It Could Be Worse
Waving good-bye to Ella and the rest, I turned to my own little group. Clarice was wearing a cute pink sundress with a matching sunhat, and hanging off of Gold Blood And Steel's arm. Her boyfriend looked even scrawnier than usual in his shorts, t-shirt and hat. Stil he looked quite pleased with himself, especially when he kissed the blonde's cheek. They each had a demon eye hanging from their necks, so we could take pictures and pretend to be tourists.
I was not so lucky.
Reginald was standing beside a golem-carriage. He looked so stiff I couldn't tell who had more emotion, the hardened clay golem, or the stone faced paladin trainee. He wasn't wearing armour, but had matching silvery pants and shirt which were practically skintight. A sword about as long as my arm hung from his ornate silver belt.
And there I was, standing unarmed, in a drafty purple sundress with little white flowers all over it, and a large straw hat to protect my skin. I also had a bit of pink blush on my cheeks, with matching lipstick and nail polish. If Reginald wanted to kill me, there was absolutely nothing I could do except run. And my sandals, while comfortable, weren't exactly made for running.
I had to wonder what was going to go wrong, because clearly everything was set up to go horribly, horribly wrong.
“If you're all ready to go, we should be going now. It's going to get hot soon,” Reginald said, opening the carriage door.
“Of course, thank you,” Clarice said, doing her best to sound rich and upper class. Gold helped her into the carriage, trying to act like a gentleman.
I followed on their heels. My nemesis raised his hand, making me jump back. My sandals didn't have the best grip and I slid on the pavement. My feet went up, and my head went down. Yelling in panic, I winced in anticipation of the oncoming pain.
Something caught me before I hit the ground. Opening my eyes, I saw that Reginald was holding me in his massive arm, one hand cradling my back, the other holding my wrist. He gently lifted me back onto my feet, and let go. “I was just going to help you into the carriage,” he said, sounding a little irritated. “I promised I would help and protect you, I keep my word.”
He probably did keep his word. But the two times I'd met him, he'd tried to put a sword through me. I wasn't about to trust him farther than I could throw him. Especially when he could break me in two with his fingers, and was almost as fast as Ivy.
“Thanks,” I muttered, walking past him. Climbing into the carriage, I took a seat across from Clarice and tried not to think about how I'd just made a fool out of myself.
Reginald got in, taking the only free seat left, which was beside me. At least the carriage was a good size, so we weren't actually touching each other. Tapping on a rune, he told the golem to go to the waterfront. We lurched a little as the little legs began moving rapidly down the street. In a few moments it was a smooth ride, with only a little swaying as we navigated the traffic.
“Where is Princess Ella and your other friends?” Reginald asked. “I thought you would all be together.”
Smiling, Clarice answered for us. “They want to go look at some of the mines in the inner part of the city. I have claustrophobia, so I bowed out, and Petra was nice enough to come with us.”
I wasn't exactly happy being the third wheel in the story, but it was the best story we could come up.
“Have you been here before?” Gold asked. “This is the first time for all of us.”
Puffing out his chest, Reginald said, “I came last year, after my parents led the attack that broke the Gopher King's attack on the the island. There was a small celebration in honour of the victory, and I was given a grand tour of the city.”
“I heard about that,” Clarice said. She'd read a few reports on the attack that morning as part of our preparations for dealing with the trainee paladin. “Is it true that your father and mother killed the King's six headed gopher kaiju?”
“Yes it is. They knew that without the monster, the Gopher King's army would be easily defeated. So they...”
I tuned out the blowhard. The plan had worked. He'd spend the next several hours talking all about his parents and how great they were, as long as we just smiled and nodded along. If we could just keep him talking, he was the perfect patsy.
I really wished I had some earplugs.
“Oh what's that building?! It looks so cool,” Clarice said, pointing at the first building we needed to check out. We'd left the golem-carriage a while ago in a parking lot. The streets here were narrow and more suited for pedestrians.
“I have to get a picture of it,” I said. Lifting the demon eye up, a mental image of what the eye saw popped into my mind. Getting a good view of it, without too many people in front of it, took a few moments, then I squeezed the fairly solid eye. It blinked and the picture was stored in it. Later we could transfer the picture to special paper and pass it around.
“It's the Emerald Stein, one of the oldest bars in the city,” Reginald said. “They say it has some of the best beer in the Green Sea Archipelago.”
“I'm hungry, do they have food?” I asked, while I took another picture.
“They do. I think we could get a table fairly easily. It's a while before lunch.”
“Excellent. We're still not on island time, so it's lunchtime for us.”
Clarice and I ran ahead, acting like overexcited girls. I struck a pose by the door, letting my friend take a picture of me. We did a few more, making sure to get several different angles.
“Gold, take a picture of both of us,” Clarice said.
He did as he was told, getting in close for a few, then several wide shots. We insisted he take a bunch of them, trying different poses, hand gestures and silly expressions. Reginald watched us with poorly hidden disgust, rolling his eyes as we giggled. Then I had to take some more pictures of the two lovebirds.
Eventually we got inside. The building was quite large, with a very low ceiling. Reginald could just walk under the glow lamps without ducking his head, but it was a near thing. It was quite clear that Dwarves had designed everything. The posts were thick pieces of lumber, polished to a golden hue, with runes for luck, prosperity, and strength burned into them. It was simple work, but very well done. The stone walls looked like a cave. They were so clean and shiny, they gleamed in the low light. The tables and chairs were just as simple and well crafted.
A Dwarf woman led us to a free table and gave us menus. Her beard was short, thick and a fiery red, she wore the standard shorts, vest and tight shirt, which seemed to be the norm for the island. “Just whistle when you're ready to order,” she said. Her trade tongue was pretty good, even with the heavy accent to it. It made her sound like she was chewing gravel.
Pulling out our demon eyes again, we started taking pictures.
“Smile, Reginald,” I said.
“No,” he replied.
“Come on, your mom will want to see you having fun,” I insisted.
Sighing, he gave me a little smile. I took the picture, making sure to get a good view of the bar along with his face.
“Perfect. But I need a bigger smile,” I said.
“Don't push your luck,” he replied, his hand stroking the hilt of his sword.
“So,” Gold said, picking up his menu and interrupting any potential bloodshed, “what would people like?”
We ordered a small lunch of battered seafood and fruit juice, the non-alcoholic kind. More pictures were taken and we talked about where we wanted to go next, keeping things as casual as possible. The food was fantastic and even Reginald seemed to enjoy it.
When we'd finished and paid, we headed back out. The streets were now packed with tourists looking for food. Gold, Clarice and I held hands as we followed like children behind Reginald. He was so big that the crowd actually parted for him.
Exploring the narrow streets, we slowly made our way towards the next location. There were frequent stops to look at interesting things, take pictures that were purely for fun, and to window shop.
“Oh Petra, look at this,” Clarice said, dragging me to a street vendor.
“What?” I asked, looking at a wide assortment of scarves, jewellery, hats and sunglasses.
My friend grabbed a scarf with a rippling purple pattern. “This scarf, is so you,” she said, reaching up to wrap it around my neck.
The fabric was so light, I almost didn't feel it. It wasn't hot, in fact it absorbed some of the sweat from my skin, making me more comfortable. The Dwarven seller held up a mirror, and I had to smile, it really did look good on me.
“I love it,” I said. “Now we need one for you.”
She spotted a pink one with fancy tassels. Hanging it over her shoulders, she playfully tickled Gold's nose with one end. “How about the boys?” she asked.
“No scarf for me, but how about this hat?” Gold asked, picking up a fancy straw fedora.
“Maybe, but lets see if they have something better.” Clarice spent the next several minutes picking out different hats for him, before settling on the first one he'd picked up.
Wanting to get in on the fun, and annoy Reginald a little, I got a pink hat that could be for a guy. “Try this on,” I told him.
He rolled his eyes. “No.”
“Come on. We're having fun, join in.”
“I don't want to.”
Jumping up, I put the hat on his head. It looked ridiculous, with his serious expression and silver clothes. A vein bulged on his forehead, and I could swear I heard his teeth grinding. “That's fantastic. You're mother will love it.”
His hands tightened into fists. I was dangerously close to the edge with him, but there was no way he could refuse, because his mother really would love it. Paying the seller, we headed off again.
We came to a busy street full of golem-carriages, riding animals, and vehicles. An odd floating machine, that seemed to be vacuuming up the dirt and garbage from the street, was slowly making it's way down the curb. Joining a crowd of pedestrians, we waited for a chance to cross the street.
A golem hanging above the street lowered a red sign, bringing the traffic to a halt. Stepping onto the road, I found myself being bumped and jostled by the crush of people. Someone very heavy stepped on my foot, making me yelp and stop in pain. The crowd left me behind.
There was a shout and a roar. Turning, I saw a riding dragon leap forward. A golem-carriage tipped over, as the animals tail was wrenched out from under it's feet.
The pain addled beast ran straight at me, ignoring the commands of it's rider. I tried to run out of the way, only to have my sandals slip on the pavement, I hit the ground and was too stunned to do anything.
Just as the heavy dragon was about to crush me, someone picked me up and we went flying off to the side. We rolled to a stop, my shoulder hitting the curb hard enough to make it go numb. Looking up, I found myself looking up at Reginald, his massive arms wrapped protectively around me.
And then the road cleaning machine floated over us.
There was a momentary sensation of being stuck in the middle of a tornado. I probably would have been swept up in the wind, but I was under a massive slab of muscle, so I was pretty safe.
The machine went on it's way, not realizing that we'd even been there.
“Tha-” I started to say. Then I realized something.
While the machine hadn't hurt Reginald or I, it had sucked up some very important things. Looking down, I realized that we were both completely naked.
And he was on top of me.
And my breasts were pressed firmly into his chest.
And dozens of people were looking at us.
We both looked at each other in horror.
I started to cry.
Doom Valley Prep School will be updated every Monday. My other story Necromancer Unmanned will be updated every Tuesday.
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