"Thank the Gods that was over
" Irie let out a long and tired sigh as we walked through her village, now headed towards the place we had come from. "I thought mother would never stop asking questions
"I'm not complaining
" I commented. "Though I must admit, she seemed somewhat eager to test how much of your native language I managed to understand."
"Still, thanks to that we're now behind schedule." she groaned the words out as sand appeared under our feet, the forest soon vanishing. "And we gotta find some place where you can get some meat into you."
"Excuse me?" having one raised eyebrow seemed more than enough to state my confusion.
"You humans are omnivorous." her tone reminded me of that of a teacher. "To keep you healthy, I got to at least make sure you eat something more than just fruit and vegetables."
"Not that I'm telling you not to help me find someplace that sells burgers, but
" I scratched the back of my head for a second. "
there are actually plenty humans who also live on vegetables alone
"I know, they're called *vegetarians* among your people." she didn't even look at me while saying this. "However, not only do I doubt you formed part of that group, but I also know for a fact you didn't seem that satisfied with breakfast."
"That obvious?" I felt a bit ashamed now, embarrassed even.
"Don't worry, you can't force yourself to feel satisfied to something you're not used to right away." she grinned at me as we came to a halt near the coast. "Besides, you were courteous enough to keep your mouth shut and not complain about it, so you actually earned some extra points with my mother." pausing for a moment, she stared around as if searching for something. "Now where is it
"What're you looking for?" I wondered.
"The key portal." she simply stated. "It's what'll take us back to the academy
" crouching down, she sunk her hand into the sand. "Here it is!" she moved her hand enough to reveal a purple rock that had been neatly cut and polished into a flat heptagon. "This can only be used by students and a few others, it's one of the few ways to enter the academy."
Pressing her hand against the flat surface of the baseball sized stone, she remained immobile for a couple of seconds, and then, a slight glow of red light came forth moments before the same glass door from the last time appeared out of thin air.
"Ok, let's go." she almost pulled me through as I found myself once more standing on top of the red carpet of one of the many hallways in the castle. "Now, we'll be going for the TriCouncil world to look for some clothes and food for you since they're the most commercial world
"TriCouncil?" I asked her. "What sort of name is that?"
"When the multiverse had been discovered, it was decided a one world would solely exist as middle-point between all the others." she began explaining. "It's where all three councils gather to debate on a bunch of legal and political crap, and where most merchants go when they want to sell something to anyone from any world."
"What about the academy?" I wondered. "Isn't it already between worlds?"
"Even though you are correct, the academy isn't considered a world of its own." Irie seemed serious when she spoke. "It was artificially made with magic, and even though it's connected to all the other worlds, the fact that it's not a universe on its own means there are certain
"Like what?" I felt my question was making the conversation take a bit of a darker turn.
"Well, for starters; time, space and magic within the academy works in a different way than in other worlds." even though her words felt vague, I could tell she was having a hard time explaining. "So, sometimes, you can find yourself with residue magic that's taken a life of its own and it could actually become something really dangerous." once more, she looked troubled. "For example, the lower half of the academy is considered a restricted area since it's there where all the unrecalled magic ends up; and even though teams are sent there to clean regularly, we had last year an incident with an invocation gone rouge." she chuckled. "Some guy had summoned a low level water elemental that accidentally entered in contact with the wild magic."
"What happened?" I was pretty sure she had been leading me to ask this, but I didn't care.
"For about a week the academy and all portals to it were closed since everything was submerged." she almost laughed. "There are still some places that are underwater."
"This is our stop." she broke the conversation as she pulled me towards the next glass door.
This time, we ended up in what was (to me) the busiest looking mythological, fantasy and alien convention that had ever existed.
The range of species alone was mindboggling all on its own. I could have taken just a one picture, and I'm pretty sure there would've been at least thirty different kinds of creatures in it.
From the familiar elves, centaurs, dwarfs and werewolf, to the more alien looking beings, some of which didn't even follow humanoid anatomy, like some moving blobs and a five armed ball of flesh with an eye on its center. Every single possible combination of shape, size, color and number of limbs was standing before me; with scales, fur, feathers, goo, bone and even a combination of several
and much, much more!
But that's not all; vision alone seemed unable to cope with the massiveness and sheer awesomeness of the situation. My ears rung with the sounds of at least eight different languages, none of which I had ever heard, along with other sounds like those of barks, meows, clacks and clicks from the steps of the walking people. My nose brought me scents of many kinds; some enticing and others just plain out foul, mixing and combining in such a way that every whiff had a smell different from the last one.
And every bit of that spectacle was contained within some sort of massive plaza large enough for at least two football fields, with tents as shops everywhere the eye could see, without even streets or walls or even building! I felt as if someone had put me within a sea of improvised shops.
"If we had the time, I'd leave your stupefied self here and come back for you in half an hour, but
" she wrung her fingers around my right wrist tightly. "
we don't have that luxury, so move it."
She pulled me with vigor as we maneuvered across the crowd, moving from one side to the other, and sometimes even back to then go forth as she seemed certain of where we were headed to, making it somewhat easy for me to just allow myself get pulled and look around in the meantime.
Most of the shops we had passed so far were filled with little pieces of metal crafted into different shapes and forms. I wasn't very certain of what they were for, especially when the shapes varied from a little person to a ring or even a tiny toothpick or clock, so I just stared as we went by.
I'm not sure how long it took her to come to a halt, but I eventually found myself staring face to face with a cat that stood on its hind legs (literally!), wearing a small hat, some kind of vest and shoes; I immediately noticed the rolls of cloth lined up behind the three foot tall cat, though I couldn't quite figure out what purpose they had.
"Francisca." greeted Irie while bowing. "Mathias and I came for
"Clothes for the human, I know." the cat sighed as she (I think it's ok to refer it as a *she*) stared at me. "You're the second human I've seen outside Earth so far, I'm guessing you're new to all this."
"How did you
?" I began to ask as I was seated on a wooden stool before I could even think of what was going on.
"How did I know you come from Earth?" the cat interrupted me as she began walking around me (on its four paws oddly enough), staring at my clothes for a bit. "My species can easily disguise as common cats in your world, so the council doesn't have a problem with us going there as long as we keep our stay short." I heard a snap from somewhere behind me, and the cloth on the far wall of the tent took a life of its own; starting to unroll and cut itself as if being manipulated by invisible hands. "What's your favorite flavor?"
"Flavor?" I asked.
"She always asks that to see what would be the best
" Irie began explaining.
"Just answer the question." Francisca interrupted, seemingly annoyed.
"I guess it would be lemon and honey." I said the first nice flavor that had crossed my mind, I really didn't have any favorite in particular,
"Hot or cold?" she asked as she continued walking around me, the cloth continuing to work on itself.
" was my reply. "
Wait, are you talking about the flavor or temperature in general?"
"Wet or dry?" she ignored my question completely.
"Dry." I sighed the word, deciding it best to just tag along and find out what all that was for.
"Dark or clear?" her interrogation continued.
"Dark." I was starting to really feel like some criminal being interrogated. "Is there much more or
"That's more than enough for now." she stood back up in front of me. "You can come for your clothes in half an hour." she turned towards Irie. "I'm guessing you want more than just one set for the boy, so I'll make four."
"Okay, here's half of what I owe you." Irie replied while handing a small leather pouch to the cat. "I'll give you the other half when we come for the clothes."
"Deal." snapped the cat while taking the bag with both its paws (it was a bit humorous if you ask me). "Now get out before you scare off any potential client."
With that said, we left the tent, and I was dragged somewhere else before even having the chance to inspect any pf the other tents nearby.
"We'll go for the food." she spoke loudly enough for me to hear over the general murmur. "Then we'll come back for the clothes."
I chose it best just to save myself the effort of replying and went along without saying a word, waiting for an opportunity to arise that I could use to see any of the stores along the way.
No more than five minutes of almost running later, we came to a halt in a rather very large tent, the largest up till now, and with quite the crowd gathered in front. I noticed most of said crowd looked rather dangerous, with more claw, fang and spikes than the usual one, and some at least twice my size.
It suddenly became a dangerous brawl we had to fight just to get to the front of the crowd, though Irie managed more easily than I, it was still frustrating to be churned up from all sides as i made my way through.
"What's someone like you doing here?" the owner, a eight foot tall dragon standing in two hind legs and with enough muscle on him to stop a truck spoke with a deep voice. "Aren't you strictly vegetarian?"
"She's with me." I don't know from where that came from, but I sure as hell would've pissed myself in any other situation.
"Oh, a human." his eyes narrowed, and he flashed white sharp fangs as long as my fingers. "The flesh tends to be soft and chewy, though considering how rarely we get it, the price is rather high
" he licked his hardened lips with a snake-like tongue. "Though they tend to be rather feisty, and I like feisty."
"Are you sure you want to see how feisty I can get?" I'm not really sure how the hell I was managing to keep myself from crumble down and start crying, but the surrealism of the whole situation seemed to help somewhat. "Last I heard, dragons were an endangered species
I didn't waver, I kept the glares leveled as a little voice inside me said that backing away would mean much more trouble than what I'd be able to handle.
!" the dragon suddenly smiled broadly as he began chuckling, then broke out laughing so loudly that the whole crowd went silent all of a sudden; needless to say, confused wasn't enough to describe how I felt. "Can you believe it!?" he turned around and patted the back of a man that was his same height, though with light green scales covering his hands and horns coming out of his head. "It's the first time someone calls my bluff!"
The crowd began laughing along, and I was left rather stunned and unable to process how exactly I should react to this sudden situation.
"Don't worry kid, I won't eat ya." the dragon took out a clawed hand over the counter, and he shook my own with such strength I felt my shoulder was about to come off. "It's just something I do with any new client I get, to keep the thieves from taking my meat." he paused as he grabbed a knife so large it could've been a sword, and then stared at me inquisitively. "So? what'll you have?"
I looked behind him for a second, there were several rows of dismembered and skinned carcasses, some of which with more limbs than what I had been expecting.
"Give me a couple pounds of that one." I pointed at the one on the far left corner of the tent; there was something about it that caught my attention.
"Nice pick." the dragon went and unhooked the piece of meat from the roof, and brought it to the cutting table, where he masterfully sliced out a chunk of a size a bit larger than my arm. "This enough?" I nodded, and he laughed a bit as he wrapped it up on a brown piece of paper. "Tell you what, since this is just an appetizer for most of us
" the crowd laughed a bit. "
I'll sell it for one silver."
"Done." Irie rushed to slap a silver coin into his hand before I even had the chance to speak.
"Name's Fisher, and if you ever come back, I'll make you a discount." the dragon offered as I slightly bowed out a *thank you* and got out of there before I was offered as a main meal.
Once again, I was dragged about before I had the chance to speak, though we soon came to a halt in the middle of the street, I noticed Irie looked somewhat shaken.
<Are you crazy!?> the words rebounded within my head as she spoke so only I could listen. <Do you realize how dangerous that was!?>
"I really don't know what you're talking about." I felt responsible and ashamed for no reason whatsoever. "I doubt anything would
<They could have eaten us!> she cut my words with such strength I felt intimidated, more so than even the dragon from earlier. <Or worse! they could have killed us and then sale our meat as a rarity!>
"I don't think they actually do that
" I didn't feel confidence on the words I had just said.
<There isn't any proof of what they do because it's eaten!> I began to see through her anger and could tell it was mostly fear by now. <You wouldn't believe the things I've heard
"You sure it wasn't just a rumor started by vegetarians to avoid anyone from even getting close to meat?" I wondered out loud, and her expression suddenly changed to a thoughtful one. "From where I come from, there was this one crazy lady that claimed that candy was something invented by the devil and that all who sold it were actually demons waiting to steal your soul."
There was a very long moment of silence as she avoided my gaze.
<It's Dreoniads.> she said, breaking the silence.
"What?" I didn't know why she said this, but she turned away from me as she began pulling.
<Before, when you said he was a dragon, it's actually a Dreoniad.> she explained. <Dragons can't walk on two legs, and adult dragons are way bigger than any Dreoniad could be.>