'God, everyone is so tense... maybe I should just unsummon Soph? They seem to not mind non-humans like Swind, Breena and myself, but these Deerkin are so on edge around Soph,' Lone thought.
"Em, excuse me?" Lone said to the leader of the Deerkin. The same man whom he was talking to earlier.
"How can I help you, Foxkin?" he replied in a serious tone as he kept his eyes on the forest, not even bothering to look in Lone's direction except for the occasional wary glance at Sophie.
"Please, call me Lone. I can see that your... hunting party?" Lone asked quizzically, trying to pry for snippets of information.
"I'm Pate, and no, we're not a hunting party. We're scouting the borders of our territory and killing Human slavers," Pate, the Deerkin responded as he focused his gaze on Sophie.
Lone frowned slightly. "I see, well, I can see that your scouting party isn't very comfortable with Sophie. I can unsummon her if you'd like? She happens to be a contracted being bound to me. You're being kind enough to escort us through your territory, so if she's making you uncomfortable, the least I can do is unsummon her," Lone offered while he squeezed Sophie's hand reassuringly.
"Interesting... if you could, please. That would help us greatly, Lone," Pate said with an unexpectedly chipper tone. 'I do have to wonder how a Foxkin managed to get such a beautiful Human to become his summon... I never even knew such a thing was possible in the first place. The world is wide and full of the unknown,' the Deerkin contemplated.
Lone nodded and turned to face Sophie whose hand he was holding. "Sorry, Soph, Kyuubi will go with you. I just don't want to start any unnecessary trouble now since I'm a bit vulnerable thanks to 'you know who' and these people seem to hate Humans, so, please?" Lone whispered to Sophie as he bent down slightly to be level with her face. Kyuubi who was at their side nuzzled her head against Sophie's free hand as if to say she agreed.
"I understand," Sophie smiled back before she kissed Lone and said, "Be careful." With that, Lone unsummoned his lover and adoptive daughter.
"Hoh, so the Fox was also a summon? Anyway, I'm surprised that that Human was actually your lover. Just when you think you've seen it all," Pate said almost to himself as he continued walked through the forest carefully.
"I did say she was, and sorry again that she made you guys uncomfortable," Lone said. 'I'm not really that sorry, but it doesn't hurt to be nice to help get what I want. Being honest all the time has worked against my favour one too many times,' he added in thought.
"I'm also sorry for asking you to unsummon her. We hold nothing against her personally, but her kind, Humans, they've done too much to us Deerkin. Thank you for understanding our feelings," Pate said with an affable expression.
"It's fine, I understand how easy it is to see the evil of Humans. Most Humans are very greedy, but then again, so are most races. There's just more Humans out there than every other race, right? So there's more of them to show how greedy they can be," Lone said with a casual shrug. 'I was a bit biased against Humans originally, but, yeah, everyone's an asshole if they try. I'm a shining example, heh,' Lone happily concluded in thought.
Pate looked shocked for a moment as he began thinking over Lone's words. "That... that's somewhat prophetic... indeed... all races are greedy, aren't they? Hahaha, I didn't expect this. You've widened my horizons, Lone. Thank you," Pate expressed with a quiet laugh.
"No problem," Lone replied before he turned a gear on the leg of his glasses, resulting in a second set of lenses popping out of the first set, acting as a magnifying glass. Lone started to inspect the nearby wildlife and flora with his now enhanced vision.
"By the way, Pate, I get that you sympathise with Breena, my Foxkin companion's situation, but I can't help but wonder why you're helping guide us. Surely her background isn't the only reason, right?" Lone asked.
Pate and the other Deerkin were mildly interested by Lone's antics with his glasses, however, Pate composed himself and answered Lone.
"Us Deerkin have a fairly weak voice amongst the Beastman Council, but the Foxkin have always been on good terms with us and we've been trading allies with your race for several centuries now. I'm surprised you don't know this. Were you not a beastkin, especially a Foxkin, we would have probably killed you on sight," Pate said with a slightly surprised tone.
"I'm a wanderer not from any clan," Lone said as he flashed a smile. "Lossa, the Clan Elder of the Crimson Foxkin clan, she found me when I awakened after the first few times... I'm a bit... special? Oh, I was wondering, do you mind if I take some of the plants I see here?" Lone questioned with a somewhat eager expression. His inner knowledge-seeker was screaming out to collect samples!
"A wanderer, huh?" Pate mumbled. "Of course, take what you want. The forest is rife with herbs and various plants of the magical nature. She won't miss a few that an avid researcher takes. I know someone quite similar to yourself, at least in regards to your desire for knowledge," Pate said. "Ah, but we won't be slowing our pace," he added.
"That so? I doubt you know anyone quite like me," Lone said while he began focusing more so on the foliage and less so on the conversation, which Pate quickly noticed so he turned his head away and continued leading his group through the forest.
"Swind, help me gather this stuff, 'kay?" Lone said in a clearly more relaxed tone to the curious Lemurian who was fully enjoying his new surroundings.
"Yes, Mr.Immortus-ss," he replied as his body quickly started moving to pick up whatever looked interesting and handed it to Lone who stored it in a spatial bag. Obviously, he was trying to hide his spatial dimension for now.
One of the female Deerkin who looked quite seasoned, as made obvious by her missing left eye, approached Pate and got close enough to him to whisper. "Captain... do you know what that Lizard person is? I've never seen or heard of a race like it's," she said to Pate with some curiosity, but mostly, her voice was laced with caution.
"Erin? I also haven't seen its race, but it certainly isn't a Human and as you can tell, it's exceedingly weaker than us, even more so than the Foxkin, so there's no need to worry, especially since it's crippled," Pate responded in a hushed voice. 'I really am curious what it is and what gender it might be, but it would be rude of me to selfishly ask it of its origin. Perhaps its race was exterminated by the Humans?' Pate thought to himself.
His ponderings were left unanswered as he led the group of twenty Deerkin, two Foxkin and Swind, through the forest. It took them roughly an hour or so to reach a river, and once they had reached it, they walked upstream for twenty or so minutes and found themselves in an open clearing.
During this short journey, Lone and Eolande had been learning the basic Beastman language from Pate and thanks to their exceedingly high learning capabilities, they had mastered the basics of the language in the short eighty-minutes that they had travelled, astonishing the scouting party.
"Hmm?" Lone mumbled as he saw something unfamiliar enter his vision. Houses. They all looked very natural and were actually more akin to doors attached to mounds of earth, which intrigued Lone.
'How interesting. They live like Hobbits?' he wondered.
"We're nearly there now, please, once we arrive, try to behave yourselves. You seem like good people, but we usually don't help outsiders. Our city is a port one so we have several ships and a convoy meant to trade with the Crimson Foxkin clan that will be leaving in a few days as usual. I'd like to invite you to stay while you wait for it. I'd personally love to hear the stories a wanderer like yourself has to tell," Pate said in a friendly manner.
'City? These few mounds of earth? Do the beastkin have a different idea of the word 'city' then the humans do?' Lone thought.
"Sounds good to us. We'd like to unwind a bit as well, so we'll be more than willing to take advantage of your kindness," Lone smiled in response as he kept his gaze on the distant 'city'.
The residents were gathering at the entrance to welcome the scouting party back and they seemed happy to see Lone and his Demi-Human companions. 'I'm not used to getting treated so nicely... maybe I should create something nice for these guys as a gift... after all, they might end up cutting my journey to the Foxkin Clan short by quite a lot,' Lone thought as he and his friends followed after Pate.
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