History has been made today. This time it only took me a couple days to update! WOOT. It prolly won't be a habit though :
I've noticed that most of my scenes start AND end with dialogue, and I'm starting to worry. Is that bad? Does it bug you guys? I see no other interesting way to start up a scene since it gets right to character interaction, but I guess I'll try to even myself out
And now that we have the VERY aloof Zeke in our midst, what shall we do? And Alise still has to go face Gordon for dissapearing all of the sudden! Ha ha =P
Chapter 8: Call to Adventure
Alise felt very much out of place when she returned to Halure. Everyone there was happy, cheerful, and most definitely not injured. She, and her slightly unwanted companion Zeke, however were covered in injuries, and Alise could tell they were being stared at as they entered. It was early afternoon by then, which meant Alise had been gone for more than a whole night.
They were first stopped by some of the knights station to guard the perimeter, asking Alise and Zeke what had happened. Zeke quickly lied that they were a guild who had just finished training in the plains. Alise didn't try to stop him; she just wanted to get to the inn. There were a certain number of things waiting for her there...
"We should stop by the shop first," Zeke said plainly, walking towards it.
Alise gave him a look, following after him. "Why? It's not like it's required for a person to run to the shop when they first enter a town."
Zeke looked back, still walking. "Yes it is. You go to the shop to restock, then talk to every person you see along the way to the inn."
Alise stared. That's exactly what Gordon said earlier...
They went to the shop. Alise retrieved her bag she had left there the day before while Zeke spent little time checking the stock. Eventually they made their way to the inn.
Alise entered first, and the innkeeper looked up when she did. "Spirits, it's you! What happened to you?"
Alise grimaced. "Too much. You don't happen to have any breakfast left, do you?"
The keeper ran from behind the counter and help Alise take a seat. She didn't really want one, but she let him sit her down. Zeke, not as badly injured, followed without much fuss.
"You stay right here," the keeper said, "And I'll fetch you some food and some medicine." He ran off into a back door, calling out to the other employees. Alise rolled back her head and closed her eyes, taking a breath and enjoying the break.
Alise's eyes shot open. "Oh crap," she muttered.
Gordon shot out the room and rushed down the stairs, stopping just before Alise, staring around her wildly. "There you are! Where'd you go? It's been a whole day since I saw you last!"
"It's nice to see you too." Alise closed her eyes again, trying to stop a developing headache from all the yelling.
"Well, yeah, I'm glad you're safe, but why'd you run off? Some knights came by and I had to hide so they wouldn't find me, since I'd hope we'd have been gone by now."
Zeke tilted his head at Gordon. "You're being chased by the knights?"
Gordon turned to Zeke, surpise evident on his face. "Who's this?"
"His name's Zeke," said Alise, glad to see the innkeeper and others coming in with food and medicine. "He helped me find my way home."
Gordon twisted his eyebrows at Zeke, who shrugged and said, "Quoi Woods are a dangerous place, I guess."
"The Quoi Woods?" Gordon looked back to Alise. "Really, what happened?"
Alise waited to tell Gordon all that had happened to her until they were alone in their old inn room. Zeke stood with arms crossed off to the side, nodding as Alise spoke. Gordon sat on the edge of one of the beds, staring at Alise with eyebrows bouncing all around his forehead in response to the story. Alise was surprised that he remained quiet the whole time. She'd at least expected for him to mutter wildly about the insanity of what he was being told.
"...eventually we taken all of the squad out," said Alise, finishing up after ten minutes of straight talking, "including their leader, who was brute to say the least. I came straight back here, and Zeke just tagged along afterwards."
Slowly Gordon started to nod. "I can't believe you got kidnapped like that, and by who was it, a guild called Beast Legion?"
"Yeah. I have no idea what they wanted with us, though."
"I remember hearing about that guild somewhere before... I think maybe my dad ran into some trouble with them or something. To think they've turned from beast taming to kidnapping, too! It's just weird."
Zeke spoke up for the first time in a while. "Who is your dad? You mention him a lot."
Gordon sat up straight, chest puffed out. "My father is Brenton Brune, Lieutenant in the the Imperials nights."
Zeke's expression never changed. He turned back to Alise. "How much do you know about Beast Legion, Alise?"
Gordon deflated. Alise felt a little bit sorry for him. "Not much. I've only officially met them once before I met you guys. That time they seemed down right friendly, not like the thugs to kidnapped us..."
"Interesting." As he thought Zeke started to fiddle with the pommel of the sword he got as a suvenier from earlier. Alise mentally shook her head at it. "This all fits with what I've heard."
"Wait just a minute." Gordon stood up. "How much do you know about this Beast Legion? And what exactly have you been hearing."
Zeke glanced up at Gordon, a bit of indignance in his eyes. "My father's in Altosk, leader of the Master Guilds. I get to hear everything. In this case I know that there have been conflicting reports of Beast Legion recently. Like Alise said, some are doing what they've been setting out to do while others are causing trouble. Reports have also started to come in from Illycia, instead of just Tolbycia. I'm investigating the particulars of these reports to see why things don't add up."
"Pft, sounds like you're quite the important person, huh?" Gordon said, slightly miffed.
Alise sighed leaning forward in her seat. "This is all too over my head. I'm glad I won't have to get involved in all of this anymore..." Alise's words were met by a weird silence. Alise looked up in surprise, and both Gordon and Zeke were giving her weird looks. "What?"
"You've already forgotten?" said Zeke.
"Jordon. Millina." Zeke's tone was grim. "And those others. They were taken away by Beast Legion."
Alise tensed up, choosing not to answer.
"We told them we'd help free them, remember?"
"Wait, free who?" Gordon looked from Alise to Zeke. "What's wrong here?"
"...They'll kill them, you know."
Both Alise and Gordon looked at him in shock. "What?" Alise whispered.
"Like I've said, there's been reports. People have been taken from their homes, while they've been traveling from town to town. Some would say that it's their own fault, and that they've been eaten by monsters. None of those who dissapeared have been found."
The slience was thick now.
"You mean," Gordon stuttered, "Beast Legion's been..."
Zeke simply nodded.
Alise stood up this time, fist balled at her sides. "How do you know?"
"It's too conincidental that, that many people have dissapeared at so recent a time. The only reason we haven't been able to figure out exactly what's been going on is their Guild Leader claims they have no knowledge of why this has been happening. Isn't that suspicious enough?"
"No, how do you know they'll be killed? You can't be so certain that we can actually do anything about this."
Zeke started to frown. "This is hardly a matter of certainty. The chance is there. We have to stop this from happening again."
"Well, can't we just tell the knights?" Gordon's voice was small as he spoke. "I mean, they can do so much more than we can. They've got more men, more power than we do, and..."
Zeke scoffed lightly. "The knights won't help. They're all too worried about guarding the towns so no one can leave."
"Excuse me?" Gordon turned on Zeke. "You have no idea what you're talking about! You've been under the guilds you're whole life! How would you know how the knights work?"
"They won't move and inch away from their post out of fear of getting toliet scrubbing duties for a week. Where in this situation do you think people like that will help?"
Gordon's face started to turn pink. "Better than what guilds do. Run off from their posts to drink or to-"
"Stop it." Alise barked. The two squablers stopped and stared at her in surprise. "Just stop. Now's not the time for this stupid feuding."
Gordon's face started to return to it's usual color, but his voice was still high in annoyance. "I'm just saying that we're not strong enough to take care of this on our own. If we report this to the knights-"
"They'll have to wait until the Empire will send out a unit to invesitgate. More will be dead by then." Zeke crossed his arms again. "You see? That's why we have to do something about this. Everyone else moves too slow, including the guilds," he added to Gordon.
Alise took a breath. She sat back down and closed her eyes. This is impossible, she thought. I'm involved far enough in this. I'm done.
Gordon had also sat back down on the edge of the bed, thinking hard.
Zeke continued "I know where Beast Legion would be heading. Their headquarters is on Tolbyccia, just off of Dahngrest. As long as we're on Tolbyccia we can find Millina and her family. Everyone."
"To get to Tolbyccia we would need to cross the Capua Straight," Gordon said softly without looking up.
"Actually Heliord would be faster; They have a port there now. How about it, Alise?"
Alise opened her eyes. Zeke looked at her with that same plain expression. Gordon looked at her too, true conflicion in his eyes. Alise let out a breath, then forced and small smile in spite of herself. "You hired me, Gordon. This decision is yours for you to make, not mine."
"But," Gordon didn't say much more, then looked back down to the floor. "It's too obvious a choice, I kinda don't want to be the one who makes it..." Finally he stood up, looking Zeke squarely in the eyes. "Alright, we'll go help find them. Only you have to promise we don't get too in over our heads."
Zeke shrugged. "Sounds fair enough." The mood in the room lightened, even though Alise was still sour. "We don't have much time then. Capua Nor is a couple hours walk away, and every moment we waste Beast Legion is getting farther and farther away."
"Wait, but, Alise!" Gordon defended. "She's just gotten back. We have to give her a chance to rest, right?."
Alise pushed herself to her feet, groaning as she did. "It's fine, Gordon. Once we're in Capua Nor, I can rest on the ship."
Gordon scoffed. "Well, at least you will be able to rest. I hate sailing. Hate hate hate."
"Best to to get it overwith, then." Alise picked up her pack and slung it over her shoulder. "Let's go now, before I start to regret not staying in one place for once..."
Zeke nodded then made for the door. Gordon followed after, looking over her shoulder at Alise. She waved him on and the three descended down the stairs, ignoring the innkeeper who encouraged them to stay to rest. Alise tipped him extra for putting up with all the trouble, and they left Halure to walk through Ehmead Hill to Capua Nor.
Clouds and far away rumbling thunder filled up the sky, even as they walked through Ehmead Hill. Gordon flinched at even the slightest rumblings, but Zeke kept moving. The storm only got worse as they traveled. Alise recalled that there was supposed to be some bad weather coming around, but that was for several weeks ago. As much as Gordon wouldn't like it, it seemed they have have to go through the storm.
When they entered the port town, Alise was surprised to see that there was still plenty of activity in the docks. Even in the rain members of Fortune's Market, the merchant guild, ran from place to place to prep a large cargo ship for departure. The three entered the dock curiously.
"Good, a ship is leaving," said Zeke. "We should be able to get ourselves hired as guards. Probably."
Gordon made a face. "Those odds don't sound so good to me..."
"All we need to do is talk to the head of the expedition, convince him they'll need our help, and hope they're heading for Tolbyccia."
"That just make the odds sound even worse!"
Zeke didn't push the issue. Alise looked around in disinterest. She still wasn't sure how she felt about letting herself get into this again. The light rain put even more to damper her mood, at least until she spotted a familiar face amongst Fortune's Market: Terrence, her uncle's friend.
Terrence spotted her first. "What do you know!" He called out and approached her with a pleasent look on his face, rain and sweat matting down his usually poofy hair. "Alise, good to see you again. And so soon!"
"Terrence, it hasn't been long at all," Alise tried to return his smile.
"You know Alise?" Gordon walked up beside Alise, looking up at the newcomer curiously.
"Know her? I've known this young lady since before she was your height, Eli."
Alise shook her head. "This is someone different, Terry. His name's Gordon, and that other one's name is Zeke."
"Oh, my bad; the rain makes it hard to see. It's just good to see that Alise is making friends for once."
Alise frowned. "Not this again. Just don't expect me to make a habit out of this."
Terrence laughed heartily, wiping some rain out of his eyes. "Alright, I'll start ribbing you about it. So what kind of adventures have you been getting into?"
Zeke stepped forward before Alise could respond. "Where exactly is this ship headed for?"
"Hm? Why do you want to know?"
"It's guild business. We're looking to exchange our services as guards for a voyage to Heliord."
"Guild business? You mean you three are in a guild?"
"Yup," Zeke nodded.
"No!" Gordon stared at Zeke. "No, we're not. You didn't say anything about joining a guild, Zeke."
"I didn't? I meant to..."
Alise sighed, shaking her head. "One thing at a time, Zeke. And no, Terrence, we aren't in a guild. We do need to get to Heliord as soon as possible."
Terrence started to nod. "Hm. It's like you only ever look for me when you need a ride to somewhere, huh? Oh well. As it turns out we are looking for some security and our usual protection guild is unavailable. The ship's bound for Heliord as well, so I say you guys showed up at just the right time."
"S-seriously? You're kidding..." Gordon started to look nervous.
"Nope! The stars seem to be in your favor this time around. We've had one other person volunteer to help in case things get messy on board, so having four to help out should be perfect."
Alise thought for a moment. "It must be pretty urgent if you're still going with all of this rain."
"It is. This is a special shipment to Heliord's magistrate. The stuff is pretty valuable, but nothing should happen. I won't be going on the trip, but you all should go get ready and I'll tell the boss. I'll put in a good word for ya, Alise." With a supportive wink Terrence left.
Zeke looked pleased with himself. "Easy. Much quicker than I anticipated."
"I'd say it was too easy," Gordon groaned.
Alise could easily agree with Gordon, but she wasn't surprised. Terrence always knew how to come through when it mattered, however she wasn't sure it was worth it this time around. "We've got our way now. Let's just worry about making sure we have everything that we need."
The Fortune Market ship had been asea for only twenty minutes, and the storm had worsened drastically. Gordon had holed himself away in the bathroom, which worried Alise.
"Gordon, are you sure you're okay?" She knocked lightly on the door. "You've been in there a while..."
"No. I hate sailing, and now it's storming. I don't get sick, but I don't want to risk it. Don't mind me, just ignore me..."
Alise shruged. "Whatever you say..." She turned and looked around the small room the three of them were given. It had a couple places to sit, but none of them were comfortable enough for Alise. It seemed just fine for Zeke; he was sleeping precariously on a set of boxes. How he ever managed to sleep like that she'd never know.
And so Alise was pretty much by herself. She didn't want to sit, and she wasn't really tired at all despite not having much time to properly rest. Instead she leaned up against the wall with her arms crossed, thinking very little.
There was supposed to be another person on board, she recalled randomly. I wonder why there was only one other, though... Short notice, so only one person agreed? Or maybe some hired sword who also need to go to Tolbyccia. Terrence had said that the whatever they were transporting was valuable, but why only four guards? I don't want to jinx it, but-
She didn't have to think another word. Suddenly the ship jerked, and Alise had to hold herself steady. She looked up to the ceiling, noting the thunks of hurried footsteps. What's going on?
Gordon peeked his head out the door, looking a little bit light headed. "You hear all of that?"
"I do." Alise walked swiftly to Zeke and pulled at his shoulder. "Yo, wake up."
Zeke stirred, shifted his position than went right back to sleep.
Alise groaned, looking from side to side. Tired with this, Alise easily yanked the boxes out from under him, and Zeke fell to the floor. After a moment of stillness, he looked groggily up at her. "What..? The hell did you..."
"C'mon," Alise grabbed Zeke and pulled him to his feet. "It's time we hold up our end of the bargain."