An old relative, a new friend.
By sunset, the squad of commandos had made it to the very edge of the forest. It was decided that they would spend one last night in the shelter and comfort of the forest, which Sean, Dennis, and Danielle would all miss dearly.
There was no hurry. The deadline for the operation's completion was six months away, and it would only take three months of uninterrupted traveling to make it to the capital, Rathbane.
However, all four of the commandos knew the dangers of attacks during the night, so Choi was assigned first watch.
The next morning, everyone quickly dressed and relieved themselves as necessary.
It was decided that the first town that they would go to would be Tarron, which was approximately five miles from the edge of the forest. Tarron was Imperial, officially, although it was considered neutral territory by both sides. Tarron was a town mostly made up of travelers, criminals or people trying to hide, and the poor.
Tarron would be a good place to get situated and prepared for the coming journey. It was also decided that it would be a good place to get horses from, which would greatly ease the difficulty of the journey.
They walked in comfortable silence, although there was some tension in all of them, for various reasons.
When they came to the town, Choi was surprised to see most of the streets empty.
Sean, however, was completely unfazed when Choi asked about it.
"Choi," he said, "this is the sort of town where all of the life is at night, when there's partying and such going on. It's noon, and some people won't even wake up for another three hours. You guys go on and find a place to stay. We'll be here for a couple of days. I'm going to see if I can find a place to buy some horses from."
Danielle nodded, and took off in no particular direction down the street. Choi and Dennis shared a look, and then followed.
They were able to find a nice place to stay, and a cheap one at that. Sean came back later than expected with a look on his face that told all of his failure and his frustration with it.
"I wasn't even able to find a stable with enough horses that are fit-to-ride," he said.
"Well why can't we buy them all from separate stables?" Choi asked.
"Because I'd prefer to only have to haggle with one stable owner, rather than four," Sean said.
"Oh, okay then," Choi replied.
"Well, it's twilight now. Let's get ready to party, and mingle, with the people of this fair town. We might be able to find out some useful information. We should take off our sheathed armor, so that it won't ring any bells if someone bumps into us and thinks we're made of metal. Also, let's take off our larger, more noticeable weapons. That means no swords, bows, or whips," Sean instructed.
Everyone spent a moment taking off their weapons and armor.
"Alright everybody," Sean said, "Let's go party."
They walked towards the center of the town, where a lot of sound was coming from. It was starting to really get dark now, and the populace was coming out of their homes and towards the party.
They decided to head towards the cantinas first, to get at least mildly drunk for the party ahead.
They spent about the first two hours of the night in various cantinas, avoiding most of the main dancing and drinking spots.
As they walked past a rather loud cantina, a figure was suddenly thrown out onto the ground in front of them. They leapt back in surprise.
"AND STAY OUT!!" came the cry of the manager.
"KISS MY ASS!" screamed the figure on the ground, whose voice marked it as female. The woman stood up and brushed herself off, and noticed the group staring at her.
"What are you lookin' at?" she demanded.
"A part Giant who still hasn't realized that large hands and fingers are useless for cheating at cards with," Sean answered.
Now it was the woman's turn to stare.
"Sean? Holy crap," she said.
"You said it, big sis. I was starting to wonder if I'd ever see you again. Now come over here and give me a hug," Sean said. They embraced, while the others stared on.
"Hey Marriam," Danielle said.
"Hey, midget, how're you doin'?" Marriam asked.
"Okay, I suppose," Danielle answered.
"How've you been, Marriam?" Dennis asked.
"Good, Dennis. And you?" Marriam replied.
"Usual," he said.
"Still a vicious killer?" she asked.
"Naturally," he answered.
"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!!" Choi screamed finally.
"Oh, you haven't met Marriam. Choi, this is my big sister, Marriam. Marriam, this is my friend and fellow soldier, Choi. There, introductions are done. Now can we please get going?" Sean said.
"No, we can not get going! I . . . oh, screw it. Just please tell me, are there any more sisters I should know about?" Choi asked desperately.
"Nope. These two are it. Now much, are they? Anyway, I don't have any brothers either. Since you asked," Sean answered calmly.
Resigned, Choi allowed them to keep going. He was still confused out of his mind, though.
They were just about to pass a cantina when a figure got thrown through the window and onto the ground in front of them. He was followed by about thirty people in the teen to mid-twenty age group, all of whom were pushing and shoving and screaming at one another.
It was a mosh pit.
"This'll be a good place to investigate people, I think," Danielle said.
"Yeah. Investigate. Sure," Sean said with a gleam in his eye. With a cry of a warrior going off to battle, he jumped into the mosh pit, half throwing people out of his way.
With an angry shake of her head, Danielle stalked off to the part of the cantina with more drinking and laughing going on than moshing. Marriam and Dennis watched the mosh pit dispassionately.
"Those things scare me," Dennis said. Choi glanced at him in surprise. A mosh pit, frightening the great Wolfman warrior? The thought . . .
Marriam snorted. "Scaredy-cat," she teased.
Dennis didn't reply.
And on a sudden, wild impulse, Choi ran into the mosh pit. It was insane! People randomly pushing, shoving, jumping, tackling, screaming!
After ten minutes he couldn't take it anymore, and he jumped out.
He looked expectantly at Marriam, but she just stared at him disinterestedly.
"Is this where I say 'Wow, Choi, you're such a big sexy manly man for jumping in the mosh pit'?" she asked sarcastically.
Choi went to see if Danielle needed any help, his spirits crushed.
After Danielle had found out a good place to buy some horses, it was decided that the commandos would sleep at Marriam's place. They got all of their stuff from the hotel and went straight there.
When they walked in, they were greeted by a friend of Marriam's who lived with her.
Her name was Marie.
Marriam had warned them beforehand that Marie didn't know who Marriam really was, or who Marriam's family was. Therefore, they were to use fake names around Marie, if any.
"Hey Marriam," she said, "Hi, uh . . . Marriam's friends?"
They nodded in greeting. Sean promptly went upstairs to find a good place to sleep, as did Danielle.
Marriam, Dennis, Choi and Marie hung out downstairs for a little while longer, but soon Dennis and finally Marriam went to find unused bedrooms too.
Choi had been using the name Chad around Marie, and had noticed that she had been taking an interest in him throughout the night. She had constantly been inching closer to him, until she was pressing against him.
"Hey Chad?" she asked sweetly.
"Yes, Marie?" he responded.
"I feel very tired. I'm so tired, I don't know if I'll be able to go upstairs to my bedroom. Will you carry me?"
"Well, uh . . . sure, why not?" he said sheepishly.
So he carried her up to her bedroom.
"Now will you please put me on the bed?" she asked when they were in the room, with the door shut.
Unable to speak, he did as she told him.
"Chad, it's cold down here. Will you warm me up?" she asked.
He laid down on the bed and put his arms around her.
She kissed him softly, and he kissed her back.
"Chad, before this goes any further, can I ask you a question?" she asked.
He grunted an affirmative.
"What's your real name? And for that matter, what are the names of your friends?"
He wondered, briefly, how she had known that his name was false. However, he had had enough alcohol that night that he didn't think about it too hard. And besides, what could be the trouble telling her his companion's names?
"I'm Choi. There's also Danielle, Dennis, and Sean."
"Yes. I'm his closest confidant," he said proudly.
There was a triumphant gleam in her eye.
"Thank you, Choi. Now where were we?" she asked.
"Right about here," he said in what he thought was a smooth, sexy voice.
And he took her shirt off.
Well, that's Chapter 8! And no, I'm not writing a porno. What just happened here was integral to the story. You'll see. You'll all see! Okay. R&R please, everybody. You know I appreciate it.