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Book1, Volume 5

Chapter 40

Michael soon found himself standing in front of the musical Makai Forest with his hands on his shapely hips and head slightly bowed taking deep calming breaths. Eyes glowing, he searched for dangers hidden amongst the whimsical trees and foliage before him.

Memories of last night's dream or rather nightmare were already breaking down into small shards and fading away from his mind. The songs of birds played as new memories (or were they old memories?) of his first day in Abrynth sprouted; Memories of his adventures in the Desparu Swamp Forest, of the very rewarding quests, and of his fight and flight from the Briar Bloodrose Witch came flooding back.

Hmm, now that I'm Furbee free, it's a good time to find a safe place and do the things that still need doing.

Seeing no danger nearby, Michael stepped into the forest. His small feet felt the cool soft grasses against his skin as he made his way around fragrant flowers and leafy berry and nut shrubs that were growing between the various trees.

Some of the trees had furry bark with big zebra-striped banana leaves the colors of ripe mangos. Some arched over like candy canes and were topped with leopard-spotted fan-shaped leaves of various tropical shades. And some were like Japanese Maple trees with thick velvety trunks, long snaking branches and colorful hand-sized leaves of greens, russets, and crimsons.

“It's really strange and beautiful here like walking into the pages of a tropical island wonderland book. And this medley of scents... fruity, nutty and flowery,” Michael inhaled deeply. “So rich and inviting. And just look at the fruits and nuts... Ah, I need to pick some to use my Healing Nectar spell on so I'll be ready for what trouble may come this time... but first I need a spot to sit and go over my stats and... that's right, the reward I got from the quest. Hope it's something good.”

Michael soon found a perfect spot; An old tree surrounded by some leafy berry and nut shrubs on three sides and whose furry scaled trunk bent horizontally for a bit before swirling up into the air like an eastern serpentine dragon flying into the sky provided a great spot to sit on.

Hopping up onto the makeshift tree chair Michael made himself comfy and looked up, spotting the darkening sky between the leafy branches. “Wow, it's already twilight... I way overslept. I can't remember the last time I've slept so long... what a way to waste the day away.”

[ It couldn't be helped Wylla. You had an extremely eventful first day and night here in Abrynth. You didn't even get to sleep until after the witching hour, just mere hours before sunrise so it's not surprising in the least that you overslept. Your body and mind really needed the rest and recovery. And now you can face what's to come with a fresh body and mind. :) ]

“I guess you're right Anari... if tonight is anything like last night, I'll definitely need to be on the top of my game,” Michael said, rubbing his hands together as he got his thoughts in order. “Now let's see, I'd like to start with my status. First, let's use the Mind stat points from the Oryn fruit. I'd like to increase the damage of my spells and I think my regen is in a good place right now so I'd like to put 4... no, make that 6 points into intellect, 2 points into wisdom, and the remaining 2 into focus.”

[ Are you sure Wylla? Y/N ]

“Yes please.”

[ Changes confirmed and implemented. ]

“Thanks, Anari. Now for the 6 points that I have leftover from Tiering up from 1 to 3... I really wanted to put some points into Faith and Will, since I think my Aura is fine, but after last night... It seems all my most powerful attacks are melee ones even though I'm built for spellcasting... if only my SnapDragon Kick and Royal Spider Lotus bite could also be range spells.” Michael clenched his hand into a fist and then sighed as he unclenched his fist.

“So be it, since this is how it is I'd like to put 2 points into Strength, Athletics, and Constitution Anari.”

[ Are you sure Wylla? Y/N ]

“Yes.”

[ Changes confirmed and implemented. ]

“Thanks, Anari. Well, that takes care of that task, now onto the next one. Anari, could you bring out the unopened reward I received for completing last night's Set My Peopl...err... Spriggankin Free! Quest?”

[ Will do Wylla. ]

A blueish holographic light flashed in front of Michael's eyes, momentarily blinding him as he felt something soft land on his laps. Grasping the item with both hands, his eyes cleared and he saw that he was holding a football-sized golden sack.

He shifted the sack around, finding the opening, and stuck his hand inside pulling out a soft pair of evergreen mocassins with bloodrose designs as the golden sack dematerialized. He held them up to his eyes, a small groan escaping his pouty lips, “Ugh... Why? Why did it have to be Charisma... why not intellect... or any other stat... would have been so much better... stupid RNG.”

[ Bloodrose Mocassins are soft sturdy footwear made of plants that not only increases the wearer's beauty but also increases their plant-based spell damage. +3 to Charisma, +2 to Plant-based Spell Damage. ]

“No choice but to take the good with the bad.” Michael dusted off his feet, slipped on his moccasins, and then hopped off his tree chair landing on the soft grassy ground by the berry shrub.

[ Oh my, those look lovely on you Wylla! Wink I think your Livestream Diva aura has gone up! ]

“Umm... thanks, Anari,” Michael said. Then a certain memory from last night's dream came slamming back into him, causing him to hide his reddening face behind his long soft purplish hair. “Ah! Anari, about the Livestream videos... did they see me... when I was running around... without any clothes? And did they hear me... when I was talking about me changing into... into...” Michael said, nervously gesturing up and down at his body with shaking hands; Hoping that no one did... especially not his friends.

[ No need to worry Wylla. Since you're a minor, your channel is automatically edited to be family-friendly. What the viewers saw was the cute and adorable you in a beige oversized sleeveless tunic with a rope belt tied around your slim waist. As for all spoken information regarding your Earthly identity, that was muted by me so you have nothing to worry about. ]

“Thank you Anari! I feel much better now.” Michael said, taking a moment to pull himself together. Michael looked up into the sky again, noticing that night was nearly upon him. “Guess I took longer than I thought. Well then, time to get moving... next up, picking some fruits to make some Healing Nectar.”

Michael spent a short amount of time wandering, picking pink Yubi berries from the shrubs and a couple of pear-shaped, orange and lime-colored Pyngos from low hanging tree branches. Satisfied with his small harvest, Michael sat down on the soft grass and laid the fruit out on the ground in front of him.

“Okay, first up let's try these sweet-scented Yubi berries.” Michael scooped up about a half dozen of the little pink berries, released the Oryn energy in his Trinity cores focusing on his cupped hands, and whispered, “Healing Nectar.”

A Golden-green blanket of light surrounded his hands as the pink berries he was cupping seemed to melt into a jelly-like substance that merged and moved about growing, reshaping, and then becoming firm.

The light then faded away and sitting in the palms of his cupped hands was a golden-pink round plum-sized cup with no handles. The top of the fruit cup was covered by thin semi-translucent fruit skin like wax paper.

Michael brought the Healing Nectar fruit up to his small button nose, sniffed, and smiled. “Mmm, smells like cherry jam on buttery toast.”

Using his finger, he poked a hole in the thin-skinned top as a burst of fragrance made his mouth water. Lightly tilting the Healing Nectar fruit, he looked inside at the creamy pink liquid within. No longer able to resist, he lifted the fruit cup and drank the creamy goodness within as warm tingling sensations spread throughout his body.

Having finished all the yummy liquid within, he then bit into the fruit cup, finding it just as tasty as the creamy drink it once held, so he ate the whole thing. “So good, and my body feels all warm and tingly. Next time that Witch won't be the only one with healing potions.”

Michael spent the next 10 minutes or so making 5 more Healing Nectar fruits but since he could only fit 3 of them into his belly pouch, he happily drank and ate the other two. As for the Pyngos, it took one hand-sized Pyngo to make one orange and lime-colored Healing Nectar fruit which tasted of sweet honeydew melon.

“Alright, all set, time to explore and see what else I can gather.” Michael then switched on his Orchid Butterfly form and Oryn Spirin Eyes and headed deeper into this beautiful forest.

He had been traveling for about an hour, using his camouflage to hide from various small to medium-sized wildlife which were mostly of the cat, monkey, and feathery variety; All of which were cute, colorful, and fluffy especially the furry and feathery lynx-like Qwillyngs.

Ah, there's just so many cute and fluffy beasties in this starter area. I would love to take them home! With such cuties, I could open a fluffy petting zoo so everyone could enjoy their fluffy goodness... It would make a perfect addition to our family businesses. I'm sure they would bring even more people to our Garden Lunchbox Shop.

Lost in fluffy thoughts, Michael continued filling his now bulging belly pouch until he couldn't fit anything more. That's when he heard the playful sounds of music over the sounds of singing birds and chirping bugs.

Tilting his head, he honed in on the direction the music was coming from. Shifting into camouflage mode, he wended his way through a maze of leafy shrubs, vibrant flowers, and assorted trees guided by the music.

So this is where they came from? Michael thought as he watched while hidden in the dark behind an oversized Yubi shrub just outside the festive sight.

He now knew the Makai Forest was home to a large wonderous assortment of Spriggankin which were dancing and prancing around a large bonfire before him. His eyes glowed and his lips curled up as he studied them; From the short playful Lemkeys to the odd long flora coat wearing emo Kiirs to flamboyant feathery Felunes to the musical Lyrens to the spiky-haired Spilks to the caw cawing Talrics to big shaggy lumbering Ogens to small fluffy winged Ferrewls to the bandit eyed 'ottercoon' Osils and such.

Some spriggankin had long shaggy spiln fur, some short and velvety and the rest a mix in-between. Many grew various flora and/or branch-like horns atop their heads, as well as tails popping out here and there. And all were adorned with their own special flora or wooden mask or a mix of the two.

Michael stayed hidden, watching as they danced and swayed around the big bonfire near the center of their lovely forest village as the festive music of wooden flutes, trunk-like drums, and some sort of stringed instrument filled the air along with dozens of tiny winged orbs of colorful glowing lights (which Michael's Oryn Spirin Eyes identified as Faewisps).

Michael's hands lightly tapped on his thigh to the beat of the joyful music as his body swayed to and fro, lightly shaking the Yubi shrub. His face glowed and his full lips curled up as the music entered his heart. “If only I could paint... I would capture this night on canvas... and call such a painting The Spriggankin Night Parade.”

Michael's eye wandered about the garden forest grove taking it all in, from the vibrant colorful flora to the pleasant inviting scents; It was a perfect blend of garden and forest with the spriggankin living harmoniously within.

And their homes... their homes were as wonderful as they were whimsical; grown right out of trees.

The treehouses, for that's what they quite literally were, came in different heights, width, and types of trees depending on the Spriggankins living within with some doors being bigger and more oddly shaped compared to others. The exterior came in a variety of earth tone colors and was made of various types of bark skin from smooth to rough to scaled and other such patterns.

The windows around the homes were also varied in size, shapes, and colors. They were adorned with wooden shutters and flowerboxes and seemed to be made of hardened sap giving them a translucent oil painting look. The rooftops were covered in giant leaves, some of which were zebra-striped or leopard-spotted or some other colorful pattern and shape depending on the tree.

Michael was completely captivated by the charm and scents of the Tree Houses. “I wish I could grow such beautiful homes like these... maybe someday...”

“Granted.” A very soft feminine voice whispered from the other side of the bonfire, lost in the music of the night parade.

Michael was so captivated by the scene before him that he nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a small soft fluffy hand gently take hold of his hand and tug, bringing him out of his hiding place and pulling him towards the light of the bonfire. Looking down he saw a child-like rabbit masked Kiir girl leading him... she looked quite familiar.

Michael was surprised by the little Kiir girl's smile since she was wearing an off white colored wooden bunny mask. But as if by magic the mask did smile as the Kiir girl with big doe eyes continued guiding him forward to join the festival. How did she... I think it's a she? Anyways how did she find me?

Soon Michael found another cute spriggankin holding his other hand; This one an autumn-hued Ferrewl with a large lumbering fluffy bear masked Ogen with long fennec fox ears following closely from behind. The 3 spriggankin escorted her around to the other side of the bonfire and up to a large tree... that seemed to have a shrine facing them.

It was then that Michael realized that these three spriggankin were the very same ones he set free from the Briar Bloodrose Witch's cage. I'm glad to see they made it home Michael thought with a smile.

Other spriggankin soon took note of the cute and wonderfully scented stranger in their midst. Some began to dance round Michael, others draped handcrafted necklaces around his neck, while some offered him food and drink. All happily welcomed this little stranger that smelled of gardens and forests into their midst as they lifted their hands to the shrine in a prayer of thanks to the Goddess of the Forests and Plants.

Standing within the center of the floral shrine was a beautiful wooden sculpture of a robed woman surrounded by luminescent flowers and plants. The ornately robed woman seemed to glow even brighter as Michael stood swaying in time with the music nearby as the night parade marched on.

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A note from Storymask

Looks like Michael is enjoying his time with his newfound Spriggankin friends... but there's someone very close by that would love to have a word or two with him. Coming Up Next Chapter 41: With Love from Above

Side Note: The imagery of the Spriggankin Night Parade was inspired by the children's story "Where the Wild Things Are" with a dash of Alice in Wonderland. Also, with he holidays coming this Thursday I may end up pushing the next chapter's release back depending on how hectic things get here.


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