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292 A Short Break By the Riverside, What Edzel was Lacking

 Day 44 - 8:00 AM - Lumutan, General Nakar, Quezon

After leaving the new Military Settlement, Mark and his group riding on Chaflar flew west aiming to go over the mountains of General Nakar, Quezon.

No matter which route they would take, it would be fraught with danger. Following the roads would likely make then encounter infected insects and birds while flying over the mountains could lead to an encounter with evolved feral ones. In the latter's case however, the number of evolved feral animals were lower compared to non-feral ones and the encounter would be less likely. That was why Mark took the latter route.

"This mountainous area is really large, isn't it?"

Karlene said while looking at the vast expanse of the mountainous area of General Nakar.

Even though they were up in the sky, they could not see the full area of the forest and mountains. Of course, they were not flying above the mountain peaks and were just about a little more than half a kilometer from the ground. Flying over the mountain peaks would not be suitable for a travel like this due to the air being thin the higher the altitude of the flight.

The mountainous area in General Nakar was really wide. It was more than one-hundred thirty thousand hectares which was about eighty percent of the whole municipality of General Nakar, Quezon. Furthermore, ninety-four percent of the municipality was declared as forestlands. There were also three watersheds within the area.

Food, water and construction materials, this place could supply all these things needed by their small base that only occupied more than fifty square meters and had less than fifty people. Not only was that but the surrounding area outside of General Nakar also forested and mountainous areas. Since security was not an issue as long as everyone was within the base, they could live safely and comfortably here, without any lack of food and water unlike the settlements where people were suffering.

"That is the direction to the base right?"

Karlene spoke once more as she pointed at the south.

She was like a child on a tour.

"Seriously..."

Mark shook his head hearing her words. It could not be helped though. He just wished that she would behave like Miracle and Edzel who were just looking around silently. He also wished that Alaula also stopped being noisy in his head. The hard headed [Blood Child] wanted to go out of her container. Luckily, they could not talk or else, it would be very annoying.

The sun was rising up in the sky as time passed making Karlene and Edzel feel more comfortable in this travel.

While everyone else looked like tourists, Mark was keeping his vigilance in the surroundings. The things he saw in his premonition last night was still bugging him and making him unable to fully relax. He did not want to let down his guard and regret it.

"Say... Mark, are we going straight to Bay City? This is the right route, right?"

Karlene asked.

"It's not a straight route since we have to go around mountains and I'm not an expert in navigation. Even if we have a compass and a map, it will be hard to fly straight. Also Chaflar could only fly for two hours straight and he needed to rest."

Mark replied as he looked at the compass he was holding. It was something he got from the tourist spot during one of their supply runs before.

"Oh right."

Karlene said as she patted one of Chaflar's scales.

What Mark had just said made her remember. Chaflar was a living thing and its stamina was not infinite. Being able to fly about two hours straight was already amazing considering its size. Not to mention that it was carrying people and baggage. Because of the baggage, it would be possible that the time Chaflar could maintain flight would be lesser.

They needed to make stops before they reach Bay City. Although Mark was in a rush, he did not want to push his pet to the limit or things might turn out worse than better.

Of course, despite the expected stops, their travel speed was already fast. If they went on the ground either by foot or using a vehicle, it would be questionable if they could even reach a quarter of the distance they already traveled so far with the same time constraints. Not only that but they would surely encounter a lot of danger and roadblocks to hinder them further.

If they traveled on the road, just the distance from the New Military Settlement in Infanta to Bay City was already about hundred and forty kilometers. That was a three hours fifty minutes travel before the outbreak if there was no traffic. With the traffic in EDSA, one of the most prominent roads in Metro Manila, those three hours would get consumed just to traverse the very well-known avenue.

After the outbreak however, it would surely be longer. It would not be surprising if it even took days to cover the whole distance.

In any case, it was really convenient that Mark had Chaflar.

***

Day 44 - 8:42 AM - San Jose, Antipolo, Rizal

As expected, Chaflar did not even reach the two hour mark during this flight. It was not because he was weakened but the unsteady flight as they avoided the mountains was also taxing. Chaflar was not a dragon that specialized in speed and flight but a kind of destructive one.

Since Mark had a mental connection with Chaflar, he could tell that the dragon was nearing its limit. The prideful lizard did not want to admit it though and wanted to keep going. Of course, that was not something that Mark could agree to.

Without any choice, they had to find a good place to land and rest for a while. Even though they were still around the forested areas, they already travelled outside the border of General Nakar. According to the map Mark had, they should already be at the northeastern border of Antipolo, Rizal.

"Boss, how about there?"

Edzel who rare spoke this time suggested. He was pointing at a small town surrounded by forests and a river quite a distance away.

Since Mark had no problems with that, he accepted the suggestion. They chose an open area beside the river and landed. Upon landing, Chaflar immediately lay down on the grass and closed its eyes. It knew that taking a nap would make it recover faster.

After they land, Karlene walked towards the river to wash her face with the clear water.

"Are you sure that you should be doing that?"

Mark asked.

"Why?"

"This is still part of Agos River you know? Who knows how many dead people this water drowned after the outbreak?"

"Ugeh!"

Karlene realized that what she was about to do was dangerous and backed up immediately.

Agos River was a very long winding river that crosses not only around the mountains of General Nakar but also at a few of the west, south and eastern municipalities surrounding General Nakar. Due to that, many villages and towns rely on the river for livelihood and supply.

After the outbreak however, it was questionable how many lives was taken by the river. There were a lot of possible causes for people to end up in the river after the outbreak. It might be because they fell, committed suicide or fell victim to evolved carnivorous fishes. In any case, it was never safe to use the river water unless it was at the source of the water.

"Boss, I'll make some rounds."

Edzel said.

"Alright, just yell if you encounter something you can't handle. Also don't stray far, we'll leave after an hour."

Mark smirked as he saw Edzel scratch his head after hearing what he said.

Edzel knew that he had been seen through. He was not just going for rounds but going to find something he could use for training.

"Yes, Boss."

Mark and the rest watched Edzel walk away holding the sword Mark made for him and an assault rifle hanging on his back.

"That guy is too eager isn't he?"

Karlene voiced her concerns after Edzel walked away. Even the childish her could tell that there was something wrong with Edzel.

"Just let him be. He needs to learn a few things on his own. Especially what he lacked."

Mark replied.

Edzel surely took his interest back then at East Port Settlement and because of his circumstances, it would be easy to get his loyalty. Mark was already sure about the latter issue and Edzel was following his instructions properly by word. As for the interest, it was because Edzel's father was not human.

The problem however was that Edzel was not worthy yet of receiving one of his precious crystals. Edzel was too eager and still needed to experience many things. He needed to realize what he lacked right now. That was the crucial thing.

"Lack? What is it?"

Karlene asked in confusion.

To that question, Mark sat on a large rock by the riverbank and put Miracle on his lap. He started caressing her hair gently which made the little girl squint her eyes in comfort. Amihan as usual sat on his shoulder. Mark then looked at Karlene.

"Why do you want to become strong? Why do you want to be able to control Karla's abilities?"

Karlene was surprised by the sudden question but she immediately answered with resolute eyes.

"I want to survive this world and help my father in the future. Also to everyone, I don't want to be a burden."

Mark nodded hearing that and spoke.

"It's a naïve goal but at least, you have a befitting one. Something you could work towards to."

"What does it have to do with Edzel?"

Mark then turned his head at the place Edzel walked as he left.

"That guy doesn't have such goals. Not anymore."

Karlene was still confused about the circumstances but she knew that she should not ask too much since Mark stopped talking.

As for Mark, what he had said was true. Edzel lost his goals already.

Mark already heard his circumstances. Edzel was only an elementary graduate since he had to start working early and did not have much opportunity to build up friendly relations with people of his age. It was because her mother died a year after he graduated elementary school due to sickness. Since he could not rely on his relatives, he could only work on his own to live. He never met his father and the only thing he had in life was Pearl. However, the event that night happened.

Without anything to hold on to but his empty life, his only goal right now was to become stronger. Not for the sake of living or self-satisfaction but just for the sake of being strong. And that was not a good thing. Although it could be said that Mark also had a hand at causing this.

Mark had not seen any circumstances like this before. However, he had Freed's memories. The fallen king saw many people that ended up being consumed by their strength and fallen into bad circumstances. It would be bad if Edzel followed the steps of those people. The main goal of bringing Edzel this time was to make him realize this.

While they were passing time...

"My Lord..."

Amihan tried to say something but...

"Shhhh."

Mark stopped her with a smirk.

The tall grasses around the clearing near Karlene started rustling which immediately alerted her.

As she was about to jump away from her position, several figures jumped towards her and surrounded her. Several pointed wooden spears were aimed at her.

"D-don't move! G-ggive, give us all your food and water!"

'What an intimidating declaration.'

Mark tried his best not to laugh.

Not only Mark but even Karlene did not know whether she should be scared with the spears pointed at her or laugh.

However, laughing would be rude towards their cute assailants.

After all, what surrounded and pointed their spears at Karlene were seven children with ages about five to twelve. And they all looked really desperate.