Chapter 152 An Inn and a Boy
It took another half hour to find a road in the forest, a small one that didn’t look to be in the best shape. Winter had recently passed which made it understandable but as little as Ilea understood of wagons, none would pass this road without a lot of difficulty. They followed the road for a while and came across a village soon after.
Ilea landed and summoned a hood. Looking towards the others, Weavy put up his black hood and covered most of his face again. The other demons would be hiding in the nearby forest.
“What happens when you fall asleep or unconscious?” Ilea asked, motioning to the demons clad in armor.
“The chance of that happening is very low…,” the mind weaver said but continued right after “The spell will hold for some time after I lose direct control. Some hours with these as I’ve become more familiar with them. In a couple weeks it will be a full night.”
Ilea nodded. “Then tell them to hide. You can come if you want to but if you’d rather stay out here that’s fine as well.” the demons spread out into the forest with incredible speed as soon as she had stopped talking. Weavy didn’t leave and so the three of them walked the last stretch towards the village.
An old withered sign read Fenhold. At least the village was big enough to put up a sign. The air was still a little cold, now that the suns were already setting. It wasn’t an unreasonable time for a traveler to arrive in a village or town. Smoke was rising from several of the buildings and Ilea heard her stomach grumble at the thought of hearty food. Perhaps a potato stew or a barley soup.
They walked through the muddy road until they came up on a small stone bridge leading over a nearly empty creek flowing through the forest. A man clad in leather armor not much unlike the one Ilea was wearing lazily sat on one side of the bridge, spear in hand and short sword sheathed. He noticed them entirely too late but sprang up when he did.
“Who goes there!” he shouted, his arms shaking a little as he pointed the spear towards them. Ilea casually walked up to him and stopped two meters before the man. It seemed he was much younger than she initially thought. She smiled though, realizing that he probably wasn’t much younger than herself.
“You should be careful towards whom you point your weapon.” Ilea said, having identified him as a level thirty warrior. Not much of a perceived threat but she herself had killed monsters and men much higher in level than her so she wouldn’t get careless. His eyes opened wide as he moved back the spear, nearly losing his grip on it in the process.
“I’m sorry, it’s just that. The monsters…,” he started but Ilea just held up a hand.
“It’s alright, we know. We’re looking for a warm meal and a bed. Ready to pay of course. Anything of that to have in your village?” she asked, waiting for his answer. Her voice seemed to have calmed him down considerably as he occasionally glanced towards the heavily armored Kyrian and the cloaked Weavy.
“I’m Harsh. We have that, yes. The pricas are high at da moment, winta been rough.” he said, now completely relaxed around the new people. Certainly trusts easily, Ilea thought and smiled. Maybe he too would find a hidden temple and lost class within someday.
“Thank you.” she said and motioned towards her companions.
“No worries madam. Always wantad to meet a noble.” he said and blushed but Ilea completely ignored the comment. A noble? The boy really hadn’t been around a lot it seemed. The three passed the bridge and entered the village. A bunch of houses built with stone and wood. A chicken ran across the street with a little girl following close behind, cursing like the best of them.
Ilea walked to the biggest building near the center of the village and as it usually was, there was a sign outside indicating it to be an inn of some sort. She moved to open the heavy door and stepped inside, holding it open for her companions who followed quickly. The cold harsh wind outside was immediately cut off and replaced by the hearty chatter of people and the warmth of a nearby fire. The smell of food was in the air and Ilea smiled as she closed her eyes, enjoying the haven as a shiver went through her.
‘I need a hearth in my place…,’ she thought and opened her eyes again. Some of the people looked at the newcomers but generally their entrance didn’t have much of an impact to the overall mood. There were around fifteen patrons, most of them armed. Three of them looked like soldiers, sporting the same crest on their gear. Ilea walked up to the counter, the wood creaking below as she saw through her Sphere that there were some rats working their way into a supply chest in the cellar, as did she see two people upstairs in the middle of some quite rough sex.
“Welcome travelers. More refugees coming from westwards?” the woman, apparently the inn keeper, asked them before she shouted behind her to hurry up with the food. Her stern look blossoming into a big smile immediately as she turned towards the new guests again. “I do hope you have silver.” she asked.
Ilea nodded and removed a couple coins from her pouch which held only silver. “Any free rooms still? Some food and ale as well, ale for two.” Ilea said as she put the money on the counter.
“There’s just one room left, the far right one.” the woman said as she took the coins and left a key on the counter.
Key in her pocket, Ilea walked to a free table and was quickly joined by her companions. She had chosen a table close to the fire and enjoyed watching the dancing flames.
Food and drink arrived soon after, nothing special but filling and hot. Thinking of, Ilea smiled at the two men walking down the stairs and seating themselves on a table to get some food as well, one of them with a little more difficulty.
“So who are the people we’re meeting?” Kyrian asked, breaking the silence. Weavy perched up, obviously interested in the place he’d likely be staying at.
“Bunch of renegades. Their magic is, well frowned upon by most I’d assume.” she said. “But you’ll see soon enough. I don’t think we’re more than a day or two of traveling away if we continue at the same speed.” Kyrian nodded at that and got up.
“I’ll sleep for two or three hours. We can leave again afterwards.” he said. Ilea nodded his way and lifted her mug. She’d join him in an hour or two.
“You plan on sleeping?” she asked the demon next to her. Luckily his robes, boots and hood were placed well enough to make it hard to see any specific features.
“No.” came the short reply.
“Don’t murder anything here.” Ilea said and pointed a finger towards him.
“What do you think of me?” the demon asked in a completely fake shocked tone. Touching the wood with his bandaged hands, he sent a curious emotion towards her.
“You don’t have any wood there do you?” Ilea asked after a while but he chose not to reply.
“The fuck are you talking to yourself for?” a drunk man said towards Ilea, three of his friends laughing. “Fucking freak!” The man didn’t bring out another word as he suddenly hit the table.
The whole room quieted down quickly as the man slowly slid off the table and fell down. Ilea took another sip of her ale. “Did you kill him?” she asked the demon who was still just touching the table.
“He’s alive guys, calm down.” Ilea said and lifted her mug. “Round on me.”
Someone cheered for the round but the guy’s friends didn’t seem too pleased with the situation. Ilea’s gaze turned cold as she looked at their stares as they dragged the man out.
A little while later a young man came up to them, obviously nervous as he constantly brushed away the hair on his face. “Ehm… Miss…,” he stammered out. “That… that was mind, mind magic?” he asked her.
“Ask him about that, not me.” Ilea said and motioned to her companion. “I’ll be in bed as well, just be somewhere around when we leave.” Ilea said and got up, walking past the nervous boy who looked towards her and then to the cloaked demon sitting on the table. “Good luck.” she said in passing.
Kyrian was fast asleep already, of course still wearing most of his armor. ‘I could just stab you in the face mate…’ she thought and shook her head. With his level and defenses it’d probably be hard to get a knife through that skull of his but still. Why sleep in armor if your head is exposed like that?
She herself switched her clothes into a night gown and slipped under the covers. The bed was surprisingly big enough for her not to be bothered by his armor and the spikes coming out of it. At least the man had moved some of the spikes to not damage the bed, considerate as he was. A couple minutes later, Ilea too was asleep.
A light tapping on her shoulder made her wake up. Ilea sleepily turned around and saw a man clad in heavy and spiked armor carefully look at her. His gray eyes locked with hers as he smiled. “I didn’t want to wake you up but you said a couple hours was fine.”
“It is fine.” she said as she slowly sat up on the side of the bed. A moment later her nightgown was replaced by nothing. The man stared for a couple seconds before suddenly jerking away. Ilea chuckled and walked up to him, touching his armor before she pushed him backwards and to the wall. “Maybe a little longer?” she asked with the cutest voice she could conjure up. Kyrian now looked at her and nodded a little. The intimidated man turned into something entirely different in the following half hour, as Ilea was smashed into the bed with a previously unexperienced vigor.
“That was fun.” Kyrian said, lying next to her on the bed. Ilea could only produce a little sigh. It really had been fun. She quickly used her Hunter Recovery to check for any developments in her nether region but found nothing wrong with it. She did need to clean up though.
“I’ll be right back, wait outside, I’ll get Weavy as well.” she said and blinked outside, still naked. The creek was only a minute away so she walked. The water was cold on her but she didn’t mind as she watched the moon reflect off the surface.
Stepping out of the water, she summoned her leather armor and stretched her arms a little. She smiled, remembering Kyrian’s stupid grin from before. ‘Now, to find out little mind mage.’ she thought and walked back to the inn. He wasn’t inside but she picked up his scent easily enough. It lead her towards a simple house at the edge of the village. Behind she found them.
Weavy and the boy from before, with the boy holding his hands towards Weavy, a rune glowing on his forehead.
“Hey you two.” Ilea said from the side and the boy immediately jerked towards her. She felt a small tug on her mind and then a push but it was nothing compared to Eve or Weavy. “Ah, found your teacher have you.” Ilea stated.
“He is weak.” Weavy said to her and with the boy’s reaction, to him as well.
“Yea of course he is, never had a teacher it seems. You want to take him in?” she asked. “I’m sure having a human boy and disciple will be a good first impression on your new friends.”
The demon looked towards her and then towards the boy. “He does not know what I am.” he said.
“Well then show him.” Ilea said. “Boy. What’s your name?”
“Ein m… miss.” the boy said. He knew he had attacked her and it seemed he was in a bit of a turmoil about how exactly he felt about that.
“Ein, eh heard worse. Boy you are. Do you want to go with your teacher. He’s not a human and you’ll have to leave behind your life here in the village. Possibly forever.” Ilea said.
“I don’t have anything here. I don’t care what my teacher is.” the boy said, not a single stammer in his voice.
“Good, then remove the hood.” Ilea said and Weavy did just so. The boy’s expression turned from determined to scared, to unsure and right back to determined before he bowed in front of his new master.
“Good, you sold your soul now and your first three children.” Ilea joked but the boy looked at her frightened and then back to his master.
“Your soul is yours but the children are mine.” Weavy said in a completely serious tone. “They taste nice when they’re fresh.” Weavy said, looking towards Ilea who just put up her hands in defense.
“Hey, that one’s between you two.” she just said. “Now come, we’re leaving. Got anything you wanna take with you?” she asked and the boy shook his head, apparently done with this place.
“Come then.” she said, holding out her hand as her wings spread behind her, reflecting the light of the moon. The boy hesitantly got closer and grabbed her hand. Weavy grabbed her other arm before they flew upwards. Kyrian saw them a moment later and joined, not even asking about the new companion they had made. The black haired scrawny boy named Ein.
The flight was mostly uneventful after that. The suns rose high and the weather was much warmer than anything Ilea had experienced in the past four months. They rushed over forests and lakes, over hills and marshes before they finally saw the mountain. “Karth.” Ilea said as they came closer. Of course she knew they weren’t anywhere near close to it but they had found their orientation. She chose to go directly to the necromancers and visit Riverwatch afterwards. There was no massive smoke coming from the general direction so she didn’t deem it a higher priority.
“We’re getting far into the west.” Kyrian commented.
“First time for you?” Ilea asked and he answered with an affirming grunt.
“I’m excited to see it all.” he said after a while. Both Ein and Weavy were training according to Ilea’s growing headache. A quick appliance of her healing magic helped out immediately.
“Me too.” she said and smiled. She had barely even started exploring in these lands. A lot of time had passed and she’d grown a lot stronger but still Elos just seemed so incredibly vast to her. Perhaps it was because of the absence of planes and the internet. Even though she didn’t travel much in her time on Earth, she still felt like the world had little adventure to offer. Of course there were many places that held adventures and a lot of unexplored nature left but nothing compared to the dangers and excitement of these magical lands.
Plus she was probably faster than a plane now, not that she knew how to exactly measure that. And she had a suspicion that at least the Taleen had some way of communicating over very long distances, even with Trian’s explanation of how difficult that was.
“We better move the last couple hours on foot, not to arouse any suspicion.” Ilea said, thinking more of her friends than herself. Suspicion was usually connected to something dangerous. Nine times out of ten that was a good thing for her though.
It took them the better part of the day to run through the thick forest surrounding Karth. Monsters and animals were ignored, most of them fleeing long before the group even got close enough. They stopped near the Calys mine, the suns setting already as they neared the entrance.
It didn’t look like the city was very interested in the dungeon yet. They’d act as soon as monsters spilled out but Ilea had killed the Alpha and thus the boss of the dungeon. It would probably take a while for it to recover and the undead wouldn’t spill out as they’re simply a guard to the order hiding behind.
“Why were there no monsters in the forest? The elders always said not to go into the forests because of all the monsters.” Ein said.
“It’s because we are the monsters.” Ilea said and felt incredibly proud of her delivery. Kyrian just shook his head quietly as she basked in the boy’s admiration. ‘God damn I’m cool.’ she thought and winked towards Kyrian who just chuckled.
“You damn idiot.” he muttered and followed her into the dungeon. There were even fewer hounds around this time, fleeing just as they had before Ilea had gone to the Hand. The undead looked at her but didn’t attack. They had a certain fixation for Weavy though but his magic turned them away.
“What a peculiar presence…,” the demon said as he looked after a wandering undead. “Are these the friends you spoke of?” he asked.
“On one level with you you mean?” Ilea replied as they entered the Alpha’s cave. “No, they’re further down.
The group leapt down, Ilea’s wings softening the fall. “Now you guys just let me talk alright.”