The Wishing Tree

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by The Writing Owl, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. The sun shone upon the busy town of Loria. It was a beautiful day, perfect for all of the bustling and rumors floating about. Shuffling bodies and running children filled the streets as excited voices filtered through the crowds.

    "He's here!"

    "Are you sure? On the day of the festival?"

    "Yes, he's in the bar!"

    "Who's here, the prince?"

    "The Informant!"

    Now, there was a legend of a very strange tree that existed in their wonderful kingdom of Aliana. Supposedly this tree could grant any wish. However, because of all of the bloodshed, only those with a pure heart could have their wishes granted. Most disregarded this rumor until a strange person appeared saying that they knew where the Wishing Tree was. This informant traveled from town to town, following the same routine in each and every one.

    Banners welcoming the crown prince strung across the town. Shopkeepers opened their wares to the various tourists travelling through at the time. The inns were completely sold out, all the rooms booked. Whispers of the young prince and the informant mingled into the air.

    The local tavern was extremely rowdy and filled to the brim. Waitresses struggled to wade through the crowds, holding their trays far above their heads. In the corner a young woman of 26 swirled her cup, watching the crowd in disinterest. A mask covered most of her face, leaving only her eyes and up visible. Gold eyes followed drunken movements, resisting the urge to scoff. She shook her head, short silver hair flouncing around her. Every town it was the same.
  2. Sudarshan hadn't wanted to wake up yet. He still felt sluggish from his last meal a few days ago. When he shuffled his coils a little in place, he could still feel the last third or so of that goat sitting heavily in his gut. Ugh, the price he paid for having an "unusual" diet for a sentient humanoid. He couldn't afford to sleep through today, even if he wanted to. He'd heard the rumors, both of the prince's visit to town and the so-called informant of the Wishing Tree's location. The latter was the one he cared about.

    The naga forced himself to slide out of bed and ready himself for the day. He clothed himself fully, which included layering his chain mail between his undershirt and his tunic, and wore his usual belt with his trusty sword--a large claymore, to be precise--in its scabbard. His bag slung over his shoulder completed the ensemble. A tiny voice of reason in the back of his head spoke up, reminding him that this inn room was supposed to be a safe place in which he could leave his belongings without worry, but the learned caution of many years on the road overrode it. He wasn't about to unlearn his protectiveness towards his few belongings. They were carefully selected: a few undershirts, two tunics (the one he did not wear at the moment was gray instead of maroon), a chain mail shirt, a belt, a sword, a medium-large satchel, and a small pouch of coins. That was Sudarshan's life, and he kept it on his person at all times. Satisfied, he locked his room behind him, tucked the key into his satchel as well, and slithered out into the street.

    The town was busier than he remembered it from when he'd arrived. Just his luck that the day the prince was supposed to come to town and the day the informant was supposed to be here happened to be the same. He didn't take kindly to crowds. He could bear frivolity in a smaller group, as in the company of his former comrades-in-arms, but the number of individuals he soon discovered packed into the local tavern was not appetizing in the slightest. He weaseled his way inside, feeling self-conscious of his bulk while simultaneously a bit grateful for it, and soon made space for himself at the bar. His eyes swept the interior before he ordered anything to drink. He sought someone, but he didn't know what to look for. Of course, he imagined most people in here sought the same person. That's encouraging, he thought in a bitter, sarcastic tone. He was no one special. He was one hopeful out of a hundred, no, a thousand.
  3. Growing bored of the drunken antics of the men, the woman stood up, taking her glass with her and setting it on the bar table. "Another." She said simply, putting down a small coin for the drink. The bartender nodded before moving to make the girl a drink. She looked over at the man she happened to sit next to. A naga. She wondered if he was there for the informant like the rest. The girl nearly snorted. Most likely. He didn't seem like the type to like bars much. With her new drink handed to her, she looked around, not daring to take a sip from the cursed thing. Too many people could see her. It was too dangerous.

    Glancing over at the naga, she decided to make a bit of small talk. "You here for the informant too?" She asked, swirling her alcohol in its shot cup. Everybody seemed rowdy, already starting to lose control so early in the day. She supposed she just had to wait it out. Let the prince come and they will leave to go greet their future king. However, the girl would have preferred to leave the town before the young man came... when no eyes were on her, she quickly pulled down the mask and downed her drink, pulling it up before anyone could take a second glance. It would do no good for people to recognize her at that point. She needed time.

    Fanfares started to blow, signaling that the prince was not far off. It seemed that she needed to make this quick. Pulling out a flask and a small bag, she handed them to the bartender. "Fill those with whatever this will afford." She placed a couple gold coins on the countertop, hoping to the gods above that nobody noticed her. She just wanted to get her fill and move on. The fates had a different idea. As people stopped to stare at her, others in the bar realized what was going on. This was the informant. A female, though they all assumed they had been a man, just had done the telltale signs. Was she the informant?

    The girl could feel the stares boring into her back. It seemed she would have to try and make a quick escape. She gripped something, pulling it out of one of her many hidden pockets. The bartender, done filling her things, decided to brave it. "Are you the informant?" He asked, everyone waiting with bated breath. The young woman considered lying to the man, simply saying she knew of no such thing. After all, many people lied about being the informant. How was she to be any different? Looking around, she nodded. Everyone was silent. The calm before the storm. She started putting her things away, glad that the people in this bar were taking her word as false. At least, that was until someone grabbed her.
  4. It didn't take long for Sudarshan to feel strange for taking up space at the bar without ordering anything, so he paused his scan of the room to ask for a glass of ale. Hard liquor wasn't his style. The woman who walked up next to him a moment later soon proved to be different from him in that regard, not that he cared much. What he did notice was that the woman was masked. The rumor he'd caught wind of the other day told that the "informant" was a masked man who loaded up his effects at taverns around the area. This wasn't a man, but the mask caught his attention more than it would have otherwise. Was it a coincidence, or was this the person he sought? He shook that flicker of hope out of his head after a moment and turned back to his drink. He reasoned that the real informant would be more obvious to the other taverngoers when he arrived.

    He was surprised to hear the woman speak. Realizing she was making small talk with him, he looked at her again. "Aren't we all?" he said. There was a halfhearted chuckle in his voice, but the faint hint of a smile he'd donned to go with it died quickly. He turned back to his drink, looking more glum than anything else. "We're all just desperate fools trying to change fate." He took another sip.

    There came a commotion outside, something that sounded like a horn fanfare. The prince? He glanced at the door, but after deciding the young royal wasn't worth his attention right now, he turned back to the bar after a second. He was vaguely aware that the woman next to him had said something to the bartender. It took a few seconds after that to realize that the bar had suddenly gone quiet. He could've sworn he felt stares on him, or at least near him. He looked back at the woman, his eyes now curious...and it only took a few seconds and a certain inquiry from the bartender to turn that curiosity into shock. The informant. It was her. And everyone was staring! What was he supposed to do? He hated breaking silences.

    But then there was sudden movement. Someone was behind the woman. Someone had just grabbed her by the arms. A protective instinct kicked in at that moment in Sudarshan's brain, honed by his long history of battle. His brows knit angrily as he set, or rather slammed, his glass on the counter to free up both hands. "Hey! Unhand her." He moved forward, fists at the ready, but he would await further provocation before entering the fray.
  5. "What you gonna do 'bout it?" The man holding the informant slurred, keeping a tight grip on the girl. "You jush want 'er for yerself!" The woman in his arms nearly rolled her eyes, looking bored if anything. Situations like this happened to her too regularly for it to faze her anymore. The man leaned down next to her ear. "Now, yer goin' ta be a goo' girl an-" The man didn't get to finish his sentence before the woman quickly swung her leg backwards, catching him in a very vulnerable spot.

    As she twisted out of the man's arms, the spell on the rest of the crowd faded. Some pulled out weapons while others put their hands out, ready to grab the prize all wanted so desperately. The girl quickly threw her hand and slammed it down again. Smoke exploded out of the bombs hidden in the girl's hand, obscuring other's sight. "She's getting away! Get her!" Shouts filled the bar as people grabbed and shuffled, a mixture of different bodies melding in the small wooden tavern.

    The girl moved through the bodies swiftly, dodging swinging arms with a precision that only few could really master in such conditions. However, even masters made mistakes. While dodging a pair of hands grabbing for her, a sword swung across her side, too quickly for her to do anything about it. With a rather loud yelp, she put her hand to her bleeding side, quickly moving the other direction to try and escape the commotion. She brushed past the naga that she had been sitting next to for a moment, smearing some of her blood on him. Then she was gone through the back exit just as the smoke started to clear.

    Men and women alike reacted very badly when they saw she wasn't in the tavern anymore. Rushing out the front, they sought to try and catch her before the Prince came parading in. Hiding behind the trash bin where the scraps went, the girl hissed and gasped as she tried to assess the damage done. Every movement burned for the girl, leaving her shaking and nearly crying. She had to keep moving or somebody was going to find her. Her body had other things in mind as it burned and bled. She would just sit behind the tavern for a minute, she promised herself. Yes, that would be the right course of action. She could fix the injury later when she wasn't being chased by selfish men and desperate women.
    #5 The Writing Owl, Feb 27, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  6. An angry retort of "What I want is for her not to get hurt!" was on Sudarshan's lips, but he bit it back at the last second, doubt flickering across his face. Was what the other man said true? Everyone wanted the informant. Everyone had desires, everyone had wishes. That was a simple fact. He was no exception.

    But he was yanked from his brief reverie by a commotion. A yelp of pain. Weapons being drawn. A crash and then a fast-blooming cloud of smoke that left him squinting in vain, trying to see through the haze. His senses were on high alert, but they told him nothing useful. His hands itched to draw his sword, but who was he fighting? He did not wish to fight anyone in particular. His urge to fight was only to protect the woman, and he didn't dare draw his weapon in this haze lest he harm her himself.

    This isn't my fight.

    Right, of course it wasn't. He didn't want to be here. He didn't want to be in this hectic place, not with all the body heat and the yelling and the inability to see—

    Someone slammed into him. Sudarshan only had a brief moment to look before the person vanished right back into the smoke, but it was enough. It was her, the masked woman. She was headed in the direction of the back door of the tavern. Too startled by all that had transpired in the last half of a minute, he let her go, and a moment later, when a fresh cry arose in the room and then pushed its way out the front door, he decided that had probably been for the best. She had gotten away safely. He turned back to the bar, folding one arm across his middle as he reached for his drink again.

    It touched something sticky.

    He hesitated. Then he drew back, ignoring the glass of ale and looking down at his hand. Blood. The color and scent were unmistakable. He looked back to the back door, his expression now laced with worry. She hadn't escaped unscathed after all. After glancing around the tavern to make sure most of the patrons had indeed left out the front, he left his half-finished drink where it was and sidled carefully to the back door himself. If she was bleeding that badly, she needed medical attention.

    He emerged in the alley behind the shop. His tongue darted out of his mouth, seeking that same scent of blood. She couldn't have gone far. As he ventured a few feet deeper into the alley, he realized that he heard something suspicious: the sound of someone wincing and gasping in sharp pain. He followed the sound, the scent of blood growing stronger, until he was looking at his target. The masked informant. More importantly, a person in need.

    "That wound looks serious," he said as he approached. "Here. We should stop the bleeding." As he hunkered down, he reached for his bag, planning to pull out one of his spare undershirts. Torn into strips, it'd do for bandages in a pinch.
    #6 FiliaFlammae, Mar 2, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
  7. The sudden voice startled the girl. She sharply turned to look at the naga. Hissing, she kept a hand on her side. The man seemed concerned, but after months of constantly having to run from town to town she wasn't about to trust him just like that. Keeping a wary eye, she watched as he reached for his bag. Thousands of possibilities ran through her head, none of them good. The fanfare in the background and cheering alerted the girl to the fact that the prince was here. She needed to leave soon.

    After carefully examining the area, the informant loosened her hold on her side to allow the naga a look at it. The bleeding was slowing, but still more than she would have liked. She might need to get it sewed up, and the mere thought nearly made her wince. She couldn't afford to go to a proper doctor. They would recognize her in an instant. The naga might know a thing or two about medicine, considering he looked like a warrior, but she doubted he knew much more than that.

    She didn't speak, unsure what to say to the man. He was like everyone else, had admitted it himself, but he didn't seem to hold quite as many ill-intentions toward her. She would allow him to help her in this one respect. After that, she was going to ditch him. However, the wound in her side threw a wrench in those plans. She needed some help for her next leg of her journey, whether she wanted it or not.
  8. Within a few moments, Sudarshan was in the process of tearing a shirt into pieces. Fortunately the informant looked at least somewhat willing to allow access to the wound, but that access was only what he could see from the slice in her own shirt; he'd have preferred it if her clothing wasn't in the way, period. "Shirt up." His stern voice left no room for argument, and his face made clear that he was not interested in seeing her skin for any other reason. He and his comrades had tended to each other's wounds more times than Sudarshan cared to count, Delia included, so the sight of a woman's body in this context didn't faze him. Reminding him of Delia in the first place was another matter, but he shook that dark, uncomfortable thought out of his head. He had a job to do.

    He lowered himself close, handed the woman a wadded-up piece of the shirt, and instructed her to press it firmly against the injury. Then he wound a long strip around her midsection several times, tugging her shirt up where he needed it if she had not complied with his earlier command. He didn't need her shirt peeled away any higher than her lower ribs, nor did he really want to see any higher than that. Though he passed the strip around her body with care, he cinched it firmly on each pass, and finally he tied it off with a solid square knot. "Does that feel secure?" he asked as he eased her shirt back down over the bandage, his work complete. "I'd suggest you see a proper doctor, but something tells me you're one of those people who has other ideas." Her mask and her behavior in the tavern painted a picture of a person who didn't want to be recognized, and he couldn't have said he blamed her.
  9. The girl followed his instructions, lifting her shirt when asked, only hesitating when a sharp burn resulted from the rustling fabric touching the wound. Pulling it around her ribs, she let the naga do his work. A small whine involuntarily left her throat as the new fabric left her with another burning pain. Closing her eyes, she breathed. In. Out. In. Out. Soon enough he was done and the burn had dulled into nothing but a minor annoyance. Shifting a bit to test out the bandages, the girl looked back at the naga. "Yeah. It's secure." He mentioned her needing a proper doctor, and she nearly laughed at that. She knew how hurt she was, but going to a doctor risked having her identity spread around. This also risked him finding her.

    Giving a small smile behind her mask, she gave a breathy chuckle. "Really? I never would have guessed. If I could find a doctor who'd leave my mask alone, I'd just bring him along for the journey." The girl shifted, only to close her eyes and freeze at moving the wrong way. She just needed to breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Tentatively, she opened her eyes and shifted the rest of the way so she now was sitting in a more comfortable position. "Thank you..." She glanced away from the naga. "For the help, I mean. I suppose you'd like some form of repayment?" Harsh realities left her eyes cold, untrusting. He couldn't be this nice if he wanted the tree. He probably just wanted to get to it. That was all. Nothing more, nothing less. Shouts and music started to get louder as the Prince grew closer to the alleyway.
  10. "Repayment?" Sudarshan scowled in confusion. "I can't say I wouldn't like it, but you make it sound as if there's no sense of charity in the world anymore. I helped you because I wanted to help you. That is all. I ask for nothing in return, as much as I appreciate the offer." He nodded in polite thanks and made to turn around, despite the fact that an indignant mental voice had just started screaming in his head. The hell are you doing? You came here seeking the informant! You have her here! Will this journey have meant nothing?

    He gritted his teeth as he hesitated in the alley. Of course he wanted to learn what this woman knew. But he did not want to ask her. A part of his mind hoped that she might offer the information as thanks, yes, but he would never have taken that as an assumption, let alone acted on it. He had shown her kindness with no caveats. Maybe that would earn him the answer he sought. And if it didn' be it. He would have done the right thing, and he could keep his troubles to his own damn self. He huffed and began moving again.
  11. Those words stung a little. Even as cold-hearted as she made herself out to be, there was still a small sympathy in the back of the girl's heart. Quickly she tried to think of a selfish reason for making him stay with her. "Wait." She called, stopping him before he went too far away. What was she supposed to say now? 'Don't go because I think you are a nice guy and deserve to come with me?' One, there are millions of people who probably deserve that damn wish, and two she had a reputation to keep up as a cold-hearted woman no matter how she hated herself for it. "Just... I can't walk by myself, and it's a bitch to try and clean my wounds by myself so hurry up and help me out of this alley before I change my mind." There. That seemed callous enough. She started to try and get up, leaning heavily on wall for support. Hopefully the naga wouldn't screw her over. Who knew? Maybe she might actually take him to the tree.

    As the scene in the alleyway went unnoticed, the prince rode through the streets on a large stallion, smiling and waving to his future subjects. His eyes scanned the crowds, looking for a pair of eyes like his or a mask hiding a man's face. The crowds cheered for him, sure that he would be a great king like his father before him. However, none noticed how he seemed disappointed with the crowds. He couldn't find the informant and he couldn't glimpse at what could possibly be his missing sister, the princess. The peoples were oblivious as his father and advisor kept reminding him that the princess was to be gone for a while. However, he had a bad feeling growing in his gut and it only deepened as the days flew past.
  12. He halted. The woman had just commanded him to wait. Sudarshan turned in place, fixing his eyes on the informant's eyes again. She spoke of keeping him with her to help her get around, but she did so with hesitation in her voice. It almost sounded like she simply wanted him to stick around but struggled to find an excuse for it. Did she fear sounding too nice? Was she embarrassed? Before he could help it, a short "hm" noise left him as his mouth twitched into a small smile. That was the closest Sudarshan could ever get to a chuckle; he honestly was amused, more so than he could say most of the time. He returned to her side and stooped low once more, giving her his arm and shoulder for support. "I'll take you up on that," he teased. "Where to? Have you been staying at an inn around here, or are you more of the camping type?"
  13. The woman noted his teasing tone, turning her head away. She could feel herself blush in slight embarrassment. He had found her out that quickly, though she supposed that some people were good at those things. "I've been staying in an inn near here. If we take the alleyways then it should be down this way, to the south, and the third building on the left. It's small and hidden so it worked well." She accepted his help, wrapping an arm around his shoulders as she hoisted herself up. The white haired woman nearly clawed at her support, the sudden movements jarring to her torn side. She really should get to a professional, but the only one she knew that would help her was in the next town over. At the moment she didn't want to try and dare heading out that way. "I suppose if we're travelling together, I should get your name?" She asked as the two slowly made it back toward the small inn. He probably would ask her her name, but that would come when they were alone in her room.
  14. The woman's directions sounded easy enough. They weren't to the inn he was staying at himself, but he figured that would've been a little too kind to expect of fate. He could tell the woman clung to him firmly for support, but he was not hurt by it, even when she lost her balance; he wore mail beneath his tunic, after all, and his muscles beneath that were tough and well-weathered besides. He wrapped his nearer arm around her back and gripped the far side of her torso to give her extra support, taking as much care as he could not to disturb the bandage.

    He was a little surprised to hear her initiate small talk, but after pondering that for a second, he decided he shouldn't have been. She had struck up conversation with him in the tavern earlier. All the more reason for him to suspect that she was a friendlier person than she let on. "Sudarshan," he said. "And you? Or rather, what would you like me to call you?" That small, amused smile flickered across his face again in understanding.
  15. The woman nearly chuckled. He was quite respectful of her choice to keep her identity a secret. "Yuki. You can call me Yuki." She went quiet after that, pausing to take a deep breath and calm a spasm working its way up her side. Slowly breathing out, she kept walking, seeing the back of the building in the distance. The two eventually managed to open the back door and sneak in. The building was surprisingly empty as Yuki lead the naga towards her room. As she struggled with the key, a cleaning lady walked down the hall before dropping her broom. The white haired woman glanced over at the woman, who clearly paled at how heavily the woman was leaning on the naga or how the skin not covered by the mask seemed to be paler than should have been normal.

    "What happened to you?" The new addition asked, moving to check the girl for some sort of abnormity or injury. Yuki quickly flinched back, keeping her injured side far from the woman's view. Her eyes hardened, and her shoulders tensed. The woman didn't seem to note the shift in Yuki's disposition, worrying more about the possible wellbeing of one of the tenants. "I should call the doctor... He'll be able to fix you up right quick. Yes, that's what I should do..."

    Yuki was quick to react. "No." The other woman looked surprised, quickly pausing in her doings. "A doctor won't be necessary... I'll be fine." The cleaning lady didn't look convinced, looking Yuki up and down for some reason to not call the doctor over and just let her and the naga rest in her room.
  16. The naga nodded. "Pleasure to meet you, Yuki." With that, they continued on to Yuki's destination, saying no more. As a naturally quiet man, Sudarshan was fine with that. The woman's inn of choice was a quieter one than the one he had chosen, but he supposed that it made sense for somebody more familiar with the town to know how to find a place off the beaten path. They'd made it to what was apparently her room, as evidenced by the fact that she'd stopped and pulled out a key, when someone finally crossed their path. A maid, from the looks of it. He grimaced as the two women bantered. He did think Yuki would benefit from a doctor; that had not changed. But she had insisted, and he respected that. His brow furrowed at the maid as he wrapped a strong, protective arm around his companion. "Thank you for your concern. If it appeases you, I'll be keeping an eye on her, and I'll call for this doctor you speak of if necessary. As you were." Yuki seemed to have been having trouble with the key, so he eased it out of her hand and slipped it decisively into the lock himself. The faster they were inside so she could rest, the better.
  17. The maid frowned, seemingly not liking this plan at all, but nodded all the same. She left the two guests to their business, determined to help as soon as she saw the need to. Yuki sighed as Sudarshan opened the door and led her inside. Almost as soon as she could, she collapsed on the bed, bringing an arm to cover her eyes as she let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. "Thanks." She said quietly as she rested on the comfortable bed. The room was small, and a map was laid out on the table, nonsensical scribbling written all over it. Taking a few deep breaths to calm herself, Yuki adjusted so she could get more comfortable as she splayed out on the bed. "So why are you looking for the Wishing Tree? If you don't mind me asking." While she had been lenient in trusting him so far, Yuki wasn't sure if she should lead him to the tree or just dump him after some time spent with him. Cruel, she knew, but the tree wouldn't be happy if she brought anyone to it. Bringing the hand that was covering her eyes to her side, she massaged the muscles around the wound, working to try and relax her tense figure. It was a quiet moment for her, and she wanted to cherish it as much as she could. The rest of the people were busy out in the town so she didn't have to worry too much. However, the woman wanted to leave before the prince had a chance to even get a hint she was here. At all costs she was going to avoid the young monarch.
  18. Sudarshan let his charge into the room, hardly surprised that Yuki was eager to lie down. He closed the door behind him and leaned his back against it, folding his arms across his chest. Well, now what? This woman has invited him to help her back to the inn. Technically, his work was done. But he had also just informed the maid that he would keep an eye on her injured guest, and he still had every intention of doing that until she proved able to walk without assistance.

    He perked up when she started to ask him a question, but the moment he processed the question fully, he felt himself bristle. He broke Yuki's gaze, his eyes apparently settling on the seam between the wall on his right and the floor without really seeing it, and his tail curled more tightly around him. He took a deep breath in and out through the nose before he answered. "I lost someone," he finally muttered. "I didn't get to say goodbye. I'd like to remedy that." He said no more than that about the matter, but his expression remained dark and withdrawn. The memory had surfaced in his mind's eye against his will. He didn't want to see that again, but see it he did. The wound, the blood. Her body limp, her face unresponsive. The helpless looks on their friends' faces, each of them dreading to state the obvious. His fingers on his arm tightened and trembled slightly for a few seconds before he forced himself to swallow the lump in his throat and look back up at Yuki. If she'd said anything to him just then, he hadn't heard it.

    "How about you, what's your deal?" he asked. "You roam around between towns just for fun? Seems a strange thing to do if you're a person keeping such a big secret." It did seem to be a paradox of sorts. At first glance, Yuki was brusque and secretive. Her desire not to share her knowledge, considering how badly she'd be hounded if she did, was completely understandable. But if so, why was there a rumor about her that she followed to the letter?
  19. Yuki had listened quietly to Sudarshan's answer, taking everything into account. He countered back with a question of his own. "I wouldn't want to stay in one place for too long." She had been travelling around for quite a while, though she hadn't heard of the rumors surrounding her. "Makes it too easy for others to find me. Besides, it's nice seeing other towns." She didn't mention the mission the tree gave her or the look on her uncle's face when they found it. A shiver travelled down her spine. No, she wouldn't think of that. She had to give false leads, keep people away from the sacred place the tree was held. The young woman yawned, stretching as much as she could on the bed without bothering her wounds.

    As the two talked, the young prince had finished his parade through town and attending the festivities. He was now more than tired and wished to try and find an inn to rest. He was required to spend at least a few days in each town, so picking an inn carefully was vital. Prince Alexei's advisor led him to a smaller inn, one where a certain naga and informant were staying. Sighing, the young man ran a hand through his hair before smiling at the people running about after him, quickly trying to make the inn as presentable as they could.

    Commotion filtered its way up to Yuki's room. She sat up, eyes narrowing and hardening at the commotion. "Please don't tell me..." She muttered. Getting up, though shakily, she leaned on the wall and moved to the door of the room. Leaning her ear on it, she listened for any possible hint as to what was going on. A faint yell of 'the prince!' alerted her to exactly what was going on. "Shit. Shit, shit, shit, fucking shit!" She cursed, pushing herself away from doorway. "Of course he has to pick the one inn we both knew... God damn it!" The woman kept one hand on the wall to steady herself. She wasn't ready to walk around yet, oh she knew that. However, the prince was in the inn and she would be damned if he found her now. "I can't just leave, but I can't let him find me..." She muttered.
  20. Yuki batted off the question with a common-sense reply. Either she was playing dumb or she honestly didn't know than she had a recognizable behavior pattern. Or maybe Sudarshan just hadn't quite conveyed his meaning properly. He could very well have seen her staying in one place: a cave in the middle of nowhere, to be exact. That would sure keep her secret away from people. He wasn't in the mood to get snarky with her right now, though, so he kept quiet and leaned back against the door. It wasn't like he was in a rush to be anywhere.

    After a minute, however, a commotion downstairs roused him from the edge of an oncoming catnap. He blinked in irritation as his senses returned to the world again. What was going on? Yuki didn't seem to like the new wave of noise either, but she sounded more agitated about the matter than he did. He nearly moved forward to help her walk, but she made it to the door with little more help than that of the wall; that was a good sign. He backed away from the door so that she could listen in, but after a second, he too pressed his ear to the door, now curious what was going on. 'The prince!', someone said? Well, that would explain the hubbub...

    But a string of vulgarity from Yuki's mouth quickly steered his thoughts in a different direction. He moved away from the door and eyed her with confusion as he pieced together her words in his mind. After a second, an induction fell into place in his brain, causing his face to light up in realization, surprised realization though it was. "Wait. You know the prince?" he asked, one eyebrow raised incredulously. "And you...don't want him to find you?" Goodness gracious, this was getting more complicated by the minute. The last thing Sudarshan had expected upon waking up this morning was to get entangled with royalty.