This is a rewrite of my Rosto the Piper fanfic. I want to see which one you like more. I admit, there are some things I like more about my first version but my writing style has changed a bit. Remember this version isn't edited yet so there may be a few changes if you decide that you like this version better. The changes won't be big, just a few things here and there.

(Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, the major plot and some of the dialogue but most of the subplots belong to me.)

Wednesday, April 1, 246

The city was rather stunning compared to what everything was like in Scanra. I liked the air of the city and the noise. It made me feel a little more alive, more than I had felt in a long time. Everything was so active even in the morning when my companions and I arrived. I could tell that I was going to like this place.

I looked over at the smallest mot flanking me. She was sleek and very cat like. Her hair was brown and she wore a blue dress that seemed to be a little over doing in to me. I could tell by the look in her eyes that she was thrilled to be in the city of Corus. Kora always wanted to get away from Scanra. She claimed that the entertainment was low and wanted some place where we had variety, though I knew her real reason.

The other mot, a tall blond, swords-woman didn't mind leaving Scanra. It was too boring for her anyway. She wanted excitement. Aniki was a seeker of entertainment and challenges. She came for that reason and I was sure she was going to like our stay here. I watched as she wrapped a hand around that sword she prized and looked at the scene before her. Her face twitched as she gripped the hilt tightly. She was itching to be set loose upon the city. Whether here intentions were good or bad, I wasn't sure.

I had heard good things about Corus. It was lively and full of crime. We liked crime - well more Aniki and me than Kora. She wanted to be a basic hedge witch but we knew she would have our backs when we need it.

Her eyes watched and darted around the city as though she were trying to keep up with everything that was going on. I turned back to the scene before me and saw that everything here was much better than in Scanra already. People were completely without food and it seemed to be thriving just fine. I saw a few rushers passing by and a few thieves picking pockets with ease.

This was definitely a good place to start new.

It was lucky for us that we decided to pack lightly during our journey because the streets were far more crowded that what we were used to. If we had taken heavier packs we would have had a hard time maneuvering but we didn't have much to begin with other than clothes and money.

"We need to find a place to stay first," Kora said to us. "I would not like to carry my pack around."

"Rosto," Aniki said. I could almost hear the smirk in her voice. "Why don't you carry our packs? You're supposed to be a man, right?"

"I am a man," I told her. "That is why I refuse to be your pack animal." Aniki and Kora snickered at me. "And well-bred gentleman only stoops so low to be a pack animal. I am my own sort of gentleman."

"You definitely were not well-bred," Kora laughed. I frowned. I would never get anywhere with my mots. They always felt the need to pull me off my high horse whenever I just climbed back up. "Seriously, though, let's find a place for a bit of rest. Traveling is really tiresome and my feet are starting to hurt."

We picked our way around the city. Kora had to stop and ask someone for the nearest inn so we could rest ourselves. I hated to admit it, but I was a bit weary myself and a quick sleep sounded nice to me. I was glad when Kora finally put her foot down and asked for directions. I knew Aniki was too, we were just too full of pride to admit that we needed help.

The inn was a few stories in height and fairly large for an inn. They must have gotten a lot of customers in the city. I could tell that the in had been smaller once but they just added one of the other buildings to it to make it larger. Whatever the case, I was happy to be there and hoped that there was at least one room open for me and my mots. We were lucky; there were enough for the three of us to have our own and then some.

Right after we got our keys, we all went into our separate rooms. I was unsure of what the mots did but I decided on taking a nice warm bath first. The innkeeper's daughter, who was no older than twelve, filled my bath for me. I thanked her kindly and tipped her a silver coin. I planned to get a few more silver - whatever they called it here in Corus. The gixie thanked me and ran off.

I soaked in the bath until it turned cold. My skin had wrinkled but I was clean of all the dirt and dust I collected during my travels. I felt light like the weight of dirt had been holding me down. I looked back at the dirty bath water...maybe it had.

Dressing into cleaner clothes and arming myself properly with my daggers, I threw myself on my bed. I pulled the knife from one of my packs and held it under my pillow. I couldn't relax too much here in the city. It was new territory after all.

When I woke again, it was nearly sundown. I stretched and put my knife back in my packs. The innkeepers could turn down my bed whenever they felt like it and I wouldn't like to surprise them with my knife, so I stored it back where I knew it should be safe. I stretched my slightly stiff body as best as I could, reaching my hands to the ceiling. I must have slept in one position the whole time. Normally, I would adjust myself while sleeping in order to find the most comfortable spot but I must have been too tired to do that.

I was greeted with a knock on the door. I opened it to see Aniki and Kora standing there looking refreshed. Their hair was wet from a bath. The looked over me and smirked. "Rosto would bathe before sleeping in bed." I rolled my eyes at them. Already with the teasing. "We want to explore and find a place for something to eat," Aniki said. "We are starving."

My stomach had to agree with them. "Anything we are looking for in particular?" I asked, looking pointedly at Kora. She always wanted to look for something.

She gave me a sweet smile. "A good herbalist," she said. "I would like to start making some honest coin at some point before making some dishonest coin." We left for the still crowded city, stopping and vendors and shops whenever one of my mots found something that they were interested in. I spent my time observing the city and trying to avoid the pigs that tried to escape their fate from the butchers. Even though it was getting darker out children still ran around the streets laughing and chasing each other. Some mothers called for their children, telling them it was time for bed.

The children slowly went away and the pigs were forced back into the butchers arms. Me and my mots continued our self guided tour of the city. My mots were excited though they seemed composed. I could read them well, after being with them for so long.

"Can we get something to eat now?" I asked as the mots tried to run off to another shop. I grabbed them both by the arms to stop them. It was risky on my part but my stomach was starting to growl at me. "We can continue this after we eat something." And possibly get something to drink, I thought to myself. I forgot how much Kora and Aniki loved looking at weapons and medicine and whatever it was they were looking at.

They didn't argue. We went to find some place to eat and settled on the first place we came across. It was called Mantel and Pullet, just down Pottage Lane. When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was that it was crawling with dogs. A few of them watched us as we sat down at a table that was open. I had done nothing wrong so there was no reason for the curs to bite.

"What will we be having today?" I asked my mots. They were looking around slowly, eyeing every face in the place. I did the same.

"We don't know anything about this place," Aniki pointed out. "We are going to have to ask." I nodded. She had a point. We hadn't even been here a whole day, there was no way we'd find out what they served for food there. One of the barmaids helped us with our order as well as fluttered her lashes at me. The food was good, we ate every last bit of our order and decided to stay for a bit. People came in and out of the eating house, most of them were dogs, and some were just hard working people.

"I could use something heavy," Aniki said. Kora nodded. I stood and told them I would grab something. I went to the bar and saw a young blond gixie standing by the bar. She was pretty faced with a fine nose and fairly good cheekbones. Her eyes were light, blue-gray and interesting. They reminded me of the ice in Scanra. She was a few inches shorter than me with good shoulders, from what I could see with that uniform on. She was a puppy. I tried not to smile at the sight of the white trim. That poor puppy was going to get clobbered.

"What of you, pretty Puppy?" he asked, leering at her as he gave her the jacks that had two names burned into them: Tunstall and Goodwin. I assumed that they were her Dogs. "A nice strong ale to loosen your belt? Wine for your first day?"

The gixie didn't look at the man while she answered, politely "Barley water, sir, if you please."

The barkeep didn't seem very happy about her request. "You're joking," he said with a flat voice.

"No, Master Barkeep. Barley water, please," she repeated. I was starting to get impatient. I just wanted something strong for the night.

Of course, the barkeep had to feel offend by the pretty gixie's choice of drink. "You've something against my good brown ale? Strong enough to stick a spoon in! 'Tis good enough for and Dog or soldier as walks through that door, good enough that the King himself, gods save him, has drunk it, whilst you turn up that dainty nose-"

I had just about enough. I wanted some of that ale and I had been waiting long enough for a good drink. I leaned over, just past the gixie and knocked on the plank bar to get the attention of the angry cove. "Listen, keg tapper. Rather than waste time yapping at a pretty girl who's not interested, why not occupy yourself pouring out for me and my ladies, and let her be about her business?"

The gixie glanced at me and stepped to one side. She eyed me as though she was taking in my appearance just like my mots and I did with everyone who walked through that door, save her and her dogs. I didn't see them come in. They must have slipped in while Aniki, Kora, and I were talking about our plans for the week - it mostly consisted of finding a permanent place to live.

A barmaid gave her a mug and eyed me suggestively as she said something to the Puppy. I received the drinks I asked for and brought them back to my mots.

"Took you long enough," Aniki said. I looked back to where the Puppy was sitting. Her Dogs seemed to be giving her a hard time and she kept her eyes down. Gixies like that one shouldn't have been in Dog training. "I see, a pretty girl. Careful, she is a puppy."

"I have no interest in her," I told Aniki with a wink. "I've got you and Kora after all." I took a sip of the ale and nodded at the quality. "That barkeep had a right to brag about his ale. It's good." I felt eyes on me a few times that night. I knew the Puppy and her Dogs were talking of us. We must have looked suspicious...of course we did. We didn't try to blend in much, did we?

We went back to the inn after having a few rounds of ale. Anymore then someone would have to be carrying us back to the inn.