A Rise of the Runelords campaign journal that became two books

5. Something about fathers and daughters. And boars.

24th of Rova – Moonday, morning, two days since the attack

forest of Tickwood, two miles outside Sandpoint

Harsk! Pe-channas! I cursed inwardly in Elvish.

The boar lifted its snout from the ground, grunted and looked straight at the stumbling dwarf. So much for stealth, I grumbled, and rose from my concealed position only measly thirty feet away. Downwind, I had a good vantage at the beast and took a quick shot. When my arrow burrowed into the beast’s skin, I was already notching another for the killing shot. The animal cried in pain and blood was pumping out in gouts – I must have hit an artery. But these bastards were quick and hard to kill. It catapulted itself up and towards Harsk from the bush, but not before I had placed my second arrow into its side. It barely noticed me.

I had to admire the half-man’s courage as the boar barreled its way towards him. He dropped his crossbow, drew his trusty longsword and braced himself in anticipation of violence. I was pulling out the third arrow from the quiver when the two hairy beasts collided. Harsk roared in effort as he struggled and blocked the vicious boar’s tusks with his sword.

Out of nowhere, Frank leaped into the melee. The earthbreaker wooshed as it arced over the brute’s head and slammed at the back of the boar. Its bones shattered and it cried again in agony, throwing its head around like it was denying death itself. By Earthfall it was tough, I wondered as I drew quick breath and aimed. At the far side of my vision I saw Aldern Foxglove, our sponsor who had developed quite an infatuation to our lady Ilori, begging her to step back from the fight. Heedless of the jabbering nobleman, she summoned her powers and struck the dying animal with a ray of frost, but was unable to finish it. That it seemed was left to me. Confidently, I let an arrow fly for the third time, and this time it had the decency to fall over and die.

**

We concluded Aldern’s hunting trip with three successful catches, two male boars and one female, all adults. Much to the relief of Ilori, the nobleman left with Harsk for the town before we tracked and killed the third. I was surprised she didn’t show any interest in the man. Sure, he was a doofus, but not totally unattractive and better yet, quite handsomely rich. Many ladies would’ve thrown themselves at his feet to marry into such wealth and position. But not our mysterious, reserved carmine lady, it seemed.

I, Vidarok and Frank tied our prey to our horses and we headed back to Sandpoint. As we arrived, Frank had a brilliant notion of trying to hustle the horses from the old horsemaster, Hosk. I rubbed my eyes in irritation and offered the horsemaster to walk his mounts into the stables with him.

There, something immediately caught my eye. The back wall of the stable was full of goblin ears, some brand new, some half-decayed. I pointed at them questioningly.

“Oh, you noticed my collection”, the horsemaster said, proudly. “Eye for an eye, or ear for an ear in this case”, he grinned and went on: “Those bastards cut my ear, so I’ll make damn sure they lose theirs in return. I pay 5 gold pieces for each pair of goblin ears you bring me.” Frank had overheard the mention of gold and yelled from the stable doors: “I have a dead goblin with me, do you want that?”

Hosk turned around. “I just want the ears, boy”, he stated flatly. Frank pondered this. “But that’s not right, having a goblin without ears.” Ilori tried to offer a solution. “So what? What if you just cut off the ears..”

“.. and knit, I don’t know, pig’s ears to it?” Vidarok added. Frank snorted. “Well that’s just stupid.” As if he had any grounds to call anyone stupid, I thought but didn’t say anything. Instead, I thanked the horsemaster for his services and promised to keep his offer in mind.

**

It was just past noon when we arrived to the Rusty Dragon. Ameiko was preparing the boars in the kitchen as per the receipts of Harsk and Aldern, and the men were exchanging stories and drinking at the tavern counter. Ilori took a seat at the opposite side of the tavern, as far away from Aldern as possible, her back towards the nobleman. As I walked past her, I stopped and crouched over to her ear.

“You know”, I whispered, “there is so much you could benefit from the lust and love of Master Foxglove, if you’d just take advantage of it.” I didn’t wait to hear her reply but continued on to the counter. The sweetling, Bethana, Ameiko’s helper, poured me a water  and I thanked by flashing a smile at her. Blushing incontrollably, she turned around. Poor thing, I thought.

Harsk, a jar of beer in his hand and already well in his cups, informed us that the dinner would not be served for some few hours, so I decided to make use of my time and headed out to the town with the half-orcs. Frank obviously had some excess energy to vent, so he went to the river, most likely to have a swim, engage in some arm wrestling or simply beat some poor soul into pulp. Vidarok, the gentle giant, was looking for the local herbalist and potion maker, since he had found the time to gather some flowers and herbs during our hunt. At that time that still perplexed me. Very, very much later, when those same potions saved my life, I stopped being perplexed and was just happy.

I made my way to the city garrison in search of Sheriff Belor. For the time being, I had dismissed the plan to seek out the trader’s dandy boy – my original reason of arriving to Sandpoint – but my true quest continued. The garrison was a stone tower that had seen better days. I estimated that at best it could maybe  garrison 50 or so men. Its walls had crumbled in places and it was in dire need of some maintenance. I knew the cathedral had been the priority when city gold was distributed and wondered how many lives the money spent on the cathedral would save in future attacks compared to if the money had been spent on the protection of the town. Gods were real, I knew that, but they came to the help of mortals oh so seldom.

A guard stood at the main entrance. I walked to him and asked for the sheriff. The guard, no more than a boy really, shrugged and pointed at the city hall across the street. Apparently Belor was in a meeting with city mayor, Deverin. This suited me better than well, I considered and paced over Main street to the city hall. There, I was stopped by a clerk. Patiently, I expressed my desire to meet with the sheriff and the mayor, but my request was denied. I left a message to them both and walked to the docks instead. I imagined those parts of the town might hide some grains of information regarding my brother, if any.

I found the Fatman’s Feedbag with little effort and entered the shady tavern.  Air of hostility greeted me immediately. Heads turned. The place had a few customers, sitting around, sipping beer and mostly minding their own business. Until I came in, that is. I ignored them all and went straight to the morose barkeep who had behaved coldly last time we were here. I hoped arriving alone would ease his mind.

Severe misjudgement on my behalf.

I had just offered the stiff barkeep some silver for a word or rumour of a recently come and gone, martially trained half-elf like me when I was approached by a very large, fat, armed man with a long, braided hair. Later I came to realize he was the owner of the tavern, but I didn’t reach this conclusion at the time. Thinking of him to be a guard or another patron, I simply offered him the silver as well, for any information, but he sternly and without any hint of kindness told me to bugger off. I wasn’t offended – I knew these places too well to cause trouble – and left. I knew I’d come back. And when I’d come, I wouldn’t leave without answers.

**

I arrived back at the Rusty Dragon, took a seat at the counter and and ordered a glass of red wine from Bethana. Harsk was asleep and snoring, his head on the tavern counter. It seemed he had finally consumed enough beer to pass out. I was just about to take the first sip of the day when an old man stormed into the tavern.

“You fools, low-lives, inbred scum!” The oldtimer yelled, both in Common and in a language I could not understand, pointing his walking cane at Ilori and Vidarok who were talking and just happened to be nearest to the tavern door. I spared a glance at the man, quickly sized him up, found him a mere nuisance and began swirling the wine in the glass. I’d come to realize that really made the wine taste better.

“Listen to me, scumbags!” The old man kept on yelling and made his way to Ilori and Vidarok. I noticed no-one, even the locals or Aldern, paying any attention to the man, even though all were visibly anxious of his abrupt arrival. “Are you happy now, outsiders? You brought blood and sorrow with you! I know it! You’re pretenders, worming your way into the good hearts of people of Sandpoint”, he screamed. Ilori and Vidarok had stopped talking and were trying to disregard the fool. But he wasn’t going to let go.

“Red bitch! Yeah you”, he yelled at Ilori and spat on her feet. She frowned, and looked over her shoulder. “Get the hell out from our little town.” Hearing that, I raised my eyebrow. Aldern, ever so chivalrous and quick to the rescue of his damsel, stayed put and didn’t say a word even though I was certain he had heard the insult at Ilori. What a paladin of true love, I sighed, increasingly irritated at both men.

Suddenly, the liver-spotted man raised his cane and smacked Vidarok right at the back of his head. He could’ve hit stone. Vidarok didn’t even seem to register the hit.  The man kept rambling. “You’re called the saviours of this city, I hear. Ha! What a bunch of softskins, you don’t even stand up to defend yourselves. I bet you pissed your pants when the goblins came and were simply too afraid to run.” To emphasise his insult, he smacked Vidarok again with his cane. The half-orc simply gave out a long sigh.

Fuck this. I couldn’t help myself. I turned over to Frank, who was completely oblivious to the little man and was playing around with his horse chopper. “Hey, Frank”, I yelled. “This man says you’re a soft skin who’s afraid to fight.” As if snapped out of a trance, Frank lifted his head and considered me and what I had said. “What?” He asked, unbelieving.  I rolled my eyes. Hadn’t he been paying any attention?

Emboldened by my regard to his jabbering, the old man paced over to me. I was hunched over the tavern counter, still swirling my glass of wine, as he reached over and tried to grab my hood. He didn’t even have time to blink as I rolled around and grabbed his hand, holding it tight. He groaned in pain. I frowned and stared him in straight in the eye. End of the line.

Ameiko burst into the main hall from the kitchen, yelling profanities at the man in the same language the man had used when he had entered. Glancing at Ameiko and then back at the man, I realized the similarity in their appearances. Oh great.

The man, obviously family to Ameiko, greeted her with gibberish and more yelling. Ameiko responded in kind, but switched to Common and begged me to let him go. Fuck that, I thought, this old timer needed a lesson in common courtesy. I held firmly and pushed aside my cloak, revealing the pommels of my kukri blades, in scabbards tied to my belt. Ameiko realized my intention and ran to us, still pleading me to let the man go. “Stop, he’s my father, let him go, please!” I looked at Ameiko, then at the man, and finally again at Ameiko. I eased my grip slightly yet decided to leave a nasty bruise to his arm, but the man dexterously slipped free before I could exact some vengeance for his general unpleasantness.

He directed his anger towards Ameiko. “Are you harbouring these low-lives, daughter?” Oh, the father. He pointed with his finger, accusingly. Ameiko put her hands on her hips and looked furious. “I’m showing these brave souls the respect they deserve after putting their lives at stake for people they hardly know, father”, she explained, underlining the last word. She went on: “Something you should consider as well, you unthankful old senile!” That was too much for her father. I tried to intercept his blow but my hand grabbed air as he moved surprisingly quickly for a man his age and slapped her in the face with an open palm. This piqued, finally, Frank’s interest as well. The huge brute put the horse chopper down on the counter, rose to his full, considerable height and walked over to us, unnaturally patiently.

I was weighing my options: jaw, neck, throat, belly, groin. So many places to strike the man.

Ameiko looked shocked, holding her cheek, unable to say anything. But her father was not finished. “You little cunt, you’re as dead to me as your mother!” He turned around on his heels, and began to pace at the door.  I was unwilling to let this pass, but a look at Ameiko made me hesitate. A single tear rolled down her cheek, but she didn’t look vengeful, only terribly sad. I pulled my cloak over the kukris, deciding to let her father go. Frank on the other hand was less perceptive and now much, much more angry. He pushed me aside, took a few steps and hammered his fist at the back of the man. I wondered how his geriatric spine didn’t crack as he collapsed to the ground, but instead quickly recovered and simply ran out in terror. Frank, forever true to himself, looked quite happy with his performance and returned to his seat.

“I’m sorry you all”, Ameiko said and dried tears from her eyes. “Thank you”, she said to me. “He’s my father.. and we really don’t get along too well..”, she began to explain. I only shook my head, telling her that she didn’t have to explain his actions or stand for him.

Little did I know that I’d face off with another angry father very soon.

**

Finally the boars were prepared and brought to the main hall. Three boars were quite a bounty and was easily too much for us to share only, so dozens of Sandpointians had been invited to the feast. “Seats of honor for the lady and the nobleman”, Harsk exclaimed, obviously talking about Ilori and Aldern and looked at the boar in front of us in eager anticipation. I pulled out my kukri, took a good hold of the other tusk of the roasted boar and cut it loose. Aldern winced. I shrugged. “A trophy for the kill.”

We took our seats at our table of honor. I took a seat at the corner of the table, with Harsk sitting beside me. Ilori dashed (at least it looked she did) to the seat between us at the other end of the table, forcing Aldern to take the seat at the far end of the table. He didn’t look too happy.

“Master Aldern, please, have my seat next to lady Ilori”, I offered a bit too sweetly and rose. Aldern, totally oblivious to my irony, nodded many times like a bird and looked like he had come in his breeches. I winked at Ilori, quite pleased with my practical joke. She regarded me with a look that could kill. I swear I saw sparks flickering in her big, brown round eyes.

Thanks to Aldern the loud-mouth, everybody heard of our valour during the hunt and he made sure all knew we had provided the boars to the feast. Many toasts followed. Harsk, newly awoken and sobered, seemed pleased to have a reason to down many beers. Aldern kept begging Ilori to join him when he would return to Magnemar the next day. I think he held her hand for the entire afternoon. Watching her squirm was so fun. But it was also admirable how well she evaded his pursuits without insulting him or his pride. She was too gentle with him.

Sun was about to set and we were just about to finish the dinner, when Sheriff Belor entered the Rusty Dragon.

“Friends”, he approached us at our table, “I’m sorry to disturb you but your presence would be required at the city hall. There are some matters of town security which me, mayor Deverin and ranger Andosana would like to discuss with you.” Ilori more or less jumped up, shaking Aldern’s hand off hers and indicated her willingness to leave without a word. I was curious, so I rose as well. “Well of course, we’d be happy. We were already finished”, Harsk agreed, and stood up with Vidarok, excusing Aldern. Frank shrugged and rose too, but not before stuffing his mouth with a handful of boar meat. Only Aldern remained seated, his eyes like a puppy’s as he regarded Ilori. “Please my love, please consider once more.” Ilori shivered.

**

We met Mayor Deverin and Ranger Andosana. Or Shalelu, as she preferred to be called. We exchanged acquaintances. I instantly liked her. She had a courageous, out-spoken, out-going and adventurous spirit. And she had a very fine longbow, which I came to know she had crafted herself.

The town was in dire need of more manpower. It hadn’t recovered from the losses of the goblin attack, and Belor was forced to travel to Magnemar and hire new soldiers. He and Mayor Deverin urged us to help. While Belor and his guard were out of town, our help would consist of simply remaining in the city and demonstrating that its citizens were still protected by our party. Naturally, our help came down to agreeing on a suitable price. I still didn’t care much for the city itself, so my price would’ve been higher, but the others accepted a modest price of five gold coins per party member. We agreed that none of us had any immediate intentions to leave anyhow, so any gold was ultimately acceptable.

**

Shalelu joined us at Rusty Dragon later that night. Frank wanted to show her his “trophy” in his room, which at this point was rotting cadaver of a goblin, which she didn’t know at the time but she nevertheless wisely declined the barbarian’s offer. We drank and exchanged stories of the goblins. She told us of the different greenskin tribes nearby, about her mission and about her past experiences with the creatures. Surprising myself and eager to share some adventures with Shalelu, I offered to join her the next time she’d move against the goblins, which she promised to keep in mind with a smile.

Later that night, Frank finally managed to talk Shalelu into coming with him over to his room. She agreed, and cautiously followed the brute. Harsk bellowed in laughter, and we others had to snigger. It took no more than half a minute for Shalelu to barge back into the main hall. She appeared absolutely disgusted, with Frank in her heels who was looking genuinely a bit surprised. “Did you see Frank’s pet goblin?” I asked Shalelu, still laughing, as she emptied a pint of beer with one go.

**

Next morning, we were breaking our fast when Harsk came up with an idea.

“What if we would press or write copies of leaflets and distribute them across the city with a general request to people to come forward if they knew anything about our mystery half-elf or elf who led the attack to the city?” We nodded. It was a good idea but I had my doubts. We’d probably be drowned in misinformation and empty hearsay in a heartbeat. “I wouldn’t pay for the paper and ink from my own pocket”, I stated. Harsk nodded. “Of course, we’d get the town to pay for it.” More nods. I still wasn’t convinced but shrugged. “Sure, go ahead and ask mayor Deverin. I need some more arrows to replace my lost ones”, I said and rose to leave. As I left, I overheard Harsk agree with Ilori that they’d go and see the mayor.

From the Rusty Dragon I got to the plaza at the corner of Festival and Water street before I heard an all too familiar voice behind me.

“Hey, stranger, still too busy to help out a girl in distress?” came the snarky question. I sighed and turned around. It was the young, if quite attractive girl who had harassed me twice earlier when I had passed this street with the others.

“You had the rat problem, right?” I asked. She smirked, pleased of gaining my attention. I had to smile. She was kind of sweet indeed, now that I really thought of it. I pondered my situation. True, I had lost only six arrows and still had well over fifty with me. If this girl had some bruisers waiting to mug me, I was confident I could handle them. And if she tried a charm or a spell.. well that would just be stupid of her, give my elven immunities. Disregarding  my natural suspicions a bit, I nodded to her. “OK sweetie, I’ll help you out this time.” She almost jumped and grabbing my hand, took me with her. She had a long, reddish or brownish hair that swayed as the morning wind breezed. I liked that.

She led me to a nearby general store. “This is my family’s store. It’s run by my father, but he’s out of town and can’t help me with the rats.” Inside, she pointed at a trapdoor leading below ground to a cellar. “That’s where they are. Please help me, oh stranger!” She fell into my arms, pleading. I frowned just a bit, my suspicions dying hard. “Are you sure it’s rats what you have in there?” I asked sternly, one more time. She couldn’t hold eye contact and looked at her feet. “That’s what I told you”, she explained. She lied, I knew it, but I had come all the way down here and didn’t want to back away now. That would’ve been shameful. Nothing in the city had gotten me off my feet. Until then, that is.

I descended a ladder to the cellar. Assorted wares, containers, tools, books, clothing etc. were neatly organized around me. A single torch lighted the place along with the light shining from the floor above, but it was enough for my elven vision. I could see as well as in daylight. The girl, Shayliss as she had introduced herself, followed me, closed the trapdoor behind her and pointed at the back of the cellar. “That’s where I’ve heard the noises of the rats”, she whispered to my ear. I nodded in affirmative, pushed aside my cloak, a hand at the pommel of my kukri and took a few steps forward. It was completely quiet. I took a few more steps and reached the end of the cellar. Peering at the wares and looking at signs of rats, I noticed there was a simple cot in the corner next to me. I strained to hear anything but the only thing I heard was a robe falling to the stone floor, gently brushing soft skin as it fell a few steps behind me.

Harsk was right, I shook my head slightly and turned slowly around.

She stood in front of me, completely naked, her robe a pile at her feet. Her eyes shimmered in the torch light, and she was smiling mischievously. “I guess you don’t have a rat problem, Shayliss”, I said softly. She kept smiling and shook her head.

Oh my! My heart skipped a beat. There standing in her full glory, she was true beauty indeed. I would’ve been an utter fool to turn her down the third time. I took it all in with my gaze, cherishing the moment, looking down from her face to his round, full breasts, further down to her very feminine hips and mound covered in reddish hair. All this was crowned by a pair of long, lean legs. She had to have elven blood in her, I thought, aroused.

Assured that I wouldn’t back down even if the skies crashed down above us, she took three steps forward, moving with the grace and levity of a feline and tiptoed so she could reach higher (I was still considerably taller than her) before wrapping her arms around my neck. She kissed me softly, and pulled back my hood so she could see my face in full. I was half-expecting her to recoil at the sight my face – granted, I could be considered handsome, with my build, dark eyes and sharp facial features,  but I had a broken nose and a large, ugly scar that ran from my forehead, across my right brow and down vertically to my right cheek, courtesy of an eager gladiator from my past.

But seeing my face, she seemed to get even more aroused and affectionately stroked my scar. I guess she liked the dangerous-looking men. I could live with that. She pulled herself tightly against me and kissed me furiously. My hands went on an exploratory adventure across her back and bottom, caressing her soft skin and tracking her curves. She uttered a moan. Oh yes, end of the line. I pushed her to the cot and began unstrapping my leather armor more eagerly that I’ve would’ve wanted it to appear to her.

**

Despite everything, it felt good to be with a woman again. My first experiences had been during my late years at Horryn’s house, with slave girls and servants. I was barely sixteen, seventeen, and those first ones had been less about passion and emotion and more about performance and having fun, like training to shoot the bow. I had even shared one slave girl with my brother. It had been seven years since I had killed Horryn and ran from his estates. Since then there had been only three women I’d slept with. Or rather, I’d fucked two and slept with one. Loved one.

The last one, the one I had made love to and the one I had loved.. was hard to forget, and painful to remember. Her family had had a keep and some lands in Nirmathas, and I had been paid to teach her two younger brothers how to shoot the bow, track and hunt. Their father, a nobleman – a count – called Godwyn, was too preoccupied with local politics and didn’t have enough skilled underlings to handle their teaching, so my arrival had been a godsend. Or that’s what he had thought at first.

The daughter, Aurora, was eighteen, a petite beauty and still unwed and even unmatched with any of the local young noblemen. I think it was because she had quite the temper when it came to her parents, and didn’t think much of the young suitors around her. But for some reason, she became quite attracted with me the moment she laid her eyes on me. And boy did I become attracted to her. She had dark brown eyes and brown hair, such confidence and so much lust for life. She was perfect.

Our secret romance was doomed from the start, a game of cat and mouse that lasted a good six months. Still, we enjoyed what we could, heedless of the dangers. It was a passionate race against the inevitable, and one night Godwyn’s personal servant surprised us in the middle of the act. Heartbroken, I had to leave her and flee else be imprisoned and or have my head chopped off by the enraged father. It had killed me to leave her – I don’t think I could ever love so strongly again. The feelings I had for her rivalled my pursuit of finding my brother, and she was the only thing that ever had come even close to ending my search.  My consequent exodus from Nirmanthas took me all the way to Korvosa through the Mindspin Mountains.

Shayliss’ fingernails burrowing into my skin on my back and drawing blood brought me back to reality and present time. Under me, her legs around my hips, she moaned my name. I responded in the only way I knew – I thrusted myself even deeper and harder into her, and I was awarded with more audible moans of pleasure. Her hands travelled across my back, her fingers following the scars left by countless whiplashes. Passionately I kissed her neck and lips, pushing myself against her as close as I could get and finally climaxed. I let go for just a second, lowering my armor of suspicion, vigilance and alertness for only a fleeting moment. After I had stopped trembling, she just held me close, kissed my forehead and brushed my jet-black hair tenderly.

**

But her appetite wasn’t sated. Soon after she was riding me, rubbing and grinding herself against me, her hands on my chest and abdomen. I heard something from upstairs, voices of people, but couldn’t care less. She neither heard or didn’t give a damn either. My hands were on her voluptuous hips, controlling her motion, urging her to go faster. She threw her head back, revealing her sweaty face in full and looked me straight in the eyes. My head was swimming and I was about to climax again. She had such long beautiful hair, the full lips, those big, brown round eyes and for a moment I saw a blazing fire within them and..

Ilori?

I blinked rapidly and the vision was gone. But something else was wrong.

“SHAYLISS? WHAT IN THE DEVIL’S NAME IS GOING ON!” The girl jumped off me like a rabbit in terror and hid behind me. I sprang up to a sitting position and looked at the person who was yelling at us. Why does this always happen to me, I cursed my luck.

At the feet of the cellar ladder, a burly, fat, middle-aged man pointed at me like he was about to cast a spell of death. He was furious. Almost like Frank during his moments of battle rage. I stood up and I quickly sized him up – he was unarmed and posed no threat to me. Of course, me standing there butt naked, sweaty and with my cock pointing straight at him, I too probably didn’t seem to pose a threat to anyone.

“Now hold on”, I started, rising my hands in front of me. Genius. The man started towards me. “Oh father”, Shayliss muttered behind me, sobbing and covering under a blanket. Yeah, I realized that much, I thought to myself.  “Who the fuck are you, being here with my daughter?” He screamed and spit and froth flew all over. I really had an issue with fathers. “She’s under age, you bastard!” My mouth fell agape and I glanced back at Shayliss, as if to check whether she really was or wasn’t. Even beneath the blanket, her womanly figure was undeniable though. “Hey, that’s not true and you know it”, I tried to reason with the man. Double genius. “As long as she lives in my house, she’s underage, you twat!” He tried to hit me, but I easily blocked his hook with a sharp strike on my own to his arm. He groaned and stepped a good three feet back, holding his hurting arm. I decided to make the best of the opportunity and drew my breeches on.  I felt less threatened immediately.

A familiar voice came from the trapdoor. I could see the tip of Harsk’s beard as he leaned to see what was happening beneath. “What’s going on in there”, he asked, calling the man.

I took the initiative. “Greetings Harsk. I’m just coming up. Wait there.” The father looked stunned. “What?! You’re with him”, he roared turning towards the direction of Harsk at the top of the ladder beyond. Thank you Iomedae, I praised Harsk’s god for his follower’s intervention as I pulled on my clothes while the father was distracted. I had everything but my armor on me the moment the father, still enraged and veins bulging in his neck and forehead, turned back to me. “Bastard, we’ll talk with the sheriff about this crime!” With the sheriff? I thought to myself, contently. Belor Hemlock is away and I’m the sheriff here, old man. I remained silent, but couldn’t help myself as I turned to Shayliss just one more time and stroked her hair and cheek gently. If the man could’ve imploded from fury, he would’ve just right there. I just walked past him, my armor under my armpit, and climbed the ladder up nimbly. At the ground floor, I was greeted by the surprised looks of Harsk and Ilori. I was followed by profanities and stingy demands for us all to get the hell out and to never return. We promptly exited.

“Well, I guess we won’t get the paper from Master Vinder.. What was that all about”, Harsk asked, but I think he knew already, given his wide smirk.

“It was something about fathers and daughters”, I sighed, gazing at Ilori, who still looked puzzled.

“By the way, you are bleeding, Alpharius”, Harsk noted and pointed at my back as Bethana came running towards us.

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