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LEVEL 4: Chapters of the Chosen and Choosers
All of the remaining orcs were dead now and Shihoru was crying in relief that it was all over. Yume wrapped an arm around the Mage’s shoulders, patting her head and whispering, “It’s okay, it’s alright… I’m glad it’s over too…”
“Can you stand?” Mary asked him.
Yes. Wait, no. The lie had bubbled to his lips unwittingly, because if he said no, maybe Mary would be nice and sympathetic to him… but he decided against it.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Haruhiro said, getting to his feet. “Forget about me though, I’m more worried about—”
Why was Mogzo just standing there? Everyone else was celebrating the victory, arguing about the money, getting healed or whatever but Mogzo was just standing there. And something seemed off. Both his arms hung limp at his sides and he was no longer holding his sword. Actually, Haruhiro was amazed that he was still able to stand.
In his condition, just being on his feet in and of itself was an impressive feat. His helm wasn’t just a misshapen mess, it was slanted off to one side on his head. Blood seeped from all over and trickled to the ground. Then slowly, ever so slowly, he started to fall over. He fell as if the supports holding up something heavy had suddenly been removed.
Mary’s breath caught in her throat. Haruhiro called his name.
Hearing his name called, Mogzo slowly struggled back onto his feet.
“What the heck,” Haruhiro breathed, pressing a hand to his chest in relief.
Mogzo really surprised him. For a second there, he totally panicked. He thought something that couldn’t possibly have happened had just occurred and was glad he was wrong.
“Don’t scare me like that, Mogzo,” he said.
“Ah, sorry, sorry,” Mogzo chuckled bashfully, scratching his head.
Mogzo’s face was covered in so much of his own blood that Haruhiro had a hard time making out his expression. But he somehow seemed to be alright.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” Haruhiro whispered. He closed his eyes and, burying his head in his hands, suppressed a sudden urge to cry. “I’m just glad you’re alive.”
Haruhiro had no idea what to do in that horrible moment when he had thought the worst. If something like that really happened, it would’ve been awful. Worse than awful—it would’ve been unimaginable. But it didn’t. Something like that could never happen.
“I’m so glad…” Haruhiro was actually crying now. Both his hands were wet with tears, he was that relieved.
He’d never felt more relieved and happy his entire life. He seriously thought that they were all done for and everyone pulling through in more or less one piece was like a dream. In fact, this felt like a dream he’d had before. A prophetic dream, perhaps. A dream from last night, where everything went wrong. Strange. Why would he have a dream like that? But whatever, everything was alright after all. Mogzo was wounded and bloody, but he was alive. That was all that mattered.
Haruhiro heard the whisper of his own voice in the darkness. He let his hands slide back down to his sides. The shabby reserve force lodge room was pitch black. He had been asleep? He must have been. Which meant… he didn’t want to think about it. Yet a part of him also needed to be certain.
Needing to be absolutely sure, he sat up on the bed. It was the same room they always occupied; the one with two bunks of double beds. Ranta occupied the top bunk across from him and was asleep, snoring softly. The bunk below Ranta’s… was empty. No one slept in it now.
Because Mogzo wasn’t here anymore. He was gone and would never be back.
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