A Line of Work Ch. 04byTheTask©
Note: Well, it's been a good long time since I updated this story. For those reading, I recommend reading the previous three chapters if you're interested in the story and stuff, sex is in page 3. Even so, I'm not going to make this story heavy on the plot, it's purely for shits and gigs. Also, you may find an error or two out there because I still can't find a decent editor.
A Line of Work Ch. 4 - Illeria
"You're fine with me keeping it?"
"Oh sure, we'll probably be traveling together for who knows how long. Might as well have some sort of protection. I'm not going to let my charge have any harm done to her or else I'd lose my income! Hahaha!"
Arvad laughed heartily while Raisel stared with deadened eyes. Despite having Elven senses, she could never tell when the young mercenary was being sarcastic or not. It was almost as if decades of experience were jam-packed in the man's eyes and movements. Both his skills and words showed his years, yet not his body. Unless he was an Elf himself, Raisel could not believe such a young human could be so... For lack of a better word, amazing.
The object they were talking about was a magic gun he owned, an elemental pistol. Magic guns were actually more common than one would think; elemental guns were not. Magic guns could only fire a single type of attack, like lightning, stone, or fire. Elemental guns could fire multiple types of natural forces.
"You... Have an annoying sense of humor." Raisel deadpanned as she continued riding forth on her black mare. She intentionally sped up her horse so she could gain that little victory of being ahead of Arvad.
Arvad widened his eyes, though not out of surprise, and blinked several times in succession. He reached down in a small pouch kept at arm's reach on his horse, and pulled out a small piece of dried fruit. He didn't eat it himself. Instead, he whistled and waited until his pet Morningflower Bat, Ouro, to perch on his shoulder. Arvad then aimed the piece of fruit at Raisel and tossed it quietly.
The fruit stealthily landed in a crease among Raisel's cloths, without her knowledge. Arvad snickered inaudibly as Ouro homed in on the fruit and attacked it with surgical precision. The mercenary couldn't contain his jovial sounds as he burst out laughing when Ouro attached himself to Raisel's right shoulder and gnashed at the fruit.
Raisel did not expect the incoming bat and shrieked out surprise. She flailed her arms around, trying to swat at the attacker. With her reaction, you would think she was being attacked by a horde of baby wyverns.
Ouro, through much difficulty, finally acquired the prize and flew back to Arvad. The bat calmly perched itself on Arvad's shoulders, eating the fruit with vigor.
The mercenary smoothed down Ouro's fur with two fingers. When he looked back up to the trail, he found himself staring down the barrel of a magic gun, his elemental pistol. "Ah... Raisel?"
"..." Raisel's eyes twitched, clearly angry from the prank. Her fingered closed down on the trigger, ready to crunch down at any time.
"Ah, there's no need for viole-WHOA!"
Raisel fired the pistol, sending a bolt of piercing water from the barrel. Arvad, although initially shocked, simply titled his head to the side, allowing the water to pass by his neck and grave the minuscule hairs.
"H-Hey, can't you take a joke? Ouro really likes you, all he did was get some fruit he saw dangling in your clothes."
Bang! Raisel fired again, this time sending a bolt of crystalized fire at Arvad. Again, the mercenary only survived by moving his head. He could read when and where the elemental gun would fire by noticing the subtle movements in Raisel's fingers and hand. A simple matter, really, for the trained.
However, Arvad noticed something peculiar- the crystalized fire. Otherwise known as frozen fire, crystalized fire had the same properties as crystal and fire itself. It burned hotter and fiercer in a frozen state more so than any bonfire you would see in a camp. He noted this because not once in his history among magic guns had he seen something firing crystalized elements.
There were mages who did specialize in spells involving crystals, but they were extremely rare, even among the magically gifted Desert Elves. It wasn't that he hadn't heard of magic guns firing crystals, there were a couple rumors here and there. It was the fact that Raisel found it so simple to do so. He had heard how Raisel fired a bolt of crystalized light at a vampire who tried to attack her back in the vampire tribe.
There was more than one objective Arvad had when the two came to the High Elf mountains: Discern Raisel's magical abilities, find a holy sword, satiate Raisel's curiosity about her people, and avoid a certain girl and her father... With the final being the most imperative.
"Ease up there, geez. It's not going to be long until we can see the High Mountains." Arvad strained his eyesight, which rivaled a hawk, at a frothy blur in the horizon.
The mercenary tightly closed his eyes and looked again, clearing the impurities that clouded his vision. He continued to stare at the blur while placating the furious Raisel. Soon, an obstacle, whether hostile or not, was apparent in the form of a group of men.
All this time, Raisel was making her qualms about Arvad known by form of a whiny teenage girl. "-An immature, arrogant, and a most certainly a-"
"-Mother just had to choose you of all people-"
"Raisel... I'm being serious now."
Raisel sighed and lowered down the pistol she was shaking around violently. "Yesssssss?" She did not sound too happy to Arvad.
"It seems we have company. You should probably put on your hood, they might be slave traders looking for some easy elven prey." Arvad did indeed sound serious in a rare moment.
Raisel turned her head around in order to see what Arvad was talking about. Thanks to her Elven eyesight, she could see a group of horsemen riding towards them. Judging by their pace and outline, they were no normal horsemen. The horses' feet around the group briskly kicked up a cloud of dust.
"If they are looking for elves, then I doubt they will be deterred by my hood. My cute face and sexy features will surely entice any man!" Raisel proudly clamped both her hands down on her hips and thrust her chest outwards.
Whether that was the case or not, Arvad was given "extra" payment to not be seduced by Raisel's charms. "Well aren't we the confident model Elf. Very well then, if they are slave traders or anything else hostile... All we have to do is take care of them! I helped you with your aim, so use the pistol well and try not to shoot me."
"Maybe I should just shoot you anyways..." Raisel muttered under her breath as she moved her hand down to hide the elemental pistol.
While the Half-Elf watched the incoming riders, she turned her gaze over to Arvad for only a second to see something peculiar.
As of now, Arvad made the funniest face Raisel had ever seen. It was a cross between a husband who had been caught cheating by his wife and a clergyman cringing at one of his homophobic nightmares. As to why he was making that sight, she asked why.
"Uh... That's on a need to know basis. YOU DON'T KNOW WHO ARVAD EVERSOUL IS! I'm just your bodyguard protecting you as you travel, my name's Jyro!" Sporadic yelling and hushed up whispers were sent towards Raisel.
Immediately after his outburst, Arvad pulled his hood up and dipped his head. If Arvad spoke to anyone with that visage, they would most likely think of a mysterious and deadly murderer or assassin. All Raisel saw was a strange eccentric who sometimes had his heroic moments interwoven through his excessive sarcasm, immaturity, and occasionally susceptible behavior.
"Just what is your problem Ar-"
"SHHHH! It's Jyro, jeez. Just don't let those guys know I'm me... I recognize them and, well, just don't."
Raisel experienced a rare pleading moment from the supposed mercenary of rumors. Just who are these riders that made him so afraid? Raisel found herself pleasantly surprised.
Several more minutes elapsed once the two groups encountered each other. While Raisel and Arvad were heading towards the mountains, this group seemed to be coming in from the plains off to the side. (Perhaps they are going in the same direction as us? Maybe I can finally pay him back...)
Raisel soon found herself face to face with a group of regal looking Elves, High Elves judging by their skin and hair color. There were four of them. Two were a male and female respectively, were dressed in slim armor with gold and white hues and carrying weapons of their choice, a curved saber and a heroic looking lance. The other two, and older male and a very young looking female, seemed to be some sort of nobles. The male Elf wore fine leathers while the female wore a curve-fitting blue dress. If Raisel looked closely, the younger female Elf seemed close to her age, though it was impossible to tell with the long-lived Elven race.
The procession went with the noble Elves in front and the guards in back. The older male Elf spoke first, "Hello, Miss, my name is Nesterius Goldenpine and this is my daughter, Reimiel Goldenpine. These are our two guards, Malavorn and Faehri. How are the roads treating you and your companion?" An expected mature and courteous resounded through Raisel's ears.
It was only right that Raisel return the polite introduction with one of her own. Language lessons as a daughter of the Tessiol family showed their power here, "I am pleased to meet the four of you, please call me Raisel Tessiol. And this is my bodyguard... Um, Jyro."
Nesterius' eyes narrowed. "A Tessiol? I've heard of them. Are they not influential nobles in Dasinex? I seem to remember that the head of the family is a High Elf like I. I presume you are his daughter?"
"You presume correctly on all three accounts. Although my father is long dead."
Nesterius immediately took an apologetic tone, "I apologize. I do not have a large amount of knowledge of anything outside of our mountains. May I ask where you are headed, Miss Tessiol?"
"Well, I am heading towards your mountains. As I am the daughter of a High Elf father and a human mother, I am only a Half Elf, but I wish to know about the half of my kin I do not know much about." Raisel saw no need to lie to the Elven group before her and Arvad. They were clearly not bandits or slavers.
"Then we are headed in the same direction. I and my daughter are coming back from visiting friends in the Wood Elves' forests."
Raisel formed a curious and devious smile. "If you do not mind, shall we travel together? I would very much like to hear about High Elves and their culture. I only learned what I could from books and the occasional traveler to the Tessiol estates."
Behind her, "Jyro" shifted uncomfortably and mouthed a silent groan of despair.
Reimiel whispered something in her father's ear, who nodded in agreement. "It seems that my daughter, who is somewhat shy I might add- Ow!" Reimiel punched her father in the shoulder rather bluntly before the man continued, "Well, it seems that she does not mind and would like to talk to you."
At the prospect of encountering a new friend who was also a member of her father's ancestry, Raisel found herself delighted. Her only conversational partner left much to be desired for.
The two groups merged and set off in a brisk trot towards the mountains.
A ways into the trip found the ground several kilometers away from the base of the mountain.
The procession went as follows: Nesterius in the front, Arvad AKA Jyro close behind who had long since broke into a cold sweat, Raisel and Reimiel behind him, and the two guards in the very back keeping their eyes peeled.
Nesterius, the whole time, had kept a close eye on the so called Jyro. While he did realize the importance of privacy and there were many mercenaries who did not like their identities known, there was something about him that struck a familiar chord. The High Elf decided to investigate for himself.
The groupings were fairly wide apart, so the distance between Nesterius and Jyro to Raisel and Reimiel was wide enough so the conversation was kept out of earshot.
"It seems you are the bodyguard of Miss Tessiol, Jyro. How did you come by such a lucrative job? As far as I know, the Tessiol's are a highly influential and wealthy family." Nesterius put on a friendly tone in order to hide his suspicion.
"Grmm..." Arvad grumbled, but he soon realized it would be stupid to play the silent card more than anything. Altering his voice a little bit, Arvad spoke again, "I've worked for the Tessiols before. Miss Lilenae trusted me with this job enough thanks to my record."
Nesterius stroked his chin as he rode side by side with Arvad. "It had been a long time, but I once spoke with the late head of the Tessiol family myself. Yes, he was a good man from what I remember. He loved his wife and deeply cared for his daughter over there. It is a shame he didn't get to see her grow up."
Arvad simply nodded in solemn agreement. Any father that couldn't live to see his daughter grow up died a tragic death. Perhaps the main reason why Raisel wanted to visit the High Mountains partially out some sort of remembrance for her father.
"Well, there's no need for depressing topics today. How long have you worked for the Tessiols, ah, Jyro?"
Arvad hesitated as he thought of an answer. "...Not long, around a couple months now. This might be my last job for them, whether I live through it or not."
"Hm, I see. I understand that most wish to keep themselves anonymous... But I find it quite odd that you continue to hide your face in front of one of your employers and I, who are not hostile."
"Grmm..." (He's right.) "It's not pleasant, but I cover myself because of nasty scar I received." Arvad was normally good at lying, but High Elves are known for easily deciphering facial expressions.
Nesterius smiled knowingly, "Don't bother. I was already suspicious because the name Jyro rung a particular chord in my memory... Arvad." The High Elf's eyes narrowed and his voice took on a cocky tone.
During their conversation, Raisel and Reimiel shared their own set of words.
One was a Half Elf born from a union of a High Elf male and a Human female, the other was a full blood High Elf with Elven parents.
Raisel, through exchanging casual talk with Reimiel, learned several things about her temporary companion: Reimiel was twenty years of age (still extremely young for a High Elf, like a young teen), she was skilled in ranged weaponry and small arms (more so the former), she had an exotic pet that wasn't common to High Elves or their mountains, and etcetera.
Obviously, they were both young girls with common ancestry, there was no doubt they would have similar interests. Raisel even learned that Reimiel had a romantic interest, though it had been a good two years since she last saw him.
"What about you? Do you have anyone in mind?"
"Hum..." Raisel's thoughts immediately turned to a certain mercenary in her employ. Her eyes slanted and her lips pursed at the mere thought of such an insufferable person. (Why him, of all people, has to enter my mind? Well, it's not like I know anyone else. That one Hamaul guy, no, too young.) "No one yet. Although because of my position as a daughter of the Tessiol family, I have been approached by many suitors."
"I see. Though I can assume none of them are up to your standards? I'm surprised you're given the option of choosing your husband." Reimiel seen genuinely surprised.
"My family are not barbarians. Apparently dad didn't believe in forcing a life on children who knew nothing about the world. Praise whatever deities are out there." Raisel then tilted her head in curiosity, "Do the High Elves believe in any deities?"
"We're allowed free reign in our beliefs. But the majority of our people believe in the mountain's spirit. No one in the world, supposedly not even dragons, has been able to reach the top of our highest peak except for one existence. The divine mountain spirit, Altain, is apparently the only being that resides at its very peak and wields a large amount of power." Reimiel focused her head on the distant peaks, its highest one was covered by a large swathe of clouds. "That one right there, that's not even the tenth highest peak. I personally see no need to worship it if the being doesn't even do anything from it's home."
"I agree. There are far too many religions out there, each promising that their own deity or deities are superior and all powerful."
"Well, I wouldn't mind a fertility or romance goddess right about now."
"Is this guy really that great?"
"Well, he's amazing..." Reimiel began to gush over about this person she began to describe. "He's handsome, even for a human. He's a powerful warrior, probably just as skilled as our more powerful weapon masters, maybe even my father. He refuses to adhere to my people's seriousness and can always know what to say to make me laugh. And, well, it's a little embarrassing to say, but he knows his way down there." The pretty Elven girl blushed all around her cheeks and face, overpowering her makeup even.
Raisel tossed her head back in laughter. "I'm not terribly experienced with guys, nor am I a stranger or courtesan when it comes to those activities. But if the guy you're describing has all those good attributes AND knows his way around in a bed, well, you'd better find him before he's snatched up!"
Raisel then added, "What is his name anyway?"
"His name? Well, not only is he a great fighter, but he even has a title that accompanies his skills."
"Like what, has to be an interesting one."
"He has a few, actually: the Demon of the Gun and Blade, Sol's Prodigy, and even the Devil's Apprentice!"
(Why, there must be another person who has those titles, she surely can't be referring to him.) As Raisel attempted to escape reality, she culminated a grand fear in that moment. A fear that she never wanted realized yet she knew it was going to happen. The fear of a person Reimiel described as immaculate, with Raisel enthusiastically agreeing, turning out to be the man known as Arvad Eversoul.
"His name is Arv-"
A loud shriek pierced the scene, instantly startling Reimiel as well as the four people in front and back of them.
"Miss!" Arvad, AKA Jyro, AKA the amazing man Reimiel just described, moved his horse to his charge's position.
While he was a frivolous man at best, he somehow pulled through at times. He saved her from being sold to slavery, he saved her from being a hostage in an auction house, and now he was bringing her to her father's homeland. He even came immediately to her unneeded aid when she shrieked out in terror at, ironically enough, Arvad himself.
Grasping his shoulder for support, Raisel practically hyperventilated as she tried to speak. "YOU! You... Have to be everywhere?"
Speaking softly enough for only Raisel to hear, despite the acute senses of the surrounding Elves, Arvad scrunched his face in confusion. "What're you on about?"
Nesterius trotted up on his own horse with an oddly devious smile. "What a sumptuous situation, it appears that I happen to know my good friend here on a personal basis. Please! Accompany us and be my guests at our personal residence within Illeria."
Arvad scowled under his breath as Raisel instantly replied, "Are you sure? I'm not against accepting your gracious offer, but..."
"No, please come. I have not been able to chat with many people close to my age in the Human lands." Reimiel seemed equally amiable, though unaware of her father's intentions.
The two guards, Malavorn and Faehri, closed their eyes and formed a solemn expression each. Whether they knew the identity of Raisel's bodyguard or if they knew Nesterius' intentions, their blank faces did not reveal any information. They only kept a vigilant watch on their surroundings.