There is no good time for a Lie.
Only good timing!
A FEW WEEKS AGO, ON THE ROAD TO ARASHKAN,
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN SIM TOWN AND MISTY FOREST
NEAR THE GREAT ARASHKAN LAKE.
I feel sick!”, came the groaning voice of a girl from the shuddering wagon. She was an innocently beautiful girl, with a diminutive, sad face, long, honey-brown hair, raven-black wings, and dark, crowning horns. She lay in a fetal position under a rough, scratchy woolen blanket as she moaned dramatically.
“You were sick yesterday. And the day before that. And the one just about before that as well.”, came the voice of the broad-shouldered she-dwarf in heavy armor, and heartlessly. She was already tethering at the end of her patience; she had been trying to compose a prayer —a feat that was quite a challenge, the way the wagon shook and rumbled like a drunken Mox!
“But she is ill..”, said the third person in the wagon; this one, a pretty and skinny girl, and she spoke with a small, scared voice.
She wasn’t lean, nor slender.
One would think she had been saved from a concentration camp merely a day or two ago.
“And I do believe she totally deserved it.”, scowled the she-dwarf.
“But.. Sister Lady.. Please..”, pleaded the skinny girl.
“Should have kept her hands off my boy. Did she? Nooo..”, the dwarf, ‘Lady’, growled at the skinny girl, Inshala.
“She didn’t know..”, whined the girl.
“What she said; I didn’t’ know!”, came the voice of the girl from under the blanket.
“And that makes it alright, I suppose?”, scowled the she-dwarf, even more.
“Perhaps you should pin a note on your ‘boys’, ‘I AM THE TEMPLE PROPERTY! – HANDS OFF!‘ Or better, yet; ‘OFF LIMITS‘.”, replied the girl in a miserable voice and without a trace of sarcasm. “I promise, I would never have touched him.”
The underlying twisted logic in that was not lost on ‘Lady’, the she-dwarf. Had the ‘boy’ not been a temple guardian, he would have been dead —’used’, and then devoured by the half-succubi girl lying sick under the blanket.
There was no arguing with Merisoul. She was what she was; a half-born, a scion of succubi, and devouring the souls of their victims were in their nature. True, the girl had managed to curb her appetites rather admirably since the day they had met, but Thomas —the young temple guard, had almost fallen for the beauty of the succubi.
To be fair, the half-born was not sick because Thomas had been a temple guardian, but because the boy had long fallen for another beauty; the stubborn, pugnacious, aggressive, and troublesome girl, Bremorel Songsteel..
..and the succubi, as seductive as they were, would get branded and sick or poisoned should they ever try to touch, let alone devour a soul who was truly in love.
Funny how that went; beauty always seemed to cause trouble, and eventually, burn —someone!
And boys always seemed to go for the wrong girls..
Lady loved Bremorel like she were her own, like all those she had taken under her wings, but the girl was trouble.. and troubled. She had been so, ever since her parents had been killed by a band of marauding orcs and brought to the town orphanage.
In time, it was possible she would have recovered as time healed many things by way of clouding old memories..
..had the girl not actually witnessed the butchery, and she had been only four at the time.
Lady decided she should perhaps be a tad more lenient to those under said wings.
“Are you getting worse?”, she asked finally.
“What I am getting, is a smell and it is going to make me retch!”, said the girl and with a sudden motion, she picked herself up and leaned over the side of the wagon and..
For a long moment, she stared at the sick as the wagon moved on.
“I puked.”, she said clinically. “That was mildly revolting, considering I am not even actually, sick! Not physically anyway. You would think a fiend like myself wouldn’t even have a soul, to be spiritually ill.. Shows how much all the great Heavens and their saints know!”
The skinny girl reached up to her with the itchy blanket and put it around her shoulders, shredded a piece of her own thread-bare skirt, and wiped the sick off her face.
“Why don’t you lie down and get some sleep.”, she said and drew her back into the wagon.
“Can’t. The smell..”, she moaned.
“Smell? What smell? I don’t smell anything?”, the skinny girl said.
“It’s coming from ahead. I think someone needs a bath.. and thoroughly!”
“Ummm.. who?”, asked Inshala tentatively.
“That Udoorin boy..”
Inshala stuffed her head under the blanket..
..and she kept on snorting!
The gnome driving the wagon also snorted. But unlike the skinny girl, Inshala, who was trying to keep it down so she wouldn’t be heard —because she was a polite young girl, the gnome, Gnine, on the other hand, barked out with glee.
“Ow, this is just too good not to repeat.. Repeatedly!”, he said, kicking his feet into the air.
“You repeat that, and I will hurt you, boy..”, came the growling voice of Lady. “..repeatedly!”
Gnine cackled some more.
“Would you like me to tell him? I totally can.”, the gnome said with mirth.
“How altruistic of you.”, said Lady and very much wanted something heavy in her hand.
“The ladies shouldn’t be burdened with this. It would break the boy’s heart! Can you imagine his face if someone told him he stank, right in front of Princess Lorna?”, smirked Gnine.
“By all means, do that, Master Gnine.”, said Merisoul from inside the wagon. “I am sure he will enjoy dismantling you. Not that there is much of you to dismantle.”
“Oh no, my pretty Soul. He will do nothing as long as the princess is anywhere in sight. He can’t!“, the gnome said evilly.
“But.. don’t you share a tent with him?”, asked Inshala innocently.
“Well.. as inconvenient as that might be, it might still be worth it.”, replied Gnine a bit dubiously, now.
“Or not.”, added Merisoul.
“You will do no such thing, midget!”, flared Lady. “I will inform the boy and he can take a bath in the lake. We will make an early camp.”
A FEW HOURS LATER..
“Hey, you.”, said Merisoul, as she approached Lorna while holding a large ‘puking tub’ in her arms.
“Hello, Merisoul. How are you today? Are you feeling any better?”, asked Princess Alor’Nadien ne politely, turning to look at her.
Merisoul looked down at her ‘tub’, then at Lorna.
“It’s only half full, so I suppose I am a bit better.”, she said, as she swayed.
“Please sit.”, she said and turned back to look at something in the distance.
“You can’t see him from here, you know.”, Merisoul said with a straight face.
Princess Alor’Nadien ne blushed.
“What? No. I was not trying to peak. That would be very inappropriate. And unkind to Sir Dorin.”, said Lorna, her face still bright red.
“A bit early to ‘Sir’ him, don’t you think?”, and there wasn’t a trace of amusement in her voice.
“I.. we refer to one another so. I would rather he called me Alor’Na or just Lorna. But he insists on living the habit of ‘ladying’ me, hence I reply in kind. He is a good man.”, Lorna said, still blushing.
“He is also alone..”, inserted Merisoul.
“Alone?”, Lorna asked, a bit confused.
“Yes. A young, healthy male, and not bad to look at, out of his armor, taking a bath, in a lake, and alone. I imagine any number of young, Arashkan country girls are having a great time ogling at him.”, Merisoul replied.
Lorna’s face changed..
..from a bright, blush red to a dark, furry red!
“That is.. that is just rude!”, she fumed.
“I agree. Totally rude.. but fun. Probably. Unless someone takes steps. Once one of them musters enough courage though, it’s over; she will jump into the lake for the boy, followed by her numerous competitors.”, the Merisoul mused. “They say the Dryadkin entrap by their charm, but nothing beats an Arashkan country girl to a young, husky, and healthy male specimen such as your Udoorin!”
“They had better not!”, flared the princess in a rather uncharacteristic way.
“I mean, I wouldn’t mind going there myself —to make sure he stays safe, I mean, but I am in a vulnerable state at the moment and young human males are a tad too scrumptious to pass. Ranger Corporal Laila could too, I suppose, but she and young Udoorin are like brother and sister, so that would be a bit awkward. The gnome would end up getting water-logged, then beached because he would enrage young Udoorin. Inshala is out of the question; she belongs to that not-so-nice Aager and Lady just shouldn’t be staring at a naked man while he bathes.. Now that’s just wrong. That leaves you. Unless you want to risk him.”
“I..”, stammered Lorna, returning back to a blush.
“I mean, all the fights and bloodletting we have been through all these months and losing him now to some country strumpets sounds like such a poor trade, and a waste to me.”, the succubi half-born added.
“But I am on watch duty.”, struggled the princess.
“I can cover for you.”, offered Merisoul. “And trust me when I say, no one wants to be anywhere near my ‘puke tub’. It’s toxic!”
“I won’t be intruding upon him, will I?”, asked Lorna hesitantly.
“Intrude away, darling, I am sure he won’t mind. Not that there is anything he could do about it; he is naked, in a lake, and alone, after all, probably about to be ambushed by any number of sunny, buxom, country girls..”
Princess Alor’Nadien ne took off at a run!
Aager Fogstep walked up to Merisoul as he stared after the princess, running towards the lake.
“What’s gotten into her?”, he murmured.
“She is off to watch duty.”, replied Merisoul.
This event triggers the story: A Bard’s Tale X, Dorin’s Day
✱ ✱ ✱
SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, DEEP DOWN
IN DUNGEONS, UNDER THE RUINS OF THEMALSAR.
Aager Fogstep did not like dealing with people. Not at a personal level. He preferred to orchestrate things in such a way that others did the interacting and the conversing. When things came to his attention on a personal level, it usually meant someone was about to be deleted.
Hence he smoothed over to the two ranger cousins and growled at them in his low, implicating voice.
“You two better talk with that girl.”
The two ranger cousins, Laila Wolvesbane and Bremorel Songsteel stared at one another and the younger of the two, ‘Bree’ made a face which she took no trouble hiding from the sinister-looking man in his dark clothes.
There was, apparently, some dislike between the two cousin-ranger-girls and Aager.
Laila never showed him any animosity. Not openly. Perhaps being half of an elf called her to be more subtle. Hence she preferred a passive-aggressive stance. Bree, on the other hand, did not bother with such subtleties and showed her displeasure as she did everything else; openly and savagely..
“What girl?”, asked Bremorel bluntly.
If Aager was taken aback by the girl’s attitude, he didn’t show.
Because he didn’t care.
Aager Fogstep had had his empathy washed out of his system by the time he was five.. back at Drashan.
“That strange girl.”, he said in his quiet, growling voice.
“That doesn’t narrow anything down. You could easily be referring to—”, she began.
“—You?”, finished Aager, causing her to scowl, and her cousin, Laila, to snort. “But no. You are odd enough without talking to yourself. I was referring to that.. little Inshala girl.”
Bremorel fumed furiously at the man standing before her.
“If you want to be taken seriously, and shown the respect you deserve, you must display it to others, and freely, young Morel Songsteel.”, he said.
Apparently, not caring did not equivalate to ‘accepting’ open displays of disrespect nor insolence, for Aager Fogstep.
Laila put a hand on her cousin’s shoulder, then she turned to Aager, and said, “What are we going to talk to her about? She isn’t exactly chatty, you know. Other than sneaking up to us and mumbling a few words, then taking off again, she hasn’t spoken to us at all.”
“My point, exactly. She has some.. issues. Serious issues that must be addressed.”
“Why don’t you talk to her then?”, inserted Bremorel spitefully.
“Don’t be asinine. That girl avoids me like the plague.”, snapped Aager.
“Can’t imagine why!”, she sneered.
“Bree.. Please.”, said Laila reprovingly.
Aager, however, gazed at the young woman for a long, silent moment with dead eyes.
Then he spoke;
“There is nothing to imagine, young Morel. I wasn’t given this job because of my people skills. I was given it to make sure the said people were safe enough to do all the stupid things they do. I do not defy nor deny my shortcomings. I am a heartless murderer with enough corpses to rope all the way back to Drashan.. I have no past worth remembering, nor a future worth living.. When I kill, I feel nothing. No shame, no remorse. Much like I see no reason for joy when I breathe.. Yet, I show courtesy because those that don’t, are cut first. I see little practical merit for ‘life’, yet do my best to keep those around me safe and alive.. What awaits me in my future, is nothings short of a noose..
So tell me, young Morel..
What’s your excuse for being insufferable?”, he snarled savagely.
Bremorel’s face flushed.
“What do you want us to tell her? What kind of issues does she have?”, she asked.
“I wouldn’t know. I could safely say, she needs.. friends. Talk to her. Be her friend.”
Laila cocked an eyebrow at the man in dark clothes.
Even Bremorel was astonished.
Aager Fogstep; the soulless, friendless, exempt-of-all-human-emotions man, was asking them to befriend someone!
“You want us? To be friends? With that girl?”, she asked incredulously.
“Yes.”, he growled. “From what I heard, you two became friends quite after you met. You should know, how.”
“Yea.”, spat Bremorel in a voice that reeked with sarcasm. “Have Udoorin insult my cousin again and we’ll take Inshala with us to beat him! Should make us and her, all cuddly!”
“Ow. Do you like that girl?”, came a soft voice from somewhere above them, and Merisoul Xyrotwu landed right next to them!
Aager Fogstep just stared at the half-succubi.
“No.”, he snarled.
“I don’t believe you!”, she said happily.
“And I don’t really care what you believe.”, he very nearly spat.
“You do know that I can read your feelings, right?..”, she began.
“Neither my thoughts nor my feelings are any of your business.”, Aager growled.
“..And they are all a jumble. A confused mess. Mangled in disarray!”, she finished.
“By all means, repeat the same thing using synonyms.”, he said in an infuriated voice.
“Actually, they all mean different things.”, Merisoul said in an explanatory way. “True. They are, at times, used interchangeably, but in reality, there are nuances. In your case, they all apply independently.
Aager decided this was just about the best time for an acceptably decent retreat and still keep some of his dignity intact. The silly, intrusive girl with the raven wings was a heaven for garbage trivia, making arguing with her, a pointless, but infuriating exercise..
She was exactly the kind of person he avoided at all costs.
The only ‘good’ thing about his birthplace, Drashan, was people like this girl would never last. They would, sooner than later, irritate someone —anyone— and be cut and make everyone else happy.
Other than pirates, murderers, thieves, cutthroats, scoundrels, and whores, it was likely Drashan had the highest concentration of pragmatic and practical people then any other place!
He looked at the ranger cousins one last time.
“She needs friends. Desperately, and soon. Not me..“, he growled and left.
✱ ✱ ✱
A FEW MONTHS AGO, INSIDE AND NEAR THE
ENTRANCE OF THE RUINS OF THEMALSAR.
Tell me, little fiend, have you any last words before you face your doom?”, said the beautiful Archangel of Wrath, Priceptine, as he gazed down upon the broken body of the pretty girl with the long, honey-brown hair, sagging raven-wings, diminutive face, sad, soulful eyes, and the crowning horns. She lay there bruised and bleeding, but still clutching to the dented locket that had been the Archangel’s jail for some eight hundred years.
“To which doom, are you referring to, if I may ask? The one where some Mortals threw me into a pit when I was but two and kept me in there until I was ten?
Or the doom where an incubus had his way with my mother, who died two days after giving birth to me?
Or the doom where I was forced to endure Hell for years? I hope not. Hell is a bore..
Or perhaps you are referring to the doom where the Angel whom I set free, gets to beat me out of ‘gratitude’?”, replied the barely alive young girl.
Apparently, this was not the answer Priceptine, the Archangel of Wrath was expecting. From a demon, something declarative like “I will see you in Hell!”, was more fitting.
“You did not free me out of the goodness of your heart.”, he snarled.
“How could I? I didn’t even know what was in the locket. Had I known the Archangel of Wrath would be my collocutor, I would never have opened it.”, she said, and without a trace of shame.
“So. You admit your intentions?”, he scowled.
“What is there to hide? No one sane would release a being, knowing he will beat you to pulp the moment he’s out. That would be insane!”
Priceptine glared down at the little fiend girl. She was either very smart, cunning, and devious.. or just stupid.
“I think an apology is in order here.”, sniffed the girl.
“AN APOLOGY?“, snarled Priceptine.
“Of course. Something to compensate for the smiting, the lack of gratitude and rewards.. I did set you free. And I am a bit appalled about the lack of base courtesy, as well..”
“You did not release me intentionally, nor with good intentions.”, he grinded his teeth.
“As a matter of fact, I did open the locket with the intention of releasing its prisoner in hopes of being rewarded. That sounds like a perfectly good intention to me.. And any fiend or demon would have complied with those terms. But I suppose such rules of courtesy do not apply to Angels.. Or Mortals! I find the similarity arbitrary and quite disturbing.”, she said.
One must candidly admire the cool in the girl’s attitude; there she was, lying in the rubble, with one arm broken, any number of ribs shattered, at least one lung punctured, and bleeding from multiple wounds and still had the audacity to mouth off and make demands.. from The Archangel of Wrath himself!
“You are a brazen one, aren’t you?”, mused the Archangel.
“There are only brasiers and blazes where I come from. Just more of the same, where I am about to go.”, she replied.
“There will be no rewards. I can’t be rewarding fiends, no matter how smart they think they are. Would set off a very wrong presidency.”, he said.
“Yea. An Angel showing gratitude to a helpless girl who saved him from nearly a millennia of entrapment, as opposed to beating the crap out of her. What could possibly be misunderstood, there?”
“Make your last words, fiend. I tire of your mouth.”, Priceptine said in a weary tone.
“Just out of curiosity, are you going to beat me onto death? Because that is exactly what you have done, thus far; beat me. And in the most literal sense; using your fists.. Much like drunken Mortals beat their wives.. Where is your mighty weapon? I’d rather you run me through with it and get it over with. Beating is a little degrading.. Or perhaps you’d prefer murder by strangulation; less effort there, and not as messy as the other options. You will just have to watch as the light of life fades from my eyes!”
The Archangel of Wrath fumed and glared down at the pretty fiend.
“Right. Last words it is, then.”, the broken, bruised, and bleeding girl said.
So, the devious little fiend wanted to play games, did she?
“A bargain it is. What is your name, little fiend? I shall need it to seal the deal. Can’t have you getting bored nor sidetracked, now can we?”
“Merisoul Xyrotwu.”, replied the little demon girl promptly.
“Happy Soul Zero Two.. An interesting name for a fiend. I see your soul, little girl and there is no ‘happy’ in it.. Only the desire and cravings for ‘happy’, bound by your inner lust.”, he murmured thoughtfully. Then he smiled and his face became even more beautiful. “But that is not your real name, little fiend, is it?”
“How would you know?”, asked the little demon.
“You gave it too soon and too quick! A demon’s name is the most precious thing they have. You truly must be new in Hell!”, he smiled even more.
“Well, bugger.”, grudged Merisoul Xyrotwu.
“So, little fiend.. What shall it be? Your name and a bargain, or no name and Oblivion?”
The little demon, Merisoul sighed.
“My name is;
AREZME XIRISO NU LEI KAREXY ROTXIN GWUE
NIMONORA LUNADORA GWHISHAVA XALISHA
ERRA LILU ALURA NIM DARELLE FEL ESSA WIXEN
BWANDA AD ARA LYNN SELENE BELLA XENARA
DWENDELIEN DE VIENE YLARA X LAKUNA ELLE ISLA
SERRAPHYN EDET VIELLA XILLESSE DEMI
..and it shall never be repeated to another. And for the record, I am not a fiend. I am more along the lines of a demon. A half-born succubi, to be more precise. The differences are minor, from an Angelic point of view, I suppose, but they are there, from a cumulative end.”
Priceptine, The Archangel of Wrath stared at the little fiend.. demon.. succubi-whatsit, for a long moment.
“Your name.. It is a bit ostentatious, don’t you think? Your mother must have been an ambitious woman.”, he said finally.
“I wouldn’t know. She died, remember? But she hated demons and their cults. She gave me that name so I would never be controlled nor ever be used by any demon as she had been.”, she replied and there was something eternal, sadness and loss, in her voice. Perhaps the only time she had shown any genuine emotion since their meeting.
“The bargain, my Lord.”, she said, to skim over her broken heart and what leaked out, whenever she was reminded of her mother.
“The bargain..”, agreed the Archangel.
“You shall defy all your former ties and bonds. You shall enter my service and be ‘good’. You shall never devour the soul of another mortal, and should you try, you shall be smitten by my very hand. You shall spend your days, saving the lives of others, tooth and nail.
You shall commit yourself onto the path of danger to save others, but never with the deliberate intention to end your own life. You shall serve me so long as you live, and until you make true and honest mortal friends. You shall do everything in your power to make them better and you shall do this without ever using your succubi heritage.
Do you, <INSERT THE VERY LONG, VERY OSTENTATIOUS NAME HERE>, accept these terms?”. Priceptine said with a very harsh, demanding voice.
Merisoul Xyrotwu stared at the Archangel.
“Alright. As Mortals say, ‘You have shown me the stick. It’s time for the carrot.’
The Archangel gave her a humorless smile.
“There are no carrots, Miss Fiend. Only the stick!”
Merisoul’s eyes teared.
For these demands were very, very harsh demands. They would effectively close every door from her past, and not really open any new ones. Such a bargain would seal her own doom in the hands of her ‘former’ Master, and in a horrible way, should she ever be found.
And should she refuse these harsh demands, however, this Angel would end her. But at least it would be quick, and ‘mercifully’ painless. She knew Angels did not do the torture thing.
She opened her small, cherry-red mouth in defiance.
This event triggers many stories and:
A Demon’s Plan (Part One)
A Demon’s Plan (Part Two)
A Demon’s Plan (Part Three) – Release the Horde!
A Demon’s Plan (Part Four) – All End.
and The Best Of Bargains, in particular.
✱ ✱ ✱
A FEW DAYS AGO, BEHIND AN INN,
IN THE SLUMS OF ARASHKAN CITY.
She’s right you know. You should tell her..”
The man in dark clothes tensed, then cursed with recognition.
“A bit obscene, but essentially accurate..”, replied the soft, beautiful voice.
And out of the darkness, an angelic girl glided down and gently settled in front of the seething man..
She had flowing, honey-brown hair, baby pink skin, black, raven-like wings, a small, pouting mouth, and a pair of dark, possibly black or dark purple horns that appeared more like an elegant crown. She wore a dark, strapless dress that looked as if it were trimmed with soft, black feathers. Her slender feet, however, were naked, yet unstained as though dirt shied from them..
“I doubt this is any of your concern, Merisoul Xyrotwu..”, gnarled the man.
“..don’t you have a Darly you should be concerned with?”, the man continued with contempt, though it wasn’t clear to whom his distaste was directed at; the beautiful girl, or this, Darly person..
“My poor Darly..”, said the girl sadly. “..He has attached himself to a fairy dream where there are no faeries. He has idealized the woman he once loved so much, her death has beset him on a path he can not abandon.. And no other woman can match such blind and purified ideal, I am afraid. But we are not here to talk about my beautiful Darly are we? Now tell me, when have I ever given you a reason for you to hold me in such contempt, Aager Fogstep?
I am not some cuisine you can eat the parts you favor and discard the parts you find distasteful. I find it quite unjust that you would thank me when it suits you, but try and banish me when it doesn’t..”
The face of the man, Aager Fogstep, turned ugly. He bit into the words as he snarled at the girl. “And when have I ever given you the impression that I was a ‘just’ person?!”
The majestic creature paused for a moment and gazed sadly upon the boiling man before her.
And then, the beautiful girl stepped directly in front of the man, reached up to him with one, small hand, and touched his face as if to caress him..
..and the moment she did, wisps of smoke started from her. The feathers on her black, raven wings curled, her hair danced as if hit by a vertical gust and her dress sagged..
..she cried in pain.
I feel the love you have for her..
And the hate you feel for yourself..
She.. she is so much stronger and resilient than you think, Aager Fogstep!
Do not deny yourself, your love, nor your pain from her, for she has not..
And just like that, the girl caught fire!
The man in dark clothes just stood there, shocked and petrified as the girl in blazing fire crumbled into the ground..
“YOU FOOL! YOU DAMNED FOOL!.. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!“, cried the man with fear and panic.
“I am damned.. and a fool.. But I have made my choice.. Now go..”, a shriek in terrible agony came from the figure, ablaze and crumbled. “Go to her, please.. for she needs your love now more than ever.. Do not make my sacrifice go in vain!”
But the man in dark clothes did not go.
He raised his hands into the night sky as if in prayer.. and called..
“Inshala. My dearest. Merisoul needs you in a most desperate way. She is dying!”
And out of the night, something tiny darted up to the man and landed next to him. It was a small, baby owl..
The owl spun in on itself and suddenly turned into the sweetest looking little girl..
She had very long, soft hair that swept down to her knees, two beautiful, curving horns, deep, forlorn eyes, a small, cherry red mouth, and slightly elfish looking ears. She was also dangerously skinny.
The little girl summoned gallons and gallons of water that came gushing out of the cobblestones and drowned the blazing girl’s fire.
Then she raised one hand in a graceful arc and tiny little sparkling golden motes rained down upon the severely burned girl and the burnt crisps started falling off her, displaying fresh, baby pink, tender skin under them..
And then she turned around to face the man in dark clothes as he stared at the little, skinny girl like she was his last breath on earth.
And the little girl returned that gaze like she had only one more breath left to take, and she wanted him to have it!
Then came Merisoul’s shrieks of total loss;
“CURSE YOU! DOUBLE CURSE YOU, AAGER FOGSTEP! I WAS OUT! I WAS ALMOST OUT AND YOU RUINED EVERYTHING!“
This event triggers the story: Lilly Venom: “İş Teklifi”
✱ ✱ ✱
SEVERAL MONTHS AGO,
DURING THE LATE HOURS OF CELEBRATION AT SERENITY HOME
UPON THE RETURN OF THE HEROES FROM THE RUINS OF THEMALSAR.
Well, hello there, scrumptious!”, smiled the beautiful girl, Merisoul, at the young man, holding his dislocated shoulder. “I could fix that shoulder for you, and make you feel happy, elated, and very, very exhilarated, all in one package.”
The young man ogled at the ‘otherworldly’ beautiful girl.
He was very nearly tempted to call her an Angel because nothing worldly could possibly be THIS pretty. But he was a polite young man. And as beautiful as this young woman was, he was already fixated on another, even though that other had rebuffed and rebuked him this very evening, sending him off in total defeat and dejection.
“Thank you ma’am.”, he said. “But this suffering of mine is merely part of the learning process.”
“Owww.. Polite and honest.”, observed the angelic Merisoul Xyrotwu, happily.
“As everyone should be.”, replied the young man earnestly.
“Very true. I totally agree. As a matter of fact, I want to keep agreeing with you. Privately!”, she said, blasting the young man’s mind with the full-blown power of her succubi heritage.
“I..”, the young man stammered. “That sounds.. wro—”
“—Right, doesn’t it? Come now. This night should end with some happiness, don’t you think? Everyone is celebrating. Why should you fall short? Why should you be denied of some fun?”, said the beautiful girl and started to respite with excitement and her modest, nubile breasts heaved.
Slowly, carefully, she took a silent but deliberate step towards the boy and reach up to his, not-quite-adult face..
..and something flickered!
It happened so fast, that no one quite saw the long, single streak of lightning that came down the night sky..
..and landed on the slender, otherworldly beautiful young woman, smashing her into the cobblestones of the town.
With the rubble and dust settled, the young man stared in baffled amazement at the nearly charred girl, lying face down and clutching her ‘palm’ of all places and squirming in pain.
“Are you.. are you alright, ma’am?”, he asked, a bit foolishly.
The charred girl waved one hand in a, ‘move along, nothing to see here’, sort of way.
“Perhaps I should call Lady Magella. I heard about a very pretty young woman to have joined their party during her sojourn into the malignant ruins of Themalsar. You must be her.”, he said.
“No, no.. Please don’t call her.”, mumbled the girl. “I believe I have had enough help from your town’s temple for one evening.”
“Well, if you are sure. I should get going anyway. And put some ice on my shoulder. This night has been a hopeless loss for me. I thought she felt something, back there, when she agreed to dance with me and when she was staring at me in the eyes when D.D. Dexter and her cousin were singing. All these years of self-training and she still knocked me around like I was a little boy!”
“You should probably get yourself someone a bit sane, young Thomas.”, groaned Merisoul.
“You know my name?”, asked the young man.
“I know many names. And yours just happens to be one of them. Your dream girl is mad as a hatter and it is very unlikely that will change.”, the burnt girl said, still clutching her one palm.
“Change? She is perfect. I wouldn’t want her to change. I am calm for the both of us. She is all fire. Both are needed in a.. uhhh.. relation..”, his voice trailed off with embarrassment.
“She is broken, boy. You can’t fix her and she is too scared to even try.”
“I do not need to fix her. That is not my place. I can only show her what she could be, or have, or want. She is smart. I am sure she will eventually submit to her own.”, the young man said with patient confidence. “In the end, though, I have but one heart and it’s all hers. It’s always been hers. She can have it, break it, burn it, or destroy it.. It’s up to her.”, he said quietly.
“Anyway. Good night ma’am..”, he added, and with a forlorn expression, he turned around and left, walking in the general direction of the town temple.
“One down. One to go.. There must be an easier way to do this.”, she moaned in pain, staring at the peculiar ‘brand’, still eating at her palm.
“You know, I could cut you right here, and now, and no one would even know about it, you unwholesome little skank!”, hissed a harsh voice, from somewhere above her.
Merisoul could barely pick her head up to see the fuming Bremorel Songsteel, her eyes blazing with some crazy fire, as she held her great, cold blade in her hand.
This had been a painful evening but Merisoul Xyrotwu knew, she just knew, it wouldn’t end there, yet..
“You did not just beat that young, lovely bantam. You humiliated him by physically assaulting him and slamming him into the ground. You did not just break him. You destroyed him. You sent him off refused and dejected. And the moment you did that, he became ‘fair game’!”, the crispy girl in the smoking hole groaned.
“I rebuffed him because he thought he could get familiar with me just because he picked me up to a dance. All these years and he still hasn’t learned, I am not an easy catch.”, fumed the young woman, brandishing her great sword for emphasis.
“Yea..”, agreed Merisoul. “It must be very important for everyone to know you are not an easy catch. What are you? Twelve?”
Bremorel glared down at the burnt girl.
“You know, there is a special kind of hole for girls like you, in Hell.”
“What? Girls can’t have their own opinions?”, Bremorel snapped.
“Mortals don’t get to have opinions in Hell. And girls have rather limited use there. I do not think you want me to spell it out for you as to what those ‘uses’ may be. Suffice to say, cooking, cleaning, dusting, sewing, sweeping, and changing the diapers of imps, lemures, and dretches for eternity is not fun!
But don’t fret. I was done with your boy, the moment I touched him.”, Merisoul said, and in agony, she opened her branded palm and showed it to the fuming girl.
Bremorel stared at the little ‘skanks’ palm in amazement. It seemed like a stylized ‘rose’, and it was still orange-red as it simmered and glowed.
“What the hell is this?”, she flared.
“This.. is the Mark of Love. Or a Fool’s Brand, depending on your point of view. Whenever one of my kind touches a Mortal who is truly in love, we get ‘marked’ —’branded’. If we are lucky, it’s just the mark. If not, we get sick and poisoned for days.. Weeks, sometimes..
The boy is in love and thoroughly, you are an idiot and vastly, and I am the fool who paid the price, and heavily..”, she said in a voice like she wanted to cry.
For a long moment, Bromorel Songsteel glared at the simmering brand, and at the crisped girl in the smoking hole.
“You deserved it.”, she said finally, and quite heartlessly.
“Apparently, but not satisfactorily.”, moaned the girl in the hole, and with dreaded anticipation.
“I WARNED YOU!”
The terrible voice of the Archangel of Wrath boomed in her head.
“No, no.. I am thoroughly ashamed—”, she squeaked in a panicked voice.. to no avail..
..and the smiting Fist of Wrath came down from the Heavens— ⊗
“Well, bugger!”, groaned the crispy Merisoul..
⊗ —and smashed the succubi-whatsit, fifteen feet deeper into the ground.
✱ ✱ ✱
A MONTH OR SO AGO,
LATE ONE EVENING, ON THE ROAD TO
THE GREAT ARASHKAN CITY.
I am sorry Master Aager.”, Merisoul said, holding up her ‘puking pot’. “I have not been well of late and it is likely I will be doing a lot of unladylike, retching noises all night long. I am afraid you will have to park dear little Inshala somewhere else this evening. Possible near the campfire. And keep her company as well, in case she wakes up and finds herself to be alone. She does that a lot, you know, wake up and find herself alone.”
Aager Fogstep stared steadily at the beautiful, half-born succubi girl, then at her empty puking pot, then back at the girl, as he held the sleeping Inshala in his arms. He was amazed at how the hybrid hadn’t even flinched nor blushed in the slightest at the glaringly blatant lie she had just told.
“You don’t have to try so hard, Merisoul.”, he said, in his low, growling voice.
“Hence, I did not. You are a smart man.. for a Mortal, and would have suspected me of something, however I did my presentation.”, she replied, and with a straight face.
“Why bother at all, then?”, Aager asked.
“One must follow the motions. It is polite, if nothing else, Master Aager.”, she sniffed as if stating the obvious. “I wouldn’t want you to think less of me by giving you the wrong impression, after all.”
“Which would be?”, asked Aagar.
“That, I didn’t think you were worth any effort..”, she smiled.
“I appreciate the courtesy. But you are missing the point.”, he said.
“Why bother.. AT ALL?”
“Ahh.. Habit, I suppose. A bad one, yes, but we all have our little vices we like to indulge, now and then.”, she replied.
“No.”, Aager said quietly.
“No?”, asked Merisoul, a bit confused.
“No..”, repeated Aager. “That’s not it. Not the main reason, anyway.”
“What could I possibly want of you, Master Aager?
The thing you most admire, treasure, and care..
The thing that you most desire, hunger, and love..
The thing that perpetually astonishes and astounds you..
And the only thing that has ever given any meaning and joy to your desolate heart..
..is already in your hands, and literally.
From her, I have never made any demands but sought a bit of love and friendship, which she has given without command, freely and without reservation. Sad, really..”, she said softly.
“Sad.. that nons have ever given her any, yet she gives it to others so earnestly, even though she does not truly understand what it is, nor just how precious what she gives is..
Only gives.. I am not sure if that makes hers just the more precious, or foolish. It hurts me to look at her.”, she mused.
Aager looked down at the little girl in his arms and inadvertently smiled because she was dreaming and probably visiting something she liked in that dream because her face was calm, peaceful, and adorned with a smile of her own. He was still amazed that of all people, this little, scared girl would find peace in a dreadful man such as himself. He certainly would never have..
He looked up at the other girl, still holding her puking pot.
“You are good, Miss Merisoul. One obvious reason followed by another, not quite so blatant tailored specifically for me.. Very good, indeed, but no..”, he said..
Merisoul squinted at Aager and bit her lower lip.
“You are.. Afraid!”, he said quietly.
“And you are rude, Master Aager.”, she said, as she pouted and crossed her arms. “You don’t have to be like that all the time, you know. All the trouble and effort I put into the planning and application and you demolished it just because you could. Not a quality a girl would find admirable. Sometimes, it’s better to be bested by a well-planned conversation —or seduction.. It is the polite thing to do.”
“Perhaps. Too late to rewind now.”, Aager replied, trying to suppress a stifle. Then he scowled a bit. “The fact remains. What is it you are afraid of? You hide it well, but not from someone who knows that look.”
“You don’t know what you are asking of me?”, hissed Merisoul.
“No, I don’t, because you haven’t told me yet.”, said Aager, calmly. “Personally, I think you are quite mad. But what I think is irrelevant in this matter. Only that you are ‘ours’, and that my Inshala loves you. I am sure there are any number of others in this odd group that would be willing to share your burden. It is possible this will not help you, but it will make things a lot more bearable for you. At least you won’t have to retch all night to make us think you are still sick.”
Slowly, he turned around and left the tent, to sit out the night next to the campfire with the skinny little girl sleeping in his arms.
Merisoul Xyrotwu lowered her crossed arms, tossed the puking pot aside, and smiled.
“Saw through all but the real reason, Master Aager.”, she whispered. “But as smart, cunning, and devious as you are, at the end of the day, you are only a Mortal.”
“The main reason was always the joy in your arms. Love her, and cherish her. For she is one of a kind..”
✱ ✱ ✱
A WEEK AGO,
EARLY ONE EVENING, RIGHT OUTSIDE AN INN
IN THE SLUMS OF THE GREAT ARASHKAN CITY.
Merisoul Xyrotwu watched the huge man in filthy looking clothes swaying drunkenly, from the roof she was perched, as he staggered down the street towards the inn they were stationed. She stared down at the man with a puzzled expression on her small, otherworldly beautiful, yet ‘sad’ face.
“What is he doing, I wonder?”, she mused quietly.
“He thinks he is incognito. ‘Undercover’..”, snorted the young, handsome man, lying on his side, next to the pretty girl.
And the light of comprehension shown on her face, making it appear even more angelic.
“Aaah.. Well, you can’t blame him for trying, Darly. He just isn’t cut for that line of work.”, she smiled.
“Actually, you can cut him in two, and neither half would be any good for that line of work.”, said the young Darly, with a vindictive voice. “He has ‘LAWMAN’ written all over him.”
“Perhaps. That isn’t really anything so bad, though, is it? I am sure the fact that he is the son of a renowned sheriff had some effect on the princess’s choice. Being the sheriff of Serenity Home is nothing to sneeze at. It is a highly regarded position, you know. It does not return much of what you Mortals call ‘money’, but it does garner a lot of respect. At least that is the conclusion I have come to, after extended observation of the relative Mortal social titles.”, said Merisoul happily.
Darly snorted but did not dispute the pretty girl.
Her observations had indeed had a certain accuracy to them. He had barely heard of Serenity Home before his.. uninformed venture into that town some months ago. Later, much later, he had learned that the original founders of the town had all been old, but very much renown and powerful men and woman themselves, who had settled there, some five hundred years ago, sort of as a peaceful retire, and in time, the town had grown slowly but steadily. It had had the potential to become a city nearly three centuries ago but had never bothered. The denizens of Serenity Home did not want a city to live in.
“Why do you think Master Aager put him up to this job, then?”, she wondered. “It is obvious, our dear Udoorin will never make a good.. spy..”
“Because he thinks he is smarter than everyone else..”, sneered Darly.
“Don’t do that, Darlius.”, said the girl, absently.
“Don’t do what?”, asked Darly.
“Sneer. It isn’t something that looks good on your beautiful face.”, she said, still absently, as if she was thinking on another matter.
Darly shut up.
“But your observations about that dreadful man are quite accurate, even without the sneer.”, she said..
..and hopped down the three-story roof!
Slowly, she glided down, her raven wings spread, and with her honey-brown hair lashing, her slender arms open, and her dark purple-black, strapless dress fluttering, she looked magnificent.
Like something out of a fantastic dream.
Slowly but surely, she landed next to the huge man, Udoorin, who only flinched slightly.
“Umm.. Hello Lady Merisoul.”, he said politely.
“That is so sweet. The way you are always so polite to me.”, she said with genuine elation.
“Well. It is polite to be polite.. to ladies..”, he coughed uncomfortably.
“You do know I am not really a Lady, right?”, Merisoul said.
“I must disagree. You have everything that makes a woman, a Lady; elegance, refinement, care, loyalty, and a beautifully honest heart.”, replied the young man.
“Wow.. And the things people say about you.. However, I think your definition of ‘a Lady’ might be a little overcrowded, but that’s not my point. Ladies do not bear horns, nor sprout wings.”, she pointed out.
“Some do have ‘crowns’ and some are just angelic!”, Udoorin said honestly.
“That.. is the nicest thing, anyone has ever said to me, young Udoorin.”, said Merisoul and she had a strange, astounded expression on her face. “No wonder she likes you.”
“I.. what?”, blushed the young man.
“Though she feels neglected.”, she said quietly.
“Neglected?”, Udoorin said, and there appeared fear in his eyes.
“Yes.. Your venture into the slums for information about that Gar Thalot is admirable, considering the late hours you put into it. But Princes Alor’Nadien ne is not a girl you can ever neglect.”, she said.
“I.. this is sort of a private matter, Lady Merisoul.”, he blushed, some more.
“Yes. But I share a room with her and I tire the way she ‘sighs’ every other breath, though understandable, considering she has been stuck in that none-too-clean room for days. I think you should go and get cleaned up, and take her out.”, she offered.
“It is a bit late for a walk and the slums aren’t exactly scenic.”, frowned Udoorin.
“I was thinking more along the lines of Heaven Park, then the slums, Sir Udoorin. The area is heavily patrolled due to that, Gar Thalot you seek, so it should be safe.
It is a beautiful night, dear Udoorin, and the princess could use some much-needed attention and care, wouldn’t you agree? I hear the park itself is quite charming at nights, with many paths, ponds, benches, and fresh air.”, she said brightly.
“You.. you really think she would like that?”, asked the young man, with an embarrassed tone.
“Like? No, boy.. She would love it. She is part-elf from High Woods, after all. She does not show it, for your benefit, but I am sure she misses the woods. Inshala goes there all the time. Sleeps there sometimes too. Oh, and remember not to take your axes with you.. They would totally ruin the mood. Take your father’s sword instead..”, replied.
“Oww..”, young Udoorin said, with a ‘dawning’ voice. “Well, I should probably hurry along then. Need to get cleaned up. The stink of the last inn will require quite a bit of scrubbing to wash off..”
“Don’t dawdle, Sir Udoorin. She tends to sleep early when she has nothing to do..”
Young Udoorin thanked the ‘angelic’ girl with the ‘crown’ and politely excused himself and took off, with a haste that would have rivaled any decent charge!
This event triggers the story:
✱ ✱ ✱
A FEW MONTHS AGO ONE EVENING,
IN THE BEAUTIFUL GROVE
WHERE THE RUINS OF THEMALSAR ONCE WAS.
LADY!” screamed Aager in panic and there were so much pain, loss, devastation, and desperation in that scream. A scream that cut right through the peaceful night and echoed in the grove. A pain that begged for help.. and for life!
“Make way!”, Lady Magella’s gruff voice was heard outside the tent and the she-dwarf parted the flaps and pushed her way inside, followed closely by the young paladin girl, Moira Hooman. The tent was only so big, hence the others could wait outside with sick worry for they knew, Aager never screamed. Not even when he had been cursed horribly by Themalsar himself, just a few days ago, and had very nearly died. Laila and Bremorel’s heads pushed through the flaps as Gnine, Lorna, Merisoul, and Udoorin waited outside.
“She.. she just stopped..”, shrieked the man in dark clothes as he held the little, skinny girl, Inshala, in his arms. “She just stopped breathing.. SHE IS NOT BREATHING!“
Lady knelt down next to him and felt for the skinny girl’s pulse.
“Help her.. PLEASE.. WHATEVER THE PRICE, I SHALL PAY!“, he cried desperately.
“I don’t charge to save my children, boy. You should know that by now.”, scowled Lady, but there were tears in her eyes. “She has no pulse. Foolish girl.. She gave her all to burry that mad dog’s temple into the ground and raise this grove. And now she has nothing left. Her heart gave out.”
“Ow my Dear Heavens!”, the stricken voice of Lorna was heard from outside.
“Lady, can’t you do something?”, asked Liala with a horrified expression.
“Anything?”, asked Bremorel reflecting her cousin’s voice.
“The power of your faith will heal her, My Lady.”, said Moira with a nearly broken voice.
Lady did not say anything.
She closed her eyes, silently murmured a prayer, and repeated it over and over, and slowly reached out to the skinny little girl and released her prayer..
..and nothing happened.
Her shoulders slumped.
For she had expected this.
“She is still not breathing..”, said Aager in a scared whisper. “Why? Why will you not fix her, Lady? Is it because of some wrong I did you?”
“I.. I can not heal her, boy.. She is not wounded!”, said Lady as quiet tears rolled down her eyes. “I am so sorry.”
Aager just stared at Lady and there was nothing..
..absolutely nothing in those eyes.
Whatever he had ever felt, or may have felt, ever in his life, was just..
“No.”, said Moira from behind Lady. “Inshala is a fighter. She does not give up. She never gives up. All she needs is some help.”
The young, comly paladin woman raised both hands into the air in plea and whispered.
“Dear Heavens. Hear my voice. This little girl gave everything she had to remove a vile and evil woe that plagued these lands for centuries. SAVE HER. I BEG OF YOU! SHE DESERVES LIFE AND LOVE. SHE DESERVES A FAMILY. A FATHER AND MOTHER. SHE DESERVES SISTERS AND AUNTS AND UNCLES AND GRANDS.. SAVE HER, AND I GIVE MY MOST SOLEMN OATH, THAT I SHALL GIVE HER THE REST!“
And the tent suddenly was awash with bright, golden light.
Moira laid her hands on the skinny girl and gave her everything she had; her sincerity, her love, and her tears..
..yet the skinny girl still did not move, nor did she breathe.
“No.. Nooo..”, wept Moira as she crumbed on her knees.
And outside, Gnine looked thunderstruck.
Udoorin’s face was drawn and tears ran shamelessly down his eyes as he held the princess crying openly into his embrace.
Laila and Bremorel just stared at the unmoving form of the skinny little Inshala, pale, and gone, yet seemingly sleeping in Aager’s arms.
“Why?”, asked Aager silently. “Why give her to me, then take her back so soon? Why blame her for my sins?”
And there were little words to describe his silent wrath.
“Don’t.”, a voice whispered.
“I believe I must.”, said Merisoul back and there was no voice in her reply..
..only the shape of the reply echoed in her mind.
“You owe these Mortals nothing.”, said the voice.
“Owe?”, she asked. “Who shall pay, if no one is willing?”
“Doesn’t have to be you.”, said the voice, with the slightest trace of a plea.
“Didn’t have to be her. Yet that little girl did. And now she is dead. And should I do nothing when I can do something, her death shall be on my head.”
“Why, though?”, asked the voice.
“Because she was so afraid of me, yet she was the first to accept and adopt me, and in the face of death, did she do so.. And like me, she understands so little of love, yet unlike me, she has a chance to find it. I shall make sure she attains that potential.
“But.. but you will die! Don’t do this..”, the voice now begged.
“It is an acceptable risk. I am young and healthy. There’s a chance I can be brought back. She has none.”, Merisoul whispered back.
“He will not accept this. You know that right? Your bargain was that you commit yourself in the path of danger to save others, but never with the deliberate intention of taking your own life!”, pleaded the voice desperately.
“I do not intend to deliberately take my own life. I intend to deliberately trade it with her death, for a heart must beat to love..”, said Merisoul..
..and stepped into the tent.
✱ ✱ ✱
A FEW MINUTES AGO,
ON TOP OF THE WESTERN BATTLEMENTS
OF THE GREAT ARASHKAN CITY.
After weeks in this city, I forgot how much I missed the outdoors and the woods.”, murmured Laila Wolvesbane, as she toyed with the handle of her beautifully carved elven longbow. “It is so quiet up here. One could see the stars so clearly.”
“I suppose so.”, Merisoul said. “A bit on the boring side though. Don’t you think?”
“Boring is good. I like boring.”, said Liala sternly, as she carefully scanned the walls. “We do not want any excitement tonight. If we get caught, this will leave a black mark on my record that will never come off. Collaborating with a known rebellion and helping incite his revolt! Would go excellent in my CV; Laila Wolvesbane: helps thieves, cut-throats, thugs, and insurgents! I would have trouble finding a job at a sanitary dig post!”
“I doubt.”, said Merisoul. “You are smart, observant, can see relevant details no one else can, always cool-headed even under pressure, can shoot threads though needles from 600 yards, and boldly pretty. Love your bangs, by the way.. No.. No one will put you to a sanitary dig post if it is what I think it is.”
Laila was startled a bit.
True, that she had never really chatted with this peculiar, or perhaps ‘quaint’ girl and that was the politest way she could readily define her.. as opposed to weird, off, creepy, odd, mad, and happily insane!
What had startled her was, the girl, Merisoul sounded.. well.. down to earth!
Something very much unlike her usual self.
“Mind I ask you something?”, Merisoul asked, further surprising Laila.
Merisoul never asked if she could ask.
She just said things.
Whatever that crossed her mind.
“I suppose..”, replied Laila, carefully.
“Who is D.D. Dexter?”..
..aaaand she was back to weird, creepy, off, and odd, again.
How in the blazes did she even know about D.D. Dexter, let alone relate him to her?
“I am guessing you already know, who he is.”, Laila said.
“I do.”, she replied. “But more importantly, do you?”
Laila cocked an eyebrow at the pretty girl with the angelic face, crowning horns, and raven wings.
“Saw him trice.”, said the succubi half-born, quietly.
“The first time was just before the celebrations and the dancing began, back at your Serenity Home, arguing with his friend, Thomas, so he would divert your cousin Bremorel. I am guessing his plan was to get you alone, so he could brave up to ask you for a dance. The plan worked, more or less, though young Thomas was arguing with your D.D. Dexter more for show, really.. I could practically see how he yearned for your cousin. Yearned and feared her. He was actually trembling when he went up to her. It was so adorable. I am guessing he would have slopped into a puddle and oozed all the way back to his temple in dejected embarrassment had she said, no. To be fair, he did ooze all the way back to his temple in dejected embarrassment at the end, even though she’d said, yes, the way she man-handled the poor boy.
The second time was when the two of you were singing together at the festivities and I must say, you two have beautiful voices and they blend very well. ‘Seamlessly’, I believe the word is.. His, slightly raspy and masculine, yours, contralto, as the Mortals call it.
And the last time, when we were leaving the town, two days later. He was hiding in the bushes, watching you go. He looked.. sad. ‘Forlorn’, to be more precise.”
Laila was a private sort of girl and D.D. Dexter was not someone she wanted to share with anyone. Certainly not as a ‘pass-time’ topic.
“I still don’t hear any significant question in any of that.”, she said, seeking verbal room to maneuver herself and the odd girl away from the current conversation, and the potentials it carried.
“Ahh.. My bad.”, said Merisoul Xyrotwu. “Though my question is a rather simple one, really.”
“Ow?”, asked Laila, not quite sure she wanted to hear it.
“What’s the holdup?”
This event triggers the story:
“The Marshal and The Bard”
(a work for the distant future..)