Sure, you always have a place to camp, but the problem with having a creature with trees growing out its back is finding a big enough river to water them thoroughly. I had lived in the Emerald Hills with Trem, my gaiasaur, for four years. they have some deep rivers there. Beautiful place. We probably would have stayed for years to come, if circumstances hadn’t changed.
The earth rumbled as the beast’s fists bored into the dirt. A dull, low tremor, sinking slightly beneath his weight. Trem echoed the earth’s dismay.
“I know, buddy,” I murmured, looking back up at him. “I’m tired, too.” I heard there were some lakes in this area. Not a perfect solution, but it would have to do.
Trem groaned again, louder this time.
“Trem, we talked about this. Keep it down. We’re having a hard enough time as it is without you alerting the rest of the world to our presence.”
“Already alerted!” a high-pitched voice said. It was coming from above me. I swiveled around, looking up to him. As I stopped, so did he.
Sitting on one of his horns and silhouetted by the rising sun, casually swinging her legs, was the shape of a little girl.
“Hey!” I yelled, squinting my eyes. “How did you…? Get down!”
“Too high to jump!” she replied.
I sighed. This was the last thing I needed. “Trem, you gotta sit down, buddy.”
He groaned in annoyance. I couldn’t help but empathize. A few moments later, he bent forwards, leaning to sit down. The girl slipped, sliding off of him as he moved. She screamed.
I cursed. She was over twenty feet up and I was too far to catch her. I ran anyway.
“Peter!” she yelped.
As I charged for her, the ground beneath her molded and arose. It coalesced into a humanoid shape, arms outstretched. It snatched the girl from the air and saved her from what would have been a crippling fall.
I gaped, frozen in shock. “Thanks, Peter,” she laughed, patting the earth golem on its undefined head.
“What in the… you can conjure elementals?” The only one I knew who was powerful enough to do that was an Eklesian archmage. Truth be told, it was part of the reason I didn’t argue when their forces told us we had to leave.
“Just Peter,” she replied as the golem gently placed her onto the ground. “He helps when I need him to.”
This girl couldn’t have been older than eight. I couldn’t even imagine a sorcerer so talented at such a young age to be able to perform such a difficult spell. Even witnessing the act didn’t seem real.
“What are you?” I heard myself say.
“My name’s Ami,” she giggled. “And seems to me like you need my help.”
“Maelys,” I introduced myself with a somewhat reluctant bow. “Trem and I are just travelers. We’re trying to find a new place to live.”
“Trem? As in ‘tremendous’?” she returned her gaze to the gaiasaur behind her.
“Or ‘tremor’,” I replied. “I’m not very creative, but he seems to like the name.”
“So where’d you come from?” she asked. She examined me up and down. There wasn’t much to see. The only remarkable thing about me was my traveling partner.
“The Emerald Hills. We left because the new Eklesian rule told us to. Apparently the hills are suddenly a part of their domain.”
“You think Eklesia is bad? You’ve never been to Teraldia.” How could this little girl know so much about the politics of two different nations?
“I just want to be as far away from civilization as possible,” I lamented. “Trem and I just need a deep river with lots of fish. The Emerald Hills were perfect. But I’ll take us through the Lifeless Expanse if we have to. Anything to be away from the hustle and bustle of cities.”
“You ever been to the Shrouded Isles?”
“No, where is that?”
“They’re islands off the northern coast of Amoria.” I didn’t want to admit it, but I hadn’t heard of that place, either. I just shrugged.
“Well, that works out nicely. That’s where Peter and I are going! We could show you!”
I for one, am not quick to trust. It usually takes a night of ale and laughter to get on my good side. Trem seemed to take a liking to her, though. As impossible as it is to discern the behemoth’s body language, he seemed energized by the girl’s arrival. I could put faith in that, at least.
“Very well. We must travel by river, if possible. Trem gets much of his nourishment through the trees on his back, and they need water.”
She nodded, emphatic. “Sure, that makes sense. Peter, go get some water from the nearest river! We’ve got a long trip ahead of us!”