Dreamweaver Chapter 193 Part B
Lyra POV six hours later…
Somehow this odd somewhat too enthusiastic witch girl managed to help us get into the dwarven citadel.
Now we’re at the inn, we managed to slip inside the dwarven city fortress inside the mountain with the blessing of the guards over our entry passes but it wasn’t easy. There were a few pieces of gold that made that happen, since they don’t particularly want a lot of people from outside in while under siege. We wouldn’t have made it without this little witch’s help. And yet we still don’t know her name.
All the mercs have died, are too wounded to continue, or have fled. So they are pretty much disbanded. Now only me and my two remaining living apprentices are left.
We technically had two of them left but what’s the point? The only two left were also both thieves and didn’t do any real work, except cause trouble. Plus I’d seen the way they’d been ogling me, and feared for them sneaking up on me in the dark when I was asleep.
We’d settled at a table in the corner to eat a dish of potatoes and gravy, some greens, and some dwarven beer. Dwarves always included beer with meals, but you could ask for boiled water instead if you preferred. But it’s dwarven beer you know? And having it inside a dwarven city is like saying I am somebody and I’m experiencing it in the true way. We’re not tourists of course, but this is kind of fun. It has a strange spicy additive to it sprinkled over the top.
As we’re waiting Jules and Edouard are getting antsy and nervous.
“Why are we meeting this girl again?” Jules asked.
“She said she’d help us if we help her. We made a deal,” I said.
“But dude, she looks like she’s like fifteen or something. Who knows what kinds of goose chases that will mean,” Jules said, clearly upset.
“She’s a witch; they always look younger than they actually are. Even when she’s like five hundred she’ll still look like a young fifteen year old. Hell she’s probably twice our ages already,” Edouard countered.
“Hmm, I didn’t know that,” I said.
“It’s true. I’ve met one once…not willingly of course,” he countered.
“I’ve heard things. As a race they supposedly all suffer from a condition related to growth effects or something. I’ve heard of it but this was my first time seeing one up close,” I said while sipping my drink. I’d asked for hot water instead of beer because I was worried about people sneaking up on me at night.
“Eh? So it’s true?” Jules asked.
“Yep, you can ask mages if you want,” Edouard said.
Jules doesn’t like having to take Edouard’s word because they are rivals but I can’t really confirm it either way.
“How do you know our goals will work with hers? We’re here on a mission!” Jules said.
Jules is actually good to have along because he stays centered on the mission. But this is like the one time it’s not working in our favor. Beside both of us Edouard is more reserved and quiet. He will go along with what I decide either way.
“You pitched this and sold it as a valid mission to the higher ups. We have to stay on track because we took money from the government!” Jules insisted.
“Chill out. We will accomplish the mission,” I said.
“Oh what’s this about a mission?” the girly voice said to us suddenly. We’re all a bit surprised.
“Shit, how’d you do that?” Edouard is spooked.
“…came out of nowhere…” I heard Jules mutter.
I’m spooked too but didn’t show it.
The little witch is leaning on her elbows against the table while looking at us playfully while kicking her heels back and forth. Somehow she got here really fast. Was it magic, or just agility and trickery?
“Good you made it,” I said. I beckoned for her to sit down next to us.
“It was so much work getting all those boulders back in my bag. And then more orcs came to play,” she said still smiling.
“Hope it worked out for you,” Edouard said diplomatically.
“We’re glad you could join us,” I said.
“Wow, so polite. Yes it did thank you,” she curtsied and did a slight bow.
“We don’t think our goals are compatible,” Jules insisted fiercely.
“I didn’t say that,” I said.
“But we took state money Lyra!” he shot back.
“Hey you are getting too big for your britches. You need to listen to your superior officers. We can do this more than one way. There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” I said.
“Speaking of which…these are bad kitties. I need discipline one of them,” the witch girl said while lightly slapping the heads of the tied up cats hanging from her belt. They look half strangled, with some nooses around her necks while hanging out of her overly large…I think it’s either a big purse or a traveler’s satchel made of leather with a shoulder strap of some kind.
That’s weird…seriously freaking weird. Why does she do that to them? They almost look like they are prisoners.
She looks up realizing we’re all watching her.
“Oh right. Nice to meet you. My name is Lula,” she said offering her hand to shake with us. She has really small and slender arms and hands like the rest of her. But she is very pretty in her own way, with a huge black witch hat hanging over her head.
One by one she shook our hands while wearing a really wonderful bright smile and energetic look. When shaking my hand she put both her hands on it to show extra warmth. But Edouard was extra polite, even doing a little bow which made her laugh.
It’s a bit weird I guess but not bad.
Jules refused to shake hands, such a stubborn guy. Both Edouard and I are frowning at him.
“So are you hungry Lula? We can ask for them to bring you dinner too,” I offered.
“Oh that’d be awesome! Thanks!” she said.
I waved the waitress to come over and ordered a few extra side dishes in case she needed something while waiting for her main dish.
“You know momma won’t let me drink any beer though. She still thinks I’m too young and I passed 57 years old this year,” Lula whispered over the back of her hand.
“That’s…pretty mature I think,” I said with surprise. I’d thought maybe she’d say twenties or thirties based on what I felt from emotional maturity, but not 57. Perhaps I was still underestimating this species.
“Told ya’,” Edouard said to Jules.
“Fine…” I heard Jules mutter.
“What’s wrong with him?” Lula asked me, jerking a thumb at Jules who is scowling big with his arms crossed.
“He’s daddy’s only son and a momma’s boy…” I started to say but was interrupted. The other two began giggling while Jules squirmed with an angry look.
“Hey, that’s not fair,” Jules started.
“I mean he’s just goal oriented. He’s worried about if we’ll accomplish our objective if we help each other,” I corrected.
“Waitress, I’d like two big huge plates full of potatoes and gravy, and boiled water with only 25% beer in it. And don’t tell momma,” the witch winked at the waitress.
“Ok….” The waitress looked confused, but I nodded that it was OK.
We did small talk for a bit while watching Lula eat.
She eats like a pig. That was the first thing I noticed. Despite being so small she looks almost emaciated skinny she’s eating like for three grown men and inhaled tons of food. Somehow she kept the potatoes and gravy off her face but that was miraculous too while having terrible table manners with her elbows almost always on the table. Then she even ordered seconds off both plates and burped like a dwarf.
Jules has wide eyes and even Edouard is a bit surprised.
We all stared in silence while she ate. Partly that was to try to figure out what she wants and how she thinks though.
“Oh damn that was good!” she said quickly. She patted her tummy when she was done but there was nothing there that was sticking out; which I couldn’t believe.
Now that I have a better look at her she looks like she’s about 15 and she’s about just over five feet. She does show some signs of sexual characteristics from becoming an adult. Witches are definitely a bit different than other species. Instead of having two genders, they only have one, which has to mate with humans, dwarves, or others to produce offspring.
At least that’s what the rumors say. I haven’t confirmed it.
“So are you ready to talk business?” I asked.
I was a bit nervous to bring it up but it’s better to get it over with.
Lula smiled broadly. “Good, I like that. I like honesty too. So this should be fine.”
“This isn’t a good idea,” Jules reminded me.
“Quiet,” Edouard said.
“What are you looking for?” I asked her.
Somehow her smile got even bigger, “I’m not looking for wealth or money. But what I am looking for is my fiancé. He turned up missing a few days ago. I need help finding him.”
“Ahh, that’s terrible,” I exclaimed.
“Was he kidnapped?” Jules suddenly is ready to go for this.
“I’m not entirely sure, but I think so,” she answered.
“How can you not be sure, but still thing he’s kidnapped?” Edouard mused.
“It’s difficult to explain. Mother was part of why this mess happened. That stupid cunt whore…” my ears bled almost from a tirade of swearing that lasted ten seconds.
“So basically I can ensure your safety and keep you alive but I need hunting and tracking skills to find my fiancé,” she summed up.
Anyone would feel bad when someone said their fiancé or engaged person would disappear.
“It is. And I have to do this before momma interferes too, which is why I’d like some hired muscle to help out along the way too,” she said seriously with big blue beautiful eyes.
Wow…she’s so cute…I mean I don’t swing that way but this girl is really something.
“Wait, your mother doesn’t know you are aware of all of this?” Jules said.
“Dude, she said she’s 57. Years. Old. Get it?” Edouard said.
“But…it’s her mother…” Jules started to say, making us all tired of him talking.
“You have to understand witch mothers can be very, very protective. Like her finding out you talked to me just like this might be…bad. Let’s just say it could turn out kind of bad,” Lula said.
I noticed both Edouard and Jules suddenly look very worried.
“And your mother is OK with us helping you?” I asked carefully.
“Oh she’ll be fine with it, but that’s fishy by itself. She seemed to want me to find him but she’s not wanted me to have a man before. So something is up with that. It’s about the results really. I’ll just wait to tell her once it’s all over and I’m safe. Plus she has like sis sisters for seven of them total. And all of them powerful but cranky; getting what you want all the time doesn’t really make them responsible you know? You know how it is,” Lula said, still smiling.
“This sounds…dangerous,” Edouard hinted to me carefully.
“Are you sure you’re 57?” Jules asked her.
“I’ll even tell you that under truth serum or an anti-lie enchant if you want,” Lula said trying to disarm him with those pretty eyes.
“That’s OK, we believe you,” Edouard said. But Edouard might just be going with the flow and not to sincere. But I like him to be a bit skeptical instead of being gullible. This is a good chance for them to learn about other races too.
“Well I guess it doesn’t matter too much. What matters is if you do your best and try to live honest,” I said.
“I know right! I knew picking you would be good when I saw you fighting orcs!” she said wrapping her arms around me in an impulsive hug. She still seems kind of innocent in a way. It’s kind of interesting, and I’m trying to not let it emotionally affect me. I tapped her back to complete the hug more from fear of making her getting angry than anything else.
I’d hear rumors crossing witches was dangerous and now I am seeing it for the first time. They’re politics are strange.
She withdrew from the hug immediately.
“So you are looking for your fiancé? Any leads?” I asked again.
“Yeah, I’m worried momma frightened him away. She can be so overbearing. She keeps getting this Witch’s Kingdom nonsense in her head sometimes and that causes problems like you wouldn’t believe,” Lula rolled her eyes.
“I thought Witch’s Kingdom was just a rumor,” Edouard said.
“Nope, it’s real. And it’s happening. But it’s kind of a secret still,” she stuck her tongue out at him playfully.
“If it’s a secret you shouldn’t tell us,” I said.
Then she drank a full picture of the mixture of boiled water and 25% beer, as if it were nothing.
“Well, tell us about the fiancé, who is he? Do you know where he went?” I asked.
I wonder how big a job this is anyway? It never hurts to talk about goals and problems with people anyway. But Jules is giving me an angry ‘reject her’ look.
“Well…that’s the thing…there was some kind of misunderstanding with the dwarven city guards. They seem to think he’s a demon or something but I know that isn’t true,” Lula said innocently.
“Ahh fuck,” Edouard and Jules both are freaking out now.
It also made my head spin. I had to stop and calm myself before I said something stupid.
“Don’t worry he’s not, I promise. Besides I’d know it if that were the case,” she said.
“And how are you sure he’s not a demon?” I asked her.
“Well I smelled fairy or fairy magic on him. So if he’s a demon there’s no way I’d smell that right?” Lula said.
Wait, this is even weirder than I thought. She kind of has a point.
“You can smell magic?” I asked.
I’m curious; does that mean all witches can smell magic?
“Well, duh, all witches can smell magic. We’re attuned to it more than others are. Even mages can’t smell it as much as we can. My fiancé does smell a bit like fairy magic but he also smells like demon magic too. So I find it confusing because they both can’t coexist like that,” Lula is rambling with her thoughts aloud.
Wait,…if he does smell like demon magic, the Gaia church would mandate that I execute him. I mean smelling of demon magic means a demon right? And the church of Gaia has a lot of sponsorship in the Vyskland knights and our Vyskland Empire.
This is confusing.
“How can both types of magic be smelled on one person?” Edouard asked calmly. I can see his eyes showing he’s thinking deeply about this too but very concerned.
We also can’t risk rescuing a demon.
“Well my nose never lies you know. I’m sure I smelled both. I’m sure I’m not wrong. Plus you guys owe me you know? I hope you don’t think I’m being rude by saying that but I do need to get the point across that I need help and you guys would be dead or captured by orcs if I hadn’t saved you,” Lula said factually.
Her tied up cats suddenly growled.
“Shut up you!” she said slapping the cat’s head lightly. Damn, she kind of hit its head kind of hard.
What a weird girl.
“Who is your mother again? Do we know her?” Jules asked.
“I doubt you’ve ever heard of Lottie before. She’s never been to Vyskland. And that’s pretty far from here. But lots of people have heard of her, but probably not in a good way,” she said with an embarrassed laugh. She changed the subject quickly after that commenting on how great the food was.
Lottie huh? I wonder if we can get some information from the dwarves on her?
“So the fiancé is he close by? Where was he last you saw him?” Edouard asked carefully.
She shrugged. “Momma was coming by for another payment when he was gone. I think she meant my dowry right? But I’m not clear on that either. Then we found out he was arrested with one of his bodyguards or something? I can’t quite get that straight. But they seem to think one of his bodyguards is a vampire but when I saw him and was…you know following him around I never saw any vampires with him. And I can smell vampires too. So the vampire thing checked out but you probably don’t need to hear all about my troubles. I’ll deal with the vampire so you don’t have to worry. Like I’d let some undead skank take my man. That cunt whore…” she started swearing again.
“Fuck?!” Jules stood up sharply in surprise.
Tables around us are suddenly looking at us.
“Dude, don’t reveal our business,” Edouard said to him.
“Stay calm Jules,” I barked.
I was a bit unnerved by mention of a vamp too, actually but held it in. They are really hard for normal humans to take care of.
“Sorry. But…vampires? Can you imagine? They are so bold out here they don’t even hide. Up in the Vyskland Empire they are there too but more subtle you know.” Jules leaned in to say. “We are unequipped to deal with those. If I’d had my father’s undead weapons maybe…but I didn’t think there’s be something like that here.”
“I don’t want to fight a vampire,” Edouard said.
“Vampires are difficult to deal with. And you shouldn’t even think about toying with one. They are absolutely too dangerous even for you,” I said to Lula.
Lula doesn’t look nervous at all but still playful. I don’t get that. Why isn’t she nervous about it?
“This job keeps getting stranger with every minute,” Edouard grumbled while sipping another shot of beer.
“Well it’ll pay the bills. Naturally I can contribute to the campaign funds so don’t worry. I’ll see you guys have enough to get more soldiers and if you need to go back to the Vyskland Empire when this is all over I can arrange transportation too!” she said happily while giggling.
She mentioned a sum of like 50 gold; that definitely made it worthwhile and had our eyes shining with enthusiasm. Hell for that much, I’d jump in a volcano almost. 50 gold is so much you can do tons of stuff with it, and mercenaries are cheap now days too.
“Really? Damn, that’s a good deal,” Jules said.
“Yeah and after this that would be enough funds for us to resume our search for our primary target,” I concluded. The other two are now in agreement.
This girl is kind of twitterpated with love. Doesn’t she see being with a vampire might compromise her fiancé? Love is sweet, but this one has the potential to go bad on several different levels. What if the vamp changes her fiancé? What if they accidentally hurt the naïve Lula? What if the guards execute him for being a demon?
She keeps getting like too happy and smiley like a person in love while she’s talking to us. She’s got it bad.
A bigger what if…what if Lottie, the mother takes her anger out on others? Lottie could take her anger out on us, or the dwarves, or probably both. And if Lula can drop huge mountain boulders bigger than people on orcs, then how much more powerful is her mother, who has been alive for centuries?
I should turn it down anyway. There was a different reason for me coming here, a much more urgent pressing purpose.
The reason I’d spent the last few months coming down here from Vyskland was…
One day not too long ago I’d gone into the adventurer’s guild to turn in a bounty after getting down to the 11th floor of a particular dungeon with our team. I’d slain some were beasts, which have a pretty good bounty for the pelts.
As usual when I’m turning in the bounties they asked for my adventurer’s license to verify my identity.
So I gave it to them.
“Huh, that’s odd. I didn’t know you were an apprentice to someone, Lyra,” the guild receptionist girl said.
“What? What are you talking about?”
“Well you know…your license,” she said bashfully.
“What about my license? What are you saying?” I hadn’t ever told her about that before. So what’s going on?
“Yeah, it has it right here on your adventurer’s license,” she said and pointed it out to me, holding it up for me to see.
I snatched it out of her hands, which probably confused the hell out of her even more. I stare at it. “What the fuck?!” I exclaimed.
Looking at my adventurers license I can see it there. Of course the skills section is self viewable only; others don’t see that part. They do see the teaming restrictions, master, and apprentice parts though.
Dungeon Teaming Restrictions; None; Leadership & Team Leader for dungeons options unlocked
Magic skills; Limited 1/day Paladin minor limited heal, Knight Supremacy (limited combat/non-mage technique), Guard hybrid magic style (limited non-mage style), damage mitigation (limited non-mage technique, ki channeled injury prevention)
Specialty; Close combat fighter, bodyguard style fighting style focus
Apprentice(s); Jules, Edouard, Sykes (currently KIA but wasn’t at the time)
Spouse or next of kin; N/A
My shock was so great I couldn’t speak for almost a full ten seconds.
Sunghee is alive?! Oh my gosh! Master! Where are you?!
This whole time Sunghee was alive and I hadn’t known it. Hell, there was no way I’d be able to know. Why had it been blank this whole time?!
It took me a few minutes to think clearly on it. Somehow the license magic worked to show the slots in real time. Normally if someone is gone from this world or dead, then if they are a master, apprentice, or listed family member the name will disappear. So if Sykes were killed which he was…for about a month it would read his name but show ‘KIA’ next to it. Then after a month it would disappear. I still remember the day when my master slot disappeared. It hadn’t said KIA, and I hadn’t been disowned as a student either…that does a different message too. That was why I’d been so depressed. I thought I’d been disowned as an apprentice, but then I’d realized that conclusion was wrong too. But I’d never solved the mystery all these years and it’d left me with a bleeding heart.
There was no warning and no explanation, except people that I’d consulted believed maybe the body had been dissolved disrupting the KIA status message when she’d been killed. But that didn’t make sense either. And her disappearing from the world didn’t make sense because I’d not heard of magic that strong anytime in the last millennia.
But she wasn’t killed; now I can see. And it’s confirmed.
But for what like nearly ten years the master slot on my adventurer license had been blank and empty just like my heart. It’s blank when your people are dead or if there’s nothing there. For years I’d thought Sunghee was dead.
Sunghee had saved me from the gutter, teaching me, an orphan to train to do something with my life. I had no skills and been living by finding stale bread rinds from trash while trying to survive in the city when she’d found me and taught me how to fight out of pity. I’d also even gone through a faze where I’d fought with wild dogs in the city for scraps.
All that I had become had been due to Sunghee’s mercy in saving me from a fate worse than death.
And somehow the geomancer mage I’d hired had given me one location as to where she was, after I got someone who could do person detections via long distance. This dwarven fortress, the capital of their southern province in an orc infested battleground was where he’d pointed it out to me that had taken all this time to get here.
Somehow I had to find Master Sunghee. I just couldn’t let her go.
Lula is still chatting while my mind is racing thinking of my next move.
It’s regrettable but it sounds like Lula’s job is bigger than my current problem so I’ll have to reject it.
“You know I’m curious, I’ve heard that you witch’s have a way of capturing people’s pictures on mirrors to preserve it like a painting,” Edouard said suddenly.
“Huh? We don’t have time to talk about that,” I said.
“Oh it can’t hurt. Be a sport,” he said.
“Well now that you mention it. I do have a few mirror pieces of my hubby,” Lula said.
“You do?!” Edouard said. I forgot that he has a fascination for magic artifacts. I’ll probably have to drag him away from the girl when we’re done. His curiosity will bury him.
“I’m kind of curious what kind of guy he is,” Jules admitted.
I’m curious too but masking my emotions and thoughts from her.
“Let me see here. I have a couple of them actually in my bag,” she said. She reached down and began fishing some stuff out of her satchel. It was the same satchel that held all those boulders in it; so it has to be some kind of extra dimensional pocket sets or something with several of them linked together.
“We really should get going…” I started to say.
“Oh just wait a minute please!” Lula said.
She then pulled out several hand mirrors on the table made of some kind of perfect looking glass. Each of them does have pictures on them frozen in time. I’ve never seen this before so it’s pretty freaking spooky. She’s got tons of them actually, most of them taken from behind.
“What the hell?!” Jules said.
“Wow, amazing!” Edouard said.
She placed about a dozen of them on the table as she passed them out for us to look at.
Edouard of course picked up his first and is sifting through them. “Amazing! It looks just like we’re right there with them!”
“This is amazing magic!” I said.
“Let me see that,” Jules said doubtfully. But he wants to see too.
They are both looking at them but I’m too tired. I yawned as I leaned back on my chair. I so need to sleep right now.
“That’s funny, how come all these pictures are taken like you are following this guy around?” Edouard said. He’s gone through like five of them with almost the same view.
“Huh, yeah I don’t see any of you two together. Instead he’s like with these other girls. Wow that one’s a hottie,” Jules said.
“Oh that’s just a game we play,” Lula blushed excitedly.
This is weird. Why does she take pictures of her fiancé with other girls? Is he disloyal? I’m confused. Surely she’s seen this as a threat if he’s with other girls.
“Really? What game?” Edouard asked again curiously as he tries to keep the mirrors from Jules to look at for himself.
Jules frowned and only got one to look at, which he does and waves his hand in back. He’s distrustful of magic and trying to make sure it’s not some trick with a window into some other place. “They’re like frozen in there huh?”
We ignored his dumb comment.
“Oh…you know just a game, haha,” Lula laughed nervously.
Something else is off… why is she nervous?
“I like playing games too. We used to play kick the bottle when I was a kid on my street. Is it like that?” Edouard is getting into this. He keeps roving over the pictures while I stare at the ceiling so sleepy like I wonder if I’ll make it back to my room.
“Just a hide and seek game you know,” Lula laughed again with her cheeks really pink. She is still kicking back and forth on her chair.
“Well that looks fun. But you know all of these are like the back view. Don’t you have any front view pictures?” Edouard finally asked.
“What?” I said. This has my interest. I glanced at her, and then at Edouard.
“So far I’ve only seen 11 of the glass mirror frozen time picture whatevers…but every single one is like she took it from anywhere from 30 to 50 feet behind them while walking,” Edouard mused as he’s trying to figure out its meaning.
I bolted upright and then looked at Lula.
She’s got a very obviously forced smile and is hiding something. She gulped when I stared at her. Then I glanced down at the pictures.
Ahh…she’s a stalker isn’t she?
Every single one of these is some guy in the center of the picture with others walking with him.
Yep, it’s confirmed; Lula is stalking this guy.
Still…I haven’t gotten a good look at the mirrors yet while Lula is trying to force a normal happy look on her face. She’s obviously hoping that Edouard and the rest of us won’t notice she’s a serial stalker. This girl seemed weird from the beginning. I should have realized it sooner. The guy she’s following is probably already married…
My hand snatched the glass mirror pic from Edouard’s hand.
“What’ the big idea?!” he snarled.
I ignored him and stared at the pic as my heart froze.
The one I’d snatched from Edouard was the closest view you could find.
“It can’t be!?!” I exclaimed.
There in the center of the glass mirror picture…it’s Sunghee! I almost fell off my chair. Sunghee is to the left walking with the guy in the middle. And to the right is another girl that looks like a similar country of orgin as Sunghee. Actually all three of them look oriental but oriental origins were rumored to not come from this world, but nobody knows where they came from.
I’d almost missed it since most of the pictures are from the back view. But there was just this one where Sunghee’s face was turned sideways.
Lula is stalking the man travelling with Sunghee? This …is the weirdest coincidence I’ve ever seen in my life!
“We’ll do it!” I shouted so loudly the whole inn heard me.
“Master? But we already have a goal?” Jules exclaimed in shock.
Edouard is going with the flow but still shocked at my sudden acceptance to help Lula.
“Yay! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Lula is so excited she’s jumping up and down while shaking those two tied up cats hanging from her belt, which makes them growl more where they’d been trying to be quiet before.
I’ll do this and drag them back from hell, even if Lula is a stalker.
Finally a lead on Sunghee!