The group finds another small town after a few more days of traveling. Once in town, Nasha grabs a bag off of Kenta’s back and then grabs John by the arm. John says to Nasha “Where are we going?”
Nasha says “Kenta was able to sell the furs in the last town. But I think she got cheated. So we are going to do the sell because your amulet lets us hear any tongue they speak.”
John turns to Kenta and says “See if you can find us a place to stay then meet us back here.”
Soon John and Nasha return to meet back up with Kenta with a bag of coins. John was surprised to find Nasha was right about the fur trader. As they sit and wait for Kenta to return, John looks at the coins and finds they are different from the last town. John says to Nasha “Hey the coins are different here.”
Nasha says “what about it?”
John says “Well I haven’t heard about a kingdom or any kind of centralized government. So I was wondering if the towns work together or not.”
Nasha says “I know the Lamia’s follow their own traditions as do the Centaurs. But I don’t know about these towns. I was just a hunter before being task to escort you to the dragon.”
John says “I just realized you have probably farther than you ever had been before. Are you homesick?”
Nasha says “a little, but The Mother asked me to do this. So I will.”
Kenta rejoins them a little bit later saying “You have better go find us a place to stay.” She holds her head up and away saying “The nerve of some of these people.”
John says “let me guess, they told you to sleep in the stables like the other animals.” Kenta shoots John a dark look, but then looks away again. John gets up saying “Okay then you ladies buy us some supplies and try to find some information for the next leg of our journey.”
John finds a place with a stable attached to it. John says to Kenta “Well?”
Kenta says “It is a fine place” while looking away.
John says to her “by the way, I asked if you were here before getting this place. I didn’t want to do business with someone who insulted you earlier.”
Kenta looks at John and says “Thank you.”
John says “Did either of you find out anything?”
Kenta says “Some of the travelers have heard of the dragon’s cave and think we are crazy to even want to go there.”
John looks at Nasha to see if she has any information. But Nasha is scratching at her tail. John says to her “What’s wrong?”
Nasha says “my tail itches. It hasn’t for days and it felt good not to feel the constant itching.”
John says “I wonder something” and pours the ooze out of the powder horn then sets the horn aside. He goes over to Nasha and sits near where she is scratching. He puts the ooze over the spot and waits. Nasha yelps as the ooze sucks a parasite out from her scales. The ooze then spits the parasite out. John gabs the parasite before it gets away and holds it up to study it.
Nasha yells “Baster!” She grabs the parasite and slams a dagger through it the moment she puts it on the ground. She then grabs the ooze and starts putting on her tail again. Each time the ooze spits out a parasite, Nasha kills the parasite before it gets away.
Soon Nasha has a small pile of dead parasites. She set the ooze down on the ground and lets out a sigh of relief. The ooze almost immediately heads to the pile of dead parasites and envelops them. It then heads to the powder horn. The ooze enters the horn, but the parasites are too large to go in and are pushed out the ooze’s body forming a pile just outside the horn. The ooze comes out and collects the parasites again. It then tries to enter the horn again with the parasites in it. It has the same results, with the ooze able to squeeze in but not the parasites. The ooze exits again and John takes the powder horn away before the ooze tries again. John watches the ooze as it looks around to try to figure out what to do. John scoops the ooze up and puts it in the middle of Nasha’s coil. He then pets the ooze saying to it “You can stay here for the night.” The ooze finds a spot next to Nasha's body and seems to go to sleep.
John pulls back and says to Nasha “I don’t think you will mind if it stays there for the night.”
Nasha says “No, not at all.”
John gets comfortable again and says to Kenta “Did they say how far away the dragon’s cave is?” as he watches Nasha lay on her coil and seems to pet the ooze.
Kenta says “No, but from what I can tell. It isn’t that far. Maybe a week or two. There are a few more towns between here and the Dragon’s cave.”
John says “Then we best get some rest. I don’t want to hang around here for very long if we are close to our destination.” John lays down and tries to go to sleep.
John checks on the ooze in the morning. It has dissolved the parasites to the point that they can go back into the powder horn. They then set out before noon.
They approach the start of a valley after a day’s travel up a slight incline. The valley has a thick forest in it with high almost vertical walls around it. Kenta starts up a path leading away from the valley that goes along the cliffs. John stops and says “Why aren’t we going through the valley?”
Kenta says “Other travelers told me to avoid the forest. It is said to have a powerful monster in it that attacks anyone who enters it. They told me that even skilled warriors have fallen when trying to kill it. I may be a strong fighter. But I know to avoided fights that I don’t think I can win."
They are soon walking along a path next to the cliff with a forest on the other side. John looks down at the forest in the valley and can’t see the ground because of how thick the canopy covers the forest.
Kenta suddenly stops and listens while reaching for her sword. Then Nasha reaches for her daggers. John realizing what’s about to happen grabs Papi off of Kenta’s back and brings her behind him holding his staff up as they face the forest on the cliff.
Orcs break through the woods to attack them. Kenta and Nasha both block an attacker. But one rushes John and slams into him pushing him back. John trips and falls off the cliff taking Papi with him.
Papi rolls midair and grabs John’s arm with her talons as they fall. John feels his weight on his arm as he slows down and begins changing directions. John looks up and sees Papi is being held aloft with her wings, but she is losing altitude and fast. Papi tries flapping her wings to try and stay in the air. John realizes that Papi’s wings aren’t designed to hold both her weight and his. So John does the only thing he can think of. He breaks Papi’s grip on him. John watches Papi rise as he falls into the forest canopy.
John crashes through what must be hundreds of braches and a few send him into a tumble. John finally hits the ground on his back on top of a thick leafy bed. John is stunned by the impact and is slightly dazed. He hears another series of crashes then something landing next to him. He looks over and sees Papi standing up. He figures she used her wings to slow her fall. Papi goes over to John to check on him. John gives her a weak smile then passes out. Papi lays her head on his chest and closes her eyes.
A moment passes then the cap to the powder horn pops off. The ooze pours itself out and tries to stay still as its liquid innards swirl around. It checks on John once its innards stop swirling as much. It pushes against the side of John’s head then uses its antenna to touch John then Papi. It sits there for a moment when its antenna faces away from John and Papi. The ooze spins in place and heads off in the direction the antenna is facing.