I almost leapt on the offer. It was so tempting that the moment of relief I had felt at those words was so real that had I been offered it only a day sooner, I’d likely have done it. However, for me, who had been pleading with tears in my eyes only moments before, I could only see Tidal's confused expression in response.
Tidal, it turned out, was a man who’s friend could die, and come back to life. He was a man who could ignore heartfelt pleas as he stared at his associate's corpse. He was the type of person who would lead you deep into the forest and put you in his cabin and let his companion handcuff you to a bed for weeks while they took your kindness for granted. Tidal, I surmised, was not a man I could trust.
I shook my head at him, “No.”
Tidal let out a breath, “When what do you suggest?” he asked.
“Get me the key. Let me go, and when we are at the guild I’ll give you his things.” I said, using his plan, but with where I didn’t have to worry about trusting him completely. After all, If Yuri’s inventory dropped when I killed him, mine would drop when either killed me, of that I was certain.
Tidal glanced at Yuri, “I don’t know what to tell you man, she's got you firmly by the balls.”
Yuri glared at Tidal, "Don't act like your not uninvolved."
Tidal seemed more thoughtful then anything at that, I couldn't understand what his response meant.
Yuri having thought about it for a moment, growled, “Shut up… Fine, you want to play it like that…” A key appeared in his hand, “This is what you want right?”
I nodded wondering why he had it now, but not earlier, had he brought it knowing he might need it? I wasn't sure.
Yuri tossed the key onto the bed, and trying to keep my eyes on them I shifted around fumbling to take it. Then free myself.
With a click the cuffs opened and I added them to my inventory, along with the key. “Now let me go.” I said watching them both for any suspicious movement, “If you make a move towards me I’ll sell it.”
While I watched them I glanced through the items I had taken. Though I did so carefully, I equipped his armor, belt, gloves, boots, and pants. And with everything equipped I unequipped my dress.
“You bitch… That's mine!” Yuri growled at me.
His equipment wasn’t particularly fancy from what I could see, and so I doubted it was the most important bit of it.
There were potions, a good sword, a nice dagger. The only thing else on him was a pack.
Tidal was the one to ask the question however, “What were you carrying that you can’t lose?”
“All the coppers.” Yuri noted.
Tidal breathed out, “Are you an idiot? She can’t sell coppers.” He said an obvious note of relief in his voice.
“She can if they are in a bag.” Yuri gritted his teeth.
“How much were you carrying?” Tidal asked, glancing over to Yuri with widening eyes.
“I was going to hand the bag off in a few hours… I didn’t expect the bitch to kill me… It would have been safe in the chests until I was ready to hand it off.” He said glaring at me.
I opened the bag, and found it was full of coppers, exactly fifty thousand. Was this all from the trash they were selling to me? Well it wasn’t as if It was all trash, some of it actually sold well, but most of it was. Only now did I realize the true scale of selling so many individual items.
I could sort of understand why they wanted me here, I saved them a lot of time, no more walking back to town, they could sell more things much faster. This bag of copper was evidence of that.
“I have a quest for you Tidal, you bring me back to the guildhall and you get fifty thousand copper, and the bag.” I said.
Tidal winced at that, “Damn it Yuri...”
Yuri was straining to keep himself held back, “That's my fucking you money!”
Tidal raised a hand to Yuri gesturing for him to stop. Tidal sighed, “Alright...” he gestured with his hands, “Fine.. fine… we’ll get out of your way, you can head back to the guildhall, and I’ll follow behind. Once it's done, you’ll give me the bag, and we’ll be done with this whole thing.”
Yuri wasn’t happy but he stepped out of the way, “You better get my shit back too.”
“Or what? You got us into this situation. Be glad I'm helping at all." Tidal glanced at him with obvious anger.
For a moment there I actually thought that Yuri, or Tidal might try to attack one another, but the moment passed.
Slowly, I ushered them to one side as I circled around them, and pushed open the door, stepping outside.
Slowly, I backed away watching them as I went, when I had gotten a short distance away I began to run. I ran with everything I had.
The forests were empty around me as my booted feet thumped against the ground. I glanced back behind me, but I didn’t see Tidal or Yuri.
I had expected one or both of them to chase me in truth, and it was a bit shocking that they didn’t. I breathed out a sigh of relief at knowing that.
My choices were made, and I ran, putting one foot in front of the other until I crashed into the guildhalls’ door. I threw it open and stepped inside relief washing though me that I was finally home. Hoping someone was there I could speak to to shouted out, "Terrance? Mira? Even Kervick!"
Yet as I panted from my run I got a look at the guild hall, and I found only one face waiting for me there. Casually Tidal stood by the desk I usually stood behind.
“Well? Here we are, home at last.” Tidal said with a knowing smile. "Now if you'll just give me the coins." He said holding out his hand.
I thought I couldn’t trust him before, however a chill now ran down my spine that told me that I not only couldn’t trust this man, but I also had no idea what he was capable of.
I glanced around the guild hall hoping that I had missed someone, that in truth someone would appear.
There was no one.
I could run back the way I came, but where would I go? I briefly considered the brothel, I could rent a room, get a key and hide there.
There was an obvious problem with that plan however, the moment I stepped into the brothel I’d lose time until someone I knew walked in. That could be Tidal or Yuri.
All at once I realized that coming here was an equally stupid idea, but where could I go? Was anywhere in this world safe? Would it be better if I just hid in the forest?
There was one other option I supposed. I glanced up to the doors on the second story, I had once opened one of those doors without any key, and I had discussed with Mira that staff members could open those doors. I wasn’t sure how someone would get a key to those doors, It wasn’t like I sold them.
I had nothing else though and Tidal took a step towards me. So I ran to the side, and up the stairs.
Tidal reacted in kind, rushing after me as though he hadn’t thought of this.
I rounded the stairs, pushed open the one door I’d opened before, and closed the door behind me looking around the room to see a bedroom.
Tidal slammed into the door behind me and tried to force the door open, however it refused to open to him, “GET OUT HERE!” he yelled.
He slammed on the door more, and yelled even more than that.
I didn’t know what else to do, and just like in the cabin pushing or trying to move the bed did nothing. I had nowhere else to go, in many ways I was once again trapped.
I sat there, huddled in the corner realizing why adventurers would undertake such dangerous quests. They came back to life… There was no escape from Tidal or Yuri for as long as I lived, I would have to hide somewhere they couldn’t get to me. I was trapped in this room… forever.
Just as I was certain that I’d never be free of them, I heard a voice. It was someone I hadn’t heard for some time.
“Milly? What are you doing in my room?” Terrance asked.
I glance up with tears in my eyes at him.
“What's wrong?” Terrance asked a sudden shift in his tone.
“Tidal and Yuri are going to kill me!” I shouted.
“Tidal? And who?” He asked slowly moving around his bed so he could come over to where I was.
So I explained how Tidal had taken me into the woods, and how his associate had handcuffed me to the bed.
Terrance looked particularly on edge even before I had gotten to the part where Yuri had used me as an instrument to pleasure himself while they forced me to continue to sell things for them.
When I explained how I had killed Yuri only for him to reappear Terrance continued to nod along. I then described how I had used their coin to convince them to let me go and how I had run back to the guildhall, only to be confronted by Tidal again. Finally I told him how I had hid inside this room, his room apparently.
When I finished my panicked and flustered explanation he nodded, patting me gently on the head, “It’s alright.”
Terrance drew his sword as he opened the door, and Tidal stepped back, clearly he had been waiting on the other side. “Tidal.” He said in a low tone I’d never heard Terrance use before.
Tidal noticed Terrance’s blade and took a few steps backwards, “I’m just here for my friend's coins.” He explained.
“I’m afraid I don’t care.” Terrance said evenly, taking a few steps forward, which caused Tidal to back peddle.
“Its just a fucking NPC.” Tidal shouted at Terrance.
“To you perhaps.” Terrance said as he continued to pressure him down the stairs.
I couldn’t help but follow behind him, suddenly feeling a surge of warmth that Terrance was indeed my friend, that he was the person I thought he was.
“If you don’t get my money from her I’ll put a bounty on you.” Tidal said.
Terrance laughed, “You think I care? I’m maxed level as it is. Besides, unlike someone who's apparently been farming copper in a cave, I'm not afraid of a little pain. So, Bring it on, there are only three more days left, and we both know I can convince Bason to kick your ass from the guild. Hell, at this point I’d love a challenge.”
Tidal grimaced at his response, then his eyes brightened at an idea, “I’ll pay you… me and my friend sell the copper, I’ll send you cash.”
“Really?” Terrance asked, sounding extremely skeptical.
“Real money…” Tidal said hopefully, “I’ll forget all about all of this, I just want the coins, and we can go our separate ways.”
Terance took several long moments to consider the offer, “Just the coins huh...” He sounded far less skeptical, and as I watched it was like my insides were being squished.
While I really didn’t care about the coins… Was he taking their side? “No…” I muttered silently wishing that he wasn’t considering it.
Tidal nodded, “Yeah, I’m sure we can cut you in on a percentage, some is better than nothing right?”
Terrance nodded, and he continued, sounding less angry with each word, “Alright… So how much do I get?” He said walking to the side more casually.
I was worried for a moment that Tidal might simply run upstairs so I'd have to hide again, but he was fully focused on Terrance instead.
“Maybe something like five percent?” Tidal offered increasingly leaping at the chance.
“Sounds low considering that without me you get zero percent.” Terrance offered suddenly a grin on his face.
I was starting to realize why I disliked this, I was the one with the coins. But I was trapped in Terrance’s room. He was the only one that could force me to give them the coins, once again they were taking away my freedom. Taking away all of my choices. The hollowness inside of me only grew at the idea.
Tidal looked a bit awkward, “How about ten then? I’m not sure I can agree to more than that on his behalf.”
Terrance offered out his hand, “Well I guess I can take that.” He offered without even the barest glance back at me.
I shook my head, taking a step back up against the wall unable to believe what I was seeing. Was everyone like this? Could I trust no one?
Tidal, looking relieved, took his hand, and shook.
I watched in horror as the man I had hoped would help me shook Tidals hand. But just as I felt like the floor was being pulled out from under me, Terrance pulled him with the hand they were shaking, and he rammed his blade through his chest with the other.
Tidal let out a scream of pain, “You fucker!” He cried out.
“No, that would be you and your rapist friend.” Terrance said all joviality boiled away in an instant, “How's it feel to be betrayed by someone you thought was your friend? Unlike you and your buddy, I’m not a complete piece of shit.” He said kicking Tidal from his blade and sending his body to the ground trailing blood across the guild halls floor.
After a few moments he picked up everything on the corpse and walked up the stairs, I watched him as he returned with a building storm inside of me.
When he stopped in front of me he grinned down at me with a smug sense of satisfaction.
I slammed both my hands into his chest, which sounded off his metal armor, “You piece of shit!” I used his own words against him.
Terrance chuckled, “I guess I overdid it…” He at least had the understanding to at least look a bit regretful.
I hammered lightly against his chest with little real effort. “I thought you were going to force me...” I said a few extra tears running down my cheeks at the voicing of my fears. It was a momentary relief for me as I had understood it wouldn’t ever be over. “But.. He’ll just come back again… and again...” I said, shaking at the thought of hiding forever.
Terrance gently rubbed my head, and after a moment he wrapped one arm around me, pulling me close, “It’s alright Milly. I’ll get Bason to kick that ass from the guild, and you can spend these final few days in peace.”
“Final few days?” I asked.
“Lets not worry about that, you want to play a card game?” He said, leading me into his room.
“Card game?” asked, confused.
Chuckling to himself Terrance pulled the door closed behind him, and nodded, “Just give me a sec, I need to send a message. Then I’ll show you what I’m talking about.”
DM: Kovin & Terrance
Kovin (NextVGX ADMIN): You might want to log in when you have a chance.
Terrance: Eh? Admin?
Terrance: What do you mean?