Scouting is a dangerous job which is why it is left to the more nimble elves, or the smaller and faster faeries. Now it was Isos' turn to become a scout, though not for any military purposes. This was a scouting trip for purposes that would help only herself. She looked over the town of Nomical from the cliffs on the Benor mountains through her telescope for a sign of any kind of forces that would cause some trouble for her. Seeing that there would be none she put her telescope down and looked at her bracelets made of the hardest metal on the planet. These marked her as a forced soldier to the Queen. She did offer a lot of freedom to Isos however should a problem arrive in the kingdom of Aztom, Isos would have to arrive there to defend the Queen. The only way to escape from these binds would be to obtain two gems and give them to the Queen for the key. She ran down the mountains towards the village carrying her telescope and a sword hoping to find some information to the location of the first gem.
In the village of Nomical it was a quiet town used mostly as a trading post, and a safe haven for travelers. The town itself was a stronghold on the outsideand on the inside were guards always on watch to make sure the people coming in weren't coming in with malicious intent. This was due to the Benor mountains one side being infested with the undead. On the other side was the Larentio Forest filled with goblins. This lead to the Crushed Skull Sea which were filled with mermaids and other creatures. Getting into the city wouldn't be much of a problem for Isos if the guard didn't see her bracelets. Upon getting to the door a slot in the middle opened up as if it knew someone was there. "Passport." The booming voice demanded. She handed through the slot trying to hide the bracelets sparkling in the setting sun she knew that the guard would take much longer if he knew that she was a forced slave, and being outside of a safe haven town at night is dangerous. The gate opened and Isos nodded quietly as she walked through and retrieved her passport.
Due to how often creatures like the undead would attack towns having a huge city like Nomical's was very uncommon. The shops were closing at this time except for two kinds the inns collecting the late night wayfarers, and the taverns collecting drunks and the merchants. Isos knew that taverns were better to get information from due to the drunks being easier to squeeze information from. Walking in there were many different kinds of people in the dimly lit bar. There were the men brooding and drinking alcohol. She quickly ignored them and turned her attention to a rather corpulent merchant bragging about his travels across the Crushed Skull Sea. When he went quiet and started eating she said "Tell me more merchant"
"My name is Gabdul, wench, and I reveal no information to a slave of the Queen of Aztom" He said noting her bracelets, and returned to eating. Isos glared at him hoping nothing more than a simple exchange of words would transpire between them and nothing more. He continnued "I bet with the way you look she keeps you among the harlots." She pulled out a small dagger and yelled "I'll spill your entrails you letcherous cow!"
"Alright, Alright I'll tell you!" he yelled with a shaking voice spotting the murder in her eyes "You have to tell me why you need to know." She kept the dagger in her hands just in case he made any sudden movements "I need to find something that was rumored to be on the other side of this town. You traveled across the sea and through the forest you will tell me what you have heard." He went deep into thought each second was making her more impatient, but still she waited. "If the goblins had anything they probably would have it hidden it away in their fortress by now. Though there was a story of a treasure the captian of the ship told me"
"What is this story?" She said hoping that she wouldn't have to go near the goblins' fortress knowing they are bloodthirsty and would betray even their own teammates for gold. Gabdul went into a story about how a demon named Stamo rose from the sea, and nearly destroyed the world. In response to this the god Demko removed Stamo's eyes, and placed two monstrosities of nature to guard the eyes. Isos's eyes lit up at the prospect of the eyes meaning the jewels she was searching for. She grabbed her dagger and said "Thank you Gabdul!" and was about to run into the night when it hit her. If she ran into the darkness now she'd have to contend with robbers, goblins and whoknowswhats. She looked at the inn, but it was closed so she turned to an alley. There she found some beggars obviously staying in the town not only to get money, but to stay safe from everything else that lurked outside the walls of Nomical. She sat down beside one either knocked out from a fight or passed out from an alcohol binge. She sighed in relief it had been ages since she was able to rest her legs, and even longer since she had been in a safe haven town. She didn't want much attention drawn to her so she drew her dagger and kept it close. She curled up in the alley, and waited for sleep to overtake her.
Morning rose and she woke up feeling a bit unstable from the rest. She quickly shook it off as she started walking towards the gate facing the Larentio Forest. The guard chuckled darkly while opening the gate as if knowing he knew what fate awaited her. Outside there were some upsides she didn't have to go to extreme lengths to hide her braclets for one. The downside was she was now hunted in an unfamiliar atmosphere. The trees in the forest refused to let any light in. The darkness distorted the trees, and normally travelers would be in caravans when traversing the forest. Then there was the danger of goblins. Goblins are creatures so vicious they don't even trust each other. Normally they stay in their fortress unless there is a huge war or mention of treasure. At the moment they have a huge mountain of treasure in their fortress. Isos reasoned that the reason they don't go after the demon's eyes is due to the fact that one it is in the mermaid's territory Crushed Skull Sea. She pulled out her dagger in case they decided to go after her bracelets or just have her for lunch.
The wind started blowing the tree branches slowly. One brushed against her back, and in an instant she twisted around, and stabbed in the process getting her dagger stuck in the thick bark of the tree. As she struggled to pull the dagger out she heard rustling in the trees behind her. Her mind instantly went to goblins, and she put her hand on her sword. She managed to pull the dagger out, and made a dash for Crushed Skull Lake. Tree branches cut her face often with their sharp branches, but she had no time to worry about that with the idea of the goblins chasing her. One fact that is well known about the species they have adapted to being in the forest for so long to the point that they can't stand sunlight. They only attack at night, and retreat when the daylight comes. She knew once she reached the end of the forest the majority of the danger would be done with.
Suddenly the light at the end of the tunnel appeared she saw the sunlight. She dove for the ground, and landed in the light. Sighing with relief she got up, and started walking to Crushed Skull Sea. The first part would be easier for her due to knowing the secret to mermaids, they love gold or anything shiny. She picked up the bag she had that had about 3 gold coins in it enough to find out if the rumor is true, get a ride there, and get one back. She walked up to the mermaid spring which was in a cave close to the shore. The mermaids were man eaters they lured men into the sea, drowned them, and drained the youth from the corpse. They also had good relations with the Aztom queen, so even though she had to bribe them it wouldn't be a pain to talk to them. "Ah the queen's newest slave!" A shrill voice called out "enjoying the bracelets I presume?" It was the mermaid queen Isos considered herself quite lucky to find her. The queen was quite wise "Mermaid Queen the demon's eyes do they exist" Isos asked getting down on one knee.
"Perhaps but I need something to remind me" She said with a smug smile on her face. Isos in response offered a golden coin. "Yes now I remember in the caves lies an abomination of a creature guarding a gem that the Queen does want. I would get it for myself but that creature is too fast."
"Can you give me a ride"
"I can't but my smallest one Stefta will help... for a cost of course" she said smiling. Isos sighed and held out another gold coin and the mermaid queen whistled for Stefta. "Now you must hold onto her she will protect you against the giant fish. If you don't well at least she gets some youth." A young mermaid swam up with a smile on her face. Isos walked in and wrapped her arms around her side. Stefta started swimming past things like giant octopuses which avoided them like they were afraid of the young mermaid. It was baffling to Isos as she held on through the icy cold waters trying not to let go and fall into the murky depths. Rising slowly out of the horizon was a cove. Stefta stopped at the cove "This is where I stop the queen said I can stay and take you back if you give me a coin." Isos smiled and gave her a coin "Here just wait for a little bit ok." The mermaid nodded happily as the warrior walked into the cave.
The cave lead downstairs into a subterranean arena, and in the middle was a giant turtle's shell. At the top of the turtle's shell was a red gem that had a glow that lit up the room despite a lack of sunlight. For Isos climbing the shell was a mistake as the shell started rumbling as the legs and head of a cheetah appeared out of the turtle shell. Isos then realized why it was so fast it was a Churtle rare creatures made only by gods to guard dangerous treasures. Now it was her turn to fight and slay the dreaded creature. She pulled out her dagger and tried stabbing the creature in the shell, but that only lead to the dagger being stuck in the cracks of the shell. She pulled out her sword, but the creature started running and ramming into the walls making her lose her footing. She fell off the churtle then realized the danger she was in. The creature rammed at her, but she rolled out of the way. Quickly trying to think of a way around this creature as she dived out of the way of another ram. She had to get her dagger quickly to get any chance of slowing the beast down. The creature started running at her, and she started running at the creature. At the last second she jumped, and landed on the Churtles' head. She dove and grabbed onto the stuck dagger for stability as it used its shell to ram into the wall. Pulling on the blade franticly the blade was coming loose slowly the more she pulled. Only losing her footing when the creature rammed into the walls stayed on the shell by holding onto the dagger. One fateful ram was too much she slipped and one hand held onto the blade. The dagger came loose, and she stuck the dagger into the churtle's leg to prevent injury. Holding onto the blade caused it to cut down releasing red ribbons of life from the leg of the abomination. The creature stumbled and it hit its head against the wall. Isos took her opportunity and stabbed her sword into the creature's neck. The churtle moved around drunkenly trying to regain its footing or possibly trying to get in one last attack, but it fell down limp. Isos checked it for any signs of life before climbing the shell for the demon's eye. When she grabbed the gem she felt a dark energy flow through her. She was surprised and dropped the gem on the ground instantly. She had never expected the amount of evil and hate that would be flowing through the gem at this very moment. If any man no matter how strong their will held onto it it would corrupt their mind. She needed that gem though for her freedom. Sighing she picked up the gem and hoped her will was strong enough that she could make it back to the kingdom before losing her mind to the evil. She pulled out the tooth of the Churtle as well to bribe the mermaids into giving her a rock which shone like the sun to ward off the goblins while she traveled back to Nomical or to let her rest there for the night.
Outside Stefta was still waiting to take her back. “Oh you’re alive” she said surprised “In a few minutes I was about to leave.” Isos shook her head but couldn’t really blame the mermaid she did almost die in there. “So remember the deal you are going to take me back?” the young warrior said dipping the blood soaked blade in the water to clean it off. Stefta nodded and Isos climbed in and wrapped her arms around the mermaid. She did feel the dark energy in the gem flow through her, and did worry what would happen what would happen if the queen got it. Though if she didn’t get the gem someone else with a weaker mind would’ve gotten it and who knows what could happen. If she knew anything it was that the queen had a strong will. The two arrived at the shore and the mermaid queen said with her smug smile “So you didn’t die perhaps that would’ve been a better fate for you. The next creature most likely will annihilate you.”
“Thanks anyway can you let me rest here so I can start my travel back to Aztom tomorrow” Isos said with some sort of desperation in her voice. “I might same price as always” She said
“I’m afraid all I have is the tooth of the creature” Isos said showing the tooth. She thought over the deal “I don’t know… I’ll have to think about it.” The mermaids started talking about if they should accept the offer. The mermaid queen said “We have decided to accept your offer but just barely.” She nodded in thanks and handed the tooth over. During the night she lied down as the mermaids slept keeping the gem in a bag far away from her so to stop the corruption for now. She started thinking about things such as what if both gems were reunited, or what kind of creature waited for her during the next gem. Her thoughts got mixed together the later it got and was taken by sleep.
Continued next time.