1.2: The Town
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ATUHOR'S NOSE: Yes, Pandora is absurdly OP. That's why she's not the viewpoint character. ๐Ÿ˜

They walked through the forest for a while, the woman confidently leading the way. After some time โ€” Eiri suddenly realizing she didn't actually know how to tell time โ€” they reached what looked like the forest's edge, and some buildings were visible not far from there.

"All right," Pandora said, "you two stay here while I check out the town."

"You won't... leave us behind, right?" Eiri said.

"After all the trouble I went to rescuing you, it'd be weird to abandon you now!" Pandora declared with a laugh. "... But if it helps โ€” if something happens and I don't come back, you are a stone's throw from a town. Shouldn't have trouble finding help there if you need it, right?"

Eiri turned to her brother, and he nodded.

Pandora gave the two a curious look for a few moments, then shrugged. "Either way, you two stick together. Though I suspect you don't need me to tell you that." And with that she left.

"... Yui?"

"She's trustworthy."

Eiri nodded, then sat down on the forest floor to wait, and her brother sat down next to her.

Her eyelids were so heavy...

... Suddenly, she heard Pandora's voice. "Coast's clear, kids, let's get going!"

The sun had sunk beneath the horizon, but it was still bright enough to see. Pandora led the two through the town to... the building she wanted to go to. There, she sat them down at a table and handed some coins over to the proprietor before sitting down herself.

"All right, kids, this inn is gonna be our home base for a bit. They've got food, they've got sleep, they've got all the basic human person needs. I imagine you two need some sustenance in your flesh vessels..." Pandora trailed off as she realized the two children only looked confused. "... you hungry?"

"Oh! Yes!" Eiri exclaimed, and Yui nodded alongside her.

"Good, cause I already ordered food, and I didn't have a plan in mind for if you two didn't eat your shares."

As if to demonstrate, a waitress came by and set down a plateful of food in front of each of the three โ€” a variety of piping-hot roasted vegetables, a bit of meat, some kind of sauce, and a thick slice of bread โ€” plus glasses and a pitcher of ice water.

Pandora immediately set upon her food, while Eiri glanced at her brother with trepidation. He frowned slightly, and glanced in Pandora's direction.

Pandora paused her nomming and glanced back at Yui. "Go on, eat. You're growing kids, I imagine, you need โ€” " She cut her sentence short as someone tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around to face the surly-looking man who had walked up behind her. "...Uh, hey there guy, how's it going?" she said, sounding nonplussed.

"We don't take kindly to animals around here," the stranger snarled.

Pandora blinked. "... am I... being racism'd at? Seriously?" she muttered in an undertone. She shook her head, incredulous. "Buddy, I don't believe that's your call. The innkeeper took my money and gave me a key โ€” "

Eiri shrieked as, without warning, there was an axe-head embedded in the chair Pandora had been sitting in not a second ago. The stranger holding the axe seethed as he realized she'd somehow escaped his sight that quickly โ€”ย 

"Let me rephrase."

In a blink, Pandora had gotten behind the stranger, grabbed him by the neck, and put him in a headlock.

"I do what I want, and I don't let blade-swinging randos try to stop me from eating and sleeping just cause they got a problem with my ears, of all the nonsense. Especially now โ€” you ever come between a mama bear and her cubs? I know you haven't, cause if you had, you wouldn't be here."

She glanced over at the innkeeper. "I'm sorry. This is probably breaking several rules, isn't it? Would you prefer we take this outside?" The innkeeper nodded. "All right. Just open the door for us, will ya?"

The innkeeper hastily opened the door, while Pandora dragged the struggling stranger to it

tossed him out on his ear, and slammed it shut behind him.

"There we go," she said, dusting off her hands and returning to the table. "Sorry about the scene, y'all," she called out to the other patrons.

"... you're not gonna fight him?" Eiri asked.

"Why bother?" Pandora said. "I got nothing to prove to scum like him."

"But what if he comes after us again?"

Pandora shrugged. "If he does, I'll wallop him then. In the meantime, he's got all night to come to his senses and realize he's better off leaving us alone."

(Currently, the "he" in question was banging on the inn door and screaming to be let back in. The innkeeper, of course, had locked it, and was not planning to unlock it at this time of night even without a violent racist demanding entry.)

"That said... we might have to move on faster than I'd initially planned," Pandora said with a frown. "I can only do so much to protect you two from scum like him, and it might be safer just to get out of here." She shrugged. "We'll see. Keep our options open."

And with that she returned to her meal. The three of them managed to just finish eating before the innkeeper approached them.

"Ah, not to offend the lady, but in the interest of, ah, fulfilling one's stated preferences, in particular those vis-a-vis the safety of her kittens โ€”"

Pandora glanced at Eiri and Yui, an eyebrow raised. Eiri just shrugged back.

" โ€” we thought it might be prudent if one were to, perhaps, retire to one's quarters with some haste?"

Pandora stared at him, tilting her head curiously. "... This a roundabout way of telling me there's more asshole scum like what's-his-name in your clientele?"

"I'm certain I couldn't name names," he responded diplomatically, "but in a position like mine, one becomes aware that Sir Lebrook's viewpoint is... not unique. Nor his ability to act upon it."

"... Sir Lebrook? Actual title, or are you just being polite?"

"Lebrook is, admittedly, one of the more minor houses โ€” "

"Got the picture," Pandora said, waving her hand. "Don't sweat the details, I'd probably forget 'em in five minutes anyway."

"As the lady prefers..." the innkeeper said with a polite dip of the head, and returned to his other tasks.

"Well, kittens," Pandora said with a slight smirk, "you heard the man, let's retire to our quarters."

The inn room was a reasonably comfortable one, substantially larger than Eiri's room back in the lab and with two beds, both soft and fluffy.

"Guessing you were in that lab for a good long while, huh kid?" Pandora said, smirking as Eiri rolled around on one of the beds.

Eiri halted her rolling and sat up. "I don't... remember a time before. So yeah. A long while."

"Yikes. So you don't know a whole lot about the world outside."

Eiri shook her head. "I know some things, from Yui..."

"Ah, so we're not completely adrift," Pandora said. "Well, you two can arrange yourselves however, sleeping-wise. I don't have a problem curling up on the floor, if..." She trailed off as the two siblings snuggled up together. "Moot point, I suppose. Sleep well, then, kiddos."

Favorite character so far? (No "I haven't decided yet", you pick one and defend your choice!)
  • Eiri Votes: 2 28.6%
  • Yui Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Pandora Votes: 5 71.4%
  • Lebrook (... in a love-to-hate sense, we hope?) Votes: 0 0.0%
  • the innkeeper Votes: 0 0.0%
  • the voice in Eiri's dream Votes: 0 0.0%
Total voters: 7