"I'm pretty good, I can cast the basic spells, know some more advanced stuff, and I can hold my own when enemies get too close."
Zel finally reached the town. He saw a guard. "Excuse me sir, but could you point me in the way of the inn?" After being answered, he made his way to the inn.
"Good. If there are any spells you haven't learned, we should be able to find them as we search for the thief of the secrets."
Zel looked down. He thought his emblem had started glowing. "I must be close." He reached the inn. The emblem was radiant. "Huh, and I was just coming here to rest." He walked inside.
Kiril stared at the bottom of his coffee cup. Gone. All gone! OH THE HUMANITY! If he had to guess, he would say it was around 3pm. 4 of them were already at this inn, and others would no doubt arrive soon. Hopefully. Well, since that Laxus guy seemed to know what the whole shebang was about, Kiril could easily leave it to him to wait for the others.
"I'm gonna go get some stuff for the road. I've been thinking about it since yesterday, and what I have with me is just... insufficient for a prolonged trip. And there's always room for some improvements." - he rose from the table and headed for the door. - "I'll be back in a few hours."
He opened the door and nearly bumped into a guy in white robes. Stranger was holding something in his hand. The item glowed faintly.
"Right. Another one. I'm Kiril. The guy in the red armor over there is Laxus. He will fill you in once the rest of the bunch get here. There are 4 of us so far... well 5, including you. So two more. Cheers." - and Kiril stormed off without waiting for a reply. The guy at the door waved goodbye with a confused look on his face, and went inside.
Kiril went straight for the "Arms and Armor". The moment he stepped through the door - owner's left eye began to twitch nervously. Obviously he wasn't too happy with the results of the last haggle, and he most definitely was not in for another.
"Relax, old man. Fun as it is to haggle with you, I have enough money for all I need today. But, if you insist..."
"No-no! Please dont worry yourself on my account. I think I've got my share of arguing and more. So, what will it be today?"
"Errr... Lets see... I saw some fine iron gloves when I was here last time. Ones with slightly extended knuckles." - he looked carefully at his hands, than turned them palms down and bent them in the elbows. Looking first at his left elbow, than his right. - "A set of elbow and knee guards too. Preferably with a few dull tips. Hmmm... What else... Ah! Yes, a leather hood. Something that can protect head and shoulders from the rain and wind, but doesn't have the pesky long cape that will get in the way of every movement."
"Ghm..." - Shopkeeper fell silent for a moment. - "The gloves are 200G. I can quickly cut up one of those leather cloaks..." - he gestured towards the row of hangers - "That'll be another 100. Color?"
"Yep. Should have it on hand. As for knee and elbow guards... We do not carry anything exactly like that, ones we got are all smooth. But I can make something by the end of the day. If the pay is right. Say 700G. They're small, but its a custom job." - and after a moment of silence - "No haggling."
"Wouldn't even dream about it." - smiled Kiril - "Here's 500. I'll be back for the guards in the evening. With the rest of the money of course."
Kiril put on his new gloves: made a few punching motions, adjusted the inner belts, repeated the motions, flexed fingers a few times. Than stepped outside, pulled Zweihander out of the sheath, swung it a few times and re-adjusted the belts in the gloves. He went through a few training routines, and finally smiled with satisfaction. Fit like a... well, glove.
While he was at it, shopkeeper took one of the long cloaks and sliced of more than a half. Than passed the top part to an apprentice and went deeper into the shop, to set up the forge. Apprentice made all the necessary adjustments (some cutting, some sewing and reinforcement) to the thing, turning it into a nice looking hood. Just as if it was made that way. Than handed it over to Kiril and rushed off to help his master.
Two hours later Kiril had another 800 Gill in his wallet. He wondered for a moment where all those monsters kept coming from, and why each of them always had at least 10 Gill, but he quickly dismissed that thought as wall-breaking. The clanging of metal could be heard for miles around. Armor smith slash shopkeeper was working on Kiril's order in all honesty. He stopped at the "Arms and Armor" and passed the remaining 500 Gill to the apprentice, who quickly dumped the money into the safe under the counter and hurried back into the back of the shop.
Kiril went back to the inn accompanied by the clanging of smith's hammer.
Laxus saw the man in white robes enter the inn. He also saw his glowing emblem. "You must be one of the 7 warriors. Come, have a seat." Shortly after, Kiril came back.
Night had fallen, but Shann could still make out the sign on the outskirts.
Torania. That's it. This is where I'm supposed to go...... This place doesn't look all that special.
As she made her way slowly into town, she left Parker on the outskirts. Wouldn't do much good for the horse to come in. She walked around for a little bit, she could hear the noise coming from the tavern.
Silly merchants. Oh who am I kidding? I could use a drink. Hopefully this meeting place has stuff on tap.
As she made her way down the streets, she saw a glow coming out of her pocket. She pulled out the emblem that her father had given her the first time she beat him in a shooting contest. It was fainting glowing, getting stronger as she walked.
Huh, this thing is actually doing something? Must be like a homing device.
She followed the glowing, eventually stopping outside an inn when the emblem was just permanently glowing. "This must be it," she said to herself. She slipped the emblem back into her pocket and opened the door. She saw 5 other people there, all guys, all wearing various levels of armor.
"Well," she noted, scratching her head. "I seem to be at entirely the wrong party here..."
"Not at all." Laxus showed Shann his emblem. "You must be one of the 7 warriors. Now we must wait for the last one to arrive. You can take a nap if you want at one of the inn rooms or do some shopping if you need. But don't take too long shopping. We never know when the last warrior arrives."
Shann looked at the emblem. It looked just like her own.
I guess this must be the place, and the people. Me traveling with a bunch of guys. This is just going to be loads of fun. I wonder if I can break my record for saying no the most times in one day...
"Well, I'm all right on weapons for the moment, and with my style of combat, armor is more of a nuisance then anything. Honestly after all that riding, all I really want right now is a drink. They have anything good here?"
"Don't know. You can check with the keeper of this inn. But before that, which family are you of?"
Shann pulled out her pistols and twirled them around for effect. "I'll give you one guess," she said sarcastically. "And it's not really a family anymore if it's just me, isn't it?"
Laxus chuckled. "A Gunner, eh? Then there is only the White Mage left to arrive. And I know what you mean. I'm the only one of the Warrior family left."
"It sucks, doesn't it?" Shann replied callously. "I'm looking forward to the day when I shove the barrel of this gun down the throat of whoever killed my father and splattering their brains out for all the world to see. But until then, drink time."
She walked over to the bar, perusing what the shelves had to offer. "Hey, barkeep, what do you have that's strong and goes down well?"
"Well, we have this liqueur from the South, it packs a punch. Should be good for you." She could tell the man didn't think much of her ability to handle anything.
"Look man, I'm from the South. I know how watered down their stuff is, and I don't care to taste it now that I have a choice. So how about you put away the kid drinks and pull out something worth drinking?"
"Ok, well, we have this fine bourbon from the Northlands, well known for their spirit making skills. Would that suit the lady's tastes more?"
Still with the lady stuff? Come on! You're lucky we have to have a meeting here or we'd be having a little talk, heart to gun barrel.
"Pour it out, on the rocks."
The bartender complied, piling a few ice cubes in before slowly easing the drink into the glass. "3G."
"This better be good then," Shann flipped a couple of pieces to the bartender and made her way back to the table. She took a sip, letting the flavors hit her tongue before swallowing.
Well at least he's right. This is good stuff.
She turned back towards the Warrior talking to her before. "I'm Shann by the way, let's get the introduction done with. So we're still waiting for the White Mage? Figures. Probably out healing every creature I used for target practice on the way here. He's going to be a while then."
"I'm Laxus. And yes, we're still waiting for him. When he arrives, I'll give you all the full explanation on why we must assemble."
"That'll be interesting to hear. I'm wondering what that is myself." Shann took another sip from the glass for emphasis.
Zagi opened the door and yawned, he felt better now after his skirmish with the wolves, and went to sit down at the table. "Oh, new ones. I'm Zagi, of the paladin family, tell me which family are you?" He noticed the guns in Shann's hands. "Gunner, right?" Then to the man in dark blue robes. "Black mage?" and you... he said, looking at the Man in white robes. "Summoner or White mage? Hard to tell" He said, then shook his head. "Nevermind, enough of this guessing game, What are your names?"
Nothing has changed when Kiril returned to the inn. There were still only 3 at the table: Laxus, Black Mage and the guy in white robes. He asked barkeeper for some fine goblin beer and sat down at the table, resting his boots on one of the free chairs. One thing goblins were good for is brewing fine beer. No one knew how they brewed it, but knowing goblins, perhaps it was better that no one knew.
"Did I miss anything?" - he asked, after taking a gulp from the mug.
Laxus shook his head negatively. Kiril talked to the man in white robes for a while, properly introducing himself and learning man's name and profession in return. The man was Zel the Summoner. As the night descended lazily on the town and Kiril was approaching the bottom of his 2nd beer mug, a young woman stormed through the door.
He watched her exchange pleasantries with Laxus and introduce herself. Shann the Gunner. She was obviously displeased with the "sausage fest" of her new company, and did not try to hide it. Only one left.
"I'm looking forward to the day when I shove the barrel of this gun down the throat of whoever killed my father and splattering their brains out for all the world to see. But until then, drink time."
Kiril smirked. Finally, someone who has their goals straight. I think we might get along just fine. Or be like water and oil. He looked in the window, it was dark outside. Perhaps it was the time to go check on those elbow guards he ordered.
As soon as he thought that, the doors of the inn opened and a young boy ran in huffing and puffing. Kiril recognized him as the apprentice from the "Arms and Armor" and waved to him. The boy smiled and approached the table.
"Master asked to deliver your order, sir." - He pulled the knee and elbow guards from the bag. - "He also asked me to stay while you try them on and see if any adjustments need to made."
Kiril rotated the guards in his hands and looked them over. They were masterfully done. Metal plates were stitched to chain mail underlay to preserve the joint flexibility while at the same time providing some level of defense, should the enemy aim for the joints. He put them on and went through a close combat routine, striking with each elbow and knee a few times. He smiled and nodded approvingly. Tipped metal plates were in all the right places, and did not restrict his movements.
"You can tell your master that he did a marvelous job. I am satisfied. And this here, is for your trouble of finding me." - Kiril gave the boy 10 gill and watched him bow and dash off into the night.
Zagi walked into the room, yawning.
"...Never mind, enough of this guessing game, What are your names?"
"Yes, think we owe our new comrade a proper introduction. I am Kiril of the Gray Wolf clan. A Mystic Knight." - he took the rest of his beer and downed it in one shot. - "The guy in white is Summoner Zel, guy in purple is Alex the Black Mage. And sleepy, over there is a Paladin named Zagi. I think I speak for everyone when I say 'Welcome aboard'."
"Oh, and as for you Zagi, the Gunner's name is Shann."
"Who else thinks it is time for diner?" - he added approaching the door to the kitchen - "Matron! Could we have some roast-beef with garlic and onions and plenty of spices, and a side of potatoes please? Enough to feed 7."
With this said, he took another refeel of the beer, dropped 50G for the meal, 50G for another day of stay, and 15G for the beer so far, and and sat back at the table, legs resting on one of the free chairs.
"Thanks for the intros," Shann said, after Kiril made the introductions. She noticed the mug of ale he drank. "Is the beer any good? If we're having dinner, I better not try and put it down with the hard stuff. That's just asking for trouble. So if that's any good, I'll grab some of that."
"Yeah, its fine stuff. Goblin beer. Smells a bit funny, but goes down smooth and packs a decent punch, for a beer."
"All right then, put me down for a round of that when the food comes, I can cover it." She pulled out a few more pieces from the bag coins she had.
Thanks to all the money dad stashed around the house I can cover a lot. I think I still have about 1200G in here. Started with 1400, so that's not bad.
"Till then though, I'll keep working the bourbon. You should give it a shot, it's good stuff from up North, and it's only 3G a glass."
"Ai, I might try that. Although if it comes to the drinks from the Northland - nothing beats what they call Horilka. A fine spirit with honey and hot pepper."
An hour later the roast arrived in all its sizzling glory. It was already cut into 7 thick roughly equal pieces. It was browned to perfection with a crust of grated garlic, salt and black pepper, covered with golden onion rings, drizzled with dill and surrounded by roasted potatoes. Potatoes were swimming in the thin layer of meat juices steadily seeping from the roast. They were golden-brown, covered with fine chopped garlic, a layer of sour creme and fine chopped parsley.
"Praise the spirits of nature!" - cried Kiril - "I was right to choose THIS inn!"
He grabbed a fork and hooked a piece of meat right from the center. It's fresh juices glistened in the candle light, and Kiril's stomach growled in anticipation. He dropped it on his plate, put some potatoes on the side and began wolfing it all down.
The guard dealt with the infiltrator. It appeared that the man was probably serial thief who had been operating in the area. It was already near dawn, and Darun decided it would be best to keep on. He wasn't going to sleep more at the moment anyway.
Back on his horse, Darun set of again towards Torania. By the late evening he was there in the town of Torania. As he slowly went round town with his horse, he noticed a glow coming from his chest. He started wondering around the area, trying to think what it meant. He noticed the glow stopped whenever he got to far away from a certain point.
Eventually Darun found that the Inn was the central point. He stepped inside the inn after tying up his horse, and headed inside. His amulet still glowing, he looked around the inn, trying to see what could be the cause.
"Look over there. He's glowing." Alex nodded against the guy that just entered.
The smell quickly reached Shann's nose. It was intoxicating. But she had to prepare for it properly. She went back to the bar to grab a mug of the beer that Kiril advised her on, and returned to the table. Snatching one of the middle pieces along with a couple of the onion rings and a good portion of the potatoes. Cutting into the meat, it was obvious this was very well done. As she ate, she could taste the garlic, onion and beef juice all working together with the meat, to create a great flavor. "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm," was all she could say.
After washing it down with a bit of the beer, she noticed the stranger standing in the doorway, and the robes he had on him. "Ah," she said. "Is this the last horse finally crossing the finish line? About time. You're late for food."
"Ah, the last warrior arrives. Come, sit with us and eat. After the meal, I will explain to you why we have gathered."
All 7 of them sat down and started to eat.
"Thanks!" Zagi said to Kiril, he tossed him 8 Gil, enough for the cost of the food and said "Here, I haven't known you long, you have it, I'll pay on my own." and started to eat, the food was delicious, he wasn't used to posh food like this, him and his father lived in a village where soup was the main meal. He ate the food quickly, each interval saying "I'm Zagi, Paladin" to the stranger in the door or "C'mon, eat, it's great!" to him, he constantly had a surprised look on his face, after all, he had just walked into an inn and been asked to sit down and eat with strangers, this was expected.
Darun looked over at the man who had just talked to him. It would appear that these were the other warriors. He walked over to the others, and addressed them.
"So... You are the other warriors? I am Darun, I am a white mage." Said Darun, loudly. Then he took a seat, and put some food on his plate, then he turned towards Zagi.
"Nice to meet you, Zagi"
Shann was busy with her meal, so while her right hand was busy with her fork, she held up one of her pistols in her left. She uttered "Shann," and went right back to the food.
"Kiril" - he waved with a knife, red flames dancing on its blade. - "Mystic Knight of the Gray Wolf clan."
He smiled and cut into the roast. Knife, enchanted with the spirit of flame, seared the the meat as he cut, sealing the juices inside. Waste of manna? Definitely, but soooooooooo worth it.
He ignored the money Zagi dropped on the table. Let it stay there as a tip.
"Laxus Daren of the Warrior family." Laxus then continued with his meal. He hadn't tasted anything so good in a long time.
"I am Alex, I'm a Black Mage." Alex turned to order some tea, hoping he still had time to drink it.
"I am Zelaeus, head of the Summoners!" Zel took a seat and drummed his fingers.
Kiril unbuckled his belt and mounted his boots on the back of one of the free chairs.
"So, Lax, you seem to be the only one who knows more than next to nothing about this whole affair." - he said, while picking at his teeth with a broken match - "Why don't you feel us in? Spill the beans man, what is this all about? Just what exactly ARE the artifacts our parents kept, and who ordered and organized their... retrieval?"
He looked Lexus straight in the eyes while waiting for an answer.
Laxus cleared his throat, then began.
"As some of you know, our ancestors locked away a great evil because it was slowly destroying this planet. What that great evil is was never talked about and so it has been forgotten. Our emblems and the 7 pieces of the secret have been passed down from parent to child from generation to generation. I myself don't know what the other 6 pieces look like, but the piece of secret the Warrior family was entrusted with was a sword with the Warrior symbol engraved in it."
Laxus paused for a moment, then continued.
"We may not know what the great evil is nor do we know who stole all 7 pieces of the secret, but we must search for the pieces. The fate of the world rests on our shoulders. We musn't fail."