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Everlast

By LadyMulti//Silena B. All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy

chapter 1: the people of a fated encounter

There was once a small city nestled at the end of large chain of mountains.  The city was located in a hook of the mountain, surrounded slightly on two sides by mountains but clear to the valleys and plains beyond on the others.  Those clear sides, however, were walled off by very old stone walls.  The walls had stood there longer than many could date; little seemed to care, to be fair.

Though the walls made the city look quite fortified, it wasn’t.  The outer walls were more of a decorative spectacle than any line of defense.  They were so old that their guard towers were too old and damaged to even be used.  The guards stood on rickety wooden towers just outside the walls; and on the inside civilian houses and shacks came all the wall up to the wall.

It was the poorest who lived closest to the wall it seemed and it was in one of those small shacks where a young man lived.

His name was Stark Everlast…

Stark was an unusual young man of about eighteen.  He was not a native to the city at all; and the majority of the city’s populous preferred to have nothing to do with him.  The remained cautious of him for one major reason: his appearance.

About his appearance: Stark was a relatively handsome young man.  He had just slightly fair skin; long black hair that fell just below his shoulders; he was tall and of an average build.  Really with just those features mentioned he would look just like a normal person. It’s the next facts that made people very wary of him.  Stark seemed too perfect to look at a times: too pleasing to the eye.  Any injuries he obtained would heal with little to no scarring keeping that perfection.  And then there is the final feature: something unusual for the world in which they lived… Stark had eyes that were the color of blood.

It was mainly for those eyes that people feared him.  It was they eyes that they had seen of him upon first impressions as a child and they remained on their guard from the man since.  He wasn’t native to their city and they didn’t know where he had come from.  They feared him; they knew no other ordinary mortal with the trait to have such color eyes such as he.

It was due to all the unusual traits; the strangeness of him; and the lack of his history that people held a label for him: Demon.  Stark denied this; yet, even he did not know for certain.

Yes, Stark did not know himself.  He knew nothing of even how he had come to that city; he only remembered wandering in aimlessly as a child knowing nothing but his name.  It was odd…

Even so, Stark lived amongst those people who feared him, who called him a demon for seven years of his life.  They were horrible teachers for him from childhood to adulthood, but he really didn’t resent them.  As he grew, however, Stark learned more about the outside world and made it his grand aspiration to leave the city and find a place that wouldn’t judge him quite so desperately.  There was a problem with monetary means to travel in this quest of his.

In his attempts to purchase supplies, Jay Jones, a local merchant and Stark’s most frequented shop owner, laughed at him and told him to get a job.  Jay was, in reality, the closet Stark had to a “friend” in the entire city.  As a child, Stark didn’t know what to do, it was Jay who told him what to do.

It was usually very had labor and Jay made him wear a hooded garment to hide that the “demon-kid” was working for him.  The man would feed him and it was Jay who had acquired the deed to the tiny shack that Stark would later call his own.

It wasn’t until he started getting older that working for Jay was becoming harder to hide from people.  People talked and Stark didn’t want to hurt Jay’s business and stopped working for him.

It was Jay who handed him a sword and then told him to go find him something good.  At first, Stark had no idea what Jay had referred to but Stark figured it out.

It was then that Stark found a way to create a means for himself.  Stark became a treasure hunter and used the nearby caverns as his hunting grounds.

Stark was strong…really strong, and learned to use the gifted sword quickly to fend off any beasts in the caverns.  Inside the caverns laid a ruined city that no one dared to trek.  The city was dangerous and over-run with beasts; the city probably dated to the same as those crumbly outer stone walls of the city Stark lived.  It was probably once a grand glorious kingdom.

It was finding that ruined city that Stark had found his source of income: the treasures of the city were bountiful and great.  They were just dangerous to obtain and it was hard to return with many at once.

The ruined city yielded many treasures: from jewels, gold, old trinkets, ornate furniture (if he could carry them), and then interestingly enough, weaponry.  It was the ruined city that taught Stark another art: weapon mastery.  He would find such a strange assortment of weapons inside the city that usually he kept a small stash near his entrance to the ruin.  He would keep one on him, sure, but it was the larger, sturdier ones that he found in the city that he mastered.  So much so that he pretty much learned any sort of weapon.

This led him to the plains and being a huntsman as well.  Sure he would find all the trinkets and goods in the world from the city but the economy of the city was usually poor and Stark still needed the means to live on himself.  With the cost of food high and the cost of trinkets low, Jay would only purchase the items from Stark at the best he could offer.

They sold usually at least.  Stark’s finds in the ruined city seemed popular enough to continue his plundering of the ruins and that was the only way he was able to save.

It worked, this method of survival and income.  It was just himself so he purchased what he needed to live and saved the rest; keeping to himself in the small shack that Jay had “paid” him with one time.  The shack wasn’t much; it was a small two room building.  One room contained a tiny kitchen and dining corner whilst the other corner had a bed covered with thin sheets.  The other room was a small wash-room.  It wasn’t much, but it was enough: better than living on the streets or in Jay’s warehouse as he had done as a child.

Life seemed pretty much on a repeat for all those years, however.  Things never changed; Stark kept doing as he was doing and people still avoided him.  Not many travelers came and no one really ever left.  It was a stagnating atmosphere in a way, but in a way it was almost like a pot that was boiling and just about to go over the lip.

Stark was wondering when the first drop would slip over the edge…

Stark, dressed in black (as he always did), with his hair pulled back neatly behind his neck, was on his recent return from the ruin.  He carried with him a large, black leather satchel.  It was one of Jay’s many “payments” to him when he was younger; he still kept it after so many years doing his best to keep it in good mend.

It was his venturing bag and was fitted to carry back his valuable collectables; and it was filled that day as he made his way towards Jay’s large shop.

Jay’s shop was a shop of all trades and was very popular; it was almost a one-stop shop for everything.  Probably why he was so prosperous with such an economy.

As Stark entered, Jay was dealing with one customer but the man noticed Stark’s entry.

As did the other customer… As per normal, people liked to avoid him and the woman with a child quickly made her purchase and left thanking Jay before leaving.  Both Jay and Stark, at this point, were used to the interactions occurring in such a way the moment Stark entered the room.

“Back already I see,” said the middle aged-man.  Jay was well-kept for a man of his age.  He probably was his later fifty’s which was considered older for people of the city, but he was well aged.  He could still manage quite well and was in great health; able to keep his shop himself with minimal help.  His hair was graying but still held some of its once brown coloring to it.  The only problem the man had: a small limp.

“I was gone longer than you realized,” Stark replied in in almost velvet voice.

“Oh?” Jay murmured as he leaned on his countertop.

Stark placed the satchel on the counter next to the man and opened it.

“You know the drill, Stark, I’ll do the best I can.” Jay stated.  “The chief decided to pose a new tax this year on all goods sold so it’s going to be a rough one for everyone.  The only thing I have going for me is you at the moment.  Supply is an issue for other merchants; some outside traders don’t like that the merchants want to pay less or are buying less; it’s just a thing.  This world is having problems.” He began rummaging through the bag, pulling out jewelry, plates, and pottery.  There were probably ten to twenty pieces in the bag.

“Now, Stark,” Jay began, as he looked at the pieces, “I know why you’re saving the money: I know you want to leave this horrid place.  I don’t blame you.  I’ve never mentioned this before, but one thing I do know will sell for large sums are magical artifacts,” he looked up at Stark and a medallion that Stark always had.

The medallion was something Stark had worn the moment he entered the town.  He didn’t’ know what it was but it was something.  It was about three inches in diameter and perfectly round and had strange carvings all over both the front and back with holes pierced through along the edges in a pattern in which a braided cord was strung and that was how Stark wore it as a necklace.  It was gilded in something like gold but was infused with magic; a magic for what no one knew.

Stark wrapped his hand around the medallion, “It’s not for sale,” he stated bluntly.

Jay shrugged, “I just figured I would make the suggestion.  I know well that it would sell well up into the tens of thousands of gold pieces even if it is a mystery.”  He pushed the empty satchel to Stark, “Seventy-five for all the items that were in the bag.”

“That’s fine.”

Jay and Stark completed their trade, they bid their farewells for now, and Stark exited the shop.

Usually, once Stark finishes trading with Jay he goes to market, buys food, and heads home; or he goes straight home without stopping anywhere else.  It’s either one or the other.  On this day, however, as he exists the shop, he notices commotion coming from the square not far from Jay’s shop.

Curious, Stark makes his way to watch the happenings.

There within the square, a carriage has just come to rest. The carriage driver has just stepped down and begin to tend to the horses.

What’s strange is the Lord of the city, Calren, is out there greeting the carriage, a smile on his face.

Calren opens his arms, “Welcome,” he states as the carriage door opens, “It is a pleasure to have you visit this city of ours Lord Priest.”

A man looking to be in his mid-forties steps down from the carriage.  He is wearing robes of navy blue with strange embroidered symbols upon the slightly lighter trimming.  He was the “Lord Priest” Calren was speaking to.  His brown hair was cut neat and short; his skin was fair; his eyes were brown; and he was a bit chubby.

“Please, Lord Calren, no need for the formalities, we are just on a small pilgrimage.” The priest responded.

“But we’ve heard of your Order’s accomplishments in the south…to deter such savages.” Lord Calren stated.

A young woman stepped out of the carriage behind the priest, “They were merely people who did not understand; they were not ‘savages’, Lord Calren.” She stated standing tall and proud; gazing at him sternly with her blue eyes.  Her hair was blond and wavy cascading down shining just as the golden trim that lined her own navy robes.  She was a priestess and a beautiful one at that.

The young woman looked towards the Priest, “Has our lodging been arranged?”

“Yes, Lady Seraph, Lord Calren has arranged for our stay,” the Priest stated.

Seraph nodded and smiled, meeting Lord Calren’s gaze, “Thank you very much, Lord Calren, for assisting us in our pilgrimage North.”

Stark usually didn’t bother with anything or even spoke out, but something about the sight make him laugh at hearing the young woman speak of going up North.  Going North was a dangerous route; there was a reason he hadn’t left the city.  Traveling isn’t easy by all means.

The lady Seraph apparently heard the laugh, “Do you have something to say?” she looked at him, dead in the eye, which was new to him, especially for a stranger.  Most people upon meeting him don’t even look at him much less hold eye contact.

All eyes turned to Stark; an odd occurrence by any means.

Regardless for being taken aback from the attention, Stark spoke, “North by land means you take Ridge Pass, just the two of you: it’s suicide.”

Lord Calren flared with anger, turning that gaze towards Stark and pointed toward the point, “Silence, demon!” he snapped

“I am only warning them of the bandits that hold up Ridge Pass.” Start stated calmly, unfazed by that unnecessary anger from the Lord.

Lord Calren seemed to have nothing of it and kept his anger, “I will concern our guest with troubles of travels, be gone, demon!” the Lord commanded.

Stark glanced silently around at the crowd meeting the gaze of the brave Priestess longer than any.  No one else dared to hold his gaze that day other than Lord Calren who only held contempt for him.  The pure hate Calren had for him was equally matched by the Priestess’s mere curiosity of him.

Stark turned to make his leave, his medallion catching the glint of the sun as he did so; a curious Priestess catching the glimmering reflection as he turned.

Seraph watched him as he left in curiosity.  Curious to why the townsfolk shied away from him, why the Lord spoke in such contempt, why he knew so much of danger outside the word, and why he so casually just left without another word.

Lord Calren, like a coin, flipped from one side to the other, from the back side of his personality to the other.  He faced the Priest and Priestess once again, a smile on his face.  “Lord Priest, Lady, pay no heed to what he has said; he is a demon of some sorts.” He stated.

Seraph did not look at the shady Lord and looked at the Priest instead, “Priest Miriko, I wish to retire for the evening.” She stated.

The Lord Priest, Miriko, cleared his throat, turning towards Calren, “Yes, Lord Calren, will you please show us to our lodgings, our trip has been long and we need rest; and you heard the lady.”

Stark has returned to his home, bolting the latch upon the wooden slat door as he shut it behind him.  He really cared less what Lord Calren said to him or told the visitors.  He was more curious about the visitors to be honest.

In the era in which the lived traveling was sparsely done.  Only merchants, hunters, and diplomats traveled; and usually diplomats only traveled in the cases of war.  So seeing other travelers such as the Priest and the Priestess was uncommon and thus why such a spectacle had been made in town: the whole town had gathered just about, he had clearly been no exception.  He said his piece in that grand spectacle and if the visitors paid no heed then so be it; it was up to them to believe him or the Lord.  They, and the bandits they would encounter, were not his problem.

Stark tossed his empty bag next to the door and the kitchen cabinet before sitting down in the chair.  He carefully began unlacing the laces on his knee-high boots before slipping them off his feet.  The boots were essentially armor.  They were thick and heavy; very protective.  He managed to purchase them off of Jay with some of the multitude of items he brought back; as well as all of the rest of his armor.  He sat the boots aside before slipping off his long over-shirt, underneath he wore a breast-plate and arm-guards: both worn over another, thinner shirt beneath.  It was a leather set of armor, but worked well enough for him.

After finishing stripping himself of armor, Stark gathered clothes almost identical to that as the clothes under his armor and retreated to his wash room.  There he would wash; clean himself from his travels, don his clean garments and return to head to his bed, leaving his dirty laundry in a tub of sudsy water.

Stark laid on his bed wet hair and all, listening. The sun had set by now, he could feel it in the air, the coolness was settling through the cracks of the shack.  His house was cast in shadows of the mountain during most times of the day so no light would peek into the building, but after years of living there, he could tell the time from the way the air would feel and the sounds of the people in the town outside living around him.

He stared at the ceiling for a while before closing his eyes.  Tomorrow would be a day just like any other.

That evening, the Priest and the Priestess had been invited into the Lord’s mansion to stay for the night.  Instead of granting them an inn to stay, he decided to take the “burden”, or the honor, to have them stay at his house.

The Lady Seraph seemed a little putt-off with the arrangements but bit her tongue and smiled.  She did not really like the shady man, but she acted the perfect guest.

As they sat around his luxurious dinner table, dinning his multi-course meal, she sat, and sparsely picking at her food, she pondered her meeting with the man that Lord Calren called a “demon”.  She knew not his name not did she really want to ask; she had seen the way Calren had spoken to the man who seemed not much older than herself.

Priest Miriko was carrying on a conversation with Calren, a chore Seraph found dull and distasteful, but she listened as it was important, and Miriko did begin to mention stuff the man had mentioned in the plaza.

“About the passage,” Miriko mentioned, “that one man had mentioned it being dangerous.  Does any of that hold true?”

“That man?” Calren inquired.  “Oh you mean the Demon.”

“Demon?” Miriko asked.

“Yes, that man came here as a child; he’s cursed with lost memory and has eyes red as blood and powers beyond mortals.” Calren explained.  “He may be an adventurer and a treasure hunter but there is little hope he speaks truth; he’s a demon because he’s unnatural.”

“Unnatural?  So that makes him a demon.” Seraph piped in.

Calren looked at her.

“Perhaps you have misunderstood your guest; perhaps he was given to you as a blessing as I was granted to the Order.” Seraph said, a smile upon the face.  “I, too, have powers beyond mortals; that is why I was selected for this pilgrimage.” She explained.  She stands, nods to Miriko, “Excuse me; I’m going for a walk.”  She speaks no more to them and leaves the room.

In fact, Seraph exists the entire house, slipping shoes on as she walks by the door.  She does not don her outer robe as she leaves the house so instead she wears a very thin navy dress that ties around her neck.  She goes about the town, looking around, watching people.

She had hoped to ask the Lord of the City if he had any knowledge of something she was looking for but he seemed a total imbecile to her.  She was getting tired of hearing how great he was for them to be there; there weren’t there for him, they were just passing through.

They had a mission.  A mission to head to the Holy City.  Yes, that was what the Order had set her to do.  They figured someone with her powers could break a magical seal upon the city that had been placed on the city years before.  Some say it needed a key, so she doubted she could do it.  The Order insisted so there she was…spending a nice lovely time at Lord Calren’s time hearing about his city and dining on a ten course meal when she figures people were starving in the poorer districts.  She really hated people like that.

Somehow she found herself near some shops.  Many were closed at his hour.  It was quite late and really it was quite stupid for a young woman to be out at such an hour alone.  However, one large shop stood with its door open.

Curiously, Seraph climbed the steps and entered the shop.

“Good evening, Lady; is there anything I can help you find?” The merchant asked.  It was Jay; she didn’t know it.  But she had found her way right into Jay Jones’s shop of Wares and Antiques.  He had a strange set of opening hours usually because of Stark but no one really knew that.

“Oh, no,” Seraph said with a smile, “Not really.” She laughed a little.  “I really doubt you could help me with what I need anyway.”

Jay raised an eyebrow, “I may not be a Tavern-man, but try-me: I do have information.”

“Well,” Seraph clasped her hands together in front of her chest, “Have you ever heard of the Holy City?”

“Of course I have.” Jay said.  “Sealed up nice and tight.  The Order folk originated from there and spread the land; some ‘God-King’ or something.  I not the religious kind myself, especially if it writes all demons off as being ‘evil’ and ‘vile’.”

Seraph eyed him curiously at this statement.  “You…don’t hate demons.”

“I can’t say it to folk around here, but nope, not a bit; I think they’re all paranoid idiots.” Jay said with a curt laugh.

Seraph smiled a bit.

“Anyway, what about the grand ‘Holy City’ can I help you with?” Jay inquired as he propped upon his counter looking at her.

“Well, it’s sealed.” Seraph said.  “The last investigation done stated that there may be a key object of some sort.  Some mystical item that can’t be identified and has not residual properties that may be the key to breaking it.”

Jay froze, looking away.  It was strange to Seraph to see the shift.  It was like he knew something and she needed to know.

“Tell me.” Seraph stated.

Morning had come but Stark had still been in a deep sleep as he usually was after long ventures.  However, he was roused by something rather unsettling: a knock on his door.  He lunged sharply out of bed, stumbling slightly as he sat up and glanced towards the wooded barrier to the outside and glared at it.  He waited.  A moment later, another knock.

Stark slid out of bed, curious as to who was knocking on his door.  No one came to his house: not even Jay.  It was strange and unnerving.

He unbolted the door slowly and opened the door, his head quirked to the side as he gazed up the figure on the other side.

“Good morning.” Said the cheerful, smiling figure.  It was the Priestess, donned in the golden-trimmed navy robes, her golden hair billowing over shoulders.

“What are you doing here?” Stark inquired.

Seraph glanced around the door frame, “It would be easier to explain if you invite me inside so we can talk.  I figure it would seem pretty awkward for me to stand her talking to you at your door would it not?” she said with a smile.

Stark pondered the request for a moment before stepping aside, “It’s not must to really invite you inside to.” He said.

Seraph, however, smiled before stepping inside his home, “Home does not have to be a mansion; home is your heart.” She state.  “You may live here, but it may not even be your home.” She stated as she looked around hovel.  “Like the Order is for me.  It’s where I live but it’s not really my Home.”  She turned to face him as he shut the door.

Stark motioned for her to go and sit at the table, which, surprisingly he had two chairs for.  He’d never needed the second chair so he found himself taking a small towel and dusting both of them off as he never found himself really sitting in either of them.

Seraph took a seat in one of the chairs he had just dusted, clasping her hands and placing them upon the table.  She looked up at him and watched him as he went to sit in the other chair.

“So,” Stark began as he sat down, “can you explain why you have come to visit me?” he inquired of the Priestess.

“Well, I was wandering about the town last night after I could not listen to that blowhard for another minute and I happed upon a shop.” Seraph explained meeting his gaze with no flinching.  “I learned about an item in your possession: a magical artifact you wear around your neck.”

Stark mentally cursed Jay in his head for speaking of his medallion. The item wasn’t something that should concern anyone else; it belonged to Stark and no one else.  Stark sighed, “And?”

“Well I wondering if I could take a look at it.” Seraph explained.

“Why?” Stark asked pointedly.  Really, it was his and he had a right to know why the girl wanted to even touch his property.

Seraph took a deep breath and sighed, “Listen, the Priest and I are on a mission to the Holy City; it’s a city locked in a magical barrier.  Some in the order think I,” motioning to herself, “can break it.” She placed her hand back upon the table.  “I, however, do not believe so.  The city was sealed and the last inspection revealed that a ‘key’ is likely around.  Mr. Jones explained that you came here mysteriously and had that item with you already.  I wonder if you may have picked it up before you came here and it may be the key we are looking for.”

Stark hesitated but removed the medallion from his neck laying it down upon the table.  He usually on took it off to bathe and even then it was placed right back on.  Letting a stranger see it was against his better judgment.

The girl picked it up in her well-groomed hands, and her eyes lit up as she gazed upon the symbols on the gilded surface.  “This is…” she looked up, “I will pay…”

Stark cut her off, “No.” he said sharply.  “It isn’t for sale.”

“But…” Seraph murmured.

“I said it isn’t for sale.” Stark stated.  “That item is mine.” He held out his hand.

Seraph meekly placed the medallion in his hand, her shoulders slumped, “I’m sorry…” she stated.  “I suppose I was a bit carried away.  It’s just that…some of those symbols—that writing—is some of the same from murals of the Holy City…So…”

“Maybe its locked for a reason.” Stark noted as he placed the medallion back over his head.

Seraph snapped her head up looking him dead in the eye.  It was a strange idea and one that she really had never given a thought.

At that moment as Seraph pondered Stark’s words in her head, the city alarms sounded so the pair stood and turned towards the door.  An explosion was heard in the distance as well as commotion in the streets.

Both Seraph and Stark ran from his house into the main street to look down paths leading to the plaza.  A beast of gray with veiny leather wings stood upon the ruin of the chapel.

Stark dashed quickly back to his house, Seraph followed him.

“What are you doing! You’re a warrior are you not going to fight it!” She exclaimed.

Stark sat in the chair, grabbing his boots, looking up at the girl from the corner of his eyes, “I’m sorry, Lady, for not being fully armored for your pleasure.  Give me time to put my armor on.”

Seraph slightly blushed and watched him work with his boots.  As she watched him quickly deal with the lacing process of his boots she turned quickly and grabbed his chest plate and went over to him, “Lean you head back for moment.” She stated holding the leather garment out.

He glanced at her, but complied, letting her set the piece where it goes before going back to lacing the boots.

Seraph, whilst Stark worked with his boots, tied up his chest-plate, lacing it finely before grabbing for the arm-guards.  She waited for him to finish his boots and, as it was quicker for her to lace the arm-guards than him, she laced his arm guards up for him.

“There.” She said as she pulled on the cords.

Stark looked at her, “Thank you.” He stated as he grabbed one of his long-sleeve over-shirts and threw it on over the armor.  As he exited the house, he grabbed his sword; Seraph followed behind.

Stark, followed by Seraph, found their way into the plaza.  Lord Calren, the city guard, and Priest Miriko were all out in the plaza face to face with the wyvern beast before them.  The beast spat ash and unbearable heat; heat that would make you revolt and almost if exposed too long would blister.  Stark usually would not deal with the beast; let the guards deal with them, but Jay’s shop was near to the plaza and he would not allow the beast to damage that shop.

The guards seemed to be having a difficult time with the beast; they were not trained to deal with opponents of magics only opponents of the same as they…only soldiers of war from waring cities and tribes around the land.  That is where the fear of demons came; right now was the moment that no one would even think to fear him as he stepped near to the guards drawing his sword.  There was the fear for the definite evil: the evil that was there to damage and harm; the evil that had damaged and harmed.

Seraph had run to Miriko, who had been inside the chapel during the beast’s attack.  His leg had been hit pretty heavily by falling debris so he was leaning heavily on a nearby wall.  “Miriko!” she called to him.

“I am all-right, Lady,” Miriko stated, “Right now, this beast must be stopped; we will tend my injury then.”

Stark eyed the beast which was amusing itself by fighting some of the guards off to one side; he glanced around and found a rock at his foot.  He picked it up and tossed it, hitting the beast square in the face.  The area fell silent and everyone turned to Stark, even the beast, which turned his head, angling it down towards him, growling.

It breathed out at first, expelling the heated ashy air; Stark covered his face.  It stung and was hot but he just squinted his eyes and dealt with it.

The beast did not seem pleased.  It pulled its massive head back and was ready to snap forward.

It was the moment Stark had wanted.  As the beast snapped forward to bite at him, Stark agilely stepped aside, slicing through the creature’s neck, separating it from its body.

The body lurched, convulsed and topped away and the air fell silent.  The streets and those surrounding the decapitated beast covered in blood.

The commotion was over and whether Calren liked it or not the meeting Seraph and Stark were having carried on at Lord Calren’s mansion.  It was the first time Stark had stepped foot near the man’s house much less inside of it; Stark especially of all with clothes covered in blood.

Seraph still wanted to speak with him but needed to tend to Miriko with her powers.  She needed to heal his leg; she also decided to turn Miriko’s from room and dining hall into a make-shift hospital to his dismay.  They were his guests and that was where he had made accommodations for her; her baggage was her desire to heal those injured that day.

So that was what was being done.  She tended to the drastically injured first leaving Stark in the room with Miriko who she knew would be all right.  They decided to wait to speak until Seraph had joined them.

Seraph’s healing powers were a miracle, and though they were grand, they were not perfect.  The injuries were no longer life threatening or long-term but they would linger.

That is where Miriko began, “It seems our journey has hit a road block, Lady Seraph.” Miriko stated.

Seraph looked up ash she bandaged up his leg, applying a compression bandaged of sorts with healing salve.  “What?”

“I cannot allow you to go on your own and I am not able to go with you as I am.” Miriko stated.

Seraph bit her lip, “But I may have just…”

“What if someone were to go with you; say as a mercenary.” Stark stated.

“We do not carry much with us; the Order has funds for bodyguards and I will approve it if Seraph desires to continue as such.” Miriko stated.

Seraph looked back and Stark and then at Miriko, “You’ll approve a stipend for a bodyguard?”

Miriko nodded, “Under the special circumstance that we have come so close and I am injured.  Also, despite Calren’s attempt to dissuade this young man; this man seemed to know about the areas up north.  He also proved his worth against that beast where the guards of the city could not.  He took it down single handedly with no injury even where I and many others failed.  If he is willing to work for gold, then I am willing to pay.”

Miriko looked up at Stark, “So I ask of you: Do you want to guide Lady Seraph to the Holy City for fee?”

Stark did not propose the idea to say no.  The idea was his after all.  It was a way for him to make a great deal to help him leave this town.  Going on the venture would also give him time to feel around for places to go upon leaving.  “Yes, but the final say is hers.”

Miriko looked to Seraph, “Do you trust this stranger to help guide you to the Holy City and aide you in your quest?” he asked her.

Seraph smiled both inside and out; more inside and out.  Having Stark with her meant the medallion would follow with her and it also finally meant having someone near to her own age to talk to for more than a moment.  She never really had that opportunity a majority of the time.  She really did trust Stark despite what the townsfolk seemed of him.  “It would be a pleasure to have such a powerful warrior to aide me in my quest.” She stated with a smile looking back at Stark.

Stark smiled slightly as the morning conversation finally came to a conclusion.  It had been a very interesting morning.  After years of preparations, he could finally venture out from the town, even if, for start, it was only a job.

Safe to say…it was going to be quite an unusual adventure.

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