Citsym looked around the spacious room. Across from the door was a big window, a wooden chair sat in the right corner next to the window. The bed was to her right and a table with a mirror and a wash basin leaned against the left wall. Beyond the table was a sat a wardrobe. She set her pack down by the bed, and walked to the wardrobe and looked inside, remembering the vermin that were already occupying her room, at that rat's net of an inn. She closed the door.
"Cat's-fur! I'm so filthy, and my tail is a complete mess. I'm so going to take a bath tonight." She walked over to her pack and took out some soap, a towel, a hair brush and a change of clothes.
Walking back out of the room she went back along the hall, turned left, then left again into the wash room. There three giant tubs were full with the guests who were staying at the inn, all talking and having a good time.
"I hate public baths, too much noise and way too many people in here at once." Citsym muttered as she covered her ears, glared at all of them, turned and walked out.
"They should be ashamed of themselves, all in there at once. Didn't anyone ever teach them any morals?" She walked back to her room.
Going over to her pack, she started going though it. "Now, what will I need to get tomorrow?"
She started looking more intensely, actively searching. "Where is it? It has to be here somewhere." She frantically searched though her pack."It must have fallen out of my pack downstairs; I just hope I can find it." She left the room and hurried back down to the common room.
Citsym took a quick look around. The table that had been flipped over was now righted, and the mess cleaned up. In fact, the whole room was clean. She found the table she'd been at earlier and looked around for her belonging.
"Ah, there it is." Citsym was relieved. She crawled under the table, picked up a small box and looked inside.
"Phew, it's still here, I don't know what I would have done if wasn't" Citsym thought as she closed the box, and held it to her chest. Crawling out from under the table, she walked to the stair well and turned to go up them. She had just moved past the kitchen when she heard a sharp crack.
Citsym froze, suddenly tense, her ears pricked. Crack. There it was again and again. She gasped. "I know that sound" she thought. "That's the crack of a whip!"
Citsym turned around, and quietly moved into the kitchen. It was empty; there were two doorways; one led outside to the stable and garden. The crack of the whip was coming from
inside the other room.
Citsym slipped to the doorway, and peered inside. The red-haired servant was huddled in the corner face against the wall. He flinched every time the whip hit his back, already heavily scarred. What had he done to merit this?
"Boy, this is for slacking off." The inn keeper continued to whip him.
"Slacking off?" she thought. "He was doing more work than the rest of them combined; was it just an excuse to beat him?"
"Master, may I whip him next?" asked one of several female servants standing around watching.
"May I be after her Master?" asked another one.
"No, I want to be next, Master, let me!" said a third girl.
"Ladies, ladies, no need to fight, you'll all get your chance" the inn keeper said.
"As if it wasn't bad enough that they falsely punished him, they made a sport out of it" Citsym realized with disbelief, and started to tremble with rage. She got up to put a stop to this injustice, and then stopped herself. "What good would it do him if I just get myself kicked out?" She thought, and realized there was nothing she could do to help him.
Citsym looked back at him, he didn't seem to care, and it was as if his soul had been taken away. She leaned back against the wall, flinching each time she heard the whip struck, and slid down until she reached the floor and silently wept.
After a while the sound of the whip stopped.
"Now that we have this taken care of, lets drink to a great day." the inn keeper said.
Citsym heard foot steps walk to the other side of the room and the sound of them opening wine bottles. She looked back though the door, the boy's back was torn and bleeding.
He slowly got up, grabbed an old shirt, gingerly eased it onto his shoulders, and started for the door.
Citsym quickly stood up and escaped to her room. Grabbing her bath stuff, she went to the wash room. It was empty now, and the water was already drained from the bathing tubs. Citsym sighed, and turned around to leave when she saw the red-haired boy standing in the doorway.
He look at her questionably, then grabbed a couple of buckets, wincing from the pain, and left to fill them.
"Wait, stop." Citsym cried, but it was too late. He had already disappeared down the stairs.
Citsym felt a spark of hope in her chest. "Perhaps he's not totally lost after all" she thought hopefully.
He returned with two full buckets of water, set them on the floor and reached for more empty buckets, but Citsym grabbed his wrist to stop him. "It's alright, it's enough,"she said pleadingly as she let go of his wrist.
He looked at her, then down at the floor for a moment, and walked out of the room to wait until she was done.
A few minutes later, Citsym came out of the wash room.
"Thank you" she said as she watched him go in to the wash room.
"There has to be something I can do, I can't just let him stay this way" she thought as she walked into her room. She sat down on her bed and tried to come up with a way to help him. She stayed up puzzling over the problem, until she could no longer keep her eyes open and fell asleep feeling helpless.
Citsym woke up, rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but finding she couldn't, she sat up in bed.
"Poor boy, I can't get him off my mind" she said as she stood and walked over to the window.
"I know I need to do something, but what?" sighed Citsym, as she looked out at the predawn sky.
"Since I won't be going back to sleep, so I might as well get ready." She walked over to her pack, opened it, took out a bag and some dabbles and left the room and headed downstairs.
"Hurry up! Get over here with that firewood, boy!"
Citsym went over to the kitchen door and peeked in. The red-haired boy gave the firewood to someone who Citsym presumed was the cook.
"Here! Take this." The cook handed him a stale crust of bread, not even half the size of his hand. He took it and quickly started to consume it.
"Now hurry up and get me some flour from the basement," ordered the cook. The boy quickly went down to the basement.
Citsym grit her teeth, then walking over to the front door, she stepped outside.
"That was barely enough food for a mouse, let alone a boy." Citsym said as she hopped on top of the overhang.
"What am I going to do?" She sighed and sat back to wait for day to come.
Citsym hopped down after the sun rose and started to walk over to the nearest farm house to buy supplies. She saw a farmer paying a hired hand for his services and stopped in mid-stride.
"Why didn't I think of that before? He's a slave! I can buy him from the innkeeper! It's so basic." Citsym said whacking her head with her hand. Citsym strode with a new spring in her step over to the farmer.
"Good morning, do you have any supplies I could buy?" She asked with a cheerful tone.
"It looks like you're in a good mood this morning, young lady." The farmer chuckled.
"Tell me what you need, and I'll see what I can do."
"All right I need some food, a couple of blankets, a pillow and a flack." Citsym told the farmer.
"I can spare all those things, step inside while I gather them." The farmer led her into his house. He quickly gathered the supplies. Citsym packed them into her bag and paid him thirty dabbles.
"Thank you very much" she said with a bow, and set off for a walk through the village.
"We live in hard times, so be careful ya hear?" he called out.
"Don't worry, I will" she called back.
Citsym walked down the road. There were a couple of other farm houses. Further down the road stood a giant guard tower with a guardhouse at the base that looked half-abandoned.
"Hum, why is it on this side when an attack is move likely to come from the other side?" she wondered.
Seeing another farmer working in the field, Citsym walked over and asked "What was the guard tower used for?"
"Ho ho ho, that old tower was built by our ancestors who believed that evil dark creatures were out to get them and drag them back to their dark lord deep with in the forest. There's no need to worry though, it's all just an old legend, made by unsound people." he told her and went back to work. She thanked him for telling her about the tower, and then walked over to the tower.
"Wow, it's so tall and still surety, even from all those years ago" Citsym thought as she walked around it. "I can't just believe that people would build some thing like this so well, if there wasn't a real threat over there of some kind. Besides all legends have to start some where or by something, and they all have a bit of truth, of some kind in them, you just have to look for it." she thought as she starred up in amazement. She walked around for a little wile longer, then sat down with her back against a leg of the tower gazing at the sky.
"I wonder, if their ancestors use to live were the forest now is, and if so, then it seems that they fled the forest from some creature, or thing that had appeared and proved to be hazardous. But the forest is more than thirty-five mils away, they must of been pretty paranoid about the creature to of built that tower."
After watching the clouds roll by for awhile got up and walked back towards the inn.
"Huh, a tavern, I must of missed it when I ran in side of the inn last night. Oh well it's not like I would go there anyway, anyone who goes into a tavern is just asking for trouble I say, and I all
ready deal with enough of that." She thought and went inside the inn.
It was noisy as Jordan crossed the tavern floor, to the table where Alfred sat, and set down two
mugs of aperitif, than joined Alfred.
"Who does he think he is, telling me off like that?! I'm the greatest Hunter there is!" Alfred said aggressively.
"...Right Alfred, whatever you say,"come the usual reply.
"He has no right. You'll do well to remember this, Jordan. Don't make his mistake," Alfred said.
"Mistake? He's just looking out for the well-being of his inn,-not trouble," Jordan replided.
Alfred gave him a look of utter distaste at this, "Have your wits entirely fled?! We Hunters do dot bow to mere inn-keepers, Or do you side with him? I wonder about you Jordan, I truly do..." with that Alfred downed his alcohol in one swig, yelling for more.
"No matter what you say, he harbored a demon, that is a crime punishable by death. One which I intend to carry out, with pleasure..."Jordan shuddered at Alfred's smile.
"Man, I had hoped that maybe he was to drunk to notice the half-demon, besides I don't see why we must kill every demon. I mean she didn't cause any harm in the inn, and why must he avenge himself every time someone says something he doesn't like?" Jordan thought "Eh...I'm not-what do you want me to do?" he sighed dejectedly as Alfred laughed. He looked down, ashamed of himself.
"Good. There may be hope for you, yet. Now... his sentence shall be death by fire. We kill the heretic tonight.
"WHAT! We can't! There are innocent people in there! What about them?" he looked at Alfred, silently hoping he wouldn't force him to go though with this.
"What people? Those? Well there just unfortunate casualties," Alfred turned back to his drink. He was laughing in excitement, looking forward to tonight.
Jordan sighed, he would have to go though with it after all. "All those poor people who would die in the fire...Their deaths on his hands, and he couldn't prevent it."
Inside the inn lunch was being served, so Citsym sat down.
"Is there something you would like this afternoon?" asked a waitress.
"Some bred and cheese would be nice," Citsym replided cheerfully.
The waitress walked over to another table, told the red-haired boy something , after giving her a nod, he walked into the kitchen, and returned with a platter full of bred and cheese, that he placed before her.
"I'd love to give him a piece of this, he'd end up in trouble though," she thought sadly.
"Thank you," she told him sweetly, as he went on working.
"Things are going to change, you'll see. I promice." She thought in her heart.
After she finished her meal, she returned to her room, "I'll talk to the inn-keeper tonight about buying the boy from him, for sure," she thought as she lay on the bed.
"Yawn, I'm so tiered, I barely slept last night, oh well I'll just take a little nap before dinner,"
she said as she drifted off to sleep.
An autumnal breeze swept though the village. Everything was quiet and peaceful, as the stars shone brightly in the night sky. Moonlight streamed though a open window, lighting the hall in a silver glow. Shadows quivered across the deserted hall, as embers faded into ash. The flickering light of a candle, shone though the doorway of the meeting room.
"Jordan are you done with those burn bags yet?" Alfred demanded impatiently.
"Yeah Alfred, I got the side and part of the back," he replied.
"The back? . . . What do you mean by the back? You made sure that you placed them no more than four feet apart, didn't you?" Alfred asked darkly.
"Of coarse, I did, I wouldn't dream of placing them any further apart then four feet," Jordan replied, irritated.
Alfred raised an eyebrow, "Good, we wouldn't wont to create a way out, now would we?" he said.
"No not at all," Jordan said as he followed Alfred around the corner on the far side of the inn.
Jordan looked though the window. The light of a candle lit the room. The red-haired boy moved a chair away from the table, in the direction of the hearth, and began sopping up a pool of beer, that was dripping onto the floor from where it had spilled on the table. Jordan stared at the boy. The cut that had been inflicted upon the boy's cheek, was still a bright red.
"Now for the fun part," said Alfred interrupting Jordan's thoughts.
Alfred tied the firestone pieces in a cotton rag, making a spark bag. Than he tossed it though the open window, into the pool of beer. The red-haired boy recoiled from the sudden flash of light, fell backwards over the chair, hitting his head against the hearth, and lay there unconscious.
Citsym groaned as she buried her face in the pillow, "Huh smoke!" She jumped out of bed, grabbed her bag and left the room.
"Wake up, everyone! Get out, the inn's on fire!" shouted a frantic maid servant. Panicked people raced from their rooms, all trying to get down the stairs and outside. Citsym backed up against the wall as people rushed past her. The frantic maid screamed as she crouched down against the opposite wall further up the hall. Citsym jumped over the people to where the now sobbing maid sat crouched.
" Hay, get up. . . Get Up," Citsym urged the maid, who sat there not responding. "Will you just listen to me," She said as she grabbed the maid by the arm. The maid looked at Citsym.
"Come on, get up, if you stay crouched down like this any longer, you'll be trampled," said Citsym as she pulled her up onto her feet.
" But I don't know what to do, there are still people on the third floor, and I'm supposed to warn them, but everyone started running and I'm scared, and . . . and I. . . got cot. . .and . . . and . . ."
"It's all right," Citsym said cutting her off. " You've done enough," she told the maid.
"But what about the people on the third floor?" the maid began to sob.
"Don't worry about it, I'll go warn the rest of the people. So you just work on getting out of here okay?
" All right," said the maid as she hurried with the others to get out.
Citsym made her way though the crowd and up to the third floor, where the guests were emerged from their rooms.
"What's all the commotion down stairs?" one of them asked.
"The inn's on fire, everyone hurry down stairs." Citsym said.
They all gasped at the sudden thought, quickly grabbed what little they could and ran down stairs. After she was sure the floor was empty, Citsym followed them to the second floor, when she heard a faint sound from a room not too far away.
Citsym went into the room, and found a child huddled in the corner, crying. She picked up the child and left the room. She flew down the stairs, heading towards the kitchen doorway. A man on his way out, saw them coming down the stairs and came over to her.
"Is that everyone?" the man asked as he took the child from her arms.
"I believe so," Citsym replied.
"All right then, let get out of here." he said and ran though the doorway to the kitchen.
Citsym paused, and looked back at the flames. Crash! The doorway to the kitchen collapsed.
"Are you all right miss?" The man asked.
"Yes, I'm fine," She told him.
"Hold on a minuet, I'll get some help, and we'll have you out," said the man.
"No, it's to dangerous for you to come back in, don't worry I'll find a way out, now go." Citsym said and turned around to find a way out.
She hurried into the hall. The room was covered in flames. Citsym peered though the smoke and thought she saw a window not yet engulfed in flames. She headed towards the window, when she suddenly stopped. Something wasn't right, she moved to the meeting room.
Citsym gazed into the room. She saw a dark figure of a person, laying there unconscious. She dashed into the room, dodging the flames, then stopped aghast. "The boy!" She thought. She rushed over and pulled him onto her back. She turned to leave, when one of the overhead beams came crashing down between her and the door. She scanned the room for any other means of escape. She looked at the fiery pillars that were the sides of the window, flames were licking there way along the crossbeam.
"I could wait it out in the fireplace. No he'd never survive," she thought.
"The window it is then," she said and leapt though.
Once outside Citsym knelt down and held her hand up so it rested in front of the boys mouth.
"Good he's still breathing," she said, stood up and readjusted him on her back.
"Well now, I never would have expected you to jump though the window like that," said Alfred as he stepped out of the shadows, blocking the way to were the other guests were gathered.
"It's so unlike your kind to do so, but on the other hand, I've all way fond it mush more fun to eliminate you myself," he snickered as he draw a broad sword and approached her with an evil grin on his face.
Citsym turned and darted away from Alfred. Jordan stepped forward to grab her, but she jumped over him, and fled into the night.
"Jordan you lout, this is the second time you let it get away," Alfred shouted as he knocked Jordan to the grand. He stomped back to the tavern, as it was useless to try to follow her into the night.