The party set out early in the morning and headed at a quick pace towards their destination. Velvet lay back in his wagon with his dogs pulling while Twila and Axra took point.
“If we keep up this pace we should reach Choltin tomorrow afternoon,” Axra said. “We should be cautious until we get there, though. Sometimes bandits lurk around these roads where they’re just far enough from Nervius that the kings won’t put an end to them.”
“You seem familiar with this area,” Twila noted. “Are you from around here?”
“Kind of,” Axra answered.
Lilly hung back, occasionally stopping to pat one of Velvet’s dogs.
“Why so happy?” Velvet asked. “Did you find something tasty?”
“No,” Lilly said. “It’s just… well… Axra called me a friend.”
“And that’s exciting?” Velvet asked.
“Oh… very much so,” Lilly said. “It… made me really happy.”
“I don’t get it,” Velvet said. “You wanted to be more than friends with her, right?”
“Oh… that’s… I…” Lilly stuttered. “Yes, I… do.”
“So, what’s so great about just being her friend?”
“Well… It’s a step forward,” Lilly muttered. “You know?”
“Not really,” Velvet muttered.
“What are you guys whispering about back there?” Twila asked.
“N… Nothing, really,” Lilly said. She moved forward to join Axra and Twila.
They continued down the path. There were no signs of other travelers until it was nearly evening.
“I hear something,” Axra said. “It sounds like a fight.”
“Bandits going after a traveler, perhaps,” Twila theorised.
“Sh… should we help?” Lilly asked.
“Let’s not,” Velvet said. “It sounds like a pain.” He looked around at their faces. “What? It’s not like we’re involved or anything.”
“We’re going to get involved,” Axra said. “Come on, let’s go.”
“Fine,” Velvet said. “I’m getting up.”
The four headed towards the sounds of battle. Axra had Todberührung drawn. Lilly had an arrow notched and Twila was preemptively starting to cast a spell. They found two armoured people on the ground, one human one elven. Four more were pursuing a cloaked figure. The figure nimbly avoided their blades and counter-attacked with a chakram. The largest of their pursuers blocked the strike and tossed the cloaked figure aside, chakram falling to the ground. Her cloak came open, giving Axra a good view of her. She looked to be in her late teens or early twenties. She had very light green hair and golden coloured eyes. She was kind of short, only around 160 centimetres tall.
“Gotcha now, you damned hybrid!” he cried.
“You have a problem with hybrids?” Axra asked, loudly.
The four turned. “More of them?”
“Take em down, hard! I’ll finish this one.”
“Fireball!” Twila cried. The soldier approaching the half elf girl was incinerated.
Lilly brought down one of the approaching men with an arrow through his neck. Axra stopped a second, slicing his gut open. Velvet grabbed the third’s sword out of mid-air and just punched him in the face. Several of his teeth went flying and he collapsed heavily onto the ground.
“Are you okay?” Twila asked, offering a hand up to the young lady, who eagerly took it and held on, even after being helped up.
“Milady,” She said. “Never did I think to find such a fair rescuer. Tell me, do you know the origin of love?”
“The story about how people used to be combined, but were separated by Zeus, right?” Twila asked.
“And such a knowledgeable Lady!” the half elf said. “The very one. Ahh, to find the second half of my soul in a place like this!” She looked Twila directly in the eyes. “This is truly fate, Milady. Please, tell me your name O perfect specimen of femininity!”
“My name is Twila Magia,” Twila said. “And you are?”
“Truly yours is a voice through which the Muses share the sweetest of music.” She kissed Twila’s hand. “I am called Lysara Hart. I was on my way to Nervius when those hooligans attacked me.”
Axra positioned herself between Lysara and Twila. “So, what were you going to Nervius for, anyway?”
“For my art,” Lysara said. “But who are you? Could it be that my soul was rend in three pieces?”
“This is my companion, Axra,” Twila introduced. “This is my dragon, Fang and these are Lilly Valvye and Velvet Parse.”
“Y… you dropped these,” Lilly said, offering Lysara her fallen chakram and a small bag.
“Thank you very much, Lilly,” Lysara said. She took the bag first, opening it hurriedly. “Thank the Gods, it’s not damaged.” She pulled out a lyre. “Lovely Twila, let me serenade you!”
“We don’t have time,” Axra interrupted. “We have to be going if we’re going to reach Choltin by tomorrow afternoon.”
“Choltin?” Lysara asked. “We’re headed the same way, then.” She clasped Twila’s hands again. “It’s definitely fate! Please, allow me to accompany you.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to leave you on your own,” Twila said.
“Yay!” Lysara cried, she hugged Twila, much to Axra’s annoyance.
Lilly looked away from their new companion to her attackers. They had a strange emblem on their armour. A shield with the letters “HL” fused together inside it.