The next morning
Reina pulled her 'borrowed' cloak closer to her body in a vain attempt to keep warm. Ever since arriving in this strange world, she'd been almost constantly harassed by the cold wind. Of course, this was made all the worse by the fact that she was naked at the time! That damnable goddess dropped her on an unfamiliar world with little more than the hair on her head and a smile. So, while she did feel guilty for taking the clothes off of a dead elf and essentially becoming a grave robber, at least she was mostly warm and decent now.
She'd been walking almost non-stop since the battle between the serpent and dragon ended. She'd only stopped to rest for an hour before dawn and to wash her face in a shallow river she'd found. Incidentally, that's where she found her 'borrowed' outfit. Consisting of; A green woolen cloak, a brown cloth tunic, matching pants, and a pair of dark leather shoes. They were slightly too large for her petite frame but she tied a knot in the tunic's excess material and wore it like a crop-top. She couldn't do much with the pants or boots, so she had to put up with them being uncomfortable.
The snapping of a twig pulled her out of her thoughts. Her head involuntarily snapped toward the sound and she shifted her weight in such a way as to make fleeing easier.
"Easy, Elf girl." A tall human male stepped out from behind a tree with his hands in the air. "I'm just fleeing the battle. Same as you."
"I don't recall asking what you were doing."
"O...K? Look, I'm not going to hurt you." He stepped closer to her.
Reina's eyes narrowed and her sensitive hearing picked up someone attempting to sneak up behind her.
"No? That must be your friend's job, then."
"Ha! Not bad elf. Not bad at all." Another man stepped out from behind a tree. Where the other man was tall and skinny, this one was the complete opposite. "How'd you know I was there?"
"I heard your fat ass jiggle."
The man scowled and pulled a club out from beneath his gray cloak. "You should watch your mouth, elf girl."
A metallic sound caused Reina's eyes to dart back to the first man. He'd pulled a small dagger from somewhere and was gripping it tightly in his left hand.
"Hmm? I could use that little trinket." Reina's eyes slowly returned to the fat man. "So, I'm guessing that fleeing story was bullshit. Anything else you'd like to tell the class?"
"Oh, no, we are fleeing from those monsters." The fat man admitted. "Our camp was near an elf village when that serpent burst from the ground and attacked the dragon." As he was talking, he and the tall man began to slowly walk towards her.
She began walking backward to keep them at a distance. " So, what, you just get a kick out cornering defenseless girls in the middle of the woods?"
"Of course not." The fat man said with mock sincerity. " However, we recently lost most our... 'shipment', and we need to resupply."
"Oh? What kind of shipment?"
"Why don't you come back to our camp and I'll show you?"
Reina's back bumped into a tree and she internally cursed. "Sorry, but you'll need to buy me dinner before I go home with you."
"Is that a fact?" The tall man whispered as they surrounded her.
"Yep, I'm a classy woman, after all."
"Well, you're certainly a pretty one. I'll give you that." He reached out and ran the back of his hand over her stomach... Which is what Reina was waiting for; Before either man could react. Her left palm shot up and slammed into his nose, while her right shot out and twisted the hand holding the dagger until she heard a painful *crack*. Then, she dove under his arm to avoid the fat man's club.
While the tall man was holding his wrist and screaming in pain. Reina scooped up the fallen dagger and held it out in front of her body.
"I don't want to hurt either of you. However, if you continue to harass me, then I'll show your bodies what kind of week I've been having."
The tall man continued to scream in pain, so he didn't respond to the threat. But the fat one did.
He glanced at the dagger in Reina's hand, then the fat man yelled at the tall man. "Oh, be quiet, you idiot!" The tall man dropped to his knees and began whimpering. He bit his lip until blood could be seen running down his chin, but didn't make another sound.
"You know how to use that blade, elf girl?"
"Only one way to find out."
"S'pose that's true." He snorted. "Tell you what. You give me that dagger and we'll forget this meeting ever happened." He held out his hand. "How about it?"
The fake smile on his face and the anger behind his eyes made Reina want to shiver, but she suppressed it. "Sure, that sounds fine. Where do you want it?"
"In my hand, elf girl."
"Alright, if you say so." She agreed.
He reached out to take it and Reina slammed the blade through the back of his hand, then ripped it out through his fingers. The man began to scream, but she held it up to his throat.
"Make one more sound and I'll give it to you again. Am I clear?"
He swallowed the sudden overflow of saliva in his mouth and shakily nodded.
"Good. Now, here's what's going to happen. I'm going to go about my day and pretend that I found this knife on the ground, and we never had the... pleasure, of meeting. If you follow me or otherwise hamper my ability to do this. I will gladly introduce my 'found' blade to the side of your throat." She pressed the blade into his throat for emphasis. "Understand?"
"Excellent... Now, back the hell up."
Fat man followed her orders and slowly stepped away. The rage in his beady black eyes made a cold chill run down her spine, but she once again suppressed it. She backed away from the two men until she felt it was safe to turn and run into the cover of the forest. But, when she was just three-hundred feet from the two men, she made a sharp right turn and circled around behind them. She made the decision to follow them after the fat man had mentioned a 'shipment'. She hoped she was wrong and they were just creeps. But she somehow doubted she was that lucky...
Later that night
"My luck sucks." Reina sighed as she looked at the stars in the moonless sky. The sound of the two men wailing in pain could be heard from the nearby tent.
Reina had eventually managed to follow them back to their camp after they'd stopped crying long enough to walk. Once there, she saw a seven by eight-foot cage in the back of a wagon. The horse meant to pull said carriage was tied to a post outside the tent. Inside the cage, she saw three men, two women, and a handful of children; All elves, and all of them were wounded in some way. Luckily for her and the elves, the men had only tied the cage shut with a thick piece of rope. Which, while thick enough to keep the elves from easily untying it, held up no better than any other rope under the sharp edge of her new knife.
Once all the elves had left the cage, the largest and most imposing male stepped forward and pointed at the knife.
"May I borrow that?"
"What for? You're free, you can leave."
"These 'men'," He hissed. "Tortured a friend of mine to death, to send a message to the rest of us."
"I'd like to return the favor."
"You know that won't bring your friend back, yes?"
"And you'll do it with or without the knife."
Reina sighed and handed the blade to the elf. "Just... Don't forget to return this to me."
"You have my word."
Or so he'd said. All but one elf walked into the tent, leaving a lone woman to tend to the children... Then the screams began.
Two or three hours passed before the elves exited the tent looking none too happy, but at least they seemed relaxed now.
"Didn't turn out as you expected?"
The 'leader' shook his head and handed the recently cleaned knife to Reina, hilt first, along with the scabbard he'd taken from the tall man.
"No, Halfar was tortured for five hours before he... died, due to his injuries. These 'men' barely lasted an hour, a piece, before they fled this world."
Reina quietly inspected the blade for any specks of blood, then sheathed it inside the scabbard and tied its long leather strap around her waist. When she turned her attention back to the tall elf, she noticed he was holding out his hand.
"My name is Toross; Captain of these men and former member of the Grandveil tribe of Uathea."
Reina cautiously took the elf's hand and shook it. "Reina and I'm just passing through."
Toross' ear twitched at her words, but he said nothing on the subject.
"Would you like to come with us? We are preparing to leave this place and could use another pair of hands."
Reina thought it over for a moment, then nodded her head. "Sure, it beats getting lost in the woods again."
And so, Reina joined her first 'adventurer' party and with their help, she left Uathea for the worlds beyond.