As the two travelled along the eastern road, they both felt how peaceful it was and they were really grateful for it seeing as they had such a bad time during the mist with those creatures. They stopped for lunch and continued on their way and it was only a little while after they had eaten that Kane started to feel something was off. They had hardly seen anyone on the path; whether it was anyone walking or travelling by mount of vehicle.
It wasn’t until Kane had a serious expression that Eletha began to notice something was amiss. His face said it all; that he was alert and wary. Just that made her think over what could have made him like that, only to think that there was something wrong.
“Kane?” she asked, keeping close beside him as they walked, “There’s something wrong, isn’t there?”
“It’s just…” Kane started after a moment of silence, keeping his gaze on the road ahead, “We haven’t seen many people travelling by and yet we usually see a lot of people. I wonder why…” he trailed off as his voice became a pensive tone. Eletha looked up at him with a curious expression before looking at the fields and trees that lined the road as if there was a hidden enemy there.
It was another fifteen minutes before they saw a small group of five people walking together on the other side of the road. As they headed by they were completely distracted as they chatted amongst themselves, and their words could be heard by the pair heading in the opposite direction.
“We must have had too many people with us,” one of the women said in the group.
“It was a good idea to group up,” said one of the men, “Or we would have been robbed for sure.”
“Are you sure there’s a bandit there and it isn’t just a rumour?” a second woman who was a lot more speculative suggested. The other four looked at her, thinking, until one of them who hadn’t spoken shook his head, “No, I’m sure it’s not a rumour. A few friends of mine have been robbed on this road recently. It must be true.” As their voices got quieter, Eletha and Kane were unable to hear anything else.
“A bandit, huh?” Kane muttered. Eletha grew concerned because she didn’t want to get robbed by a bandit, but she didn’t want to lose her hero either. Well, not lose any more time in order to find him anyway.
“What do we do?” Eletha asked carefully with a little upset in her voice, worried that they would have to stop. Kane thought about it as he slowed down to a stop, then he turned to Eletha and said, “Well, we either take the road and hope the bandit doesn’t rob us. We could probably hide and wait for him to appear. Otherwise we would need to take a detour.” Sadly, both would cost time, but which one? If they waited him out he may appear pretty quickly, but…
She thought about it hard, nibbling her lower lip as she tried to come up with a good reason to wait out for the bandit, but when she looked up at Kane and remembered he had a head injury and had protected her already, she felt she owed it to him to keep him on the safest path. And if they fell into the trap of the bandit she would never forgive herself if he got hurt because of her selfishness.
She sighed, fiddling with her hair as she mulled over it once more. Kane could only smile and petted her head again, saying, “Don’t think too hard on it, alright? I’ll help you whatever road you take.” Just hearing those words helped make Eletha her choice. It made her feel bad that he would help her whatever decision she made despite her being four years his junior.
“We’ll…take the detour,” she said, dropping her gaze from his. Kane raised an eyebrow, having been sure she would suggest that they wait out the bandit and avoid him. He bent down to her eye level with a kinder smile than usual and said, “Hey, you’re not doing that for my sake, are you? We can check out the bandit if you want. It’s sweet you’re worried about me, sweetheart, but I’m tough.” Eletha immediately felt herself bristle at his words, her body tensing as she scowled at him, her face starting to burn red because of his embarrassing words.
“It’s not like that!” she cried in frustration, “It’ll just be my fault if you get hurt again. So that’s why!” She quickly turned on her heel, shifting her bag onto her shoulder better as she muttered to herself about how embarrassing Kane was being. She wasn’t very quiet about it, which only made Kane laugh heartily, thoroughly enjoying her embarrassed expressions. Her blushing face was cute too and it made him want to wind her up something chronic.
“Aww, embarrassed I used a pet name for you?” Kane jibed at her as he followed her. Eletha started turning red again and said, “Stop it. You’re so embarrassing.”
“Oh don’t be like that,” he hurried up to her with a smirk on his face, draping his arm around her shoulders, “I just like playing with you.”
“I’ll kick you,” Eletha warned him with a glare as Kane turned them down the detour path, making Eletha glance down the road the bandit was supposedly down. Well, she guessed it was better safe than sorry.
“Well, I don’t fancy a kick from you,” Kane said as he released her, still enjoying the situation, and he put his hand to his chin as he said pensively, “Though I wouldn’t mind a kick from my lover when I get one. I’d enjoy that.”
“Kane!” Eletha wailed at him, rearing back away from him with a shocked expression on his face, which only made him laugh more. He wiped his eyes as he shook his head, “Geez, you’re so naïve or just don’t deal with romantic things well, huh? Or are you just one of those snobbish, reserved sort of people?”
“How rude,” Eletha frowned at him, standing up straighter with a proud stance, “I just don’t like vulgar talk. Keep that sort of thing in the bedroom or wherever it is that you sleep.”
“Like the rocks where we slept together?” Kane winked at her, “Maybe we can have that sort of talk later tonight then.” Eletha stopped in her tracks as Kane carried on walking, laughing to himself at how she kept walking into things like that all the time. The next thing he knew, a large stone had hit him in the leg and he winced, hopping a bit before turning around only to see Eletha with another large stone in her hand. She was really frowning at him and he wanted to make a joke that she was going to get wrinkles early, but he let her speak, “You’re lucky I decided to not aim for your head.”
“Well, I’d better be more careful then. Sorry, sorry,” he said, though his apology was full of laughter and amusement. Eletha sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose as she thought about how tired she felt. This guy was mentally tiring sometimes. However, she needed him, and so she joined him and carried on walking with him, biting her tongue as she struggled to ignore his sniggering. When she thought about it, she didn’t really mind in the end. He was kind enough to help her and was going out of his way, so jokes like this was something she should probably get used to…or just ignore entirely. Either way, she felt kind of bad that she snapped at him so easily when he was vulgar or rude. He obviously didn’t mean it. After all, she was only fifteen and he was nineteen, an adult. To him, she was just a child, so he was just winding her up and it was nothing to get worked up over.
She looked up ahead of her now she had straightened out her thoughts, wondering how much of a detour this road would be.
After a few minutes and with both of them in silence, Kane finally spoke up and said, “Thanks…for considering me when you made your decision. You really didn’t have to take the detour route. I would have been fine.” Eletha watched him, noting how his expression had grown kinder again, and she knew he was being genuine. So she scratched an itch on her cheek as she replied, “It’s okay. In the end, you’re helping me and have protected me. I don’t want you to put up with unnecessary danger for my sake.” It really would have been the perfect time to tease her but he didn’t want to this time. Instead, he petted her head again gently like he seemed to do with her often. Just that gesture showed he was grateful for it. He needed to rest his body as much as he could while they travelled so he really did appreciate it.
Travelling further on the road, Kane realised it was a lot longer and more complicated than he had first thought it would be. He glanced down at Eletha, wondering if she had noticed the same, and by her expression, it seemed she had. However, she didn’t say a word, whether it was in exasperation or regret at not taking the route with the bandit. Despite her being desperate to meet her saviour, she was caring enough to not want to put others at risk even if it was at her own expense.
“How are you hanging in there?” he asked, wanting to get some kind of opinion out of her. The young elf girl looked up at him before looking ahead again and replied, “I’m alright, thank you. How is your head?” The young man felt his head and said, “It’s fine. Got a bit of a headache still but it’s a lot better than it was.”
“That’s good,” Eletha said before taking a large breath of fresh air, letting it out slowly. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed Kane was staring at her. She waited for a moment to see if he would stop and when she started feeling uncomfortable, she asked, “What is it?” Kane felt a smile creep along his lips, “Oh, nothing really. I was just wondering if you were regretting your decision.”
“Hm,” Eletha made a noise as if she was thinking about how to put her words, then said, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking ‘what if’, but it’s better this way. I wouldn’t have wanted to go down a path that ended badly and made me think ‘I should have gone down the other path’. So in the end, I don’t regret it.”
“That’s good to hear,” Kane said, feeling more relaxed now that she had voiced her thoughts. In the end, he hoped she would meet her saviour, especially after all this effort they were putting in in finding him. But even if they didn’t, he could admit that at least he’d made a good friend out of all this.