“So Argos how do you feel that Kross is training Ash on sneaky stuff.” Snowy asks slight alarmed by the hours of silence they have been sitting in.
Argos only grunts in response, his arms crossed as he paces back an forth in clear frustration over the idea. Snowy wonders what will come of this as Argos seemed the very protective type. Learning the tricks of the stealing and conning trade were not skills he believed were valuable to learn.
Snowy with a friendly tone,”How about you teach me something? Like how to summon a creature, cast a spell, or forage for good things to eat?”
Argos in a kind tone to her offer responds pleasantly before returning to his grumpy disposition,” Sorry little one I do not mess with spells or summoning and have learned if it is bigger than a human you can eat it without much harm just might not taste good. ”
“Oh…okay…” Snowy says looking around in random directions trying to come up with a way to connect with the large man.
“WHO STOLE MY STASH?” Chuck yells as Grendel plops a squat by Argos and Snowy, holding a fine bottle of Black Diamond Liqueur. He winks to both of them before taking a swig the offering it Argos, who takes the bottle and finishes it in few large gulps before handing it back to the dwarf who was impressed but saddened by scene he had just witnessed.
Chuck storms up seeing the bottle in Grendel’s hand and before Grendel could say a word Chuck snatches the bottle and turns it upside down above his mouth. Only one drop falls out and throws the bottle with all his force at Grendel who goes to catch it but misses and the bottle smashes him in the face shattering. Grendel now pissed stands up and charges at the monk, who welcomes him with open arms. They begin to wrestle on the ground and Argos just shakes his head as the booze begins to hit him.
The sun finally falls behind the horizon giving off a mesmerizing colorful sky before it head down for dark. Snowy shivers as Argos adds another log to a small fire.
“Argos, don’t think that is a good idea, when Kross and I travel we put the fires out at sunset do to wondering bandits.” She states then repeats one thing that Kross always says,” No sense in fighting if it can easily be avoided by taking precautionary measures. ”
“No one will mess with us, one look at me and most people are discouraged.” Argos says also stating a reality of his own.
Snowy nods but places her hand in her pocket and wraps it around her wand just in case, it was at this moment she felt the cold steal of a blade gently land on her throat. She looks down for a moment lowering her head just a bit before slamming it backwards connecting her skull into the soft nose of her attacker.
Ash lets out a yell as Kross starts laughing. Argos glares at the commotion he just witness he stands and rushes over to Ash who still has her knife to Snowy’s throat.
Ash releases Snowy as Kross begins clapping.
“Good job both of you! Ash that is how you sneak up on someone and good Gods Snowy nice head butt nice to see you listen to some of the things I tried to teach ya. ” Kross says proudly. Chuck and Grendel still throwing fists roll past the group.
“Kross a word…”Argos eyes scream anger as Kross sizes up the future conversation and with a sigh he nods to Argos. They step just out of ear shot before Argos begins again,” Why do you feel you have the right to corrupt that child into a horrid form of living. ”
Kross holds back a chuckle, but returns a serious toned response,” It is very simple boy scout. This is the real world not some small village on the ass end of the human realm. The world is cruel and full of assholes like myself. Teaching them the same tactics means they will not fall for the tricks that gets many people injured or killed. You can not protect yourself from what you know nothing about. Honor will always get you killed in a world where honor is no longer valued. Besides she has a knack for it, with some training and practice she could very will become better than I ever hoped. ”
“Honor may get you killed on this plane but you will live again among the Gods. Either in the fires of Hades or dine at the table with Zeus. Dying with honor is the best anyone can hope for. Your warped view on life shall not be allowed to spread to the younglings. It is I request you stop your training, and keep your mouth shut about the cruelties of the world for Ash fate is not for you to decide.”Argos barks back
“Look big guy, I can’t expect you to listen to reason but Ash is not a child anymore they are 20 years old. If they were still apart of their clans they would be up for being married off. They may look like 12 year old humans but they are not. Just look how Snowy reacted, she could have just died while you were sitting right there had Ash been a villain.”
“Ash never should have attacked Snowy, your ways are already turning her into a monster yet you sit there and tell me there is nothing wrong with it. It is better to live short life of honor and rejoice in Olympus than a long life of corruption which leads to an eternity beyond the river Styx in the underworld. ”
“Ash only attacked because I told her to show off what she had learned, all the while knowing Snowy knew how to handle the situation. If that was real Snowy would still be alive, as for Ash if it had happened to her she would be dead or worse. Wake up teaching her survival skills is not turning her into a monster just a more efficient survivor. Its up to her to decide how to use the skills you honor absorbed moron. How about you just teach her the difference between right and wrong and leave the skills for me. ”
Kross storms off towards the girls smiling and giving them praise. They smile and Argos remains away from the camp feeling his heart break watching Ash smile. It had been some time since he saw her smile as bright as Ash did; even with a bit of blood coming from her nose do to the effective strike given by Snowy.
“Tomorrow we shall hit Royal Kingdom of Glory, Snowy I hope you can take Ash around and teach her the things I have taught you to look out for, but do not attack only observe and report. ” Kross says with a bit of cheer and the girls giggle excitedly.
Kross begins putting out the fire as Argos shakes his head watching the sky he prays for guidance and the strength to tolerate Kross. Kross helps the girls onto the wagon. They climb into some empty food sacks and Kross covers them up with a few more and his cloak. He turns as Chuck runs past holding a large pipe with Grendel right behind him. Kross smiles at this as he begins to think being part of a group may not be as terrible as he once believed. Kross sets himself up a place to rest under the wagon and closes his eyes.
Morning comes with Kross opening his eyes into the bushy beard of a snoring Grendel which causes him to shoot up startled and bash his head on the bottom of the wagon waking up both the girls above. “Fuck…” he mutters as he slides out from below Argos has already attached the Ox to the front of the wagon. As well as secured the campsite for travel. The sun was just rising and Chuck limp body was tossed over the ox as Kross told the girls to look away as he pissed by the wagon guiding it down to Grendel. Few moments pass before another thud is heard and Grendel rolls out from under there, part half of his face and beard wet with urine.
“If we leave now we can make it too the kingdom by noon. The market will be fresh for supplies and trade.” Argos says plainly as he checks to make sure the remaining supplies are in good order.
Chuck slips off the ox standing briefly before falling down backwards. The collision with his head and the ground brings him around. He sits up abruptly and scratches his bald head a moment before standing. He walks off over to a tree and moves a rock. Under the rock are several dead rabbit pelts as well as a wolf hide. He tosses them onto the cart.
“Should bring me some trade. Though I may not indulge in the lunacy of currency trade shall always be the proper way to gather what you need and desire. You dwarf shall learn the truth of Burntfriars Holy Reserve. When you can not quell the sin within, drown it with the the Holy Reserve.” He says with overwhelming cheer first thing in the morning. Grendel meanwhile is currently poring his water supply over his face. Grendel shakes the excess water off best he can before grabbing a dirty shirt to wipe his face off. Kross goes to walk past Grendel and Grendel shoves his canteen into Kross’s crotch. The sudden and surprising attack catches Kross off guard and drops him to his knees.
“Yeah well Black Diamond will always be the strongest in all the realms…it is known.” Grendel barks back before climbing onto the cart. Argos slaps the ox on the ass and it slowly trudges forward. Chuck begins walking beside the cart continuing his conversation with Grendel. The girls eat some apples and start making plans for when they hit the city. Kross however has fallen forward, his face in the mud that he created earlier with his ass in the air and his hands still holding Grendel’s Canteen where Grendel had placed it.
Hours pass and they all arrive at the Kingdom of Glory who had stone and steel in their walls which were as thick as the wagon. They enter through the gate Solders on patrols were seen constantly throughout the city. Passing by a brothel they hear some provocative sounds. Next to it was a tavern as well as small shops and homes litter the area. Heading toward the center of town they hit the free market where over 100 markets create many lines. There seemed to be an order and flow to the city which brought them to a stage. There was no play currently but people had begun to pile in.
“O THE GODS A PLAY!!” Snowy shrieks. Snowy had seen few plays before and her excitement was impossible to contain. Ash having only heard of them was mildly intreged but showed zero interest.
Kross sees the gleam in Snowy knowing full well that she will want to stay. Kross stops the wagon and waves everyone over to set up the plan for the rest of the day.
Kross begins” Snowy I know you want to stay here for the play but we have other matters to attend to. Slavers in the area would quickly snatch up a young elf we do not have the time to waste right now. Ash you and Snowy should wear your hoods still we finish selling and trading.”
Agros sighs as he hears Snowy begin to whine,”But but Ash and I can work on our skills. You know Kross observe and report, also perhaps gather some coin. ” She states hoping that her statement can persuade him.
Kross leers at Snowy a moment,” I can not leave you two here alone encase something goes wrong.”
Grendel speaks up,” I’ll be happy to watch over them besides it would be hilarious to see what the hell humans think is entertainment.Once the play is over I shall bring them to the tavern and you can take them from there. I shall head to the King my nobility will allow for me to gain an audience with him perhaps they have more information over the location of a God.”
Grendel’s offer makes Snowy’s eyes widen as she gives Kross pretty please glare. Kross looks over at the dwarf for a moment. The nobility on his armor would allow him to keep the girls out of trouble as well as speak to the King. He reluctantly nods.
“Well that’s just like you Grendel as soon as we get to my realm you decide to chicken out of gaining Burntfriar Holy Reserve. Guess that means it left to me to restock our top shelf. “Chuck grunts but smiling slightly at the fact Grendel is willing to look after the girls.
Grendel tosses a coin purse to Chuck to use along with his pelts for supplies.
“I shall hit the market and sell off our goods then I would like to meet up with the king as well, Grendel if it is alright may I join your visit?” Argos formally requests.
“Absolutely giant besides a Demi-God making a request for information will only add to the validity of my request” Grendel replies.
“And what shall you do sir Kross?” Argos asks with a tiny amount of hostility.
“Simple I shall talk to the gossip queens of the area and attempt to find out any strange happenings in the area. Perhaps find some work so we can work for lodging.” Kross says knowing that whores and bartenders normally know more than kings and knights about what is truly happening in the city.
Argos shakes his head then starts the wagon back up turning it around and heading to the market. The girls jump down and take off into the crowd gathering around the stage. Grendel now realizes; having already lost them, keeping an eye on the children may be harder than he thought as he takes off shouting at them to slow down.
Chuck struts off towards the largest temple in town to find the friars who create the best gin the world has to offer. Kross meanwhile heads off to the brothel fiddling with the coins in his pocket he carefully increases the amount in it as he gently bumps into the occasional well off peasant.
“Girls where he hell did you go. Excuse me, pardon me, excuse me. ” Grendel makes his way through the crowd agitated by the people. Suddenly they begin clapping as a man takes the stage and bows.
“Welcome today we shall perform the play ‘The Great War’. It is not a tale of the history of the world. In the beginning there was only one. The creator the God that gave birth to all we know and shall ever know. You, me, and all the other Gods but also the creator also gave birth to the darklings.” the man pauses as the crowd boos for a moment.” It was the great war that locked these evil beasts away forever behind the doors of The Gate. ” the crowd cheers and he waves them down for silence.” Now I shall set the scene that the great Kings of the past came together for one soul purpose Survival. The Gods gave them favors each mortal race was given skills to defeat the evils that consumed them. The Elves were given magics each of their kingdoms granted a different element. Dwarfs were given the ability to build the gate and the knowledge to unlock the power of gems. Gnomes were given the ability to detect abilities of opponents and healing magics. As humans were given the greatest power of all the ability to harness and adapt to any power and make it our own.”
It was at this point humans dressed as other races enter the stage and begin fake fighting slaying the ones dressed as darklings. Pushing them toward the edge of the stage into “The Gate” which was held by two large men holding thin painted planks of wood. Each beast that jumps off stage and into “The Gate” curses the mortals vowing to return again and seek their revenge.
Snowy and Ash watch in awe having made it to the front with the human children as Grendel struggles to get a decent view. Grendel bumps into a women and falls down as the women remains firmly placed and seems unbothered by Grendel’s intrusion. Grendel has a hard time of getting back up as the women he bumped into removes her hood to reveal bright pink hair. It was at this point she looks away from the stage to see Grendel returning to his feet, she has bright pink eyes and a flawless figure. Her cloak is a gray cloak doesn’t hide her frame as well as the hood hid her face. Hissing at Grendel before turning and exiting the ground knocking people over as she walks just like the wind through the reeds.
Grendel catches a horrid vibe from the women though he was drooling a bit from her beauty, figures she hissed at him because it. He makes his way through the crowd finding Snowy and Ash memorized by the play that continues on with the separation of the kingdoms and how their relationships fell apart.
Kross wonders into the brothel the smell of sweat and sin ripen the air. The lighting was poor and naked women of several races including half breeds slide up and down on random bodies within. The bar tender is a thin very pale man with glasses. The bar tender’s widows peek has shed down to an island of hair on a sea of skin. Kross make his away over to the bar as nude women brush their breasts against him as he passes, giving him winks and quoting prices.
“Lovely choices my good man,” Kross says sliding up to the bar counter in front of the bartender who doesn’t even bother looking at him.
“The Bunnies you see out here are for your pleasure my friend, I am here for your refreshments, since your talking to me, what will be?” The bar tender responds to Kross without even looking up from the glass he is wiping with a grossly stained cloth attempting to remove a smudge he can not seem get get off.
“I hear the Burntfriar holy reserve is the best drink in town, I shall have one of those and perhaps a coffee if you have it. Was hoping to purchase something other than a lovely companion and drinks to enhance my desires. ” Kross places a coin purse on the counter this causes the man to look up for a moment.
The man realizes at this point the smudge was on his glasses and not the glass. He quickly pours a glass of Holy reserve, then takes off his glasses and cleans them. “and what are you looking to buy here, that will be 3 gold schillings.”
Kross pays the man 8 gold shillings.” I am looking for information, mainly on who should one talk to for the secrets of alleys tend to keep hidden. Rumors. The master of wondering ears.”
The bar keep only looks down at the coins a moment remaining silent till Kross slides the pouch over to the bartenders side of the counter popping an eye brow as he waits for a response.
The coins on his side the bartender smirks a moment before answering,”There are several in this town, even more I suspect. The Doxy Overseer Erin and well my partner. You could also try your luck with Luella the Nun, she works with the friars at the temple of Dionysus. Luella feeds and helps the orphans around town most in exchanged for information on the on goings in the city, as she has gone blind and cruel in her late age. Last but not least is the chief adviser to the king himself. Pearson Blackstone, a questionable man of many talents one can only question is methods not his loyalty nor results. ”
“Thank you good sir now if you could point me in the direction of Erin, I would be most grateful.” Kross waits for the bartender to reply, however the bartender only points to a closed door in the corner.
Kross takes the glass containing a lightly grayed clearesk type drink. He sniffs it and the aroma burns his nose. Sipping it he almost gags as the flavor is so vial he wondered how anyone could drink it. Its burn almost took your breath away leaving behind a faint flavor of ash. Coughing he makes his way over to the closed door.
He knocks on the door getting no answer, he knocks louder receiving the same result, not to be deterred he takes out a lock pick and begins picking the lock. He hears a click and slowly opens the door.
“Excuse me Erin? May I bother you for a moment of your time.” He pushes the door open to see a girl roughly the age of 14 having her feet and lower leg scrubbed by men wearing chains. The men seemed to have had their eyes removed and their mouths sown shut. She has almond colored hair and green eyes, from which Kross can only see through a mirror as she uses it to glare at him from her tub.
“You are brave who ever you are to open that door without an invite.” Erin states as milky water of the scented bath masks her nudity. The men in her charge turn to begin to head towards him.” I did not tell you to stop. Back to work.” They return to their duties. ” Why are you here foolish man. I know your smart enough not to assume you can afford an evening with me, in the shambles you call clothing. ”
Kross taken back by the age of the owner of the whores. “Shall I return at a later time, I assure you I have no interest in an evening my lady only a a few words.”
“Time is gold, and words are worth more than that so what pray chance have you brought me to offer in exchange. ” Kross blinks a moment before holding up a coin purse which she laughs at.
“I am guessing that you inherited this business model from you parents. I am also guessing they have passed away and with your level of comfort with the trade, it must have been years ago. ” Kross says causing her to tap the edge of the tub a moment before she stands, causing Kross to look away briefly as the blind men cover her in blood red robe.
“Well your not wrong, and that was a cute looking away like that. Though I am afraid you have already used up your time.” She lifts up a tiny bell and the blind men begin to wonder over to Kross to escort him out of the room.
“I perhaps can offer you, your childhood? I have a daughter about your age. Her and her sister would love to play with you.” He states in a last ditch effort to gain her time.
“Coy, you seem to think I would play for free…with your daughter no less,” misunderstanding his intention the men push Kross out of the room. He snorts as the door is closed into his face. The bartender snickers returning to his business.
“Yep….well that worked…” Kross groans before turning to face the rest of the brothel without any useful information gained from the individual. He turns and scans the room decides he might as well enjoy himself. He glides over to two women leaning on a pillar a red headed human, and a teal skinned forest elf. He introduces himself and slides the hair out of the red heads face and around her ear, where his fingers brush a scar on the back of her ear. He leans in to kiss her neck while handing her some coin to catch a glimpse of what it could be. He sees she is marked as a slave with an S on the top part of the rear of her ear. Under it is an E in the center of a circle. He looked over at the elf doing the same finding the same markings.
The markings flash an image of his mothers brands and this causes him to look away and back down. The women close in around him and he backs away from them again shaking his head. He hands them his coin purse and makes his leave for the tavern. It was at this time that he looked closer at the towns people that were littering the streets. Most the people around traveled in groups no lower than a pair. Though most shared similar clothing he noticed that people wore the nicest cloths were the only ones with coin purses. He would wonder in and out of crowds attempting to look behind the ears to confirm the truth. The town is very much a slave town. Far worse than he had expected from the Kingdom of Glory, though he did note most of the slaves seemed pretty well treated considering.
While scanning the crowd his eyes meet a young women’s pink eyes causing him to blink as he wasn’t sure if he saw her, unfortunately after his lids pass over his iris’s she is gone. Next thing he knows he feels a hand upon his back and a females voice whispers in his ear.
“Keep walking insect….take me too him…now… or the elflings will be the first to die followed by that troll of a dwarf. ” she hisses.
Kross doesn’t change pace and keeps going past the tavern, making his way to the burnt friar temple wondering if Chuck might be of some assistance. “And who are you looking for exactly princess. ” Kross asks calmly keeping his eyes forward as he slides his hand over the handle of his sword. It was at this point he found it becoming harder to breath.
She states “Insects do not speak…you will be wise to not test me mortal. I have no care for anything but him…take me to him now or you shall suffer in ways your nightmares have hidden from you. ” Kross can not inhale any air and begins to gag his eyes tear up for a moment as he stumbles. He removes his hand from his sword and quickly grasps his chest as his lungs strain for oxygen. “You will learn your place bug…now take me to him.”
Kross nods and he can fell air return replenishing his lungs, causing him to cough, and take in deep breaths. He trudges forward leading this women to the temple. It was out front of the temple that Chuck comes running down its stairs screaming.” DON’T DRINK IT, IT’s PEOPLE….OH GOD ITS FUCKING PEOPLE. oh…hello Kross, thought you were going to the tavern? Who is this? Never mind no time” Returns his focus to informing the people not to drink the burntfriar holy reserve.
Kross and the stranger watch Chuck raving like a mad man for a moment before Kross takes her inside shaking his head at Chucks lack of proper temperament. Kross goes to open the door and to his surprise Cecil is standing there, but his hair and eyes are red. Tilting his head a bit looking at the man before he is knocked down by the women who runs up to Cecil and kisses his lips, though Cecil doesn’t return the action.
“Kross, return to the tavern I will handle this.” Cecil says sternly. Kross shakes his head a moment as he tries to judge exactly what this relationship is about. It was moments later that the smell of blood and death fills his nose. Looking around he sees the clergymen have been slain, their bodies put on display on every pillar of the temple. Confused he stands looking at the carnage he feels somewhat at ease, as if he had seen this before and wasnt at all surprised by the sight. The blue haired warrior from before that was fighting against Cecil has a wide twisted grin. Kross attempts to protest against Cecils orders only to be teleported and he find himself standing behind the tavern of the city.
“What the fuck…..is going on?” Kross walks into the tavern and goes to make his way back to the temple but Snowy, Ash, Grendel, and Argo are inside waiting. Chuck is in the process of being thrown out by a couple of soldiers for breaking several bottles of Holy Reserve and raving like a mad man. Agros reaches out and snags Chuck by the collar of his ragged cloths only to have the shirt tare and Chuck slip out of his grasp.
“Chuck, Calm the fuck down already for the love of the Gods this is no way to act. ” Argos and the rest follow Chuck out of the tavern as Kross increases he pace to catch up. They gather out front.
Grindel, “What madness have you been cursed with fool. ”
Ash,”Chuck what happen?”
Chuck very winded begins to try and explain,” You dont understand….its people….they filter the reserve through the ashes of the dead clergy men.” Chuck precedes to gag a bit as if suddenly very ill.
Grendel,” So Black Diamond is better, filtered through charcoal and not the dead.”
Kross,” These facts are not worth agrueing about right now more pressing matters need our attention, Their is a gathering of immortals at the temple currently with Cecil, though Cecil is red…..Dressed in red and with red eyes and hair. Demonic looking to an extent. Also another…A women…pink hair eyes and light blue toned skin, very pompous attitude. ”
“We shall rush to Cecil’s Aid at once,” Argos commands.
“Aye” Chuck and Grendel quickly agree.
“And do what exactly trust me this ‘princess’ will slaughter us all without breaking a sweat…we do not know enough nor do we have any clue as to their intentions in this town.” Kross responds with a shake of his head trying to come to grips with the extent of this situation. “She seems infatuated with Cecil so I doubt she will bring any harm to him also have faith he can handle himself. We should head for the King and give warning and hopefully head over their in force. Most if not all of the clergy there have been slain.
Chuck,” Impossible I was their moments before you and everyone was trying to stop me from leaving….I do not believe my struggles to break out brought any lasting harm to any of them. ”
Snowy speaks up having only been half paying attention to them and a flying moth that continues to fly randomly around the group,” Chuck did you hurt those chosen by the Gods?”
Chuck,” well they wouldn’t let me leave in the fashion I had preferred, but I didn’t kill anyone by my word as a monk and man. ”
Argos agrees with Kross a bit reluctantly leaving ,” Alright to the King, we shall demand and audience with him, and explain our blight.” He makes his way over to the wagon and starts down the path leading to the massive castle. The others begin to follow as Grendel and Chuck argue over the fact that each race has “the strongest liqueur” and that the bet still hasn’t ended.