FanFrog Chapter 3: A royal encounter
“This is by far the worst idea I have ever heard in my life.” said Vroch, while rubbing his face in despair. Noire sighed and scratched his head.
“Grr, I am afraid I have to agree with the bloody frogface. Not only do you want us to go to these bloody elves of yours, but you want us to… steal a bloody ship at that stinking city of Lozeras? “
The old mage looked at his friends in bewilderment and turned to Syco for consultation.
“Sorry mate, I have to agree with them. How are ya going to get these lads through that city? I thought ya promised ya dad to protect them. Not to deliver them to the enemy on a silver platter.”
Adam looked around, his face in shock.
“My forest friends, what is this? Why is there no trust in me?”
Vroch crossed his arms.
“Well, we just met you like a few hours ago.”
“And in those few hours I already managed to save your live once. That should account for some credibility, if I say so myself.”
Noire took a step forward and looked the old mage in the eyes.
“So, then tell us. Why do you want us to go to those bloody elves of yours?”
“Well, my friend. Because humans don’t know that the place exists. So it is the safest place I can bring you. Also, there are a few friends there that might be able to help you to get back to your kind, Wolfman.”
“And you bloody do know where this elven place is?”
Batin smiled. His thoughts went back to memories he almost forgot.
“Oh yes, I have been there quite a few times. But those times were different. Quite different to be entirely honest. But I digress. My friends, you talk as if I wouldn’t come up with a great plan to get you through the human city. But that is where you are wrong. I have a great plan, if I say so myself.”
Henry was a guard and was proud to be one. He got the job through his uncle who was also a guard. That is usually how you get into the business of being a guard. Either through your uncle or your father. It was not the worst job he ever had. He remembered when he was still cleaning toilets at the Rusty Fork. That inn was a literal shithole. He smiled and sniffed in the afternoon air. It was great to be a guard.
Next to him stood David. He was also a guard, but unlike Henry he hated the job. He got the job through his father. He also hated his father. Not actively. Not since the old bastard died. The thought of his dead father brought a wry smile to his face. David was twice Henry’s age. But that doesn’t matter. For they both had the same job. They were guards. That is all that mattered now.
Henry looked up ahead and straightened himself.
“David, we got visitors.”
The old guard looked up and snorted.
“Great, more idiots that want to come to this city. Let me handle this, before you do anything stupid.”
The young guard sighed.
“I haven’t done anything stupid!”
David turned his head slightly and gave Henry that look. The look he reserved for when people say stupid things.
“Can I remember you what you said last night. Oeh! An Anura in the city! Mommy, help me! Jeez, you almost peed your pants. It was embarrassing.”
A surge of anger came over the young guard.
“I did not say that. It was just that Roderick said…”
“Please,” interrupted David. “I don’t want to hear what Roderick said. He is a drunk. Like his father was before him. Now shut your mouth and let me handle this.”
Before them they saw an old man with two hooded figures.
“State your name and occupation.”
David’s voice was low and offered a hint of annoyance.
“Ah, yes. We are the Great Three. Entertainers extraordinaire. You might have heard of us.”
“No,” answered David in his monotone voice. “Never heard of you. So I will ask again. State your name and occupation.”
The old man in the dusty robe smiled.
“My friend, I have already given you our name. We travel the country to entertain the good people. I am a conjurer myself. A rabbit out of a hat is but one of my many tricks.”
Henry moved a bit closer and looked in astonishment at the travelers.
“Really? I would love to see a trick, sir!”
David sighed and his thick moustache vibrated a bit. “Not now, Henry, First I need some papers for identification.”
“Ah, come on. There is always time for a small trick.” answered the older man. His smile tried to win David over, but David gave him that look. That look he reserved for people he really didn’t like. Henry grabbed his shoulder and also gave him that stupid smile.
“Come on, David. Just one trick! We can use some entertainment after last night. Alright, conjurer. Show us a neat trick, but beware. We are not easily tricked, us guards of Lozeras.”
David bit his tongue. Let them do their stupid thing. He wondered if the flask in his shirt still had some alcohol left. The conjurer’s smile broadened and he made a small bow.
“Oh, but I would never see you two as people that are easily tricked, my good friend. So please, both of you. Look me in the eyes and tell me what you see.”
Henry starred the conjurer in the eyes and gasped.
“I can see… sheep. And they are… jump… ing… zzzz”
The young guard fell down on the ground. David looked in shock. Somewhere in him there was a voice that hoped that he was dead, but he knew that he wouldn’t be that lucky.
“What did you do? This is…” His eyes felt heavy. Why did the thought on sheep entered his mind? Why was he so tired? Maybe just a small nap. Nobody will notice. Nobody… will.. notice. And the old man also fell down on the ground next to his guard colleague.
Adam dusted of his old robe and smiled at the Anura next to him.
“Alright, my forest friends. I told you I would get us into the city. Let’s continue our journey. Stay close to me, please.”
“We could have just climbed over the wall in the first place.”
“And jump from rooftop to rooftop? I am sorry, Frogman, but I am a bit more civilised than that. So let us…” Vroch put his hand on the old man’s shoulder and pointed at the roof of a nearby house.
“Well, it isn’t stopping the wolf guy.”
Adam followed Vroch’s gaze and saw the cloaked figure of Noire running on the rooftop.
“Oh dear, that silly Fenrir. I am afraid that changes the plans quite a bit. We must stop wolfman, before they see him.”
And there they were. On the roof. Running after the Fenrir. Vroch jumped from roof to roof and took a small look behind him. The old mage was right. This was certainly not his style. The Anura laughed while he saw Adam clumsily jumping on the next building, while trying to not look down. Vroch kept running. He might be the only one who was able to keep up with the stupid wolf. Why did Noire go ahead without them? For some reason it angered him. Another jump was coming up. Vroch placed his foot on roof tile and tried to jump. But the tile didn’t like it and the Anura disappeared in a hole in the roof.
“Where am I? What is with this day? Everything hurts and…”
He looked around and saw a dusty old inn, full with wooden furniture. Nobody had been here for quite some time it seems. Vroch stood up and froze. The tip of a cold sword appeared on his cheek. At the other side of the sword stood an Elf, fully clothed in silver armour with golden decorations. Must be an guard or soldier. Next to the armoured Elf stood a young girl with long red hair. She looked nice.
“Halt! Who are you and…” The Elf stopped talking and came closer to take a better look at what fell into the abandoned inn.
“In name of the queen, that can’t be. You are an… Alright, stay still and raise your hands.”
“Great, this day is getting better and better.” murmured Vroch to himself.
“Stay still, fiend. Don’t come any closer!” The sword moved from his cheek to his neck.
The redhead girl stepped forward and stood next to the armoured Elf.
“Vesryn, is this really necessary?”
“My lady, I deem this necessary for your safety. This foul creature is an Anura. I will remove his head if he even moves one bit. I promised your mother that you would not get harmed on this journey. And that is promise that I tend to keep.”
Vroch slowly raised his hands and groaned.
“Look, Elf. I am with the girl. I would like to keep my head, if you don’t mind. And I am not foul. I washed before coming to this city. If anything smells, it is this city! And get that sword away from me. I am not in the mood for sword fights. You would lose anyway.”
The redheaded Elf giggled softly, while her guard looked a bit surprised at the creature before him. Before he could answer, the head of a man appeared through the hole above them.
“Hello? Frogman? Are you alright, my friend?”
Vroch looked up and saw Adam Batin through the hole in the roof.
“Yes, I am fine. I just met some great company down here.”
“Ah, it is always nice to meet new people, isn’t it?” answered the Magi, while completely ignoring Vroch’s sarcasm.
“Yeah, especially when they carry a sword and are not afraid to use it against others.”
“Ah, good to hear! I will be down in a moment. I am afraid I lost Noire for a bit. Will be right back, Frogman. Be seeing you!”
And gone he was. Vroch shook his head and rubbed his eyes.
“Great, absolutely great. Thanks, Batin.”
The Elf soldier looked confused at the Anura in front of him and slowly lowered his sword.
“Batin? That is a name I haven’t heard in a very long time. Speak, who was that man?”
Vroch raised his eyebrows and dusted off his clothes.
“Sure, first the old man leaves me here in this shit inn, but now the Elf wants to know who he is.” With a quick maneuver he grabbed his own sword and pointed it at Vesryn. “Like I said, I am not in the mood for this. Yesterday, I was alone and I loved it. But then everything happened at once and now I am in a city where everyone wants to kill me. Joined by a demented old Magi, who keeps calling us friends. And trust me, he is not my friend! The closest to a friend I got is that gnome he has with him. Oh, and let’s not forget the wolfman that keeps on growling how he wants to kill me. And here I am. In an old inn with you two. So, let’s reverse the roles, shall we? You are going to speak now and tell me how to get the hell out of here.”
Vesryn rose his sword again and met the old rusty blade of the Anura. The red haired girl sighed.
“Boys and their swords. Drop your weapons. That is an order.”
“My lady, but…”
“Are you disobeying a direct order, Captain Vesryn?”
“No, my lady.”
Vesryn reluctantly lowered his sword and took a step back. The redhead stepped towards Vroch and offered her hand in an act of kindness.
“My name is princess Lolandris. I must apologise for my captain here. He is a bit overprotective. “
Vroch looked surprised at the hand, lowered his sword and cautiously shook the hand of the redhead girl.
“My name is Vroch. Anura, as your captain has mentioned. Not foul. Annoyed, but not foul.”
The princess laughed and sat down again on the dusty wooden bench.
“We are hiding too. Mother doesn’t want us to be seen by humans. She said they don’t react well to things they don’t understand.”
Vroch smiled a bit uneasy. He never met a princess before. Or a girl in general.
“Then what are you doing here, your highness.”
“Please, call me Lola.” she said with a smile.
Captain Vesryn coughed and looked displeased.
“This is my coming of age trip. It will be my birthday tomorrow, so my mother gave me the gift I always wanted. A journey through the land of humans. The captain is with me to make sure I am safe.”
Vesryn stepped in and stood before Vroch.
“Before the princess tells her whole life story, I need to know a few things. Who was that man we just saw?”
Vroch looked annoyed and scratched his head.
“Who? The old geezer? That is Adam Batin. Last of the Magi he calls himself.”
“Sir Batin lives? Haha, Sir Batin lives?”
“Ah, you know of him. Well, he had the plan to get me and a Fenrir to the Elves. Apparently it is the safest place for us at the moment.”
Vesryn grabbed Vroch by the collar and looked at him in shock.
“He wants to do what? That is blasphemy. Your kind are not welcome on the island of Queen Ellekone. Neither is the Fenrir! I thought we got rid of the wolfkind anyway.”
Vroch groaned and grabbed the hands of the Elf.
“Great! Elves are racists! Awesome. Well, nice meeting you. If you can let me go now, because I must be off.”
Noire walked through the streets. Hunger filled his mind. It was hard to think about anything else when hungry. He tried to remember when it was when he last ate. The hunger made him forget things. Like why he was actually in this city. He pointed his nose to the air and took in all the smells of the city. There has to be food somewhere. His stomach growled. Where is it? And then he smelled it. Fresh meat. Charred slowly over an open fire. He followed his nose and looked around. Yes, it must be close. The smell. The incredible smell of singed meat. The fat slowly dripping into the open fire. Sizzling on contact with the glowing embers. It smelled bloody fantastic. He could almost taste the meat. Just a few more steps. There it was. A nicely displayed grill with hunks of meat. Noire stepped forward and tried to take one of the delicious smelling steaks, but something grabbed his hand before he could. Annoyed he looked up and saw a bulky butcher.
“Oi, first good old Barry needs to see some payment before you can take that premium piece of sheep. Barry was about to close shop, you know. Had a rough couple of days. So be nice and pay the price.”
“Do you know what I bloody am?” growled Noire at the bulky butcher.
“Yes, a non paying customer. So give old Barry some gold before he calls the guards.”
Noire threw off his cloak and let out a howl.
“I will rip the spine out of all of you bloody idiots. I am Noire of the Fenkir pack. I eat your bloody kind for breakfast. And that is precisely what I am going to do!”
Syco sat on the shoulder of the running Magi. They ran out of roofs a while back and decided to walk the streets in search for the missing Fenrir.
“I told ya, kid. Those Fenrir are bad news.”
“Yes, I can see that now, Dwarfman. He is a bit more work than I anticipated.”
Screams filled the streets and people started to panic. Batin tried to avoid the horde of blind confusion, but still got hit by a few flailing hands. He inhaled deeply and shook his head.
“Oh dear, why do I have the feeling that our friend did something incredibly stupid.”
The gnome on his shoulder smirked.
“Is it too late to tell you that I told ya so?”
“You are not helping, Dwarfman”
“Call me a dwarf one more time and I will never help ya again!”
They turned around the corner, while following the flow of panic. And there they saw it. Noire was standing there, surrounded by wounded guards, while the bulky butcher had thrown himself on the ground, cowering in fear. Growling and slashing his claws at the advancing unwounded guards.
“You will never take me bloody alive!” he screamed in a low gnarly voice.
“Lad, this is bad. Very bad if ya ask me.”
Adam Batin took a deep breath and nodded.
“Oh, I hate when I have to do this. You better get of my shoulder, my good friend. I am afraid it can get ugly.”
Syco nodded and climbed down as fast as he could. He saw the Magi standing there in full concentration. Adam raised his arms and two flames appeared on each palm of his hands. The crowd looked at him. There was no panic at the moment. Only bewilderment. The Magi inhaled and spoke in a booming voice.
“My name is Adam Batin, Magi of the order of the Eternal Flame. Last of my family and as powerful as the elements let me be. I do not come here to harm you all. I have come here to collect the creature that stands here before you. Now give us a clear passage and nobody will get hurt.”
Cold iron slaps around his wrist. The flame in his hand dwindles. Adam felt dizzy. As if all his power slowly went sleep. His arms felt tired and his vision became blurry. Next to him he saw a familiar face. “Welcome to Lozeras, Batin.” said Grand Commander Hendrickson, before Adam fell in a deep slumber.
As fast as his small legs could carry him, he scoured the streets. “Where is the lad when ya need him!” he cursed under his breath. He stayed close to the walls so no one else could see him. He looked up and saw the old inn. “Ah, yes. This must be it!”
He crawled underneath the door and dusted himself off. In front of him he saw an Elf holding Vroch by his collar, while a young girl with red hair tried to calm the Elf down. Vroch looked down and smiled. The gnome sighed and looked the Anura in the eyes.
“Thank the heavens, I found ya. Son, we might have a problem.”