The hill was steep, but Saitomi managed to drag Jerea and Ree all the way to the top. At the top of the hill was the ruined remains of a stone tower, most of which had fallen and crumbled away.
"Hey, look there," Jerea said as she pointed down the other side of the hill.
A young elf woman garbed in loose white and green robes was perched in the upper branches of a tree at the base of the hill. She had tan skin, blonde hair, and a terrified look on her face as she struggled to stay out of reach of the creatures that circled the tree.
Three black-feathered birds, each fully the size of a mastiff, circled the tree that the elf girl took refuge in. Their long legs allowed them to jump and snap at the girl's legs with their sharp beaks, and they squawked hungrily up at her. However, their wings seemed too small to provide the birds with flight.
"Chickens?" Ree asked incredulously. "We have to kill chickens?!"
"They look like chocobos," Saitomi said excitedly. "Can we ride them?"
"Chickens!" Ree repeated angrily.
"According to my knowledge, they appear to be fiendish dire chickens," Jerea informed the group as she nodded sagely.
"They're still chickens," Ree pointed out. "This is exactly why I hate low level play."
"Help me, please!" the elf girl shrieked.
"Oh no! The lady!" Saitomi cried out as he rushed down the hill with his sword drawn.
"If we die to chickens, I quit," Ree grumbled.
"Thank you ever so much for saving me," the elf girl said as Saitomi helped her down from the tree.
"We were happy to help," Jerea said, wiping poultry blood from her maul.
"I wish you two were casters," Ree muttered. "I could've killed all of them with one spell, but because you guys were in melee I had to blow all my spells on Magic Missile."
"What would you have done instead?" Jerea asked.
"Cast Grease, set it on fire," Ree answered. "Precooked our meals."
"But that could have caught fire to the tree I was in," the elf girl said, appalled. "I would have perished in the blaze along with those foul fowls."
"You have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet," Ree replied.
"It's funny 'cause we were fighting chickens," Saitomi laughed.
"Shut up," Ree groaned.
"So who are you, miss?" Jerea asked the elf.
"My name is Aerye," she replied, bowing low to the group. "I am forever in your debt for saving my life."
"Great, fine, so what do you do?" Ree asked.
"I'm a practitioner of the healing arts," Aerye answered as she smiled sweetly.
"That's nice, but how do you do it?" Ree questioned, growing impatient.
"Um, with healing magic," Aerye replied.
She muttered a few softly spoken words as she passed her hands over Saitomi, healing his wounds.
"Thanks," the rogue said with a smile.
"That's not what I meant," Ree grumbled. "Aerye, what is your profession?"
"I'm a healer!" Aerye insisted. "Why is that so hard to understand?"
"Goddammit, what class are you?!" Ree shouted.
"I've graduated already," Aerye said quietly as she cowered from the angry woman.
Ree reached toward the elf as if to throttle her, but Jerea quickly placed a hand on the sorcerer's shoulder and pulled her away.
"I think she's being straight with you," Jerea said. "Do you remember the Miniature's Handbook?"
"Of course," Ree scoffed. "It has the War Hulk in it."
"There's also a couple base classes in it," Jerea reminded her. "One of them is the Healer. See?"
Ree muttered to herself for a few moments, then turned her furious gaze back to Aerye.
"Why?" Ree shouted at the trembling elf. "Why are you so useless?!"