Sylvie woke up early and found, much to her surprise, the other sleeping rolls, placed together to form one large roll, already empty. Odd, Inés was never awake before her.
She went looking for the two of them. They weren’t far from where they’d made camp for the night. Inés had her staff out and Serena had her tonfa. Serena’s spectacles had been set to the side.
“Try again,” Inés said. “Remember, you want to strike quickly and aim for vulnerable spots. Remember to move your hips with the strike and use the strength in your wrists with it.”
“Right,” Serena said. She moved back and lunged for Inés. Inés easily blocked the first tonfa with her staff. The second moved up in an uppercut motion and hit her right in the gut.
“I’m sorry,” Serena said, dropping the tonfa and moving to hug Inés. “I’m really sorry. I thought you’d dodge it.”
“It’s fine,” Inés gasped. “That was a good hit. If you’d hit Sylvie like that she’d be on the ground holding her stomach and writhing.”
“I would have remembered that she has two tonfa,” Sylvie declared. The two other women looked back at her, startled.
“When did you get up?” Inés asked.
“In time to see you get careless,” Sylvie answered. “I see you’ve taken it upon yourself to train our rookie.”
“Well, yeah,” Inés said. “She’s gotta learn to hold her own, right?”
“True enough,” Sylvie said. “But during this journey, we are her protectors. Don’t forget that.”
“I never did,” Inés stated.
Serena moved to retrieve her spectacles. “Please don’t be mad,” she pleaded. “I asked Inés to teach me to fight. I… I want to be useful to you two. So…”
“Hold on,” Sylvie said. “I never said I was opposed to it. Just promise me that you’ll stay back during an actual battle unless we explicitly ask you to get involved, okay?”
“Or someone gets past us and you have to defend yourself,” Inés added.
“I promise,” Serena said.
“Very well then,” Sylvie said. “Come along, we should have a quick breakfast and be on our way.”
They reached Mocoza late in the evening. The city was gated, with guards posted and travellers coming in and out on either side.
The trio was approached by a young, freckled guard. “State your names and business,” he said.
“Sylvie Fortunio,” Sylvie answered. “My companions are Serena Rabelle & Inés. We’re warrior priestesses on a pilgrimage.”
“Very well,” he said. “Move along and may your journey go well.”
“Thank you,” Sylvie said.
The three rode into the city. The first place they went was a stable to get their horses taken care of.
“I’ll head to the temple district and get the Ghiana report sent,” Sylvie said. “I’ll trust you two to get us two rooms at an Inn. Oh, and make sure your room isn’t right next to mine.”
“What if all they have are two rooms next to each other?” Inés asked.
“Then make sure the Inn has thick walls,” Sylvie said.
“Are we really that loud?” Serena asked.
“No, Sylvie is just grouchy,” Inés said.
“I am not grouchy,” Sylvie protested. “You two just don’t realise how loud you are. Just make sure the inn has thick walls and that my room isn’t right next to yours, okay?”
“Now you want both?” Serena asked.
“Will do,” Inés agreed.
Sylvie nodded and headed off on her own.
“Will she be all right by herself?” Serena wondered.
Inés put an arm around her. “Don’t worry about Sylvie. he can look after herself. Besides, Mocoza is a pretty safe city. We probably won’t get attacked.”
“Probably?” Serena asked.
Inés shrugged. “Anything is possible. There are criminals in this city, like any other. Most criminals don’t wanna go after priestesses, though. Especially not the types of priestesses who carry weapons and wear armour. They’ll probably look for more vulnerable targets.”
The two hurried down the street and quickly came across a cluster of a half dozen inns.
Inés picked a rather modest looking one and they went inside.
The proprietor was an elf with greying chestnut coloured hair.
“Priestesses,” he bowed. “welcome to my humble inn. Please, come in. Will you be needing one or two rooms?”
“Two, please,” Inés said. “The two of us will share but we have a companion coming later who would prefer her own room. Away from ours, if you could.” She reached for her pouch.
“No, no,” the proprietor said. “I couldn’t possibly take payment from women of Athena.” He handed them two keys. “For you two, I have room 12, it’s a double. For your companion, room 3. Please, stay as long as you please.” He bowed again.
“Don’t worry, we’ll head out in the morning,” Inés said. “Thank you for your generosity. I’ll ask for Athena’s blessing on your establishment.”
“I am gratified,” he said, bowing yet again.
“Ethan,” a dwarf burst inside, his white beard dragging against the ground.
“Francis, is something wrong?” Ethan asked.
“There’s a beast in the lake!” Francis declared. “It very nearly wrecked my ship. We need strong travellers. Need to put up posters offering a reward for its head!”
“Calm down,” Inés said. The dwarf looked up at her as though noticing her for the first time. “Tell me about this beast.”