Welcome to Chapter 2 and I hope everyone that's reading is enjoying so far. This is the first original story content I've ever written aside from a DnD campaign so I'm doing my best to build this fantasy world from relative scratch. This chapter is definitely shorter than the last, and that's just how some chapters will be I suppose. But anyways, I don't really have a planned update schedule, I've still got things I'm working on in other places so Chapters here will just go up when they're finished I suppose?

And please, if you have the time give some kind of input. This is my first original story and I would like to know what I am doing wrong and what I'm doing right.


No late mornings for Anya were allowed the following day, there was too much work to be done. By the time she was up and ate her breakfast, Mira had already pulled around the wagons she'd be taking along with the horses that'd be leading them. Now it was just a matter of loading things up and getting on the road. Of course, Anya still needed to pick up her extra cargo from Grom but he had yet to arrive.

She was hoping he wouldn't show up until she was on the road, having not told her Mother about their deal. To that end, she was making haste in stacking the various barrels and crates into both wagons. The sooner she was out of here the sooner she could come back, after all.

"I've written out the list of our usual buyers, and stored it in your satchel," Mira said as she idly stood by while Anya worked. She was too old to be moving crates anyways, "Your last stop will be in Zelos, should take you about two months to get there."

"Which means winter will be hitting on the way back," Anya replied, grunting as she hoisted a thick barrel over one shoulder with relative ease and set it in the back, "Will you be okay here alone?"

"I'm supposed to be the one worrying about you remember?" Mira huffed, placing her hands on her hips, "Old age be damned, I wish I could still go with you but the roads are too harsh." She grumbled, shaking her head.

As Anya finished placing the last barrel she turned to her mother and smiled, "I'm a big girl now Mom, I'll be alright, enjoy your rest." She assured, placing a hand on her mother's shoulder.

"Hmph... Yes well," She smiled faintly in return, wrapping her arms around Anya's waist and embracing her, "Just don't go disappearing on me like that rotten Father of yours alright?"

Anya returned her embrace, rubbing her back to try and comfort the nervous old woman, "I'm not disappearing... I promise I'll see you again." She said softly, "And I'll have more money than you'll know what to do with."

Anya didn't know much about her Father, aside from the fact that he wasn't human. But according Mira, she never knew he wasn't human until she'd had the baby. Whatever magical being he was, it had certainly passed on to Anya in physical form. But he'd disappeared twenty-six years ago, just before Anya was born. It wasn't so much a sore spot for her, Anya had long since accepted her Father was a vile man for leaving Mira.

Their moment of peace was interrupted suddenly by a loud crunch. Both women turning to see Lydia standing by one of the wagon wheels munching on a big red apple. As they stared at her, she blinked in surprise, "What?" Cheeks still stuffed with apple bits, "Did I ruin the moment?"

"Only a little."

"Oi!" Mira barked, "Is that one of my apples!?"

"What? No, of course not!" Lydia assured, before suddenly starting to scarf it down as fast as possible.

"HEY!"

Anya laughed in amusement, walking past her Mother and around to the front of the wagon, "Alright, I'd better get moving." She said finally, climbing up into the seat and taking hold of the reigns, "I've got a lot of ground to cover."

Mira sighed shaking her head at Lydia before looking to Anya, "Yes, good luck and be careful, I stored you some extra blankets and a spare cloak in the wagon!"

"Hey wait for me!" Lydia yelped, tossing what little remained of her apple aside before climbing up onto the wagon as well, "Might as well see you off right?"

"If you insist," Anya rolled her eyes at Lydia before waving to her mother and snapping the reigns, "Thank you! I'll see you in a few months!" She said, as the horses began to move, tugging along the wagons towards the main road that lead further away from the town heading West.

"Well now that we're alone, time for those tearful goodbyes right?" Lydia questioned, sharing a look with Anya before they both laughed, "Hah! Yeah right... Though, I do wish I could join you, make the trip a bit less lonely."

Anya chuckled lightly, watching as Lydia kicked back leisurely in her seat, "You've got your own duties here, and I won't be gone long, the trip back is usually much faster." Turning most of her focus to the road ahead looking for any sign of Grom.

"Still gonna be months," She sighed, staring up at the clouds before her ears twitched, "A boring couple months..."

"Maybe..." Anya answered absentmindedly, the farm disappearing around the bend behind them. "What is taking Grom so long? I figured he would have shown up by now..."

"Well you're awfully chatting..." Lydia noted suspiciously, "What's up?"

"Grom said he'd meet me on the road with the supplies I was delivering," She explained, "But I figured he'd have shown up by now."

The Halfling sat up, quirking an eyebrow as she looked around as well, "Hmm, just like an Orc to be late."

"Wait, over there!" Anya pointed, spotting someone at the crossroads ahead. She snapped the reigns to make the horses move faster. Her green skinned comrade coming into focus better as they closed the distance, "Grom!" She called out to him, coming slowly to a stop, "Was wondering when I'd find you."

"Thought it best to wait away from home," He shrugged casually, "Didn't want your Mum getting suspicious."

"Good thinking," She nodded with a smile, "So you have it?"

"Right here," Holding up two leather pouches, "Along with the first part of your pay."

Anya caught them both as he tossed it up to her, surprised by the weight of both the coin purse and the supposed gemstone, "You didn't need to pay upfront." She reminded, setting the coins aside while examining her new special cargo. She didn't outright open the bag, but could feel the weight and size of it inside. The gemstone had edges, almost like it was already cut, and it was roughly the size of an apple, something she could probably wrap her hands around.

"It's no trouble," Grom shrugged simply, "Just send us back a messenger bird when you get the information on it, and I'll see you in a few-"

"Information?" Lydia suddenly spoke up, standing up from the carriage and revealing her presence to the Orc, "I thought you were just making a delivery?"

"Yes, a delivery that needs to be... Appraised," Anya assured, putting on a nervous smile, "No big deal, they've got a fancy rock they want looked at."

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously, and Anya feared Lydia might just make a jump for the bag. While Grom watched them both warily, "Hmph... Sounds fishy..."

"Look just don't go mentioning it to my mother alright?" Anya pleaded, "I'll share some of the pay with you if you keep this a secret."

"Oi I'm paying you not the loud mouth." Grom barked in protest.

"And I'm paying her because you blabbed," Anya shot back quickly, her eyes darting between him and Lydia, "Deal?"

Lydia sighed and rolled her eyes, "Its fine, you don't need to pay me... I just don't like the secrecy." She said, crossing her arms and returning to her seat.

Grom nodded slowly, trusting that she wouldn't talk, "Alright, if that's all then I'll see you in a few months Anya, hopefully after you've found us some answers... I left the name of our man in the bag with the stone, make sure you get it to him." Without waiting for further discussion, he began heading off on the North Road, likely making way back to his mountain home or their nearby camp.

As he walked off, Anya released a sigh of relief and tucked away the new package in her own satchel attached to her waist. Before her eyes drifted to a rather worried looking Lydia, "You should probably get off here, much further and you'll have to lookout for wolves..." But her only answer was silence, the Halfling staring off in thought, "Lydia?"

"You are going to come back right?" She asked suddenly, eyes drifting down.

Making Anya blink in surprise, "Am I... Of course, where else would I go?"

"I don't know... Anywhere but our boring, quiet little land." Lydia huffed, eyes darting over the side of the carriage refusing to make eye contact with her friend. "Father told me how your Dad was, started acting funny, being secretive, then one day he just up and vanished... And he was a dreamer, just like you."

Hearing her Father brought up by anyone other than her Mother was surprising. But being compared to the man who left her Mother alone with child, that was insulting, "Hey." Anya wrapped her large finger's around Lydia's arm, forcing her to turn and look at her, "My Father was a bastard, I'm nothing like him... And I'm not going anywhere." Though it was an insult, she was not the kind to take such things as offense, and tried her best to reassure Lydia with a smile, "This peacefully boring land is my home, and I love it... And all its people, I could never turn my back on this place." Anya declared calmly, holding a stern gaze with the Halfling.

Lydia held it for a moment, searching for any sign of deception. But she knew Anya was incapable of such a lie, "I know..." Relenting finally with a heavy sigh, "Forgive me, I was just panicking a bit... This land would be a damn sight less bright without you in it."

"I'll be back, I promise." Anya assured, pulling her friend right out of her seat and into a tight hug. Surrounding her in her warmth with her strong arms, while simultaneously standing up and hopping down over the side of the wagon. As expected, by the time she'd released her, and placed Lydia on the ground, the Halfling's face was beet red, "You gonna be able to make it back all right?" She asked in a more teasing tone, trying to lighten the tension.

Lydia herself was still swimming in that euphoric embrace before she nodded slowly, ears fluttering a bit, "R-Right yeah I'll be... Whew... You come back soon Anya." She ordered with a giggle, shaking her head as any prior fears slowly dissipated.

"Of course." Anya chuckled, climbing back into the wagon and snapping the reigns, "Stay safe!"

"You're the one leaving the safe place! You be careful out there!" Lydia cried out to her, as the wagon moved along the cobblestone road further and further away, "AND YOU HAD BETTER COME BACK!"

Anya waved her off for a few more moments, the distance between them growing. And as the day wore on, she traveled down the West Road. The town of Gilden and her home disappearing behind trees as she went. Soon the fields began to give way to thicker forests, rolling hills. And by nightfall, Anya was passing through the border out of her small, peaceful homeland.

For the first time in her life, she would enter the outside world alone.