She sighed, folding the map and putting it back into her blazer’s pocket. The job she’d taken had so many red flags about it, yet she wasn’t even going to be able to show up at the mystery village? It wasn’t any day that a “strong mage” was requested with no information other than the location and pay. Additionally, it seemed that other mages who took the request never actually returned, so what the village needed help with was beyond her. Well, seeing as it tickled her fancy, the blonde had wanted to poke her nose into it, but now she was lost in a dumb forest. Her eyes narrowed as she continued trudging through the forestry, trying to use her senses to detect signs of life. There was a range to her detection, but it wasn’t like the forest went on forever, right? She was positive Mystery Village was somewhere in the area, so she simply had to aimlessly walk around until she discovered it.
But apparently, looking blindly around the dark forest was unnecessary, because the young girl soon stumbled across a gravel path. Where there is a road there is a destination, and the only place in the area would the suspicious village she was looking for. And thus, her mood immediately lightened as she began heading down the path at a “light jog”. Well, she may call it that, but admittedly the young girl was moving quite quickly. It wasn’t that she wanted to mess up the trail, she just wanted to leave the wood… any maybe mess it up a bit as she did it. However, as she spotted billows of smoke rising into the air, Althea finally slowed her pace back to a brisk walk. It was then she finally happened upon the first instance of human life since she entered the forest, a little girl with a woven basket, picking glossy red berries off a bush.
“Hello!” She exclaimed, causing the little girl to jump in surprise, turning her alert gaze towards the mage. The girl had pale blonde hair worn into pigtails, crystal blue eyes, and a wore red mantle. Additionally, she was much younger than Althea, but even so her eyes had a bit of an odd readiness to them as she slowly slid her hand to the knife in her basket. As the slayer wanted to be fair, she would at least let the little girl get out her weapon before she perceived her as a threat.
But no attack ever came. Instead the village girl’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Wait… Althea Eventide?”
“...Huh?” The little girl was surprised, but Althea was even more so. It was a strange feeling to be recognized out in the middle of nowhere when people didn’t give you a second glance in more established areas. It wasn’t that people didn’t know her name, it was just that people didn’t know her face. There must’ve been only, what, two issues of the Sorcerer’s Magazine with her face on it? Just because you hear that a few of Fairy Tail’s aces were younger girls, then it still wouldn’t be reasonable to assume every younger girl you see is a wizard, that would be just plain unreasonable. And the fact Althea usually covered her guild mark didn’t help either, so it wasn’t often she’d get recognized in public.
“Y-You saved my village a long time ago, that’s how I know…” The little girl’s eyes were far divorced from the suspicious look they previously held, “I’m Yuklo, erm, we met when you saved Beanstalk village by defeating that dark wizard who was messing with our crops.”
“Ah, right, I did do something like that.” The Fairy Tail mage replied, thinking back to the job. Quite honestly, it had happened ages ago, so she hadn’t expected to hear anyone bring it up again. But she supposed to the people she helped, it was memorable enough to hold onto for a long period. “Oh, you were the rock kid, right? Yeah, I remember you, you’ve gotten taller.” From what Althea could tell, Yuklo had previously been around nine when they met, but now she seemed to be around ten.
The little girl laughed, nervously cradling her basket of bright red berries. “Ye-Yeah, please forget about how I got all the kids to throw rocks at you. We thought you were a bandit and-”
However, the youth simply grinned, interjected into Yuklo’s sentence, “I was talking about the rock you threw the Dark Wizard who was terrorizing your town, I thought it was pretty cool of you. I’d completely forgotten about when you threw them at me… so thanks for reminding me!”
She laughed, prompting the little girl’s already rosy cheeks to redden further. “That-” She turned away abruptly, took a deep breath, and once again faced Althea. But through the moment she took to recuperate herself, the color of her face had returned to normal. Seriously, what kind of ten-year-old was she supposed to be? She was far more composed than Elodea, and who knows how old that nymph was? “Anyways, Al- Ms. Eventide,”
“Okay, erm, Althea, what are you doing out here?”