Though he was well rested now, there were still two things he really... really longed to have. The first was water. Fresh, clean water which would quench his thirst. The second thing, he just couldn't stop thinking of as his stomach growled. Felix looked up at him, seemingly interested, confused or maybe that was... amusement? “What?” Raithe asked her.

She twitched her ears and looked away.

“Hey... don't ignore me,” he said, sounding insulted.

“It's good that you can joke around like that,” Sosuke said. “But come on, you probably know better than either of us, how dire it is that we find your... friend before he reaches that door.” there was a hint of disdain in his voice as he said that.

“He's not my friend,” Raithe said, climbing up the last step. His stomach growled again and he groaned.

Luna stared at him for a moment. There was the hint of a smile on her face and it was almost like she was trying to hold in laughter. After a moment, it became too much and she just... let it all out. “You... you're stomach is so... loud.” her stomach growled then.

Raithe smirked. “Looks like you're not immune to that either, little lady.”

She seemed to take offense to that and kicked him in the shin.

It didn't hurt, but he hopped on one foot anyway, pretending that it did.

“Am I the only one with any sense here?” Sosuke asked. He reached a hand up, to scratch his head. The man's hair was a dark red, not exactly crimson though. More like the color of a ruby. “Oh what I wouldn't give for a proper shower.”

“Thought you said you had more sense than us,” Raithe said, still smirking.

“Hah! You're probably right, food would be best,” Sosuke said and began leading them up yet another flight of stairs. “Like... steak. I'd love to have me some mouth watering steak, right about now. What about you?” he turned to Luna.

She thought about it for a moment. Luna seemed to be intentionally making them wait as they continued to climb. Finally she said enthusiastically, “Blood pudding!”

Raithe stopped on the step below her and scrunched up his nose in disgust at even the thought of having something like that. “Blo... blood pudding?” he squeaked. “I mean... I was expecting you to say something like... chocolate chip pancakes with... whipped cream... but...”

She shrugged. “I like weird things.” and she proceeded to climb.

Weird was right...

“What about you Raithe?” Sosuke asked.

He thought about it for a moment, taking his answer into consideration. “A big, fat, juicy lobster,” he said. “Either that or... Tuna.”

“You... really are like a cat,” Sosuke said with a chuckle.

They reached the top of the stairs and were now in a long hallway. To their left were several different rooms, but Sosuke walked right by them and proceeded to the other end. A door was there as well, but he paused with his hand on the door handle.

“Open it?” Raithe asked.

“Heh... just wait till you see this!” Sosuke said excitedly. “These people seemed to have a thing about trees.” he pushed the door open.

His eyes went wide as he couldn't pull his eyes away from what was growing in the center of the room. First of all, the room was big. Enormous even. Like the size of a banquet hall, belonging to an extremely wealthy family. Standing tall in the center, was an enormous tree. He thought it could have been a willow tree because of how some of the branches hung and the many, tiny leaves which made up its canopy. It had a trunk wide enough to be only a few feet from the wall in all directions and it was high. Through the roof high and Raithe could see a hole cut out around it, allowing it to keep growing.

“How... high does it go?” he asked. It was impossible to tell from where they were currently located.

Luna spread out her arms in a wide circle. “Aaall the way to the top!” she said.

“But we're not going to the top yet,” Sosuke said. “Remember how I said I would show you where we obtained our gear?”

Raithe nodded.

“We're going there.”

“Would... Felix even be able to climb that?” he asked, more to himself than to Sosuke.

“Don't see why not,” he said. “She's a cat, ain't she?”

“It's a bit more complicated than that...”

“She can,” Luna said and then ran over to a wooden path which had been build into the side of the tree. “This will lead up to the first, big stable branches. After we get there, she can use the branches as stairs. She'll be fine, you'll see.”

“Alright, let's go then,” Raithe said and gestured toward the path.

Luna went up first of course, then Felix, Raithe was next and Sosuke took up the rear. Their journey from the floor to where that first, thick branch was, took them approximately five minutes... Raithe counted. Which meant that the tree really was huge, how long would it take them to reach the top?

Raithe went to reach for a branch and pull himself up, when something occurred to him. He had feline capabilities. Up until this point he had been moving from one disaster to the next, so it was understandable that trying out his abilities hadn't crossed his mind. But now? He smiled, took a couple steps back and secretly laughed at the confusion on Sosuke's face. Then he bent his knees and lept.

He hadn't needed to take a run at the branch. His leap came as natural as breathing and took him perhaps, a little bit too high. When Raithe landed, he nearly fell and if it wasn't for Luna reaching out and grabbing him, he probably would have.

“Thanks,” he said when he had regained his balance.

“Mhmm,” Luna replied. “You should be careful with that. Until you learn how to use it properly.”

Sosuke laughed. “Yeah...” he said. “You should know!”

She glared at him.

So as it went, they climbed from one branch to another, always keeping a nice, steady pace. When finally they reached the floor above, Luna and Felix hopped over. Raithe came next, followed by Sosuke.

Though the tree continued up, this was the floor Sosuke had mentioned, where he could find extra equipment. Raithe looked around and saw several rooms, each spaced about the same distance apart. “So... where now?” he asked.

“This way,” Sosuke said and let him through one of the doors. This one, unlike the others, was made of iron. “Had a helluva time getting it open, but here.” he made a gesture in.

The first thought that went through his mind, was that it must have been an armory of some sort. There were shelves upon shelves and more shelves which all held weapons. Raithe was sure he could find anything from a tonfa to a crossbow with a plethora of different bolts to go with it. He was more interested with the weapons on one of the far walls though. They were in a stand, swords, axes, spears and quarter staffs.

Raithe walked over and picked a spear out of one of the racks. He held it in his hand, twirled it around in a fancy maneuver and felt its weight. “This should do,” he said when he was finished.

“Okay,” Sosuke said. “Next room.”

They walked out and Sosuke took them through a long, narrow corridor. Eventually they turned into what appeared to be some kind of storage for clothing. He entered, walking around and looking at all the unique sets of cloth and leather armor, clothes to wear under them as well. The piece that really caught his eye, was a long, black coat. It appeared leathery, but a single touch told him otherwise. Its fabric was soft to the touch. Raithe took it and slipped it on.

“Over here,” Luna said and gestured toward a few shoe stands.

He took a pair of black hiking boots and slipped them on, over his soar, scratched and bruised feet. Raithe winced as his cuts stung, but the pain wasn't serious. It felt more like that moment when a mosquito stings. “Done,” he said, standing up. “Let's go find him.” he furrowed his brow, determination written all over his face.


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About the author


Bio: An amateur writer who hopes to entertain you all, with my wondrous works of fantasy!

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