I’d thought the giant sequoias around Sradena were huge- and they were. However, as we moved into Fepresil I saw even bigger trees. Some of them were smaller, too, but the relevant thing was they were different types of trees. For example, there were birch trees- or something very similar- except instead of being half a foot or a foot across, they were about the same size as giant sequoias. Not all of them, but all of them were far larger than normal.
Socks was sniffing at everything excitedly, and Halette also looked around carefully. “The soil is different, right?”
Khyrmin nodded. “Of course. You don’t think all of the elven lands are full of magical trees, right? There’s no way there’s enough free mana for all of that. It would be crazy.”
We continued on through the forest. The trees blocked out enough of the sun that it was dim, even at noon. Not unpleasantly dark, but it was hard to tell what was concealed behind various bushes off the road. It was a good thing we were following the road, at least what there was. It was more like a dirt track- and not one often travelled either. That was backed up by the fact that we didn’t see anyone else on the road.
Socks occasionally whined or growled at something off the road, but I never saw what any of them were.
“There aren’t many dangerous things near the border,” Khyrmin commented. “Likewise, the roads deeper in are protected. That doesn’t mean we’re safe anywhere, but you should be able to handle anything that comes up. Just don’t be careless. We should make it to Thilethas by tonight.”
Thilethas was the first city from the border. Unlike in Othya, where Sradena was directly on the border, Thilethas was a good day’s journey away from the border. However, though few to no people lived in between, the elves still considered it their territory.
The day stretched on, and when we finally reached the city of Thilethas I almost missed it. It blended into the forest so well that I didn’t notice it until we were a hundred feet away. It did help that we had just rounded a corner, and the road suddenly disappeared. However, I hadn’t even noticed it through the trees. The wooden walls were still covered in bark and moss and had blended in with the background. The towers where there were archers looked just like trees- which they might have been, I supposed. Some of the trees were big enough around for that. Once I noticed it, it was obvious. The gate couldn’t really be disguised, and the wall was pretty clear once I noticed it- mostly because I couldn’t see past it to more trees.
Khyrmin turned to us, “Wait here. I need to enter the city to sort out some things first.” Then Khyrmin called out to the people at the gate. In elven, of course. They opened the gates to let Khyrmin in, which left us standing awkwardly outside for a while. The guards watched us carefully, which was rather unnerving… but they also didn’t have anything else to do. It was probably a full quarter of an hour before the gates opened once again and Khyrmin appeared. “Alright, you can enter.” The guards had relaxed their posture slightly before she told us, and they didn’t react as we approached.
“Was there any trouble?” Alhorn asked.
“No,” Khyrmin frowned, “Which is odd. There should have been trouble by now.”
As we passed through the streets, we got all sorts of odd looks. It wasn’t that we were adventurers- we passed by what I was pretty sure was an adventurer’s guild, in fact. There was even a beast tamer or something similar with a bear. Socks and the bear watched each other cautiously as we moved past.
No, it wasn’t us being adventurers or even having a giant wolf, but the fact that we were humans. Well, three humans, a halfling, and a half-elf. I overheard many comments that were presumably about us, but didn’t understand any of it. Khyrmin finally brought us to an inn, where we handed off our animals to a stablehand. They even had a place for Socks to stay- though it clearly wasn’t made specifically for giant wolves, but just any large non-horselike animals.
As we entered inside, the innkeeper actually greeted us. More importantly, in Othyan. “Welcome, outlanders. We get very few of your kind passing through.” Unlike Khyrmin, he had a clear accent, though it was hard to describe. Perhaps rhythmic was correct. Each syllable was careful and precise.
Before going to our rooms, we sat down for dinner. We were served some sort of stew with vegetables and meat I didn’t recognize. I was surprised there was meat, but I realized that was silly. Of course there was meat. Elves were people, after all. Unless they had very different digestive systems, they would eat meat. Why wouldn’t they? They were excellent archers and hunters, and they lived in an area with dangerous wildlife. Not that it wasn’t true of Othya as well, but Fepresil was a bit more wild seeming. Either way, it would be a waste to end up killing animals and not eating them. I supposed there were probably some monsters that wouldn’t be good to eat, however.
So far, Fepresil hadn’t been that different. Sure, the walls were wooden instead of stone, but the trees were enough bigger that it was more practical. The city itself actually had normal buildings- even if many of them were carved out of large logs instead of made of planks. There were a few buildings reflective of Khyrmin’s log cabin, but nothing so large. That was just something unique to her, apparently. She did use most of the room.
The beds were feather beds, but without the feathers poking out that I was used to with such things. Maybe they took better care of them, but they also felt slightly firmer than expected. Later, I found out they were feathers from giant birds with the shafts removed, leaving only the softer parts. For feathers several feet in length, it became practical to strip them off to get stuffing.
The beds didn’t perfectly agree with me, but they also weren’t the most uncomfortable thing I’d slept on since coming to this world. They just weren’t my preferred type. Even so, I managed to get a good night’s rest, which was fortunate because I needed all of my energy the next day.