Chapter 6

Shepry and Koen are offered a fortuitous meal

      Shepry led the way out the wooden front doors of the grand library. They were so massive that neither of them would ever be able to lift even one door, but one could just be pulled open on the hinges ever so slowly. Indeed the doors were so large that Shepry and Koen had to walk backwards opening them and could not even see the other while doing so. The doors were as two giant men being pulled reluctantly by the hands of their young children to play. They returned to the daylight, being as wary as they could for any sign of the strange roaring man coming back to find them.
      "All right now," said Koen "Let's prioritize. First thing: We need food."
      "Right," Shepry agreed "It's getting to be past breakfast time."
      "Item number two: Get our house all back together... And I guess if there's time, we'll go to that theoball game."
      "I'm thinking that if there was so recently a fire there in the library, then there might be a town nearby.
      "I hope so... Any place there's food."
      "Hey, let's just hope that that weird barbarian guy doesn't show up again to claim your other boot!" Shepry joked with him.
      Koen joked back, "Aw, he's no problem at all! I'd easily fight him off again!"
      Just then, they heard a voice through the woods. Thankfully, not the voice of a large screaming barbarian, but quite the contrary, the voice of a sweet young girl.
      "Hello? Who's out there?" She called out with much more concern than caution. It sounded as though she was more afraid that a new friend was lost in the woods than she was that something dangerous might lurk ahead. This was a welcome sound for Shepry and Koen, so they immediately went to seek it out. They called back to her and jogged through the woods to find the source of her voice. They were able to spot her some distance away through the trees and excitedly finished closing the gap. She'd been making a trot toward them as well, so when rounding a particularly large tree, she nearly collided with the two of them.
      "Oh!" said Shepry, "Hello."
      The girl smiled at them, pleased to be meeting these two strangers in the woods. "Hello, my name is Saffron! Are you two lost out here? That would just be horrible!"
      She seemed hardly older than Shepry or Koen, just a bit taller than either of them, but she had, as Koen made excellent notice, a superbly shaped body. She wore a plain green shirt with a short skirt beneath it, along with dark purplish leggings accompanied by some simple brown shoes. Her hair was long and blonde, obviously combed and groomed to a great extent, with hardly a stray wisp deviating from it. Such rare deviating wisps only lent themselves to an alluring wild appearance. It was lazily draped evenly around her whole head, but clipped to the side of her face with a dazzling glass pin, shaped like a flower of fiery red and orange colors. Perhaps it was actually some kind of rare jewel.
      Saffron continued "I'm sorry, I must seem way too excited, but we never see any visitors here. I just live with my father in our house a bit farther up the hill. The two of you just look like such lovely people! What are your names?"
      Koen was inexplicably stunned at the sight of this girl, such an enchanting beauty she had, so Shepry introduced the two of them.
      "We're Shepry and Koen. Our house got robbed in the night, so we ended up here basically trying to get our bearings, but we're also looking for a ticket to the Theoball game, and we got attacked by some big crazy man who may still even be out here..."
      Saffron looked bewildered, but enthralled with her recounting, as Shepry continued,
      "We hid out in the library back that way for a little while-"
      "Oh, yes, I know that place! My father and I went there last night!" This seemed to be the first bit of the story that Saffron really understood. Until then, she'd actually been paying more attention to Koen despite his silence, but this point made her finally turn back to Shepry.
      "Long story." Koen quietly added.
      Shepry wrapped up the story before Saffron's attention was lost again, "We haven't even had breakfast today... That's actually why we're out right now."
      Saffron offered, still eyeing Koen, "Well you should come eat breakfast with my father and me. If you'll wait here, I'll run back home and tell him to expect two new people. I'll insist if I have to! It's not often that we have visitors, but I'd love to have you."
      "Lovely," Koen replied to her.
      Saffron ran off into the woods again, so Shepry and Koen took a seat on the ground. This bit of the woods seemed as indistinguishable as any other to them, but they had to assume that somebody living in the area for so long as Saffron had would easily find the place again, especially if they were near her home. They wanted to sit in a place that would make them easily spotted by Saffron upon her return, but at the same time, they couldn't shake their wariness of a certain crazed barbarian also looking for them. A few minutes after Saffron's footsteps faded into the distance and the only sound was the occasional tweet of a bird, or very slight wind in the trees, Shepry started to speak quietly with Koen,
      "You sure seemed especially... Attentive of that girl..."
      "That is, you seemed to hardly take your eyes off of her."
      "Yeah, well... You must have paid pretty close attention to her too, huh?" Was Koen's meager defense.
      "I was the one talking to her though."
      "Hah... Well... Don't look too deep into it. I'm not doing anything wrong." He shrugged it off lightly, "I'm just interested in her food. Once we eat something, we can leave her house and get right back to reassembling ours."
      Koen's eyes were pointed far to the distance now for Saffron's return, if nothing else then to relieve him of Shepry's accusing conversation. Before long, he saw her hurrying her way back to them, still as excited as ever. He and Shepry rose to meet her, and when she finally got close, she was practically out of breath, apparently having run all the way to her house and back. She bent down, hands on her knees, to deliver her father's word.
      "He--" Still gasping from her run, "He said he doesn't want to have guests," and until she took another deep breath, Shepry and Koen were disappointed, "But I insisted. Come on!"
      She started to break into a run again, but Shepry and Koen said they'd be satisfied to walk.
      "I don't want the food to get cold though! If we're going to walk, let's still be quick."
      They continued in a hurried walk, Saffron leading the group. She'd occasionally make one half-running step and glance back, trying to silently urge them on as well as she could. Koen was quietly enjoying this scurry through the woods, but Shepry felt compelled to grow better associated with Saffron and her father.
      "Your father won't be too upset with us visiting there, will he? I don't want to feel too intrusive."
      "Oh, no, he'll be agreeable enough. He might be just a little upset, but if he has such a big problem with it, he'll tell you himself. My father's a very honest man."
      Shepry and Koen were prepared for an assurably awkward meal under conditions like these, but they couldn't yet know just how awkward it would be as they arrived at the front door of this lone cozy cabin adorned with, appropriately enough, a garden of saffron flowers in the woods.

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