Serena followed Inés and Sylvie to the Armoury. A pair of priestess initiates ran up to them on the way.
“Julia, Flora,” Inés greeted.
“You’ll be back soon, won’t you?”Julia asked.
“You won’t forget us when you become a full-fledged priestess, right?” Flora added.
Inés pulled the two of them close. “Don’t worry, my Lovelies. I never take a woman to bed lightly. I’ll be here for both of you as long as you’ll have me.” She kissed each of them in turn. “When I get back I’ll make sure to see both of you.”
“I’ll prepare a wonderful present to celebrate your graduation!” Flora declared.
“And I’ll bake you something delicious,” Julia added.
“I’ll look forward to it,” Inés said. The two ran off, casting glances back at her.
“Have you no shame?” Sylvie asked. “And right in front of your latest conquest too.”
“Hey, none of the women I take to bed are ‘conquests,'” Inés stated. “They’re all my precious lovers who I treasure very much.”
“I… I really don’t mind,” Serena added. “Inés mentioned that I wasn’t her only lover when we got to my room. So… so this isn’t unexpected.”
The three reached the Armoury and got into the shining white armour with golden trim and the emblem of an owl boldly emblazoned across the chest.
Next, they needed weapons. There was a wide assortment, some of which Serena had never seen before. Sylvie selected a rapier. Inés immediately grabbed a battle staff.
“Leave it to the lecherous Mermaid to grab the most inelegant weapon possible,” Sylvie stated.
“And what exactly is elegant about stabbing people?” Inés asked.
“A brute like you wouldn’t understand,” Sylvie stated. “After all, you’re only good at smashing things.”
Serena picked up one of the strange looking weapons.
“Oh, you wanna use the kama?” Inés asked.
Serena put it down. “No, I was just looking.”
“You’ll train with all of these eventually,” Inés stated. “So, for the moment, just pick one that looks good to you.”
“Then…” Serena looked over the selection, trying to find the weapon that really stood out. “How about these?”
“The tonfa?” Sylvie asked. “I suppose they’ll do.”
“They’re good weapons,” Inés said, patting Serena’s head. “They suit you.”
The three grabbed their bags and headed out of the temple, on the road to Drahaven.
Serena waited for Sylvie to get ahead and pulled on Inés’ arm. “Will we be all right with this group?”
“We’ll be just fine,” Sylvie answered, having overheard. “I can teach you how to be a proper priestess. The Mermaid there may be an incorrigible womaniser, but she’s also very strong. She can protect you.”
“Hey!” Inés cried. “Just because I have a few lovers that doesn’t make me a ‘womaniser.'”
“You call nine a few?” Sylvie asked.
“I’m up to eleven, actually,” Inés stated. “And yes. That’s really not all that many.”
“I hate to interrupt,” Serena said. “But why do you keep calling Inés a mermaid?”
“She does it because I have gills,” Inés answered. She pulled the top of her tunic down slightly to give Serena a good look at her neck. Sure enough, there were tiny gills, barely covered by folds of skin.
“I know,” Inés said, letting the cloth return to its former location “it looks gross.”
“Not at all!” Serena declared. “It’s just… I thought that the merpeople couldn’t have children with humans.”
“They can’t,” Inés confirmed, pointedly looking at Sylvie. “They’re just a birth defect is all.” She grinned. “Frankly, I find it rather inelegant to make fun of them.”
“What you find elegant doesn’t really matter,” Sylvie stated. “A philandering brute has no right to judge elegance.”
“If I see one I’ll let him know where he stands as far as you’re concerned,” Inés stated.
“Will you two just stop?” Serena entreated. “We’re going to be travelling together for a while. If you two fight the whole way it’s going to be a miserable trip for all of us.”
Inés and Sylvie glared at each other for a moment. “She’s right,” Inés said.
“I know,” Sylvie sighed. “In the interest of making this journey more bearable, I will ignore your lecherous, brutish tendencies.”
“And I’ll ignore your prudish and condescending attitude,” Inés said.
“We have a truce then,” Sylvie stated. She turned to Serena. “Tomorrow night we should reach Ghiana, a rather quaint village. Mostly human, if memory serves. We can try to get some horses there. For tonight, we’ll have to set up camp.”
“Is there a reason we weren’t given horses to start with?” Serena wondered.
“I asked that very question on my initial trip,” Inés said. “What I got for an answer was that every priestess needs to be largely self sufficient and be able to acquire most of what she needs on the road.”
“The answer I got was a bit different,” Sylvie mused. “I was told that it was because every priestess needs to decide what she needs for any given pilgrimage.”
“I bet it’s one of those old traditions that no one really knows the reason behind,” Inés said.
“Do not say that!” Sylvie exclaimed. “When we get back, we’ll ask Miss Geneve to clarify it. You shouldn’t assume that there isn’t a good reason.”
The three had a peaceful walk, eventually stopping for the night, setting up camp. Inés gathered branches for a fire while Sylvie went to hunt something for supper. She eventually returned with a couple rabbits.
The three ate in relative silence.
“I’m going to bed,” Sylvie said. “You can take the first watch.”
“Fine by me,” Inés agreed. She smiled at Serena. “Did you wanna sleep right away?”
“I’m not all that tired yet,” Serena said. “I could stay up a bit longer.”
“You say that like you have something lewd in mind,” Inés said, moving close to her. “Perhaps you could tell me.”
Serena gulped and found herself staring at Inés’ chest. Inés carefully took her spectacles and kissed her. Serena focused on Inés and let herself be carried away.
“Can you two keep it down?” Sylvie eventually asked. “I’m right here, you know!”
“I’m sorreeeee,” Serena’s apology was broken midway by a moan that she hadn’t meant to make.
“Use something to plug your ears,” Inés said, her voice quivering slightly.
“Why should I have to?” Sylvie muttered. She sighed. Keeping her end of the truce was going to be difficult.