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Epilogue: In the Middle of the Desert・A
In the middle of a desert covered in rocks and sand, Kino looked up at the sky. There wasn’t a cloud in sight.
Then she looked down at a stone well. There wasn’t a drop of water.
Bitterly, she shook her head.
“What did I tell you? This traveling things isn’t going to work out, from the way things have started,” Hermes said from behind Kino, who was in a white shirt and a black vest.
Kino looked into the pitch-black well.
“What to do?” she mumbled.
“There’s not much you can do,” Hermes said quickly. “It’s not too late. Let’s go back to Master.”
Kino shook her head firmly. “No.”
“You might die out here.”
Kino shook her head again. “I know. But I don’t want to go back.”
“You really are stubborn. …I get how you feel, but you can’t keep going without water. It’s up to you whether you dry up and die, but what about me? I don’t want to be buried in the sand with your mummified body, Kino.”
“I don’t want to become a mummy, either. And…”
“And?” Hermes asked. Kino slammed her hands onto the sides of the well and screamed into its depths.
“Why?! Why is this well dry?”
“What goes around comes around. Or the god of travel is trying to say that you’ve reached your limits. Maybe.”
Kino wiped the sweat off her brow.
“Whew. I worked up a sweat from all that shouting. I’m thirsty, too.”
“Then should we go back?” Hermes suggested slyly.
“…You’re so stubborn, Kino. If you’re going to die, I’d prefer you did somewhere there’s another rider to take me.”
“That’s probably not going to happen,” Kino said, taking out a rope from her things.
“Are you going to hang yourself?” asked Hermes.
Kino strung the rope between the well and Hermes, set up a canvas, and lay in its shade.
“Kino, are you awake? Are you even alive?” Hermes asked. Kino’s reply was feeble.
“I’m awake. Alive too.”
“You’d better make a choice fast, or it’s gonna be too late.”
“You have two options. Somehow get back to Master with the water you have left and get the scolding of a lifetime for taking off like you did. Or die out here in the desert.”
“I don’t like my options.”
Kino sat up and stepped out of the shade.
There was a gust of wind, and a wave of dust.
“Kino, the most important thing for a traveler to have is decisiveness. That goes for both newbies and experts.” Hermes argued calmly.
Kino said nothing, putting on her coat and taking down the canvas before covering Hermes with it.
Hermes couldn’t see a thing. Kino replied with a grin.
“No, Hermes. The most important thing for a traveler to have…is luck.”
At that moment, a droplet of water plopped against the canvas.
The sound was soon joined by many others like it, creating a beat and growing into an endless rhythm.
It was raining.
-To be Continued in Volume III-