Serle has finished off the attacking monsters, but Adria is still lying next to the bank of the stream, unconscious.
Serle turns back to Adria, shaking her a bit.
Adria remains limp and unresponsive.
Serle: Speak to me!
Dryad's voice can be heard. "Well... it didn't seem strong. It should only be another minute or two, I think..."
Serle: What didn't seem strong?
Serle seems very confused.
Dryad: The spell that was cast. Some monsters can cast one or two innately.
Serle: I...don't understand.
Dryad: You didn't notice the Sleep Flower spell?
Serle looks ahead blankly.
Adria turns her head slightly, blinking.
Dryad: That's how the lullabuds put her to sleep twice.
Serle: She was asleep before?
Dryad: I... suppose you were too... er... embroiled in combat with the rabites to notice the first time, but you were there the second time, weren't you?
Adria manages to move her arms, and starts pulling herself over to the edge of the stream.
Serle: Adria?! Are you all right?
Rabbit peeks around the corner. "I-is it over?"
Adria doesn't respond, she merely plunges her face into the water.
Serle: Adria, are you all right?
Adria is too busy drinking to respond.
Rabbit runs over. "What's with her?!"
Serle: I...I don't know.
Serle turns to the Rabbit. "Maybe she's really thirsty?"
Rabbit looks down at Adria. "She didn't seem that desperate when she went by me..."
Rabbit: But who is she? And what is she? And why is it so wet here?
Rabbit shakes a large foot.
Serle: I dunno. Adria's...very wet a lot of the time.
Serle considers this.
Serle: I suppose it's just how girls are.
Rabbit: Not any girls I've seen...
Serle looks at him. "Human girls are different from rabbit-person girls."
Rabbit shrugs. "I've seen all kinds of girls -- kemono, sprite, human... I've been around."
Rabbit: I am a travelling salesman, after all.
Rabbit: Name's Niccolo.
Serle waves. "Hiya. I'm Serle, and that's Adria."
Adria finally stops drinking and catches her breath, looking up at the other two.
Niccolo nods, then turns to Adria. "So you're some kind of sorceress? I don't suppose you need faerie walnuts?..."
Niccolo shrugs. "Well, aside from the hair, you seem like you could be from Altena with that power."
Niccolo: That'd take a good deal of ambrosia, though...
Adria shakes her head. "Never been there..."
Serle: Never heard of it.
Niccolo looks surprised. "Never heard of Altena?! Well, at your age, I guess not."
Niccolo: Altena is a coastal kingdom that guards Vision Isle and partakes of the ambrosia trees' fruit.
Niccolo: 'Course, it's not for sale...
Serle shrugs. "Too busy in the farm to listen to fairy stories."
Niccolo: Fairy-- hmph! I'll have you know it's across the sea from the port city of Crescent!
Serle: Never been there either.
Adria shakes her head and looks down at the water.
Adria: I don't know why I have this power... what was it the Dryad just said? Monsters sometimes can use one or two spells innately?
Niccolo blinks at the mention of a Dryad and peers at Adria briefly, but then turns back to Serle. "Well, hopefully you'll at least see that place! Wonderful markets there."
Serle: Well, I'm sure they're very nice.
Niccolo turns to Adria. "Speaking of which, if you have anything you need, as long as I'm right here..."
Adria: I could use a new waterskin or two...
Niccolo looks through his pack. "I'm gonna need to patch that hole when I get back to Pharmen... Anyway, I have a few styles and sizes here."
Serle: What are Faerie Walnuts?
Niccolo doesn't look up. "Ah, those? Magic-users eat them to replenish the Mana they've focused into their spirit friends or into spells directly."
Adria frowns slightly. "If you're headed to Pharmen, perhaps you ought to follow us. There are probably more monsters about... If you're heading for the Wood Palace..."
Adria trails off uncomfortably.
Niccolo lays out pint-size, quart-size, and half-gallon-size waterskins, then looks up. "Why, did something happen there?"
Adria: Most Holy Humility...
Niccolo's ears twitch in anticipation.
Serle looks down, greatly sad.
Niccolo: What? What?
Serle: Is dead.
Serle speaks with blunt, numb finality.
Niccolo: WHAAAT?! Is that even possible?!
Adria nods solemnly.
Niccolo: H...how do you... kill a...
Adria: ...her cat is dead as well...
Serle: I...cut her head off.
Adria: ...not exactly her head, really...
Niccolo looks at Serle as though he were talking nonsense.
Adria 'looks' around for the Dryad.
Serle just keeps looking down.
Niccolo: Come on, you can't do that -- she'd just disappear if you tried! Maybe you should go tell your parents about those nightmares...
Serle shakes his head and sighs.
Adria: The Dryad with us was her aide, maybe she can explain better... no, probably not really... and I think I may have hurt her when I was trying to learn to cast a spell...
Adria sighs. "If you want to check, go ahead and check... but it's the reason the monsters are attacking now... so it's dangerous to travel now..."
Serle: I...don't think so, Adria...
Niccolo cocks his head, skeptical.
Dryad again is only heard and not seen. "Well, I suppose he's all right..."
Niccolo looks around quickly.
Dryad fades in. "These two children mean no harm... they were only trying to protect themselves -- and thought they were protecting Most Holy Humility as well at the time."
Niccolo scratches his head, confused.
Dryad: Somehow, she turned into a monster... I don't really understand it myself...
Serle looks down at the ground, kicking it a little with his toe, sword drooping in his hand.
Niccolo: That's... strange. How could that possibly happen?
Niccolo: Really strange...
Adria: We don't have any answers I'm afraid... I'll take the half-gallon.
Niccolo: 16 lucre, please.
Adria pulls a handful of coins out without comment.
Serle blinks, his eyes going a bit wide. It's quite obvious that sort of money has never passed his hands.
Niccolo accepts the coins, then stashes them and proceeds to put his other samples away.
Niccolo: Some friendly advice -- I wouldn't go around telling everyone you killed Most Holy Humility if I were you.
Adria proceeds to fill the new waterskin from the stream. "They need to know the roads are dangerous."
Niccolo: Yeah, but people are liable to hate you for it -- and you hate yourselves enough...
Niccolo looks to Serle.
Serle nods numbly, still not looking up.
Niccolo: That detail's going to get you in trouble someday if you're not careful about who you say it to. Refusing service, that kind of thing.
Adria: We need to get going.
Niccolo: Not everyone's going to listen through the details, and a lot of those won't hear spirits.
Niccolo starts back towards Pharmen. "I had such nice seeds to show her too... darn it."
Serle: I'm really sorry...
Adria packs away her waterskins and walks back onto the path.
Niccolo: Oh, don't apologize to me. Clients always come and go.
Niccolo: Some guy in Wendel said that the existence of death is the will of the Mana Goddess back when I was new at this.
Adria: The way it came about is particularly troubling, though.
Adria frowns. "I don't have any leads to work on when I get to Pharmen. I suppose I'll just have to skip that part of my journey..."
A pair of rabites bound out from between the trees ahead.
Serle doesn't even notice them, he's still looking down at the ground.
Adria glances toward Niccolo. "Do you have weapons?"
Niccolo: N-not this round...
The rabites hop closer.
Serle looks up, sadness etched on his face. "More?"
Niccolo backs away.
Adria crouches in a defensive position. "More."
Niccolo: Usually I save weapons sales for when I go to a place like Altena that needs to guard something...
Niccolo: Or Kalin, where they hunt.
Niccolo: Or even Crescent if I feel like competing with their markets...
Serle sighs. "Isn't there, like, Rabite repellent or something?"
Niccolo shakes his head.
The rabites reach Serle and Adria; one tries to ram Serle while the other leaps up to try to bite Adria in the arm.
Serle seems almost...apathetic as the Rabite hits him. He stumbles backward, wincing a bit, before holding his sword properly and shifts his stance.
Adria swings one arm back out of reach while the other comes up to grab at the Rabite's neck.
Adria's grab is a split-second too slow, snagging it in the middle of the back. Its skin is tight there, though, denying Adria a good grip. It shakes itself loose, though its landing isn't graceful.
The other rabite wastes no time in following up its ram with a hopping ankle bite.
Adria: I have a feeling you may be dealing in weapons more often in the near future.
Serle looks over at the Rabite that rammed him, narrowing his eyes. He waits for it to move, however, and lunges as it moves toward him.
Adria tries to take what advantage she can of the situation by shifting her weight and bringing her leg forward to kick the rabite.
The rabite Adria is dealing with erks and rolls a bit once it's struck. As for the one on Serle, he doesn't strike it dead-on but he does create a very large flesh wound that makes it squeal.
Adria stumbles backwards a bit as she tries to maintain her balance.
Serle glances at Adria, appearing to finally concentrate. "You okay?"
The kicked rabite works to right itself as the sliced one hisses at Serle.
Serle glances at Adria again, watching the Rabites, moving slowly to cover her.
Adria steadies herself. "I'm fine... just not used to fighting."
The one Serle wounded lunges straight for his knee with its crown. Meanwhile, the other starts towards Niccolo...
Niccolo runs away from the rabite, but it keeps pursuing.
Serle turns his body a bit, moving to reduce the effect of the impact. He's struck, but instead of breaking the knee, it simply bends. He uses his leg to pin the rabite, and stabs.
The rabite shrieks, its lower spine severed by the surprisingly durable and sharp hardwood sword. It then flops to the ground.
Niccolo: Get it off my taaaaail!
Serle sighs, exasperated. "Oh, just come over here then!"
Niccolo runs by the pair, the remaining rabite in hot pursuit.
Adria tries to grab the rabite as it passes.
Adria gets a firm hold, though it wriggles angrily.
Serle watches the rabite intensely, sword ready.
Adria: Any more of them ahead?
Adria: Oh, hey, you still have that cage, right?
Niccolo runs ahead a bit.
Niccolo: I don't see any more...
Serle reaches into his bag and pulls out the mouse cage.
The rabite hisses and chatters as it continues trying to break free.
Adria: Kinda small, but it's hard to just hold these things...
Niccolo: I'll remember to keep an ear out for good deals on cages...
Adria tries to stuff the rabite into the cage.
The rabite screams while the cage's metal creaks slightly.
Serle: I think it's too big.
The rabite snaps at Adria's wrist.
Adria holds the rabite against one of the cage sides to try to keep a little more control over it. "Well, we need to do something with it..."
Serle: Kill it?
Adria: I suppose that might be easiest.
Serle walks up, sword in hand.
Adria looks to Niccolo. "Unless you have any ideas."
Niccolo fishes through a pocket on the side of his backpack. "Sorry, nothing to help with that."
Serle stabs at the rabite, then, to finish it quickly.
The rabite makes an abbreviated squack before it dies.
Niccolo heads over holding out some sort of round, red-and-white swirled candy. "Here, have a freebie. This'll help with your wounds."
Adria drops the dead body, and reaches into her pack, pulling out some material. She bandages her wrist with it.
Serle looks at Adria. "You want to try?"
Adria shakes her head. "I can't stomach sweets very well."
Serle holds out his hand to Niccolo.
Niccolo gives Serle the candy, which is actualy softer than it looks. "A medical gumdrop. I also have chocolumps and a couple of honey elixirs, though I doubt you can afford the latter."
Serle: I...don't think I can afford this...
Niccolo: Hey, I said this one's a freebie, didn't I?
Serle: I don't want you to lose money on the trade...
Niccolo shrugs. "Hey, the escort's worth something."
Niccolo: You'll just have to pay for any you get from me later.
Serle nods. "All right."
Niccolo nods. "Well, ready to go?"
Serle takes the candy and chews on it a bit. He's instantly fully healed. He blinks. "That was...good..."
Serle nods at Niccolo. "I'm ready."
Niccolo grins kindly, then starts forward. He then stops. "Er, maybe you should take point?"
Niccolo: Yeah, I can't fight...
Serle steps a bit forward.
Serle: Coming, Adria?
Adria takes position slightly behind Serle on the left.