“It looks like there was a battle here,” Lilly said. “The Princess left, with someone else.”
“That’s nice,” Velvet said. “She should be safe, at least. So we can stop for rest.”
Lilly looked down at Velvet, reclining in his wagon. “No, because we don’t know who she left with. She could be in great danger. Oh… goodness. We really need to run.”
“That’s such a hassle,” Velvet muttered.
“Why are you even here?” Lilly asked. “Well… what I mean is just… you seem to just, you know, sit back a lot.”
“I have two orders,” Velvet said. “They were…” He stopped in mid-sentence and scratched his chin. “Good thing I wrote them down.” He lazily reached a hand into his pouch and pulled out a crumbled parchment. “Let’s see. Protect the princess and chaperon so there’s no payapaya.”
“Oh… my,” Lilly said.
“What’s payapaya, anyway?” Velvet asked.
“You… you don’t know the term?” Lilly asked.
“I’ve heard it,” Velvet said. “Never bothered learning what it meant. It never seemed important.”
“It’s… well, that is to say… It’s probably not something you’ll have to worry about,” Lily said.
“That’s a relief,” Velvet said. “I was worried that I had too many objectives for a while there.”
“This looks like a good place to stop for the night,” Twila said. “Don’t you agree?”
“Sure,” Axra said. “It’s a perfect spot.”
“Then it’s settled,” Twila said. “Why don’t you gather some firewood and I’ll cast a protective spell around the campsite?”
“No problem,” Axra said. “I’ll be back in less than a minute.”
She headed back the way they’d come. She remembered passing some good logs. It took her fifty eight seconds to grab them and return. Twila was still casting so Axra arranged the wood in a circle and unrolled her bedroll near it.
“That really was fast,” Twila said. “Fang, light it please.” The little dragon flew over the wood and breathed a small stream of fire on the pile, causing it to start burning. Twila reached into her little pouch and pulled out her own bedroll, a book, a rack which she hung her pointed hat and robes on Axra noted that her outfit beneath the robes consisted of a very light shirt and short shorts, some flannel pajamas and a small box. The pouch had to be enchanted. Zero papa had one like it.
Twila started changing into her pajamas, Axra hurriedly looked away. Why was she so nervous? She was a princess, Twila should be the one who was nervous around her. She glanced back at her companion. She had finished changing and had pulled some rations from her pouch.
“I hope you don’t mind boar,” Twila said.
“Not at all,” Axra said. The two ate in silence and Twila went into her bedroll and opened the book. Fang made himself comfortable on top of the roll at her feet.
What was it Zero papa had said? If she meets someone she should knock them out and bring them back? How would she knock Twila out without having to cause severe harm to her dragon and if she did wouldn’t Twila hate her? No, no. Axra shook her head. Zero papa had been joking. What would Axel papa do? Probably wait until Twila mentioned something about traveling together and then say something like “Idiot, it’s not like I want to travel with you or anything. It can’t be helped if we’re going the same way, right?” Bt wouldn’t that lead to a terrible misunderstanding?
Still, Twila was beautiful. Axra found herself staring quietly at her companion’s profile as she read. She had a very pretty face. Her eyes seemed to sparkle. Twila glanced over at her and Axra hurriedly looked away.
“What are you reading?” Axra asked.
“This?” Twila said. “It’s a Novice’s guide to adventuring. I brought it along as a reference. There’s a chapter on traveling with companions that I skipped over the first time, but now that we’re traveling together it seemed prudent to look it over again.” Sh went back to her book for several minutes before closing it. “Well, the first thing is to get to know each other a bit. I guess I’ll begin. My parents are both instructors at the great academy. My father is human, my mother an elf. I have a twin brother, although we don’t really look all that much alike. I’ve been studying magic since I was a little girl, but he wanted to be a warrior. After I got Fang I decided to come check out some of the places my uncle Lulu had told me about. He and aunt Elaine are always wandering off to examine ruins.”
“So, how did you get a dragon for a familiar?” Axra asked. “Don’t most mages just pick something nearby?”
“That’s true,” Twila said. “But I was lucky. My aunts and uncles all brought me different creatures to choose from. Uncle Lulu and Aunt Elaine brought me a wolf cub. Uncle Florence brought me a unicorn. Aunt Reira and Aunt Lexine brought me a griffin. Uncle Jayko brought me a flying squirrel and my uncle Lennard brought me Fang. What about you? What’s your family like?”
“Not nearly as large as yours,” Axra said. “Growing up it was just me and my dads. It was kind of a pain since they always fought over which of them I loved more. Zero papa wanted me to be a mage like him. Axel papa wanted me to become a paladin. I learned to use a sword pretty well, but I was never that interested in magic. Just recently I told them I wanted to come explore the wastes. I thought they would protest, but they allowed it.”
“It sounds like you three are close,” Twila said.
“We are,” Axra said. “I love them dearly. I just wish they wouldn’t worry so much.”
“I know what you mean,” Twila said. “When I decided to come exploring ruins I had to dissuade three of my uncles from coming along.”