“How are you, Rey?”
Looking at Theia’s always-smiling face, Rey sat on his bed and replied, “I can walk already. Thank you for your concern.”
Even with a bigger smile, the girl scolded him, “I told you that you shouldn't get up. Such wounds don’t heal so quickly.”
“You were wrong, as you can see.”
Even though Rey spent only three days in the hospital, his condition almost completely stabilized. And in this morning, he managed to get up, overcoming pain.
His another achievement was almost complete mastery of the language at the conversational level. He still couldn’t read, but the fact that in such a short period of time someone managed to learn an absolutely unfamiliar language was just incredible! Right now, Rey didn’t feel almost any discomfort while talking with Theia. Moreover, there were not many words left the meaning of which was unknown to him.
Another surprise for him was that wounds in the form of a Forest man heal about three times faster than in a Human form. Of course, Rey couldn’t say for sure that this was due to the form. Forest people used medicine on him and its efficiency was quite unclear to him. Also, during these three days, he spent all the stored energy from breaking souls on healing, so it was impossible to say anything for sure.
“Lie down; it's time to change your bandages.”
Rey didn’t argue. During this time, he managed to get used to the local schedule.
Carefully removing the bandages covering his belly, the girl opened her eyes with surprise, “Everything is actually much better than it was yesterday.”
Although his wounds weren’t covered with gray substance anymore, they still looked quite ugly. Rey wasn’t worried about it at all, and Theia had already get used to such view.
“So you're really one of marked by Tian Aret...” Theia mumbled.
Slightly confused, Rey thought, ‘What is it? What is she talking about?’
During these days, Rey also learned quite a lot of things about life of the Forest folk. Though this information wasn’t too important, it still clarified few moments.
“Marked...? Theia, can you explain…”
“Sorry,” Theia smiled, “I still didn't get used to that you only remember your name.”
At first, Rey himself couldn’t believe that they believed him so easily, but he understood the reason pretty soon. Forest folk was very cohesive. Probably, they had to become very cohesive because of their habitat and difficult living conditions. The Forest folk simply didn’t have such thing as betrayal. Each one of them tried to develop their settlement at the maximum. Rey also thought that one of the reasons was their strict leader, but it turned out that everything depends on the personal consciousness of the residents. It felt like such a system should have collapsed long ago, but several hundred generations proved the opposite.
“There is few, very few people like you. And it’s quite easy to differentiate you from usual people,” Theia said, touching with her hand a strand of her light green hair. “Most of us are born with green hair. However, there are few special people chosen by the Goddess. My brother, for example, has hair and eyes like yours.”
Rey didn’t really understand the uniqueness of marked people, but he didn’t show it, patiently waiting for Theia’s next explanations.
“My brother was born with gray hair. It’s well-known fact that gray hair and eyes are signs of the mark of Tian Aret. That’s why since his birth everyone knew that he’ll become a great warrior one day. My mother told me that when he was little, he was the same as ordinary children. Our parents even wanted to believe that he was different from everyone only by his hair color and gray eyes. However, the older he got, the clearer it was that they were wrong,” Theia’s voice was sad and solemn at the same time.
Such a change of emotions confused Rey a little, but he continued to listen.
“When he was taken to his very first hunt, he said that he can hear heart rate of the beast, which was almost two and a half hundred meters away from him.”
Although Rey was surprised, he remained silent.
“And it was not only about his hearing... His sight, sense of smell, and even reflexes were incredibly sharp. Thanks to them, he managed to become one of the strongest warriors even in the capital.”
Listening to Theia, Rey gradually understood why she was talking about it in such a strange manner. Her brother involuntary faced with the problem about which Rey had already thought earlier. Such a perception is very useful in battles, but in daily life it’s more of a serious burden.
Having decided to interrupt her store, Rey asked, “Are all the Goddess’ marks the same?”
Raising her head, Theia noticed an understanding in Rey’s eyes, “Yes, they are. However, there are not so many people like my brother. At best, five people per generation. In our town, there have never been two marked before.”
“Do you think I'm different from others too?”
Theia slightly tilted her head, when she heard his words, “You have white hair. Moreover, your abnormal recovery… It’s obvious. But…”
“What’s wrong?” Rey had to ask her again because Theia suddenly stopped talking.
“The blessing of Tian Aret cannot give only benefits. To get something, you have to give something. At first, I thought that you paid with your vision due to the color of your eyes, but you can see. Moreover, your body is much tougher and stronger than anyone’s, so I...” upon realizing that she was saying this right to his face, Theia paused. “Sorry, I didn't mean it...”
“Don’t worry,” Rey waved his hand, trying to calm her down. However, Theia just lowered her head, as if she was ashamed of her behavior. Rey wanted to learn more information. That’s why he needed to distract her somehow.
“By the way, why did you mention my eyes? What’s with them?” this matter really interested him. Rey knew that his hair became gray, but he didn’t have a chance to look at his eyes.
“Oh... Wait, I’ll be right back!”
Theia ran out of the room just to almost immediately return with a big shiny metal plate in her hands.
When she brought the plate to his face, Rey saw his eyes were completely gray, without a single drop of different color.
“It looks weird...” Rey murmured quietly.
Having taken his words as an act of self-flagellation, Theia decided to cheer him up, “Not at all! Such a color even suits you.”
Her attempt to support him seemed so awkward that Rey didn’t even know how to react to this. Having forced himself to make a stretched smile, Rey turned to the girl, “Now when you see that I’m fine, can I go outside?”
“This…” Theia wasn’t against because she saw condition of his wounds, but there was another problem. If her master figures out that she allowed him just to get out of the bed, let alone going outside... Theia had goosebumps while thinking about it. “The weather is just too cold. First of all, you need to fully recover, and then I’ll give you a tour.”
Rey decided not to insist. And so he spent two more days there. He stopped heeling his wounds by souls; there were left barely enough of them just to get rid of drowsiness.
“This is the house of the elder. And over there, this is a training field for warriors,” Theia walked ahead of Rey, scattering snow with her slender legs.
Rey listened carefully to her, trying to remember the layout of the village… or of the town. Well, it isn’t that important.
“Can I become a warrior? I also want to be useful. At least, I’d like to pay for the treatment.”
“There is no need to worry about such things. After all, we are one big family.”
Theia’s words had no effect on Rey, so he asked again, “I still want to become a hunter. I think such work suits me.”
It was obviously that Theia wanted to say something, but after a moment her gaze changed, “I’ll ask my brother to teach you. I'm sure that he won’t refuse me.”
Rey was left satisfied by her words because he got what he wanted. Currently, he had everything to master the art of combat. Even though he didn’t really like the perspective of fighting in the form of a man, there still was some point in this. It’d be foolish to reveal his main trump card at the very beginning of a battle.
After some time, they reached a large building, which was constructed around a tall tree.
“This is the Temple of Tian Aret,” Theia's words were slightly muffled.
Although Rey didn’t care much of it, he still acted politely, “Is something wrong?”
Upon realizing her mistake, Theia quickly cheered up and returned to her previous state.
‘It seems like I’m not the only one who is pretending here,’ Rey was thinking about it, when Theia told him that her second brother had recently disappeared in the forest with his whole squad. It seemed quite ironic to Rey.
It wasn’t difficult to guess about which group Theia was talking about. That was nothing but a trick of fate.
Rey, of course, didn’t say anything. And they continued to walk around different paces. The tour lasted almost two hours.
“Well, that's all. I'll talk to my brother today, so don't worry.”
“Thank you,” Rey said rather coldly, though he tried to overpower himself. Theia, seemingly, had already got used to this, so she didn’t mind.
After saying goodbye, Theia went away. Rey returned to the hospital, where he was allowed to spend another couple of days.