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   Chapter 18 One more to Go

The Slayer By Lady Lilium Characters: 15084

Updated: 2018-07-13 12:04


Waltz sighed contentedly as a servant poured a jug of warm soapy water over his head.

'I tell you what' Waltz said, tilting his head back and blinking his eyes as the modestly dressed young woman moved to fill the jug again, 'this is the life.'

'Are you sure about this?' Sumaey asked him, turning away from the window she stood by. 'Are you sure we can afford such luxuries like this? We haven't had any work for quite a while.'

'Oh come on' Waltz smiled up at her. He was sitting in a round bath set in the smooth wooden floor, the room they were in was small, and a single servant attended their needs.

It was a guest house they were in at the moment, and there were rooms to stay in overnight, and baths to wash in and several larger rooms where food was served. The building was a large one, with many oval windows that let the light pour in. Each room was open and painted in bright colours with pleasant pictures on the walls. Flowers in a meadow, a fluffy fox playing with her cups, a butterfly sitting on a foal's nose.

'I like it here' Waltz was saying, 'it's nice to indulge yourself once in a while.'

Sumaey glanced back out the window as the servant poured another jug of warm water over his head.

'Ahhhhh' Waltz sighed happily.

Sumaey stared at the garden outside. From here she could see the others that accompanied them, the rest of their strange guild.

Spirit was sitting on a bench mutely, ignoring the peculiar looks some of the other guests gave him. Before him was Graham and Loxus, the strange pair were walking around the garden, around and around several times, Graham constantly following wherever the spider-lantern would go. It had been well oiled now, his joints no longer creaked, and his surface once again was clean, shining a beautiful bronze. It looked magnificent. However, the white stag and the strange metallic creature he followed earned their fair share of odd looks.

'How are the others doing?' Waltz asked.

Sumaey turned back to him.

'They are doing fine.'

'Mmmmm' he said, as the servant poured another jug of the lovely water over his white-blonde hair. 'Lovely…' he said.

The small army of yellow rubber ducks bobbed in the water around him, and Waltz glanced towards the other side of the modest bath, where there was another figure, a man with a fishy tail, a merman. His long blonde hair was bristly, and it didn't change shape in the water. He was afraid of green, his skin was so slimy, he was afraid of birds (especially crows but not rubber ducks because they're so cute) he doesn't like people staring too intently at his scales because you can find out a fish's age from the pattern of its scales, he hates being cold, he loves to eat, he loves bubbles, has a friend called Takasu whom he had known for over a century.

His name is Wakasa by the way.

Waltz raised his hand, waving at him.

The merman raised his hand, waving merrily back.

'We still have one more' Sumaey spoke up.

'Hm?' Waltz said.

'One more guild member to find' Sumaey told him, 'before you can officially register your new guild.'

'It's an exciting thought isn't it' Waltz gleamed at her, 'being part of something great.'

'Yes' Sumaey mumbled distractedly. She went quiet for a moment. 'We're running out of money' she told Waltz. 'We have to take a job soon.'

'I know' Waltz said.

'We should leave here soon' she continued, 'this place is too costly for us.'

'We'll leave first thing in the morning' Waltz said, 'and head to the nearest tavern. There's bound to be some jobs posted there.'

Sumaey nodded approvingly, before turning away again to stare out the window.

'Tomorrow then' she said, 'we shall make our way.'

The next morning, Waltz awoke bright and early. He sat up in his bed, yawning and stretching happily. It was a small room he had, but like the rest of the rooms in the guesthouse, was brightly lit by the sun that shone through the oval window.

'Ahhhhhh…' Waltz sighed contentedly. 'This is the life.'

He then had a strange and random thought.

The strongest guild recognised in the lands, the one comprised of only three members………this must be how they live most days.

He sighed again, closing his eyes.

'Must be nice' he mumbled.

He threw his sheets back, rising from his bed and stretching.

'I'm sure going to miss this place.'

He dressed quickly and went downstairs for breakfast, to find Sumaey and Spirit already at a table, both had nearly finished eating their breakfast.

Waltz glanced down at Spirit's plate, to see there eggs and bacon and toast.

'I'm surprised you can eat the same stuff as us' Waltz noted. 'I half-expected you to be eating raw fish and squid.'

Spirit raised his head, giving Waltz a flat expression.

Waltz baulked, grinning sheepishly and turning away.

'So' he spoke loudly to Sumaey, 'where are our good friends Graham and Loxus?'

Sumaey glanced up at him with a bored expression, before returning her attention back to her plate.

'They're outside chasing each other.'

'Hm' Waltz said. 'They are a strange pair aren't they?'

'They are.'

Sumaey raised her head. 'Where do we go from here?'

Waltz bit his lip in thought before answering.

'There is a tavern just a few miles from here' he said. 'I've been there before. There is a huge bulletin board. There will be several messages on it of various sorts, quests and so forth, stuff for sale, lost kittens.'

Sumaey glanced back down at her breakfast.

'This bacon is delicious' she told him. 'You should try some.'

Waltz stared hungrily down at her plate, mouth beginning to water.

'I'll be back in a second' he said hurriedly, shuffling towards the kitchen to beg for some delicious breakfast.

A short time later after they had all finished, the three went outside to find Graham and Loxus waiting for them.

'Hey fellas!' Waltz beamed at them. 'Are you ready for an adventure?'

Graham made no reaction. Loxus raised one of his spindly legs as if in agreement. The strange spider-lantern creature had perked up a lot since they had first met with it. Despite the fact that it was unable to convey any emotions in its face, the creature had turned out to be in fact quite expressive in its body language. It would often raise itself up on its spindly legs, reach out and grab things, even attempt to shake people's hands, twisting its tail back and forth when it was excited, and even hold its lantern over people's heads when it was dark.

It was indeed as Bob had informed them. The thing was far more like a human than most would like to believe.

'We're just travelling down the road' Waltz told them. 'I hope you're ready for some exercise.'

Loxus began to prance on the spot. Waltz didn't know if he was excited for a nice walk or for the prospect of going on an adventure. Or perhaps it was both!

'Right' Waltz nodded happily. 'Are we ready to have some fun?!'

Loxus shook his tail, rattling the lantern hanging on the end.

'Yay!' Waltz said again. 'Walkies!'

It was at that moment when Sumaey smacked him on the back of the head.

'Stop getting him excited.'

Waltz turned to her with a grimace, rubbing the sore patch on his head. He spied over Sumaey's shoulder now, what appeared to be another guild. They were few in number, but the horses they had were magnificent.

Waltz sighed wearily, feeling a great sadness for the horse he had lost, for which he still blamed Spirit, thought he didn't say it out loud, everyone knew

how he felt.

'Come on' Sumaey said, speaking more softly now. 'Let's get going.'

Waltz lifted the bag he carried higher on his shoulder, trudging forwards as Sumaey walking after him, carried her own. Even Spirit carried some of their bags now, as they had no horse to do it for them, but Graham flat out refused to carry so much as a single blanket.

In time Waltz thought slyly, casting a sideways glance towards him. He'll be carrying all our stuff…in time…

He looked forwards again, making his way down the road with the strange group around him.

They were about to leave the property belonging to the guesthouse, when Waltz spotted something.

A beautiful girl dressed in black and white, with very thick long white hair tied into a plate with a rope tied neatly at the end in the shape of a ribbon. There were great silver bells hanging from her clothes, what looked like a large dream catcher in the back of her hair, and a shining silver flute she carried at her side.

Waltz paused, staring at her in the distance as she walked towards the guest house they were leaving.

Sumaey hesitated, glancing back as she noticed Waltz's distraction.

'She's too young for you' she told Waltz hastily.

'Shhh' he hissed sharply back at her, not taking his eyes off the girl. 'Look at her.'

Sumaey stopped, turning to stare at the girl.

'So?' she shrugged. 'What about her?'

'She's beautiful.'

Sumaey scowled.

'Do you see the flute she carries?' Waltz explained further.

Sumaey looked.

'So?'

'It's a magical flute, used to control other beings. I've seen things like that before. It takes a great deal of skill to use one efficiently. I've never seen one so young carry such a thing.'

'Perhaps she's carrying it for a friend?' Sumaey suggested.

Waltz hesitated, never breaking his gave from the girl.

He stepped towards her, walking away from Sumaey.

'Waltz? Where are you going?'

'I'm just going to speak to her' Waltz said distractedly. 'Wait here.'

Sumaey glowered at him, eyes boring into the back of his head.

She waited for about three seconds before deciding….

'Like hell I'm waiting here…I'm not a dog.'

She followed after him.

Waltz jogged up to the girl.

'Excuse me' he said.

The girl looked around.

'What is your name?' Waltz asked her.

'It's Emma' the girl replied uncertainly.

'And is that flute yours?' Waltz asked, as Sumaey appeared behind him, Spirit, Loxus and finally Graham following in a line slowly after her.

Emma glanced down at the flute she carried, hugging it to her.

'Yes' she said. 'It's mine, and I'm very proud of it.'

'A magical flute!' Waltz said excitedly. 'What sort of things can you control with it?'

'Everything' Emma replied.

'But you're so young.'

'Don't judge me by my age' she answered moodily as Spirit, Loxus and Graham approached.

Emma brought the flute to her delicate lips, playing a tune. Though it was utterly silent.

Waltz and Sumaey stared at her in confusion, watching her fingers move across the holes in the instrument, though hearing no sound.

Suddenly Graham raised his head, pulling the bag that Waltz carried from him and throwing it over his own back so that it was perfectly balanced there. He did the same to Sumaey, taking the bag from her and offering silently to carry it. Then he stood there obediently.

Both Waltz and Sumaey stared at him in shock (Spirit was unperturbed) before glancing back at Emma.

'There' she said. 'He will now carry your things for you.' She paused. 'You look like a guild. How come you don't have any horses?'

'Um…' Waltz began uncertainly. 'We aren't a registered guild yet. We still need one more member.' And then he faltered, staring at her. 'Hey, how would you like to join our guild?'

'Join a guild?' she mimicked. 'I've never considered such a thing.'

'Well why not?' Waltz asked. 'We go on many adventures, and will go on many more when we are officially registered. We are just one short.'

'I don't know' Emma sighed. 'I came here to visit my father. He is in a guild himself you know. He told me to stay away from such things.'

'But why?'

Emma hesitated, tilting her head at Waltz.

'All of his limbs are automail' she said. 'Prosthetic. Made of metal.'

'I see' Waltz mumbled dipping his head sadly.

'I have always longed for adventure' she said, 'ever since I learned to read and learned of all those wonderful stories in the books that mother bought me. But my father has always said its nothing but trouble, and that it's too dangerous…but still.'

'Perhaps you should do what you want' Waltz suggested, 'rather than making decisions based on other people's opinions.'

'But he's my father.'

'But what do you want to do?' Waltz asked her.

She hesitated, bowing her head and hugging her flute to her chest.

'I want to see the world' she admitted, 'and all the wonderful creatures in it. I want to test the limits of my powers, and see how strong a creature I am able to control with it, for even my father does not know.'

'Then why don't you?'

Emma glanced up, meeting Waltz's gaze.

'Responsibility' she answered.

Waltz cocked his head.

'You could be an asset to us' Sumaey spoke up, standing with a hand on her hip. 'We are only small right now, but we are hoping to become bigger, perhaps one day we could be something great. It would of course be dangerous, but you will never experience the things we will experience if you live what most would call a normal life.'

'The way you word it' Emma said, 'I don't know if that would be a good thing or not.'

'Make of it what you will' Sumaey shrugged.

Waltz glanced back at her with a strange expression, before looking back at Emma again.

'What do you say?' Waltz offered.

'I don't know' Emma replied hesitantly. 'I am in a difficult place in my life. Things are complicated. I want to pursue my own goals, but it is hard right now.'

'Perhaps you should meet up with us later' Sumaey suggested.

'That may be a good idea' Emma mused.

'Do you know where the bureau is?' Waltz asked her.

'The bureau?'

'Yes. It's a big and fancy building where the various guilds throughout the land are managed.'

'Yes' Emma mumbled. 'I think I have heard of it before.'

'Do you know where it is?'

'I could ask my father' Emma told them. 'He would know.'

It was at that moment when they saw a fox appear from behind her, coming out from hiding. Its typical red coat was lush and its body and tail long with eyes bright and ears perked up.

'Wow' Waltz breathed at the sight of it. 'Have you tamed it?'

'Tamed?' Emma repeated glancing down. 'No. It is the power of the flute that makes it this way.'

She glanced around then, as if she suddenly heard a noise coming from the guesthouse.

'I have to go' she said. 'My father is waiting for me.'

'What is your answer?' Waltz called after her as she moved away.

Emma paused, glancing back at the strange group.

'I don't know' she replied, 'but I know I could find the bureau if I needed to. If I am interested in joining you, then I will meet you there a week from now. But I have to go.'

She ran away and out of sight before Waltz could say anymore. He had reached out to her, as if hoping to grab her to speak to her again. But she had gone.

'Wow' he said again, speaking in a whisper. 'She is incredible isn't she?'

Sumaey huffed tiredly, turning away again.

'Come on' she said. 'The tavern is not that far.'

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