“...who are you?”
Daniel and I stared at the Human child standing off to the side with her head tilted to the side; she had dirty brown hair and amber eyes. Her one-piece smock was tattered and bloodied— it might have been pretty sky blue once, but now the color had faded and mixed into a ugly dark gray.
She was the girl we had saved from the [Cultists]— the one who had almost been sacrificed. We had given her a healing potion when she was unconscious before our fight with Ignavare, and now she was awake. I exchanged a glance with Daniel before he stepped forward.
“Hi, uh, don’t be afraid. We’re here to help you— adventurers. Gold Ranks, see?”
He quickly produced a badge and showed it to the girl. He tried smiling reassuringly while approaching her. The girl did not move away.
My Human companion paused, grimacing as his face darkened. The girl peered at him with a puzzled expression before I slowly walked past him. He blinked and reached out for me.
“Are you talking about Joseph?”
I stopped just in front of her and bent over. I cocked my head and she mirrored the gesture.
“...I think so.”
“He gave you to these [Cultists]. He didn’t want you anymore.”
She blinked, then slowly lowered her gaze.
Daniel hurried over with a worried look on his face.
“Salvos, I don’t think you should be imposing yourself onto her. You might scare her.”
I glanced back at him and frowned. I opened my mouth.
“Why shouldn’t I—”
The girl spoke over me, looking back up.
“You’re… a monster?”
I couldn’t tell if she was asking me a question or making an observation. I shook my head.
“I’m not a monster. I’m Salvos.”
“Salvos? Is that a type of monster?”
“No, that’s my name.”
The girl spoke softly and nodded. I slowly brought my face closer to her.
“What’s your name?”
“That’s a nice name.”
She said nothing else for a moment; I thought that compliment would have made her feel better, however she didn’t visibly react. The girl looked over at Daniel who was still standing off to the side, then back at me.
“Will you eat me, Ms Salvos?”
“Why would I eat you?”
“That’s what monsters do.”
“I am not a monster. I am Salvos.”
“I don’t think this is going anywhere.”
My Human companion spoke up as he stepped beside me. He got down on one knee and brought a hand out to Rachel.”
“Hi, I’m Daniel. Salvos here isn’t a monster, and neither of us are going to harm you. We’re here to save you.”
She stared at him, unblinking.
“Like a [Hero]?”
Daniel hesitated, nearly lowering his proffered hand. However, he steeled himself and gave her a smile.
“Yes. Like a [Hero].”
Rachel slowly accepted his hand and held onto it;
“I’m sure you're hungry. And we’ll find you a place where you can eat without… anything distracting.”
He glanced around at the corpses scattered around the large cavernous room before looking back at the Human girl. She nodded and followed him as he ushered her away. As he slowly walked away, he turned to me.
“In the meantime, Salvos, you can tie up the [Cultists] over there.”
“You didn’t kill them?”
I looked over at the collapsed bodies. Two of them lay there, unconscious, while the third— the head [Cultist]— had been smashed into the wall and was now stuck there.
“No, I… let some of them live. Just in case we needed…”
He averted his gaze, looking over at the summoning circle. I made the connection a moment later and nodded.
“And once you’re done with that— I have some spare clothes too. It’s a bit too big for you, but it should work for now.”
I cocked my head. His face turned red as he murmured.
“After your transform back to your Mortal Form. You’ll need clothes— honestly, I don’t know why we haven’t bought you your own spares. Or enchanted clothing.”
“I don’t see what the problem is.”
“Well, I do! Just please, wear some clothes when you change back.”
“Why can’t I just stay like this?”
“For her sake.”
He gestured at Rachel who was now hugging his legs and staring at me with an odd look on her face. I couldn’t tell if she was suddenly scared or curious— but it seemed that she now fully realized that I wasn’t Human.
I scowled, sighing.
The ropes Daniel gave me were apparently enchanted with some sort of durability spell— it was the same rope he used to get us down to Silkfall’s Crevice. So even the head [Cultist] wouldn’t have been able to rip himself free.
I tied them up and tossed the three surviving [Cultists] into another room in the cave complex. Then, after turning back to my Mortal Form and dressing myself in his baggy clothing, I found Daniel investigating the rest of the cave— he was in a large room full of bones jutting out of the earth like broken teeth.
He surmised that this place had been a Lair for monsters once. Judging by the broken carapace and chitin, he thought it might even have been home to the [Rancer Mites] that had attacked us on the way to Warrington.
There were a few other rooms— ones filled with books and rolls of paper. They were banned books apparently, things [Cultists] used to cast their magic and summon Demons. I quickly grabbed one of them and began flipping through it, trying to figure out how the rituals worked.
After we were finished scouring the rest of the cave, we returned to Rachel who was holed up in a room with a few beds strewn about. She did not jump up and run to Daniel, nor did she give me anything more than a confused look. The girl simply blinked and pointed at me.
“Are you… Ms Salvos?”
“Yes, and you’re Rachel!”
She said nothing else as Daniel produced some food for her; she accepted it and ate quietly by herself while I wrinkled my nose in disgust to the side.
Rachel paused and glanced over at me.
“Do you not like food, Ms Salvos?”
“No, I find it disgusting.”
“Do you like eating Humans then, Ms Salvos?”
I grimaced and crossed my arms.
“Absolutely not— I’ve tried. They don’t taste nice.”
Rachel nodded and went back to eating the bits of meat she had been given. I shook my head, carrying the stack of books we found from the cult and placing them down next to a bed. Then I looked back and found Daniel staring at me.
I cocked my head. He rubbed at his temples and walked off to the side.
“When did you even try to eat a Human before?”
“Oh, just now.”
He stumbled forward and caught himself. He sighed with resignation.
“I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear that.”
“I wasn’t in my Mortal Form and I was curious, ok?”