Essairyn’s mouth gaped open a little. This ancient tree was rather…convenient in more than one way. Once they reached the base of it, Akari guided her to a large opening in the back on the right side. The roots made uneven ledges on which to descend into the pit. Various miniature flowers sprung up around the pit floor. Entering the cavern ahead, Essairyn sucked in her breath at the ethereal sight. Irregular swathes of short grass blanketed most of the area not covered by water while the walls were decorated with vines and larger flowers. The pristine water gleamed in various colors, an effect of the brightly colored flowers hanging from the ceiling. The dirt bottom of the spring was as clear as day, and some roots were also sprawled across the cavern floor and water bed.
Gingerly walking over to the edge of the spring, Essairyn scooped up a handful of the clear water. She stared at it hesitantly. Glancing over at Akari, she asked, “Um, is it safe to drink? This is still water after all and usually bacteria…”
The fox chortled. “It’s safe. None of that exists in this world. Most of the processes that microorganisms and insects performed in your world have been replaced by elemental and magical fluctuations and reactions.”
Essairyn jerked her head forward with wide eyes at the fox. “Are you serious—?!” If this meant that nasty mosquitoes, ticks, and god forbid, centipedes, didn’t exist in this world then… She was ecstatic. “Does that mean you can’t get sick either?!” The thought excitedly burst in her mind.
Akari tittered at the girl’s animation. “No, you get sick due to environmental and magical reasons too. If you’re run down or overexert yourself frequently, your body naturally deteriorates.”
“Oh…” The girl’s disappointment was evident, but it did seem too good to be true. She leaned forward and took a sip of the water. It refreshing and curiously tasty. Her eyes glowed as she smacked her lips. She could get used to this.
“By the way, I made my tree house here too.” Essairyn pointed up.
Akari blinked for a second. “You were able to reach that high up?!” She belatedly sputtered in disbelief.
“Hm. I just flew up.”
“…” The fox deadpanned. This girl really was… bizarre. Not even a day had gone by, and she had already created a treehouse, slain a couple demons, and learned how to fly. And that was disregarding the unusual color and quality of her magic. While she had approached the girl with less than proper intentions, Akari was truly intrigued by her.
“Why am I not surprised…”
The girl chuckled at the fox’s reaction. “Let me show you it now.”
They exited the cavern and flew up to the treehouse porch.
“I figured sleeping in the trees would be safer than on the ground. I guessed that there would be more things moving on the ground than in the air seeing as gravity still exists here…”
“Oh yeah,” Akari registered, “apparently your, uh, Earth, has stronger gravity. But how ‘gravity’ works here is a little different. When you walk, it’s not like you bounce or anything. It’s only when you jump that you feel the difference, I suppose.”
“Hmm, that’s interesting,” Essairyn commented, “Anyway, let’s go inside.” She pushed the open door aside for Akari to enter. She had made a latch, but it was only accessible from the inside. Essairyn gave a little tour of the treehouse, and Akari surveyed its contents, noting the neat craftsmanship of the structure and furnishings.
“This is a nice little place you have here,” Akari remarked, “Are you sure today’s your first day in this world? This place looks like it was built by an expert carpenter, and yet you built it all with magic? Just like that piece of cloth over there?” The fox gestured towards the large fabric Essairyn had woven on the way and placed on the bed as a blanket. The girl had learned from the fox that the cotton-like plants she saw earlier weren’t harmful; in fact, they were often used to make clothing.
“Yes,” Essairyn replied enthusiastically, “if I just imagine the procedures, cutting, compressing, etcetera.. I can recreate the actions without the need for machines or tools. Magic is really amazing, isn’t it? You can do so much so easily with it!”
She held up her bag of berries and compressed the juice into the wood cup as demonstration. “Ink,” she stated with a smile.
Akari frowned at the thrilled girl, “Are you kidding me? You’re an anomaly! You already were though when you used elemental magic as a human… And gimme that bag!”
The fox snatched the bag from Essairyn and began eating the crushed berries inside.
“You mean this isn’t normal?” Essairyn curiously asked while the fox ate the berries.
The fox gave a little exasperated sigh before replying, “If that were normal we wouldn’t have wars over magic.”
The girl pondered over this as she leaned against the side of the window frame. She had only seen a small part of Sol’h’meyr, but like any nation, the tranquility found in this forest must be absent in other places. “I suppose magic is a resource like anything else,” she deduced as she watched the fox jump up to the window ledge next to her after finishing the berries.
“Yes, the most valuable considering it can get you basically anything: money, fame, respect and recognition, a home, a living, even life,” Akari elaborated, settling down on her belly.
“Life?” Essairyn softly exclaimed.
“Yes, magic can heal after all. So, it’s basically like saving someone,” Akari clarified and then added with a portentous tone, “And there are more ways to save a life. Hiding their soul, splitting it..”
Essairyn smiled uneasily, making the fox chuckle at her expression.
“Ah, it’s only the gods and elementals that can do that anyway, so don’t worry. Even then it’s extremely hard for them to do unless they’re the elemental creator gods,” Akari reassured.
Essairyn’s expression perked up at the mention of creator gods. Noticing this, Akari continued, “Water, light, earth, fire, and ice. They’re the gods who created this world. And for a long time too, they lived in this world. But after the Great Elemental War, they disappeared and became part of the world themselves. No one’s ever seen or heard them since. Now, people have forgotten how the world used to be…” Akari trailed off.
“How long ago was the war?”
Akari looked at her for a moment before responding, “Thousands of years ago.”
The fox fell silent and looked at the floor. Essairyn tipped her head in concern. “Are you okay?” While she didn’t completely trust the animal, it felt like she had a long history of hardship. After living so many years, Akari probably had seen many things.
The fox jerked her head up at the unexpected question, eyes wide. “Y-yeah. For some reason..I always feel a little sad when I’m on the subject.. It’s nothing, really.” Even though she had tried to forget her past, Akari could never truly give up those memories which were both painful but inextricably beautiful. She missed those quiet days in the tower with her. But she was gone with this world, never to return.
Akari glanced out the window, and Essairyn followed her gaze. The forest had gotten even darker since they arrived and talked.
“You have night here?” Essairyn inquired.
“Yes,” Akari answered, “It’s a little different from your earthly night, but it’s essentially the same. The world gets lighter and darker at periodic times thus creating the days. But our days are the result of magic in the air transitioning from high energy to low energy. When you cast magic, you see it like light. During the day, magic has more energy, so it’s brighter outside. But the amount of magic is still the same, it just flows throughout the world. Creatures with more magical aptitude have a closer connection to the flow of magic and can harness more of its power. It’s as simple as that.”
Essairyn was genuinely amazed. Just like how Earth was the biological world based on elements, Sol’h’meyr was the magical world based on magic. However, Akari hadn’t yet explained the difference between regular magic and elemental magic. Apparently, humans were incapable of elemental magic.
“But is the world created based on elemental magic? If so, then how come humans can’t use it?”
“It’s true that this world was created based on elemental magic. The elemental gods’ essences put together essentially formed this world. But humans like you never originated from our world. But since this is a magical world, your existences have to adhere to our natural laws. So some of you can wield magic, but it’s never the elemental kind.”
Akari paused in her explanation and stared firmly at Essairyn. “Heh. Although, I suppose you broke that law. Are you sure you’re not an elemental?” Akari questioned through squinted eyes and jumped up to sniff Essairyn. “But you really do smell like a human,” the fox ascertained after a whiff.
Essairyn gave a little laugh. “I didn’t know you can, uh, smell human. But yes, I’m very sure. I don’t even know what an elemental is.”
The fox bent her front body in a downwards stretch. “Well,” she began, peering out the window again, “I’ll believe my senses that indicate you’re a human. So, I’d love to tell you more, but do you have more food here or something? I’m still hungry.”
“Pfft,” Essairyn laughed and walked to the door, “Let’s get something.”