Lord Ruibius’s manor wasn’t the most lavish of Order nobles, but it wasn’t quite the most modest either. His city was simple by comparison, since farming was the backbone of the country as compared to others that centered around commerce or industry. The manor was two stories tall with strong contrasting colored of violet paint and a gold outline, being made of wood and stone for the most part.
Unlike other Lord’s who built their manor’s on hills away from the common folk, Rubius had his built in the very center of the town, a place normally reserved for the Church. This of course did make it a little easier for Isidore to get to the manor. Past a few market stalls and he was at the front door.
“State your business”, the guard demanded.
“I have come to collect on the contract Lord Rubius has placed”, Isidore replied, holding open his pack for the guard to see.
“Someone actually did that?”, the guard asked. “I honestly thought it was just a joke. Well, go on in”, he said, turning the gold plated doorknob and pushing it open.
The interior was almost like an oversized inn. Shiny spruce wood floors, an assortment of candleholders leaving very little shadow, and the lingering smell of alcohol permitting the air.
“My lord should be in his study”, the guard said before shutting the door, the room suddenly becoming very warm.
Isidore didn’t have to look for very long to find the study the guard had spoken about. A very loud belch just up the stairs indicated Lord Rubius’ location almost immediately. Isidore grinned in amusement as he walked up the stairs.
“I have to say, Lord Rubius, you are much more informal than any other nobles I’ve worked for”, Isidore said as he entered the room, unannounced. Rubius looked up from a pint of beer to see the mercenary standing over him. Rubius smiled as he removed the pint from his lips and extended a hand.
“Formalities are no good if they get in the way of what needs to be done”, the Lord stated extending his hand. Isidore firmly grasped his sweaty hand and shook it with conviction.
“Indeed so”, Isidore agreed. “I have to admit, when I first saw the poster, I almost couldn’t believe it, but I suppose that’s what drove me to seek out the contract”
“Oh? So you have it?”, the Lord asked, setting his mug down and standing up, the Lord’s eyes becoming level with that of the mercenary’s. “Because even though I enjoy company, I must say I have become quite impatient”
“Then wait no more, My Lord”, Isidore replied.
Isidore reached into his pack and pulled out a shining mug made of silver. Rubius’ eyes brightened up as he snatched it out of Isidore’s hands.
“AT LAST!! AFTER BEING WITHOUT IT FOR SO LONG!!”, Rubius cheered, tears of joy streaming down his rosy cheeks.
“Wasn’t that poster about three days old?”, Isidore mumbled under his breath.
“My boy!”, RUbius said, palcing a meaty hand on Isidore’s left shoulder. “You have no idea how much this means to me. This mug has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. It’s magically enchanted, made of Demon Realm silver. It keeps drinks cool and fresh no matter where you are! I’ve been using that pewter one in the meantime. Ale tastes like warm piss in that. Oh I cannot thank you enough!”
“You can just pay me, that would do just fine”, Isidore replied, grinning.
“You don’t believe me, do you?”, Rubius asked. Before Isidore could even form a reply, Rubius pushed him in his back and ushered him down the stairs into a the kitchen, the staff already working hard to make tonight’s dinner. Rubius led him to a larder containing bottles, barrels and casks full of various alcoholic beverages. He grabbed a bottle of mead at random and poured most of its contents into the silver mug.
“Drink”, Rubius said, holding the bottle out to Isidore. He hesitated slightly, but took the bottle from the Lord’s hands and took a sip. It was a bit warm, but sweet and not too strong.
“It’s good”, Isdored replied, placing the bottle down.
“Now try it out of the mug”, Rebius commanded. Isidore shrugged and did as the Lord said, as if he was one to pass up a free drink.
Isidore pulled the mug away from his lips, eyes wide in amazement. The drink was as cold as ice, it’s flavor enhanced to the point he swore it was the brew of the Gods(though the Demon Lord would probably be more appropriate). Isidore returned the mug, licking his lips as he did so.
“You see, my boy?”, rubies asked, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. “That mug is well worth any price you ask for”
“Isidore swallowed what flavor remained in his mouth and thought for a moment.
“Considering what I went through, I’d say maybe one hundred silver would do it”, Isidore said. Rubias spat out the mouthful of mead he was drinking when he heard that, slightly soaking Isidore in the process. The Lord coughed and looked at the young man dubiously.
“That’s a lot of money you’re asking for”, he said, wiping his lips and big red beard with his stained sleeve.
“Well, My Lord, you did say that the mug was worth any price I could ask, which you have certainly proved to me. I understand you’re not the richest lord in terms of money, but I’m afraid I can’t make a living as a farmer like you”, Isidore replied, his tone calm and collected. “Of course, the possession of Demon Realm silver is rather controversial, especially amongst lands in which the Order has strong influence. It would be a pity if word were to get back to the priests or the Heroes about that little treasure of yours, as I’ve heard you parties are quite the scene”.
“Well then perhaps you would forgo such an amount for the chance to attend one such party”, Rubius suggested, the Lord’s face converting his fear at begin subject to an inquisition.
Isidore chuckled. “I’m afraid I have some business to attend to, and I can’t really stay for very long, though I do appreciate your most generous offer”, he said with an ill-natured grin. Rubias nodded and nervously led him back to his study. He removed a key from his pocket and unlocked a large safe, scooping Isidore’s silver into a coin purse and handing it to him.
“I do hope the people will not suffer because of me”, Isidore said, his tone making it hard to tell if he was being honest or not. “I doubt in a land as bountiful as yours they will ever go hungry, but if they must work much harder this season in order to fill your belly, I might just lose a little sleep over it”.
“I… I can always go without…. can’t say much about the lord’s of other lands”, Rubius said in an attempt to save face.
“Indeed so, My Lord”, Isidore replied as he turned to leave.
“Wait!”, Rubius said, holding his hand out. Isidore raised an eyebrow and turned his head. “Tell me, what is your name?”, he asked, the look on his face and the tone of his voice indicating he may not like the answer.
“Why do you ask?”, Isidore replied. “Interested in employing my services in the future?”
“N-no. Not anything like that… At least, not necessarily”, Rubias answered. “It’s just that… well it’s rather rude of me to not properly thank you, and I can’t do that without your name”, Rubius said, a slight sweat running down his forehead.
Isidore starred at him for a moment before answering. “Courdefer”, he said tensely. “Isidore Courdefer”
“Ah.. I see”, Rubius said, running his fingers though his beard for a moment, a nervous habit. “Well then, thank you for returning my mug, Isidore Courdefer. I wish you good fortune”
“And you as well, Lord Rubius”, the mercenary replied, his tone clearly indicating he no longer wished to speak as he walked out the door.
Rubius sat back down in his cushioned chair and sighed. He had heard that name before, just recently too, but the face to the name escaped him. He shrugged his shoulders and took a sip from his silver mug to drown his troubles, for now anyways.
Kota and Miyuki were a married couple from the far eastern land of Zipangu, making a living together operating a traveling meal stand. Kota was a fantastic chef, his cooking never failing to attract people hungry for a taste of Zipangu cuisine. Miyuki acted as a hostess of sorts, entertaining customers with extravagant tales as they waited for their orders, serving drink, and generally being eye candy, much to the annoyance of the couple, but so long as it brought in the customers they tolerated it… to a point.
“Ah! Welcome weary traveler! Please, take a moment to rest and enjoy the finest that Zipangu has to offer!”, Miyuki said cheerfully. She was a young a lithe woman with chestnut hair and brilliant golden eyes. Her outfit, known as a yukata, was spring green with a white outline, and although was very modest, it didn’t do much to detract from her beautiful figure.
“Are formalities really necessary at this point?”, Isidore asked as he took a seat on a wooden stool, removing his hood to reveal his shaggy black hair. “Surely we’ve known each other long enough to be considered good friends”
“Only my Kota gets special treatment from me”, Miyuki replied with a wry grin. “Everyone else get’s the usual treatment”
“Oh? So does that mean I don’t have to pay a finder’s fee this time”, Isidore asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No, you get to pay double this time”, Miyuki replied, maintaining her gentle smile despite what she had just said.
“Knock it off you two”, Kota sighed, appearing from within the wagon holding a large pot. He was a lightly tanned man a little older than Isidore by bout year or two. He sported black hair in a sort of bowl cut with a few tuffs defying the general groove is the style, dark brown eyes, and a messy apron over otherwise clean clothes.
“Is that for me?”, Isidore asked, trying to find out what was inside.
“In your dreams”, Kota replied humorously. “Besides, it’s not quite done. I still need to cook the noodles too”
“Take your time, I’m not going anywhere”, Isidore replied.
“Oho! What’s this, dear Izzy-san can be patient?”, Miyuki asked.
“I thought I told you not to call me that”, Isidore said through gritted teeth. He absolutely hated being called Izzy, something Miyuki never seemed to tire of.
“I though you were going to pay me for the information about that job you left on. Or was it as ridiculous as you thought and didn’t even bother with it?”, Miyuki asked, her eyes narrowing a bit.
“Food first, then I pay”, Isidore replied, glaring at her.
A few minutes of awkward silence persisted as Isidore and Miyuki stared each other down before Kota reappeared with a steaming bowl of ramen, a type of noodle soup native to Zipangu and one of Isidore’s favorites.
“Enjoy”, Kota said with a tired smile. Isidore perked up as he reached for a pair of wooden chopsticks, only to have Miyuki snatch it out of his reach, still smiling pleasantly.
“Hey!”, the mercenary protested.
“Pay!”, Miyuki said, her rhyme only serving to piss Isidore off even more. Kota raised his eyes to heaven and shook his head, tiring of the game Isidore and his wife played every time they met.
Isidore grimaced and reached into his coin purse, placing ten silver coins on the wooden counter.
“Thank you very much, enjoy your meal!”, Miyuki said, snatching up the money and placing the chopsticks back on the counter. Isidore cursed her under his breath and turned his attention back to the ramen. He stared at the noodles floating in the golden-brown broth, bits of fat from the three pork slices glistening on the surface. He admired the meal’s gestalt, the bits of inion centered in the middle, the single piece of seaweed floating in the top portion of the bowl, the shinachiku roots absorbing bits of the broth in the left, and the single spiral fish-cake half-way submerged in the broth on the right.
Isidore grabbed a bunch of noodles first and slurped them up happily, bits of rich, slightly salty broth splattering around his mouth. Kota expressed a satisfied smile to himself as he saw Isidore devour his meal. Not too long later, a few other travelers came by to sample the foreign dish.
“Thank you, tat will be ten copper”, Miyuki said, the other customer handing her the money. Isidore glared at Miyuki as he chewed on a piece of pork. Soon enough he was finished with his meal, but stuck around until all the other customers were gone.
“I know you’ve given me a lot of good work before, Miyuki, but I can’t help but feel you’re overcharging me”, he said, standing up from his seat.
“Oh?”, Miyuki asked, running her fingers through her hair.
“Yeah. Ten silver as opposed to ten copper, that’s nothing short of robbery”, Isidore stated firmly.
“Look at it this way”, Kota said, wiping his hand as he appeared from behind the counter. “You almost single handedly keep up in business by paying so much”, he said with a grin.
“Yeah, I can only imagine being married to a Raccoon takes a tole on the structure of the structure of your wagon what with all the “bumps” you hit at night”, Isidore said. There was a puff of smoke and Miyuki’s expression, as well as the rest of her appearance changed. In place of a sweet and gentle smile was an angry scowl. Most of her yukata was now opened up to reveal large arches of soft brown fire around her legs, and a pair of raccoon ears appeared on top of her head, as well as a bushy ringed tail above her butt.
“How dare you!”, she shouted, reaching over the counter to get at him, but Kota held her back by grabbing around her waist.
“You know, I really wish you two would stop acting like this. You don’t know how much I would appreciate it”, Kota said as he held his wife at bay.
“It’s not my fault she can’t control her magic when she’s angry”, Isidore replied, placing his hood back over his head and grinning devilishly.
“The least you could do is not call her a raccoon”, Kota sighed. “You know she hates that”
“What? I can’t pronounce the Ziapngu word for her race”, Isidore said, shrugging his shoulders. “Besides”, he added. “You know I don’t mean anything by it. You two have always been good to me… well you have anyways. Can’t really say your wife can ever hope to match your moral standing”
Miyuki started to curse Isidore out, but Kota placed his hand over her mouth to stop her. She looked at her husband for a moment before letting her expression soften. Kota removed his and and placed it back over her waist. Miyuki smiled and placed a chaste kiss on his chin, Kota responding with a peck on the lips.
“Ah… I love you!♥”, she sighed.
“And I love you too”, Kota replied taking her into another kiss.
“Ugh”, Isidore groaned. “Do I have to be here for this?”, he asked. The couple simply ignored him and they started to get more intimate, Miyuki putting up the “Closed” sign as Kota started groping her. They retreated into the inside of the wagon while Isidore rolled his eyes and started walking off, not wanting to spoil his lunch.19534 Views