Chapter 49. Vardos Village And A 'Sleeping' Tree.
The evening was approaching, but there was no sight of the village. I started to wonder if we were on the right path. The road took us on the hill and we were able to see the surroundings further in the distance.
- Are those lights up ahead? - asked Eve.
- It would seem so. - I said.
Vardos Village or not, we needed to stop for the night. We reached it when it was totally dark. The horses needed a good rest, and so did we. There were people still outside, so I asked one of them if they had an inn of some sort.
- Oh yes, we do. It’s just further down the road. You must be the missing adventurers I’ve heard about. Your friends were really worried about you. - the villager told us.
Friends? What is he talking about?
- Really? Well, we got lost on our way here. Do you know how many of our friends got here before us. - I pretended I knew what he was talking about.
- It was quite a group really. Seven or eight in total. They said they were on a quest to catch some big monster in the forest. - he happily told us.
Big monster my ass. Either he’s playing us or he’s just a nice guy. And pretty dense too if it’s the latter. Anyhow, at least I know they are here.
- Thank you. We will go to the inn now. - I thanked him.
- Have a good night. - he wished us.
The girls heard the conversation and understood the situation. We agreed to not make a scene, but to book a room, eat something and get some rest. Hopefully nothing will happen while we’re at the inn.
- Welcome to our humble inn. - the innkeeper greeted us.
- Hello, we’d like some food and a room for the night. - I asked him politely.
- Coming right up. - he replied.
It was late, but there were plenty of people drinking or eating. Sure enough, I noticed some ‘friendly’ characters as soon as we sat down. It was so evident which were the ones that villager spoke off.
That’s just too funny.
I scoffed at their attempt to try and blend in. People don’t realize how easy they give themselves away. Especially with faces like theirs.
Sigh... at least I know who we’ll be dealing with.
I wasn’t worried at all. If that’s all they’ve got, even a Beezle Sprout could take them on. I tried to assess their strength. Some of them seemed to be better than average.
Haha. Ok, maybe one Beezle Sprout wouldn’t be enough.
- Here you go. - our food was delivered. - And a key to your room. Number four. Second door to the left as soon as you go upstairs. That will be three silvers.
- Thank you. - I gave him the coins.
- That’s really expensive. - Eve commented.
- Yeah. I guess they don’t get many visitors. Most of the visitors are adventurers anyway and the place needs to make some money to keep itself running. Lets eat and hit the beds. We should reach the forest tomorrow. - I said.
- Booo, no Crobbery Juice... - Eve was disappointed.
- Haha. I’ll get you some when we come back to Saramis. - I tried to cheer her up.
- Yey! Thank you Master. - that was enough to make Eve smile again.
We ate quietly after that. Everyone was tired enough and it was pretty late too. We went upstairs right after the meal.
The room looked shabby, but it was clean. Luckily, the innkeeper gave us the room with two beds.
The girls were about to change to their pajamas, when I stopped them.
- But why Master? Don’t tell me I don’t look good in my pajamas? - Eve protested.
- That’s not it. I think you’re look very adorable in your pajamas. It’s for safety reasons. It’s better if you don’t change, just in case we get attacked at night. It is unlikely to happen, but better safe than sorry. - I explained.
- TC is right. - Luna agreed. - You saw those men downstairs? They were staring at me... all the time. They must know who I am...
So she noticed them too. On the other hand, who wouldn’t.
- Oh, ok. - Eve finally gave in.
- Goodnight ladies. - I fell on one of the beds.
- Goodnight Master. - Eve lied next to me.
- Goodnight... - Luna followed her example and lied on the other side also next to me.
- Hey, what are you doing? There’s one more bed available. - I was almost surprised.
- But you said we might be attacked during the night. - Eve made a frightened baby face.
- I will feel safer... next to you... - added Luna.
Bah... you two. What kind of excuse is this? Both of you are wearing your armor anyways... - my own thoughts made me feel stupid. - And what if they didn’t? What will you do?
- Goodnight. - I didn’t want to go deeper into it.
The night passed uneventfully to my big surprise. Other than dreaming, or not, about cuddling with two hot girls in my bed, I woke up rested and... squeezed from both sides.
As exciting as my morning was, I had other matters to attend to. We overslept with the sun being up high in the sky. I quickly woke the two sleeping beauties up, who, for some strange reason, did not want to wake up at all.
- Good morning sleepy head. Time to get up. - I resorted to tickling Eve, which did the job.
- Uh, ah, hihihi. - Eve jumped up. - Aaah, no fair Master. I was having such a nice dream.
- Oh... What’s happening? - Luna was almost startled by Eve’s laughter.
- Time to go. We overslept a little. - I said.
- Oh, it’s this late already. - Eve looked through the window.
The sun was up in the sky. It wasn’t a day time yet, but it was past the early morning already.
- Let’s go get something to eat quick. - I picked up my stuff.
Downstairs wasn’t as busy as yesterday’s evening. Most of the adventurers and patrons were gone. We had our breakfast and went to get the carriage.
- It’s not far to the forest from here. - I looked into the distance.
- It looks quite far to me. - Eve said.
- Only if you walk on foot. - I smiled. - We should be able to reach it by late afternoon. Unless someone will hold us off.
- Someone? - my companion was puzzled.
- Yeah. Few of the patrons at the inn yesterday weren’t really adventurers you know. And we woke up later than usual, so... - I didn’t finish my sentence.
- So what does that mean? - Eve was still wondering.
- It means... they left early and... might attack us on the way to the forest. - Luna explained.
- Oh... - Eve finally caught on. - Don’t worry Luna. We will protect you. And you know my Master is super strong.
Eve wasn’t worried about it one bit. She was cheerful and in a good mood no matter what.
- Yeah, well. They probably will set an ambush somewhere not far from the forest. An area with trees or rocks where they can hide. But like Eve said, don’t worry about it. No matter how good they are, we won’t let them harm you. - I reassured Luna.
- Thank you. - Luna smiled.
In a few moments we were ready to go. Eve and Luna jumped in the back and I sat at the front again. The negative thoughts about the bandits or the ambush faded away quickly and were replaced with the excitement of reaching Luna’s village. Eve was looking forward to see an elven village. And so was I. Although I kept the reasons to myself.
We didn’t stop to eat, but had some food while riding. The road was empty and bumpy at the same time. Not many people traveled this way, which didn’t surprise me. There was nowhere to go, but to the forest and we were getting close.
Right around the next corner I had to quickly pull the harness to stop the carriage.
- Woah! Stooop! - I shouted.
A fallen tree was blocking our advance. And I suspected somebody helped it to fall down.
- What happened? - Eve stuck her head out.
- Nothing much. The tree decided to have a nap. - once again I tried to be funny.
- Why is a tree sleeping in the middle of the road? - asked Eve.
- It’s not sleeping Eve... - I shook my head.
- Somebody cut it down to stop us from going forward. - explained Luna.
- Oh. - Eve made a silly face.
- Hahaha. What a funny bunch you are. - a man came out of the bushes.
- A sleeping tree, haha. That was a good joke. - said the other.
- Come on boys, give them some slack. They’re about to join the tree on the ground. - added yet another.
More men showed from behind the rocks and bushes.
Three, four, five... six, seven, eight. Eight in total, eh. Shouldn’t be a problem.
- How about you leave the elf girl and get out of here while you still can. - a man, who appeared to be their boss, said in arrogant voice.
Luna had a hood and nobody could see her pointy ears. Which meant they knew about us.
- We won’t give Luna to the likes of you! - Eve was upset with them.
- Wow, a spunky one. - said one of them.
- Hey, she looks kinda cute. How about we get her as well? - said another.
- Two is better than one as they say. - added the third one.
- Hahaha. - others laughed.
- Now that was a mistake. - I stated.
- Huh? You said something village boy? - the guy smirked at me.
- I thought about letting you off the hook after you remove the tree, but I changed my mind. - I told him.
- Oh real-
- ‘Slash!’ - I used Flash Step to get close to him.
- Aaargh... - the man fell down on the ground.
- Huh? What just happened? - his buddy was confused.
- How dare you? Yaaa! - another one charged at me.
Why do they always say that? I mean, I already did it. So what’s the point?
- ‘Swoosh!’ - I dodged his attack and... - ‘Slash!’ - cut him down as well.
- Don’t just stand there idiots! Grab the elf! - their boss shouted.
- Thorns! - Eve didn’t need an invitation and caught two in an instant.
- Aaargh... what’s this? - they couldn’t move.
One of them tried to grab Luna, but...
- ‘Slice!’ - she easily got away and cut his arm off.
- Aaaa! - he yelled from pain.
- Seriously? And you wanted to catch an elf? - I asked the boss guy.
- You damn bastard. I’ll cut you in half! Yaaa! - he was enraged.
- ‘Swoosh!’, ‘Spin!’, ‘Slash!’ - he swung his axe at me.
- Woah... - I didn’t expect him to be that fast.
He was stronger than the rest.
Ok, maybe I misjudged you... a little.
- Ha! - ‘Swoosh!’ ‘Bang!’ - I blocked his attack with a shield.
- ‘Slash!’, ‘Ding!’ - I swung back, but he managed to block with his axe.
But the force pushed him away.
- Heh... you’re strong for a village boy. - he said.
- You’re an idiot, you know that? - I told him.
- What did you say? - he wasn’t happy.
- You heard me. - I added.
- Now you made me really mad. I’ll kill you for sure. - he gripped his axe with both hands.
- No, you won’t. - I stated calmly.
- Haaaa! - I heard Luna’s voice.
- You little... - one of the bandits missed her.
- ‘Slice!’, ‘Slash!’ -
- Aaghh... - he fell down and didn’t move.
- Thorns! - Eve caught another one, but didn’t use spikes to finish any of them off.
- Looks like it’s just you and me now. - I smirked.
- Why you... Double Swing! - he spun around twice and swung with his huge axe.
A massive, magic blade was released from his swing. It looked like an axe being thrown, but with magic instead.
- Woah! - I jumped to the side to avoid it.
- ‘Boom!’ - it hit the rocks behind me.
Wow, he split the rocks in half.
- Flash Step. - I appeared in front of him in a blink of an eye.
- Huh? - he didn’t expect to see me in front of him.
- ‘Slash!’ -
- Aaaarg... - he fell backwards. - Why you...
- Oh, I thought that will finish you off. - I was surprised he was still alive.
- Hah, you don’t know anything. - he was holding onto his chest.
What’s going on?
I sensed dark magic being cast.
- You might’ve won now, but next time I will be sure to kill you. - he grinned.
The man took out something that looked like a rune. He threw it under his feet, smashing it into pieces. A magic circle appeared underneath him and a magic wall surrounded him in an instant.
- Ahahaha! - he soon disappeared into nothing and I couldn’t sense his presence.
Sigh... why do they laugh when they run away? It’s so lame...
- No! Boss! Aaaargh! - the three men that were caught by Eve’s Thorns spell struggled to get away.
- Well then... what should we do with you? - I approached them.
- Eeeek... - they couldn’t move.
With their boss gone and their buddies dead, they weren’t very confident. Not to mention, Eve could kill them anytime.
- What should I do Master? - she was pointing her staff forward.
- Please! Spare us! - they begged.
I sort of felt sorry for them really. One of them was sitting on the ground shaking with his arm cut of. They looked pitiful and was not about to slaughter some defenseless thugs. They did not pose a threat to us anymore.
- Sigh... release them Eve. - I asked.
- Oh, ok. - she waved her staff and the thorns disappeared.
- Aahh, thank you. - they were about to run away.
- Hey! - I shouted.
- Aaah... yes? - they stopped.
- Take your tree with you. - I ordered.
- Ah, yes, of course. - they were too scared to disobey.
The tree was big, but not that big. Four of them struggled, but managed to pull it away from the road.
- Now beat it. If I ever see you again, you’ll end up just like your other buddies here. - I warned them.
- Eeek. - they ran off as fast as they could.
- Was it a good idea to let them go? - Eve asked me. - They seemed like a really bad people.
- Yeah, well. I think they were more scared of dying than anything else. It doesn’t matter. We’re close to the forest anyway. - I said.
I thought the attackers will be stronger. But luckily, we weren’t held up for too long. It’s not that they were weak, even if I made fun of them. With Eve, able to cast her Thorns spell on multiple targets at once and me, taking out their boss, there was nothing they could do afterwards.
- Let’s get going, shall we? It will get dark soon. - I suggested.
We hopped into the carriage and were on our way. The road was empty all the way till we reached the forest. It was evening and was getting dark already, but I didn’t want to camp outside the forest. Who knows, if not those guys, somebody else might show up while we’re sleeping.
- Luna... - I addressed her. - You know these forests, don’t you?
- Umm... yeah. - she responded.
- I don’t think it’s a good idea to spend the night outside the forest. We might get attacked again. If you can show us the way, we can spend the night somewhere safe in the forest. - I said.
- Yeah, ok. - I could tell Luna was fond of the idea.
- That’s a great idea Master TC. It will be so romantic, like last time. - Eve clapped her hands.
Of course you’d say that. She already forgot about us being attacked a few hours ago.
- Ok, grab your gear and the left over food. I’ll set the horses free. - I said.
- You’ll let the horses go free? - Eve was puzzled.
- Yeah. I don’t think they will run away. For the past couple of days they pulled this carriage and must be tired. If we’re lucky, we will find them here when we get back. - at least I hoped we will.