Circle Star Adventure. The Ever Blooming Flower.

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Chapter 45. Another Visit To The Passion Springs Bath House.

We still had half a day left. Enough time to hang out and enjoy our free time. That expedition to the Frozen Mountains piqued my interest, even if I said otherwise. However, going unprepared without knowing anything about Frost Giants, was what kept me from getting involved.

In her line of work, Farla was meeting adventurers every day. If anyone had any information, even if those were rumors, it would be her.

The Temple was packed busy, full of people. The Auction was getting a lot of attention. Apparently you can find lots of magic items, including sorcery scrolls on the Auction as well. I had enough funds to buy something shiny, but I didn’t need anything in particular.

- Hello TC. Fancy seeing you here today. - Farla noticed me first.

- Hey Farla. - Eve almost jumped from excitement.

- Hi Eve. You look adorable today. What a pretty hairpin you have. - Farla noticed her accessory.

- Thank you Farla. I bought it only a moment ago at Miss Norel’s shop. - Eve was happy.

- Oooh, so TC is being generous again? - the priestess smiled.

- No, I bought it with my own money that I earned working at Grog’s Inn. - said Eve.

- Wow, that sounds exciting. I’d love to know more. By the way, who is your friend? - asked Farla.

- This is Luna. We met her at the Tournament. My Master freed her from the Forced Pact. - Eve was open and loud.

- Really? Nice to meet you. My name is Farla. I am a priestess here at the Temple. - she introduced herself.

- Nice to meet you. - Luna was more relaxed than usual.

- So TC, what brings you here today? - finally Farla asked me.

- I have a request if you don’t mind? - I asked.

- Sure. I’m all yours. - she had a cheeky smile on her face.

You mean ‘all ears’?

- I need some information about Frost Giants. I thought you might’ve heard something, since you meet lots of adventurers in here. - I said.

- Frost Giants? And here I thought you wanted to know more about myself, hihi. - she giggled. - Ghm... I can’t say I know much about them.

- No rush. I thought you might now something. - I pretended I didn’t care about her comment.

- Why do you ask? - Farla was curious.

- No specific reason. Someone from the Guild was talking about them. - I didn’t want to give my intentions away.

- Did you know Farla? My Master won the Five Star Tournament. - Eve couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

- Really? Wow, impressive. You must be really strong TC. - Farla’s gaze felt pleasantly uncomfortable.

- Yeah, well... I guess... - I was confused about her behaviour.

- Humble, are we? - she gave me a cheeky smile.

- My Master was so strong. But his last opponent played dirty against him. She even kissed him at the end of the fight. - Eve was childishly unhappy.

- Aaaahh... a real lady magnet, even in a fight, are you TC? - Farla’s face was really close to mine.

I had no idea if she was teasing me or the opposite. Needless to say, the conversation had taken the turn I didn’t want to follow.

- His opponent grew wings and a tail, and then she vanished after that. But I still felt it wasn’t fair my Master was kissed by her. - Eve complained.

- I can imagine. - Farla was sympathetic.

- But then Master TC promised to take as to the Passion Springs Bath House. - Eve’s mood changed instantly.

- Us? - the ribbon priestess was puzzled.

- Yes. Luna is coming too. - Eve smiled.

- Oh, wow. Sounds amazing. TC is in for a treat. - Farla couldn’t be more cheekier.

- I know. How about you join us too Farla? - Eve did it again.

Oh come on Eve! You complain about another woman kissing me and then you invite some other girl to join us at the Bath House? That’s just so you. I’m not worried too much though. It’s Farla we’re talking about here.

- Sure, I’d love to join. - said Farla.

What?! But...

- You’re not serious, are you? - I asked somewhat perplexed.

- Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be? - her smile was suspicious.

- I don’t know... I mean... - I was at a loss of words.

- Did you just thought about having a private steamed bath with me? - Farla read my mind.

I’m sure it was written all over my face. Thinking about Eve and Luna was too hot already. But with a ribbon priestess on top of it, I was heading for a huge blast.

- Hihihi. I’m sorry TC. I never said I will join you guys for a private steamed bath. - Farla giggled. - I simply said I’d love to go. I feel flattered you having such fantasies about me. I will think about you when I wash my body.

- Errr... - I felt dumber than a donkey.

Farla got me good. The only thing left for me was to drown.

- So when are you going to the Bath House? - Farla turned to Eve.

- I don’t know. When are we going Master? - Eve turned to me.

- Whenever you want. - I didn’t care anymore.

All of the errands were done and I honestly wanted to drown.

- Yey! How about we go there right now? - I knew she’d say that.

- Sure. - I sighed.

- Ok, great. Let me grab a few things. It will take only a minute. - Farla vanished behind the doors on the side.

We went outside to wait for her to come back. It was more like I needed some fresh air after talking to Farla.

After a short while, Farla showed up wearing casual clothes. I had to admit, ribbons or not, she looked attractive. But since I only saw her wearing a ribbon dress, it felt unusual.

- Shall we go? - Farla smiled.

- Yey! Off to the Passion Springs Bath House! - Eve sounded like going on a quest of her life.

Entering the Bath House lobby with three beautiful girls certainly attracted attention. I received more than one or two genuinely jealous glares from other male patrons. Especially the ones who were by themselves.

I was happy and sad at the same time. But I wasn’t about to lose my mind or decency no matter how big the temptation was.

- Hi, I’d like to book a bath for three people please. - I asked at the counter.

- Sure thing. One Steamed Bath room for three people. - said the girl receptionist.

- Ahem... Make it two separate rooms please. - I added.

- Wha... How come Master TC? - it sounded more like a protest than a question.

- Hey now. If it was only the two of us, it would be fine. But with Luna here, I don’t think it’s very appropriate. - I tried to come up with a reason.

- But who will wash your back Master? - Eve didn’t want to give up.

- I’ll be fine. I can wash myself you know. You two can spend some girly time together. - I added.

- But it would be so much more fun with the three of us. - Eve’s thinking blew my mind.

Yeah, right. More fun? For who? Not to mention the Passionflower extract mixed into the steam will turn everything into tornado. No amount of cold water would cool me off. And I forgot to prepare some Cleansing Potions too.

- Such a gentleman, are you TC? - Farla smiled.

Look who’s talking. It’s partly your fault my hormones declared war on me.

- I know. Farla, how about you join me and Luna too? - Eve asked.

- But if I join you two, TC might change his mind about the separate Steamed Bath. - Farla took of her jacket, revealing her shoulders.

- Two Steamed Baths please. Four people total. - I turned back to the receptionist girl.

- All booked. Enjoy your stay. - the girl smiled.

- Thank you. - I went right towards the hallway after that.

- Wait Master! - Eve ran after me.

The assistant showed us to the bath rooms.

- Here you go. These are your rooms. Enjoy your time. - she said.

- Have fun you three. - I was about to go inside my room.

- Oooh... I wanted to wash your body Master TC. - Eve was sad.

Yeah me too. Not today though.

- Next time, ok? - I smiled.

- Make sure you keep your promise TC. - Farla winked.

- I can come and wash your back, if you want. - Luna offered out of the blue.

- Hey... errr... thanks, but... - again I was at a loss of words.

Did the Passionflower extract started to work already?

- See, even Luna doesn’t mind you joining us. - Eve saw a ray of hope.

I didn’t wait for any of them to say or do anything else. I went in and closed the door behind me. It was getting too hot.

Does Eve have some special magic ability to make other girls want to ‘wash my back’ as well? Not that I wouldn’t enjoy it, but... baaah! I can’t get used to this world’s companion ‘thing’.

Oh wait. Luna is not my companion. Then why does she want to... Maybe she likes me? Doh! Or maybe she thinks about a bath as simply ‘taking a bath’? Is that a normal thing for elves here? Aaargh! My head will explode from overthinking. Where is that bucket of water?

I took of my clothes and went to scrub my body with the roughest sponge I could find. The steam and the soap did their thing too. I felt refreshed and relaxed in no time. Obviously the Passionflower extract in the steam was tickling my senses, but since I was by myself no ‘harm’ was done.

On the other hand, Eve, Luna and Farla were taking a bath together. The thought alone about them washing each other was enough to make my blood boil.

Where is that sponge again? Grrr...

After a while I managed to calm down. Then I thought about Eve again. In all honesty, I wouldn’t mind having Eve wash my body. We’ve been together for a while now and I started to get used to her innocent slash seductive personality.

She’s a little bit childish, but that just adds to her cuteness. Her body, however, is far from childish. If anything, Eve looks totally hot. And I had to admit I cared about her more than I pretended to.

Now that I think about it, Eve proved, time and time again, she will do anything to make me happy. Even, compared to Angel, who was crying not wanting to leave her Master, Eve happily accepted the fact I might get a new companion. She also knew about the Tournament prize and still supported me with all she got.

How could I not fall for her after that. I was pushing my feelings away since ‘that’ day. I felt like a coward running away from my past. And from my future for that matter. I act tough and strong, but when it comes to fighting my own demons, I was simply running away.

I can make up all kinds of excuses if I wanted to, but nothing will change unless I change. Suddenly tears started running down my cheeks. The realization about my true feelings freed my emotions I had been suppressing all this time.

Life doesn’t stand still and, even if I can’t change the past, I can still create a new future. That’s what Nessa was trying to show me when the seed sprouted. It gave me hope I might be able to see her someday. One way or the other at least. But for now I have to live in the ‘today’ and use every opportunity to make the best of it.

My body felt lighter than butterfly’s wings. The heavy weight I carried with me was lifted and washed away. It wasn’t such a bad idea to take a bath by myself after all.

I soaked myself a short while before going to the open Springs Bath Pool. The place had enough visitors, none of who I recognized though. It didn’t matter really. I came to relax. And knowing the girls, they will probably take their time. Which meant I can take a nap or two without worrying about oversleeping.

Like before, I had additional towels to place under my head and to cover my eyes. Without much of a concern I fell asleep while soaking my body in a warm steamy water.

I was woken up by a gently pat on the shoulder.

- Excuse me sir. You have been sleeping for nearly two hours. We need to make sure you are ok. - one of the pool workers woke me up.

- What? Two hours? - I couldn’t believe my ears.

- Yes, that is correct. - he replied.

- Oh, thanks. I better be going. - I picked myself up.

I didn’t expect to be asleep for two hours. The girls were probably done with their bath and must be waiting for me. Even for someone as chatty as Eve, staying for two hours is a long time.

Time to hit the restaurant. Bath, food and sleep. What else would a guy need? Ahem... lets not answer that question.

Finding the girls in the restaurant wasn’t that difficult. Eve started waving and shouting as soon as she saw me. And it didn’t surprise me one bit.

- You took so long Master. What did you do in there all by yourself? - Eve asked me.

- Maybe he wasn’t by himself? - Farla giggled.

- Hey now! - Eve didn’t think it was funny.

- Haha. I fell asleep at the hot springs pool. - I said.

- What can I get you sir? - a waitress showed up as soon as I sat down.

- Do you have some oven cooked wild meat? - I asked without looking at the menu.

- Of course. Any drinks? - she asked.

- Water will be fine. - I said.

- Not a drinker, are you TC? - Farla’s smile was still suspicious.

- No, not really. Did you enjoy your bath? - I changed the subject.

- Yes. But I still wish you were with us. - Eve added.

- How about you Luna? - I didn’t know if they had hot spring baths where she comes from.

- It was... lovely. - Luna’s cheeks went red.

- Would you like to know the details? - Farla asked me cheekily.

- Eeerr... no need for that. - Or else I’ll have to order a whole barrel of cold water.

- So why do you want to know more about the Frost Giants? - this time Farla changed the subject.

I figured she suspected I wasn’t simply curious about them.

- Right, I guess there’s no point to hide it. The Guild wants me to join an expedition to the Frozen Mountains. They want to build a friendly relationships with the Frost Giants. I don’t know what to think about it. - I explained.

- Wow, the Guild asked you? - Eve was impressed.

- An expedition? But that seems a very high ranked quest. Only Gold Rank adventurers who belong to Conquerors Division would be assigned to that type of expedition. - Farla was puzzled.

She sure knows a lot about ranks and quests. Well, she does meet a lot of adventurers in her line of work.

- Yeah, that’s correct. The thing is I joined the Conquerors Division this morning. - I said.

- Wow, incredible. Congratulations TC. - Farla was impressed.

- Yey! My Master was promoted again. - Eve was excited.

More like ‘unintentionally bribed’...

- Anyway, if you can learn anything about the Frost Giants, that would be a big help. - I said.

- It might take some time. - said Farla thoughtfully.

- That’s ok. We’ll be away for a while from tomorrow. - I added.

- Oh, so you’re leaving tomorrow already? Taking Luna back home? - the priestess asked.

- Yeah. - I thought they would tell her. - That is if Sieran and Madam Norel delivers the orders on time.

- You must be thrilled to be able to get back home Luna? - asked Farla.

- Yes. - Luna smiled.

- I can understand why elves don’t trust humans. I hear talks every day how adventurers want to get an elf as their companion. It must’ve been rough for you. But from what I can tell, TC is the right person for the job. In addition to saving you from that horrible man, TC had a chance to get a five star gold companion and didn’t. I say you’re in good hands Luna. - Farla’s didn’t hold of with the compliments this time.

- Of course. Master TC is the best. - Eve was thrilled to hear me being praised.

- Thank you. - Luna had tears in her eyes.

Luna must still be weary of her surroundings. I noticed Luna shivered when Farla mentioned adventurers wanting to get elves as their companions. Can’t blame her for what she’s gone through.

From my point of view, everyone would benefit more if humans and elves were on friendly terms. Forging a pact willingly, like Don and Amelia for example, would would everyone happier.

However, building trust isn’t that easy. Even if majority of adventurers agrees not to use Forced Pacts, one incident would be enough to put things back where they are now. In addition, from what I’ve seen, Forced Pacts aren’t even forbidden in the first place. That’s just normal practise.

I, for one, could walk around and don’t care about having a companion. I was strong enough by myself. Unfortunately, this world was completely different to where I come from.

That got me thinking what actually happens to the girls who are abandoned by their Masters. Grog mentioned he hired few former companions at his Inn, but what about the rest? How did the abandoned girls survive, since you can’t get jobs at the Guild by yourself?

These, and similar thoughts, were interrupted by the smell of roasted wild meat presented in front of me. I decided thinking about it right now won’t do me any good. But the thought left a sour taste in my mouth and made me want to do something about it.

Since I was busy devouring my meal, the girls were chit chatting among themselves. I thought they already talked enough during the time they spent together, but the chatter didn’t stop. Most of the time Eve was telling about the Tournament and the fights she witnessed. Farla was listening intently and asked additional questions to keep the conversation going.

Luna was quiet most of the time and neither Eve nor Farla forced her to speak. I ordered some more deserts for the girls to indulge themselves and my generosity was well received.

The evening was approaching and it was time for us to go. I wanted to check on Sieran and Madam Norel before they closed for the night. Although I doubted they would finish the orders today.

We walked Farla to the Temple of Summoning. Everyone was in high spirits and in a brilliant mood. I kept my promise to take Eve to the Passion Springs Bath House. As well as my decency as a man even if my fantasies disagreed. Of course I made another promise to Eve, but after what happened I was looking forward to keeping it.

Eve and Luna said goodbye to Farla and rushed to the fountain to enjoy the view of it’s playful water. Farla approached me before going into the Temple.

- Thank you for taking me to the Passion Springs Bath House. I don’t get to go out too often. - she smiled.

- You’re welcome. - I was cautious about what she might say next.

- I’ll ask around about the Frost Giants, but I can’t promise anything. - Farla said.

- That’s ok. Anything will help. Thanks for coming along and keeping Eve and Luna company. I’m sure they enjoyed the time spent with you. - I thanked her.

- My pleasure. Good luck on your trip taking Luna back home. And be careful too. Other elves might not be very friendly towards you two. - she warned me.

- Thanks. I’ll be careful. See you later. - I was about to leave.

- By the way TC. - the priestess stopped me.

- Yes? - I wondered what else she had to say.

- Why don’t you try to be more accepting of Eve? She’s extremely devoted to you. You might have a past I don’t know about, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a new future. - Farla’s words exactly matched my previous thoughts.

- Thanks. I will. - I smiled.

Farla always managed to find the right words at the right time. But she never said things out right, which made her look more mysterious. I suspected she was more than just a priestess who helps with the summons.

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