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Author: EnroItzal Original Source: Scribble Hub

“What were you thinking!?” Lyra rebuked Erin with a raised voice.

As a response, Erin merely shrugged. “How many times do you intend to repeat that line?”

They wasted no time in dallying further in the forest and were currently making their way back to town with haste. After the subjugation of the sudden anomalous issue, Erin decided it was best to report such developments as soon as possible. Unlike before, she wouldn’t be returning to the Guild Master office empty-handed. Unrelated to that note, Lyra had been reprimanding Erin for her heedless actions ever since, even more so after Erin confided in her on how she fought a Dire Wolf and won.

To the worrywart Lyra, Erin’s victory didn’t assuage her anger towards her lack of regard towards perils.

“I’m aware that Fae are known to be outstanding in their feats and achievements but please, Erin, don’t do something that absurd and dangerous again.”

Erin smiled wryly. “I can’t promise you that, Lyra. Only in the face of an adversary that one could truly grow.”

“Don’t gimme that. There won’t be any growing if you’re dead or worse, crippled beyond the possibility of recovery. It has happened to many adventurers, you are aware of that, don’t you?”

“You’re such a worrywart.”

“Anyone would be if they saw what you did or know what you are liable to do.”

“So I should stop doing what I do even if it means saving a life?”

“Yes!” Lyra shouted without a shred of hesitation.

The two stopped in their tracks. Erin turned to face Lyra with an empathetic but firm gaze. “That’s an incredibly selfish thought.”

“Aye, it might be. It’s ******* selfish alright.” Lyra looked away. “But it sure beats being all alone at the end of the day.”

“You won’t be alone, Lyra.” Erin placed her hand on Lyra’s shoulder. “I have no intention of leaving you nor expiring anytime soon. Believe in me, okay?”

“Expiring?” Lyra chuckled as a tear trickled down her cheeks. “You sure use some weird words.”

“Do you trust me?”

“I want to. I truly do,” Lyra answered. “I once believed in someone, aye. Look where that got me. I know this is greedy of me but I can’t let go of that fear… I just can’t…”

Erin stayed her smile. “I understand. I’m not telling you to trust me unconditionally. Just remain hopeful, alright?”

Lyra scoffed in response. “It’s not that easy.” And she walked ahead of Erin.

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Erin let out a small sigh.

Relationships are a headache.

No later than the time between noon and dusk, they reached the town’s entrance by skirting the edge of the forest. Around that moment, Erin finally gave in to her grumbling stomach and began chewing on some dried meat. She hasn’t had a meal ever since she woke up this morning. It was an old habit of her past life. Skipping meals was less of an option but more of a mandatory. Due to her nomadic way of living, even a bite of stale bread was considered a luxury. Not that she was short on money but she was always in places where money itself had not even the slightest monetary value.

Thankfully, Lyra had some dried meat with her or else Erin would be receiving queered glances from the passers-by due to her growling stomach. Erin was about to just wolf down her food but she reminded herself in time that she was in full-blown view of the public. Even if she was still a man, that would be an unsightly thing to do.

“Hmm? What’s happening?” Lyra blurted out a question at the sight of the clogged entrance. There were a few unfamiliar faces and a good portion of them didn’t look like adventurers. Their apparel were too proper to be adventurers or residents of this town.

Erin’s ears twitched. “Something’s happening in the town square,” she answered doubtfully.

“Something bad?”

“I don’t smell any blood nor do I hear any scuffles. It’s just… loud.”

Lyra approached one of the guards at the entrance in a hurry but Erin ambled behind. “You there,” Lyra pointed at a guard nearby. She was familiar with the guard’s face but not his name.

“Ah, Miss Lyra. What can I do for you?” the guard asked in a flustered manner.

“What’s going on? Trouble?”

“No no no. That’s not the case. It’s just that—” The guard swallowed a gulp. “The merchant caravans arrived an hour ago. They are gathered in the town square.”

“I see. Well, thanks.”

“Anytime, Miss Lyra,” the guard said with a blush. He turned away quickly after knowing the red touching his face.

“He likes you,” Erin teased.

“Surprisingly,” Lyra responded dryly. “Come on, let’s go.”

The moment they entered the town, they were greeted with an extreme festive atmosphere. Discussions and debates were occurring here and there regarding the various merchandise bound to be presented in the offhand market that was most likely happening tomorrow or the day after.

“An offhand market?” Erin asked. “Is that like a flea market?”

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“Well, it doesn’t just sell used goods. There are also a lot of exclusive items too. The prices are very accommodating to the places they visited. Which is why they are highly anticipated and regarded.”

Impressive.

Erin gave out a praise in her heart.

They arrived at the town square. Bands of wagons and carriages of all shapes and sizes entered their view. All of the transports were grand in the designs and the related parties were all dressed in similar lavishing attires. Erin had to look away from some women that were too exhibiting for her eyes. Lyra who noticed it pulled Erin close.

“Are you seriously being jealous right now?”

“Yes,” came the prompt reply.

Erin smiled wryly. “What am I going to do with you?”

Though the two held some interest towards the bustles, they had more pressing matters to attend to. They intend to just circumvent the gathering and head straight for The Guild. However, a man with rolls of fat under his luxurious robe stood in their path.

“Good afternoon, ladies,” the man greeted with a smile.

Unlike Kane or Freed, Erin did not pick up any scent that indicated him as a possible threat or simply an arse. Be that as it may, Erin wasn’t naive to solely trust on his scent alone.

“Good afternoon to you too, good sir. Now please forgive us, we’re in a hurry.”

“Oi,” came a crude and loud voice. “Mister Crom is showing you respect. You are wise to return it.”

Erin sighed and turned to face the voice.

The owner of the voice was scantily clad for a man. Aside from his exposed upper body with nothing but a fur vest, what had truly caught Erin’s eyes and curiosity was his ears and his tail. They were that of a wolf’s.

Beast-kin?

“Wref, please.” The man with an excessive figure stopped the Beast-kin. “There’s no need for such an attitude.”

“Attitude? Mister Crom, that vixen ignored your goodwill.” The Beast-kin pointed rudely at Erin.

Lyra had a vein popped on to her brows. Erin held her hand to placate her temperament, which had an immediate effect to a certain extent.

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“Now now, Wreft. You are overexaggerating it.”

“Mister Crom, I am not—” The Beast-kin named Wref was silenced by a fist smacked onto his head.

“Cease it, Wref,” said another Beast-kin who also had the characteristics of a wolf. Although, it was a she and she was clad in equally scanty attire.

Erin had trouble on where she should be looking but her eyes ultimately fell on the exposed midriff of the She-wolf Beast-kin. It was even more adorned and better tempered than Lyra’s.

“You are making it difficult for Mister Crom and Lord Hegan,” said the She-wolf Beast-kin.

“But Siv, they were—”

“I said cease,” the She-wolf Beast-kin named Siv growled at Wref.

Stifling a whimper, Wref backed down. Siv then turned to Erin with a slight bow. “Sorry about my brother. He can be overly-committed at times.”

“Overly committed to what?” Lyra narrowed her gaze.

“Where are my manners?” The man bowed with a hand to his chest. “I am Crom, son of Hegan. I’m part of the merchant caravan along with my father. These two here are my bodyguards, Wrev and Siv. As you can see, they are of the Wolf Tribe. The two have been around since I was born and they take their jobs seriously. As you have seen, Wref can be overly-committed.”

“Pleasure to make acquaintance with a Faerie-kin.” Siv also bowed in a similar manner. When she realized her brother wasn’t doing the same, she used her glare to coerce her brother into doing so.

Erin didn’t want to get involved any further into the drama than she currently was but since the other party had already introduced themselves, introducing herself in return was the least she could do as a good gesture.

“Likewise. My name’s Erinthea but you can call me Erin.” She bowed with the same gestures. “This lady here is my friend and companion, Lyra.”

Lyra’s eyes widened at the mention of “companion”. She quickly snapped out of it and greeted the three.

“I don’t mean to be rude but we are in a rush,” Erin added at the end of their greeting.

“Of course, of course.” Crom made way. “Then, I won’t hinder you but please, do come to the market on the morrow or the next. I’m looking forward to your patronage.”

Erin wasn’t sure if she would come, so she gave a neutral answer. “If the wind blows my way.”

With those words, Erin and Lyra continued their path to The Guild. Erin didn’t miss the resentful glare Wref had for her as they walked away.

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“Gosh, Faerie-kin are really entrancing,” Lyra remarked.

“Can’t be helped.” Erin shrugged. “He’s looking forward to my patronage.”

“It’s not just him. Everyone is, not just the merchants. A Fae’s presence means a lot, Erin. You might not have noticed it with the town’s meek nature but if I’m seen walking side by side with a Fae in other towns or cities, I’ll be questioned thoroughly and constantly.”

“And you still choose to walk beside me? Until when?”

Lyra leaned closer to Erin’s shoulder as they walked, inciting a string of adoring sighs from the passing town folks. Since they were already a well-known item by the town, there wasn’t any commotion raised at the sight of Lyra’s intimate actions.

“What the hell is going on over there?” Erin uttered as soon as The Guild building came into sight. There was a crowd in front of the entrance. She thought it to be something parlous or blood-spilling but when the faint laughters entered her ears, she knew her notion had been wrong.

“A fight?” Lyra asked.

“You can say that. Although with words and wits.”

“The merchants?”

Erin closed her eyes for a while and focused on her hearing. She opened her eyes after a few seconds. “Some kind of discussion with the Guild Master.”

“Geron? He’s there?” Lyra tried to discern his appearance but even though she had extremely good eyesights and her Unique Talent, Eagle Eye, she wasn’t able to see through the crowd. “Should we be approaching The Guild now? Won’t we get roped in… whatever the hell is happening there?”

Erin shrugged. “I don’t think it’s that dire for us to warrant that much caution.”

“You’re a Fae. Even if it’s not, it will become dire once you’re involved.”

Damn. Being a Fae has its demerits, I guess.

“What are they even discussing?”

“I’m not sure.”

“You don’t know what they are discussing? I thought you could hear them.”

“Just bits and pieces. There are a lot of other noises in the mix. It’s hard to focus specifically on only a certain few.”

As they got closer, the noise seemed to only get rowdier. There were laughters but Erin realized it wasn’t for humorous reasons. The duo could also feel a competition of sorts brewing on the horizon in the middle of the crowd.

Although Sixth Sense was silent, Erin knew trouble was looming ahead. “I still don’t know what the main cause for the crowd is but I don’t think I want to find out. You know what, you’re right. We should come back when the tide recedes.”

Lyra nodded. “Right with ya.”

Just as the two were about to leave, their names were called out from among the crowd. It was Sam. “Ah, Miss Erin, Miss Lyra. The two of you are here right on time.”

The two were left with no exit. All the eyes had turned to them.

The crowd parted in an instant, making way for the Guild Master and two figures that Erin and Lyra were unfamiliar with. The first stranger was a man with considerable height. He was taller than Erin and more well-dressed than Geron. The uncanny resemblance of the man instantly reminded Erin of Crom who she had met just minutes before.

Which makes this man, Hegan.

Although Erin was surprised at the splitting image of father and son, her attention was entirely drawn towards the other stranger. It was a woman in a very revealing robe with an exquisite pipe in her hand. She shared the same height as Lyra but instead of thew, she was bearing perfect curves. And her face complemented her shapely figure well. However, those weren’t the reason for Erin’s interest, no. Her interest lay in the fact the woman had dark skin and her ears, though they weren’t long like an elf, they were still pointed.

Erin appraised the woman without even a brief hesitation.

[Unable to appraise.]

Such results returned to Erin.

Eh? I can’t appraise. W-why?

“Oh my, that’s terribly rude, young one,” the woman whispered softly and coyly. “Don’t you know it’s rude to pry without one’s consent?”

Caught with her hand in the jar, Erin could only stare at the smirking dark-skinned woman with pointed ears.


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