"I am sorry, I can't stay the night," Vidian said as they finished dinner, "I would want to stay but there is much more to come, more of my quest, maybe I'll return one day, if I do, I'll remember to come see you, thank you for everything."
"Of course, you saved our girl, I wish you good luck in your quest."
"Thank you for everything," He said as he put on his hat and turned, closing the door behind him.
"Now, the Forest of the Lost, to the, south, I have to take the Path of the Wanderers, seems simple enough," He lifted his head and looked at the sign outside of the city, "Path of the Wanderers, well, time to get going," He put the map in his bag and began walking, he had 2 blessings in his possession, he still needed 9 more, he assumed things would get harder with some of the god that were coming up. He walked next to a darkened field that lined the path, golden wheat grew and was softly blown by the evening wind. His body ached and he knew that he would need rest before anything. Zenith had finished his journey and Diana was on her way to replace him. He looked ahead and noticed a massive forest, with trees of every size, the Forest of the Lost, a large forest that was as large as the Valley of the Earthkin, and only was inhabited by one city, one hidden city that was so unknown the last records of it were hundreds of years back and every day it moved with Naturania's blessing for her children, the Naturas, to protect them, allowing them to use their environment to protect themselves. The Forest of the Lost was impossible to map out, the trees moved and the plants moved nearly every day, as no one noticed them, they weren't trees so to say but some of them were tree golems, a rarity in other regions, golems that protected their home from attackers and creatures that would try to harm the forest. Other creatures inhabited the forest as well, the Dalama were small bipedal creatures that hunted in packs and had four small arms with 2 to 3 razor sharp claws on the end of them. They were only 1 meter to 1.5 meters tall but strength in numbers was how they were so powerful, only being matched by the Galyungu, larger, stronger beasts that preyed on the Dalama and easily could take a pack of 5 alone and they were often in pairs or trios, they stood 3 meters from the floor and ate both plants and smaller creatures.
Night had completely fallen as Vidian walked in the massive maze of trees. He used a flame created on the end of his finger to see through the night. Branches rattled and cries in the distance of beasts fighting added to the eeriness of the forest.
Sharp claws scraped together as a group of creatures spied on Vidian as he walked alone in the forest, he was alone, and not a Galyungu, probably an easy prey for the pack. They trailed him for an hour or so until he arrived in a small clearing, near the center of the forest. He stopped and looked around, he looked at the sky and saw the moon directly above him, was Diana helping him? He turned his head as he heard the bushes rustle.
A Dalama, then 2, then 3, then 4, soon the whole pack of 12 had emerged and circled him. They were short with large claws at the end of their four arms, their teeth shined with the moon and they let out small hissing noises towards Vidian. He lifted his arms and turned off the flame on his finger. As soon as the fire extinguished, they pounced, covering him. He felt their teeth hit his skin but they simply bounced off. Spikes emerged from his arms and grew, impaling each of the Dalama, extending through them then curving back into them several times, making sure they were dead. The tentacle spikes tossed their dead bodies to the side, he looked down and saw that the biting had destroyed his shirt, his hat and his bag, he had no more maps and only his pants as clothes, they had resisted the biting and the clawing. He sighed as the spikes decreased and returned in his arm. He looked down at his amulet and it reminded him of what he was there for. He felt something grab his ankle and lift him clear off of the floor.
"What the fuck is up with this for-est, what?" He looked ahead of him and saw a girl, with extremely long hair. She was looking at him, staring right through him, "Okay, now what did I do?"
"What are you doing here?"
"I am walking through the forest and, as you see, I got attacked by Dalama, and then by you," He looked at what was holding him, her hair, he had wide eyes then looked back at her, her hair had formed into four arms with hands, one was holding him. She was wearing clothes made of vines and leaves and she had no shoes, "Can you let go of me?"
"Wha? What do you mean I lie?"
"Why are you really here? No one comes this far and at this time of the day and is just 'walking in the forest'."
"How would you know if I lie?"
"I can tell."
"Are you Natura by any chance?" She blushed and had wide eyes, "I thought you would hide from humans, not blatantly attack them and then ask them a question, but by your reaction, you're Natura."
"Why are you here?"
"I'll be honest, to go to Concealaria, to see your god, Inventaariy."
"Why?" She said as her grip on his ankle tightened, "Tell me."
"To get his blessing."
"You see my amulet?" She nodded and moved another hand to see it clearly, "Lord Eternum gave it to me, along with a quest, to gather all 11 blessings of his gods on earth, I mean no harm to the Natura and the forest."
"I can't trust you."
"I thought you could tell if I was lying."
"You don't look like it, but it's unbelievable, why you? Why would Eternum ask for a simple, lower life form in humans, why would he?"
"Can you just let go of me?"
"Okay, maybe I can persuade you," He lifted his body towards her hair arm and grabbed it as thorned vines emerged from his arm and wrapped in her hair, she questioned what he was doing, "Hair burns," Shook instantly showed on her face, "Does burning your hair hurt?" She gulped as his other hand made a steel finger and his thumb became flint. He tapped them together and a spark jumped from them, "This might be cruel but I don't care, you wouldn't listen to me."
"If-if y-y-you d-d-do that, your a-arm will burn as-as well."
"You seem unsure now, but unlike you, I have Orn's blessing, the Blessing of Stone, so it wouldn't really do anything to me, it would just hurt you."
"Fine, fine!" She screamed as the sparks approached his thorn arm, "But you are tangled in my hair, I can't really let go of you," He smiled and the thorn vines became regular vines and slid out of her hair. She instantly let go of him as all his vines left her hair, "You never wanted to hurt me, did you?"
"Nope, it was just a little persuasion."
"I am Syl, I am one of the guardians of Concealaria, follow me, I might as well bring you there," She sighed and turned around and began walking with her hair returning to a natural state, four ponytails that were held with vines, "Who are you?"
"I am Vidian, I am from the near the Great Desert."
"Vidian, that is an interesting name, here, climb here and then we will be in the city," She said standing at the foot of one of the massive trees that grew in the forest, "This is a tree golem, so don't harm it, climb gently, you first."
"O-okay, sure, when do I stop?"
"At the fifth large branch, I'll tell you," She said as his arms changed again, "Are you some sort of mage?"
"Nope, this is Eternum's blessing, but with this, I can't use weapons."
"I don't see the point of using weapons when you have enough power to decimate a pack of Dalama with nearly no effort," She said as they began climbing, she used her hair and just natural agility to climb the tree. Vidian climbed ahead of her, and then jumped to the fifth large branch, Syl soon joined him on the branch. He looked ahead of them, a city of branches, leaves and vines sat on the branches of the Tree Golems, his jaw dropped in awe as he laid his eyes on such a hidden society, the Natura were one of the most hidden communities in the world, both in personality and actions. They were the oldest race, being born to test the nature that Naturania had created and had stayed around, but were shy and often times they were rejected by other communities and now lived hidden from the rest of the world. The tree's branch moved down and created a sort of staircase of them.
"Syl! What are you doing?! Why did you bring a human here?!" A woman cried out as she ran towards them, "What are you thinking?!"
"This is Eternum's Trusted."
"E-Eternum's Trust-Trusted? A-are you s-sure?"
"Yes, I am, look at his amulet, and he has Eternum's blessing."
"How do you know?"
"His arms, they can change into anything but he cannot use weapons."
"He could be lying to us, you can't be so sure with these creatures," The woman said, Vidian wondered why Syl gave her words so much importance.
"I saw it myself, he killed a pack of Dalama with his arms changing to kill them," She had leaned forwards and Vidian couldn't hear her, "I thought he was a demon, that the legends speak of, but when I confronted him, he never seemed to want to hurt me, not to harm us, he is here to see Lord Inventaariy."
"Fine, but if he stays, he stays with you, and anything he does is your fault, so think this over carefully," The woman said, "Excuse me for my lack of a welcoming, I am Silvia, the Grand Guardian, you are Vidian, am I correct?"
"Yep, what is wrong with me being here?"
"You aren't Natura, so the people will see you as an enemy, as they saw everything outside of the forest or different from their brothers and sisters, but don't worry, I will tell them of you, but you will stay with Syl, since you are here to see Lord Inventaariy, you probably mean no harm."
"I don't, I would've burned through all of Syl's hair if I did."
"What?! What happened?"
"I immobilized him and he grabbed my hair and created thorny vines and moved them into my hair so that I couldn't escape him and then made sparks in his other hand."
"You can make nature from your own hands?"
"Yeah," He put his hands together and then morphed into vine arms that resembled his own, "You see?"
"Is this Eternum's Blessing?"
"Yep, but, where is Lord Inventaariy's Altar."
"Altar?" She laughed, "He wanderers the city, he is one with our community, him, Lady Parlamentyra, Lord Argumenty and Lord Justicearinaian, but they do live in the highest house of our village, I will bring you there some time, tonight, Syl will house you, then we will see."
"Thank you," He bowed his head and his arms returned to their natural state. Syl rolled her eyes and he followed her down a moving street as the Tree Golems moved during the night, Tree Golems were miles high, and here, the crater form in its body housed an entire village, no wonder they defended the Natura and the forest, they were the forest. She pushed a vine curtain to the side and entered her house. He followed her in. There were only so many communities in the world, Naturas had been so isolated that they only interacted with each other, not with other communities.
"You'll sleep there," She said coldly as a vine hammock formed on the wall, "I am only housing you because Silvia told me too, I would have left you in the street if it were my choice," Her hair poured her a glass of thick, amber liquid. He sat down at the table, in front of her, and looked at her, without saying anything, "Yes?"
"How old are you?"
"You know that it is rude to ask that to a female."
"Sorry, I just asked, you answer if you want to, I am 20," He said as he leaned his arms on the table, "Are Dalama annoying?"
"Yes," She put down her glass, "I can only deal with 4 at once."
"They ruined my clothes and my bag, my maps and everything."
"You don't need paper with writing on them to guide you, use the gods above, and the people at your level."
"How many people live here?"
"Oh, I don't know, 200 homes, that is all I know, I don't know a number, maybe Silvia knows, but I don't care."
"Have you lived here all your life?"
"True, true, are you sure it is fine for me to be here, like I could stay out."
"No, Silvia told me so I do, she is the leader here, under Lord Inventaariy."
"Who is Eternum's Trusted?"
"Oh, the god sent savior of this world."
"I am he?"
"Yes, you go around looking for blessings, you have Eternum's blessing, I don't know what your quest is but I assume it is important."
"Where is this from?"
"Legends that are older than we are, stories Lord Inventaariy told our ancestors."
"Does everyone know this legend?"
"Yes, everyone here, and all Naturas, our ancestors lived together, until there were too many for the Tree Golem and they spread out."
"What are you drinking?"
"So you are drinking the thing that protects you, doesn't that seem a little strange?" Vidian said trying not to laugh as he tilted his head.
"It provides us with everything, in return we guard the forest and care for it."
"Put it that way, it makes sense."
"Do you want some?"
"No, I am fine, I had skins in my bag, but I drank most of them and the fucking Dalama destroyed them."
"I think I am going to sleep now, you should too."
"You are just called Syl?"
"Yes, we have no last name, but our elders tell us that all other races have last name, or 'family' name, you don't, why?"
"Never had a real 'family'."
"Why not?" She said turning her head towards him from her hammock, "What happened to them?"
"They abandoned me, thinking that I would be weak and brittle, the foreseer had told them that I would, they believed her, or at least, that is what she told me before I killed her."
"I was pretty tormented as a kid, I killed my master, that is why I have the scars on my back," He got up and showed his back, "From the end of a steel tipped whip and a steel beating stick."
"You humans are crazy."
"Well, we are," He laughed, "I fucking accepted Eternum's quest, to gather ALL the blessings of his gods and then defeat," He caught his tongue, "And the works so far were hellish, I don't think I would've done this if I wasn't crazy or lost."
"You said defeat?"
"Yeah, wrong word choice."
"Are you lying to me?"
"N-no," She turned on her side and stared at him, the room was dark but he knew that she was staring right through him, "Well, maybe."
"Don't lie to me," Syl said coldly, "Why did you say defeat?"
"Well, the real reason I have for this amulet, the quest for the blessings, is to defeat the Death of the World."
"What? You are lying, again, right?"
"No, this is my real goal, I haven't told many people that, but I fucked up and well, now you know," He sighed and got up from his bed, "I can't sleep, I'll stay awake, sleep if you want."
"Which blessings do you have?"
"I have 2 of them, Lord Orn and Lady Structania, there is an order I need to follow, from Lord Orn to Lord Boros," He sighed, "How old are you?"
"Didn't I tell you?"
"Oh, um, I don't know in human age."
"What do you count them in?"
"Okay, so how old are you?"
"So nearly 30, okay, I am 20, no, 19 winters."
"And you took Eternum's quest? Are you crazy?"
"I am human," The joke made her laugh. He sat down at the table and looked down at his amulet. They were silent for a long time and Vidian just sat back and looked at the ceiling of her home. His body was sore and bruised by the Dalama and the fight with Reignus. He turned his eyes and saw her looking at him, even if the room was dark, she didn't notice it and kept looking at him. It seemed as if it was the first time she had seen a human. He wasn't normal though, he stood out from humans with his amulet and his quest, and most of the Naturas in this Tree Golem had probably never seen a human or another race. He turned his head, as he still looked at Syl, she noticed it and closed her eyes quickly, pretending to sleep. He sighed and shook his head. He walked to his hammock and tried to sleep, and soon fell asleep.
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