I AM FINALLY UPDATING /shot
erp. THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH FOR THE FOLLOWS AND FAVES AND REVIEWS! ;;A;; I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD ACTUALLY GAIN THAT MANY /shot
I have nothing else to say other than sorry excuses for why I'm updating this so late, and why I feel that I've disappointed you guys in the first part. therefore, I shall now shut up.
excuse my mistakes. Hetalia is not mine. Enjoy!
Wind rippled through his hair. Alfred struggled to open his eyes. The musty air was gone, he realized, replaced by a fresh breeze. And it was no longer cold. A gentle kind of warmth was spreading over him.
Alfred's eyes finally snapped open, and he immediately regretted it. The sudden brightness of his surroundings painfully blinded him.
Wait. Brightness? Wind? Warmth? Alfred opened his eyes once more, slowly this time. Instead of the stone walls he was expecting to see, he was surrounded by trees and greenery. They were in some kind of clearing in a forest. A bright blue sky spread overhead complete with fluffy clouds and a cheerful sun.
Alfred would've spent his whole day staring in disbelief if Arthur hadn't decided to intervene.
"Snap out of it, Alfred," the Brit hissed. Somehow, he knew Alfred was awake without even having to look.
Alfred blinked, trying to return to reality. He jumped off Arthur's back and almost stumbled. His legs were still shaking. He took in a deep breath and willed them to stop. It made little difference.
"We have to hurry," Arthur said grimly, raising his arms and stretching. Carrying the American wasn't exactly an easy feat. "Those guards won't stay behind that pile of boulders forever."
He needn't continue. Alfred knew they were all counting on him, but his brain was conveniently short-circuiting. He couldn't think. His instincts weren't working. "Uhh.."
Right. So passing out wasn't exactly the best idea in the world.
"Alfred!" Arthur looked ready to gut him right then right there.
"Wait," Ludwig spoke up before he could. "Something's wrong."
He received lots of weary stares.
"The air," he continued. "It's too still."
Before anyone could give a proper reaction, something whizzed past the side of his face, barely missing by an inch. It flew towards the direction of the forest, but when it reached the spot where the grass of the clearing met with the sandy ground of the woods, it burst into flames and disintegrated into ashes.
"A barrier," Alfred gulped. He had to pull himself together. He forced down the panic rising in his chest. They'd made it this far. He was not going to give up again. Not here, not now. There must be some way out. A hole or something.
"Breeze," he muttered, eyes widening as realization hit him. He remembered feeling it when he was half conscious. "There was a breeze just now."
But where did it come from? Even when his mind was much clearer, Alfred couldn't recall.
The ground shook under their feet. The Gifted exchanged nervous glances among themselves. That did not sound good.
"..You think they'd exploded themselves in?" Alfred questioned wistfully. He'd intended to keep a cheery tone, but that came out sounding more like a squeak. He and his friends were exhausted from all the running, fighting and excitement. If there was to be another army of guards after them, Alfred wasn't sure they would be as lucky to survive again.
"No," Arthur just had to confirm his fears. Droplets of sweat trailed down the side of his face. "They're coming."
The group glanced around, searching for any possible signs for an opening in the invisible barrier. None of them were looking forward to be turned into charcoal, but none of them wanted to be confined to those dark, cold cells again either. They had all decided that they just had to escape no matter what.
Because if they were to be caught again.. no, forget about it.
"Come on," Alfred gritted his teeth, his azure blue eyes darting around. "Blow already you stupid wind."
And then he felt it. The soft caress on his cheeks. The slight shifting of his hair. Alfred turned almost a full circle, and a grin promptly spread across his face.
"There!" he pointed. His comrades followed his gaze and squinted, struggling to make out what exactly he'd seen. It took some effort, but they managed to make out the ripple in the air, as if it was a portal that led somewhere – which, in this case, probably did.
But it was far, too far for Alfred's liking. He estimated it to be about thirty metres from where they stood, and if the guards really were to come soon, things would get very, very complicated.
No time to think. "We have to run!" Alfred yelled, motioning everyone to move.
It all happened too fast. One second they were all sprinting towards the direction of distortion in the barrier. The next, they found themselves face to face with yet another army.
Alfred muttered a string of curses. Why does this keep on happening? Sheesh! The group retreated several steps, unprepared and surprised. Alfred realized with a start that they'd appeared out of thin air. He swiftly swept his gaze across the armoured men before him. There weren't as much as before – about only forty or so. Some were wielding weapons. Most weren't.
Alfred decided not to care about that yet. He had enough trouble coming up with a good strategy that could keep them all alive.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. The air was tinged with the smell of ozone. Out of nowhere, someone yelled, "Lightning!"
Alfred's body moved before his mind could process the situation. They split into two groups and jumped opposite directions. Alfred caught a glimpse of the bolt that shot down from the sky right on the spot where they stood seconds ago, cackling with energy and electricity. A thunderclap followed right after, rattling his brain in his skull.
Great. They pull off cool things like playing with light and darkness; controlling fire, ice and wind; and speaking into people's mind and here these people are trying to fry them with lightning. Alfred finally understood why Arthur had said that things were only just starting when they were back in the mining area. They Gifted guards were not in action yet.
They've got no choice. Alfred turned to a very terrified looking Mei.
"Hey, Mei?" he whispered, trying to keep his tone calm for her sake. "I'm so sorry, but can you do me a favour?"
Mei bit her lip to steel her shaky nerves and nodded.
Alfred prayed that none of those guards possess the Gift of super hearing. "Tell Arthur that we'll stay split up. Ask him to lead his group around the guards instead of facing them head on. We'll do the same and we'll regroup outside."
Mei nodded once more to show that she understood. She closed her eyes and concentrated, projecting her voice into Arthur's mind.
Alfred and the others stood guard. He noticed that they weren't being attacked. The guards stared at them. Somewhere, in Alfred's mind, something clicked into place. These people were Gifted too. They understood their need for freedom. They had probably gone through the same thing before they grew old enough to be promoted into serving as guards. Alfred got the feeling that they did not want this any more than they do.
Alfred considered talking to them. He could be pretty convincing at times. But one look at those lifeless eyes behind the chinks of metal, he got the feeling he would need more than convincing power.
His gaze briefly met Arthur's. The Brit nodded slightly to show that he understood the plan, and Alfred responded with a shaky grin. He tried passing a message to him with his eyes, hoping that it would reach him.
On the count of three.
Arthur nodded once more. He turned to the adolescents of his group, and quickly passed them the orders.
Alfred inhaled. "One."
The guards shifted their position, wary of the countdown. Alfred went on, bracing himself to run.
Please let this work. Please, please, please..
All at once, they broke into a sprint; Alfred's group one way, Arthur's the other. The guards seemed to have anticipated this, but Alfred and his friends couldn't care less. They were too busy madly dodging the attacks thrown at them and wrenching themselves out of the grip of the hands trying to grab them.
But Alfred noticed another thing: it was all half-hearted, as if the guards were just doing it for show. The grips on their clothes or limbs were not strong and they could easily pull free. The attacks thrown at them were missing them by miles most of the time. Were they really..?
Athur's group had already reached the front of the distortion.
"Go!" Alfred yelled. "We'll catch up!"
Arthur looked hesitant at first, but his expression slowly hardened. He nodded towards his group, and leaped in. The others followed suit.
They were almost there. Alfred glanced behind him to make sure he still had everyone with him, before yelling out energetically; "Come on guys! Let's get out of here!" and putting one last burst of speed. They made it past the last few metres without any obstacles. Alfred made his comrades go through first, in case anything would happen.
Nothing did. The guards only stood and watch as they disappeared outside the barrier. Alfred said a silent thank you before he too, made his way through the distortion and into the world outside where freedom awaits.
Alfred instantly discovered why they couldn't be found after they were kidnapped.
He'd turned around as soon as he leaped through the opening, and the clearing was nowhere to be seen. All he saw was another part of the forest. That was the good part.
The bad part was – Alfred realized with a start – that it was too silent. No cheers of triumph. No shouts of joy. No shuffling of feet. Alfred was alone. Panic began rising in his chest as he searched around frantically. No sign of any other human beings. No, no, no. This can't be happening. Where was everyone? Were they separated?
Alfred forced himself to calm down, but it was difficult with all the possibilities swirling in his mind. He did not like even one of them. Was he the only one separated? Or were each and every one of them scattered all over the place? Or was he not the only one but just a few others as well?
"Calm down," he told himself firmly. He tried thinking with rational. "I must go straight," he decided. "I must go as far away from here as I can. There's a bigger chance for me to find them if I stay close to a source of water. I must find a river. I must go somewhere higher."
Indeed he was the only separated from the rest of the group as something had definitely gone wrong with the barrier when he passed through. Alfred too, had made the right decision by prioritizing the need to find a higher spot and water source. But one thing Alfred did not know, was that he was going the exact opposite way from where he would meet Arthur and the others.
Out of the dozens of voices calling for their missing friend, Arthur's was one of the loudest. They searched high and low, but to no avail. Alfred's existence seemed to have disappeared altogether. The invisible barrier behind their backs did not make matters any easier. It was messing with their usage of their Gifts. Mei was their only hope at one point, but she'd regretfully told them that her powers could only extend to a certain radius, and that she couldn't reach him.
Which only meant that Alfred had ended up somewhere very far from them.
Arthur chewed his lower lip in thought. He contemplated whether or not to set out and search for Alfred immediately. He briefly surveyed the Gifted adolescents around him, and easily came to a conclusion. No. They were too tired. The Vargas brothers looked like they would faint any time soon. Ludwig and Antonio were getting paler and paler by the minute. The others – including Arthur himself, were bruised up pretty badly.
"We'll look for him later," he said. When he got stares of disbelief, he added, "Alfred will know how to look after himself. We'll rest and rejuvenate first. I know you're all tired."
"But Arthur-kun!" Surprisingly, Kiku was the first one to protest. "Alfred-kun might be in danger this very minute. If we don't – "
"But there's no point if we're all tired out and weak, is there?" the Brit replied calmly. "I dread doing this too, but we have no choice. God knows how long it'll take us to find him."
When he saw the solemn faces of his comrades, Arthur couldn't help smiling crookedly to himself. Alfred really was amazing. He was their newest member, yet he was the one that was liked most by everyone. Arthur knew he would never be able to do that. He would never be able to make so many people like him.
"Hey, don't worry," he said when the silence became too suffocating. "We'll look for him. I promise. But first thing's first," he glanced around. "We need to find somewhere safe to set up a camp."
As soon as that came out from his mouth, Arthur realized he had no idea where to start. He had been imprisoned in that coal mine since he was a barely a five years old, and he did not exactly come outside often. Or at all, for that matter. Despite his attempts to lead, he had not the slightest idea on how to carry out his plans.
Thankfully, he was spared of embarrassment when Ludwig decided to take over. The German boy stepped forward, letting his gaze travel all around him. He unconsciously let a sigh escape his lips. He hadn't been dumped in a forest for a long time, and he knew his skills must have gone rusty. He was so darned tired from running too.
But all that didn't matter. He saw Arthur's face when the realization sank in. He knew the outside world wasn't exactly the British boy's forte. Arthur barely knew the things about the cities of the modern world, let alone undeveloped forests such as the one they're in now. Like it or not, Ludwig would have to take over for the mean time.
"First, we'll have to get out of here," he announced. "As far away as we can. We should then look for a part of the forest where the greenery is thinner and settle down. We'll find food and water when the time comes." He looked around. "Does anyone have anything to add? Or other ideas?"
"Well then," Ludwig huffed. "Let's get going."
Alfred had no idea how long he'd been walking. His bare feet were cut and blistered badly. They ached with every step he took. His muscles were on fire.
He tilted his head skywards. He thanked whichever deity that was listening for granting him a fairly cloudy day. The afternoon sun was not scorching, but it did not look like it was going to rain anytime soon either.
This forest goes on forever, part of him complained. The next time he saw a fallen tree nearby, his brain made no protests to take a short rest. He figured his legs would break if he kept on going. He sank down on the rough surface of the tree bark, slowly bending his stiff legs. Once he was seated, he reached over, and attempted to massage his sore leg muscles, tendons, ligaments, and basically whatever his legs were made up of.
Alfred studied his feet. The cuts were superficial, but it was the blisters that he was worried about. He had one about the size of a ping pong ball on the base each foot. Alfred was tempted to pop them, but he knew better than to do so since it might cause an infection and he might lose his whole leg as a result later.
Alfred heaved a sigh. He regretted not thinking about the possibilities of being stuck in this kind of situation earlier. At least he would've been mentally prepared. Now, sitting there alone, he felt like a lost child; afraid, alone, and without any idea on where he is.
Alfred tore a strip of fabric from the ragged clothes he wore. He was exposing himself to harmful insect bites, but that didn't matter. Carefully dividing the strip into two, he wound them around his feet and bound them as tightly as he could. He straightened, wiping off the sweat on his forehead with the back of his hand. Now that he thought of it, a miracle must've been bestowed on his glasses. They were fine when he took them off to check for damages. A little caked with dirt and dust, but fine. The lens weren't even cracked.
He silently thanked Kiku for fixing his glasses all those times. Maybe he'd secretly done something to them.
Alfred licked his dry lips. His tongue felt like it had been replaced by a piece of sandpaper. Water. Alfred desperately needed water.
An idea came into his mind a second later. He sat very still, closing his eyes and focusing on his hearing. He tried ignoring the cries of an unknown insect that had been echoing in the forest since forever. He tried listening for something past the chirping of birds in the distance.
Alfred had almost – almost, fallen asleep when he finally heard it. His eyes snapped open, darting around for the source of the sound he was keeping an ear out for.
He saw it almost immediately. A small animal with orangey fur was standing less than five feet away from him, staying completely still. Its huge black eyes regarded Alfred warily. It was a fox, maybe? Alfred couldn't be sure. It did resemble the animal from 'The Fox and the Hound'. Now that was a movie. Alfred couldn't stop crying the first time-
He shook his head, hoping to push the distracting thoughts away. He had to concentrate. Mainly because he had to chase the fox back to its nest (nest? Whatever). He had somehow gained the idea that if he were to follow some animals back to their hiding place, he would find a source of water nearby. Maybe even some food.
Alfred rose unsteadily, his legs still sore and aching. Now that he was face to face with his target, he began doubting his abilities to run after it.
Too late. As soon as he stood up, the fox went sort of panicky, and in a flash, it disappeared behind some bushes. Alfred took in a breath. It's now or never.
Alfred willed his legs to follow the fox.
Meanwhile, Arthur and the others had found and set up a camp site.
As soon as they settled down, at least ten of them passed out at the same time, as if they'd rehearsed it. Arthur and Ludwig volunteered to take the first watch as the others rest. No one had enough energy left to even protest.
Arthur sat side by side with Ludwig, studying a cut on his arm. He didn't even realize it was there until it began to sting a minute ago. The cut wasn't really that deep, but he must've bled a lot before the wound clotted. Now that everything had settled down slightly, Arthur felt light-headed. From the bloodloss. From the excitement. From the sheer anxiety.
Arthur glanced at his companion through the corner of his eye. "Yeah. I'm alright, I guess. You tired?"
Ludwig shook his head. "I can still last for about another hour. I can't say it could be the same for you though." He knitted his eyebrows. "You look very pale."
"You don't look any better yourself," Arhur said before insisting, "I'm fine. I'm not that weak."
Ludwig shrugged, though his expression betrayed his indifference. "Okay. Whatever you say, Arthur."
"Hmph." As much as he wanted to, he couldn't stay angry. While they were there resting up, Alfred could be fighting for his life. He could be attacked by crazy animals. He could've fallen somewhere and was currently unable to get up again.
The more he thought about it, the more agitated Arthur felt. Being together in a group, they had an upper hand in many things. Ludwig knew how to navigate through a forest, more or less. Antonio could effortlessly help provide fire. They could melt Ivan's ice for water. They had a healer. They had a sniper.
And Alfred only had himself, and hopefully more survival instincts than Arthur thought.
Another sigh escaped Arthur's lips. Where are you, you stupid git?