Madelin Wyles was a loner. People mistake you for a devil when you’ve got relatively noticeable horns on your head. She didn’t care though. The only thing she needed was her friend. The two were inseparable. Cassanova and Madelin.
Cassanova was a rather tall looking elven
But friends do as friends do, and while time heals all wounds time can slowly break things apart as well. The strong chains of a friend hold dear crumbles away, slowly.
Madelin and Cassanova met at a bar every week. It was where they had first met and had become a tradition ever since.
Madelin was new in town, having been ran out of the last one, “No devils allowed. No demons.”
Madelin was neither of those things, but the four foot long forked tail said otherwise. And people assumed.
And when people assumed, they almost always assumed the worst.
She was cold, drenched from a night of rain, and hungry with hardly a coin to her name, out in the darkness she could see the black and white figure of a tavern. She put up the hood of her cloak and walked in.
The sound was homely. Familiar. Madelin always felt home at a tavern. The familiar sound of glass clinking. Forks scraping across plates. The din of chatter across the floor of the bar.
A few people stared at her. an orc, a few halfling’s and a dwarf. The rest of the patrons seemed to mind their own business.
She walked up to the counter and waited.
A few seconds later a grizzled old man with grey hair and a short beard walked up to her.
“What’ll ya have stranger?”
She coughed and hug her cloak tight, “Do you by chance have room and board open? Anything will do really,”
The barkeep raised an eyebrow, “We got a spare bed out back in the staff lodgings. , 5 silver for the night.”
Her pockets were empty.
“Um, is there anyway I could pay for it a different way? Maybe help around the kitchen or clean something for you?
The barkeep rolled his eyes, “It’s 5 silver for the night. Either pay up or get out.”
She sighed and reached into her pocket and pulled out a silver ring “Um, how about this? It’s pure silver,” she put it down on the table.
The barkeep’s started and almost dropped his glass.
“Darling, DARLING, that won’t be necessary. I’ll pay for the girl, put the ring away.”
She looked up. A tall skinny elven man with darker skin wearing a rather flamboyant outfit looked back. He dwarfed her by three feet.
He extended a hand out after passing the barkeep a single gold piece, “Cassanova Brightstar, And you are?”
She nervously shook his hand, trying to hide her greyish skin, “It’s uh,” she stopped and looked the man up and down, trying to figure out whether or not he could be trusted, she went for it, “It’s Madelin.”
“Madelin darling, it’s a pleasure to meet you! Me and my friends are drinking at that table! Would you care to join us?”
She shook her head, “I’d really just like to get to bed.”
He tilted his head and gave her a comical look, “Come now, look at you! You’re soaking wet and there’s a roaring fire out here, come, rest your bones a spell.” He gestured towards the seat near a roaring hearth. He seemed genuine.
Madelin’s life was a lot of split second decisions. From deciding whether or not to trust people, to how she dressed. A slip of the tail could mean another town she was expelled from, another place to run from. She took a step towards the table, a half orc slammed his drink down and cheered, gesturing her to move over.
Confidence returned and she closed the distance.
“That’s the spirit! See, was that so hard?” Cassanova put his elbows up on the table and rested his chin on his hands, “You’re welcome here. Stay a while. It’s not often we get new people in the lovely little burg of a Paylo Din.”
“Do people not pass by here?” She held her hands out to the fire and rubbed them together, “This bar feels homely.”
Cassanova nodded, “Oh heavens! Where are my manners? I haven’t introduced you yet. Madelin darling, the half orc is named Veltari, the Dwarf you see there is Ruprich, and the one in the hat is El.”
Madelin turned around and gave a weak smile.
“What’s with the hood?” the half orc said.
Madelin froze, “I uh. Um. It’s just cold outside.”
“And your cloak is soaking wet darling. You’re gonna catch your death if you continue to wear it. Come on, there’s a couple hooks near the fire. I’ll get it for you.” he reached a hand towards the hood.
Madelin’s grey tinted hand shot out and grabbed his hand, “I’d much prefer not to. If that’s okay.” Her tail thrashed underneath her traveling skirt and she tried to calm her emotions.
Cassanova looked a little shocked. He pulled his hand back, “Oh. My apologies. Something wrong?”
Madelin shook her head.
“Well either way, let’s get some food in you! You look famished my love! Barkeep, get this girl your daily special!”
“It’s fine, you don’t have to,”
“Nonsense! I want to, it’s not everyday that I get to treat a new friend like this!” he smiled at her.
She felt warm inside at the mention of the word. But no. No she can’t do that. CAn’t open her heart again. It was too much.
She gave a weak smile and the barkeep brought over a full bowl of tomato soup and a big heaping portion of bacon, potatoes, and beans.
Cassanova nodded and gestured out towards the bar, “So tell us about yourself! What brings you out to the wonderful little burg og Paylo Din?”
Madelin took a bite out of a slice of bacon. It was crisp and cooked perfectly.
She thought back to the last town she was run out of, Yoselfin.
“I just. I needed to clear my head. A fresh start.”
It wasn’t a lie.
“Mhmm, Mhmm. And what else.And why not Gorin? Or maybe Garinthsal. Why us?”
This question seemed a bit more aggressive. What was his game? Did he know?
“It was the first town I came across.”
His face suddenly showed worry. He straightened up and leaned forward. She slouched in the chair to avoid meeting his gaze.
“Hun. Are you running from something?”
Like an arrow in a bullseye, Cassanova had her pegged. Madelin froze.
He leaned back in his seat and crossed his arm. He put a finger and curled it against his lip, as if thinking about something.
His hand moved in a strange gesture and he started muttering under his breath.
She felt a whisper in her ear. It was his voice, “Are you running from the law? It’s okay. I won’t tell. You can reply to this if you whisper back.”
She looked around and reduced her voice to a harsh whisper, “It’s a little more complicated than that.”
Cassanova looked down and nodded slightly. He immediately perked up, “Well I don’t know about yall but I’m beat! I think I’m going to walk Ms. Madelin to her lodgings.
He waved his hands and the dish and soup bowl floated up in the air as if held by imaginary hands.
He started to walk away and then looked over his shoulder, “Come along dear!”
The rain had stopped. Cassanova had one hand in a pocket and another palm face up as if carrying something. The food floated next to him. Madelin followed behind, keeping a good three feet away from Cassanova. What was he doing? Was he going to kill her? Was he going to turn her in?
Oh heavens. I’m going to die. I’m going to die. This is it. I’m not going down without a fight.
She slipped a dagger out of her cloak and into her hand.
“I’m not going to kill you you know.” He halted in his tracks and turned around.
“Wh-what are you? What are you doing with me?”
Cassanova pulled his hand out of his pocket and buried his face in it with a big sigh.
“Listen Love. I’m a very powerful wizard. I’m this town’s local wizard and I know a scared little girl when I see one.”
“I’m 25” she interjected.
“And I’m 449 years old so you’re all little to me. Listen. I know you’re scared. I know you’re afraid of everyone around you. But hey. Nobody here is going to hurt you. I’m going to make sure of it. Now take off that hood and let’s see what you’re hiding.”
“You’re not exactly inspiring a vote of confidence.”
“Hey, do you want me to drop your food? I’m smart not charismatic. I mean it okay. Look into my eyes. I mean it. I’m not going to hurt you, and I promise that as long as you’re in this town and I’m in charge that no harm will befall you. And i will disintegrate anybody that lays a hand on you. This is a town of peace and I am not going to let anyone disrupt that.”
She was shocked. She looked into his eyes. They seemed genuine. She reached her hands up to her hood and pulled it back.
A short pair of horns zig zagged back from the front sides of her head and ended at her ears. They were dark red.
He leaned on one foot and put a finger up to the side of his face, “Oh hun. You’re gorgeous is what you are! Look at you! Look at those wonderful horns you’ve got there! They perfectly match your your darker skin tone. You’re wonderful.”
She was shocked. Again.
“ You. Are. Wonderful. Do I need to spell it out for you? This is what you were nervous about? Come on. No one is going to hurt you here.”
“Okay. But promise not to tell anyone.”
“Hun, Nobody here is going to-”
He sighed and rolled his eyes, shifting his weight to his other foot, “Fine. I promise that I will tell nobody that you are a wonderful, gorgeous, tiefling.”
She nodded, “Thank you. Now if you don’t mind I’d like to go to sleep and get out of these old clothes.”
“Of course. Hey, quick thing though. Do you want to maybe get drinks tomorrow? Together. Not as a romantic thing. Just to show you around. Get your feet up.” He opened the door with a wave of his hand and floated her food into the small room in the back.
She nodded hesitantly and walked in, “Okay.”
Also hey, one last thing.” He tossed her a bag of gold coins. It jingled as it soared through the air and hit the ground with a thud as she made no attempt to catch it.
Cassanova stared at it for a second and then put his hands on his hips and looked back at her, “100 gold pieces. Don’t spend it all at once.”
She scrambled down to the floor and opened the bag. Sure enough it was full to the brim with gold, “Why?”
He shrugged, “I’ve got an extra-dimensional hole full of them back at my place and I need to get rid of a lot of it.”
She closed the bag and affixed it to her waist, “Thank you.”
He waved dismissively at her, “Nah, don’t worry about it. I’ve got too much anyways. Hey see you tomorrow yeah?”
She nodded and then shut the door.
Madelin hung her cloak up on a fishing line she had fashioned in her travels. It stood dripping slightly next to her travel dress and the rest of her extra layers. Her thin forked tail flailed through the air freely as most of the layers had been removed. She slipped into the covers and thought over what had happened today.
This morning she had been starving. This morning she had been sad.
This morning she had been traveling a trade path given to her by a merchant that she had learned about at the cost of the last copper she had.
And by the end of the day she had a full belly and leftovers. She had more money than she had ever seen in her entire life, and she maybe had a person who would actually be her friend. He had to have some ulterior motives. That was the only way he could have been nice. MAybe he wanted her blood for some dark evil necromancy deed but it needed to be from someone you were good friends with and then in the dark of night he would take a knife to her-
Madelin took a deep breath, “No. Stop. Keep it together Madelin. The wizard we met today isn’t part of some creepy sadistic dark death cult. He is just a regular wizard who was probably bored and trying to be kind. That is it.”
Another deep breath.
Madelin pulled the scratchy wool blanket over her, “We were just given a lot of money and should probably think about saving it. Or we could buy a house. The house market is probably good here. Yeah. Let’s go to sleep Madelin. It’s been a long day.”
She blew out a candle and drifted off to sleep.
The next few months were a blur. Madelin was welcome in the town. Whether of her own volition or Cassanova’s, she did not know. People were strange. She didn’t bother to try and understand.
People enjoyed her and she used her inquisitive mind to help out others as she came. She bought a house, and then a dog. She almost forgot the past. Almost.
Nightmares haunted her in sleep. Flashes of her parents disappearing before her eyes, and the feeling of helplessness that she felt as she was possessed and couldn’t do anything but watch.
The fires and pitchforks chasing after her endlessly.
Most nights were sleepless.
But the company helped.
She grew close to some of Cassanova’s other friends but Cassanova was where everything shown.
Weekly drinks for two years.
It was a tradition that she cherished. ONe that she held close to her heart. But like mortality, all things come to an end.
It was a friday. The same day as everyone of their outings. It was a routine. Madelin liked routines.
She sat at the bar. Alone. Cassanova was nowhere to be seen. “He’s probably just running late.” the barkeep had said at the time, “No need to worry.” She continued to worry the rest of the night.
The next day she went to his house. The door was unlocked and everything was there, but her friend was nowhere to be seen.
She felt panic well up in her throat. She ran home. Her blood ran hot making her skin begin to burn her clothes. Her breathing was tense. Her mind racing.
What would the people do now that he was gone? What would they think? Why would they still tolerate her? Will he come back? Where did he go?
A flame flickered from her fingertips as her clothes began to smoke, but not burn. This had happened too many times. Her flameproof tunic still caught fire thought it did not burn. The fire spilled to the ground as her breathing grew worse and worse. It was happening again.
Amitiel, a voice boomed in her head and her body went rigid, Give into your nature. Destroy this place. The voice of the one she despised echoed through her head, and she saw her hand raise. And instead of tears, steam raised from her eyes as an explosion of fire scattered around her setting aflame the place she had called home for two years.
Flames billowed outwards from her body as it was filled with demonic power. Power that she refused to accept. Power that she could not control.
Power that was from him.
The town soon became alerted and the door was kicked open.
It was a man. She had helped him find a missing brooch. He screamed at the sight and pointed a finger at her screaming the words, “DEMON!”
It was too late for anything else. Too late for words.
The mark the villager spoke had sealed her fate.
She ran out the back.
The townsfolk would chase for a day. She would not be captured. She would run, as she always does. With nothing to her name but a sterling silver ring.