Day 31

“We’ve been walking for miles and miles,” Ginger groaned as she lagged behind the party. “This never happens to the princesses in the games I play. This is just boring.”

“First, boring is good. Boring means that there’s nothing after your tail trying to fashion your bones into fashionable toothpicks,” Tipper said from the front of the group. He held up his pinky finger. Then he held up his ring finger. “Second, we haven’t even made it out of the Kitsune Forest. We’ve only walked five miles.”

“Easy for you to say,” Ginger grumbled. She kicked at a rock. Clearly, the overwhelming oddity of the massive trees and the alien characteristics of the surrounding foliage had worn off.

“Luckily, we should be hitting the edge of our forest soon. We’re taking the path merchants usually enter our forest from. Much safer and out in the open.” Perceval explained. He trotted right next to Lila, his mouth open as he panted.

“I know that this forest meets another one. The Elder told me. I just never got the name where we’re going next.” Alastair conjured the image of the map and direction that the group had intended to go. The map had been marked with the names of locations, however, they were marked with symbols that he couldn’t understand. He assumed that because of a human’s ability to translate audible language to their own native tongue that he’d be able to read the kitsune’s language as well. We’re the symbols a language in the first place? Regardless, he could not put them together.

“Oh, it’s, it’s just a forest.” Tipper made sure to keep his face hidden.

“That’s not suspicious at all,” Zane sighed. “Come on, guys. We’re going to the forest anways. You may as well spill and give us its name.”

“Er,” Perceval mumbled. His sleek and impeccable fur had ruffled in a straight line down his back. Then his ears drooped as he acquiesced. “Alright. Alright. You’ve got us. The name of the forest is The Forest of Death.”

The children did not pause. They just kept walking without a moments hesitation.

“Wait. Why aren’t you guys frightened? The Forest of Death isn’t something to sniff at.” Tipper held up his black flame, continuing to lead the group along the cut and cleared path.

“That name is so unoriginal. Do you know how many books and TV shows have used The Forest of Death before? There’s only so many times you can hear it and it kind of gets desensitized.” Gabbie shook her head like she was humoring Tipper and Perceval.

“So you won’t bat an eyelash if I told you that The Forest of Death is legitimately haunted?” Perceval shot Tipper an angry look, but Tipper was too busy weaving his tale. “They say that the spirit of a little kitsune girl roams the forest. She was taken from her parents by kidnappers, but the girl broke free. The poor thing got lost in the forest and could never find her way back home, even though she was so, so close. She sat under one of the forest’s spindly trees and died. The tree absorbed her spirit, and now she haunts The Forest of Death, ready to fed the trees another victim.”

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