Joqout's Story: Chapter Ten


"Melons! Getcher ripe melons here!"

"Buy some fish? Buy some fresh fish?"

"Jewels! Silver! Gold! Just come this way!"

"Quality steel, quality blades!"

"Fresh fish!"

"Beads and glassware!"

"Rings and necklaces for the lady?"

"Jungle fruit, fresh from the tropics!"

Even though Valdis is not their usual customer-- draped in her own leathery wings more than the brief tunic she wears only for convenience's sake, and only when in the city, with her glaive strapped to her back between the wing-arms, over her small backpack of what few necessities she needs, tall and strong, and decidedly not human-- vendors still heckle her. She tunes them out, not interested in buying, but selling. None of them will buy what she has to sell, nor will they trade their wares for hers, she knows from long experience. All they want is coin, not a hired, dragonic glaive-wielder to frighten away honest customers as well as thieves. Since she, currently, has no coin, there is no point at all in even looking at their goods.

Instead, Valdis seeks out the guildhall in the busy city. A fellow mercenary, an acquaintance from her last job, had directed her here, saying the work was good this time of year, even for a stranger. There is even a guildhall with a pair of bureaucrats for the mercenary guild, he'd said. So it is the guildhall she seeks. She doesn't even know the name of the world, much less the city, but that doesn't matter. All that matters is keeping busy, finding something else for a lone dragon-warrioress to do to stay fed, honing her skills in the meantime until something better comes along.

Valdis hasn't always been a mercenary. Once, she had high aspirations for her life. Once, she'd been one of many hatched from a special clutch, rare anthropomorphic and human-sized dragons born to wield a particular weapon. Once, she'd been bonded.

Now, at nearly four years old, Valdis has no aspirations beyond getting herself a job to pay for dinner and a roof over her head, she has not seen her varied clutchmates in years, and she is most definitely not bonded. Not anymore. Not since her second birthday, almost two years ago, now, to the day. Barely full grown, suddenly purposeless as well as bondless, Valdis hadn't known what to do with herself. She'd been angry, hurt, grieving, and ready to carve a few people up to pay for her own pain. Barely full grown, she wouldn't have stood a chance. She'd been lucky enough to run into a true, guild-bound mercenary early on, before she got herself into real trouble, and let him guide her to something a little less self-destructive than the pure mayhem she had been prepared to wreak.

Two years later, one day from her fourth birthday, Valdis is as adult as she is ever going to be, a mercenary of some small repute, peerless when it came to her chosen weapon, and still bondless. She is no longer quite so angry, and she has moved past grief, but she is still purposeless, and she is still ready to carve a few people up, as long as it keeps her belly full and keeps her out of the rain and snow, when it falls.

Hence, the guildhall, which she finally finds, right where she expects it to be: in the busiest part of the city.

The guildhall is massive, impressive, and crowded. Too crowded. Getting to the single cramped stall takes every inch of height-- which is considerable for a humanoid-- and every ounce of attitude-- which can also be considerable, when she needs to get somewhere and a pack of mule-like humans are in the way-- that Valdis has. Getting them to pay attention to her once she's there, however, takes almost no effort at all: merely clearing her throat gets her stares. After all, she is tall, powerful, and equipped with not only her glaive, but the claws and teeth of a carnivore that she was born with. Unfortunately, her fearsome appearance does not get her a job-- not immediately, anyway. She won't have a job until a caravan train arrives that isn't due for another three days. The guildhall, however, will at least give her a free roof until then. That just leaves food, until then....

So back out into the thronged masses she goes, in search of a quick few pennies, enough to pay for a couple rolls of bread and some of that half-cooked venison for sale just outside the guildhall. She doesn't have much luck there, either, and after an afternoon of fruitless searching for a job outside the guild, she is almost ready to tromp out to the grounds surrounding the city and hunt. If the whole area for miles around isn't completely hunted out, which it probably is, given the size of the city itself.

Prepared to endure a night without dinner, Valdis makes her way glumly back to the guildhall, trying to ignore a complaining belly and her distaste at the crowds. At least at her borrowed room at the guildhall, one of those things will go away.

"Excuse me, ma'am?"

Valdis keeps walking, certain that it's someone else the stranger is talking to. A touch to her elbow stops her, and she turns to look... down. A man with black hair and a pointed face-- and a much smaller stature and build-- stares up at her expectantly. He has, very incongruously, a halberd strapped to his back much in the same way Valdis carries her glaive. He doesn't look strong enough to hold it up, much less give it a decent swing.

"Ma'am, pardon me, but I heard you at that last booth you stopped at," he begins, now that he has her attention. "You wish a job?"

"Are you offering one?" she grunts back.

"Yes, and a fairly simple one, at that," the exceedingly small man nods, smiling. "Can you teleport?"

"Yes," Valdis answers, not sure what that has to do with anything.

"Aaah, good! I cannot, and I need this weapon here delivered to a friend. It is quite important."

Well, it's a job. At this point, Valdis is hungry enough to take anything, even delivery service. She's certainly strong enough to cart a halberd around, along with her own glaive. "Where am I taking it?"

"A world called Temesu-riel. The teleport might be a little rough, but I'll pay well to cover any discomfort you might experience. I can provide you the coordinates where I last saw the fellow who needs this," he points to the naked polearm's blade, hovering above his head comically, "but I don't know if he'll have moved from that spot, or not... can you track?"

A nod says Valdis can, frowning down at her new, temporary employer. Something doesn't smell right. The fact that she doesn't know his name is a little disconcerting, as well. "Why didn't you give it to this fellow when you saw him?"

"Because I didn't have her with me, then-- and he really wasn't in the mood to be accepting gifts at the time."

Valdis has heard of people who anthropomorphize their weaponry-- gods, she does it-- but this is the first time she's heard someone talk about someone else's weapon as a male or a female. That softens her only a little, but he seems to notice, and adds soothingly, "I promise, there is nothing shady to this. No harm will come to him, or you, as far as I can guess."

That isn't much of a promise-- he could easily be lying-- but Valdis is used to looking after herself, and not particularly infatuated with staying out of danger. She shrugs her wings slightly. "How much, mister...?"

"Tavarez," the short little man supplies, smiling. "And ten silver pieces, standard size. I swear they won't even be clipped."

Ten silver coins will cover meals until the caravan arrives, with some to spare. "Very well. Where am I going, and to whom am I giving this polearm of yours?"


Joqout's Story

Chapter Eleven



Fantasa and Legend dragons are the intellectual property of Silver Midnight.