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59 Part II

 After two days, the travellers barely made progress and Darren was pulling Artemis back. He couldn't walk the distance at a fast pace, and he asked for breaks from time to time. They had to get to the Feline territory before or on the stipulated day because Zircon threatened to close the book permanently if they couldn't pass his alleged 'simple' endurance test.

The two were spending a night in an abandoned mine after hours of walking. They had only a couple of hours to rest, and they had to keep moving or else Zircon would deduct points.

If Zircon was that strict, she could only imagine how the other gems would be like. Especially when Zircon called its endurance test easy.

Artemis crossed her legs as she ate a muffin close to going stale. Darren watched her eat, preparing to ask the dozens of questions he had in mind.

"Oi, Arm..."

A stony glare carved into her brown eyes as she clenched her jaw. Darren's chest tightened, but he forced himself to laugh. He averted his eyes from Artemis and settled it on the crackling fire in the damp cavern of echoes.

His face grew pensive because Artemis still had her eyes that harboured nothing but contempt on him. Darren ran his fingers through his hair with shaking hands.

"You seem to be used to the wilderness..." his voice came out thick and unsteady. "Ha ha" He pulled on his neckline as he smiled with a cold sweat running down his temple. She was really making him feel uncomfortable. "You're strong. I'm jealous."

She said nothing, but a few moments later she talked, "I'm used to camping outdoors. It's something a rich beastkid like yourself isn't used to" Her tone was rather degrading, but Darren decided to endure and and become accustomed to the impolite slave.

"Is this your first time of being a slave?"

"Yes."

"When did you come to Sol?"

"Some months ago. The guards caught me. I figured I could get the book with ease, but I didn't understand how tight the security here was."

"What's your goal? Why are you doing this?"

"Isn't it obvious? I want to build my strength, and with Zircon and the other gems, I have a chance!"

"What If... it's not good enough."

She charged towards him, tossing her muffin away. She grabbed his shirt and drew back her fist, "Listen here you frail numbskull. I didn't tell you about this book could address me. I don't like you, and I don't want to be friends with you. You're just a key I can use to get the gems. Apart from that, you're useless."

She shoved him and went back to her position, "You're quite temperamental."

"Shut the fuck up!!!" She threw a stone, and it hit him straight in his face. A long drawn sigh paved from his lips as he pulled out a napkin and wiped the blood dripping from his nose. Artemis didn't feel sorry. She stuck her tongue out before lying on the ground, "I hate your kind. You all don't know what we humans go through."

"I'm not condemning your mission Arm, I just want you to think about the failure rate of it, a-and if all this is a waste!"

She sat up, and turned to face him, "That's a question you should ask yourself. I'm better than you! You're the one who will fail."

"What about your friends and family? How would they feel if they lost you?"

"Stop meddling into my life, Darren shittingston! And stop talking to me! I swear, if you say another word again, I'll batter you to death. I mean it!"

He wanted to say something, but he thought it was best to stay quiet. Artemis scowled at him before returning to her sleeping position with Reme's book in her arms.

'What humans go through...' Darren went to sleep with her statement in mind.

**

"We overslept!" Darren bounced to his feet and noticed Artemis was still sleeping. He moved to her side and guessed she fell asleep while fighting back her tears. She feared losing. That was a side she always wanted to hide.

He moved his hand to the book, but she grabbed his wrist and glared, making his heart skip a beat "I-i can explain!" He just wanted to look at the book himself. She hardly gave him information about Zircon unless he begged, and it wasn't fair to him. They both got the book together, but she's the one that consistently has it with her.

She didn't have time to talk to him. She wiped her eyes with her sleeves and stretched. She turned to him once more and tossed him the book "You want to read it so badly then check it out for yourself."

His face beamed with excitement. She finally gave him a chance to open it. "Huh?" The book wasn't opening and his radiating grin turned upside down "What's wrong with the book?"

"It doesn't recognize stupid people." She said crossing her arms.

"But-"

"Give up! Just like the guardian said, the book isn't for you." She moved towards him and grabbed the book from his arms.

"Wait!" He grabbed hold of her arm, but Artemis slapped his hand away.

"Why not open it? Perhaps I can peruse what's inside!"

Artemis smirked and did as he said. The colours drained from his face the moment Zircon formed words he couldn't read. "Why can't I understand Zircon?"

She closed the book, "Similar to what I stated, you're stupid."

She was about to walk away when he grabbed her again, "Please, interpret Zircon's code. I also want to be strong. That was our agreement, remember?"

Artemis clicked her tongue, then opened the book.

"Your attitude to the beastman is quite cruel." She disregarded the genuine words of Zircon and read out what she formed in her head "Hear ye, Hear ye, I say unto Prince Darren of the Livingston household. You're a complete failure, a wreck, a mess, and a weak idiot. Your childishness rankles me, your pretence to find all things and creatures equal is pathetic. You can't stand up for yourself. You're slowing down your goalw, and to top it all off, you're useless. All you do is cry. Cry to solve everything. Cry hoping some kind of supernatural occurrence will happen and you'll change overnight. That's what Zircon thinks about you."

The codes of Zircon changed again and after she read it, the book closed on its own "New task. You have thirty seconds to apologize to Darren Livingston and take back everything you said. You cannot use my name to lie and get away with it, Artemis Rivera."