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Chapter 2-12

Page history last edited by Anonymoose 8 years, 10 months ago

I was starting to go a little cross-eyed because my eyes were glued to the long and sinister looking dagger being thrust in front of my face. I was, however, more depressed than terrified. Among the troubles I've had recently, this ranked rather low. Not that this was any less deadly a situation, but still... It was a depressing thing to be getting used to this. Once again this world was driving home the alarming dichotomy that it either wanted me dead in the worst possible ways or fell madly in love with me... Sometimes both at the same time. This time it was some human woman, some kind of assassin, maybe just a thug or a spy if I was lucky.

 

Most of her face was concealed behind her hood and the scarf she had wrapped around half of her face, but she was definitely human, I could feel it. Monsters gave off a certain aura, a certain pressure that you picked up on instinct. Like being locked in a cage with a wild animal, even if that beast was tame and used to humans there was a primal fear in the back of your head that told you this creature could disembowel you if it seemed like a good idea at the time. That said, there was a very familiar antagonism, a very human malice; it was actually a little refreshing.

 

With her free arm she grabbed my collar and pushed me back up against the wall, still pointing that dagger of hers into my face with her right. It wasn't a gentle push; it was rough but calculated. A controlled amount of strength meant to intimidate. I was wondering why I was so calm to be thinking these things through right now.

 

     “I said: What are you after, Laven?” She growled.

 

I think I might have rolled my eyes unknowingly because with an irritated grunt she pulled me back and slammed me against the wall of the alley once again. I guess they don't teach patience in interrogation class. She didn't even give me five seconds to start talking.

 

     “What do you hope to accomplish here?” I asked.

 

Maybe I should start thinking through what I'm going to say? I was getting a little annoyed now, and my choice of words was betraying how thin my own patience was getting.

 

     “I'm asking the questions here.” She snapped back.

 

     “Did it cross your mind to maybe observe me for a little and guess I was minding my own business?”

 

     “I said I'm asking the questions here. Start answering or-”

 

     “Or what?” I said raising my voice.

 

I think that outburst of aggression put her off balance. I suppose it wasn't a smart thing to raise your voice and get angry with someone holding a blade within cutting distance of various arteries, veins and vital organs. The sheer audacity of the act wasn't something that she seemed to anticipate.

 

     “Or what?” I repeated myself. “You're going to stab me? You should think that one through a little.”

 

     “I said be quiet.” She barked while holding the cold steel edge to my throat.

 

     “Yeah, yeah.” I quipped. “You'd better make it a good one. If I get a chance to scream, that will draw some attention. After that, I hope you can carry my limp body out of here fast, or they'll find my body. Do I even need to mention I'm not here alone? Once those two find out what happened to me, what do you think is going to happen?”

 

     “You're still threatening me?” She menaced with a snark grin.

 

     “No. Not JUST you.” I retorted with equal menace.

 

Then it was time for the moment of truth, would she back down? Would she slit my throat? Playing the part of the innocent traveler minding his own business didn't seem to fit into her narrative, so playing that card wasn't going to work. If someone has gone through all the trouble of making you the bad guy, you may as well use that against them put a little fear into them. Just like how it was with Zerin, and that worked out well... In the end... After all the pain... and dying... Maybe this was a bad idea after all.

 

Just as I thought my bluff might have been called, she withdrew and took a few steps back. She was still pointing the dagger my way, but it would at least take a lunge to cut me now. I strained myself to keep my cool and tugged at my clothes to unruffle them and roll out the wrinkles.

 

     “Well then...” I said cheerfully. “I'll just go about my business then. I'm just grabbing a couple day's rest, some supplies, and we'll be leaving after that.”

 

She didn't respond; she simply watched and observed me with suspicion. She wasn't even moving. Like a taught bow she was ready to fire any time. When you're ahead, it's a perfect time to possibly foul it all up by giving one more little push. Right?

 

     “And before you do something like this again... You should clear it with your superiors first.”

 

It was just an assumption, a passing thought, but I saw her eyes widen, and she took another two steps backwards. Those eyes screamed, 'How did you know?' I knew better, but I had to ask myself, 'Am I good or what?' She pulled back so easily at the first sign of trouble, that could have been one of the reasons, so I thought and I thought correctly I did. She's gone rogue and under no one's orders. This little encounter was probably illegal and violated habeas corpus in more ways than one. If I was under arrest, there was no need to threaten me. I'm also confident leading me away would bring Rose and Susan down on her faster than she could carry me to the nearest place to lock me up. Now that I had used up my luck for the week, I decided that I had pushed it far enough and made my way back to the main drag.

 

     “If you forget this happened, so will I,” was my parting comment as I emerged and disappeared back into the flow of people.

 

Now the people surrounding me would take notice as I doubled over and held myself up by pushing my hands against my knees. My heart was beating fast, and I was starved of oxygen. Playing calm and cool under pressure like that was way more draining than I thought. I was sweating quite a bit too. Someone actually walked over and asked if I was okay. I had to wave them off and make up the excuse that I had run here and just tired myself out. How uncool was that? I hope that girl didn't follow, or all this was for nothing.... Again.

 

While I was still catching my breath, I felt another grip wrap around my shoulder. I can't even catch a simple break, can I? I was slow to turn around, which was greeted by a quick, 'too slow!' and a solid punch to my left kidney. I tasted iron for a second and was knocked to the ground.

 

     “Aw come on. I didn't even hit you that hard.” A chipper voice sang out behind me. “You okay, Laven?”

 

Now that was a familiar voice. The crowd surrounding us had spread out and given us breadth; some looked on in surprise, and when I got back onto my feet, I saw Rose standing there with her claws on her hips looking disappointed. Behind her was Susan; her jaw stuck in shock, no doubt her mind rebooting and about to explode at Rose for such brazen violence. Now I was sweating, tired, panicked and hurting with a small chance for internal bleeding, but I was happy to see the two of them again.

 

     “Sorry about leaving ya alone.” She said, specifically apologizing for that and not the sucker punch. “It's all taken care of-”

 

     “What was that about you violent vagabond?” Susan yelled, finally stepping in. “How dare you lay your hands on the Pharaoh like that!”

 

     “Huh~?” Rose said, turning around with a long drawn out and thuggish grunt. “I'm making sure my husband keeps his wits up. Not coddling him like you do.”

 

     “I do not 'coddle'. I am a guardian. Harming your protectee is abhorrent!” Susan said, not being intimidated nor backing down.

 

Right in the middle of the street, the two of them began arguing again. Luckily everyone seemed to ignore us and walk around, carrying about their own business. That helped mitigate the embarrassment a little.

 

     “By the way, I found our inn.” I said, stepping between the two of them.

 

Just before the next fork in the road, only about twenty meters away, was the Greased Goose; its wooden sign hanging above the heads of the crowd all around us. The sooner I had a chance to collapse and fall asleep and get these two to stop fighting and carry on, the better. I think the passive aggressive tone in my voice got through, and the two of them relented, albeit reluctantly this time, and the three of us filtered into the inn.

 

The day was almost done, and night had almost descended upon the city, so even this inn was bustling with people conversing and drinking merrily. The company seemed more amiable than the last tavern Rose and I had wandered into some time ago back near Brun. Probably because this establishment's patrons were laborers, artisans and merchants instead of kidnappers, thieves, arsonists and murderers. With the soft glowing hearth by the far wall, and its warmth, I felt at ease immediately.

 

The owner of the tavern, standing behind a counter and in front of a wall covered with shelves weighed down by numerous bottles and kegs, seemed like a pleasant man, even with his bald head and scared facial features. An old sword hanging behind him told me that he was probably some retired veteran who settled down to a quiet and quaint tavern after years of hard fighting. His ridiculous sized biceps was probably enough to keep the peace, but he had a disarming smile that betrayed all the scars on his body.

 

     “Good evening.” He said with a raspy and rough voice. “How can I help the lot of you tonight?”

 

I thought being friendly would be something that didn't come easily to him, but I was proven wrong yet again.

 

     “Accommodations for three.” I replied.

 

He kept one eye open and appraised myself along with Rose and Susan standing on either side of me for a few moments.

 

     “Right. We accept monsters here all the same, and I don't charge more neither. I got a room for three for ya.”

 

One room for three? Ah crap... Not again. I was about to try to say something when Rose slammed down a few silver coins on the counter and flashed the owner a smile. Before I could make a move, a key was slammed down on the counter with an equal force, and Rose received a smile back as well. A couple of 'knowing' smiles. I turned to Susan who stood there with her arms crossed, but not saying or ready to protest anything. She noticed I was looking at her, but she merely looked away with a blush.

 

When I looked back, faster than my eyes could follow, Rose grabbed and pocketed the key to the room. She then whirled around and grabbed hold of arm.

 

     “Alright! She bellowed. “It's time for a celebration. Adventure complete! Let's drink to good health for the next!”

 

Without a moment of rest, Rose pulled me to one of the open tables and plopped herself down on one of the benches. With her grip still wrapped tightly around my arm, she sat down suddenly; I was pulled down, and my bottom came into sudden contact with the bench as well. Susan had remained calm and sat herself on my opposite side. There was no escape now.

 

Rose tossed an arbitrary number of coins at a passing bar maid and ordered whatever she could bring right away. Drinking heavily seemed to be Rose's plan tonight. I was dreading being dragged into it, maybe Susan—who was still quiet and collected—would step in at some crucial point? While Rose was on a rampage, I thought I caught Susan throw me a few mean looking glances. Not just casual observations, she looked like she wanted to say something. When I caught her glance for a third time, she looked ready to say something when the gate to the inn swung open again, and a crew of people flowed into Greased Goose, one older looking man and a bunch of children.

 

At least I thought they were a bunch of little girls, but they were definitely those builders from earlier. They were the ones that almost crushed me by accident. They quickly saw I had noticed them; and following the lead of the man, they approached with friendly faces all-round.

 

     “Yo! So we do meet.” He said with a wide smile. “The name's Frank. Frank Guts.”

 

He stuck one hand out for a handshake, which I took him up on immediately and regretted it with how rough like sandpaper his palms were, not to mention the crushing force behind his friendly handshake.

 

     “Building is my game. These ladies are my crew.”

 

They each waved at once, giggling.

 

     “You know these guys?” Rose turned to ask me.

 

     “Yeah.” I replied. “Ran into them on the walk over here. While you were being dragged off to the guild.”

 

     “The guild!” Frank said while seating himself, uninvited. “You guys travelers then? Adventurers?”

 

     “Yup!” Rose glowingly responded. “We're on our honeymoon.”

 

Rose clung onto me and pulled me tight against herself. The gaggle of girls broke out in a scandalous squeal. All except the large chested one among them, Dolly. She had a big stupid grin on her face, and now I noticed she was hanging off Frank's arm burying her cheek into him.

 

While everyone was getting loose and relaxing I noticed Susan still had that dour look on her face. No one had even acknowledged her yet, and she seemed to simply blend in. I expected her to pipe up about the 'honeymoon' comment, but she didn't say a word. Instead, she kept her arms crossed and her eyes shut as if in meditation. I still caught her opening her eyes to steal a glance at me, but when she noticed I was paying attention this time, she turned away blushing and flustered.

 

The bar maid returned with a large platter of mugs overflowing with a bitter smelling yellow frothy liquid. An absurd amount of ale at that. Everyone all around jumped right into it. Emptying the mugs almost in one go. For their size, the girls—who I soon learned were goblins—could pack away all that ale impossibly quickly. Rose—who simply burnt away the alcohol—seemed unstoppable as well; she may as well have been drinking water. Except that the more she drank, the brighter and more fierce her tail blazed. Everyone was drinking, getting tipsy and having a good time, except for Susan; who didn't touch her drink at all, even when one of the more drunk goblin girls swiped her drink and downed it all with one swig.

 

     “The Vilmheim reconstruction bureau gave us a big bonus for being two weeks ahead of schedule today, so don't worry about tonight!” Frank announced to the whole table, his voice with a hint of slur.

 

The celebration went on, for one hour then two. There didn't seem to be a stop to it. With Rose wrapping her arm around me and breathing heavily on me with hearty laughter smelling thick like alcohol, and Susan every so often pinching my pant legs with her claws I had no means of escape. With every toast I chugged back my share, but I was nowhere near as intoxicated as the others were getting.

 

Celebrations continued uproariously until something dire emerged from the Greased Goose's entrance. The saloon doors of the tavern slammed open, and the near splintering of wood seized the attention of every patron. All conversations were silenced, and the music died. The disturber of the peace was an older woman wearing an apron with white disheveled hair and a sour disposition on her face; the last of which defined her more than any other feature. Her gaze focused on one man, poor old Frank. It was the kind of rampage only a married woman was capable of. Every married man present was sensitive to it, hence why they all thought the bang was meant for them.

 

All eyes turned to the scene while every mouth shut tight. Every man accessed the danger and mentally prepared themselves for the imminent hand ruthlessly clamping down on an ear and ruthlessly dragging them outside. This lady had all the trappings and appearance of that stereotypical homely and round middle-aged house wife; she was just missing a rolling pin, bathrobe and fuzzy slippers... That kind of scene didn't seem like such a far fetched cliche at the moment.... She had the right attitude for it because I felt the sting of her glare by proxy when it locked onto Frank. A sense of relief flooded from everywhere else in the room, but it offered me no comfort. I was about to be near the epicenter of a massive shakedown.

 

     “Honey.” Frank slurred nervously. “What brings you-”

 

     “Frank!” She hollered. “What time do you think it is?”

 

     “Just celebrating with the-”

 

     “Leave your, 'girls'-” She spat venom with that choice of words, “-at work!”

 

     “Come on, honey. We got a bonus; we're celebrating here.”

 

     “I'm cooking and cleaning and taking care of the kids, and you're here just having a good time, wasting our money! Just a few contracts you said. Pays good you said! We're not going to have enough saved up for a nice house on the coast if you keep wasting it like this!”

 

     “Big mean lady! Don't bug Frank!” A child's voice piped up.

 

Sliding off the bench and storming up to the woman was Dolly. Her perpetual smile was gone, and she was looking very angry. The size difference was comical. She stood barely four feet tall, her chest wobbled, each as big as her head, her speech was simple and her eyes lacked any glint of intelligence. However, with the strength she had she could crack that woman in two. That put a real tension in the air. Did this woman know what she was getting into? Did this goblin, this hobgoblin, know she was just making things worse? If I hadn't seen her lift a stone block larger than herself over her head without the slightest effort I wouldn't be intimidated either.

 

The two of them stared at one another. The whole tavern went quiet, and the tension thickened. I feared a fight could break out any second. They'd likely shout at each other, but if it came to physical blows, it would end quickly. Very quickly. I stood up immediately trying to be diplomatic, but as I did, the other goblins were already rallying around Dolly.

 

     “This is business.” One shouted, moving to stand with Dolly.

 

     “Yeah. We're talking business over drinks.” Said a second.

 

     “We got to plan for the bakery down the road for the end of week.” A third chimed in.

 

Soon all seven of them had formed a semi circle facing the wife, forming a blockade. The woman was bewildered and overwhelmed. I don't know if she had never been so angry to actually storm in like this before, or if this was merely the first time these girls had decided to stand up to her. Silence returned, but the tension had been dissolved. There's no way this woman could stand up to them all. Even if she still thought they were just children instead of the monsters they were.

 

     “Honey.” Frank said over the silence.

 

He reached into a pouch at his waist and fished out half its contents.

 

     “Go give the little ones their allowance early. I'll be home in an hour.”

 

The woman was still upset, but a bribe was going to suffice. It had to. She turned around and left the tavern in a quiet fit. I suppose it was the dog house or the couch for Frank tonight, but when he turned back around he didn't seem too concerned.

 

     “What's the matter! I got an hour left, and the night is young! George! Aaron! I see you two in the corner. Get over here. You're playing tonight, and I won't take 'no' for an answer!”

 

Frank poured the rest of the pouch, and a bunch of copper and silver coins clattered and rolled over the table top.

 

     “As many rounds for everyone! And play you two bastards, play!”

 

The innkeeper smiled and nodded at the barmaid. She went into the back, and the innkeeper fished out a bottle from under the counter and cracked it open with a pop. The people all around started cheering as the barmaid returned with other staff hidden, previously working, in the back, rolling out kegs of ale. Standing on one of the tables two other men in the corner of the inn each produced a pair of instruments that looked like a fiddle and a flute. With a few practice notes, the two of them started playing a high tempo tune.

 

The already boisterous crowd all got to their feet with mugs in hand, grabbed the closest partner they could. A group of others started clearing an open space in the middle of the tavern for a dance floor. A floor which was quickly covered with people of various stages of drunkenness dancing in pairs.

 

     “Your highness-” Susan whispered tugging on my sleeve. “I wish to speak with you, now while-”

 

     “Laven!” Rose interrupted pulling on my arm. “Come on, Laven. Dance! Dance!”

 

     “Whoa whoa whoa! Rose wait-” I panicked trying to get Rose to calm down.

 

It didn't do any good; Rose had already gotten up from her seat and dragged me over to the dance floor. Susan was looking rather irate with a tinge of disappointment back at the table, but that didn't stop Rose. She dragged me onto the dance floor which opened up simply to get out of her way. Taking one of my hands forcefully and putting my other on her waist she started moving her feet. I was still a bit stunned and got pulled around, but I got myself together to stop myself from falling over onto my face or tripping up. Together, we began to chassé round and round the dance floor, eventually even to the beat of the song being played.

 

Various catcalls egged us on from the sidelines as an open space on the dance floor opened for just the two of us. Rose's talons on her feet clacked and clicked as she moved as did the steel toes on my boots. I didn't expect much from Rose, but she actually seemed to know what she was doing. She fought with more than one style and seemed to pick up on them quickly. Maybe she could just learn this sort of thing, the movements, just by observing. But to put it into practice...

 

She eventually broke her grip but only to break off into a short dance in front of me. Getting swept up into the flow of things, I found myself clapping along with the others as she moved her feet- claws in a flurry of steps, twirling round and round on the spot and around me. Embers from her tail were thrown in every direction. It was as if she was her own little pyrotechnic display. So alluring and so bright and beautiful, I couldn't look away. When she finally came to a stop, I grabbed her hand- claw and lifted it above her head and had her twirl on the spot and all around. Leaning her over and catching her with a free hand as she nearly fell over. It was all much to the delight of the other patrons who clapped, stomped and applauded along.

 

As the first song came to an end, I was doubled over and breathing hard. I camouflaged my nearly passing out and collapsing with a bow that Rose was imitating as well, and she pulled me back upright when she straightened her back out.

 

     “Again!” She commanded, looking excitedly.

 

     “Wait...” I said, barely, still gasping for breath. “Just one song for a break. Please?”

 

     “How about I take you up on that offer, pretty lady?” A man, a rather handsome young one at that, said as he slid in, seizing a chance.

 

Rose looked at the man who slid in between us and then back to me. She placed her left claw on the man's right shoulder and with a quick movement shoved him out-of-the-way, violently and without a care. The man went stumbling into the ring of people around the dance floor. With the momentum, he nearly knocked over a group of patrons like bowling pins. The man looked dazed and confused, but the patrons didn't seem angry as they put him back on his feet quickly and everyone shared a hearty laugh. Except for me, as Rose once again grabbed both my hands.

 

A different tune started playing as Rose leaned back and spun in circles, forcing me to spin around with her. The only thing keeping us from falling over was us pulling on each other. This time the dance floor filled back up with the people who all joined hands and starting moving in a larger circle. I found my hand being grabbed by one of the goblins who looked up at me with a large grin. The circles broke up and remade themselves, big and large as the song went on. I wished it would end before I popped a lung or one of my feet fell off.

 

I wasn't going to get what I wanted for about another five songs, when the two musicians finally tired. I think even Rose herself was slowing down by the end. She was getting wobbly on her feet, even if the flame on her tail was burning bright. Just before I was about to die, Rose ordered me to carry her to the room, up a flight of stairs and down a hallway. I held her up as she leaned against me. I had to fish the key out from Rose's pockets and pouches until I manged to get the door to our room open and let her fall backwards onto the bed. THE bed... Real funny, Innkeeper.

 

I think Rose actually fell asleep immediately, curling up into a ball on top of the bed. I dragged myself over to the window where a group of chairs around a low table were gathered. Dropping down onto one of the chairs, I almost passed out right away before I heard the sound of another chair rattling with someone sitting down. Seated in the chair to my right, back stiff and rigid as a board, was Susan. Her face was calm; her eyes closed, but she had the same feel around her that she did back in the tavern below.

 

     “Pharaoh...” She said demurely. “We need to talk.”

 

     “Y-yes, like you wanted to earlier. I don't know how long I have until-” I couldn't hold back a yawn. “Until I pass out, but go ahead.”

 

     Susan cleared her throat, “First. What happened outside the inn?”

 

My lips twitched into a frown for just a moment. She noticed something was wrong, didn't she? I suppose she would. She's perceptive and not caught up in her own little world like Rose is. I thought about what to say; I had said it off-hand to that woman, but I did say to forget about it. Forgive me for not thinking she'll get the chance she got last time again. I also didn't want to start a witch hunt of our own in this city. We just needed to get going. I also had a pretty good idea what effect telling Susan I'm considered a terrorist would have on her mood. The last thing I need is her giving out sentences for 'treason' or something like that. Nothing came of it, I solved the problem and we should move on.

 

     “Nothing. I ran into some people on the way, like Frank. I figured you two would be done soon, and I hadn't found an inn yet. That would be a failure on my part.”

 

Susan opened her eyes, and her sharp red iris burrowed into my skull and out the other side... I don't think she bought it.

 

     “About the guild....” She said carrying on.

 

That was odd. Was she willingly looking over my lie? She must be. I felt the pangs of guilt over it, but I had my own word to keep, even with people like that cloaked woman.

 

     “We solved the outstanding problems. Rose's proper documentations are all in order. As well as her current 'non-active' status.”

 

     “Non-active?”

 

     “This journey is not a recognized job. She is on, as they said, 'a vacation'. Her rank within this organization is high enough that she is still privy to the benefits it provides. There should no problem in the immediate future.”

 

That was something I found odd. I was convinced her special status was a perfect storm for her being allowed to run amok because she made people a lot of money and with a certain reputation was helpful to those who didn't particularly like monsters... If she's on 'vacation' with her 'husband', doesn't that violate everything her membership hangs upon?

 

     “Of course, they are overlooking how often she declared she was... Married.” Susan shuddered a little at having to say it like that. “As they should!” She blurted out, dispelling her calm demeanor for a moment before giving a polite cough again and regaining her composure. “She can make all the assert all she desires; it is not a recognized marriage, even her guild agrees as much.”

 

Susan stood up straight, walked over to my chair and knelt down in front of me. I was taken aback, but she then grabbed hold of my hands together in her paws. I wasn't able to stand up or back away now. She was staring up at me with eyes pleading that I listen.

 

     “I care not what concubines or mistresses you desire. So long as you are safe, that is your choice to make. However, I will never accept just any woman to be your wife. As your guardian, from now till death and ever after... I must keep in mind your linage and only the most suitable wife to your reign will suffice.”

 

     “Shoshanah...”

 

     “I will be the one to decide that position.” She declared.

 

Which was rather bold of her. Not to mention a little domineering.

 

     “That fire-lizard... I will never accept her. No matter how much she claims, no matter what she does or how long and often she does it. I won't accept her. She is no Queen, and I will never accept or bow down to her as one. If you deign her necessary as a bodyguard, a knight, mistress or concubine, then so be it, but never a Queen.”

 

     “I think it's a little early to be talking about things like marriage. I still have to-”

 

     “Locate your proper realm, correct? That which is not of this world.”

 

Now I was definitely paying attention. I thought she had hinted she knew before, but I don't remember ever mentioning I wasn't from this world. Not once.

 

     “How do you? I never told you about that.”

 

     “A simple matter of deduction. Within the tomb, when I first laid eyes upon you, I felt your presence. Your heart was light and familiar to one I felt long before. It 'was' the Pharaoh I was sworn to be guardian over. In the Sea of Reeds, when I met you again with the Pharaoh of old, I was confused, but it all made sense. You are of the Pharaoh. One and the same, but not of one world. There is no other explanation for how you crossed into the Sea of Reeds upon your death. That is a place only meant for Pharaohs and to arrive so close to him. There is no other way.”

 

     “I don't know about that kind of roundabout-”

 

Susan stood up suddenly with my hands still in her paws. She was leaning in, her eyes wide and wild. She was one misstep away from tripping and falling on top of me. That didn't concern her though; she was staring deep into my eyes. Her eyes commanded that I was not to look away. Behind her, her tail was wagging back and forth furiously.

 

     “You also have knowledge. Knowledge about the world. I thought about the things you say; the things you claim. Those that I can verify, all of them true. You must come from another world. One like our own, yet different. I began to understand during the walk through the desert and through the green hills and forest of trees. I believe I understand completely. My wish is for you to tell me more. I want to see this world for myself. So please, rely on me, use me. I will definitely make sure you return home.”

 

My heart was beating faster and faster. She was usually calmer than this, but she was basically gushing now. A torrent of words, thoughts and feelings were thrust upon me. She was still leaning in closer and closer all the time as well.

 

     “Because your kingdom is not of this world. It is the other; and as your guardian, you must be presented your divine right.”

 

Wait. Hold on.

 

     “Shoshanah, what are you-”

 

     “The old kingdom, the one long forgotten, it is gone, but there will be a new one, and it awaits you back home. To you, this I swear.”

 

     “No, really, hold on a-”

 

     “As for your queen...” Susan started blushing now. “If no other candidate reveals herself... T-then... Then...”

 

Oh no. No no no no. Don't say it Susan. Don't-

 

     “...Then I will fulfill that role!” Susan declared.

 

I was still tired and in a daze when I felt a soft pair of lips touch upon my own. Her paws pulled apart my hands and held them down against the seat of the chair, leaving me defenseless. A face right in front of my own. Long eyelashes tickled me, and her small cute nose brushed up against my own. It was a sweet and innocent kiss; there was no lust in it. She slowly leaned back; her heavy sweet breath lightly wafting up against me.

 

     “Although... I doubt someone else will take that from me.”

 

Just as quickly as she had lost herself, she turned completely red. I think her mind had caught up to what the body had done. She let go of my hands and jumped back. Pressing down on her head with her paws, flattening her perky wolf like ears against the top of her head, she panicked and didn't say another word. Grabbing a blanket, she fled to the corner of the room and squatted down. She draped and started mumbling to herself, talking herself down from the abject confusion and panic she was now in.

 

Rose—who was still curled up on the bed—wasn't even bothered and hadn't even stirred. Her breathing had steadied out into a soft rhythm. I sat there, stunned, in the chair. How long? I don't know. It was dark with only moonlight shining through the window. At some point, even Susan in her delirious state had curled up and fallen asleep wrapped up in her blanket. It was only me who was still awake. I had a lot on my mind now. I think that was shots fired, a declaration of war, and just a sign that there wasn't going to be any end to my troubles in the near future.

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