”You there, stop where you are!” A voice called from a dark treetop.
”Ah, so I was being followed after all.” Gill said, abiding by the instructions from the hidden source of the voice.
Some time after entering Dark Elf lands, Gill had found himself surrounded by them. He certainly wasn’t looking to get into a fight, but knew the Dark Elves were quick to judge outsiders, and quietly prepared a spell just in case. Nothing offensive of course, a defensive counterspell to give him some time to explain should they choose to put blade before words. However...
“That’s far enough.”
Gill felt the cold steel of a knife snake its way around his throat from behind. He had failed to watch his flank, a Dark Elf had gotten behind him. Gill raised his hands. A patrol like this wasn’t going to listen to his pleas when he was at their complete mercy. At least it’d be quick end.
”What are you planning to do with me?” Gill asked after noticing the hesitation in the blade on his neck.
”The same we do with all trespassers..or so I’d like to say. It’s been a few months, Gill.”
“Frayla? Please don’t make a habit of greeting me this way.”
”Haha, my apologies. When my scouts reported you were in our lands, I couldn’t resist teasing you a bit.”
Though lacking any sort of official government, Frayla had risen to be the defacto leader of the Dark Elves after their exile. Though she looked no older than Gill, her elvish heritage concealed the truth of her being Gill’s senior by a good many years.
”Where are you headed that is needed an unapproved visit to our home? If I hadn’t been here there would have been no guarantee to your safety. The Sasarian Pandas came ahead of you a short while before, though only their king ventured any further.”
”Interesting. I suppose that’s fortunate.”
”You haven’t made an enemy of the Pandas now, have you?” Frayla smirked.
”Not exactly. It seems we may be chasing the same thing.”
”Haha, a very Gill-like reason. So? What brings you here?”
”Chasing the rumors of the Dark Castle. I’m sure you’ve heard them.”
”Indeed I have.” Frayla pondered the thought for a moment. Gill considered for a moment that Frayla may be concealing something from him. From where he’d been caught the rumors put the Dark Castle only a day’s march away. If anyone was to know anything more of the rumor, it’d be the Dark Elves.
”Did something happen?” Gill asked vaguely, hoping to hit the mark and get an answer.
”Heh, hoping to get something out of me? There’s no need to hide it, several of my scouts have gone missing around the rumored area as well. I’ve ordered my troops not to go near where the castle supposedly appears. Gill, you should give up on this. Castle or not, something out there is clearly dangerous.”
”I’ve got to see this through to the end, that’s how I am.” Gill reasoned.
”Overindulgence in curiosity will be your undoing.” Frayla warned.
”But without it, we’d never learn anything, Frayla. If your scouts are still alive, I promise I’ll bring them back.” Gill suspected the scouts and the others might have been left alive, perhaps some of them had been set free with some kind of partial memory wipe. It would certainly explain how the rumor had spread so far so quickly. Was this an attempt to get someone’s attention perhaps?
”Haha, well foolish or not, I am grateful for your kindness. There aren’t many who’d be so kind to Dark Elves.” Frayla’s expression softened.
”I’m only kind to beautiful girls.” Gill smirked.
”I think I dislike your cockiness more than your curiosity.” Frayla rolled her eyes.
”At any rate, am I allowed to pass?”
”Yes. I’ll have my guards Hilda and Saffina show you as far as they can.” At Frayla’s signal, two Dark Elf women emerged from the shadows. The two did not seem particularly pleased about Gill freely conversing with their leader.
”Are you sure they’ll guide me? They look more ready to kill me.”
”We don’t kill unreasonably, but they’re somewhat shorter on patience than I am. Do try to suppress your personality so as not to antagonize them.”
”I’ll do my best, as long as they show me the way. Thanks, Frayla.”
”Think nothing of it.”
Saffina and Hilda stuck close to Gill, very close. So much so that an outside party looking on them might think Gill their prisoner. Rather than guide him properly they instead seemed to simply correct him whenever they judged his path to be wrong.
”Not that way, go right.” Saffina had said.
”Wrong, go left.” Hilda corrected Gill later on.
Things continued on like this for some time, to Gill’s growing annoyance. However, as their journey went on, Gill sensed the presence of an usual amplification kind of spell, highly advanced. He was unsure of Saffina or Hilda had noticed, but they certainly showed no expression to suggest they had. Suddenly a small shining object came speeding towards the three, bursting in a radiant shower of light. It was the Panda King, Gill surmised.
”You two, hide.” Gill instructed. The two Dark Elves did not budge, unwilling to heed a human’s orders.
”Ahh jeeze, you two are so annoying!” Gill grabbed Hilda and Saffina and constructed a defensive magical barrier around the three of them, hoping to ward off the gem shower attack. Though the Panda King’s attack was indeed powerful, Gills skill with Spirit Magic proved effective at halting the ambush. While he had kept Hilda and Saffina safe, they seemed more upset that he had grabbed them.
”Wh-What do you think you’re doing!” The two women said in near unison.
”Look, you two have done well enough to guide me this far. Go back and rejoin Frayla. I’ll handle this. Don’t get caught up in my trouble.” Gill urged the two Dark Elves back the way the three of them had come, and turned to face where the gem attack had come from.