A Trip to the Market

A JP with Tahjerius

((Osilon, Karavoss))

The subdued morning light fell upon the chilly streets of Osilon as Lafayette and V walked away from the house and on down the rutted dirt road toward the city's market centre. The sun was rising in a haze of grey clouds and dew glistened on the new grass and weeds in the verge. It was still early spring and the breeze blowing off the distant sea had a bite to it, causing Lafayette to shiver a little. Pulling his poncho closer about his shoulders, he cast a glance back at the house he shared with Kalena before it fell out of view.

“Now that we can talk freely, what do you make of Shade?” Lafayette asked his new companion. “The demon claims to be part of what went down at the warehouse and now wants to send us to this Endless Dark place using Gerda's soul as bait. And Kalena who is not up to joining us, he goes and dangles in front of her the thing she most wants more than anything, her old life in Dalen. Is he leading us all into some kind of trap?”

“That is entirely possible,” V said, his voice sounding somewhat impassive.

Lafayette let out a frustrated breath. “What could that demon possibly be up to? What does it have to gain from luring us into this Endless Dark? A place that sounds like death..."

“Can’t say I'm sure,” V replied in the same dull tone.

Lafayette frowned, looking at the swarthy elf, whose gaze was locked on the morning horizon like it was the most interesting thing ever.

“Qu'est-ce que tu?”

“Huh?” V said, head whipping around to meet the Merovignian’s eyes.

“You aren’t saying much. Why are you being so taciturn?”

“Where I’m from, we don’t really like to draw out our sentences.”

“And here I thought Aelmerians were talky. Kalena has told me more than once that Aelmere is the Merovignia of Aeran.” Lafayette looked at V questioningly. “You never answered my question.”

V shrugged, arms crossed, “Oh… I mean, I just wanna keep all of the craziness going on in there… well, in there.”

Lafayette's red brows drew together in amused contemplation. “I don’t know that I am awake enough yet to try and understand what you just said. But I think I do. You want to worry about all the past day stuff later and have this trip to the market be just a trip to the market?”

“Something like that,” V confirmed. “My father taught me one needs to breathe and process the kind of thing we just went through. In the bounty hunting business, a lot of the time you're hunting dangerous people and the last thing you ever want to do is go off half-cocked.”

Lafayette nodded, understanding what he meant. “It's a methodical business much like the particular business Kalena used to be in. I think that's why she and your father hit it off back in the day. They appreciated each other's professionalism. The way I heard how the two first met is it was a moment when all sense of professionalism went completely out the window. You don't really remind me of him that much.”

“You knew my father too?” V said, slacking his pace for a moment, looking uncomfortable.

“Not as well as Kalena did, but we met a few times at her house, and during some of the work we were doing for Queen Thalia.”

“Why do you say I don't remind you of him?” V asked as if he didn't really want to know the answer.

Hearing the odd tone in the elf's voice, Lafayette prevaricated. “He was... just different.”

V fixed Lafayette with a look. “Different how?”

“Well... what I remember of Oruvand is that he was a tough guy. A serious guy. Mature beyond his years, not in a humourless way, but it's plain that you and he both had very different upbringings”

“We sure did. My father started life as a collared slave in Dalen and fought his way up in the world every step of the way. Aelmere is a highly civilised land. From the things he told me Dalen was borderline evil, a kill-or-be-killed kind of place. He wanted better for his children and I definitely had a much easier life than he did. I never had to struggle to survive or become as hardened as he was in his formative years. So compared to him I guess I come off—”

“Like a goof?” Lafayette suggested with a smile.

“Less serious is what I was going to say,” V said, trying to sound as though he'd taken the good natured observation in stride. He didn't want to reveal how much of a sore spot it was that he didn't quite measure up to his father and probably never would no matter how long he lived.

“Well I need to get some supplies,” Lafayette said, sensing a change in subject matter was a good idea. “Have you decided what exactly you're doing?”

V began to relax again. "I mean, anything really. I'm not used to sitting around, so I decided not to do that. Didn't you mention something about medicine earlier?"

“Yeah. Prespa didn’t have what she needed to make the stuff so I’m off to get either the supplies to make it or the medicine itself. Whichever is easier. Kalena, that redhead, Jocelyn, are both pretty banged up and could use something to ease the aches, so I offered to get it for Jocelyn, and Kalena wouldn’t say she needed medicine, but will take it if offered.”

“Kalena seems like a proud woman.”

“She has a lot to be proud of, but a broken arm is hard for her to deal with and she's not used to being injured like that. She and I have gone toe-to-toe against so many different foes and walked away without a scratch, but that fire breathing man bull was out of the ordinary even for us; super fast, super strong, practically indestructible, and with no apparent weaknesses. On top of that the creature was a highly skilled warrior. As good as Kalena and I are, we are only human.”

“Hopefully we don't meet the horned man again in the Endless Dark,” V said.

“You are again assuming I am going,” Lafayette said.

“You mean you're not?” V looked at him, disgusted. “So you meant what you said last night?”

“I meant every word,” Lafayette said forcefully. “I don't trust Shade as far as I can throw him and like I said, Gerda just doesn't mean that much to me. I'm not going to risk my eternal soul for someone who drew me a bath once.”

“What?” V laughed. “Drew you a bath?”

“Peu importe,” Lafayette sighed. “It's a long story. Kalena and I met her when we were staying with someone Gerda worked as a housekeeper for. I don't even remember Solandriel being there but I guess he was one of the other servants.”

“So because you don't remember him you don't care he's about to lose his wife?”

“Don't try to shame me. I went off alone to that warehouse to rescue Gerda not even expecting any back-up to arrive in time. I did all that could be expected of me and more for that dwarf. But I'm drawing a line when it comes to trying to rescue her soul from a death dimension.”

“So you and Kalena are going to let me go in there alone to finish what we all started togeth—“

“Oh merde,” Lafayette muttered, cursing under his breath.

The pair had just entered the bustling marketplace. V turned in the direction Lafayette was looking and saw three Karvossian soldiers standing together, one of whom was holding up what looked like a wanted poster and comparing V's face to the drawing on the front of it. Seeing the strong resemblance, the men approached, hands resting firmly on the hilts of their swords.

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