After taking down their tents and storing everything in Akira’s bag the three began to continue their journey south.
The interactions with Akira and Mileena were a little stiff. As the day wore on the tension between the two lessened enough for Akira to continue to explain and mentor Mileena in the certain areas of melee fighting that he was good at. Giving her tips and answering any questions she had.
Varbu only added a few pointers but since his fighting was vastly different from the style she had chosen so he couldn’t help much in the theoretical part of her training.
When noon arrived they stopped and moved to the side of the road for lunch. While Varbu began to cook the food, Akira helped Mileena practice the things they had studied last night and during the morning while they had walked.
There were many head flicks as she repeatedly got the same things wrong.
“Lunch’s ready,” shouted Varbu stopping the afternoon training.
Akira and Mileena sat down around the small fire that Varbu had extinguished after finishing cooking in order to reduce the extra heat that they did not need during the middle of the hots desert afternoon.
While Mileena was still rubbing her head from a flick she had received just before coming over, she accepted a bowl of cooked meat and some bread with her free hand.
“Wao! This taste pretty good,” said Mileena as she bit into the juicy meat filled with many flavors.
“I’m glad you like it,” said Varbu happily.
“Don’t get too excited, the only thing he knows how to cook is meat,” said Akira between bites of his of lunch.
“At least what I cook can be called food. The stuff you make has a 50/50 chance of killing you,” retorted Varbu.
“Hey, I make do with what nature gives us how am is supposed to know if something is poisonous?”
The two stopped their arguing after hearing the sound of Mileena quietly laughing at them. This was the first time they had heard her laugh or smile and they both thought it suited her.
Akira and Varbu continued to hammer out the details of what the plan for the next few weeks to months would be if everything went the way they wanted it to go.
“Well let’s get back to traveling. Mileena are you ready?” asked Akira as he turned to look in her direction.
She wasn’t where she had been just a few minutes ago. Worried something might have happened he looked around quickly and let out a sigh when he saw she was dozing off in the shade of a nearby dune.
“Geez, falling asleep in the middle of that day…” mumbled Akira as he walked over to her.
“Hey wake up!” said Akira right next to her.
No response. After waiting a few long seconds he bent over and poked her in the cheek a few times to try and wake her up.
Nothing. He tried to wake her by shaking her shoulder but there was no reaction. She continued to peacefully sleep.
Akira looked over to Varbu as if to ask what to do.
“Just carry her. We don’t have time to waste staying here for too long.”
Akira mustered up the courage and picked up the young sleeping girl and flopped her onto his shoulder like he was carrying a bag of potatoes and began to walk south with Varbu.
An hour later Mileena woke up.
“Huh?… Help me, someone! I’m being kidnapped by a pervert!” Shouted Mileena as she started to struggle to get away from Akira.
“Wait! It’s me. You don’t have…AHHH!” Akira tried to calm her down but was bitten on the shoulder. He unceremoniously dropped her onto a nearby sand dune. Causing her to let out a soft oof.
“What are you a dog that goes around biting everyone?” asked Akira trying to ease the pain in his shoulder.
“Humph! I’m not a dumb dog like you, If anything I come from the most majestic and smart feline race,” said Mileena as she stood up and straightened her hair.
“Dog? I’m not a dog, I’m a werewolf!”
“What’s the difference? Why were you carrying me around in such an embarrassing manner?”
“It’s your fault that you fell asleep after eating lunch and since we couldn’t leave you behind carrying you was the only solution. I mean who can fall asleep in this damn heat no less in the middle of the day!”
“It’s just the way I am! I can’t help that I like to take naps after exercising and eating!”
“Quit your arguing you two, we still have a long way to travel today,” said Varbu stepping in between them and pushing them back a few steps.
All through the next week Akira and Varbu trained Mileena. Akira guessed her fighting strength was around what he had been when he was lvl 10.
As the week passed Mileena was able to gradually make fewer mistakes while training in the basics.
It was a huge improvement from when they first started when she was making mistakes partly due to her shyness during the first few days learning the basics.
Her shyness was slowly fading away as she got used to both of them. It was still there but not as prevalent as before. Mileena and Akira now clashed many times over small things their arguments were becoming more and more like friendly banter.
While talking to her all week Akira noticed that one of Mileena’s favorite words to say was ‘Wao’. When he asked why she said it she just said she had no control over it.
“Good now that you have a better understanding of the basics. I think you’re ready to start sparring with both me and Varbu. If we find any desert monsters tomorrow we can let you try fighting them if they aren’t too strong,” said Akira one night while they sat around the fire that had cooked their food.
“Are you sure? It’s so soon,” asked Mileena. She didn’t feel that she was strong enough to fight yet.
“If all you do is solo training and don’t actually experience battles and learn how to use your skills and your training in a fight, then you will never be able to fight properly. All the training in the world will not prepare you for battle like a true fight does. At some point you have to jump forward and fight on.” said Akira.
“Right you are! There is nothing like a good spar or fight with a monster to test your limits and learn new things about yourself,” said Varbu trying to sound like a wise sage but only sounding like a muscle head.
“If you say so,” said Mileena while poking her food and thinking about having to fight.
“Let’s go hunt for some lunch,” said Akira motioning for Mileena to follow him.
After searching for several minutes they were able to find a small group of weak desert rabbits nibbling on a cactus.
“Mileena now is the time to practice what you have learned. I’ll be nearby in case you need help. But you should try and gather enough meat for lunch,” said Akira in a whisper next to Mileena.
Mileena took a deep breath and exhaled trying to calm herself down before she started to slowly walk forward stealthily stalking the group of desert rabbits.
Before she could reach them the desert rabbits as one sensing danger looked behind them and upon seeing Mileena hoped a few feet away and stopped to see what Mileena was doing.
She was plagued with indecision on what move would be best to use, over-analyzing and thinking about every little detail.
“What’s wrong?” asked Akira in a whisper from behind one of the nearby dunes.
“They’re too cute!” said Mileena.
As if the Desert rabbits had understood what had been said about them they became agitated and one of them began to hop forward in a charge to attack the person who had called them cute.
Mileena was unready for such a quick change and was hit in the stomach by the small fluff-ball that was the charging rabbit and fell onto her butt after receiving the headbutt.
The desert rabbit scratched her belly with its nails but before it could bite her Akira appeared next to her and kicked it away from her.
Akira grabbed her hand and pulled her back onto her feet, and flicked her head.
“You can do this. Just focus on the basics and use the moves I’ve taught you,” said Akira.
The desert rabbit indignant at being kicked let out a cry which caused the other rabbits to join in the fight.
“I can’t fight them all!” said Mileena a bit frantically.
“Now’s the time to sink or swim,” said Akira with what Mileena thought was an evil grin.
With the situation changed so much she was forced to throw away her timid shyness and fully focus on each of the attacking desert rabbits.
She dodged left and right jumped forward and stabbed down killing one of them with her daggers.
The fight was a flurry of movement with many badly aimed attacks that could be characterized as a child throwing a tantrum.
Nearly ten minutes passed before the greatest battle never to be heard of now know as “The battle for the desert lunch” was finished.
Mileena’s ears and tail were dropping as she was bent over catching her breath from all the movement and many attacks she had used to defeat her dreaded lunch foe.
Clap, Clap, Clap!
“Although there were many flaws with your attack it was decent enough. We’ll have to do more practice to help you reduce all that flailing and unneeded movement you were doing, along with your horrible attack accuracy.”
“What’s with those things? They fooled me they looked so cute but were they really some type of powerful monsters?” asked Mileena.
“Umm… no, they were just regular desert rabbits. We can hunt larger and more dangerous stuff later if you want but only when you get better,” said Akira scratching his head in embarrassment at her question both for her and for a certain memory he had.
Mileena’s face turned red and stuttered out, “I..I guess we should gather the rabbits and take them back to Varbu so he can cook them for us.”
When they handed them over to Varbu he gave them a grumpy look.
“How am I supposed to do anything with this sort of mess? They’re all mangled and chopped up,” grumbled Varbu.
“Come on Mileena we’ll continue your training, while Varbu cooks lunch,” said Akira ignoring the grumbling Varbu.
“But I just fought the Rabbits can’t I get a break?” asked Mileena.
“Now’s not the time to be taking naps, you need to get as much training in as you can before we reach the capital. This time we won’t be doing the basics you’ll be sparing with me to hone your skills.”
Mileena mumbled a few sentences under her breath as she followed Akira to a decent enough area to spar.
After training and eating lunch Mileena quickly fell asleep forcing Akira to carry her until she woke up. He skillfully distanced himself from her before she could bite him.
The same routine was repeated every day for over a week as they traveled on the desert road only meeting a few well-guarded caravans and numerous bandits that were easily beaten up by both Akira and Varbu.
“The oasis should be this way, we can replenish our depleted water supply and gather information on current events from anyone else that is camping there for the night,” said Akira while pointing at the map.
It was almost time for dinner but they had decided to continue to walk until they reached the oasis for the night.
The sunlight was almost gone when they reached the medium-sized oasis. There were multiple tents set up around the palm trees and near the shore of the large pond.
“Let’s find a spot and put up our tents before we talk to the others,” said Akira.
When they had erected their tents, they walked towards one of the numerous large bonfires burning.
There were multiple groups with grim faces chatting with each other around the fires and most of them paid no attention to the newcomers.
Before Akira and the others could walk up to anyone to start a conversation two plain-looking middle-aged men both wearing robes common to the people who lived in the desert stepped in front of their path. One wore a red robe while the other wore a blue robe.
“Do you know tha way?” asked the red-robed man.
“The what?” asked Akira confused.
“He does not know tha way brother,” said the man in blue.
“I see that brother, he does not know tha way.”
“What are you guys talking about?” asked Akira.
“Goodbye one who does not know tha way!” said the two men at once before leaving them.
“What the…” said Varbu just as confused at what he had just watched.
“Don’t worry about those two brothers. They have a few screws loose,” said a dark-skinned man sitting next to the fire.
“I am called Unana, but my friends call me Knuckles and so can you. Who might you be?” asked Knuckles in a friendly voice.
“My name is Akira, and my companions are Varbu and Mileena. Why does everyone look so serious did something bad happen?” asked Akira.
“I see, so you have come from the north. A bit of a warning if you are going south multiple caravans have been attacked by monsters while traveling north. My caravan was lucky to not receive any attacks. But some of them lost numerous guards and even some of the merchants were killed.”
“Is it really that bad?” asked Varbu.
“Some are saying a Dungeon has appeared near the main road and that a large number of monsters came out at night and attacked them by surprise. This is terrible news for everyone if it’s true.”