As I expected, I was unable to penetrate the great walls of the Primordial Tower. I stayed nonetheless among the shadow of the mountain to enjoy the peace of it. The wildlife there is quite… different. I have trouble describing it when the magic in the area is so thick to mutate wildlife beyond the norm. Insects with crystal shells, plants that had an electrical current to them, beasts merged with the very rock itself, and so much more. I unfortunately had to leave before I could continue my research. A Yenvark Union advance company moved into the area and out of fear of an opposing nation showing up and causing a raucous of noise, I moved on. I decided to go north into the Union’s territory. A nation open to non-humans living amongst them so freely is not a common trait, so off I went to learn more. It did not take long though for me to realize why a free spirit such as I could never prosper here.
-Baxter Kuluq, Notes of an Explorer
The stream flowed quickly, the water clear and cool to the touch. The occasional small fish spotted for its scales reflecting the rays of sun that broke the forest canopy, darted through the swift current. The soft sound of the running water added to the somber tone of the forest. Animals moved from their slumber at a slow pace trying to shake off the morning’s chill.
A flash of light caught Bryce’s attention. In the shadowy distance of the forest a flickering flourish of lights trailed behind a bird flying between the trees. His attention was affixed to it as it went from branch to branch.
“Lead, when are you going to share with us the next move?”
Bryce shook his head, disturbed from the show of beauty as he turned to Zel who was crouched by the stream’s side busied with filling up a canteen. “Liarie and I are still deciding, for now there’s nothing to say.”
Zel screwed his canteen closed and sat back on the grassy embankment. “Come on, you both are too secretive with these plans of yours. You’ve gotta share something, at least with me!”
“At some point, Zel,” Bryce replied bluntly and looked past Zel to the other three further down the length of the stream gathering their own water and scouting ahead. “Let’s worry about getting back to the others without any confrontations with Luncal.”
“You keep saying things like that, Lead, and we’re sure to have it happen.”
“There’s no need to be superstitious, Zel. If it happens then we simply failed to avoid it.” Bryce moved off the boulder and stepped over the stream towards Zel. “After all, we know Luncal is following us. Now let’s get going, the others are leaving us behind.”
Rocking back then forward, Zel rose to his feet in one smooth motion. “It’s not that I think they’ll show up just cause you said something, but thinking about it seems to make it more likely to happen.”
“That isn’t how it works though,” Bryce replied with a shake of his head.
“I know, I know.” Zel waved his hand. “I’m honestly wasting my breath. Let’s keep going Lead.”
An odd boy. Bryce set off with the stream to his left, heading down the gradual descent towards the other three. Vonna busy with filling her canteen besides Liarie who was doing the same. Further ahead, Murn busied himself with clearing a path through a thick patch of undergrowth.
“How much further until we are out of this place?” Zel asked.
“Our time in this forest draws to a close very soon,” Liarie observed with eyes pointed in the direction that Murn headed. “We should be ready to deal with any conflict that arises upon our exit into the plains beyond.”
“Now you’re saying stuff like that too.” Zel shifted on his feet and crossed his arms.
Liarie looked to Zel with a raised brow, then to Bryce. “What does he mean?”
“He’s just superstitious is all,” Bryce replied and leaned up against a tree to rest. “Hurry up with the water so we can move.”
“Of course.” Liarie replied and began to screw her canteen closed before looking to Zel. “So what does superstitious mean?” Her ears tilted slightly towards him.
“It means that head of his is filled with all kinds of crazy.” Vonna stood and took a drink from her canteen.
“Crazy?” Liarie asked.
“I wouldn’t be talking after some of those comments you made in your sleep last night.” Zel grinned.
“I said nothing!” Vonna pointed a finger at Zel from across the thin stream. “And I know ‘cause I could hardly sleep with you tossing and turning every damn second like a newborn child.”
“I fear my original question wasn’t entirely answered,” Liarie cut in again.
Zel ignored Liarie and replied to Vonna, “It’s hard to sleep when there are roots everywhere. Though I guess you’re used to sleeping on something hard.”
Vonna’s brow furrowed as her empty hand balled up into a fist. “Lead do you mind if I punch Zel?”
“Yes, I do mind.” Bryce sighed and straightened himself. “You two argue enough. I don’t need you two to add physical harm to the list of issues.”
“Thanks, Lead, for telling her no. I wouldn’t want a bloody nose right now,” Zel said.
“I did not ask for any feedback, Zel.” Bryce snapped at Zel before stepping past them to head towards Murn who was waiting. “It was an entertaining discussion, but we need to focus up once more and finish our journey. No telling what danger lies ahead.”
“Jinxing us again,” Zel muttered.
“Jinxing?” Liarie asked.
Bryce stopped and turned to face Zel, “Zel, what did I just say?”
The young man caught the edge to Bryce’s voice and quickly straightened himself with chin raised and shoulders back. “To focus up, Lead!”
“Good, now keep moving.”
Zel quickly marched forward with Liarie trailing behind.