With a little manoeuvring, he got his bedroom door open without dropping either of the two meals. And with a little push with his shoulder, he managed to open it wide enough to enter. The visage of Ell was waiting for him in his room, and like him, the elf had disregarded her blood-stained clothes. In their place, she wore a long-sleeved white gown, with a long brown dress on top which was laced up around her centre. They were fairly common attire but Rohl had no clue what its proper name was.
The elf sat at the small table in the far left of the room, the other chair had been pushed out for him. Rohl hesitated in joining her as he recalled the night before, his face flushed a little as he did so. Ell as if sensing what was going on gave a ‘are your serious’ look before finally speaking.
“Sit will you, that’s what chairs are for in case you’d didn’t know. Are we going to talk about it or are you going to stand there gawping?”
This sprung him into action and he quickly took the free chair. He placed the other breakfast down before Ell and soon enough they both began to devour the meal. They barely stopped to breathe never mind talk, the previous day's had left them starved of energy and they were only now beginning to feel its impact.
At one point Rohl had to defend his sausages from the starved Ell who tried to poach them with her fork. After successfully fending off her attack, Rohl smiled in glee before caving at Ell’s half pleading, half give it me or ill stab you look.
“Nice to know you can learn,” Ell said her tone victorious and jovial.
After what Ell called a ‘gracious act of kindness for the plebs’ she did cut the sausage in half and return a half to Rohl.
“I have some great news for you,” Ell began as Rohl gave a curious look. “I have decided to stay in Elmon permanently, I was going to leave after the return from the original quest. Which is why I had nowhere else but here to sleep yesterday,” Ell said in an uncharacteristically gentle tone of voice, her cheeks taking in a slight tinge of red. “As a regal elf, I would never normally be so forward even if you are somewhat spe...not completely useless.” After taking a moment to gather her thought, she continued.
“Where was I? Your dumb face distracted me. Ah yes, the good news. Since I will be staying, I would like to form an adventuring party with you. If you accept of course, not that you’d have any reason to say no.”
“I would like that,” Rohl said as he finally caught up with Ell’s words.
“As expected, now about last night and sleeping arrange…”
Before Ell could finish her sentence, the sound of the door slamming open and a voice ringing out interrupted her.
“Time to go. Oh who is your companion Rohly Rohl,” Quinn said with a look or pride aimed towards Rohl.
“This is Ell, I’ve told you about her, the whole dungeon story.”
“Oh right, well sorry to interrupt but we need to get to the shops before they get too busy, now, now no arguing, let’s go,” Quinn said as he dragged Rohl from the table and out of the door, cutting off any complaints as he did so and leaving a dumbfounded Ell behind.
“The adventurers guild has given you a very sizable reward, they forget to give it to you earlier, but I’ve got it for you,” Quinn said soon after handing Rohl a sizable coin purse containing ten fortwillings, a sizable sum of money.
“Thank you, what’s all this rush about exactly?” Rohl replied as Quinn all but pushed down the stairs and out into the streets of Elmon.
“Well Governor Sampson is hosting a celebration ball party thing to celebrate the victory and as key figures in the battle, we are all invited. My party, you and Ell all included. I saw what clothes you had, and it’s not enough, how can you win Mimi’s heart dressed in clothes like that. You need a real ball outfit and that’s where I come in as your mentor to guide you through this. Mimi’s already so excited and I need you need to dress to impress my friend.”
“Great thanks,” Rohl said not really meaning it, he was not particularly overjoyed about clothes shopping. “Why is Mimi so excited, surely she’s been to plenty of celebrations and parties before.”
“Not like this and not with someone she likes before.”
“Really? you’re telling me no one’s ever invited her to a ball or party.”
“No, look Rohl, you’re a good guy and Mimi is like a sister to me. I like you two together. All that tiptoeing and flirting when you first met, it’s nice and makes me laugh. Now because of this, I’m going to tell you a secret alright.”
“Alright,” Rohl said curiously.
“Mimi is obviously smitten with you and the main reason she’s fallen so hard is because of her past, no one has even given her the affection you have.”
“I really don’t believe you,” Rohl replied as he weaved in between passerby’s, at the pace Quinn had set this trip seemed closer to a race than a simple visit to the shops.
“It's true, her father is the fae ambassador to Offa and he is very overprotective, will neuter anyone who shows interest in his daughter. There is a rumour that a lower noble’s son was going to ask his permission to court Mimi. I don’t know what happened but now he flinches whenever he sees her. Her father is very overprotective. You know that cloak she gave you?”
Rohl nodded gesturing for Quinn to continue.
“That allows you entrance to the fae kingdom as a friend of the ambassador’s family. It’s usually a ring, but Mimi’s father insisted on the silver cloaks to make it obvious who Mimi gave hers to. Allowing him to find who his daughter is interested in and neuter him. Now, I don't know about you, but most men don’t want to be neutered, so Mimi had been quite romantically isolated for most of her life. Then here you come being all romantic and charming. So, of course, Mimi’s excited about the party and since you’ll be there, it’s such a great opportunity for her. You should see the smile on her face.”
Rohl almost choked upon hearing the sound of Quinn breaking out in laughter did little to help. “Now apart from making me laugh when you two flirt, I also get to see her happy, now let’s go and get you some nice clothes. Then we can all go and have some drinks later.”
Any thought of clothes shopping had disappeared as all Rohl could focus on was Quinn’s words. Mimi was apparently very smitten as well as extremely excited about the celebration. It’s not that he wasn’t interested in Mimi, in the small amount of time that they had spent together, he had come to like her. But the issue was he had no idea how to dance or really make any sort of move.
Besides what about Ell, they had gotten very close, almost kissed, and even shared the same bed. How could he choose, could he even choose given his indecisiveness. On top of the whole Endless Sleep problem, he wasn’t even sure he should try to date. If he was honest he found the whole situation quite overwhelming to process. Maybe he should just feign ignorance or even injury.
On a more desperate note, what about his balls. Rohl liked them where they were and would prefer not to get neutered by the Fae ambassador. As long as he didn’t go to the capital of Stipus or the fae kingdoms then maybe the ambassador would never know about him and his daughter.
There was nothing he could do about that now but pray, pray that this party didn’t allow for any social interactions that would force him to choose or interact romantically allowing him to feign ignorance whilst deciding what to do. To Rohl this was the best plan he could think of, just feign ignorance, and buy time.
But first came shopping, he could do that. It could be a nice distraction and besides with this money, he could buy some nice armour and weapons for once. Plus he could buy flowers for his family and maybe even a present for Ell or Mimi. Or maybe a present for everyone one of his friends so as to not show favouritism. That was probably a better idea.
“Here we are, the shopkeeper here does perfect ball wear, he’s fairly popular with all the nobility. Just say you need correct clothing for Governor Sampson’s ball, and he’ll sort you right out. I’ll wait out here, he’ll likely need to do some measuring and I don’t really want to see that. Now in you go,” Quinn said as he maneuvred Rohl through the shop's door, and waited by the entrance to prevent any escape attempts.
Milton’s Attires was a fairly small shop located just off one of the main roads leading to the citadel, the inside was filled with mannequins of all shapes and sizes displaying off an incredible range of fancy clothing. Clothes fancier than Rohl had ever seen before.
As soon as he entered Rohl followed Quinn’s instructions and after giving permission agreed to let Mr Milton take charge of the affair. The man had long black hair, sparkling eyes and a cheerful atmosphere about him. His clothes were exquisite, a fine black embroidered tuxedo that showed elegance, seeing such clothes Rohl found no issues in letting Mr Milton take the reins.
“Thank you, it’s so much easier when those new to the fashion business just let a professional handle everything. I’ll have you looking dapper in no time at all. Please follow me.”
At Mr Milton’s lead, Rohl followed the man into a small back room containing only a small pedestal to stand on and a large mirror. Within seconds of entering Rohl found himself stood on it being measured head from head to toe, across his chest, waist and even his wrists. All whilst Mr Milton muttered to himself.
“Hmm, black tuxedo, gold-embroidered, white cuffs, undershirt, yes. Should fit nicely, you have the form for it. The ball is in just under a week so ill have it delivered to you by then. If you’re not satisfied ill wave the charge but I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.”
“Thank you,” Rohl said not really sure what to say, he knew very little about clothing.
“Young Mr Terriney informed me that you need to, and I quote ‘dress to impress a smitten young miss’, this outfit will certainly help with that. Mr Terriney has also signed you up for etiquette and dance lessons starting tomorrow night at eight, please do not be late. I won’t keep the others waiting for you.”
“I won’t, thank you.” Rohl fully understood the dress to impress reference and was still in a complete state of panic about that but he was at least grateful for Quinn’s foresight of dance lessons. There was no doubt he needed them for an event like this.
“Excellent, now I’ll send the bill when I drop off the outfit, that is all for now and I hope to see you again soon.”
With a last goodbye and thank you, Rohl was free to depart the store. The process was much quicker than he had expected.
Quinn was waiting outside giving him two thumbs up which Rohl soon returned.
“What’s this about dance lessons?”
“Ah well, not going to lie, I’ve seen you dance and it’s not great. Mr Milton offers lessons for any interested and trust me, you need them.”
“Thanks, I guess, I can’t really argue with you about that.”
“Ah no worries, can’t let you go making a fool out of yourself now can I, sure it would be funny, but this night is very important. There will be a lot of important guests including the governor and as a guest of honour, you need to be on top form.”
“Oh great, just what I wanted, can’t I just not go,” Rohl said hopefully, that would solve a lot of his problems.
“Nope, too late for that now. I’ve got to cut this short I’m afraid, something has come up at the guild apparently, I’ll see you tonight yeah.”
“Alright see you later,” Rohl said as Quinn rushed off.
There was plenty of shopping to do anyhow, he would pick up gifts, well try too anyhow. Then he would acquire about new weapons but not armour, the legion armour was likely much better than any he could buy anyhow.
He spent another hour or so shopping for goods, finding all that he needed before finally returning to the Halleway inn. A few customers were huddled around tables.
However, Mrs Kutcher, Nia and Lola had all returned. Nia as energetic as ever, rushed over to give him a quick hug, happy to see he was alive and well. Whilst Lola remained more held back and professional but still glad to see him all the same.
“You were only meant to be gone for a day; may I ask what happened?” Lola asked first, her hands slowly wiping out the inside of a tankard.
Rohl rather fed up with retelling the same story decide to skip out some details “Let’s just say we couldn’t find the monster and ended up in a fight well over our heads, but it sort of worked out in the end.”
“Oh, well that’s good I guess, I’m glad you didn’t get hurt. When you say ‘we’, do you mean the girl who came out of your room an hour or so. She’s quite rude you know, told me to let you know she’d be back sometime tonight,” Lola spoke once again whilst Nia gave him a disapproving look for some reason.
“Yes, that’s Ell, were party members, once you get to knew her, she’s quite nice and doesn’t usually mean what she says. She calls me a dumbass all the time, but she doesn’t mean it.”
“Uh, huh, well father wants to speak with you sometime today when you’ve got time and also...” Lola spoke but before she could finish Nia cut her off in poorly contained excitement.
“Oooh are you going to perform later? Please pretty please, it was so fun last time.” Her tone was full of joy as her body almost vibrated in anticipation.
“Sure, I should be able to,” Rohl replied finding it difficult to say no.
“Yay. Oh yeah if you’re not busy right now could help me move some stuff around in the back, we can do it whilst practising for tonight. Come on,” Nia said, her energy not depleted in the slightest.
Rohl wasn’t sure about being wrangled into work but after Lola gave him an ‘if you wouldn’t mind look’, he found that he couldn't really refuse. Besides, it was something to keep him busy until tonight.