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Arriving at the gate of Yari, we got scrutinized by a bored looking guard. It was a tall fellow, maybe 6'6, broad as a barn-door and muscular-looking. His face was clearly ursine with a slim snout on a broad face, in addition to the cute-looking round ears on top of his head. He was clad in reinforced leather armour and holding a glaive while leaning on it. His bored look disappeared when he saw me, morphing into a sneer. As Sigmir and I walked up, he fully ignored me, just looking at Sigmir. After inquiring our purpose coming to Yari, Sigmir told him that we wanted to trade a little and spend the night before moving on. Hearing that, he looked happier and told Sigmir the way to the mercantile so she could take care of our trading. He didn't quite come out and say it, but it was rather obvious that he'd want me gone sooner rather than later.

 

Together we walked in and the first thing that truly hit me was the smell. Nothing could have prepared me for the acrid smell in the air, it was a mix of unwashed old sweat, urine, manure and other things mixed in that I did not want to think about. Smelling this town, after weeks in the crisp, clear air of the forests was akin to diving head first into a sewer. I almost physically recoiled and only the knowledge that it would not be for long kept me from running away. Thinking back, I realized that Neyto with it's magical appliances was a huge exception and Yugan had the advantage of the ocean as a dumping ground and provider for fresh air. The valley and palisade kept the wind out, making the area a bit warmer but also kept the smell in. Trying to breathe through the mouth was only mildly better, now I had a disgusting taste in my mouth and had to fight in order not to gag.

 

I followed Sigmir to the mercantile and watched as she haggled with the clerk about the price of our furs. We had a couple and hoped to get a little money here so we might be able to shop for some stuff. It took a while but finally, Sigmir seemed happy with the deal and got a handful of coins, mostly silver, for her trouble. She then exchanged some of her bounty for salt and a couple other traded incidentals. I guess that so close to the ocean, salt is rather easy to get, compared to further inland.

 

We then left the mercantile and walked through the town, I got enough sneers that I pulled on my hood and tried to use a little Dark Magic to deepen the shadows just enough to hide my face. Trying around a bit, I found that the mental image of a black cloud helped. It was easier to imagine a photon-eating mist than it was to move darkness around. Soon, my face was concealed within a billowing cloud of Darkness. The cool thing was, I was able to easily see through it, probably because it was created out of my Astral Power and not a corporeal entity.

With that, it got better, I still got looks but there was no disgust on their face, they just took notice of me, something I could understand, after all, I was a faceless, humanoid shaped cloud to them.

It did annoy me a little but I guess I had only myself to blame, remembering my traits. Following behind Sigmir, I watched her buy bread, flour, onions and similar cheap, lasting foodstuff. For meat, we would simply hunt but gathering vegetables was rather difficult in the snow.

As the day slowly turned to dusk, Sigmir asked the vendor she was talking to, to point us to an inn where we could spend the night. We got pointed to the mercantile, there was an inn taking up the other half of the building.

 

Walking in, it wasn't packed by any means but there were some customers. Sigmir got us a room for the night, including dinner and breakfast. Before heading up, it was time for dinner. We chose a nook in the back of the room so I could stay slightly hidden in the shadows, Sigmir had picked up the hostility I'd drawn before concealing myself and wanted me to be able to eat in peace. In our corner, I was almost completely hidden behind her, something I was grateful for. The food wasn't bad by any means, but we both had been spoiled by Kallista's amazing magic kitchen and the possibilities within, So while the stew we got was better than the food I could produce over an open fire, it was behind the fare I could create in Kallista's kitchen and comparing it to the food Kallista had prepared was just unfair.

 

After we were finished, it was time to head to our room. I followed Sigmir to the front of the room and while she inquired about the earliest breakfast in the morning, neither of us wanted to stay longer in this unpleasant town, one of the drunk patrons decided to have fun with the small creature. Maybe I was hypersensitive due to all the hostility I had experienced during the day but I felt the flickering shadows around me and felt the intruder into them, a swift moving hand that aimed for my hood, trying to grab it and see what was hidden beneath it.

 

There was no conscious thought, just reaction, honed by hours of training, often with scenarios in mind in which a taller, stronger aggressor attacked, possibly from behind. My hand went up, grasping his paw-like hand in my smaller one, digging into a spot that was a pressure-point for humans, and apparently for Bear-Beastmen as well, my aim was to cause pain to distract my attackers during my next action. I stepped back, into the beastman and pulled his arm, using my shoulder and side to leverage his own strength against him, causing a tumble toward the floor. Guiding him towards the floor, the consequences of my actions flashed into my mind, causing it to go into Bullet Time. Crippling a local would not fly, even in self-defence - I would be the one blamed - but I'd have to make an example. I pulled further, changing his course from impact with the shoulder to a flat impact on his back. It would stun him for a moment but most likely, there would be no permanent harm. At the same time, I used Overflow and channelled my Ice-Magic, hoping that I get the blue, glowing eyes. To make the effect visible, I pulled the Darkness before my face a bit back, making my eyes visible. As my Butterfly-Blades were in the grip of my Ice-Magic anyway, I had them float over his face, one in front of each eye, making clear that killing him would have been easy but I chose not to.

Just as the sound of a heavy impact quietened the room, Sigmir whirled around and I saw her eyes flash red, her aura becoming visible and an invisible pressure spread out from her.

“We will remember your... hospitality.” she growled out before turning back to the innkeeper. “Now, show me our room. We will leave in the morning.”

Feeling the need to continue the theatre, I retracted my Blades, letting them vanish under my cloak and let Darkness billow out from under it, before stalking away, following behind Sigmir. With every step, small, dark clouds seeped from my cloak, before slowly vanishing into thin air.

 

Together, we walked up the stairs, out of sight from the main room and entered one of the inn's guest rooms. The room was quite small with little more in it than the bed and a small table.

Out of habit, I checked my log for updates and saw that Darkness Magic was now on skill-level ten and stealth had levelled as well.

Getting into the bed, I felt the prickly straw through the coarse cloth of the bedding. Comfortable, it was not. As I was now quite close to Sigmir, I asked her about the strange pressure that she had used before.

“In theory, I'm still someone who crossed the first divide, however due to the shaman, I'm weakened. But my strength is returning and I can use a little power to emit pressure as if I had still my original strength. It's rather useless outside of intimidation. We should still leave early tomorrow morning - no need to give the locals time to get their hackles up.”

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Tsaimath

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