On the road again. Odra was riding on Garl’s shoulders, Dullahan was mashing up bugs in this lidded cup while rambling onto the disgusted Sylvia about the protein benefits of crickets, and Garl was in a pleasant mood after having a one night stand with a literal goddamn queen. Lucky bastard. Granted, it was probably a bit too kinky for his typical tastes, but you do not miss the chance to bone royalty. Never.
“So, whatcha wanna do when we get home?” Odra asked, propping her arms up on Garl’s head.
“Sleep. Get drunk. Head to Fit For Kings,” Garl said.
Sylvia grimaced. “Gross.”
Odra looked back at the pair. “You can get your nails painted with me if you want!” she chirped, waving her fingers in the air. A few days before they’d left, Sahsi had painted Odra’s nails a lime green. “It’s super relaxing! The lotion smells funky, but you might like it!”
Sylvia cocked an eyebrow and looked ready to say no before she considered something. “… Does she have any black paint?” she asked.
Odra nodded. “Yup!”
“Sure, why not. Better way to relax than dealing with Dullahan’s stupid experiments.”
“Hey!” Dullahan shook his finger at Sylvia. “I might want my fingernails painted too, ever consider that?”
“What color would you pick?” Odra asked.
“Oooh. Can I have each nail a different color?”
Sylvia glowered. “Dullahan, do not crash girl’s night, or I will kill you,” she threatened.
Dullahan smirked before looking up at Odra. “Each nail a different color then. And do the same for Sylvia,” he said to the cackling goblin.
“Well, well, well… this is an interesting meeting of parties.”
It just so happened that Odra and company had just reached a meeting of paths… and it was impossible not to recognize the aasimar in black armor.
Odra flung herself off of Garl’s shoulders and rested her hand on her rapier as she strode across the path to meet Crowley. The aasimar smirked and crouched down to get a better look at Odra. “So, did you put the dead guy back?” he asked.
“Stand up straight. I’m not a fucking toddler, don’t treat me like one.” Odra crossed her arms and scowled up at Crowley. “And yes, we did. He’s back with his people, and we’re on our way home. What’s your business up here?”
“The typical- murder.” There was a beat of silence before Crowley chuckled and straightened himself. “To be more specific, we’re handling a night hag by the name of Silver Matilda. Long story short, she’s quite the thorn in the side of some people. Wouldn’t it be fun to kill a hag?”
“If you’re looking for a meat bag to sacrifice, forget it.” Odra stuck her tongue out. “Garl and I could take out a night hag on our own, in our fucking sleep. Don’t try to bullshit us into throwing us into the grinder so you can have all the treasures for yourself. Besides, check it,” she gestured to her brand new rapier. “Gift from the drow queen. Magical and everything. So eat dicks.”
Crowley tutted his tongue. “You’re so vulgar, come now. There’s no reason to be so hurtful,” he said.
“All I know about you is that you stole that armor, and you stole that mace,” Odra pointed towards the mace hanging at Crowley’s waist. “You’re not giving me a good vibe. In fact, I think you might be a bigger asshole than me and Garl combined- and we’re definitely not good people. But you’re worse.”
Crowley’s jaw tightened and something cold appeared behind his eyes, but he quickly eased off when he glanced behind Odra, specifically at her partner Garl. “… I suppose I am quite easy to read,” He laughed. “It’s always good to have a meat shield, you know? Especially one that’ll live. They’re more useful like that. But there’s another bonus to coming with us. You get to hang out with a friend.”
“None of you are my friends.”
“I wasn’t talking about us.” Crowley glanced over his shoulder. “Wick, where did Tynos go with our extra party member?”
Wick frowned, flicking his sunglasses down his nose to look behind him. “Oh, they’re probably picking berries again- oh, there they are. And what do you know, they did go pick berries.”
Odra’s jaw dropped as she saw Tynos emerge from the brushes with Sahsi Humble. Both were carrying baskets overflowing with blackberries, and Sahsi seemed to be in good spirits.
“Sahsi!? What the fuck are you doing out here?!”
Sahsi nearly tripped over her own feet but was caught by Tynos at the last second. “Oh! Odra! Hi!” The hexblood waved excitedly. “Erm, I’m on an adventure?”
Odra shoved Crowley out of the way (and he did actually stumble, much to her amusement) and strolled up to Sahsi. “With these losers? No offense, goat boy,” she said.
Tynos laughed nervously, and while Sahsi mostly managed to keep her composure, her eyes briefly betrayed fear. “I mean, they’re not so bad. They needed… my point of view on things. And my free pass to talk to my mother, Ancient Genevieve.”
Odra’s jaw dropped. “They took you to your mom!? Are you kidding me, she’s a bitch!” she blurted out.
Wick snorted and murmured, “You’re telling us.”
“Yeeaahh… it was a bit of a frightening visit. But, we’re doing this for a good cause, and I’m just fine.” Sahsi forced that friendly upbeat smile. “Really, Odra, I’m fine.”
Odra chewed her lip before she looked back at Crowley. The aasimar smiled disarmingly, but something about him made her skin crawl.
The goblin held up a finger before trotting off to her party. Garl scooped her up and placed her on his shoulder so Odra could talk to him quietly.
“Something is smelling fishy here, and it’s not just Dullahan’s weird potions,” Odra hissed.
“She seems fine, Odra,” Garl glanced at Sahsi, who was passing out berries to her other temporary party members. “… Well, we don’t need to go home right away.”
“Exactly.” Odra glanced back at Dullahan and Sylvia. “Kay, if you two wanna go home, we’ll part ways when the road for Lockmere splits off.”
Dullahan stroked his scraggly goatee as he eyed the other party. “… I mean, hags have some really good potion recipes in their catalog. I’m in to ruin Crowley’s day. Sylvia? … Sylvia?”
“Huh?” Sylvia jerked out of her apparent daze. “Oh, um, sure. Whatever.”
“We’re in then.”
Odra nodded before she leaped back off of Garl’s shoulders. “All right, we’re with you! You try and take all the gold though and I’m sticking my new rapier up your ass so far it’ll come out your throat!” she shouted.
Crowley laughed and gestured Odra’s party forward. Grumbling quietly, Odra fell into the group next to fellow rogue Elphira. Thunderwarrior softly squealed at the sight of the goblin, but Odra ignored her to focus on Sahsi. At least Tynos didn’t seem that bad. He almost seemed… well. Normal. Among these assholes, he even seemed saintly.
Didn’t meant Odra didn’t trust him still. She didn’t trust anyone that followed this armor thief.
Turgut eyed the larger party before clearing his throat. “All in formation? Very well then. Forward, march! Lead with your left, we have a long way to the mountains!”
Garl glared at the hobgoblin. “The day I start listening to you, Turgut, is the day I lose all of my self respect,” he growled.
Kendrenal giggled until Garl shifted his glower at him. “If you think I’ve forgotten about the time you fucking shotOdra in the back, I haven’t. Don’t give me a reason to stuff your cannon down your throat and pull the trigger.”
Kendrenal gulped and skittered back towards Dullahan, who seemed remarkably interested in Kendrenal’s leathery skin and started asking questions about how dense it was, how easily it was harvested, and if the hobgoblin ever had any issues with dandruff. Somehow, this was less threatening, and Kendrenal happily chatted back and forth about his biology.
Crowley sighed happily as the party moved on. Well, he didn’t count on that little goblin to show up, but she was a competent fighter if things really did get dicey. A body shield that was good at not dying was an asset, and she’d cooperate as long as Sahsi was there. And Sahsi wouldn’t say a word about their little agreement, since she valued her blood still being in her body.
Crowley hummed as he glanced over to see Sylvia, the dhampir tucking a lock of ebony hair behind her ear and trying to seem focused on the path ahead of them rather than looking over at Crowley.
“Hello there. Sylvia, right?”
“Oh, um, yeah. That’s my name.” Sylvia’s eyes flicked over for a moment before returning forward. Crowley would’ve thought it a trick of the sunlight, but her face was a little pink right now. “So, how long have you been… adventuring? Or whatever.”
“How long…” Crowley twisted his mouth as he mulled that over. “I think it’s been a few years now. After I finished my paladin training, but before I broke my oath, of course.”
Sylvia’s breath caught. “You really are an Oathbreaker, then?” she asked.
“I am. And I’m a lot more useful than your average paladin for that reason. I’ve learned how to retrain my powers into more… necrotic forces.” Crowley grinned at Sylvia. “Give it a little more time- I’ll be able to control my own undead army. Leave this party behind. But who knows… maybe I’ll take a few of those closest to me along.”
“Yeah?” Sylvia gulped, her fingers fiddling with her hair again. “That’s cool. I’m a summoner. I summon this shadow bear… thing. I call him Matt.”
“That’s a good name. I like summoners, Sylvia.” Crowley’s hand brushed up against Sylvia’s side. “I’d like to get to know you better.”
“That’s… nice.” Sylvia smiled, a rare sight on the typically grouchy dhampir. “I’d like to get to know you too.”
Dullahan was in the middle of asking Kendrenal about the accumulation of a hobgoblin’s earwax when he paused.
“… I just got a chill.”
“Is this normal?”
“… No. How old’s Crowley?”
“Iiiii… don’t… know?”
“Huh. Interesting. And when does he go to sleep at night? Just… curious.”