Succession : Ready to Move Out!
Hero lay backwards, resting against the hard edge of the bed, covered in thin, cheap, woolen blankets that the innkeeper had hastily brought in when the temperature had begun to chill. He rubbed his drowsy eyes, as his head tilted back and forth on the brink of unconsciousness.
It was nighttime, and everyone was either sleeping or trying to sleep. Lyon had retired to her room, right next to his, after they had settled the tab with the innkeeper. Hero sighed as he remembered how the innkeeper had switched back and forth between thanking them for ridding of the inn of the thieves, criminals, and whatnot, and silently cursing them for ruining parts of his inn. He was bipolar sure, Lyon had thought. After helping cleaning the bar, the innkeeper had graciously provided them with free rooms, though the only available ones were outside. The rooms weren't horrible or anything. His, at least, had a bed and a tiny round table in the center complete with a chair to sit in.
The wind blew harder outside, rattling the door. The shadows of the trees danced on the windows, reflected by the moonlight. Hero drew the blanket up closer to himself, guarding against the sudden icy air.
A knock sounded against the door, so silent that he almost missed it. Turning to the front of the room where the entrance was, he saw the shape of someone against the frosty glass holding a lamp. He recognized the outline of who it was and smiled. Who would come check up on him in the middle of the night anyways?
"Lyon, you can come in."
Outside, Lyon didn't wait another second as soon as she heard the prince's invitation. It was cold outside, very cold, and her nose, along with several other vital appendages felt as if they could fall off and break apart any second.
The door creaked open, and quickly shut, as a shivering Lyon huddled inside to the relative warmth of the room.
She set the lamp on the table; the light illuminated the room and stretched the shadows, and quickly pulled the chair out, setting herself comfortably on. Her teeth clattered as she rubbed her body furiously with her hands, trying to use friction to generate heat.
"P-p-p-prince." Lyon stuttered before Hero interrupted her.
"Lyon, you look like someone shoved you into the ice chambers." The prince observed. He peeled one of the blankets from the wool layer he covered himself with and tossed it to her. "Here, cover yourself before you freeze to death."
Lyon grabbed the blanket, wrapping it around herself. She felt slightly better. "T-thank you, p-prince. With how cold it is out there, you'd never know it was summer. This town sure is strange."
"So, what did you want Lyon? It's not often that I find people sneaking outside my room. Even royal bodyguards." Hero said, a small smile touching his lips. "Except for maybe Kyle sneaking around the servants corridor."
"That womanizer would sneak anywhere if there were girls around. This is different. It's my sworn duty to protect you." Lyon reiterated, disliking being compared to someone she regarded as a scatter-minded panty chaser. "And that involves checking up on your safety at all times of the day, regardless of the weather."
"From what? Bedbugs?" Hero laughed. "Even if you don't tell me, I know why you're here. It's about me staying up so late lately, right? I should have known you'd figure out sooner or later."
"Yes…you're right." Lyon sighed. "You…seem more tired than usual lately. I know that since you haven't told me why or anything you want to keep this to yourself. But, prince, if there's anything that's bothering you, you can always tell me!"
Though Lyon's eyes were downcast, Hero could see the honesty in them, knew that all she wanted to do was to help. "Thank you Lyon. But you're worrying over nothing." He paused, considering how to voice his words. "Lately…I've been having some dreams. Dreams…I…I would rather not have, so I've been staying up late recently. I'm sure they'll go away sooner or later, so you don't have to worry."
Lyon drew closer, curious etched in her shadowed face. "What kind of dreams?" She hadn't missed that look that passed over his face, appearing and disappearing in a split-second that only the most attentive would have noticed. It was an expression that she never liked, and never would; sadness.
Hero hesitated for a moment, and Lyon noticed. She always noticed when he was unsure of himself. A little frown would appear on his face, and his lips would twist ever so slightly like a little kid. His eyes would move down, and to the left, and sometimes he'd bite his lower lip. She had picked up on these small signs watching him grow up and she immediately knew that he was thinking of a way to avoid the subject. She sighed.
"It's alright if you don't want to say anything about it, it's probably something that's very sensitive." Lyon stood up, the blanket still wrapped tightly around her, and grabbed the thin lamp handle. She walked towards the door, gently sliding open the frame so a cool breeze blew in. "But just you remember, I'll always be besides you if you need to tell me anything. Always."
Hero caught her before she left. "Good night."
"Good night, prince."
Lyon didn't see that the smile that touched his lips.
"Prince, prince!" Lyon grabbed Hero's arm, gesticulating wildly with her free hand towards the many stands and carts that lined the streets. It was early morning in the small town, though many people were out and walking around already. The air was crisp with only a slight hint of the coldness of the night before. After waking up and cleaning themselves, Hero and Lyon went outside to enjoy their first day in the busy town. Many new entrepreneurs had set up stands and stalls to attract the tourists that flooded the town, hawking shoddily craft jewelry, or a quick bite, or some silk shirts, or thousands of other things that people bought on a whim.
Right now though, Lyon was gazing lovingly at a food stand with some of her favorite foods. The food at the inn last night had been…unpleasant, at the most. She couldn't have eaten anything in the heavy atmosphere anyways, and had spent most of the afternoon helping to clean up the inn. All that added up to the food stands attracting her like bees to honey.
"Let's go over there first, prince!"
"Lyon, we're in public so just call me Hero for now." He said, before giving in to the incessant tugging on his arm and the growling in his stomach. He wouldn't admit it, but he was hungry too.
They trudged over to the stall, standing behind a woman that was talking to the person who owned the cart.
"This town sure loves their meat." Lyon noted as she scanned the cart. All over the cart were meat products. Meatballs on sticks, beef curry, barbequed pork, and many other meat-based foods were placed in a manner that screamed 'buy-me-I'm-delicious!'.
"I don't mind." The prince said. "It all looks great to me."
After a few minutes, the woman finally walked away, happily chewing on some kind of giant meatball covered in sauce.
The server turned to them. He was young, at around his twenties. From his looks and accent, he probably worked here as a part time job.
"Hi there! What would you like? We got all sorts of food here! It's practically unlimited variety!"
"Hi." The prince replied. Looking at the many meat products, he wondered if this was what the villagers here considered unlimited variety. "I'll take…the barbequed pork. How about you, Lyon?"
"Ahh…" Lyon clenched her teeth. So many choices and so little time! "I guess I'll take the same thing."
"Alright then." The server turned his attention to the grill that was set up on the side of the cart. "You're going to have a to wait just a sec'. I'll give you some of the fresh stuff, it's delicious." He whispered it to them, as if it were a forbidden secret.
"I can't wait." The prince replied. "It smells great."
Lyon nodded in agreement.
The young man stood there, eyes glued on the cooking pork as if it were the most important thing in the world. "And what brings you two strangers to Lillis?" He asked without taking his eyes off the grill.
"Oh!" Lyon perked up. "We're here to visit the ruins."
"We've heard these are some authentic Sindar ruins." Hero said.
"Yup. Authentic and creepy as hell!" The server said. "Though it's been bringing in a lot of people, so I can't complain. It's really energized this town."
Creepy? Hero had never heard anything about that before. "What do you mean by creepy?"
The young man continued to stare at the browning meat. "Oh! Was that directed towards me? Ah…well, you see. I live near the lake and it surprised the hell out of me when it appeared. And sometimes…" His voice lowered a notch, as if he were explaining some dangerous secret. "I hear voices at night."
Lyon wanted to laugh. This strange young man was staring at grilling meat while whispering conspiratorially about voices from old Sindar ruins. For some unfathomable reason, this cracked her up. "What kind of voices?"
"I can't place it exactly. Like gravels on rock? It sounds very gravelly, like scraping ground. Just to warn you, you should be careful when you visit."
Lyon giggled. "Don't worry, me and Hero here are expert spirit hunters."
"That what everyone says. In fact, earlier, there was this strange guy with a big pole that kept questioning me for half an hour after I told him about them voices. I just told him to leave because he was holding up business but he said he'd be back tomorrow to bother me. Damn weirdoes. Well anyways, your food's done." The man flashed his hands and two small bamboo picks appeared. With a swift movement worthy of the any seasoned swordsmen, he skewered the charred pork in a single movement, and then handed it to a shocked Hero and Lyon. He smiled brightly as he wiped his hands against his apron. "That's ten potch each so it'll be twenty potch total please."
A stunned Hero shook his end at the razor movements of the boy. Taking out a small pouch of money he kept tied to his side he opened it and sifted out two large coins. The young man accepted them, placing the coins in an iron lockbox.
"Thanks for coming!" The boy said. Then he paled, turning around so that his back faced Hero and Lyon.
"Is something wrong?" Hero asked. He was about to turn around and leave when the strange reaction from the boy caught his attention. Did something just happen?
"Its…its that guy again!" The boy whispered. "The weirdo!"
The prince and Lyon both turned around to see who it was, and sagged as the identity of the person was revealed to them.
"It's him." Lyon stated. She should have known.
"These are Sindar ruins." Hero replied. He should have known.
Hero turned back to the boy. "Don't worry, we'll handle him for you. We know him."
The boy looked to Hero as if he was his savior and his shoulders fell as if he were relieved from a great burden. "Really? Thanks! I...I don't know what I can do in return…"
Lyon shook her head. "It's alright. He's the type that can spook people out sometimes."
Hero and Lyon turned back, stopping in front of the man approaching man. The man recognized them, a stunned expression crossing his face before coughing and adjusting his glasses.
"His highness Prince Hero and Royal Queen's Knight apprentice Lyon. It's strange to see you two out here." The man said with a deep condescending bow.
Hero smirked. He knew that the Sindar ruins explorer had been shocked that they were here, but quickly covered it up. Zweig had always tried to maintain an air of superiority around himself.
"It's nice to see you too, Zweig." Hero said. "And were trying to keep a low profile right now, so just call me Hero."
Zweig nodded in reply, fingering the bifocals that he wore. An imposing figure, he had dirty blond hair with sky blue eyes. He wore his usual outfit, a mish-mash or leather and fabric that he felt was best for exploring, and the ever-present red cape that swirled around him. Strapped to his back was a long staff with capped metal ends that he used to help move around and defend himself. Hero himself had seen how proficient the Sindar explorer was with it.
"I assume you are here to see the newly discovered Sindar ruins then?" Zweig asked, with a slight touch of pompousness.
"Yes we are. Is it just you here?"
As usual, Zweig ignored questions he didn't want to answer. "It's nice meeting you here, and I actually wanted to talk to you, for once, about something interesting I've discovered. But I have a previous appointment with a certain individual and I can't be late you see…"
He tried to make his way through, only to be stopped as Lyon raised her hand, blocking his path.
"You mean the young man over there?" Lyon asked.
"So you've met him to?"
"Yes we have, and he's told us that you've been bothering him lately." Lyon waved her barbecued pork stick dangerously in front of Zweig's face.
"Bothering him? That certain individual happens to know explicit details on the ruins that are vital to my search."
Hero sighed. When it came to Sindar ruins, Zweig was zealous. If he thought anyone knew anything about Sindar ruins, it was like fresh blood to piranhas. "The boy heard some moaning at night. That hardly justifies as grounds for borderline harassment."
"That moaning as you so eloquently put it, just might be something that lurks within the ruins. Now if you'll excuse me, It will only take me a few minutes to end my interrog – I mean, questioning." He tried to push away Lyon's arm, but she was unyielding. "Your not going to make this easy for me are you."
"Just leave him alone Zweig, he can't give you more information." Lyon sighed. Her arm was getting sore from holding it up so long.
Zweig stepped back, knowing it was useless to try and push further. He knew when people couldn't be persuaded any longer. But then again…there was something he could use from these two…
He crossed his arms. "Alright. I won't bother him any longer. In exchange…" A sleigh looked passed over his face. "I want you two to accompany me to the ruins for a little visit. There's something there that might interest you."
Lyon looked disgusted. "You want us to do something in exchange for you not bothering someone anymore?"
Her free fist tightened. Just one small punch… no one would notice it…no one…
"Alright." Hero said. He explained to Lyon who had turned an incredulous face on him. "We're going there anyways. And Zweig can be our tour guide."
Lyon thought about it for a moment. Zweig had probably already explored every nook and cranny of the ruins. He could guide them around while showing them the area. Actually, the more she thought about it, the better it sounded to her. "I…I guess we can do that."
Zweig glared at Hero, offended by his taste in words. "I am not a tour guide." He turned his back on them. "We should be going now anyways. The earlier is better, they say. And we have to leave before that idiot finds me again."
Hero swallowed the barbecued pork he had been chewing on, throwing the stick into a nearby trash container as he finished the treat. He licked his fingers. "Who?"
Lyon turned to Hero. "Think, Hero. Ancient Sindar ruins. Recently uncovered. Attracting all kinds of people…"
Adding them together, Hero winced as he remembered who else these ruins might attract that would make Zweig cringe.
Lyon nodded in confirmation, and then closed her eyes, preparing to take a bite into her barbecue pork stick. As she readied herself to enjoy, her teeth suddenly clamped on empty air. Her eyes snapped open, to see a brown haired woman chewing on the barbecue stick in front of her.
"Hey, these are pretty good!" Lorelai said as she finished the snack, throwing the stick away into the same garbage can Hero had thrown his.
Ahead of them, Zweig rubbed his head with his hand vigorously as if to dispel a headache. "When you talk about idiots…"
Hero and Lyon were both taken aback by the sudden appearance of Lorelai. "Wh-where'd you come from?"
"Oh!" Lorelai "Prince! Lyon! Didn't expect to see you here. Checking out the new ruins?" A strange silence occurred as Lyon and Hero continued to stare at Lorelai. "I was…actually…looking for Zweig. Didn't think you'd be with him."
Zweig stepped backwards and joined them. "Lorelai! How nice of you to join us! I was looking all over for you!"
The heavy sarcasm didn't escape Lorelai. She frowned, something she often did around Zweig. "Funny."
"I'm just expressing my…happiness…at seeing you." Zweig said with more dripping false sincerity. If it had been any thicker the words wouldn't have come out.
"Okay, in that case, you wouldn't mind if I went wherever you guys were going would you?" Lorelai suggested.
"Nice to hear, but our little party is unfortunately - "
"We'd love to have you join us." Hero said, cutting Zweig off mid-sentence.
Zweig sputtered, turning to Hero with a what-are-you-thinking look plastered over his rugged features. "We would?"
Hero crossed his arms, enjoying the pained expression across Zweig's face. Payback felt good. Very good. "Of course. Lorelai is an expert at exploring Sindar ruins. We could benefit from her experience."
"You mean exploring or exploding?" Zweig grumbled, expressing his displeasure at Lorelai accompanying them. He hadn't thought that she would find them, at least not this soon.
"What was that?"
"Nothing, nothing. I was just mumbling to myself. And Lorelai."
"Hero and Lyon are undercover right now, so you know what to do right?"
"The prince and Lyon?" Lorelai looked confused. "Ohhh yeah I get it. The prince is safe in my hands."
Pushing his glasses higher, Zweig turned back around and began to head off. People in his path jumped away from his as they got a taste of his scowling visage.
"You're as strange as always, Zweig." Lorelai smirked. "You guys coming?" She said, waving towards Hero and Lyon to follow.
Hero followed behind, dragging a still-stunned Lyon behind him. "Let's go Lyon." Glancing at her face, he mistook her pained expression for apprehension. "It's going to be fun!"
Lyon moaned quietly, mourning her luck. "My…barbecued pork…"
This chapter wasn't as exciting as I hoped it could be. But the next one is much better! I was hoping to make it longer, but due to time constraints I couldn't.
On a side note: I am looking for a beta-reader. If you can, please leave a msg on my forums and I'll contact you as soon as possible.