Drunks & Fanatics - 19. Everything Starts with a Big Bang

Tessa turned her staff around in her hands, wondering what was different about it. She couldn’t properly describe it, but it felt more in sync with her now than before. Until now, her Staff of Aeon just seemed to channel her strength and amplify it only somewhat. Had Torgrak or Hei done something to it while they had it?

“Oi, wee lass, get aff cloud nine will ya'.”

Tessa’s attention snapped back to Torgrak, “A-ah! Yes!”

Torgrak let out an annoyed sigh, eyes half-open, before putting his bag on the edge of the bed and started rummaging through it. Tessa watched as soon enough the dwarf haphazardly tossed a combination of potions at her. Three were in fairly simple vials, all of them having a vibrant red color to them. These were healing potions, but something about them made them look a little off. A slight shimmer of something inside made them look different. The only other potion she caught was a fairly big bottle filled with a fizzing, hissing, and equally vibrant orange liquid.

“Drink tha big one now an' save tha others for when ye need 'em.”

Torgrak tossed the same combination of potions to Hei and downed one of the orange ones himself. Hei uncorked his own and quickly drank all of it, wiping his mouth with the back of hand and pocketing the empty bottle into his own bag. Following suit, Tessa popped the cork on her orange potion and used both hands to drink it. As it hit her tongue, she immediately noticed it was a very sweet and fruity tasting potion. She’d expected it to taste a bit bitter or sour from the weird things they’d made back at the Academy as experiments, but the only other surprise this potion had was that it was a little spicy and burnt slightly while going down her throat. Once it was all gone, she covered her mouth as a small burp came up and a burst of warmth flowed through her body from her stomach and then faded away. As for the smaller vials, she tucked them into her satchel.

Having drank the potion, Tessa looked to her mentors to see what they were doing. Hei had taken the shield on his back and now held it in his left hand, but was mostly keeping an eye on their surroundings outside. His usual smirk gone for the time being.

“Looks like we’re surrounded.”

“Got a count on 'em?”

“A lot.”

Torgrak pulled his gun out from his bag, popping it open and loading in a shot. Tessa’s head turned to watch Torgrak for a moment, but upon seeing the gun that had shot her just a few days before made her apprehensive. The searing pain that burned through her body naught but a few days ago still haunted her mind. Shaking her head, she tried to ignore the weapon’s presence. At least for now.

An unsettling silence filled the room as Hei kept an eye on what was going outside, and Torgrak inspected his weapon while lining his belt with bullet after bullet. Tessa wasn’t sure what to do. She wanted to speak up and ask something, but words eluded her. Seeing her mentors taking their job seriously only made things more tense. They’d been condescending, callous, and overall jerks until now. Yet, seeing them actually take their job seriously felt more uncomfortable.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the room’s door. Tessa nearly jumped out of her own skin as everyone’s eyes turned towards it; Torgrak readied his weapon. Then came a welcoming voice, it was the innkeeper.

“My apologies if I’m disturbing you at all, I just have some food for the three of you.”

Tessa breathed a sigh of relief, it was just the innkeeper being friendly. Now recognizing his voice, she responded reflexively, “How wonderful! Thank you! I’ll have the door open in just a moment.”

Her hand was almost at the door handle when Hei lightly grabbed her wrist, stopping her. He was silent, shaking his head slowly in disagreement. Quickly, he shot a look at Torgrak before taking Tessa’s place at the door.

“Thank you for the offer, let me open the door for you.”

Quickly, Hei cracks the door open enough to get the bowls of porridge through and shuts it closed before the innkeeper has anything to say. With them in hand, he tosses them onto the nearest table. Tessa hungrily walks up to them, expecting to have a nice meal so late at night.

“Oh how nice of the innkeeper. I haven’t eaten since yesterday, so this is perfect!”

Hei held her by the shoulder, keeping her back from the food. Tessa looked up at Hei, confused, but watched as Torgrak stuck his finger in one of the bowls. Taking a small sample of the porridge before spitting it out and onto the floor as rudely as possible.

“Drugged.”

Hei let go of Tessa’s shoulder, “So they planned to kill us in their sleep? I’ll give them credit for trying to be silent about it.”

“I think you guys are overexaggerating. Isn’t it a bit far fetched that the innkeeper would try and poison us since we’re just some random visitors?”

Hei walked around Tessa, now standing in front of her, “I disagree. Considering the sets of eyes they had on us while we were just wandering around, I don’t think the cult views us as just some ‘random visitors’. They likely view us as a threat to be taken care of as quickly as possible.”

“We’ve only been here for a day at most, why do you think the cult is targeting us?”

“Well, it could just be my own paranoia,” using his left hand’s thumb, Hei gestures to a bright orange light that is quickly growing in size just outside the window, “or it could be that light in the window headed our way~.”

“Hit tha deck!”

Tessa stares at the light, caught off-guard by its sudden appearance. Tograk throws up the bed nearest to him for full-cover and hides behind it while Hei uses his shield to cover both himself and Tessa. As they put up what defenses they can in a moment’s notice, a large fireball engulfs the room they’re staying in. Demolishing and burning all it can within the room to cinder and ash.

The fires settle down as smoke clears, nothing moves as the cultists wait to see if it worked or not. Standing up, Hei dusts the ash off his shield and smirks.

“Well, I must say that they at least know how to start a party.”

Torgrak kicks the destroyed bed down from in front of him, it having served its purpose. He takes a deep breath in, enjoying the burnt smell all around him.

“Some o' tha best hosts we've ever had! Even know how ta remind me o' home.”


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