The door swung open, the bell tinkling as the four stepped inside the pristine shop. Shii's barefeet pattered against the wooden floor, while Anwil's boots made louder noises. Aomidori was completely quiet.
"Just ask him," said Gredar, bidding them farewell. "And Anwil," he whispered, "Run at first sight of trouble. You don't know if you can trust them, but you should have an adventure. Write to me!"
Anwil nodded, and Gredar closed the door. Aomidori made a hissy noise in her throat, and Shii grasped onto the edge of the counter. Aomidori tossed Anwil's mermaid skin coinpurse up and down and he stared at her with fury.
"Oh, hello," said the man behind the counter. "To what do I owe to ple-"
Aomidori slammed her hands down on the counter. "What do you know about the White Raven gang?"
The man flinched but said, "Calm down honey! Is there anything you want to buy?"
Shii pointed at some children's clothes. It was a nice tunic with some pants and a pair of small boots. "Can I have that, Aomi?" she asked.
Aomidoir sighed and nodded. "Yes, you've ruined your last set," she said, referring to the ragged cloth. "How did you destroy it in a week?"
Shii smiled but said nothing.
The man counted the 20 gold pieces Aomidori had set on the tabletop, grinned, and then folded the clothes into Shii's hands. "There's a room back there where you can change," he said.
Anwil watched Aomidori and Shii ducked into the back room. Aomidori stared at him as he turned back to the counter and started pointing at things to buy. When the two emerged from the room, he had slipped several things into his knapsack.
"So, what can you tell us?" Anwil asked.
The man pulled out a worn map and a quill and quickly made a circle motion with the ink. He handed it to Aomidori, who said, "So, they're in Heykla?" The man shook his head and made a motion with his hand.
"Near Heykla?" said Anwil, and the man nodded.
"Have a nice trip," the man said.
Aomidori grabbed Shii's hand and stomped out of the store, slamming the door. Anwil started to run to keep up with them, and she stopped suddenly and stared hard at him. "Why are you coming?" she hissed. "This is between me and Shii, not you, Elf. So beat it."
"He wants adventure," Shii told Aomidori.
"That's not enough reason," said Aomidori. "That's a shallow reason, at most, or it's something to cover up the real one, at best. How do I know you'll be an asset?"
"I'm apart of the finest hunting duo in this kingdom," said Anwil. "You'll come across some enemies, for sure. Lowbrow bandits and the like, I just," he brought up his bow, leveling it with a nearby treetop, " act like they're prey..." he released his arrow, "and shoot them down."
There was a shrill squeak, and from between the branches, a squirrel collapsed onto the ground. The arrow went right through it's small head, blood welling from the wound.
Aomidori stared, impressed. Anwil walked to the furry ginger animal and tucked its body into his sack. "And I can get you food," he added. "Am I useful now?"
"I can hunt," said Aomidori offensively.
"Then let's see it," said Anwil.
Aomidori shot daggers at him with her eyes. Anwil smiled at Shii, and they followed Aomidori out of the town gate and into the surrounding forest, the ocean to their back. She crouched and shifted her position so she could hold her bow. As she pulled it back, a large buck leaped pass. In a sort of desperate attempt, she released her arrow, hitting the deer in the chest.
Anwil shook his head, brought up his bow, and hit the deer dead center in the head as it ran past. It fell, tripping over it's own hooves mid-stride, and hit the undergrowth and fallen leaves, dead.
"I'm guessing you're more assassin than hunter," said Anwil. "See? You need me."
Aomidori flushed red, embarrassed about being one-upped. "Fine," she spluttered, "But, you get in the way, you get in the way of my blade." she touched the hilt lightly and smiled between pursed lips.
They started on their way. Shii looked up at the sky and pointed at a large figure flying by. "Is that a bird?"
"No, it's a dragon," said Anwil. "They're common around here."
"But this is near the sea," said Aomidori gruffly.
"Yes, but some dragons come here because flying over the ocean is much faster than flying over land." said Anwil. "That's the theory, anyway. Aren't we heading to Hekyla? We're going the wrong way."
"We're going east. That's the right way." snapped Aomidori.
"Wouldn't it be faster to take a ship there?" asked Shii.
"Ships are expensive," said Aomidori.
They walked on the path for a few minutes in silence. Then Anwil piped up.
"So," he said. "Tell me about you two."
Shii smiled. "Aomi's really cool," she said. "She used to be an assassin before her father died protecting me," she added. "So she had to take his job!" Shii glanced at Aomidori. "But she doesn't like to talk about that."
Aomidori nodded. "I'd rather talk about you, Elf."
"Anwil Quar. Used to be a bodyguard. That's all, really." Anwil said shortly. "Anyway, this is a professional relationship, there's no need for us to share anything. Our common goal is to get to the gang and be done with each other."
"There's no relationship," said Aomidori.
"But you wouldn't be done," said Shii, " If you joined, you'd be partners or see each other everyday."
"How are you so sure?' Anwil said.
"That's how gangs work, right?" asked Shii.
"Sometimes," said Aomidori. "But who knows? Anyway, it's getting dark. Who thinks we should find a place to set up camp?"
"We can keep going," said Anwil. "There's a small town not far from here, and they'll have an inn. That way bandits can't rob us blind when we sleep." he pulled the squirrel from his sack and skinned it as they walked.
Behind them, the sun kept getting dimmer and dimmer as it hid behind the trees.