The next day, we say our goodbyes to the other villagers. They give us new clothes, camping utilities and new weapons. They say it’s all things they prepared for the day we left. Nobody expected us needing to leave this soon so everyone worked through the night to finish these items.
After changing into our new clothes and sorting out the gear we make for the gate.
“Be safe. No matter where you are, in our hearts you’ll always be part of our village.”
“Thanks. How can we repay you for this?”
Grandma comes to us to say goodbye.
“As you’ve heard I got a revelation. When you cross the mountains, you will eventually meet Bunnyflies. Befriend them! They’ll help you. You might also meet another Ailuranthrope with Bunnyflies. He will take you in for a bit. Stay out of sight otherwise! That’s all I can give you.
May you walk in the protection of Clayah. Aiden, Ethan, be strong.”
She gives us several bunches of Barrot greens. Ethan put them into his Greater Item Storage.
“Thank you, grandma.”
We leave the village and make our way south through the forest. Nobody ever comes here so there’s no real path. Just walking here in the area is draining. Neither my little brother nor I say a single word. We just continue walking silently for bells.
Suddenly, Ethan tugs at my sleeve. He points in the direction of a lawn. There are flying bunnies! So those are Bunnyflies! Bunnies with antlers and the wings of butterflies. Just as grandma predicted we will meet. I nod. Ethan takes out some Barrot greens and gives me half of them. We get closer to the bunnies.
The moment they notice us they freeze. We offer them the greens in our hands. After a moment of wariness, they come closer and start eating the greens. As they finish eating Ethan hands me another bunch.
The Bunnyfly that’s closest to me looks at me. Its wings are a bright red. Just as a…
“Ruby…” I mutter to myself without thinking. I can hear Ethan muttering something at the same time.
«Ruby… I like name, black master gave me.»
«White master gave me the name Emerald.»
I look at Ethan. He shakes his head.
“Ruby, Emerald? Are those your voices?”
«Yes, we can talk like this.»
“Ruby, Emerald, we want to go south. Across the mountains. Can you show us the way?”
They circle around each other for a bit before answering. «Yes, follow us.»
The Bunnyflies lead our way. After following them for hours they lead us into a cave. There are no signs of people here.
«Waiting here for friend.»
Since we don’t know how it takes we set up camp in the cave. We eat the rations from Ethan’s Greater Item Storage. They taste terrible.
“I miss them already, big brother,” Ethan says.
“As do I, little bro,” I answer, “as do I.”
After finishing our meal we feed the two Bunnyflies. Suddenly, the far back wall of the cave collapses. Is someone there? I can see an Ailuranthrope boy. He’s a few years older than us, just as grandma predicted, he has Bunnyflies with him. We sigh in relief.
“So you are the ones?” he looks at us, “ailuranthropes with Bunnyflies. Yes, you’re the ones. Good evening! My name is Swift, Swift Mittens.”
“I’m Aiden Reed, this is my little twin brother Ethan Reed,” I introduce the two of us.
“You’re taking this better than I expected,” Swift says.
“Our grandma had a revelation, she said an Ailuranthrope with Bunnyflies would take us in for a while.”
“She must have quite the gift. Not many people receive such precise directions. But that makes it easier. Pack up and follow me!”
We pack up and move into the tunnel Swift dug. As we move, he reseals the path we’ve taken.
“Are you afraid?” he asks.
“No, I just wonder why you seal the path.”
“The forest we’ll be entering is known to be disorienting. It’s just for the protection of other people.”
Disorienting? So we could get lost? We need to stay with that guy!
“Don’t worry, in the off case we get separated, your Bunnyflies can guide you through the forest. But do tell me if you get tired. We can rest a bit.”
“I’m fine,” Ethan answers.
“I’m fine as well,” I say.
We walk for bells until we finally exit the cave. He leads us through the forest to another cliff. There’s a cave hidden by plants.
“Welcome to my humble abode,” he says.
On the inside of the cave, there’s a very spacious home. He shows to a room.
“Let’s have you sleep in the guest room for now. We’ll discuss the future tomorrow. You must be tired after a whole day of travelling. By the way, the bathroom is over there. Don’t mind the Slimes. They’re harmless.”
He leaves for his room.
“He’s a friendly guy,” Ethan says, “he quite similar to you, in many ways.”
“You think so? I wonder what we should do… He’s a complete stranger. I don’t want to impose…” I answer, “but then I can’t help to think of him as an older brother.”
“I think, I’ll call him Big Bro Swift.”
We take a hot bath before getting to bed. I don’t know how it works, but at this point, I don’t care anymore. We’re safe now. Far from home, but safe.