One week passed before Reysha finally had something to report. “I think it might be the well,” she stated while forcing down her mixture of raw meat and water. With glassy eyes, she chewed every bit as little as necessary and gulped quickly. It felt like a veil of darkness was creeping in from the edge of her vision, right up until Apexus pulled her dulled senses back by speaking up.
“You really don’t look well,” the slime spoke in a concerned fashion.
The sides of Reysha’s lips trembled, then she failed to contain it and she burst into laughter. Landing in the dirt, the cloak between her naked back and the ground, she giggled and let out cacophonic sounds of hysteric euphoria in excessive intervals. Quickly, sealing her mouth shut with her hands as she kicked the air, she continued to laugh for a couple of minutes, sometimes stopping to breathe air only to continue. Eventually, she went down to periodic shivers of cackling, largely in control of herself again.
“Not ‘well’ as in I am well, Apexus,” the tiger girl informed the slime, who was looking concerned. “A well, the structure you get water from by dropping a bucket into it.”
“Ooohhhh,” Apexus made one continuous vibration from his vocal plates. That was one of those sound shortcuts for understanding. Language was so odd, unequally complicated and streamlined. “Why have the same word for two entirely different… stuffs… things… meanings!”
“Cause fuck you that’s why,” Reysha floppily answered, “I didn’t make the language, I just speak it and it works. Most of the time anyway.” That was fair enough all things considered and Aclysia wanted to stay on topic anyhow.
“What makes you present that hypothesis? Which well in particular?” she asked, inching closer. For a change, the white-haired angel wasn’t sitting on her awakener, since the tree was hanging too low above them. Instead, she had to sit on her own legs. Even flying was impossible, since she didn’t have the space to beat her wings. This was one of the times she would have preferred to be small again. Then again, a tinier body meant less surface area to cuddle her awakener with. It was all good.
“Behind the inn, there is a well there. The guy running it uses for his private brewery or something I don’t fucking know,” Reysha answered, abruptly sitting back up before she continued. “Thing is, apparently the bucket makes some odd sounds when hitting the bottom nowadays. He hasn’t checked, since it still fills up, but that’s the best hint I got so far.”
She combed her hair with her hands, getting out what dirt stuck to it. Although she didn’t mind it on her cloak, since that was the look it was supposed to have anyway, her hair was another story. That crimson brilliance had to stay as clean as possible, it was a point of pride for the tiger girl. That she hadn’t had a proper bath in over a week bothered her partially because of that, since that turned her hair dull. The tiger girl genes were still strong and prevented matting or the like, but a proper grooming was something that brought out the best of her appearance.
Reysha didn’t even know exactly why being dirty over extended periods bothered her. Not like she gave a shit about other people’s opinion on the matter. Apparently, she just liked being sexy for herself. Another point of the tiger genes, doubtlessly.
“It’s seriously the best hint I have so far,” she shrugged and remembered the past week. “Found no signs of other underground chambers in anybody’s cellars, nothing hidden in their closets, nothing in the nearby forests-“
“Hold on a second,” Aclysia interrupted the redhead. “Did you break into people’s houses?”
“What, are you going to scold me for being thorough in your search for YOUR stuff?” Reysha crossed her arms and giggled mockingly. “Or what is that about? Because I assure you that I took nothing and was very careful not to leave any tracks.” She had really wanted to take some stuff though, some people owned very alluring looking equipment. Her current bodysuit was in for a replacement. Not direly, it was definitely sturdier than her old leather armour, but it would eventually share the same fate of falling apart.
“No… I mean… I want to, but you are correct…” the metal fairy sighed and conceded the point. “I am sorry, waiting here all day is not the most entertaining of activities.” There were two parties that were searching for Apexus, as far as they could tell, being the Inquisition and a random group of adventurers in it more out of boredom than actually searching for them. Judging by their utter lack of enthusiasm to be thorough, at least. On the other side, the Inquisition was incredibly thorough. Despite having no member that was good at searching woods. It would take a little while longer until that trio reached their neck of the woods.
There had also been some middle-aged man, but that guy had stopped after two days. Reysha had followed each of those parties in the shadows for a little bit to get a picture on their abilities. Her evaluation had been that they all sucked, especially the old man, who had just turned some leaves and then left to get drunk.
Not threatening whatsoever. That was what the Rogue felt at the sight of that tricorne wearing drunkard.
Anyway, all of these parties meant that Aclysia and Apexus were staying put, the latter only going out to hunt when he was hungry. Since he wasn’t moving a lot and not growing anything, that only happened every two days. The rest of the time, they could only talk and cuddle. After a few days, even that got boring.
“I can’t exactly climb down the well and check for you,” Reysha followed up. “So you’ll have to check yourself.”
Aclysia nodded and thoughtfully mumbled, “And since I can’t get down there unseen, given the location... I will need a distraction….” She tapped against her upper thigh, the tips of her shoes (or her feet, technically) wrestling with each other. “It would be too much of a risk if I were to reveal myself before an entire inn full of adventurers. That one of them has a spell to restrict me is guaranteed.”
Humming, Apexus gave his own thoughts on the matter. “I can do the distracting bit, just need to show myself.”
“I could set a house on fire,” Reysha suggested, “That would be pretty distracting.”
“No!” Aclysia fervently denied the idea. “We are not Involving bystanders.”
“Sure, your loss then, make it harder on us,” the tiger girl yawned sarcastically. “Well, as long as Apexi here stays in the air, shouldn’t be too bad,” she stated and looked serious for a moment. “Once we reveal ourselves, every last adventurer there will start searching for us, you know that, right? Doesn’t matter that the Inquisition already knows we’re here, with confirmation, they will chase us until they lose sight, success or not.”
“Yes,” Aclysia thought about that for a moment, “…success or not… we will need a plan.”
“Success or not, you will also need to eat, Reysha?” Apexus switched topics a little bit. “As I said, you don’t look well, we should visit a dungeon soon.”
The tiger girl nodded and went back to her disgusting meal. “Been getting worse steadily, I don’t even know if I should sneak around anymore with how bluargh I’m feeling. It’s slower and not as bad as last time, but it’s definitely still there. If we wait long enough, the Noir side effects will make me about as useful as a normal person.”
“I suggest the following plan,” Aclysia chimed back in. “First, we will let Reysha look for another two days,” she counted with her fingers as she presented the steps. “Second, Reysha will leave and travel north towards the Clearwater dungeon on her own. Third, five days after that, Apexus and I will attempt to find my last piece wherever we suspect it at the time, should that change. Fourth, me and Apexus will, whether or not the operation was successful, split up, flying west and east respectively, until we are certain we are not being followed or have at least left them out of sight. Then we turn north. Fifth, we all meet again inside Clearwater. I will monitor the entrance, waiting for you. You two can find each other using Apexus’ pheromones.”
Reysha and Apexus both agreed to the plan. With that amount of a head start, the tiger girl didn’t need to worry about becoming slower through the effects of her condition. By the time people were looking for her actively, just by proxy of chasing Apexus, she would already be far away. Clearwater would function as a remote landmark and they could even hide inside if necessary. Unlike normal adventurer’s, they would never run out of rations there.
“We will proceed as such, then,” the metal fairy concluded the meeting.