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51 Opening Up

 Taku woke up again a couple of hours later, by the time he woke up it was already past dawn, he tried to stand up and to his amazement he was able to move his upper body. He sat up and looked around and realised that they were in the middle of a forest that was densely packed with bamboos. He was slightly flabbergasted because he didn't know that there was a place with bamboos in the Gutu Empire. As he looked around he noticed Maka several meters away from him training. As she was training she was wearing clothes that were slightly revealing. Taku was dazed and for a moment he was entranced, he didn't know what to say or what to do at the moment, so all he could do was just blankly stare.

As if feeling Taku's gaze Maka turned around and stared right back at him. Taku could only stare as he had no words to describe the scene that was in front of him. Maka just smiled and continued her training, and even as she continued her training Taku just continued staring. It was as if his eyes were glued to her. It took about ten minutes for Maka to finish her training and even after she was done, Taku just continued staring. On the surface it seemed as if Maka didn't mind but even she felt quite awkward under so much scrutiny from one person. Taku did not shift his gaze at all even as she finished her training and walked towards him.

She sat beside him and asked, "How are your injuries?"

Taku was instantly woken up from his stupor, he suddenly felt as if at the moment woman were the most dangerous thing he had ever come into contact with. With just her training alone, his feelings aside he was entranced.

He cleared his mind and answered, "I can at least move now, I am not too sure if I can walk but I don't think it would be much of an issue. Where are we anyway? I never heard of a place in the Gutu Empire which has bamboos."

Maka sighed and replied, "Even im not too sure, in the whole Gutu Empire there is no place with bamboos and even in the whole continent there is no such place so even im stumped. Whilst you were unconscious, I tried to explore a bit but after walking for half a day and leaving traces of my footsteps, I wasn't able to get out of this bamboo forest. I was planning on carrying you out but I was afraid of making your injuries worse so I decided to wait until you had recovered so that we would be able to leave together."

Taku could just nod his head; he had nothing to add on what Maka had said, to be frank that was their best option. He knew that his recovery could not be rushed and at the moment they had no form of medicine on them so all he could do was wait patiently until he was at least able to walk, but judging from his current condition he would need at least half a month before h would be able to walk.

Maka looked at Taku her eyes filled with worry, she knew that men had their pride and most men could not admit when they were in pain, especially Gutu men. She knew she couldn't just blatantly ask or at least that she didn't want to. She opened her mouth several times as if wanting to say something but she ultimately didn't.

Taku smiled and said, "Don't tell me the only thing we have to eat is that bamboo porridge?"

Maka smiled and said, "Don't tell me you hate my cooking?"

Taku released a hallow laugh and then said, "I think your cooking is exquisite because that porridge did not taste half as bad as you said, so I'm guessing your cooking skills are actually excellent."

Saying this much, Taku suddenly frowned and asked, "You need water to make that porridge right? Where did you get the water?"

"Oh!" Maka exclaimed, "There's a river not far from here, the river seems endless, I saw it when I was trying to get out. It's the river I followed for half a day but couldn't seem to find any way out. I'm guessing there's bound to be a place it comes from so when you have recovered we can check it out."

Taku could only just nod.

Maka stood up and said, "Let me light a fire, it's about time I cook so that we can eat."

Taku again nodded.

Maka went to cook and this cycle of waking up and watching Maka train and cook continued for the next fifteen days. Every day he would just stare at her as she trained and day by day Maka gradually got used to it. By the time he was able to walk most of his injuries where healed and due to that Maka forced him to train a bit.

As they trained together, they stayed there for another half month before they decided to set out, but before they left Maka couldn't help but turn to Taku and ask, "Why does it feel like you don't know that many martial skills?"

Taku sighed and said, "I really don't. See I didn't go through the two years of training I was supposed to go through after I graduated from Foot Guard.

Instead I was just thrown into a mission and went out on the mission there and then. I only know one or two martial skills but they are not really worth mentioning."

Maka sank deep into thought and then said, "There are a couple of moves I can teach you, the good thing about martial skills in the Gutu Empire is that they are more like templates, they just show you movement and its for you to fill them up with your preferred element. There is no one martial skill that is designed for one specific element.

Taku nodded and the two of them proceeded to walk away from their camp site. As they walked Taku could only steal glances towards Maka. The last month or so had been heavenly, or at least for him it was half. There were moments were he thought he was going to man up and confess to her and even moments were he thought he was going to be bold but ultimately he had done nothing.

He had tried to encourage himself on multiple occasions, even going as far as to tell himself that he had goals that covered the heavens but no matter how hard he tried, he could only just talk about basic stuff with Maka.

The only thing that he truly had to show for was that after all they had been through these past months they seemed slightly closer. Part of him really wanted to get out of this place but part of him also wanted to stay because he knew that outside of this Maka was a very busy girl.

It was complete silence for an hour, Maka didn't mind but it was slightly awkward for Taku. The atmosphere was slightly suffocating to him, he had no idea what to say or what to do so they just walked up stream silently. Taku was itching to say something, anything, but again he just couldn't find the balls to say anything.

Just as he thought that all was lost, Maka spoke, "There was a battle I was fought, I think I was fifteen, it was the first battle I had fought in which Saru wasn't by my side and without my master by my side to be honest I felt rather confident but as the battle started I felt lost. I had no idea what to do, because back then I knew that if I made a mistake then Saru would be there to save me at some point, so I panicked, I made a couple of bad decisions and I ended up getting injured.

Worst of all it took me a full twenty minutes for me to even gain an upper hand after that. It was slightly embarrassing actually. I felt as though my whole world was crushing down on me as I was being attacked, it felt weird that's why I hate being lost."

Taku was dazed for a moment he didn't expect Maka to just start talking; he gazed up at the sun and sank deep into thought. He was actually quite shocked because it only took her twenty minutes for her to actually calm down and gain an advantage.

He on the other hand was always nervous in battle, even though he always tried to calm himself down and he looked calm on the surface but when the battle begun he was still nervous, he just did a really good job of hiding it.

After sighing he finally replied, "When I first came into this world-" Taku suddenly stopped as he said this, he had realised that he had let something slip. Maka just stared at him weirdly. 'First came to this world?' she thought.

He cleared his throat and said instead, "When I first entered the world of cultivation, I didn't know what to expect to be honest, on one hand I knew that there would be gruesome battles and that there would be moments that I would come close to death.

All I wanted was to live my life peacefully; this is the only moment or at least one of the few moments that I can openly share about me being lost. I didn't know what to do and then I met Saru and he told me about the condition of my soul. I didn't want to die yet but I decided to take up his offer blindly which I did. I didn't know what the future held for me but I guess this made me slightly excited because I felt as though I was actually living and not just breathing. Part of me still had some reservations about cultivating and all that but after the last few months I feel as though it has become such a large part of my life and I don't think it's something I can walk away from anymore."

Taku then turned his head and smiled to Maka, he had left out a couple of words, if he didn't cultivate, if he didn't get stronger, he knew that he wouldn't be able to get a girl like her so he had to. On one hand he had the motivation of trying not to die because of his souls and ultimately trying to figure out why the old Taku ended up in the state he was in.

He had gotten a few clues like his flame being similar to that of the royal family but he had quickly dismissed the notion because he didn't feel as if it was plausible because what would someone from the royal family be doing in an orphanage in a small village.

Maka smiled when Taku was done and said, "I actually wasn't scared, like I said before I need power to do what I want to do, to do what I have to do. If I'm not powerful enough then I won't be able to do and to do what I have to do."

Even though Maka was smiling Taku could still feel the depression and the loneliness coming from her and he wasn't too sure what to say. He was itching to ask what she was looking for, what she was hoping to find by getting more powerful but he thought it would be rude just to blantaly ask so he shut his mouth.

Maka at this moment spoke again, "Actually what I am looking for is not at all that hard to find but I have to reach a certain power level for me to get all the answers that I want because at my current level there are only a few things that I can find out."