Forest of Fog
Sometime later, they reached the Forest of Fog. At once glance, Lakshman and Ondine knew why it was called like that. The entire forest was covered with a thick veil of fog. Visibility was very low due to how far they can see ahead.
“Wow…” Lakshman and Ondine said in awe as they entered the forest.
Rumble got the reigns of the horses and he made them go slowly. It could get bad if they go quickly and then get into an accident. The forest stretches for kilometres before the next town. If anything happens, they would have to rely on themselves to protect each other.
It was becoming dark, but the risk of attention caused them to not light the carriage lamp. It seemed that it would draw unwanted attention.
“Still, there is a lot of fog, but… why is it so foggy in the first place?” Lakshman asked curiously.
Darian cleared his throat and said “Once upon a time, this place was a beautiful forest.”
“Yes…! Flowers, trees and butterflies!” Rumble said cheerfully.
Darian turned to look at him coldly and said “Rumble… Focus on what you’re doing!”
“Yes, yes,” Rumble said with a shake of the head.
Darian sighed and said “Anyway. Yes. This was a beautiful forest with flowers, trees and animals around the place.”
The next instance, Darian bought his hand forward and knocked on Rumble’s head.
“Oww…! Alright, alright…!” Rumble said unhappily as he rubbed the top of his head to sooth the pain.
“Right. It was a nice place to pass through, but then the Werewolves and Vampires began settling in here. On top of that, there are rumours of ghosts wondering around here,” Darian finished.
“G-G-Ghosts?!” Lakshman said in a stutter because of fright.
Marilia nodded at him in the dark and said “That’s right, Lakshman. Ghosts are spiritual beings without physical matter that often wander the land aimlessly. You would find them in places like these where they can roam around and not get involved with anything.”
“So they are real? They aren’t f-fictional?” Lakshman asked nervously.
Sensing his fright, Ondine bracingly said “Come on, master! Don’t be such a scary cat!”
“Y-Yes, but I’ve never met a ghost before. I’ve just read about them in stories and such back at home. Have you seen one before, Ondine?” he asked her curiously.
“I… I haven’t met one yet, no,” she said and she hung her face in sadness.
Marilia chuckled and said “If you ever meet one, just say ‘Hi’ and walk away. It won’t bother you unless you pay it too much attention.”
“R-R-Right…!” he said hastily.
It looked like Darian, Rumble and Marilia has met ghosts before and it does not seem to bother them. Lakshman began to think that maybe ghosts are not as scary as depicted in stories of fictional novels.
He was going to ask a question when Sevedant suddenly said “Enough. Be quiet.”
“E-Eh? I’m only just—!”
“Shh!” Sevedant said hurriedly.
Everyone fell silent and that was when they heard something. They heard the sound of footsteps, many of them as they moved around nearby. They also heard some voices spoken in a strange language that Lakshman did not understand.
He suddenly widened his eyes in the darkness as he smelled something awful. The next moment, he shut his eyes tightly and bent over reflexively as if he felt something frightening.
Then the sound of the voices suddenly stopped as if they felt something. There was the sound of sniffing as if the group were trying to smell something.
“Not good. Dark Cloak!” Sevedant said quickly.
In an instant, everyone on the carriage felt the air around them change. It felt lighter and sweeter.
Rumble was about to bring the horses to a halt when Sevedant said “Keep going. Leave immediately.”
“W-What did you just do, Sevedant?” Marilia asked.
“Casted Dark Cloak. King ranked Barrier Magic Spell. Hides presence. No sound escape,” Sevedant told them in his usual manner.
“Oh! So it’s a barrier that stops noise, scent and feel to leave so the people, outside the barrier, cannot detect us! Clever!” Marilia said in an impressed voice.
Sevedant nodded his head towards her and then looked at Lakshman in the dark. He was looking at him as if he could see clearly in dark as if it was broad daylight.
“Lakshman. Feeling okay?” he asked Lakshman in a concerned voice.
“Y-Yes, but… what… was that?” Lakshman asked in a shaky voice.
“That… is war. Result of death destruction. Evil intentions. Evil lingers,” Sevedant said heavily.
“So…! That’s what we were feeling, that awful scent of death?” Rumble said as he understood.
“Correct. It seems they fought. Werewolves and Vampires battled. Werewolves won, but not always.”
“Nasty! Anyway, let’s get out of here!” Rumble said and he put the horses to go a little faster.
In half-an-hour, they exited the Forest of Fog and entered a world of sunlight again.
“Good to be back in the living world!” Darian said and he stretched his arms and legs.
“Darian… We’ve been alive the whole time!” Marilia said sternly.
“Yeah, but… it was so dark in there, I couldn’t even see my hands!” Darian said and he grinned at her.
A few minutes later, they entered what looked like a small town. There were small buildings around to indicate that they were houses. The people of the town were also moving around, but stopped to watch the carriage pass them.
“There are a lot of people staring at us…” Ondine muttered as she noticed the humans looking their way while stopping their work.
“It’s comes a no surprise that very few make it out alive after entering the Forest of Fog. Most would choose to take a longer detour through the mountains to get here,” Marilia told her.
“Eh?! There’s a detour?! Then why didn’t we use that then?! It would’ve been so much safer!” Ondine demanded.
“Safe, yes, but it takes too long to get here.”
Ondine sighed and said “It somehow feels like the thing we’re good at is fighting. I wish we could do things more peacefully than always fighting out way through!”
“Says the lady that attacks like a wild animal!” Tetra said from behind.
“What?!” Ondine turned around and they began arguing again.
As Rumble got the horses to move slowly, Darian saw a sign that read “Foods and Gods” hanging over a building.
“Rumble, stop the carriage over there,” Darian said and he pointed to where there were other carriages stationed.
Once they stopped, everyone got out. Ondine and Tetra were glaring at each other fiercely. They suddenly caught Lakshman’s eye and quickly turned away with an “Hmph!”
“Let’s go and get something in our stomachs after that scary Forest of Fog!” Darian said and he clapped his hands together.
“I could cook you up with something in a few minutes!” Marilia said indignantly.
Darian shook his head and said “Your hands are sharing. How do you think you can cook looking like that?”
That was when Marilia realised she was shaking a little. It seemed the experience in the forest put her on high alert and her body began to shake out of nervousness. She looked unhappy and nodded at him in understanding.
“D-Do I have to pay for the meal?” Lakshman asked anxiously.
“Ha! I’m not like Rumble here who uses his muscles more than his brains!” Darian said and he looked irritated when he glanced at Rumble.
“What? I use my brains!” Rumble said and he smiled.
“Yes… You use your brains at useless things!” Darian said and Rumble scowled at him.
As they headed for the tavern, Sevedant remained in the carriage. They did want him to join them, but he felt his presence will only make the people upset. Not wanting to put any unnecessary distress, he volunteered to look after the carriage in their absence.
“It feels lonely to be a Death Titan, you know?” Lakshman said as they began eating their meals.
Everyone ordered food. Only Ondine ordered three large glasses of water. As they ate, she gloriously drank from the water and licked her lips in satisfaction.
“Being one of the Nine Pillars of Power has that effect on others. As a member, you can’t be compared to anyone because you’re in a league of your own! In fact, some even compare the Nine Pillars of Power to the Mythological Gods. Such comparisons only create more in-depth fear for them and, in turn, makes it difficult to interact with society,” Marilia told him.
Lakshman looked upset and Ondine said “Sevedant doesn’t seem all that upset about being lonely though. I think he prefers being alone since it would make it easier for him to do things on his own.”
“T-That’s true, I guess,” Lakshman said and he nodded in understanding.
A while later they finished their meals. Ondine, however, was finishing drinking her fourth glass of water she ordered moment ago. At that moment, they heard loud voices from outside shouting something that alarmed them.
“Werewolf attack! Werewolf attack!”
Everyone in the tavern froze in fear at those words. Then Darian and the group quickly got to their feet and rushed outside. When they got outside, they saw several people at the front with spears in hand.
“Let’s go!” Darian said and they nodded at him.
Quickly pulling out their weapons, they joined the fray and pushed forward. When they got to the front, they saw a human with spiky white hair sprawled on the ground. He had wounds to his side as blood flowed out. Darian quickly bent to help and, as he turned him around, he was shocked to see who it was.
“W-Wolfenstine…? Wolfenstine?!” Darian said in a shocked voice and began shaking the body of the man.
“W-Who is he, sir? Do you know him?” A person from above asked him.
“Yes! He’s a friend of mine!” Darian said and he continued his attempts to wake his friend up.
Wolfenstine groaned lightly and opened his eyes. Then he croaked “Werewolves… Vampires… Fight… here…!”
The next moment, he went limp. Darian feared the worst and quickly got Marilia to check his pulse. Feeling the pulse, she declared him to be alive. Then she ordered the people around to assist her into moving him to a better location to heal him.
Darian watched his friend taken away with several people with Marilia following after them. Lakshman, Ondine and Tetra hurried over to their carriage to inform Sevedant about what just happened.
“Werewolves and Vampires fight here? What did he mean?” he said quietly.
“I don’t know, but shouldn’t those words be self-explanatory?” Rumble asked curiously.
They looked at each other for a moment. Then Rumble sighed and said “It’ll be so darn trouble if what he said were true.”
Darian sighed and said “In any case, let’s hear more about it when he wakes up. Knowing Marilia, she’ll use her powerful healing spells to get him back in good health!”
The two of them nodded at each other and they went to where they have taken Wolfenstine to.