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Aerith had been right; it wasn't a quick journey back.

Lea's route, achieved by pressing further into what Fang came to know as the Bancouri border-desert and then backtracking along the river was, indeed, longwinded. It was also safer, that much was clear. Ignoring the infrequent swells and waterholes along the route, the number of monsters was greatly diminished from what they could see roaming in the distance. Smaller plate wyrms, wyverns and helms could very occasionally be seen beyond a haze of wind-thrown sand, all species better left alone.

Desert monsters were typically large reptiles, creatures that didn't crave water like mammals did, or smaller pack hunters who got most of their water from their kills and seldom visited the riverside except to hunt at waterholes. The waterholes, while more dangerous than the fast-moving river, were still something of a boon, for they often saw small herds of prey animals, or larger lone monsters, which were of as much interest to them in terms of food as they were the other creatures that hunted there.

Mercifully, the waterside hunters weren't too dangerous. Weird gators with false, hinged faces had come as a surprise to Fang, but the one foolish enough to pick a fight with her was easily dispatched with a spearpoint to the soft, unarmoured flesh beneath. Gigantoads, though slow, were better skirted around. Unlike the gator, they were not edible. Their poisonous skin saw to that.

The long journey didn't bother her, at least. She'd been on the road for longer getting from where she had started to the Chocobo Eater and travelling with a supply of fresh, flowing water was much more preferable to stopping and filling up heavy waterskins every few miles. It helped that the river allowed them to wash the sand, if not the chocobo, away from them more regularly.

The company wasn't bad, either. She wasn't sure they were hardened Hunters like she was, she couldn't shake that feeling, but if they had only recently picked it up as a job, they were learning remarkably quickly. Where she was from, Hunting was a lifestyle, not a job, something you took to from a very young age to build up your strength and stamina. It wasn't the case here. It was lucrative, apparently, but still something you could just elect to take on or give up as you pleased. She felt fortunate to have joined up with a trio with formidable fighting and healing skills, nonetheless.

Abilities aside, it helped that they also weren't bad people. Lea was more social than Saix, and Aerith was more levelheaded and friendly than both of them, for all Saix attempted to look like a voice of reason for the group. All three had one thing in common. They were odd. The boys were very powerful fighters, but the way they handled themselves, and their weapons, and their elements, just didn't feel normal, not when they seemed almost naive about certain aspects of Chakra manipulation while using it in odd ways otherwise. Something told her that they just weren't normal for the world. Being displaced by centuries didn't make her feel any differently about it. Aerith was just different. Absurdly good at healing, that was for certain, and very in tune with the natural world.

She had a feeling that they probably felt the same about her. Even though they were definitely strange, they knew more about the world than she did. The collapsed city had been her tell, she was sure of it.

As she thought about it, she hardly noticed the warmth gradually leaving the air. Night was falling. Travelling at night would probably have been easier on them all, especially the chocobos, but sleeping in the heat of the day wasn't a viable option. It was time to find somewhere to set up camp.
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