“Entri, I believe it is your turn to carry the…satchel,” Alice said, her voice slightly wavering.
“I would, but my arm feels a bit sore,” Entri replied nonchalantly. His arm was actually well rested and he felt that he could carry the satchel. He did not however, because he wanted everyone to contribute their fair share, and someone in their group was not participating.
Alice’s face saddened as she watched her master struggle to carefully maneuver past the dense and unmarked forest. Her cheeks were flushed, her breathing was harsh and shallow, and her arms quaked but never relented. She was doing the best she could for two people, since Alice deemed the task beneath her.
“Oh, fine!” Alice screamed. “I shall carry it! Happy, you miserable fiend?”
A loud roar erupted from deeper in the forest, and not a second later, several flocks of birds momentarily block the sun. The ground then shook with a loud thud.
“To be honest, not anymore.”
“This plan is asinine,” Alice voiced her complaint after everyone decided to move towards Entri’s plan after Talia’s had failed. “We would live far longer walking away than committing ourselves to this so called plan!”
No one opposed Alice’s comment that their plan was asinine, but they had no other choice in the face of limited time. Their plan, or rather Entri’s plan, required the use of mana crystals as explosives. In the past, various groups and empires have tried to make use of mana crystals, but at best they were unsuccessful. At worst, it wiped them off the map.
Entri’s plan was somewhat safer, but not by much.
“If no one else is opposed, then let’s get started.”
Their first tasks were to be done simultaneously, specifically, the creation of mana crystals and the satchel to hold them. Those who could sew were to hem a large bag with several pockets in the shape of a honeycomb. The creation of the mana crystals were left to those who were free, unskilled, or only slightly injured because the condensation of mana was, if not taxing, exhausting.
The next step, which would be fulfilled solely by Entri, would be to fill each and every pocket with mana crystals. He went into an isolated part of the village for this task to reduce collateral casualties because if a single mana crystal was to lose its integrity, the entire stash would follow shortly. It wasn’t that Entri didn’t feel scared, he was actually terrified. But someone had to do it, and since Entri saw the fear in the eyes who heard his plan, he volunteered himself. If someone was to so much as dropped a crystal by accident, they could very well be dead. Entri had to give the handling of the crystals his utmost care.
“We do not have all day.”
The sudden appearance of Alice jostled Entri’s concentration and he nearly dropped the crystal into the already bulging bag. His heart raced as he held onto the crystal as firmly as possible, fearful should his grip exceed the crystals threshold.
“Don’t sneak up on me like that,” Entri said, putting the crystal down before relaxing his posture.
“Sneak? I do not sneak. You have merely gone deaf.”
“If you’d like to take this delicate task upon yourself, then by all means.”
“With your orcish fingers, even a blind child could fare better,” Alice said. “But this task is for peasants born from dirt.”
“Then leave. It’s hard to concentrate with you here.”
“And leave your final words unheeded should the worst happen?”
“If you’re the one to deliver my final words, then the worst has already come to pass.”
“Entri,” Alice said, her voice audibly calmer and soft. “This is not your responsibility.”
“You have only known these beasts for a moment,” Alice continued. “They are not even your ki-”
“If you want to leave, then leave,” Entri interrupted. “Take Talia and leave. I’ll do this alone.”
Entri went back to inserting crystals. The ones that could not fit were put aside. They were to be disposed of safely at a later time. This was one of the reasons why Entri’s plan was second to Talia’s. There wasn’t a standard size for mana crystals, nor was there an agreed upon size as the use of mana crystals was nonexistent. Seeing that Entri was no longer giving her any attention, Alice heaved a heavy sigh before leaving.