I had great difficulty going outside today- I am feeling incredibly ill. I am unaccustomed to such a long period of light and did not sleep at all. I prowled the forest for a little while, mostly unsure of where I was. I must eventually have fallen asleep, because I dreamed that I was curled up at the base of a tree surrounded by those annoying things from yesterday.
In the darkness I slept through most of yesterday. I discovered when I woke sometime this morning that it hadn’t been a dream- those little beasts were entirely surrounding me and covering me. They had been entirely still until I moved a little, and then they swarmed with movement. I think some of them licked my face- bizarre, stupid beasts. They would make a fantastic breakfast if I was hungry. I was a little hungry, I have to admit, but that was likely due to the sleep deprivation, so I ignored it.
“They make quite a warm blanket, do they not?” A voice startled me, and I looked around for the source, only to see an empty forest. The voice was masculine, and spoke in one of the local languages which I had struggled to learn from the computer on the voyage. I stood, pricked my long ears forward and sniffed to see if I could find him, but the voice scolded,
“Now, isn’t that cheating?”
I spent my waking hours searching for the source of the voice, using every ability at my disposal, but while I occasionally felt like I was being watched, I didn’t find him. It didn’t help that the little fluffs were clearly playing with me, and interfering in every way they could manage. Eventually I gave up on finding him before sleep, and also on going back to the ship (I slept well out here yesterday, contrary to my expectations) and slept curled up with the little fluff-creatures under another tree. For sure this place is going to drive me crazy.
The First Day
Though it has been a number of years since I first met her, I am still not entirely comfortable with the unicorn following me everywhere. She cannot speak to me, as I do not have the ability to communicate with telepathy, as her race does, but mostly she communicates her intentions quite clearly regardless. It is strange to me that she is willing to go and investigate whatever I feel inclined to choose without any disagreement- my wife has never been so docile. I am of the centaur race, and it is common among my people for the mare to rule over her husband, but even for my kind Mirella was considered to be difficult.
The ship we traveled in has reasonably good accommodations for quadrupeds, but even so it was good today to be allowed free reign of the local forest. The unicorn and I wandered through the forest for a while before succumbing to the need to stretch our legs with a run. I am always surprised when she keeps up with me- her legs are so much more spindly than mine, and she makes no sound as she glides along, while the sound of my hooves thunders. We wandered for a long while, and slowed of mutual accord when we approached another group of Starfarers which we knew.
Their opening line was, “Stretching your legs, Swiftfoot?”
The conversation was brief and stilted, but we decided as a group to pause for dinner when no one seemed inclined to move on immediately. It was a little awkward, really, and I knew quite well that one of them actively disliked centaurs. The others had brought equipment for roasting their rations (thankfully they had not brought anything resembling meat, or I’d not have been able to consume my own meal). We sat around the largish metal device and the unicorn and I ate what I had brought in my bags. After the meal we parted ways- them to continue to an overnight campsite which they had already scouted out, and the unicorn and I to return to the ship. We’d been told that there did not appear to be any predators in the area, but being a herd-creature, I did not wish to take the chance. I appreciated the climate control on the ship, as it was dark there as it was not outside.
The Second Day
The unicorn logged her memories before we left this morning, and I left my own record as well. I decided it was time to go visit the underground dwellings of the local people. One of the briefings last week had said that they were fairly short and stocky, so the caves might be a little uncomfortable for us quadrupeds, but I had been informed that any weapon-makers would be found down there. It did not take long to reach the nearest cave entrance, and we were greeted by a local as soon as we arrived.
“Hello, Starfarer. Welcome to Underground Settlement # 1. I will be your guide today.” He was short, coming up only to my lower shoulders, with sparse grey hair, pale blue-tinged skin and large milky eyes. He seemed to be a relatively normal humanoid to me.
“Hello. My name is Dorian Swiftfoot, this is Marapona, and we are pleased to meet you.”
The unicorn inclined her dark silver head, and pointed her glowing horn at the ground in her usual greeting.
“Interesting, you produce your own light.” He narrowed his eyes, and looked speculatively at her, before turning into the caves and leading us in. “Do come this way, was there anything in particular which you wanted to see?”
“I am a creator of weapons among my people, and had heard that this was one of the areas where your people produce such things.”
“Ah, I see. I will take you to the smithy. I am afraid it will be a long walk, and somewhat awkward for you until we arrive.”
“I had expected as much.” I replied, and the unicorn followed a little ways behind me as I struggled forwards, my upper body folded uncomfortably down and forward. At one point I had to pause and kneel for a while, which allowed me to stretch my upper back into its normal posture. I was going to be quite sore for some time, I reflected. Our guide was patient while we stretched. The journey continued for some time before the stone caverns slowly transitioned into crystal ones of great beauty and shifting colours. The walkway opened up several times into caverns on either side before we finally reached our destination.