The rain had stopped for the most part. It was just a light sprinkle now. It didn't scare everyone as much as the heavy rain but we still moved slowly. I felt a certain level of frustrating but my fellow guards didn't have as much knowledge with these things so I couldn't blame them too much.
Around noon time, the rain stopped and we paused to rest and eat. They chatted among themselves and I gasped.
"What?" Kilyn asked and I pointed.
"Look at that!"
There was a creature standing nearby. It was large and walked on four legs. It was very hairy and had a flat nose. I stood up curiously. What could it be? I approached it, ignoring their calls for me not to, and it saw me. I knew it was a mistake almost immediately. It reared up on its back legs and gave a loud roar. I gasped and docked an arrow. I pointed it straight at the beast's eyes. It growled and approached me slowly. I kept my ground, though. I wasn't going to let him win.
It growled. It was close now and, should it strike, it would surely overwhelm me. Feeling a twinge of regret, I shot the arrow just as it lifted its large paw. It roared in pain but, to my shock, it didn't die. In fact, I seemed to have just made it angrier. I stumbled back, groping for my arrows. Three more arrows flew past me. Eventually, the beast lay on the grass, bleeding and no longer breathing.
"What was that?" Rina asked in a shaking voice.
"I don't know," I panted. "Maybe it's one of those predators the archive master told us about."
"I hope there aren't more like that out there," Syl muttered as we retrieved our arrows from the beast's body.
"Me, too," Folen breathed.
Folen hated killing any kind of creature. Being an elf that can heal, it was part of his nature.
"Let's keep going," Galan mumbled and we all agreed.
The death of the beast weighed heavily on our shoulders. It was like those dark grey clouds were back and hovered among us. We didn't speak. There wasn't much to say. Suddenly, I was wrapped in vines again and I groaned, falling to the side.
"I swear to the goddesses, if you don't stop this I will kill you!" I yelled as Shea flew out in front of us.
She wasn't tall like last time. She was small but, when she hovered in front of me, she increased in size. Sindri came running after, clearly joyful to see us again.
"You killed my bear!" she yelled angrily.
"Get me out of these damn vines!" I snapped. Galan quickly came and cut them again. "That bear was trying to kill me, in case you didn't notice!"
"It was acting on instinct! It was hungry!"
"I acted on instinct, too! I don't fancy being someone's lunch!"
She glared at me and her hands started to glow. Sindri looked nervous.
"Okay, Shea," he said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Relax. Remember: this is their first time out of the realm. They don't understand all the creatures out here."
"There are more?" Syl asked, shaking a little. "Will they all attack us?"
"No," Sindri answered. "There are benign creatures out there like deer. They're fun to watch. And the rabbits."
"Where are you going, again?" Shea sighed.
"The north for the Moonglow Flower," I answered.
"We'll accompany you," she said. I was surprised at her change of mind. "It is our new order so don't look so excited."
Sindri scoffed. "I'm excited. I like these elves."
Shea didn't answer, she just began walking. My legs were aching and Folen, picking up on it, had me pause for a moment. He told me to stand still and I obeyed. He put his hands on my thighs and Sindri watched in wonder. Folen closed his eyes and muttered a few words. The soreness went away.
"Thanks," I said and he nodded. "I hate this part."
He clapped me on the back. "I know. But it'll get better."
"It's been 27 years," I muttered. "I don't think it will."
"Maybe you'll finally get an answer after we heal your mother."
"The Moonglow Flower is just a rumor," Shea said.
I rolled my eyes.
I felt a little guilty after saying that. It was clear he had a good relationship with his mother. But it was hard not to say it. I knew what it was like to get your hopes up just to have them dashed away.
We continued on in silence. I was surprised that the hybrid walked faster than his companions. It was as if he had the endurance of an elf. Perhaps he did. But I also knew he wanted to get to that flower as soon as possible. If we kept running into the obstacles these elves weren't used to, though, it will add another three days to their journey.
"Why did your orders change?" the hybrid asked.
He and I were in the lead. Sindri had fallen back to talk with the other elves, bombarding them with even more questions.
"When we told our queen you were in unfamiliar territory and on a mission to save your mother, she took pity on you. So, since we have enough food she had us go. That and Sindri wouldn't give her a break until she agreed to let us come along."
He looked over his shoulder. "He's very curious. Do you not educate your people on other races?"
"Just stories," I answered. I pulled my hair into a ponytail as the air got warmer. "Nothing concrete. We didn't know that humans and elves could procreate."
He chuckled. "No one knew it was possible yet here I am. A wonderful hybrid."
He spat the word out and I felt another pang of guilt.
"Sorry," I mumbled. "What's your name again? I'll try my best to call you by that from now on."
"Eroan," he answered.
He looked up and squinted. "Are those mountains ahead?"
I looked at him in shock. "How can you tell? Those are at least three days away!"
"The elf in me can see far into the distance without the need of a magnifier. That's why I'm a guard."
It was my turn to be curious.
"Why do you need guards?"
"Remember how the human broke our barrier?" he asked and I nodded. "My father still hasn't found the leader of the goblins who attacked us. There are a lot of us but I was the first since I had my enhanced sight and I'm a good shot. I inherited them from my father."
"Powers come from the goddesses," I said.
He scoffed. "Sure they do."
The sun was setting. I could sense he was getting tired so I looked around. There was a decent place for him to rest his head so I led them all there.
"We'll rest here," I said. "We should be to the mountains in three days if we keep at this pace."
Eroan glared at the ground as he flopped down. I could tell he resented the human part of him. I would never tell Sindri, but I was just as curious as he was about the hybrid sitting in front of me.