G2A Many GEOs
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Chapter 13

Magus_Anon Sep 30th, 2018 1,111 Never
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  1. With preparations finished, you and the Marrics leave Stream’s Edge less than a week after you arrive.
  2.  
  3.     The trip would be divided into two legs; riding with a caravan, and then making the final leap to Admaz. Monster attacks were more frequent further away from the capital on the southern shore, so most travelers formed wagon trains to reach their destinations unmolested and with a full inventory.
  4.  
  5. Thankfully, the Mariccs had purchased a four-person wagon for the three of you, which meant that you would not have to interact with any strangers.
  6.  
  7.     Even though the sun had not yet cleared the horizon, the city was humming with activity. The wagons were lined up in front of the north gate and the merchants and passengers were loading up the last of their wares and belongings into crates and saddlebags. Peering out of the small kitchen window, you could see a few spectators standing near the Marric’s house, apart from the travelers.
  8.  
  9. “Looks like a few people heard about you.” said Magnara appearing beside you to gaze out the window.
  10.  
  11. “They’re up awfully early to be chasing some rumor.” you mutter.
  12.  
  13. “This is Stream’s Edge. Nothing happens here. We hardly see any new faces save those who come to attend the college. Rumors, folklore, and drink are all these people have to entertain themselves.” she said.
  14.  
  15. “We should be going. The caravan master is about to give the order to depart.” Said Halitt stuffing the last of his clothing into a pack.
  16.  
  17.     You raise the hood of your cloak and step out into the morning mist flanked by Halitt and Magnara. Even with your head down and your hood up you can feel the stares of the townspeople as you pass by. As agreed, the Marrics shepherd you through the crowd of people swiftly and without conversation.
  18.  
  19.     You reach a wagon marked with a sloppy number (you don’t recall if it says 16 or 18) and Halitt signals you to enter. These wagons were (to you) quite strange; a hybrid of covered wagon and stage coach. The passenger wagons had two walls, and a small overhang that allowed hammocks to be fastened to them. Between the two walls was a cloth sheet. The front and back however, were merely a set of curtains. By opening and closing the curtains, one could change the wagon from covered wagon to sleeping quarters. You had insisted to Magnara that the designers should have just committed to a stage coach and made the thing a box, but she had dismissed you saying that it would be impossible to get luggage in and out. The driver sat on a small bench in the front of the wagon, exposed to the elements except for a small awning.
  20.  
  21. Using a wooden peg near your knees, you hoist yourself into the wagon.
  22.  
  23.     The wagon was about ten by seven feet, with a canopy of about six. On either wall there was a thin bench underneath two raggedy hammocks. You were thankful that you wouldn’t have to be sleeping under anyone, as it appeared that the lower hammock’s occupant would be just a few inches from the bottom of the upper hammock. You seat yourself on a bench near the back as Magnara and Halitt enter the wagon.
  24.  
  25. The wood creaks as the company’s driver seats himself on the bench. Peaking his head in through the front he introduces himself.
  26.  
  27. “Morning folks, thanks for choosing to travel with us. I’m Routhier, you need anything you just let me know.”
  28.  
  29. “Thank you, Mr. Routhier, we certainly will.” said Magnara.
  30.  
  31. The sound of turning wheels and hooves ahead of you signaled the start of your journey. Soon, the wagon in front of you slowly pulled away and Routhier snapped the reins. Your wagon pulled through the gates of Stream’s Edge and out into the wilderness.
  32.  
  33. ~~~~~
  34.  
  35.     Sadly, this trip was far more vapid than your trip through the forest. Conversation topics were scares as you didn’t know enough about this world to keep up a conversation, and you couldn’t talk about your world with Routhier a few feet away. Practicing writing was out of the question as there was no way to keep the page or your hand steady on a rocky dirt road. Reading was equally impossible. You didn’t even attempt to open any sort of text for fear of motion sickness. The first hours were spent in uncomfortable silence.
  36.  
  37. “Awfully quiet back there.” remarked Routhier.
  38.  
  39. “Yes, we’re just a bit tired, that’s all.” said Magnara.
  40.  
  41. “That’s understandable. So what business do you have in Charraville?” he asked.
  42.  
  43. “Just visiting some friends.”
  44.  
  45. “Hmm. Here I thought you may be visiting family. Is that spooky lookin’ fella your son?”
  46.  
  47. Halitt laughed. “No, he’s just coming to visit. He’s a good friend of our and he has business in Charraville as well.”
  48.  
  49. “Issat so. Say young feller, you don’t talk much do you?”
  50.  
  51. “Don’t take it personally. He just doesn’t get along with people he hasn’t know for a long time.” interjected Magnara before you had a chance to speak.
  52.  
  53. “Well then maybe you can learn to trust ol’Routhier before the end of the trip eh?” said Routhier. He chuckled and went back to driving the cart.
  54.  
  55. ~~~~~~
  56.     The day passed in silence broken by Routhier interjecting stories or random topics of conversation. As strange as the old man was, you were grateful that he broke the monotony of travel. The wagon train stopped briefly for a midday meal and to swap horses, and then continued on. At night the wagons were circled, and camp was established. Magnara and Halitt were baffled by your excitement, not understanding why you were so eager to “camp in a real-life wagon circle.” You would have to tell them all about the American west when you arrived at Admaz.
  57.  
  58. The smell of stews and meat cooking over the fires made your mouth water.
  59.  
  60. “We’ll go get you some food. You just stay here.” said Magnara.
  61.  
  62. “Can’t I leave? I could just walk around the edge, I wouldn’t even get close to the fires.” you said.
  63.  
  64. “Too risky. Especially with your pale skin. You practically generate light.” said Halitt.
  65.  
  66. You mumble about how you’re not THAT pale, but accept their decision. Maybe later when the journey was almost over you could risk being seen. You sigh and lean back against the wooden wall. Bored out of your skull.
  67.  
  68. “Ow, stop! That hurts!”
  69.  
  70. The sound of a scuffle outside your wagon gets your attention. Well, at this point anything would have been more interesting than counting the fibers in the canopy. You peak your head out to see what’s happening.
  71.  
  72.     Two children stare back at you. A boy and a girl, probably no more than nine or ten. The girl looks a bit younger than the boy. Both are covered in dirt, and wearing well-worn clothes. The boy has both of the girl’s arms held above her head. They take a few steps back, looking up at you fearfully.
  73.  
  74. “Hey, w-who are you?” said the boy shoving the girl behind him and taking a defensive stance.
  75.  
  76. “Stop it Aeurge, Mamma said not to talk to bad people!” said the little girl hiding behind the boy. The words seared your very soul.
  77.  
  78. “I’m not a bad person." You protest. "And don’t hurt your sister.” you said. You disappear back into the wagon, hoping that the children will just forget about you and leave you alone.
  79.  
  80. “Yeah, don’t hurt me.” you hear the little girl say.
  81.  
  82. “Shut up, Mamma said not to listen to bad people either.”
  83.  
  84. “He’s not a bad person cause he knows you hit me.”
  85.  
  86. “Well he’s a DUMB person cause you started it!”
  87.  
  88. “MISTER, BIG BRO CALLED YOU DUMB!”
  89.  
  90. “S-SHUT UP! Seriously, stop! I’m sorry just don’t tell him.”
  91.  
  92. This back and forth between siblings was feeding your very soul. It was so simple and innocent. Yet it reminded you of your own family, and your chest contracted painfully at the memory of all the people you loved; now beyond your grasp and without closure.
  93.  
  94. “Does your chest hurt mister?”
  95.  
  96. You jump as you notice the girl’s head peeking through the canvas slit. You lower your hand from your chest and relax.
  97.  
  98. “Mamma says that if your chest hurts you need to drink water.”
  99.  
  100. “That’s your stomach, dummy.” Said the boy appearing beside her.
  101.  
  102. “Your stomach is in your chest, idiot.”
  103.  
  104. “Hey, kids, you shouldn’t be in here. Go find your parents.” you said, eager to remove the prying eyes and loose lips of children from your presence.
  105.  
  106. “Mister you look funny.” said the boy.
  107.  
  108. “Are you sick? Is that why you look so pale and your chest hurts?” asked the girl.
  109.  
  110. “No, I’m fine. Please leave me alone.” you said.
  111.  
  112. “Come on, if he’s sick I don’t want to be sick.” said the boy.
  113.  
  114. The children disappeared from the flap, and you could hear their little feet scurry away from the wagon.
  115.  
  116.     Soon, Magnara and Halitt returned with food and water. You dug into the tray of beans, meat and soggy vegetables in earnest. If you had been forced to eat the meal on earth, there may have been hang-ups. But your experience with starvation had really opened you up to trying and appreciating new foods.
  117.  
  118. “Good work today Anon, I know it’s boring but it’s better than being the center of attention.” said Magnara.
  119.  
  120. “I know. I just wish I had a deck of cards or something to pass the time on the wagon.” You said through a mouthful of molten beans.
  121.  
  122. “Hey, I bet you could teach us all kinds of human games! I’d love to see what human card games are like.” said Halitt.
  123.  
  124. You talk about some of the various human games for a time until it’s unanimously decided to go to sleep. Crawling into the thin hammock, you drift off to sleep after a long day of nothing.
  125.  
  126. ~~~~~
  127.  
  128. Stone walls, stone ceiling. A stone house in a city of stone. Your people carved it by magic over generations. Now it was being destroyed. The house you had lived in, your father had lived in, and his father had carved from the stone was being attacked. The invaders leer through your door. They do not enter, but the fire does. The stone is blackened. And you are burnt to cinders.
  129. ~~~~
  130.  
  131. “Anon, wake up.”
  132.  
  133. You bolt upright from sleep. Magnara staggers back as you pant.
  134.  
  135. “Are you ok?” she asked “You looked like you were having a nightmare.”
  136.  
  137. “Yeah, yeah I’m fine. It was just a bad dream.” You say brushing the sleep from your eyes.
  138.  
  139. “Did you see any women in it?” asked Magnara with concern in her voice.
  140.  
  141. “No, it wasn’t a nightmare. No one did anything sexual to me. Just… a bad dream.” you said.
  142.  
  143. “Well, let us know it anything like ‘that’ does happen. We need to make sure you aren’t being stalked by anything.”
  144.  
  145. “I will. Don’t worry. If something is wrong I’ll know it.” you say reassuringly.
  146.  
  147. A horn sounded somewhere near the center of camp and the caravan resumed its journey north.
  148.  
  149. ~~~~~
  150.  
  151.     Days went by in a similar manner. Wake up, move, break for lunch, move, camp, sleep. The only thing keeping you from going insane was watching the fantastical landscape pass by. The children had also come by a few times to “make sure you were feeling better,” and give you a bundle of herbs that their mother had given them. You insisted that you weren’t sick, but accepted the gift anyways. The next time they came by you gave them a crude paper airplane to thank them. The parchment was heavier than normal paper, so it didn’t fly too well, but they loved it anyways and ran off into the night shrieking with glee. Cute, but you were looking forwards to reaching Charraville.
  152.  
  153.     Magnara said that the destination was only one and a half more days away. You would finally be able to get out and stretch your legs besides a few trips to the bathroom every night. Reclining in your hammock, you settle in for the night.
  154.  
  155. ~~~~~~~
  156.  
  157.     The next day, your travel habits were disturbed for the first time. Around noon, just after lunch, the wagons were abruptly brought to a halt. There was shouting and a few screams from the wagons in front of you, and the caravan guards raced past your wagon faster than you had ever seen them move.
  158.  
  159. “What’s happening!?” you ask. If monsters were attacking because of you again, you didn’t know if you would be able to handle the guilt. A scene of the children who visited you being dragged away from their mother while the caravan burned behind them played out in your head.
  160.  
  161. “Anon, stay calm. Just let the professionals handle it. Please.” said Magnara.
  162.  
  163. You got up, ignoring Magnara’s protests and poked your head out the front of the wagon.
  164.  
  165. The wagon you were riding in was near the middle, making it difficult to see what was happening.
  166.  
  167. “Y’all get back in the wagon if ye don’t want trouble. This’ll be over soon.” said Routhier. The mans lively face was stern and emotionless.
  168.  
  169. The curiosity is too much to bear. Shifting around, you manage to see far enough past the wagons to see what has stopped the caravan.
  170.  
  171. Centaurs.
  172.  
  173. A herd of the beastwomen had blocked the path of the caravan. Strangely, they didn’t seem to be attacking.
  174.  
  175. Magnara grabbed you by the scruff of your neck and hauled you back inside.
  176.  
  177. “What are you thinking!?” she hissed. “This is just a toll collection. Don’t make trouble and there won’t be trouble, got it?”
  178.  
  179. “Are they going to attack?” you ask.
  180.  
  181. “No, they don’t attack humans often. And when they do it tends to be individual instances. No, this tribe has a loose understanding with humans. They keep the roads free of more violent monsters and the Order doesn’t exterminate them. They also collect taxes from caravans and travelers. They know they can get away with it as long as they don’t take too much.” said Halitt.
  182.  
  183. “What happened to proud warriors? I thought centaurs were more noble than extorting travelers for money.” you said.
  184.  
  185. “They feel entitled to a cut since we save so much on security because of them. And the slavers also play a big part in their mannerisms.” said Magnara.
  186.  
  187. “Are they afraid of slavers?” you ask.
  188.  
  189. “No, quite the opposite. The slavers have a nice racket going with them. With the centaurs being territorial and fighting monsters all the time, the slavers managed to convince them that it was only right that they should make a profit from it since they were inconvenienced. They gave the centaurs some top of the line weapons and equipment, and in exchange the centaur prisoners are now sold to the slavers at outrageously low prices.” said Halitt.
  190.  
  191. “That’s horrible. The slavers just got a pack of centaurs to do their dirty work for them?”
  192.  
  193. “It’s worse than you think. One of the reason that the slavers and the centaurs are on such good terms is the slavers willingness to supply the centaurs… other needs.” said Magnara.
  194.  
  195. “You mean men…”
  196.  
  197.     She nods. “Remember how I told you that the Order will often imprison innocent people on false or exaggerated charges? Well if the jailer or warden can make a quick gold by selling them off or letting them “escape” then they won’t hesitate. The slavers guild picks them up and good, innocent men are carted away to monster bidders. Every couple of weeks the slavers will take out a new ‘shipment’ of men for the centaurs to peruse.”
  198.  
  199. “How do the slavers get away with it?! Why doesn’t anybody do something?”
  200.  
  201.     “The slavers hold all the cards. They have the best weapons, armor, connections, and as a guild more money than any other institution. The Order officials don’t give a damn what happens to anyone who can’t pay for protection, and the guild has bribed, blackmailed or intimidated every official in New Lescatie. People have spoken out against them before, but they always end up missing or… dead.”
  202.  
  203.     There was an uncomfortable silence. Clearly Magnara was distraught over recounting the dirty deeds of the slavers. You were upset to learn that the Order was even more corrupt than you had imagined. Though she had said NEW Lescatie. Does that mean that you aren’t close to the original? You still don’t know how this whole planet looks, even after all these years of lurking. The books described the general layout of the continents, but never gave a specific answer to what was exactly where. For now you would have to wait. Asking a question like ‘what continent are we on’ was a bit to conspicuous with Routhier sitting just a few feet away.
  204.  
  205.     A horn sounded from up ahead and the caravan began to move again. Soon the wagon in front of you pulled away and Routhier bid the horses onwards once more.
  206.  
  207.     As you trundled past, you pulled the canvas flap at the back aside to look at the centaurs as you passed. They were busy pouring over a pile of crates, but you did make eye contact with one of the ones watching the caravan. Her brow furrowed and her eyes grew wide, as if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She started to trot along with the caravan but stopped when another centaur called out to her. You closed the flap in a hurry and sat back down on the bench. Magnara was right, it was best to just stay in here for a little bit longer.
  208.  
  209. ~~~~~~
  210.  
  211.     As night fell on the last day you settled in for another night in your wagon. Magnara and Halitt were off getting food and chatting, but you knew that they would return shortly.
  212.  
  213. You heard someone approach and begin to open the tent flap.
  214.  
  215. “Did you get some of that roast? It smells really good ton-“ you stop short as a woman pokes her head through the tent flaps. You quickly adjust your hood and tilt your head down.
  216.  
  217. “Oh, sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m Vishne. I believe you’ve been playing with my children.” she said.
  218.  
  219. “Huh? Oh! Oh, them. I didn’t do anything to them. They just kept coming back.”
  220.  
  221.     She giggled. “I know, I wasn’t accusing you of anything. I was just happy that they found someone to entertain them. There aren’t many children on the caravan after all. I made you this pie, it’s not much but I wanted to give you something for looking after them. May I come in?”
  222.  
  223. “Uh, I-I don’t know if the others I’m travelling with will be alright with that. They don’t like people coming in…”
  224.  
  225. “Then it’s a good thing they aren’t here.” she said as she climbed into the wagon and seated herself on the bench opposite of you.
  226.  
  227.     You were about to protest but were silenced by the sight of pie. It was a small one, only about six inches in diameter, but that was 94.25 inches cubed pie than you had consumed in the last month. You take it without thinking and rummage around in the supplies for a fork.
  228.  
  229. “So, what’s your name?” she asked.
  230.  
  231. “Anon.” you say, taking the first bite of pie. It was warm and flaky, filled with something that tasted similar to blackberries. Delicious.
  232.  
  233. “That’s a funny name. Where are you from?”
  234.  
  235.     Shit. You went pie-blind and got suckered into a conversation. After all this time you spent bored out of your skull, only now did you realize that crafting an elaborate alibi for your entire life would have been a good way to pass time and get yourself out of situations like this.
  236.  
  237. “You know, uhh, north…” you say waving a hand in the general direction of your travels.
  238.  
  239. “My, my, the children said you were pale, but I didn’t expect THIS.” She said grabbing the hand you waved with. “Are you sure you’re not sick?”
  240.  
  241. She tried to bend down to get a better look under your hood, but you turned away and gently pulled your hand back.
  242.  
  243. “I’m sorry, that was rude of me.” you could see her figure slump in your peripherals.
  244.  
  245. “It’s alright. I appreciate that you’re concerned about me. Thank you for the herbs you sent the other day.”
  246.  
  247. “My pleasure! That recipe always used to make my husband feel better. Now that he’s gone, I just don’t have anyone to care for anymore…”
  248.  
  249. Fuuuuuucccckkkk. You just wanted the pie damnit. You had trouble understanding people under normal circumstances; how were you supposed to comfort a widow from a different dimension?!
  250.  
  251. “I’m sorry for your loss…” weak, but all you could think of.
  252.  
  253. “Oh, it’s alright. I’ve managed. Mostly thanks to the kindness of strangers like you.” she said wiping her eyes and giving you a smile. She may not have been as beautiful as a monster, but she had a simplistic grace about her that put you at ease.
  254.  
  255. “Your children are good.” you said. You don’t really know how to compliment children without sounding creepy.
  256.  
  257. “Yes, they’re my whole world. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I’m just worried that they may need more than I can provide as they get older. If at all possible, I would like to have them educated.” she said. She picked up an errant sheet of paper that you had been using to practice writing and translating. Sheeeiiiittt that had English on it.
  258.  
  259. “Are you a scholar?” she asked reading over the page.
  260.  
  261. “Kind of. I’ve been studying for a few weeks, but I’m still not literate yet.”
  262.  
  263. “Really? Your symbols are very good. And these strange characters, are they perhaps something to do with magic?” she leaned back. “My children seem to think that you are some sort of wizard because of your cloak and the paper toy you gave them. But surely you’re not a wizard right?”
  264.  
  265. She was feigning indifference. That was clear. No way you were falling into this trap.
  266.  
  267. “No. I’m not a wizard. Not a scholar, not a wizard, just a traveler. That’s all.”
  268.  
  269. There was an uncomfortable pause.
  270.  
  271. “May I see your face?”
  272.  
  273. The question surprised you. You raised your head a bit to see her looking at you earnestly.
  274.  
  275. “This whole time, I haven’t seen your face… My daughter says that you’re very handsome. I… just wanted to see for myself.”
  276.  
  277. “I can’t. I’m sorry.”
  278.  
  279. “So am I.”
  280.  
  281.     She sprang from the bench and pulled back your hood before you could react. Not that you could anyways with your hands around the pie. This pastry was starting to become more trouble than it was worth. Vishne gasped as your face was illuminated by the dim lamp light in the wagon.
  282.  
  283. “I didn’t believe Weissie when she told me, but you really ARE different. You must be a wizard after all!”
  284.  
  285. “No! I’m not. Please, you need to leave…”
  286.  
  287. This was complicated. If this woman gabbed to the rest of the caravan, you would attract unwanted attention. If you told her not to tell anyone, she hold her compliance over your head in exchange for… whatever she wanted.
  288.  
  289. “You aren’t from around here are you.” said Vishne taking a seat next to you on the bench.
  290.  
  291. “I’m form the north!” you insist.
  292.  
  293. “No. You aren’t like other men. You aren’t gruff or abrasive, and you listen to my problems and help my children even though you didn’t think that you would get anything in return.” she scooted closer to you. “And you say that you aren’t a wizard or a scholar, but I see wisdom and intelligence in those queer, blue eyes of yours.”
  294.  
  295. “Seriously, you’re wrong! I’m just someone moving north!”
  296.  
  297. She closed the distance between you two on the bench and draped her arms around your shoulders, pulling you into an embrace and forcing you to look at her. Damn, she was actually pretty strong.
  298.  
  299.     “Even if I am wrong about all that, one thing I’m certain of…” she to straddle your legs with hers, so that her knees were on the bench on either side of your legs. Her arms retracted, and her hands moved up your neck to cup your face in her rough callused palms. The sensation was strange; hard, worn, flesh that caressed you in a manner that made them feel smooth as silk. “Is that you are most certainly handsome~”
  300.  
  301. You swallow hard.
  302.  
  303. “I could use a man like you in my life. You’ve already proven to be so good with the children, and I’ve been so lonely since my husband was taken. Is it that you don't find me attractive?” she said with tears in her eyes.
  304.  
  305. “N-no! It’s not that! I-I just can’t be with anyone right now! There are things I have to do, and they have to be done alone.”
  306.  
  307. “Isn’t there ~anything~ I could do to make you stay? Please, it’s been so hard on my own…”
  308.  
  309. She started grinding against your crotch. Not that she needed too, you were already fully erect. The only time you had been able to beat your meat had been in Stream’s Edge. Now you were once again pent up and perpetually on the verge of an erection.
  310.  
  311. “Looks like you’re hard too~” she said rubbing you through your cloak. “How about I show you why staying with me will be a ~rewarding~ choice~”
  312.  
  313. “GET OFF OF HIM!!”
  314.  
  315. Vishne pulled away from you as Magnara and Halitt entered the wagon with your dinner.
  316.  
  317. “Get out! Get out right now!” shouted Magnara.
  318.  
  319. Vishne clicked her tongue in annoyance and collected her things. Magnara stood watch as she slowly skulked to the back of the wagon.
  320. “Mr. Anon, I am serious. Please consider my offer. I… really do need you in my life…” she said. As she left you could hear her walk away crying.
  321.  
  322. “What the hell Anon! I told you not to let anyone into the wagon, and ten minutes later I find you about to be raped by some slag because she baited you with pie!” said Magnara.
  323.  
  324. “I didn’t think she would try to seduce me! I thought she just wanted to thank me for playing with her kids!”
  325.  
  326. “Not a chance Anon.” said Halitt as he pulled himself up into the wagon. “Widows are always looking to fill the husband slot. It’s hard to be a single mother, so they try to find a man who won’t leave them for someone else and has promising prospects. Sadly, they don’t enter into these new marriages out of love. They just use the new husband to support themselves. Once you have a child with them, they have you for life.”
  327.  
  328. “That sounds a lot like my world. Obviously she was trying to seduce me, but I think that she was happy that I was kind to her and her children.”
  329.  
  330. “Nope. She was so interested in you because you’re so spineless. You would have gone along with whatever she said. She also probably thought you were a mage; a well-trained mage brings home a hefty salary.” said Magnara.
  331.  
  332. “So there was no love in that whole encounter?” you ask.
  333.  
  334. “None. Trust me Anon, I of all ‘people’ know what love is.” said Magnara.
  335.  
  336. Well, it would be prudent to trust the succubus you had known for a few weeks rather than some random lady who just tried to molest you.
  337.  
  338. “You need to be more careful Anon. We can’t guard you all the time, and you’re going to have to be able to put your foot down and stop obvious seduction attempts like that one.” said Halitt.
  339.  
  340. “I know.” you mumble
  341.  
  342. “We’ll be in Charraville by midday tomorrow. Just keep your head down a little longer.” said Magnara.
  343.  
  344. You nod and dig into your meal. Soon the lantern is extinguished, and you drift to sleep on a belly full of pie.
  345.  
  346. ~~~~~~
  347.  
  348.     At last you dismounted the wagon for the last time. The ground was a mixture of muck and large stones. Whether they were paving stones fallen into disrepair or merely a product of the environment was anyone’s guess. Charraville was hardly a town at all. A few rows of two-story thatched roof buildings sat at the foot of a steep hill, with a wide main road running straight down the middle. Looking up the hill you could see a smattering of small buildings and cranes; the mining camps that put this town on the map.
  349.  
  350. “Anon, we’ll be staying in that inn over there. Grab your things and hurry over.” said Magnara.
  351.  
  352. You grab your luggage and trot over. “Oh, uh, thanks for the ride Routhier.” you say waving back at the old man.
  353.  
  354. He let out a long laugh. “I told ya’ ye’d warm up to me!”
  355.  
  356. You smirk and enter the inn.
  357.  
  358. The ceiling is low, and chandeliers are scattered haphazardly across it. The smell almost makes you gag; a bouquet of vomit, beer, liquor, sweat and broken dreams. A fire crackles in two separate fire places, wafting pungent smoke into the room when a draft stirs the flames. Gross.
  359.  
  360. A man shoves his way into the inn behind you and you stagger forwards. Magnara and Halitt are chatting with the hostess. You wander over to them and set your bags down.
  361.  
  362. “Oh! This must be Anon! I’ve been so excited to meet you! My name is Periclla!”
  363.  
  364. “Nice to meet you.”
  365.  
  366. “So, I heard all about your ‘special quest’ form Mag, did you see anything you liked on the way here, hmm?” the innkeeper leaned over the desk and batted her eyelashes.
  367.  
  368. “Huh?” you were a bit confused. What was she talking about?
  369.  
  370. “Guess not. You know, I have a daughter whom I’m sure would love to meet you~”
  371.  
  372. Oh. Oooohhhh. So that’s how it was.
  373.  
  374. “Peri, please, we have a schedule to keep. And don’t call me Mag in public.” said Magnara.
  375.  
  376. “Of course, of course, everything is in order. Tomorrow you can be on your way before the sun is up!” said Periclla beaming.
  377.  
  378. “Thanks. Here’s the money.” said Magnara sliding a pouch of coins across the desk.
  379.  
  380. “Anytime. You know I’d also be willing to clear the tab for, say, a son~ in~ law~” she said staring at you.
  381.  
  382. You feel your face grow red and quickly look away.
  383.  
  384. “Ahahah! He’s so shy! That’s too much; where did you find him?” said Periclla.
  385.  
  386. “Stop it, he’s had a hard trip. Don’t tease him.” said Magnara pulling you into a protective hug.
  387.  
  388. “You know I just can’t help myself.” said Periclla with a wink. “Here’s your key, you’ll be in rooms six and seven.”
  389.  
  390. You thank her and head upstairs with the Marrics. Your rooms were next to each other, so that calling for help would be as easy as pounding on the wall.
  391.  
  392. You flop down on the loose pile of straw and animal pelts that was the bed. It had a musty smell to it. You tried not to think to hard about where it may have come from, or when the last time the bedding was washed.
  393.  
  394. Tomorrow, you would be on your way to your final destination. Admaz. The city where you would learn magic, find love, and make a name for yourself in this brave new world. You can’t wait.
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