Part 3 of the Adventures of Mardi Mayas. -Enjoy!
“Ah, the jingling of coins is the sweetest music in the world.” I hold up my bounty to the sky triumphantly. “I love you Teeyi, I ever tell you that?”
“No, and please don’t start,” she says with a tired wave of her hand. “I can’t believe you used me like that. Aren’t you mad at him for doing this Maribel? You’re his wife!”
“I’m over it,” Maribel says. She slips her arm to entwine with mine. “The lure of money mends many wounds. We made enough for me to overlook his transgressions. Since you helped out, you even get a cut.”
“Yep! A ten percent discount on our service fees,” I say, “We’re fair after all.”
“You two are devils.” Teeyi scoffed. “Don’t think I’ll be kissing you just to make money. But now that I know your little secret… at least you have to be nice to me now.”
“Just don’t be too nice.” Maribel says, “I’m not going to be able to stay a human for much longer, then you won’t have anyone to peel him off of you.”
“What? Then how would I?”
“Simple. Let me go back to acceptable level of disdain for you,” I say with a chuckle. “We were fine before you knew about my little problem right? It certainly helps that you’re not exactly my ideal kind of woman. If you had Maribel’s delectable curves I wouldn’t be able to control myself.”
I move behind Maribel and give her a squeeze. The affectionate act draws a lithe chuckle from her. She turns and kisses me, reminding me just why I married her.
“Ugh. Why don’t you two just get a room, spread out your money on a bed and roll around in it. And since you have such a thing for elves, you could get Maribel some pointed ears or something.”
“That is an amazing idea!” My eyes light up.
“Oh brother, you’ve got him riled up now.” Maribel giggles as I playfully gnaw at her neck. “You shouldn’t do that because–”
Light envelopes Maribel and in a flash I find myself with the lacquered finish of Maribel’s bow shaft against my lips. I felt more disappointed than a kid being told guga candy was made of vegetable scraps.
“Damn it. I should have seen that coming.” I carefully pull Maribel away from me and checked her for any damage. Her form remains perfect but now I pine for her more than ever. It would be days before she could be human for any period of time.
“I’m sorry Mardi… you told me but I had almost forgotten about her curse. It must be hard for you.” Teeyi holds her hands together in some sort of prayer, or perhaps a sign of respect in elven culture. “If there’s anything I can do…”
“Well… you could always roll around in money for me. That would be pretty hot.” I say with a dry smile. “…kidding. But it’s actually pretty easy to stay calm now. The very idea of my Maribel with those pointed ears is not an easy image to get out of my head. She’s already perfect, but whats putting another layer of sugar on the world’s most delicious cake?”
“I think it’s cute. How in love you two are. I’m a little jealous.” Teeyi lowers her eyes.
“What there’s no elf boy that’s pining for your heart back home?” I raise a hand. “Hold that thought. I just had an idea on how we can track down Baron Black. If anything from our little adventure yesterday I learned none of his flunkies were there.”
“Then what’s your idea?” Teeyi raised a brow.
“Gonna switch sides.” I point at the mercenaries guild ahead of us.
“What?!” Teeyi’s eyes widen. “You’re going to join Baron Black?”
“Just pretend,” I say, “It won’t scar my professional image as long as it’s because you were being a deadbeat with no intent to pay. In that case it’s fair game.”
“Ah… right…” Teeyi looks away.
“What’s wrong…?” I feel a sense of dread well up in me. Teeyi acts more suspicious than a wolf with blood stained muzzle in a bunny farm.
“Well it’s just… If I wasn’t able to pay you for all this… then… you’d just turn on me?”
“In a second,” I say, “This is business lady. If you don’t honor the contract, you don’t get services.”
I bring a hand to my face and grin. “Although I’m a bit more creative than most. I could always use a cute elf house servant. We could get you a cute little outfit and you can cook and clean for us. I’d be fair of course. Only thirty years or so. I’m not a slaver.”
Teeyi’s eyes widened.
“Kidding. Besides why would you be so worried about something… like… that…” My heart sank. “You have got to be joking. You’re broke?!”
“I didn’t say that!” Teeyi struggles weakly.
“Then what are you saying?” I narrow my eyes at her.
“I well… might not be able to pay. Baron Black stole all our money. I was hoping once you got it back we could pay you with that?”
“Oh,” I relax and release her. Probably honey words to cover a blatant lie. Still, Mr. Black wasn’t on my favorite persons list. Personal pride has to be maintained when it comes to this sort of thing.
“Still. Doesn’t hurt to see how much money I’ll get for selling you out.”
“You wouldn’t really do that though?” Teeyi gives me a look like a carrot in a camp full of hungry barbarian vegetarians.
“Maybe,” I say, completely honest. “Maybe not, I’ve sort of grown attached to having you as a sidekick. Might have to have you tag along after we sort out this deal with your dad. Might need to train you a bit… but might be an interesting challenge.”
“But… I don’t know anything about fighting.” Teeyi scrunches up her nose. “You’re pretty useless at a glance but you’re amazing with a bow and you’re tricky.”
“Pretty useless at a glance huh…?” I frown. “Sounds familiar. You’re a fire elf. No one would know that you can ingest magma without batting an eye.”
“What good does that do?”
“Regardless. You won’t have much of a choice.” I tap her on the forehead. “If you can’t pay, that’s what I’m doing. You’re gonna be my apprentice for a year.”
“Only a year?” Teeyi blinked. “…and am I going to have to wear a ridiculous outfit?”
“No,” I say. Maribell wouldn’t let me get away with that anyway. “After that though… up to you. You might like the gig. And I might even pay you.”
I give her a gentle shove towards the guild.
“How much did you say?” I swallow hard.
“Five hundred. Just for the girl.” The attendant let out a sigh. ” Might be a bit of a problem as there’s a bounty on your head too Mardi. You didn’t make Mr. Black very happy blowing up his castle.”
“Yeah… but I could have a friend turn her in and…” I fall into a hush. “I’ll be right back.”
I slap on a bright grin and make my approach back to Teeyi. “So good news. I won’t be turning you in for profit.”
“That’s… good,” she says hesitantly.
“Bad news is. Someone else will be,” I say with a grin, “Sorry, but five hundred is too big of a prize for me to pass up.”
“Wha–?” A swift chop to her throat slipped Teeyi into unconsciousness.
“So…” I clap my hands once noisily and eye the surly crowd around me. A lone bead of sweat trickles along my temple. At least a dozen sets of eyes lock on me. “Who wants to make a quick fifty gold?”
“How about a quick thousand. Mardi.” A man pushes through the crowd. Standing a full head taller than me. Jules Breaker, an accomplished mercenary in his own right, but his real talent sat in his persuasive manners.
Namely punching people in the face repeatedly until they say uncle.
This proves problematic. I aim for a disagreement that gets me leads and settle on a tidy capture by Mr. Meathead.
“Mr. Breaker. What a suprise…” I grit my teeth. I really need to get in the habit of looking around before I do reckless things…
“No suprise Mardi. You were always a dumbass. You have balls coming in here with a thousand gold bounty on your fat head. Now sit still and I promise to leave a couple bones intact.”
“What a great offer… but I’ll pass.” I stoop over and pick up Teeyi, narrowly missing his lunge.
“Stop him! The guy that stops him gets half! I don’t give a shit about the gold I just want the pleasure of bringin’ him to Mr. Black.”
The others in the room rally and block the door. I slide to a stop and break towards the counter.
“Hey! You bozos break anything in here, you get to pay repairs in triplicate!” The attendant set a boot on the desk. “Take this outside!”
“I’m trying!” I cry out.
“My share of the reward should cover it. Break his face!” Jules charged.
“Oh.” The attendant sat down. “That it would. Carry on.”
I watch helplessly as a group of men pile on me. Unconsciousness follows quickly, mixing in with a great deal of pain. Not my best plan. Not my worst either…