Day 1. Zarakkar Jungle
“No, really, I tell you. I can just feel it! I have to see my son!” spoke the old woman with gray hair, patting a large tortoise shell with her wrinkled hand.
“We’ve been best friends since we were kids, Josephine, and you can’t just let me go on my own,” she continued lecturing someone as she clambered up the shell, hauling a pile of old clutter with her. “What if this is our last journey? Anyway, there’s no way I’ll stop pestering you, so don’t go counting on that. Besides, how would I walk on my own? My legs aren’t what they used to be!”
Four legs and a wrinkled head appeared from inside the shell. The head replied in a grumpy tone: “What a crazy old crone you are, Martha!” A load of bags, crockery, and teapots clattered as the tortoise turned around and trudged off to the northeast with Martha on her back.
Day 3. Hardan’s Plateau
“And I said: ‘Are you really going to the capital, sonny? Now, who’s going to inherit my ancient magic?’
And he was like: ‘Ugh, Mom, science matters most!’
Bet he just left for the University to walk around without a hat on in cold weather!” Nothing would stop Martha from rambling.
“We can’t just invite him to the woods of Zarakkar all the time. This time, we’re going to visit him ourselves!”
The tortoise kept toddling down the road, nodding her speckled head and patiently listening to her friend’s emotional speech.
Day 6. Magic Thicket
“Look at that, Josephine! Could a demon really want to slay that cute little creature?” Martha was especially talkative on that day. “Uh oh, let’s go help the poor baby out, my friend!”
The tortoise changed her course with a sad sigh, and the two elderly friends went on to chide the demon a couple minutes thereafter. Unfortunately for the demon, it was too preoccupied with its potential prey, while the prey (Heidi, that is) looked at the old women. Martha nodded to Heidi and saw him nod in return. The tortoise reared up, raising a whirlwind of leaves, and shouted something she alone could make sense of. In that moment, the Guardian’s attacks grew so rapid that the demon simply could not keep up with them anymore. Deathflowers and Venomous Bites followed one another in rapid succession. Once the monster was defeated, Heidi bowed deeply to his saviors and hightailed it into the woods.
“Young people these days, how ungrateful! Here we are, supporting them like this, and they...”
“Stop grumbling, Martha,” replied the tortoise, offering a space on her shell. “Let’s go.”
Day 8. Outskirts of Wilheim
“Did you see how well the Foremother's Oath just worked? Kid just ran right off to give that demon what-for!”
“Martha, get down!” exclaimed the tortoise, halting her movement with all four legs and dropping to her belly.
Several huge boomerangs made of bone flew right over their heads like a hurricane. Their actual targets were the orcs following the elderly ladies, shouting and jeering. Martha turned around to face the master of the boomerangs. “Look at that, that’s Jhu himself! It’s been a while since you visited our woods!” she yelled excitedly, pointing her finger at the Guardian. Jhu leaped forward, landing between the women and the foes. His boomerangs shredded his enemies while the spirits of his ancestors healed his wounds. But a deep, nasty cut he received weakened him, slowing his attacks. The orcs advanced, and the Guardian found it all too difficult to keep holding the line. “How about a cup of tea, Josephine?” Martha suddenly asked. “Why ever not, my friend!” replied the tortoise in the same polite manner. “Let me brew some for us.” “Those old ladies have lost their minds.” whispered Jhu, barely opening his mouth.
Suddenly, an odd pyramid of cups and teapots erupted just beside the troll. The entire structure boiled over, spewing a multitude of bubbles that were directed straight towards the warrior. Surprisingly, the deep cut on his shoulder closed up at once, and the scrapes disappeared altogether, as though they had never been there. Jhu continued slashing at the orcs twice as vehemently, feeling his wounds heal as he went on... Soon enough, the battle was over.
“Thank you for your help, grannies. The two of you truly are brave warriors!” exclaimed the troll.
“Grannies, you say!” grumbled Martha, unable to sit still atop the shell. “Why don’t you show us the way to Strongford? Grannies! Would you look at that!”
“Come now, Martha,” replied the tortoise in an unexpectedly warm voice. “Let’s go. The capital should be just a little while away.”
Day 10. Strongford
The two travelers quickly found the university and the lecture hall they needed. Martha saw her son, sitting at a desk with stacks of papers and scrolls piled up on it.
“Meet your guests, Cornelius!” she cooed in an upbeat voice.
“Mom?” the scientist leaped up, surprised. “That’s so... unexpected!”
“Well of course, sonny. I can’t wait forever for my darling child to get married and make me a bunch of grandkids!” replied his mother, her eyes twinkling.
“Ugh, Mo-o-om!” Cornelius blushed and took a step back.
“Don’t you Mom me! Who am I going to bake pastries for? Whose grandkids will I change diapers for?” A sly squint gave her away, but the scientist could only keep blushing and mumbling.
“Come now, Cornelius! I’m just kidding! Josephine and I just wanted to say that we missed you, and that we love you very much! Go ahead and hug us, sonny!”
After that came hours of talk with tea, the exchange of understanding glances, and even crying tears of joy. The evening flew by, followed by a night’s sleep at Cornelius’ bachelor pad. When the morning came, Martha and Josephine got ready to head back home. But who would let them, now?
It turned out that the news about the two elderly women helping the Guardians in battle had reached Strongford before they did. Jhu and Heidi discussed events with Ingvar, and offered to induct the ladies into the ranks of the legendary protectors. Martha and Josephine didn’t think twice before agreeing. After all, they’re still young at heart!