A few days later, I’m on one of my hunts. I’m sitting hidden in the bushes. A horde of boars is about to pass by. I knock an arrow, preparing to shoot. The boars pass by; I shoot. And miss. While I have missed shots before, I’ve never missed that much! I try shooting more arrows with the same result.
Something is off… Out of other options, I make one of the boars fall into a pitfall. I then get my short sword and pierce it. Yuck, I hate that sensation… but I have to eat. And I don’t see myself becoming a vegetarian. I need to get used to that… I put the dead boar into my Infinite Storage.
«Master, we have visitors.»
I hear Raiden’s voice in my head.
«It’s the same group as before! They seem to be calling you.»
The same group as before? Who? Oh, I remember! The group of the second prince. He’s back? I move to where Raiden is. I see the group. Yes, it’s the same group as last time. I have Raiden sit on my shoulder as I jump down.
“Hey! It’s been a while, Matt.”
“Swift! I’m glad to find you. I wanted to drop by to thank you for your help last time.”
Help? Oh, yeah, I did help him a lot last time. Maybe he can help me with my hunting problem.
“There’s no need for that, I was just killing time. At least that’s what I want to say. I do have a problem I need solving.”
Matt’s face turns bright.
“Just say it, maybe I can help!”
“I was just hunting… For some reason, I can’t seem to hit anything today.”
“Wait, you were hunting with these arrows?” the Ailuranthrope that’s accompanying Matt interjects, “sorry to interrupt. But I couldn’t help myself.”
“It’s no problem,” Matt answers, “come to think of it, I haven’t introduced the others to you. The one just now is Silas. The others are Sain and Seth.”
They each nod respectively when Matt mentions their name.
“You might already know it, but still: I’m Swift. Pleased to meet you,” I turn to Silas, “what’s wrong with my arrows?”
“What…” Silas takes a deep breath, “those arrows are completely worn out, you need new ones!”
“New arrows…” I mutter to myself, “that could be a problem…”
The men start laughing. Seeing me being confused, Seth explains.
“With you being the Keeper of the Crystal Down, we weren’t sure how to treat you. But you seem more and more like a very specialized person.”
“I am not a special person, I think. Specialized maybe. I do have the title Keeper of Crystal Down, but that doesn’t change much… I still breathe and eat. Since you’re here, should I take you to my place? We can continue talking there.”
I lead them to my cave. I push the ivy aside to reveal the entrance. The Bunnyflies come out. They circle around me.
“I know you guys want to play,” I speak instead of using telepathy so the others can hear, “but we have guests right now. So you guys have to wait.”
My guests open their eyes wide.
“Please, tell me if I’m dreaming, but are those Bunnyflies?”
“Those three? Yes, those are Bunnyflies I contracted. As you can see, they are very playful.”
“You contracted them?! Wait, I thought that Hawk on your shoulder is just an unusual hawk, but could it be that’s a Thunder Hawk?”
“Just after we establish you being a normal person, there’s one surprise after another with you…”
“I just happened to come across them and the taming spell happened to work. Anyway, please come in!”
“So you do live here by yourself.”
Are they trying to get me to move? But I’m not done with this place…
“I have Raiden and others with me.”
“Even so I can’t simply see a young boy like you live here without contact with other people and say nothing.”
“I can manage. Besides, I don’t know anyone outside I can rely on… I’ll be right back.”
That’s the truth. I go to the kitchen and hang the boar I hunted and let out the blood. After that, I come back to the living room. Sain looks like he has a bright idea.
“Can I use this on you?” he asks. He takes out his Identifying Crystal. I’m quite sure my Hidden Traits won’t show up. I wanted to know what it shows, anyway.and they seem trustworthy enough to me. In the worst case, I’m still positive I can get away fast enough.
“Please do, I’m interested in what it shows about me.”
Sain touches me with the crystal. He looks at it.
“What’s the matter, Sain?” Seth walks behind Sain and has a look as well. He falls silent.
“You… you have an impressive collection of titles.”
I get the feeling they’re hiding something.
“I mean really, what’s the matter? You are hiding something.”
Sain bows and apologizes: “I shouldn’t have pried. Mixed Ailuranthropes usually aren’t welcome in both of their parents’ communities. You must have been alone for quite a while… Even your Survival Skills are top notch! I guess I have to give up on convincing you…”
“I don’t mind.”
Doesn’t that mean people won’t ask me much about my parents? That’s great! Oh yeah, I wanted to know what traits that crystal shows.
“So… what traits do I have according to the crystal?”
“Let me see… Mystic Eye of Analysis, Mystic Eye of Knowledge, Infinite Storage, Accelerated Recovery, Quick Learner, Appealing Charisma and Nimble & Precise. That’s quite a good set of traits.”
I didn’t expect my Mystic Eyes to be visible, but that’s not a problem — people would notice due to my heterochromia, anyway.
We interrupt our conversation. The Bunnyflies seem to be quite interested in something Matt has with him.
“I thought Bunnyflies were shy. But these look very clingy.”
“They are clingy.”
«We smell tasty water! We want tasty water!»
“I’m afraid they’re even more clingy when they smell alcohol. I think they smell some on you, Matt.”
“This?” Matt takes out a bottle from his pack, “this is some ale I bought on the way here. Can I give it to them?”
“Sure, let me get a bowl.”
Matt pours some ale into the bowl I bring. The Bunnyflies start drinking. One slime crawls over to join them. I help it up.
“Please don’t mind this slime. It likes alcohol as well. They are a soothing sight, aren’t they?”
“Before I forget, I want to give you some things as thanks for your help last time.”
Matt starts lining of the gifts: two quivers full of arrows and a cloak. I take the cloak and try it on.
“It suits you.”
“Thanks. I just wonder what this crest is.”
“That’s my personal crest.”
“Personal Crest?” Oh, yes, I remember, he is the second prince. Let’s just feign ignorance.
“Let me properly introduce myself. I’m Matthew Sitnalta, the second prince of Sitnalta.”
“You don’t seem surprised.”
“Should I be? I found out as you were leaving last time. You seemed to be tired of formalities, so I just ignored it.”
“I like you, I really want to invite you to live in the castle with me. You’d shake up things quite a bit.”
Now, it’s come to this I can’t really decline. What to do now…
“But you seem set on staying here, so I won’t ask.”
“Thanks for your consideration.”
That’s great. When I think about it, I imagine living in the castle might become a hassle, I’m not very keen on being subjected to intrigues and the likes.
“But expect me to drop by once in a while.”
“Sure. You’re welcome anytime.”
“Young Master, we need to get back soon.”
“Already? We barely sat down!” Matt has a look of disappointment.
“You need to be back by dusk. Next time, plan more time for this.”
“I’ll try to prepare a place to sleep for you guys by then. Though you might want to bring some beddings.”
“Please do!” Matt’s mood instantly improves.
“While you’re at it, I could use some flour. I haven’t been able to produce that in the forest. And I’m starting to miss bread…”
I still have some Lottery Boxes of Food I haven’t touched since I have started hunting. Maybe… No, I’ll have to restrain myself! I want to savour those later.
“Flour, I can take care of that!”
I lead the group to the river again. I’m surprised to see the Bunnyflies following us.
“It’s been way too short, but it was nice seeing you again.”
“I feel the same. Till next time! I won’t be going anywhere in the foreseeable future. So drop by whenever you feel like it.”
As Matt’s group was leaving, I hear Flynn crying.
«I want to stay with friend!»
«Don’t cry. He’ll come back to visit soon.»
«But I want to be with friend!!»
I sigh… «Even if it means leaving Faryl, Felix and me?»
«I want to be with friend!!»
«Master, please let Flynn go.»
«Even the two of you…, wait, you don’t want to go?»
«No, our place is with master. But Flynn’s place is with friend.»
«I get it. Come, let’s go after them.»
I chase after Matt’s group. When I reach them they seem surprised I chased them.
“What is the matter, Swift? Did you change your mind? Do you want to come to the castle with us?”
“No, I don’t. But Flynn wants to stay with you. Is that OK?”
“Sure, I don’t mind. Do I need to hide him? And what do Bunnyflies eat?”
“Do what you think is best. They eat vegetables.”
“I’ll transfer the contract then. Transfer Contract! There. Please take care of Flynn.”
“This time, really, till next time. See you!”
I move towards my cave.
Arriving at my cave, I drop into my chair. I didn’t expect to meet them again… I pour some maple wine into a bowl. I wonder why Flynn insisted on leaving… I decide to ask the other two about it.
«Faryl, Felix, why did Flynn want to go with Matt?»
«Flynn is destined to be with friend.»
«What about you?»
«We are destined to be with master.»
It doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t understand what they mean.
«Destined master shines most beautiful to us.»
Is that a unique quality of each individual? Or is it just a certain skill or trait? I wished I could learn more. I don’t think asking the Bunnyflies will give me more information.