He first felt his body plunge downwards, accompanied by the sound of countless other things rolling down alongside him, and the only light was a dim ray coming from the direction of the quickly collapsing underground great hall.
After a second or two, he felt a violent impact.
A normal person probably would have been crushed to death by the impact, but for someone whose body has reached Golden Peak, it wasn’t too bad. Brendel only felt his body hit a sloped ground and roll off several sharp rocks. He tried in vain to grab onto something in the dark, but the momentum of the mudslide pushed him along until he slammed into a flat rock.
Brendel felt the first impact and then another one when a soft body slammed into him. He immediately realized that it was Scarlet. As more rocks and mud came their way, he hurriedly pulled the girl towards him and then flipped their bodies so that he shielded her with his own body.
Just a moment later, he heard a boom and felt the weight of several boulders crash heavily into him. Brendel wasn’t too worried about it since it just felt like he got hit with a stick, but the huge amount of dirt and sand was what made him suffer.
He had only coughed once and already, he tasted a mouth full of dirt.
And that wasn’t the worst of it. The most important thing was that when he lowered his head instinctively to spit out the dirt in his mouth, he ended up looking into a pair of shining eyes. They looked demure, curious, but also shy. Clearly they belonged to a certain Highlander girl who liked to tie her hair in a long ponytail. Shielded by Brendel, Scarlet was staring up at her Leader with those compliant eyes.
For both Brendel and Scarlet, seeing in the dark wasn’t a problem, so they could both easily see what the other was doing.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the first time they had experienced this. The last time they went through something practically identical to this was in the Loop of Trade Winds when the Fog Nightmare had chased after them. After experiencing it once, the second time was at least less awkward.
“Leader,” Scarlet whispered as she blinked, “Thank you.”
Brendel mumbled something with a mouthful of sand. He couldn’t describe the dilemma he was in. He and Scarlet were practically cheek-to-cheek, he couldn’t very well spit the sand onto her face. And booming outside, it was obvious that the great hall was still collapsing.
But Brendel didn’t answer. The Highlander girl examined him closely for a while, then Brendel thought he felt Scarlet shift and lightly rest her forehead against his chest.
This seemed to subconsciously touch something in Brendel’s heart. He instinctively looked down and saw Scarlet curled up in his arms like a child.
“Sorry…,” Scarlet seemed to jerk awake at his voice. She seemed su
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