"Enough of that small talk! Where are my bloody clothes? The ones I'm wearin' are wet! I'm cold!" Kidd shouted, wailing. Harle laughed mischievously, but she stopped abruptly when she regarded her own clothes for the first time. It was much different from the usual costume she remembered. The whole part around her neck was cut off so there was only some kind of hat left. The parts of her arms, stomach and a great part of the back were missing also. The trousers were mostly unharmed. Left was a hat, a top and the trousers. The uncovered places were mostly bandaged.
"What in ze world did you do to mon clot’ez? Not very adequate to ze weat'er, non?", Harle complained but actually didn't sound that angry.
"Well sorry…but your wounds…and the bandages…" Kidd felt quite uncomfortable.
"Never mind." Harle turned around and regarded herself from top to bottom. At least her bells seemed still intact. "But it lookz quite sexzy, non?", she asked smilingly, causing a faint blush to creep onto Kidd’s cheeks.
"Well, err…maybe", Kidd looked around to avoid Harle’s eyes, feigning to be searching for something. "Gotcha!", she shouted and took a fur-jacket and trousers into her hands. She stood up and took off her wet jacket first. Harle took her eyes off her own clothes and watched Kidd's instead. For some reason she just couldn't take her eyes of her body. Which was mainly because she would have never expected Kidd’s skin underneath her clothes to look so smooth and soft. She used to think that Kidd had rough skin, marked with various kinds of former injuries. Which wasn’t the case, in the least.
"Would ya quit starin' at me, please?", Kidd asked with red cheeks, but still had to laugh at Harle’s face, for her face was even redder as she realized she really had been staring.
"Oh, pardon!", Harle said hastily and both turned around. Kidd quickly put her warmer clothes on, hoping she would be able to discard them once the temperatures finally ascended to moderate heights. The fur was kind of scratchy, though she was intent on not letting it bother her.
"Oh là là, you look like a boy wit' zeze clot’ez, non?", Harle asked, smirking knowingly.
"I wouldn't even care if I looked like a bloody clown! It keeps me warm, that counts!", Kidd fired back. After Harle had calmed down from the laughter her comment had initiated Kidd sat down at the fire again.
"So...what's yer decision now?", she asked, a bit embarrassed. She hated to sound stupid.
"Hmm? Which decision?", Harle asked.
"Ya know, ya told me ya wanna leave. Do ya?" Harle was surprised at this question, for she had almost forgotten about this completely. Of course she didn’t want to leave. But did she have any right to stay?
"Do you want moi to leave?", she asked hesitantly.
Kidd didn't need to think about the answer. "No way! I mean, we two have nowhere ta go, so we could as well stay together and wait for the rest of the dragons ta come. It’s kinda hard ta take ‘em on alone, ya know." To Harle's surprise Kidd said these words quite easily.
"If you say so, moi iz glad to stay here." Harle said, a strange new happiness washing over her. She didn’t have a name for that feeling yet.
It wasn’t completely lost on Kidd, who noticed this wasn't like the happiness Harle showed on their journey. Kidd felt this time Harle was really happy, and not just acting.
"'sides, where the heck do the bloody dragons come from? I thought we finished 'em once and for all.”, Kidd wondered aloud.
Harle was surprised at this question. "I don't know. Maybe zey come from parallel worldz? Or zey managed to survive ze battle and hid somewhere juzt like moi?"
Kidd hadn’t thought of such things when she had fought the dragons, but she did find it quite mysterious where they came from. She knew Harle had been hiding in the last battle with the dragons since the dragon had been far too weak to be the real omni-dragon, plus there hadn’t been any sign of her in that battle. It was the best she could have done to escape the dragons who had abused her as a spy.
"Whatever. Should’ve no problem kickin' their arses one more time.", Kidd said and shrugged. She had already beaten two of them on their own, and with a little help from Harle, she doubted the other four would pose any threat to them.
Harle envied Kidd for being so courageous and fearless, so unlike her. Harle herself feared the dragons more than anything right now. It was as if she could feel their presence, their might still greater than hers. She felt as though she was still their puppet, and her little life of freedom had been nothing but a dream. "If you say so. I juzt hope ze odders don't come too soon. In zis state moi iz not very helpful, non?", Harle asked, looking down at herself. There really was nothing she could do right now, except surrender maybe.
"So am I. Maybe we should look for another place? These bloody dragons know where we are. But my foot's not gonna takin' me far."
Harle didn't really listen. She stared into the fire instead, thinking of a way to escape the dragon's wrath. But was there even a way? She was a dragon goddess as well, could she ever escape? "Moi iz sorry, Kidd, but it iz no use to hide. Ze dragonz will always find moi."
Harle was close to tears when she realized the real meaning of this sentence. If a dragon came now, he would surely kill them. She tried to get rid of this thought, but it was just too real. They didn't stand a chance against a dragon right now. If one came, she was going to die, for sure.
"Don't make such a face. We won't give up. The dragons will get what they deserve! There are only four bloody dragons left! C'mon, we can do it. Trust me, they won't hurt us more than they already did." Kidd tried to cheer Harle up a bit, but she couldn’t help but sound serious as she knew the next fight wouldn't be fun.
"Merci beaucoup. Moi triez not to be afraid. It'z juzt…moi iz half a dragon, too. If we kill ze odder dragonz,..moi iz all alone. Alone in zis world where everyone hates moi for ze t'ings I have done in ze past." Harle's eyes were slowly filling with tears.
"Aww, c'mon! Do ya think the dragons don't hate ya? I understand you're afraid of bein' the only dragon left, but you're the only dragon who can show the world that not all dragons are bad and mean and…aww, whatever. Show the world you're different, Harle!" Kidd stood up and walked slowly over to Harle, placing a blanket over her shoulders. She hesitated for a moment, but then she gave her a tight hug. "I know you are, cuz I don't hate ya.", she whispered into her ears. The tears were now flooding from Harle's eyes, but this time of joy. The joy of having someone who cares.
"Damn, don't cry all the time, girl. Yer life ain't over or somethin'!", Kidd said softly and wiped away Harle's tears. Then she stood up and looked around. It was almost dawn. Suddenly her stomach grumbled and for the first time she realized that she hadn't eaten anything for a few days. She was so busy with Harle and the dragons, she simply forgot to eat. Not to mention that she would have been too tired to even chew, the previous day.
"Boy, I'm hungry! Wanna eat somethin' too, Harle? I'll try ta get some food." She grabbed her dagger and her backpack and threw two Cure elements to Harle.
"Be careful!", she called before turning to walk further into the forest, leaving Harle alone and without even knowing whether she was hungry or not. It was still dark and soon Harle felt quite uncomfortable sitting there all alone. She stood up, checked her bandages and tried to move a bit. She tried to jump, run, roll and throw cards. Fortunately she didn't have too many problems doing this, just her breathing caused a few problems still. She felt like she could even fight if it was necessary. Which was still something she loathed to think about, though.
To kill the all too slowly passing time she decided to collect wood for the fire since it was almost used up. It was easy for her to do this only by throwing a few cards, effectively cutting branches off for her to collect on the ground. She wished everything was this simple. Soon the ground around her was full of wood, but it was much more difficult for her to collect it all and bring it back to the camp. She was fully exhausted when she finally came back to the camp, placing the collected wood beside the fire. The wound at her left shoulder began to hurt again as well, so she used one of the Cure elements Kidd had given her.
Meanwhile, it took Kidd quite a lot of time to find these Dingos she wanted to hunt. She finally discovered two Bubba Dingos ones, with the mother somewhere out of sight. She placed a net on the ground which she took out of her backpack and put some chestnuts on it, which she had collected before. Then she took a rope, which was fixed on the sides of the triangle- like net and climbed up a tree standing right beside the net. She waited until the Dingos came close and then threw one more chestnut on the net. They noticed the sound immediately and soon after discovered the chestnuts. As they walked onto the net Kidd pulled at the rope with all her strength, thus enclosing the young Dingos in the trap. They were squeaking at the top of their lungs, struggling to get free.
"Shuddup!", Kidd hissed and climbed down the tree. She took the net with an inward cheer, which quickly was replaced with dread as she suddenly heard an angry grumble behind her. She turned to see the Mamma Dingo. "Bloody crap!", she cursed, before breaking into a run for dear life.
In the meantime Harle lay at the fire, with an entire batch of wood beside her, obviously bored. She scratched the ground in front of her with her cards. She had more time than she wished to have and after a lot of scraping, she recognized Kidd's face there on the ground. It smiled. Harle watched her work for a few minutes intensely, but then destroyed it with a sigh before anyone else could see it.
When Kidd came back the sun already shone through the gaps between the trunks of the trees, about to leave them for the day. Kidd's face was sweaty and she was breathing hard, but looked absolutely content with herself.
"Are you okay? You look très tired, mon ami.", Harle asked with a hint of worry.
Kidd came closer and placed the net she'd hung over her shoulder on the ground. "Trust me, I am. But it was worth it as ya can see." Kidd pointed onto the dead Bubba Dingos. Kidd quickly prepared everything and soon they were roasted on a spit above the fire.
"Ya know, I've thought 'bout somethin’. What about goin’ ta Termina? I mean, there's an inn and stuff and not everybody there knows us. We could visit Glenn and Karsh as well, they're bloody neat guys. I'm sure they'd help us gettin' rid of the last four dragons. That'd make things a lot easier for us. So, whaddaya think?", Kidd suggested, looked pleased with her idea.
Harle sighed and bit off a piece of meat before her. "Do you really t'ink zey would help uz? I don't t'ink moi iz très welcome zere.", she voiced her worries.
Kidd tossed the last bone of her Dingo away. "Aww, I think it's worth a try. If they won’t help us, we're gonna go over ta Guardia. I have some bloody good friends there at Radical Dreamers!", she tried to persuade her, even though she had someone else than the Radical Dreamers on her mind to help them.
Harle thought about the suggestion while digging a little hole into the ground, placing the bones into it. Kidd noticed and grabbed her tossed bone to do the same.
"I t'ink we should try. Mais what about ton foot? It doezn’t seem good." Harle looked a bit worried while regarding Kidd's foot. "It's okay. It already feels better and it shouldn't be too far ta Termina. Think I can do it." Suddenly Harle jumped up and clapped her hands together, surprising Kidd. "Alors, let'z go! We shouldn't waste time here."
The two of them left their camp they had used over the past few days and headed for Termina. However, it proved difficult to get out of that forest first, for at nightfall, they were still stuck in the forest, unable to find a way out.
"Dammit, what's goin' on here? We took the opposite direction from the way ta Arni Village, so what?" Kidd looked around furiously, but Harle only giggled. "What's so funny, girl? Can't ya do somethin'?" Harle thought a minute, but didn't come to a useful solution.
"No, pardon. I t'ink we should try again demain. We will be able to see ze sun zen. If we watch it carefully, zere iz no problem to get out of here, non? Moi iz très tired, let'z rest here for ze night, mon ami.", she said and Kidd nodded, sitting down at a tree.
"Why didn't ya say that earlier? Would've saved us a lot of time.", Kidd complained with a wave of her hand. Harle quickly made a fire, then turned to Kidd.
"What do you mean, mon ami?", she asked and sat down as well, regarding Kidd curiously.
"The sun of course! That's a bloody good idea!”, Kidd said, louder than intended. Harle however didn’t shirk back, she knew by now that Kidd always talked like this, and decided to not worry about it. “Never thought of that.", Kidd added in a low mumble and scratched her head. Harle couldn’t help but chuckle.
"You didn't? I t'ought you have been a pirate? I t'ought pirates know beaucoup about navigation? I said not'ing, because I t'ought you knew better zan moi.", Harle explained innocently, causing Kidd to flush of embarrassment.
"Well…I obviously don’t. From tomorrow on, you’re the leader. If I try ta lead us outta this forest, we'll never get out.", Kidd said wryly. Harle looked at her in surprise. Did Kidd really trust her that much? "Merci beaucoup, moi will try."
They sat at the fire a few more minutes until Harle tried to start a conversation to keep the silence from squashing her.
"So, what will you do, when ze dragonz are dead? Will you return to Radical Dreamerz, mon ami?", Harle asked curiously, by now adding the “mon ami” as naturally as though she had done it her whole life. She wondered why.
"Dunno, really. Maybe I'll go back ta Radical Dreamers. I know they'll always welcome me. But on the other hand…"
"Aww, dunno. I'll see once this is over! What are ya gonna do then?", Kidd asked, diverting the attention from her onto Harle. She was sure Harle had enough imagination to think past the next few weeks, unlike her. Kidd had never really planned anything in her life, simply dealing with the things at hand at all times. But she imagined it to be great, to have a goal in life. Maybe she should start thinking more about her future from now on.
"Alors, moi could go to Marbule. Zere are nice people zere, non? Mais moi doezn't know for sure. It iz not too bad now eidder, iz it?", she asked with a small smile.
"Whaddaya mean by that?" Kidd asked, obviously stunned. They were hurt, tired and hungry. Not to mention the dragon issue. How Harle managed to see their situation as ‘not too bad’ was a mystery to Kidd.
"Alors, moi iz not alone anymore and moi haz lost un enemy. That iz quite somet'ing, non? Moi feelz much better now and moi iz not alone to stand against ze dragonz. That iz more zan enough to make moi happy.", Harle explained truthfully. Of course they were in trouble. But Harle was still grateful for that change in her previously lonely life. Kidd listened carefully to every single word of Harle, nodding when she finished. Her words rang true, and Kidd felt exactly the same. She remembered the time a few days ago when she had pondered on the impossibility of them ever being friends. But now it seemed as though the more things they discovered they had in common, the smaller the impossibility became.
"Guess so. But I won't stop worryin' 'til we're in Termina. Sittin' here in the forest with a hurt foot, knowin' that I don't stand a chance against the bloody dragons right now just gives me the creeps. Aren't ya scared? Harle?" Kidd asked and looked up, finding Harle already fast asleep. It must have been a tiring day for her.
"Doesn't seem like it." Kidd said to herself and chuckled. She tried to sleep as well, but she was still too worried and scared of an attack of the dragons, so she stayed awake for the whole night.
To fight the boredom which led to sleeping, she looked for something to do and ended up with a piece of wood in her hand, trying to make a figurine of it with her dagger. And indeed, after a few hours of carving and countless little cuts on her hands, she had created a beautiful little figurine of wood. It resembled Harle. She was standing with her hands behind her back, smiling widely and wearing her 'new' costume, just without the bandages.
Kidd regarded her masterpiece for a few minutes, being perfectly content with the way it had turned out. Now that she was finished she noticed that it was almost dawn. She didn't have any use for the figurine and didn’t know what to do with it, so she almost threw it into the fire, but hesitated. She looked back and forth between her newly injured hands and the figurine, and decided to keep it, if only for a while until she grew weary of it. But for the time being, it looked much too nice to simply throw it away. She wrapped a stripe of cloth of her blanket around it and placed the figurine carefully into her backpack, making sure that it wouldn’t be crushed underneath her other items.
Not more than ten minutes passed until Harle woke up. Rubbing her eyes, she looked around to get her bearing. The sun hadn’t fully risen yet. Her glance fell on Kidd, and she was a little surprised to see her awake.
"You are already awake? Zat iz strange. I t'ought I stood up très early, but you...mon dieu.", she said, giggling.
"Yeah…ya know…I usually don’t wake up before the first crack of sunlight, but that tree was so damn uncomfortable!", she said, giving the trunk behind her a punch to emphasize. Kidd wasn't too good at lying, she was used to say everything straight out. But this time, she just didn't want Harle to know she was awake the whole night. Because she had the feeling that Harle would just worry all the time if she knew.
Kidd wasn’t sure if she really knew Harle that well already, but for some reason she hoped she did.