"Stupid woods, stupid river, stupid insects, stupid birds, stupid predators…" Amaya grumbled as she trudged through foliage behind her brother and his best friend.
The trio decided to follow after the two brawling Effigies. Since they flew away so fast, the only clue the three had of the fight's location was the general direction of the flight. They had been walking for more than two hours while taking short rests every once in a while but saw no sign of either monster. Along the way, they came across many animals. Some were friendly, some were annoying, and some were deadly. Due to this, they walked slowly to keep their eyes out for danger. Amaya volunteered to stay back and spot anything that could come from behind but after fifteen minutes of only encountering mosquitoes, she stopped looking back and just walked forward.
"Let's stop for a minute," suggested Daisuke. He was covered in sweat and looked like he was going to collapse either way. "My feet are starting to hurt again."
Without looking back, his best friend rejected, "We rested twenty minutes ago."
"For half a minute!" Daisuke refuted.
"Not my fault some crazy monkeys showed up," Tetsuya brushed off.
"We could've at least taken a rest after we lost them."
"We have no time to waste. We need to find Sanji."
"No time to waste!? Dude, we already lost him. He could be anywhere right now."
"All the more reason for us to keep searching."
"Shut up, the both of you!" Amaya interrupted as she reached the limit of her patience. The two men immediately closed their mouths and stopped walking. Seeing this, she took a deep breath and calmed down. "Good. I think Daisuke has a point, Onii. We need to take a rest sooner rather than later. At this rate, we might run out of steam at a crucial moment."
Tetsuya wordlessly looked at her then at his best friend before sighing. "I guess I'm outnumbered. Have it your way." His two companions let out their own sighs of relief but he raised a finger and continued. "On one condition. Right now, we're in the middle of the woods and we're at the mercy of anything that might pop up. Let's go back near the river and find somewhere safe to rest."
Daisuke was about to argue but then he remembered the earlier incident concerning monkeys. He promptly scrapped his argument and agreed, "Okay, that sounds like a good idea. I don't need my back-up phone to be stolen too to learn my lesson."
Tetsuya smiled with satisfaction but both his friend and sister can tell from his eyes that he was also holding back a laugh. This annoyed Daisuke but he elected to keep his silence. The genius then spoke up, "It's decided then. Let's go."
They set out on their journey back. They did not go back in the direction they came from since they already knew what dangers lurked there and they decided not to risk it. They took a sharp turn right which they knew went downstream of the river. They still kept their slow pace as they walked through the trees. Despite the sunshine easily brightening up the ground through the canopy, the forest somehow still seemed like it hid many dark secrets.
After ten minutes of not encountering anything other than small rodents, birds, and insects, they turned right once more to go back toward the river. On the way, they encountered a tall giraffe in a place where the trees were more spaced out. The three gawked at it, wondering how a giraffe ended up there while the animal merely glanced at them and continued on its way. They also spotted a panda and a gorilla peacefully munching on bamboo without seeming to mind each other's presence.
Suddenly, there was a very low booming sound that Amaya barely managed to pick up. She silently tapped the two men on their shoulders which was their signal to stop. They all listened and found that the sound was coming to them. Tetsuya nodded at his best friend, silently telling him to get ready to shoot. Daisuke obliged and held his pistol at the ready.
From behind the cover of bushes came a large black bird with a blue head and a crest. Daisuke recognized it as a cassowary. He came to the front and pointed his gun while the bird lowered its head and made its booming call once again. Seeing that it wasn't actively going after them, the three walked backward, trying not to show their backs to the animal. Thankfully, their backs were to the direction they were going. After a few seconds, the bird decided to let them go and continue on its way. The trio simultaneously let out sighs of relief and refocused on their journey.
It did not take long for them to reach the gigantic river. In fact, they made it there a lot quicker than they expected. They looked upstream and found out why. The river curved toward where they were, allowing their journey back to be quicker.
"Water!" Daisuke quickly walked toward the river and kneeled down to take a drink but as soon as he looked into the water, he jumped back in surprise.
The siblings immediately ran to him to check out what was happening. They saw a black blob floating in the water near where they were. They recognized it as an Effigy. It swam toward where they were, prompting the three to step back. It stopped near the end of the river and stayed still as if sizing them up. It stayed like that for fifteen seconds before the blob swam upstream.
However, the cassowary the three encountered earlier also came to the river to drink upriver from them. Before it could bend its head down, the black blob jumped out of the water and entered its mouth. The bird began to cry out loud as its eyes turned red and red markings started appearing down its body.
"Guys… let's run," Daisuke suggested as he started stepping back.
"I can agree to that," Amaya said as she also began to walk away although she could not take her eyes off the scene.
"Sounds like a plan," Tetsuya nodded, also unable to tear his eyes away from the struggling bird.
They all turned around and began to sprint away from the cassowary to avoid fighting against an Effigy while they were still looking for another one. They still constantly looked back at the scene to see what was happening. Due to this, they saw as the bird was covered in black smoke with the only things peaking through are its red eyes and the red markings. The smoke then got absorbed into the bird except the bird was no longer there in its original appearance. It was now humanoid in shape with black feathers adorning its body and sharp talons on its fingers and toes. It retained its beak, crest, and blue feathers but its head was now shaped like a human's head.
The newly-formed Effigy spotted the retreating trio and decided to pursue them. It was greatly faster than all three of them, allowing it to close the distance quickly. Seeing this, Daisuke quickly set the P.E.W.P.E.W. to Push Shockwave mode and shot a bullet at the monster's feet, making a cloud of dust to blind it. He then blindly shot three more bullets into the cloud and to his relief, one managed to hit the monster, sending it flying back.
"Great job, Daisuke," Amaya praised.
However, the bearded man did not look as pleased as she was. "I wouldn't celebrate just yet."
The Effigy immediately got back on its feet and started chasing them again. It was clearly ticked off and it was running faster than it was before. Seeing the futility in their running, Daisuke stopped which prompted his companions to stop as well.
"Permission to kill?" he asked his best friend.
Tetsuya, knowing how dire the situation was, nodded, "Permission granted."
Daisuke grinned and formulated a plan in his head. He aimed the gun at the ground, waiting for the monster to step into his trap.
Realizing that she was being cast aside again, Amaya asked, "What about me? What do I do?"
Without wasting a second, her brother replied, "Stay put and don't do anything."
"Incoming!" Daisuke yelled, signaling the start of the battle.
He pulled the trigger and an orange beam of light shot out of the gun and into the ground. The shockwave from the beam kicked up dust once again and the Effigy, having anticipated this, stepped to the side and continued running. However, this was what Daisuke was hoping for. He set the gun to Lethal Mode, making it glow green. He shot four times at the monster and only missed one shot with the other hitting its chest twice and left arm once. It only left shallow wounds on the creature but it was enough to get it reeling back in pain.
"So they're tough enough to shrug off normal bullets," Tetsuya observed with a hand to his chin.
Daisuke turned to him and asked, "Want me to crank it up a bit?"
The genius raised an eyebrow in response. "Do you want to burn down the forest?"
"Incoming!" Amaya shouted, prompting the two to face forward.
"Dai, get closer to the forest," Tetsuya instructed.
His friend only needed a second to find out what the plan was. "Got it!" He then ran to the trees as Tetsuya ran to the monster.
The Effigy swiped at his head but he threw his body to the ground and slid under the attack. He got up but he found talons coming straight at his face so he threw up his hands in defense and jumped back. He managed to get far back enough to avoid losing his limbs but he still got shallow gashes in his forearms.
"Onii!" Amaya shouted in concern and prepared to jump into the action.
"I said stay put!" He stopped her. He then shouted at his friend, "Dai! Now!"
"Yes, sir!" He shouted back before shooting one bullet at the Effigy but these bullets.
The monster turned around in time to see the bullet coming so it sidestepped out of the way. However, Tetsuya jumped into the projectile's path and put his foot in front of it. The shockwave caused him to spin rapidly and his foot ended up colliding with the back of the Effigy's head. The bespectacled man winced as his heel dug into the creature's tough skull. The fighting was starting to take a toll on his body. The force of the kick caused the creature to soar forward but before it could land, Daisuke sent two more orange bullets at it. The resulting shockwaves sent it flying toward the river. It surfaced and growled before preparing to swim back to land.
"Now, you can go crazy," Tetsuya told his friend who grinned in excitement.
Daisuke aimed the gun at the ground beneath his feet. He jumped and pulled the trigger just as he reached the apex of his jump. The shockwave pushed him to the air where he made his pistol glow blue. He fired four bullets at it as it swam. The beams of light evaporated the water as they touched the river and burned clean through the monster. One of the bullets went through its head, effectively killing it. The creature then exploded in the water, signifying the end of the battle.
Tetsuya positioned himself under his friend, preparing to catch him. He then noticed that his sister was in the same position that he was. Before he could say anything, Daisuke landed in their arms. Although Amaya's assistance did not avoid them all falling to the ground, it did make the fall less painful to both men.
However, Tetsuya was not going to let it go easily. "Did I not tell you to stay put?" he scolded as he got up.
"And what? Let you hurt yourself even more than you already have?" she argued as she, too, got up, "I'm not a little girl who needs protecting, Onii. I can help."
"Then help by not making me have a heart attack because—"
Daisuke then got in between the two and pushed them apart. "Now, now, it's all over. Why don't we just move on and decide what to do next?"
The siblings reluctantly stopped their fight and cooled themselves down. They then noticed something crucial. The sun was low on the horizon.
Without needing to point this fact out, Tetsuya volunteered, "I'll go grab some firewood. You two, go find shelter if possible. I'll meet you two back here in fifteen minutes. If either of us isn't here by then, I'll light a fire so you can find me."
"Onii, you hurt your foot, don't even try to hide it," Amaya admonished her brother as he pretended to be completely fine, "You should stay here and rest."
Tetsuya clicked his tongue and mumbled, "Of all the times to use your head…" He then faced her properly. "I can manage."
"For once, I agree with Amaya. Well, kind of," Daisuke spoke up. Before his friend could begin to fight back, he continued, "Don't worry, I'm not saying we should leave you here. I'll get the firewood and you and Amaya will find shelter. That way, you're still helping and Amaya can take care of you. Does that sound good?"
Tetsuya tried to think of a counterargument and after failing, he scoffed, "Fine. You have a point."
"Then let us get on with it." Daisuke then handed the P.E.W.P.E.W. to his best friend and waved as he walked to the woods.
"I get that we need a way to protect ourselves but why did he give us that?" Amaya asked while pointing at the object in question, "Doesn't he need to protect himself too?"
Tetsuya smiled at her, "Don't worry, he's tougher than he looks." He then pointed upriver. "Let's start our search there."
He tried to lead the way but ended up limping from the pain. His sister rolled her eyes before taking his arm and putting it across her shoulders. "Come here, you."
The older one smiled to himself. "Thanks," he said as he let himself be in her care.
The walk was silent and uneventful. Amaya had many questions to ask her brother, she always did, but she could accurately predict the answers to a lot of them. Finally, she thought of a question she could ask and get a proper answer.
"A while ago, you seemed pretty sure we'd see Sanji again. How did you know?"
Tetsuya looked at her and smiled. Not a warm smile but rather, a smile that held back a laugh. Her brother was always good at that. "I saw him hiding in the treetops. He saw me spot him and tried to hide. I don't think he figured out that I could still see him." He then held his chin between his thumb and pointer finger. "I didn't expect him to be Invictus, though. What exactly is he?"
"More importantly, why didn't he show up as soon as the Effigy tried to attack us? Did he have some sort of ulterior motive?" Amaya thought out loud.
Tetsuya looked her straight in the eye with a serious expression. "You're exactly right. He did have an ulterior motive." Amaya looked back at him in anticipation, waiting for him to give her the answer she sought. He continued, "He wanted to look cool."
She nearly fell over in shock. "What!?"
"I saw him waiting for the right timing to jump in and when he did, he looked so smug and…" Tetsuya trailed off before pointing in a certain direction, "Look, a cave."
She followed his finger and sure enough, there was a large opening in the side of a rocky hill. "How do we know if there are any animals inside?"
"Only one way to find out. Let's get closer first," he instructed. Amaya complied and helped him walk to the front of the cave. She made sure they were far enough away to get a decent head start if there was a predator inside. "Here's good." He then pulled out the pistol from his pocket and turned it on.
"What are you—"
He pulled the trigger before she could complete her sentence. The beam of light that was emitted was red in color. It lit up the inside of the cave as it flew through the air, revealing nothing inside until it hit a rock. Just for good measure, he shot another three bullets, each one also showing that there were no large inhabitants in the cave. At that moment, they saw smoke rising to the air from the direction they came from.
"Looks like Dai's waiting for us. Perfect timing too. That fire's going to be useful once the sun sets. Let's go tell him the good news."
They walked back to where their other companion was and reached him just in time to witness the sunset, giving way to the night. They found him holding a stick on fire in the air and a pile of sticks tucked under his arm. They lead him to the cave where they built a bonfire. They decided not to go too deep into the cave so that the sunlight can wake them up in the morning. Daisuke brought out the first aid kit that he brought with him and used it to clean and wrap Tetsuya's wounds along with his ankle. After a long tiring day, they all decided to skip dinner and just fish in the morning so they could all get a good night's sleep. They forgot to take turns keeping watch but luckily nothing happened at night.
Amaya was the first to wake up at the crack of dawn. She found the men still fast asleep and decided to leave them be. She smiled to herself and carefully took the P.E.W.P.E.W. from her brother's sleeping form. She looked for a switch to turn it on but she found a slot on the side of the pistol that perfectly fit her forefinger. She put her finger in the slot but nothing happened. She tried tapping it and imagining every color in the visible spectrum but it did not work. She silently groaned and put the gun back where it came from.
Intent on venting her frustration, she picked up a small rock and threw it into the cave. She could not see anything in the deeper parts but she heard the rock hit a rocky surface. She picked up another rock and threw it harder than the last one. Instead of hearing the same kind of sound, she heard the rock hit something metallic. She paused to question what she just heard. Once again, she picked up a pebble but this time, she walked closer to the dark before throwing the rock. The metallic ring confirmed that she was not imagining things. She rushed to her companions and frantically woke them up.
"Onii! Daisuke! Wake up!"
The latter immediately shot up. "Huh? What's happening? Are we under attack?"
At that moment, Tetsuya also shot up. "Attack? Where?"
"We're not under attack," the woman cleared up, "We need a fire. Now."
The two stared at her face for a second before simultaneously asking, "Why?"
"I said now!" she reasserted. Her companions immediately got up and hurriedly made a fire.
"What's the hurry?" inquired Daisuke.
She walked up to the fire and grabbed one of the sticks to use as a torch. "You'll see."
She walked ahead deeper into the cave. Daisuke helped his best friend walk and followed after her. It did not take long for Amaya to stop and the two men gawked at what they found. It was a metal door in the back of the cave. The woman turned the knob and was pleasantly surprised to find it unlocked. The first thing she saw was an unlit torch mounted to the wall beside her. She lit it up with her burning stick and suddenly, torches mounted all around the room lit up, illuminating it.
The room was huge but the messy state it was in prevented it from giving that kind of impression. On the walls were shelf after shelf after shelf stacked with books with a good portion of them being on the floor. In the center of the room was a table with random items along with kore books and notes scattered on it. A number of glass bottles and containers could be found on the same table but all of them were empty and there were no signs of the contents being spilled.
"Woah, what is this?" Daisuke wondered out loud before walking to one of the books on the floor. He picked it up and tried to read it but… "This book's written in Latin."
Tetsuya walked up to one of the shelves and tried to read the titles on the spines of the books. "Looks like all of them are."
Amaya walked up to the table and started inspecting the bottles. All of them had soot and ashes staining the inside but not the outside. However, there were no apparatuses around that could control fire enough to not create soot. In fact, there weren't any apparatus with which to burn at all. "Weird…" she muttered under her breath.
Her brother heard her and came closer to her. He also noticed the same things she did. "Indeed. Why would you burn things from the inside rather than heat it up from the outside."
Daisuke, having given up on trying to understand the book with his limited knowledge of the Latin language, also came up to the table. Among the mess, he noticed something relatively bigger than the rest. He grabbed it, and announced, "Hey, guys, look. It's some sort of belt." He then noticed an engraving on the strap. "Lacrima?"
The belt had a strap made out of metallic plates connected by hinges. One end of the strap was fixed to the buckle while the other had protrusions that fit perfectly in the holes of its side of the buckle. The buckle itself, like the rest of the belt, was silver but it was noticeably brighter than the strap. It was large and had a dull grey gem in the center. On either side of the gem were two metallic parts that were thicker than the center platform where the jewel rested. One of them had five multi-colored buttons on the side with the first button being shaped like half a circle and was positioned at the outer edge while the rest were arcs that were bigger than and enveloped the last. Although it was dusty, Daisuke could see that the buttons were green, blue, white, red, and black.
Amaya inspected the belt closely. She felt like she had seen it before but she could not quite remember where. A lightbulb then went off in her head and she grabbed the belt from Daisuke's hands. "This looks like Sanji's belt. This could be magic." She then wrapped it around her waist and pressed one of the buttons. However, it did nothing. She repeatedly pressed the button then the other ones but to no avail. "Oh, come on! Work, you stupid thing!"
Daisuke shrugged his shoulders, "Maybe it's not magic at all."
Tetsuya adjusted his glasses. "I can take it apart to see what it does."
"I know what it does, it does magic!" she reasserted before going back to her task of pressing buttons, "I just need to turn it on."
"What you need to do is run."
The trio turned their heads to the door and saw an unmasked human Sanji standing by the door with his arms crossed over his chest. This time, he was wearing his metallic belt over his obi.
"Sanji? What are you doing here?" Amaya questioned.
"After taking care of that pesky bee, I tried looking for you but then I saw two Effigies coming this way," he explained, "Seems like they caught your scent."
"Just two? No problem. I can beat them easily with this bad boy," Daisuke confidently gloated as he gestured toward the P.E.W.P.E.W.
However, his best friend rejected, "You can't use that here. You might burn down these books and who knows what kind of information they hold."
"Seriously?" he complained, "Guess we'll just have to face them outside."
At that moment, they heard two inhuman roars coming from outside the room.
"Too late. They're already here," announced Sanji. He then turned toward the approaching monsters and put on his mask before doing the same arm movements he did the last time. As red markings appeared on his body, he groaned and shouted before exclaiming, "Henshin!"
Black smoke covered his body and like the Effigy whose birth they witnessed earlier, only his red eyes and markings were visible. With one final cry, he dismissed the smoke which was then absorbed into his body, revealing the monstrous form the three were familiar with.
He charged out the door and the trio followed him. They were greeted with the sight of two similar Effigies with brownish-gray fur, long arms, red faces, and short tails. Daisuke's eyes widened as he recognized the figures.
"It's those monkeys that stole my phone!" He then started marching toward them but his best friend held him back. "Let me go, Tetsu! Let me at 'em!"
Tetsuya rolled his eyes, "Calm down, will you? They might not even be the same monkeys."
"What if they are?" the bearded man continued to argue.
"I'll tell you what they are," offered Invictus, "They're out to kill you so go back in that room."
"They'll easily corner us in there," Tetsuya told him.
However, the masked man countered, "No, they're not. I'm here and I will definitely…" he trailed off as the Effigies ran past him and toward the three humans. "Ah, damn it."
The monsters jumped forward before Invictus could grab them. They bared their fangs as they started descending toward their targets but they were blown away by shockwaves created by two orange beams of light. They soared backward and managed to get outside the cave before finally landing.
"Now we can take this outside," Daisuke remarked.
Invictus shook his head and ran straight outside. The two monsters got to their feet just in time to avoid his jump kick. As soon as he landed, he spun around on the ball of his left foot and drove his heel into one of the monkeys' face. He then threw a one-two punch combo at the other one but it dodged the blows before dropping down and sweeping at its opponent's feet with its leg. Invictus jumped over it but the creature used its tail to grab one of his ankles and pulled him down to the ground. It then tried to stomp down on his face but he reacted quickly and moved his head out of the way. He then kicked himself up to a standing position but before he could do anything else, the Effigy he kicked away jumped on his shoulders and began wailing on his head. Because of his struggles, he failed to notice the foot coming for his solar plexus. The attack knocked the wind out of him and caused him to lurch forward. The monster on him capitalized on this by standing on him and kicking off his torso, forcing him back to the ground.
The trio had already gotten out of the cave and was now watching from the sidelines. Amaya looked to Daisuke and exclaimed, "What are you doing!? Shoot!"
Daisuke shook his head and replied, "I can't. I might shoot Sanji."
The woman scoffed and glared at the belt on her waist. She began pressing its buttons once again. "Work, damn it, work!"
Tetsuya looked to his friend and suggested, "Just shoot at me, then. Just like how we practiced."
Once again, the bearded man shook his head. "No can do, Tetsu. Your foot hasn't completely healed up yet."
Amaya's eyes immediately brightened. "What about me? Just shoot at me! I can help!"
Once more, Daisuke shook his head. "Nope. You haven't had the proper training yet."
"Don't worry! I've got this!" Invictus exclaimed as he managed to push the two monsters off him. He gave them a thumbs up but his opponents quickly recovered and kicked his chest, sending him back down to the ground.
Amaya cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, "No, you don't! You need help!"
Invictus ground his teeth before spinning his body around with his legs spread out to keep the Effigies away from him. He then kicked himself up to a standing position and bent down to a fighting stance. He stepped forward but he found himself stepping on a large pile of dung. "What the…" He then noticed a horned bug right next to it which started to bunch up the squashed droppings into a ball. He stared at it for two seconds before scoffing. "I'm so going to regret this. This better work."
He picked up the bug and let out smoke from under his mask. The smoke enveloped the bug and his body. Once again, all that was visible was his red eyes and red markings that reappeared on his body but this time, they were noticeably brighter. He began screaming in what the trio discerned as immense pain. They were stunned and the two Effigies stood still and watched the cloud carefully. Finally, his screams stopped as the red markings disappeared once more and the smoke was reabsorbed into his body, revealing a new form.
His eyes were still red and his skin was still black but his build was more muscular. The spikes on his forearms and calves were smaller and gone were the yellow hair on his legs. The antennae on his head were much smaller but there were now long horns on the sides of his head that bent backward. He shouted to the sky before pounding the ground with his right fist which caused a small shockwave.
"Woah," uttered Daisuke.
"What… is that?" Amaya asked no one in particular.
"Did he just absorb that dung beetle?" questioned her brother.
Invictus did not show any signs of hearing them and quickly charged at one of his opponents. He cocked back his fist and threw a powerful punch that sent the monkey soaring backward. "All yours!" he shouted at them.
Daisuke grinned before running under the falling Effigy. He dropped to the ground and aimed upward before shooting an orange bullet at the creature. The shockwave pushed it straight up to the sky. He then made his pistol glow blue. He then pulled the trigger six times and every single one hit their mark. The Effigy let out one last cry before exploding. After the fireball disappeared, he could see the blue beams of light continue their flight until they got absorbed by the invisible barrier.
"Looks like this place is completely enveloped by magic," he observed.
Meanwhile, Invictus calmly walked forward and did not bother dodging the fist that was coming at his face. He then cursed under his breath as he reeled back in pain and saw stars. "I thought this was going to make me tougher, damn it!"
He snarled at his opponent as it danced and made sounds akin to laughing. He threw a punch at its face which it dodged by moving its head to the side but the wind that the blow generated made the monkey jump away in fear. Invictus then tried to land a side kick but the creature jumped back to avoid it. Once again, the attack caused wind to blow at the monster. The Effigy growled at him but he charged at it with his shoulder in front of his body. Before it could dodge, Invictus tackled it and kept running until he crashed into the outside walls of the cave, crushing the creature. He picked the monster up by its mouth but it immediately struggled and bit his hand.
"Ow!" he exclaimed before glaring at the culprit, "Why you…"
He pulled back his left arm and drove his fist upward at the Effigy's chin, sending it to the sky. He then cocked his right fist and threw it just as the monster fell back down, immediately making it explode in a large fireball accompanied by the shockwave caused by his punch.
"I'm calling that Gigaton Punish. Serves that animal right." The pain in his hand then returned to his mind. "Damn, I really hope it wasn't rabid."
He then saw the trio walk up to him. Amaya gave him a thumbs up and congratulated him, "Good job."
"Thank you," he said as his body started turning back to his human form. He took off his mask and put it back in his sleeve. "And you're welcome."
Amaya smiled and rolled her eyes but then she noticed something strange. She pointed at Sanji's face, "Your mustache is starting to grow."
Sanji's eyes widened, "Oh!" He frantically covered his mouth with his hands.
Daisuke laughed out loud before putting his arm over his shoulders. "Don't worry about it man, I know how you feel. My facial hair also grows back fast so I gave up on being clean-shaven and just settled for keeping it a stubble." He then pointed at his best friend. "This guy's got horrible beard genes. His facial hair grows only half an inch every year."
Tetsuya shrugged his shoulders. "I don't really care for facial hair."
"I know you're jealous of me." Daisuke then turned his head to Sanji. "I'm kinda jealous of you too. I could've sworn your face was very clean just a few minutes ago and now—"
"Enough!" demanded Sanji as he removed Daisuke's arm from his shoulders. He then cleared his throat and his expression became serious. "Now you know how dangerous this place could be. Will you now allow me to guide you back?"
The three looked at each other and seemed to think about it for a second. They then looked back at Sanji and, at the same time, answered "No."
Sanji's composure then shattered. "B-but why!? Do you want to die!?"
"We have no intention to make this place our graves but we are intent on bringing back a sample to study," Tetsuya calmly replied.
"You…" Sanji grit his teeth as he pulled his hair. He then sighed and kicked a pebble on the ground in frustration. "Fine, have it your way."
"By the way, do you have a permanent shelter here or do you just make camps every single night?" Amaya asked.
"I have a house nearby. Why do you ask?" inquired Sanji.
Once again, Daisuke threw his arm over his shoulders while the siblings smiled at him ominously. "Thank you in advance, man," he told the young man.
"Uh… What's going on?"