Hello Everyone, sorry for the long wait, but here it is. The next two chapter for Transcendence. Hope you like them. All reviews from the previous chapters will be answered soon enough on the wiki. Also it will be getting a make-over as the week goes by. So stay tuned.
Chapter Ten: Shady Rest
The air was damp, humid and wet; something that was a surprise considering that the climate they were in was a barren landscape that took its name after such fact. But for those who knew about the local geography of this region knew that the sudden change held importance. For anyone with enough sense would realize that the sudden change in the air around them signalled their approach to one of the Barrens many neighbouring regions.
Two days travel from the gold road by foot you will soon find the air begin to change. The dry hot air will soon become humid; the moisture from the swamps bleeding into the barren lands it is situated next to. Those who knew of it would realize quickly that they were approaching the great swamps of central Kalimdor, Dustwallow Marsh.
Those who took the roads towards the swamps would soon find themselves out of the bright and glaring sun of the Barren. They would find themselves being shrouded under the gloomy shadows of the marshes canopies. There was little ground that was solid and dry, many pools of stagnant water and massive mounds of mud seemed to dominate the entire region. The only thing shared between the two neighbours was the irritating heat, but while the Barrens were dry the Swamps were humid.
Yet the swamps were no less dangerous than the Barrens, some even saying that it was an even more treacherous land in comparison. For where the Barrens earned its infamy in the dry and desolate landscape with little life, the swamps were the exact opposite. Teaming with all kind of life and creatures, plants and animals of many kinds live and thrive in the many pools and rivers within the Marshes. But there are few that live within the waters and mud that are not a danger to humankind.
In its water all kinds of vile amphibious creatures roam searching for prey, pulling unsuspecting creature and on occasion people into the waters to never be seen again. Others reside in the canopies above, hidden in the starch green leaves of the trees and waiting for anything to pass beneath. The Marshes were truly a danger to anyone who sought to conquer it's jungles with exploration, for they would need to keep alert for everything above their heads and below their feet.
Yet despite the harsh environment, two human settlements call this rugged and hostile land their home. The first was coastal city of Theramore Isle, a small city that sat on a small isle off the coast of the marshes. It was one of the few places that the Alliance had a base of operations on the continent of Kalimdor, apart from their Night Elf allies in the north.
The second was a small township just on the borders between the Barrens and the Marshes. It sustains its small population through trade, exchanging with caravans that move along the Gold Road. Becoming a small trading settlement that brought in produce from across the continent, and was often traded with Theramore.
But the town came from humbled beginnings, where only one building stood in its place, a simple Inn offering shelter and accommodation to any who required it. Yet as time went on, simple Inn soon became the centre of a bustling township. Soon traders and new markets opened and became a major hub for trade in and out of the Marshes. The town was built along a single road that lead directly towards the Inn, with many buildings lining it, offering all kinds of services. For the Inn became a symbol of the beginning of the town, and as such it was almost appropriate that they call their home after the Inn that started it all.
And so it was called, Shady Rest.
"Is this it?" Ichigo asked, looking down the wide open street of the town.
It was a simple village of about twenty houses; build along a single road leading towards a massive Inn. All around Ichigo could see markets stalls that were selling their wares, casually striking up conversation with their customers. Fruits and fish were being displayed, freshly plucked from the tree or the water. Flowers, armour, weapons, even someone selling alchemy reagents and potions for anyone who was interested.
Ichigo was honestly surprised at what he was seeing; these people looked so similar to the people he would see back home in the large markets you see in Kararura Town Square. People in stalls just trying to get their product sold. He never expected such a feudal era world to be so modern in the way it appeared. In fact he never really knew what it would have look like; he wondered if he should really be comparing what he thought he knew about his world to this one. Maybe he shouldn't be acting that he actually knew what he thought he knew.
Sure he knew a little about history, but nothing much outside Japan. And the stuff he did know didn't really cover much about how the normal people acted.
But he always had some idea of how things would usually be going on during a time like this, but he was pleasantly surprised. Looking around Ichigo saw that the town was very clean and tidy, despite being near a damn swamp. For some reason he always thought that people in medieval times were quite dirty, don't ask him why he just guessed that was the case and never questioned it. But these people looked to be in good health and also their cloths were not covered in dirt, grime or anything else that one could associate with excrement.
"I have never seen a human settlement before, the buildings are quite unique." Adelina noted, as they both strolled down the street with impunity, for this was a new experience for the both of them.
Adelina's statement was true; the buildings were quite interesting in Ichigo's opinion. They looked similar to the middle age buildings from his world. They had stone brick bases that also formed the wall of the first floor of the building, with the second floor being a skeletal wooden frame filled in with mortar. With wooden tiled roofs, that sported some chimneys and other forms of ventilation.
Ichigo was reminded of the old history books he read, he couldn't remember where or when he did, but these buildings looked quite familiar to him from that book. Amazed that something so similar to those on his world could exist here as well, maybe humans had an almost universal way of thinking.
As they continued Ichigo eventually arrived at the front of the Inn, but he could almost call it the medieval equivalent to a motel. It was massive, three stories in height and likely covering several dozen square meters. Composed entirely of wood, brick and mortar, with a bright blue tiled roof, well maintain and seemed to have several chimneys. Obviously it was meant to house more than just a few tenants; it was built to house as many people as possible.
"This is big," Ichigo said, not expecting an Inn to be so large, considering that with so many other buildings around that a large inn would be redundant.
Both entered through the ornate oak door and came to a candle lit foyer hall. A long brown carpet led towards a reception desk that was stationed by a woman with long blonde hair tied into a tail. She was looking through a large ledger and likely taking down some figures, with the way she was scribbling with the feather in her hand.
"Hello, welcome to Shady Rest Inn, are you looking for a room or to dine this evening?" The woman greeted with a smiled, looking up from her book and giving them her full attention.
"Uh, a room I guess, we aren't leaving for Theramore till tomorrow morning." Ichigo said, and was responded to with a nod.
The woman behind the desk quickly pulled out a small ledger and looked through it. After a little searching she smiled and looked at them both.
"We have eight rooms available, do you have a preference?" she inquired.
"Do you have any baths? And two beds?" Ichigo asked, the idea of a warm bath did sound nice, and a bed was even better.
The two of them had been going through all kinds of crap for the last week and a half and they deserved some form of relaxation. A bed to sleep in was a blessing; especially if you realized what it is like without one, and a bath, that was icing on the cake.
"Yes… we have two rooms available, do you have any other needs?" She asked, looking up at them, before continuing. "One has a fireplace and a small balcony off the east side of the Inn. While the other simply has a larger bath, and has a heated water supply on the ready."
Ichigo looked at Adelina for a moment before deciding.
"The one with the big bath I guess, don't think we need a fireplace or a balcony," Ichigo said, before the woman smiled knowingly at the two of them.
"Oh how lovely, how long have you two been together?" She asked, smiling innocently, making Ichigo quickly get an idea what she meant and stammering out a hasty denial.
"What…? No were not! We're just friends!" Ichigo said, falling over on some of his word.
Heat rose to his cheeks at the accusation of them being together, but the fact she suspected it was because he wanted to bath to perform… sensual acts with Adelina didn't help him reign in his rising body temperature.
"Ichigo, why is your face going red?" Adelina asked, finding the strange phenomenon interesting, placing a hand on his forehead and finding his head to be slightly sweating and hot. "Also you seem quite warm, do you have heat stroke?"
"No, it's nothing, just stop asking questions okay!" Ichigo said quickly, while the woman behind the counter giggled to herself at the boy's obvious embarrassment.
"It is endearing when a young man gets nervous about intimacy," She laughed to herself quietly, while Ichigo grumbled under his breath, while Adelina still found it difficult to understand the implications of the woman's words and their deeper meaning. "Anyway, that will be three gold coins for the night."
Adelina placed her hand in the pouch and pulled out three coins, giving them to the lady who promptly placed them in a lockbox. Adelina found it surprising how much it cost; she expected a simple room to be around a dozen silver coins. But it would seem that the humans have their own way of doing things. Maybe when she studied them more she would understand why the prices were so high in their lands.
"Have a present stay at the Shady Rest Inn, if you need anything come and speak with me, my name is Lynn Hyal." Lynn said, before she pointed to her right and to a small hallway. "At the end are the stairs, your room is on the top floor and the first door on the left."
"Thanks," Ichigo said, although his voice seemed to be quite sullen.
The substitute walked off to the stairs with Adelina trailing closely behind him, wondering what had gotten Ichigo in such a bad mood.
A few minutes later and both the Death God and his Druid companion were on the top floor, and standing in front of their door. Their door was one of three on the top floor, being the only one on the left hand side of the hallway, along a ten meter long wall. Placing the key in the aperture Ichigo unlocked his door, pushing the large door open he glanced inside to find him well lit room to be better than he expected.
The room was larger than he expected. He could see only two rooms, but both were several feet in length and width and filled with decorations and furniture. A large atrium that led into every other room in their suite, four rooms in total including the one they stood in at the moment. Stepping in Ichigo could see to his left was a lounge room, with a few chairs and small tables and a bookshelf.
The far room was the bedroom, with large bay windows that looked over towards the swamps. Two large beds were on either wall, each big enough for both to sleep on with a lot of room to spare. Each bed had thick woollen sheets and pillows, mahogany corner posts that held up thin curtains to block out glare from the rising sun that would shine through windows on the morn.
"Damn, this place is really decked out," Ichigo said, admiring the feel and class of it all, he felt he was in the medieval equivalent of a four star hotel.
The final room was a short passage leading into the bathroom, where a large stone bath carved of white marble sat on top of a black stone plinth. Rectangular in shape and easily big enough to fit eight people within without a problem. Ichigo walked over to the wall that the bath sat against and found a small cord, simple brash chain with a handle dangling on the end.
Pulling it Ichigo watched as a hatch opened and water began to pour into the bath, slowly but surely filling up the bath with clean warm water. Ichigo had to admit these people had really set themselves up well; this Inn had all kinds of luxuries. He guessed since that this town was a massive trading post between the inner regions of Kalimdor and Theramore it would prosper very well. But Ichigo didn't need to assume that, the furnishing in his room were enough to show just how much these people could provide for their guests.
Ichigo said, admiring the grey stone tub, running his hand over the smooth interior surface.
"I can understand now why the room was so costly; it is furbished to almost ridiculous standards." Adelina said, looking around the room and the walls were all smooth grey stone with no decoration, but appeared to be made so on purpose to give it a certain appeal.
"You got that right, I may not care much about random stuff just put in a room for decoration, but when you have it you might as well enjoy," Ichigo said, he was quite excited, he had been close to a month without a proper bath; again you never realize the importance of something until you don't have it anymore.
"I'm going to take a bath," Ichigo said, before a thought occurred to him and he glanced at Adelina. "Do you want to go first? I can wait."
"No, you go ahead, I will enter later, I need to put our things away," Adelina replied, turning and walking out of the bath chamber.
Ichigo waited till she was gone before he looked back to the bath, it was half full and the warm water was still coming in. Without waiting Ichigo began to disrobe, removing his Shihakushō and sandals, before placing all his clothing onto a small bench in the corner of the room. Skulking over to the tub Ichigo placed one leg over and into the water, immediately hesitating as he felt the soothing water and let out a content breath.
Fully sinking into the tub Ichigo let his muscles relax as the warm waters wash away all his tension. For nearly a month Ichigo had been here and it had been stressful, the long periods of not bathing was actually not the most prominent thought on his mind as he sat in the tub. His mind kept getting drawn back to the reason for his journey across jungle and desert, a way to return home.
Ichigo leaned back, letting his head fall under the water spout and let all his senses go numb.
Ichigo had tried so hard to keep his mind distracted from the dark thoughts that plagued him, things that kept him from getting any restful sleep at night. Ever since he arrived her all he has had were nightmares, visions of a world he once knew destroyed and everyone he cared about dead. His family and friends gone, his home burning and the man behind it all standing upon the ruins of Kararura Town with the bodies of everyone he knew scattered around like decoration in some sick man's form of artistry.
His waking moments were no less graphic and damaging to his already degrading physique, his dreams haunted his nights and their images tormenting his every waking moment. Truly he would have broken down now if it wasn't for Adelina, her company was a blessing from whatever deity watched over this planet.
Because of her constant desire to learn about humanity and his race, something he sadly had little idea how to convey to someone. It is surprising when you're asked about your own people that you find it hard to talk about them in detail. Adelina helped him keep much of his attention away from what was going on inside his head; he couldn't have really asked for someone better the guide him here. Ichigo was sure if someone else came they wouldn't have been as chatty as her, though sometimes a little annoying at times, she was a good friend.
Ichigo sank into the tub as the water finished flowing; he leaned back and almost felt himself doze off. He let everything go away, no more thinking about the nightmares, no more about the world he was in or about his druid friend. Ichigo just wanted to relax for a while in the tub and not have to think of anything, just sit in the water and let all his worries go away.
Ichigo was so close to actually dozing off, his mind was almost completely gone, but then he felt something brush against his foot beneath the water. He gave it little thought and just groaned before trying to relax again, but this time he felt the water ripple slightly. Ichigo cracked an eye open, his blurry eyes landing on something sitting in the bath in front of him.
Ichigo fully opened his eyes, blinking away the blurriness to focus, and his eyes came to a shocking sight. Sitting there was Adelina; she was sitting there examining a small glass bottle full of some sort of oil. But those were minor details, for what caught Ichigo's attention was the fact she was in the bath with him and completely and utterly naked.
It took only a few seconds for him to realize the situation he was in right now.
"What the hell are you doing?!" Ichigo shouted, shrinking further into his side of the bath, pulling legs back that dangle to close to the young elf maiden.
Adelina looked up at Ichigo, surprised by his sudden outburst that she nearly leaped from the bath. Ichigo eyes travel precariously to the two mounts that barely hid beneath the waters, splashing against the water as they juggle. He hoped they remained beneath the water as they should and that his eyes lingering on her feminine form went unnoticed as he straightened them to her glowing eyes.
"Are you alright Ichigo? You seem to be red in the face again?" Adelina asked, placing the bottle down and looking at the substitute in slight concern, she suspected heat stroke from his red face and likely rising temperature.
"Why are you in the bath with me?" Ichigo barked out, covering his eyes with his hands, not trusting his eyes to remain where they should.
"I did tell you I would enter later; I still do not understand why you are so surprised though?" Adelina replied, tilting her head to the side as he covered his eyes, she had no idea why he was so erratic at the moment; maybe she needed to see if he was alright.
"It's because you're in here, you're meant to have a bath after I am finished!" Ichigo responded quickly.
Adelina remained quiet for a moment, pondering his response. She was meant to get in after he was done with the bath? Why would she need to wait till he was finished? Would it not be better to share a soothing moment with a friend rather than soak alone?
"Is this how humans do so? When I was at the enclave in Stonetalon I would always bathe with my fellow druids," Adelina replied, seeing almost nothing wrong with sharing a bath with another, after all it was a leisure activity to have.
"Don't you think it is a bit weird sharing a bath with a guy and also someone who you have only known for a few days?" Ichigo replied back, not taking his hand off his eyes as he asked her the most obvious of questions.
Yet he went pale, not from a reply that was not given, for he felt a soft hand press against his forehead and his chest. His heartbeat and body temperature raised several volumes from the contact, after all a naked woman touching you can have such drastic and unforseen effects on the body.
"You feel slightly warm and your heart is beating quite quickly, are you excited over something?" Adelina asked, still not understanding the very implicating situation they appeared to be in.
Ichigo instantly slid along the side of the bathtub, moving from one end to the other quickly. He pushed himself as far away from her as possible, keeping himself from her smooth hands that were upon him only a moment ago. The paleness of his flesh returning to a sweet strawberry colour as the blood rushed to his face.
Adelina looked at him for a moment, wondering what had caused this sudden anxiety in her friend. Then it hit her, this entire thing must have been construed in a completely different way than she had anticipated. It was possible that because of Ichigo's different racial philosophy, his people likely had different ways of interacting with one another during certain social situations.
Her actions now must have been some sort of social wrong, something he must have found embarrassing.
"Did I do something that has made you uncomfortable?" Adelina asked, sitting back down and looking at Ichigo, waiting for an answer.
"Of course you did! You are in a bath with me naked and you only realize now you did something wrong?" Ichigo shot back.
"I think I understand," Adelina said, her head lowering as she thought over what she had done. "You're obviously embarrassed, so that means what I have done is inappropriate."
Instead of simply stating it, it sounded as if she was going over something in her head, like she was analysing the situation at hand as if it was nothing more than an experiment. Ichigo found that to be very unsettling considering she still didn't know the exact implications of what she was doing right now.
"Are you feeling aroused because of my presence?" Adelina suddenly asked, leaving Ichigo to stare at her for a long minute, before his entire body burned at the very direct question.
Adelina was asking him if he was attracted to her, what the hell kind of question was that? Ichigo had a scary thought; he hoped it was some sort of weird twisted hormonal daydream. What if she was actually trying to proposition him right now? Oh god he hoped not, he couldn't deal with this right now, he had too much on his mind. Even if he didn't, he still couldn't deal with this!
"Your rising body temperature may be a sort of early sign that you are ready to mate, I apologize, but I do not wish to mate with you, and for putting you in that position." Adelina replied back, completely straight faced as she delivered her breakdown of the situation as well as a refusal to be his 'supposed' bedfellow.
Ichigo sat there for a few seconds, letting his blood pressure get under control and his skin return to a more respective shade of white. Yet his eyes remained on the woman that had caused him to have a heart attack. Despite her claims to not want to be… intimate with him, and saying that she realized that she has made him anxious because of her presence, Ichigo couldn't help but find her lack of actual awkwardness to be all that customary.
"What the hell are you talking about!? I am embarrassed because you waltz in here, got naked and stepped into the bath!" Ichigo shouted back. "You're not meant to do that, it is social etiquette or some shit, men and woman are not meant to share a bath, unless… unless… you know what I mean!"
Adelina was silent for a moment.
"I see, so my presence in your private time had made you embarrassed?" Adelina said, finding it odd that something as simple as bathing could make him so anxious, it was quite strange. "I will endeavor to stop such things in the future."
Ichigo stared at her for a moment, completely confused at her reply. For one he didn't expect that she would be willing to get in a bath with someone she had known only for a few days. He would consider her a friend, sure, but to actually share a bath with her seemed a little far off the deep end. But maybe it was part of Adelina's culture, maybe they were more open with themselves than other race, or it could simply be she thought he was a trustworthy person.
But the main issue he found was the fact she has not moved from her spot in the tub, remaining there and returned to examining the different oils that she had been examining when she first got in.
"Are you going to get out anytime soon?" Ichigo asked.
"Why?" Adelina asked, completely oblivious to Ichigo's question.
"I would have thought that would have been obvious!" Ichigo shouted back. "We just discussed this, your presence here is not normal, you shouldn't just jump into a bath with some guy you barely know! Bathing is meant to be done alone!"
"But I know you fairly well; I have no concern with you making any form of advances on me, as you said, we discussed your embarrassment because you thought I was courting you, but that is not the case so there is no reason to feel embarrassed anymore." Adelina replied, his previous words simply flying over her head.
Ichigo stared at her for a moment, his brow twitched once before he replied. This girl was worse than Yoruichi, she may not flirt or openly reveal herself, Adelina simply had no idea that her being naked in front of him was inappropriate.
"Do you even remember what we talked about in our discussion?!" Ichigo shouted at the young Night Elf.
"Yes I do, speaking of which you spoke of etiquette, would this be how your people act? I would very much like to hear about it." Adelina said, smiling near the end and quite excited to hear what Ichigo had to say.
'Are you fucking kidding me?' Ichigo thought to himself.
Ichigo descended down the stairs, about two hours had passed since their little bath and the long discussion about correct social decorum. Ichigo had gone into great lengths, giving great amount of reason, as to why Adelina shouldn't have gotten into the bath with him. Something she eventually got an idea over, but still expressed her views on how bathing was not a taboo as it was an activity that can be shared with close friends and colleagues.
Ichigo accepted that, but, he told her not to do it again. As they may be friends, he didn't want things to get awkward between them. Sadly that led to another explanation on how the two of them in the bath together could be seen as inappropriate, as it can be construed as a precursor to an intimate moment.
Letting out a sigh Ichigo quick blew off all that happened, all he wanted was to just go down stairs and get something to eat. Luckily they didn't have to go far; there was an open dining hall inside the inn and offered free food and drink to anyone who was lodged in their establishment. Walking into the hall they found a large room with many tables scattered across the open stone floor with a large bar at the far brick wall. The room was illuminated by several lamps that ran along the wall, with a large fireplace providing warmth to all the patrons.
Ichigo and Adelina took their seat at one of the few remaining tables, facing one another they waited to be served. Not a moment later they received their server, none other than Lynn Hyal, she gave them a kind smile.
"How may I help you today?" Lynn asked, looking between either of them, her smile remained intact as she spoke.
"Uh, we want some food, what do you have to offer?" Ichigo asked, he had no idea what these people had to offer, there weren't even any menus, and did they even have menus?
"We offer several varieties of meat and vegetables, as well as mead and wine." She said. "Is there anything specific you want?"
"Uhhh." Ichigo really didn't know how to respond, you can say meat but what kind you're getting is still the million dollar question.
For all he knew they had dinosaurs around here, and also he didn't know really if these people had anything he could really eat. Most of the time all he has been eating was fruit and rations, because that was all that was to have at Feathermoon Stronghold and on their trip, with the occasional animal they got to eat. Luckily Adelina came to the rescue just in time.
"We will have the Crocolisk steak and Sagefish if they are available," Adelina said, looking up at the woman with a smile.
"Of course, we have many kinds in stock, I am sure we can accommodate." She replied. "Anything to drink?"
"Water," Adelina replied, and Lynn nodded her head.
"I will be back shortly with your drinks," Lynn said before walking over towards the bar.
Ichigo looked around and examined decorations on the walls, finding the mounted heads and skulls of all kinds of animals. From Crocodiles, Stags, Sharks, all mounted and hanging as trophies, and those were the ones he could recognise. There were many more, dozens of them along the walls, severed heads of different kinds of creatures and animals. He would probably need to asks Adelina about that.
As looked he heard a set of clangs and saw two people walk by him, dressed in metal and leather armour. Dull and worn silver plates over dull green leather, covering them head to toe with the metal protecting vital areas. Looking to see a large shield on his back, silver with two symbols painted over it, a large stylized Q and R symbol.
"Here you are," Lynn said, drawing Ichigo's attention away from the two guardsmen. "Your meals will be ready shortly, is there anything else I can help you with?"
"No, we're alright," Ichigo replied, and Lynn nodded before she turned to leave, but halted for a moment.
"Excuse me, I don't mean to disturb you further," Lynn asked.
"You're not disturbing us, what is it?" Ichigo asked, curious about what she needed.
"I recently got a complaint from someone next to your room," Lynn said, looking at them for an explanation.
"A complaint? Why?" Ichigo asked, what the hell did he do?
"Well it seems you were screaming and yelling coming from your room, and it disturbed our other guest," Lynn replied.
"Oh yes, I think I know what happened," Adelina said. "We were bathing together; Ichigo was showing me the customs of human bathing with another person, you were shouting quite loudly."
Ichigo looked at her for a moment, his mouth slowly gaping as she finished her sentence.
'There is no way you could not realize what you just said.' Ichigo thought, it was simply impossible for someone to be so dense that they didn't realize that what they said could be construed the wrong way.
Lynn had no such problems connecting the dots and immediately smiled at the two of them. But the smile was not one of acceptance or forced, but more along the lines of a woman cooing over a loving couple.
"I am not one to tell how you conduct yourself in your intimate moments, but please try to keep your voices low." Lynn said, looking at a gaping Ichigo and a confused Adelina, before turning and walking off.
Ichigo slumped down, having failed to try and form an appropriate response to Lynn's statement. Ichigo lifted his head and stared at Adelina, who was now digging into her Sagefish, who looked like she had no idea what it was that Lynn was referring to. How the hell was it that she couldn't understand what Lynn said, was it because of their different culture?
"You really need to learn how to speak when around some people." Ichigo said exasperated, but Adelina simply looked at him confused to his meaning.
"What do you mean?" Adelina asked, but before Ichigo could say anything Ichigo felt something knock into his chair.
Looking down he saw a small leather ball was right next to his foot, reaching down Ichigo picked it up and looked around. His eyes immediately fell onto a small blonde haired boy who was standing right next to the substitute.
"You're new here!" The boy cheered, Ichigo jumped a little at the boys excitement.
"Yeah, only been here for a few hours, who are you?" Ichigo asked, handing the young man the ball, who smiled and accepted it.
"My name is James!" The young blonde said, before his eyes widened and moved forward and asking quickly, an excited gleam in his eyes. "Do you know the song?!"
"Song?" Ichigo asked, not understanding the question.
"Yeah the Shady Rest song!" James cheered loudly.
"Son, what are you doing? Leave the young man to his meal," A larger man approached, lifting up the boy and plopping him on his shoulder.
"I'm teaching him the song, he doesn't know it!" James said, pointing at Ichigo, who was suddenly becoming the centre of attention.
"Is that true young man?" James' father inquired, looking down at Ichigo curiously, and the substitute Shinigami found it quite nerve wracking to be the centre of attention. Guess he wasn't good in situations like this, who would have thought he was more comfortable in life and death struggles rather than being the attention of a large crowd.
"No, can't say I do," Ichigo replied, not liking the scene he was making.
"Well then! It would seem my boy's decree was warranted!" He said, looking up to his son with a smile. "Go ahead son, sing loud and strong!"
"He'll bring you mead! He'll bring you beer!" James sang a wide toothy smile on his face. "Come on! Try it!"
James called to Ichigo, and saw that many others were waiting for him to follow the boys command. Ichigo let out a groan of defeat; the only way he could make this less worse was if he did what he was told. If he didn't, he would look like a right asshole that would make a kid cry because he didn't play with him, damn all the luck.
'Damn it,' Ichigo groaned internally.
"He'll bring you mead, He'll bring you bear," Ichigo called out, his enthusiasm and commitment to the song not as strong as James', but somehow it was enough for the young blonde boy.
"That's it!" James said, cheering on as he continued with the next verse. "A grinning face from ear to ear! He'll serve of all from year to year!"
"We call him Smiling Jim!" The patrons called at once, slamming their mugs into the table, before continuing with their enclosed fist.
Soon enough the entire tavern erupted into a chorus of beats and thumps, as boots and hands slammed against the tables like a well-rehearsed symphony.
"Eat your food till your stomach bursts." One man called, the drumming grew louder.
"Then get some ale for your mighty thirst!" Another replied, joining it.
"A big belly and red in the face!" The entire hall sang out at once. "You can get all that, only in one place!"
"From the bitterest beer to the finest wines!" A woman called, cleaning a tankard from behind the bar with a rag. "Ready to fill your empty steins!"
Soon the entire tavern sang out, forming together a brilliant song.
"The toughest of steaks to the humblest gruel!"
"You can even get murloc fin stew!" One shouted, and everyone laughed to themselves while continuing the great song.
"We can be in no better place!"
"Good beds and a warm fireplace!"
"This place is divine, that we can attest!"
"So come to our town, The Great Shady Rest!"
A loud cheer erupted from the bar and the floors above, people hearing the name of their humble yet splendid town. Soon enough more songs began to crop up, singing of many subjects. Songs about good wine, great battles, boring events in history –both in the world and personal - and dumb drunk love, all the greats. Yet they were always cheered on, every verse picking up and always entertaining.
Ichigo for once had a smile on his face, the atmosphere in the inn was lively and he couldn't help but feel the merriment making him share their joy. Ichigo found it refreshing; after all he hasn't had such a carefree time in months. For the last few months he had been doing almost non-stop fighting, ever since he became a Soul Reaper there was always something that forced him to fight.
Ichigo guessed he kind of forgotten what it was like to be able to relax a little and chill out. Despite the dire situation he was in, being stuck on another world and away from his home, he couldn't help but feel relieved as he sat there listening to all the songs that played around him.
Maybe when the time was right, when this war was over and Aizen was gone, he could take a few weeks off and simply relax somewhere. It would be good, a little peace and quiet, just alone with his family and no one else.
Two hours of singing and hollering and the night began to calm, the patrons too drunk to form a coherent verse retired to their rooms and homes. Ichigo and Adelina retired much earlier than their compatriots downstairs, deciding to rest in their room while listening to the songs that played beneath them, adding a good background melody as they relaxed.
Their trip to Theramore would start at dawn tomorrow, having to leave at first light in order to reach the city before the sun sets. The swamps were not a place to be in at night, even when you could see they were treacherous, when you can't see is when death was all but certain. So an early mark was set, no chance of partying for them tonight sadly.
Ichigo spent some time looking over a leather bound tome he found, he didn't know the title or the story in it, the words indecipherable to him. His eyes scanned the words on the page, trying to discern the language written, but coming up short on trying to understand them. The cursive and style of the words looked kind of like English, but at the same time it looked completely different.
Ichigo didn't understand it one bit, even on his own world English was foreign to him, so him understanding a language he had never seen was unlikely. But Ichigo wondered something, it had been bugging him for a while, how the hell did he understand everyone around him? If they spoke the same language wouldn't that means their writing language was the same? Or that these people knew Japanese.
"What are you reading Ichigo?" Adelina asked, looking up from a scroll she was reading off.
"I have no idea, I can't read a single line in this thing," Ichigo said, tossing the book onto the table and leaning back into his chair, still in thought over another conundrum over his presence in this world.
Adelina came over and examined the cover; smooth brown leather with a silver title that read 'Tales of the Second War'. It must have been about the second war with the Horde in the Eastern Kingdoms, or that was what Adelina guessed.
"How come I can't read it, what language is that?" Ichigo asked, looking at the title of the book and narrowing his eyes, squinting to see if that helped.
"It is written in common," Adelina replied.
"Common?" Ichigo asked.
"Yes, it is a language that nearly all races know, like its name suggests it is one of the most common languages on Azeroth," Adelina said. "Although it is also quite diverse in on itself, since there are over twenty variations of common."
"That's a lot considering its called common," Ichigo said, but Adelina shook her head.
"True, but common is a means for races to break down their language so that everyone can understand one another," Adelina replied. "The Horde and Alliance in fact have different variations of Common that each race use and that is also on top of their own racial languages. But common is a very basic and easy language that allows most races to communicate on some level."
"So… it's like a universal language for everyone to speak?" Ichigo asked, finding that it has some similarities to English in a sense, as it was becoming a sort of universal language on his world.
"Yes, in fact, your speaking common right now, I believe it is called true common as it is a very widespread language for the many races across Azeroth." Adelina said
"What? That's can't be right, I'm speaking Japanese, and you couldn't possibly…"
Ichigo froze for a moment, his eyes widening in late realization. He didn't think of it before, but now that he looked back on it, he now understood why he could understand almost everyone around him.
"Adelina… yaru anata rikai suru watashi-ni?" Ichigo said, surprising the young elf, who found it hard to understand the language being spoken to her.
"Ichigo? What did you say?" Adelina asked, it was so quick that it was almost impossible for her to decipher each syllable.
Ichigo was silent for a moment, how had he missed it till now? He was speaking a different language than his own and it came almost as natural as the one he was born and raised to understand, that was not possible.
"I asked if you could understand me," Ichigo said, leaning heavily into his chair, something was not right about this. "How can…"
His words were halted when he felt the floor shake slightly, the small cup on the table jiggled as a small tremor passed through the room. Ichigo stood up and walked to the door, pulling it ajar he peak his head out and into the dark hallway. Ichigo heard a loud crash; quickly he walked into the hallway, moving slowly for the stairs.
He halted immediately when he heard another crash, but this time accompanied by another noise, what followed was terrified and loud screaming. Screaming that quickly vanished to the sound of wet slashes, from what was likely a bladed weapon.
Ichigo turned back and rushed back into his room, his eyes going to his bed where Zangetsu was rested again. Grasping the handle he turned back and rushed for the door, the cloth falling away quickly to the substitutes will. Ichigo bolted out the door and down the hallway, moving towards where he heard the sound.
Leaping down the flight of stairs, not bothering with the steps, slowing on by slamming into the wall at each corner of the staircase. He made it to the bottom quickly enough, but his momentum halted as he came to a bloody sight. The bodies of four people were littered across the foyer, limbs and blood all across the floor and walls. Ichigo could feel some bile rise into his throat as he looked at it, and the horrified faces of the dead only added to his discomfort.
A loud clang of metal on metal drew Ichigo's away from the sight, looking up he looked to the entrance to the dining hall on the opposite side of the room. Swallowing his rising disgust he moved forward, passing over the bodies with great care. Ichigo grimaced at the feeling of blood on his feet as it soaked through his sandals and his tabi. But he hardened his nerves and thought about immediate concerns.
Ichigo stood at the entryway to the hall, looking around to find fresh victims of this massacre. Looking around he easily found the murderer, a large black furred Tauren in similar armour, and he was fighting against Jim Hyal. Behind him and huddled in the corner was his wife and son, both terrified as they watched the deadly fight before them.
Ichigo watched only for a moment, a moment to see Jim being disarmed of his sword and bashed away thrown behind the bar. The stands over the bar falling on top of the man, burying him under a pile of timber and alcohol.
"Hey!" Ichigo shouted, lunging forward at the Tauren, who turned and raised his shield as Ichigo's Zanpakuto slashed down on top of him.
The tauren remained firm under the strike, holding his ground and not buckling, but his shield cracked and dented inwards. Ichigo pressed down and tried to overpower the massive bull-man but found that pointless. Ichigo looked up to see that the Tauren had strange markings covering his armour, glowing runes of red and green.
Ichigo looked down and saw the sword was drawn back, the intent to impale the substitute clear. Ichigo twisted around the thrust and avoided it entirely, while pull Zangetsu back for another strike. Moving up the Tauren's side Ichigo dropped Zangetsu low, using one hand he quickly swung up at the shield. Striking at the base of the shield Ichigo forced it up and above the Tauren's head, leaving him open to his follow up strike.
Ichigo let Zangetsu continue with its motion until it was on his opposite side and level with the tauren's midriff. With both hands around the hilt he swung again, delivering a deep wound along the Tauren's stomach. The Tauren staggered away, bringing down its shield in defence, Ichigo followed after the massive beast and continue his assault.
The Tauren in a desperate act swung its sword in a wild swipe, trying to force Ichigo back or hope to get in a lucky hit. Ichigo ducked down and twirled on his heels with his drop, swinging up Zangetsu and towards the Tauren's sword arm. In a single wet slash Ichigo removed the sword arm from the wrist.
The Tauren fell down to a knee in agony as it lost hand, grasping at the severed stump to stop the bleeding. Ichigo gave it no respite, planting his foot on the side of the Tauren's head and sent it to the floor. The Tauren rolled onto its back and tried in futility to rise, stopped by Ichigo, who planted his foot on the tauren's shield arm and had Zangetsu to his neck.
"Who are you?" Ichigo demanded, a scowl on his face, clenching his teeth as he demanded an answer. "Why did you do this!?"
The Tauren didn't answer, not a sound passed his lips other than the pained groan. Ichigo's scowl deepened as he heard the screaming and chaos outside the inn.
'Damn it!' Ichigo cursed mentally.
This guy was definitely not alone; there could a small army here planning on killing everyone. He had to stop this; these people had no chance against more of these things. Ichigo had to get out there now, he could stop them. But his gaze fell back onto the Tauren at his mercy; the idea of showing this guy any seemed stupid at the moment.
Ichigo wondered if he should simply kill him and move on, but he quickly shook off the idea as soon as it came. Even if he tried to bring it up he would have suppressed it just as quickly, he couldn't think of doing something like that. No matter how much he hated a person or thought that the deserved such a fate, he couldn't bring himself to be the executioner.
Ichigo's thoughts halted when he saw the floor boards beneath the Tauren creek and finally shattered and thick pale green vines appeared. The thick vines snaked around the frantic bull, wrapping tightly around his neck and limbs. Ichigo stepped back quickly, watching them wrap around the Tauren almost completely.
Letting out a scream of rage as the vines thorns dug into his exposed flesh. Before falling silent as the floor beneath it shattered and it fell into the dark basement below the Inn. Ichigo looked up to see Adelina standing near the dining hall entrance, her staff extended forward with a frown of concentration on her brow. Ichigo realized that she had taken care of his little problem, much to his relief and shame.
Putting it to the back of his mind Ichigo moved off to check on the Hyal family, finding Lynn and James still huddled in the corner. Ichigo kneeled next to them and gently shook Lynn's shoulder, she recoiled at his touch.
"Hey, are you alright? Can you hear me?" Ichigo asked, the frantic mother finally opening her eyes and casting her fearful gaze towards the substitute.
Ichigo looked over his shoulder to see Adelina right behind him, keeping his back safe while he consoled the scared mother and child.
"It's alright, we're going to get you out of here," Ichigo said, putting on a small smile, trying to reassure them as best he can despite the screams that made his smile all that much harder to maintain.
"We need to hurry, the town is under attack, they will come here to search for any survivors," Adelina said, whispering to Ichigo so only he could hear, keeping the mother and child from being frightened.
"Adelina, get them out of here, go to the swamps or something, just anywhere away from here." Ichigo said, she nodded and quickly tried to usher the family to their feet.
Ichigo moved to the door, he had to get out there and stop this from getting worse. If he could round up the survivors in the Inn he might be able to keep them safe. Also if there are those guards around they could help. Ichigo stood before the door, it was falling off its hinges, but still covered the entrance, leaving only a narrow gap to see what was going on outside.
Ichigo could see people running in the street, fleeing from the attackers who were burning their homes and slaughtering their neighbours. Ichigo gritted his teeth and stalked towards the door, he would stop this. He would protect everyone.
"Wait! My husband, please he is hurt!" Lynn cried out, halting Ichigo for a moment.
Ichigo's hesitation was only brief by in that moment he felt something, giving his momentary pause a much lengthier duration. His eyes shot to the door as he felt it come from just beyond it. It was a sudden spike of energy that Ichigo didn't think he would sense in this world. He sensed a sudden spike of spiritual energy.
In the time he realized what it was he didn't plan on what exactly it was. Ichigo was thrown back as the wall and doorway were blown back by a massive gust of wind. Ichigo sailed through the air and collided with the far wall, landing just behind the front desk of the inn. Ichigo rose back up slowly, feeling his back ache from the sudden stop.
Ichigo planted his hand on the desk and lifted himself up, using the table as a support. Looking to the shredded doorway and hall he found a single figure standing there. A large tauren, although its features were much smaller and from the sizable mounds on its chest Ichigo guessed it was female. But she wasn't a simply warrior with a shield and hammer, this Tauren was something different.
Her clothing showed that, instead of thick armour she wore long robes and cloth under pieces of chainmail and plated armour. Along it were intricate idols and feathers, showing that her role in this little band of thieves was more than just to look good. His thoughts were proven right when she raised her hammer and swung it back.
Ichigo felt another surge of spiritual energy and watched in awe as the wall and part of the roof above her was completely blown apart. Leaving nothing but raining splinters out in front of the Inn. Ichigo couldn't believe it; these people could actually use spiritual energy. He thought that they could only use magic or the arcane.
Ichigo didn't have time to think on this for long; another surge was felt as the Tauren raised her hammer. A bolt of lightning fell from the sky and connected with her hammer, leaving Ichigo to gape as the power this woman was employing. His mouth soon was sealed behind his gritted teeth as the Tauren aimed her hammer at the substitute, the lightning still crackling over the weapons surface.
Ichigo was quick to react, raising Zangetsu up as quickly as he saw her aim the hammer, but even he couldn't be fast enough to actually intercept a lightning bolt. Ichigo barely had time to lift the tip of Zangetsu off the ground before the massive electrical current collided with his chest.
Intense pain accompanied the impact, Ichigo felt every nerve and fibre of his being convulse and burn. This lasted only a moment before everything seemed to simply cease to be, no pain or anything else for that matter seemed to happen. Ichigo felt like everything simply disappeared, leaving only his addled mind to try and figure out what happened.
'What happened?' Ichigo thought, feeling nothing. 'Am I… dying?'
Adelina watched as Ichigo was struck, his body electrocuted by a massive bolt of lightning. Unable to do anything as Ichigo was thrown back with great force, crashing through the building with many thunderous booms. Before the far was collapsed and the room started to buckle, obviously Ichigo had been buries under the many upper floors of the inn.
"Ichigo!" Adelina cried out, as the wall in front of her collapsed, and the roof sagging downwards.
Adelina turned to the attacker, who in turn faced the young druid. Adelina knew exactly what this tauren was. She was a Shaman, a master of the elements, and a powerful one at that. Adelina raised her staff and commanded the roots to rise up and ensnare her foe. She couldn't fight her in a straight up duel of skill, she had to immobilize her and then quickly dispatch her. That was her only chance.
As the vines rose up from the timber frame below the Tauren shaman, who only glanced down to see them snaking around her legs and waist. Adelina continued to concentrate, trying to speed it up so that the Tauren didn't try anything that could stop her from completely the spell. But all the Tauren did was close her eyes and began muttering in a strange language.
Before Adelina could comprehend her words or finish her spell the world in front of her was engulfed in fire. Adelina stumbled back, as the inn was soon ignited with a roaring wall of flames. Adelina looked up to see the fires spreading quickly, already flowing along the roof and burning away the ceramic and wood.
Adelina leaped back as a beam fell down, narrowly avoiding being crushed by the flaming piece of timber. Turning to the bar, she saw the young mother and her son were huddled near the far wall. Trying to reach Jim who was still pinned beneath the debris from the bar wall.
"Go! Get out of here!" Adelina yelled to them, trying to get them to run while they still could.
"Look out!" Lynn called, pointing towards the fiery wall that once was the foyer.
Adelina looked and found the flames parting for a single figure, the Shaman that had called upon it. Who raised her mace and swung it in the young Druid's direction. Adelina watched as the flames obeyed the shaman's commands and shot towards her like a massive flaming serpent. Adelina barely avoided it, jumping away from it as it collided with the ground, exploding outwards and singeing her cape.
Rolling to a knee Adelina raised her palm and quickly sent a beam of moonfire towards the Shaman, who raised her shield and blocked the attack skilfully.
"Go, you need to get out of here!" Adelina called to Lynn, not taking her eyes of the Shaman.
"What about my husband!" Lynn cried out, struggling to even move the wreckage that smothered him an inch.
"I will free him, but you need to go, please for your safety and your sons!" Adelina cried out, sending another blast towards the elementalist, who deflected her spell again.
Lynn reluctantly picked up her son and rushed for the kitchen, hoping that the back exit was not destroyed or blocked. Adelina rose up fully and aimed her staff at the Shaman, but before she could utter a single word or chant she was cast back. A massive gust of force slammed into her, throwing her back, sending her crashing into the far wall with great force.
Adelina fell to the ground and struggled to her feet, using her staff as a cane to lift herself up. As she did Adelina saw the shaman was moving forward, while the flames expanding and consuming the entire room in fire. Adelina stood tall and tried to raise her staff, but struggled to do so without falling over.
The shaman took a step forward and swung her hammer with a chant, and another gust of wind followed through with the attack. Adelina took the attack full force, knocking her back into the wall; it shattered and was blown away along with the druid.
Adelina flew back and collided with a table within the kitchen, rolling to a stop she pushed herself up and flipped onto her back. Letting out a pained gasp and cough as she struggled to take in a breath, she winced slightly as she tried to rise. Before she did she heard the sound of wood shattering above her, looking up she saw the ceiling began to fall in.
Quickly reacting Adelina rolled away as the roof fell towards her, but that didn't save her as the floor started to collapse. Adelina's hand grasped at the nearest object, but it gave her no support everything below her fell into the dark room below. Adelina collided with the hard ground and let out a pain yell, before whimpering slightly as she cracked open her eyes.
Seeing that above her a world of red and orange, fire had spread through the building. Her last sight before consciousness was lost to her was blurring blots falling towards her quickly.
There you have it, hope you enjoyed the chapter.