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2-5 Joshua

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Author: EnroItzal Original Source: Scribble Hub

The streets near the edges of the town were once barren with only a handful amount of people. These streets were now brimming with an overflowing crowd that was even spilling into the alleys. This was in part thanks to the various stalls that were set up by the merchants from the caravan. These parts of the offhand market were of the most inexpensive where even a child could buy something with their meagre wages which was why it was the most packed part of the offhand market.

Lyra couldn’t help but reminisce about Erin’s reaction to such a crowd. They were on their first outing after the excursion. Erin’s grimace, her rigidly waving tails, her perked ears, it was all oddly satisfying to behold, something Lyra kept it a secret to herself. Even now, she tittered at the recollection.

Although Lyra laughed, she didn’t hold a much different opinion than Erin towards a dense crowd.

Celia and her were sauntering through this particular street, hand in hand, after they were finished with their breakfast from an eatery just around the corner of this street.

“Wow…” Celia gasped in awe. She trod close to Lyra. “There’s so many people.”

“Aye, there’s a lot,” Lyra muttered dryly. “Unfortunately.”

Lyra had a visible expression of disgust but she hid it whenever Celia’s glance turned to her to express her excitement. Lyra saw crowds as a trial and an insufferable thing to women. She could see it in most of the men’s eyes, nearly every one of them was eager to grope a feel of a woman’s tender thighs or rear. If caught in the act, they put on the hat of a victim. For the worse ones, they even return the blame back to the victim.

Fortunately, she had yet to encounter such a man in this town. Or none dared to offend the close acquaintance of a Fae. Lyra didn’t have such luck when she was in the town before this. Many men had gotten away with their misdeeds and even her then-lover wasn’t much help. He lacked spine in the moment that mattered the most.

“Get the f̲u̲c̲k̲ out of my head! I’m done with you!” Lyra screamed internally for the image of her past lover to go away. She managed to calm herself down before Celia could take notice of her mild plight.

To avoid any mishaps of an “accidental” harassment, Lyra donned herself and Celia in cloaks. It wouldn’t completely prevent their attempts but it would feel less appalling should it happen.

While Lyra stayed vigilant of these opportunists, Celia was throwing her gaze everywhere, fascinated with every stall that came into her view. Catching sight of the assorted colors displayed on the stand, Celia trotted briskly and merrily to the booth. Lyra let herself be dragged along by Celia’s tiny hand willingly.

“Lara, Lara!” Celia called out energetically. Lyra had long given up trying to correct Celia’s mispronunciation. It was cute, so she didn’t mind it all that much. “Look! Look! What are these?”

“These are Hawthorn Candies,” Lyra said with a warm smile.

“Haton Candies?” She tilted her head. “Is it sweet?”

Lyra held back a giggle. “They’re candies, so they are supposed to be sweet but… Hawthorns I know are red. These aren’t red…”

“Oh, good afternoon, lassie,” greeted an elderly man who appeared from under the counter. Though a human, the elderly bore the stature of a Dwarrow. His beard only served to amplify that misconception.

“Good afternoon to you too, Samuel,” Lyra returned the greeting. “It’s been sometime.”

“It has, hasn’t it? A lot of things needed to be done and prepared. Want to give them outsiders no bad impression, aye. Gotta do what’s needed, to keep them happy, aye. And just call me Sam, lassie.”

Lyra’s smile turned wry. “Not happening. There’s already another “Sam” in town. I don’t want to confuse myself.”

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“It’s alright, it’s alright. Suit yer self. Anyway, how can I help yer?”

“These blue, green, purple, and yellow ones, they’re Hawthorns?” Lyra asked.

“Aye, they are.”

Lyra frowned. “How do you manage that?”

“Simple, lassie. You paint them.”

“You painted them?”

“I can assure yer, lassie. They’re edible and yer won’t be looking for a chamberpot if that’s yer worry.”

When Lyra looked to Celia, she found her tugging at her tunic, her eyes glittering with hope. There was no way Lyra could refuse those kinds of eyes. “Alright then, I’ll take one.”

“Mwu…” Celia grumbled softly with her gaze down but Lyra took notice of it.

Lyra groaned in her heart. “On second thought, give me two.”

Celia looked up as her eyes sparkled.

“Aye, lassie. So, which one yer fancy, lil’ missy?”

Celia pointed at the red and purple ones.

“Alright, here yer go. That’ll be four pennies— sorry, four small copper.”

Receiving her candies, Celia nibbled on the red one first with a face of absolute delight.

“Pennies, huh,” Lyra mused as she made the payment. “Haven’t heard that in awhile. I didn’t know you were from the south.”

“Me mum and dad were, lassie. I was born ere’. Got the words from they.”

“I see.” Lyra nodded.

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Just then, a girl, also in a cloak, plunged through the crowd and strode right up to the stall. “Samuel, two yellow ones, please?”

“Aye, coming right up, lassie,” Samuel asked no question and got right to packing the candies for the girl.

“Selene?” Lyra called out when she took a peek of the girl’s face under the hood.

Selene jumped and turned to her. “Lyra?” she blurted out.

“Haven’t seen you in— actually, since we returned.” Lyra frowned. “Is everything alright?”

“Well… we got out of there in one piece, didn’t we? I guess we’re alright,” she told Lyra but contrary to her words, her voice was trembling.

Before Lyra could ask, Samuel cut in. “Alrighty, lassie, Here yer go, two yellows. That’ll be four pennies.”

Selene made the payment and turned to leave— but Lyra grabbed on to her arm.

“Selene, is everything truly alright?” she asked.

Selene struggled but Lyra held her arm firmly. In the end, she relented to Lyra’s question. “No,” she answered. “Cal’s still shaken from that expedition. He and I had nightmares but he was screaming out loud every night. He even threw up after every meal. The only thing he could eat without puking back out are sweets.”

“T-that’s terrible…”

“It’s alright, Lyra. It’s no one’s fault. Maybe we’re just not suitable to be adventurers…”

“Selene…”

“Sorry, Lyra. I have to go,” Selene and left as abrupt as she had come.

“That’s Sally, right?” Celia asked with the candy on her lips and her head canted. “She seems weird. Is she alright?”

“I hope so, Celia,” Lyra replied with a smile as she brushed ruffled Celia’s hair who was gleefully enjoying it.

“Aww~ How sweet the two of ya are. Yer making this old man jealous and…. Ah nay….” Samuel’s tone changed halfway through. His eyes reflected his teror.

Lyra didn’t bother asking. She turned around and shielded Celia from the reason for Samuel’s teror.

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“Well well well, if it isn’t the lily of the town,” slurred Kane, who was walking wobbly with a bottle in his hand.

“Kane, didn’t expect to find you here.” Lyra made the disdain in her tone clear. She became more wary when she realized he was outright drunk in the middle of the day. “Finally accepted that you amount as much as the goods in this place?”

Kane scoffed. “Ever since you brought that b̲i̲t̲c̲h̲ into town—”

“Careful now, Kane. Don’t presume I won’t and can’t hurt you just because of our level differences.”

Kane continued, disregarding Lyra’s warning. “—no one respects me anymore. They no longer make way for me. They no longer save my seat at the bar. My name is being spat on blatantly in broad daylight. And now—” he paused and took a swig from the bottle, “not even the merchants showed me any respect. It’s all because of that w̲h̲o̲r̲e̲ of a b̲i̲t̲c̲h̲ friend of yours.”

Lyra chuckled. “You’re confusing respect with fear, Kane. And call her a b̲i̲t̲c̲h̲ or a w̲h̲o̲r̲e̲ one more time, I’ll knock your teeth out.”

At this point, the crowd had realized what was happening. A circle was slowly being formed around the confrontation. While the town’s residents looked on in trepidation, the merchants were looking on with great interest. This would likely be one hell of a story to tell in their travels. The merchants were all informed about Kane. Most stayed clear of him but there were some like Iris who tried to take advantage of him.

“What are ya’ all looking at!?” Kane shouted at the gallery.

“Losing your nerves? That’s a surprise. Let me guess, got cheated by a merchant? Can’t say I pity you.”

“Shut up!” he yelled and smashed the bottle onto the ground. The gallery gasped.

Lyra’s hands crept to the twin daggers on her back.

“You are all insolent! No honor!” he bellowed with his finger pointing at everyone around him. “Even my men have betrayed me. You’re all nothing but swines!”

“Well, Mister Kettle, I think Missus Pot is calling you from somewhere.”

“That impudent tongue of yours!” Kane finally drew his sword. “I’ll carve it out of your mouth, b̲i̲t̲c̲h̲! Then I cut up your limbs and have my way with you until your twat is all but loose.”

The crowd flinched in horror at his declaration. Rumors and whispers began to flow but none dared to speak out loud. Kane was still levels above them all. Even if they came at him at once and he would not stand a chance against this number, no one was willing to be the sacrificial lamb.

Lyra took a step forward with her daggers drawn. “You have finally lost your mind, Kane.”

“My mind is perfectly fine,” he snarled. “The rest of ya are the problem. No respect for power or strength. Licking the boots of the rich is all the lot of you will ever amount to.”

Lyra shook her head. “You have crossed the line. You’re too far gone.”

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“Silence, c̲u̲n̲t̲ sucker!” Kane roared lunged with his sword raised— but something came flying and hit his sword, stopping his attack.

“That’s no way to treat a lady, sir,” said a mild-mannered voice. Lyra and the crowd’s attention was reeled to the one who spoke those calm words.

“And who the f̲u̲c̲k̲ are you!?” Kane growled at the voice which denounced him. The crowd parted, making way for a man with round glasses and combed glossy brown hair who was ambling towards Kane like he had all the time in the world.

“One is obligated to give their own name before asking for others’ name.”

Veins bulged around Kane’s forehead. “Do you know who I am!?” He turned his sword to the vaguely smiling young man.

“I do, Mister Kane,” the man calmly responded. “I know who you are. I know a lot about you. I even know of your dismissal from Lady Iris’ employment.”

Kane’s voice croaked at that mention.

“Ah, so that’s why he snapped,” Lyra muttered in her heart.

“But that’s not important. Question is, do you know who I am?”

The man was dressed in a long fancy tunic. His glasses had frames made of silver. And lastly, his hands devoid of calluses was a telltale sign of his status. Despite being drunk, Kane was able to put the pieces together. His legs began to shiver.

“My name is Joshua, son of Roberyn,” the young man introduced himself. “I’m a merchant who deals mainly in jewellery and liquors. It just so happens, Lady Iris is a close acquaintance of mine.”

The surrounding merchants gasped at the man’s name. Whispers brimmed in praises for the man’s wealth and capabilities. Lyra began to feel pity for Kane who had essentially signed his own death warrant.

“Come to disparage me, like that dark skinned b̲i̲t̲c̲h̲, have ya!?” Although Kane knew Joshua was someone he shouldn’t be trifling with, Kane was a conceited person to begin with and adding his drunken state to the mix, his pride easily consumed him.

“You are even more unpleasant than what I have been told,” Joshua said, making a revolted expression. “How could someone be so falsely vain?”

“Shut your impudent mouth!” Kane shouted louder than before. “You won’t be so smug if I have my sword over your neck.”

“You’re welcome to try,” Joshua taunted.

And Kane finally snapped entirely. He rushed at the merchant with not a trace of reasoning found in his eyes.

“Sir!” Lyra moved to stop Kane before it was too late.

However, Joshua stood still and snapped his fingers. A figure in cloak emerged from the crowd. It landed a kick right into Kanes abdomen, sending him sprawling across the ground.

Lyra stopped in her tracks with her eyes widened. The figure was fast, almost as fast as Erin.

Joshua sighed and approached the groaning Kane who was trying to reach his sword which flew from his hand when he was sent sliding.

The merchant kicked the sword further away from Kane’s reach.

“You f̲u̲c̲k̲…!” Kane uttered.

“Leave town on the morrow,” said Joshua with a cold and unforgiving tone. “Or bear the full brunt of all the merchants’ wrath and the Guild’s displeasure. You’re done for, Mister Kane.”

Saying so, Joshua turned from Kane and ordered the cloaked figure with some hand gestures. The cloaked figure bowed with its head before scooping the semi-conscious Kane into its arm. It saddled him over its shoulder and trotted into an alley, out of everyone’s sights.

Soon, the crowd dispersed and everyone went back to their business like nothing had happened. The incident was still clear in everyone’s mind but they all had their own lives to get through. There was no point in dwelling upon it.

“What did you ask him to do with Kane?” Lyra asked with her eyes still widened to their fullest.

“Nothing terrible,” he answered with a smile. “Just getting him out of the streets to avoid making the streets more clogged than it already is.”

Lyra bowed her head. “Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome, milady,” the man replied with also a slight bow of his head.

Lyra gave a wry smile. “I’m no lady.”

“But you are a lady, no?”

“I am a woman but I’m no lady.”

“You put the little girl’s life first before your own. I say that bravery makes you deserving, milady.”

Lyra felt herself blushing. This was the first time she had met a man who was well-mannered with her and himself. All the men had either treated her as an equal or an inferior, this was the first a man had treated her like a lady, nothing more.

“T-thank you, mister,” greeted Celia who had come to Lyra’s side but hiding behind her legs.

Joshua turned to her with his warm smile. “And you are welcome, little one.”

“Ah, Lyra!” a voice called out.

Lyra turned to greet the one she had longed to see. She saw Erin and Nivia but there was still a crowd between them.

“It’s Erin and Nivia!” Celia pointed at them as she jumped excitedly.

With Nivia in her arms, Erin leaped across the crowd, drawing gazes and awes as she did so, and landed right in front of Lyra.

“Wow…” even Joshua had the same reaction as everyone else. “Three tails… that’s unbelievable.”

“E-Erin? Is something wrong?” Lyra asked, bemused by her aberrant action.

“Erin, don’t do that again,” Nivia told her sternly but the Fox-kin merely waved it off.

“Can we go someplace quiet now? We need to talk,” Erin took Lyra’s hands as she asked.

Lyra was flustered at first at the implication of Erin’s words but upon noticing the absence of Nivia’s jealousy, Lyra understood it was something serious. She nodded.

“Oh,” Erin muttered when she saw Joshua. “I-I’m sorry. Did I interrupt?”

“Of course not,” Joshua answered with his ever-persisting smile. “I was just taking my leave.”

“Friend of yours?” Erin asked.

“We just met,” Lyra responded quickly. “He helped me when Kane tried to attack me.”

“Kane?” Erin blurted out. “He’s here? Where is he?” Erin looked around, her nose sniffing for the unpleasant man’s stench.

“He’s gone. No longer our problem. Joshua here saw to that.”

Erin heaved a breath of relief.

“And by the way, he’s a merchant. He sells jewelleries and liquors, or so I was told.”

“The lady is correct.” Joshua nodded.

“Well, good afternoon, Joshua.” Erin bowed with her hand on her chest and Nivia followed. “Please to make your acquaintance, I’m—”

“Lady Erinthea, yes, I know. I have heard so much about you.”

“You have?” Erin raised an eyebrow.

“You’re the rage of this town’s gossip. Meeting you is quite an honor.” He then turned to Nivia. “And of course, you must be Lady Nivia of Willowglade.”

“You know who we are?” Nivia narrowed her gaze.

“The only two Fae in this small town. It would be strange if I didn’t. And information is a form of currency, it’s only right and natural that a merchant has it.”

“I see,” Niva mused, dubiously.

Suddenly, a frown crossed Joshua’s face. He fixed his glasses in place. “Lady Erinthea, pardon me for overstepping but I have to ask, are you besotted with Mister Aedan?”

Lyra’s expression darkened. “No, she is not,” Lyra answered without a beat and her voice turned cold. “At best, they’re just friends.”

Erin smiled wryly. “What she said.”

“Ah— I see. Sorry for my imprudence.” Joshua bowed. “Unfortunately, I have to bid you lovely ladies farewell for now. I have business to attend to. Until we meet again.”

And gone he was at the next second, dashing into the crowd.

Erin glared at Lyra.

“What?” Lyra asked.

“You spooked him”

“I did not.” Lyra pouted. “He was in a hurry. He said it himself.”

“Yeah, no man is going to admit they ran off because a woman intimidated them.”

“No, Lyra’s right,” came Nivia’s unusual agreement with Lyra. “She didn’t spook him. His air changed even before Lyra supposedly spooked him.”

“If that’s the case, then what did he see?”

“I guess we can only ask him when we meet him the next time. For now, we have some dire matters to discuss.”

Lyra flinched. Like Erin, this side of Nivia was hard to swallow for Lyra given her obsessive stalker side. However, it did paint Niva in a light befitting of an Elf from the tales and whispers.

“Let’s just hope Erin doesn’t fall for that side of hers,” Lyra muttered to her own heart.


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