7 The Maiden in the Ruins
⊱————- Ofris' PoV ————-⊰
A long sight left my lips as I saw three far too familiar silhouettes march right into the large ruin they had centered their whole life around. For six days, I had tried to coop with their weird antics and their never-ending discussions, but after visiting the very same ruins for dozens of times, even the patience I had prided myself in had long come to its end.
If it was only for the three archeologists that tried to unveil the secrets of this long lost civilization, I would probably still be able to just bear with it and keep protecting them like I had been asked to, but they had four 'followers' that were busy turning this simple task into a living hell.
A new-formed group of four young men had originally been tasked with protecting the scholars, each of them being as inexperienced as naive. And it was me who was to oversee them all and train them into full-fledged adventurers if that was even possible.
I could only blame Risa, one of the girls working for the adventurers' guild, for thinking of me as the most reliable and trustworthy existence there was to be found in our little town. A part of me wished that this estimation of hers was true, but she certainly saw far too much of a good person in me.
«Who knows what she would think if she knew how close I am to just tossing those fools aside and returning home alone...»
Sure, I had never betrayed her high expectations, but spending a full week together with these four had made me question my decision of accepting the task of training the next generation altogether.
With thirty-five years, I wasn't exactly old when compared to many other adventurers who worked until their late forties or even fifties, but I felt grey hairs growing on my head whenever I saw one of those four fools developing a new weird idea.
Not only where they overestimating themselves, especially Maxon, who should be the most mature of them all with his nineteen years of age, but they also had completely unfitting ideas about how the life as an adventurer should look like. Their dreams could be summed up as the "three big g's", namely gold, girls and grog, though they still seemed to prefer sweet beverages.
In their eyes, just defeating a strong enemy would be enough to net them a life in luxury, while in reality, it was most often those who didn't search for such dangers that found happiness. If that party of self-declared heroes didn't step up their game soon, I would end up participating in their funeral rather than a silly parade held to their honor.
When I had entered the ruin, I gave my eyes a few seconds to accustom to the moody light conditions in here, so that I could fend off possible dangers, but neither the scientists, old, white-haired men that should know far better, nor the immature 'heroes' had ever really listened to this advice of mine.
Other then how to make fire, find fresh water and set up traps, none of my teachings had really stuck to their heads. While they still seemed to realize how important survival skills were, they only counted the most obvious skills as worthy of being remembered.
«Why do I even waste my time with them...»
At first, I had honestly wanted to train those newcomers, I really had, but after three, maybe four days, it was already nothing but money and my sense of duty that still had kept me going.
As leader and overseer of new-founded parties, I would net half of their income, which wasn't much but at least helped paying bills. Now, as we had stayed here for two more days than the official quest had tasked us to, it was uncertain if we would even be paid a single coin more by continuing to waste time in these ruins.
In the end, Risa might reach me a bag filled with coins worth six days of work rather than eight or nine. And I couldn't even guess how long this would continue, as there was no need to stock up on necessaries, as the ruins had both drinkable water and good hunting grounds only waiting to be exploited.
If only the scholars would have reached new conclusions or learned something new about the foxkin that had once lived here, their history or maybe even their magic, all of this would certainly be worth the effort, but after more than four-hundred years of expeditions, three more men hungry for knowledge obviously wouldn't make much of a difference.
«I just want to go home and sleep in a real bed...»
My silent wish cruelly crumbled to dust, as a wave of loud voices reached my ears. The noisy bunch had found something. I immediately hurried deeper into the ruin, passing by the dozens of mosaics that, to me, had long lost all their appeal.
It didn't take long to reach their side and even less time to guess what they had found, as all of them, 'heroes' and scholars, had gathered around a cone of light that shone down on a small silhouette that was huddling against the crumbling remains of a wall.
I only realized what exactly she was when I stepped closer and pushed Maxon and Kean aside to get a better look at their finding. Waves of red-brownish hair now greeted me, shining like jewelry in the sun that still had not fully risen over the horizon. I was left in a daze, that was until I discovered the two large, furry ears on her head.
She just sat there on the cold, damp floor, bitterly shaking from the coldness that had attacked her during the night. There was nothing on her body that could protect her from our stares, not even underwear. Only her knees and legs were still protecting her honor, though they, too, were shaking miserably.
This far away from any human settlement, there should only warriors and spies of her race roaming the forests, but this girl neither had a single weapon lying around anywhere near her nor were there any traces of a fire. There wasn't even a piece of fur or fabric she could have used to guard herself against the cold.
«She slept here?! Like this?!»
I was stupid for thinking she had closed her eyes for more than a mere second, as her whole body was shaking like dry leaves in the wind. Her skin, too, openly showed the damage the night had dealt to her. It was almost as pale as chalk. How could anybody rest in conditions like this?
Aside from her already blueish looking lips and her colorful hair, the girl almost looked like a ghost. She tried to say something, but not even a single complete word left her lips. I wouldn't be able to understand her language anyway.
Before I realized, I had already taken of my cloak. I grasped it with both hands and slowly went over to the girl. When I covered her with the thick, black fabric, she looked up to me, with ruby-colored eyes that openly revealed the traces of her grief. She had cried.
⊱————- Extra ————-⊰
Claudius: Look at this marvelous piece of art!
Ofris: I'm seeing it.
Claudius: Isn't it almost magical? These colors! The craftsmanship!
Claudius: I should draw it so I can show it to my colleagues!
Ofris: You already drew it the day before.
Claudius: But they need to see it!
Ofris: They are just around the corner. Call them.
Claudius: They are?
Claudius: Lorinto and Zerix?
Ofris: Both of them.
Claudius: Marvelous! Marvelous! Let's call them! We have to discuss this new finding!
Ofris: You did already discuss it... seven times...
Claudius: That can't be! I would surely remember this masterwork!
Ofris: Everybody remembers it... everybody...
Claudius: Yes! They will never forget about it once they see it with their own eyes!
Ofris: Please make it end...
Ofris: Nothing... it is nothing...