We ride South for several bells without meeting anyone else. In the beginning, the Highway follows along the western edge of the Forest. After a while, the lush green forest to our right turned into a stone cliff.
“Say, what’s behind that cliff?” I ask.
“According to the map, it’s just undeveloped wasteland behind that cliff,” Matt answers, “even though there should be enough water in that area, the soil isn’t suitable for growing anything. As for now, it’s not worth the money to try to dig a tunnel through it to develop it.”
We encounter a group of people. They are quite a mixed bunch. The biggest of them runs towards us, yelling: “That Plumel is our prey! I demand you give it back!” He points at Alfred. I glance at Matt. He quickly shakes his head.
«Alfred, stay calm! Even if you know them.»
«I don’t know them. I pushed the one who hurt me fell into the river and he died.»*
“Your prey?! This is my precious familiar!” I answer with an angry voice. I’m actually angry. That guy just goes around demanding things that don’t belong to him! Don’t you dare lay a finger on Alfred!
“As if I would mistake that yellow fur!”
“That’s so conclusive!” Matt interjects, “Sure, Gold Plumel are very rare. But we’ve been riding together from Tatilans. There’s no way this one is the one you were hunting. Assuming, of course, you were actually hunting at all.”
“Matt!” Silas yells. I can feel a sense of urgency in his voice.
“I know,” Matt answers calmly.
The other group draws their weapons and grin. Several other people come out of hiding. We’re surrounded. So this turned to a robbery? Dang it.
“Greater Fortify Armour! Greater Resistance! Greater Full Potential! Greater Strength! Greater Magic Boost! Greater Accuracy! Greater Speed!” I immediately buff our party while grabbing my knives. Yes, I know it’s excessive.
“What the…” apparently surprised, one of the assailants steps back.
“He’s just bluffing! There’s no way he can use all those high-level spells!” the man that demanded my Plumel yells. You know, I actually can and did use those spells. I learned them while reading the Encyclopedia Magicka Matt gave me a while ago.
I enchant my knives with electricity. Pat told me there’s no penalty for killing in self-defence. But still, I don’t like the thought of killing people.
It’s a familiar voice. All the people behind us are sent flying. A cloud of dust rises where the men were standing. I can barely see the outline of one single person holding a mandolin. Yes, that’s definitely Lecarvi!
“It looks like you’re in need of some help. I just happen to have taken a quest to take care of those robbers,” she says.
“Thanks, Lecarvi,” I answer. The cloud starts to set and you can finally see her.
“Oh, it’s Swift! What are you doing here?” she finally notices me. The flowers in her hair start blooming once more.
“Not now, there are still enemies around,” Silas cuts her off.
Thanks, Silas! I’m just not good at dealing with her type.
“Shield Bash!”, meanwhile Matt already has gotten off this Plumel and charges in with his shield and hits two of people. They stumble.
I jump off Alfred and slash them with my knives. They collapse. Huh? They’re foaming in their mouth? Did I put too much power into the enchantment? Well, they’re still alive. I have a look at how the others are doing.
“Air Shot!”, Kat sends a person flying, “Wow, those buffs are really amazing!” Behind her, another person starts swinging his sword at her.
“Refulgent Arrow!” Pat shoots a light arrow. He hits the sword out of the attacker’s hand. Luna immediately knocks him unconscious with the blunt side of her sword.
“Thanks, Pat, Luna.”
“Don’t mention it,” Luna and Pat answer in unison.
“You’re not half bad!” Lecarvi says.
“Thanks,” Luna answers.
“Musical Strike!” Lecarvi again sends the last two attackers against a nearby cliff.
“Thanks a lot for your help, Lecarvi.”
“Don’t mention it, I got the quest to take care of them, anyway,” she answers. She starts tying up the unconscious attackers using a rope. I would have expected her to use vines instead.
“I should introduce you. This is Lecarvi, Lecarvi the Bard. These are Matt, Pat, Kat, Luna and Silas.”
“Nice to meet you!”
“Nice to meet you!”
“Nice to meet you… So that’s the infamous bard Lecarvi,” Silas mumbles.
Infamous? Never mind, I’ll ask later.
Suddenly, I can hear a loud roaring noise. I look up to where it comes from. This isn’t good… A big chunk of the cliff has broken off and falling towards us. What now? I don’t have any spells that might be any use for this. I need to think…
“Hyper Eccentric Ultra Great Giga Extreme… extra Hyper Amazing Punch!!”
A dark-haired boy wearing a dark cape and a white headband jumps up out of nowhere and punches the boulder, pulverizing it in a fiery explosion. He looks the same age as we are. Is he a Neotes?
“You’re late, Sobe!” Lecarvi complains.
“No, you’re just way too early,” he cheekily answers. “We weren’t scheduled to meet for another bell.”
“That’s Sobe, he’s a battle nut,” Lecarvi halfheartedly introduces him.
“I just like fighting. It’s not like I can’t think of other things but fighting,” he complains.
“Whatever you say.”
“So the robbers have already been taken care of without me. Not that I care much.”
“We still need to transport them to Ise.”
“Yes, I know… So…” he turns to us. With him being closer now, I see he’s about a head taller than I am. “As you heard from Lecarvi, I’m Sobe, Sobe Tagun. Pleased to meet you.”
I introduce the others to Lecarvi and Sobe.
“Since you’re riding Plumel, I guess you’re travelling. What’s your destination?” Sob asks.
“Cogen”, Matt answers.
“Cogen? That’s South of here, right? What a coincidence! I was planning on going there too. Why don’t we go together?”