Garth leaned against the bannister of Brian’s porch, idly wobbling a mug of water back and forth atop the solid wood as he pondered his situation.
He hadn’t had any money, but Brian had happily agreed to let Garth crash on his floor, even with the warning that six or so angry humans might show up and cause trouble. Brian was cool. Gath estimated it would take three times that number to worry the giant.
According to the minotaur, the punishment for murder inside city limits was death by decapitation, and Harold would most likely be informed of that, curbing potential retribution somewhat. With magic allowing people to talk to the dead or trace the owner of a weapon, it was generally pretty hard to get away with. At least in town it was, as long as there was a body or a murder weapon. Small comfort.
Wilson had found his way back to Garth in the night. The little green lizard had been sleeping on his chest when he woke up in the morning.
Garth took another sip of water while he and Wilson watched the light of dawn creeping down the massive walls of the outpost.
He needed a tank. Someone that could manhandle people like Harold. Maybe several of them. The only problem was, he had no money until the farmers started depositing his share of the profits, which could take days, or even weeks, and still might not be enough to make the down payment on a merc. Garth wasn’t even sure if mercs took down payments.
It would be better if it was somebody he could trust, rather than somebody doing it for the money, but those were in short supply. The fact that he was basically in the wild west didn’t help a damn bit. He could pick a high-priced mercenary with a long and trustworthy career, only to have that person stab him in the back for a chance at a Mythic Core.
Why spend the rest of your life as a mercenary when you could spend it as a king?
Garth heaved a sigh, wincing at the pain in his ribs. There was one problem money could help him with right now. If he could find a healer, or scrounge up the money to buy the spell himself, he could make the bruises all over his body go away that much sooner.
Half of Garth’s face, radiating outward from his jaw, was a mass of green bruises. Yep, Garth bruised green now. He wasn’t quite sure why since his blood was still red, but he decided not to sweat the small stuff.
“I wish you could be my tank.” Garth said, glancing at Wilson.
The lizard eyed him sideways, in a ‘what’s in it for me?’ sort of way.
“Deer jerky.” Wilson immediately perked up, and Garth reached into his vest and produced a piece, tearing off chunks and feeding the lizard, who gobbled up the treats with its eyes rolled back in its head like a shark. Or a person that really liked jerky.
“For your hustle last night. You saved my bacon. You are encouraged to intervene again if another situation like that happens.”
Wilson nodded, scurrying back up onto Garth’s shoulder. The lizard began scanning the surroundings, presumably looking out for more trouble so he could extort another piece of jerky out of Garth. Well, if that was all it took to get Wilson to work for a living, he’d have to add a jerky pouch to his bandolier.
“Whatcha doin?” Brian asked, stepping out of his cabin with a yawn. Garth thought he’d never be able to sleep because of the minotaur’s snores, but he’d managed eventually.
“Watching the sunrise, thinking about where to get a bodyguard. You interested in giving up the farming life for excitement and adventure?”
“Pass.” Brian waved his hand dismissively. “I’m a homebody, and I like what I do.”
“Why come through the gate then?”
“More space to own my own place in the outer sphere, maybe start a family if the right lady comes along. I probably don’t have to mention how few women can handle this.” He motioned at his cock making a lump through his pants. That image was going to haunt Garth for awhile.
“You might have to mention it. I don’t know jack about the Inner Spheres. Are lady minotaurs rare?” Garth asked.
“Damn near mythical.” Brian said. “They always get snapped up by the bulls in the central spheres, too.”
“Damn, guess that family’s not looking too likely.”
“Not really, Minotaurs are a Quispario race.” Garth’s translator must have not picked up that one word, because it was gibberish to him.
“A what race?”
“It’s what the inner spheres call a race that can produce pureblooded offspring with any creature of the opposite gender. They’re usually the races that don’t have very many females or males to start with, or none.”
“Ah. Was that what got you in hot water with Sandi? Wanting kids?”
“Nah, it was a stupid argument, maybe six years back. I got jealous of her getting so much attention from other men, and accused her of doing it on purpose. Told her she could shut it off if she tried.”
“That probably didn’t go over well.”
“Nope. I know now that she can’t, in fact, turn it off. She called me a bastard and took off. Took me three years to be friends with her again, but I know for a fact she’s not interested anymore.”
“When a succubus has a crush on you, you can feel it. It makes your brain shut off, until impressing her and getting her alone is the only thing you can think about. Did wonders for my work ethic. She still looks like the most amazing ‘tauress I’ve ever seen –“ Brian held his hands apart – “With an ass like this, but I’ve never felt that overpowering haze of lust making me stupid since then.”
Garth nodded. He knew what Brian was talking about. He felt like his eyes were drawn toward Sandi at all times, like she was some kind of jiggly, eye-catching magnetic force. Just the other day he’d been thinking about how he’d wanted to get into a fight while she was around…
Holy hell, I did get into a fight while she was around! Garth realized. He had to wonder how much of that was because of his history with Harold, and how much of that was because of Sandi’s mojo. Thinking back on it objectively, if Garth hadn’t thrown the Combat Pea, there would have been no way Harold would have tried to kill him in cold blood in front of all the other guildmembers. Probably. Who knew with that psycho?
Still, it was most likely Garth’s overreaction that lead to his own ass-kicking. Garth leaned on the bannister and rested his weight on the uninjured side of his face, contemplating his relationship with Sandi.
It wasn’t much of a relationship, not really. One date does not spell a life together, and wizards needed to be able to think. Then again, wizards also needed to get laid often enough to keep their stress levels down and keep them functioning at peak capacity. And what was the succubus take on love and courtship rituals?.
Garth was tempted to ask Brian more, but he felt like he should get that information from Sandi directly. He needed to hash out exactly what she was expecting from their time together, and Garth was pretty sure it wasn’t a house and kids. Unless succubi were these Quispario types too.
Forewarned is forearmed, Garth supposed. If he could master the desire that was rolling off of Sandi like a fog, then they could go on more dates. Otherwise, he’d have to let her down easy. Garth never thought he’d have to consider dumping someone because their only failing was being too attractive. Ce’st la vie.
Garth had suspected for a while, but Brian’s comment about how hot of a ‘tauress Sandi was confirmed it for him. Sandi looked like different things to different people.
That gave Garth an idea for a way to tease her, but he’d have to set it aside for now. He had a busy day coming up. Garth needed to make some quick cash and get himself patched up before buying supplies, guards, and a map to another outpost. He was fairly confident Harold wasn’t the kind of person to let anything go, and as long as he was stronger than Garth, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill him.
In the long term, Garth had used his three days in town much more efficiently than Harold, becoming a land baron in a matter of hours while Harold had been ‘adventuring’ for ‘quick cash’. In a few years, he would probably be able to tell Harold and people like him where to set the dining room table before slipping them a crisp hundred and patronizingly telling them what a great job they did.
In a few years, but not now. Right now, there was half a chance of Harold and his goons catching Garth in a back alley, killing him and dumping his corpse far outside of town, too unimportant to be much missed. The farmers wouldn’t weep over the extra 5% they saved either. Not to mention not having to worry about Garth diluting the shares by giving more people free farms.
That got Garth thinking. If he could find a way to visit multiple Outposts in rapid succession, he could repeat his business model here at each of them, making Garth wealthy beyond words, which is what he would need to be if he wanted to compete with the Inner Spheres.
Gah, they’ve probably got more planets under their thumb than stars in the sky. If you get a large fraction of one planet’s podunk farms, who’s going to care? Middle management, maybe. Somebody assigned to keeping the resources from Earth and other planets in the same galaxy flowing.
As the scale and complexity of the problem kept growing in Garth’s mind, he shook his head, dismissing it. He needed to focus on what he could do, right here and now. Start small, grow bigger.
“Well Brian,” Garth said, tipping the mug back and finishing the rest of the water. “Send me a letter via the Ethernet if you ever get yourself a plot of land and want a quick start to your farm. I’ll send you some charged seeds in the mail.”
“Sure,” Brian said, holding his own mug under the hand-pumped well, sloshing fresh water into the oversized cup. He tilted his head back, downing the cold water. The way the sun backlit the ripped monster-man perfectly was almost like a commercial, giving Garth a sense of how unreal his situation was.
“And If I find girls into minotaur cock, I’ll send them your way.”
Brian sprayed water over the side of his house, coughing as he punched Garth’s injured shoulder.
“You really think there’s gonna be a human girl that’d be into Minotaurs? If you’re anything to go on, they’re gonna be pretty small.”
Garth glanced at the rippling muscles of the shirtless man-bull.
“Yeah, but I know some of them would be into the attempt. Humans as a species are pretty fucked up.”
Brian punched his shoulder again.