After leaving the warehouse behind Scarlett and Kat brought the kids to the carriages that Scarlett had prepared with Garside's help beforehand. It was a bit tight—fitting approximately thirty scared children into four carriages was a challenge—but none of the kids caused any problems. It turned out barely any of them even spoke English—or 'Modern Imperial' as it was called in this world—but instead spoke Voneian. It made sense, considering they were supposedly taken from the kingdom of Voenia that lay to the empire's west. Despite this, all of them seemed to already trust Kat and look at her as if she was some kind of savior. Which, technically, she was.

The servants back at the mansions all looked to be in a state of panic when Scarlett returned along with a cluster of kids that she told them to care of for the moment. Luckily Garside took charge of the situation and looked to have a decent handle on things.

"I will ensure the children are safe and fed until you return, my Lady," he said with a bow as she and Kat moved into another carriage and were about to leave. Some of the children didn't seem to take to being left at a strange place particularly well but the servants managed to calm them down. It turned out that the black-haired servant woman that Scarlett had first met—Scarlett finally overheard her being called Molly by another servant—knew Voneian. She also seemed used to caring for children which made things easier for Scarlett. She would have to figure out exactly how to deal with that particular problem later on. It wasn't her current priority.

"I entrust the matter to you for now," Scarlett said to Garside right before telling the coach to get the carriage moving. The Hartford's mansion was situated at the northern edge of Freybrook, close to the city's outermost walls. The whole area was mainly occupied by different large mansions — each with large grounds surrounding them. In that Freybrook was much more of a 'traditional' city in this world. Scarlett remembered that many of the 'younger' cities in the game were much more compact in their design compared to Freybrook. The only cities that were larger area-wise were probably Elystead—the Imperial Capital—and Windgrove, though that was just a rough estimate from her experience in the game.

It was still dark as they left the more affluent districts of the city behind and moved into its less prosperous regions. 'Slums' might be too strong of a word, but the conditions of the houses around them dwindled considerably. The streets around here weren't cobbled stone, but rather dirt, and it was clear they hadn't been designed for carriages to pass through them. At several points their driver had to stop the carriage in order to maneuver it through particularly tight spaces where the houses had been built too close to each other. Many of the buildings were also two or more floors high and blocked much of the sky from sight made Scarlett feel almost closed in. It didn't help that some of the buildings were leaning slightly towards the road in a way she was deeply uncomfortable with. It was abundantly clear safety regulations weren't common practice around here.

Eventually their carriage stopped in front of a small building crammed in between two others with a sign that read 'Snow-shod' and had the image of a dead fish on it.

"You may want to cover yourself once more," Scarlett said to Kat as the woman was about to leave the carriage. The Shielder looked back at her for a moment, before sighing and pulling up her hood as well as the black mask from her pocket. She then stepped out of the carriage and Scarlett followed right after. The mask and hood were really only there to make Kat seem more threatening. Scarlett had thought that would make it easier for her to sell her act. Although that wasn't really as important anymore.

After giving a command to the coach driver to wait nearby she stepped up to the building's old wooden door.
"Shouldn't you let me go first?" Kat asked.

"No. Stay behind me for now," Scarlett said before she opened the door and walked in. The place was cramped, the only light inside coming from a small lantern standing on a counter where a large man with greying hair leaned against a chair with a beaten book in his hands. He looked up at them, his eyes staying on Kat's hooded appearance for several seconds.

"What ya want?" His voice came out as a hoarse grumble.

Scarlett locked her sight on the man and walked up to the counter. "We are seeking a King Fisher."

The man's gaze shifted from Kat to Scarlett. "...Who sent ya?"

"No one. We are here by my accord."

He examined her for a while. "...Fine," he eventually grumbled and stood up. "Not that it matters to me what you fancy ladies get up to."

He walked over to an old bookshelf standing next to the wall and put his weight against it. Wood scraping against wood creaked across the room as he pushed the shelf aside to reveal a closed door. He took out a key and unlocked it. On the other side was a stairway that led down. The man gestured for them to enter and immediately closed the door behind them after they did. Not long after Scarlett heard the sound of the bookshelf being pushed back to its original position.

"I hope you know what you're doing," she heard Kat mumble from the side. Scarlett ignored it for now and descended the stairs. There was another door at the bottom. As she opened it, her nose was assaulted by a strong dank smell. These were the underground waterways and sewers that passed beneath parts of Freybrook and carried its sewage out towards the sea. It didn't smell as bad as one might expect sewers to do, but it still wasn't a smell she preferred. Especially not with the original Scarlett's added propensities.

In front of them was an arched stone tunnel that led both to their right and left, with two walkways on either side of the tunnels and water running in the middle. It was very much like the classical sewers one saw in games. Although not always what one might expect from a medieval-esque world. But in many ways this world was only medieval in appearance, sharing many more features with later time periods as far as Scarlett was aware.

She looked to the right and the left. There were lights further down to the right. In the game, Stoolie's Nest had never been far from the entrance. Despite often changing locations, they obviously still followed some patterns.

They began moving towards the light further down the walkway. Their steps echoed throughout the tunnel, only accompanied by the constant sound of running water. Eventually, they reached an intersection where the tunnel split in three directions. The light they'd seen came from a small lantern hanging from a hook on the wall next to them, but Scarlett spotted another faint light further down one of the tunnels. She created a small flame in the air before her and used it to light their way as they continued down that tunnel. Before long they reached another lantern hanging from a hook on the wall next to a worn door. It seemed they had arrived.

Scarlett turned to look at Kat. "Are you prepared?" She gestured towards the door. "There will be a large number of opponents on the other side. I do not think any will prove to be a problem for you, but I do not want you to make a mistake due to carelessness." After all, any mistakes on Kat's part would affect her too. Taking care of these people quickly was integral to her being able to live in this world without being branded a criminal.

Kat simply nodded her head. "I'm ready all right. If anything I'm gonna have a hard time holding back against these bastards."
Well, Scarlett couldn't fault her for that. Though she didn't feel too much just from watching the state the children had been in, it was still a pretty terrible situation by any standards. She wagered her old self would have been even more mortified.

"Very well. Then let's continue," she said.


About the author



Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In