The three priestesses followed the path with Inés and Serena keeping an eye on Sylvie from the air. After all, a pegasus, even an injured one like Demure, would make a tempting target for bandits.
They stopped on several occasions to allow Blitz & Dusk to rest their wings and drink. It was starting to get late in the day.
“What now?” Serena asked. “Do we find an Inn?”
“Probably not the best idea,” Sylvie said.
“Not unless we know we can trust the innkeeper at any rate,” Inés added. “It would be way too easy for them to nab our pegasi while we’re sleeping.”
“Oh, I see,” Serena said. “I didn’t know that pegasi were so rare.”
“Super rare,” Inés said. “At least when it comes to tame ones.”
“We can make camp here, Sylvie suggested, looking around. “It’s within easy distance of the road but out of sight enough that no one will notice we’re travelling with pegasi unless they move in close.”
“Fine by me,” Inés said. “Serena?”
“Yeah, it works for me,” Serena said.
They began unpacking their few possessions for camp when a cloaked figure approached them from the road.
“An odd place for a camp,” he muttered, his voice low and guttural. “And with daylight yet. I don’t mean to pry, but there is an Inn shortly ahead. You could make it just before nightfall.”
Serena studied the man. His face was hidden under a hood, but he was massive. Nearly two hundred centimetres tall with a broad, muscular frame.
“I’m afraid we have no money,” Sylvie said, not really having to lie since they only a small amount. Certainly not enough for rooms.
He scratched his chin. His hands were covered with coarse, pure white fur and ended with long, sharp claws. “Is that so? Odd that three ladies travelling on pegasi would have no money.” Sylvie tensed up. “But you are priestesses of Athena, I recognise,” he continued. “I think that you could get rooms free of charge. In fact, I know it.”
“And what do you know of the Inn ahead, Mister Feralial?” Inés asked.
“Feraliel?” Serena asked.
He laughed. “As expected. An observant one.” He pulled back the hood covering his face. He had a lupine face with long ears, a snout and sharp teeth. All covered by the same white fur as his hand. His eyes were a bright crimson. He bowed. “Allow me to introduce myself, Miss Priestess, my name is Wolfgang Esarosa. I’m the proprietor of the Inn.”
“And why would you let us stay for free, Mister Esarosa?” Sylvie asked.
“Because you’re priestesses,” Wolfgang answered. “It’s natural for an Innkeeper to show generosity to those holy folks who serve the Gods.” He glanced at their mounts. “And don’t you worry about your mares there. I’ll guarantee their safety personally.”
“I don’t kn…” Sylvie began.
“Great,” Inés interrupted. “We could use the rest and sleep in a real bed.”
“What are you doing?” Sylvie demanded.
Inés shrugged. “Feralials don’t lie, right?”
Sylive paused. She’d always heard that too, but never really believed it.
Wolfgang laughed. “Then it’s settled. Here, let me help you carry your things.”
“Thank you kindly,” Serena said.
Sylvie kept to the back with Demure, keeping a suspicious eye on Wolfgang while Serena and Inés walked ahead with Blitz & Dusk.
“Hey, Inés,” Serena whispered.
“What’s up?” Inés asked.
“Mister Esarosa seems very interested in helping us,” Serena observed. She kept her voice low. “But I thought that feralials didn’t like the Gods.”
Behind them Wolfgang burst out laughing. “Wherever did you get that notion, Miss Priestess?” he asked.
“They have very good hearing,” Inés stated. “At least the lupine ones do.”
Serena felt her face flush. “I… I just heard that you were mad over the Gods supposedly cursing you.”
“Oh, that old legend,” Wolfgang said. “Personally, I’ve always thought that something humans came up with to make themselves feel better. After all, we can do things you lot can’t.” He shrugged. “In any case, I’ve got no call to be mad at the Gods. I’ve got a fine mate, some great pups and my Inn does just fine. If anything, the Gods’ve been kind to me.”
It was starting to get dark when they reached Wolfgang’s Inn. It was large and built right at the crossroads with Wicadia to the east, Strecner, a nation primarily of undead to the south-west, the troll’s of Relna to the south-east and the elves of Het Wald to the west. The Inn had a stable built next to it for its guests’ animals. They were greeted by a lupine feralial with light grey fur.
“Found some travelling priestesses,” Wolfgang explained. “I’ll take their mounts to the stable. Find rooms for them, yeah?” He dropped the bags he was carrying by the door.
“Of course,” she said. “Good to meet you, Priestesses. I’m Heidi Esarosa. Come in, come in. Hilde!”
A young lupine woman with grey and white spotted fur ran in. “Yes, Mother?”
Heidi nodded towards her daughter. “This is Hildegard, my oldest. Hilde, show the priestesses to some rooms, okay?”
“Priestesses?” Hildegard asked, her tail wagging. “Please, follow me.” She hurriedly gathered the bags, lifting them as easily as her father had.
Sylvie looked back outside but reluctantly followed. She had a definite bad feeling about this whole situation.