Healers sure are wonderful, Rohl thought still somewhat dazed from the attack, in truth he wasn’t even sure if he kept those words in his head or accidentally spoke them as well.
The Gleaton Morrow healer, a tall quiet man by the name of Graham was fully funded and equipped to handle any injury a mercenary may receive including broken bones. The Eir potion was an expensive remedy for broken bones but to Rohl’s relief, the mercenary healer didn’t charge him for its use. Within hours of digesting it, his bones had fused enough to allow movement and light use. As long as he didn’t do anything too strenuous then he should have a full recovery in only four days.
He was extremely lucky to receive such care, he knew that if he had received such an injury in Shrewsborough then it would have taken days just to receive the potion and even then they’d have to re-break his bones so that the potion could fuse them together correctly. Something he was extremely glad to not have to undergo.
However, given the audience around him, he actually wished the potion required days of healing to work where Rohl would be forced to stay unconscious in the bed. It was not to be unfortunately which forced him to deal with the numerous questions of the audience that had gathered around him. All the adventurers as well as Captain Valhalderson and the more important lieutenants were all gathered around his bed waiting for him to start answering questions. Freya now fully recovered and dressed was also present.
Captain Valhalderson got his questions answered first for obvious reasons “So you have no clue why it was attacking whilst you were awake?”
“Did you do something to piss it off, this is the third time you’ve been attacked now?” Calco asked.
“I don’t think so.”
“Rose seems to be the most knowledgeable, do you know why?” Falene inquired next.
The combined gazes of everyone in the room seemed to just agitate her but she did answer the question. “Maybe, let’s see bangungot’s are cursed spirits, devour the sleeping, veteran threats, live in forests.”
Freya interrupted before she could continue “Forests, we patrol the forests often, maybe that has something to do with it, you did burn all those sick trees, Rohl.”
“Sick trees?” Rose inquired, her hand resting on her chin as a thoughtful expression clouded her face “Did they look black and rotted?”
“They did.” the captain replied.
“Well that explains it,” Rose said, at everyone expectant gazes she only sighed before adding “he burnt down its house.”
“Well done dumbass,” Ell chimed in.
“How could I have known?” Rohl spoke indignantly, he had only tried to help, he couldn't have expected his actions would have brought down its wrath upon him.
“No this is a good thing, if it seeks vengeance then maybe we can set a trap,” Reginald added, his words brought a mumble of agreements from most of the mercenaries.
“You see, I did good” Rohl added next still somewhat disorientated from the medicine he had received, Ell only gave him a slightly amused look in return.
“Indeed. Reginald take Rose, she seems most knowledgeable on the creature, start working on a plan. I shall join you shortly,” the captain ordered. With the order received, his gaze returned to Rohl who suddenly felt a shiver down his spine.
“Yes father,” Reginald replied, before leaving the room, Rose followed suit, not giving him a second glance.
“Everyone else please give me and Rohl the room. Not you Freya”. His words were met by confused looks and several shrugs of the shoulder, but no one disobeyed. Ell was hesitant but at the captain's insistent look she left as well giving Rohl a look of mild suspicion as she did so.
The door of the small room closed behind her leaving Rohl alone with the captain and Freya who was desperately trying to avoid his confused glances. The captain stood at the end of his bed, all traces of friendliness gone.
“So Rohl, tell me. What were you doing out so late?” the captain spoke calmly, his face remaining completely neutral despite his arms being crossed in front of his chest.
Rohl gave a small gulp before replying “Getting a drink from the kitchen.” His tone was shaky despite his honestly and his face felt sweaty all of a sudden.
“The kitchen is in the opposite hallway, only Freya’s and the staff's rooms are down there.”
“I must have taken a wrong turn,” he added hurriedly, the captains gaze remained unmoved. Freya seemed stuck between wanting to jump in and not wanting to have to deal with her father.
“Then why were you shirtless and Freya improbably dressed”.
“I was too warm on the walk so I took off my shirt and maybe Freya likes to sleep light,” Rohl replied his voice becoming more high pitched as he spoke.
The captain seemed unconvinced but before he could speak again Freya finally intervened.
“Father, stop, it was a misunderstanding, besides its none of your business what I do, if I want to spend the night with Rohl then I will,” she spoke angrily, not backing down from her fathers gaze. Rohl just remained silent he was too focused on the sensation in his chest, he felt like he was having a mini heart attack. The feeling only got worse the more Freya continued to argue with her father.
The whole situation was just a huge misunderstanding but if Freya continued arguing then she was going to get him killed. The captain would snap him like a twig.
He was in a pickle, either speak up and be killed by the captain for interrupting him as he argued with his daughter, or remain silent and let Freya talk and given how that was going, it would also get him killed by the captain. They were not great options and made the decision of backing Freya up quite a difficult one.
Besides, he didn’t even know how he felt about Freya, they hadn’t known each other very long, sure she was nice, strong and brave but the whole event had come as such a surprise that he really hadn’t been able to think it over. Either he was really bad at picking up signals, or she just lacked options here, given how fearsome her father was. It was that or as Rohl suspected he was being used as a form of payback.
As he remained trapped in his thoughts, the disagreement between Freya and her father came to an end, it seemed she had managed to convince her father that the whole affair had been an accident and that Rohl truly had just gotten lost. Although given the expressions on their faces it seemed the argument over her personal life remaining private wasn’t quite over yet.
Fortunately for Rohl, one of the lieutenants soon interrupted to fetch the captain for urgent business leaving just Freya and him alone in the room.
She gave the retreating form of her father one last glare before the door closed behind him. After that, she turned to Rohl, an apologetic look on her face.
“I'm sorry about my father, he is let’s say very protective of us.”
Rohl only nodded in understanding, he was just glad he wasn’t as protective as Mimi’s father apparently was.
I hope they're all doing okay, the thought popped up in Rohl’s mind before he discarded it to better focus on the woman in front of him
“Now, I’m sure we both have a few questions to ask,” Freya asked as Rohl nodded in return. “I think I can already tell what yours will be.”
At Rohl’s raised eyebrow Freya continued.
“The whole night-time visit, not opposed conversation.”
“Uhhh yes,” Rohl replied somewhat hesitantly.
Freya only gained a determined look at his words as she began pacing near the bed.
“Look, I’ve been with the mercenaries my entire life, my father did create this organisation after all. This hasn’t exactly led to a fruitful dating life, either they don’t like a partner in my line of work or prefer not to anger my father. This has pretty much removed the idea of dating anyone from Gleaton Morrow. Even Grey won't risk angering him not that he’d actually do anything to them.”
Rohl only muttered an “Okay,” as he gestured for her to go on.
“When the adventurers arrived, I didn't really care to try and get to know any of you. I figured why bother but once I got to know you all a little, I came to like some of you. Then I thought why not at least try and see what happens, I’m not going to let my father or anyone else for that matter stop me at least seeing how it goes.”
Rohl blushed a little before replying “That’s understandable I guess.”
Freya gave a “hmm,” of agreement before replying “Now my turn, that power of yours, I want details.”
Rohl thought on it for a moment before deciding he would give her a sort of abridged version.
“I am blessed by the goddess Euterpe; I can give allies small power boosts to help them in fights. But please keep it to yourself, I’d prefer keeping it secret,” Rohl asked, he didn't know just how much they knew of the events at Elmon but it was best to keep in on the down-low.
Freya gave him a thoughtful look before finally speaking “It’s an interesting ability, I felt the power it gave and it's quite impressive, I assume Ell knows.”
At Rohl’s nod, she continued “I will not tell anyone, you saved my life, after all, keeping it to myself is a small thing to ask after that.”
“Thank you,” Rohl replied remembering that he had actually saved her life during the creatures first attack.
“Now,” Freya spoke as she took a few steps closer to Rohl and sat on the edge of his bed, leaning her body over his as to better look him in the eyes, “How about I thank you by conti-“
Before she could finish her sentence, a knock on the door interrupted them. Freya gave him a small wink before getting up and opening it.
Tay was at the door and without waiting for an invite decided to enter. She was soon followed by Ell and Disko. The door closed behind them. Ell moved to stand by his bedside, whilst the other remained near the door a confused look on their faces.
“What was that about?” Disko asked.
“Oh, my father wanted to apologise to Rohl, he doesn’t really like people getting injured on his watch.” Freya lied with a small smile. “Training is in an hour, feel free to join all of you,” she added before making her way out of the room.
“How are your injuries? In case you’re unsure, you are allowed to fight monsters without getting injured,” Ell spoke somewhat mockingly.
“Much better and thanks I didn’t think of that,” Rohl replied with a smile doing his best to keep the sarcasm out of his voice, he was getting better at sounding completely honest with his sarcasm, still he was nowhere near Ell’s level.
“Good, I have kindly decided to let you off treating me until you’re better.”
“How kind,” he added before turning to speak to the other still in the room.
Before any of them could speak next, Calco dropped by informing them of a meeting in the main hall, with Disko supporting Rohl’s weight, they made their way to the hall. Rohl’s hoppled stops slowed their pace considerably. Even Ell’s mutterings of “So slow,” did not hurry up his pace.
It took double the usual time to reach the main hall, the tables had been pushed to one side allowing a large group to stand in the centre without issue. With Rohl’s group now arriving that meant all the adventures, plus the captain, Reginald, Freya and all the lieutenants were in the hall.
Rohl group moved to join the adventures, they stood in a small group facing the captain, the assembled mercenaries did the same with their own group.
“It is time to finally rid ourselves of this monster, I have conferred with the adventurers to create a plan to finally defeat this monster.”
After a small pause, the captain continued.
“With the monsters constant attempts to kill Rohl, it gives us an opportunity. Tonight we shall lay an ambush with Rohl as the bait. The light mages shall conceal the presence of seven people from its eyesight allowing an ambush.”
“Me being bait seems familiar,” Rohl whispered to his companion.
“It is your speciality,” she whispered in return.
“Why only seven,” Calco asked once the captain had finished speaking.
The captain gestured for Rose to take over who did so, an annoyed frown on her face.
“Seven is the most we can manage, ourselves included. Any more and we risk discovery, even then the ambushers must limit their movements and keep their backs to a wall, we can only influence the light from one direction. Got it?”
There were several nods from the crowd before Freya spoke next.
“Who will be the other five then?”
“I shall, so will Reginald and Freya. As it is Rohl’s life in the balance he shall choose the other two.”
Ell gave him a look that made it obvious that she was going to be one of them, she needn’t have since he was going to bring her anyway.
“Ell and uh…” Rohl said pausing to think. He could see the expectant looks of Disko, Calco and Falene. Not wanting to pick one, he added “I’ll let the doom bringers choose who else,” Rohl said confidently, happy to relieve himself of the burden.
Without waiting the doom bringers huddled together and began a game of rock, paper, scissors. They broke apart after just one round with Falene looking victorious, she had beat them both with rock beating Disko’s and Calco’s scissors.
Rohl hadn’t really talked with Falene before but if she was a capable fighter, he had no complaints about trusting her with the ambush.
“It is settled, assemble here at seven, the feast is cancelled for tonight, prepare yourselves for the ambush. Dismissed,” the captain called out.
The lieutenants left first, following their captain out of the main hall, something about guard arrangements for the town once the ambush had been set. It was pretty obvious why the adventures hadn’t been included in the leaving groups’ discussion. Freya was the last of them to leave the hall, she gave small smiles to both him and Falene as she did so.
The action created a storm of confused thoughts within Rohl. He really wished all this had happened after he’d defeated the Endless Sleep and saved his family, then he would be free to focus on this type of stuff.
Shaking his head he pushed all thought of it from his mind, he really needed to focus on the ambush tonight, his life was once again on the line after all. Hopefully, he could get some last-minute light non-straining training and strategizing in. Also food.
His stomach growled lightly, an extra reminder that he hadn’t had the chance to eat since he went to bed the previous night. Before he could decide on getting food or training first, he noticed Tay and Rose peeling off from the group.
“Come on Tay let's get some practice in,” Rose said as she led her sister off to one side.
Disko spoke next “We're going to get some training done for Falene, feel free to join us, we will be near the sparring fields.”
At his words, his group made their way to the room presumably to gather gear and equipment. Tay and Rose were still conversing in one corner. Rohl considered taking Disko’s offer but Ell’s gentle grip on his sleeve dissuaded him of that option.
“Come on bait, we’ll get you food first, not that you would suffer from missing a meal.”
He gave her a shady look but said nothing in return, she gestured for him to wait as she went down the opposite hall and returned with a small plater of bread, cheeses, and fruits. It seemed she did know where the kitchen was.
“Room.” That was all Ell said next. Rohl followed her as she led the way. Returning Tay’s wave as he did so. They remained silent during the short walk back to their room. They arrived shortly after, Ell opened the door and placed the food gently on one of the beds as Rohl turned to close the door.
As he turned, he felt a force collide with his chest as Ell hugged him tightly.
“Stop getting hurt you, idiot, do I have to stay by your side all day to stop you from getting injured?”
“I'll try not to in the future,” he replied softly as he hugged her in return. They broke apart soon after and took places sat on the bed. Soon enough they were tucking into the small meal that Ell had fetched from the kitchen.
“I’m touched that you’re worried about me,” he said in between bites.
“It would be a waste if you died after all the training if I’ve put in,” Ell said with a small smirk. “Soon enough ill have you begging on command.”
Rohl gave her a deadpan look as they both chuckled slightly.
“At least with you there tonight, I should be fine.”
“I’ll keep you safe, once it’s dead we can claim the reward and then we're done here,” Ell spoke, with a slightly wistful appearance on her face.
“Yeah, what’s with that look, it’s been nice here if you discount the multiple attacks that is. Free food and training.”
“You’re pleased easily, I on the other hand have standards, the beds back in Elmon are much comfier. Not to mention the lack of annoying adventurers were forced to work with,” the elf said with an annoyed look at her surroundings.
“What’s wrong with the adventurers here? I quite like them.”
Ell only gave a small shake of the head before swiping a piece of apple out from where he had been about to grab
He gave her a joking glare in return before taking a different piece.
“Well once we're finished here, it might not just be the two of us again,” Rohl spoke thinking on the reason they were here in the first place.
“Persuading more people to the cause, this is not really how I imagined spending my time in Offa,” the elf spoke whilst genuinely seeming annoyed by the prospect.
“Well, I'm sorry if the civil war is getting in the way of your downtime.”
“It's okay, it's not all your fault. Besides, you’ll make it up to me, I expect another night of songs and delicacies without interruptions this time, once we get back that is.”
“I'll see what I can do.”
“Good boy,” Ell said praisingly as she gently patted him on the head.
He gave her another deadpan look for that. A look Ell only smirked at.
“I'm not a dog you know.”
“I know, dogs are smarter.”
He stole a piece of fruit for that comment earning him a smack to the hand.
“Ow, you know I'm not meant to strain my arm.”
Ell gave him an unconvinced look.
“I'm sorry, Did I hurt you?, Do I need to kiss it better?”
“I wouldn’t say no.”
Ell only stuck her nose up at his comment but he could see the twitch of a smile.
“Come on, we need to get back to training, maybe you’ll learn something, and don't get injured this time. I'll even take it easy on you,” Ell said as she jumped off the bed and fetched their weapons from one of the small chests.
“Thank you, but I'm still not going to beg,” Rohl as said she handed him his equipment.
“In all seriousness, be careful, I don’t want you to die, especially in such a stupid dumbass Rohl way. Who defeats a dungeon only to die in some random village.”
Rohl only chuckled lightly as he moved to hug her once again “I promise, I will be careful. I don’t want to lose you either.”
“Good, you don’t have to worry about losing me, I’m actually competent, now stop wasting time and let's go,” Ell said pulling away from the hug, with one last meaningful glance, she ducked out of the room. Rohl right behind her.