37 Chapter 37. The Tough Girl

Jack picked up the loot Bigarm had left behind. As he held the large sword, he quietly asked the hidden fairy, "I can't feed this sword to my Storm Breaker, right?"

"No," Peniel's voice sounded from the empty air. "That's a two-handed sword. You can only feed the exact type of sword matching the form you have chosen, which is the one-handed sword."

Jack lamented, "Kind of pointless to have extorted this large sword then."

Feeling his disappointment, Peniel said, "You could always sell it or break it down for material in the future."

"Okay," Jack agreed and stored the loot into his inventory bag.

He looked over to Bowler and the girl. They were just finishing up the fight with Ball, the second Ranger. Ball was already at below 10% health. He knelt down and begged for forgiveness. Jack guessed the saying 'birds of a feather flock together' held some truth in it.

But, unfortunately for the Ranger, his opponent was in no mood to grant the mercy his boss had received. The girl went up to him and slashed his throat. This did critical damage and Ball died immediately. This ended the fight and his body disintegrated. A leather bracer fell where his body used to be. The girl picked it up unceremoniously and stored it.

Bowler was standing several steps from her. He didn't approach her and didn't stake a claim to the loot. From his pale face, Jack could guess that he was intimidated by the girl's ruthlessness.

The girl turned and looked at the two of them. Her face was not especially pretty but there was a certain charm to it. Her features had a steely look and contained a maturity that was not common for a girl her age. She still held her dagger tightly in her hand. Her eyes, her posture, and that dagger, clearly expressed her continued wariness.

"Do you guys expect gratitude, or are you planning to force me to show gratitude?" She said in a stern tone.

Bowler, who was already daunted, immediately stammered out, "No, we are unlike them. We saved you because we couldn't stand what they were trying to do. We had no other intention."

"Well, I'm safe now," she said, dismissing them.

Bowler was speechless. This was not the scenario he had expected when he decided to come to the aid of a damsel in distress.

Jack, on the other hand, was fine with it. He simply told Bowler, "Let's go. We have wasted a lot of time." He then turned and started walking away without waiting for Bowler's response.

Bowler was baffled. He looked at Jack's back as he walked away. Then he looked at the girl. Then back at Jack again. He finally decided to chase after Jack. As the girl said, she was safe. There was no point in hanging around anymore. Lingering would just reinforce the girl's suspicion that they might have ulterior motives in assisting her.

Jack wasn't walking exceptionally fast, so Bowler managed to catch up with him before long.

He called out, "Yo, bro. Do you need to act so cool? You should at least have said a few words to her. You are the hero, after all. Without you, we might not have been able to chase out those guys."

"What's the point?" Jack said. "You heard what she said. She was just as suspicious of us as she was of those guys. Trying to talk further would just make it look like we were expecting her to pay us for our help."

"Ah…," Bowler didn't know what to say. So they just silently continued their journey.


"She's following us," Bowler whispered when he looked back. They had been walking for over an hour since the fight with Bigarm's group. He had become bored and started looking around at the scenery and realized that the girl they had saved was walking behind them not far away.

"I know," Jack said. He had been aware of it as he could monitor the girl's position on the radar in his God-eye monocle.

Bowler shook his head, "She was rude to us after we saved her, and now she is following us. I really can't understand the girl at all."

"Actually, it isn't so strange," Jack said. "Our destination is the same, after all."

"Oh, you're right!" Bowler just came to the realization.

He kept looking back from time to time; as if afraid the girl was just a mirage.

"If you want to talk to her, just go ahead. It's embarrassing seeing you like this." Jack was helpless to deal with his companion's conduct.

Bowler gave an apologetic laugh, and then went back to talk to the girl.

"Are you all right?" He said to the girl after he reached speaking distance. "You were hit quite a few times during the fight. If you need, I have medicine here that can recover your health."

"Don't need it," the girl replied with a cold face.

"It's okay, I don't need this medicine. You don't need to feel indebted for using it."

"It was only a scratch. It will heal when I rest at night." The girl was resolute.

Bowler helplessly stored away his medicine.

"Why don't we journey together? It will be safer in a group."

The girl ignored his offer. She just continued walking as though she hadn't heard anything. After another two to three failed attempts at communication, Bowler finally gave up and returned to Jack's side.

"From your face, I would say that you didn't have any luck in establishing a friendship," Jack said when he saw Bowler was back.

Bowler walked with his head down, looking defeated.

"There was no helping it," Jack said. "You cannot force people to trust you."

"You're right, I guess.  I don't think she's a bad person, though. She's just in a difficult position. I hope we can eventually persuade her to trust us." Bowler was not ready to totally give up yet.

Jack shrugged. It didn't matter to him either way.

They didn't run into any more people as they continued their trek, but they did encounter monsters twice. The first time, it was a small group and Jack and Bowler took care of them swiftly. The second time there were more monsters. While beating them wouldn't normally be a problem for Jack, he was somewhat stressed because he needed to protect Bowler, who was weak at close range. At a critical time, the girl joined the fight, reducing the pressure on Jack. They took care of the monsters without any real danger after that.

"Thanks!" Bowler said after the fight ended.

The girl just nodded, and reestablished her distance from the two men. Bowler was muddled by the girl's attitude.

Their trip was quiet and monster free for the rest of the day. The sun took his rest on the horizon and night started to take over. Jack and Bowler searched for an appropriate place to spend the night, and decided on a sturdy building that had been a modern supermarket. Jack scoured the place for ingredients while Bowler looked for soft things to be used as beds. When they returned to the lobby to set up their resting place, they saw the girl sitting silently in a corner of the room.

Jack took this in his stride and started cooking on his Apprentice Cooking Stove. He didn't make more Egg Fried Rice for two reasons. First, because he didn't have many of the required ingredients left so he preferred to save them for later. Second, because he was genuinely starting to get sick of it. Instead, he decided to cook some instant noodles he had found in the food market. The noodles wouldn't provide proficiency points or give any buffs, but Jack figured he should just cook food to be enjoyed once in a while.

Bowler made a gesture to Jack pointing at the girl.

"Don't worry, I'm making three portions," Jack said.

After finishing the cooking, he gave two portions to Bowler.  Jack would let him deal with how to persuade the girl to accept their food since Bowler was the one most concerned about the girl.

Bowler made his way over to the girl in high spirits. Jack saw their interaction from a distance while enjoying his noodles. He felt like he was watching a drama show. The girl initially rejected the offered food, but Bowler was persistent. After quite some while, the girl finally relented and accepted the food. Jack saw them exchanging a few words. It was mostly Bowler doing the talking. The girl only uttered some short syllables, probably as a polite reply to the talkative man. After a while, Bowler returned wearing a bright smile.

"I'm impressed," Jack praised.

"Girls are like that, sometimes they act tough, but most of the time they are really just shy," Bowler said.

"Actually, I think this one is genuinely tough."

"You think so?" Bowler glanced at the girl. "Oh, right. I managed to get her name."


"Yeah, she calls herself 'Fierce Flame.'"

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