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Chapter 7: Gear Up

Shinon slowly opened his eyes, squinting as the early morning light filtered through the window. As he shifted in the bed, he felt the warmth of Selena's body next to him, and a small smile tugged at the corner of his lips.

He turned his head to look at her, taking in the peaceful expression on her face as she slept. He couldn't help but feel a rush of affection for her, and he reached out to brush a strand of hair from her forehead.

"Score~"

Selena stirred at his touch, her eyes slowly opening to meet his. For a moment, they simply stared at each other, the air between them charged with the memory of the night before.

Finally, Selena spoke, her voice soft and hesitant.

"Last night was... amazing," she said, her eyes flickering with emotion.

Shinon felt a wave of relief wash over him at her words. He had been out of practice for quite some time and was worried his inexperience would ruin the fun.

"I'm glad you thought so," he replied, his voice filled with tenderness.

Selena propped herself up on one elbow, her gaze locked on his.

"I don't want this to be just a one-time thing," she said, her voice suddenly serious.

Shinon felt a thrill of excitement at her words.

"Neither do I," he said, reaching out to take her hand. "I want to be with you, Selena. More than anything. But let's not rush into things after all; we barely know each other."

Selena's eyes shone with emotion as she leaned in to kiss him, and for a moment, they were lost in the sensation of their lips meeting. As they pulled back, Selena smiled, a hint of mischief in her eyes.

"I get it, but I'm not asking for a relationship or anything serious for that matter. All I want is the last night to repeat itself," she asked, a playful grin on her lips.

Shinon chuckled, feeling a sense of contentment wash over him. "I say... let's do it now."

"Nope. We have to prepare for your test."

"Right,"

Through the passionate night, Shinon had forgotten everything about the task assigned to him. Not to mention he had little to no experience in infiltration, let alone infiltrating a zombie nest.

Selena slowly stirred, her body stretching out as she prepared to get up from the bed. She felt a gaze on her and turned to see Shinon staring at her, his eyes filled with admiration and desire. She smiled at him, a playful glint in her eye.

"Do you like what you see?" she asked, teasing him.

Shinon chuckled, feeling a heat rise to his cheeks.

"You got no idea," he replied, his voice husky. "But I have been wondering what that spider-like tattoo on your shoulder is? I saw it on several other folks yesterday in the tavern."

"It's a mark to signify our ranks," She replied, "For example, those with tattoos of an ant are grunts. They occupy the lowest rung of the hierarchy and are responsible for doing meagre tasks around the settlement."

"As for the spider, we're the explorers who spend most of their time outside the settlement finding resources and collecting information. And you can guess what Phoenixes mean." She continued, "You'll also be assigned a role after you finish the test."

Selena stood up from the bed, the sheets falling from her body as she moved. She was breathtaking, and Shinon couldn't help but watch as she walked across the room, her movements fluid and graceful.

As she reached for her clothes, Shinon did the same. He didn't suppose they would be bathing today. After all, water was supposed to be a scarce resource in their world.

As Shinon slipped into his clothes, Selena couldn't resist the urge to join him, moving across the room to stand behind him. She wrapped her arms around his waist, pressing her chest against his back as she buried her face in his neck.

Shinon turned, lifting her in his arms and embracing her. Selena tilted her head back, letting out a soft sigh as she depended on his embrace.

"You know," she said, her voice low and teasing. "We could always stay in bed all day."

Shinon chuckled, feeling a sense of contentment wash over him. "As much as I'd like that, we have things to do," he replied, his lips brushing against her skin.

"You dare use my spell against me?" Selena nibbled on his earlobe.

"You're one to talk," Shinon pulled away, getting dressed completely. "Let's get to work first. We'll have a lot of time after dealing with the test."

***

Shinon and Selena stepped out into the bright streets of the settlement, making their way towards the forge at the camp's far end.

The shop was a small, sturdy building made of stone and iron, with a tall chimney jutting out of the roof. The door was slightly ajar, revealing a dimly lit interior filled with the sound of clanging metal.

As they entered the forge, they were greeted by an old man working at a glowing forge, his face smeared with soot and sweat trickling down his brow.

He was hammering a piece of iron with skilful precision, shaping it into a fine blade. Shinon was impressed with the old man's technique, although he was far from the level Shinon had achieved.

Shinon glanced around, noticing the array of weapons and tools hanging from the walls. His eyes settled on an older man with a thick beard and scars covering his face. The man was working on a sword, his movements smooth and precise.

"Who's he?" Shinon asked Selena, gesturing towards the old man.

"That's Old Tom," Selena replied. "He's the sole blacksmith here, and he's been working on weapons and armour for as long as I can remember."

Shinon nodded and watched as Old Tom carefully placed the sword he was working on into the flames. The metal hissed as it came into contact with the heat.

Shinon and Selena approached him, and the old man looked up from his work, nodding in acknowledgement.

"What can I do for you two?" he asked, his voice gruff but friendly.

"We're here to get supplies for a mission," Selena replied while Shinon got preoccupied.

His eyes scanned the shelves, admiring the old man's crude yet surprisingly well-made goods.

"Ah, little Selena, always on a mission," Tom nodded and gestured to the shelves behind him. "Take what you need. You know the drill. No need to rush, and let me know if you need help."

As Shinon and Selena made their way around the shop, the old man watched them with interest, occasionally offering advice and suggestions for the best weapons and gear for their mission.

Shinon's eyes roamed over the shelves, looking for the specific items he needed. Finally, he reached for an enchanted robe made of a dark material that seemed to shimmer in the light.

The robe was said to provide its wearer extra protection against physical attacks. It could have been better, but it should be enough against a small group of zombies.

Shinon also picked up a unique blade with a jagged edge that glows with a faint blue light. The sword was rumoured to be crafted from the remains of a high-ranking zombie and could cut through even the toughest of materials.

Meanwhile, Selena selected a pair of sturdy wrist guards made of thick leather and reinforced with metal plates. They will provide her with extra protection and help to prevent any serious injuries, along with a pack of 9mm bullets.

She also picked up several throwing knives and a set of lockpicks, just in case they needed to get past any locked doors or chests.

As they made their selections, Tom working in the forge, watched them intently, his wrinkled face filled with curiosity and concern.

He had seen many adventurers come through his shop, and he knew the dangers that lurked outside the city walls. He hoped that Shinon and Selena would make it back safely and be able to put the items they'd chosen to good use.

As they were about to leave, Tom spoke up. "Be careful out there. The world is a dangerous place these days."

Shinon nodded in agreement, "We will be. Thank you for everything."

Selena paid him with a handful of steel coins, the settlement's local currency before they left the forge, the sound of the hammer ringing in their ears.

"Hm... I'm not allowed to use the forge at the moment, am I?" Shinon turned to Selena.

Selena hesitated momentarily before replying, "Yeah, you're not since you're not a member of our community. We have rules that we must follow."

Shinon shrugged, "Just thinking about what I could do with a forge makes adrenaline rush within me. I can upgrade weapons or create new ones. Imagine what we could accomplish together."

Selena shook her head, "I know, Shinon, but the rules are the rules. Perhaps after you complete the test, we can revisit the topic in the presence of the Phoenixes."

"Well, that's better than nothing. I just wanna help Tom... his physique isn't suitable to let him continue being a blacksmith for long."

"Whatever it might be, for now, let's head to buy some food and drinks to last us for our travels. Nothing good would come out of making the Phoenixes wait."


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AkshatArpit AkshatArpit

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