“So what do I do?” I ask, in front of me are the only three -with a hang on- that I can trust in this world; Curse, Crux, Lore, and Quill. “Slavery is bad, but…”
“I am perfectly happy with this arrangement, milady.” Ellie said. Even with her personality free, she still had those dead eyes, that crisp tone, and that sense of apathy. I guess anyone would end up like that if they were repressed for a while.
Your apathy isn’t a good thing Ellie.
“I don’t know want to tell you Mist; Even if you don’t like it, Stone has a point,” Curse said, “We can’t be there for you forever, and given how talented you are, we won’t be able to keep up all that long.”
“I can just find friends for that, like you guys, I don’t want to force someone to guard me.”
“Finding someone you can trust to guard you would have been hard. While this girl seems like she would be willing even without the collar.” Crux pointed at her.
“If you find me unworthy milady, I am sure Stone would happily find you a replacement.” Ellie said, her apathetic eyes were sparkling slightly, a slight frown forming on her face.
“I just don’t want to take advantage of you.” I quickly say.
“I can tell you would only have my best interest at heart, milady.” Stop calling me that, you’re hurting my manly heart.
“Are you sure? I’m a pretty weird girl.” Dang it, don’t make me say I’m a girl. It feels weirder than calling myself weird.
“I am sure anything milady muses is only weird to lesser minds.” Ellie says. Oh, dang she’s good at the praising.
Grr. Maybe I can scare her away from wanting to be my slave? Level things out a bit. Ah, idea. I saw this in an anime once, let’s see how good it looks in real life.
“Ellie, do you have to go full werewolf, or can you control how much you change?”
“I can freely bring out any of my traits, but I can only show my full power, when in my true form.”
“Then just shift your wolf ears and tail out.”
“Yes milady.” She didn’t even hesitate before a pair of wolf ears came out of her head and a tail sprouted behind her, somehow not messing with her clothes at all. She still had that deadpan expression.
...I wanna pet her.
I can’t think of anything else. I’m bad at being a bad person.
Ah! Curse I wanted to hug her first.
“Fine!” I shout, pulling Ellie out of Curses chest, saving her from a squishy doom, half dragging her out of the room before I stop, realizing something. “Where do I get bounties?”
“You just learned how to use magic, I don’t think that’s a very good idea.” Curse mutters, clearly depressed at her hug toy being taken away.
“I can’t learn much if you guys are protecting me.” I argue, still holding onto Ellie’s hand.
“Can you even kill something?” Quill suddenly ask, cutting through my amazing plan.
“Then how about just one of you come with Ellie and me?” I ask, after a few moments of silence. “In case I can’t…”
“I am more than enough to protect milady.” Ellie cut in. I’m not that weak enough to need protecting!
Okay I am.
“I’m sure you are, but I agree with Mist.” Lore looked over at her fellow adventurers. “I’ll take Mist and Ellie out to the valley, that should be safe enough with just me guarding. Is that okay everyone?” Lore stepped over, patting Ellie on the head, sneakily scratching her ears.
“Ah, Ellie, you don’t have to keep the ears and tail out if you don’t want to.”
“If milady likes them I am fine with it.” I like them, I can’t lie, I can’t help but stare at them.
I wanna pet her.
“If you’re sure.” Oh right! “Do you have any weapons?”
“My claws are better than any weapon.” She promptly replies, showing off a pawed hand, razor sharp claws exposed, the shift back so fast I could hardly register it.
Since everyone agreed we started setting up for the adventure to hunt monsters, it was pretty late in the afternoon by the time we finished preparing. Since Ellie only had the simple dress from Stone, I gave her my other shirt and pants. Clothes fit for adventuring and fighting in. Since I picked very loose clothes, she was able to fit in them, even though she was taller...and curvier.
After saying our goodbyes, Lore lead me and Ellie through the town gate, taking a sharp right before she stopped, like she just realized something.
“Ellie do you mind carrying Mist for me?”
“Wait, what?!” I can’t help but shout.
“Mages tend to be a bit slow.” Compared to you, yes. Ellie seemed to agree as well, her form shifting into a large brown furred werewolf once again, before I could stop her, she even picked me up in a princess carry.
“No!” I shout. I am not a princess!
“I shall be gentle milady.” Please just sit me down. I’m not going to say it, but please sit me down. She doesn't sit me down.
“Now follow me.” Lore went into a sprint, air shifting out of her way like she had command over it. Given how this world works, that was probably the case. Ellie, despite her natural advantage was only able to keep up with Lore rather than outpace her, occasionally running out of breath while Lore kept to her same even breathing throughout. Somehow running until the sun was starting to set. If we were on horses I think this trip would have taken a day to get as far as we did in half of one.
“Okay then, we’ll set up camp here,” Lore said, leading us to a forest lining the valley they had been running through. “Then start hunting tomorrow.”
“Why not hunt now?” I ask.
“Because it’s hard to see at night.”
“I can see in the dark though.” I argue.
“As can I.” Ellie offers.
“Well I’m your guardian, and I can’t, so let’s start learning how to set up a campsite.” A folded tent materializes from thin air behind her, along with a pile of nails and other tools. “Since we’re so close to the clearing and plan to sleep early, we’ll just stick to cold foods, and set up the tent. What do either of you know about camping?” Erm. I’ve only went camping once with mom and dad, and that was in a RV. Also another world.
“Stone occasionally used me to prepare her camping supplies, however I never was actually brought out on those excursions.” Ellie offered.
“Sorry.” I said, shrugging.
“That’s okay Mist, I was simply asking just to make sure, because anything you’ve learned about camping would have been wrong anyway.” Lore said, leaning forward to pick up an iron mallet.
“The common image most people get is a bunch of tents around a blazing fire, with everyone drinking into the night. That might be fine when with a strong group or if you’re in a monster free zone. But you’re just a target if you do that as you both are now.” Lore picked up a few of the metal nails, handing them to Ellie. “Since we’re in a forest, tents are fine, fire is not, for example.”
“But didn’t you start a fire that day we met?” Has it only been 3 days?
“That was purely done for your benefit. You might not have noticed, but I wasn’t the only one on guard that night. A bright light on a dark night is rarely a good idea.”
“But what if we’d freeze otherwise, like in the winter?”
“Then you find a way to hide the light, and displace the smoke. A few tents you can buy in the village we were in are made to hide a fire while letting out the smoke, but we don’t have one of those, and now’s not the time to worry about that. Now first, let's learn how to set up a standard tend.”
Lore went on to explain not only how to set up the tent, but different conditions to avoid drawing attention. How it’s best to avoid tents all together in a valley. How it’s better to stay off the ground when it’s raining. The details ran on and on, to the point that I’d have struggled focusing even without the annoying fault of a short attention span I picked this body. By the time the actual tent was up, the moon and stars were bright in the sky.
“As for the next lesson, you two are going to stand guard for half the night.” Lore said as if it was the most reasonable thing in the world.
“What? I thought you were our guardian!” You even made a big deal out of it and almost lectured me to sleep about camping preparations.
“And what kind of guardian would I be if I was tired when we’re hunting tomorrow?” Lore stepped into the tent we had painstakingly set up, and proceeded to ignore my yells.
“You may sleep as well, milady.” Ellie said, her wolf ears peeking out of her hair again. I lost focus again staring at her before I quickly forced myself to look up at the moon.
“How can I learn if I do that?” I finally mutter. “Actually, since you were dragged here because of my idea, you might be better off sleeping.” My eyesight had started to shift as I stared off into the night, details that would have been invisible in my old body were clear as day. A beautiful forest spread out in one direction, and a moon kissed valley in the other.
“I am happy to go where ever you wish.” Gah, this weird loyalty of hers is starting to get to me. I looked at my hand, one minute spotless, and the next a symbol resembling a wolf head decorated it, the personality repression was still set at zero. How long had she been stuck in that state for her to act this way?
“You know, it’s okay for you to say what you really feel. I’m not going to punish you or anything for disagreeing with me.”
“I will remember that, milady.”
“And, you don’t have to call me that, you can call me Mist. Avery in private...since that’s my real name. Or even something silly like David if you want to.”
“Your name is beautiful milady, I would not dare mock you with a Decon name.” Ah, so the gnomes have my name? I should have read the lore more.
“Then say it.” I look her in the eye.
“I am not worthy.” Oh, so now you start talking back. That’s a start.
“Ellie, Ellie, Ellie.”
“Milady?” Ellie tilts her head in confusion, her wolf ears twitching on her head at the noise.
“Now you have to say my name three times.”
“I’m never heard of such a rule milady.” Ah! Her wolf ears twitched again.
“I’m a weird girl, so I have weird rules.” I say, referencing myself with a grin.
“I am afraid I am a lesser mind.” She replies with a self mocking reference to herself.
“I don’t like slavery.” I finally say, almost growling out the statement.
“I understand milady's feelings, but not your point.”
“So I would rather, instead of master and slave, you see me as another person. I don’t know you, you don’t know me. So lets just leave things at that and try to learn a bit about each other. Then maybe,” I look up at the moon again, unable to look her in the face. “We could try to be friends.”
“I will remember that, milady.”