Stiel felt a bright light shining upon her.
'Huh? Ugh… what's with my body…'
Her fist that was powerful enough to crush steel, became powerless. In addition, her legs that allowed her to jump over buildings became weak like a little girl's.
She checked her body, but there was nothing wrong. It was just that her body circulation had slowed down drastically. But her recovery was quicker than before.
She then remembered what put her in that state.
'I was… watching that dangerous place… and Sian dragged me in here…'
Stiel was curious as to why Sian did this to her, but she focused on regenerating first. After a while, she opened her eyes.
It was a place she did not recognize.
"Are you okay now?"
Stiel glanced back at the voice. It was Sian, but he looked quite different than what she remembered.
It felt as if he had become more mature and a bit stronger, but Stiel couldn't realize what the difference was.
"Yes. Are you okay?'
Stiel checked on herself again and found that nothing was wrong.
"Yeah, it's okay. So, where are we? I don't think this is where we were… are we in the Great Forest?" Stiel asked as she looked around. Sky Mountain had no grass as it glowed white. But the place here had a lot of mysterious trees. Stiel had gone through many experiences, but she had never seen such a thing. That was why she guessed it was the Great Forest. It was the only place she hadn't visited yet.
Sian shook his head. "No. I'm not sure where we are."
"One thing's for sure… we will have a hard time going back home."
Stiel couldn't understand what he was saying, but Sian had begun walking.
"Let's walk. We can't stay here for too long. I'll explain on the way."
"Oh, uh, yeah."
Stiel then followed him.
"So… you think this is Lagaope's homeworld?"
"How did we end up here? I thought we had to go through the Great Forest? Did you run across it?"
Sian sighed. "No way. I didn't think I was that unlucky."
'…you don't know?'
Stiel knew nothing really went the way Sian wanted. He wanted peace and prosperity, but he frequently ran into trouble everywhere he went. It's not like he looked for such troubles, but he was put into such predicaments no matter what he did.
Sian then continued to explain as Stiel became dumbfounded after hearing everything.
"So… you were closing the hole and Chrona was standing there beside you?"
"So, you thought you couldn't run, so you slapped her face and ran into Apental?"
"Yeah. I hesitated though."
Sian sighed. He was so shocked when he found Chrona standing behind him. He was more panicked when she jumped up to him, but he just followed what his body told him to do. He slapped her face and jumped into the closing rift immediately. His instinct warned him that it was dangerous to go into the hole, but one thing was clear. He would experience hell if Chrona caught him. Sian knew how Nekra lived under Chrona's control. It seemed like Chrona was going to try to do the same thing to him.
Thus, he jumped.
He realized two things right after. One good, and one bad.
The good thing was that the rift had completely closed and blocked the entrance from Chrona. The bad thing was that he couldn't escape from it either. The trace had disappeared, and he didn't dare to open it up again. If it allowed Chrona to chase him in, that was going to be the end of him.
As Sian began fighting off the monsters rushing at him from all sides, all of the traces had disappeared and Sian was now trapped in a dangerous land.
"That's when I remembered what Lagaope told me."
"What about it?"
Stiel began to think and realized what he was talking about.
<apental… is="" connected="" to="" our="" world.="" we="" tried="" to="" return="" by="" going="" through="" that="" land="" but="" we="" couldn't="" dare="" to="" do="" it.="" oh,="" if="" you="" take="" the="" lead="" and="" open="" the="" way…="">
<no, that="" won't="" be="" an="" option.="">
<i knew="" it.="" besides,="" it="" will="" be="" hard="" for="" even="" you,="" mister="" sian.="" to="" protect="" us="" all="" while="" we="" go="" through.="">
"Did you… really?"
Stiel became shocked and Sian smiled bitterly.
"Yeah, I did it."
Sian's body shook as he remembered what he had done in Apental. He thought it was going to be much more bearable as he was now stronger than he was before. It was easier, but it was still life-threatening. He didn't know where to go, so he wandered about aimlessly. At least Karnine provided him all the energy he needed to keep him alive.
He fought and fought again. The monsters at the entrance were actually the weaker ones. Stronger monsters appeared as he walked deeper in. He looked for an exit while killing a countless number of monsters. He was lonely but he couldn't take Stiel out in such a dangerous situation when he could barely keep himself alive.
After continuously killing and wandering around or a long time, not many monsters were left... so he went hunting after them. He needed to kill them to absorb their energy and live.
Finally, he finally found the exit. It was at a small well in the corner of Apental.
His instincts told him that it was the exit he had been searching for. The well was located at the bottom-most floor of the eight-floor world.
"And when I jumped in, I was sent to some lake."
"Huh? That easily?"
Stiel became confused. If that worked, it should've worked for the monsters too.
"I think monsters don't want to come near the well."
In fact, Sian wasn't sure what the well might to do him, so he captured a monster and threw it in. The monster that was not afraid of Sian nor Chrona struggled with all its might to not fall into the well. When it was finally thrown in, it melted instantly.
Sian became hesitant after seeing that result, but he checked it himself by putting his hand into the water. After he was sure that he wouldn't melt, he jumped in. There weren't many monsters left, so if he stayed, he would starve to death anyway.
Luckily, he got out of there in one piece. After checking that the place was safe, he took Stiel out.
"That's the whole story. I don't know where we are, but I think it's probably somewhere on the continent that Lagaope called home."
Stiel looked at Sian sympathetically. He tried to close the sphere to save people, but he was swept into a fight with countless monsters alone for a long time.
Sian knew what Stiel was thinking and said, "Don't worry, I got used to it. I'm okay now. What's important is now."
"Right. What do you want to do?"
"I… want to go home."
"To see your family?"
"Yeah. I want to stay with them until they pass away at least."
Stiel became sad.
"But… will they still be alive? If you fought so long in there…"
"Oh, that should be okay. When I went into the sphere back then… you told me that time didn't pass that much outside, right?"
"It was longer back then. I think that time in Apental is different than the outside world. My guess is that time hasn't passed that much here."
"That's good if it's true. But how are you going to go back?"
Lagaope wanted to come to Don-Nasian from Ra-Sian, but those monsters blocked him from doing so. It would be the same in reverse, but Stiel realized the possibility.
"Huh? Are you trying to…?"
Stiel looked at Sian with hopeful eyes. If Sian had overcome life-threatening situations in Apental and had broken through the barrier…
Sian shook his head.
"No, unfortunately, I didn't become that strong."
"But there's a way."