Tales of the Forbidden Lands

Chapter 3: Delivery Day.

Adventuring is not a glorious job. Its messy, its dangerous, its usually long and dragged. If anything, we
e a glorified pest control service sometimes.

Like what we did today. A strange infestation of mandrakes had made its nest in the backyard of some poor lady living outside the citys walls. The little **es were running around and biting people in the ankles. Since the mandrakes weren an actual threat and no one had made a contract for the plant monsters, the Guild had dispatched anyone not too busy to kill them. That means Thalia and I.

”Stay- ” *whack* ”**ing- ” *whack* ”still! ” *whack*. A mandrake flew far as I hit it with my sword. At this point I was using the weapon more as a bat than properly slashing the monsters. ”Fuck off, shitweeds! ” I shouted using [Vicious Mockery]. And was happily rewarded with some screechs of pain.

We had been fighting since late morning until around early night. Piles of dead mandrakes laid around our feet. The ground was a muddy field of dirt mixed with the clear, gooey liquid the plant monsters had as blood. We were exhausted from the nearly infinite swarm, constantly almost slipping, the burning numbness the mandrake blood caused, and above all else, of the **ing migraine-inducing smell of mint lingering around.

”Its pulling my hair! Edward! Help me you **! ” Thalia yelled somewhere near. It was hard to tell where, I was dealing with the little problem of wrestling with two **ing mandrakes myself.

”Fuck it. Use fire! Use the **ing fire! ” I managed to get a hold of one and blindly threw it as far as I could. It ended up inside of a hen house by the sound of things.

”No! ” The old lady owner of the house yelled nearby. ”Please, my precious flowers- ”

”IT BITE MY ASS! ” Thalia roared so loud my ears hurt.

Yep. Glorified pest control.

Most days go like that. Either some kind of creature or problem appears and someone, usually me and/or other Adventurer, has to deal with it. Or nothing happens at all and we have to make our own fun.

Mandrakes aren hard enemies. Just annoying. We ended up succeeding in killing most of them before the day ended. We still needed to go back and kill the remaining pests, but progress was made. And I got something I needed. Yay!

So, for now we were on our way back to the city. Port Macquarie was but a humble portuary city, no bigger than the classic RPG city. But still. It was like, three years after the first successful English settlers arrived? This world was a fantasy mirror of my Earth, that means most of the people here were criminals of some kind. And yet, to make this whole place as nice as it is surrounded by basically the New World from Monster Hunter, it takes a lot.

Most of the city had been built in that English style of white wood with either green or red roofs. The streets were mostly battered dirt with sidewalks here and there. The only buildings made of pure stone as far as I know were the towers scattered across the town. Those and the protective walls, of course.

We had arrived by the easten gate. And walking on those streets full of people and stores and vendors I really wish I could show that to my sister. She was the architect in the family. This place would be her dream vacation. Or maybe a nightmare depending on the differences from our world to this one. Dunno, I know shit about Australian architecture.

”All those years, mom tried to make me eat my greens… ” Thalia mumbled. ”And yet, those **ers alone get to make me eat more plants out of pute spite. ”

”Im sure your mom would be proud of you either way. ” I commented, a little saltier than intended. I pressed my hand on my left shoulder, where one of the mandrakes had bitten me hard enough to draw blood. ”I need a bath… ”

”Ditto. Oi, you free like two days from now? ” Before I could even answer she interrupted with ”Forget it, you
e always free anyway. ”

”Excuse-me? I am often a busy man, you know? With presentations, my own jobs, minor jobs… Im not just idling when not hunting. ”

”Alright, Mr. Jack-of-All-Jobs. Got it. You have work lined up and can spare me the time. ”

”Nah, Im 100% free. What is it? ” I felt the punch on my right arm before seeing her move. Alright, I deserved that. ”Ouch! Sorry, sorry. Serious now. What is it? ”

She didn say right away. Instead spending a few moments making her feelings clear with that displeased glare.

”Its a hunt. Some farmers found a nest of Narcotic Tarantulas in some woods on the western border. I was talking with that mage girl from the research guys about just burning the place down and we even went there some three days ago, but there were too many to get close enough.

”And my job would be… ”

”You have that [Pacify] skill, don you? We just need you to calm the little shits down so we get close and plant a bomb near the nest. ” She explained. ”We get out, I set the bomb with a fire arrow and escape on horse. Clean and out. ”

I hummed softly to myself. Good strategy and a solid plan. Just how I like it. ”Whats my pay? ”

”Around 200 Florins. Plus that alchemist guy offered some coins for spider fangs and flasks of that venon. Something about studying how it makes people so high off their asses. ”

And thats how you get LSD… Well, to be fair, if anyone was to create LSD, I 100% believe it could be Siron. ”Count me in. ”

The Ranger flashed me a smirk. ”Nice. We will part two days from now, at sunrise. Get ready for a few hours on horseback. ”

We discussed some minor details as we walked before parting ways. Thalia parted to the Blue Wolf, the inn/tavern made for the Adventurers to have a place to crash. And I continued my way downtown, to find one of the researchers sent by the Crown.

As I walked down the main street, I caught a glimpse of the moon starting to rise and the street lamps lighting up. That part of the town was more of a shopping district. Food vendors, smiths, general shops like that. And among the shops, the workshops of researchers bend on studying every piece of this continents fauna and flora.

Suddenly I heard the unmistakable sounds and yelling of people fighting. It sounded like it was coming from a building some 10 meters ahead. A door to my right burst open as a guy got thrown out so hard he flew across the street.

I just watched without saying anything. A few moments later, someone else appeared on the doorstep, guarding it like a warden. A big burly guy in black and white clothing. I recognised the burly guy right away, and by proxy the building.

”Overpriced **s! Im never coming back! ” Yelled the guy who got thrown out as he ran away.

”Like we would ever allow you back! Now ** off, trash! ” The burly guy shouted back. I couldn even tell if the other guy heard. He was already near the next street.

I want to say that was the first time I saw that scene play out in that place, but unfortunately, that happens like once a week in that brothel.

”Difficult client, Jag? ” I asked. ”You literally threw that guy out, dude. ”

Jag scoffed. ”Tried to skip the bill. On Marie of all people, for **s sake. ”

”Ok, don need to say more. The piece shit deserved it. ” I said.

Right at that moment, a blond head popped from behind Jag. No other than the golden girl herself.

”Is he gone already? ”

First of all, the big guy. Jag was what the brothel called a ”security enforcer ”, which means he was responsible for beating up and throwing out rowdy clients. A big man with skin so tanned by the Australian outback that I couldn tell if he was just very tanned or from african/indian lineage. Black hair trimmed short, some tattoos, a golden earring, the black and white formal uniform. If sunglasses had been created already, he probably would be wearing a pair even now at night.

The girl behind Jag, Marie, was the chief-courtesan. In crude words, their top prostitute. She was tall enough to reach halfway to Jags biceps, so maybe 1,75. Her skin was pale from being so much indoors, a hard contrast to her pinkish-red eyes. Her hair had a sandy shade of blond flowing down her mid-back.

Her outfit of the night was a colorful set of veils and straps that resembled the classic Indian belly dancer. And I could spend all night describing sexy curves or chest size or whatever, but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact someone had gotten hold of that in the first place. I applaud the person who probably smuggled that outfit here.

And last, the place itself. It was called RedLine, a three-store building made of red bricks and wooden frames. The place wasn that different from its surroundings aside from the sign with the name engraved in flashy cursive and tinted windows so the public didn see what happened inside for free.

”Aye. Good night Marie. ” I saluted the blond girl. ”You ok? ”

”Hum? Oh, hi Edward. ” She waved after noticing me, revealing the pan she was holding. ”Its nothing, really. He just grabbed my purse and ran. Jag grabbed him on time- ” She stopped all of a sudden. Her nose twitched when the smell reached her. ”Is that mint? ”

”Yeah. Mandrake blood. ” I pointed to the bag ”And that guy, huh? ” I quickly steered the conversation back on focus. Before she could comment anymore about my new least favorite smell ever. ”Don think the boss will allow him back. ”

”Yeah. Really smart to try and rob one of the girls right after service. ” Jag shook his head. Then raised his voice to the sky. ”Good luck being kicked out of the only brothel in the damn continent! ”

”Dumb ** will have a lot of time to think about it alone with his hand. ” I said. The joke was lame, yes, but still got some chuckles from the two.

”Heh. Alright, thats a good one. ” Jag nodded along. ”Shit. Now we have to check the room in case he stole something else. See ya, Barbosa. ”

Marie also waved. ”See you later Ed. Don forget, next time the drinks on the house. ”

I said my goodbyes too before going on my way. And yeah, I had been there on occasion despite having never requested their adult catalog. Everyone working in the RedLine is so pleasant to be around that often I just hang out there. Also the barman makes some killer drinks.

Finally, after wandering vaguely for some time, I found the place. Similar to the RedLine, as in a basic building around the middle of the town. I knocked some quick knocks on the door more out of politeness than anything. Fina had already said to just go inside and drop the bag.

”Knock-knock. Is Fina home? ” I said, just loud enough to reach the back of the building.

Inside, it was a mess of books and bookshelves, random monster parts in jars and alchemy equipment in the hall. Just picture the lab of a crazy medieval scientist and yeah, thats it.

With no response after a few seconds, I decided to venture further inside towards the main room. And right away I noticed the smell. I- I have no idea how to describe it. Chemicals and alcohol but also numerous different flowers and plants and also meats and also I have no idea but it smells funky. Yeah, funky was the only word in english that fits.

The second main thing in the room was the circular table in the middle. Covered in books and papers, plants and monster samples. Past that, maller tables along the wall and a heavy door on the wall directly opposite to me, kind to the right. To the left, a staircase running along the wall to an upper floor.

Did she already go home? Strange. She usually stays late. I tried the door. Locked. But then I heard some… noise. It was hard to tell what it was. Just that it was on the upper floor.

So, obviously, I went there.

”Anyone up there? ” No answer. Only the sound of my boots against the wooden steps.

The second floor was just the floow below with the tables in different places. I don think they even brought any furniture but shelfs, tables and chairs.

And there, laying on the floor, was the red-headed girl I was looking for.

”Fina? Fina! ” I dashed across the room. In highsight, if there really was something there, I would be totally vulnerable. The only thing in my mind at that moment was my friend immobile on the floor.

To set the scene: Fina Pishers was one of the alchemists the Crown sent here. She was a white, mixed british and celtic, girl with green eyes, hair between orange and ferrari-red. With freckles sprinkled on her body to complement. Her outfit was a white coat over a long sleeved white shirt, big, dark blue pants and boots.

She was laying flat on the floor, face down on cold wood. I kneeled next to Fina to push her on her side.

”Fina?! Are you alright? ” Her face was a mess. Her gaze was unfocused, like, almost looking in two directions at the same time. Her face was wet from drooling on the floor. Im not sure shes even breathing! ”Ei! Ei! Terra pra Fina. Someone there?! ”

”G-gr-eehh… ” her eyes finally seemed to focus on me. Come on, Fina. The ** happened to you? ”G-een… faaasg. ”

”What? ”

”Ug. ” She tried to sit down, but almost fell back again. On the good side, she didn look hurt. More like drunk and beyond. ”Deee… ” she was speaking very slowly. ”Gween… flaask. ”

”Green flask? ” I scouted the table in front of us. The small flask was still on top, dangerously near the edge.

I picked up and, praying to any god out there that I had head right, opened it and poured the contents down her mouth.

It took some tense five minutes. But she finally seemed to get herself together enough to register what was around her.

”Ooh… Haaay Edwwward. ” She spoke very, very slowly.

”Skip the hellos. What happened to you? ” I asked as I pulled another chair to her to sit on. ”Do I need to call a healer? ”

”Nooo. Iiits juuust… the spiiideer veeenum. ” She, well, ”explained. It was hard to understand. It sounded like she had a ball of cotton on her mouth. ”Im sooo… nuuumb. Can … feeell… my faaace. ”

Oh, she just drugged herself. What a relief. I thought it was something way worse.

I sat by her side for a few more minutes, getting her to stay talking to make sure she wouldn choke on her own tongue or something.

From what I gathered, she was experimenting with some samples of Narcotic Tarantula poison and accidentally dropped a little on her arm. The green stuff on that flask is a diluted sample of a plant that stimulates adrenaline production.

”Don worry. ” Fina tried to reassure me. Her tone had gotten almost normal at this point, even if still dragged. ”The effect would have ended before the next sunrise. I would be aaaalright. ”

I gave her my best look of are you **ing serious? I could muster. ”Anyway, I brought the mandrakes you asked me for. Hope you like mint. Really strong mint. ”

”Thank you. Put it theeeere on the table. The money is in theeeee drawer. ” She pointed to another table on the side. ”I really need to get sooooome long gloves. ”

”Honestly, the fact you guys don already have spare pairs concerns me. Really, why does the Crown even need all that stuff? Theres enough poisons and venoms and whatnot here to end a war. ”

”Confidential. Sorry. ” Was the answer. Like all other times the subject was brought up.

”Shouldve guessed. You sure you
e alright? ” She nodded. ”Good. Im going back to the Blue Wolf. I recommend you go home and rest too. ”

She started to protest, but I held my ground until she relented and let out a sigh. ”Alright. Wait, Barbosa. Can I ask you just one more favor? An experiment I want to do tomorrow. ”

I held a sigh. Doing favor after favor for everyone who asks gets tiring fast. At least Fina pays me, thats more than most.

”Whats the experiment? ”

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