The one thing we hadn’t gotten around to discussing was the issue of companions. Uther had seven of his Knights of the Square Table, and extrapolating from that, I was bound to have at least a few more. Both Amaryllis and Fenn I had stumbled across, while Grak had been someone we’d met after setting out some bait. I had an inkling that it might be worth it to find as many companions as possible, but then realized that logistics weren’t on our side, given the teleportation key only took five people at a time.
(We hadn’t tested Fenn’s glove-past-the-limit theory yet, because it seemed too risky to me. Things that were in the glove stayed in the glove across teleportations, but I had this nightmare scenario of putting someone in the glove and trying to exceed the limit, only for the game to punish us by disconnecting the extradimensional bubble. Would the game kill a companion for that? I wasn’t sure, but I wasn’t willing to test it, and there were lesser fates we might suffer, like having to go on a long quest to retrieve them from wherever rogue extradimensional bubbles spit out their contents.)
I could at least make some guesses about what a new companion would look like, and what their role would be, given what I had seen so far and what I assumed about either the shape of the game, or how the Dungeon Master thought. Companion #4 would be different from companions #1-3, with as little repetition as possible, which meant that he or she (probably he, given that we were gender-imbalanced (depending on how you counted Grak)) wouldn’t be a dwarf, wouldn’t be a half-elf, and probably wouldn’t be a full elf or a human, though I was less sure on those two. Humans were the majority race here, and a full elf might provide some (totally unwanted) tension with Fenn, but in terms of traditional D&D party makeup, it would be better to go with something else.
Companion #4 probably wouldn’t be a warder, because Grak had that covered, and probably wouldn’t be an archer, because that was Fenn’s job. Amaryllis’ role in the group, seen through the classical D&D party lens, was as the face, the person who did all the talking and politicking, but I didn’t think she really fit in with that role. Instead, she had mostly been the plot-driver, information-giver, and source of wealth, but those weren’t actual party roles. Regardless, my guess was that Companion #4 would have some magic that I didn’t currently (and possibly couldn’t ever) possess.
Lastly, there was the question of magic items. Amaryllis had nothing but the void tunneler when I met her, Fenn had her artillery bow, and Grak had both his warder’s implements and a magical axe. There was something of a trendline there, and it conformed to roughly how actual D&D parties worked; you couldn’t just have new characters come in underequipped, otherwise they would be too weak and demand too much of the new loot, so they had to have something worthwhile on them to keep them in line with the party. If they’re in line with the rest of the party despite having nothing, then they get too powerful once they start getting equipment, which is a different problem.
So when we stumbled into a mysterious green-skinned crantek woman with a fancy cloak who seemed to be expecting us, my companion sense immediately began tingling.
Fenn kept her arrow nocked, but eased up on the draw.
“Hi friend!” she called to the green woman.
“Greetings,” replied the green woman with a small bow. Like Fenn, she was projecting her voice to be heard across the field of flowers. “You might want to step off those train tracks. I don’t think a train is coming, but it makes me nervous.”
The flower fields she stood in were being farmed, for what reason I could only guess at, though my mind immediately leapt to the Dutch tulip futures craze of the 1600s (more likely they were for dyes). Beyond them was forest, and beyond that were tall, dark purple mountains shot through with layers of white strata. There was no one else around, and whoever tended to these flower fields, they didn’t have so much as a shed in the area. It was a strangely idyllic place for a meeting.
Amaryllis stepped down the embankment, putting us closer to the woman, and I followed after, with Fenn close behind me. “Did your eyes say companion, or was that a guess on your part?” Amaryllis asked, slightly under her breath.
“She shows purple, the same as the three of you,” said Grak. It took me a moment to realize that he was talking about his magic glasses, which he’d taken out from his furs and put on. “I think purple means friend. The people of Cranberry Bay ranged between blue and yellow.” He took off the glasses and raised his monocle to the green woman, who was waiting patiently with a slight smile on her lips. “Staff is magic, cloak is magic, woman is magic,” he said.
“Really?” asked Fenn. “The cloak is magic? Thank the gods we have you around.” This was sarcasm on her part; the cloak was made of a variety of different leaves, which were green at the top and shifted in color until it reached her calves, where it was red. There were no obvious threads, seams, or other indications as to what might be holding it together. All in all, it was probably the most obviously magical item I’d seen in Aerb thus far.
“Dial it back a bit,” I said. I tried to keep my voice low. “Grak, thank you for checking.”
“Sorry,” said Fenn. She turned to Grak. “That thing you said about me being annoying really got to me, you know?” She raised her voice and called to the green woman, “Hey lady, are you particularly annoying?”
“Not really,” the woman called back.
“Drat,” muttered Fenn.
“Juniper?” asked Amaryllis. “Is she confirmed as a companion?”
“No,” I replied. “I agree it’s suspicious. She was waiting for us, clearly. Even if she is a companion, part of our kharass, there needs to be a plausible reason for her to be here. More dipping into elf luck?” The woman was still waiting patiently for us, resting some of her weight on the staff, which had a bird’s skull at the top, embedded in the knurled wood.
“I don’t know,” replied Amaryllis. She was still standing there in her t-shirt and shorts, and when she cast an eye toward Fenn I imagined she was wishing she had armor on. “Maybe we should stop being rude and go introduce ourselves.”
The crantek had been a race that I over-designed and then only used for a single story arc, and I was pretty sure that my 7 KNO was the only reason that I was able to recall anything much about them, because I hadn’t been studious in reading through The Book of Blood . They were short and green-skinned, with their natural habitat being the boundary zone between forests and fields. Their skin allowed for photosynthesis, but it wasn’t enough to keep them up and running, so they were ruminants as well, eating hard-to-digest plants or grass and then chewing their cud.
The go-to mode of behavior for crantek was to go into the forests, gather a bunch of green things to eat, and then find a sunny place to sit and chew cud. I had all these plans for what crantek society was like, how they handled their winters, what they did on rainy days when the sun didn’t shine, their beliefs about their place within the food cycle, and none of it ever really came up. The most that I ever got to show them off was with a crantek elder who had a habit of regurgitating and chewing on cud when he was thinking.
The green of this crantek’s skin was a light, pleasant color, and she was cute, with slightly childish features, like I always thought of hobbits being. This bothered me a bit, because the crantek weren’t supposed to be attractive to humans, at least not as I’d drawn them up. Why would they be? Different species (races, in D&D parlance) shouldn’t actually be attractive to each other, not unless they could cross-breed, and that had been something that I’d had a bug up my butt about when I was drawing up the crantek.
This woman didn’t conform to my fifteen-year-old self’s designs in a few ways. She had ears, not concave pits on the side of her head, and her teeth were more-or-less human, at least from what I had seen when she was talking, which made no sense for a ruminant animal. (And yes, I could already think of all the excuses and justifications that I, and presumably The Book of Blood, would use in order to have cute-to-humans crantek, but it still bothered me, because that wasn’t how I had made them.)
“Oorang Solace,” she said with a bow, once we were close enough that we didn’t have to raise our voices. “You may call me Solace.”
“You saw us come in,” said Amaryllis. She had hidden the teleportation key away the moment we’d landed, and wasn’t holding it anymore. “You were waiting for us.”
“Yes,” nodded Solace. “I’ve spent the last year looking for the four of you.”
I glanced at the others. So far as I knew, this time last year I hadn’t yet existed, and my body had been in some kind of institution or prison. Fenn was also in prison, or possibly not yet arrested for looting an exclusion zone, and Amaryllis was still busy being a princess, and Grak was … doing something, but not something all that important in the scheme of things.
“And who do you think we are?” I asked.
“Ah,” said Solace with a smile. “That, I do not know. The spell I cast was not to find you specifically, but someone who was both willing and someday capable of helping me to save my druidic grove.”
“You’re a druid?” I asked. I hadn’t thought that Aerb had druids.
“You’re not a druid,” said Amaryllis. “The last of the loci were exterminated during the Second Empire. They couldn’t move, which meant they couldn’t hide, and they didn’t have the firepower to fight back. There haven’t been any druids for three hundred years.”
I saw Solace glance down at Amaryllis’ shirt (‘Boning by the Bay’) and frown. “I understand that’s what’s taught at the athenaeums these days. Would you care to see some proof?”
From her cloak she pulled out a large, five-gallon bottle with thick glass walls, which she set on the ground in front of her. It didn’t escape my notice that there was no possible way that she could have hidden the bottle in that cloak, which at least gave a hint to what its magic was. The bottle itself was magic as well, that much was clear from looking at it, because inside was a miniature forest with a clearing in the center, which sat on top of a half-foot of dirt. I might have thought that it was a diorama, if not for the details.
Amaryllis stared down at the bottle, and Grak pulled out his monocle to look at it. There was an entire scene in there, laid out before our eyes, an entire ecosystem in miniature, captured.
“Nice bottle,” said Fenn.
“Are you carrying around a locus?” asked Amaryllis with wide eyes. “Is that even possible? Has it been surviving within that bottle for the last three hundred years?”
I held up a hand. “Clearly, you actually are a druid,” I said. “What spell was it that brought you to this specific place and time, placing you at just the right point to see us arrive when we didn’t even know we were going to be here until minutes ago?” That seemed like the most important point to me, because I wanted to first make sure that Larkspur couldn’t use the same method to find us, and second I wanted to see whether we could find Arthur with it.
“It was a spell of Zorisad Yosivun, the Deep Searching,” said Solace with a small bow at the foreign words. “It takes a year to cast, and at the end, that which was sought is found. If it cannot be found, the spell will cost the caster her life. I sought those who would be willing and someday capable of helping me. As the spell is concluded, and I am not dead, and the four of you are the only ones around for miles, I can only presume that you will be the ones to help me.”
I frowned at that. “How does the spell judge willing and ‘someday’ capable?” I asked. “How does it … how is it supposed to know?” What’s stopping us from fucking off to go do something else? I knew the D&D answer, which is that things could always go off the rails at any moment, and the DM was just making as good a guess as possible about what the future would hold, but I really hoped that her answer would be illuminating.
“Zorisad Yosivun works differently depending on what you ask for,” said Solace, again with a small bow as she said the spell’s name. “For people, it searches within hearts and minds and takes its measure of you. It brought me inexorably to this time and place.”
“That was a very non-technical answer,” I said.
“The druids were non-technical,” said Amaryllis. She had been crouched down next to the bottle and now stood up to look Solace over. “They were powerful when near their locus, one of the most powerful of the mages of the Lost King’s day, but even before the Second Empire began its campaign against them, they were beginning to lag behind the other schools of magic.”
Solace nodded. “The revolutions of the First Empire were not compatible with druidic modes of practice.” She reached toward one of the rows of flowers with a slender hand and with a come-hither gesture, one of the blue flowers began to grow, extending its stalk in defiance of the principles of both botany and physics, until it rested just under her nose. She gave it a sniff and murmured in satisfaction, then gestured at the flower again, which sent it back to where it had been. “The Deep Search was only for those willing and possibly capable, it gave no promises about the future. There are things I can offer you, both my aid as a druid and as a flower mage of some small power, as well as the magics the grove has steadily accumulated over the centuries.”
“Alright,” I said, “We’ll do it.”
“Juniper,” Amaryllis said with a tight voice. “You cannot unilaterally decide these things.”
“We’re a democracy, dammit!” said Fenn. “But I vote yes, and you gave Joon the tiebreaker, so consider that another win for democracy.”
“You’ll have to tell us what, specifically, you think we can do,” I said to Solace as I watched Grak tapping at the bottle with his monocle up to his eye. “Or I guess if you just used magic to find us, then you need to tell us what your problem is, in detail, so we can figure out what tools we have to solve it, or might acquire in the future.”
“We placed the locus in this bottle three hundred years ago,” said Solace. “The environment inside is self-regulating, and the natural home of the locus, though limited in land area by what the bottle can hold. I am the last of the druids tending to it, and without me, I believe that the land inside will die, and the final locus with it. What the Deep Searching has indicated is that you are willing and might someday be capable of finding a permanent solution to the problem.”
Quest Accepted: Taking Root – The world has but a single druid, tending to but a single locus. With the locus so constrained within a magic bottle, no more druids may be inducted, but removal might prove fatal. With your help, druids might stalk the world once more. (Companion Quest)
“There are significant wards inside this bottle,” said Grak. He reached for the top of the bottle, and pressed a thick finger against the neck. Solace made no move to stop him. The bottle tipped up on edge, but the earth and trees inside it stayed in place, not sliding or moving even as Grak pushed the bottle up to a fifteen degree angle. He let it back down, slowly and gently. “Wards are static,” he said. “The wards are anchored to the internal extradimensional space, not to reality.”
“Is that a problem?” I asked.
“No,” said Grak. “It indicates a vastly powerful collective of linked warders.”
“This isn’t the first time Zorisad Yosivun has been used by this druidic grove,” said Solace with a small bow at the words.
“You understand that this isn’t a thing that we can do right this moment?” I asked. Solace nodded. “I don’t mean for lack of will, but because we don’t have the first clue how such a thing could actually be done.” The fact that I now had a quest indicated that it was probably possible, and the fact that it was a companion quest meant that she was a companion, which implied a certain level of trust (though I hadn’t forgotten that Grak’s loyalty had started in the negatives).
“I didn’t ask for those who were willing and capable at the moment,” said Solace with a light shrug.
“Is there a reason for that?” I asked.
“As I said, this isn’t the first time that Zorisad Yosivun has been used by this druidic grove,” said Solce. Her voice was gentle, but I could read the subtext. If the spell couldn’t find what it was looking for, it would cost the caster her life. How many times had this druidic circle cast the spell, with more and more pessimistic wordings, until it had come to this? I couldn’t tell whether that reading was correct or not, but for all her calm I didn’t think that Solace would be standing before us if she had many better options.
“Would you like to meet it?” she asked us, gesturing toward the bottle.
“The locus? In there?” asked Amaryllis, casting her eyes toward the bottle, where the tiny trees were moving gently under the force of a breeze that must have been entirely internal. Her eyes were bright and full of curiosity. “Yes.”
“Seems like a trap,” said Fenn. She still had her bow out and arrow at the ready.
“Helping her is a companion quest,” I said. I watched Solace’s face as I said that. I wasn’t sure how she would take the whole ‘you’re eternally linked to me’ thing, and wanted to hold off on having that particular conversation. She also seemed to have no idea who we were, and if she had been prepared for our arrival, it wouldn’t have been too hard for her to kill us outright.
“Still seems like a trap,” said Fenn. “Grak and I will stay outside. Grak, start putting up as many wards as you can.”
“I will put up the ones most likely to prevent an ambush,” he said with a frown.
Solace stood in front of the bottle and placed her finger just inside the rim. Her body twisted and warped as it was sucked into the bottle in a flash, distilled down to a tiny thing that was pretty much impossible to see.
“Okay,” said Amaryllis. Any sense of wonder that might have been present on her face had vanished, and she strode forward to the bottle. “We should be able to talk freely for a moment. I agree with Fenn that it seems like a trap, but we very much appear to have made the acquaintance of a practitioner of a magic long thought dead, which would be an incredible boon, and that makes me immediately suspicious.” She looked me in the eyes, hers glacial blue and probing. “You said that she was a companion?”
I closed my eyes and started talking even as I waited for the screens to come up. “I was given a quest for the restoration of the grove,” I said. “It was labeled a companion quest, but looking at the companion screen –” I stopped for a moment, because the companion screen was not as I had left it.
Amaryllis was still at a 9 for Loyalty, Grak had moved up to a 3, and Fenn was at 16. The first point of order was that loyalty could, in fact, exceed 10. The second was that Fenn had somehow gained a whopping six points since the last time I checked. The messages the game gave me weren’t recorded anywhere, and didn’t stick around for long even if I didn’t blink them away, which meant that it was possible I’d gained those points while asleep and never noticed it … or something had happened when I was high on unicorn blood.
“– it doesn’t show her as a companion, not yet, which means that I can’t see what her loyalty is, and we know that those can start in the negatives.” I hoped that my pause didn’t entirely give me away. Fenn and I clearly needed to have a pointed conversation, ideally in private.
Grak sniffed at that, sucking air into his wide nostrils. “I assume that was me,” he said. “Fenn planned to betray me. It would have been foolish not to plot against you.”
“Water over the bridge,” said Fenn with a wave of her hand.
“I think it’s a risk worth taking,” said Amaryllis. “The Second Empire moved against the druids. The Empire of Common Cause might be able to work with them. There are minor exclusion zones that a locus would be able to revive almost entirely. If we can get them reproducing …” She trailed off and looked at me. “You think that this is a result of your power?”
“Um,” I said. I thought that this was Dungeon Master shenanigans to introduce a new player at the start of a new session, but that would be related to my place in the context of this world as a simulation, rather than any displayed or provable powers on my part. “It’s hard to say.” It’s hard to say whether there were potential companions floating around in the world who we had a high chance of bumping into, or whether there were a small, set pool that showed up on schedule, or whether something even weirder was going on.
“Very well,” said Amaryllis. “We’ll go in, the others will keep guard.” She walked forward and without another word, placed her finger into the bottle. The same magic happened again, twisting and twirling her physical form around for a brief second before she was sucked inside.
“Okay,” said Fenn, “We should be able to talk freely now.” She looked to me with a too-serious expression that was a mimic of the one Amaryllis had worn. She broke after a second of that. “Well I personally didn’t have anything, but if one of you two did?” She glanced at Grak. “Remember, vow of silence, don’t mention unicorn blood.”
Grak rolled his eyes, but said nothing.
I stepped forward to the bottle, psyched myself up, and put my finger just inside the rim. There was no physical sensation of my body being distorted to fit through (and shrunk down?) as I entered the bottle, it was the world around me that seemed to be changing, save for the bottle itself, whose mouth was only growing wider. And then I was falling, with walls of glass on either side of me, until they opened up where the neck of the bottle ended. Below me was the woodland I had seen from outside, spread out right up to the glass, with a small creek running from one end to the other, and a clearing that I was dropping down toward.
I hadn’t actually given much thought to the prospect of what I was going to do to arrest my fall. My assumption was that either the magic bottle had some special feature that would allow me to land safely, that Solace would save me, that the locus would save me, that there were wards that would prevent injury, or maybe that I’d simply heal back from the injuries that the equivalent to a mile-long fall would give me. But it wasn’t until after I had fallen a few hundred feet that the raw terror of the rushing wind set in and I started trying to figure out how I was going to deal with this in the worst case scenario. I had left my messenger bag, with Ropey inside it, on the ground back near the flower fields. I had more bones that I could suck dry for END to heal me, assuming that I could stay conscious when I hit the ground, and I could probably take the Anyblade off my finger and shape it into something that would provide drag to slow me, and that would —
I sprouted wings. They ripped through my t-shirt, making me thankful that Fenn had taken my armor, and I was startled to realize that I could control them with a thought. They were huge, with each one stretching out at least nine feet, and even then I could tell that they would only be enough for me to soar, not actually fly with. With an excited thought I reached out to wings, trying to feel the bones in them like I could within my own flesh and blood, but I was disappointed to find nothing there. More than that, my blood wasn’t pumping through these wings either, whatever magic had made them.
Still, I could glide, and the pure silence of it, with no sound but the rushing of wind, called back a memory of biking in the nighttime. Gliding on these enormous wings put piloting a helicopter to shame, in part because it was so effortless to use them. I didn’t need to think about any aspect of flight, it was as intuitive as if I’d had those wings since the day I was born. That probably meant some level of mental hackery, but I wasn’t about to let that ruin my fun.
When I spotted a flash of long, red hair, I angled down. Amaryllis was looking up at me, and as I circled her, losing altitude with every rotation, I could see that her t-shirt had holes ripped in the back as well. Solace was nowhere to be seen, but beside the creek that ran through the field there was a singular tree, standing tall and alone. A small plume of smoke was rising up from a dead branch that extended slightly past the tree’s canopy.
I landed next to Amaryllis by bringing myself to a dead stop and then dropping the final twenty feet, killing my momentum with a final flourish of the wings. I could feel a strain on my ribs that hurt far more than I had expected it to, but when I came back up from my landing I had managed not to actually break any of my weakened bones. The wings were retracting into my back in a hurry.
“Okay, now that we’re alone together, we can finally speak freely,” I said.
“No,” said Amaryllis. “Assume that the winds here will carry your every word to her ears.”
“Sorry, that was a joke,” I said. One that probably didn’t work without the context of Fenn’s joke, when I thought about it.
“Ah,” said Amaryllis. “Okay, I get it.” She didn’t laugh or smile. “Was there anything you needed to say, that you didn’t say last night? Something you couldn’t mention in front of Fenn or Grak?”
“No,” I replied. “Or … there was one thing. You took an amulet with a glowing blue gem from the Caer Laga vault. Fenn and I never did discover what it did, and it was keyed to you personally, so, I’m not saying that I think it was something that you were hiding from us,” though it totally was “but it was one of the things that I kept meaning to ask you about once you got better.”
“It’s a copy of my great-grandfather,” said Amaryllis. “Wearing it allows the facsimile to converse with me. I’m fairly certain that I could push my own essence into it, which would clear him out and make the copy one in my own image, but I’m understandably reticent to do that.”
“Huh,” I said. “That seems like it could have been useful to know about. Really useful. Four heads are better than three.”
“He’s currently useless,” said Amaryllis. “I’ll spend more time with him later, but he wants me to engage in testing with him to ensure that I’m the sort of person who needs his help.” She looked toward the tall tree that had smoke puffing out of its makeshift branch-chimney. From the ground, I could see that there were a number of natural holes and hollows, and the interior of it was lit. “I’m trying my best to be forthright with you, but we have other concerns at the moment.”
“Right,” I said. “I mean at first I was just trying to make a joke, but, you’re right. Let’s go.”
As we walked toward the tree/house, I contemplated the bottle. Gravity still felt the same, which it probably shouldn’t have, and the light outside the bottle still seemed as bright as it had when we were out there. My eyes were smaller now, so less light should be hitting them, right? The obvious answer was that magic was compensating for that, but the how seemed like it might be important, if only because it might reveal some of the underlying mechanisms of the simulation I was pretty sure I was in.
(From the outside the bottle was eleven inches across, and from the inside I could simply look at the walls, get a very close approximation from Range Finder, and then use some simple trigonometry to correct for the fact that I was looking up at the walls, since trees were in the way at ground level. My quick calculations, which I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do without WolframAlpha before reaching 7 CUN, suggested the interior of the bottle had a diameter of ~1.2 miles, meaning that we were at something like 1:7000 scale. The trees were not tiny at all; they were behemoths.)
Solace was waiting for us by a wide hole in the tree, not something carved, but what seemed to be entirely (impossibly) natural given the grain of the wood. The windows of the tree-home were similar, and if you had never met a person nor seen a home, you might have thought that it was just the tree’s quirks that had made it into this.
“You’re actually a druid,” said Amaryllis. “This land, this square mile of territory, is really inhabited by a locus, which you carry around in your magical cloak. You can travel without your power diminishing, because you’re never more than a single press of a finger from your locus.”
“Yes,” said Solace with a faint smile. “Do you love it for the sake of the power I wield, or for the majesty of a forgotten magic?”
Amaryllis hesitated. “Both,” she said. “Druids are, or have become,” she stopped. “You know. You can travel freely, you must know what the word ‘druid’ means to the people of Aerb.”
“A thing lost,” said Solace with a nod. “A symbol of the death and desecration of the Second Empire, a memento of all that has ever been lost and cannot be recovered. Yes, I know.”
“Then why,” began Amaryllis, before stopping again. “The Empire of Common Cause would welcome a locus, especially a moveable one, with open arms. Almost any nation within the empire would throw money and personnel toward rehabilitating this grove.”
“To come under the control of another is not the way of the druids,” said Solace. “I have one master, and that is my locus.”
“And you would see it die rather than administered by a kingdom?” asked Amaryllis.
“You misunderstand the nature of a locus,” said Solace. “To be administered by a kingdom might be enough to kill it, even if the land it had was large, healthy, and mostly untouched by the mortal species. My locus has been confined to this bottle with a single square mile for near-on three hundred years.”
“And besides that, it’s the kind of thing you would use the Deep Searching for anyway,” I said.
Solace looked at me for a moment, then nodded. “This locus has too little land to induct new druids into the grove,” she said. “It took three deaths to Zorisad Yosivun before we stopped trying to find a kingdom to be our salvation.” And each of those deaths with a year invested in the question. Each one gave you information, if only in the negative, suggesting that what you’d asked for was, despite what you might assume, impossible.
It was bothering me that there was still no message about her being a companion. How it had worked in the past was that a loyalty message would pop up after enough time, and after the second level of loyalty, I would be able to see a biography. None of that was exactly pinned down, and there were more complicated theories, but I really thought that I should have gotten one by now.
“So where is the locus?” I asked.
“Behind you,” replied Solace with a smile.
When I turned around, I saw a doe, six feet tall at the shoulder, with skin so pale brown that it was nearly white, and six eyes that were all staring right at me. It moved closer, twitching an ear, then bent its head low to the ground to eat from the grass there, not taking its eyes off me.
Loyalty Increased: Six-Eyed Doe lvl 0!