"So, Tal'hat'mata, mmm, that name's a mouthful for a non-native speaker like myself, can I just call you Tal?" Lone asked the Elven beauty as his group followed her through the luxurious city that expanded through the world tree's branches.
Sophie suddenly tugged at Lone's sleeve and looked up at his face. Her eyes scared the powerful Foxkin. 'No. Nicknames,' she demanded icily via telepathy.
"Ah, er, scratch that. I guess I'll just call you Tal'hat'mata, hahaha," Lone laughed with worry and fear clear in his voice.
Tal'hat'mata had no idea how to react, so she simply remained silent. Lone looked back at Sophie and saw that she was back to being all smiles and roses while she was rubbing his fluffy tails against her face.
'Sorry about that, Soph. I was being lazy. There will still be sex later, right? It's not off limits is it?' Lone asked with desperation clear in his tone. Being a healthy young man madly in love with someone made certain kinds of affections necessary in day-to-day life, and Lone was no exception to this rule of life.
'... Only if you let me play with Rachel as much as I like for a whole week,' Sophie asked with a cheerful and clearly harmless voice. Lone, however, knew that Rachel wouldn't enjoy a single second of Sophie's 'playing'.
Lone immediately nodded his head to Sophie's request so she happily squeezed his tails and grinned. 'Thank you for your valiant sacrifice, Rachel. I won't forget it.'
For some reason, Rachel felt a chill go up her spine and a very ominous feeling took a hold of her heart. 'Ever since I met Lone and his friends, nothing's gone right for me, has it?' The three-feet tall eight-tailed Foxkin cried in her thoughts.
"Sir Soul Oracle?" Tal'hat'mata asked. Lone had called out to her only to have a conversation with himself and forget about his original question, so naturally, the Elven beauty was confused.
"Call me Lone. Anyway, I was going to ask, besides defending the tree from invaders, what does being a world tree keeper mean? Are there perks? Are there different levels to it? What are our responsibilities?" Lone asked in rapid succession.
"You'll learn all of that during the orientation if you pass the tests. Your group are not the only new outsider world tree keepers. Thanks to the state of the world tree, a great campaign has been waged to recruit more talented keepers. In fact, before the world tree was attacked by the Darkness Dragon, we only gained a new outsider keeper every sixty years or so," Tal'hat'mata explained.
"I see," Lone replied. 'That makes sense I suppose. I wonder why they need more keepers though? Maybe they're looking for someone that can reverse the corruption of the tree? Speaking of which, I wonder if I can do that? I'll have to try later. A group of extremely powerful people like these keepers owing me a huge debt doesn't sound half bad,' Lone thought with greed.
After walking for roughly thirty minutes through the city atop the tree, Tal'hat'mata and Lone's group reached a large open courtyard and they were now stood in front of a decorative wooden manor of some sort. Were Lone to guess, he'd say that it could house at least one-hundred people.
Tal'hat'mata walked up to a small bell that was attached to the side of the building and rung it lightly. A few seconds passed before a small and fat Fairy popped out of the ground. "Hrmmm... What is it?" the Fairy mumbled with a sleepy voice.
Tal'hat'mata looked at this fat Fairy wearing a dress and sighed. "Letty, this is the last group of new keepers," she then looked at Lone and said, "This is Letty. The housekeeper and trainer for fresh keepers. She usually doesn't need to do anything, but since our recent recruitment campaign, she's a bit grumpy from all of the work. Be nice to her and do as she says."
"Sure," Lone replied as he held his chin and looked at the tiny woman that was floating a few feet away from him and trying her best to not fall asleep. 'I feel like she and Kyuubi would be great friends.'
"I'll be returning to my duties soon. Expect a letter to arrive in a few days from Al'ka," Tal'hat'mata stated before she turned and started to walk away.
"He won't come and talk to us himself?" Eolande asked with a mischevious look on her face as she sat on Kyuubi's back.
Tal'hat'mata scoffed. "Of course not. Her Highness's royal knight doesn't have the time to deliver information himself, especially since they've returned home. I expect Lord Al'ka to be swamped with paperwork right about now."
"Heh, so even Elves have to deal with that kind of stuff? I'm glad I have Husband to take care of all of our group's official business," Eolande giggled lightly.
"Is what you just said the truth?" a very muscular and bearded High Elf who looked like he was in his mid-thirties asked from atop his throne of thorns towards the kneeling Elven youth that Lone would recognise as 'Her Highness'.
She raised her head and looked at the man that was rugged in appearance and a pained look flashed across her face as she gazed at the man's heavily scarred face and right arm. "Yes, Honoured Father. The nine-tailed Foxkin that I brought back, Lone Immortus, was somehow able to cure two Foxkin of Ythmagobla's curse."
"Hrmm," the Elven king held his chin and a ponderous look crossed his face. "You also mentioned that he was a soul oracle?"
"Yes, Honoured Father," Her Highness replied promptly.
"I see. Very well. I shall bring up your suggestion of keeping him with his... Interesting companions to the council. You know better than anyone that I can't make such decisions by myself. I'll have to meet this Foxkin when I have time after the tests," the king's face crumpled slightly before he added, "It's truly a shame that he chose an inopportune time to enter my vision."
"Many thanks, Honoured Father." With that farewell, Her Highness left the wooden throneroom of thorns and weaved her way through the palace that sat on the northern side of the tree top to an office.
"Al'ka, are you busy?" she asked somewhat timidly while opened the door only slightly.
What could be seen through the crack was a pair of hands that were moving so fast you could mistake them for deadly weapons. They were sorting through a stack of papers and Al'ka was wearing a pair of reading glasses that contained his rapidly moving eyes.
"Yes, Your Highness, I am. Being away from your duties for two full years has let a lot of issues build up. However, I'm more than open to the idea of you helping me deal with this?" Al'ka asked with a slightly sadistic smile and a clearly bitter tone in his voice.
"S-Sorry to disturb you!" Her Highness quickly closed the door and lent against it.
While she was very softly spoken and regal at most times, she was no more than a young Elven Princess. Lone hadn't inspected her after the look she had given him on Captain Sabrina's ship, but if he had, he would have seen that she was only eighteen years old. It was also a loosely kept secret that she was just as shy as Sophie was around strangers except she was far more adept at hiding it.
"Al'ka... I wonder if you'll ever stop treating me like the princess you need to protect and instead look at me like a woman...?" Her Highness quietly mumbled.
A few moments passed before she sighed and buried her feelings deep inside of her heart once again. "Your Highness? So this is where you were," a new and familiar voice called out to her as she leant against the door to Al'ka's office.
Stood a few feet to her left, was an elderly looking High Elf in a maid uniform. "His Majesty has ordered me to prepare you. In anticipation of your return, several suiters from our sister world Trees have come to see you in hopes of winning your favour, Sir Falin included. We haven't much time, so come along. I need to get you out of those rags and into more fitting clothing."
"... Yes, Head Maid Bel'lok," Her Highness replied with a smile that had many emotions sealed within it.
Support "Lone: The Wanderer"
- The Scottish Slothy Sloth
Bio: Hey there, nice to see you. I'm just an ordinary man who enjoys writing, which is great since it's my full-time job now thanks to the support from you guys over on Patreon! I hope you enjoy my novels if you read them, and if not, I hope you enjoy looking at my profile.