“Only you would think that spending moments in a cave would be romantic. Why in the land did your guardians let you keep the company of vamps and witches anyways?” Omeria asked. The newly found but rather committed love birds were walking through the thick greenery outside of Kobo.
“They didn’t mind or care. I explained to you before that I was very much on my own as a young boy. The only one who ever looked out for me was Agnes. Mostly, because she didn’t want me taking her brother Donavo into the Crescent. I was quite the influence then and now I suppose,” Nestor told Omeria.
“Yes, her brother the werewolf man. I’m sorry but she should’ve kept a closer eye on him instead of worrying about you.”
Nestor gave her a disapproving glare.
“You’ve had quite an interesting and long life so far,”Omeria acknowledged.
He held her hand as he led her through the shrubbery. “Have I? My past before you is all blurry to me.”
“You don’t have to lie to me,”Omeria remarked. “I’m not spellbinding or exciting. I’m just a regular poor human girl. Nothing more.”
“Maybe Omeria but you are still the most captivating to me…since day one actually.” He slowly slid his left palm down her warm cheek.
“Day one, when you tied me to a chair and then invited me to first meal at your table only to ignore me?”Omeria questioned him. “So captivating, I must be.”
Nestor changed the subject. “My cave is right around the corner. It’s my private spot outside of Kobo.”
“Well, I hope you checked for bats, nothing is safe outside of Kobo. By the way, I want to be back home before nightfall. Sarah wants to come by my shack.”
“Fine and there are no bats, I am sure. The freaks generally don’t come this far off of the Octo Trail,” Nestor reminded her.
“They didn’t seem to care at all about the treaty when Declan Mortis III turned half of the Ashians into vamps. They were way out here then.”
“I haven’t forgotten.” He started to say how bad he felt for Asher since the invasion but decided not to due to Omeria’s jealousy.
“Hopefully, the freaks will stay in their places,” Nestor stated.
Beforehand Nestor had placed a large cloth on the ground inside of the cave, a basket full of berry tarts and a surprise for Omeria. “Here we are.” He was pleased to finally show her.
“It’s nice but have you brought all of your other flames here?” Omeria wondered.
Nestor sat down on the cloth after motioning for Omeria to sit. “Don’t ruin this for me. I just want to have moments with you away from Kobo worries.”
Omeria eyed the closed basket. “Alright, what’s inside of the basket?”
“What do you want to be inside?” Nestor asked her.
“Well, I already have you so there’s not much else for me to want,”she slyly answered.
“That’s true, but there are other gifts in this land.” Nestor pulled a clear plastic sack out of the basket and handed it to her. “All yours.”
She held the sack up to her face and gazed in awe at the contents. “Grapes.” She poked the sack with her finger. “Grapes… but aren’t these from the village of Ondello?”
“Yes, I figured that you’ve never had them. They are very expensive.” Nestor studied her face. There was no joy or gratitude present. “What’s wrong?” He felt like a little boy who was unknowingly in trouble.
Omeria placed the sack of grapes back into the basket. “Mattau makes a fortune in gold off of the grapes just like you do from the sale of the berries.”
“Right.” Nestor shook his head.
“Mattau killed my brother and then took my friend Errola to dip her in gold. Not to mention the fact that he paid Zee to put man-eating fish in the Black Rip Sea. And you still do deals with him?”
Nestor understood his mistake. “Honestly, I’ve never done a deal with anybody. They only speak with the goldkeeper. Grant probably ordered the grapes when he was still the goldkeeper. Mattau adores Grant. Landed us a good fee I’m sure.”
Omeria didn’t appear to be content with his explanation. A single tear ran down her face. Nestor plopped himself down right next to her and held her hands in his. “I’m sorry. Don’t cry. I just want to make you happy. What would make you happy?”
Omeria’s mind briefly returned to her original conquest of Kobo’s berry fields. She could rule the land if she had control of the naturally delicious commodity. Her brother Jacobi and the Abayolla tribe would be avenged after all of these years. It was only fair that Nestor handed her back her rightful inheritance. However, surprisingly she was satisfied at the moment with something more lively, manly, unpredictable and cursed. She would never ask Nestor for the berry fields. She was yet another girl who had become inflamed by the touch and essence of Nestor.
“So, what do you want Omeria?”Nestor asked again.
“I don’t know. I’ve been given so much here already. But I know that I don’t want Mattau’s grapes,” Omeria answered.
“Well, it’s not like the grapes grew off of his body or that he touched these specific grapes. He doesn’t do any kind of labor. I understand though. He is my enemy since he killed two of my friends. I don’t blame Zee for it.”
“I know what I want,”Omeria blurted out right as Rayden slithered into the cave.
“Well, I’ll be a rat’s guardian,”Rayden laughed after spotting the two.
“No, you’d just be the rat,”Nestor raised his voice. “What are you doing here?”
Rayden had been living in the village of Flaco after leaving Kobo. He originally planned to shack up with Missa in the village of Bristol for a few moments. He quickly learned that Bristol was being contained. No one could enter and no one could leave Bristol. He decided to head back to Kobo on the Octo Trail since he spent all of his gold. During his youth, he was trained to be a Kobo protector and only a Kobo protector. He wouldn’t let a fight with Nestor over a girl derail him from his destiny.
“You might want to lower your voice, Nestor,” Rayden advised.
“Oh, and why is that?” Nestor stood up and approached him. “Let’s speak outside of the cave. Omeria needs the peace.”
“Sorry. No one’s leaving this cave,” Rayden informed Nestor.
“I’m still your leader. If I must remind you of that. I tell you what to do.”
Omeria was slightly turned on by Nestor’s powerful talk. “What’s going on Rayden?”
Rayden looked around the cave for any internal hiding places. “We don’t have any moments left to run, so we can hide you.”
“Hide? This is my cave.”
Rayden told Omeria to sit down behind a large piece of rock. “The trolls were coming this way. I don’t know why but there were two of them together on foot.”
“Trolls?”Omeria repeated. “They don’t come out this far from the Outer Crescent and they never talk to each other.” The rock was large enough to overshadow her whole body. “Their only motivation is gold. I bet Mattau’s involved somehow. ”
“He’s done enough to us already.” Rayden walked to the opening of the cave, stood next to and stared at Nestor.
“I’m not hiding,” Nestor disclosed.
“As stubborn as ever.”
The smell of unwashed troll blew past Nestor’s nose. “I’m not stubborn. I’m the bravest in this land. Always have been, always will be.”
“Yes, but the trolls don’t care. You are still wearing that black eye very well, I see. It doesn’t make you look brave, now does it?”
“Right. Grant knows how to count. You know how to fight and I know how to…”
“Lie, cheat, steal, kill and seduce,” Rayden answered for him.
Nestor shook his head innocently. “No, my friend you make me sound horrible. I know how to rule the land. That’s what I do well. You are out of gold I suppose and I didn’t bring much with me. So if the trolls find us here we will simply amuse them with our great personalities.”
“Bad idea. Give them the grapes.” Omeria peeked her head out from the side of the rock. “They are worth some gold.” Omeria briefly wondered if Nestor needed protection from Rayden himself. She had spent days sweet talking Nestor’s ego back to health after Rayden punched him. Perhaps, he had intentionally led the trolls straight to his domineering leader. “Maybe, Nestor should hide as well. The trolls haven’t seen him yet.”
Rayden with concern, looked over to Nestor. “This is your last chance to secure yourself. The air smells of troll.”
Nestor smiled. “I was in Ondello once with Mercy and I stole a gold bar from the golden palace’s vault that is protected by two large golden beasts.”
“Your point being?”
“I’m not afraid of any trolls,”Nestor answered.
“You were protected by a witch that doesn’t make you brave…thief,” Rayden gave his opinion. “You never stopped stealing did you? Even after your punishment in Bristol for stealing. You are actually more troubled than I thought.”
The trolls made their arrival known by throwing a dead rat into the cave as they stood on the outside. The two trolls never spoke to each other. Trolls living together in the Outer Crescent did not speak. It was an unspoken rule. Omeria stayed still and quiet behind the large rock as she peered at the rat. She found comfort in the dark beady eyes of the rat that reminded her of Nestor’s deep black eyes. Eyes in which she could grasp enough courage to handle whatever would come next.
“We do not shiver at the sight of rats.” Rayden picked up the rat and threw it out of the cave. “What do you want? You followed me here.”
Both trolls jumped into view and stood in the cave’s opening. Though having contrasting looks the trolls were equally awful in appearance. The one with thick fire colored hair had a scar across its face. A fighter troll, Rayden guessed. While the other troll adorned with purple hair, a gold bracelet and a matching chain he assumed was a messenger troll.
“You’re so easy to sniff out. You smell of berries,”the messenger returned.
“And you smell of stink,”Rayden chuckled.
The messenger’s eyes enlarged as he scanned Nestor’s build. “Old one, young body with long gray braided hair… You must be the Nestor, leader.”
Nestor and Rayden momentarily eyeballed one another. “Yes, I am the Nestor. My friend here asked you what you wanted. Trolls are not supposed to be this close to Koboian land ever!”
“Mattau sent us to find someone named Omeria. The new Glodean, Errola wants to see her.”
Nestor turned casually to look back towards the large rock that hid Omeria. “Then the new Glodean can come here to see her.”
Rayden fake coughed. “Yes, if Omeria was with us in the first place but she’s not. You might want to check the other villages for her. Flaco or Sandor or Logoff.”
The messenger troll moved in closer to Nestor. “The Nestor already said that she is with you. She was headed for Kobo.”
Rayden returned, “You are too close to the Nestor. Step back.”
The troll cooperated. “We will be taking Omeria back to Ondello to see Errola one way or another.”
Omeria unwisely came into view, and stood beside Nestor. “I’m here. And I actually would like to see Errola. I need to know that she’s being taken care of.”
“Oh, the girl who’s dipped in gold always is,” Rayden shook his head. “No, we will have a protector accompany Omeria to the golden palace when we are ready to do so.”
“Now! You are ready now!”the fighter troll huffed.
Rayden pulled out his sword from behind his back. “My sword is ready now.”
“It’s alright. All this friction is unnecessary, really,” Omeria looked to Nestor.
Nestor held her hand. “I’m not letting you go off with two malodorous trolls. Trolls that work for Mattau. He’s sadistic and so are they.”
The trolls happily left after Nestor gave them the sack of grapes, the berry tarts and a promise that Grant himself would accompany Omeria to Ondello in the coming days. There still was ample time remaining before the leader’s summit. Mattau loved Grant and would be more than pleased to see him again.
Omeria asserted herself. “I’ve gotten this far by myself. I can make my own decisions. You two do not speak for me.”
Rayden pretended to raise a glass up into the air. “Yes, cheers to you, dear. You managed to sneak into Kobo and then latch unto as the trolls call him, the Nestor.” Rayden grabbed his travel bag. “You are the same as the others. Now, you get to obey him. His last flame ended up swimming with the fishies, remember that. Well, have yourself some merry moments.” Rayden walked out of the cave alone.
“Where are you headed?”Nestor asked him.
“Home to my shack to take a nap as always. You have tired me out. Enjoy your romance,” Rayden shouted back to Nestor.