After travelling for a few hours we came across a small village in a forest. I had never been to these parts of the country. It was peaceful, almost too peaceful.
We wandered deeper into the village and came across a few closed down houses on the outskirts, the deeper we went the more urban it became, however, despite that overgrowth ran wild.
"Do you know this place?"
"Nope, I don't think many people pass through the forest, to begin with." One of the refugees replied
We kept walking deeper into the forgotten village. The sun was beginning to hide over the horizon. There aren't any other places we could go to find shelter in, we might as well stay here.
"Let's try to find the centre of the village and stay there for the night. Since this place is abandoned the chances of anyone coming here are low."
Everyone had seemed to agree and we proceeded to head deeper. After a short exploration, we managed to find the village centre, surrounded by homes that looked like they were fighting time.
We put out the tents and made a fireplace. I took some time to explore the surrounding areas to make sure that there weren't any other campers near us. Most of the area seemed pretty clear other than a few animals hanging around.
Since I was already out here I quickly set a few traps using my magic to signal me in case something comes by. Using my magic I set up a few shadow traps by the trees. It should be useful to cause enough of a commotion for me to at least hear it. Since I want to protect these guys I will have to head back to camp and get some rest before the sunsets. Night watch will be tiresome but I will be at an easy advantage with my ability to use shadow magic.
"I will be going to get some rest before I stay up on night watch. If something happens, wake me up. I put around a few quick traps in the area, if anything goes into them they will be slowed down for a bit, should be enough time to come get me."
"Oh that's great, we gladly appreciate that." The leader of the refugee group replied
Rest well!" Some replied, others nodded and carried on chattering away around the fire.
I got inside my tent and went to sleep on my bedroll.
I got woken up by something.
There's something on my back.
It felt nice.
I turned around to see who it was but there was no one there.
Despite no one being in the tent I still felt something touching my back.
I stood up and wobbled.
A snake fell out from under my shirt.
I froze for a second.
We stared at each other and didn't make a single move.
The snake didn't seem to intend to go anywhere.
I started to take a few steps back. The snake began coming closer. As it tried to jump me I quickly grabbed it by its head and crushed it. It doesn't look like a venomous snake so It wouldn't have been an issue either way, but I'd rather not embarrass myself by getting a snake bite. I threw the remainder of the body into a bush and walked out of my tent. It was late dawn, the sun had almost finished setting and the moon was already in the sky.
As I was getting out of the tent, one of the refugees noticed me.
"Oh you're up already, we are just finishing off our meal, care to join us while there's still some food left?"
"With pleasure, what's on the menu?"
"Nothing special, just a vegetable stew."
"Sounds good, I'll be there in a moment."
He walked away. The people are nice, maybe too nice. That might be part of the reason we got invaded so easily. We the Elven people are peaceful, we don't like to result in violence, which does make us an easy target. When the first troops rushed through our borders we tried to send gifts to them to get them to leave, as foolish as it sounds it worked for a day. Then they came back, probably with new orders. Orders to kill. Gifts weren't going to work this time, and soon enough they swept in.
I walked to the campfire where everyone else was. I took a seat on one of the logs lying around the fire and one of the refugees handed me a bowl of the stew. Everyone looked happy, chatting around and enjoying themselves. Seeing all these refugees like that made me smile.
I feel like I managed to achieve at least something. I managed to help give someone a little happiness. However, this is far from enough. There are more important things I need to get done before I will be satisfied.
When I finished eating I put away the bowl and went to check the traps I had set out around the camp. Most have been intact, a few caught some squirrels. I set them free and replaced the trap.
Since the traps were intact, all there was to do was to find some high place so that I could get a better view around us. Since this area was mostly flat, my options were fairly limited. I had to choose the tallest tree nearby, although that was hard as well.
The moon was already halfway to ending the night and there has been no trouble as of yet. Great news for me and the refugees.
I climbed up a tree and sat on a branch. The forest was peaceful, just like the Elven people. However, humans are soon to destroy it. They destroy everything as long as they benefit from it. They can't resist violence. It's embedded into them. Humanity is evil, however, not all humans are evil.
I can't say that I'm any better. Murder is evil, no matter what the reason. Despite that, I still take lives, lives of those who want to cause more harm to others, the lesser evil or maybe it's because I enjoy inflicting pain and suffering to humans.
I started to drift off into my thoughts, forgetting what I was supposed to be doing. I jumped around through the trees, scouting out the area. All of it seemed pretty safe, only creatures here seemed to be forest animals.
Sun was rising over the horizon, luckily no one had been looking for us yet. We might have a few more days before someone realises that the 3 guys are dead or they already realise. Two possibilities for what they decided to do. Either they don't care about us and are going to sort out everything with the employer, or they are gathering people for a manhunt. Considering my body isn't there they can either assume I got kidnapped or ran away. I highly doubt they would think I switched sides.
I got back to the camp and made sure everyone was awake. I took a moment to help pack everything up before we decided on the directions we will be taking.
"I think the best option would be to leave the forest and head towards the river, we will be able to collect some fresh water there and we can follow the river down to the sea." Proposed one of the refugees.
"Despite getting freshwater being important, it's far too risky to go into the open like that. The areas around the rivers are empty grasslands. We'd be far too open, we would get identified too easily. The best option would be to avoid that." I explained.
"How about we head towards the mountains, the forest road would be too dangerous for us to go through, no one travels on through the mountains and we would get to the sea far quicker." Proposed another refugee.
"Yeah", "Sounds great", "Fantastic Idea"
Multiple of the refugees agreed, however, there were many flaws in the plan.
"That won't work. We have to go through the forest."
"Why is that? Everyone thinks it's a good plan, everyone except you." The refugee argued
"Firstly, we would struggle to get all the carriages over the mountains. The mountains aren't small hills. We would need to abandon the carriages and horses to get past the mountain. It would drain energy quicker meaning we would lose more supplies."
"But we would get to the sea far quicker. We don't need the carriages and horses when we reach the sea anyways."
"And what would we do when we get there? No guarantee that there are any ships there. From what I heard, many ports have been destroyed and spare ships burnt down. This was done to prevent the humans from taking over them and chasing after them."
"So why are we going towards a port town? This makes the whole trip pointless."
"Who said we are going there? I never once said ``I'll take you to a port``."
"WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU TAKING US THEN???"
"To a safe place. Crossing the borders isn't going to work down south. The only possible option would be heading North, however, we have no clue what the border situation is over there. So we are going to gather intel on the way there. East is the Human nation, we won't get anywhere going that way. West, well you know yourself, it's a body of sea."
"Right, so basically you have no idea what to do?"
"I have a better idea than you do. You would just walk somewhere because your fantasy mind said it will be quicker."
"Shut up, you're still a filthy traitor."
"Then why did you decide to come with me? I didn't force you to come with me."
"Because my mother has trust in you. I tried talking her out but she wouldn't listen."
"Then go and stay with her. Adult talk isn't for you yet."
"I am an adult, don't treat me as a child."
"Then act like an adult, don't make rash decisions when other people's lives are at risk."
His eyes are filled with rage, and that rage could be used for better things. Since there wasn't anything else to debate about, we finalised the route and everyone began setting up to head onwards into the forest. I had taken a moment to check the route ahead to make sure it's suitable for travelling.
Everyone was ready and began moving. The journey through the deeper parts of the forest begins.