Chapter Ten: A Whole Lot of Questions
The Warlock stood over the fallen beast, its body slowly disintegrating into nothing. He’d been fast with his spell casting, perhaps even a little too fast. The shock wave that was sent out by the spell not only knocked out the beast but sent the boy hurling backwards, which hadn’t exactly been his intention.
As the rest of the beast slowly melted into the ground below. He saw where the wizard wannabe had landed, his form laid face up in a pond just ahead. He approached him, prodding him with his staff, each time being a little harder in an attempt to wake him.
After a few more unsuccessful pokes, he decided to go for just a plain and simple whack on the chest, and this time he woke up. The number of expressions that cycled Otis was quite the sight to behold. Starting with a wince, caused by the violent method the wizard had used to wake him up. Then shock, as he had thought he wouldn’t be waking up. And last but not least, confusion. This expression stayed for a while as he looked up at the Warlock who impatiently tapped his staff on the ground next to the pond.
Why was he here? Had he saved him, and why? Why had the beast hesitated to bring its claw down before everything went bright? In fact, where had that light come from anyway?
“Snap out of it kid, yes you’re alive, you can thank me later,” said the warlock abruptly, outstretching his hand to Otis to help him to his feet.
Otis took his hand and was pulled up with a surprising amount of force, bringing him face to face with the warlock.
“What are you doing here? Where are the others? Are they safe?” said the wizard. He seemed to be bursting with questions, just like Otis still very much was.
“Yes, they should be. We got split up when the shade cornered me,” Otis replied, glancing back at where the beast had been.
“Snap out of it, kid! You need to catch up to them!” the warlock snapped back, not giving Otis any time to wrap this head around things. “Are you listening to me?”
“The shade. It wasn’t going to kill me.”
“What’re you talking about? Maybe you hit your head kid, cause you’re sure not making any sense to me,” the Warlock shot back. “Now come on! We’re running out of time and the Overseer won’t just settle for three champions.”
“What are you talking about? What the fuck is the Overseer?” Otis said, finally letting some of the many questions he had poured from his mouth.
The Warlock halted his rant momentarily, realising that maybe he’d said too much.
Otis caught on to his pause, knowing he was holding back something, though he didn’t know what.
“It doesn’t matter, alright. You and your friends are the key to saving this kingdom. Or is that not enough motivation for you?” the wizard replied coldly. “I’ve seen heroes pass through this land for centuries. And in all that time, I’ve never seen a group so undeserving hold the title of the great four.”
Otis looked at him for a second, this wasn’t the wizard simply belittling him as he’d done before, he meant it genuinely.
The wizard started to walk off. Otis looked out at him. He wasn’t going to leave him until he got some solid answers. He’d been starved of them long enough.
The path leading up to Glasshall wasn’t a particularly dangerous one, at least not in the generic sense. The path was long and dull, a fact V had the benefit of missing whilst she was scoffing food in the back of the wagon. But now, walking along it, there was nothing to distract her from that fact.
“So, either of you guys been to Glasshall before?” she asked, being a dumb question in retrospect, but one that at least hatched the start of a conversation that would lessen the pain of this arduous walk.
“Well, it might surprise you but not really, I was rarely allowed to leave the watchtower. We even had beds and stuff up there so I never really saw the town up close,” Jamal said. “You?”
“Nah, never been there in my life. Place seems a little too pretentious to me. Everyone living up in crystal towers, swooning at the thought of meeting the royals,” V replied, her lie being sprinkled with her actual feelings about the place, though perhaps she might have had too strong of an opinion about a place she claimed to have never stepped foot in. “How about you, June?” she said, trying to shift the spotlight before it lingered on her for too long.
“I suppose I have a few times. The monastery is only a short walk north from Glasshall anyway, so I passed through a few times as a shortcut,” replied June very matter-of-factly.
“Wait, so you only used it as a shortcut? So you didn’t like to have a look around the place, I heard there’s a lot of fun stuff to do in the town centre. My friend would always talk about this tavern. Said it had the best drinks in the entire kingdom!” said Jamal, licking his lips at the thought.
“No, I would never set foot in such a place. I can only imagine the sins that take place there,” replied June, offended that Jamal would even ask if she’d had the nerve to set eyes on such a place.
“Are you forgetting where we all met? It wasn’t exactly holy there either?” said V, raising a brow in anticipation of June’s answer.
“W-well, that was different. I-I,” June said, stumbling over her own words as she tried to come up with the correct response.
“Yeah, why were you in that bar of all places?” asked Jamal with a grin, his additional question only filling June with more anxiety.
Both V and Jamal watched as she sputtered out random letters and what they assumed were attempts at words.
“June, believe me. Of all people, we’re not going to judge. We were both in there too,” said V, calming June, though only slightly.
“Okay, okay. I’ll tell you!” announced June, finally saying something that the two could understand. June couldn’t believe what she was about to admit. “I wanted to see what it was like! Living life for yourself, not caring about what you do and just existing for the sake of it!” she said, making the anticipation the other two had built up feel worth it. And strangely enough, V, for the very first time on their journey, felt where June was coming from. Living life for yourself. “But when I walked in I felt out of place. People started to stare. I mean I don’t blame them, why would a Cleric be in a tavern of all places, so I had to make up an excuse. I said I was lost and well, you guys know what happened next,” June finished. The clear shame she felt lingering in the surrounding air.
“Well then, how about we all head to that tavern I was talking about once all this is over, huh? I’m sure me and V can show you what living life to its fullest really looks like!” replied Jamal, gently punching June on her arm, a gesture she obviously wasn’t used to if the defensive position she took was any indication.
V kept walking as Jamal tried to explain that he wasn’t trying to attack her, though she didn’t go on for much longer as she froze on the spot only a few steps ahead of them.
Once June understood that the punch was, in fact, a playful gesture the two carried on their journey. Though just like V, they too stood still as their eyes set on the stunning city that stood off in the distance.
Glasshall. Their destination was finally in sight.
Otis kept close behind the Warlock. Trying his best to keep up, all whilst staying upright as his vision was still blurry after waking up. So far his line of questioning hadn’t led to any more answers, the Warlock had basically halted speaking completely and nothing Otis said would make his cast-iron grip on answers ease. He was clearly getting annoyed by Otis’s persistence, though. Something that Otis was counting on breaking.
“You said something before too. About not escaping us? You acted like you’d met us before. What do you know?” he asked, yet again getting nothing in response. Otis thought long and hard about his next question. “Why did you let us stay?” Otis spoke, causing the Warlock’s head to turn slightly toward him. This time he didn’t reply with a grunt. Instead, the Warlock came to a quick and sudden stop that he wasn’t prepared for.
The Warlock stared at him, his bushy eyebrows frowning at him so much that they almost covered his eyes entirely.
“Drop it, kid,” said the wizard, now walking toward Otis rather threateningly. But he wasn’t backing down. Not when he was getting so close to the truth. Otis still had one last trick up his sleeve.
“I’m just asking, cause living in the lost woods, having a spell that hides the entrance to your home. That’s not just wanting to be away from people, that’s hiding, but from what?” Otis said, watching as the Warlocks approach halted. His face showed signs of something. Was that shame?