FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 2 Part 4b

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 2 Part 4b

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“What are you doing here Mokha?” Tipper eyed him suspiciously.

“Having coffee. Admiring the woodworking. Falling in love. You?”

“You two are acquainted?” The woman in red asked.

Tipper was quick to respond, “Travelling companion from the summer. This is Mokha.”

“Hello Mokha.”

“Hi.” He gave a beaming smile.

“Mokha this is my professor, Setta Vrith?”

“Goodness, it’s a pleasure to meet you Mokha.” She stood and offered her hand.

Mokha took the proffered hand and politely applied a quick kiss, the weird formality totally threw him off track. After an awkward pause he asked, “So what are you two fine ladies doing this evening?”

“Tipper was telling me about her efforts in the Kaymere ruins over the past year.”

Mokha had to think about that for a moments, “Oh right, Kaymere. Never been there.”

“You were not there with Tipper?”

Tipper interrupted, an edge of asperity in her voice, “We ran into Mokha a ways past Lekas, on our trek here.”

“She and Adwin rescued me from bandits. It was most heroic.” Mokha had forgotten about that, he muttered an aside to himself, “I have to remember to finish that song I was working on.”

Vrith perked up, “That was very fortunate, lucky for you she was there to run them off.”

“Oh, she murdered them, a lot. She and Andisal. Killed most of them and then the folks from Lekas hung the rest of them.”

Tipper was giving him a look. He was unsure what it meant because she had never given him that look before. Pleading maybe?

Setta Vrith exclaimed, “The more I hear about you Tipper, the more amazed I am. What else is hidden within the mystery of you?”

Tipper sighed and gave Mokha a not unfriendly shove, “Since you are here, grab a seat, sit down.”

Mokha sat, the waitress came over, platter of food in hand, “You sitting here now? What about you coffee and all your stuff.”

“Aw, my book. Hey look, why don’t we go over there Tipper. The booths are pretty cozy and quiet.

She gave him an appreciative look, “That sounds like a good idea.”

Setta gave a shrug, “Sure.”

Mokha went over and tidied up his mess, neither of the women were interested in coffee as they were both drinking the local cider. Mokha also noted that the waitress was very differential towards Professor Vrith and generally more pleasant towards him as well. Soon Mokha was sitting across from the two ladies, everyone had drinks in hand, the silence stretched for a while.

Surprisingly Tipper was the first one to speak up, “Mokha? What should we do about Yule?”

“I assumed we were all going to be spending some time together, but I’m unsure as of yet what my employer expects of me for that time. I think Adwin is in the same position. I assume that, as a student, you will have the entire eight-day off?”

The two women looked at each other, Setta said, “That depends on how long they are going to stretch out the present situation?”

“What situation? Who’s they?”

Tipper piped up, “Someone ratted out the Fingures hideout. A lot of magic items were found, the Arcanium is in a stir. Didn’t Adwin mention to you that I was working as a guard?”

“Um, not that I recall. No, I don’t think so.” He eyed Tipper suspiciously.

Setta put a hand on Mokha’s arm, he felt a spike of pleasure and shivered, “Simply put, we are both very busy these days and likely will be until the higher-ups realize they are working us too hard.” She smiled, “So hopefully sometime before next year.”

He put his hand on her hand, “I’m so glad we met. When I first saw you-”

Tipper interrupted, “Seriously Mokha?”

Setta squeezed his forearm, “I felt it too.”


Mokha beamed, “I know. I saw you seeing me, seeing you, seeing me.”

“This can’t be happening.”

Mokha suggested, “Well, we can all get high and have sex.”

“Mokha, wh-”

Setta held up a hand and laughed, “That is alright Tipper.” She took Mokha’s hands in hers, smiling, “Honestly Mokha, this has been an unexpected and curiously pleasing encounter. I’d like to take you up on your offer at some point, but right now I’m beat and there is presently no end of work in sight.”

Tipper sighed, “Well, maybe if we are lucky enough to all get together over Yule we can invite Setta to join us.” She paused, giving Vrith a quick glance. “I might even be so bold as to suggest we should each invite someone along.”

Mokha gave her a considering look, “Sounds brilliant!”

Tipper laughed at his enthusiasm. Setta gave Mokha’s hands a squeeze then resumed drinking her cider. They retired to less intensity, the conversation turned back to Kaymere, Mokha finished his coffee and picked at his food. The musicians took a break, promising to return shortly. Mokha gathered his things, gave a distracted goodbye to the ladies and wandered over to the bar. He pointedly ignored his server. He politely informed the man tending the bar that he wanted to settle the bill for himself and his two friends. He dropped five silver weight on the counter, “You have an extraordinary place sir, though I might suggest better minstrels and a few dancers.”

The man looked at him, then the coins, swept the coins off the counter with a meaty hand and said, “Thank you, sir. I’ll bring your suggestions to the owner.”

Mokha nodded and floated away towards the door, he found his cloak, put in on, clasped it around him with the hood up, for a while he struggled with his gloves. He paused to admire the carvings on the door then departed into the night.

Three paces outside it suddenly felt like he had hit a wall of ice. Compared to the heat and warm light in the cafe this, outside, was like another world. Sadly there was no snow falling, but the street was well lit and still fairly busy despite snow and the late hour. Mokha took a couple of deep breaths and admired the persistence of civilization for a moment or two.

Behind him the door opened and Tipper said, “Ah, there you are.”

He turned back to face her, “Here you are.” He smiled.

“You know Vrith is an archivist in the Arcanium, right?”

Oh, that thought had not occurred to him, but it did explain the nice red robes she was wearing, oops, “Of course, what makes you think I didn’t know?”

She looked concerned, “Are you alright Mokha?”

He shook his head with a questing look, “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well aside from that weird stunt you just pulled with Professor Vrith, I’ve never seen you like this before. Your eyes are almost glowing, you are way more distracted than usual. You sure you can make it home?”

Mokha, “I assure you that was no stunt. As to the rest, that’s fair, I don’t think I’ve ever been like this before. But I’ll be home before I know it, I’m sure.”

She looked a bit pensive, “If you’re sure then. I was serious about Yule. Let’s each invite someone and get together for at least a couple of days.”


“How’s Adwin?”

“Sorry, what?”

“Adwin. He seemed off the last time I saw him. Distant, evasive.”

“Yeah, I don’t know Tipper, I mean Adwin’s young, he’s just trying to work stuff out. Right?”

“I guess.”

“Hey, I’m sorry if I wrecked your date. I should go.”

“I don’t think it was a date. Be safe.”

“Yet, it might have been. Goodnight.” Mokha walked away.

Overall he had to give the Flow potion top marks. The intensity was not overwhelming, mild to moderate hallucinations, still able to focus on things, very relaxed, positive feelings and certainly an enhanced awareness of patterns. He wound his way through the streets heading to the west side of the city. At an intersection with a wide boulevard running from the South Dock District through to the walls of the Grove, Mokha happened to be looking north when he noticed the Heart Tree towering over the city.

The tree seemed much larger this time, reaching upwards into the darkness, its longest branches reaching out over the city. He suddenly felt a pulsating sensation vibrating from the streets up his legs, through his body to all his extremities. It felt like the heartbeat of the world. He gazed up at the tree for some time as people passed, heading one way or the other. Here above it all was this amazing tree.

A sudden probing against his scry-guard snapped him back to local awareness, he looked around, but there was no one obviously hostile close by. Though, he was sure the mage who had just attempted to cast a spell on him would have been within line of sight. He started walking north, the tree had vanished, there were less people about now, it must be getting late. He muttered under his breath and gestured ahead of him, there appeared to be no trouble in the direction he was heading. He quickened his pace. Then he tried to locate the mage that he suspected to be close by. Somewhere behind him now, second or third story.

Mokha risked a glance behind him, doing a full turn, seeing no threats in the streets he glanced along the rooftops, nothing obvious. He turned back, in pace, and kept going north.

Ahead of him, standing in the doorway of an expensive looking jewellery shop was Raven, dressed in expensive clothing and looking every bit the lady that she certainly was not. She glared at him as he walked by. Thankfully a drunken gaggle of well dressed men were at the intersection ahead of him, thus limiting her likely actions to nothing more than dark looks. He quickened his pace and jogged towards the intersection, giving Raven a quick wave as he moved passed. She was obviously scry-guarded now as well, otherwise he would have detected her from a distance.

Before he made it to the drunken gentlemen, he slowed and gave another glance behind him, still no obvious threats but he could now see a tall man standing with Raven in front of the shop. Once amongst the drunken gentlemen he gladhanded and cajoled his way though the drunken lords, slapping backs and shaking hands. At first they were pleasant and surprised by his friendliness, then at least one of them said something disparaging about his ancestry, the others quickly remember themselves and started to take offence at his familiarity.

With a wave and smile he stepped out the other side of the drunken gaggle, “Good evening to you gentlemen.” He noted at least a couple of them were reaching for their knives or small swords. He broke into a sprint still heading towards the centre of the city.

A heartbeat or two later the drunken, angry lords shouted their indignation and gave chase. Mokha ran faster, after a couple of blocks of sprinting he started looking for an open alleyway. Before he could find a convenient side passage he became aware the lords had given up the chase, he slowed. No one was chasing him now. The lords seemed to have quickly lost interest, they were a ways back, milling about in the street, shouting at the locals and each other. He walked on and turned eastward.

With due diligence Mokha took the time to wander around in big circles, to make sure he no longer had anyone following him. He stopped briefly to recast the scry-guard he had on himself, then he headed home, indirectly.

It was well after the chimes marking the end of the day had sounded before Mokha made his way into his employer’s manor through the kitchen door.


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