Of Love and Magic – A Gentleman Goes on a Walkabout

The city of Edelweiss had existed for longer than the scholars could remember.  For over a millennia the city had been torn down and rebuilt every cycle, being on the edge of human controlled lands it was often ransacked by the invading monster hordes.  However, with the rise of the current Demon Lord, a treaty had been reached allowing mamano to enter the walled city.  There was of course, a period of unease with the integration of monsters into the city but with their willingness to help rebuild and regrow all the damage of previous generations they slowly but surely won over the human residents.   
During a particularly rough winter the people found themselves in dire straights.  A late freeze had killed a large portion of their crops and neither agricultural science nor mamano magic could save their food supply.  The city had food stores in reserve but those soon began to dwindle, and that was when the Order showed up.  They made a offer to the city, a small plot of land to build themselves a keep on, and the people would get a supply of food that would last them until they could again grow more.  Naturally the mamano members of the city council had opposed to the idea, but necessity won out in the end, and the treaty was amended to accommodate the Order.   
The citizens of Edelweiss were understandably concerned about their daughters and wives, and made sure that the Order was restricted in what they were capable of.  The rules applied to the Order were simple.  The first was that they had to follow the governmental law of the city.  This meant that the Order could not target random mamano.  They could only go after those that had committed some form of crime, and that the mamano in question was giving a fair trial before being relegated to the mercy of the Order.  The second was that they would be treated the same as any mercenary group, this allowed the Order to move the supplies they needed to maintain the tower, and also allowing the city to tax the Order as a business tax.
Not to be outdone, the mamano also established a fortress to function as a safe zone.  The fortress simply called The Manor, was proposed by one of the longest running members of the city council, a succubus named Isadora.  The Manor was in fact her husbands home having been reinforced with stone walls and guard towers turning the home into a citadel.  From her home Lady Isadora oversaw the welfare of the mamano and kept her people in check, keeping even some of the more violent species from stepping to far out of line.  She also had a reputation for locking horns with the Order, and using the Manor as a safe place for those the Order had declared criminals.   
This allowed the city to exist on a very shaky equilibrium.  If the Order pushed to far the mamano would push back.  If the mamano began to step out of line, the Order would reel them in.  It was this duality that allowed Mod and Hilde to move through the city streets without much notice.  Their journey down the main strip was filled with the sights and sounds of the city.  People milling about their day, sales people trying to sell their wares, even food merchants trying to waft the smells of their stores and stands to entice potential customers.
Hilde was visibly more nervous than Mod, she was currently trying her best to blend in while staying as alert as possible.  This being the first time the wolfkin had a good look at the city, her head was spinning.  The sounds of the people milling about and the delicious smell of cooked meats was almost overwhelming.
“There are so many people here.”
Hilde seemed to be lost in the sight of it all.  Mod did his best to stifle a laugh, she looked like a child who had just see the outside world.    
“It’s the biggest city this side of the continent.”  
“I’m not used to this, all these people.  I’m more at home in the forest, I don’t know how you can even hear yourself think.”
Mod glanced over at the mamano, noticing she had now moved closer to him so that they were brushing up against one another, every other step causing Hilde to bump into him.  He also noticed that her head was no longer moving about, but now seemed to be staring at the ground as if she were trying to block out all the background noise.
“A country girl then?”
“Mostly yes.”  Hilde turned her head so she was now looking up at the slightly larger man.  “Until I decided to travel I had lived in a small community in the northern woodlands.”   
“Way up past the mountains huh?  What brought you way out here?”
“I grew bored with a static life.  Day in day out I would wake up, hunt, and then just sit in the forest till sun down.  It was all so very boring.  So one day I decided I wanted to see the rest of the world and was doing quiet good at it until I ran low on supplies and botched a few hunts, but then I ran into them.”
Hilde’s until now nervous expression, had become one of pure hated.
“Those stupid men in armor they looked so slow in all that metal, I thought I could grab some of the meat they had on the fire and be out before they could ready themselves.”
Mod laughed earning him a glare from the wolfkin, “You tried to steal from the order, no wonder  they locked you up.”
Mod noticed that Hilde had now completely pressed herself up against him, her body shivering slightly no doubt from nerves.  He had hoped, that their conversation would help calm her down.  Lifting his arm he draped it over her back, pulling her a little closer.  She leaned into Mod moving her arm around his waist in a light embrace.  Mod was surprised by the scent coming of the girl, it was sweet giving no hint to the fact the only cleaning the girl had done was a wipe down with a rag.  With the cold weather Mod couldn’t help but enjoy the warmth put off by the girl, even being felt through the clothes they were wearing.  The slowing of the crowd bought Mod out of his thoughts.
The city gate was within sight now, and people were slowly filtering through.  The porticulous was smaller than the street that ran through it, forcing the crowd to collapse slightly causing the travelers to slow as they approached.  The great stone archway had spikes hanging from below showing where the actual gate retracted allowing passage.  Mod noticed a few things that caused him to slow his stride.  The first was the mountain of a man who was watching the prison the previous night, and the second was a small platoon of Order knights that were standing with him.  Hilde squeezed Mod tighter, she too had also seen them.
“Relax and act natural.  If they notice us, you are to make a break for that gate. “
“What about you?”
“Even if they seal the porticulous they have no way of containing me without a way to cancel my magic, and if they had something like that I would know about it by now”
The two moved with the crowd doing their best to blend in.  As they moved closer to the gate Mod glanced around trying to get a better feel of the situation.  The soldiers closer to the gate wore the armor of the city guard, their leather garb looking as uncomfortable as possible.  This meant that the Order was not here officially, such a small detachment would mean that the Order has cast a wide net to try and catch Hilde and him.  The city guard would likely not respond right away so this would buy them extra time to get to the gate were they to be spotted.   
Mod himself would function as a good distraction if need be.  While teleporting through the gate would drain his energy, it would not leave him as drained as he was the previous night.  They were still moving with the crowd, still blending in the best they could.  All they had to do was make it passed the gate and they would be home free.
Dammit and everything was going so good.  Mod looked up to where the voice came from and saw a man in bright metal armor lumbering in their direction.  The black haired man looked to be about mid twenties and while he was not taller, the man was clearly more muscular.     
Hilde squeezed him tighter.  Mod began gently stroking the girls shoulders to calm her, never taking his eyes off the encroaching knight.  The mage began to formulate a plan in his mind.  A flash attack would be best, his magic would tip the scales in their favor, but they would need to be gone by the time the rest of the Ordites showed up.
Watching the raven haired warrior close in, he could feel Hilde tense up.  Mod began to worry the mamano would bolt prematurely, and started to channel the mana needed for his spell.  However, before he was even able to begin the Order solider grabbed the cloak of a young women about twenty feet away.   Tossing back their cloak, revealed the canine ears of a young werewolf starring daggers at the knight.   
“It’s not her!”  The knight bellowed back to his brothers.  The werewolf smacked the knights hand away and walked closer to the cart she was guarding.
“Insufferable wretch would that I could purge this city of all your il-“
“Alright pal, that’s enough harassing the merchants.”
A salamander wearing the leather armor of the city guard approached the knight.  Her crimson hair pulled into a ponytail, flowing behind her.  She had taken some liberties with her armor working some of her own discarded scales into the armor itself.  Her exposed abdomen showing off toned abs, the mamano guard was approaching the knight at a steady pass, staring him down with a look that could kill.
The angered warrior moved his hand toward his hip, and began unlatching the clasp on his sword.  All around the crowd began to move giving the two soldiers space, Mod and Hilde glad attention was not on them moved with them.  The salamander’s tail began to flair up, the fire at it’s tip glowing intensely showing her excitement for the coming fight.  
A grey haired old man wearing the robes of a Order healer stepped out from the crowd.  His greyed hair thin and wispy was blowing in the chilly breeze.  Approaching the young man, he placed a hand on his shoulder.
“That is enough Brother Jeremiah.  We are looking for criminals not picking fights with the city guard.”  The priest now turning his attention to the red scaled solider.  “My apologies miss.  Young Jeremiah is a bit… over zealous at times.”
The women now seeming more upset about being cheated out of a fight more than anything else shook her head, “Then keep him on a shorter leash , he has bothered every other mamano that has tried to walkthrough this gate.”
The older priest smiled, “I will miss thank you for your understanding.”  
Mod having observed everything while hidden by the crowd watched as the older priest dragged the young fighter back toward his brothers.  The crowd once again began to move the spectacle put forth by the two sword wielders having finally ended.  The knights now seemed to focus more on their younger ally than on the crowd.  As they moved through the gate with the merchants and traders, Mod could feel Hilde relax letting out a sigh before breathing in deeply.   
Hilde moved away from Mod as they began heading down the road.  They continued on in silence mixed in with the various people who had left the city.  Mod taking in the world around him till he noticed Hilde seemed to be sniffing the air.
“What are you doing?”
“Seeing if they are following, those armored assholes have a very specific smell.  Which I am happy to say, is fading.”  She said mater-of-factly.
“Excellent news then.”
Mod watched as Hilde reached up and pulled her hood back.  Reaching into the cloak slightly she pulled out her long hair letting it flow down her back.  Taking both of her hands she began scratching at her scalp before dragging her hands through her hair, he noticed that through the whole process she seemed to avoid her lupine ears.   
“It feels good to have the wind blowing through my hair again.”   
A smile was plastered on her face, seemingly contagious Mod caught one forming on his face as well.  That or it was the fact that Hilde was gorgeous in this light.  He couldn’t seem to shake that thought.  With the sun still high in the sky every feature on her face seemed to stand out, especially her eyes.  Maybe it was the fact that he had only seen them at night or in the dim setting of that ramshackle house, but they seemed to shine a almost ethereal blue.   
“Something amiss Mister Mod?”
Hilde was now looking at him, that smile of hers growing wider having now caught Mod starring for the third time in two days.
“Nothing merely thinking about the best route to my destination.”   
“Uh huh, sure you were, since we are on the topic where are you headed Mister Mod?”
“Visiting family to the north.  I find it is a excellent place to hide out when the need arises.”  
“How fortuitous it is then that I too am heading to the north.”
“Hmmm, well while I am not certain how long our road shall be the same, the company is always welcome.”
The wolfkin seemed to beam at this.  “Very well Mister Mod, down this road we shall go.”

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