A week had passed. And this… had become a daily occurrence. And before I get to it, let me tell you, no romance book could prepare me for this. In some sense, I really thought that this whole situation could only happen in books. We are all adults here, after all. But it turns out that I was very wrong.
You see, unless we try really hard to compress it, there’s always some childish elements in us. Sometimes it’s harmless silly humor. Sometimes it’s the way we act. But sometimes it’s when the rationality goes away and we are ready to do anything to achieve the victory. Even if it’s something that we normally never do.
“I don’t understand. When will you stop abusing the situation?” Alice asked Aldrynte as she continued walking next to her. I was ahead of them, having a slight headache.
“As soon as the danger is over. In the past week, there has been reported ten more people who have gone missing. And there have been numerous hidden messages left for you!”
“So, we should hire some real adventurers to keep an eye on him. You, sleeping in his room, is not helping. Hiro looks more tired if anything,” Alice said.
To be fair, I did agree with Alice on this one.
“Stop being jealous of me, Alice. None of them will be good enough. And we can’t risk losing the hero!”
“Not good enough? Well, I think-”
I finally stopped and turned around .”Get lost,” I hissed. Both of them looked at me.
“Hiro, we can’t…”
“Go and do your bickering elsewhere. I’m tired of hearing such discussions every day!”
“But that’s because you can’t say no!” Alice murmured.
“Because Aldrynte is also right!” I said. I didn't like to admit it, but she was a dragon. Maybe the problem was that Aldrynte didn’t want Alice to know.
“Enough is enough. I want one day alone. Meet me in my room at sundown. We’ll talk things through there.”
I turned around and walked away, leaving both girls behind. It had become a silly problem that needed a solution.
I spent most of my day walking around and enjoying my day off. The Capital is large, and it has many places to go to. And with my darker cloak, I wasn’t even recognized.
So, as a lot of time had passed, I finally decided to go home, and train my magic before sundown. But since I wanted to get there fast, I took some side alleyways. But before I could get too far, I noticed two shades talking at a side-street. As I tried to have a better look at them, I recognized one of them as Qildor, while his companion’s face was hidden by a mask. I could only assume that his companion was an elf, from their ears.
Deciding that it was something good to know, but where I shouldn’t put my nose, I did a sharp turn to walk away. Sadly, the edge of my sword’s sheath hit a nearby barrel, making a loud noise, telling everyone of my presence. Qildor looked immediately towards me, doing a slight hand wave for the guy to leave. He turned to face me, slowly walking towards him, hand on his sword’s handle. I sighed. There was no point to run either.
“Qildor,” I said, removing my hoodie. As a reflex, my hand was on my sword as well.
As Qildor had a moment of recognition, he released a long sigh, removing his own hand from his. “Hero. You scared me there,” he said, crossing his hands. “What are you doing here?”
“Funnily enough, it’s a coincidence,” I said, smirking. “You need to choose better side-alleys for your shady stuff,” I continued.
“Shady? Ah, yes. It might look like that,” he said, laughing. “Come, walk with me.” He walked past me towards the main street. I sighed and followed. As we reached the main street, I could feel the sun warming me up. “Come!” he started walking normally at one side of the street. “I met with my informant. As the head of security, I have many spies and informants working around the world. Especially right now,” Qildor said, motioning towards a nearby empty table, outside of the cafe.
We went there and got ourselves seated. “Meeting informants in a fancy place is not a good way to share information. Too much attention. But that’s as much as I can tell you, Hero. I hope you understand.”
I nodded. “I do.”
“But then again-”
A waitress appeared in front of us. “Hello! What can I serve you?”
“Coffee,” Qildor said without a second thought.
“Same,” I mumbled. “But with sugar and milk!”
“Coming right up!” And the waitress was gone.
“Where was I… Oh right. There’s one thing that I can tell you. I wanted to tell you that sooner or later either way,” Qildor continued. He looked quickly around and lowered his voice. “We might’ve found the wizard that’s behind the killings,” he said.
My eyes widened, just a bit. “I’ll be damned. You’re actually doing your work?”
Qildor chuckled. “Please. Surprisingly enough, she doesn’t live in The Capital. But she’s not that far from here. But she comes here often, which also happens to be around the same time when people either die or go missing,” he said. There hasn’t been a single recorded killing while she’s away.”
Qildor nodded. “Yes. A woman. You might’ve met her. But that’s also the problematic part. We can’t take any action against her very lightly.”
“I don’t like the sound of it,” I mumbled.
Qildor leaned even more towards me. “Me neither. After all, the person is the king’s very own advisor.”
I moaned. “Seriously? You mean Alwine?”
Qildor nodded. “This is why you can’t tell this to anyone! Not yet.”
I frowned. Coffee cups finally arrived and were placed in front of us.
“But doesn't Alwine come to the city because of her line of work? Also, hasn’t her family served the king for ages now? What would her motivations even be? This is… really hard to believe!”
“And this is why we aren’t taking this lightly. There are many other... reasons... that can prove her involvement. And she does have the perfect alibi. Too perfect. And she could have a reason for revenge. She could blame her king for her family’s death. Even though it was an incident. If things continue the way they are, it could be only a matter of time before the king disappears.
“But there’s also a chance that we’re wrong. We don’t have enough proof. Someone might be misleading us. A setup, perhaps? Or it might be a coincidence. We need to be very certain of her betrayal. Until then, we need to keep an eye on her. Maybe we can even catch her on her act.”
“And if we are wrong?” I asked.
“Then we must never speak of it again. The king must never know unless we are absolutely certain.” Qildor sighed, finally leaned back, taking his first sip from the coffee.
“There’s an elven saying that has been born in our long service to this country. There are monsters that you can see and slay. And some monsters hide around us, look like us, dress like us, and talk like us. But they’re still monsters. Our very own people can be the danger.” Qildor stared at me, seriously. “As a hero, you shouldn’t trust anyone. And those who you do trust, choose them carefully. Perhaps you’ve been lucky that you’ve met only prestige and trustworthy people.”
“Such as?” I asked.
“Your party, and Elbert,” Qildor said, grinning. “I hear things. Well, at least I can vouch for Elbert and his daughter.”
“Do you also spy on me?” I asked.
Qildor smirked. “I can’t tell you, Hero. Only I know.”
“Knowing that I caught you while you were exchanging information, I assume not,” I said, pouring some milk and sugar into my own coffee. I hated sour coffee. Qildor took a sip from his own. “Either way, good luck with your mission!”
“Oh, I’m not going to keep an eye on her. You are!”
I almost spit out my coffee. “What?” I asked.
“If I were to keep an eye on her, I would be caught sooner or later. Even you caught me. So, to make sure that she doesn’t suspect anything, I asked the king to put Alwine under your service,” Qildor said, taking another large sip of his coffee.
“Excuse me? Under my service? Why?”
“What? Shouldn’t you be happy? Alwine is a beautiful human woman. She’s a very young advisor. But then again, you’re into cougars, aren’t you?”
This time I did spit some coffee out.
Qildor began to laugh. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. How do you even know Alwine?”
I sighed. “The ceremony when I was named as the hero... She was the one who did the ceremony.”
“Oh. Right. That does make sense. Either way, she was told that since you’re new around here and such, you could use her council. King approved it really fast, so I assume that she’s going to make a report to king too, so try to behave.” As I frowned, he hurriedly took yet another sip from his coffee. “The information that we found the other week has been truly helpful. Things go faster if we know what to search for,” Qildor murmured, looking at me. “But enough of that. How’s school? How’s teaching?”
I frowned. Not that great side-topic. “Well. It hasn’t been that bad. I’ve had like three lessons now. Since every student is present, I assume they like it. But they are more practical lessons if anything.”
“Fighting?” Qildor asked.
“No. Nothing like that. Mostly simple things that even some greater adventurers forget about,” I said, smiling. “But I do start to take a liking of my students.”
Qildor chuckled. “Don’t get too fond of them. I’m saying that from experience of my own. How long are you staying here?”
“It officially ends in two weeks,” I said. As I opened my mouth to tell him about my extension, I decided against it. I had to think of a better excuse for why I was extending my stay even longer. Sword wasn’t good enough, and it was a secret.
“I see. Well,” - Qildor stood up, finishing his last bit of coffee - “I have to go. Duty calls.” He pushed a few coins on the table, gave me a wink and began to walk away. But just as I was about to look away, he stopped, turning around. “I almost forgot. Alwine is going to come to your room around sundown. Which should be soon. It was supposed to be a surprise, but oh well. So, I recommend going back soon!” And he walked away.
So, I slowly took another sip of mine and looked at Qildor leaving. It was finally quiet. Mostly thanks to the fact that those two were arguing elsewhere...
Fuck, I thought. Something clicked. Three women were coming to my room in sundown. Normally I shouldn’t even stress about it. But we are talking about those two...
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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