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Anyway, we are now at the village. Moso is taking us the long way around so we meet as few people as possible. In fact, I haven’t seen anyone yet. Moso said most people are out working their farms, fishing, or hunting. If they’re all out and about, why do we have to be so careful?
“Some of the people who live here think I should be killed. They’d think the same about you, so we gotta be careful,” he says when I ask.
I am okay with not seeing people who want to kill me.
“So why did you bother protecting this village if the people here want to kill you?”
He’s far enough out there I doubt anybody would even notice him if he kept to himself.
“Not everybody here wants me dead. Besides, I need a place to restock supplies, and the swamp is home.”
I guess this makes sense. But having to protect people who want you dead, that seems like something that would leave a bitter taste. Moso is a tragic hero and deserves a ballad in his honor! Or maybe just a situation where people do not want him dead.
“This is the place. You stay just inside the gate where nobody can see you, and I’ll go in.”
Huh, if it is that bad maybe I should have stayed in the boat? Or is Moso worried someone would see me in the boat?
“I can hide in the hedge if you think it would help.”
I’m trying to sound casual with this offer. I’m just an ape, I guess this much should be expected of me.
“That’s not a bad idea.”
I shall make a game out of this and have fun with it! I will have fun with being an unsightly subhuman nobody wants to see.
“I shouldn’t be in here for too long.”
With that, Moso strides into the house. I can make out that he is talking inside, but not much else. After a few minutes, he comes back out with a large, flat book. It really looks like an over-sized magazine.
“Let’s go. We need to get out of here in a hurry. A Sidhe asshole is supposed to be showing up any day now, and we don’t want him catching us around here. I managed to avoid an argument, and if we leave now, we can keep it that way.”
“You sound thrilled about that.”
Jokes can help a bad situation, right?
“This one is especially bad. If he sees us around here, he could use that as leverage to fuck over some of the folks here who actually like me, so we need to hustle.”
And on that note, we trot back to the boat.
Moso really seems to be in a hurry as we set off. This boat is going a lot of faster than before, and the nose keeps popping up out of the water. Honestly, this is kind of scary. I’m clutching the seat, as it feels like I’m about to fly out of the boat any second, and my stomach is not so happy about this situation either. After about an hour of this, Moso finally slows down.
“I need to recharge my batteries. Let’s look for someplace decent to tie off and eat.”
Hey, my mouth is all mushy from the terror that we were going to hit a tree or log or something and die horribly. That was fun in the same way a decrepit roller coaster is fun. You’ll have a thrill, need to change your shorts, and never want to do it again.
“Me too, man! We’ll get you to the north end of the swamp, and from there it’s all delta country. I hope you can navigate that flat farmland, it’s actually the most dangerous area around here.”
I thought he was kidding, but his expression is deadly serious.
We manage to find a decent spot to moor the boat, and we get out to stretch our legs and find a spot to picnic.
Oh wow, this gumbo is still amazing. I’ve had it several times now, and each time I marvel at how good it is. One day, I will return here to learn this recipe and enjoy it whenever I want.
As we are putting the dishes away, our eyes meet.
“You hear that? Sounds like a group of people heading this way.”
Moso looks spooked as he says that.
“They’re making enough noise. Do we just get in the boat and go?”
If it is Sidhe that would be a bad thing, right?
“Toss in all my stuff, but they’re close enough that if we try to leave, they might start blasting at us.”
Moso’s face is tight with apprehension. He’s thinking the same thing I am. These are the Sidhe. With that realization, my heart starts pounding. This seems way scarier than facing a dragon, for some reason. Maybe because of how Moso talks about them. Nobody hyped up the fearsome nature of the dragon before it chased me up a tree.
With everything in the boat, we turn around to face the tree line. From there, four people emerge. First is a dandy. I really don’t know how else to describe him. He’s wearing tights, and has on pointy shoes, a powdered wig, and is waving a handkerchief in front of his face. And then there are three guards. They’re all wearing dark brown leather armor and are armed with bows and swords. Oh, one of them has a crossbow instead of a regular bow. He is probably the leader of the guards, like a sergeant or something.
“Fuck.” Moso’s curse holds resignation and disgust. It holds such profundity of tone that I don’t think I shall ever forget it.
“Vulgarity is to be expected from an abomination as yourself. And associating with a troll? We were willing to overlook your existence so long as you kept to your area, but here you serve no purpose. I shall have you die, and your boat will serve as an adequate means to convey my noble personage to my future concubine.”
This guy sucks. You know what? I am not waiting to see how this develops. He just declared he wants us dead, and that is enough for me. I should start converting all the gases in his lungs into, I don’t know, water. That seems simple enough, and I can just try moving bonds around to make it happen instead of conjuring the water molecule by molecule. It might scorch the interior of the lungs, but I’m trying to kill him anyway, so who cares? A quick mental estimate suggests several billion molecules forming from the gas and lung-meats and see what happens.
The dandy, in the midst of pulling out a wand from his belt suddenly twitches and begins making the most horrible groaning noise. Wow, that facial expression is terrifying! I am enjoying watching it though. Maybe I’m a sadist? I should go ahead and do this to the guards too as they’re pulling out bows. Yup, all four are thrashing on the ground now.
Moso keeps looking at them in astonishment, and then at me. Just back and forth.
“Yeah, I cast a spell on them. It’s called ‘Drown’ since I’m not good at naming things.”
Oh, they’re clawing at their faces now while water streams out of their noses and mouth, that looks painful.
“Well, thanks for the help. Look, here’s the atlas, you can snag whatever you want off of them, and you need to get out of here. If his death curse gets you, everybody from his plantation will be out there looking to kill you.”
Death curse? Did I just fuck things up?
“I’m pretty allergic to the Sidhe, since they all want me dead for being a mongrel.” Moso spits at the dandy’s corpse to punctuate that point.
“Good luck out there, and if more Sidhe show up, kill all of them for me.”
“Well, thanks for the help. I’ll try to stay alive out there.”
I’m more concerned with survival, honestly. Although, experimenting with cantrips is also interesting, even though all I have used it for so far is killing things. I need to get somewhere safe so I can experiment with this instead of crossing my fingers and hoping things die.
“Seriously, I do appreciate what you’ve done for me.”
I hold out my hand, and Moso shakes it with no hesitation. Even though we’re done traveling together, and it feels a little bit like he is scared of me now, I think we’re friends. Probably? I hope so. Having friends is nice.
I watch as he pilots the boat away, and then begin rummaging through the dead guys’ stuff. There’s some jewelry and the dandy’s wand. There’s also a pack with a lot of dried meat and dense bread, and a couple bags that won’t open. I take it all, chuck it in my inventory, and set off in the direction the Sidhe came from. If they’re coming for me, I’ll gladly march to my destiny.