13 「The Road to Carne」
The next morning, the sun was rising above the Swords of Darkness and their newest comrades.
Laying on their sides, resting on the Blue Quilted Cloak of Greater Attributes, was Cipher and Ninya. His arm was loosely around her waist, his form arm resting on her side, and the opposing shoulder acting as a pillow for her head. He had her back side close to him.
Peter was standing over them, one arm across his chest, holding his side while the opposite hand was grasping his chin in a pinch. He was just staring at this as if it was some sort of mystery to be unraveled.
Lukrut who had woken up threw himself onto his feet and stretched flamboyantly before pausing and looking over at their leader. Raising a brow, his eyes dropped down to the duo on the ground.
They both just stared, blinking at them.
Ninya let out a slight feminine moan in her sleep as the sun was shining on the side of her face. Her hand absently reaching out and grasping at the edge of Cipher's cloak and rolling over to with it.
As she did so her face planted against the cool armored plate against the man's chest. An unconsciously coy smile forming over her lips. It felt nice as contrast to the rays of the sun which had bothered her.
Lukrut had lulled his head to the side when she had released that moan and just kept watching them alongside Peter.
When Dyne rolled onto his side and then moved to stand, he noticed his friends watching what looked like Cipher and a figure rolled up in his cloak. He raised a brow and wadded on over to them, before looking at the familiar boots sticking out from the blue quilted cloak.
His mouth slowly opened, looking at his friends and then back to this.
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Peter shrugged at the other men in his group before taking a few steps forward and reaching the tip of his foot to nudge at Cipher's head. However, a mere second before the boot touched his forehead, his eyes opened.
Peter was able to stop himself in time and just silently made gestures at the two of them.
"Do you even sleep?" Peter whispered as they'd squat down to get near his level.
"No. I take fifteen minute cat naps." Cipher whispered back sarcastically.
"Why are you two so close? Are you into men or something?" Lukrut dropped onto his hands and knees, inspecting the two of them a bit closer.
Cipher's eyes locked on Lukrut, "Have you ever been shocked by seventh tier Lightning magic?" Despite whispering, his tone was clearly a playful threat.
"Heeey!" Lukrut shot up onto his knees with his hands up and whined, "No need to go that far. So mean..."
"Too straight forward," Dyne laughed at Lukrut's suffering from the verbal attack.
Peter smiled slightly as he rested his elbows on his knees, remaining squatting in front of the pair. "So, care to explain?"
"Mmm..." Ninya groaned slightly and opened her eyes, pressing her forehead to the cold metal before pausing a moment. She saw shadows cast over them, and vague reflections of her friends. Instinctively she froze, her eyes creeping up towards Cipher who was locking eyes with Peter.
Shimmying about within his cloak, she turned herself to face the boys, pulling the cloak down under her chin to get a good look at them as she rubbed her eyes.
Cipher glanced down at her without turning his head away from Peter and smiled slightly.
"I uh..." Ninya swallowed the saliva in her mouth softly, nervous.
"Ninya would you care to explain? Cipher's being Cipher." Peter snickered as he was ready to listen. He wanted to know what was going on between the two of them.
Whimpering groggily as she was being put onto the spotlight, she sighed. "It's exactly what it looks like," she'd whine before her lower lip pushed up beneath her upper lip in a confounded frown of embarrassment.
"Exactly what it..." He looked over the way they were laying, and it definitely fit the idea of intimacy. "What is it that I'm looking at?" Peter asked with that smile of his still across his lips.
"..." Ninya tightened her lips as she was trying to figure out what to say.
Cipher could figuratively see the steam coming off of her head as her face was turning a faint shade of pink as she blushed. "She's a girl, I confessed, and she accepted... I think." Turning his head down to look at her, he raised a brow briefly until she gave a muted nod.
Lukrut's jaw dropped right then and there and he fell right onto his bum. He was at a loss for words, completely unable to comprehend how he had no idea. It was hard for him. "I'm so sorry," the words he had said last night about girls being in a party would cause a serious problem echoed in the back of his mind. In a way he felt as if he had hurt her feelings when he had blurted that out.
Peter took in a deep breath before slowly exhaling, he had this gentle look on his face though as if he just accepted it for what it was. While she had carried on their lives with a lie, it had come to light. Even if she couldn't bring herself to tell them outright.
"That explains a bit..." Peter said with a friendly chuckle and titter tethered to his voice. "Still. It's a pleasure to have you on our team. We wouldn't have you any other way."
Cipher wore this smile on his lips as if he figured they would just accept it. They had known each other for a long time and they were companions that put each other's lives on the lives for one another.
Dyne though had a smile on his face. Maybe he already knew and said nothing, or maybe he never really mattered to him in the first place. He seemed to just be a living ray of sunshine.
Momon and Nabe however had already been up the entire time. Watching the whole thing go on. Truth be told, it was mildly entertaining for Momon at least.
Nabe didn't seem all that much interested in the drama.
So as several a minutes have gone by, everyone was already up onto their feet and packing up their supplies they had used last night. The pot and the bowls, they put them away and packed them onto the wagon.
They spent the early hours of the morning as the rising sun was watching on their backs, making their way to the Carne Village they had all once been to at least once.
Cipher walked beside the back of the wagon with Ninya at his side as Nphirea drove the horse.
Hardly did he even register what they were saying, if they were talking at all.
Glancing behind him as he was heading the front of the group, Lukrut put on a smile. Things were too quiet for him. "This area has such a great view!" He'd proclaim to get everyone's attention. "There's was probably no need to walk in formation like this!"
Peter who was walking on the opposite side of the horse from Dyne spoke up immediately, "It's important to be on guard."
"So true! The greatest enemy is carelessness," Dyne agreed with their leader.
"That sounded like Confucius," Cipher noted aloud as he tilted his head slightly.
"Confucius?" Ninya asked as she looked up at him with a brow raised before looking to the others. "A dragon could suddenly launch an attack on us."
"Seriously. Do you really think that would happen, Ninya!?" Lukrut whined as he wore this grim expression on his face as he didn't want to be jinxed by what Ninya had just said.
"Around the area of E-Rantel, there are legends of a dragon that could freely control nature. And, to the north of the Azerlisia Mountains over there, I heard there are quite a few living frost dragons."
"Oh boy..." Cipher uttered looking at the vines of poison oak and ivy in the forest surrounding them on their path. "I don't want to be an itchy burrito."
"Burrito?" Ninya questioned him, curious of the comparison.
"You're lucky I have a lot of items on me," Cipher gave a suppressed laugh as he would reach into his dimensional storage which was his inventory and pulled out a burrito partially wrapped in aluminum paper. It was still hot from the time he had crafted it in-game.
The Burrito consisted of ground beef, cheddar cheese, lava lettuce, Orcish tomato and Ebony avocado spread with some mild salsa and some improvised chipotle sauce.
Holding it out for her to take, Ninya reached over with her free hand and plucked it from his grasp. She observed it closely with her eyes before smelling it. "Mmm," she smiled quiet a bit more now that she wasn't thinking of something like being eaten by a dragon.
"Being wrapped up in poison ivy and oak vines doesn't sit well with me," Cipher explained what he meant and this caused the group to erupt into laughter for a short bit.
Ninya bit into the burrito and slowly nommed on the soft shell. The juices from the meat, mixed with the melted cheese and all the other flavors tickled her taste buds. It almost moved her to tears, as the flavors reminded her of the luxurious foods he had at the citadel during that little vacation he practically forced on the group to get information out of them.
Clearing his throat now that the theatrics were done, Momon spoke, "Ah. Do you know the name of the dragon that can control nature freely?"
"Huh? Ohwa, nu itsh name." Ninya tried speaking with her mouth full of food before swallowing. "Sorry. No I don't know its name. I will check when we return to town." She said with a curious expression. Why was he wanting to know its name?
"Yes. Can you do that for me, Ms Ninya?"
She nodded with a big closed smile across her lips, "Of course, Mister Momon!"
Now that everyone had started talking, it was hard to ignore the fact they were all smiling. Well, most of them were smiling. The only person who seemed to be deadpanned was none other than Nabe.
"It's just a bit further to Carne Village!" Nphirea glanced back as he announced this with a smile towards his new found friends.
Momon however was now looking towards Cipher, both of them were thinking about the Dragons as in the game they were considered the strongest species.
Luckily for Cipher though, he had won quite a few Higher Dragons through the gacha shop, including a Dracolich which was even stronger than any normal dragon.
Approaching the fields surrounding the Village of Carne, the party slowly comes to a stop.
"That wasn't there before..." They all made this quick observation, their eyes centered on the gate and the goblins which were slowly coming into view.
"We're surrounded by a Goblin Troop?" Cipher raised a brow as he was using sensory magic passively to see his surroundings. His eyes then rested on Momon who wasn't surprised to see them. Though more curious about the wall.
"I think after we're done here, I'll help upgrade the walls. Ninya, would you join me later?"
Ninya nodded slightly as everyone appeared wary of the Goblins, but she found her calm seeing as he didn't even appear to believe they were hostile.
Drawing his bow though, Lukrut pointed the arrow at the goblins while the rest of the party was ready for a fight.
"Wait," Cipher stated as he stepped forward, "They're not--"
"Who the hell are you guys!?" The Ranger Goblin demanded to know as the others had weapons ready to engage the party as well.
Then that's when the other goblins came popping out of the crops and tall grass. Just as Cipher said, they were surrounded.
"Put down your weapons!" One of the Goblins called out.
Momon also seemed to understand what was going on, "These guys..."
"Um, guys. We don't want to fight if we don't have to." The Goblin said with a bastard sword in his hand. Out of all of them, he was the only one with a red band on his shoulder. Would he be the Goblin Captain? "Especially the full-plated guy and the one in the blue. You two give off real dangerous feelings!"
The Goblin was friendly, if not anything else.
"Eh?" Nphirea was confused and afraid.
"Who are these guys!?" Peter eyed those around him with a serious look in his eyes. His sword and shield were at the ready.
"They're summons," Cipher stated as he stepped forward, looking over them with magic sight.
"Mister Goblin, what's going on?" A young woman made her appearance, it was none other than Enri. She had pure skin, soft brown eyes and blond hair.
"Oh! Boss!" The goblin looked up towards the female who towered over just about all of them.
"Enri!" Shouted Nphirea in surprise and concern. She was surrounded by Golbins afterall.
"Huh?" Looking up from her Goblin underlings, the young lady smiled and brought her hands up to her chin in a gesture of happiness. "Nphirea!"
"Oh.. It's that girl he was talking about last night," the party members commented to themselves, happy to see the person that Nphirea was into.
"Definitely!" Dyne confirmed as he rested his mace on his shoulder.
Enri's eyes then rested on Ciphir and then toward the rest of the group, recognizing them from during the time the Slane Theocracy attacked. She blinked several times though seeing him standing beside Ninya. "Welcome back, all of you."