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Chapter 2-15

Page history last edited by some editor 8 years, 10 months ago

     “So that's when I said to her, 'maybe I oughta?' Heh? Hey! Hilarious right?” The little girl sitting right next to me on the couch latched and pulling on my arm squealed.


Sitting on my left and right, behind and around me, were similar and familiar faces, short little girls with little horns on their heads and elven like ears. To say I was uncomfortable was an understatement. They looked like children, but they had dirty mouths like an inner city blue collar worker. Maybe they were just short, but that's still not what my gut was telling me. Their mischievous devil may care attitude certainly made it convincing they were still kids, but I was assured they were more than capable and responsible enough when it was needed of them. Still, that didn't make the situation any less awkward while waiting around like this.


     “What do the big sises see in you?” Said another of the girls who had crawled up over the back of the couch and plopped herself down on my lap.


I frowned and tried to bear the mob that was crowding all around me, but when the one sat herself down on my lap and while steadying herself put her little hand on my thigh, and her thumb went over the inside...


     “Oh~? Is that why?” She said with a wicked grin on her face.


The other girls gave out a scandalous squeal and erupted into a maelstrom of giggling.


     “That's enough you cheeky little-” Rose yelled, ready to leap from her chair and bull rush right at us from the other side of a low coffee table.


     “Ahem!” Susan coughed, seated in another chair on Rose's left.


Rose halted half out of the chair with her claws gripped on the arms. The wood finish creaked, and the chair's arms were on the verge of cracking under her grip. Rose's eyes were fiery, full of anger. Meanwhile, Susan's eyes were shut as she sat perfectly still with her arms crossed. Despite her attempts to appear calm with her eyes and indifferent to her surroundings, I noticed her ears twitching and rotating, following every little sound and picking up on every errant little comment the goblins made.


     “Yeah! That's right. You just sit down like Frank said.” One of the other girls taunted.


     “Frank said we could play with big bro until he got back.” Said another.


     “You think he's gonna help you lot if you go causing trouble?” Said a third.


     “We got work we could be doing. Not helping you out.” Threatened the fourth.


     “We only get half pay today because of you.” Complained a fifth.


     “So you let us have our fun. Capisce?” Said the goblin sitting on my lap


Rose sat herself back down albeit reluctantly and visibly shaking with barely contained rage. I almost wish she would dare do something, but Susan was right. It would be bad manners, and Frank, the construction foreman, and his goblin crew was sticking his neck out for the lot of us.


It was late afternoon, and more than half a day had passed from the daring rescue and escape from both Typhoon and the Vilmheim authorities. I had already heard all about how Rose and Susan managed to pull of the caper that they did. I had to say I was impressed. More impressed the two of them somehow managed to work together actually.


The two of them didn't wake up yesterday morning until about thirty minutes after I had been dragged unconscious from the inn. Apparently one of the tavern maids came barging in tearful and screaming. I had been kidnapped, and Goose, feeling responsible for all his guests, went out looking. A likely excuse, but they did confess they were part of Typhoon, so Susan told me. The story was that I had been taken by the Church in the night. They even had badges, real badges so Rose claimed when she saw them. Painfully obvious evidence to plant on the scene. It seemed that Susan was already suspicious then.


I can see why; for one, the Church's crusades hit this place just over a year ago. Of course fallen soldiers would have insignias to litter around especially if they lost, and lost badly, which was likely because the city did not fall. Rose was ready to go on the warpath when she heard the Church was involved. Only one maid was left to inform them and give the well practiced spiel that Goose and Viper had given her beforehand. One maid that Susan cursed, paralyzed and neutralized shortly after. Rose had been livid at first, but Susan actually manged to calm her down. Just how did they expect both of them to believe the Church sneaked me out from under their noses?


Once Rose had been calmed down, the two of them did a number on the whole inn. They did everything short of ransack it. The two of them scared away the other customers who were, in turn, grabbed by the guards who thought they were trying to flee the scene of a bar brawl. Susan boasted with pride that she actually managed to find the secret cellar before they had to slink away to avoid the guards rushing the place. Claiming she knew all about traps, secret passages and the like, she went so far as to say that elaborate set up was child's play. Even though the place had been cleaned and swept of every drop of blood or sign of conflict, it was Rose who somehow smelled something wrong. Her battle mania, for reasons unknown to me and Susan, could tell a fight had happened. When she went on the hunt like a blood hound, she found just that. The blood from my palm.


I had been carried out of the inn, the mess had been cleaned up but my clenched fist still had glass stuck inside my palm. By the time I was being carried out and away to the safe-house, I must have had my hand jostled loose, so the blood oozed out and made a very faint but very traceable trail of bread crumbs. When they asked around outside, they came across a succubus and an old man walking in the early morning which started as a late night walk. Why a man in his seventies was out that late for a walk I don't know. When they described me, the devil-woman recalled me immediately and recognized it was me being carried away by a man whose description couldn't have been anyone other than Goose. Their suspicions were thus verified.


I don't believe all things happen for a reason. That would be silly, but helpful coincidences do happen I guess.


They almost rushed in to bust heads, but Susan's intuition picked up on my reluctance to tell her about the run in with the Rangers. She sensed something was wrong. They knew it was Typhoon behind the kidnapping, but she felt someone else was after me too, and it wouldn't be safe to move until they showed themselves. 'Then they'd be watching us right now?' Rose asked. Susan couldn't argue with that; Rose was right. Still, they had to find me, make Typhoon think their plan was still going smoothly and draw out the third party watching from the shadows.


So Rose, the highest profile player in the game, decided to pretend to leave. She'd no longer be a threat, and the Ranger's would move. Rose walked right out the city gates, only to sneak in unseen later. Susan tracked down the safe-house after losing the pursuers, most of them worried just about the famous salamander. After the Rangers struck, she emerged, and Rose waited in ambush. But how did Rose manage to sneak back in? It became easy once they both had the bright idea to get some help from a few new friends...


     “Say that to my face and not in here and see what happens, runt!” Rose said fuming while looking down at three of the goblins standing opposite of her with their arms on their hips, grinning.


     “Make us.” All three said at once.


     “We'll clock ya good.” Said the right one.


     “You ain't got nothing!” Said the middle one.


     “More like Corn Knight.” Said the left one.


     “Yeah. Corny lines.” The right one added.


     “Uninspired.” Said the left.


     “Lame~” The middle sighed.


They all giggled at once which only infuriated Rose further. Her tail went rigid and stuck out like a flaming meter stick, the ridge burning bright and furious. I was a little afraid for the furniture actually. It was Susan, again, who had to cough loudly, reminding Rose to mind her manners.


     “Really now, Rose. You should not allow such crass, unsophisticated and juvenile attempts to make you angry stoop to their infantile games.”


     “Hey. Hey!” Called one goblin cresting over the right arm rest of Susan's chair.


     “Big sis~” Smarmed another on her left.


Susan started talking louder over the two goblins, “All that is required is to ignore them, and they will eventually...”


     “How was he, really?”


I could see Susan's brow furrow, and her lips previously frozen in a straight line crook into a frown. Her ears twitched, her nostrils flared and I think I could see her eye twitch underneath her eyelids.


     “That's not a nice thing to say, Tali.”


     “You're right. An uptight girl like her wouldn't have anything to compare it to.”


     “Laven~” the one on the left called out to me, “Who was better of the two? Was it her?” She said pointing to Susan; her index finger hovering, shaking annoyingly just millimeters from Susan's cheek.


     The one called Tali just had to ask, “Is she as tight as she is uptight?”


     “AHHHHH!” Susan screamed with a furious blush on her face and a pair of lungs bursting, unable to swallow down her anger anymore.


Susan flung her elbows out at the girls and tried to claw at them with her paws, but the girls easily ducked and ran away giggling. Like a dog after a rabbit she flung herself off the chair and gave chase. Rose without a voice of reason also gave chase to the goblins who ducked, dodged, crawled under furniture and ran rampant, cutting one another off and tagging in and out over who got chased as Rose and Susan rampaged after them.


In the eye of the storm, I sat on the middle of the couch as the cacophony of noise and chaos swirled around me. I tried to keep a straight face, look dead ahead and hoped that I'd just meld into the furniture itself. Until one of the goblins leaped onto my lap and hung off me by my neck like a miniature bar floozy. She gave me a mischievous smile and a pair of very dangerous eyes. I've seen that look in a monster before, and that wasn't a good sign. She closed in and planted a very wet and exaggerated kiss on my cheek and giggled. All the while, her eyes were never on me but on Rose and Susan on the other side of the table; who were now looking on, furious.


I was going to say something—I really wanted to—but I didn't have enough time to catch a breath and articulate anything. Rose and Susan, equally enraged, pounced and, in a single bound, went airborne on an intercept course. It all happened in slow motion; I could see exactly how things would pan out when the girl quickly scrambled and jumped free of the imminent collision. The force of her jumping free pushed me back into my seat, and Rose and Susan slammed into me. The couch couldn't take the force, and it tipped over on its back, the three of us along with it. Lying on the floor now was some modern art piece of various limbs, torsos and a couple of tails sticking out of a big mess. Meanwhile, the goblins all giggled.


I could see the spirals in Rose and Susan's eyes; and judging by how the world was spinning, I'm pretty sure mine were too. I could hear the chorus of giggles from the goblins. Yeah, you girls are lucky we're just playing games. Even I started to lose my patience. These two were holding back, even I could tell that much, but they were really starting to push their luck and getting near a dangerous threshold of my cost benefit of revenge versus getting the hell out of Vilmheim.


The giggling kept going until our savior had arrived. The hobgoblin Dolly had snuck up on the pack of hyenas and, like a Newton's cradle, slammed the head of the girl on the far right until the chain reaction carried the blow to the on on the utmost left, sounding off like a series of coconut clonking together. Each of the goblins grabbed their heads in pain and squatted down on the floor moaning, complaining and making themselves a nuisance even during their punishment.


     “Laven and Big Sisters, guests.” Dolly said sternly.


I say sternly; but with that perpetual dopey look on her face, even frowning and trying to look upset, she still looked ridiculous and non-threatening despite her improbable and overwhelmingly brutish strength. That was a hobgoblin though. Even if the goblins were rather clever in a mischievous trouble causing way, they still all listened to Dolly like she was infallible. She wasn't any taller than her peers, and she didn't look much different except for one errant horn on her head which was lopsided and three times the size of the other, and the breasts which were as big as her head bouncing against her otherwise petite body. Her strength might be greater than all five of them combined though.


     “I thought I told you girls to behave.” Frank said walking through the doorway.


     “Sir, we're sorry, sir!” They all said getting back to their feet and saluting.


No, we weren't at Frank's house, with his bulldog of a wife. We were holed up in his office which also served as a... well a barracks for the goblin girls I guess. Nestled deep inside a small quaint building, away from the windows, was this little meeting room meant to discuss business with clients. Frank himself, the middle-aged potbellied but stern and kind foreman I had met yesterday was one of the few people Rose and Susan could fall back on. After hearing the story, Frank didn't even hesitate. He agreed to help and didn't even want to be paid. Maybe our sad little story stirred his heart? Maybe he's just a genuine kind soul? I'm grateful for whatever the reason is.


     “So, it's gotta be tonight.” Frank declared.


Frank plopped himself down onto one of the chairs opposite the couch. After untangling ourselves and settling down the goblins, under firm gaze of taskmaster Dolly, lifted the couch back up and pushed it back into place. Seating myself back into the center with Rose and Susan on my right and left; we began our strategy meeting. The goblins fanned out across the room, and Dolly returned to Frank stood next to his chair, and when he ruffled her hair with one hand while speaking to us, she smiled brightly and giggled softly. Like a puppy, almost.


     “Sooner the better.” I said sighing relieved. “I don't think we have any time to wait.”


     “They're gonna learn you're not here eventually.” Frank stated. “News gets around fast. You're gonna get through new town before word gets back, but they'll be on you after that.”


     “Not a problem!” Rose said clenching her fist dramatically. “Once we're in the open, they can keep coming as much as they want.”


     “To stay back and volley projectiles at us.” Susan sighed.


That put a damper on Rose's mood; who, instead of responding, crossed her arms and went silent into deep thought. Was that seriously your plan Rose? This isn't some show where you take the fight outside the city and in the middle of nowhere just to save on production costs.


     “We must carefully choose out next destination. I am under the suspicion that Vilmheim is surrounded on all flanks by nations of varying hostility. No doubt news has traveled far enough that troublesome company will soon be on our heels.”


     “The Church.” I brooded.


That was a thought that put Susan and I reeling back into silence. Our last encounter had ended in our favor, but not without costs. Ones that will, with time, no doubt give me an acute case of PTSD.  Seeing Goose shot down in front of me didn't help either. It was quite a graphic death to witness. I'd seen people hurt here, indirectly killed in brutal ways, but seeing it in person, with my own eyes, had a terrible weight to it. Only Rose seemed unaffected by the idea of going head to head with the Church.


     “No big deal.” She cheerfully said. “They don't have anything I'm scared of. They can try to get their hands on Laven.” Her voice then became quite dire and serious, “Next time I'm not holding back if someone lays their mitts on my husband.”


     “Ahem.” Susan coughed loudly. “We need a safe path out of Vilmheim first. Now that the gracious Mr. Guts and his laborers have involved themselves.”


Everyone in the room went deep into thought. Except Dolly but that's goes without saying. It was Rose's head that jerked up first, and she jumped up like something had lit her ass on fire.


     It all came pouring out of her mouth at once, “Somewhere the Church ain't got the gall to go... A demon realm!”


Everyone went quiet, and no one seemed ready to second that motion.


     “Whoa now.” Frank said with a worrisome tone. “You don't just stroll through a demon realm. Besides. You're monsters with a human that you're well... Kind of...”


     “Lovey Dovey~!” One of the goblins teased.


They all started to giggle and laugh, but the three of us seemed out of the loop, and Frank had a serious face as he looked down deep in thought.


     “Yeah.” Rose said, stalling to article and defend her idea. “I've walked through 'em before. They're a little weird, but nothing to-”


     “With your husband?” Frank interrupted.


     “No?” Rose titled her head wondering what Frank was trying to say.


     He rubbed the back of his head, even Frank was now blushing. “Well, these are just things I hear, but I don't have a reason to think they ain't the truth. Demon realms have a lot of that energy stuff. Lots of, well, lust and stuff. Maybe you go in there, and you all don't feel like leaving.”


     “Wait.” I said, that last part sounded a little serious. “What do you mean not leaving?”


     “Just places that turn into demon realms. Anyone not getting out of them in time when they turn, well no one else leaves. No one human at least, certainly only anyone single. Men don't last long single in those parts.”


     “I-I think we can handle a l-little magical subliminal suggestion.” Susan said blushing and stumbling over her words.


     “Stay forever? That's boring.” Rose declared. “That sounds like no more adventures. No more fighting. There ain't no fun in that.”


Frank sighed, and everyone went quiet. So that was the only option, was it? Heading deep into the demon realms I've only heard of. Everyone made them sound like some sort of hell on earth. Cursed lands with stories around them the likes you'd tell disobedient children to get them to shut up and go to bed. But that's only the first problem.


     “What about after?” I asked. “We can just assume we slip through one of these places. Where to after?”


     “Somewhere we can easily lose anyone tracking us.” Rose said crossing her arms.


     “A nation which is not within the Church's sphere of influence.” Susan added.


Rose's eyes lit up as she pounded her clenched claw in an open palm. Some idea had leaped into that thick head of hers.


     “The Mountains. They're south of here. Same direction we need to go anyways. Think they called 'em the Wyrmbacks.”


     “Some manner of hinterland?” Susan asked.


     “It might be high up, but even then it's still summer there.” Rose said dubiously, wondering what Susan was going on about.


     “No Rose.” I said, holding back a headache. “Does anyone live there.”


     “Yeah, yeah. They don't bother with anyone though. We don't start trouble, they won't mind us.”


Great. So we need to flee through Switzerland without passports. Sounds like fun. I'd have to once more become Hannibal and appear where it was impossible.


     Frank responded with a dubious tone, “The Wyrmbacks? You're not serious are you? You'd scale those death traps? Even if did, you'd have to pass through Beitterheim first. That's Vilmheim's second largest city. You'd be going right back into the fire. And getting across the Marru River. That's not just some water you can swim over-”


     “Tsk tsk tsk.” Rose clicked her tongue and waved her finger at Frank. “We just need to get over Marru Bridge.”


     “The one under control of Duke Billum? You think he'd even-”


     “We'll figure that out when we get there.” Rose said with finality.


I didn't have any clue what we were talking about anymore. After a few eras under the sand, neither did Susan. We were running out of time though. If Rose was the only one with a plan, as dreadful a thought as that was, we didn't have much choice. We'd slip out of Vilmheim tonight, race across the countryside south through a demon realm, hopefully come out the other side, shake off any followers and with the time we bought, get passage across a mighty river in a sheer mountainous region where we'd completely lose anyone following us. I suppose we weren't going to do any better...


There wasn't anything else to say. Frank and his girls had arranged our escape, and we'd be on our way. A rather simple means of escape. Frank was involved in the construction and reconstruction business. The walls around old Vilmheim needed to be repaired. On the south side of the city, there was a crane used to hoist stones to the top of the wall. We'd sneak in with a load of stones and be lifted right up and over the wall. Then we'd run like hell. With their strength, the goblins could build not a solid pile of stones, but one with an empty space within it. Rose had enough strength to remove at least one.


It wasn't much of a plan, but it's all we had. These demon realms—I was told later—were no small plots of land. It would take two days and one night of rest to get through. But to go around one to our south could take a week. We'd gain five days on anyone chasing after us. It was simple and easy enough. What worried me was the demon realm itself. I just had a bad feeling.

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