivering Forest, everything was dark. It was scary, chilly and filled with swampy areas. I felt on my skin that I was been watched. In truth, I didn't know here to go, only thinking that perhaps running north will inch me closer to the Golden Castle. But it was clear it was a mistake. In fact, I was lost.
I grew desperate now. After splashing myself into the mucky swamp, I was attacked by a Shade. It was that thing that attacked Alister and I on school. But It was not alone. The chilling roars of these creatures made me lose myself and fled while my legs grew heavy. One of them, slashed my breastplate, which sapped a few HP, but still help on. I counterattacked, turning the monster into dust. But more came. And I was running out of time. Until something whizzing in front of me stuck on one of the Shades that was behind me, killing it in the process. I gasped, knowing that perhaps it was aiming at me, and not at the monsters. But, as I looked deeper into the horizon, I saw a cave filled with light. And a figure, waving at me and yelling: "RUN!!!" The man was holding a bow and he was helping me.
Didn't need to tell me twice. As soon as I stabbed one of them from my way, I quickly run toward the light. More Shades roared with hunger and the whizzes of the arrows plucked instantly into them. I don't know how the hell does he do that in the middle of the night, but he's good at what he do.
"Get in!" the young man said as he flexed his bow string and flew away a bright arrow. Just then, an explosion shook the ground as I got inside the cave, instantly locking it with a hand-made door.
The young man let out a huge sigh, cleaning his sweaty forehead. His features were athletic, almond eyes, small nose and ashen brown crew cut hair. For some reason, he looked different than the other people I encountered in Casthynia.
"Well, I'm glad I see a real human around here." He extended his hand. "My name is James and I'm from Florida."