76 A Bush and a Girl
"What happened to your arm?" John sends his voice into Laurel's head.
Laurel jumps in surprise as she grabs her chest she releases a deep breath. 'I'll never get used to that,' She thinks. Laurel then looks up at the hill and gives an awkward smile. "Um well," She murmurs while looking around. She eventually sighs and says, "I'll come talk to you."
John laughs, "Why does everyone feel they have to come up the hill to talk?"
"It's just weird," Laurel replies with a sour face.
"It's not weird. It's convenient," John explains.
Laurel puffs out her cheeks in frustration as she ignores John's reasoning. She makes her way through the village while thinking, 'It's easy for a bush to say. If you just talk into thin air, it looks like you're crazy.'
After a short wait, Laurel is now standing in front of John. John bobs up and down and says, "Alright now that you're here, are you ready to talk."
Laurel nods and explains, "So I had another dream with the other me's. The dancing me's are named Thalia and Aglea. But they are totally different from me! They are good at dancing and are super confident." As she goes on, she gets excited and forms a fist as her eyes shine.
John waves a branch up and down in front of him and interrupts, "Alright, I get that those girls are awesome. What does that have to do with your arm?"
"Oh, well, after explaining what Raul Emerald told me about making promises, we decided to try it… Then with a bang, we all thought of what to do, so we recited a chant to the god of chains," Laurel recounts with energetic gestures.
"That does explain the chain, I guess," John sighs.
"No, I didn't get this chain imprint then… That happened before you went to sleep. But Catherine said invoking gods wasn't good. So I'm a bit worried," Laurel admits while fidgeting and wringing her hands.
John contemplates for a bit while stroking his leaves. "I can't say it's good. Gods that like to meddle in the affairs of mortals tend to have some goal in mind, or at least that's how the stories go. I, of course, have never met a god. Even large clans like the Harlyn clan would be loathed to pay the sacrifice necessary to consult some god."
"They just keep popping up for me!" Laurel complains while clenching her hair in her fists.
"Yeah, it's almost impossible for gods to directly influence reality. Which means you must be outside the standard bounds of the universe during your dreams. You should be careful," John warns.
"Have you ever heard of the goddess of chains?" Laurel asks with a cocked head and finger on her chin.
"No, but most cultivators don't pay attention to gods. Identifying one is almost impossible, " John explains.
Laurel frowns and questions, "why is that?"
John points up to the sky with his branch. "since contact with gods is so hard, we don't have much information. If you are expending the effort, it's because you're in dire straights. No one would waste their one chance to call on a god for help to ask about daily life," John tells Laurel.
After a short pause John shakes his body in the negative. "There truly isn't any way to tell the difference between the ravings of a mad man and the truth. In your case you know a powerful cultivator that can confirm the truth. But if you were still in your old town and this happened, how could you prove it?" John points out.
Laurel frowns and thinks back. "There wouldn't be anyone who'd believe it…"
Then he remembers, "That's right. They'd just think you're abused or something. If you were zealous enough you might be able to build a cult. Still, that wouldn't prove the Goddess of Chains exists." Then John remembers with a shake of his leaves. "Oh, so then how did you get the chain marking?" he asks while gesturing towards Laurel's arm.
"Yeah, well, you see when we were going treasure hunting with Elanor…." Laurel recounts the events while rubbing her right arm.
"Come here so I can smack some sense into your head," John commands while making swinging motions.
"I'd rather not," Laurel says while stepping back.
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"You idiot, I told you you have to finish them off. You're not supposed to clash with them! You need to turn the blad like this girl. Like this!" John criticizes while swishing his branches about.
Laurel scratches her chin while trying not to laugh. She can't understand the strange movements of a bush. "I don't really get it," Laurel confesses.
"It's fine if you overpower them, but I warned you doing the technique too much will hurt you. The point is to force them to use too much strength and then force it to the side, making them off balance. Then you kill them. If you don't kill them, of course, you're going to end up in trouble. No one listens," John grumbles while gesturing about.
"I'll try to do better," Laurel mumbles with downcast eyes.
John sighs, and his branches rest, "Alright, so when you were panicking, the chain allowed your arm to move?
"I guess I'm not to clear on it. It's all a blur," Laurel replies.
"Well, for your first real battle, it could have gone worse," John consoles the young girl. "You should practice the technique together now that you've all gotten used to the movements. Now all of you have to grasp the finishing blow, and you'll have gotten the basics of the technique," John tells Laurel.
"Ok," Laurel nods.
"You did your best, you should be proud," John says.
Laurel plays with her hair while looking at the ground. "Mom's gotten… Protective since then," she confides.
"I can't blame her, but there is no other path for you right now. All you can do is survive. No one can know what the future holds," John comforts.
Laurel laughs half-heartedly and points at her eyes. "Isn't that what these do? Is there really a hidden future for me?" She laments.
"Joe gives her a nudge," John transmits secretly.
Joe looks at John quizzically and snorts.
John then shakes his leaves and lets some sun energy escape through his leaves. The light reflects on the due, causing small rainbows to float about. "Everyone who lives will have new paths to follow. Only those who die have no future!" John exclaims confidently.
Laurel's mouth is agape as she marvels at the sudden magic in front of her. As she's distracted, Joe bobs over and nudges Laurel's face with his snout. "EEK!" Laurel yelps as she jumps to the side.
Laurel grabs her cheek in shock. "What! That's cold," she yelps.
"See even with your eyes you didn't see it coming. Even when you see a bit of the future remember this. You may be focusing too much on the miracle in front of you and missing the truth all around you," John informs the young girl.
Still in shock Laurel only nods at John. John laughs, "Alright how long are you going to sulk with a bush and demonic beast? Go." John then shoos the girl away.
Laurel runs down the hill with a smile on her face. As she leaves Joe looks over at the bush and says, "Muo moo."
John waves his limbs dismissively. "What do you mean since I reincarnated that there is technically paths even after death. That's not normal you know. Also, your just a Joe. You definitely aren't that smart.
Joe snorts and walks back to his spot, where he plops down his large gut bouncing as it holds him up.