That very night, Anthea, Hazel, and Sky were camping on the side of the road. They planned to reach a nearby village, but the news of Anthea’s village’s purpose reaching Hazel’s ears made them think otherwise when Hazel began to curse and knock down random trees using his dagger storm and natural strength. They thought it would be safer to have Hazel calm his nerves before reaching a village for their safety and the village’s.
Hazel was still muttering curses as he peeled potatoes on the side, while Sky prepared the fire and Anthea prepared blankets for them to sleep on. Anthea smoothed out the blankets on the ground and then glanced at Sky asking, “Is the fire ready?”
“Just about ready.”
Sky pulled out what looked like a flint from his inventory and struck it against the circle of rocks creating a spark that in turn became a flame that lit up the area.
“I see that you used the flint. It was one of the handiest tools in my village,” stated Anthea as she gazed at the flint in Sky’s right hand. Sky nodded and stated, “I bought ten of these to last me a month, so I can camp once in a while during my journey.”
Anthea nodded and then suddenly heard Hazel curse out loud. Anthea glanced at him only to see him sucking his index finger. The traces of blood on the knife made it obvious to Anthea that Hazel had indeed cut himself, while peeling the potatoes.
Anthea approached Hazel and peeked over his shoulder looking at his injured finger that was oozing blood.
“You should take a bandage for that,” insisted Anthea. Hazel scoffed saying, “I know that.” Hazel pulled a bandage from his inventory and placed it on the cu on his finger making it heal instantly.
Anthea then glanced at the half peeled potato and suggested, “You should cut away from you to prevent injury.”
“I know that too. I was just not paying attention.”
Hazel was about to continue peeling the potato in his hand, but he began to hesitate with his hand slightly shaking. It was obvious to Anthea that he was afraid to cut himself again and his shaking hand was making his nervousness grow.
“Do you want me to peel the potatoes, while you grab us some meat? I hear that there is Jackal Deer in this area and I wouldn’t mind having a taste.”
Hazel instantly stopped the shaking in his hand and without hesitation, dumped the knife and the potato in Anthea’s awaiting hands.
“I won’t be long,” stated Hazel quickly and then dashed off into the grassy area. Anthea giggled as she watched Hazel disappear from sight and began to peel the potatoes in a faster speed compared to Hazel’s.
Sky looked at Anthea as he grabbed some spices from his inventory and asked, “You do know that Jackal Deer are one of the fastest creatures in the game right?” Anthea nodded and added, “I have faith in Hazel’s speed.”
Sky smiled placing the spices on a flat rock and then went to Anthea’s side only to realize that she was already on her fifth potato.
“You’re pretty fast.”
“I peeled a lot of potatoes for Potato Bread when I was in the village.”
“So you made that bread?”
“I only helped. Jemima was the true baker and she was kind enough to give me any extras for my father and I to eat.”
“Jemima? Sounds like a tasty name.”
Anthea nodded with a giggle.
“It does sound delicious. Jemima actually mentioned that her name came from syrup from the players’ world.”
“The Players world…”
Sky looked up at the sky that was beginning to get covered by sparkling stars.
“The players were the ones who made this world and yet they left us when we gained awareness. It’s funny that we chose names that they gave us and continued the game.”
Anthea nodded and placed the tenth potato in a wooden bucket with the others.
“When the game gained awareness, we were all shocked, but the programming made us continue our roles,” stated Anthea and then added, “I’m glad the game gained awareness because if not, I wouldn’t have realized our beautiful world.” Anthea showed a warm smile that made Sky turn red in the cheeks.
Sky immediately embraced her making Anthea gasp with reddened cheeks.
“Anthea, when your village is restored…will…you…”
“I CAUGHT A JACKAL DEER!”
Sky never finished his sentence since Hazel burst from the grassy area pulling the corpse of what looked like a deer, but its fur was gray and razor sharp teeth was in its mouth. Sky immediately separated from Anthea bright red and silently cursed Hazel for his horrible timing.
Anthea patted her chest to calm her beating heart and then smiled at Hazel with slight redness in her cheeks.
“I knew you could get one, Hazel.”
“So what are you going to make, Miss. NPC?” asked Hazel, leaving the cooking to her.
“Jackal Deer potato stew. One of the villagers made it before and he claimed it was very tasty.”
Hazel’s mouth was beginning to water and he pushed the meat toward Anthea practically ordering her to start cooking. Anthea nodded and placed the meat on a solid rock.
Sky, who had calmed his nerves, looked at the uncut meat and asked, “Do you want me to cut the meat?” Anthea shook her head and pulled out a butcher’s knife from her inventory with a bright smile on her face.
“I am quite efficient in my cuts,” stated Anthea and then chopped the head off of the dead Jackal Deer with a single swing and then began to slice the fattest parts of the deer as blood soaked her hands. The blood and Anthea’s smile made it seem like Hazel and Sky were watching a horror movie.
“Remind me not to piss her off when she has a butcher’s knife in her hand.”
“Will do, but her smile is lovely.”
“…You need help.”
Anthea finished the last of the cut and began to cook the cut meat in a pot with the now cut up potatoes and added a number of spices, while humming.
As Anthea cooked the stew, Hazel urged Sky closer and asked, “So what were you doing with Miss. NPC, while I was gone?”
Sky blushed and whispered, “Well, we talked and I almost…”
“If your sentence is R-rated then don’t finish it.”
Sky shook his head and stated, “Nothing like that. I would never do something like that to Anthea without first marrying her.”
Hazel chuckled and muttered, “Such a pure soul.”
“You’re the disgusting one.”
Hazel chuckled again and asked, “So what did you almost do?”
“Are you serious?”
Sky nodded and stated, “I really love her, ever since I first saw her and now that she can reply to me without set lines, I think I can get a decent reply to the proposal.”
Hazel shook his head with a sigh.
“Think this through Sky. Miss. NPC only has awareness now because she has a quest, but when this quest is complete, she’ll go back to what she was, an NPC with set lines.”
Sky frowned and stated, “I want to believe that even when the quest is complete, she will still be Anthea.” Hazel rolled his eyes and stated, “Fine, but you are only leading yourself to a broken heart.”
“You can only say that since you never fell in love.”
“True enough,” stated Hazel with a smirk, but cheered when he heard Anthea announce that the stew was ready and ran to her side.
Sky stared at Anthea, who was scooping up a bowl of the stew for Hazel, who was practically begging for the serving; and then smiled placing a heart to his beating heart.
I will believe in this love.
Anthea glanced at Sky and held a bowl of the stew toward him saying his name. Sky smiled at her and took the bowl from her grasp.
None of them knew what tomorrow would bring as the night continued on.