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Sora watched as another person approached his stall, wondering what this person had done to get themselves injured. It was always interesting to see the myriad ways that a person had managed to bring accidental harm upon themselves, or even on another. This particular person was limping as she approached, her left leg apparently the problem; he could even see a hint of red through a torn section of her pants.

“You're a healer, yes?” The woman asked briskly as she limped up to his stall.

He nodded, patting the seat by his side, and the woman stepped around the stall to sit down next to him.

“Yes. How did you get injured?” He asked curiously, reaching down to take her leg in hand before lifting it and placing it on his lap.

The woman made an aborted motion as if to retrieve her leg from him before she forced herself to be still.

“You should give a warning first,” The woman said tightly, and Sora hummed at the warning. “I was hunting a bounty, and the target laid a trap for me.” The woman said quietly.

She watched as Sora fought with her shoe, and when he had finally gotten it off her foot, he passed it over to her, she took it without a word.

“Bounty hunter, huh?” Sora whistled loudly, the sharp noise at odds with the deadpan look on his face.

The woman rolled her eyes at him, clearly unimpressed. Sora tugged her pants leg up to reveal the injury, a diagonal line cut almost halfway through her calf to the bone. The woman swallowed audibly as she saw the extent of the damage for the first time, and Sora was impressed that she had been walking with such an injury.

“Some trap,” Sora muttered, raising his hand to lay just under the injured area and murmuring the command phrase.

His hand lit up with an ethereal green glow, motes of light spun in gentle circles around his hand, and the woman let out a long-relieved breath at the sudden lack of pain.

“Yeah.” The woman said quietly.

The wound slowly sealed itself shut as he moved his hand gently over it.

“How much is this going to cost me?” The woman asked resignedly.

After the last of the wound had been healed, she pressed her foot down onto the ground several times to test it and found that there wasn’t any lingering pain.

“One silver,” Sora said easily, holding his hand loosely in front of him.

The bounty hunter stared at him with narrowed eyes for a long moment before dipping her hand into her pouch and pulling one a single silver.

“Is that a discounted price?” The woman asked strangely, and Sora laughed.

“If you want a discount, you're going to have to buy me a drink first,” Sora said easily, and the woman snorted.

She dropped three silvers into his hand a moment later and raised an eyebrow at him.

“How are you able to charge so little?” The woman wondered curiously before standing up and kicking the ground a few more times.

“It costs me nothing, and there are always more people that are getting hurt. I don’t enjoy leaving people to suffer if I can do something about it.” Sora said easily before waving her off. “Off you go then, go catch some more baddies; if you need more healing, come back here, but it will cost you that drink next time.”

Sora smiled at her and the woman laughed at the line, waving as she disappeared back into the market. He kicked his foot up onto his knee and sat back in his chair, waiting for the next customer to wander up. There was always more injured, and the market was the best place to find them, what with all of the people wandering about.

Satu was one of the largest capital cities in the world, and it was located right in the middle of Fabah. It was one of the ten or so cities in the world with a population of over two million, which meant that there were always thousands of people getting injured every day.

This meant that Sora never had to go out of his way to hunt down any business; he could just rent a stall for a day and make a couple of hundred silvers whenever he was getting low. It allowed him the time to do what he actually enjoyed, learning and practicing magic at many of the magic colleges in Satu.

That was one of the biggest draws to the city in the first place; it was hailed as the single biggest magical knowledge repository in the world, with the Great Satu Library and all of the different schools.

Sora spent nearly all of his time learning new spells and searching out ancient ones, only stopping if he ran out of money or when needed to eat, drink or fulfill his more carnal desires.

Sora looked up as someone approached his stall again; it was a man this time, a palace guard, but with no wound in sight. He was probably injured, judging by the pained grimace on his face.

“I need to ask you some questions.” The guard said seriously, and Sora just nodded, patting the seat next to him.

“You have an injury on your back?” Sora guessed, guessing at the man”s hidden injury.

The guard hesitated for a moment before stepping around the stall and sitting down with his back towards him. Three great rents that cut straight through his chainmail, the cloth beneath it, and into his back from his right shoulder to his left hip. Sora noticed it was partially healed, just enough to stop it from bleeding heavily; the wounds were angry, wet, and bright red.

He immediately went to work on the injury, his hands lighting up with a dark green glow. The guard let out a sigh of relief as the pain was muted before he managed to straighten up a moment later.

“I need to ask you some question’s,” The guard repeated, “Have you healed anyone with horns today?” The guard asked solemnly.

Sora hummed in thought.

“I healed a beetle Meld, this morning; nine-ish? She had a single horn in the middle of her head, that the one?” Sora wondered curiously.

The guard shook his head.

“No, two thin white horns that came from the forehead that went straight up, it had wounds all over its chest and arms, although there was some concern that it had the ability to regenerate.” The guard clarified.

Sora shook his own head, almost finished with one of the cuts.

“No, although that sounds more like an Ogre or an Oni then a Meld,” Sora said easily, having studied both monsters before, and Oni was very unlikely, given that they were almost extinct.

“It might have been,” The guard muttered, “Have you healed Chiyo Himura today?”

Sora blinked at the question.

“I don’t know the name,” Sora said honestly, “What does a Chiyo Himura look like?”

He started work on the second cut; the first cut was now nothing more than perfectly unblemished skin.

“Dark red hair, back length, bright red eyes, about five-foot-six, noble, she had a cut down her back last I saw her.” The guard listed off.

Sora shook his head again.

“Never seen her before, and you’re the only one that’s come in with a back wound today,” Sora said truthfully, “What caused this wound? Something with claws strong enough to shred chainmail?”

He wondered, moving onto the last cut, and the guard grunted at the question.

“Chiyo Himura tried to assassinated the princess, with some kind of humanoid Meld or monster that was hiding inside an amulet,” The guard said quietly, making sure nobody overheard, “The thing with the horns, we managed to fight it off, but it got a shallow hit in on the princess before it ran away.”

Sora slowed down his work slightly, wondering about the monster hidden inside an object; it sounded like a bound Oni, which was very rare; there was perhaps a handful that was known to be still alive.

“Is the princess, alright?” Sora asked, genuinely concerned; the princess was a quiet, kind girl from the few times he had seen her talk during royal announcements.

“Princess Eri was healed almost as soon as we got her out of the room,” The guard explained, sounding relieved, and Sora nodded in understanding.

“I’m glad she”s alright,” Sora said honestly.

He finished the last cut off.

“So, the monster gave her a shallow hit and then ran away?” Sora wondered.

That was strange behavior for a supposedly violent monster; it sounded like it was doing the absolute minimum to carry out whatever the command had been, “strike the princess” or “try and kill the princess” and then running away once it had rid itself of the command.

“It didn’t manage to kill anyone, but everyone was about as injured as I am,” The guard sighed.

Sora patted the man on the shoulder.

“Good job saving the princess,” Sora grinned at the man when he turned around, and the guard smiled at him.

“Thank you, now what do I owe you?” The guard asked, and Sora waved him off.

“You’ve done something amazing today, that’s good enough for me.” Sora said easily, “Everyone’s on the hunt for the monster then, I’ll keep an eye out.”

Sora promised, and the guard clapped him on the shoulder gratefully.

“Thanks, keep an eye out for Chiyo Himura as well; she is the one who gave the amulet to the princess, they will both be executed once we find them, King’s order.” The guard promised before waving and vanishing into the market.

Sora watched him go and wondered about the strange situation. The monster had all the identifiers of an Oni; Humanoid, horns, claws strong enough to cut through chainmail, bound to an object, and following a binding command.

Oni was known to be extremely violent and was nigh unstoppable for the unprepared. This one had run away after landing a single hit on the princess and had gone out of its way not to kill a single guard, how curious.

Sora mulled over the information, and he ended up healing several more people”s minor wounds before something interesting occurred.

A person in a full-body cloak and a scarf that was wrapped around their head, which only left their eyes visible, stepped into his view. The figure was fairly short, but what drew his attention was that when she looked at him, he immediately noticed that her eyes were bright red.

 The woman stared at him for a moment from underneath the hood of her cloak before she made her way over to his stall. The woman stepped around the stall and sat on the seat without a word, taking a moment to place an ornate gold coin with a small hole in it on the counter.

“I have a cut on my back.” The woman spoke weakly, and her voice shook.

Sora immediately identified her as Chiyo Himura, the girl who the guard had been looking for. He took a moment to go over his options, watching her quietly for a long second before he finally reached out and placed his hand on her still covered back.

“Still,” Sora commanded, and the woman froze as a yellow light washed over her.

“Let me go.” Chiyo pleaded quietly, but he ignored her request.

Sora could see a dark patch on the back of her cloak; when he moved it out of the way, he saw that her expensive shirt was torn open, and there was a long bloody cut across the woman’s back.

“Chiyo Himura,” Sora said idly, reaching up and placing his hand on the cut, a bright green glow burst into life a moment later.

Chiyo let out a breathy noise at the feeling and stopped begging for a moment.

“Why did you attack the princess?” Sora asked quietly, more curious than anything.

“I didn’t attack her; it was all a setup, I swear it.” Chiyo said desperately, “Please let me go.”

Sora rolled his eyes at the request.

“Who set you up?” Sora asked with interest, slowly sealing the wound on her back up.

“Koshiro Konishi,” Chiyo said hatefully, and he guessed by her tone that she clearly didn’t like the man; he was observant like that.

“I have no idea who that is,” Sora admitted.

“He is one of the king’s councilmen,” Chiyo said worriedly, trying her best to make him believe her.

“Ah, now I know who he is,” Sora said calmly.

“Really?” Chiyo said, sounding relieved.

“Nope.” Sora laughed. “What was in the amulet?”

Chiyo made a frustrated noise in the back of her throat.

“A monster, I didn’t know it was in there; Koshiro gave it to me to give to the princess for her gifting day.” Chiyo pleaded, lowering her voice to a whisper as someone walked past them both, “Please let me go, I didn’t do it, Eri is my friend I’d never hurt her.”

Sora felt a twinge in his chest at the words.

“What species was the monster?” Sora asked; instead, the cut was almost completely gone now.

“I don’t know,” Chiyo said quietly. “What did it look like then?” Sora tried again, as the glow faded from his hand.

Chiyo tried to turn her head under the paralysis and failed.

“It was short; its skin was white; like chalk dust, it had two horns coming out of its forehead, long black hair all the way to its feet, distinctive yellow eyes,” Chiyo said quickly, hoping if she made it detailed enough, he might believe her. “It looked just like a normal woman, if not for the horns and eyes.”

She paused for a moment.

“It was naked,” Chiyo added hesitantly.

Sora thought about the description for a long moment; it really did sound like an Oni.

“Anything else that seemed strange about it?” Sora asked his final question, and Chiyo must have sensed the finality because she started to struggle again.

After almost a minute of silent, motionless struggle, Chiyo stilled and drew in another shaky breath.

“It was crying. It looked like it didn’t want to hurt anyone.” Chiyo said with a sob, sounding like she was about to start crying herself.

Sora hummed thoughtfully at the information; An Oni was a very rare monster these days, thousands of years ago, there were supposedly a lot more of them, but they had been forcibly bound or killed off over the years.

Oni had a history of being violent and were often used in assassination attempts or to sow discord amongst people while hidden under the guise of a gift. This one apparently didn’t like hurting people, if it was crying and only fulfilled the absolutely minimum requirements of the oath.

Sora gave the wound on Chiyo’s back another brief look over and confirmed it was fine.

“Alright, we're done here,” Sora said easily.

Chiyo flinched at the words.

“Next time you need healing, it’s going to cost you a drink,” Sora warned and placed his hand on her back. “Dispel.”

White light washed over her back, and Chiyo stood up, spinning around to face him in an instant, her hand resting on a dagger at her waist. He noted her hand was shaking horribly; she was clearly terrified.

“You’re letting me go?” Chiyo whispered, sounding like she was about to fall apart.

“Yeah, I don’t think you did it on purpose, and the princess is still alive, so no harm is done,” Sora said, uncaring and kicked his feet up onto the countertop.

Chiyo stared at him for a long moment until she finally stopped shaking and took a step backward away from him.

“You should probably head for the south gate; it will probably have the least amount of guards,” Sora advised, and Chiyo fled a moment later.

He watched her go, wondering if he had done the right thing, but not really feeling much of anything about his decision. The ornate gold coin sat untouched on the counter, and he made no move to pick it up.

Sora mulled over his options for a few minutes, before finally taking a moment to flick the ornate coin into his pouch with the edge of his knife, making sure not to touch it with his hand. He healed another two customers before he decided what he was going to do and so he packed up early for the day.

The market was now at the busiest time of the day, and there were truly thousands of people milling about, going from stall to stall and buying every type of thing imaginable. He smiled a pretty woman behind the counter of a small weapons stall and got a wink in return.

He made his way south, back towards his home, noting with interest the increased guard presence within the city, obviously on the lookout for the ‘assassins.’ They were going down the street and checking every alleyway thoroughly. Another group of guards was moving more slowly, making sure to enter every building along the way, no doubt, to check it for hidden occupants.

Sora would bet his new ornate coin that there were thousands of other similar teams on every other street in the city, all on the lookout for Chiyo and her monster. He could see the wall of the city growing taller the closer he came to his house, nestled only a couple of streets away from the goliath stone structure.

The south gate had half a hundred guards standing around, questioning everyone who tried to pass through. They were even looking through the wagons of traders and making everyone remove any head coverings to check for horns. He turned off the main street and headed to his house, wondering if the girl had managed to escape before they had set up the blockade.

The tiny little house he called home appeared, and he smiled as he approached the door, pausing to find his key to unlock it. He stepped through and shut the door behind him, pulling his pouch out of his pocket. He took a moment to empty it onto the counter and again used his knife to separate the ornate coin from the others. He placed all his money back into the pouch and secured it back on his belt.

“So, how long are you going to pretend to be a coin.” Sora wondered, sitting down at the table against the wall.

The coin didn’t move, sitting innocently on the counter, and Sora hummed thoughtfully at its silence.

“You’re an Oni, the one who just attacked the princess; I can feel the magic keeping you bound to the coin; it’s burning like a bonfire to my senses.” Sora continued, leaning his cheek onto his palm and waiting patiently.

The coin remained still, and Sora hummed again.

“Don’t make me order you to show yourself; I’d rather not,” Sora warned, and he could feel the condensed magical signature twitch violently.

A woman suddenly sat on the counter, chalk-white skin, two horns protruding from her forehead, long black hair that pooled down onto the counter, and two bright yellow eyes staring directly at him.

“That’s better,” Sora said easily, as the Oni pulled it’s knee up to its chest and turned sideways, hiding its uncovered body from him.

“So, a man named Koshiro ordered you to do what exactly?” Sora wondered, but the Oni didn’t reply.

“Did he tell you to attack the princess?” Sora asked, leaning back in his chair and kicking his foot up onto the table.

The Oni twitched at the sudden movement, eyes locked onto his foot, but it still didn’t reply. Sora hummed, wondering if it could speak.

“Can you speak?” Sora asked, and after a very long time, the monster finally nodded a fraction.

“So, your just shy?” Sora snickered, and the Oni hugged its knee tighter to its chest. “Interesting, everything I’ve read about Oni’s indicated they are aggressive, angry monsters, but you seem pretty pleasant all things considered.”

Sora closed his eyes without fear; the Oni wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone without orders; he was as safe as he could be. He could feel the magic of the binding twist slightly as it studied him, and he opened his eyes again.

“I’ll tell you what, you answer all of my questions, truthfully, and I’ll free you from the coin.” Sora offered, watching its reaction.

The Oni stilled completely at the offer, staring at him with wide eyes.

“Well?” Sora asked curiously when it didn’t respond.

The Oni didn’t speak for a long time, several minutes at least, no doubt trying to find some hidden trap in his words, but eventually, it gave him a tiny hesitant nod. Sora clapped his hands at the agreement, and the Oni twitched violently at the sudden noise.

“Fantastic,” Sora said happily and rubbed his hand on his chin. “What did Koshiro order you to do?”

Sora repeated his earlier question, and the Oni watched him for a moment.

“Strike at the princess, hurt anyone between me and the target.” The Oni said quietly, voice barely above a whisper.

“You struck at her once, and then fled, you’re pretty clever.” Sora smiled at her, and the Oni ducked its head to avoid his gaze.

“My name is Sora,” Sora offered, “Do you have a name?”

Sora was getting sick of thinking of her as ‘the Oni’ in his head. The Oni hesitated at the request; names had some significance to monsters, and to reveal it was not something done lightly.

“Fubuki,” Fubuki said quietly, staring at him again.

“Fubuki,” Sora pronounced each syllable carefully, and Fubuki twitched at the word, perhaps regretting having told him. “Pretty name, a reference to your skin being as white as snow?”

Sora wondered, and Fubuki looked lost at the concept.

“I don’t know,” Fubuki said quietly, looking worried that she couldn’t answer.

“It's fine,” Sora waved off the concern; it didn’t really matter.

He watched her for a moment.

“Do you enjoy hurting or killing people?” Sora asked suddenly, and Fubuki leaned further away on the counter.

“No,” Fubuki said quietly.

“Do you intend to kill or hurt anyone in the future?” Sora asked his last question.

“No,” Fubuki repeated.

“Fine, toss me the coin,” Sora asked easily and held out his hand.

Fubuki hesitated again, knowing that if he touched the coin, he would be able to order her to do anything and that humans weren’t bound by their word like monsters were. Fubuki picked the coin up very slowly and, after a tense moment, tossed it to him.

Sora snatched it out of the air, and Fubuki twitched as he touched it, the magic connection lighting up between them. He studied the feeling; it was a simple binding spell, much simpler than the incredibly complex ones that had been designed more recently, which likely meant that Fubuki was at least a couple hundred years old.

All of the binding spells had a similar structure, however, and a thread of magic was always included so that the binding could be broken, in case they wanted to add additional commands or restructure it. This one was no different, and it was a matter of moments to draw the thread of magic out from the coin.

Fubuki watched with wide eyes as he visibly pulled the thread of white magic out and then lifted his other hand to place his finger against it.

“Binding Dispel,” Sora commanded, a white flash of light flickered up the thread and into the coin, evaporating the connection in an instant.

Fubuki shuddered on the counter, feeling the constriction of the magical binding uncoil from her.

“There you go,” Sora said easily, before eyes her with narrowed eyes. “If I find out you’ve been running around hurting people, I’ll have to hunt you down and kill you, alright?”

Sora picked the coin up off the table and crushing it into dust with a physical reinforcement spell, and Fubuki watched him intently.

“There are guards all around the city, checking streets and buildings for you and Chiyo Himura,” Sora offered, “They will check here eventually if they are thorough, you will need to find somewhere to hide.”

Fubuki still hadn’t moved from her position; she was just staring at him and the debris of the coin that littered the table.

“You could try and escape over the wall, but they will probably see you.” Sora wondered, thinking about how he would get out if he needed to.

“Can you use magic?” Sora asked curiously and waited for a response.

“I don’t know,” Fubuki said quietly.

Sora hummed at the reply; it would take too long to teach her the short-range blink anyway; the guards would likely check his house before then.

“I don’t think I can teach you anything in time to help; we’d need a couple of days at least,” Sora said apologetically.

“Why?” Fubuki asked quietly.

Sora tilted his head at the question.

“Why what?” Sora said curiously.

“Why are you helping me?” Fubuki whispered.

“Why, wouldn’t I?” Sora said easily, “You didn’t ask to be bound, you’re a sentient creature, you deserve better than to be trapped in a coin and forced to kill people for the rest of your life.”

Sora shook his head at the thought of it.

“You aren't”t violent, or you would have attacked me the moment I freed you, or you would have killed the princess or the guards,” Sora added after a moment.

Fubuki tucked her face into her knee and hugged it tightly but didn’t say anything more. They fell into silence after that, and Sora was fine with it, content to relax for a while.

If he was honest, staring at pretty naked women was something of a hobby of his anyway, so he was having a good time. Fubuki had brought her head back out after a while and was watching him in return, although he doubted she was having the same naughty thoughts.

“I don’t know what to do,” Fubuki said quietly, and Sora dragged his eyes away from the curve of her ass to respond.

“Do whatever you want,” Sora said, scratching his ear, “What do Oni like? What do you like?”

He realized that wasn’t exactly something that was listed in the books; it was mostly ways to avoid being slaughtered immediately and how to trick them into being bound. Fubuki remained quiet, mulling over the thought for a long while.

“Chocolate. Music. Stories.” Fubuki said seriously, giving each one a great deal of consideration.

Sora laughed at the rather normal things, and Fubuki snapped her head around to stare at him.

“Sorry, sorry,” Sora smiled at her intense look, “Those are rather normal things to like; I was surprised.”

Sora tapped a rhythm out on the table with his fingers.

“I’m a big fan of stories myself, music is nice, and I think everyone likes Chocolate.” Sora grinned at the serious nod that Fubuki gave in response. “Well, you could figure out a way to make some money, and buy an instrument, learn how to play it.”

Sora tilted his head.

“You would need to get some clothes first, and disguise your appearance or people will run when they see what you look like.” Sora murmured.

Fubuki tucked her head back into her knee. Sora wondered if he had upset her.

“You’re beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but people will chase you if they know you’re an Oni.” Sora clarified; in case he had hurt the creature’s feelings. Fubuki peeked over her knee at him with a single yellow eye but didn’t say anything.

“As for stories, the library is full of them, but you need some paperwork to get in. You could find some wandering storytellers and listen to them.” Sora kept on tapping away at the table, and Fubuki turned to watch his fingers. “As for chocolate, well, all you really need for that is money, you can buy some from any market in any city, I think I have some around here someone, actually.”

Sora wondered if he had any left in the magic-powered cooler box. Sora dropped his feet to the ground and pushed himself to his feet, wandering past the counter to the wooden box hidden in the corner. Fubuki tensed as he stood up, watching him with wide eyes as he crossed the room.

He pulled the box open and pushed his food around until he found a small pouch. He untied the end, nodded, closed the box, and wandered back over to drop the pouch on the counter next to Fubuki. Fubuki remained tense until he sat back down at the table and popped a piece of Chocolate into his mouth.

“I wouldn’t have freed you if I was just going to attack you,” Sora said dryly.

Fubuki looked away from him before leaning forward to peek inside the pouch. She carefully reached inside and drew out a single piece of Chocolate. She stared at it with wide eyes before turning to look at him.

“It’s all yours, no strings attached,” Sora said easily.

Fubuki slowly placed it into her mouth with a small muffled noise, before tucking her head back into her knee. He smiled at the noise, and she peeked at him over her knee again.

“So, let’s get back on track here,” Sora said thoughtfully, “You need to get out of the city, or the guards will eventually find you.”

Sora had several ways that he could get out, all of which involved using magic, but none of them could be taught to someone without a great deal of effort. He could use blink on Fubuki to shunt her outside the wall if he got right up against it, but if he was seen, he would be executed for aiding a monster that had tried to kill the princess.

“I could cast camouflage on you, but you would only have a minute to get over the wall, and its effectiveness is reduced while moving, you’ll probably be seen.” Sora bit his lip, immediately finding the flaw in his idea and moving onto the next.

Fubuki took another chocolate, carefully watching his reaction, before putting it in her mouth with another noise of pleasure.

“I could cast Haste on you, and you could try to sprint past the guards.” Sora closed his eyes and sat back in the chair.

Haste and Camouflage together would be an ideal combination, but they didn’t mix well together, one would break quickly, and the other would have a reduced duration.

“I could use Shrink and Haste, which would give you a decent amount of stealth and speed.” Sora cracked an eye open to check Fubuki’s reaction, only for her to freeze with her hand back in the pouch again.

He snorted and closed his eye again, hearing another pleased noise a moment later as she ate another.

“Portal would require that I leave through a different gate, walk around to set up the first portal outside, then come back in to set up the second, it would take too long, and someone would see me,” Sora muttered, scratching his head. “I’m not sure I can do this without getting caught.”

Fubuki made a small, sad noise and Sora sat up to check on her; the empty chocolate pouch dangled from her hand as she shook it sadly.

“You like any of those ideas?” Sora asked dryly, wondering if she had heard a single thing he had said.

Fubuki turned to face him and crossed her legs beneath her.

He stared at her completely naked body for a moment, no longer hidden behind her knee.

“Shrink would make me small?” Fubuki asked quietly.

Sora nodded, staring between her legs.

“What does haste do?” Fubuki followed his line of sight and looked down between her own legs, tilting her head curiously.

“Makes you really fast for a short time,” Sora explained idly.

“Small and fast, how long?” Fubuki moved her hair out of the way, revealing even more of her body to him, studying his face intently, he swallowed audibly.

“They don’t work together very well, so only about two minutes for both,” Sora said thoughtfully.

They fell into a long silence after that, as Fubuki thought about her situation, and he thought about her body. They were both drawn from their thoughts when a cry came from outside, and he turned to stare at the door. Fubuki had immediately moved to the corner of the room in a startling display of pure speed and was now crouched on top of the cabinet there staring at him.

He stood up and went to the window to look outside; across the road in the alley; he found three guards beating the shit out of someone on the ground. A flash of dark red hair caught his eye, and he was already moving towards the door before he realized it.

Fubuki watched him with wide eyes as he gripped the handle.

“You should probably stay inside,” Sora said resignedly, and stepped out onto the street, turning left and heading for the alley.

Chiyo was crying out her innocence as they beat her, but the guards didn’t seem to believe her. Sora prepared himself and stepped into the mouth of the alley, hand crackling with sparks. One of the guards saw him and stood up just as he placed his hand on the back of another guard’s neck.

The guard fell over crackling with lightning, immediately rendered unconscious from the spell. The guard who had spotted him had already pulled his club out and was stepping over Chiyo to swing violently at his head.

A brief thought and a twist of his magic brought a barrier into existence, and the club swung back from where it connected with twice the initial force. It pulled the man off balance, and he tripped backward over Chiyo’s still prone form.

The third guard finally realized something was going on and stopped punching the girl on the ground for a moment. Sora pointed two fingers towards him, and a stream of crackling energy shot forward, impacting with his face. The man convulsed uncontrollably for a moment before falling backward.

The guard with the club struggled back to his feet, and Sora shot him with the same spell. It hit him in the chest, and the man fell over to join his allies unconscious.

Sora stared down at the bloody mess they had made of Chiyo before he leaned down and tapped her chest with a glowing finger. Sora lifted her off the ground, the spell doing its job as she now weighed practically nothing.

He turned to head back to his house when a fourth guard appeared at the end of the alley and swung at his face before suddenly falling forwards onto the ground, to reveal Fubuki standing behind him.

Sora stared at her for a moment before nodding.

“Thanks, let’s get inside before they wake up,” Sora said quietly.

He strode quickly across the street and back into his house; Chiyo was still unconscious when he placed her on the countertop. His hands lit up as he began healing her, starting with her face. The second the spell touched her; she immediately woke up and started struggling and shouting.

Sora quickly paralyzed her again, to stop her from hurting herself further.

“Sorry, you need to stay still, or you’re going to make this worse,” Sora said apologetically and continued healing her.

Fubuki was at his shoulder, staring down at the girl with wide eyes.

“You’re from the market.” Chiyo managed to whisper.

Sora nodded down at her, working on her crooked jaw.

“I see you didn’t manage to escape before they blocked the gates,” Sora said plainly.

Chiyo made a pained noise as her jaw clicked back into place.

“You!” Chiyo said harshly, spotting Fubuki when she leaned forward.

Fubuki shot backward out of her sight and used Sora to hide behind.

“I wouldn’t be too upset; she just helped me save your life,” Sora said idly and glanced over his shoulder at Fubuki.

“That thing is what got me into this mess!” Chiyo said angrily.

Sora snorted.

“From what you told me earlier, Koshiro got you into it. Fubuki here was forced to obey the commands of whoever touched the coin; she’s a relative innocent, really.” Sora said without a care.

Chiyo stared at him in angry silence, unable to counter his words.

“Fubuki, there’s a cloth over there, can you get it for me please?” Sora asked politely, and Fubuki immediately moved to get the cloth, bringing it back to him a moment later. Sora used it to wipe the blood away from Chiyo’s face; the surface wounds were already gone.

Sora changed spells and started on the internal damage.

“Why did you save me?” Chiyo whimpered.

“Who are you asking?” Sora murmured.

Chiyo gritted her teeth in pain.

“Both of you. Why did you save me?” Chiyo repeated.

Sora nodded towards Fubuki.

“You go first.” Sora stuck his tongue out at the monster, and she stared at his mouth for a long moment before eventually looking back up to his eyes.

Sora raised his eyebrow at her, and Fubuki moved behind him again, out of his sight.

“I was used to ruin you,” Fubuki whispered, loud enough for both of them to hear. “I wanted to fix it.”

Fubuki moved further behind him when he tried to look at her again.

“You think that’s enough to fix what you did?” Chiyo said harshly.

Sora flicked her nose, and Chiyo flinched before staring up at him angrily.

“She was forced to do that, and she chose to save your life, her actions are more than equal to the damage she unwillingly caused,” Sora muttered before he started to open her shirt.

“What are you doing!” Chiyo said worriedly, as he untied the twine holding her shirt closed. “I need the clothes out of the way to heal your ribs.” Sora said dryly, rolling his eyes again, “You don’t have anything I haven”t seen before.”

She made a noise of embarrassment as he pulled her shirt open and revealed her bare chest. Sora placed his hands on her sternum, and after a long moment, there was a crack as the bones fixed back into place.

Chiyo made a pained noise, as the pain was enough to override the spell for a moment. Fubuki stuck her head back around to watch, staring down at her with wide eyes.

“Pervert.” Chiyo accused when she noticed that he glanced at her chest.

“Whatever,” Sora muttered as another rib popped back into place. “Once those guards wake up, I’m fucked. I’m going to have to leave Satu now.”

He glanced up to her face.

“My boring life here is basically over; my house will be taken from me. I’ll have a bounty placed on me. I’ll be tortured and executed if I’m caught, all because I stopped some guards from killing you.” Sora sighed in resignation and then glanced up at Chiyo’s face.

“Are you really going to complain that I had a peek at your tits while I was saving your life?” Sora said, annoyed before he moved down to start on her stomach.

Chiyo opened her mouth for a moment, hesitated, and then fell silent.

“You have to leave,” Fubuki said quietly from beside his shoulder.

“Yeah.” Sora agreed, starting work on the drawstring of her pants.

Chiyo didn’t protest.

“Fubuki, can you get her shoes and pants off please,” Sora asked quietly, and Fubuki moved around to her legs, hesitantly going to work on them. Chiyo didn’t say anything, so she quickly started tugging off her shoes.

“Lucky for me, I have an easy way out of the city. Blink is a useful spell.” Sora said dryly and moved his hand down to her thighs.

“Shrink and Haste?” Fubuki asked quietly.

“That was the best method if I wanted to stay far enough away not to be caught helping you escape.” Sora explained, “They know I’m helping you now, at least three of those guards saw me, and I’m not willing to kill them; I’m going to blink straight through the wall.”

He moved down to the left knee, and Chiyo gasped as something snapped back into place.

“Get me out of the city.” Chiyo managed, sounding pained.

“Sure, I wasn’t going to leave you stuck here.” Sora agreed easily.

Fubuki was staring at his glowing hands as he fixed Chiyo’s ankle.

“Will you help me leave as well?” Fubuki asked quietly, meeting his eyes for a moment.

“Yeah.” Sora nodded before moving his hands up between the noble's legs; Chiyo made another noise of embarrassment.

Sora healed the surface damage and moved onto the other leg without comment.

“Fubuki, could you please go into that room over there and grab the book off the table next to the bed.” Sora glanced at her, and Fubuki immediately went to fulfill his request, returning a moment later with the book. “Thanks, just put it on the table; there’s also bag in that box over there, can you get it out?”

Sora directed, and Fubuki took it out of the box.

“Thanks, there is a bunch of water containers in that cupboard over there, can you get them as well?” Sora directed her into retrieving several more things, and Fubuki stacked them all on the table behind him as he finished healing Chiyo.

“Alright, you’re good to go.” Sora nodded at Chiyo and stared at her for a long moment.

“Are you going to let me up or are you going to keep staring at my tits,” Chiyo said, annoyed.

“Yes,” Sora said idly, staring until Chiyo started to open her mouth again and then quickly dispelling the paralysis.

Chiyo sat up and watched him with narrowed eyes as he turned to face the table. Fubuki slinked backward away from them both as they started moving suddenly.

He glanced at her with a raised eyebrow and started to cast a long-duration version of shrink on the items before placing them into his bag. He eyed the book on the table for a long moment before placing it into the bag as well.

Sora turned to face the other two; Chiyo was in the process of tying her shirt back up, while Fubuki was watching him quietly from the other side of the table.

“Well, this is the plan,” Sora said, scratching the back of his head, “We head towards the wall, I use ‘Blink, Other’ on you both to shunt you outside the wall, I ‘Blink’ myself and then we make a break for it.” Sora explained, “Any questions?”

Chiyo finished dressing and stepped away from the counter towards him.

“They will see us on the other side; they have lookouts on the top of the wall,” Chiyo said seriously.

Sora just nodded calmly.

“That’s going to happen no matter what we do; they are checking everything that leaves the gates so we can”t sneak out,” Sora explained evenly.

“Where do we go after?” Fubuki asked quietly.

Sora scratched his head again.

“I don’t know about you two, but I’m headed for Bilaar,” Sora said easily.

Chiyo frowned at him.

“That’s west of here, but the closest gate is the south gate.” Chiyo stared at him with narrow eyes, trying to figure out his plan.

“I’m going directly into the forest to the south to lose any pursuers in the forest, then heading straight west until I reach the end of the Third Talon River and then following it up to Bilaar,” Sora explained thoughtfully.

He pulled his backpack on, tightening the straps before heading over to a locked cabinet against the wall.

“That will take you weeks to get there on foot, especially through the forest.” Chiyo frowned.

Sora shrugged.

“Probably, I’ll have to camp and hunt along the way, I guess; I have plenty of water,” Sora explained before he opened the cabinet with his key.

Fubuki came closer to peek into the cabinet as he strapped on the belt and pouches within.

“What are we supposed to do?” Chiyo demanded.

Sora blinked at the woman, pulling the cloak on.

“Whatever you want, I’m not your keeper,” Sora said incredulously. “I said I’d help you get out of Satu, whatever you do afterward is completely up to you.”

He tightened the clasp on the cloak and nodded.

“I’m ready, you guys good to go?” Sora asked curiously.

“I am ready,” Fubuki said quietly.

Sora stared at her wryly for a moment, before heading into the back room and grabbing one of his shirts as well as another cloak.

“You are really just going to leave us outside the wall, after going to the effort of saving us?” Chiyo said, sounding bewildered.

Sora tossed them to Fubuki, who dashed out of the way and watched as they smacked onto the ground.

“Put those on, you’ll draw too much attention walking around naked,” Sora said simply.

Fubuki immediately picked it up the shirt before struggling to put it on.

“I saved you because you were in front of me and you needed help; it’s a bad habit of mine, I guess,” Sora said easily, “But that doesn’t mean I have to look after you for the rest of your life, you’ve already cost me more than enough, don’t you think?”

Sora sighed and stepped towards Fubuki, who immediately stepped away.

“Stay still,” Sora said, annoyed, and Fubuki froze at his words.

Sora took the shirt from her hands and pulled it quickly over her head; it was far too big, settling around the middle of her thighs. He grabbed the cloak next and flipped it around behind her to settle on her shoulders, before tying the clasp shut.

He pulled the hood up to cover her horns and frowned at the obvious indents they made on the hood. Sora stepped past her into his bedroom and grabbed another shirt before returning to find that Fubuki hadn’t moved at all.

Sora pulled the hood back and stuffed the balled-up shirt onto the horns before pulling the hood back over, the lumpy shirt much less obvious than the twin points of the horns.

“You don’t have to listen to me, you know,” Sora said curiously as he stepped away again.

Fubuki twitched and lifted a hand to touch the lumpy cloth under her hood. He strode over to the window and looked outside, there was a bunch of guards all standing around the alleyway where they had fought earlier.

“Okay, heaps of guards out there, so we are going to be sneaky about this, come over here,” Sora said urgently.

They both moved closer, looking worried.

“I’m going to blink you both over to that roof,” Sora pointed to the roof across the street, “Don’t make any noise, or we are going to be fucked, got it?”

Sora eyed them both seriously and received matching nods of understanding.

He placed a hand on both of their backs, and they both stilled at the touch. He twisted his mana into the correct shape with barely a twitch of effort and blinked them both onto the roof. He followed a moment later with his own blink.

The sudden change in lighting took him by surprise, and he had to blink back tears from the sudden brightness. Chiyo was rubbing at her own eyes, while Fubuki was pressed flat against the roof, staring around with wide eyes.

“Follow me,” Sora instructed quietly.

He moved towards the next rooftop, and climbed onto it, made his way across while doing his best to stay out of sight of the road. He worked his way carefully back down to the ground, and by the time they reached the last building, they were next to the wall. Chiyo struggled down the side of the last building, while Fubuki just stepped off the edge and landed in a silent crouch on the ground without a problem.

Sora stared at the awesome landing, impressed.

They both approached him carefully, looking every way for guards but finding none.

“Alright, I’m starting to get low on magic here; I’ve been using it all day at the markets,” Sora admitted, he had enough for three blinks with an amount left over for some support spells, but it would start to become an issue soon.

“How long does it take to recharge?” Chiyo asked seriously.

“Couple of hours.” Sora guessed, flapping his hand around to indicate just how sure he wasn’t.

“Magic is nice,” Fubuki said seriously.

Sora snickered at the comment, and the Oni stared at him intently, wondering if he was making fun of her.

“It is nice,” Sora agreed to soothe her hurt feelings.

He eyed the wall for a moment before nodding.

“I blink us to the other side of the wall, then I’ll cast haste before we run straight for the forest,” Sora decided, “That’s all the magic I’m willing to use, for now; I’m keeping some in case I need to fight later.”

Sora looked at them both to see if they understood the plan before nodding and placing his hand on each of their shoulders.

“Good luck.” Sora blinked them both.

He followed a moment later, feeling his magic drain again.

Sora took in the open field ahead of them, the main road to their left, and the forest in the distance before he reached out to cast Haste on them both.

He used it on himself a moment later and then took off across the field at his top speed. Haste was a hell of a rush, and depending on your control, along with how much magic you could put into it, you could reach some absurd speeds.

Sora enjoyed the feeling of the wind tearing against his skin and didn’t look back to check if they had been spotted. Despite his now great speed, it still took almost ten minutes for him to reach the forest line. Sora didn’t stop until he was deep in the forest, and his haste spell finally ran out of juice.

He breathed heavily as he came to a stop in a clearing amongst the trees and found himself laughing at the adrenaline coursing through him, the first thing he had really felt in a long time.

A noise from behind him drew his attention.

When he turned, he found Chiyo stumbling into the clearing before she collapsed bodily onto the forest floor, gasping desperately for breath. Fubuki stepped carefully into the clearing a moment later, not even looking winded.

“Easy run, huh?” Sora said dryly, still trying to catch his breath.

“It was nice to run again,” Fubuki said seriously.

Sora felt a twinge at the implication; he wondered how long Fubuki had been bound to the coin, and how many things she had been forced to do. The fact that a simple run had made her look so happy was heartbreaking.

“They noticed us.” Chiyo gasped and pushed herself to her knees.

“Yeah,” Sora said honestly, “Well, this is it, you two better start moving if you don’t want to get captured, good luck!”

Sora said cheerfully, still enjoying the rush, he stretched for a moment before giving them both a jaunty wave and strode off into the trees.


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About the author

Elbowsnapper

Bio: I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.

My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.

I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.

https://www.elbowsnapper.com/

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