The trip to Phantom Grove would take much longer now that Alex had joined. Normally, it would take a day to go round-trip between the village and Phantom Grove. With Alex tagging along, Lika’so estimated that it would take a few days. Lika’so knew she would regret allowing him to come but she did feel a small amount comfort in knowing a trustworthy friend would be looking after him.
The three had gone back to their respective houses to pack. The amount of extra weight as a result of Alex joining would now be too much for them all to carry on their own. To solve this problem, Lika’so rented a horse. The horse could carry all of their things, making the trip less taxing on them (but mostly on Alex considering he had so little muscle mass).
Alex had gaped at the horse after seeing her come back from the market with it. She was amused by his reaction. Lika’so guessed he didn’t have horses where he came from. She took the horse around the back of the house and tied it to a wooden post then went inside to pack with Alex.
They packed food and water, clothes, blankets, a couple of pillows, and weapons. “Why are you packing weapons?” Alex had asked Lika’so as she placed her crossbow in a sack.
“There’s a very good chance that we will be ambushed by bandits or wildlife because of the amount of supplies we’re taking with us,” Lika’so answered, not making eye-contact. She was very busy preparing for their journey.
“I don’t understand,” Alex said. Lika'so had taught Alex to say that when he didn’t know a word or the meaning of a sentence, at which point they would use the lahipok’es.
Alex had an unusually good memory when it came to learning Kni’il, which was very helpful for the both of them. Hearing a word or sentence only a single time would be enough for the “linguist” to remember and pronounce it perfectly. Lika’so didn’t know what a “linguist” was but she recognized that it made a positive impact on the progress he was making to become familiar with the language. He seemed to enjoy himself when he was being taught, too. Lika’so liked seeing Alex light up with enthusiasm every morning.
Lika’so tapped her thigh, signaling Alex to retrieve both pairs of lahpok’es. The two put them on over their clothes. The lahpok’es worked over normal clothing, so they didn’t need to waste time removing their leggings just to get them to work.
Lika’so had to repeat exactly what she had said to Alex or else he wouldn’t learn the sentence properly. She went over what she had said in her head first, being careful not to paraphrase anything.
“There’s a very good chance that we will be ambushed by bandits or wildlife because of the amount of supplies we’re taking with us,” she repeated to Alex.
Alex nodded and the both of them removed the lahpok’es. Lika’so gave hers to Alex and told him to pack it and his with the other clothes.
By the time they had packed everything, the sun was already beginning to set. Leaving the house, the two of them made their way to the southern end of the village after retrieving the horse. Lika’so had made plans with Nijo’tika to meet up outside the small tavern that sat at the edge of the village.
Nijo’tika was already waiting for them, holding her own sack of equipment.
“You got a horse,” Nijo’tika said with relief, “Good.”
”Ready?” Lika’so asked the two of her companions.
“Ready,” they both replied.