90 Snake Proof
"Your coat, Monsieur le Baron," the lightly-armored guard bowed. Tycon eyed the veteran warrior carefully, an older man with facial hair and weapon scars and enough sense to be polite to someone who looked important.
"Well informed, aren't we?" He removed his wet cloak and handed it to the guard.
Tycon swept back his light green hair. It was nice to be recognized, for a change, "And whose man are you?"
"(Mister Reynard sends his regards)," the stone-faced guard responded in the Old Language.
Tycon nodded in approval, "Word does travel fast, then."
He considered tipping the guard with a coin. He didn't.
As he walked from the lobby into the courtesan house proper, his senses were assaulted by the lights and strong fragrances. His contractee was discrete but the cost of her discretion was meeting in a high-class brothel.
He had no issues with independent, educated, beautiful young people offering their company to the bored and wealthy. He did, however, have a strong disdain for the musky scents and the subtle hint of sex that permeated the atmosphere... While traveling in places that thoroughly offended his senses, he was accustomed to murdering as he pleased.
The killing tended to offset his discomfort.
Tycon provided the name of a room to his guide, a walking advertisement for the brothel's myriad of provided pleasures. The young boy wore revealing attire of questionable aesthetics and a fake slaver's collar on his neck.
The meeting room was on the second floor, furthest away and largely muting the overpowering scents of the rest of the building. As he entered, Tycon was quite pleased to see that the room was dimly lit, perhaps to set a sensual mood, but ultimately better for his predatory night vision.
"This better be good, sir Baron," a young blonde girl said. Her voice practically dripped with her annoyance.
The woman wore a royal blue dress and an assortment of golden baubles, also unapologetically royal. She sat at a small table, surrounded by luxurious pillows in the style of the far western kingdoms. An equally luxurious bed was draped in silks at the room's corner, a constant reminder of the building's main purpose.
Tycon scoffed and seated himself on a pillow opposite her, observing the three in front of him. He must have met them prior, as the System revealed their names. Two names were tagged green... but a scowling elven woman was tagged yellow-- a possible hostile.
« System, inquiry: Basic information on these three. »
[System response: Levi Wolfrider, Bronze-Rank Weretouched Warden; Aurala Wynarn, Human, Unknown Rank, Unknown Class; Naedrielle, Iron-Rank Elf Sentinel.]
Unknown? Whatever Aurala was hiding would make this conversation far more interesting.
Tycon adopted a genial smile, "Don't be such a nag, Aurala. Can't I drop by just to say hello to my friends?"
Aurala tilted her head, smiling with closed eyes, "Are we really friends, though?"
The elf stood up, her fist clenched around the hilt of the sword on her waist, "You will address her with respect as 'Princess Aurala', you--"
With a raise of her hand, Aurala silenced her retainer, her face impassive, "Naedrielle. Tycondrius is my guest."
"--But Princess Aurala?" The elf's face twisted several times, cycling through frustration, bewilderment, and general speechlessness.
"Aurala..." Tycon chided in a sing-song voice, "You haven't told your 'trusted' retainers who I am. I'm. Devastated."
"How. Daaaare. You," the elf's blade was clattering in its scabbard as she held it.
"Naedrielle, that is enough," Aurala glared. Naedrille could only release her grip, clenching her trembling fist, instead.
Tycon nodded, "Mister Levi."
"O-ohhh, heeey, Boss," The young white-furred gentleman waved, smiling nervously.
Weretouched. The young Levi looked like a hybrid man and... dog-person. Indeed, the youth would be a Wolfbanger, if he were to mate with another... wolf-person. The nickname didn't seem so offensive anymore. But knowing Dragan, the nickname's intent was to be as such.
Urged by the atmosphere and Tycon's acknowledgment, Levi cleared his throat, "Naedrielle, what's your problem with Sir Tycon, anyway?"
The elf scowled with transparent hatred in her eyes, "This man reeks of deception! He can't be trusted!"
She turned to Aurala with pleading eyes, "I still can't believe you agreed to work with him, Princess!"
Aurala looked to Levi, her emotionless face now holding a tinge of concern, "Sir Wolfrider, what do you think?"
The young dog-wolf-boy scratched his head, "Well, I'm still under contract to Sir Tycon. And Sir Tycon is contracted to complete your quest, Princess... Regardless of trust, no one can break a magical contract."
Aurala looked confused, "You can't break magical contracts?"
Her gaze was wary as if she was unsure of the words she had spoken. There was a familiar sense of unfamiliarity in her eyes that Tycon was struggling to place.
But he could capitalize on her uncertainty.
Tycon winked at the princess, "Of course not, Aurala. The magical power required to break a contract is immense. And the contents of which aren't worth questing for an artifact in order to break... And besides, don't you remember the favor I owe you?"
Naedrielle trembled with anger, "I can tell by the way he smells-- this man is a snake and I can prove it to you, Princess!!"
Tycon and Levi shared a look of helplessness.
Aurala turned with curious eyes, "And how do you propose you do that, Naedrielle?"
"Like this," the elf drew her blade.
Tycon crossed his arms. Aurala reached out her hand, "Naedrielle!! Wait--"
The elven Sentinel sliced her rapier through the air, "Dispel Magic!!"
The magical lights extinguished for a moment, relighting themselves after the elf's short spell duration.
"Satisfied?" Tycon let out a sigh, unimpressed.
"But-- but that's impossible..." Naedrielle looked at her blade in confusion, "I... He... There's some kind of glamour! There must be! My spell must not have worked-- Princess!!"
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Naedrielle turned to Princess Aurala and nearly dropped her sword. Levi was staring. Tycon raised an eyebrow.
Princess Aurala's gorgeous, full blonde hair and crystalline blue eyes, along with her magical makeup and eye shadow had disappeared. Left behind was still a beauty, but her hair had turned ink-black, her pupils were the darkest brown, and her eye shape even without the eyeliner was slightly slanted as if she were from the southern coast.
"Out," Aurala ordered.
Levi and Naedrielle gawked at their princess as if they didn't hear her.
"I said OUT!!" Aurala stood up and yelled.
Hurriedly, Naedrielle and Levi left the room, the door secured behind them. Tycon locked the door as they left and affixed a paper talisman on the door, as an additional measure.
"And why are you still here, Tycon?" she scowled. "Leave, so I can fix my makeup."
"Why? I'm not a courtesan hired to pleasure you, Aurala. I'm here to discuss business." Tycon reseated himself on a pillow, far more relaxed with just the two of them.
"So now you know my big secret," Aurala complained. "Laugh it up. Tell your friends."
"Do my friends know you?" Tycon asked smugly.
Aurala hesitated, "Y-yeah. I mean, probably. I am the princess, after all."
Tycon narrowed his eyes, "But you're only one of many in the Kingdom."
A trace of panic began to show on the princess's face, "Oh, right! I forgot!! --Err... I mean to say..."
Tycon took a deep breath and sighed. He flipped through the fleeting memories in his brain and formed a hypothesis, "Let me guess. Memory problems?"
The dark-haired Aurala hid behind a pillow, "How did you know? Are you reading my mind?"
Tycon stared blankly, "No~ I've had similar issues myself."
Her eyes widened as she reached across the table and grabbed Tycon's shoulders, "Wait, what? Really? You too?"
"Aurala, if you're trying to push me down and have your way with me, I'd really prefer to relocate to the bed."
As if shocked by lightning magic, the woman threw her hands up, retreating and shrinking away in embarrassment.
Oh? The princess has shown weakness. He mentally filed away the knowledge for use at a later time-- perhaps sooner rather than later.
Tycon took a deep breath and spoke in a gentler tone, "Tell me what you remember, Aurala."
"Why should I trust you when even my retainer doesn't?" Aurala whispered in disbelief.
Tycon smirked, "Because I'm from another world. Just like you."