Excerpt for Felix Let Loose (The Slayer Book 2) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Chapter One

Convenient Farewells



‘Ok bye!’ Waltz waved back at the cat as the rest of the guild walked away. ‘We won’t miss you at all!’

They headed down a pleasant country road, with a golden wheat field on one side and a plain dirt field that had already been cultivated on the other. Waltz, Sumaey, Graham and Spirit walked away together, leaving behind the freaky looking cat. Loxus, the mechanical spider-scorpion thing, walked ahead of them, his metallic feet clinking as he walked slowly forwards.

Spirit and Graham didn’t care much for the cat, and hardly noticed it whether it was there or not.

Waltz dared to glance back at the cat, feeling a chill down its spine when he noticed that it was still watching him. He had dumped the cat in a random location as soon as he decided he didn’t want it around anymore. He needed six members to form a guild, and had grabbed the cat from a stranger to get registered as an official guild. But once the paperwork was complete, he couldn’t find the man he intended to return the cat to. Holding onto it for a few days in case he found the man again, he eventually decided to leave it in the wilderness.

‘Uhg’ Waltz grimaced, turning away from the cat and looking ahead again. ‘Creepy. I hate the way it never blinks.’

‘Hm’ Sumaey replied. ‘Aren’t we one member in our guild short now? I thought a guild needed at least six members.

‘To become a registered guild’ Waltz agreed. ‘It does. But once you're registered, things become a lot more flexible.’

Waltz dared to glance back again, but this time the cat creature was gone.

He breathed a sigh of relief, facing ahead again.

‘…I hate cats.’

‘So what's our first mission as a newly registered guild?’ Sumaey asked him curtly, getting straight to the point.

‘Our first mission’ Waltz began dramatically, ‘is to go to the local tavern and search for a quest that is suitable to our level of skill’ he said, ‘…and we can get a drink while we’re there’ he added hastily with a self-satisfied grin.

‘Why don’t we find a place to live first?’ Sumaey suggested.

‘Live?’ Waltz scoffed as they walked along the dry dirt road, the ever-silent Spirit and Graham and Loxus walking a little ahead. ‘I've never really lived anywhere.’

‘Not even when you were young?’

‘That’s an exception.’

‘Well shouldn’t we have a headquarters of some kind?’ Sumaey suggested.

‘Hm?’ Waltz said. ‘Hey I've just had a great idea! We should find somewhere to live and make it our headquarters!’

‘Indeed’ Sumaey droned. ‘Convenient then, that I already found a place.’

‘You did?’ Waltz was totally surprised. ‘Waw really?’

‘Yup’ Sumaey nodded. ‘We’re going there now…that is unless…you would rather get drunk at the local tavern.’

‘As tempting as that sounds’ Waltz spoke slowly, ‘let’s go visit our new home! I want to see where we will live.’



Luckily it was pretty close to where they happened to be at that time, and the journey was pleasant.

Waltz stood in the sparsely growing forest with his new and awesome guild, the small woodland was set on the open plains and away from any main route or road. This little cottage they had found before them was cosy and peaceful, with its little windows, thatched roof and winding cobbled stone path (surrounded by overflowing flower beds) that led to a red painted front door, with a little window shaped like a heart set in the wood at head-height.

‘It’s beautiful’ Waltz sighed in awe, ‘very homely. How on earth did you manage to afford this?’

‘Don’t be stupid’ Sumaey scowled. ‘It’s only a rented apartment. There are four different living quarters. We have the one of the ones on the top floor.’

‘Oh’ Waltz said scratching his head. ‘Of course.’

‘It was originally a cottage owned by a single person’ Sumaey said, leaning on a hip and folding her arms. ‘But now it’s been converted so that the person who owns the building can make more money.’

‘Hey actually that’s a good idea’ Waltz thought aloud. ‘Maybe we should do something like that.’

‘Sure’ Sumaey scoffed. ‘When we have that sort of money to buy that sort of building in the first place. I got this cheap at short notice. That’s why I didn’t mention it before. Also I forgot.’

‘Hu?’ Waltz cocked his head, scratching his chin as he continued to observe the building. ‘How lovely.’

And then Spirit who stood behind them, spoke.

‘I think it is wonderful.’

Sumaey and Waltz both glanced back at him.

They smiled.

‘Come on’ Sumaey said. ‘Let’s go inside.’


Their room was one of the ones upstairs (as Sumaey has already mentioned). They were able to enter it by way of a wooden stairs (at the back of the cottage) that led up to a pretty balcony made of dark wood which ran along the length of the building. One door was the door to their apartment, the other, was the other (obviously).

‘So who’s our neighbour?’ Waltz asked, eyeing up the other door.

‘It’s empty at the moment’ Sumaey told Waltz as Spirit opened the door to their apartment and walked in. ‘There’s two magicians living downstairs’ Sumaey continued, ‘but they're hardly ever here, and apart from that, we have this place to ourselves.’ She walked towards the door to their apartment, following Loxus into the room. ‘There was a young woman living in the other apartment’ Sumaey went on. ‘But she’s moved out.’

Graham who had struggled up the steep stairs to follow them, tried to enter the apartment then.

‘No!’ Sumaey said pushing him back. ‘Horses and other living transport is not allowed!’

Graham’s response to this was to bellow at her.

Shut up’ Sumaey hissed at him as she fought him in the doorway, struggling to push him back as he held his ground. ‘You’ll annoy the neighbours. We don’t want to get kicked out of here. Do you know how hard this place was to find?’

‘You said it was easy’ Waltz interjected as he watched them struggle without bothering to help.

‘I got lucky’ Sumaey hissed back.

‘And I thought you said we had no neighbours…’ Waltz grumbled, scratching at his ear. ‘The two magicians downstairs are hardly ever here you said.’

‘Start as you mean to go on’ Sumaey retorted, before turning her attention back to Graham. ‘I said no. You’ll stay in the stables with the other horses.’

He bellowed at her again. Graham had held a grudge against Sumaey since that time she set the end of his tail on fire in the previous book. He had never quite gotten over it.

‘Oh, let him stay’ Waltz asked nicely. ‘He won’t cause any trouble I'm sure.’ He spoke to Graham now. ‘Do you agree to be quiet if we let you in?’

Graham did not answer, as he was unable to speak, being a deer and all. But he was silent, and so Waltz took that as agreement.

‘Come on then’ Waltz sang, patting Graham on the back. ‘Let’s go look at our new home.’

Sumaey sighed wearily, relaxing as she let go of his horns and straightening up.

‘Alright’ she said turning away from the pair. ‘But Graham better be on his best behaviour indoors.’

‘Oh he will’ Waltz said leaning into him. ‘You're a good boy’ he cooed, ‘aren’t you?’

Graham did not react, but stood silently staring into the room.

‘Well’ Waltz said stepping back and indicating the open doorway. ‘After you.’

Graham dipped his head, making his way forwards and into the apartment. Waltz followed after him, closing the door after.


Inside it was small, but it was pleasant. There were just two rooms, three if you counted the small bathroom. The first room they entered was the largest; there was nothing but a double bunk bed in the corner beside the window, and a decorative rug in the middle, and nothing more. In the next room there was a kitchen. And that was it.

‘I like it’ Sumaey said, leaning on a hip and folding her arms. ‘It’s simple. That in itself has a certain quality about it, don’t you think?’ she asked turning to Waltz.

Waltz’s attention drifted then to the bunk bed.

He grinned.

‘One for you one for me?’ he said to Sumaey.

‘No’ Spirit spoke up harshly. ‘I share the bunk with her.’

‘He’s grown no less protective of you then’ Waltz mumbled turning away.

Spirit was very attached to Sumaey, and deeply resented Waltz, despite being the leader of his guild. Spirit did not care for him, and he made this very clear. Waltz had no authority over Spirit, the one time he did try to tell him to do something, Spirit just looked at Waltz as if he had just eaten his own feet.

‘I guess I will sleep in this corner then’ Waltz lamented, drifting over to that corner and staring down at it sadly. It was a nice patch in the sunlight.

It was then at that moment that Graham came over and sat in that corner, in an action that clearly said ‘mine’.

‘Oh come on!’ Waltz protested loudly, throwing his arms out. ‘What the hell?!! That’s my corner!’

Graham roared at him stubbornly, snuggling tighter into the corner protectively.

‘No!’ Waltz said. ‘Out!’

Graham roared again, this time a little louder.

Waltz grabbed him by his long tail, pulling him back. The two began to fight.

‘Soft sheets’ Sumaey spoke to herself moving over to the bed. ‘Do you want the top or bottom bunk?’ she asked Spirit.

‘You choose’ the water elemental said to her.

‘I’ll take the bottom bunk’ she said turning back. ‘You can have the top one.’

Spirit nodded to her. He moved forwards and climbed onto the top bunk, as Sumaey moved over to the bottom bunk, lying back on it.

‘Will you two shut up!? She snapped at Waltz and Graham who fought in the corner. ‘Jeez, I can’t hear myself think!’

Waltz glanced up then, Graham using this moment of distraction to kick him hard in the gut, pushing him into the middle of the room.

Waltz groaned in pain, body hunched over and holding himself as he glared at Graham.

‘It’s ok’ Waltz mumbled, turning to the only other available corner in the room, a drafty patch near the door. ‘I could still have….’ He broke off, seeing Loxus had already claimed that space, curled up with his metallic tail around his spider-body.


That night, he slept in an inconvenient corner of the kitchen on a sleeping mat, right in everybody’s way who needed to get there. Despite this, it was very comfortable in their little rented room, and pleasantly warm on that night.

All of them slept peacefully, until they were abruptly woken the next morning by Waltz.

He turned over breathing deeply and stretching as he did so. Waltz heard the garden birds singing outside, felt and morning sun upon his face.

He opened his eyes, and let out a cry of terror.

Sumaey who had been sleeping on the edge of her bed panicked, falling off the edge. The others in the room had woken instantly, Spirit from the top bunk was glaring disapprovingly at Waltz, and Graham and Loxus were peering around the door to look into the kitchen.

Waltz was pressed against the wall of the kitchen, on the other side of the room to where he had been sleeping, clutching his racing heart as he stared in horror at the thing that had woke him up. He had been resting peacefully on his back until he had opened his eyes, and saw the thing leaning over him.

The cat.

‘…what the hell are you doing here…?’ Waltz gasped, staring at the strange-looking cat, the one they had dumped at the start of the book.

It had large ears and large eyes, a tail that was split in two and naked skin that looked like dead flesh.

‘I hate cats…’ Waltz uttered. ‘They’re so freaky…’

Sumaey had picked herself up off the floor, staring into the kitchen.

‘Hey look it found us’ she said.

‘I hate it!’ Waltz squawked. ‘Why won’t it blink?! It’s horrid.’

‘Oh, it’s not that bad’ Sumaey smiled, wandering over to it and bending down to pick it up. ‘I rather like it’ she said, holding it in her arms.

The cat-creature turned its head, staring up at her.

‘See?’ Sumaey said turning to Waltz. ‘It’s friendly…and it’s soft…’

‘We’re not keeping it’ Waltz spat.

‘Why not?’ Sumaey glowered. ‘Isn't it officially a member of our guild?’

‘No! I'm willing to keep that stubborn mule here’ he said pointing an accusing finger at Graham, ‘but I'm not having that thing.’

Graham instantly turned and roared at him.

‘Shut up!’ Waltz retorted.

‘I think you're over-reacting’ Sumaey told him flatly.

‘Here’ Waltz said rising swiftly and darting over to the window and opening it. ‘Let me solve this problem.’

He swiped the cat from Sumaey’s arms and tossed it out of the window. The cat landed safely on the soft grassy floor, turning back and staring up at Waltz.

‘Don’t come back here!’ Waltz yelled at it, before snapping the window shut hastily afterwards.

(PLEASE DON’T ACTUALLY THROW CATS FROM WINDOWS. THEY DON’T LIKE IT)

‘There’ Waltz said happily, moving over to the sink and washing his hands. ‘A job well done. Now let’s go get some breakfast.’

Sumaey sighed wearily at him, shaking her head.

There was a communal kitchen downstairs; it was small, but pleasant.

Sumaey was only just about able to cook the food as fast as Waltz was eating it. After a time she stopped, glaring at him.

‘Have you noticed that every anime has a food manic?’ she asked him. ‘Hey! Are you listening?’

He glanced up at her.

Sumaey raised her hand, pointing at him. ‘You're eating so fast…you have shrapnel on your face.’

Waltz paused then, reaching for a napkin and wiping his face in a very delicate manner, like a gentleman, very unlike the slob who had been eating with his face pressed against his plate.

He didn’t even notice the cat who appeared then, the strange one with large eyes that had been following them. It leapt lightly onto the corner of the table, having snuck in through the open door. It moved as silent as…well…a cat…or an owl at night.

‘You had better eat something yourself’ Waltz told Sumaey. ‘We’re leaving as soon as possible.’

Graham plodded up beside him, eyeing up his cereal.

He stuck his face into the bowl, beginning to eat.

Waltz began to loudly protest, fighting Graham out of his food indignantly. Beside them Spirit groaned wearily, resting his chin in his hands and glancing away. He had only eaten a little corner of toast and was apparently satisfied with that.

‘To be honest I'm anxious to begin another quest’ she said to him. ‘I feel restless just sitting around. I don’t feel hungry to eat.’

Waltz paused then, releasing his grip on his breakfast bowl which Graham stole, hastily finishing the rest of the cereal.

‘You are looking for adventure?’ Waltz asked her.

‘I want to find out who I really am’ Sumaey told him, ‘none of my memory has come back. all that I do remember is…waking up in the wilderness…with you by my side…nothing more.’

‘Sounds like a pretty good memory’ Waltz gleamed at her, leaning forwards on the table with a sly grin. ‘What more do you want in life?’

‘Don’t flatter yourself’ she told him shortly, glancing to the cat that sat on the table right beside him and out of his line of sight at that time.

‘Hm?’ Waltz said noticing her gaze sailing past him.

He turned to see the cat there, frozen to the spot.

‘It’s you…’ he hissed angrily at it.



They left shortly after that, Waltz and Sumaey packed their bags quickly, and just before they left the property, Waltz picked up the cat and lobbed it into a passing wagon.

The man driving the wagon, pulled by a pony, did not notice.

‘Ha!’ Waltz cried triumphantly as the cat righted itself, having landed softly in the pile of hay that filled the cart. ‘You can’t follow us anymore now can you?!’

The strange cat just sat there in the hay watching them, never moving, never blinking, only staring.

The man that drove the cart was an elderly man, he didn’t seem to hear Waltz’s calls.

‘Come on’ Sumaey told him impatiently. ‘We should get going.’

Waltz lingered for a moment longer, until he saw the cart disappear over the lip of the hill, as it travelled down gentle slope of the road on the other side.

He let out a sigh of relief, turning and skipping towards Sumaey with his arms out. He didn’t run in a straight line, instead weaved back and forth happily.

Sumaey only scowled at him, turning sharply away and following after Spirit who waited for her beside Graham who carried all the bags. Loxus began to wag his tail in that same way he did when he was excited. (It was kind of awkward with the lantern hanging on the end) They had known him for only a short while, but were becoming familiar with his traits. He was a happy creature, and understood every word they spoke. Or so it seemed.

Waltz hurried to catch up with the others as they made their way onwards.

‘And so…’ he sighed happily stretching his arms up and reaching for the heavens, ‘…our adventure begins…’





Chapter Two

Daytime Stars



Thankfully the journey to the next town was not a long one, it would only be a few hours walk, but it wasn’t long before Waltz grew bored. He decided he should began to entertain himself.

He broke into song…



Kalla blickar, kalla kеrar
Och du var bara 14 vеrar
Ta min hand och visa mig vдgen
Jag дare din I alla lдgen

Hej Hej Monika
Hej pе dig Monika
Hej Monika
Hej pе dig Monika
Hej Monika
Hej pе dig Monika
Hej Monika
Hej pе dig Monika



He leant into Sumaey as he continued to sing…

(his voice was actually not too bad)



Kдnns som vеare kдrlek kom pе sne frеn bцrjan
Precis som lutande tornet I Pisa
Tornet stеare dдare дn idag
Och hдare stеare du och hдare stеare jag

Hej Hej Monika
Hej pе dig Monika
Hej Monika
Hej pе dig Monika
Hej Monika
Hej pе dig Monika
Hej Monika
Hej pе dig Monika




Then he danced away, doing in cartwheel and skipping over towards Spirit.

‘Don’t touch me’ Spirit hissed as Waltz drew closer.

Waltz froze then, locked eye to eye with Spirit

Waltz smiled then, trying to break the tension as Spirit continued to glare. It was obvious the water elemental still hated him. (quite a bit)

‘Hey look!’ Waltz declared loudly, suddenly turning away as they continue to walk, pointing down the road as they went. ‘We’re here!’

Sumaey paused in her footsteps, glancing up at building before them. It was a welcoming sight.

All around the inn the vegetation was lush and thick, the leaves in the trees were bright, and the many paths that led to the inn were winding. Upon the rooftop the moss grew thickly, and through the cathedral-like windows even in midday, there came a warm glow from inside.

‘It’s glorious isn’t it?’ Waltz said proudly, standing there with his hands upon his hips in the middle of the road as he took in the sight. ‘You know one day I would love to retire and own my own inn. See the folks come and go, learn their stories…’

Sumaey moved towards him, stopping by his side.

‘Would you really?’ she asked him sceptically.

‘Well yeah’ he said turning to face her.

‘I love being an adventurer and owning my own guild,’ his expression turned into a frown then, ‘even if they don’t respect me’ he added in a glower.

Sumaey only gave him a level expression.

‘I don’t plan on dying’ Waltz said to her, ‘I know it’s dangerous what we do, and that I might die someday, but…’ he trailed off then. ‘I can’t fight until I'm old and grey…and so I will retire, and own my own inn, where I will pass on the valuable information I have gathered over the years to young and worthy adventurers.’ He nodded happily to himself at the thought, smiling. ‘That is what I will do.’

‘I can’t imagine you old and grey’ Sumaey said.

‘What do you mean?’ Waltz said.

‘Well…’ Sumaey mumbled, ‘your hair…it will be pink forever now won’t it? So you’ll never turn grey.’

‘Haha’ Waltz grinned, scratching the back of his head. ‘You're right there.’

What had happened here with his hair was this: Waltz somehow managed to make a fairy named Candy Cake angry due to some accidental misunderstanding (she had thought he was cheating on her because she found him lying asleep on the floor only half dressed with a bunch of other women who were also half dressed, but what had actually happened was that he was having a drunken game of twister with a bunch of strangers, and they had taken some of their clothes off for reasons that Waltz had since forgotten – it was probably because they were hot - and the next morning Candy Cake had inconveniently found him in that state. She had reached the obvious conclusion, and in a moment of anger had cursed him with a spell, turning his hair permanently pink)

Waltz flicked his hair back, beaming at Sumaey.

‘At first it was a bit of a shock’ he admitted, referring to his hair and the state of its new colour of pink-ness. ‘But now I rather like it.’

‘It looks wonderful’ Sumaey droned.

‘Come on’ Waltz said facing ahead again and marching towards the inn, ‘let’s go get a drink and find a job. Our very first’ he gushed.

Sumaey sighed wearily as she watched Waltz soldier on before them, Spirit the water elemental stood by her side, the two exchanged a glance.

They walked together after Waltz towards the inn, followed by Graham the white deer-like creature, and the strange spider-lantern called Loxus.

Waltz was already through the door by the time Sumaey and the others reached the inn through the small gate at the front.

‘Maybe you should wait outside’ Sumaey spoke quietly to Spirit, ‘and you’ she said to Graham and Loxus.

‘I think perhaps you are right’ Spirit grumbled back. ‘I don’t trust these people’ he said glancing through one of the windows on the ground floor.

Spirit remained where he was as Sumaey went on ahead. She stepped through the door of the inn, immediately greeted by noise and cheers from the other guests all having a good time. Even in the middle of the day they were drinking and falling about. In the corner there seemed to be a minor fight going on, someone smashed a bottle over someone else’s head, before slipping on the contents of the bottle he had spilt and falling over with the man he had hit. The man behind the bar acted as if he didn’t notice, instead containing to clean the glasses and serve more drinks.

Sumaey rolled her eyes, turning away as she spotted Waltz standing on the other side of the room before the billboard. He was fixated on it, attention roving the notices before him.

Sumaey stepped forwards, making her way towards him.

‘Anything interesting?’ she asked when she reached his side.

‘Hmm’ Waltz mused, narrowing his eyes as he looked at the ads.





Mouse racing

Catch your mouse

Paint your mouse

Race your mouse and win first prize!

RATS NOT ALLOWED






Turtle on the run

Last seen in my garden

Has a shell (hard) four fat feet, a stubby little tail and a small head

If you see it DO NOT APPROACH as it may be in a bad mood and bite your finger

You have been warned!

Simply inform the owner if sighted, and I will come out as fast as possible with my lasso so that it does not get away again

Answers to the name Norman (sometimes – if this doesn’t work, try hitting it with a cabbage)







MASSIVE REWARD

For capture of strange masked figure


Figure is always dressed all in black, with black gloves and a raised hood (black)

Wears a crows mask with a long beak and large eyes


100,000 BILLION REWARD FOR CAPTURE AND SAFE DELIVERY





Scare the weight off you


Are you fat and hideous and hate the sight of yourself in the mirror?

Do you want to murder that skinny blonde down the road? Or that handsome slender man with a charming smile? Don’t you just want to tie them both down and force feed them cake until they are indistinguishable from walruses?

While we’re not allowed to make other people fat (though we would if we could and we’d charge them for it) we can make you slimmer!

In no time at all we will transform you from a beached whale struggling to get back to the sea, to an underweight, anorexic stick insect struggling to survive.

Lose a stone a day with our fabulous (strict) diet regime!

(Once you agree, there’s no going back)

Scare the fat away by being locked in a mental asylum for nights on end, run for your life at every possible corner from ghosts and zombies and deranged serial killers. Don’t want to keep your food down? Don’t worry! Vomit everything you eat (what little you can find) through pure and primal fear! Dramatically increase your heart rate by hiding from enemies, and the pounds will just melt away!

You’ve never run so fast in your life!

Minor side-effects: heart attack and death (no compensation offered)

(And please don’t actually tie your neighbours down and force feed them like geese ready to be made into pâté – you can’t sue us for that either)







Do you have a headache or an ear ache?

Just remove it by sawing off whichever part of your body hurts!

X-butcher turned surgeon

No job too small!






Did you just fart?

Over-react by yelling at your husband

Marriage Counsellor




‘Look’ Waltz said, spotting an ad at the very bottom of the board and right in the corner. He snatched it up, holding it close to his face as he read it eagerly. ‘This looks interesting.’

Sumaey glanced at the page from over his shoulder.









Horrifyingly Terrible Monster out on the Prowl!!!


Huge reward for the elimination of a terrible beast that has been causing habitat destruction, crashing our parties by setting the guests on fire, eating our livestock, burning our crops, scaring out pet cats and dogs and generally being a nuisance


A scary bird-like creature that uses its wings to help it walk, has brilliant red feathers that you could not help but admire (if you get close enough to be killed by it) and also breathes fire.

Is the size of a really big horse – like a shire horse



If you can kill this beast and save our lives….we will make it worth your while


(also if you can find our village’s lost kitten, you will make a young girl very happy – black and white kitten with a dot on its head)




This looks like it was posted just for us Waltz noted, reading it over again.

‘So you’re going to take this job?’ Sumaey said raising an eyebrow.

‘I sure am’ Waltz winked at her, folding the piece of paper and slipping it into his pocket. ‘I am a master at this after all.’

‘A master idiot’ Sumaey mumbled.

Waltz turned very slowly towards her with a flat expression, completely not amused.

‘You look like a fish’ Sumaey informed him.

‘Shut up’ Waltz grumbled.

Behind them, one of the men sitting at a table, hood raised with his face hidden, turned to face them.

‘Anyway’ Sumaey spoke loudly. ‘We should get going, we’ve hardly any money left. You spent the last of it on that ridiculous hat.’

‘But I like this hat’ Waltz told her defensively, taking it out of his jacket and hugging it. ‘No one’s going to take it away from me…’

Sumaey sneered down at it. It was a hat made entirely of fruit, the centre piece being a pineapple.

‘What a waste of money’ Sumaey hissed.

Waltz glared at her, turning away and clutching the over-sized hat to his chest. He began to talk to it, whispering in a comforting way.

‘Don’t listen to her’ he cooed to the hat. ‘She doesn’t know what she’s saying.’

‘The others are waiting outside’ Sumaey said to him, turning and walking away. ‘We’ve no reason to stay here now we’ve got a job.’

‘Right’ Waltz mumbled after her, still hugging his hat. ‘I'm right behind you.’




The next morning


They were still at the inn, having not actually left yet.

Sumaey was wandering the grounds around the inn, glaring about her as she searched for Waltz.

‘Where is he that little worm?’ she glowered to herself.

She finally found him sometime later around the stables when a painter pointed her in the direction of ‘the pink haired man who was acting peculiar’. Sumaey took the piece of paper the man handed her, before moving away and heading towards Waltz who stood hanging off a lamppost, a piece of dark metal designed in a gothic style.

Sumaey slowed to a stop beside the post, staring up at Waltz who still held onto the lamppost with one hand, his other arm hanging limply by his side as he stared vacantly upwards.

‘Waltz…’ Sumaey began, putting her hands on her hips as she surveyed him. ‘What are you doing?’

It was a few moments before Waltz finally answered her.

‘I’m…’ he began, ‘…looking at the stars.’

Sumaey glanced up to the sky above.

‘But its daytime’ she informed him. ‘There are no stars.’

Waltz faltered then, as if he were genuinely surprised by this.

‘Then what is that I see…?’ he asked.

Spirit came up behind Sumaey then, handing her a bag of powder.

‘Is this what he gave you?’ Sumaey asked Waltz, taking the bag from Spirit and sniffing it.

She hunched over suddenly, hand going to her mouth and nose and coughing violently.

‘What is this stuff?!’

Waltz turned back to them, his expression as if he had only just noticed them for the first time.

‘Liquid sunshine’ Waltz breathed. ‘That’s what it is…’

‘It’s a powder’ Spirit grumbled angrily at him.

‘What?’

‘Have you looked in a mirror lately?’ Sumaey asked him, throwing the bag full of powder away and glaring at him. ‘Your pupils are huge.’

‘….oh….’

‘You took this random substance from that stranger didn’t you?’ Sumaey asked him.

Spirit left her side then.

‘Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to talk to strangers?’ Sumaey interrogated, Waltz was still firmly glued to the lamppost he clung to.

‘I'm not a child’ Waltz replied moodily.

Spirit returned to Sumaey’s side carrying an object.

‘Hey what's in the bucket?’ Waltz asked with sudden interest.

Spirit raised his head, stepping back before throwing the entire contents of the bucket over Waltz.

The shock of the ice-cold water was a shock to Waltz, and in his state of shock, he fell from the post and onto the floor in a shocking manner.

‘AAAAHHH! WHAT THE HELL??!’

‘Get up you lazy bum’ Sumaey ordered him, ‘I'm sick of this ****. We’re supposed to be on this quest. We’ve used the last of our money since you wasted most of it on that stupid hat.’

‘What happened to it?’ Waltz asked, rubbing his eyes.

‘You ate it.’

‘…oh.’

‘Now get up!’ Sumaey barked kicking his boot. ‘We should have left ages ago!’

‘Alright alright I'm getting up’ Waltz argued back, rising gingerly to his feet.

Waltz hunched over, hand going to his head. He then noticed the piece of paper Sumaey carried.

‘What's that?’

‘It’s a picture of you last night’ Sumaey said lifting it to show him. ‘You were hanging off that lamppost for so long that artist managed to paint a picture of you.’

‘Aww whoa’ Waltz said taking it. ‘It’s night time in the picture.’

‘Yeah’ Sumaey spoke moodily. ‘You were there for ages…apparently.’

‘Hu’ Waltz said.

‘Hu indeed’ Sumaey echoed with annoyance. ‘Now let’s get going, the others are waiting for us.’

As Waltz rolled up the painting, slipping it into the inner pocket of his jacket, he saw Graham and Loxus waiting for him a short distance away.

Waltz was suddenly enveloped by a wild excitement, he grasped the air with a fist, a crazed look in his eyes.

‘Let the adventure begin!’ he declared proudly.

Sumaey only tutted, turning away and rolling her eyes as she made her way towards the others, Spirit following silently after her.

‘So which road are we going to take?’ Sumaey called out to him, without pausing in her step.

‘Hold on!’ Waltz mumbled as he hurried after the others. ‘Let me think about this.’

‘Hello there my friend!’ a man called out to them. ‘I hear you are off on an adventure.’

Sumaey folded her arms, instantly regarding the strange man with mistrust, beside him it was clear that Spirit felt the same way towards him. But not Waltz, Waltz trusted anybody pretty much, as long as they were not a witch.

‘Yes you're absolutely right!’ Waltz said enthusiastically, bounding up to him. ‘We are going on an awesome new adventure and were just starting on our merry way!’

‘Well have I got just the thing for you!’ the man in the colourful clothes replied, sitting in his small cart. ‘A map!’ He said producing it, ‘I have several. They will help get you wherever you need to go!’

‘Waw’ Waltz beamed excitedly, ‘this is exactly what we needed! I will take them all!’

‘A wise choice my friend’ the stranger winked handing several rolls over to him, ‘all free of charge.’

‘Now if that’s not a good deal’ Waltz grinned back at Sumaey, ‘I don’t know what is…’




Chapter Three

Elusive Presence



A few days later, and they were slap-bang in the middle of a very hostile swamp.

‘You're a bloody idiot you know that?!’ Sumaey was howling at Waltz. ‘This is all your fault.’

‘I don’t know what you mean’ Waltz cried defensively back, ‘I followed the map exactly.’

‘That’s the problem’ Sumaey protested.

Waltz gritted his teeth, fighting through the hanging vines, Graham nearby was wading through the mud, his slender legs sinking into the muck and his white coat filthy. Loxus was struggling the most, his spindly spider-legs were all but consumed by the mud, and the creature was only just about able to keep up with the others and keep above the surface. Only Spirit seemed to be doing fine, he was a water element, and although he didn’t live in bogs, his kind had always thrived where it was damp.

‘We have to get out of here soon’ Sumaey huffed, pushing back the foliage around her. ‘We only seem to be getting farther in. Maybe we should turn around.’

Spirit glanced behind them, suddenly tense. Clearly, he sensed something the others did not.

‘We can’t turn back now’ Waltz was saying. ‘We’re over halfway through the swamp; to turn back now would only take longer.’

‘So says your map’ Sumaey snapped back at him angrily. ‘How do you know we’re not going to die?’

‘Oh give me a break’ Waltz huffed turning away with a grimace.

At that moment Graham roared in displeasure.

‘Shut up!’ Waltz snapped at him.

‘Listen’ Spirit hissed suddenly.

The others instantly froze. They would listen to Spirit’s order, for he talked so little, he only talked when he had something to say, when it was important, and his tone was watchful.

‘What is it Spirit?’ Waltz whispered nervously to him. ‘Do you sense something?’

Spirit only turned back to Waltz, placing a finger silently to his lips.

Waltz swallowed the lump in his throat nervously.

And then the water/mud around them began to move.

‘Oh balls’ Waltz managed to utter, before all hell broke loose.

Several tentacles shot up from the muddy waters at once, bizarre and grotesque they were as they writhed around in all directions, whipping through the air. Graham instantly ran away as fast as he could as Waltz was struck in the gut by one of the tentacles that barrelled into him, doubling him over. Before Waltz had time to think or act the appendage wrapped around him, hauling him into the air.

‘HAAAAAAAAAAALP!’

On the ground the others barely noticed him, they were fighting their own battles now. Loxus had quickly been subdued, struggling to move in the thick mud the mechanical contraption that he was, was an easy target. His tail waved helplessly back and forth as his legs moved feverishly through the mud, splashing everywhere, while nearby Spirit and Sumaey fought together.

Up in the air Waltz called forth his magic, placing his hands over the tentacles that wrapped around his chest, and growing tighter as the monster squeezed the breath from him. He used his magic to burn them.

The tentacles instantly dropped him, a high-pitched scream emanated all around as Waltz fell back down to earth, pushing himself up hastily with a deep gasp.

Seeing this Sumaey hesitated, her attention lingering on Waltz a little too long.

‘Sumaey!’

She whipped around as a tentacle shot towards her, deflected by Spirit who leapt to her help, putting himself between Sumaey and the threat.

Instantly exploiting his weakness, several more of the tentacles wrapped around Spirits entire body, winding around his throat.

Spirit completely immobilised and helpless now could do nothing but watch the branches of the trees above as his head was forced back, fighting for air, fighting to free himself.

Spirit!’ Sumaey screamed in panic.

She hacked and fought against the binds that held the water elemental, as beside her, Waltz rushed to do the same. Even Graham who had returned to them ran to help now, fighting against the heavy binds with his sharpened antlers, even as the tentacles wound around his body.

Nearby, Loxus was not moving, his body half-buried in the mud and tail limp and still now.

‘He’ll die!’ Sumaey screamed, fighting desperately against the creatures hold to try to free Spirit, even now as the other appendages whipped around them as if in a high wind.

Waltz froze then, bare hands upon the tentacles that held Spirit, staring away suddenly.

‘What is that…?’

A light grew suddenly, enveloping everything.

Waltz felt his feet leave the ground, experiencing the familiar sensation of being teleported by another being, it felt like it did with the witch, only this time, the presence he felt around him was a tender one.

When the light faded, they were in another place entirely, a rocky place, and open place, no longer in the forest.

Waltz dropped in the air the short distance to the ground, stumbling forwards before slowly righting himself.

Behind him he could hear Spirit coughing and retching, glancing tentatively around he saw Sumaey kneeling before him as Spirit rubbed at his throat, shoulders wracked as he continued to cough violently.

Before him Sumaey let out a heavy sigh, her body slumped.

‘Thank god you're alright’ she sighed with tears in her eyes.

‘What happened?’ Waltz asked her.

Sumaey glanced up at him with wide eyes, turning away from Spirit then, though it was clear from her expression that she was just as confused as he was.

Nearby Graham struggled to get to his feet, roaring in confusion, his normally beautiful pure white coat filthy and covered in dark mud.

‘Loxus!’ Waltz gasped, starting forwards upon sight of the great piece of metal just lying there against the rocks a few feet away. ‘Loxus…’ Waltz sighed, staring down as he stood over the spider-lantern.

The poor creature raised one of its spindly legs slowly, struggling to lift its mechanical tail off the ground, its movement was feeble.

‘Poor little guy…’

‘Is he alright?’ Sumaey spoke with worry in her tone, rising to her feet.

‘I don’t know’ Waltz mumbled. ‘Loxus…can you stand?’

The mechanical creature, who could understand the human language perfectly, but not speak it, gathered its feet beneath its body, however did not try to rise.

‘Oh Loxus…’ Waltz sighed miserably. ‘I’m sorry…’

Graham suddenly roared then, staring off into the distance and away.

‘Graham?’ Sumaey called after him.

But he was gone, suddenly running away without warning.

Spirit rose to his feet, rubbing his neck one last time before straightening and running after Graham.

‘What's going on?’ Sumaey groaned in frustration, making after them both.

Waltz lingered a moment longer, glancing back at Loxus lying before him.

‘I’ll come back my friend’ he uttered briefly to the creature, placing a hand upon the cold metal surface before turning away, ‘…I promise…’

Waltz ran at a jog, making his way after the others through the rocky environment.

It was a place very high up Waltz realised, as the wall of rock on one side of him opened up to reveal a world that was far below them.

Waltz slowed only very briefly, contemplating the beauty of all that was before his eyes, before tearing his sights away.

He continued to run, making his way around a corner of rock, skidding to a stop as he saw a figure before him, standing upon the rocks above the others that had stopped also.

‘You!’ Waltz cried, pointing an accusing finger at the man. ‘You're the one that gave me that cursed map!’

The man half-turned back to him with a sneer on his lips, seemingly distracted by something else.

‘What are you looking at?’ Sumaey asked him suspiciously folding her arms.

‘There was something here…’ the man said distractedly, turning away again and looking towards the rocks behind him, ‘…something….’ He clenched his jaw then, straightening up. ‘It doesn’t matter’ he finished briskly, turning back to them.

‘What are you doing here?’ Waltz demanded.

The man sighed wearily, turning to face the others properly as they stood there before him, almost like in a theatre.

‘I have grown tired of this façade’ he told them, ‘Yes I gave you that map, knowing it was false. Oh, and I was also the one to sell you that dodgy powder.’

‘The liquid sunshine?’ Waltz mumbled. ‘Got anymore?’

‘No’ the stranger spoke loudly and hastily as Sumaey turned back to Waltz with a snarl, teeth gritted and ready to hit him. ‘I don’t carry that stuff around with me. Do you know the trouble I would get into if any authority caught me carrying that stuff around?’

‘Well no one’s going to catch you here are they?’ Waltz glowered. ‘What are you doing here anyway? Why are you following us?’

‘I've grown tired of games’ the man said to them, ‘so have decided to come clean.’ He paused then, considering the strange group before him. Waltz, the leader of this small guild, a man with pink hair, Sumaey, who stood there with her arms folded and a sneer upon her lips, the water elemental, and the stag-like creature, its snow-white fur now filthy. ‘My name is Lyle’ the stranger began, ‘and I am here to dissuade you from your quest.’

Waltz frowned, raising an eyebrow at the man. He was average, and unremarkable, in every single way, with brown hair and dull eyes and average height, the man dressed in plain and dark clothes, with a dark mossy-green cloak around his shoulders.

‘Lyle hu?’ Waltz said, ‘and why would you try to stop us on our quest? Do you even know what quest we are one?’

‘As a matter of fact I do’ the stranger Lyle replied.

‘He’s been watching us since we first reached the inn’ Spirit voiced suddenly, glaring at the man suspiciously. ‘I saw you through the window…you were watching Waltz and Sumaey at the notice board. Why do you care what quest is taken up?’

‘You're a sharp one’ Lyle smiled down at the elemental, whose eyes narrowed at the comment.

‘You have some connection to this quest I imagine’ Spirit continued ‘perhaps you want the reward for yourself…perhaps……perhaps it’s something else.’

‘Ok maybe you should stop talking’ Lyle said quickly.

‘So you have a connection to this quest then’ Waltz began, as Lyle’s attention slowly slid onto him. ‘You want to kill this creature before we do? Before anyone else gets the chance?’

‘No’ Lyle said, ‘quite the opposite. In fact, I want you to spare the life of this creature.’

This caught everyone off-guard, and they froze suddenly, lost for what to say.

‘You…want to save this creature’s life?’ Sumaey spoke incredulous. ‘But it’s been killing people…destroying crops and homes…’

‘Not to mention frightening people’s pets’ Waltz added hastily. ‘Let us not forget that little lost kitten.’

Sumaey glared at him.

‘I know…I know what you say is right but….’ Lyle broke off.

‘You have an attachment to this monster…’ Spirit said again, ‘but why…’

‘You say too much’ Lyle snapped angrily then, pointing an accusing finger at Spirit, who slowly bowed his head, expression growing dark.

‘Let’s not get ahead of ourselves’ Sumaey spoke hastily, grasping onto Spirits arm then.

The water elemental let out a slow breath, his body relaxing, though only slightly.

‘So what? You're going to stop us?’ Waltz asked the stranger.

‘Yes’ Lyle suddenly beamed happily at him now in a sarcastic manner. ‘I will do everything in my power.’

‘Why?’

‘Because none of your business that’s why.’

Waltz and Sumaey exchanged a confused glance, before both looking back at the man.

‘How do we know’ Waltz began, slowly drawing his weapon, ‘that you are not evil, that you are not a monster?’

Lyle tensed suddenly, head bowed to the others as Sumaey and Spirit too became tense, ready to summon their magic to them. Ready for whatever was to happen.

‘Why don’t we just kill you?’ Waltz calmly suggested, pointing the tip of his sword towards Lyle.

‘I know enough about your character’ Lyle told him. ‘You don’t kill people.’

‘You don’t know me’ Waltz whispered, though every word was clearly heard, ‘and besides…I've changed…I do kill people.’

Lyle took a step back as Sumaey and Spirit moved aside to give Waltz space as he advanced.

‘You will tell me what I need to know’ Waltz spoke dangerously, ‘or I will kill you.’

Lyle’s eye twitched then, slowly hunching his shoulders, he reached for something hidden beneath his cloak, a weapon perhaps.

Waltz summoned his magic to him, charging forwards to attack Lyle, his sword raised.

A sudden flash of light appeared between the two, and Waltz stopped dead in his tracks.

Lyle drew a slow gasp, shielding his eyes against the glare.

There stood between them, the ghostly figure of a child, a girl, wearing a rich blue dress.

‘What…is this?’ Waltz uttered, squinting through the glare.

The girl, her face hidden by the light, took a step towards Waltz, though her intentions seemed benign.

The girl reached towards him slowly, touching the sword and gently lowering it. Waltz relaxed slightly, lowering his shoulders.

He still could not see her face, though he saw her smile, as she tilted her head at him.

And then as quickly as she had appeared, she was suddenly gone, leaving behind her the natural and dim light of the mountains around them.

Waltz took a step back, suddenly uncertain, glancing around uncertainly.

He sheathed his sword.

‘What was that?’ he asked no one in particular.

‘I believe this is the creature I saw earlier’ Lyle said to him, ‘and before you arrived, I sensed a great surge of magic around her. I believe she is the one who teleported you lot here, and I'm assuming by the state of you, you were in some kind of danger…’

The four of them exchanged hesitant glances at that, as Lyle watched them silently. Spirit was the first to speak.

‘If what you say is true’ the water elemental said, ‘then that creature saved my life.’ he paused. ‘I will not harm you’ he said to Lyle. ‘That strange spirit…. seems to want to protect you.’

‘Well what is it?’ Waltz asked Lyle moodily.

‘I don’t know’ Lyle admitted. ‘I've never seen it before today.’

Waltz grumbled grudgingly.

‘Let us be friends’ Lyle suggested, extending a hand of friendship. ‘It’s not my wish to hurt you.’

‘If that’s the case then why did you lead us into that swamp?’

‘I was merely trying to protect the creature you hunt.’

‘Yeah but why?’

Lyle did not answer, he merely stood there, smiling back at Waltz silently.

Waltz let out a heavy sigh, shoulders slumped.

‘Fine’ he relented, taking the stranger’s hand and shaking it. ‘Friends then.’

‘See?’ the stranger said, his whole demeanour lighting up. ‘Isn't that much better?’

‘I guess’ Waltz grumbled.

‘So’ Lyle began, ‘now you know my name, tell me who each of you are.’

‘My name is Waltz, I'm the leader of this guild.’ He turned, indicating each of the others in turn. ‘That’s Sumaey’ he indicated, ‘and Spirit…and Graham….’

‘I see.’ Lyle scratched his chin. ‘So this is your new guild then.’

Waltz stared.

‘Who are you?’ he asked the man. ‘How do you know that? New guild?’

‘You're missing a member of your guild’ Lyle informed them. ‘Loxus…the mechanical creature…oh relax’ he added hastily, as Waltz’s expression grew ever darker, ‘I know your brother.’

‘Sydney?’ Waltz said with surprise.

‘Yeah that’s him’ Lyle smirked.

‘He’s never mentioned you’ Waltz continued with suspicion.

‘We’ve only been working together recently’ Lyle told him.

‘Working together?’ Waltz frowned. ‘On what?’

‘On none of your business, that’s what.’

‘I see’ Waltz replied, narrowing his eyes. ‘Its like that is it?’

He absentmindedly fiddled with the hilt of his sword then.

Whether Lyle noticed this or not was unclear, though he acted as if he didn’t.

‘Let’s go find your missing guild member’ he offered. ‘I'm surprised you left him behind.’

‘It wasn’t by choice’ Waltz answered sulkily as Lyle walked past him, heading in the direction they had come from.

‘Where is he then?’ Lyle asked stopping after a time and glancing first one way then the other.

At that moment Graham trotted past him, guiding him, and roaring as he plodded along.

‘After you’ Lyle smirked, before making his way after the white stag. He sniffed the air deeply then, a frown crossing his face. ‘Is that strawberries I smell?’

‘Yeah’ Waltz smirked coming up beside him. ‘Graham smells very strongly of strawberries. A sorcerer did that to him.’

‘Why?’ Lyle asked, giving Waltz a sceptical look.

Close by Sumaey marched on silently as they headed back to Loxus, beside her as he always did, Spirit stuck close.

‘That’s quite a funny story you know’ Waltz grinned happily. ‘I don’t know if you know this, but Graham is actually human….well…originally…’

‘Was he now…’ Lyle spoke slowly, scratching his chin. ‘How interesting…’

They rounded the next boulder before them and came back to the place the guild had materialized, seeing Loxus still lying where he had fallen.

‘Oh, the poor thing…’ Lyle spoke approaching him.

As he did so Loxus tried again to lift his tail, his attempts were feeble, and he was unable to get the lantern (which hung from the end) off the ground. The fire inside had gone out.

Lyle knelt beside the strange mechanical spider-scorpion, and he reached out to it, running his hand across the metal surface of its body.

‘I sense a strong intelligence about this creature.’

‘Yeah he’s really smart’ Waltz chimed, standing behind Lyle with his arms folded. ‘Isn't that right Sumaey.’

‘He apparently possesses human-level of intelligence’ Sumaey droned beside him. ‘He can understand us perfectly, he is just unable to speak himself.’

‘I see’ Lyle mumbled, seeing Loxus’s pincer-mouth. ‘It would be cool to give him a voice box wouldn’t it…?’

Sumaey and Waltz exchanged a curious glance at that thought. Lyle bowed his head, taking a closer look at Loxus’s body.

‘His joints are caked with mud. If we can get him to some water…we could clean him…. maybe that would help.’

‘You think that would work?’ Waltz asked sceptically.

‘Maybe…’ Lyle mumbled, rising to his feet again. ‘I’ve never seen a creature like this before…it must be very rare…’

He straightened then, regarding Waltz and Sumaey and Spirit.

‘I need all of you to help me carry him.’


The four of them each grabbed two of his legs, even Graham helped by lifting the mechanical tail using his antlers, and so together with all five of them, they were able to carry Loxus down a path through the mountains, and to a wide and shallow river.

They dropped his body into the gentle current, each breathing heavily with the effort.

‘Dam he’s heavy’ Waltz gasped, wiping his brow, feeling hot with the effort. ‘How does he carry himself around all the time?’

Graham who had overheated in the excursion, immediately sat down in the cool water, panting heavily.

‘So you're still set on pursuing this creature?’ Lyle asked casually, kneeling down in the water and beginning to wash Loxus’s joints.

‘Are you still set on trying to stop us?’ Waltz countered, kneeling to do the same.

Lyle shot him a glower, which Waltz returned.

Sumaey who stood nearby with her arms folded, regarded both of them silently.

Beside her, Spirit as always stuck close to her, head bowed, he extended his arms them, using magic to lift the waters around them.

Waltz and Lyle rose to their feet, stepping back away from Loxus as he was consumed by the water, sweeping over his mechanical body.

Loxus didn’t move as the water washed over him, he remained where he was for several seconds, before bringing his feet beneath his body again, and rising.

Waltz’s expression broke out in a wide grin, as he clapped his hands happily.

‘He’s alright!’ Waltz cried out. ‘I’m so glad!’

Lyle and Sumaey both smiled as Loxus began to prance in the water, waving his great tail, the lantern on the end swinging back and forth merrily.

‘Let me get that for you’ Waltz offered, reaching up to the lantern and using his magic to light a flame. ‘That’s better’ he grinned merrily, closing the little glass door and kneeling before the strange mechanical creature. ‘That’s better isn’t it boy?!’

The creature’s eyes began to shine then, those dark metallic pieces.

Loxus stepped closer to Waltz who knelt in the water, soaking his clothes. Loxus waved his tail about, the lantern on the end jangling.

‘There’s a good boy’ Waltz gleamed patting the creatures metallic back.

‘Such a curious thing’ Lyle was speaking under his breath. ‘You say a sorcerer gave him to you?’

‘Yeah’ Waltz replied, rising to his feet, placing his hands on his hips and beaming down at the creature. ‘He was a sort of gift…a reward for completing a quest…’

Graham rose to his feet then, the water running from his white fur down his body, his body now clean from mud. He ran away then, Loxus made to go after him, and the two began to play.

‘Such a strange pair, aren’t they?’ Waltz commented.

‘They are’ Lyle agreed, ‘but then…’ he turned back to Waltz, ‘…this is a strange guild.’

Sumaey and Spirit look on silently.

‘I'm hungry’ Waltz spoke flatly. ‘Let’s go find an inn and rest.’

‘And then after that?’ Lyle asked loudly as he walked away.

‘We will slay this monster’ Waltz spoke with finality. ‘It is our job, and we need the money.’




Chapter Four

A Path to Darkness and Sinister Things




The strange band of six travelled down the rocky path to the foot of the mountains, from there traversing the winding road towards the nearest town.

It was getting dark, and with every passing moment, the lights from the houses before them became ever brighter.

Loxus and Graham led the way, the lantern which hung from the end of Loxus’s tail swung back and forth with every move he made, the other walked in his wake.

They walked mostly in silence, Sumaey and Waltz side-by side, with Spirit trailing after them, and Lyle walking a short distance to the side.

Lyle cast a glance to the side towards the water elemental who walked with his head bowed, his eyes to the floor.

‘You don’t say much’ Lyle noted, addressing the elemental.

The elemental continued to walk, raising his head slightly, dark eyes turned towards Lyle.

‘I speak when I have something to say’ the elemental replied.

‘I never thought a creature like you would be travelling with a guild’ Lyle noted, speaking aloud. ‘Aren’t you exactly the type of creature a guild would typically hunt and kill?’

Spirit was silent for a few moments as they continued to walk through the darkening world around them, then he spoke.

‘Do you like pain?’ Spirit asked Lyle.

Lyle smirked at this, turning away.

‘Spirit is different’ Sumaey offered, ‘we came to his assistance in his time of need. I saved him.’

‘So that’s why he has such a fondness for you’ Lyle said.

Sumaey slowed to a stop, regarding him with a stony expression.

‘Why are you following us anyway? Why are you so interested in us?’

‘Because I find you interesting’ Lyle replied, glancing from her to Spirit and back again. ‘Do you not think you are interesting? Such a guild as yours I have never seen before.’

‘Yes’ Sumaey told him shortly. ‘We share an attachment, Spirit and I….I care for him very much.’

Spirit suddenly glanced towards her looking surprised. Lyle wasn’t sure, but he thought for a moment that he saw the elemental smile, or perhaps he had imagined it.

‘More to the point’ Waltz interrupted stopping then, speaking firmly and folding his arms, much in the way that Sumaey did so often. ‘You are far too interested in us for my liking.’

‘I am protecting this creature’ Lyle explained.

‘Yeah. You said that’ Waltz replied with dissatisfaction. ‘But why?’

‘Like I said’ Lyle smiled warmly, though his tone was sharp. ‘It’s none of your business.’

Waltz frowned suspiciously. He wasn’t happy with the situation, but Lyle was insistent on accompanying them.

Graham turned back to face them, suddenly letting out a roar. He and Loxus were some distance ahead now, waiting for the others to catch up.

‘Come on’ Sumaey sighed marching forwards. ‘Let’s get to this town so we can sleep in a proper bed. I’ve had enough adventure for the time being.’



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