Chapter 36 - 36
Come morning they decide to move on. The hot spring was nice, but they all wanted to see more of the world they're in.
The woods on their journey had a rather eerie feeling to Cain. Like he was being watched and judged. Both Mythryll and Char seemed not to notice though, and Misha was too taken in with every small creature they passed to notice much of anything else.
"How far are we from the Elven woods?" Cain finally asked, the creepy feeling getting to him.
"They officially start about 40 kilometers east of here, but you'll still find a lot of Elves and fairy folk in the area. Why do you ask?" Char answers with a confused look.
"Just feels like we're being watched, you know? Like something is hidden in the woods judging me."
"It's likely just the woods themselves. Nature magic effects the trees, making them sensitive to intruders and danger. You're not an elf, or any sort of Fae, so the woods are likely feeling cautious around you." Mythryll suggests, looking like she's trying to feel what he's feeling.
"Yeah, that's not reassuring at all." Misha laughs. "I feel something in the woods, but it doesn't feel dangerous, so I didn't worry about it. I've never really had a chace to just enjoy the small creatures before."
The feeling eventually passes and they continue down the path they're on until they find themselves on top of a short rise, entering a clearing in the woods, looking out over the afternoon sky.
"Hey, there's some sort of white stone thing over there. It looks like the ruins of an old city buried in the woods. You guys want to go exploring?" Mythryll asks, excited to see a new thing.
"Ruins are great habitats for squirrels and other small mammals, I say we go check it out." Misha seconds.
None of them yet realized just how distorted distances can seem when viewed from a ridgeline in the woods. They had barely made it to the bottom of the hill when night began to fall.
"Camping with no bath? We're truly roughing it now." Misha laughs. "We even found a bath in the dungeon."
"There's a river just fifty meters from here. Do you want to move camp closer, so you can swim either tonight or in the morning?" Char suggests, pointing into the moonlit darkness.
"How can you know that in the dark?" Misha questions her, accusingly.
"It's part of the Spirit Folk senses. Ancient forests are my races natural habitat, and in the forest we can instinctively find our way and sense disturbances like other people and rivers. The older the forest the better."
The decision is made to light torches and move camp. Once near the river bank, they start looking for a good spot. Not too close, but in sight of the water, with enough room to not damage the trees with a camp fire. Burning the forest down wouldn't end well for anyone.
They quickly find a good spot, and Cain finds a collection of broken branches and a dead fall tree at the edge of the clearing. Perfect. All he needs to do is just cut some logs.
Mythryll has a basic nature spell that can create a wind blade. It's not high damage, so she stopped using it in combat, but it's great for cutting logs to be split with an axe for firewood.
"Why so much firewood?" The Elf asks, seeing Cain still splitting wood.
"Some for later, when there's no good wood nearby, and some to leave here for the next lucky traveler, so they don't have to cut anything down." Cain smiles. It was a camping lesson he learned in summer camp when he was a little kid. Leave a bit of firewood in case the next person is lost or in need.
They've just stripped down to their swimsuits when the sensation of being watched comes again, and this time everyone feels it.
"Come on out. We can sense you, and we don't want to have to do anything drastic." Char says to the night air, preparing to cast lightning. An idea Cain thinks is terrible, given they're all wet and nearly naked in the river, but it's magic, they should be fine right?
"Don't shoot, I'm not hostile!" A tiny voice calls back. "My name is Elmira, we've been traveling the same direction all day."
"I knew I sensed something." Cain says. "Well come on out."
"I am out, look up." Elmira giggles.
Elmira is a pixie, about the height as his hand, with dragonfly wings and a cute green leaf dress. She's got a tiny dagger on both hips and is wearing black paint of some sort strategically smeared all over to break up her outline.
"A pixie Ranger?" Misha wonders "No, that's not right. Are you a pixie Rogue?"
"A pixie assassin actually. I used the random character creation and this is what I got. A tiny assassin in the middle of nowhere, that nobody will group with. I've been killing wandering monsters for eight years to get to level 42."
"Well, we will group with you." Misha insists. "You've seen us all in bikinis, how much more intimate can we get than that, right?"
Char laughs at her assessment. "Are you sure you didn't just want a flying type to disarm traps and scout for us?"
"It may have crossed my mind. Briefly. But how about it, Elmira did you say your name was? We're wandering the woods looking for fun new places. Why not join us?"
"I thought we were being more careful about new people?" Cain asks and Misha waves him off.
"No way can someone so cute be a bad person, it's simply not possible." Misha informs him.
"How about a trial run? I'll stay with you a while and prove I'm trustworthy. Just please don't chase me away. I hate when they chase me away with fire and sticks." Elmira asks and even Cain's heart softens.
"Alright, you're in." Mythryll decides for the group.. "Pixies and Elves have an affinity, I would be able to tell if she was a bad person I think."