Chapter II: The Oak Forest V

Chapter II: The Oak Forest

“ Repose “

Her eyes were as wide as they could possibly when the historian Rina saw the stream which led to a small, clear pond. It was like a gem in the middle of the forest, and she quickly scribbled down its location on her own map. Errol did not seem pleased by this, but his face was as pleasant as ever.

“ Be careful. Don’t tell everyone about this, “ he reminded the girl, “ Humans tend to… pollute things. “

Steel took a roundish object from his bag; it was a beautiful crystal jar that, strangely enough, was still half full though he had been drinking from it all day long. He knelt beside the pond and filled the jar with the thirst-quenching liquid.

“ Just take some water and let’s camp out in a nearby clearing, “ Thyme commanded.

Hunter and Steel complied, but Rina was hesitant.

“ Ehhhh~? “ the pretty historian whined, “ But but… water! “

“ If we stay here, little miss, “ Steel explained, “ Other creatures might get attracted by the presence of both water and food. “

Enlightened, Rina filled her water containers and ran to Thyme’s side. Hunter had already gone ahead and cleared an area beside a dead oak tree. He carefully checked the ground for stray acorns, and surrounding tree trunks for hidden danger. Steel arrived shortly at the clearing and the farmer quickly started a bonfire.

“ You’re used to this, huh? “ the young tamer asked just as he finished his perimeter check.

“ So many moments with sunlight, and without it, “ the farmer grunted as he sat down.

Once the couple Thyme and Rina arrived, Steel showed them how to open the fuzzyworm egg. He used a shortened, sharpened porcupig quill to cut off a part of the thick eggshell. Porcupigs were reputed to be the only creatures that could penetrate the armor of any known creature, and their quills were usually used for tools and weapon. Once the quill opened the eggshells, the soup within was revealed. Steel and Hunter quickly dug in, but the guard was hesitant. He took out a makeshift spoon made of bone and took a sip of the completely white, fuzzyworm baby soup.

“ It’s… “ Thyme then made a very rare happy face, “ – it’s delicious! “

Rina began to eat her fuzzyworm soup when her fiancé confirmed that it was safe and palatable. Tired from traveling, the couple almost finished off the contents of their eggs, but Steel stopped them.

“ If you leave about a quarter of it, “ the farmer explained, “ It’ll grow back. “

The guard thought that Steel was joking, but he wasn’t. According to both Hunter and the experienced farmer, the contents of fuzzyworm eggs would evaporate if cooked, but would regrow if eaten little by little. That ability seemed to be connected to the presence of non-hallucinogenic young mold, the fuzzy brown patches, on the eggs. Even the eggshells seemed to ‘heal’ if one replaced the removed part. Rina excitedly wrote that information down, intent on covering every aspect of their journey.

“ You really know a lot about plants and animals, “ Thyme said to his male companions, “ But still, didn’t we need a gardener? I mean, with that sunflower earlier… and that dangerous tardigrade, what’ll we do if- “

The guard was interrupted by Hunter.

“ Where’s Errol? “ the young tamer worriedly looked around, stood up and headed for the direction of the pond, “ I’ll look for him. Stay here.“

“ Come back before we lose sunlight, “ Steel reminded the young man.

Beyond the branches of the oak trees, the brightness of the sky was slowly fading to make way for a moment without sunlight.


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