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|Milly, Rek, Weston and Poke spend the night in an inn. Songs: Bliss: Sing for Absolution Cake: Meanwhile Rick James... Uh, yes, 'Sret' is *sigh* a swearword, equivalent to 'damn'. All my characters seem very fond of it. Maybe that's cos I like it so much. One can only wonder why... 0_o||
"Sret! This'll take me all night!" he groaned.
After signing up, the three of them-trailing Poke-had gone to an inn, the Foaming Pint, which was run by a man named Harvin. He was well known to Rek and Milly and close friends with Weston. Because they had no money, the four of them were working off the amount of money needed for a couple of rooms.
"Hey, don't give up so easily," said Weston, laughing as usual. He put his hands into the sink and muttered something. The hot water glowed brightly for a moment and then returned to normal.
"What'd you do to it?" Rek asked suspiciously, peering into the sink.
"Oh, just a simple charm; it'll make anything that goes into it instantly clean. I used to use it a lot at home when my mom wasn't looking."
"Why didn't she want you using it? Is there something wrong with it?"
"No, it's just that she thought that it was taking the easy way out. Maybe she thought it'd turn me into a lazy, self-satisfied slob. It's worked so far." He grinned.
Rek slid a plate into the sink gingerly, trying not to touch the water.
"It won't hurt you, Rek," Weston commented, "It'll just clean your hands very thoroughly. If I get really filthy, I use it in my bath."
Rek cautiously dipped the tip of his finger into the liquid. Nothing weird happened to it, so he reached in and took the plate out. Weston hadn't been joking; the plate was perfectly clean and there wasn't a speck of dirt anywhere in the water.
"Give it here, then. I'll dry," Weston offered.
He took the plate between thumb and finger and blew on it gently. Rek reached out and touched it; it was bone-dry.
"Show-off," he muttered. Balancing a tray in one hand and two brimming mugs in the other, Milly made her way to one of the tables in the inn. The minute Harvin had seen Weston, he'd bellowed a loud welcome across the room. When they'd asked him if he had any work for them, he'd gladly accepted their offer and given them a free meal.
Now, Milly was working as a waitress to pay for the meal and a bed. Harvin had wanted them to stay for free, but they'd refused-although both Rek and Milly were thieves, they only stole out of necessity or for the challenge of it. Staying at the inn for free would be stealing money and business from Harvin. Poke was working as a stable boy; he seemed to be very good with horses.
Milly put down the tray and the mugs at the right table. There were four heavily laden plates of food on the tray. The four men sitting there thanked her, and she promised to return with the other two mugs shortly.
She returned to the bar, dodging the men that tried to pinch her bottom and grinning at their comments, and asked Harvin for two more pints of ale. He drew them for her and she turned quickly to walk back to her table. As she turned, she bumped into someone, and although she managed to hold on to the glasses, beer slopped all over the floor.
Immediately, she got down on her hands and knees, wiping up the liquid with her apron.
"I'm sorry, sir, I beg your pardon. I didn't mean to…"
She looked up into the man's face.
"You need not trouble yourself to clean it up," he said. His voice was musical, like an instrument; a song was woven into his words. Milly knelt and listened, the beer forgotten, entranced, not understanding the meaning of the words, only listening to the music.
His face was beautiful, his eyes slanted, sky-blue and dancing with merriment. Although his long hair was silver, his face was young, and somehow old at the same time. He was very clearly not human.
Milly shook her head to clear it and scrambled to her feet. The elf made a sweeping motion with his hand and the spilt beer vanished.
"Good evening," he said, his voice warm and friendly. Milly smiled and greeted him in turn. Somehow he managed to make every word sound like the melody of a song.
He introduced himself as Kimroth and, taking her hand, bowed over it. She blushed and gave him her name, taking her hand back in a hurry.
Harvin knew the elf and greeted him in Elvish, a strange, hauntingly beautiful language that lilted and rippled like running water, cold and clear. He replied in the same language and the two spoke at length, although they kept their voices down. That seemed unnecessary to Milly; even if it was a private conversation, who else in the inn could understand Elvish?
Milly had seen the occasional elf before in Pouyo, but she'd never seen or heard one close up. When Kimroth finally sat down at a table, the others who were sitting there either huddled away from him or got up and walked over to another table. Milly wondered why Kimroth had come to The Foaming Pint if that was the kind of treatment that he always got here. She took him ale and a plate of food, and he ate and drank freely; he wasn't a vegetarian, as Milly had supposed he would be for some reason.
When he'd finished eating, he thanked her courteously and got up to leave. Milly noticed the way the crowd parted to let him through. She wondered why everyone seemed to be so afraid of him; although he was different, certainly, Milly liked the kind, gracious way he spoke and the swift perfection of his movements. Weston snored. Loudly.
Rek turned his back towards the mage, trying to ignore the noise. They were sharing a room because only two rooms had been available. Milly, of course, took one, because even though the two of them were used to sleeping side by side, Rek knew only too well how that would look in other people's eyes. And Weston would make comments. Poke was sleeping in the stables with the other stable hands.
The snore began again, starting soft and then rising through a violent crescendo to a discordant cacophony of enthusiastic hacksaws. It ended with a kind of wheeze and a snort that trailed off into a drawn-out, breathy whistle, culminating in a final grunt that began the journey back up the scale.
Rek pulled the blanket up and wrapped it around his head in desperation. Who can stand against the power of the snore?
And then he heard something move against the wall outside. He pushed away the blanket and padded silently to the window. The faint sound came again; it was directly beneath the windowsill. Rek put his back to the wall and stood as still as a statue. Moonlight flooded in through the open window and illuminated the room. He heard a snuffling noise… Suddenly, something wet and sticky was wrapped around his neck, choking him. There was a series of soggy splats as more of them lashed in through the window and bound him to the wall. He twisted his body violently against the grip and felt the thing around his neck loosen slightly.
"Weston!" he shouted as he grappled with the thing that was strangling him.
The mage jerked awake and leapt up from his bed, tangled in the sheets. Rek saw a dark coil fly through the window and wrap around Weston's head. Then it began to writhe and wriggle alarmingly as a white-hot heat built up beneath it. Finally, it released the mage, its surface seared and scorched.
Weston slashed a rune in the air with a fingertip. Where his finger moved, a glowing purple line followed it and remained suspended there, hanging in the air. More rope-like coils threw themselves at him in a concerted effort to smother him, but when they encountered the rune, they charred and fell as black ash to the floor.
Rek tugged at the tough strands, wrenching at them with his fingers, gasping for breath. Weston became aware of Rek's predicament and extended the magical field of the rune so that the whole room was bathed in the purple light.
The tentacles retreated unwillingly, accompanied by strange hissing, bubbling sounds. When he'd recovered his breath, Rek leaned out of the window.
"We can't let it get to anyone else," Rek told Weston calmly. He sounded-businesslike. "I'm going after it."
Weston leapt forward and grabbed his arm.
"It'll kill you, Rek! Let me spell you first," he snapped. Without waiting for a reply, he pressed the palm of his hand against Rek's forehead and muttered something. The weird purple warding spell covered Rek for a second and then sank into his skin.
Weston's face was drawn and exhausted from using so much magic so abruptly.
"Thanks," Rek nodded to the mage and, grabbing the window frame, swung himself out into the night. Milliaria leaned out of her window and watched the stars, bright points in the sky that made an intricate pattern if looked at in one way and became a mere scattering of silver dust if you looked again. However she looked at them, they were beautiful.
She glanced down. There was another roof, presumably the kitchen's, right beneath her. Past that, there was a high wall that surrounded the inn, and because her window was high up, she could see over it into Pouyo, dotted with warm, yellow lights.
For some reason, she couldn't sleep. Maybe it was because she was excited about tomorrow. A cold breeze touched her face and she shivered. From the other side of the wall came the sounds of people talking and laughing at another tavern.
And another sound, something that she couldn't quite identify. She listened carefully and it began to grow louder. It sounded like singing, entrancing, heart breaking and sweet, calling her; spellbound, she swung herself over the windowsill and dropped lightly onto the kitchen roof.
Someone was sitting on the edge of the roof, looking at the stars. A bright light surrounded his form, reflecting onto the roof and walls of the inn like moonlight on still water. Milliaria began to walk towards him. She felt no fear or foreboding, but rather a feeling of joy, as if she were somehow-coming home. She walked faster.
As she came up to him, he stood up.
"I have been waiting for you, Milliaria," he said, and his voice made the stars dance. Kimroth extended his hand to her and she took it. She looked deep into his eyes, lost in some kind of sparkling mist…
Rek leapt down onto the kitchen roof and began to run.
The hideous creature was perched near the edge of the roof. It was a writhing mass of tentacles that was surrounded with a haze of foul, bluish smoke. It didn't seem to have a recognizable head or body, but at the tip of every dripping tentacle there was a green orb; eyes, Rek realised in horror. Readying himself to attack, he noticed that something was trapped among the squirming, snake-like appendages. He looked closer.
…Kimroth doesn't have green eyes, Milly thought from somewhere that felt very far away. His eyes are blue, blue like the sky, like the sea…
"Milly!" Rek yelled, sprinting forward. He could see more clearly now, could see Milly's body, looking very small and fragile, suspended within a tightly coiled cylinder of tentacles. The monster drew her closer, as if to embrace her lovingly.
"Kimroth…" She whispered, "You're not Ki-"
|Jude Ch. 4||Jude Ch. 6|
|Jude Ch. 10||Appendix/Glossary|
|Jude Ch. 2||Jude Ch. 9|