Chapter 4
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This chapter contains gore, strong language, and reference to sexual content. This will all be common in the story, and this is the last warning you will receive.

It's been a month since I was first allowed to leave the manor. I have confirmed that the guards aren't incompetent, and my maids do know that I spend most of my time in the forest now. They don't seem to mind, so I guess they think the forest is safe for five year olds.

Today I'm deep in the forest, training as I usually do. I'm jumping between two trees, planting my feet on the trunk of one, then jumping towards the other. I flip my body around in the air, then jump off the second tree, heading back towards the first.

I've been doing this for a bit over an hour now, and it's starting to get hard to cover the distance between the two trees. The tree's are about four meters apart, and I'm only two meters from the ground as I jump between them.

I only last another four minutes before I can't jump far enough, landing on the ground next to the tree. I nearly collapse on the ground, but I manage to stay standing long enough to properly sit down. I lean my back against the tree, panting, as I let my legs rest.

I'm in a less hazardous part of the forest at the moment. The hills are much wider, and less steep. They actually look like hills, instead of small cliffs, and I have to walk for a while to reach the next one.

I rest for around fifteen minutes, then stand up, looking around. I start walking deeper into the forest, thinking about ways to continue training. I have been doing anything I can think of to strengthen my body, things like pulling trees out of the ground, and sprinting through the forest while carrying said trees.

I can't carry fallen trees for very long, especially when I'm running around as I hold them, but I'm getting better each day. I'm not sure how strong I can actually get, but I'm going to keep going until I hit a wall. Then I'm going to keep ramming into that wall until it breaks, or until I break. I hope the wall breaks first, but I won't know until it happens.

I'm walking up a large hill, when I hear a noise. It's the sound of something falling onto the dry leaves of the forest, a distinct crunching noise that can't really be replicated. It came from the top of the hill, a little to the left.

I change my direction, heading towards the sound. It takes me thirty seconds to reach the crest of the hill, and I immediately notice the figure of an animal about ten meters from me. It has long white fur, long enough to hide it's body shape, and looks really fluffy. It's tail looks to be at least as long as it's body, and is just as fluffy, seeming to double its size.

It's laying on the ground, with its head turned away from me, not moving. I can't tell if it's alive from here, so I start moving closer. I purposefully crunch the leaves under my feet with each step, as I move closer. It looks towards me as I get within four meters from it, slowly turning its head in my direction.

I slow down, but continue approaching, as it silently stares at me. Its eyes are a beautiful, vivid golden color, and I can see its fear and pain in them. I feel a strange connection with this creature, as if it's an old friend or a long lost family member. I'm not sure why, but I already care for it, even though I've only known of its existence for about a minute.

I can see a slight hint of recognition in its eyes as I get closer, and it seems to be slightly hopeful, as it watches me. I'm not sure what happened, but it seems to be injured. I have a feeling that the creature is male, and that it's still a child, as I look at it. I'm not sure where this information comes from, but I'm going to assume it's accurate.

I step up to the creature, crouching down in front of him, as I look into his eyes. His body is about the same size as mine, if you include his tail, and his head resembles a fox's. I think this might just be what a fox looks like in this world, so that's what I'm going to call him.

I reach out, and set my hand on his shoulder, still looking into his eyes. My hand sinks through his fur, as I push against him, seeming to just disappear. His fur is really soft, and much more fluffy than I originally thought. I push my hand through half a foot of fur, before I reach his body. He doesn't move, as I gently roll him onto his side, seeming too weak to try.

As I roll him onto his side, I find the cause of his pain. There is a long arrow stabbed into his stomach, and the fur around it is soaked through with blood. I gasp quietly as I see it, not expecting this kind of injury. I regain my composure quickly though, as I've seen this kind of thing many times before. My father used to take me hunting in my previous life, so I'm used to seeing bloody animals. They're usually dead by that point though, so I'm not quite sure what to do here.

After thinking for a few seconds, I decide to try to see the injury better. I press my hands into the fur around the arrow shaft, gently pulling it away from the wound. I can't see it well, even with my hands touching his stomach, but I think the wound has already started healing. I decide it to remove the arrow, before it makes him heal improperly, and move one hand to the shaft.

"This is probably going to hurt." I mumble apologetically, as I look up at his face. His eyes seem to hold a sense of understanding, as he stares at me. He lays his head down on the ground, closing his eyes, as I brace my free hand on his stomach. I move my other hand down the shaft, gripping it right above the injury, then slowly start pulling.

The arrow comes out quicker than I expected, not even needing me to use much force to do so. I realize why when I look at its tip, noticing that it's not even sharp. Whoever shot this fox apparently only had practice arrows on them when they did. That's good for me though, seeing as I'm trying to help the fox.

His wound doesn't seem to be bleeding much, even with the arrow removed, but he has still lost a lot of blood. I wipe my hands on my dress, removing most of the blood, as I look up at his face. He didn't make any noise while I was removing the arrow, and his head is still resting on the ground, eyes closed.

Now that I know he's not going to die of blood loss immediately, I spend a while observing him. His body is almost three feet long, not including his tail, and he would probably be a little over two feet tall at the shoulder if he was standing. I'm not quite three feet tall, so he is quite large compared to me, and this is easily noticeable as I kneel beside him.

His ears are as long as his head is tall, and they are just as fluffy as the rest of his body. His nose and paw pads are black, and his tail is actually longer than his body, being three feet in length. It starts out small at the base, but quickly gets wider, becoming a foot wide at the thickest part. It tapers back down to a point at the end, and looks impossibly soft and fluffy.  I also notice that he is indeed male, as I inspect him.

I look up as I hear the crunch of leaves, coming from the other side of the hill. It sounds like footsteps, multiple pairs of them. I can also hear muffled voices coming from the same direction, as I listen.

I focus on the sounds, counting four sets of footsteps. They seem to be walking casually, unhurriedly. Either they didn't shoot the fox, or they don't think he can escape from them. I'm going to assume the later, until proven wrong.

As they get closer I can hear their conversation. They all seem to be grown men, and they are laughing loudly as they talk. I already dislike them, and I haven't even seen their appearances yet.

"-you seen the new slave the boss brought in? She has an amazing body, and I hope to try her out when we get back." One of the voices says, before laughing disgustingly. I've already decided that these men are horrible people the moment I hear that, and I stand up, preparing to leave.

"Oh yeah, I saw her alright. I get first go if I catch this damn beast first." Another voice laughs, seeming excited. Beast? I thought he was just a fox...

"It won't be able to run much longer. Then we can give it's pelt to the boss, and he wont be able to say no to us having a go!" A third voice says, and all four of them start laughing. They want his pelt? I guess that makes sense, he is beautiful after all, but I don't want to see him dead.

I'm not sure why I want him to live, I just do. I look around, trying to find the best direction to go in. The men are coming from the north, so I can't go that way, and the manor is to the south. I'm not sure if it's a good idea to return to the manor with an injured beast, so that's a no, too. I'd have to travel about fifty kilometers to get there anyway, and I don't think it's a good idea to move him too much.

I'm left with west or east now, and both seem just as good as the other. I'm cut short in my thinking, as one of the men crests the hill, quickly spotting me. He is wearing light leather armor, with a sword sheathed on his hip. His eyes widen in delight as he sees me, and he turns back towards his companions as they step up after him.

"Look what we've found boys, a lost little girlie wanderin around the forest all alone. Isn't this great?" He says, flashing a disgusting grin. The three men behind him laugh at his words, grinning just as disgustingly. They obviously have extremely bad thoughts about me, and I wish I never encountered them.

"Think we can have a go at this one, before we bring her back to the boss?" The second voice I heard says, coming from the man to the left of the first one. I notice he has a crossbow slung over his shoulder, as I look at them. They all laugh again, as they stare at me, not seeming to notice the fox beside me.

"How'bout a few goes, yeah? That sounds nice to me." A new voice asks, coming from the man to the right of the first. He starts slowly walking closer, with his hands ready to grab me.

"You are disgusting." I say, with a voice to match my words, as I reach down and lift the fox into the air. I drape him over my shoulder, then turn, sprinting off to the west. The four men take a second to react, before they're sprinting after me.

"Hey! She's got the fuckin beast!" The third man shouts, as he starts moving.

"Well fucking catch her then!" The first man responds, seeming angered at my decision to run.

The four men keep screaming at each other as they run after me. I ignore them, focusing on the path ahead of me. I try to hold the fox as gently as possible as I move, but I'm still sprinting through a forest.

He growls lowly, as I run along the hill. I'm not sure if it's in pain, or because of the men, but I don't have time to think about it right now. As I keep running, I reach the western side of the hill, now running down it. The four men are much slower than me, and they don't seem to be willing to Sprint downhill.

The fox starts growling louder as I reach the bottom of the hill, seeming to be saying something. I only hear three of the men running down the hill now, but I don't notice what he did, until I hear a quiet wooden click. The moment I do, I throw myself to the side. I keep running as I hear a thud to my left, the sound of a crossbow bolt sinking into the ground.

I'm forced to dodge another three bolts before I get out of his range, and I continue expecting another one to fly at me, until I can't hear them anymore. I keep running until I reach the shore of a lake, where I stop to rest.

It's been about seventy minutes since I left the men behind, and I'm exhausted. The fox doesn't weigh much, only about as much as I do, but I was just running at full speed for over an hour. That was more straining than any training exercise I've done so far, and I don't wish to do it again.

I gently set the fox on the grass, right next to the water, then start washing the blood out of his fur. I carefully clean his wound, noticing that it's stopped bleeding, then wash my hands in the water. He doesn't move as I do this, and I think he might be unconscious. He could just be sleeping though, I'm not sure.

I let myself fall onto my back, then look at the sky. The sun will be setting soon, and I can't return to the manor. I can't stay here either, as the men will catch up eventually. I stand up as soon as I stop breathing heavily, lifting the fox back onto my shoulder, then start walking north, following the lake shore.

The lake is quite small, the other side is only about four hundred meters away, but it's still a long walk. I eventually reach the western side of the lake, then walk back into the forest. I walk for twenty minutes, looking for somewhere to sleep, but it soon gets too dark to see, so I just jump into the largest tree I can find.

I lay the fox across the bases of two large branches, then lean back against the tree as I sit next to him. He is still sleeping, so I close my eyes, hoping that the men don't find us before the morning.

It only takes me a few minutes to fall asleep, and I wake up early the next morning. The sun is just rising behind me, as I look around the forest. The fox is still laying next to me, and I don't hear anything abnormal in the forest, so I assume the men haven't found us yet.

I stretch, feeling less sore than I expected to be after sleeping in a tree, then reach over to the fox. He doesn't respond to me lightly shaking him, so I lift him into my lap. I check his wound again, finding that it's nearly fully healed, and not at all infected. I'm a bit surprised at that, but I guess it's reasonable, seeing as he's supposed to be a beast, not a normal animal.

After making sure he's fine, I lightly drop from the tree, landing silently on the ground. I walk through the forest, making almost no sound as I step over the dry leaves, looking for somewhere to hide while the fox heals. I continue west, moving away from the last place I saw the men.

The forest is mostly flat in this area, with a few hills here and there. I think about The previous day, as I walk, wondering why those men attacked me. They were obviously bad people, but I'm not sure what kind. The one with the crossbow was definitely willing to kill me though, and they wanted to 'have a go' at me, so I'm going to assume they are some of the common criminals of this world.

They're probably just bandits, as I didn't see anything to indicate that they're cultists or something like that. They could be though, but I doubt it. I'm not sure what to do about them, they will probably try to kill me if they find me, so I can't try to negotiate. I don't think I could kill them, either. I've never killed anything other than a few wild animals while hunting, and I'm not sure if I can kill a human.

I might have to though, and that's a scary thought. I hope they stop looking for me After a while, then I wont have to fight them, and I can let the fox finish healing. I probably won't be that lucky though, but I can still hope.

After an hour of walking, I find a small cave in the side of a hill. Its entrance is just barely big enough for me and the fox to fit through, so I doubt the bandits will be able to follow us, even if they manage to find us. There are no recent markings around the entrance either, so it should be unoccupied.

After sliding into the cave, I find a short tunnel, ending in a wall. The tunnel is only five meters long, and made of simple grey stone. There is some sunlight leaking through a few small holes in the ceiling, letting me see what's ahead of me, and I decide that this is good enough.

I pull the fox through the opening in the wall behind me, then carry him to the back of the cave. I sit down with my back to the wall, then lay the fox on the ground beside me. We'll probably be here for a while, so I let myself relax, releasing all the tension of the past day.

The cave is only four feet tall, and three feet wide, so I don't have much room to move, but at least we should be safe here. We're in trouble if the bandits manage to find us here though, but we should be pretty well hidden.

 

The fox starts moving after around twenty minutes, and I watch as his eyes open. He notices me immediately, but doesn't seem to mind my presence, as he attempts to stand. He struggles a bit, but seems to be fine once he's on his feet. He walks in a slow circle, before moving over to me.

He walks right up to me, and nudges my chest with his nose, then settles back down on the ground, laying his head in my lap. I'm a little shocked at his intelligence, but it's not as strange as some of the other things I've read about in this world. It's a good thing too, as he'd probably attack me if he was just a normal animal.

I set my hands on his head, stroking his ears gently, as I wait for the day to pass. He seems to like it, as he closes his eyes, relaxing. I'm not sure what he is, but I don't want to leave him. That should sound strange, but I can't seem to think that, as if it's perfectly normal to find a strange creature in the woods, then randomly decide you love it.

That does sound strange to me, but only if this fox isn't the strange creature I'm finding. It's really confusing, so I'm not going to think about it. I have a very soft and fluffy fox lying in my lap, and I think petting it is much more important.

I continue gently playing with the fox's ears for the next few hours, as we rest in the cave. He seems content to stay like this, and I don't hear anything strange from outside the cave, so I have no reason to do anything else.

His fur really is as soft as it looks, and I'm not quite sure how it's possible. I can't deny the fact that I'm touching it though, so I'm just going to enjoy the feeling of my hands running through it. I can tell he enjoys the feeling too, seeing as he presses into my hands every time they move over his head.

I ignore my hunger as the day moves on, and eventually decide to check his wound again. I lightly push against his side, and he easily rolls over, exposing his underside. My hand moves to where I remember the wound being, but all I find is some slightly shorter fur. I almost expected this, but I'm still a bit shocked to find it. That wound should have taken weeks to heal, and that's with modern technology helping. We don't have any technology, and he healed in a day.

I look up at his face to see him staring at me. I smile happily as I move my hand away from his stomach, going back to stroking his ears. "Does it still hurt?" I ask, looking down at him. I assume it doesn't, but I should still make sure. This will also let me better see how intelligent he actually is.

He looks up at me, as he remains on his side, with his head in my lap. He stares at me for a few seconds, then slowly shakes his head. He then lets his head drop back down, as he closes his eyes again.

"That's good." I say quietly, as I continue running my hands through his fur. He doesn't respond again, but I don't expect him to. We spend another few hours in the cave, resting. I'm not sure if we should leave yet, but the fox doesn't seem to think we should, so I continue waiting.

Eventually he stands up, stretching, then looks at me questioningly. I tilt my head at him, and he looks towards the entrance of the cave, then back towards me. I think for a moment, then decide it would be a good idea to find something to eat, and stand up.

I walk alongside the fox, heading towards the cave entrance as I think about the bandits who attacked us, and about what will happen if we meet again. I hope they are gone now, but I don't think they will give up so easily.

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