The Immortal Witch's Death Wish
Almost three days later, they had finally arrived at the small town of Rouen. The size of the place was maybe only 400 people. They were greeted by nothing but wind. Not a single soul presented themself. The sound of cicadas mourning filled the sunset skies.
Grodd looked over at Lusha. There seemed to also be a confused look on her face as well. The town was not empty, that was for certain. She didn’t even need to concentrate to tell that there were many people. Grodd could smell it as well, there was a high aroma of fear. Everyone waited with their breaths caught in their throats, as they cowered behind their doors.
Lusha saw this and slowly proceeded with caution. This caution was not for her of course, but for her allies. Every now and then as she paraded down the main street, she could catch the glimpses of those behind their blinds. They almost always instantly averted their gaze and shut everything completely.
“Could a bandit group really be the cause behind all of this?” the amount of terror they were all feeling was beyond simply bandits. Grodd simply shrugged. He had no ideas about the workings of these flesh puddles. Rinn remained asleep on his shoulder. She had not awoken since she had passed out before. The energy consumption was much too high for her- a common phenomenon for those first attempting magic. It also wouldn’t be the last time she’d experience this level of fatigue.
At the far edge of the village, there was a mountain-like elevation overlooking everything. There, a building bigger than any of the others stood. It was easy to see it held a different status than any other place within the village. It was roughly 30 meters wide and 2 stories tall. Three giant tower structures stemmed from the building. One on each end of the building, and one in the very middle.
“If I had to take a guess, I’d say that’s the location we should head to first hm?” Lusha thought. Grodd merely shrugged in response. She let out a disappointed click of her tongue. The past couple of days, there wasn’t exactly any room for conversation. Grodd did not make for an excellent conversationalist. Nor did he talk much unless spoken to- and even then, he rarely talked much aside from the usual grunt or shrug. Even when prompted about how he knew of Lusha, the goblin simply responded with a “Everyone knows story of Lusha Veescii.”
On the other hand, Rinn also failed to speak. She hadn’t woken from her slumber since she had attempted her first use of magic. The toll must have been greater on her than originally thought. But alas, even as they find themselves nearing the end of their second day, she showed no sign of waking up. Her cheeks pressed softly against Grodd’s hardened shoulder plate. It was times like these that she wished she had taken more of an interest in healing magic. Perhaps she could restore most of her energy that way.
Finally they had arrived at the foot of the mountain. The path continued upwards in a zig-zag like fashion. Ultimately, they found themselves at the entrance of the pillared building. Before they could even knock the door, they were greeted by 2 men. Servants.
Whoever owned this place, most-likely was a man of noble birth. She rather hated these kinds of people. To think you are better than everyone else merely due to the title you inherited at birth. She curled her lip a bit, much to the disappointment of the servants that saw her expression.
“Welcome to the Ozun family house.” One of the men said.
“You two must be adventurers, I take it?”
“How did you know that?
“Well, I wouldn’t mistake you guys for scholars.” The man laughed. The other attendant also laughed as well. “Ah, quite. We must not partake in foolish behavior while on the job.”
She ignored the prissy comment. “Can I ask why the town is so empty?”
“Oh. Please. Where are our manners. Come right in. Please, we implore you. You all must be quite hungry after such a long trip.”
The question was masterfully sidestepped. One of the attendants took off ahead of the other. “I will go and call forth Lord Ozun. Please see to our guests, Ereh.”
“Of course. Now if you all can follow me.” The way the duo moved, it was almost as if it was choreographed.
Lusha and Grodd shared a glance at each other. It was already making for an interesting day. “Where exactly are you taking us, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Well is it not obvious? To the lavatories of course. You can’t possibly meet the great lord Ozun with those terrible rags you have on. On top of it, you smell of months old carcasses.” Lusha’s eyebrow cocked at the man’s words. She calmly decided to let it slide. She must of course, keep this mission cordial. She couldn’t simply allow two dimwitted servants to put a damper in her plans.
Grodd sniffed himself. He wasn’t quite sure what the man meant. After all, Grodd smelled fairly decent… for a goblin.
When they arrived at the bathrooms, she was perplexed by the size. It was probably fit 1/6th of the village easily. Despite this, the room was divided into two separate quarters by a curtain. Grodd promptly went to one side, but not before Lusha quickly removed the sleeping Rin from his shoulder. “I’ll be taking that.” He carried the young girl in one hand as if one might carry a grocery bag.
Grodd seemed to not have noticed the weight lifted off of his shoulders. Did goblins even know the concept of showers? Lusha was not too certain to be honest. Not that she had ever thought about goblins and showering. She quickly disrobed and turned the nob. The hot water didn’t seem to have disturbed her one bit. It was actually quite reinvigorating.
After about 30 minutes she finally was ready to depart from the showers. Oddly enough, Rinn hadn’t awoken at all. Even as she was drenched in soap and placed under the scorching hot water. It seems the girl could sleep through the end of the world if she wanted to.
At the door, were several fresh outfits laid out for them. Simple white robes with roses attached to each of the cuffs. The outfits seemed much too… girly for her taste. Instead she reached out into the void and grabbed her usual outfit. A black robe with a white sash that sat tightly on her mid-section. In addition, a cloak rested over her shoulders.
For Rinn, she simply adorned her with the outfits they had provided. The one she wore was a little taller on her, extending several inches past her feet, but they did the trick. As she opened the door, she wondered what kind of outfit Grodd might have donned on. If it was anything similar to the tastes of the two attendants, she couldn’t wait to see it.
Awaiting her outside, was one very annoyed servant, and one giant behemoth standing within a puddle of water in the middle of the hallways. The sounds of droplets continued to serenade the room. At the man’s expression, Lusha couldn’t help but smirk. Apparently, this was how goblins showered- In full armor. The water trickled down his shoulder, chest plate and even helmet. Every move he made released spurts of water from any hidden crevice of his armor.
“Ahem… good so it seems you are all finished up. I-..” He cleared his throat and his eyes widened at the clothing that Lusha had chosen to wear. “You are supposed to dress in the robes provided. Both you and this brute- honest… I- I can’t under-”
“The outfits were hideous. I think the brute can agree with that sentiment. Isn’t that right Grodd.” Grodd grunted and nodded. The man was clearly too perturbed to rebuttal. Just the mere stature of Grodd alone seemed to invoke a sense of unease within him. He decided it better for him to simply keep his mouth shut about the manner and simply suck it up.
As they walked down the hall, Lusha realized a curious energy around her. Her eyes darted behind her to catch the eyes of a small child, peeking from the corners of the hall. The young boy was perhaps only about 8 years old, and the curiosity within his eyes was exactly what one might expect from a sneaky brat. When his green eyes met with Lusha's, he immediately darted back around the corner and fled. The attendant seemed to have noticed her attention being redirected and inquired with a simple "hm?"
"Oh, it's nothing. I just thought I had seen a little rat, that's all."
"Please refrain from making such jests. The Ozun family manor could not possibly have rats."
"Oh, but they do have you around here don't they? So we can't say its impossible."
The man simply ignored her comment and continued leading them to their destination. She could tell it was beginning to agitate him. Perhaps he could be a fun one to mess around with after-all. Perhaps, the witch took offense to being called stinky.
After a couple minutes of walking, they arrived at a giant hall. They were greeted by red tables with gold trim. Chairs that looked far too intricate to sit on. The walls were mounted with giant paintings that stemmed from floor to ceiling. Though unlike regular people, the paintings were composed entirely of words.
The calligraphy spread itself across each of the 6 canvasses on the wall. The words for "Courage. Beautiful. Yearning. Laughter. Youth. Lastly, the newest addition to the paintings- Forgiveness. One could tell it was fairly new just from the quality of it alone.
The words each seemed to exude the feeling of what was written. For instance, when her eyes settled on the word beautiful, she was instantly taken back to a time that she had thought she had long forgotten.
How many years has it been? Even as she remembers certain people and certain events, recently they have become muddled. Their murky figures still sit in her mind with just their names attached to their silhouettes. But the specific memory she had seen had brought tears to her eyes.
"Ah. Sorry... these paintings they're-"
The man that had spoke was a tall figure with the body stature of a bear. His elite garments rested very tightly on his body. He was quite large, but more so burly than out of shape.
"I see you have an eye for the arts. I'm actually quite proud of my son. This is the esteemed Ozun family calligraphy. There's not a man in the nation who hasn't heard of it.
"Is that right? You mean to tell me that young brat made this? I'm impressed."
The man chuckled. "So you both have been acquainted. Come please have a seat."
He ushered them to the long table before them. He sat on the one end while the others were placed opposite of him.
"My son however, may be on a whole different level when it comes to the traditional art. -I dare say he's even better than I."
In the world of magic, there were many things that are not factors to ones proficiency. Age, as some would come to learn, was not one of those factors. A man could train for 10 years only to be beaten in proficiency by a young genius. The world of magic was cruel.
"We've been practicing the arts of inscription magic for centuries. It's truly a pure art, bereft of all impurities." As he spoke, there was a tone of sadness in his voice. Perhaps, that's what he wished inscription art would be like.
Lusha smiled and ignored his obvious lie. She's well aware of the versatility of such a magic. As she studied them with slight admiration, her eyes finally landed on the newest painting.
Unlike all the other paintings... this one had no inscription magic to it. It was simply written out without energy infused into it. This one caught her interest the most. The writing was not quite as beautiful as the others but, despite lacking in the inscription magic, it somehow conveyed the most emotion. Whoever made them... at the time must have been suffering greatly.- this was the type of guilt that one could never get over.
The man noticed her eyes lingering upon the words and he immediately cleared his throat. "Excuse my lack of manners. I forgot to introduce myself. I'm lord Tarlos Ozun. The head of the Ozun family, and lord of Rouen Village. I was the one who put out the request a couple of days ago regarding the extermination of the bandits. And what do you call your team name?"
His questions seemed to be directed to Grodd instead of her. She could see where such confusion would arise from. The difference in appearance could easily lead one to perceive him as the leader of the group.
She coughed and answered his question. "We're team infinite. You're speaking with Lusha Viscirilis of Team infinite, and... well, these two have not yet been officially." The way she stated it so as a matter of factly, made it apparent there was a sense of annoyance in her voice. The man quickly noticed and apologized. "My apologies. I did not expect the leader to be so... young."
Lusha smiled. She'll take this one. She didn't rather like being called young, but she'll let it slide just this once. There was more questions she had about the paintings, but ultimately, she decided that now would have been a good time to change the tide of the conversation. "So now.... what can you tell me about the request details." She waved the paper in front of her face. At that moment, she realized something that was off. This realization... though her facial expression didn't change, caused a seething feeling of anger to appear deep within her.
This was anger the type of anger that she had only one time before since arriving in this world. This was the anger by the result of being made a fool. He was not sure by whom, but for sure, the being that sought to fool the witch will some day come to lament his decision.
"Ah, right. I suppose I can tell you all over dinner. You must all be starving after such a long travel. I've already prepared a feast for you." As soon as he brought the suggestion up, the doors opened up and the attendants brought over several giant dishes of food. From roasted Eel, to Jurewood boars, chicken, frosted flame broth and various other specialty dishes. There was hardly enough food to fit on the table by the time the steamed delicacies were presented to them.
Grodd removed his helmet for the first time and they could all see the creature that lay underneath the shroud of armor. The man's eyes widened upon seeing his visage. The deep green eyes looked back at him, with color matching his skin. His long blackened hair was all disheveled and feral. The fangs he bore seemed threatening even when he was wearing a neutral expression. This man was without a doubt a goblin.
It was almost as if everyone else could sense it, but there was an uneasy tension in the room. Lusha had not let anything be divulged, but she remained completely quiet as Grodd ate his food ravenously. Everything was on a completely different level in taste. For a goblin who simply ate everything after just a little bit of cooking, this was akin to tasting a heavenly meal. A couple moments passed by before all of the food was entirely devoured by Grodd himself. In one sitting the behemoth had completely chewed through everything the man had to offer. Lord Ozun was perplexed that he could even eat that much so fast.
"So... you were saying... the details of the mission?"
"Is something wrong, Miss?"
"Nothing at all. Why would there be anything wrong?"
Her glare remained on the man, both of their eyes meeting and not diverting even for a second. "Well... you just haven't touched your food."
"I'm sorry. Something just now really upset me." He shared a glance with Grodd, who ignored the look. "I've lost my appetite."
"Ah... I- I see. Is it one of the inscriptions? If something does bring back bad memories I am more than happy to remove the painting."
"No. I'm afraid that wouldn't be necessary." She quickly clapped her hands together and in a cheery tone beamed out "So. Let's hear about that mission."