He enters the mall, his clothes fluttered by the wind. For a few moments both of them looked at each other. They didn’t say anything.
‘You….are strong.’ She said. Extremely she mused. But she did not say that out loud. There is still this awkward atmosphere between them.
Even after the shutter gate is closed, that atmosphere did not diminish.
‘Hmm’ Azief replies without expression. His eyes look around his surrounding and his blade turn into a light and enter his ring.
He has a storage ring too Sofia realized.
‘You survived huh?’ he then added. From the tone of his voice, it seems that he did not think that she could survive it.
‘Hmm’ she replies. Azief look at that woman again.
Both of them have complicated expression on their face. This is because of their history….or should be said…lack of history.
They were not boyfriend girlfriend or even friends.
They were just in the same class. Both of them learned at Sport School across Temerloh. She was an athlete. He was the class fool.
At least from form 1 to 3. From Form 4 to Five he became this argumentative person. When he was form 1 he wanted to fit in.
Form 2 till 3 he was in peer pressure.
Form 4 and Form 5 he wanted to do well in the final exam only to find out he got to much pressure to ace the exam that he caught a high fever a few weeks before the final exam.
He didn’t blame anyone on that.
It was him putting pressure on himself. Anyway, Sofia and him are only classmate. Nothing more.
They don’t hang with the same crowd but they don’t have any problem with each other either.
The occasional hi and waving hand when they meet each other and that’s it. But they both recognize each other.
Azief did not change much other than his face has little trace of acne and a few black spots on his cheeks.
Sofia still is slender and her face also did not change much. She still sports a long hair, and her face is a little tanner than before. Before she was pale white.
Azief always forget names. But he rarely forgets a face. The reason why he always forget name is usually because the other person doesn’t strike him as important in his life.
But faces? Even if he wanted to forget he can’t.
Azief wanted to move from this area and collect his thoughts. After running from the zombie’s horde Azief need to distribute the skill points.
He also needs some mental rest. He has been fighting a life and death battle with a terrifying beast and even lost one of his companion.
And he has to even kill his companion. It will be surprising if he could be all calm. The only reason he maintains this calmness is because he knows howling or screaming won’t change a goddam thing.
Tan would still be dead, the world is still fucked up and his life will not be any better. Being clam on the other hand, let him take all of it and analyze the most efficient way to survive this.
This personality of his is only suited for living alone or a solo player. Even in games he did not have many friends.
Friend he made in the game is usually for quest or guild raiding. Even among his real life friend, he is very practical and rational.
But not cold. He appreciates his friend. Why? Because he has only a few of them.
It was after he graduated that he becomes this realist type of person.
‘How long you have been here?’ Azief asked as he turn to what he calls now Lord Shadow mode.
He then put the hood back on and one could not see his face clearly.
His word is clearly intending to make this conversation faster. There is many things Azief need to do right now and plan.
First would be his return to the village. First he will check his Eldest Uncle (Malaysia usually called this Pak Long. I don’t know if this is the right term in English or if there is another term) and his Third Uncle.
They live in the entrance of the village near the road to go to the city. His families live down deeper.
Then he needs to return to the elementary school and battle that alien beast. He is convinced that the Lord Shadow class is a class that offers him great powers.
He will not relinquish it even if he had to die trying. He out of everyone knows what is important now.
Status means nothing. Paper money means nothing. All that matters is this power granted by the World Orb System
There is also that little bead that he left with the corpse of the beast. He only notices it after he decided to come back after he left Tan body.
But at that time the horde was already there. Azief decided to go there again after he is rested and the horde pulls away from that area.
‘How long?’ Azief asked again is time his tone is unintentionally colder.
Sofia is startled by this sudden change and replies
‘Weapons?’ Azief quickly asked without looking at Sofia face. His eyes are scanning the mall and he activated his divine sense to see if there are any living people inside. His sense revealed nothing.
‘Bow and arrow.’
‘Appropriate, considering your aptitude. I guess the World Orb system does give weapon best suited to our abilities.’ he said as he turn his view to Sofia and appraises the bow in Sofia hand.
‘You are using a blade right?’ she asked. Azief nodded.
‘Yes. Have you class up?’ Azief said
‘Class up?’ she asked perplexed.
‘You don’t know about it? What level are you?’ Azief said startled. He though this girl must have reached level 10.
‘7.’ She said. Azief sighed.7…..she could fight a few zombies maybe a dozen of them. The stiff is not that powerful.
But this shows that she is capable. Azief look at the holes in some of the stiff that is laying down in the first floor. Arrow hole in their head.
Impressive he mused.
But later on they might evolve. They might not. Either way, if they evolve it’s good to have a few plans.
‘Wait until you leveled up to 10. Then you can class up. Choose carefully. I will only be here for a while. I wanted supply and then I will get going at dawn.’ Azief said, announcing his intention.
She might have design this mall as her territory.
Considering the disparity of levels, Azief is not that worried about her trying to attack him. After all even if she lied, Azief is confident that he can subdue this girl.
It has only been a few days since the fall.
If she has spent her time here inside the mall without going outside to raise her level then it stands to reason that this girl is not his match.
He fought a gigantic tiger and survives to tell the tale. He could handle this girl.
‘Can I come?’ suddenly Sofia asked.
Inwardly Azief sighed. Of course he expected this. But after what happens to Tan, Azief is not confident to guide someone again.
And he is sure his destination and hers are different. But she lives in a village too at least this is his opinion.
Which village he did not know but since she learn at the same school as him, either her family lives in village like him or living in that residential area near the school.
(In Malaysia there is Taman which translates to park. But this is a place where people live with many houses. So I called it residential area kind of like a suburb)
He doesn’t have the confidence to try to protect anyone. From that experience he learns that nothing is certain.
Even with his power. He thought nothing could harm him and there are no beasts to hinder his progress. He knows now he needs to be careful.
Without full knowledge, nothing is certain.
The world is changing and he would be a fool if he thinks he understands all the change that is happening right now.
He could not make guarantee that Sofia would be safer with him. Maybe the zombies like the beast will also leave this place and following him might lead her to more danger.
He doesn’t have any bad feelings toward Sofia but he doesn’t have any good feeling from her either.
‘I’m going back to my village. There might be other beast in my way home’ hearing this Sofia trembles.
But then she decided. Considering the power she saw coming from Azief, he might be stronger than her.
No…he is stronger than her. She might be safer with him.
‘It’s fine.’ She replies. For a while under the hood, Azief tries to think what to do….He then sighed.
‘Fine’ Azief reply.
‘But if you are coming with me, you have to contribute. And if you slow me down, I’ll leave you. If you attract monster that I have no way of handling, then I’ll leave you. If you try to harm me, betray me, I leave you.’ He said coldly.
This is the first time Sofia feels to be so distrusted. If it’s from her abusive father or from her frenemy she could accept it and not be as shocked as she is now.
But she forgets it has been years since they were in high school.
6 years could change a person. In her memories, the man he knows is not as cold as this. It is because the years of battling depression alone and the fact that Azief for most of his teenage years have low self-esteem that has changed him to be like this.
He rarely trusts people other than his close friends and he is awkward in making new friends.
And now the world has changed where the law of strongest applies. It’s not Azief never read any stories like this.
If it’s just a zombie apocalypse then food is a necessity. But it’s different if there is magic like elements involved.
If there is a skill to heal wont there be skills to cultivate food? Make rains? Even change the very law of the world if this idea is taken to the extreme.
And what is the variable in this new world? Guns? Nuclear weapons? No. In this first few weeks, if the government could launch nuclear weapon it might have kill many people and monster alike.
But no such action has happened. Which leads to the conclusion that whatever this aliens that descended here has decided to attack the capital of each nation.
If that is the truth, then there are certain intelligent creatures or certain directives they are given.
The World Orb System? What is it? Azief believe it want to make humanity stronger? But for what purpose?
Are they in an experiment?
Is this a curse or a blessing disguised a s a curse? Or is this just the first wave of an alien invasion?
There are still too many questions that needs to be answered. But there is one thing is certain.
Old weapons like guns and cannons would be rendered pretty useless after this.
Mankind will be the greatest variable of this new world. Not new technology or old weapons.
When people reach an unbelievable level won’t they be like Gods?
Even now, Azief who is level 23 can moved with unbelievable speed. Then he looks at the direction of the second floor of the mall and then he said.
‘Now, pack some supplies. At dawn we moved’ he said it to Sofia and he goes to another corner of the mall.
His words are cold and have no hint of compassion at all. It was almost mechanical. The worst thing to do in this kind of world if you want to survive, is to form attachment.
Azief is not confident he can protect her. That is another concern. He doesn’t want Sofia to think that he is some kind of hero who would help her without reward or have some expectations that he would bite the bullet for her.
He has no such inclination to jump in front of bullet or die for her. He did not know her well enough to do such things.
Then after taking many of the snacks inside his storage ring he jumps to the second floor with one leap and landed with ease.
Sofia is looking from the first floor.
She could jump down but not jump up. Jumping down is easier since her agility is high. She could maneuver herself and her body is light.
But to jump up she needs a strong lower body and lightness. Strength stats which she lacked the most.
She is confident she made the right decision. She nodded to herself. She would follow him until she either become stronger or she has no use for him.
It’s not like Sofia wanted to kill him.
She wanted to use his strength to survive this new world. And Sofia knows that Azief understand this too.
It’s not like Sofia could not understand, that while she uses him, he is also using her. A mutual; benefit kind of relationship.
To use her for what, she still doesn’t know. But the fact that he did not refuse her offer, means that she has some use to him.
Which means she is to be her support team. At least that is her conclusion, to be some sort of his gopher.
And it’s fine by me. Smiling and relaxed for the first times since the fall, she climbs the stairs, slowly, with a calm heart.