The Roses of Deathby MogMaster
Chapter 9The morning passed in relative silence, occasionally broken by the off cough or involuntary grunt. As the day began to creep on, the pair was back on their feet still heading east towards the town on the horizon. It was much larger now and clearly distinguishable from anything else in their path. By evening they had reached the gates as the sun was crawling down their backs, casting long shadows. Siegfried had resumed his usual foreboding attire, mask and all, and as they entered the town, the lazy looking portly guard did little to bar their way or ask questions. For the first time that day, Terra spoke,
"So where exactly are we staying?"
Siegfried hummed and hawed for a moment within himself before locating the only inn in the town. It was a ramshackle building, and Siegfried was glad it wasn't raining, as he was fairly certain the roof leaked. As they approached the large oak door, they read the sign hanging above it which read, The Three Fish Inn.
Siegfried wondered where the Inn came by its name briefly, before deciding he truly didn't care. The atmosphere of the place was very warm and inviting. As the door creaked open on rusty hinges, their senses were assailed by the sound of a record playing some ragtime music rather softly, the scent of cooking onion soup, and the dark smoky atmosphere of the nearly empty common room.
A skinny sallow man approached them in a dingy apron, who they both assumed was the innkeeper.
"Are ya here to drink, or is ya here to sleep?"
He said in raspy, somewhat irritating voice.
Siegfried moved to reply, but found himself cut off.
"Sleep, and eat if you're offering," Terra interjected politely.
The man rubbed his dirty hands together, revealing a set of filthy looking yellow finger nails topping muddy looking hands. Siegfried hoped he wouldn't be doing the cooking.
"Aye that we are. Onion Soup and Duck or you'll get nothing I'm afraid. Times are tough for a little in a littler town. Trade Routes and shipping have all but alleviated..."
Siegfried suddenly placed his hand in front of the raspy mans face.
"I didn't want a history lesson, I wanted a bed and some food."
With that he tossed two large golden coins into the air in front of the innkeeper, who quickly snatched them and inspected them closely, as if expecting counterfeit.
"Genuine one hundred gil pieces, eh? That'll do, that'll do. One room or two then?"
Terra and Siegfried said simultaneously; her saying one, and him two. He gazed curiously at her for a moment, which caused her to blush and turn away. The innkeeper looked slightly amused at the awkward situation; however Siegfried's glare quickly humbled his smirk.
"Two it is," he said cautious and deliberately.
"Okay then, sir. First two on the left at the top of the stairs."
Flicking another fifty gil piece into the mans filthy hands, Siegfried added,
"You can bring our meals to our rooms. I take my meal with wine. The sour red variety if you have any," Siegfried made for the stairs, but stopped at the bottom. He turned around and looked at a slightly abashed Terra next to the innkeeper. Tossing another fifty into the grimy mans hands he added, "Give her what she wants. Oh and while you're at it, see if you can't get her some clothes that fit. Baths would be nice too."
The innkeeper thought for a moment before saying rather slowly, "We have baths of a fashion around back. Ancient city style though. It's public."
Siegfried plainly replied in an acidic mocking tone, "You'll find two tubs. I'm certain you can manage it, a fine fellow such as yourself, yes?"
The sallow man just nodded dumbly. He had clearly sensed it wouldn't be a good idea to play games with this large man.
A short time later found two people quite different. They were both bathed, and clean, and one of them was wearing new clothes that seemed to fit more than tattered rags. They had also both eaten a plain but filling meal of Onion Soup and Duck. Granted it wasn't a Vectorian Banquet; it was just as good given the amount of time they had spent outdoors the past two weeks.
When she entered his room, Siegfried was looking out the window, which roughly pointed southward, and mumbling to himself. He, of course, had sensed her presence, however he had not deigned to respond until she was halfway through the room. Briskly, he turned and faced her.
"Yes?" he said somewhat sharply
By now Terra was in completely new clothes. The town itself didn't have a clothing shop, so mostly it was bits and pieces of things they could find. She had a blouse on which was slightly smaller than her, and thus was only able to lace up halfway, revealing more than she might have perhaps liked. The shirt itself, aside from its size, was cotton in make, and had flared cuffs around hands laced with a flower pattern. Other than that it was white in appearance. Her new pants were black wool, simple and effective. Evidently, she had opted to keep the now tattered cloak Siegfried had given her on that day that seemed like an eternity ago. Of course there was also the pendant. For the first time since the ship, he also noticed her hair wasn't a tangle, but clean, and brushed to perfection.
Although he felt a stirring within himself, he quickly suppressed it as she began to speak.
"Well, what are we going to do now?" she asked plainly, in a small voice.
Knowing full well he couldn't very well leave her at this point, he sighed and said,
"I need to return home. I come from the south; near Albrook. Well, within a hundred or so miles anyhow. I have amends to make... as well as things to see," he grunted and sat down on a large cushy armchair next to a small table which had a large jug of cheap wine on top of it. Putting his feet on the windowsill, he continued, "I daresay you'll be coming. However after I'm done I can probably take you to Albrook. One of your light warrior pals can get a carrier pigeon from there and pick you up. Easy as sin, no?"
Terra nodded, however she continued to alternately stare at him and glance at her feet.
"What does she want from me?" he thought to himself.
Just as he was going to ask her to leave him be, she continued,
"We're going south? That means we're going to beeline directly over..." her voiced lowered to less than a whisper, "the tower?"
Suddenly he was aware of her problem.
"Yes, the ruins of the tower."
A few more moments of awkward silence passed, where they both tried desperately to find something to say. Like a sudden thunderstorm, She was crying again, and once again Siegfried found himself mask-less holding her in his arms; only this time it was on a large chair. As she sobbed into his chest, all he could pull from his new assortment of thoughts was:
"Her hair is really beautiful."
The following morning he woke up to find himself embracing her to his broad chest, listening to her deep breathing as she slept in his lap, giving Siegfried the feeling that he was holding a rather large kitten.
Silently, he cursed himself for paying for two rooms.