Chapter 34:

Boatin' Time


When they met with the river, it dawned on the students that they would have to cross it. In which case, swimming appeared to be the most viable method. As they mulled over the circumstances of that fact, a perplexed student body watched helplessly.

“I’m going in!” The half-demon jumped straight in. Landing with a splash that drenched Valefar, Jaiga, and Renra alike. In her ever abundant thirst, she even scooped some water into her mouth, and nodded approvingly.

"Come on you guys, let's get packing already!"

The vampire was annoyed. "Yes, Ceylica, let us swim through this river, unaware of what might be lurking or how long it will take."

"Right on, that's exactly what I'm saying!" She did not quite grasp the intrinsics of vampiric sarcasm just yet.

"Well, I'm not sure Jaiga can swim in plate armour," Renra said, then looking to the paladin.

"On the contrary, I am more than capable." Jaiga was still holding her spear when she unexpectedly lurched forward, indicating her willingness to jump. There was a doubt behind whether she would really commit. But as Valefar found out in the wake of a watery splash, she did.

"I am slightly encumbered, but all things considered, swimming is more than feasible."

Overhead, Renra and Valefar stared on as per custom.

Ceylica, on the other hand, beamed a smile.

Without a doubt, the paladin's shift in attitude was a work of miracle.

Jaiga sounded uncharacteristically pleased. Ceylica studied the paladin and saw a relief of tension in her body, thereby confirming her suspicion.

Of all interpretations availed, Ceylica took the paladin's words as a change of heart. The half-demon had not known Jaiga to be a fun-loving person. Her actions had always been upheld with some quaint sense of honour and seemingly robbed the paladin of commonsense.

Let's put Yagai to the test. Ceylica thought. We'll see how she likes this!

The half-demons' closed her fingers together and, with a quick push, splashed Jaiga.

Responding with a gasp and a shake, Jaiga returned with a splash of her own. Out of nowhere, it might seem, the two began to fight amongst each other. Sending torrents of water, one after the next. The battle continued for some time indiscernible due to the absence of watches or a sky.

Atop the blue river, however, soon came a wooden boat. The students saw it appear from the right side of a pink hill, continuing its voyage to them. When it was close enough, they noticed another of Rainee's golems on it. The usual fanfare. Half their height, composed of two large pieces of dark-coloured spherical rock and illuminated yellow eyes to match.

The familiar question of why it was there rose. By the time the boat was close enough to board, though, the golem had answered.

"Greetings, greetings!" it called—a tenor of irritability. "I, the great Twenty Rock, hereby invite you, travellers, to come aboard my ship!"

Ceylica was midway there. Already heaving herself aboard, with Jaiga following. And the rest, too, soon seated themselves in the small dingy, finding room amidst the limited space offered.

Twenty Rock gave the newcomers some time. Then, proceeded to paddle down the winding river without a word. The trip continued for a good while, just long enough to set in some boredom and provoke some small talk.

"Soo, how are yer relationships?" Ceylica asked. Directed towards no one in particular. "Ye know, with yer parents?"

Jaiga looked questioningly at Ceylica. "Is this what amounts to small talk in Criland?"

"Nah, I just feel like askin' that's all."

Pondering over the matter, Jaiga took some time to reflect. In the meantime, there was an awkward silence. Pervaded with the air of people uncertain to respond.

"My parents are dead."

Valefar's answer drew the sympathy of others. Knowing that he was raised without parents answered many questions about the vampires' 'eccentric' personality.

Poor guy. Ceylica pitied. No wonder Valefar talks like he has a stick up his arse.

"I don't have parents." Answered Jaiga. Somehow leaving them with more questions than answers.

"I do, but they're cunts." added Ceylica, eager and excited to join in.

Renra, on the other hand, was the only one without a response.

"Mine are alive?" He said, his words unhurried. "And we get along pretty well too..."

Ceylica's interest was piqued at this point. The target of which was Valefar. Who raised more than a few exciting possibilities.

"So Valefar, how was living on the streets?"

A glare. "Excuse me?"

Damn, the guy didn't even go to school. He can't understand what I'm saying!

Having seen his 'ineptitude', Ceylica figured it only merciful to speak at a slowed pace.

"Ye know Valefar, when a kid's orphaned in Aoel, I heard they get left to fend for themselves. Saw it in a movie before, 'Mighty Orphan Number Nine', had a buncha gremlins runnin' around selling drugs and maulin' each other."

Making things worse was the fact that the half-demon was clearly serious and nodded with a contemplative stare every few seconds.

"Ceylica," Jaiga interjected. The paladin had a mild fluster of red, displaying slight embarrassment. "What is a movie?"

An unsure Ceylica scratched her cheek. Indeed, it posed a troublesome question to answer. "Good question," she said. "I would say they're like moving pictures. Also, how come you've never watched a movie before?" Ceylica continued. "Ye lived under a rock or somethin?"

The paladin didn't rise to yell. She knew Ceylica wasn't baiting at a reaction and just sighed. Instead, Jaiga explained of her old home. And how she lived in a large castle bordering Criland and the U.S.A. She considered describing it further but ultimately halted halfway into a word.

The boat was nearing land, with it ready to dock, the students stood and waited. Leaping out, the golem tied the boat to a nearby wooden piling, affirming its safety. It had then offered its small rock hand, no larger than a child's. Of the four, three took them, and it need not be said who.

When confronting the city then, the students saw a village of sorts.

It was composed chiefly of short wooden structures. Thatched with redwood roofs and illuminated by the cheaper orange algae of the Faerindt Empire, it was a strange work of architecture.

The ensemble began to walk through the village, trodding upon the uneven pink roads upwards in pursuit of nothing in particular. After a while, though, they began to feel hungry.

Naturally, it just so happened that a convenient waft of food flew by.

The kind of instinct that drew out was of a rumbling variety.

Hearing their stomachs cry out for nourishment, the students looked around. To their upward right, they found a restaurant. Its presence was made clear with a large sign of a stone golem holding a pot of vegetables and meat in a hearty broth.

Subtlety wasn't Rainee's strong suit.

For the students, though, it made little difference. Food was food all the same, whether decorated by some mastermind or not. None of them had any smarter alternative to propose, anyway.

Ceylica smiled. “Let’s get something to eat!”

Hunger led, and hunger took them up the stairs. When they reached flat ground, the students watched the long cloth serving as a door with curiousity.

Hearing some turmoil inside the restaurant, a thrilled Ceylica pushed through first.

A smaller golem dressed in red garments angrily held out a bowl of soup, its eyes trained on a chef behind the wooden counter. "This food is unfit for our king!" Behind the angry golem were a dozen or so of these same golems, packed tightly in a circular formation.

The tenor pitched golems rose in unison. “Yes, we demand respect for our king!”

Within the circle rested a slick red palanquin, gold accented cloth covering the doors.

"Oh no, my cooking is so very, very bad." The chef replied in monotone. His arms stiffly pointed to the sky. "I will now execute command number twenty, thereby ending my dishonour." Just as he finished, the chef's right hand reached down and came out of view. Then, suddenly, held up a knife in it’s hand.

"Goodbye, cruel world."

Renra recoiled in shock. "W-wait, uh, don't uh stab yourself!"

"Why not? I have nothing to live for."

"I'm sure you do!"

"My wife and children left me. I am in constant misery and debt. Today, I was even tripped and beaten by several kids. Please let me rest in peace."

It didn't make sense to Ceylica. Why would someone be sad if kids left them?

Are they some kinda weird child lover?

"How about cooking?" Yelled Renra again, getting quite embroiled in talking the golem down. "You love cooking, right?"

Thus, the golem lowered the knife. "Ah yes, cooking. My one and only passion in life. How convenient that you suddenly mention it." It said. "However." Only to suddenly raise the knife again. "What use is my love for cooking when I cannot make anything that tastes good?"

As soon as she heard those words, Ceylica had a flash of divine inspiration. Everything, everywhere, all at once, came to her naturally. She watched the scene unfurl, statue-still. And the next second, her lips opened.

"Rainee's trying to get Renra to cook!"

Valefar exhaled.

"Yes, indeed, Ceylica."

"No, but like, think about it. Everyone has a speciality, right? And Renra said he's good at cooking. By settin' this up, Rainee's hoping Renra demonstrates his special ability, and we get along better!"

"Ceylica." His hand went on the half demon's shoulder. "You are... Extremely smart."

Astonishment twisted Valefar's features. His was of a gentle smile. It's calling, a sign of respect and well-temperament. Well, that was according to Ceylica anyway. In all her wisdom, she assumed as much.

In reality, Valefar was more so just tired and willing to use the least effort-inducing option possible.

Unknowing of the truth, Ceylica’s next move was to nod. And the one following, to watch what happened with a cross of her arms.

Steward McOy
Patreon iconPatreon iconMyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon