“A New Morning. But Unable to Smell the Fresh Air.”

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The next day arrived. The sun shines through the broken window as it reaches the bed of the three friends that slept together. Alex’s closed eyes felt the light hit him, wincing a bit and turned his body to the side where Sal slept. His head resting on soft, yet lumpy pillows.

“Strange. Did I ever have a pillow that smelled like Sal for some reason?” He thought to himself as he sunk his head further into it, hitting a firm and hard spot, eventually, he felt himself slowly coming to wake up to realize what he is sleeping on are not pillows. “Wait, these aren’t pillows… these are-“ His eyes shot up, fully awake as he pulled his head back and raised it to see Sal looking back at him.

“Morning Sharky.” Sal said with her usual cheery voice.

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“Morning… How long have you been awake?…”

“Just woke up, felt something between my tits and woke up, turns out it was just you.” She stretched, almost similar to a cat waking up.

“My bad.” Alex sat up, stretching out his arms but stopped halfway, “Ngh!” He grunted a bit and forgot about his sore arm, dropping it letting it rest on his lap, forgetting he is still a bit injured.

“It’s fine Sharky. Though we haven’t even made it to first base yet.” She snickered as she got off of the bed and walked to the bathroom.

Alex simply stared at her with a face that simply showed slight annoyance. “Yeah, I don’t see you that way.” He sees both Lea and Sal as siblings, they aren’t a replacement for Lexa, but he treats them like he’s the big brother and they’re the little sisters.

“You hurt me Sharky, am I not girly enough for your tastes?” She joked, her smile widening while she walked to the bathroom.

“Okay, that’s enough.” He never gets used to that, how Sal messes him when she feels like it.

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“Fiiiiine I’ll stop… For now. I’ll be borrowing your bathroom.” She said before closing the door shut and he can hear running water through the door.

Lea still slept, rolling to the side as she fell off of the bed. “Hya-!” She yelped mid-fall and grunted, rubbing her face as she fell face-first on the hard floor. “Mhhhggh My face…” She groaned while rolling left and right from the pain.

Alex turned and looked at Lea down the bed. He got off to help her stand up. “Does it hurt that bad?”

“Mhm…” She said while rubbing her face. “I had my glasses on too so my nose hurts more…” She whined out while removing one of her hands on her face to accept Alex helping her up.”Thanks Alex…”

“No problem.” Lea stopped rubbing her face to look at Alex and at his arm.

“Does it still hurt?” She asked him. Obviously concerned now all that adrenaline and excitement have left her system. Meaning what’s in her mind is worry for Alex since realizing it, he’s the only one that got hurt in the fight against the Megaboar.

“A bit.” He admitted. “But not as much as yesterday. That health potion helped me recover.”

“If only potions can be instant like in stories and Video games..” Lea commented as she continued, “I should’ve learned a healing spell, so that atleast I could’ve been more useful.” She could’ve helped fight the Boar alongside him, but Megafauna are known to be resistant to Magic. She thought of herself as deadweight if she tried to fight it directly.

“Come on now. You were plenty useful. There you go doubting yourself again.” Alex patted Lea’s head softly as he smiled. “You were helping out by doing something that can hurt the Boar without directly using your magic, you helped Sal save me from getting stomped and she helped me deal the killing blow. It’s about doing our part to help each other out. And let me tell ya, you did it pretty well.”

She doubts because compared to the two physical fighters in this group of friends. She’s as human as they come. She initially was worried she can’t catch up from her limited strength, so she compensated with magical strength, so in terms of magical power she’s even with Sal. Lea looked up to him and gently removed his hand from her head and smiled. “Thank you, Alex. Next time, don’t pet me like that, I may be younger than you and Sal, but don’t look down on me like that, okay?”

“S-Sorry.” He stuttered. “Didn’t mean to talk to you like that.”

Lea giggled and patted Alex’s back. “I’m kidding. I don’t mind how you talk to me, what you said really boosted my confidence. I’m really glad you are my friend. And I’m glad that we can finally go out of this town and see the world.” As much as she doesn’t believe in her own strength. She is just as impulsive as Alex when it comes to exploring. The whole world of Gaea, ready to be explored by the three of them.

Alex paused and realized she was only joking and sighed. “Oh good! For a second I thought I insulted you or something.” He was trying to encourage her, not insult her. He went to the side of the bed to pick up her hat and handed it to her.

Lea shook her head. “Not yet. I was actually thinking of joining Sal in taking a bath with her. I don’t have any clothes with me so. Can you hand me some of yours?” She said with a bit of pleasant and gentle smile.

Alex already had one of his pants torn by Sal, but he can’t say no to someone like Lea with such a precious smile. “F-…Fine. Only if you don’t tear them apart like what Sal did.”

“I won’t. Thanks Alex!” She hurried into the bathroom, entering to bathe with Sal as the bathroom door slammed shut.

“I should probably go to the other bathroom.” He said to himself. He walked to the door, opening it to only have his mother suddenly appear, head rising from the side, looking at her son with a cheerful, bright smile.

“Where do you think you’re going young man?” Amanda kept her head’s angle while she blocked the door fully, the still angle made her head tilted, giving a menacing and unhinged presence emanating from her, she is failing to hide her anger from her son through a facade of her usual cheerful self.

“M-Mom…!” He felt his heart skipped a beat at her suddenly appearing at the door and immediately felt his heart rate rise from the intimidating presence she is seeping out. “I-I was gonna go use the other bathroom to take a bath because Lea and Sal are using my bathroom.”

“Denied.” She replied bluntly, immediately frowning as she crossed her arms. “Did you forget what I said yesterday? I said you’re grounded for a whole month. You aren’t leaving this room”

“B-But…”

“No buts! You’re in big trouble for what you did. Stealing a mission? I raised you better than that!”

“But a whole month!? What about you finally letting me go join the guild?!”

“The guild’s not going anywhere, You have a broken arm anyway, so you can use that time to rest.”

“What did Dad say about this decision?”

“He’s grounded too.” She bluntly replied. “He’s in trouble for fighting your Uncle and completely forgot what he’s supposed to do. Now stay put, breakfast is ready soon.” She slammed the door shut with the edges of the frame cracking from the harsh slam. At this rate, his own room will be a crumbling mess with how much damage it suffered.

“What happened?” Sal’s head poked out of the bathroom, hair lathered in shampoo and water dripping down under her chin.

“Well. I was reminded I am grounded by Mom.” Alex said as he looked at Sal.

“Oh yeah… I remember her saying that before she dragged you to help her cook. Well that sucks.”

“Yeah…” He wanted to object, argue with her, but in all honesty, he is very much afraid to fight back with his mother when she is this mad. He got back to his bed and dropped face-first on the center, and then turned around to face the ceiling, legs slumped on the edge of the bed.

“Think of it this way Sharky, you’re grounded for a month, you’re not allowed to leave your room for a month.”

“I know what being grounded means Sal.” He retorted since he’s been grounded many times, but it wasn’t as bad as this since his mother lets him stay around the house and not limited to his own room.

“Let me finish. You’re not allowed to leave your room, that doesn’t mean you can’t train in your room.”

“Sal! Alex still has a broken arm!” Lea’s voice is heard out of the bathroom door. “And get back here! I’m not done washing your hair!”

“Yeah yeah I’m goin, also ignore what Lea said, You can still train with one arm.” Her head sunk back into the bathroom as it closed shut.

Alex pondered for a moment. “Training with one arm…” He muttered. He looked down on his sore and injured arm for a good second. He smiled, showing a bit of his teeth and jumped out of his bed. “She’s right. I may be grounded but I gotta keep in shape once the next month arrives.” He threw his jacket aside along with his white shirt, using his white shirt to lift up his broken arm to let it rest during his workout. He laid on the floor, one arm only supporting him up as he started performing a one armed push-up… Which ended in him dropping after the first push. “Gha!” He groaned out as his failed push up made his chest rest on his broken arm as he rolled to lay on his back. “Tch… One-armed workouts are gonna be hard.”

He attempted to do it again, doing it slowly as his arm quivered and struggled to carry himself. His breathing ragged and sharp, counting down slowly with each push-up, as he is lost in concentration, and whenever he makes a mistake like falling, he starts over. He was too busy exercising that he isn’t aware of Lea and Sal now fully dressed and out of the bathroom and Sal dropping a bucket of water on him. “Cold!” He exclaimed as he looked up at Sal and slowly stood up. “What the hell was that for?!”

“You were busy working out that you were ignoring everyone, including your Mom who just left you this!” Lea was holding a tray of eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast, most already have a bite with Sal’s lips having traces of yolk and bread crumbs on her lips.

“She decided to snap you out of it after she took a bite out of your breakfast…” Lea attempted to stop her but her magic will probably cause the whole room to break and that is excessive to do just stopping a friend in snacking on someone else’s food.

“Sorry… Guess that I was worried about being here for a month will make me end up weak and not ready once I’m no longer grounded.”

“Nah don’t be sorry, you should be sorry that you decided to do it without me guiding you with that broken arm.” Sal assured him that he shouldn’t be sorry for being worried about getting weak. “Now eat up, unless you want me to feed you this time?” Lea chuckled remembering last night how she force-fed him.

“Oh ha ha.” Alex said with sarcasm as he tried to put his shirt back on so that he could finish his bite covered breakfast, using his lap to hold the plate and started eating with just a fork in hand.

“After that, I’ll be helping you workout until that arm of yours gets better.” Sal smiled at him as she looked at Lea. “You should work out with us too Lea, you can use the exercise to develop more stamina.”

“No Thanks… I tried but I don’t think I can keep up…I’ll practice by reading up new spells that can help you guys out.”

“That wasn’t a request…” Sal said. Soon enough, while Alex ate, Sal is already making Lea workout by starting with sit-ups, grabbing her legs as she whined and complained. “C’mon! You just started and you’re already exhausted! I want you to do fifty sit-ups in two minutes!”

“Two minutes!? Sal that’s insane!” She gasped out as she managed to do a sit-up as she sunk back on the ground a bit too fast.

“One minute! Don’t just drop your body after a sit-up! Slowly descend when you sit up, I’m not gonna let you count that one!”

“I-I’m not meant for this kind of training! Alex! Tell Sal to stop this!” She continued to whine while Alex watched their work out session without as much as concern from Him as he munched on his bitten toast. He gave Lea a thumbs up while he held the toast. “Alex!?”

He swallowed as he brightly smiled at them. “Keep up the good work you two.” His lack of concern comes from him encouraging Sal to help Lea out. It’s good to have friends who want to keep you company while you’re grounded.

“You heard Sharky, Let’s reach sixty sit-ups in one minute!”

“What happened to fifty!?”

“Seventy!”

“Fine! I’ll stop complaining just put it back to fifty please!” She can feel her heart rate rise, her body nearing its limit despite only doing what seemed like 15 sit-ups.

“After 50 sit-ups it’s onto push-ups! Sharky! You better catch up once you’re done eating!”

“Sure!” Alex said nonchalantly as he is glad he won’t be training on his own.

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