Waiting for a friend
As lightning flashed and thunder clapped to background of rain pelting the small inn the patrons discussed the latest news from the mercenary guild. A group of mercenaries led by the one now called ‘Master Ox’ had practically destroyed the arena that pitted slaves against each other. The leader, a merchant and slave trader had been brought in by the ‘Ox’ and put to trial before the Magistrate. The Magistrate had sentenced the man to hang, as all knew he would. A few of the family members of those killed in his arena wished to see the Ox take him apart with his hands but had let the issue pass without incident.
Along with them had come a large number of slaves, most of which were people that had been missing from the city. One had to wonder, who would be foolish enough to take people from a city so near. One which operated around a mercenary guild too! One of these slaves had been a powerful gladiator, or so the stories by those rescued went. It was said this gladiator was the one that had dubbed the man ‘Master Ox’. It was said that the two had become amiable. This seemed to be no surprise to the friends of the massive Ox who said he was a quite enjoyable fellow to be around. Those that had come upon his bad side would say otherwise. Now the gossip said the Ox had taken on a contract to take out a large group of bandits with his partners. Several of the patrons speculated on how much longer they would be gone. It had already been a month after all.
Lightning flashed and thunder boomed, causing several patrons to jump and others to laugh at those jumping. A small collection of bards had decided to grace the inn with their presence, the sounds of the flute, harp and guitar filling the crowded common room. Another flash of lightning accompanied a clap of thunder causing a few more jumps and echoing laughs. Then the door to the inn slammed open with such force that every eye in the common room swung around to view what was entering.
The man stepping through the door not only had to stoop but turn his massive body sideways to fit through the small door. The long water treated cloak did little to hide the spiked armor beneath it and less the massive sword strapped to the giant’s back, not to mention the enormous shied bumping against the door on his back as well. The hood of the cloak did little to hide the shaggy hair and massive beard of the man beneath. As he moved the door and closed it all those within knew who it was, the dropping of his hood to reveal the massive hoop in his nose only proved their earlier beliefs to be true. A cheer ran through the crowd followed shortly by a chant, ”Master OX. Master Ox. Master Ox. Master Ox. Master Ox.”
The giant man put his hands out and shook his head to signal for silence, which the crowd quickly gave. With a smile he produced a small bag of coins and jingled them before dropping them on the bar,”The rest of the night is on the OX!” The patrons all cheered and several clamored forward to try and speak with him. The Ox simply stated that he was meeting someone and for them to enjoy the drinks. He quickly made his way to a corner away from the crowd and tried to make himself as indiscernible as possible. Of course at 7’8” and over 600 lbs that was no easy task.
Since the first day that Master Ox barged in to the arena... sword and shield blazing... Sien had taken to him. He had "freed" her and yet captured her as well. Funny enough... she'd even found a way to call him Master without his getting upset over it. Now that everyone called him 'Master Ox' it was just who he was. Sien wasn't small herself, and though she'd taken care of the other slaves most of her life, when they reached the city her lack of social skills and over all physical affect seemed to naturally isolate her. Quickly enough it became apparent that her place was with him.
Hearing the chanting in the dining hall down stairs, Sien dressed in her simple garb... leather leggings and her leather half vest. It seemed like all her clothing, even the custom ones the clothier had made her clung to her muscular frame a bit. She was much cleaner than when he'd first met her. Regular baths with oils and fragrant salts had washed the stain out of her relatively pale skin, leaving it looking fresh and pale olive toned. Her darker spots and stripes that ran from the corners of her eyes down the sides of her body were more obviously markings rather than just dirty places. She pulled on her leather boots and grabbed this thing he'd bought her... a brush. It was a strange contraption.. but she had to admit... it did well to prevent her relatively long hair from locking together in plaits that had to be cut out. She hung her head to the side to run the brush through rough and quick, pulling out whatever knots may have been within before tossing her hair back over her shoulder. The tips brushed the waist line of her pants at this point.
Ready and presentable, Sien moved to get the door and make her way down the cat walk to the stairs. Her rich brown eyes searched the crowd for only a brief moment before catching sight of that massive beast of a man. Master Ox! The end of her words seemed to trail off in some mixture of a purr or a growl as she trotted down the steps. She was well known here now.. and accepted... though she wasn't loved like him. She didn't make friends. She made her way, darting through the tables carefully before coming upon the massive beast and wrapping her arms around his neck, Master Ox you're back. She purred in to his neck some as she embraced him.
His head snapped up at the sound of his name and he dropped the heavy bracer he had been removing,”Sien!” He had learned long ago that even if careful, when he moved quickly others moved as well. Therefore when she began making her way to him he simply stood and moved around the table. Not tremor ran through him as the large woman ran up and almost threw herself at him. He carefully wrapped his arms around her, being certain not to injure her with the spikes on his armor. As they embraced he buried his face in her neck, gently kissing the pale flesh and whispering,”I missed you. I hope I wasn’t gone too long.”
He reluctantly let her go and sat down, finally removing his cloak and beginning to work faster at the bracers covering his wrists, his gauntlets already sitting on the table. He smiles over at her and starts to pat his thigh then thinks of the large spikes protruding from his armor and decides against it. Instead he removes his sword and leans it against the wall,”Any problems while I was gone?” He knew there wouldn’t be but it was always good to be sure. After all, you never knew who would come through the guild these days.
His eyes roamed the common room as the serving girl brought a glass of warm tea and a mug of mead. He winked at her and slid the tea towards Sien, taking the mead for himself. He took a sip of the thick frothy liquid and sighed,”Nothing like a good drink after a job well done.” His eyes ran up and down Sien’s frame quickly,”Well almost nothing.”
She didn't care about the spikes and the armor. It didn't matter. She held to him until he forcibly broke free and moved to his seat, and then she took the seat directly next to him instead of across from him. You are always gone too long in my opinion Master Ox. She half smiled at him the way that seemed the most natural to her beastial female face. Everything was... Quiet. No one dare tread on the house of Master Ox. Besides... I'm fairly certain most of the people are still concerned I will turn on them in a fit of rage and eat their children just because. As she said it, her eyes scanned the room slowly, noting the faces that would meet her gaze and the many more that still would Not. Despite her passed deeds and the reputation that traveled in to the city with her, the fear and disdain for orcs and things that looked like them ran deep in the city.
Her eyes turned back to the massive man, as giant as he was, far more human than she. I am glad to have you back. I grow weary of being the tallest one in the room. She half laughed and lifted the tea to her lips, sipping more gently than any Orc would, though her grip on the mug was brutish and full, a grip that threatened to break even the sturdiest of vessels if the holder became less than careful. This time you plan to stay longer I hope... Or take me with you. I can be of plenty help. I've been training.
He smiled at her and shook his head,”No, I should be in town for a little while at least. As for your training I would hope so, after all you are a friend of the great Master Ox! None of my friends are weaklings… Though I would love to see what happens to anyone that calls you weak.” His eyes ran over the room with a quick sigh,”As for being the tallest in a room, I suppose I can relieve of that title for the time being.” The smile on his face quickly became warm as he leaned over to plant a soft kiss on her lips.
His eyes flashed as he pulled back, always amused by whatever her reaction would be. Not once out of the six times he had kissed had the reaction been the same. It still bothered him that she seemed to treat him as her master though he supposed there could be no stopping something that had been a major part of her life for so long. He was trying hard to break her of the preference for following. In his opinion only the inexperienced, weak or stupid followed. Sien was none of those. She may be inexperienced in open warfare; raiding, ambushing, scouting, and such, but she was a very competent warrior with the power to match.
He took another large gulp of the mead, now two thirds gone, and frowned down at his cup,”Strange how they still forget to bring me a larger cup sometimes…” His eyes lifted to her,”So, care to hear how things went?”
She didn't jump, or pull away. It seemed to catch her by surprise... she still wasn't used to this... affection, but after the initial shock she seemed more pleased... her face lighting with her smile. Of course... I would not bare to bring shame to Master Ox by allowing myself to become weak. She looked at his cup and frowned some. I will get you another... Then you can tell me all about it. She slipped from her chair quickly before he could protest and proceeded back through the crowd to the bar. There, she waited for a moment until the keep brought her an entire pitcher. He went to give her a couple of goblets as well, but she turned them away and took only the pitcher. She made her way carefully back to the table, setting the pitcher before him before sinking in to her chair again.
There... that's better... now... tell me of your journeys... I should know personally the details of all of Master Ox's travels... that way I can pass them on accurately in to legend. [/COLOR]
He watched as she left, his face falling slightly but unable to stop her. However, when she returned with a full pitcher he smiled and took the pitcher in his massive fist before sipping at the mead. His half-closed eyes slowly opened as he turned to her. His eyes lit up as she spoke and he chuckled softly, shaking his head,”No need for the legends. If you wish to hear my stories then I am happy.” A large hand dropped onto her forearm lightly,”If you wish to partake in them then I am ecstatic.”
He smiled softly and nodded,”As you know we left about a month ago. Well we didn’t find the stronghold for a full week. Once we did that damned bird snuck inside to find out where the bandit leader was. We were sitting outside for a full day before Tasia and Pippin grew bored, Veldrin was preparing his spells or crying… one of the two. I started getting my gear prepped but Tasia convinced Pippin to try and sneak inside. While he was trying to find a way inside he alerted the guards and got the four of us caught.” He took a long sip of his mead before shaking his head,”Those three would have gotten us all killed if not for Shavek.”
Sien sat poised and attentive. He could fuss all he wanted about her follower nature, but she was thorough and good at it. She was an obedient and attentive slave... Even if he was now unwillingly her master. She nodded some as he spoke. The group was a strange one when they burst in to her arena... An imp... A drow... A bird... A giant... And a girl that tore out her enemy's throats as haunted her friends in their sleep. Strange indeed. Her head tilted some when he mentioned the girl and the imp. It was understandable. The imp longed to please and joke... The girl was rashly beautiful and seemed... Manipulative. But the bird saved them with his bow for sure.
"That girl certainly was confident beyond her abilities at times. So what did he do then?"
He smiled at her comment but shrugged,"I still don't know how but he got the keys and came round to let us out." He lifted his arms and flexed,"I could have gotten us out by breaking the door but then we would have been in the same spot with the whole damn place knowing we were there." He takes a long draught from the pitcher and smiles as it is still mostly full. A satisfied smile on still on his face he turns back to Sien,"Anyways, so we're out of the cells but still don't have any weapons or armor. Tasia and Veldrin starting things on fire and throwing acid everywhere while the imp is playing his damned flute. Shavek and me hang back for a few and let them go at it before finding a different hall and heading down it."
He glances around as a few of the closer patrons turn, hearing him relate his tale and suddenly start to gather round. His eyes flash as he dives into the next part,"Well as its been two days without food I'm not quite at full strength. We come up on this heavy oak door and I 'knock'. Well the lack of food must've weakened me more than I thought cuz the door stayed up..." A toothy grin is flashed before he sips at the pitcher and continues,"But my second knock was sound and sent the door crashing in... The problem was there were at least seven men in there waiting to do harm to me and the bird, but we were ready I tell you. At least, Shavek was. As soon as that door came thundering down he sent in four arrows, dropping two of the guys and putting one on his knees."
Another sip of mead, followed with a wipe of the back of a shield sized hand,"SO I rush in and grab the first guy I see. As I go to grab he swings his sword put it hits the stone around the door. Well I grab his wrist and jerk him off his feet. I then take his arm in both hands and use him to throttle the next two closest to me till all three are dead. Well one of the little bastards was a sneaky shit and came up behind me, peggin me in the back with a dagger." Several winces follow his comment and he smirks at the surrounding audience,"Just as he does though the wall explodes and that damned elf comes bursting through with Tasia and the imp..."
Sien just sat back and watched the story teller tell his tale. Of course the others in the tavern would begin to gather around... it wasn't exactly her preferred place to be, sitting in the middle of all of them. She'd much rather watch Master Ox tell his tale to the masses from afar... where she could comfortably remove herself if and when needed. Now however, moving would surely disrupt his flow... so she stayed put, leaned back in her chair with a pleasant smile on her face as he continued. She sipped at her tea slowly... savoring it in silence as the daring and danger unfolded in the air around her.