"Don't worry about me, Sister. I can still go on."
The twins had been running for more than two hours inside the forest while heading to the direction of the Town of Veritas. Their Grandpa allowed them to accompany him once a month whenever he went to the town to buy some supplies for the village. So, they were familiar with the path they needed to take.
Tifa knew that her sister was nearing her limit so she made a gesture with her hands. Milfa nodded and the two climbed the biggest tree in front of them. They rested for a few minutes while listening to the sounds of the forest. Aside from the occasional roars of Spirit Beasts the forest was peaceful.
"Eat this for now," Tifa said while passing some dried meat to her sister. "We will rest for a short while then we will continue our journey."
Milfa accepted the meat and ate in silence. Her sister passed her a waterskin and she drank in small sips. She looked back at the direction of their village and saw smoke rising in the distance.
"Sister, do you think they sent someone to pursue us?" Milfa asked. Her voice and body language did not mask her anxiousness. Tifa stared at her younger sister and nodded her head firmly.
"Although I have no evidence, I'm very sure they will not give up so easily."
Milfa sighed helplessly. "Sister, let's go."
"Have you recovered?"
"A bit, but we can't stay here for long or they might catc-"
Sounds of barking sounded in the distance and the two of them froze for a second before immediately descending the tree in haste. They only knew of one creature who could make that sound and it terrified them.
"Spirit hounds!" Tifa said while running. "They have a powerful magician in their ranks."
"There are at least a dozen of them. We can't outrun them sister!"
Tifa remembered that there was a river not far from their location and headed to that direction. Soon the two arrived at a small cliff overlooking a raging river. It was at least ten meters deep and the current was moving fast.
Milfa gulped because she understood her sister's intention. The sound of the barking was getting closer and they knew that they had no other option.
"Milfa, are you ready?"
"At the count of three. One, two, three, JUMP!"
The twins jumped unto the river and the barking of the spirit hounds was drowned out by its raging fury. They were carried away by the current and they had to use all their strength to keep themselves afloat.
The river was unforgiving and the two gritted their teeth in order to survive. Time passed swiftly and the two of them were exhausted. Their bodies felt numb due to the cold and their teeth were chattering non-stop.
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When they thought that their situation couldn't get any worse, they heard a loud roar in front of them. A soft cry of despair escaped Milfa's lips as she realized that they finally reached the river's end.
It was a waterfall and the two of them no longer had any strength to resist. The only thing they could do was scream; and they screamed with all their might. Both of them closed their eyes as they fell with the gushing current. Tifa waited for the impact that would end her misery, but it never came.
Instead she felt something warm enclose her in a protective embrace. She opened her eyes and saw a handsome man holding her in a princess carry. She thought that she died and this was the afterlife so she decided to ask the man for confirmation.
"Is this the afterlife?" Tifa asked.
The handsome man looked down at her with a confused expression. "Afterlife? What are you talking about older sister?"
"Afterlife, the place where the dead go?"
"Oh, I don't know where that place is, but can living people go there?"
"Pfft!" A peal of laughter escaped her lips and Tifa laughed. It was a very hoarse laugh and the man carrying her frowned.
"Sister? Are you alright? Are you hurt anywhere?"
"I'm fine," Tifa replied. "Your face just looks so silly that I wasn't able to..."
A sudden realization made her shudder and she looked around in panic.
"Milfa! Where are you?! Answer me!"
"Hey sister! Stop moving! Or you will fall!"
"My sister!" Tifa said while panicking. "Where is she?!"
"Your sister? Ah, her?" The handsome man looked at a direction not far away from them. "Oi! Kei! Did you manage- Pffft!"
The handsome man laughed and Tifa glanced at the direction were he was looking at.
Not far away, a young boy was sprawled on the riverbed with her sister on top of him.
"Ah! Little John! Help me ah! This girl is heavy ah!"
The handsome man laughed one more time, and this time, he laughed so loud that Tifa had to cover her ears.
"What kind of man are you? You can't even carry a girl?!"
"I'm just a boy ah! Not a man ah!" the young boy replied with a depressed expression. "She's heavy ah! Like a pig ah! Help ah!"
Milfa was unconscious and was not aware of the insults that were coming out of the mouth of her savior. If she was awake, she would had slapped the young boy silly and yelled, "Who are you calling heavy ah! I'm light ah! You are the pig ah!"
The handsome man walked towards the young boy and her sister in large strides. It was then that Tifa realized that the man holding her was over 4 meters tall.