The reconnaissance dwarf’s face showed a flash of recognition upon seeing the glint of the black card of the guild backroom grasped in Devon’s fingers.
“Can I see that?” inquired the bearded dwarf with his gruff beard tied into a braid.
“Sure,” Devon replied, walking a bit closer to show the dwarf. He held the card in his hand while showing him, without letting go of his grip.
“Made of black opal,” the dwarf mumbled, stepping forward for a closer look. Devon lowered the card so that the dwarf could see it at eye level. Their race was short after all. “And enchanted by some kind of magic. That’s the real thing alright.”
“He’s fine,” told the dwarf to one of the amazon beauties.
The other dwarves muttered in interest, as the red haired and gemstone-green eyed amazonians gripped their spears, their luscious tanned bodies nearly bursting out from the animal hide and fur crop tops and skirts they were wearing. Their skin tone was rather dark, and yet of a color indescribably not-human. Devon had never seen a human with that kind of skin color before from his previous world. Darker skin was normally associated with an advantageous genetic adaptation to equatorial proximity back on his home planet, and yet this particular brand of burgundy and lightly tanned olive skin color was not present from a person of any equator-bordering country or any continent for that matter.
It was simply inaccurate to compare this particular glowing light tan skin color to the people of South America, Africa, the Middle East, or Southern Asia. Such a mixture of burgundy and light olive skin color simply did not exist back on earth. From a former earth resident’s perspective, it was quite jarring to see people who were so human just like him, and yet so remarkably not-human at the same time.
The tan amazon women were beautiful and healthy looking, with pretty faces and long lashes, but also wide hips and big breasts and juicy buttocks, and height that was similar to Devon’s, despite his tall stature.
One of the beauties had two war-paint marks on her cheeks, triangled teal stripes pointing inwards, and the other melon jugged amazonian beauty had her hair tied into a messy bun. Their radiantly pretty light green eyes were particularly noticeable, equal parts beautiful and fierce.
“I’m Vesta, healer of our tribe,” said the beauty with the teal triangular war-paint stripes on her face. “Because the dwarves vouch for you, we welcome you to stay as a guest in our forest. You may take shelter from the dust storms from the safety of our trees and our tents.”
The bearded dwarf cleared his throat. “Let’s get out of this blasted dust storm first before we talk any further, alright?”
They began to head away from the dirt road across the farmland fields and into the forest, which turned out to be much deeper than Devon first expected. He followed part of the dwarven convoy that was following the two amazonian guards. Several of the dwarves remained at the outskirts of the forest, still taking measurements and making some notations on their parchment.
“Can I buy some supplies?” Devon asked, turning his gaze back to the dwarven convoy’s emissary as they walked. “I have coins.”
The dwarf with his beard tied into a braid nodded. “Of course, my boy. We have a lot of wares. You can take a look when we reach our hosts’ base camp.”
“Oy Hosten, get ‘cher lads together and let’s display our wares later, will you?” he shouted at another dwarf, who responded with a thumbs up and a cheer.
Devon spoke again, his voice serious and hoarse. “That sounds good, but I really need some water right now…”
The young man took a coin out of his pocket and offered it to the dwarf. “Is this alright?”
With a nod of his head, the bearded dwarf accepted the coin and took out an unopened canteen from the mule-drawn inventory. Gesturing for Devon’s own canteen, which Devon handed over, the dwarf poured the clean canteen’s water into Devon’s depleted waterskin until it swelled to full.
Devon accepted the filled waterskin back and put it to his charred lips immediately, greedily chugging the ice cold water that had to have been recently filled. He felt an immense feeling of relief after the intake of water, finishing roughly a quarter of his entire waterskin in one drink. Satisfied for the time being, he grinned and looked up as the dwarf began to speak.
“Normally I’d tell you to just wait a while longer until we hit base camp, where there’s a running stream nearby. But we still have a ways to go and it’ll take a bit of hiking to get there, and you look like you can’t wait another minute.”
Devon let out a weak laugh. “You’re right about that.”
They continued to trek deeper and deeper into the forest for quite a while, traveling well past the original forest entrance area into another as the scenery began to shift. Gone were the signs of a normal forest, as strange centipedes and other jungle-dwelling insects began to show up on the ground.
A hoot of a toucan with a bright yellow beak caught Devon by surprise, as he jumped back in his startle, causing the dwarves and later the amazon beauties to burst out in laughter when they realized what made him so skittish.
[author] Thank youuuuuuuuuu sooooooooooooooooooo muchhhh Eakamdeep Brar for pledging <3333333333