I'm so… so tired.
I felt like I wasn't able to stretch out my tail's tentacle even one more time. It was painfully sore and only getting worse every single time I moved between islands.
How many hours has it been? I feel like I've been doing this all day. I can't even see the sun in the sky anymore.
The sun started off behind me. Now it was somewhere far enough in front of me that I couldn't see it and it was getting dark. Pretty soon and I wouldn't be able to see where I was going, and moving between islands while not being able to see well sounded like a horrible idea to me.
I should try to find some shelter for the night. Somewhere safe where I won't be devoured by a beast in the middle of the night.
I was already good on food and water. One of the islands I visited had a small pond with berry bushes surrounding it, so I filled up while I was there. That didn't change my body at all, either.
Hiding up in a tree is probably my best option. But with how big this island looked… there's a good chance of more beasts living here.
Luck was on my side on the way to the current island. I encountered more beasts, but most of them were passive beasts that flew away as soon as they detected me. The hostile beasts were snuck past.
This new island was good in that it seemed covered in dense forest. At least, from what I saw of it so far. Tall trees reached higher than they did on the surrounding islands due to having more nutrients to pull from the ground. There were bushes and flowers in every direction that I looked, many of which hosted colorful berries and pretty patterns. Honestly, from what little I saw of the island, it was beautiful. It didn't take much to realize that. It was the kind of place where I would have been happy to settle down and retire, not that I could even remember how I knew what the concept of retiring was.
But retiring wasn't the goal. Hiding was and the dense forest meant there were plenty of hiding spots for me, but also plenty of hiding spots for any beasts hungry for me.
Staying near the edge within distance of another island to escape to was probably a good idea, too. Plus, I figured most beasts would be closer toward the center of the island. That was usually where most of the resources on these islands were.
Alright. Up into the tree I go. I'll continue toward the mainland in the morning… assuming that I survive the nigh—
I was halfway up the tree when I heard what sounded like a person's voice. Needless to say, that put a stop in my ascent and made me blink a few times. Did I imagine that? I'm still near the edge of the world. There's no way that there's anybody living out here, right? Then again… I'm—
I'm not imagining things.
I didn't know who they were or what danger they might have been in, but there was a person out there who sounded like they needed help.
That sense of guilt returned, but it came with an even stronger desire to protect this time.
I rushed through the forest as quickly as my tentacles would allow me. The most efficient method of travel turned out to be swinging from tree to tree with my tentacles, so I relied on them to get me to that voice as fast as possible.
Bad news was that the voice didn't shout again. It went silent after the second time. That made it harder for me to track the owner of it down and it also meant that they might already be dead.
Come on! How much farther are they?! Shout again if you can! I'll help you, but I have to be able to find you first!
I didn't see anybody.
I didn't hear anybody.
But I did hear something.
It was simple. Rustling bushes. That was the only clue I had.
If there was even a tiny chance, I had to take it. I had to.
I swung in the direction of the noise and perched myself atop a branch to look around.
Another beast entered my vision, one that was in the process of dragging its prey into the bushes. It was comparable to a plant in appearance. It stood tall, about the size of an adult Chosen, and walked around on tentacle-like vines in a similar way to me. It even had more vines for arms… except it had dozens more than me. Not only that, but they were covered in thorns with red tips. Then there was its head which was split open with a row of spikes along its edges designed for trapping smaller prey inside of its own head.
It was a beast that I had no confidence in being able to beat. It was far larger than me and equipped with more offensive capabilities. Going up against it would be suicidal.
But when I saw the body of a woman on the ground being dragged by it whose skin had already been lashed and pricked by its thorny vines, with her eyes closed and breathing shallow, there was only one thing I could do.
As the beast wrapped one of its vines around her throat while lowering its head toward hers, I swung from the tree with no idea what to do next.
All I knew was that I had to protect her.
I won't watch anybody else die.
I had no idea where that thought came from, but that didn't stop me from agreeing with it.