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The Foxes and the Ruins

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Lemilas avatar Lemilas
Level 58 : Grandmaster Wizard
206
  This is a sequel to my previous blog The Attack of the Phantoms. If you haven't read that, I suggest that you do, or this story will be unclear.

  Arhalas stood near the northern gates of the city, waiting. In a few minutes, the guards would open the gates for the day, and he could begin his adventure. He checked again that he had all of his supplies with him. He certainly did not want to travel for days and then realize he had forgotten something important. After all, he knew that he might encounter more phantoms.

  Soon Arhalas heard a blast of trumpets announcing the opening of the gates. The massive wooden doors swung open in front of him, and he set out on his quest. He followed the north road, enjoying the familiar sights of the peaceful farms and houses near the city.

  After a few hours of walking, Arhalas took a break to rest and eat. He observed his surroundings and studied his map. He was now at the farthest point from Sylnos that he had ever been in his life up to this point. He finished his meal and went on, watching carefully for any sign of phantoms in the area.

  The day went by uneventfully, and soon the sun began to sink in the west. Arhalas set up camp in the forest. He found some food and cooked it over a fire. After that, he thought over his first day of adventuring. He had enjoyed it, but he knew this was more than just a journey for pleasure. He had a mission to accomplish. As he rested there, he also wondered what was in store for him next.

  The following morning, Arhalas continued walking and watching for anything that would help him know where the phantoms had come from. As he followed the road running through the forest, he noticed foxes eating berries and playing with each other. As he traveled on, he saw that they became more numerous as he advanced further on the road. He wondered about this and journeyed on.

  Eventually Arhalas came to a cottage. Many foxes were resting or playing near it, so he decided that it might have the explanation for their presence. He walked up to it and knocked on the door. It opened, and a voice said, "Come in."
  Arhalas entered the cottage. There were two people in it, a man and a woman.

  "Welcome to our home," the man said. "My name is Tyrias, and this is my wife Lelia. Who are you?"

  "My name's Arhalas. Pleased to meet you."

  "Pleased to meet you too," Tyrias replied.

  "What brings you here? You look like an adventurer," Lelia said. "Are you on a quest or something?"

  "Well, it's sort of a long story," Arhalas answered.

  "We would be interested in hearing it," Tyrias told him. "It's about noon, so why don't we have a meal together?"

  "I would love that," Arhalas said.

  So the three of them sat down at a table to eat and talk. There was plenty of food, and it tasted delicious. As they ate, Arhalas told them about his dreams of becoming an adventurer and the phantoms that had attacked Sylnos in the night. He then asked, "Do you have any idea where the phantoms would have come from?"

  "Yes, I believe I do," Tyrias replied. "We heard some strange noises on that night, so I looked outside. I saw a few phantoms, but it seems that most of them were already past us by that point. But from what you've told us, I think it's safe to assume that they were the same phantoms that attacked the city."

  "Do you know what direction they came from?"

  "Yes, I'll show you." The three of them went outside. "Do you see the river there?"

  "Yes. That's the same river that runs through Sylnos, isn't it?"

  "Yes, it is. When they passed us, they were coming from downstream. I would suggest that you follow the river in that direction if you're trying to find where they came from."

  "Thanks," Arhalas answered. "By the way, why are there so many foxes in the area?"

  "We take care of them," Lelia replied. "We grow a lot of berries here. We let the foxes have quite a few, since there are always plenty. We use the berries too, and we make a living by selling the rest of them. Sometimes we even travel all the way to Sylnos to sell berries."

  "We also help protect the foxes from harm," Tyrias added. "Sometimes enemies come through here, so the foxes are in danger. But we try to keep the foxes as safe as we can."

  "That's nice of you to take care of them," Arhalas said. "Well, it's probably about time for me to leave and continue on my quest. Goodbye, and thanks again for everything."

  "Goodbye!" the two forest dwellers replied.

  Arhalas began traveling down the river. Towards the end of the day, he came to a point where the river emptied into the ocean. He looked around, wondering if he had already passed the area where the phantoms had come from. Then he noticed what appeared to be ancient buildings next to the water. As he approached them, he saw one building that stood tall above the others. He noted a hole in one of its walls and decided to look through it and examine the inside of the building.

  When he did, he made a startling discovery, though not a completely unexpected one. The building was filled with phantoms! As he observed them, still unnoticed, he noted that there were far too many of them for him to fight alone. To avoid being found by the phantoms, he quickly left and went to a place farther away to spend the night.

  As the sun rose the next day, Arhalas considered his options. He knew he could not fight the phantoms on his own. Then he remembered that the commander of the Sylnos guards had wanted to know when he found the phantoms. He decided to head back to Sylnos, report to the commander, and come back soon with a greater force to go against the phantoms. So he set off for the city.
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