Chapter 60. The Ambush In The Forest.
The rest of the group were taking their time to come back where to the campsite.
- That was scary, wasn’t it? - commented Sebastian.
- I never expected a Silver Star to be this powerful. - said Horrace.
- You were a Silver Rank yourself not long ago Horrace. You should be grateful for the reminder. - added Roland. - As painful as it may be right now.
- Ghm... I probably should. But I wonder... - Horrace thought.
- About what? - Sebastian was curious.
- He... TC didn’t want to fight me himself. His companion’s magic was more than I could handle of course, but... - Horrace wondered.
- Honestly, I don’t think you’d have a chance against TC. - said Roland. - During the Five Star Tournament he held his ground against Angel herself.
- Really? - Horrace thought for a moment, then started to laugh. - Ha... Hahaha.
- Huh? What’s so funny? - asked Roland.
- I thought I was looking down on him, but all this time I was simply making a fool of myself. - he said.
- Hah. You sure did. - said Roland.
- Hahaha. - others laughed as well.
- But still. TC is such a mysterious man. Also his companion, Eve, he summoned her as a One Star. - added Roland.
- What? But she’s a four star! - Horrace’s jaw dropped. - How is that possible?
- I wish I knew myself. - then Roland grinned slightly. - How about you ask him yourself?
- Maybe not today... - he scratched his head.
- Hahaha. - Roland laughed.
Food tastes better after a good fight. And it certainly did. I wasn’t the one who fought, but it didn’t matter. I was happy as long as I was on the winning team.
I noticed everyone was much more polite, especially to Eve. After seeing what she can do, anyone would be careful with their words.
Eve, on the other hand, was being herself like nothing happened. She was chatty and in a good mood.
- That was some incredible magic you used. - Meera was still in awe after seeing Eve’s magic.
- Thank you. It’s all thanks to TC. - Eve smiled.
- Where did you learn it? - asked Narima.
- The Living Thorns spell? At the elven village. That’s where TC confessed he loves me. - Eve was beaming.
- Aaaah, so sweet. - the girls exclaimed.
- The elven village? Interesting. Is there some secret magic at the elven village you visited? - Sebastian was as sweet as honey.
- I don’t know. - Eve wondered.
Sebastian’s words made me wonder. He was extremely friendly, especially when somebody spoke about elves. And he always tried to ask seemingly ‘innocent’ questions, but I started to suspect they weren’t simply to satisfy his curiosity.
However, even if Eve was being Eve, she wasn’t stupid. I did explain to her before hand and she knew not to disclose too much information about the elves. Eve spent enough time with Luna, who probably told her horror stories while she was under the Forced Pact. No persuading will make Eve betray Luna or her village.
When the food was gone, we cleaned up after ourselves and were ready to keep going. Next stop will be right before sunset. We will have to set up a camp for the night. The plan was to reach the forest, which we will have to cross in order to reach the Frozen Mountains. And according to our information, it was full of doggons.
Sun was setting behind the trees when we reached the forest. Going through the forest at night was a big no. We had to set up a camp and rest until morning. All of us split the work to start the fire, cook food, take care of the horses and so on. I took Eve with me and we went into the forest to look around, as well as to gather some wood.
With the evening approaching the forest was getting quiet. I wanted to scout the area to see if it’s safe to sleep outside.
- Oh look! Raspberries! - Eve exclaimed.
- Nice. Must be a rich forest. Doesn’t seem like it is visited a lot. - I said.
While Eve was picking raspberries I was checking the surroundings. There were lots of animal footprints all over the place. One of them raised a concern, since I’ve already seen it before.
So the villagers were right. This can be troublesome. I need to report it to the others.
It was getting dark. I picked up some wood for the fire and we went back to the camp. Eve almost didn’t want to go saying there were still lots of raspberries left.
- Found anything? - Roland asked me.
- Yeah. I have some good news and some bad news. - I said.
- What are the good news? - he asked.
For whatever reason people always ask for the good news first. I wonder why?
- Eve found lots of raspberries. - I smiled.
- Haha. - Roland, and the rest who heard that, laughed out loud. - That’s a good find. What are the bad news? There won’t be enough for all of us?
- Nah, I found doggon footprints. - I said.
This time nobody laughed.
- We should’ve expected as much. But for doggons to come out so close to the edge of the forest. - Roland wondered.
- I’m sure we’ll be fine. I can keep watch first. - I said.
- Ok then. I’ll go second. - offered Roland.
- Fine, I’ll be the third one. - said Horrace.
- How about I will change Horrace and Kalim can be the last one? - suggested Sebastian.
- Humph. - nodded Kalim.
- Ok, that’s settled then. Lets eat and have some good rest while we can. It will become harder from now on. - said Roland.
With the preparations done, our food was ready soon after. The pot was empty fast and the sun set bellow horizon soon after. Everyone, except me and Eve, lied down to get some sleep.
- You better go to sleep and get some rest. - I told her.
- Yes, but I want to stay up with you a little longer. - Eve smiled.
She was charming as always. And I didn’t mind some company. But Eve was tired and, as much as she tried to by awake, her body thought otherwise. In no time my cute little forest nymph started to snooze. I helped her to lie down, since we were sitting on our sleeping mat anyway. Her sweet, happy smile showed Eve was dreaming about something pleasant.
The night fell with a clear, starry sky. It was peaceful and quiet. I walked back and forth to the edge of the forest to look around once in a while. There was no sign of doggons, nor did I sense anything close by.
The time passed and I woke Roland up to take over for me. I boiled some water to make some tea beforehand.
- Here. - I offered a cup of hot tea to him.
- Thanks. - he took it. - Anything?
- Nope. And I don’t think we’ll be attacked tonight. - I said.
- How come? - asked Roland.
- Even if they are monsters, they aren’t completely stupid. If anything, they might scout us from afar. - I told him.
- Maybe you are right. It’s better to be careful though. - said Roland.
- I agree. - I was about to go lie down next to Eve.
- Listen TC... - said Roland.
- Yes? - I turned around.
- Horrace is not really a bad person. - he said. - His Rank might’ve gotten the best of him, but I’ve known him for a while and I can say Horrace is a capable adventurer.
- Ah that. Nothing new. He’s not the first, nor the last, who had a big head. I’ve met a few guys during a certain tournament that were just like him. - I smirked.
- Haha. Yes, I remember them too. - Roland quietly laughed.
- In any case, I don’t care what others think about me too much. Especially the overconfident, arrogant fools. People get a big head just because they are slightly better off than somebody else. Kinda sad really. - I commented.
- Seems you had your fair share of experience yourself. - said Roland.
- I am in no position to judge others. I’m far from being an angel myself. - I smirked.
- And yet your words sound wise. - he added.
- Just don’t tell anyone. People might start to think I’m actually smart. - I smiled.
- Haha. Don’t worry friend. Your secret is safe with me. - Roland said somewhat jokingly.
- Goodnight. - I lied down.
- Goodnight. - he said.
I fell asleep fast. And just as I thought, doggons didn’t show up during the night. I woke up due to someone walking past my sleeping spot. It was Narima, who was taking some tea to Kalim. The fire was burning and was probably kept on all night, since we had someone keeping watch all the time.
- Good morning. - I greeted them quietly.
Kalim nodded and Narima smiled. She came over and poured some tea for me as well.
- Thank you. - I smiled.
Others, including Eve, were still asleep. I went over to Kalim and sat down next to him. Sun was coming up with a promise of another fine day.
- Been quiet? - I asked while tasting my tea.
- Hmm... - Kalim nodded.
I just sat there enjoying the peace and quiet of the beautiful morning. From Kalim’s face expression and demeanour one could tell he has seen his fair share of adventures. Seemed composed and calm.
After a short while of a quiet morning, the others started to wake up and our camp became lively.
- Good morning. - people greeted each other.
- Good morning. Yaaawn... - Eve was still wrapped in a blanket.
- Good morning beautiful. Slept well? - I brought her some tea.
- Yeah... - she blushed.
- What’s with the cheeky smile? - I was curious.
- Hihi. - Eve giggled, biting her bottom lip.
Yep, I know that baby face. Had a dream about the ‘butterflies’ again? Aren’t you an angel?
I stared at her for a moment. And she didn’t avert her gaze away from me as well. Suddenly Roland’s loud voice interrupted our little daydreaming.
- Good morning everyone! - he almost shouted. - Let’s eat, pack up and move out.
Unfortunately, I had to put my fantasies on hold for later. Our plan for today was to pass the forest and reach the bottom of the Frozen Mountains by the evening. But nobody knew how big the forest was or how long it will take us to cross it.
After the breakfast we packed everything, put down the fire and were on the road again. It wasn’t much of a road though. The path was overgrown with grass and bushes and didn’t look like it was used for a while.
None the less, we had to get through it. People were in high spirits hoping we might get past it without any incidents. That was a naive hope, but naive hope is better than no hope. We were quite deep into the forest when the horses became restless.
- Whoaa! - Horrace tried to calm them down.
- What’s going on? - asked Roland.
- I don’t know. Horses are afraid to go forward. - he said.
- Go slowly. We’ll be on the lookout. - Roland jumped out of the carriage.
- Lets go Eve. - I followed him.
With people walking next to them, the horses seemed to calm down a little. Slowly we were making our way forward.
- Huh? Stop. - I gestured.
Everyone stopped and listened.
- I can’t hear anything. It’s all quiet. - commented Horrace.
- Yeah, too quiet. And we are in the middle of the forest. - said Roland.
After that, he motioned to the others to be prepared for a fight. All of us readied our weapons and were alert.
- Where are they coming from? - asked Roland.
Nobody had to answer his question, because the growling noises were closing in from all directions.
- Grrraah! - in an instant doggons leaped at us from all directions.
- Defend yourselves! - Roland charged forward.
- ‘Slash! Swing! Swoosh! Strike!’ - the battle broke out.
- Thorns! - Eve cast her spell and caught a doggon in an instant.
- Haa! Shield Bash! - Meera stood her ground.
- ‘Swoosh! Swoosh!’ - Rlani was releasing arrow after arrow.
Kalim and Narima were fending doggons off from one side, while Horrace, Sebastian and Inri were fighting on the other side.
- Grrrrr! - more doggons showed up.
- So many! - Inri exclaimed.
- Double Swing! - Horrace wasn’t holding back.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - Rlani’s arrow hit another doggon.
- Thorns! - Eve was fighting at the front with me and Roland.
- ‘Slash! Thrust!’ - I took down two doggons that jumped at me.
Doggons weren’t particularly very strong, but they lacked in power they made up with speed and numbers instead. And soon we weren’t able to fend all of them in time.
- Neeeigh! - on of the horses in the back carriage was attacked by doggons.
- Damn! They’re behind us! - shouted Roland.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - Rlani shot one of the doggons down.
Two more doggons jumped on the same horse and started to bite and stab it.
- ‘Slash!’ - Kalim took one down.
The other one was quick enough to jump away. Horrace and Inri ran to help defend the horses as well.
- ‘Slash!’ - We need to help them! - Roland wanted to go back as well.
- If we leave here, doggons will jump on the front horses as well. Haa! - ‘Swing!’ - I cut another one down.
- Thorns! - Eve was successfully catching doggon after doggon with her spell.
- Haa! - ‘Slash!’ - Roland turned around with a swing.
- Neeeigh! - the other horse in the back carriage panicked and tried to run away.
But since it was harnessed to the carriage, it couldn’t get away. Another doggon jumped in front of it, which completely spooked it. The horse stood up on the back legs trying to kick the doggon with it’s front legs. When it landed back on the ground on all fours, the horse pulled itself with extra force and pulled the carriage forward.
- Watch out! - Sebastian jumped away not get run over.
The other horse tried to follow, but because it was injured, it tripped and fell down. The carriage lost balance and fell over on the side with a crash. The harness snapped and the first horse broke free. It sprinted into the forest to run away from doggons. A bunch of them chased after it.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - Rlani’s arrow hit another doggon.
- Haa! - ‘Bam!’ - Meera smashed one in front of her.
- ‘Swing!’ - What? - Horrace swung at yet another one, but it turned around and ran off just in time.
- Are they retreating? - Meera still had her shield up.
The rest of the doggons stopped attacking us and ran away as well.
- It would seem so. - but Roland didn’t let his guard down either. - Is everyone ok?
- Not really... - Horrace said after a moment of silence.
Everyone was still alert, but no doggons were seen in sight.
- It seems they are gone. - I didn’t sense any more of them close by.
We went back to check what happened. Meera and Eve stayed at the front just in case. The sight put a sad face on all of us. One of the horses ran away, while the other one was lying on the ground badly injured. Not to mention the carriage with the supplies was lying sideways on the ground.
- Sigh... - Roland sighed.
- This could be a little problematic. - commented Sebastian.
- Bloody doggons! - cursed Horrace.
- No time to waste. They might come back. We need to move. - said Roland.
- Yeah, but what about our supplies? - asked Sebastian.
- We take what we can. We need to get out of this forest fast. - Roland rushed us.
Obviously we couldn’t squeeze everything in a single carriage with all of us sitting in it as well.
- Take the minimum we need. We will have to find some food on the way. But we also need warm clothes in the mountains. - Roland tried to organize the work.
I took what food I could put in my Magic Bag. It will be safe and ready to eat as long as it stayed inside. I made sure to take warm clothes for myself and Eve as well, even if I had to carry them myself. There was no point going up the mountains and freezing to death. Unfortunately, we had to leave almost half of our supplies behind, but it couldn’t be helped.
- Let’s move out. - said Roland.
- I’ll take care of the horse. - Horrace picked up his axe.
- Ok. - Roland motioned to go slow.
Horrace caught up with us in just a moment. It was sad, but it would’ve been cruel to leave an injured horse be. Doggons would certainly come back for it. Everyone was a little flustered, but we had no time to mourn or be sorry.