The group known as Those Who Hunt Elves had arrived at yet another town in their search for the missing spell fragments. Because the sun was nearing the horizon it was decided that Airi and Ritsuko would go into town to pick up food supplies while Mistress Celcia and Junpei stayed behind to help set up camp.
As they did their shopping they realized this mission would be a little more difficult than usual. Because of the fact that everybody had their heads covered it was impossible to determine who were the elves and who were the humans. The men wore hats on their heads while the women covered themselves with a form of a shawl.
It caused Airi to remark that it made her feel like the time she was doing a film where she had to portray an early American puritan, or maybe someone from the current Amish community without the aversion for modern devices. While the villagers didn t seem to shun the pair for not having their heads covered it did make them feel self-conscious enough to go into a nearby store and buy some shawls for themselves and a hat for Junpei so it would help them look more native.
The pair was walking back with groceries in each arm along the cobblestone sidewalk when the younger of the two took an accidental step causing her ankle to move in a way she wasn t prepared. Then in the next step an audible crack was heard and Rits-chan collapsed to the ground spilling the supplies they had just bought.
Placing Ritsuko on the curb, Airi began to pick up the provisions while her mind began to think how she was going to get the items back to camp. It was too much for her to carry in one trip, then there was the issue of the teenaged girl who looked like she d be in great pain if forced to walk all the way back to the base.
A cart driven by two horses was seen coming down the street. Driving the device was a teenage boy. Stopping the cart he noticed the scene before his eyes.
Need any assistance ladies? ,the lad spoke to the pair.
While Airi was more than capable of performing this task she was not above accepting help from another. Putting on her damsel in distress acting persona. She showed appreciation for the offer. The young man secured the harness rope to a nearby pole and happily assisted. In no time the provisions were back in their sacks and the young man placed them in the back of the wagon where they could be the first items unloaded.
When Ritsuko tried to stand up however the pain in her ankle could not prevent her from falling forward. However before she could hit the ground the young man caught her in his arms. Before she had a chance to protest the teenager put his free hand under the back of her knee s and scooped her up into his arms so she could be carried to the wagon. He assisted Airi to the step that led to the front.
So ladies, where are you heading? ,the youth inquired.
We re camped out a couple of miles east of town. ,informed Airi.
Hey, that s great. My farm is in that same general direction.
You own a farm? ,teased Ritsuko.
Well actually my parents owns the farm. I just do a lot of work on it.
As the trio drove their cart to the camp Airi was making mental observations about the individual who had picked them up. The most obvious of these thoughts was that he was very interested in Ritsuko. This was no surprise. After all the schoolgirl looked to be about the same age as he was. Yet for all of her tomboy qualities she had never stopped behaving in ways that were equally feminine. He also spoke differently to the two women. With Airi his tone was strong, his mannerism was professional but when his attention was back on Ritsuko his voice became softer, gentler. The lad had a definite case of puppy love.
So what is your name? ,finally asked Airi to the youngster.
Oh, I m sorry. Everybody here calls me Nick. Short for Nicolas. I prefer being called Nick though.
Well first of all Nick thanks for helping a couple of damsel s in distress. I wasn t sure how we were going to get back to camp after Ritsuko s fall.
My pleasure Ma am. After all my mother use to say we should help each other whenever we could. Speaking of which Miss ..Ritsuko was it? Is your ankle feeling better yet?
The young lady tried to turn her ankle gently but her groans were enough proof that she found it uncomfortable.
Too bad Doc Mooney is out today. We also don t have a healer who could take care of it. Of course the Doc will be back tomorrow and if you want I ll be more than happy to pick you up and have him take a look at you.
The three continued engaging in small talk until they had reached the camp. Grabbing what looked like an large bandage most likely for the horses he then carried Ritsuko over to a nearby picnic table. Cautiously taking off her shoe and sock, he began to carefully tape the foot and ankle in an X pattern. One wrap around the ankle then another under the arch of the foot. He moved slowly, carefully making sure to tape tight enough to hold but not so tight it was going to cause pain to the women he was trying so hard to help. Occasionally Airi couldn t help but notice sometimes his free hand would rest just above her knee which made her wonder if he was doing it for balance or to be able to get a free rub of her tender skin in a understandable but still slightly perverted move. Of course when his hand got a little too high for comfort Ritsuko let out a very audible , not so subtle clearing of her throat which caused him to remove the offending fingers immediately.
Upon completion he helped Ritsuko down and tried to help her walk on the taped ankle. This was partly to help avoid the swelling from getting so bad it would lock up. Though again in Airi s observations she wasn t sure if he also was also doing it because he was enjoying having her body lean against him while he held her around the waist.
As the sun was beginning to set Nick realized he had to get home quickly. Before his departure though Ritsuko gave him a kiss on his cheek as a show of gratitude that appeared to have flustered him. As his cart started fading off into the sunset Airi approached Ritsuko.
Got to admit you handled that situation well. , the actress observed.
Oh he was nothing Miss Airi. Back home I knew boy s who were a lot more grabby than he was. If he went too far I always had the infamous kick between the legs available to me. THAT would have definatly discouraged him.
Soon the giant karate machine Junpei and the elder of all common Elves Mistress Celcia Marie Claire rejoined the group having finished their own investigations of the area. The first thing Celcia noticed was the giant bandage around Ritsuko s ankle. The tale of the injury and the saga of the youth she and Airi had come across was told to the transformed dog. Using her magic Mistress Celcia healed the injury enough to allow maximum movement by the young girl for which she was very thankful.
That night the group gathered around a warm fire to discuss strategy to determine which of the ladies of the town were human and which were the elves. During the conversation however Ritsuko seemed to not be paying attention. More than one time Mistress Celcia would wave her paw in front of her face and say.
Earth to Rits-chan. Earth to Rits-chan!
It would snap the young girl out of her dream world for a few moments but eventually she would get lost in thought again. Finally the group determined that if she couldn t keep her mind on the discussion that it would be best if she headed for bed. As she climbed on top of the tank she discovered the bandage that had surrounded her ankle earlier in the day. Rolling it up into a mini ball she laid it down like a pillow, resting her tired head on it. In that moment the young teen came to a conclusion.
She was in love.