There was a discussion— an argument amongst the Humans and the single Cyclops man as they protested the sudden decision imposed on them. Zack turned to Daniel accusingly, but Jaakko spoke over them calmly. He drew the attention of the noble, Saffron Merryster. The pink haired Human woman said a number, and all arguments ceased.
An hour later, I found myself sitting on the back of a horse, riding with Daniel as we followed a gilded carriage make its way down a gravel road. We weren’t the only ones following it— Helen, Jaakko, and Zack had their own horses too. And there were a few other riders dressed in full plate armor, escorting the coach from the side.
They were Saffron’s bodyguards, donning the sigil of their family’s house. I had never seen anything resembling the symbol before, but apparently it was supposed to be a vulture. To me, it just looked like a big bird.
We travelled at a relatively fast and steady pace, the twinkling dots in the broad night sky turning into lines as our horse galloped to keep up with the magically enchanted carriage. The whispering of the trees from the hushed breeze turned into a howl as we blew straight into the wind; only the dinning of the hooves could drown out this suffocating noise. But I was used to such a feeling. I glanced down at the horse.
“I’m faster than you.”
I spoke simply, poking at his side. Daniel turned around and opened his mouth. He paused, thinking for a moment. Then he sighed.
“I’m not even going to comment on that.”
“Because it’s true!”
I continued blithely swaying from side to side on the back of the horse as we made our approach to the dimly lit town just ahead.
“You know, I like her.”
He blinked, looking back at me as the horse slowed.
“What do you mean by… like?”
“She only had to say one thing and you Humans immediately listened to her. I want to be able to do that. I want to be a noble!”
He quickly faced the front, focusing once again on riding.
“Well, I don’t think you can be a noble, Salvos. That’s something you have to be born into. And as we both know, you’re not… even… y’know?”
“But I can pretend, can’t I? I’m pretending to be a Human [Rogue] right now!”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Why not? Look— listen.”
I cleared my throat and raised my chin. With a hand on my chin and my back straight, I spoke haughtily.
“Cease your rowdy squabbling. I, Salvos Merryster, will pay you 10 platinum coins to bring me to the city of Warrington right this moment.”
“That’s… not bad, actually. But you can’t just use someone else’s family name and pass it off as your own. You’ll have to provide proof for that. Also— you don’t have 10 platinum coins.”
I waved a hand dismissively.
“That was just an example, I can just make up one of my own. And if they demand payment, I’ll just run off!”
“And if they come after you?”
“I’ll kill them, of course.”
Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose, inhaling deeply. He glanced back at me with a single pleading eye.
“Please, Salvos. Don’t try something like that. Ever.”
I scowled, crossing my arms.
“You’re lying, aren’t you?”
I failed to suppress a grin.
We reached the town soon after. It was not Warrington— that city was still another four days ride from where we were. This was a town close to Hazelbury. Saffron had been in a rush to leave, having delayed her stay there due to the news of a Greater Demon running amok in Falisfield.
This town was apparently outside of Falisfield, which was why she wanted to get here as soon as possible.
“Goodness gracious, this inn is rancid. And you’re certain this is the best around?”
“Apologies, Lady Saffron. This establishment may be of poor quality, but it is the highest one that this town can provide.”
Her servant, a Human man named Matthew, bowed his head and spoke apologetically.
“Well, it is certainly better than staying in that cramped city, worrying over threats that might not actually exist. Honestly, it was suffocating hearing you worry on and on about that mysterious Demon that hasn’t actually done anything.”
“Apologies, Lady Saffron—”
Saffron walked past me as a cloying scent wafted to me. I wrinkled my nose.
“What is that smell?”
“Are you speaking to me, adventurer?”
The noble stopped a few feet ahead of me. She craned her neck back, turning an assessing eye to me.
“No, I was asking Daniel. But if you can tell me too, I’d appreciate it.”
I smiled innocently at her; she frowned.
“If you must know, it is the scent of my perfume. Alchemically made— not your cheap, ordinary market bought perfume commoners tend to use.”
I cocked my head.
“It’s a bit strong, but I like it. Smells far better than blood and dead bodies.”
Saffron trailed off, wrinkling a brow. She took a few steps towards us and Daniel gulped. He opened his mouth, but the inchoate sound forming in his throat was cut off as she spoke.
“You’re the [Rogue] that killed that Greater Demon, the [Djinn], aren’t you?”
“I am! My name is Salvos.”
I nodded with alacrity. The noble huffed.
“I am aware. I have heard your name mentioned numerous times since I passed through Silvergrove. And you have a fire creation Skill, don’t you?”
She folded her arms, her frilly sleeves laced with golden lines scrunching together.
“Salvos, I don’t think you should just tell people—”
“I see then.”
Saffron tilted her head back, placing a hand on her lip. Her lips curled up as her red eyes stared out the window at the moon.
“Thank you for being honest with me, unlike your friend with his trinket there.”
Daniel winced, covering the necklace around his neck.
She laughed, turning around and beginning to take her leave as Helen, Jaakko, and Zack returned from the nearby stable and entered the common room of the inn. The [Archer] glanced at me then at the noble.
“Is something wrong?”
“No, nothing is wrong. However, I will be borrowing your friend here. Tomorrow, Salvos, you will be riding with me.”
“I want her to show me her Skill.”
Saffron replied dismissively, walking up the steps to the rooms above. The Gold Ranks just stared, confused.
“Uh, what just happened?”
“I don’t know. But I like her.”
Then they stared at me. Daniel sighed.
“She doesn’t mean it like that.”