“Ah, yes, sure, don’t worry about it,” The boy in front of me is fumbling over his words with exaggerated hand gestures. Guys always get a bit nervous around me, especially virgins. Of course this is a great opportunity for me to get in on a rather rewarding quest that I doubt I would have been able to find a party for any other way.
The fool in front of me is a blade dancer just based on the medium length dual swords strapped to his back and his rather light armour. If I had to venture a guess based on his gear alone, he’s probably about a level five.
The girl to his left, a druid by the looks of it, is currently giving him a dirty look, clearly displeased with the fact that he is failing miserably to hide the fact that he is ogling my rather voluptuous breasts. I am grateful at times like these that I am so good looking. It makes negotiating with this salivating fool and securing my spot on this juicy quest much more practical.
I wonder if this girl is his girlfriend, no that’s more a look of disgust in her eyes than one of anger. She glances again to the base of my Emiel wood staff. So that’s how it is, she noticed the runes engraved there. I need to hurry up and bring a close to this before she starts getting in the way.
I immediately pounce on the unsuspecting man, clasp his hands in my own and bring myself so close to his face that our hands are practically being squashed between his chest and my own.
“Thank you so much,” I say with the brightest most innocent smile I can muster, “You are a real lifesaver, I don’t know what I would have done if I had not met you.”
The boys face is smiling awkwardly and is bright red by this point. The look in the girls icy glare has also dropped another ten degrees.
The third member of this mans group is apparently a bard, but by the looks of it has very little interest in this conversation and much more in the bottom of his beer jug.
Well that about seals the deal anyway. I just hope this party turns out better than the last one, I really am quite broke after that little misadventure. The man in front of me has regained his composure a bit and already introduced himself, “and your name is?”
I smile “Sarah.”
We both stare at the table in front of us with glum expressions. I had earned my very meager paycheck from the days labouring, the result of which was the rather meager meal in front of us and a few spare copper coins. In spite of the hunger from working hard all day and skipping lunch, I found myself eating rather mechanically.
Jess had been out all day trying to find some ‘reasonable’ work, but had little success. I was initially against the idea of sending Jessica around on her own to do this, this place seems quite dangerous for a teenage girl not used to the surroundings. But there were not many other choices.
She couldn’t stick around me while I work, the foreman would have gone ballistic, he was not a particularly flexible kind of guy. She couldn’t stay at the inn past midday either since we didn’t have money in advance to book another day there. And in the end we desperately need more money. Although I wasn’t exactly expecting things to go well with her finding a job, but I must admit some corner of me was holding out hope.
At any rate now that even that has been crushed we still need to deal with the fact that we have nowhere to stay tonight. After we finish our meal we decided that we’ll go around begging for a place to stay offering our measly three coppers as compensation. But after many hours of wondering around, that plan seemed to fall flat on its face.
Door after door no matter how many inns we tried people would either laugh at us, sneer at us or throw us out on our asses outright. It was completely hopeless. We at some point learned that there was also the option of staying in a stables if they weren’t currently occupied by animals, but even then they still charged for it and the cheapest such option we could find was four coppers.
I begged the owner to let us stay there for just three, even offered to pay him the remainder the next day, but he wouldn’t hear any of it. He looked at us with disgust and contempt in his eyes.
Just what exactly would have to happen for everyone in a place like this to become so cold. I heard from some of the guys at my job about a little of what was going on in the world. It was a long day and I had plenty of opportunity to chat with some of them, under the guise that ‘I was not from around here’.
Turns out the country is at war with mysterious forces consisting of all manner of creatures and demons. Nobody knows where they came from but they have been fighting for several years now. As a result, the economy is completely fucked.
Trade routes get cut off and are dangerous, caravans have to hire adventurers to protect them and that doesn’t come cheap either, so their wares end up costing a fortune. Basic resources that would be gathered outside of the town in nearby areas for even the simplest daily necessities are now dangerous to acquire and thus a lot more expensive.
The only profession that benefits from the current state of affairs would be the adventurer, which there are now a lot more of thanks to that. Luckily Heimos is one of the smaller farming towns and of little importance in the scheme of things. Coupled with this they are also far away from where the bulk of the war is happening, and only have to deal with the overall drastically increased monster populations. For which there seems to be more than enough adventurers around.
I pause for a moment and Jessica stops behind me. It got dark quite a while ago and we’ve just been trudging around aimlessly this last hour or so. Even the nearby houses and inns have already turned their lights off.
I turn to Jessica, “We’re gonna have to sleep outside tonight.” Jessica’s eyes go wide for a moment, but she slowly nods. Perhaps she’s just too tired to put up any resistance at this point.
“We’ll take shelter under that bridge we passed a little way back.” It’s all I could think of at the time. It had started to get a bit cold and I was worried about it. I doubt we’d die or anything like that, but it would probably weaken us quite a bit or we’d get quite sick. As it stands we have enough problems as it is without concerns like that piled on top.
After arriving at the bridge we check to see if anyone is around and then snuggle up underneath it. It’s a large stone bridge crossing a large river that flows through part of the town. There is plenty of space underneath it to sleep on the embankment. The grass is soft enough to sleep on without being too uncomfortable I suppose, but it really has gotten quite cold, so I snuggle even closer to Jessica.
I think about a lot of different things, all the various challenges we face, what more are still to come and what we can do about all of this. Is this situation permanent or temporary and stuff like that. Strangely the things that are farthest from my mind are the things that you would think mattered the most, that is to say, all the people I left behind, like my mother who must be worried sick about me right about now. Is it because Jess is here with me that I haven’t spared a thought for such things, or has this world already got such a hold on me? Probably I’ve just had too much to deal with to have the time for such thoughts even.
A considerable amount of time passes while I’m lost in my thoughts and I can’t seem to get to sleep at all, probably on account of all the stress. Jessica fell asleep quite some time ago, she must have been exhausted. I lay there a while staring at her pretty sleeping face. Well it’s not exactly her face, but I can’t help but feel a little guilty over thinking that it’s really pretty.
Jessica was by no means a bad looking girl quite the opposite actually she was every bit a model. But I still can’t help but think that having a gorgeous elf for a girlfriend is by no means a bad deal.
For now I put such thoughts out of my mind for one she’d probably kill me if she found out, but also, I need to pee.
I carefully wriggle out of her grasp and stand up. I consider talking a leak in the river, but I kind of have an issue with 'stage fright' for some reason and I feel bad about peeing in the river, who knows who is all using that water and for what. But, there is no need to concern myself over such things as I remember that there was an outhouse just outside a tavern, just a little down the road from where we are. I start walking down the embankment , leaving our weapons behind propped up against the underside of the bridge.
Yeah we still have those, been carting them around the whole bloody time. I guess we were just too afraid to let them go with all the uncertainty surrounding us. It might be time to try and sell them, I mean I don’t see any chance of us becoming adventurers any time soon and we certainly do need the money.
I walk down the riverside a bit and approach the nearby tavern. Even at this time of night I can hear the place is still lively inside. I considered at one point that we should hang out there for the night, but what good would that have done if we couldn’t get any sleep for the next day and also I’m pretty sure that non-paying loafers would just end up getting thrown out anyway.
I arrive at my destination. A good old fashioned outhouse situated just outside the tavern. Now I know it’s meant for the taverns customers, but at this point I’m already a homeless person, so why the hell not. I muse to myself as I take care of business.
With that wrapped up I turn to head back to the bridge, I shouldn’t leave Jess alone there, I doubt it’s very safe. Just at that moment I spot something move in the distance.
I squint hard and can just make out a figure in the shadows down the road from the tavern. I can’t make out much but it appears to have yellow eyes, or that could just be my imagination, it’s not like I can see very well. But the figure does appear to be staring right at me.
The staring contest only lasts a moment and then the figure moves really quickly all of a sudden dancing between the shadows and then it’s gone. I might be mistaken but it also looked like one or two other shadows moved at the same time.
I stand there for a while but nothing else seems to happen, whatever they were the’re clearly gone now. Another moment's hesitation and then I turn and quickly head back to the bridge, in part I think my pace has increased on account of being really creeped out.
As I near the bridge I part from the road and head down the embankment. As I round the corner I pause, a strange scene is in front of me. There’s no Jessica, instead some really fat villager appears to be lying in her spot.
It only takes me a moment to shake off the surprise and notice that the fat villiger is not alone there two other men here. Not only that but so is Jessica, I just didn’t immediately notice here below the ridiculously oversized man. Villager B was kneeling down beside her restraining her hands and mouth while villager C seemed to be a lookout.
The fat villager was kneeling down over her with his pants pulled down and his putrid cock in his hand, with a stupid grin of anticipation on his face. Jessica underneath him had already lost her pants and her blonde bush was exposed for all the world to see. She was clearly struggling but to little effect under the weight of the two men.
Rage explodes inside me and I grab my sword from the side of the bridge, luckily the weapons were stacked up by the edge of the wall of the corner I happened to come around. In the same breath I lunge at the fat bastard. Villager C had already spotted me and called out, as a result the vile piece of oversized meat had just narrowly rolled out the way of my lunge. He lands on his ass, his fat rolls and vile cock still bouncing around.
Villager B lets go of Jessica and quickly draws a dagger from his belt and takes a swing at me. I am able to move out of the way in time, in so doing he appears to lose his footing a bit. So I take the opportunity to take a swing at him instead, with my sword. However he expertly changes the motion of his dagger and brings it up to parry my sword very close to the hilt where the least of the swings power is. I am surprised by this movement and accuracy despite him being clearly off balance after his initial swing had missed me. He seems to be very experienced. In spite of all this my sword had come down with all my power and rage and despite being successfully blocked, it was not enough to stop the swords movement, it was still coming down squarely upon his neck.
Unexpectedly villager B instantly realised this and changed the angle of his grip while sliding his dagger up along the length of my blade towards it’s tip causing a mass of sparks as the two blades grinded against each other in their still downwards motion. A loud sound of metal ringing happened and my sword came down not on his neck, but just past the other side of his head, he had successfully flicked its path off course. The sword may be easier to stop near the hilt but it was apparently easier to divert its path near its tip.
Ridiculous. I don’t know much about sword fighting, not anything actually, but to do all that in an instant with just his dagger and while off balance, this guy must be unbelievably skilled. However he was still off balance and just narrowly escaped death, so with the hopes that his feathers are still a bit ruffled I brought my sword round in his direction once more, while he was trying to regain his footing. Unfortunately he was back in control and easily backed off away from the path of the sword.
How am I gonna beat this guy, his skill is way above my own, I think the only reason I’m still alive is because of the difference in both the weight and reach of our weapons. Wait before that even there’s still two more guys, what are they doing?
I glanced over to them briefly. Villager C was just standing there apparently not sure what to do and the fat cunt had already pulled up his pants and started running away.
“Screw this,” Villager C suddenly mutters and immediately starts chasing after his gluttonous companion.
Villager B stands there for a while eyeing me with his dagger still in hand. He glances over his shoulder to where his friends are still running away and clicks his tongue in distaste. He glances over to Jessica who has already put her pants back on and is huddling behind the corner of the bridge on my side of the affair. After eyeing her for a moment with the look of child giving his parent the stink-eye, upset his toy got taken away, he then turns around and starts running after his friends.
I just stand there for a moment not even sure what to do. Then I remember, Jessica. I turn towards her and she is already falling into my arms sobbing. My sword drops to the ground as I use both arms to secure her in front of me. “Sorry.” It is the only word that my primitive mind can seem to muster.