Chapter 3 – A Village

As I went out of the mansion and strolled, I saw that All around me was nothing but woodland. I saw no sign of anything resembling civilization. (woa it feels really different on what my life was on the colonies and mother ships. Living in a planet is really the best.)

I took my time strolling and admiring the beauty of nature,  I started doing the only thing I could come up with: wandering aimlessly and hoping I was lucky enough to find something or someone who could tell me where is the rest of the civilization is. Ofcourse I did not use the memories of the late Vermillion since its more fun this way to explore without knowing a thing.

You’ve probably guessed already that I was about as adept a frontiersman as a monkey trying to quote Shakespeare. I remembered seeing a couple movies that claimed moss grew heaviest on the north side of a tree. I tried looking at moss, which there was no shortage of, but couldn’t really identify any discernable pattern of thickness. I tried looking for a creek or something that could lead to a river or some other body of water. Most rivers flow south, right? I think… ? Well, I didn’t find any creeks or rivers.

After wandering for at least an hour or two and getting turned around probably a couple dozen times, I finally let myself collapse against a tree once I couldn’t walk another step. My feet were killing me, and my throat was dying for a drink of water. And oh yes, I was lost in the woods, too. Scenes from The Blair Witch Project started coming to mind; not pleasant thoughts. I sincerely hoped that this forest didn’t have anything like that lurking in it waiting to come out and hunt me after nightfall. In fact, the idea of still being here by nightfall was by itself a frightful notion.

Something about these woods had been bugging me for a while, something that seemed wrong and out of place. I’d been a little too distracted trying to find some clues to lead me somewhere to really think about it, but sitting there then, it dawned on me. The plants all around me looked a lot more tropical than they should have. God, I was so dense for not realizing this to begin with…

Where the hell was I?
Suddenly I heard a weird noise coming from beyond the trees. It sounded like some kind of animal noise, but not like any animal I’d ever heard, in the real world or in the movies. It was like a throaty, guttural hissing sound. And it sounded like it was moving closer.

I rose to my feet, every nerve I had on edge. Slowly I started inching closer to the sound, craning my head to try to see what was making it. And even as my feet continued moving forward, I realized my own stupidity. (Real smart legs of mine, Move toward the threatening animal noise.) And yet I didn’t stop.

At least not until the sound stopped. I stood there, frozen, not daring to move, listening for any recurrence of the sound, watching carefully for any sign of what might have made it. I was coiled tight, ready to snap if so much as a squirrel appeared. I waited … and I waited some more.

Nothing moved that I could see. I gradually started unwinding, thinking whatever made that noise must have moved past me and continued on.
And if I’d said that out loud, I’d say I jinxed it. Because that’s when four large gray-green shapes sprang out of the brush. I stumbled onto my back and scuttled backwards as quickly as I was able, unable to accept the existence of the things that stood hissing at me.

They were about the size of grown men, and vaguely shaped like them, but the resemblance stopped there. Their arms were too long, as were their fingers, if you could call them that. They were more like long, spindly talons that looked sharp enough to write someone’s name in a rock, and long enough that they almost scraped the ground with the way the things hunched over. Beyond that, they looked mostly reptilian, with leathery scales for skin, yellow lizard eyes and mouths permanently shaped into a vicious, predatory grin full of razor-sharp teeth. For noses they just had two vertical slits, topped by two slanting rows of little bony spines running up their foreheads, forming a V that framed a sort of natural hood sloping back over their bald heads. Other than that their bodies were shaped with sort of humanoid musculature, with thin clawed toes on their feet, and I was pretty sure I saw what I guess were pieces of male anatomy (don’t even ask me to describe them)

Prone helplessly on my ass, I backed away across the ground as the creatures advanced on me, all hissing loudly. One of them took the lead, moving forward and bending down to study me closely with its hungry eyes. I whimpered in terror as they sized me up, most likely trying to decide if they should kill me first or if I’d taste better still screaming.

That hesitation ended up being a good thing, because in the time they spent studying me, my hand was able to find a pretty decently sized rock. Just as the lead creature raised a clawed hand to take a slice out of me, I swung the rock up and clocked it across the head and it flew a few meters before It fell to ground, I then scrambled to my feet, and I ran.(what the heck was those things? And how did I made of them flew with just a swing of my hand holding a rock? Upon realizing something I stopped my running and I now have a big grin around my face saying that why did I even ran? Since I am now here in this fantasy world, and I became the demon lord… well one of the demon lord. It means I am pretty strong right, but those things really spook me up they look so ugly and menacing,) as I was thinking I heard a hissing behind me. as instinct came over me I began to ran again thinking,(oh well since I am new here in this planet, I by no means did not ran because I was scared by their appearance…yup I am not scared one bit. Yes I ran because I need to exercise my body.)

The trees and plants became blurred shapes as I dashed past them, leaping over roots and stones, not daring to let anything be an obstacle. And then I did something I really shouldn’t have: I looked back. Oh, shit, those things were fast! They ran on all fours, making giant strides with their overly long arms and gripping the earth with their claws to cover more ground faster. I don’t know how I’d been lucky enough to stay ahead of them as long as I already had.

And like the moron I obviously was, not only was I now slowing myself down by looking behind me, but I wasn’t watching what was ahead of me. I never saw the tree root until I was already tripping over it.
As soon as I hit the ground, I frantically started looking for another rock or a branch or anything I could use as a weapon. But the things were on me in seconds. As the lead creature stood over me, preparing to claw my throat out while his buddies waited behind him for their turn, all I could do was cover my head and scream.

THUNK.
That didn’t sound like a clawing noise, and it felt like I still had all my parts. Cautiously, I dared to peek my eyes out of cover, finding the lead creature lying dead on the ground next to me with an arrow jutting out of its chest. The other three suddenly seemed both angry and frightened as more arrows whizzed around them. Another arrow struck one of them in the back as it turned to flee. As the remaining two retreated, a bunch of human shapes burst out of the foliage, continuing to launch arrows after them.

Yes, I was definitely grateful to be alive right then.

Regardless, the fact remained that my rescuers were almost completely nude.

I kept my gaze off of them for a moment more until one of them came up and started prodding me with his bow. “@#, ^$%$%,” he said.

Cautiously I looked up at him, He looked about my age, maybe a little older, with dark hair and thin lines of facial hair around his chin and jaw.

“%#$%^%?” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“(&&*^%, #@#$%?”

“Uh…”

Another one of them, this one a woman, stepped up beside him. “!#@$ ^$%^$,” she said. “*&^%% ron ma.” With that she bent down and extended a hand to me. Again I tried, more out of courtesy this time, to avoid looking at her hanging almost not covered tits. But I didn’t do so well.

When I didn’t take her hand at first, she shook it once and said, “#@#^%$ e &%%^#$”I didn’t know what that meant, but so far these people didn’t seem hostile. Or crazy, despite what my first instinct might have suggested. And her tone sounded friendly, albeit a little impatient. I cautiously took her hand and let her help me up.
Getting to my feet, I allowed myself to take stock of my rescuers. There were five of them, one man and four women. The two in front of me had bows with quivers of arrows strapped to their backs, while the other three women carried spears. They also each wore a leather belt with a knife and a few pouches on them. They had some kind of tribal markings painted on them: on their faces they each had two white lines on each cheek slanting down away from their noses, and a dark green crescent over the corner of each eye. On their bodies were more tribal patterns painted in white, each one bearing their own unique patterns. And the four of them seems to have pointy ears.

I had a hard time trying to place their ethnicity. They looked like some exotic mix of Asian, Pacific Islander and Hispanic. They all had dark hair in varying shades of black and brown, well-tanned skin and almond-shaped eyes. Also none of them looked like they were much older than I was; some of them might have been younger in fact.

The girl with the bow in front of me examined me curiously, and began pulling with two fingers at my shirt. I pulled away from her. “Stop that.” She looked confused, particularly by my clothes, as if she’d never seen anything like them before. And judging by the nudity of my present company, she might not have. They then talk with each other and had decided to take me with them.

I had time now to chew on the impossibility of my situation. How exactly had I gotten from my mansion up to this forest… I stopped wondering about things the moment my escorts led me to a wide running stream. As soon as I saw the water I dashed for it, dropping to my knees and scooping up mouthful after mouthful. It was enough of a relief to my parched throat that I ignored it the first time the lead spear woman came up and tapped me with the butt of her spear. When I kept drinking, she tapped me harder, impatiently.

I looked up at her stern face. “$#%^$!” she ordered.

“I don’t understand,” I meekly replied.

“$#%^$!” she repeated, hitting me again with the butt of her spear. I rolled over onto my butt and held a hand up defensively and leaking some killing intent, yes now I can fight…oh well those lizards where scary as hell I forgot that I am trained in all sort of combats, the four of them. Flinched upon feeling my killing intent. Well it’s not like I can’t fight, it’s just that it’s my first time seeing those kinds of huge lizards that I got frightened a little. But now since they are human I can easily fight them even bare handedly against them using weapons.

The bow girl stepped up beside her and pulled gently on the spear woman’s arm. “#%^$#,” she said. “Ba @!#$%$%  gro a. *&^%^&.” It sounded like a suggestion, which the spear woman seemed to listen to. The spear woman backed off, while the bow girl crouched down next to me. She gave me a gentle look and said, “@#@$@$. Tu ##@$@. Ni kwed &%^$ ja.”

I sighed. “When are you people going to realize I don’t understand what you’re saying?”

She looked confused, and then she looked concerned. She looked down at the water I’d been drinking, and then back up at me, and raised her eyebrows in what seemed a question. Apparently she had given up trying to communicate verbally and was now trying to find another way. She scooped up another handful of water and offered it to me. I gratefully drank out of her hands, not taking my eyes off her face. Having finished that, she took hold of my wrist, pulling gently
And then she smiled at me.
I was starting to like the bow girl. She seemed genuinely concerned with my well-being, at least more so than the others. I allowed myself to get a more thorough look at her than I had until now; after all, the girl was almost naked and clearly didn’t have a problem letting herself be seen. It dawned on me that she looked like the youngest one of this hunting party; she couldn’t be more than 17 or 18. She had hair that was a light shade of black and seemed to be built in layers that thinned out the further down its length you got, tapering to a narrow point at the end. Her eyes were a sort of shining bronze.

As I dared to examine the rest of her body, I saw a figure that was just barely full enough to be called athletic and not be called petite. She was thin but toned, with firm muscles and some decent curves. She had modestly sized globular breasts, and below the belt that held her knife and whatever was in those pouches was a cute little light bush. She looked able enough to handle trouble, but her body still had an inherent softness too it, in contrast to, like, say, for instance, the lead spear woman, whose whole body seemed to be made of nothing but hard edges and taught muscles.

We continued along the edge of the stream, until we came to something I didn’t really expect to find: a bridge. Well, okay, it wasn’t that out there for a bridge to have been here, but I would have expected it to be a shaky, rickety thing made of a long, crooked plank with only ropes for railings if there were any. But this thing looked like the work of a master craftsman. It was a solid, sturdy thing that crossed over the stream in a perfect arc. The wood was all smooth and polished and perfectly symmetrical. As the hunting party crossed over ahead of me, I paused to examine it, tapping it with my foot. I doubted I could’ve broken the thing with a sledgehammer.

Maybe these people were a little more sophisticated than I gave them credit for.
Which you’d think would mean I shouldn’t have been surprised when we got to their village. I expected to find some little hovel of mud huts or tents of animal hide. But as the trees opened up and the hill sloped down, I instead saw a huge, bustling village, probably big enough to qualify as a small town. The expert craftsmanship of the bridge was only a teaser for what I would find here. These weren’t huts or tents but actual houses, built of fine polished wood and giant leaves and bamboo. And they were beautiful. They had winding stairways, elevated walkways, and carefully placed ferns planted all over the place. They actually looked like places I’d live in myself.

There had to have been thousands of people living there with pointy ears. There were all ages; young, old, and everything in between. I saw children playing, women chatting while carrying baskets of food, and old men playing games. There were people busy making weapons, preparing food, tending gardens, practicing archery, all kinds of things.

Most of them didn’t have the markings painted on them that my escort party did, and the few I saw who did were all carrying weapons. Apparently the body paints were reserved for hunters or warriors. There were some people who wore some kinds of jewelry, though none quite the same as the lead spear woman’s claw necklace. Most were made of some kind of flowers or leaves, and there were others that were made from some kind of animal teeth or bones. There were some that looked like they were even made of gold or silver.

As my escorts led me through the village … well, I got stares. I got a lot of stares. Every single person I passed within sight of couldn’t seem to take their eyes off me. I can only imagine how strange of clothing must I have to appeared to these almost naked elves? I saw children stopping to point at me, before their frightened mothers hurried them inside their houses. Many of the people began backing away and whispering among themselves as I passed.
Eventually the lead spear woman stopped and pointed her spear to one of the nearby houses. “$%@, *&%^%$ e @$#@ en (*&*&%^. Jazum, *&^&%.”

The bowman went off in another direction, while the bow girl took me by the arm and, smiling warmly at me, guided me toward the house. The other three of them continued on.

It was one of the smaller, more modest houses in the village, and it opened with a sliding door. It was really just a one-room house with a few basic amenities, dominated by a low bed in one corner with a blanket of fur, and a polished circular table with built-in, evenly spaced benches just off center. Plus there was a large potted plant by one of the windows, where it could get plenty of sun. It didn’t look like anyone actually lived here, but it was well kept. My best guess was that it was a guesthouse or something, reserved for visitors like me.

She sat me down at the table and said, “So $#%$^,” moving her hands in a “stay put” gesture. It seemed like she was starting to get that I didn’t speak her language, and so she was throwing extra body language into her words. Then she turned and walked out, sliding the door shut behind her. So now there was nothing for me to do but sit and wait for something to happen.

I tossed my upper shirt onto the bed and got up and walked to the front window, which held no glass. Outside were plenty of curious onlookers, hanging around, gossiping with each other, craning their necks to get a look at me well ofcourse since I remove my shirt because I felt out of place since most of the people here in the village are almost naked. My eyes were drawn to a small bunch of teenaged girls whispering among each other as they stared at me. Hey, what can I say, I’m a guy. A bunch of naked teenage girls checking you out is something I’d defy any self-respecting straight dude to look away from. I gave them my best smile and a little wave and said, “Hey.” A couple of them began giggling coyly.

Oh, yeah. I’m the man.
And then I saw the guy from the hunting party returning, and not alone. I returned to the bench at the table as he entered, followed by another man, one who looked to be in his late thirties or something like that, who wore a crown of some kind of leaves on his head. He carried a brown leather pouch strapped over his shoulder. “&%^%,” he said.

The man began approaching me, reaching into his pouch. He produced a small vial of something, and a thing that looked like a wadded bunch of leaves. He pressed them together, getting whatever was in the vial onto the leaves, and then squeezed the wad as he reached it over to my head. I flinched from a stinging feeling and a smell like alcohol as he pressed it to my temple. “^&%%^$,” the man commanded. The hunting guy stepped up beside me, taking hold of me by the shoulders, and then gripped my head to hold it steady as the medicine man continued his work. It still stung, but I gritted my teeth and bore it with a twitching left eye.

When he was done with that, he looked me over, and reached to start pulling up my shirt. I swatted his hands away. “Hey, hands off!”

The medicine man gave me an unappreciative look. “Dom ^&%%$. Son … &%%$,” he said, patiently trying to explain something to me. I was a pit less patient. I sighed and rolled my eyes; I was just getting tired of everyone talking to me like I was supposed to know what they were saying.

A moment later the bow girl returned, having discarded her bow and quiver and now carrying a wooden tray laden with cooked meat and some kind of diced vegetables. I didn’t know what those vegetables were, or what kind of animal that meat came from; all I knew was that when she brought it to the table, I couldn’t take my eyes off the glistening, steaming roast. “Oh, wow, this looks good!“

The hunting guy and medicine man looked at each other dubiously, and then turned to leave.
As they exited the house, she sat down next to me at the table, picked up one of the pieces of meat and held it out to me. I eagerly took it and began trying to wolf down more of it than I probably should have.

Oh, juicy heaven. I didn’t know how long it had been since I’d eaten from running around the forest. Because I nearly choked on the mouthful that I tried to eat too fast. I sputtered a little, and got a load of juice running down my chin, which I tried to catch before it dripped onto my pants. She started laughing. I can’t say I blamed her. I must have looked like such an idiot. I just couldn’t help laughing with her.

When she collected herself, she handed me a surprisingly well-made cloth towel. Once I’d wiped my face and swallowed most of what I had in my mouth, I looked at her and said, “Thank you.”
She eyed me curiously. “Thhank youuu…” she echoed.

“Thank you,” I repeated for her. A look of what seemed like comprehension passed over her. She smiled, and picked up some of the vegetables and began eating with me.
After we had a few more bites, I paused a moment while she continued eating. I thought back on the conversations I’d heard. Most of it had sounded like gibberish to me, but one thing seemed to register.

“Eli.”

Instantly she looked up at me, her eyes open in surprise.

“That’s your name, isn’t it?” I said. I pointed to her and repeated, “Eli?”

She nodded. “Eli,” she confirmed, gesturing to herself.

I pointed to myself then. “I’m…,” I stopped for a moment to think then said. “Josh.”

“Jooosshh…” she repeated awkwardly.

“Yeah, that’s right. Josh.”

“Josh,” she repeated again, more solidly this time.

“Yes,” I said, laughing.

The door slid open, and the lead spear woman appeared. “^&%$^ a,” she commanded. Eli nodded, and gently took hold of my arm, indicating for me to rise and follow.

They led me out of the house and through the village, where I continued to get more stares and hushed murmurs. Ahead of us in the direction the ladies were leading me was what had to be the largest house in the whole village, clearly the home of someone important. It wasn’t huge; it wasn’t like a mansion or anything. It wasn’t the only house to have two stories, but it did look like it had more rooms than most of the places. And it was definitely the most lavishly decorated.

We ascended a set of steps up to the front door, as I slowed to admire the simple but elegant fountain pool that had been set up in front of the house. It reminded me of those Japanese rock gardens with a running stream that fills a piece of bamboo that periodically dips. It wasn’t quite the same as that; it did have a bamboo, but it was more of a water wheel than a simple dipping tube. It was also surrounded by some larger plants than I’d expect to see in those rock gardens.

The spear woman slid open the door and we entered the hallways inside. They led me to some kind of wide-open audience room, where a man who looked to be just over 50 sat on a cushion in an alcove at the end of the room, with a bit of incense burning in front of him. Eli guided me to stand in the center of the room, while the spear woman stood in front of me waiting. “%$&^ *(&^^%,” she said.

“%^$%^^%,” the man said.
The spear woman looked perplexed she eyed me and then said . “^%$#@#$…” she protested.
“A #@#$%%^.”
The spear woman paused, seemingly uncertain, and then turned to leave. Eli began following after her, when the man spoke again, stopping her. “Eli,” he said. “%$%%^ ^%^%$^ , #@#$%%^^&.”

Eli nodded, and left. When I turned my head back forward, the man rose to his feet. I can’t say that seeing a man his age in the nude was ever on my list of things to do, but he seemed pretty fit for his age anyway. Still, I tried averting my eyes from his lower parts as much as I could without appearing rude. He had long hair that was only just starting to thin at the back of his head, with the length tied in a long tail, and a light, slightly graying beard just running around the edge of his jaw line. A gold chain of square trinkets circled his neck, and he had a gold band on each wrist. It looked like he was decorated specifically to show his status, or maybe—

“I am very happy to meet you, Demon lord Vermillion,” the man said, bowing his head with a sly grin. “My name is Kezaloz. I am Faruum of this village.”

I got shock on what the man had said, but I just shrugged it off and said

“Faruum?”
“The word you may say is ‘chief.’ Or perhaps ‘king.’ You have many words.”

Well, as long as I had someone I could actually speak to, now was as good a time as any to ask the question that had been burning me all day: “Where am I?”

“This village is called Jivalku, in the forest of Wesento. It is in the southwest of the lands of Azankoz.”

I stared at him, dumbfounded. “Okay, I should have studied more about the memories of the late Vermillion.”

“This does not surprise me,” Kezaloz said. “Since you just traveled 50killometers away from your mansion.”

Again I was dumbfounded on what Kezaloz had said…(omg how did I traveled 50killometers just running inside the forest getting chased by those lizards in such a short amount of time) as seeing my troubled face Kezaloz then said

“Demon lord Vermillion, I welcome you once again to our village.”

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