“Umm… can I ask your name?” I started.
[What? Ah, my name is Mon.]
“Then my name is Amelia.”
After leaving the Aves, We were
escorted by the guards until the forest entrance at the south. The guards could
not escort me towards the Tribe since they are not recognized. Although Laurel
has a peace treaty with the Tribe, it is entirely an agreement of
non-aggression and nothing else. It would be different if I was already
part of the Tribe like when Grandfather brought me before.
Currently, I’m traversing the forest
with Mon, a mountain elf. He has a slim build, light-brown skin, reddish-brown
hair, and has long pointed ears. He’s wearing loose leather armor on top, and
leather pants and boots.
I’m also wearing a set of leather
armor. This leather armor was made from the skin of a wyvern. Father, who’s
always worried, had this made just for this day. On top of it is a robe.
“Do most mountain elves look like
you?” I asked.
[No.] He denied without even looking
at my direction.
He’s not that outspoken, is he?
“Do you know Grandfather?”
“Randolf Laurel, my Grandfather.”
[Ah. Yes. Randolf.]
I waited for him to continue, but he
“You don’t speak that much, do you?”
Why did they send a messenger who does
not speak so much? This is unnerving…
After a few hours of walking inside
the forest, he stopped.
[We need to hunt, and then rest.] He
said as he prepared his short bow.
I prepared my rapier on my side and
observed the surroundings.
While I was observing, he climbed a
nearby tree with nimble movements and kneeled on a thick branch. He pulled an
arrow from the quiver on his back and knocked the arrow.
[I’ll disable it, you kill it.] He
After that, a silent whistling sound
flew in between the trees then disappeared in the bushes.
After a loud cry echoed, I started
moving towards the source. When I arrived, a wild boar with a large tusk was
kneeling on the ground with an arrow stuck on its shoulder. It was trying to
run away while limping.
Without hesitation, I pulled back my
rapier and delivered a thrust beside the arrow. After convulsing for a few
seconds, the boar finally died.
Did he purposely miss the heart just
below the shoulder to disable it?
[Good.] He said as he approached from
I grabbed a cloth from the bag and
wiped the blade clean before I returned it to its scabbard.
Afterward, he butchered the boar with
a knife after removing its organs and skinning it.
[Look and remember.] He said.
After that, he packed the shoulders,
the fillet, and the loin into a large cloth bag. Then he packed it inside
another cloth bag.
“Why are you leaving the others?” I
[It’s too heavy to carry everything.
They can also be used as a lure. Come, we leave before the beasts arrive.]
So he can talk, but only things
regarding hunting. And isn’t what you’re carrying heavy too? I thought.
Then I followed suit. After that, we
arrived at the extension of Twins River. he started cleansing the blood from
the meat beside the river while I gathered tree barks, twigs, and thin branches
as he ordered.
After gathering the materials for the
fire, he spoke.
[Do you know how to build a fire?]
“Yes.” I nodded.
I started balling up the bark, covered
it with the twigs and piled the branches on top of it. Then, I started
O’ Fire I call
Light up and Burn
Then the fire lit up starting from the
bark and made its way up to the twigs and branches.
[Good, but this won’t last. I’ll teach
you another one later.]
I nodded in response.
Afterward, we ate half the shoulder of
the boar. Most of it was eaten by him.
After resting, we started our walk
deeper into the forest alongside the river until we arrived at a wall made of
plants, vines, and trees. The wall extends from east to west.
“Is this what they call the Forest
Barrier?” I asked.
[Yes, we will follow this to the west
till we arrive at the foot of Alabaster.]
This barrier is called the Forest
Barrier. Its existence or purpose is unknown; neither do we know what's on the
other side. Aside from that, Laurel cannot send scouts to investigate. The
reason is that the treaty dictates that the other side is under the
jurisdiction of the Tribe. So any form of activity unpermitted by the Tribe
would be deemed as actions of hostility.
“Huh? Why don’t we just head straight
to the foot or cross this barrier using the river?” I said as I pointed at the
small opening at the barrier where the river flows.
Plus we could've just moved diagonally
towards the foot, right? It would save us more time.
As I spoke, a slight headache attacked
me accompanied by a flash of an image. The image seems like it's a water
surface of some sort.
“Ugh..” I muttered as I brought my
hand to my forehead.
“Yes, I’m fine. About my question
earlier, please continue.”
[Okay.] He said. [Crossing the river
is dangerous. The barrier keeps the dangerous beasts inside. Cross the river
and you’ll die.]
Another feature of the barrier is that
it does not block the river completely, there are vines covering it, but
there’s enough space to crouch through.
“Then why did we follow the river up
here? And who made this barrier?” I asked confused.
[It would be useful for you later.] He
said. [And neither do we know why this barrier exists.]
So even the Tribe doesn’t know?
“Later? Why? Do I still have to do
something when I arrive at the Tribe?”
[Yes. The proving, we are not allowed
to say anything about it, but I’ll teach you a few things you might need.]
Huh? Then why is he telling me this?
“But why teach me? Isn’t that against
[Just think of it as a gift from me.]
“Huh? A gift?” I was confused.
[Enough. Let’s go.] He said as he
started walking alongside the barrier.
I followed after him with a bit of
hesitation. We also discarded the other parts of the meat near the river and
brought enough for later.
When we arrived at the foot in the
afternoon, he suggested that we camp for the night.
“I can still continue, and we still
have a few hours before the night falls.”
[You don’t understand. It’d be best if
you take your time and learn. When we arrive, you’d only be given a day to
prepare for the proving. You should use that full day to rest. Besides, the
more you rush, the more likely you would end up dead.]
“…” I stayed silent without giving any
form of response.
I guess it wouldn’t hurt… And besides,
I never knew that there’s still a proving. Maybe that was why Grandfather
didn’t return for several weeks back then? But he never told me anything about
it. Neither did he include it in the stories he told me.
Afterward, he showed me how to build a
stealth fire. He dug a hole and dug another hole beside it with a third of the
width of the first, then dug a tunnel in between. Then he gathered branches,
twigs, and barks.
[This will be a little different from
the fire this noon.] He said.
He laid a raised wooden platform using
the branches to keep it from touching the ground and added several more layers
of branches. He then placed the twigs on top followed by the bark.
“So it’s the other way around for this
one?” I asked.
[Yes. This would reduce the smoke as
it starts burning from the top to the bottom.]
“But wouldn’t be a smoke-filled fire
more beneficial? And I think I’ve read something about animals being afraid of
The fire may attract insects but the
smoke will drive them away.
[If you only consider animals, then
yes. There are other beasts in Alabaster that are attracted to heat. One
example is the large viper. On the other side of the barrier, the beasts are
curious to fire since it’s a rare occurrence in Alabaster.]
“Okay, I’ll take note of that.”
Since we still have time till
nightfall, he tried teaching me how to handle the bow.
“I haven’t tried using the bow once,”
I said unconfidently as I held his bow.
Then he taught me the basics on how to
handle the bow. First is to not to use the tip of the arrow as my aim. Second,
pull the string towards my mouth. Third, use only three fingers to pull.
Fourth, don’t aim too long. Lastly, leave a gap in-between the fingers.
“Should I really learn the bow?” I
said after several tries.
[You’ll never know when it’ll be
After night fell, we ate our meal and
was about to sleep.
[Have you tried watching at night?]
I denied by moving head sideways.
“This is my first time. The guards
would never let me do something like this, and even if I did, they already got
the surroundings covered so there’s nothing left for me to do other than
[Then I’ll take watch.]
“I want to try.”
[Why is it?]
“Because… It feels wrong. Well, even
when I told the guards about it, they still refused ahaha.” I laughed
while staring at the fire.
It still doesn’t sit well with me till
now. Sleeping comfortably…
I then grabbed my bag and brought out
a spare robe, then reached it out.
“Here, take it.”
[No, I’m fine.]
“Please take it. I know it’s just me
being stubborn, but please take it.”
[Fine.] Then he grabbed the robe and
[You can sleep now. I’ll wake you up
“No. like I said, I’ll try to stay
awake. You said it yourself, I need to learn before the proving, so I need to
at least get used to staying up for a watch.”
And besides two people watching is
better than one.
I huddled on my knees as I strained my
ears and stared at the fire burning from the pit. The wood cracked as the
embers burned. The wood charred black, glowed red, then burned down
to white ashes.
As I stared at the burning fire, a
rustle resounded nearby. I looked for the source and focused my senses.
Then another rustling sound echoed
from another direction. I quickly moved my sights and caught a glance of a
moving shadow. Slowly, the tension rose as my beating heart started to race.
Wait, where’s Mon? – I thought.
I searched the surroundings, but not
even a shadow Mon was found. Only trees, bushes, dark clouds, and the moon and
its light decorated my surroundings.
Then a wolf howled from the distance
followed by the howls of its fellow wolves. Then the feeling of unease started
to hound me.
Where is he?!
Again, I moved my head left and right
looking for clues regarding Mon’s whereabouts. As I was busy looking for clues,
the bushes rustled again. From the left, then the right, then from the back.
Continuously, the bushes moved from different directions. Sometimes a shadow
passed, sometimes none.
While my sight is darting around, a
clash of blades and whistling of arrows resounded.
“Die bastards!” A human voice shouted.
As I heard the voice, I tried to draw
my rapier that I was grasping on my hip, but the rapier did not
reveal its blade.
I moved my sight towards my hip where
the rapier should’ve been.
Where is it?! Did I unconsciously
Then Panic struck me as I repeatedly
searched for the rapier. I repeatedly felt my hip where the rapier should be. I
looked towards the ground in search. I felt my clothes even though I knew deep
inside that it’s impossible for it to be there.
Where?! Where?! Where is it!
Then an Idea struck me that made me
pause for a brief moment.
Magic! I could at least use magic to
light up the surroundings!
Then I started to chant, but nothing
What?! I have chanted it
I tried to move my lips again and then
I found the problem. Not a single sound was coming out from my mouth no matter
how much I moved my lips or my tongue.
Why?! What’s happening?!
“Run!” Then a voice echoed from
behind, then soon my arm was caught and I was dragged towards the woman running
in front of me.
W-wait… Isn’t this… Erina?!