Cyrilla and the tattooed man reappear at the border of Echor, just outside of the lower-class territory. Cyrilla can tell, she can see the barrier that she was never meant to cross during her time in training. This is something well-known about each about each of the Fabula settlements, all of them have a ring of territory outside of their outer circles known as the ‘death circle’. These death circles are parts of the settlement that were in the past lost to attacks from Fabula’s wilderness. They are deemed too dangerous to try and reclaim and so the old buildings are left to be occupied by the land’s harrowing creatures.
As Cyrilla regains her bearings, the tattooed man breaks the silence. “Y’know, I really hope you actually did want outta there. It’d be real awkward if I was wrong about that assumption,” he admits.
The reality of the situation, the fact that she was out, slowly hits Cyrilla as she turns to the man. Tears well up in her eyes and she can’t immediately put into words just how to thank him.
“Oh. Oh no. I messed up, didn’t I? Hey, c’mon- the boss is already gonna be pissed that I spent a teleport, I can’t just admit that I kidnapped a girl! I’ll fix-… I’ll put-”
Cyrilla hugs the tattooed man, ceasing his yammering and answering his question without words. For all her big dreams, Cyrilla is still just a young girl and the day has been too much for her. She lets it all out, she cries away the years of slavery that she thought she was going to have to live through.
Though, such cries of weakness are not gone unheard in Fabula’s wilderness. As she cries, a hoard of three-foot tall spiders makes their way out of the surrounding buildings and overgrowth. The tattooed man gently lets Cyrilla down as he turns to face the creatures, arm crackling with energy.
“Get it out of your system, girl. Let this be the last time you cry, ‘cause any weakness out here will get you killed before you know it,” he cautions with a grim tone. The spiders quickly draw in closer and as they group together the man unleashes a fierce snap of lightning that chains between their bodies and slaughters droves of them in an instant. Their corpses twitch and struggle as the electricity crackles through them. The spiders who were not caught up in the spell attempt to crawl over their brethren and are themselves shocked by the residual energy. The tattooed man unleashes another burst of energy to assure they are all burned the whole way through. Squalid smoke rises up from the hundreds of arachnid bodies, a pyre that marks one who is strong enough to survive.
“Ah, shit, I forgot to introduce myself. Sorry, I’m not used to stopping for the sake of conversation. My name is Francis Draego, runner in service of the Echor R.U.N.N. base. Nice to make your acquaintance,” he declares.
Cyrilla clears her eyes of tears to reveal the hope reignited within them.
Draego extends a hand and continues, “these creatures will be a constant threat to you. Living out here is a fight for your life, one that not everyone wins. You’re going to see people die and you must become strong to make sure you aren’t one of them. Still, do you wish to join us?”
Cyrilla takes his hand and he helps her up. She holds tightly to his grip and meets with his eyes. “You just showed me that it’s possible to survive out here. I’ve wanted to go into the wilderness for as long as I can remember, I want to learn everything about this land. I-…”
For a moment she pauses. Her eyes drift to the array of spider bodies once again and the depths of the danger dawns on her. She knows that path forward will not be easy, yet still she grits her teeth and meets Draego’s gaze once more. “My name is Cyrilla and my life is here, right now. I’m not going to give it up so easily,” she states without a hint of weakness.
Draego is taken aback for a moment by her determination. Then, a big smile comes to his face and he places a hand on her shoulder. “Not often someone sees a creature of the wilderness and remains so bold. Alright! You’re gonna make a great addition to the Rebel Uprising of No-Names. Now, c’mon, you still gotta meet with everyone else,” Draego asserts as he pulls Cyrilla along like an excited child.