Slywyn had walked most of the night, sticking to the river as long as possible. She didn’t know who was following her or how long they’d remain after her, so she was using as much caution as her considerable knowledge in woodcraft would allow.
She was steadily working her way toward the city she had guessed was there, and could tell it would be nearing morning soon. She couldn’t tell which direction she was travelling, as she couldn’t just assume that their sun rose and set in the same direction as Azeroth’s did. She hadn’t seen a moon, so either they didn’t have one, or it just hadn’t ever come into view.
She’d climbed a tree just about an hour ago by her guess, and checked the distance on what she’d presumed to be a city. She’d noticed the same glow, though slightly dimmer, and kept toward it. At her best guess she’d reach it in another hour or so of travelling.
She still couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d felt somewhat… diminished since she’d arrived. Like something was missing, but she just couldn’t place what. She was getting tired faster than she would have normally, her armor felt heavier. She almost felt like she was getting sick, but that shouldn’t be possible. And it was moving a lot faster than any sickness she knew of other than the plague.
Up ahead she could see some kind of rickety old building near where the tree cover started getting thinner. As she made her way closer, she could smell the distinct smell of moldering wood and rusting metal. This building had clearly been abandoned for some time.
When she reached it, she remained hidden for some time, just to make sure there wasn’t anyone inside hiding. When she couldn’t hear, see, or smell anyone, she made her way to it.
As soon as she stepped inside she knew it wouldn’t serve for any kind of shelter. The floor felt like it would give way under her footsteps at any moment, and the roof looked like it was going to give way under the next storm. She’d have to get closer to the town if she wanted to find anything.
Colin jumped off of the couch and covered the distance to the computer as quickly as he could, his eyes glued to the screen. Dwayne had pulled up a video on youtube, taken from someone’s phone. Dwayne spoke first as the video loaded. “I told you, man. It’s a Night Elf. Just look at her.”
Colin couldn’t dispute him. She looked exactly like the game had portrayed them. Tall, purple-tinted skin, with glowing silvery eyes. “Man… I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”
Dwayne looked back to him and grinned widely before hitting “Play” on the video. The elf onscreen stood, then looked over the crowd. There was too much noise to hear what she was saying when her mouth moved, and when she took off through the crowd the camera lost sight of her. But that was enough for both of them.
“Cooooooooooooooooooooool!”, They both blurted out at almost exactly the same time.
It was now sometime around midmorning, and Slywyn had been scouting the outskirts of town. She’d come across something rather strange as she made her way in a very wide circle. It seemed these Humans lived in very regimented housing at the edges of their towns, but built extremely artificial dwellings for themselves, with a great deal of individual customization.
She’d found several more of the moving things, and had some time to examine an abandoned one of them in much greater detail. She’d drawn the inside workings of it on a few sheets of paper, but had been unsuccessful in taking it apart. The bolts and fittings had been too rusted, and breaking them would have made far too much noise.
She’d scavenged some parts off of something else she’d found, though she didn’t know if they’d prove any use. As she’d been hiking through the woods earlier, she’d made a short stop to examine her Wormhole Generator. Not only did the elemental parts powering it seem to be completely dead, but the inner workings were fried. She wasn’t about to get home any time soon unless she seriously got to work on it. And she had no parts.
As she made her way around more of the outskirts of town, she’d caught sight of a few signs. It worried her that the writing was completely unrecognizable. She’d hoped to find something familiar in the writing, but that just didn’t seem to be the case.
Eventually, though, she found another small building. This one seemed much more recently abandoned, as well. It was down a short road just outside of one of the strangely arranged housing districts, around a bend and completely fenced in by trees. The road that led to it was dirt, meaning she could check every time she made her way back for tracks. Just in case.
Even better, there was one of those machines outside. Only slightly rusted, this one could prove to be much more fruitful for her examinations. The door was another strange contraption. It was broken up into three parts. The top was glass, then there was glass covered by metal mesh, and then a metal square. It creaked incredibly loudly when she tried to open it, so she’d chosen to go around back where there was a more-conventional wooden door with a small diamond-shaped glass window covered by metal foil of some kind.
The entire building itself was on deflated rubber wheels like the machines were, and smelled of mildew and the very beginnings of decay. If anything on this world worked like it did at home, she could guess that it’d been abandoned at most a year ago.
Luckily it seemed sound, and in her quick and furtive examination of the other rooms she hadn’t found evidence of any kind of inhabitant. Everything was covered in an undisturbed layer of dust. Many new and exciting things had been found inside as well, contraption after contraption practically littered the building.
But first things first, she needed rest. She ventured back outside, taking some cut-up cans she’d found in a cabinet with her. They were red with white markings and more writing she couldn’t read. The liquid inside had smelled foul, and tasted worse. It fizzed when she drank it, and she could barely convince herself she hadn’t been poisoned. But so far, other than a slightly upset stomach, she hadn’t noticed any ill effects.
After littering the dirt around the front and back doors with many cut up pieces of the metal and then covering those with dirt, she returned inside. There had been a spool of thread inside one of the drawers, which she then tied to a tree across the pathway toward the house. She looped it around another tree, then ran the line under a window that she cracked only slightly. She tied it to another of the cans that she’d filled with the pieces of metal, and set it next to the bed. If anyone were to trip across it, it would jostle the metal in the can and wake her.
Slywyn remained in her armor, but crawled into the bed. She felt as if she’d been awake for days, even though it had only been one, and in a battle besides. When she flopped onto the bed she stirred up a cloud of dust that had her coughing for a few minutes, but when she finally settled down she was out like a light before her head had really had time to settle on the pillow.
Colin’s phone rang, and he groaned. He rolled over in the bed, glancing at his clock. Almost midnight. And he had work tomorrow! That asshole better have a good reason. “Yeeeees?”
“Dude, Colin. She’s disappeared.” Dwayne’s voice rang out clear through the earpiece.
“What? I don’t care. I have work!” He pinched his nose between his finger and his thumb.
“No, dude. You don’t understand. They can’t find her. It’s like she’s dropped off the face of the earth. They followed her trail to a river under the interstate and then they lost it. Dogs, helicopters with infrared, manned searches, none of them turned up single a trace. They’ve given up.”
Colin groaned again. “Why do you care?”
“They released a map of the area she was found. It was right outside of town, dude. Like, just east of here. The whole town’s been alerted. They think she’s dangerous because she was carrying a sword. No one has a fucking clue, dude. They’re all stumped. The government’s been collecting statements from people who were there. They’ve been pulling the pictures and video off the internet, man. It’s gone. I think they’re scared.”
“Give it up, man. I know what you’re thinking. And you’re an idiot.”
“Come on! You know what kind of chance that could be? What if we-”
“No.” And then Colin hung up the phone, laying back in his bed.