8 The Town
The walk was quite enjoyable. A gentle breeze blew cool air across the plains while the sun warmed the scales on Luis' body, which he discovered in this form was quite a pleasant feeling. Yeah, I can see why reptiles love sunning themselves... Luis basked in the warmth.
Eventually, the dirt path connected to a wider perpendicular dirt road stretching far off in either direction. Luis followed as Bryn turned right.
He stopped, sniffing the air suddenly on alert. If his sense of smell was right, someone was approaching. Looking off into the distance, he saw a speck on the distance growing closer.
Finally! Another person! Luis was quite excited to meet new people. Not that he was unhappy with the one's he already met, but he wanted to know what their society was like. I want to learn more about this world... Watching the speck grow bigger, Luis felt a yearning in his heart.
The speck grew into a carriage carrying a chubby well dressed man and armored guard sitting next to him on the coach seat. A merchant? Luis could only guess.
The carriage paused as the merchant spoke to Bryn while pointing at Luis. Luis sighed internally. I guess this will become a common occurrence... He sometimes forgot he was only a small lizard. Only now did he realize he would likely attract attention from most people.
The carriage continued on after Bryn pacified the merchant's curiosity, and the man and lizard duo continued on the path towards... Luis wasn't sure, but he hoped it was to a town of some kind. He was filled with a burning curiosity.
Not too much later, Luis' wishes came true. Off in the distance, a small stone wall came into view, tiny flags waving in the wind on top of where the gate stood. In front, there were two figures. Upon further approach, Luis realized they were guards wearing leather armor and carrying spears.
"Two coppers for entry!" One of the guards yelled as they approached. Once they got within a certain distance, the guards finally noticed the three legged lizard following the boy. They lowered their spears threateningly.
"What is that?" The guard demanded, pointing his spear at Luis, who remained behind Bryn.
"He is my trained magical beast!" Bryn declared proudly, puffing out his chest in front of the two guards. The two guards gave each other a look and quickly returned their gazes back to the boy, their skepticism obvious.
"Prove it." One of them said.
Bryn was stumped for a moment. "How can I prove it. He is already following me obediently isn't he?"
The guard considered, rubbing his beard with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Winking to his fellow guard, he answered Bryn. "Make him roll over."
Bryn was confused. "How the hell do I make him do that?" He felt like they were making fun of him somehow.
The guard put on a stoic face, betraying no emotion. "Figure it out, kid..."
Bryn turned to face Luis, who had a question mark over his head. Behind him, the guard nudged his companion. "This is gonna be good..." He whispered softly.
First, Bryn tried making spinning motions with his hands directed at Luis. That didn't work, and Luis became more and more puzzled by the second. The stoic expression on the guards' faces slightly fractured, a tiny curve appearing at the corner of their lips.
Getting desperate, Bryn told Luis to "follow" before bending over and rotating his body, spinning in a windmill-like motion. Luis had figured out via context what Bryn was asking him to do, but just like the guards Luis could see failing miserably to hold back their chuckling, he was also too amused watching the boy make a fool of himself to comply.
Finally, the guards couldn't take it anymore and started bellowing, their laughter echoing across the wall. Bryn's face was beet red, and in a moment of anger, shoved Luis. "This is your fault you stupid lizard!"
Luis, barely stumbling, swept his small tail into Bryn's feet with force, causing his legs to buckle. Bryn fell to the floor, stunned. Luis then proceeded to put his whole weight on Bryn's chest, pinning him to the ground. Luis was far heavier than he looked.
One of the guards couldn't take it anymore and fell to his knees, smacking the dirt as tears leaked from his eyes. A good thirty seconds passed while the guards vented their humor. Bryn didn't attempt to shove Luis off, knowing he was wrong to blame him. "Sorry buddy..." He patted the head of Luis.
Hearing the apologetic tone, Luis moved his weight off, allowing Bryn to sit up. If Luis could smile, he would have at this moment. Children will be children after all... He licked Bryn's face for good measure, being one of the only ways he could show affection.
The guards, having had a great laugh, were in a much better mood. Wiping his eyes, the guard that started it all smiled at Bryn. "Kid, that was the funniest thing I've seen since last winter. For that display, I'll even waive the entrance fee..."
Bryn didn't forget why this happened. "I can bring him in too, right?" He gestured to Luis.
"Yea, seems harmless enough. Just keep an eye on him..." Truthfully, the guard wasn't that concerned worried at all.
Judging from its size and slightly chubby appearance, even if it was a magical beast, it was almost certainly rank one. Besides, it was crippled. Although it was slightly strange that the boy had a magical beast, it wasn't their place to pry.
The guards moved aside, yelling past the wall to open the portcullis. The two guards stepped aside and allowed them to pass as the metal bars rose up.
Once they were out of earshot, the other guard could help but ask, "Are you sure it's alright. I mean, even rank one magical beasts can cause trouble..."
The first guard shook his head. "I'm not worried. You forget that winter has ended. All those fools hoping to strike it rich are gathering to try their luck in the border woods," He leaned forward to whisper.
"Besides, I heard that a group of magic warriors recently showed up at this guild branch, also looking to head into those woods..."
The other guard immediately nodded in understanding. Even on the small chance that beast did cause trouble, it would be nothing for a magic warrior.
Once they stepped inside, Luis was greeted with a fantastic scene.
People. People everywhere! Finally... Luis saw human society for the first time since he had been "hatched" into this world. Loads of new smells were stimulating his senses.
People of all shapes, sizes, and complexions were walking to a fro, into and out of buildings, buying various things from stalls, and generally contributing to the lifeblood that was a bustling town.
The buildings were tightly packed like a city in his old life, but only one or two stories tall. All were made of wood, and were often covered in decorative signs written in a foreign language, likely signifying their business.
Luis swept his head in every direction, trying to absorb the atmosphere of life that was lifting his spirits. Good lord have I missed this... Luis had an extra bounce to his hobbling as he followed Bryn along.
As they walked, people approached Bryn in interest, obviously inquiring about the crippled white lizard beast following him. At first, Luis felt a little guilty that he might be being a hindrance to Bryn.
However, when he saw the arrogant smile on Bryn's face, his guilt evaporated like a drop of water on a frying pan. This brat is milking me for attention... Luis felt like tripping the boy.
Though, remembering the earlier stunt with the guards, he ultimately decided Bryn had suffered enough humbling for one day. Luis followed Bryn as he slowly waded through the nosy crowd, boasting loudly along the way.
Luis assumed that it was about him, but since he couldn't understand the language, he wasn't certain. This is priority number one! Luis decided that he would somehow convince the boy to teach him. But... how am I supposed to do that? Gestures can only get me so far... Luis pondered over this ongoing dilemma.
Maybe if I draw for him my own language for him, but the issue remains that he still won't understand my writing... WAIT! A bombshell dropped in his mind. Luis suddenly felt foolish, wanting to facepalm.
He had thought of this same problem before... but focused too much on the fact that Bryn wouldn't be able to understand his written language. Only now did he realize...
That doesn't matter at all! Luis was sure that Bryn merely considered him a smarter than average animal or beast. If he just showed him that he could write words, even in a language Bryn couldn't understand, that would clue the boy in to his true level of intelligence. Maybe then he would finally get somewhere with communication.
Luis bumped into Bryn, who had stopped walking and was bantering with three figures. As Luis peered in front of him, he saw three boys around Bryn's own age. Friends of his? Luis guessed as he watched patiently.
"Hey Bryn! What is it?" Asked the the first, a big burly boy with pale skin and a mop of red hair on his head. The other two boys, shorter twins with tan completions and brown hair slightly darker than Bryn's, asked similar questions.
"This, my friends, is my new magical beast!" Bryn puffed out his chest and presented Luis with a wave of his hand.
The three other boys looked Luis down head to claw. They all laughed at the same time. "Not much of a magical beast. It's even crippled. What's its rank?" The redhead spoke first, clearly mocking him.
Bryn frowned. "He's a rank one, and I'm not sure of his affinity yet..."
"He's kind cute when you think about it, look at those fat limbs..." One of the twins added thoughtfully while the other remained silent, only observing.
"Peh, what's the point of having a magical beast that can't fight?" The redhead continued to needle Bryn, who resisted the difficult urge to reveal that Luis had killed a rank two wolf in his current form.
"He will get stronger, and then I will have him help me hunt other magical beasts!" Bryn revealed his ultimate goal with passion.
The redhead continued to laugh mockingly. "You? An adventurer? With skinny arms like yours, you are basically as crippled as that lizard!" The redhead smacked his thigh as he continued to snicker.
Bryn had enough, the blood pooling to his head. "Leo! Just because your dad died as an adventure doesn't mean I will make the same mistake..." Bryn regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth.
All at once Leo's face turned deadly serious, and he immediately threw a rage filled punch at Bryn who was too slow to react.
Bryn was hit right on the nose, the blow knocking him senseless, and he immediately fell on his back. Luis, not prepared for or understanding what happened, stepped in front of Bryn, growling threateningly at the larger boy. Leo merely glanced at Luis before turning and walking away, his shoulders tense.
The twins also glanced at Bryn, whose face was now covered with blood leaking from his nose. They each shook their heads at Bryn in disappointment and followed after Leo.
Bryn sat up and put a hand to his face. "I shouldn't have said that... He felt like a bastard, and realized there was no way he couldn't apologize for such a slight to his friend. He would take care of that later.
Putting a hand on Luis' head to let him know he was fine, he stood up slowly. "Let's just go... He motioned for Luis to follow, any pride or enthusiasm from the earlier bragging gone completely.
Luis watched Bryn with concern, wondering what words were exchanged to cause such an outcome. The walk resumed in sullen silence, Bryn walking with his shoulders slumped. Eventually, Bryn came to a stop.
Luis looked up at the store they wondered up to. The smell of metal, fire, and smoke permeated his nostrils as he took in the surroundings.
The store was open to the outside, and he could see shelves and tables stocked with all manner of metal weapons and armor. From his position, Luis could see a separate back room was awash in a warm red glow, likely from a furnace.
Luis heard Bryn shout something, and a grumpy sounding response emanated from the back room. A figure clad in smithing gear walked out of the furnace room, his clothes smoking. A dwarf! Luis was intrigued by this.
Luis knew dwarves existed back on Earth, but it was due to some genetic condition or something. This one though... this one looked like he was meant to exist in this form, with stocky arms and legs and a full braided beard that was smoking slightly. He looked quite healthy in fact, like a very buff, short, man.
Intriguing as it was, Luis wasn't all that surprised by new developments anymore, considering how he ended up here in the first place.
The dwarf removed his goggles as he walked to the front, followed by a...
Woah... Now Luis was surprised. A large red salamander about Luis' own size trailed behind the dwarf, flicking its tongue lazily. It looked like a red scalier version of a komodo dragon.
When it caught sight of Luis, it hissed threateningly. Only when the dwarf patted it on the head did it calm down, not taking its eyes off Luis. Luis, in turn, merely stared back with causal interest.
The dwarf walked right up to Bryn, who stood at almost equal height with him. "Judging from yer looks, you must be Geoge's boy eh? What can I do for you?"