“This is a good spot,” Twila said.
The chambre in question was to the side of the tunnel. It had a smaller chambre connected to it with a large, circular basin filled with water. The water was clear enough to see the bottom.
“Great,” Velvet said. “I’m super tired after all this hard work.”
“The important thing is that no one can sneak up on us,” Axra said.
“And we can bathe,” Lilly said.
“That will be nice,” Twila said. “This area was probably setup as a shelter. If the family that lived above needed to hide they could come down here. I wonder if it used to have food stores and beds as well.”
“Probably,” Axra said.
“But is the water still good?” Lilly asked. “I mean, I know it looks fine. But how long has it been sitting there?”
“The bath is probably fed by an underground stream,” Twila said. “Although I can cast a purifying spell if that’ll make you feel better.”
“N… No, that’s okay,” Lilly said.
“Why don’t you take a bath first, Axra?” Twila said.
“It’s fine by me,” Axra said. “If you don’t want to go first.”
“No,” Twila said. “I’d like to get my bedroll and everything setup. Plus, I can get the cooking started.”
“Would… would you like me to go too and wash your back?” Lilly asked.
“No thanks,” Axra said. “I can get it myself.”
Twila turned to Velvet and Lilly when she’d gone. “So, tell me about yourselves,” Twila said. “What brought you to the wastes?”
“King Zero told us to get moving,” Velvet said. “It was a hassle, but he’s the boss.” Lilly glared at him.
“You two work for Kings Zero and Axel?” Twila asked.
“Oh… that is to say… yes,” Lilly admitted. “We do.”
“So, why did they send you to the wastes?” Twila asked.
“To find something… precious,” Lilly said. “We have to find it and, you know, bring it back to them safely.”
“So, you’re soldiers?” Twila asked.
“Not exactly,” Lilly said. “I’m more of a tracker. I also help look after the stables. I used to be the princess’s personal attendant, but… well… I’m not anymore.”
“Why?” Twila asked. “Did she get hurt under your care or something?”
“Oh no,” Lilly said. “It was nothing like that. They said that I was… taking advantage of my position. But I never… honestly, I never did anything untoward. I bathed with her a few times… but only as part of my job. I never once did anything… uncouth. You can ask her… f you ever meet her. I mean… if she had asked me… if she wanted me to… I wouldn’t say no… but still I was… I was perfectly professional.”
“I’m sure you were,” Twila said.
“Hey… if it’s not too much trouble… that is to say… you use magic, right?” Lilly asked.
“I do,” Twila said.
“I… I had a scrying gem… but I lost it… If I write a note could you, maybe, use your magic to send it to king Zero?” Lilly inquired. “I hate to ask… but he’ll want a report.”
“Sure,” Twila said. “I can do that for you.”
“Thanks, Twila,” Lilly said. “It’ll really help me.”
Axel examined the area. There had been a village here, once. It had been wiped out three or four decades ago. Some rumour had started about it being cursed and everyone had stayed away since. It was the perfect area for the Hestial League to hide.
He’d started tracking them a few days ago while Zero minded the castle. He wanted to find Axra, but this was to ensure her safety. He found a set of fresh footprints. The league?
He followed them, keeping an eye on the terrain ahead of him. He drew Blutrünstig.
Caution, there’s someone in the shadows to your left!
Axel raised his blade just in time to block the downward scythe stroke.
“You! I should have known you’d be involved with them.”
Axel studied his attacker for a moment. The man was a half elf with a shaven head and a rust red coloured goatee. He had hetero-chromatic eyes, one bright red and one a dull grey. “I remember you,” he muttered. “You were the one who killed Zenas.” Axel smirked. “No wait, that was the little djinn girl. You were one of the little people who got your ass handed to you.”
The man scowled and his scythe almost cleaved into Axel’s flesh. Axel parried the blow and tried to counter with a quick thrust to his opponent’s gut, but the man evaded it with ease. The two fought for roughly ten minutes. Neither one managing to slice into the other. They backed away and circled one another for a moment. The half elf suddenly spasmed, dropping to one knee and coughing up blood.
“Chance!” Axel cried. He lunged at the man, but a shield blocked the blow. A second half elf. This one far younger and with dark blue hair.
“Are you alright, Uncle?” the young man asked.
Axel’s original opponent tried to rise, shakily. “Stay back, Shin. He’s not an ordinary opponent.”
Axel took advantage of the distraction and went after the younger man. It took him a minute, but he managed to send the man’s sword flying away. But his opponent held tightly to his shield and went on the defensive. Axel glanced at his original enemy, the man had almost pulled himself up. He had to finish this, fast.
He leaped into the air and tried to bring his sword down on Shin’s skull, but he was thrown back by some kind of barrier.
“Magic?” Axel asked. “But who?”
It didn’t take him long to find the answer. A dark elf woman was floating up to them. Her arms crossed and a frown on her face. “King Axel,” she spit the words out.”I trust you know that it’s an act of war to attack either my consort or my nephew?”
“Elaine Silverstar,” Axel muttered. He sheathed his blade and forced a smile. “No offense intended, of course. I just wanted to see his skills again. It has been so long, after all.” Axel bowed. “I’ll just take my leave.” He faced them as he walked slowly away. The young man glared at him. Elaine kept an eye on him while helping her lover up.
Zero was sitting in his study when a violet flame burst open on his desk, leaving behind a letter. He examined it.
Your Highness… or should I say Lord… maybe just King
Sorry if I offended you by addressing you wrong, but I thought it was really important for you to know that we found Axra. Don’t worry, she’s perfectly fine. I’m terribly sorry, but she made me destroy the scrying gem, but rest assured, I’ll do everything in my power to keep her safe. And I’m sure Velvet will help too or you wouldn’t have sent him, right? I promise you, she’s in good hands with me, Twila and, I guess, Velvet. I’ll report further as soon as I can.
Best regards… I mean, your faithful servant, Lilly
“Who in Tartarus is Twila?” Zero asked.