A forest whistles with the morning winds, the outlying meadow continues to sleep in, and a group of adventurers complain about their feet hurting.
Just another day for the Windwell guild.
“Leoooooon...we’ve been walking all night…!” a young, redheaded woman cried. “I can already see the sun rising, I’m pretty sure we’re safe now, can we please get some shut-eye?”
“Natz, come on, it’s fine, we’ll be out of the forest in a few minutes-”
“You said that EIGHT HOURS AGO-”
“Come on now,” a blonde knight pat her on the shoulder. “On a trek like this, we can’t falter so easily. Even when we have been walking for an entire moon…”
“Easy for you to say, Cassandra!” the samurai girl chimed in. “You were trained in Cydonia, you’re ripped as hell and have the best stamina out of all of us!” She was starting to lag behind on account of how bruised her legs have gotten. The blonde knight, apparently named Cassandra, began to offer her arm as support in case she fell.
“Haha! Look at this! The great warrior Kaiyo, slayer of wyverns, can’t even make it through a forest!” said a long haired man, clearly more injured than she was. He looked to the redheaded woman. “...H-hey Natalie...think you can heal me for a quick sec-”
“Haha yeah I can...I can take it…”
“Guys, look!” Leon said, pointing to an opening in the forest. “There’s our exit! And you guys didn’t believe me when I said so!”
The group of adventurers gave a collective groan and ran out of the forest and into the meadow. With the party safe at last, Kaiyo pulled out the map.
“Thank Deirdre we’re finally out!” Kaiyo said as she sprawled onto the grass. “Now...where the hell are we?” She traced her finger around the part of the map that was marked ‘big forest’ by the villagers she bought it from. “Gilford, you’ve been around this area before, right?”
Gilford, the man with long hair, leaned next to her, but refused to sit down to keep his pride after being denied a healing spell. “No.”
“But what about the time you said you went on a business trip on this continent?”
“You believed me?”
“You said there was a town here!” Kaiyo sighed. “Agh, Cassandra, what about you?”
“You should have asked me sooner, you know.” Cassandra sat down with her. “I’m a princess after all, I’ve had my share of traveling to other towns.”
Kaiyo sprung up. “So you know about a nearby town!?”
Kaiyo flopped back down. Leon, who was looking around for any directional signs with Natalie, suddenly ran back to the exhausted party alone. “Everyone, get up, we have a problem.”
“Oh?” Gilford’s interest piqued. “Did you find some kind of ruined carriage with an injured crew, offering supplies in exchange for first aid?”
“...Do they have any-”
“They’re DYING, Gil, get a move on!”
“Well shit, just start with that!”
Despite the fact their sore feet hurt with the force of a hydraulic press in every step, the young heroes ran to the carriage Leon found. They arrived just in time to find Natalie treating the injured guards. The carriage, although completely totalled after what the party assumed to be a bandit attack, still had their supplies completely untouched. It seems like the guards did a great job protecting the merchant and his goods.
Gilford, being mildly skilled in healing magic himself, ran to one of the injured guards to at least close his wounds. The effects were sufficient enough, but since the spell wasn’t particularly strong, there wasn’t much he could do about the guard’s lost blood. Thankfully, the guard was able to regain a faint sense of consciousness as a result.
“You...could it be?” The guard suddenly spoke.
“Hey, my healing magic isn’t the best, sir, you gotta stay rested so I can give you the full effect.”
“Prince Desmond! Is that really you!?”
“Oh I’m-” Gilford suddenly stopped himself. A sly grin slowly grew on his face. “...Yes! Yes I am!”
“Oh thank the stars you ran into us, your royal highness! We were raided by bandits just a moment ago!” The guard began to get excited, but GIlford tried to set him back down to prevent any wounds from reopening. “The goods and the merchant are unharmed, but we took a beating protecting them. Let me call for a new mode of transport!”
“Hey, slow down now. We won’t be going anywhere, sir. We’ll watch over you until the new cart arrives. Right, friends?” Gilford glanced at the rest of the party, who nodded in agreement before going back to treating the guards.
“O-of course, your royal highness.” The guard pulled out a communicator and called for a new mode of transport. “The new cart should be here soon, since we’re not too far from the city. Please, I insist that you and your companions join us! It’s the least we can do to thank-”
“Please! Thank you!” Gilford interrupted.
“Hey uh...prince?” Leon stepped in. “Can I talk to you for a sec?”
Leon led Gilford a short distance away from the wrecked carriage while the rest of the party helped the other guards and the unconscious merchant heal. Kaiyo, being the one with the least amount of first-aid or healing magic experience, simply kept watch to ensure any bandits don’t come back with reinforcements.
“Ok, dude, the heck are you doing!?” Leon exclaimed with a slight whisper. “You’re no prince, hell, you don’t even have the personality of royalty…”
“What do you think, Leon? I’m securing us a comfortable place to rest!”
“But you barely know anything about this kingdom! How do you think you’re gonna fool everyone? We’ll probably be thrown into a prison cell the second we get past the gates for impersonating royalty.”
“Relax, I’ve done this song and dance before,” Gilford scoffed. “I know what to do. All I gotta do is keep up the lie and use my knowledge of the kingdom to get us some nice beds and supplies, then I’ll make up an excuse on our way out!”
Leon gave Gilford a doubtful look. “Knowledge of the kingdom, huh?”
“Yeah! I think I recognize the route these guys are taking.”
“Where is it?”
“I asked you where their kingdom is.”
“I...well they said it’s nearby, and judging by the road-”
“Gil, you said you’ve never been here, just be honest, man. You just want some attention, don’t you?”
Gilford sighed. “Ok, yeah, I’ve never been here. Yeah, I’m making this up as I go. But watch, by the end of this, we’ll be running out with supplies and food that they willingly gave to us, and they’ll all be none the wiser. Come on, Leon, what’s the worst that can happen?”