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15 Part III

 "At some point or another we'll be out of money soon" Orion gauged the satchel in his grasp "We should've sold the jewelry before leaving Cera. I surmise we need to continue strolling until we locate the next town."

"When do we start training?"

"Whenever we find a place good enough to be a campsite" They'd been walking for two hours nonstop.Where they were going, they hadn't the faintest idea.. One thing was for sure, they'd find a village again.

"Tell me child, what made you smile earlier?"

"All things considered, I think I've discovered internal harmony" she put her hands behind her head as she walked pass him.

"Artemis's mischief skill is a B. That was quite fast" Ryu contributed to their conversation because it was bored and felt left out.

"Anything else?" Artemis and Orion asked at the same time.

"Yeah, Her health is full but everything else is sadly the same. But don't worry-"

"I get it Ryu" Artemis interrupted Ryu because she was tired of hearing the same motivational words over and over again.

Unhappy about Artemis's unusual reaction, Ryu could only apologize "Sorry." This was a side of Artemis it had never seen before.

Ryu didn't blame her. The fact of the matter was that it didn't have a use anymore.

Now that Artemis claims to have found inner peace, Ryu assumed she didn't need rallying anymore and Orion would end up reaping its small head off.

"This spot is okay" The place Orion wasn't so special. Orion was tired of walking but didn't want to admit it.

Artemis was huffy at him for always making major decisions. She started to question how and when he became group leader.

"Now what?" The girl inquired on the next thing to do.

Orion shifted his gaze to the shorty then smiled "We breathe" He shut his eyes to meditate and it was left for Artemis to participate or not. One would profit, the other would not.

Ryu watched from a distance, still sad over how cold Artemis was.

"Try to not think of your worries. Do yourself good and relax" Artemis breathed in gradually. She could feel the surrounding breeze against her skin, tune in to the delicate thumps of her heart beat, and she could finally grasp an overwhelming feeling of personhood.

"Now follow the movements of my arms and make sure your legs are fixed in a suitable position." He commanded and surprisingly she was doing it perfectly like she'd been possessed by a positive spirit.

Watching her follow him effortlessly with a smile on her face truly amazed him. He pondered deeply on how heavy the object that hit her might have been.

Orion thought it was best to skip emotional stability and focus more on her strength. She appeared to have vanquished her feelings of trepidation, or maybe it was because there was nothing to startle her.

"Child, you seemed to have calmed the riot in your soul. Meditation is not, at this point required. It's time to face the trees again."

Artemis nodded then set out with Ryu following right behind her and Orion was left behind to ready a campsite.

There was something different about Artemis that surprised both Ryu and Orion. It wasn't really in a bad way but one could say the best way possible.

She walked under the dense canopy of the ancient forest looking for the oldest of all the oaks. She stopped once she found what she had to take down.

"I love nature, but this is something I have to do. Don't worry tree, I'll make Orion put you back in place" She guaranteed as she pulled her fist back but the sudden change in the environment's stability got her dizzy.

The trees around warped, Ryu seemed to have frozen, and the shade of the sky changed to a tint of orange and red.

In seconds, the tree morphed into Grazob and it made Artemis take an instinctual step back. He was as still as a statue, arms crossed with blood leaking from his sockets.

"What's the matter Artemis? Why won't you hit him? Are you're anxious about the outcomes?" The voice was similar to that of Orion's, but she wasn't sure of the direction it was coming from.

"I thought you're no longer scared?" Artemis gulped, she started to question herself whether she was or wasn't.

Grazob still haunts your mind, isn't that right? The poor Orc just wanted to prove to everyone that he wasn't useless. Exactly what you wanted to do too.

The cracked lips on Grazob' face turned to a wide grin as it grew larger, twice the size of the tree standing there before.

Artemis closed her eyes when the voice of her father echoed in her ears "I believe in you. All that's left to do is believe in yourself." All the girl could do was take the risk, whether a disaster would unfold or not.

She drew her fist back slowly then plunged into the tibia of the orc. She did it again and it fell backwards causing the ground to shake briefly.

"It doesn't matter how many times I train, how many times I try, or how long it will take. My dad will always support me!"

Orion's jaw dropped. She actually did it. Despite the illusion he placed, she took down the tree even when it looked like Grazob but ten times his normal height.

"I hate to admit it, child, but you've found inner peace and you're not afraid anymore. Do yourself a favour and punch down eighteen more trees."

She gestured then wandered further into the Forest. Ryu remained back this time

"What's wrong?" Orion asked and it shook it's head as it floated away.

Orion expected the child to come back over-heated however, she looked splendidly fine.

"I guess you're done" The foxman folded his arms, and she flashed a hearty smile "you bet I am!"

"Very well then. We move on to the next segment. Build your muscles and I guarantee to get you a sword"

Artemis's eyes sparkled as she clasped her hands "really?" She said with a smile and the fox rolled his eyes "Don't make me repeat myself" He began to walk. Artemis followed but Ryu didn't feel the need to tag along anymore. It decided to go else where to clear it's mind about the inevitable fate that befell it.

***

"Orion...Artemis" Ryu had been searching for them since sundown. The Forest was a puzzle and it seemed like it'd been going round and round like a carousel in the same spot.

Night had fallen quick and there was no indication of the fox and human. They should have been at the campground however nobody was there. No fire was set up. The campground was the same way it was left.

The environment was pitch black and chilly. Ryu was terrified. It hoped nothing terrible had happened to Artemis. It couldn't have cared less about Orion.

The only thing Ryu could do was go deeper and deeper in a visually impaired quest for it's companions. It was certain it'd discover trails it could follow to find them.

"Orion!!!" It smiled as soon as it saw a figure a similar stature and size with Orion. It could also see the ears on his head. The Oath was finally happy and calmed.

"I've been looking every-" Fear developed in the Olth's chest as It was snatched violently and given a breath-ceasing squeeze.

"An Olth in the human world? So the rumors were valid."