After the rewards were distributed, the party disbanded, and the players started going their own way, most heading towards Bastion City, and others deeper into the jungle.
Astaroth didn't want to go back right away, since he knew he still had things to deal with over there, but he also didn't have much choice. When Astaroth looked deeper into the forest, Phoenix stared at him before grabbing his arm.
"Nope. You have business to take care of. I'm still waiting for the response from the mage guild. You are not leaving until that is fixed, and we are in their good book again. Understood?"
Astaroth sighed deeply, before turning back towards Bastion City.
There was no denying that he had work to do.
As everyone left the clearing, a single player stood there, eyes upward. This was Chronos.
His gaze was locked on something up in the tree branches. What most would see was simply an odd-coloured cat, taking a nap on some tree branch.
But to Chronos, it looked much different.
The cat in the tree wasn't simply lying on the branch in his vision. It was lying directly on the many threads of the time web, pulsing with it rhythmically, almost as if part of it.
"What manner of creature are you, little kitten?" he mumbled to himself.
Looking at the tree, Chronos let go of the fleeting idea of climbing up to join it. His skill for climbing trees hadn't been tested since he was a child, and it wasn't as simple as grabbing the nearest branch, which was twenty feet off the ground.
And he wasn't sure his wings could even carry his weight. Some players had tried flying with their Fey wings, with varying levels of success.
But he was never much of a testing kind.
So instead, he did something else that might catch the cat's attention.
Chronos reached out his hand, grasping one of the time threads that passed under the sleeping cat, and gave it a gentle tug, sending a pulse in it that was off beat with the rest of the web.
The cat felt the pulse and opened its eyes.
Looking down lazily at the winged man below, the cat yawned wide, getting up and stretching thoroughly before jumping down the tree.
Chronos looked at it gracefully land in front of him, like it hadn't just dropped from thirty feet high, and sashay around him, seemingly observing him. This showed a level of intelligence superior to a simple cat.
Chronos followed its circling path with his eyes, wondering what the cat was looking at.
But after a single pass around him, the cat sat directly in front of him, before licking its paw and scratching its ear.
Chronos leaned down, making himself almost the same height as the cat, and tentatively outstretched his hand.
The cat let him touch it, and Chronos scratched the top of its head.
"You're a strange one, little guy. What are you doing all the way down here, walking the mortal realm?"
Chronos had already assumed this cat came from beyond the mortal realm, since it pulsed with temporal energy. To him, the cat was like a beacon tying to the time web.
He wondered if this was a familiar to Tyr or another god under him.
The cat lightly purred from the head scratches and stepped a bit closer, its tail swooshing under Chronos' face. Then it sat down and pawed at the air in front of Chronos.
Or at least, that is what it would look like to others. But to Chronos, it was pawing directly at his fate thread, the one that connected him to Astaroth.
It meowed again, turning its head toward Bastion City.
"You want to go to the city? Why didn't you go there directly, instead of waiting here?"
The cat turned its head back, looking deep into Chronos' gaze, and images flitted into his mind. nOve(lb-1n
It showed him the world through its gaze, finding the dungeon entrance, and watching all the fate threads leading into it. Chronos noticed the thread that glowed brighter than the others.
"You're looking for the one this thread connects to?" he asked, blinking the images away from his mind.
The cat blinked its eyes in response.
'What does it want with Astaroth?' he wondered.
Chronos knew who the thread belonged to because he had also noticed Astaroth's fate thread glowed more than the others. He wondered if it was a result of all the other threads winding into him, and linking to his soul, or if his fate was simply stronger within the time web.
But he hadn't looked into it much yet, since they had only met.
Regardless, if the cat wanted to meet him, he would guide it to him. He wasn't one to stop time from taking its course.
"Alright, then. I will take you to him if I can. I should be able to get you into the city without trouble."
The cat chirped happily before stepping closer to Chronos. It then nudged his arm.
The cat pawed at his arm, looking at him insistently.
"You want me to carry you? Can't you walk on your legs beside me?"
The cat looked at him expectantly, pawing at his arm again.
With a sigh, Chronos grabbed the cat carefully, nesting him in his arms. The cat was surprisingly lighter than he had expected, but was still an added weight.
As he cradled his arms, the cat repositioned a few times, making it hard for Chronos to hold on to it, until it felt it was comfortable enough, and closed its eyes to nap.
Chronos, feeling the purring on his chest, couldn't muster the energy to get angry at the cat for using him as a taxi service. He simply carried it in his arms, cradled like a fur baby, and walked toward the city.
'I hope the guards don't give me trouble because I'm bringing back a stray...' Chronos sighed in his mind.
He also hoped that the proprietress of the Singing Boar wouldn't make a fuss about him bringing a cat into her establishment. He still had nowhere else to stay, for now.
'I wonder if Tyr knows a being from his domain is down here?'