After staying a few more days in Trona, the two of us went back to Ekralas. Our tentative plan was to return to Trona for the wedding, but that would be some time away. At least a month or a few months. Unlike on Earth, at least we didn’t have to plan for people having to travel from all over the planet… but also unlike on Earth, it would take more than a day or two for some people to make the trip. Fortunately we mostly knew people in Trona and Ekralas, which were only a few days apart. More importantly, those from Ekralas were mostly adventurers or those with the means to travel for a few days without worry.
Beyond just the time needed to inform people and arrange everything, we also needed money. While we could very easily cover our own costs of living, throwing a party was something else- even if it wasn’t particularly large. That said, Kantrilla knew more people than I did so perhaps it would be slightly larger. Father Thomas had offered to pay for some of it, but even so we needed to earn some money. For that, we would be adventuring.
When we arrived back in Ekralas, we immediately told everyone- everyone being our party members. Halette and Alhorn gave us a hearty congratulations, Socks licked our faces, and Kasner nodded. Apparently there hadn’t been much doubt it would happen eventually… so it had been more of a surprise to us than to them. As we planned our wedding, we had no idea of the other plans in motion that would disrupt them.
Quests were one of the best ways to make money. While we could earn good money in a dungeon from drops- including magic stones which we found more often than the expected amount- quests paid better by virtue of needing to do so to get adventurer’s attention. Depending on the situation, it could also be safer than dungeon delving. At the very least, anything was a more pleasant location than a dungeon.
The Oakgar Woods, a few days travel from Ekralas, were experiencing a larger than average number of dire boars. Left unchecked, they could root up many trees and cause damage to the ecosystem, and if they travelled out of the forest they could cause trouble for nearby towns or farms if they didn’t have large stone walls. No settlements were without walls, but some had smaller ones equipped only to deal with the typical monsters in the area.
Dire boars were somewhat dangerous, being D rank monsters. That meant our party should be able to handle a few of them without too many issues- but they might be in packs. However, we didn’t necessarily have to get in a fair fight with them. In dungeons, everything was expecting adventurers to come and attack, setting traps and ambushes and hiding in the darkness. Outside, however, creatures like these dire boars were just going around finding food. It just so happened that finding food also caused them to destroy far too many trees.
We would be the ones going after them, and we would notice them first- dire boars weren’t exactly subtle, and Halette and Socks could find anything anyway. No one could fail to notice a dire boar, it was just about how much sooner you noticed them than they noticed you.
As we walked through the forest, I could barely imagine anything uprooting any of the trees. None of them were twiggy little things, but rather older growth at least a foot across. They probably also had deep roots, though of course I couldn’t see those. Then again, dire boars would be big, and slightly magical. Not that they could do any magic, but magic contributed to their growth and strength.
Sounds of birds and other forest creatures rang out and we travelled along, and it seemed almost peaceful. Of course, we still ran into occasional horned rabbits or wolves which directly showed that there was very little peace to be had out in the wilderness. It wasn’t trouble to defeat any of those creatures, and they mostly got out of our way if they smelled Socks coming. Even with that, we actually didn’t see that many over the few hours we had travelled from the nearby town of Hazelbury.
I noticed the sounds of birds fading just before Socks whined. Halette interpreted for us, “We should be close to the boars. Get ready to fight. Leave your mounts, unless you intend to fight on them.”
I didn’t have nearly enough practice riding to fight on my horse. Kantrilla dismounted as well. Halette and Alhorn stayed mounted.
Kasner just patted his pony, Arrows, on the head. “She’ll keep me safe. I can cast spells well enough as she moves around.”
“Great,” Halette said, “Get ready for them to come into view. Remember the tactics we mentioned.”
I heard the boars before I saw them. I probably imagined the trembling ground, but I did hear their rumbling feet and squealing. Then, through the trees I finally caught sight of one a few hundred feet ahead. Seeing them in person, I understood why we didn’t want to engage them in melee combat. They were about the same height as Socks- or our horses. They would certainly weigh more than a ton as they filled out their area almost completely, except for a couple of feet under the legs.
I’d heard tales of hunting wild boar back on Earth. Not much, but things like them not going down to a single shot of a rifle or shotgun. I had no way to verify the truth of that, but these things were even bigger. However, while we didn’t have guns we did have magical bows and arrows and magical spells. That would just have to make up the difference in technology and size.
As we got closer to them I checked my adamantine knife. Though it was called a knife, the blade was about a foot long… which I suppose made it still too short to be a sword. The important thing was it could actually reach somewhere important if I hit the right place. As long as that happened, I didn’t have to worry about how tough their hide would be. Before that however, I had a bow courtesy of some elves who had tried to kill us. It was a good thing we’d made it to Ehlark before they attacked, or Khyrmin might have been the only one to survive. I couldn’t imagine her getting hit by anything, certainly not something so ‘trivial’ as a dozen arrows at a time. I readied a bow that wasn’t exactly sized for me as we carefully followed behind the boars. At least I had plenty of Strength to pull it.