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Home > God Rising: Battle of Atela

19 Part II

 "Rowan..." She said softly as she bit the tip of her index finger "I like that name."

Orion couldn't let his real name be known. At some point or another, she might be traced and asked various questions about him but she wouldn't be able to answer and give the details they want because all she knew was fake.

He was willing to set up a false identification as long as it delays the assassins and leaves them in a maze along the way.

"I want to know more about you Sir" She drew closer to him, anxious to know what the smooth toned skin of his face felt like.

"What's there to know? I'm a not so ordinary man"

She chuckled "No silly, I want to know things like where you're from, how old you are, and maybe...if you're sin-" She quickly put her hands over her mouth to maintain a strategic distance from anymore embarrassment.

"I'm sorry. I got too carried away" She apologized.

"It's about time I leave" In a second, her smile turned into a frown as she watched him get on his feet. She didn't want him to go, but she understood that he had to.

"I hope I'll see you tomorrow" She needed him to guarantee her.

"Depends."

***

"I let you sleep on the bed. Appreciate me" Orion commanded but Artemis didn't let out the slightest peep. She gazed blankly at him, showing no interest in expressing gratitude or anything of that sort.

"Where did you go last night?" She asked as she gradually got off the bed.

He suddenly remembered the face of the girl, and he shook his head "That's none of your business!" He turned to look at Artemis from his seat at the corner "I'm going to see the Village's Chief. You stay here for the meantime. I no longer have money, so good luck finding something to eat."

Artemis scowled, her eyes fixed at the door as Orion closed it.

The foxman made his way down the streets, observing the people that stopped to look and talk about him. He assumed rumors and news had already spread faster than a wild fire in the span of one night.

He stopped walking and turned to a random man at a stall close by, rudely asked for directions and still got an answer despite his wrong method of approach. The people didn't seem to care. Their affection for spell casters totally brainwashed them.

He knocked on the door of the half-timbered house, proceeded to turn the door knob and the heavy oak door swung open. The servant heading towards the door was astounded by the strange man's manners. He didn't even wait to be let in, he just barged In like it was his home.

Orion didn't care less about the expressions on the face of the women filled hall. Only the man seated on an upholstered and finely carved seat seemed supine like he was already expecting someone.

He had a fringe of grey-white hair around his mottled scalp, his brow had lines and he was wearing brilliant shades of purple and white.

"You must be the spell caster" He uttered roughly from a slow paced voice.

There was a wide difference between him and the normal peasants. Orion assumed he was the type of Chieftain that imposed harsh taxes on his people. A selfless leader wouldn't have had so many murals in their house. The man additionally had windows of sheets of glass, furniture as heavy as wooden chests, and the half-exposed ladies around him weren't free.

Once Orion nodded, He dismissed his servant and invited him to take a seat on a vacant chair in the hall.

"Welcome to Virsa. I've heard so many rumors about you, and I've seen the boy you healed last night. Yes, Anna had something to do with it. She came all the way here so early in the morning to tell me about you. She seems to be interested in you..."

Orion was already popular,  it wasn't just Anna that was responsible for spreading words about him, the people at the restaurant she worked in also played their roles.

Tea was served for the two men and the male worker of before pardoned himself right away.

"What brings you here?"

"I'm a Nomad."

"Ah, I see" He blew on his tea cup then lifted his eyes that had been affected with arcus senilis. Orion didn't get a chance to see his eyes due to the rolled awnings of his upper lids sagging enough to hinder a view.

The withered man chuckled briefly when he recalled his youth and how he used to be so attractive. He appreciated Orion's beauty since it helped him to remember himself sixty years prior.

The door opened and a man walked in with arrows strapped around his back. He'd just come back from hunting and expected to see the usuals, however, his father wasn't encircled by ladies, and he had a visitor after a significant number of years.

Orion took a closer look at the man standing there and it didn't take long before they both recognized each other.

"Father!" Panic flooded through him as he pointed at Orion who was relaxed in spite of the disturbing nearness of the man he faced to saved Anna "He's the one! He's the one that almost broke my hand!"

"Is that so?" Zayn gestured trusting his dad would arrange for his head whether he was a spell caster or not. His father surprised him by neglecting his wishes and changed the topic to another.

"Young Spell Caster. Can you do my village a favour?"

Presently, that was Orion's opportunity to strike an deal. Exactly what he'd been waiting for.

"There's been a viral infection spreading, we don't know what it is but can you help treat those who have fallen sick?"

Orion sneered as he proudly crossed his arms "have you taken a look at your city? Of course there'd be a disease. There's litter everywhere. This place is a breeding ground for parasites. Everyone is at risk. You as well" Orion wanted to tell him exactly what he had in mind, but he didn't want to appear ruder than he already was.

"I might as well command the town to clean the boulevards to take care of the rodent and bug problem. I will mull over what you said. The festival is coming up after all."

He wanted to ask about the festival, but other important things had to be discussed.

"I will cure those affected by the disease, but I want something in return?"

"As expected" Orion raised a brow, wondering if the old man read through him.

"I can offer you as many women as you wish. I hope you're not considering Anna. She's overused..."

"Overused?" Orion titled his head then his eyes gradually extended when he understood what the man implied by that term.

"There's a girl by name Bianca, she's not so cheap like Anna. She'd be happy to work with you for nothing out of pocket because of your title. Apart from the ones that work for me, there are other beauties in this town. Be that as it may, If you still  wish for somebody like Anna, you're allowed to pick."

"Speaking of Anna, tell me what you know about her."

"She was brought here by a beastman, and he commanded that she works as a trull. By then, she looked starved, and had scars. A lot of them. We took pity and fed her until she stopped looking like bones. Since that day, she lived here but had a notorious reputation."

"Do you know what happened between her and the beastman?"

He shook his head "I heard she was a runaway slave. You do comprehend what befalls a slave that attempts to flee right?"

Orion nodded. In the wake of paying for a slave, they are supposed to work until their age doesn't permit them. If they attempted to escape from their owner, and they're caught, what followed was death with absolutely no trials. It appeared as though her past master was thoughtful enough to spare her, however at a cost.

"Back to the important aspect...we're supposed to make a deal" The man's words made Orion refocus.

The foxman smiled briefly because of the number of things he had in his mind "I have no interest in women here..."

"Sodomite?" The elderly man pondered "Well, we have men that are... "

"I'm not intrigued by men either. What I need is, free settlement in the best inn in town, two beds, one for me and the other for my companion. Food, garments, the best wine you have and finally, money. I won't charge you too.much, but 200 gold would do."

The man didn't expect Orion to charge so much, but luckily for him, he could afford that and much more because of the heavy taxes he imposed on the townees. He earned two thousand golds in a week, and they paid according to what they owned and the size of their household.

"It's a deal" the old man gestured for a handshake and Orion got a full view of the back of  his hand that had liver spots all over. He hesitated to touch the hand he pictured to be filthy, but it was only a matter of seconds before he  forced himself to touch it.

***

Heaps of puffy clouds languidly coasted across the sky and  Anna went out to water the plants at the rear of her home. She wore a wimple over her head and decided to wear the dress she sewed by herself made of a perfect collection or rags. She chose to wear whatever point she had work to do, and she had alot to finish.

She glances upward, as soon as Orion walked through her gate made of rough wood. Her soft lips stretched into a smile "Rowan!!!" She was elated to see him, but he didn't return the same expression. His face still looked stern, apart from when he'd laugh occasionally at people's demise.

"I stopped by the Chief's place. I found out a thing or two about you..."

Her smile died faster than wisps of smoke disseminated after a candle flame had been snuffed out "Why?" She was fighting back the urge to cry.

She wondered what the chief told him. She could no longer look at his eyes because of how ashamed she felt. She didn't understand why he decided to approach her after he was told.

She continued to ponder deeply on what he was trying to accomplish.

"Didn't you hear? I'm overused... " She didn't want him to know about her secrets, and she never thought he'd find out so soon. Now that he did, she'll just give him what he likely came for.

"The Chief must've revealed endless stories about me, but you chose to come here. I don't have a clue why, however you should've had a lot of alternatives. So why me?"

Orion didn't comprehend what she was saying until she began to strip.

Her dress tumbled to the ground, and she darted her glossy eyes to look at him "This is what you want right? Do as you please. I'm USED to everything."

The foxman picked her dress from the ground then handed it to her "I have no intentions whatsoever and I couldn't care less about what the Chief said. Everyone irritates me, but you seem to be exempted. I came here to fulfill your request last night. That's all."

Orion turned away and her cheeks slowly heated as she watched him leave..

The Foxman had a lot to do. He looked at the small paper containing an address in his hand. He didn't know what he was supposed to do with it. He didn't know locations in Virsa by name, and he wasn't a fan of asking for directions especially from humans. It Seemed like, he didn't have a choice.

He was surprised to see the townees were already cleaning. "That was fast." He nodded an approval "Well, it's for their own good."

After asking three or more times, he found out the place he was heading to was a chapel. He was sickened by the thoughts of stepping into the raindrop's worship place.

He was a yard away from the chapel and he could already see a crowd waiting for him,  with gifts, flowers, and accessories

To them, a spell caster was a saint, but Orion knew himself as the inverse. Whatever he was doing wasn't about them. It was for himself.

He lifted a hand to wave with a fake smile artistically plastered on his face as he slowly approached. The individuals were energized, they sang and applauded the foxman. He'd never been lauded that way before and It was something worthy enough to be remembered.

He opened the doors to the chapel and the smell of rotten flesh escaped, but not forgetting to disturb his nostrils as it wafted through the opening.

He gulped pitying himself then closed his eyes as he ventured in. The crowd fought to get a clear view of what he was going to do, and the ones fortunate to be In front were awestruck as they witnessed the miraculous event.

One by one, those that were recuperated exited, looking lively and cheerful as they looked around for their families. They were a sum of two hundred, and some were already dead. Orion crossed over corpses of men, women and child, as if he was already used to it, and he actually was.

A sweat broke on his forehead because of the heat in the hot and stuffy building. The crowd blocked the entrance and it wasn't making things easier for him.

He felt bad for those who thought he could revive the dead. For that to happen, a life exchange had to be made, but he wasn't going to do so for a human he didn't know.

Anna strolled to the chapel with her hand locked tightly unto a fruit basket because of the street kids that could snatch it away at the speed of light.

She purchased the perfectly adorned basket for him with the little money she saved up, and she did so with no second thoughts. She didn't want to disturb him, so she decided to go when the crowd would've minimized and maybe she'd have him all to herself for the rest of the day.

It wasn't long before she spotted him, but he was with someone. No matter the distance, she could always tell Bianca whenever and wherever.

She wondered what they were talking about, what was making her laugh. It was almost sundown and everyone had gone home, so she wondered why Bianca was still there.

Bianca pardoned herself when she recognized her enemy. She gracefully strutted to meet Anna to cause usual trouble for the young lady.

She called her friend who wasn't too far and the pair set out to do what they both loved doing the most, downgrading Anna.

Orion wasn't paying too much attention to his surroundings and his human disguise gave his senses limits.

As a fiery red orb of light slowly sank beneath the horizon, Anna glared at the two girls in front of her, and they returned the same expression.

"What do you want?"

Bianca had a loathsome smile gradually spreading across her face as her eyes settled on the fruit basket Anna held protectively.

"What's this?" Mary asked amused by the pretty colors it had.

Anna made a mindful stride back not wanting them to get their hands on it.

"I said what do you want?!" She raised her voice and the two cunning women pretended to be affected for a while, but to them she was still a sheep, and they were the wolves.

"We just wanted to remind you...who you are..."

"SHUTUP!!!" She demanded for them to stop, but they scoffed at her attempt to silence them.

"Stop making me feel inferior... We all do the same job" The truth was a shard in her guts that never leaves. A tear rolled onto her cheek and her hands quivered with sadness and anger.

"But you are. You're cheap" Bianca rubbed her index and thumb together "Anyone could get to you for a cheap price and you don't have a choice but to open..."

"SHUT UP!!! I'M NOT DOING THIS BECAUSE I WANT TO...SO...JUST SHUT UP!!!" No one took their time to understand her situation, but all they did was condemn and mock her without hearing her side of the story.

"The truth hurts Anna, when will you accept and get used to it" Anna always saw Mary as someone worse than Bianca. Behind her Angelic face was a devil canvassed in human flesh.

"And you think the spell caster will look your way?" Bianca looked at Mary before bursting into laughter "That was a good one Mary"  They high-fived each other then turned their attention back to the shaking girl in their midst.

Anna recalled what Rowan (Orion) said, and she started to think it was a lie. He looked like he was enjoying his conversation with Bianca. Why wouldn't he? She was the most beautiful woman in the whole town. She was the most beautiful woman in the whole town. Her eyes resembled a sun kissed stream, she had full lips, high cheekbones, long, wavy blonde hair, smooth and silky.

Her curves were of softness, She wasn't just flawless in her bone structure, but her seduction skills as well. She was everything Anna's average self wished to be. It was typical for famous and rich men to have their eyes devour Bianca's magnificence.  Anna started to wonder why she ever thought Rowan would look at her.

"You win Bianca! You always do" She tossed the basket full of fruits away and ran under the sun set sky of rich red hues, blended with oranges, purples, and crimsons.

She didn't blame him for picking Bianca, she reprimanded herself for believing he wouldn't.

***

Late at night, Anna positioned herself in front of the glass she placed on the small table and moved her hand around whenever she needed something else to apply.

She rubbed some fine chalk powder to her face and used rose petal extracts for her cheeks. She took a stick of kohl and gently lined her eyes with the black powder enhancing the green of her iris. Beeswax and red dye were mixed together and rubbed on her lips.

She frowned after observing herself in the mirror. No matter how much makeup she used, she could never look better than Bianca.

She headed out of her cottage, closed the wooden shutters and locked the door before placing the key in her satchel. When she turned she bumped into a solid figure and her eyes slowly darted to meet Orion's. She was alarmed by his unexpected appearance. She wondered when and how long he'd been standing there, but she recalled he had enchantment, he could travel anywhere instantly.

Orion wondered why she didn't come to see him after her little display in the morning.

"Where are you going?" A small smile crept on her face "isn't it obvious. I have work to do. This is what I am."

She was about to walk away when he held her hand back, however she pulled it from his grasp "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT TO PROVE!!? YOU ALREADY HAVE BIANCA SO LEAVE ME ALONE!!!"

Orion didn't say anything. He was angry at her for raising her voice, but he didn't want to show it.

"Oh no, You've ruined my makeup" Her tears had already got the kohl running down her cheeks. Everything was falling apart. She couldn't go any further with her face looking smudged. She was already running late, and she had to go back inside to redo everything or else her pay would reduce more than it already has.

"I asked you earlier if it's sex you want but You said you're not interested..."

"How much is he paying you?" He asked a completely different question from what she was trying to say.

"Sorry?" Anna thought she heard wrongly,and he decided to repeat himself.

"I said how much is he going to pay you..."

She forced herself to state her price "thr-three bronze" She was ashamed to state it, however it was reality. She had to pay her taxes tomorrow or else, Zayn would take something from her house.

Three bronze wouldn't make up half of what she needed to pay and now she was loaded with regrets for spending money on a fruit basket for someone she thought had allowed himself to be tied around Bianca's fingers.

"I'll pay you thirty..." She smiled briefly. Getting paid thirty bronze wasn't new, she could earn that in a day from all her side jobs. Bianca effortlessly earned ten golds from just play dates with visitors. She could only dream for a similar scenario.

"Gold" Orion completed his statement and her jaw dropped.

"th~thirty g-gold?!" She stuttered with her eyes widened "I'm overused...Do you know what that means? Do I need to tell you?" She was convinced he didn't know what her famous term implied, and it was about time she told him.

He'd definitely take back his words after that because a price like that was too much for someone as cheap as she was.

His finger tip trailed her jaw "if thirty isn't enough, I could add twenty more to it..."

"I don't understand...why me? I'm not that pretty and you're with Bianca."

"You're wrong. I'm with you."