Her bed was comfy and warm, a pillow of opulence that wished to only please whoever inhabited it. The mattress was of the highest quality and stuffed with the down of a Snowberian Apeckalypse. Jasmin had to import the mattress at an obscene cost to have it shipped to her quiet home in Bloomingdale but it had been worth it, every night had been blissfully restful since the purchase and every morning she woke up well rested to the morning sun peeking through her second story window.
Except this morning.
This morning Jasmin woke up to an explosive shake as her home seemingly attempted to remove itself from the ground it was seated in. She sat up with a start and glanced around in confusion, dust was falling from the rafters and near every piece of delicately placed furniture in the room had moved at least a yard from its original position. Jasmin hesitantly slid out from her sheets. Her incredibly comfy sheets woven from Betterfly silk and imported from Angel Falls - BAM!
This time Jasmin was tossed from her bed as her home lurched again, she moved quickly to avoid an armoire intent on crushing her and stumbled downstairs to escape an increasingly hostile bedroom. In a flurry the young chestnut haired woman threw on her Fur Poncho; it too, as you might have guessed was imported. She kicked open her own door and saw a terrible sight, Slimes... the usually harmless gelatinous denizens of the wilderness close to towns were EVERYWHERE. The town was in ruins, dazed inhabitants glanced around in the early morning light, as equally confused as Jasmin. Craters pockmarked the streets and the outer walls of many stone buildings had been dented, some still had Slime's quivering in the recess trying to free themselves. Most of the creatures were unconscious or dead and the ones that weren't were trying desperately to escape the villagers that seemed to be placing blame on the little beasts.
A whistling noise was followed by a gurgling high-pitched scream and another BANG as the road erupted from another impact. Jasmin tied her hair back into a bun and ran to assess the damage, there hadn't been a monster attack in generations near Bloomingdale and the Slimes didn't seem too happy about the circumstances either. Her suspicions were confirmed when the dust settled and she spotted an unconscious Slime laying before her... the source of the impact.
"Jasmin! Thank the Goddess you're here!" rang an irritating male voice from behind her. She winced and for a moment wondered if it would go away if it was left unanswered. "Jasmin!"
Nope. Fake smile time. Almost instantly Jasmin's tired and confused face changed to one that was bright and cheerful, just in time for a panicked lad to stick his dirty face into it gasping for breath. "Good morning Gregory," she cooed... hating herself a little bit more than usual.
Gregory took a moment to gasp a few more times while Jasmin stood there smiling pleasantly. "Jaaaaaaaaaaaaasmin- the town is under attack!"
"Attack?" queried Jasmin tilting her head to one side.
"Yes an attack! We're under attack by Slimes!"
Jasmin roughly grabbed him by his lips making him shriek in pain as she roughly pulled his face into the crater to examine the Slime that was still attempting to coalesce into a singular blob. "Does this look like an attacker Gregory?"
The silence preceding it was as painful to her ears as the answer. "Yes?"
Keep it together, don't kill him, keep that pretty face on."No Gregory this Slime is not an attacker, he was attackED" explained Jasmin curtly. "Look at the buildings, the Slimes have only hit the eastern sides... something or someone is sending them here. Violently." As she explained she continued to keep a painful hold on his lips so as to point his gaze wherever she desired it to be directed. "You tell Bloomingdale that their insurance is on the job!"
Once Jasmin was a good distance away from town she let her guard down and collapsed into a bed of flowers on the side of the road, this was such a nice home too... The sound of another Slime screaming in terror overhead brought her to her feet again as she began to force herself in an eastern direction, it was time to leave Bloomingdale- she was not actually a skilled Mage like she had convinced the town she was... not the Mage that had been receiving funds from the locals for continued protection. Most certainly not a Mage cut out to deal with whatever nightmare was throwing monsters around like artillery.
There was always a problem with these escape situations though... Dourbridge was the closest "town" in the region and to reach it she would have to first travel east to the Bridge leading out of the beautiful fields of flowers which Bloomingdale was so aptly named for. The same direction that the Slime missiles were originating from. She'd have to move quietly and keep her head down in the flowers to avoid attracting the attention of the fiend in the field.
Oh that's good! "Fiend in the Field", a new fabrication to mesmerize new potential "clients" with. Jasmin was busy working out the details of her tale when she suddenly found herself crashing forward into the ground. Whining in frustration Jasmin rolled over to see what she had tripped over and saw the torso of a traveller lying under her legs. Terror at the body subsided as it moved and the owner of the torso sat up un-obscuring the rest of his features. Holy crap what a weirdo. He's pale as a sheet, his body has no definition, his fashion sense is non-existent; is he seriously traveling in old sweats? What is up with that hair? A teal mohawk? That's a terrible color plus he lacks the style and intimidation to make a mohawk look at all cool or sexy and those eyes... OH GOD THOSE EYES. Is he human?! They're huge and tired and downcast and all pupil and way too big for his face...
Harsh internal criticisms continued to race through Jamin's mind as the traveller stood up and bowed to her politely before turning around and heading in the direction Jasmin had come from. Once her faculties had finished processing the odd looking man Jasmin sat up to get one last look at him as he passed through the field of flowers... and suddenly punted a Slime with enough force that every flower around him shed its petals in an explosion of color. Jasmin's jaw dropped in realization, she slowly turned around to look east once more... a road of petal-less flowers marked the stranger's trail, beads of Slime goo glistening in the rising morning sun.
She wasn't sure what made her do it, maybe it was the absurdity of the situation making her react in a similarly absurd manner but Jasmin found herself suddenly chasing after the stranger. "Wait! Stop! Where do you think you are going?!" she shouted at him, tripping over the uneven ground as she tried to catch up. The stranger stopped and turned to watch her gain on him with his unsettling empty stare.
Gasping for breath Jasmin suddenly found herself behaving as a different person in front of him, "do you have any idea what damage you've done?!"
The stranger pointed at the destroyed flowers he had passed through and cocked his head could feel her face turning red in anger, "not the flowers you idiot! Those slimes you've been beating up! Where did you think they landed?!" Again he made no show of emotion, he simply used his finger to trace the arc that a slime might have travelled following one of his powerful kicks, his finger then rested pointing to Bloomingdale in the distance.
"THERE ARE PEOPLE LIVING THERE YOU PSYCHOPATH!"
Her words were deafening, there was a horrible silence that followed them and for a brief moment in time Jasmin felt something. A spark inside her had erupted, what was it? Anger? Sadness? Those were usually only masks that she wore to play in her role as a town Mage. Before she could question it any further a blast of air knocked her to the ground and a storm of petals erupted from the flowers. The stranger had disappeared, but the flowers showed his trail... straight towards Bloomingdale.
So much running in one day couldn't be good for this poor girl but she found herself fighting through her exhaustion... all to ensure the safety of the people she didn't care for. When Jasmin reached the gates her terror lifted and was replaced with amazement. The stranger was dashing about helping with repairs, but dashing couldn't describe his movements. He showed no signs of exertion as he went from point to point rapidly repairing craters in the road and the holes that he had placed in the sides of the buildings. A familiar panicked voice broke her admiration of the spectacle.
"Jasmin! Are you ok? Who is this guy?! He showed up just a few minutes ago and he's repaired half the town!" whimpered Gregory as he stood shaking behind her. He was properly dressed now in the smock of the Priesthood, ugly bowl cut hair covering up what Jasmin could only assume was a massive forehead.
Oh crap, what do I tell them? The plan wasn't to come back. Why the hell did I come back?! Who is this weirdo, why did I come back, and why does Gregory have to breathe like that?! She could feel a major headache coming on but needed to offer some explanation.
"He's the culprit! He's a powerful warrior from Gleeba who was planning on destroying the village!" she shouted suddenly. This is the worst possible story... but it had the towns folk's attention. This better work, "I defeated him in combat and made him apologize and promise to repair all the damage he's done!"
Applause. How dim can you get?
Without warning however, the stranger was suddenly at her side staring into her lie with those hollow eyes of his. He was still free of expression, his face impressively plain even after repairing an entire town in mere minutes and apparently overhearing this whopper lie. Jasmin's mind was fast though and she grabbed his wrist without hesitation, "this reformed menace and I have business to discuss regarding his return to a peaceful life! I will be at home, please do not disturb us!"
For a brief moment Jasmin didn't think he was going to allow her to pull him along, she knew full well that this person wasn't going to move in any direction he didn't please, but he matched her stride for reasons she didn't bother trying to understand. Fortunately Jasmin's home was closeby and she wasted no time in throwing the stranger inside and locking the door behind them as the town looked on in confusion. Breathing a sigh of relief she examined him, he was staring at her hand still gripping his wrist. It was warm, she could almost feel a pleasantness crawling out of his skin and into her hand, climbing into her veins and swimming up her arms.
With a start she let go and glowered at him, he gave her no response and instead only continued to stare at his wrist. "Who are you?" whispered Jasmin, finding herself more curious than she wanted.
A blank stare was again his only response.
Jasmin sighed and frowned, it had been such a hectic morning and she hadn't even had the chance to bathe. Oh Goddess I must smell horrid. "Listen... guy. Your nonsense today has really messed up any kind of schedule I was going to keep! I was going to go shopping and..."
He was staring at her still, but something was different. His eyes seemed less empty, like he was listening for the first time.
"Nevermind, it was just shopping. I'm going to go clean up, help yourself to something to eat" Jasmin grumbled as she stumbled upstairs. Her only goal now was to clean up.
The bathtub, oh the bathtub... this was certainly the prize of Jasmin's collection. She hummed cheerfully as she filled the tub with water. It was a ceramic piece, and hugely expensive; Bloomingdale had been good to her and she'd been able to spend many years here without her cover being blown. While it was true that she was a Mage she wasn't really as powerful as she'd lead everyone to believe. Jasmin had no formal training and after finally mastering Mera, a simple fire spell, she'd wanted to leap forward in her studies and was met with only disaster when she was finally able to cast a second spell. Suffice to say, "irreparable damages" was used to describe the event.
But the tub... not many people would guess what it was made from, and many might not wish to know. The material used in the ceramic was none other than Metal Slime ooze. Metal Slimes were incredibly rare and their bodies, while still gelatinous hardened to a natural steel at the slightest hint of danger. To make a single tub required nearly a year for private hunters to gather enough "material", and a further year for the heating process to turn it to ceramics. As Jasmin added some bath salts she slid her fingers into the water and whispered quietly, "Mera", the water instantly heated up and steam began to fill her bathroom. As she slid into the water, she felt like she had truly earned some relaxation.
Her dreams came swiftly this time, usually they were such trivial things but this time Jasmin was overcome with dread. Even weak magic users like herself had a degree of lucidity in the unconscious world and most simply used it as time to play or study while the physical body could not bring herself to will any control over her surroundings now though. It was dark, she was rushing through a battle-scarred hallway of stone, claws were raking the ground behind her in a scramble to catch up. She was not alone in her sprint though, some other figures were at her side but they were shadowy and out of focus... the one to her right seemed to be shouting something. What was he saying?
The world suddenly spun as Jasmin felt an impact from behind. She hit the floor hard and before she could get up a white pain burst through her skin as something sharp opened up her back. She could no longer move, or cry for help... throaty gasps only escaped her mouth as she swung her arms around desperately in a primal attempt to get away. Though her vision had blurred from pain she could see a new figure now, the feet of one anyways. It was sharp, and in contrast to the shadows of this gloomy haunt this figure was blinding and full of radiance. Jasmin's pain subsided and she shut her eyes against the brilliance.
She could feel herself being lifted now, a cool breath on her face. "I've got you Jas" murmured a deep voice before her dream melted away.
Jasmin jolted awake, she had made it to her bed at some point but had apparently forgotten to towel off first. The sheets were damp and smelled of her bathing salts, the mattress was almost certainly ruined as well. Strangely enough these problems didn't bother her, the young mage had never suffered a nightmare like that one and the relief of wakefulness swallowed up any material regrets she felt she should have. It was only after she pulled herself out of bed and wrapped her sheets around her did she notice the stranger standing in front of her bedroom window, staring outside with his empty eyes. Ever motionless.
Like some kind of guardian statue.