"Anything? Is there any potions left at all?" Mendores called out to the other side of the pharmacy.
"Nothing. It has been looted, everything is gone" Zanath called back.
"Kadin any sign of the goblins? What about the dragon?" Mendores asked.
"Nothing. They do not appear to be nocturnal, as long as we continue to travel in the night we should be safe from the hordes." Kadin stated.
"I wish we could." Mendores replied. "But after fighting in the dungeon all day, and searching the city all night... We are going to face a serious exhaustion problem if we don't get sleep tomorrow night. Estellese, how are you feeling?"
"Not good." Estellese choked out. She was just laying on the pharmacy bench, trying to regain her strength. "It's starting to get hard to breathe guys, resting is helping but please tell me this isn't another empty pharmacy."
Mendores walked out of the back section and shook his head. "Someone cleaned it out. It's empty."
"Third one in a row. What do we do?" Zanath asked, and everyone turned to Mendores, waiting for his solution.
Mendores looked around, then shook his head. "Why are you all looking at me? Guys I'm not the leader, I'm only calling the shots because nobody else is. I... I don't know what to do."
"Logically, you are the best candidate for leader here." Zanath replied.
"Yeah," Kadin added. "You're the only suitable leader. Estell has leadership qualities and is strong, but she is too hot tempered."
"Hey!" Estellese coughed out. "I am not"
"See?" Kadin added, getting a growl from Estellese in response. "Zanath is smart, but he is too quiet and withdrawn to lead. Plus while he makes the most logical decisions, we're often not in agreement with these decisions. Such as shooting the girl. He was right, it was our only chance, but I believe I am the only one in agreement with him that it was the right choice. Mendores's decisions are more balanced, we can all usually agree at least a little with them." He said.
Zanath nodded a little in response, and when nobody spoke Kadin continued talking. "And I am not trustworthy, I'm not afraid to admit my faults. I can be rash, I have a bad habit of expecting people to know what I'm planning, such as Me and Estell's earlier encounter with the minotaur. I didn't think she'd stay and fight. I don't make a good leader either." He explained. "We all bring something to the table that nobody else does. Estell is strong, and an incredible fighter. Zanath is highly intelligent, his brain saved us several times. Mendores, you contribute your leadership skills, nobody else can match that." He stated. "Oh, and I contribute my witty comments, a warped sense of humor, and a promise that I will one day take over the world."
Mendores and Zanath chuckled lightly, taking the brief moment to relax while trying to think of something. "And how will you do that?" Mendores asked.
Kadin smirked. "Once we return to the real world. I will secure a mind control chip, and a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. I will put said mind control chip in the cookie and then offer the next person i meet a free, warm, gooey, freshly baked, amazing, chocolate chip cookie. When they eat it I will control their mind via the chip that would now be implanted in the back of their throat. I will have them then begin producing more mind control chips, and cookies. They will pass them out to other people, who will eat them and come under my control then join the production of more chips and cookies. Nobody can resist a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. The people who say no the first few times, will eventually find themselves in hell. Everywhere they look, people will be handing out cookies. Imagine, your entire day being spent with the scent of warm, gooey, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies haunting you everywhere you go. Seeing the cookies everywhere, having people wave the cookies under your nose. Resistance will be futile, nobody can resist that scent for long. Nobody."
"That is surprisingly well thought out." Zanath noted. "Not that it'd work, such mind control chips are impossible. But well thought out."
"Of course. I am an evil genius after all. I said that when we first met." Kadin replied. he was about to continue talking when he suddenly looked out into the street and shushed everyone. He stood in the open doorway of the pharmacy, watching the street. After two seconds he became invisible due to the enchantment on his necklace.
The others watched silently as two goblins walked past the store windows. They turned to walk through the door Kadin was standing in and as soon as they got near Kadin he lashed out at them. He suddenly reappeared with his sword mid-slash at the first goblin's neck, before the goblins even had time to register that something just appeared in front of them the first goblin was decapitated. The second goblin shrieked in surprise and jumped backwards, but it was too late. Kadin followed up his swing by lunging forwards, shouting out in pain as every broken bone in his body suddenly felt like they had just been hit with a sledgehammer, he stabbed his sword through the second goblin's chest, killing it. Kadin then stepped back into the doorway, resuming his position as the door guard. His necklace made guarding the location pretty easy, even in his wounded condition.
"You okay?" Mendores asked.
"I hurt like hell. But I'm fine." Kadin replied. "It didn't hurt this bad while I was fighting the snake, what gives?"
"Adrenaline." Zanath answered. "While fighting the snake your body was in fight, flight, or freeze mode. Or what most people call fight or flight, whatever. Either way, your brain knew your life was at stake, that and the massive adrenaline rush drastically dulled the pain so you could fight, or flee."
Kadin looked up just a little "Hey brain, I'm kinda still in danger can you turn that back on? Just for a..." He paused. His eyes fixated on something down the street and up high, something nobody else could see from inside the building. "The heck? Is that..." He squinted, trying to get a clearer view.
"What is it?" Mendores asked.
"That's her! The girl!" Kadin said quickly. "I see a female silhouette, long hair, bow, quiver on the waist. It is watching us, and... It looks like the figure has a notebook or something and is writing something down." He held still and turned invisible again, so the figure would not notice him watching it when whoever it was finished their writing. He didn't want the figure to know he had spotted it.
"We have been traveling south west since we spotted her, but maybe we haven't seen any sign of her because she has been following us." Mendores thought out loud. "Why would she be following us and taking notes?"
"Is she a scout for some other group?" Zanath asked. "If we set up a base somewhere, I could easily see myself scouting out the area and tracking people in the same way."
"Weren't we the only Alpha testers?" Mendores asked.
"We don't know that." Zanath replied. "Although, the chances of other people surviving this hell would be pretty slim. There is, however, the other question."
"Which is?" Estellese asked.293Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ8Da9019zjp
293Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ8nX9BS9H5A
"Is she human?" Zanath stated. "She is humanoid, for sure. But she could be an AI, or even a non-human race that just looks human. She did seem pretty confused when we mentioned being humans."
"That confusion could have been from not knowing other humans got into this world. We were surprised to see her aswell. But you are right, we shouldn't overlook the possibility that she is not human. Or not from the real world if she is. We still need to make contact regardless"
"She doesn't know we saw her right?" Zanath asked. "What roof is she on? While she is watching Kadin, I can sneak out the back door and climb up to her roof." He stated.
Mendores nodded. "That may be our only bet. If she escapes don't waste too much time chasing her, we do not have time to spare we need to get a cure for this poison. We escape this game together or not at all, we need to make sure Estell lives before we look for an exit."
Zanath nodded "Agreed."
"She is on our side of the street, third building down. On the roof. I'll turn visible and pretend to be doing stuff." Kadin answered. And with that Zanath nodded and slipped out the back door.
"Estell." Mendores started. When she looked up at him he continued. "If your condition worsens at all, you must tell us immediately so we can abandon this and move on. I know you prefer to be tough and act okay, but now is not the time."
"Got it." Estellese replied. "Thank you."
Kadin was unsure of what to do, so he just started making a random tower of whatever trash and objects he found on the street around his feet. he figured that would confuse the girl and keep her attention focused on him. He smirked a little as he thought about how this would likely also lead to her jotting down some amusing notes in her confusion. The next few minutes felt like forever as he waited for Zanath to make contact.
Zanath was moving very slowly to ensure that he did not make a sound as he climbed up the building. Finally reaching the top he peeked his head over the edge to see the girl looking down at Kadin. It definitely was the same girl. He quietly climbed onto the roof and moved a little closer, keeping about fifteen feet of space between them. He then raised his hands above his head to not appear threatening and spoke. "Hey." He started. "We come in peace." Getting out the most important statement first.
The girl yelped and jumped in surprise, spinning around to face Zanath and grabbing her bow in a flash. This time, Zanath did not touch his bow and instead spoke again "I do not want to fight. Just talk. None of us want to fight." He said. "I am sorry, for what I did last time."
The girl stared at him for a moment, she did not move and kept her bow in hand, but she did not grab for an arrow just yet. It was at this moment that Zanath realized something. It was very possible the girl did not speak English. "I am a Friend. Friendly. Nice." He said as he slowly sat down, trying to show that he was not here to fight. But still no response, she did not budge. "I am not a monster. No monster. I am human."
As he claimed to not be a monster she frowned, and glared back at him. "What are you trying to pull?" She questioned.
"You speak English!" Zanath let out a sigh of relief. "We are not trying to pull anything, we just want to talk to you."
"You are lying." The girl countered.
"No we are not. We only want to talk." Zanath replied. "I promise."
"You said you are not a monster. You lied." The girl shot back. "Get out of here."
"We are not monsters! We are human, we are all human." Zanath countered.
The girl glared at him, in a mocking tone and with her voice dripping in sarcasm said "I'm not a monster, I'm just the freaking boogy man. We come in peace! We only slaughtered every living thing we encountered since we arrived!" She then frowned and turned dead serious. "Your friend said it pretty clearly, can't say you come in peace when you're covered in the blood of all the creatures you killed."
"Whoa, wait. That was self defense, we only killed them because we had to." Zanath answered. "And we are NOT monsters, we are human. Humans are not monsters. I get the feeling you are not human, are you?"
"Not all of those were self defense. You invaded the home of several creatures, killed them all and took their treasures. I watched" The girl stated. "And humans are monsters, you are no different from the goblins you just killed moments ago. Goblins which were not even attacking you. And no, I am not human, you have proven to be barbaric and uncivilized, I would be ashamed to be one of your kind."
"We needed that stuff to survive. And humans are civilized, we are from the real world and we are the most civilized species on the planet." Zanath replied. "How long have you been watching us?"
"So humans are willing to kill other creatures, who had done them no harm, in order to further the survival of their own species? Such a selfish race." The girl stated, letting go of her bow to jot down more notes. "So you come from another world? I guess I was mistaken in calling you monsters."
"We didn't want to kill them, really, we had to. And yes, we come from the real world. Thank you. You did not answer my question though." Zanath said.
"You never have to kill." Her words were sharper and more firm than ever. "If you really do come from another world, then you are not monsters, you are aliens. Then again, aliens could also be monsters... But I guess alien is more technically correct for documentation sake" She crossed out something near the top of the first page in her notebook and wrote in something else, no doubt exchanging 'monster' for 'alien'. She then resumed talking "I've been tailing you since the moment you appeared, I noticed a strange flash of light inside a building and went to check it out. I saw your black haired friend in there, through a window. Then the rest of you appeared. I have followed you since."
"We are not aliens either, we are human. But I give up call us whatever you like." Zanath stated. "What race are you? And where can we find a human city? Or, rather..." He looked around "A human city with living humans in it, not this place."
"The race 'human' is an alien race. As per your own description. You came from another planet, which you have apparently named 'the real world' which I must say is a stupid name for a planet considering there are many planets in existence and they are all real. But regardless, that is your own description of yourself and that makes you an alien." She stated.
"Okay. I will admit, that makes sense. But that implies that humans do not exist in this world." Zanath interrupted.
"I was about to say that." The girl spoke. "If you want a human civilization go back to your home planet. I am an elf, we have lived on this world for thousands of years and we have explored the entire planet. Up until you guys spotted me yesterday you were identified as short-eared elves. I only refer to you as humans because that is what you called yourselves. Nobody on this world knows what a human is. This notebook, I am filling out information to add humans to the monster encyclopedia. But... You say this city is a human city?" She asked, looking very curious.
"Okay, that explains everything." Zanath stated. "Yes this city is a human city, it is an exact copy of Oline city, a city from the real world. Only, in the real world there is other cities on its borders not an open field. And, the issue of returning to the real world to go back to human civilization, that is why we needed to talk to you. We don't know how."
The girl seemed fascinated with his information on the city, and flipped to a blank page as she began writing incredibly fast. "So this is a human city, from the human planet called the 'real world', is the technology here human technology?" She asked, ignoring his other statement.
"Yes, it is. It is not working in the city's current state of abandonment, but it is all human technology." Zanath replied.
"How can a civilization have such advanced technology, yet be so uncivilized?" She commented. "How does it work? The technology? This city has existed since the beginning of time, but has always been completely abandoned and has never decayed, well until recently when the goblins found it. But there has never been any explanation for how it got here. We suspected dwarves or fairies, but they are just as confused by it and nobody understands the technology here. Over the centuries we have deciphered some of the technology, but other parts of it continue to elude us." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a light bulb and held it up. "This, what is it? How does it work. What does it do? These are everywhere in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Why is there so many?" She was so curious and so absorbed in trying to get answers to all of her questions that she was asking them too quickly for him to actually answer before she moved on to the next question. But she finally stopped and waited for a response.
"We are civilized..." Zanath sighed quietly. Obviously he was not going to change her opinion on that "That is a light bulb. When it is turned on it emits a light, we usually turn them on at night so it does not get too dark."
"Like a candle but with no flame?" The girl interrupted. "How does it work?"
"Yes, exactly. And we often have a lot of them all connected to a switch, so we can light up an entire large area with the flip of one switch." Zanath said. "It works with electricity. Lightning, from storms, the lightning goes in through the bottom part. Well not real lightning because that much power would make the bulb explode, but we create small amounts of lightning in other machines, and transport it through these wires, the things that look like strings connecting everything, and the wires eventually connect to the bulbs. This small amount of lightning, which we call electricity, is what makes almost all human technology work. Well, it is much more complicated than that, but if I went into the complicated details you likely would not understand it since your race does not have the technology. That is the simple explanation."
She put the lightbulb down for a moment and hurriedly wrote down more on her notebook, once done she picked it back up and held it by the bottom part and seemed to focus. A bolt of electricity shot down her arm, down her hand, down her fingers, and into the light bulb. For a brief moment it lit up, but then the bulb shattered and went out. The girl shouted in pain and surprise as several shards of glass stabbed into her and she dropped what remained of the bulb.
"Are you okay? I said it would explode if too much was put in." Zanath said quickly as he moved to stand up.
As soon as he started to move the girl grabbed her bow again, "Don't move!" Once Zanath sat back down she let go of her bow and began pulling out the shards of glass. Silently watching him, once the glass was removed she hovered her hand over the cuts and her hand emitted a green glow and the cuts rapidly healed. They were tiny cuts, and within a few seconds she was healed.
"You have healing powers. We need your help, we have one wounded person and one poisoned person down there." Zanath said.
The girl shook her head. "Go back to your home planet if you need help. If there is one thing I learned from you all is that humans are dangerous and not trustworthy. I will not heal your friends."
"I told you the light would explode if it received too much energy." Zanath countered.
"I wasn't talking about the light. You were upfront and honest with that, and what you said worked. It turned on for a brief moment and it did make light. The information you gave me will no doubt help the elves figure out this human technology so we can use it ourselves. I am very thankful for that. But that does not excuse your murdering spree. You are not to be trusted." She stated.
"We can't go back to the real world. That is why we needed to talk to you so badly. We need your help getting back, really since we got here all we have wanted was to go back." Zanath said.
"You teleported here, didn't you? Why not go back the same way you came, teleport, I do not know how you did that, we elves have not left our own planet before. I don't think any race has. I can't help you." The girl replied.
Zanath shook his head. "We did not teleport. This is a game, a fake world. Humans have a lot of these games in which fake worlds exist, but normally the human does not enter the world of the game. Each game tells a story, like a book, and the human presses buttons to make the story progress, and since it is interactive like that the human can change the outcome of the story a little bit. We do it for fun. But this human in the real world, he made a game unlike any other, it was supposed to make you feel like you really were in the fake game world, not just watching it but actually in it. Me and my friends went to play, and we ended up here. This is that fake game world, but we can't find the button to get out."
The girl scowled and glared at him. "I take offense to that human. I thought your reference to the real world was just an issue with stupid planet names, but you seriously think this world is fake? The elves have been here thousands of years, you have not even existed for more than a week and you claim you are real but we are not? This world is real, I am real, if anything here is not real, it is you, human. You have no place claiming our world, our home, and the things living here are fake." She scolded him. "I can not help you return to your world, and I have all the information I need for the encyclopedia. Goodbye human." She finished as she turned to leave.
"Wait!" Zanath called out, he went to stand but thought better of it and sat down again. "Take us to the elven city then. Our friend is poisoned and dying, and we need shelter. Please."
The girl shook her head. "No." She stated. "Humans are dangerous and are not to be trusted, I told you that. I am sorry, I may dislike you but I do not wish for any of you to come to harm or die, despite that I will not endanger the lives of my village by allowing dangerous and violent creatures to follow me home."
Zanath hesitated, trying to think of some way to make her stay. "I can help! I can teach your people about human technology, I know how a lot of this stuff works. I can teach the elves how to build these things and use human technology."
The girl hesitated, it was a good offer. But she shook her head again. "We will figure it out, you helped us enough, we don't need you."
"At least repay me for the help I have given you. Use your healing powers to cure my friend of poison and we will call it even." Zanath pleaded.
She hesitated again, "I'm sorry. I do not trust you, any of you. I have seen you kill too many creatures, when you did not need to. Self defense is one thing, seeking out fights and killing is murder no matter what you are killing. I will not allow a murderer near me, you are already far closer than I am comfortable with." She stated and resumed walking away. But she stopped and hesitated, then reached into her pocket and pulled out a potion. She placed the potion on the ground and resumed walking towards the edge of the roof. "If I had an antidote I would give it to you, but I don't. This is a standard healing potion. It will not cure poison, but it will heal the damage the poison has done to their body and buy them a few more hours. I am sorry, that's all I can give. The elves have scavenged this city and taken most of the valuables already. I doubt you will find anything else here, unless the goblins brought it from somewhere else or we missed something. But we don't miss much, the only areas we didn't loot were areas the dragon was in when we came. But it moves so we eventually got to almost everything."
Zanath sighed and looked at the potion. "Thank you, it's something at least. What is your name? I am Zanath, my friends are Kadin, Estellese, and Mendores." She seemed friendly, she had hesitated when she decided not to help which made it obvious that part of her wanted to help, it showed that not helping was difficult for her. Zanath hoped that maybe, if he made her connection to the group a more personal one by giving her everyone's names, maybe it would be harder for her to leave them without help.
"Lillith." The girl replied. "Good luck." She added before she leapt down from the roof, and with superhuman speeds she bolted down the street in a south west direction. From the roof Zanath could see the city limit, where it turned into an open field. He quickly got up and rushed to the edge of the roof where he watched her run out of the city and off into the field, keeping that straight south-west direction the entire way.
Zanath picked up the potion she left behind once she was out of sight, then started climbing back down. 'She must be returning home. Which means, the elven settlement is outside the city in a south west direction. Thankfully, she didn't think to avoid my line of sight. The elves must not be used to dealing with intelligent creatures, based on the prevalence of goblins everywhere.' He thought.
As Zanath returned to the group he spotted Kadin in front of the store, still building something with random junk from the ground. "Kadin? The girl is gone, you can stop trying to distract her now."
"I know." Kadin replied. "I'm bored."
Zanath looked over what Kadin was building as he entered the pharmacy, upon a closer look he realized that Kadin had built a gravestone out of a tire, a stick, some cardboard, and duct tape. And in front of the grave, he was now arranging some old and stale cheerios into the words
Fluffy & Peggy
They will live on forever in our hearts and our exp points...
Do we have exp points?"
Zanath shook his head and sighed softly, then continued on his way into the building. Kadin followed him in a moment later but remained in the doorway.
Mendores hopefully looked up at Zanath when he heard the man enter, but then sighed quietly and lowered his head when he saw that Zanath was alone. "You were gone for a while, I was hoping you reached out to her."
"I sort of did." Zanath answered, then took a seat near Mendores and Estellese. He took out the potion he was given and handed it to Estellese. "It is a normal healing potion, she said it will not cure poison, but it will repair the damage the poison has done to your body. Or in other words, it will delay the effects of the poison by a few more hours." He said.
Estellese shook her head and handed it back to Zanath. "Kadin is injured. He needs it. I'll hold out for an antidote, we must be close to finding one." She replied.
"Nope." Kadin responded. "Too busy mourning the death of my friends, Fluffy and Peggy, to drink a potion. Can't drink it now. You take it." He said, glancing back at the group with a concerned look on his face.
"Kadin..." Estellese replied. "You are seriously hurt."
"I had only just met them..." Kadin sobbed out, so incredibly over dramatically that it seemed more silly than sad. "But I know... I know we could have been friends... I will cherish our memories forever. Like that time they tried to kill me... Or that other time they tried to kill me... Or that other time... They also tried to kill me." He acted as if he didn't hear her.
"Estellese," Mendores started. "you are also in critical condition, and we both know he is stubborn and won't take it. Just drink it." He said. He caught Kadin giving them another concerned look out of the corner of his eye, he felt like he was starting to understand Kadin a little better. Mendores whispered to Estellese "I think he will take a potion once you are safe and not dying on us. Just a hunch. Please just drink it, we are all worried."
Estellese hesitated, but then took the potion and drank it. "Thank you. But I am concerned about him, I saw him when he killed the goblins. He is hurt a lot more than he is letting on."
Mendores rested his hand on his own forehead and sighed in frustration, shaking his head a little. "I know." He murmured. "I'm trying my best to make the right decisions. But it is hard, especially when put on the spot like this."
"Exactly, we all agree. That's why we look to you as our leader." Zanath joined in. "There is a lot to discuss about my meeting with the girl, when we have time."
Mendores nodded and took a seat nearby. "We have five minutes before Estellese can move again, that enough time?"
"Yes." Zanath replied.
"Listen up Kadin! Zanath has important things to discuss." Mendores called to Kadin, then gestured for Zanath to start.
"Alright, where to start. I was able to speak to her, she is not human. She is an Elf, however she does speak English. She has given me the information that humans do not exist, we are the first, this city has been a mystery to the creatures of this world. Apparently it's been here since the beginning of time and never decayed until recently. The elf saw us appear when we logged in and has been tracking us since. Documenting us in an encyclopedia as a new type of monster for, I would assume, her elven village. The elves must be primitive in their technology, she asked me to explain what a light bulb was. However she did say the elves had been researching the human technology, and that they had figured out some of it and now use it in their village. She does not know this is a video game, she believes this is the real world and was insulted when I said it was not real. So she can not help us log out. She had healing magic and I asked her to heal us, but she refused and she also refused to bring us to her village. Claiming that we were dangerous and untrustworthy. She was unhappy with us killing things. However, I watched her leave. She left this city, went out into the field, and traveled south west. I would bet the elven village is that way. She said the elves had already picked this city clean of resources, our best bet of finding an antidote would be going to the elven village. We won't find one in this city." Zanath explained.
Over the next five minutes he went into greater detail, mentioning how the girl was clearly feeling threatened by his presence, yet she had the kindness to stay and speak to him anyways. How she left him the potion for Estellese, and how he did not believe the elves were bad people, despite her refusing to help. And so on. Once Estellese was finally recovered they all stood up and prepared to leave.
"Alright. We head out of the city and travel south west." Mendores stated. "We move as fast as we can, if we do not find this elven village by noon we will stop wherever we are and sleep for a couple hours. We are going on 24 hours without sleep, and while normally that wouldn't be a problem, we are also seriously pushing our bodies way beyond their limits here. We can't afford to lose sleep, if we are tired we will make mistakes and one mistake could mean the death of us all. Everyone good?"
"All good." The other three all replied almost in unison.
"Estellese, how well did the potion work?" Mendores asked.
"I still feel numb everywhere. But the pain is gone, the numbness is dulled, and I can breathe normally again." Estellese replied.
"Good. Keep me updated if anything changes." Mendores stated. "Sunrise is coming soon, we need to get out of the city before the masses of goblins wake up again. Let's go"
The others nodded and agreed, and with that they rushed out of the building and in a south west direction. They had already been traveling in that direction for quite a while since leaving the dungeon so they were already very close to the city limits. They were slowed down by Estellese and Kadin's conditions, but despite that moved as quickly as their slowest members could go. It was a little past sunrise when they reached the city limits and crossed out into the hilly plains surrounding the city. It was all tall grass and hills as far as they could see, and that was not all they could see. Now that they had time to look around, and now that there was almost nothing obstructing their view, they could see things that were quite far away they saw how dangerous this world really was. They saw numerous minotaurs wandering the plains, they saw at least two dragons far off in the distance and they were unsure if those were two new dragons or if one of them was the same one that was in the city. There was giant spiders, giant wasps, slime creatures, hound-like creatures that they could tell were not normal animals, tribes of goblins traveling together. The city was relatively safe in comparison, there was not an overwhelming infestation of monsters out here like there was in the city, they could be easily navigated around, but the monsters out here were much scarier than simple goblins.
The fields were big and open, there was plenty of space to just not go near the other creatures. It made their journey longer having to stray off the straight path to avoid monsters, but they were slowly crossing the field. As they traveled they saw the mountains to the east fading away into the distance, and saw the ocean to the south coming into view. Along with that, another relatively small forest was directly south west of the city they had left, the forest was much closer than the ocean was, it was the halfway marker between the northern city and the southern ocean, but it was pushed off to the west so it was not directly between them. Like a random clump of trees in the middle of the plains.
"We are searching for Elves, so we should probably check the forest" Zanath stated.
"That's racist!" Kadin interrupted. When the others turned to him he shrugged. "That's all I have to add."
"Anyways. The forest is our best bet, all things considered." Zanath finished.
Mendores and Estellese nodded and Estellese said "Sounds like a plan."
The group slightly altered their path to head more westward, it would be a few more hours before they finally entered the forest. Thankfully due to careful maneuvering, and using the tall grass as cover a few times they were able to reach the forest without trouble. Despite being smaller than the other forest they had found, this forest oddly looked like a dense jungle with vines, bushes, and other plant life growing all over the place. They traveled towards the center of the forest for an hour more, before they stopped in a small clearing.
"Estellese how are you feeling?" Mendores asked.
"I'm starting to have trouble breathing again, and the pain is back." Estellese replied, she tried speaking normally but anyone who listened closely enough could hear the pain in her voice.
"Alright. I don't want to stop, I really don't. But we need to stop and rest for at least an hour or two. Or we're going to end up too exhausted to defend ourselves." Mendores stated. "It is almost noon. I will take watch, you guys try to get an hour or two of sleep in." He said.
The others nodded in agreement and started getting comfortable on the ground. "Estellese can I borrow your axe? I'm going to light us a campfire if I can."
"Yeah." Estellese passed her axe to Mendores then laid down in the dirt.
Mendores took the axe and walked over to the nearest tree, then he took a swing at the lowest thick branch to try and make a log out of it. His axe struck the branch and cut partway through it, then he heard this very loud, deep, and long growling noise echoing throughout the forest. He froze for a second, looking around to see if he could find out what made the noise. It stopped and the area became silent again. After a few moments, when he was sure it was gone, he lifted the axe and slammed it down into the branch again, cutting deeper and almost cutting it off this time. And right away that loud, deep, long growl echoed through the forest again, this time louder and sounding angrier than before.
Mendores looked at the axe, and the tree branch, then pulled his axe out of the branch and took a step back. "Okay... Let's stop hitting the tree then." He murmured. "Zanath! Got anything to make a fire?" He called out.
"I still have that lighter I picked up in the city, before we got chased out by goblins the first time." Zanath replied.
"Great, I'll gather sticks and stuff from the ground and we can try lighting that instead." Mendores replied. He gave the axe back to Estellese, then went off to gather a small pile of sticks, dry leaves, and anything that would burn. Once he had a small pile he turned to Zanath "Can you light it? It is not much, but it should hopefully warm you guys up and make it slightly less uncomfortable. At least for a little." He asked.
"No problem." Zanath replied. He took out the lighter and flicked it on, then lit the mini camp-fire in a few places so that the fire would grow and engulf the pile quicker.
Suddenly they all heard that loud and deep growl again, this time louder and angrier than ever. Moments after it was followed by another voice joining in the growling, and another, and another, and soon there was hundreds of them in every direction.
"What the hell is going on?" Estellese questioned as everyone started standing up as quickly as they could.
"I don't know." Mandores said quickly. But his eyes widened as he suddenly saw every single tree around them starting to move... Starting to stand up. Faces began appearing on the trees, they all uprooted themselves and stood, ready to fight. "No...." Mendores let out breathlessly. The closest tree to them whipped out one of its branches, slamming the thick branch down on their tiny campfire. It smothered the campfire and put it out immediately.
"We just pissed off the entire forest. I don't think they like fire!" Kadin murmured in shock.
"Thank you captain obvious!" Estellese stated.
"We need to get out of the damn forest! They must all be ents." Mendores shouted as he turned to run back out the way they came, but the ents had seen them enter the forest, they had already moved to completely block the way they came in. There was thousands of them, everywhere.
"They blocked the way, pick any other direction and run! We need to get out of here NOW! Follow me!" Mendores called out as he lead the way towards the biggest clearing in the trees he could find. Everyone else ran after him and followed as closely as they could. The ents were slow, but they were massive and no doubt incredibly strong, not to mention their sheer numbers.
Mendores stopped just in time for a massive branch to slam into the ground in front of him, and he changed directions to avoid it. The group followed right behind him, but Kadin and Estellese both had to duck to avoid being struck by another branch as another tree tried to knock them away from the group. They caught up and the four of them continued rushing towards any small clearings in the trees, trying to keep as much space between them and the ents as possible at all times.
"I don't suppose we can just climb a tree and escape like we did last time?" Kadin called out.
"Kadin now is not the time!" Zanath interrupted. They took a sharp turn to avoid a blockade of ents that was trying to catch them by walling them in, just barely slipping out through a gap in the wall of wood before the last ent could move into place. They were thankful for the creatures being incredibly slow. But as they bobbed and weaved through the trees towards the next clearing some of the smaller and faster moving branches lashed out and grabbed onto Mendores. Yanking him to the ground as they tried moving to pin him down for the slower and bigger trees.
Estellese acted quickly, pushing through the pain she slammed her axe down on the smaller branches, with her strength she sliced right through them in one swing allowing Mendores to push the severed parts of the branches off himself and get back up. But by then it was too late, the bigger ent had reached them and was about to slam a massive branch down onto him and Estellese.
Zanath swooped in and grabbed Mendores, yanking him out of the way of the branch, while Kadin grabbed Estellese's arm and pulled her to safety. The other ents were closing in and there was no way they could hold up against the attacks from that many all at once. "Go! Go!" Mendores called out, once he was on his feet he resumed running, making sure the others were keeping up, he spotted a clearing ahead of them that was much bigger than any of the previous clearings and hoped this was the way out of the forest. They were completely lost in all the commotion by now, they didn't know which way was out anymore.
As they rushed into the clearing, they saw that it was infact not the way out of the forest but instead was just one massive opening in the trees. Near the trees on the opposite side of the clearing they spotted a human shaped figure. It looked to be a tall man, and they ran straight for him. As they got closer they noticed that the man had long white hair and carried a bow on his back. He also seemed to be wearing a light set of plate armor. His long white hair was tied back in a ponytail, so unlike the blue haired girl from before his thinner and pointed elven ears could be seen.
"Hey! Help! They are after us!" Mendores called out.
Once they were approximately thirty feet away from the man, suddenly a hail of arrows came raining down from the sky. Hundreds of arrows, aimed right at the four Alphas from all directions. The four of them froze and stopped running, all they could do was watch as the arrows came down. There was so many that dodging them all would be impossible. The arrows did not hit them, they instead landed all side by side in the ground forming a perfect circle around them. The circle gave them about five feet to move in any direction while remaining in the circle if they stood directly in the center. The arrows were fired from so incredibly far away, there was no possible way the archers who fired them could have seen their target, yet every arrow landed perfectly on target to form the circle. Once the circle was formed each arrow lit up and fired what looked like a small bolt of electricity towards the center where the Alphas were standing. All the bolts collided in the middle and disappeared except the ones that struck the humans. As the Alphas were struck by the bolts, they all collapsed to the ground and were paralyzed.
The man then looked at the ents, which were all rushing in to attack, moving as fast as the slow creatures could. He held up his hand as if signaling for them to stop. "Halt!" He called out. "They have crossed into our territory. They are ours to deal with now."
The ents stopped, but replied with a long and annoyed growl.
"They are in our land, that is the agreement. We protect each other but we do not interfere in each other's land. We will handle the intruders." The man firmly stated.
The ents let out their long growl again, then turned around and began walking back to where they were before. The man turned his attention to the humans and was about to speak when a girl's voice interrupted him.
"Did we capture them?" The voice asked. As she spoke the girl walked out from the trees behind where the man had been, alongside her was Lillith, the blue haired girl from before and two other elven bowmen. She seemed quite young, much like Lillith, and looked to be no older then her mid-teens. Where as the man looked to be in his thirties. She had long blonde hair and carried a sword rather than a bow. She was short and wore a full set of thin and light armor. She was different from all the other elves though, everything she wore, from her armor, to her clothes and sword, to the jewelry she had, was all very elegant and incredibly expensive looking. While the others seemed to just have rather plain armor and clothing, fancy, but plain. The blonde girl's sword, armor, and clothing had jewels, gold, and incredible designs all over.
The man looked over his shoulder at the woman and frowned. "Alicia, you shouldn't be here. This is a military matter." He stated.
"Adamar, last I checked I was in charge of everything, including the military." Alicia stated sternly. "You can't tell me what to do."
"These things are dangerous! You can't be here, you are in danger here. Especially not after what happened to your parents, the village needs you alive." Adamar argued. "Be the responsible adult you're supposed to be, don't needlessly put yourself in danger."
"I had to see for myself if these humans really existed." Alicia stated. "And news flash, I'm not an adult so I don't have to act like one. That's why I'm still the princess, not the queen. I don't need to take responsibility." She almost snapped back. "Plus, I brought my sword. So I'm not in danger."
Adamar frowned and gave her a stern look, but when she just gave him the stern look right back he sighed and shook his head.
"We have wounded, and our friend is poisoned." Mendores interrupted. "We only ask for help healing our friends, and safe passage out of the forest. We come in peace and will leave you alone."
Alicia turned to Lillith, ignoring Mendores. "Are these those aliens you spoke of?" She asked quietly.
Lillith nodded quietly. "The exact same ones I was tracking." She answered.
Adamar looked down at Lillith with a disappointed expression on his face. "You lead them right to us. You didn't cover your tracks."
"Hey!" Lillith argued. "I am a healer, not a soldier. I'm not as good as the rest of you and I'm not used to these situations. It is not fair to expect me to think of that."
"That is why we have rules! Non-military elves are not to go that far from the village." Adamar firmly scolded. "You should know better."
"But A-" Lillith started, but then stopped and looked at Alicia.
"I know Alicia gave you permission to go. That doesn't matter, you still shouldn't have gone out there. It is dangerous. You can't-" Adamar stated.
"I am the ruler here" Alicia interrupted. "So my word is final."
Adamar gave Alicia a stern look again. "You can't let people break the rules just because they are your friends. The rules are in place for a reason, people can get-"
"Princess." Alicia interrupted again. "That means I can."
Adamar shot her a glare, then sighed and shook his head. "This should not be discussed in front of whatever those things are." He said as he gestured to the alphas, then turned to them. "Confiscate their weapons, bags, clothing, and anything else they have. Examine their things thoroughly. Put them in the prisoner's uniform and in a cell immediately. They are prisoners until we decide what to do with them. Let's go everyone."
-- Next Chapter: Reality or Fiction? --
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