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I didn’t stand around while Zoe ate the body of the woman I killed. Instead, I headed down into the bridge area. There were other areas to the ship, supposedly, but they were behind a door that was locked. Supposedly, if Zoe could fix the right console, she could open the door. That was what she had been trying to do for the last few days. If there were any other entrances to those lower decks, they were currently buried under the collapsed rock which left this entire ship trapped here.

I had seen no ships outside at the dock that looked in good enough condition for us to sail. However, this so-called fleet that had attacked the Sky’s Heaven’s Archipelago apparently planned to stick around for a bit and raid the islands for more supplies. They even left someone here they must come back to pick up. That meant I had a chance then. I could free my family then.

Obviously, attacking with just myself and a slime wasn’t preferred. If the slime could get the communications that the Governess had spoken about back online, we could contact the Citadel. Then, I could have reinforcements, and we could be ready when they came. That would be ideal. However, a sneak attack was definitely a second best. If she could appear as the pirate lady, or even as the one masquerading as my Cousin, she could probably help me lure them into a trap.

Since that was the case, I couldn’t stay cooped up in this cavern. I needed to go out there and start preparing. I didn’t know how long it would take for them to return. It could be weeks, or it could take me a month. I didn’t think they’d wait any longer to pick up the stranded woman.

When Zoe came back down, I stood up. “It’s done?”

She nodded after her usual pause.

“Do you have her memories?”

She cocked her head and then shook it. I let out a sigh. She really didn’t remember anything? It was as I had feared. The person needed to be alive when she did it. A dead brain revealed no secrets. I still had some information, the things she had told me. I had the name, Captain Margo. That would have to be enough.

As I held my head down low, she handed me something. I looked at it to see a skill orb. I let out a nose of shock.

“A skill orb! She had one?”

Zoe nodded before turning away and going to one of the consoles. She was like that sometimes. She didn’t have a way of ending conversations. She just left when she felt everything was said. I didn’t mind, though, as I was too busy looking at the orb. So, a dead body could still give up a skill, but not memories. I had hoped as much, but finding out it was true was good to know. I might even say it was for the best.

I had a genuine concern about Zoe picking through more memories. The current her had the Governess’s memories and the pirate’s memories. She might not have all of them, but enough of them. This somehow led her to being in a situation where she wanted to help me. If she absorbed more memories, it was possible her personality would change. She might become a slime who no longer wanted to help me. Worse, she could end up starting to see me as a threat.

I had been hesitant about having her feast on the pirate’s memories. That’s perhaps why I was able to get over the fact she didn’t so easily. I needed to create some positive memories with her, so that when the time came, and she did end up absorbing more memories, at least her opinion of me won’t change.

There was a flash, and I consumed the orb that the woman had equipped. She hadn’t used her skill on me, so I was very interested in seeing what she had. I’d now have five skills. Every skill would make me a bit stronger. For example, with fast healing, that stab in my side had already closed and scabbed over. In a few days, it’d be nothing but a scar.

I put my hand on the Skill Relay and looked for the new skill I had obtained.

Detected Skills:

{Increased Accuracy} Level 1

{Fast Healing} Level 6

{Flee} Level 2

{Glibed Tongue} Level 9

{Wind} Level 1

I had gained the skill {Increased Accuracy}. What was Accuracy? I could figure out how the others work, but I wasn’t sure about this skill. I mean, I knew what accuracy meant, but what did it mean to increase it. Did I score better on tests? While looking at it, my finger accidentally touched the screen. Suddenly a new screen appeared.

“Ah!” I let out a noise of surprise.

However, when I glanced, I realized it was an explanation of what {Increased Accuracy} did.

{Increased Accuracy – Increases the aiming accuracy of projectile weapons, including guns, thrown weapons, bows, and arrows.}

So, that is what it did, huh? I’d be able to hit things easier. If I trained up this ability, it might genuinely be useful. I didn’t know what a gun was, but I could throw knives, and I had played around with a bow and arrow for hunting purposes. I wondered if it’d work with that flintlock weapon. It had to. The pirate had gone for that weapon even above her own knife. It had to be something she was comfortable using.

As to why she didn’t have her own, I didn’t know. The pirates had been using them on the night I was nearly killed. Perhaps, she wasn’t trusted with one. Maybe they were difficult to use, or they had a high failure rate. I didn’t have the answer. She seemed to want it, though, enough that I was able to take her life. Had she been smarter, she would have used the knife on me and abandoned the flintlock. Perhaps she didn’t think she could win against a guy a head taller than her without the flintlock.

Bbbrrrrrr…..

A sound suddenly filled the room, and the screen I was still staring at flickered. The entire room seemed to flicker as various monitors switched on. Although the top of the ship and this room had low lighting, it suddenly turned on much brighter. Lights filled the room and the deck of the ship. The once shadowing cavern was now filled with light. The ship itself was also producing a low hum.

“My name is Captain Terrence Osaka. I was encouraged to start this journal. We have just been woken up from cryostasis. Our long, five-hundred-year journey is nearly complete. Gods, has it really been that long? To me, it was only yesterday.”

The sudden voice of a man caused me to look around both in excitement and worry. It took me a few moments to realize the voice was coming from an image. It was showing on one of the monitors. The image was distorted and flickering, but it appeared to me of a man sitting in a uniform.

As for Zoe, she had been under the panel where this monitor was sitting. That meant that her tinkering had been what had caused this to happen. I looked at the man on the screen. He had a deep voice and spoke with a great deal of authority. He had a bit of an accent, but he sort of reminded me of the Governess in certain ways.

“The Citadel will be approaching orbit in a few hours. Then, we’ll be landing on our new world to begin a new life. A look through our window shows a new sun. A look through our- what’s that? What’s happening?”

The screen suddenly began to shake violently.

“Have we been hit? What’s-“

It cut out. Just like that, the recording ended, and the screen went black. I reached out and touched the screen. When it didn’t work, I hit it. A soft hand grabbed mine and Zoe glared at me.

“Ah… sorry.” I blushed. “Can you make more of the recording appear?”

I understood what this man was talking about even less than I understood the pirate lady. However, I felt like what this guy had to say was important. I knew it was important!

Zoe glanced at the monitor for a bit and then gave a shrug. She didn’t know. She hadn’t been trying to play it. Whatever had caused the ship to turn on must have just triggered it to play. It was a complete accident that I had heard this… what do you call it, ancient history? Did the citadel have such things? Why would it be on this ship? The ancients were the ancients, but that guy on the screen had mentioned the Citadel, so the Citadel was tied to the ancients?

Zoe had started to work again, so I decided to leave her at it. Returning back to the deck of the ship, I could see that there was nobody anymore. The entire room was now brightly illuminated. I could see crabs scuttling along the rocks. There was even an occasional slime, although few appeared in this place since Zoe had cleared it out.

Although what she was doing was probably fascinating, it didn’t help us survive the current problem. With time, I’d like to take her on the beach and have her eat more slimes. Perhaps I could get my {Fast Healing} up to level ten or twenty. Skills were still some of the best ways for me to grow stronger and put up a better resistance when the pirates came back. It was too bad this island only had slimes as monsters, and slimes only had {Fast Healing}. Other monsters would likely have other skills, and then I could work toward gaining those skills.

“More skills… huh?” I said out loud, my mind starting to churn an unpleasant thought in my head.

I had to, though, didn’t I? I had to do everything I needed to survive. With that thought, I went back to the stairway leading to the bridge and yelled out to Zoe that I would be back later. Then, after taking a deep breath, I left the cave and went back out to the island. I worked until the sunset, running back and forth between the cove and the town.

While I worked, I tried to formulate an idea that would allow me to trap the pirates who returned to the island. I also surveyed the bay and tried to pull any ships that looked like they might be repairable back onto the beach. That turned out to be impossible by myself. Any ship that was large enough that it could feasibly get me to another island was also much too heavy to move. Not a single one was in a floating state, and I found it impossible to get them out of the water.

Thus, I returned to my darker duties, which involved worker gloves, clothing I planned to burn, and a clothespin on my nose. Once the sun set, I had returned to Zoe. If she had a sense of smell, it definitely couldn’t be active, because she would have definitely said something when I entered the cave.

“Zoe, can you come out to the cove with me?”

Zoe was hesitant to leave the ship, but I promised her that we’d only go as far as the cove. It was exactly for that reason I had been working so diligently. Thankfully, I was able to convince her, and she followed me. She had reverted to an amorphous shape when she slid through the crack. It looked a lot easier than what I had to do every time I wanted to leave. She followed me through the slime hole, although the slimes still hadn’t resettled the hole at this point.

As we stepped out into the cove, the rank smell of decay was so nauseating I felt like throwing up. I had been dealing with it all day, but that still didn’t make this any easier. As to the cause, it was pretty simple. There were bodies, having been decaying for half a week, all sitting in a row along the cove. I had put sheets over their bodies, both so I wouldn’t have to see them, and as a handle, so I wouldn’t have to touch them. As Zoe looked over the dead, she shot me a look.

“This is everyone from my village. Everyone…” I didn’t look at a certain body, the body of my father. “Are you willing to consume them? Slimes are basically scavengers, right? I’ve seen your kind devour waste, so a dead body shouldn’t be a big deal.”

Zoe made a disgusted face. Perhaps it was her memories from the Governess that gave her these delicate sensibilities. Still, after having to drag all these bodies here, one at a time, it would be horrible if she didn’t take them. There were nearly forty bodies here, and they’d only grow more disgusting with time. I was not willing to walk by this mess every day. Thus, I would have to shove them all off the dock and into the turbulent cover, giving them each a burial at sea.

“They should have skills, right? We can use any skills we can get!”

Zoe paused for a bit and then nodded. I immediately let out a breath of relief. Part of the reason I had brought all the bodies here instead of asking first was a fear that she would say no. Now that she saw them all and knew the work I had put into it, she couldn’t say no. At least, that was my thought process.

Like with the first body, I left the room as she turned into a blob and began to consume one person after another. It was going to take a while. At best, it’d take about fifteen minutes per person. She’d also probably have to take breaks as she did with the slimes.

So, I began to wait. Time flew by, and I waited even longer. Eventually, I fell asleep, waiting. I was sitting in one of the chairs with my feet up. Darkness took me, and I had unpleasant dreams about being unable to save the ones I cared about.

I only awoke to the feel of someone kicking my leg. My eyes opened, and I stared up at Zoe. She was back to her normal self. She plopped a skill orb on the table. It was just one skill orb.

“Just one?”

She turned away without saying anything, returning to her usual spot where she played with the controls of the ship. Thirty-seven people. I had managed to dig out thirty-seven corpses from my town. That was 1/3rd of the entire population of this island. In the end, having them all eaten only netted me a single orb.

It must have been because of the timing. The longer someone was dead, the more difficult it was to gain a skill from them. The powers must begin to wane from the moment they die. If she didn’t get them within a few days, there was no use bothering with them.

On the upside, I wouldn’t have to go to the cemetery and dig up the skeletons of our past ancestors. I had a feeling none of them would be able to signal the creation of a skill orb. I lifted it up and used it, then returned to the Skill Relay once again.

Detected Skills:

{Increased Accuracy} Level 1

{Fast Healing} Level 6

{Flee} Level 2

{Glibed Tongue} Level 9

{Sleight of Hand} Level 1

{Wind} Level 1

My body shook visibly upon seeing the result. I didn’t need to look up what this skill meant. Rather, I knew this skill extremely well. It was the skill my father had. Was it fate that I would end up gaining that skill from him? I had no doubt that it was his body that gave me this skill. It was the last inheritance from Father that I would ever receive.

When I was growing up, he always did small tricks to impress the kids. He’d pull a coin from behind my ear, or make something disappear. I had only played cards at the men’s table a few times, but I knew dad was a terrifying opponent, and most of the villagers were afraid to bet against him. To bet against the Governor is to lose your socks. That was a saying that used to go around.

A warm drop of liquid landing on the back of my hand told me that I was crying. I wanted to remain tough, but I couldn’t hold it in anymore. Something about seeing that skill appear in my skill list broke down the last bit of strength I had. For half a week now I’d been barely keeping it together. At this point, I just started to cry. The more I cried, the more I realized I couldn’t stop. More and more tears fell, and my body collapsed out of the chair, and I found myself curling up on the floor in the fetal position.

I felt two hands grab my head, lift it gently and then put it down. I looked up to see Zoe sitting there. She was sitting on her knees, and my head was in her lap. She was looking down at me. Her face said nothing, but her hands were stroking my hair. It was similar to something my mother used to do when I was a child and had bad dreams. A sadness exploded through me, but also a strange sense of calm.

I didn’t know how long I had slept. I didn’t know if it was the next morning or still night. At that moment, I didn’t care about those kinds of things. I just remained with my head in Zoe’s lap, letting tears to last a lifetime fall and soak her pants.

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