DragonFlames Posted June 9, 2020 Author Share Posted June 9, 2020 I feel somewhat sick lately, but I wanted to get this out today. Enjoy! CYOA - The Dying Kingdom Chapter 5: Investigation "I'll go to the tavern", you decide. "You go and ask around the village for more info". "Right away", says Finley eager to get started. "But... be careful, okay?" "What, are you worried about me?", you feign surprise. Finley sighs and shakes his head. "Ugh, nevermind...", he says, frustrated. "I forgot I was dealing with the 'Merciless Woodcrusher'..." "Oh, shove it, Fiffy!" "Only if you stop calling me that!" "We have a mission here, you know?", you scold him. "Stay focused, okay?" "Way to change the subject..." Finley once again shakes his head, then smiles. "I'll be off then. See you!" He walks off to talk to the villagers. Meanwhile, you look around to see if you can find the tavern. ... It is at this point that you realize that you never asked Finley which of the buildings here he identified as a tavern. "Come on, Sophia, think! What does a tavern usually have to make people see that it is one?". You frantically look around while trying to remember the taverns in Fabunil, which Richard showed to you and your siblings when you were little. You recall that every one of them has a sign out in front, usually with an odd name written on it, so you go look for that. Luckily, the village is not too big, so finding a house with a conspicuous sign somewhere should not pose much of a problem. At the same time, you wonder what use a small village such as this would even have for a tavern. Tourism, perhaps? But there was nothing much to see here... In your musings, you almost trip over a sign in your way. "Village pub 'Drunk Eagle' - restaurant and inn", it says. Below the crudely scribbled words is an arrow that points to a rather large wooden building to your left. Embarrassed, you realize that you have almost walked right past what you were looking for. Happy that your search has not taken too long, you enter the tavern and are greeted by a rather inviting dining room with many round tables surrounded by four chairs each. To your right, a staircase to the upper floors and on the other side of the room, you can see the counter, in front of which sits a tall, muscular, middle-aged man, downing a beverage of some kind. "Gimme another one chief!", the man says, his voice gruff, but his tone is rather jovial. "Of course! Right away, sir!" You only now notice a corpulent man clumsily scurrying around the dining hall, cleaning the tables with a large towel. The man looks at you in kind and smiles. "Oh, another visitor? Welcome to the 'Drunk Eagle', little miss!", he greets you in a friendly manner. "Please, have a seat! Is there anything you would like to drink? I am sorry to inform you, but lunch just ended. If you want anything to eat, you should return during dinner time". "Um, actually, I came here because I was looking for someone...", you say. "Looking for someone?", your hear the other man's gruff voice. He turns around and looks at you top to bottom. From his clothes, you can immediately tell that he is a traveler of some kind. You glance to the space next to him and see a rather large axe leaning against his chair. "Never seen you around here before. Lookin' pretty fine for a village maiden. You're not from around here, I take it?" "Um, no, actually..." You do not know how to gauge this person's intentions. His voice and word choice make him seem like a ruffian, but you feel no ill intent in his words. "Ah, I get it. You must be from the castle, then?", the man asks. "Wait, how do you know that?" "Call it a mercenary's intuition", he says and winks, which makes you uncomfortable. Then it hits you. "So you are the person father hired to help us find the missing villagers?", you ask him. "Yup, sure am", he confirms your suspicion, then his eyes widen in shock. "Wait, did you just say 'father'?!? Don't tell me you're the Big Shot's little girl!?" He stares at you in disbelief. "Now, that's a lark! Name's John, but you can call me Johnny, if you want! Awfully nice to meetcha and all that!". He extends a hand to you. "Um... likewise, Mr. John...", you hesitantly shake his hand. His grip is strong, but your training has made you able to withstand it. "My name is Sophia", you introduce yourself to him, unfazed by the strength of his handshake. "I like girls with a strong grip!" He winks again. "But there's no need to be so formal, little lady. It's not like I'm anyone important". He takes a seat with you at one of the tables. "Chief, bring the little lady a drink, will you? It's on me!" "Wait, what?!?" "Of course, sir!" The corpulent bartender leaves through a door in the back. "B-But I'm--" "Don't worry too much about that madness, little lady!", John laughs heartily. "It's an honor for a man to invite a girl of your beauty, even if her family's loaded and you're dirt poor!" You feel exhausted all of a sudden as the friendly bartender places a glass of water in front of you. "Please, enjoy it! It's fresh from the well". He then goes back to his post behind the counter and starts cleaning glasses. "What, none of the good stuff?", the mercenary asks, slightly disappointed. "I am sorry, but the midday rations have been used up already", says the bartender. "You can have alcohol again at dinner". "Ugh, fine, fine", he leans back in his chair. "Damn cheapskate..." You had heard that villages have to ration food and drink before, but this is your first time experiencing it up close. Is this the reason there is a tavern in this village...? "Anyway, we were talkin' business, weren't we?", John snaps you out of your thoughts. "How much do you know about this request?" "Well... just that some people from this village went missing suddenly", you reply. "We just arrived here, so I don't know any more than what father told us". "'We'...?", John stares at you. Before you can answer, Finley and Melissa enter the tavern, the former looking incredibly tired. "There you are, Sophia!", your older sister greets you. "Melissa, Fiffy!", you greet them back. "Stop... calling me that..." Finley is gasping for air as he takes a seat next to you. "And... who's that guy?" "This is John, the mercenary father hired to help us out on this mission", you introduce him. "And John: this is my older sister, Melissa, and this is my friend, Finley". "So... you're the famous Purple Tempest, I take it?", completely ignoring Finley, John glares at Melissa. "Thought the rumors about you being a hottie were all just yarn, but damn... I'd like to see if the stories about your strength are the real deal, as well!" Silently, Melissa returns John's gaze. "W-What is going on?", you start trembling. "I can almost imagine a fire erupting between them..." "This is what happens when two experienced fighters meet". Finley looks impressed. "That John guy must be pretty strong himself if he stands up to Lady Melissa like that..." "Please, no fighting in my tavern!", comes the warning from the bartender. "There is no need to worry", Melissa replies with a friendly smile, then she sits down. "At the moment, we have more important things to do. We can have ourselves a duel once all of this is over, however. Of course, it will have to be elsewhere". "Hey, I was only joking!", John says, his hands shaking. "No need for coming to blows. We're all friends here, right?" "Ah, so his bravado was just show after all...", Finley says completely deadpan. John clears his throat, his face red with embarrassment. "What did you two find out?", you ask the two of them. "The village elder basically told me the same thing we already knew: some of the villagers here went missing. Nobody really seems to know why", says Melissa. "I learned that those who went missing are mostly young men and women between the age of 14 and 18", Finley adds. "Some of the villagers were really distraught that their children and siblings just disappeared all of a sudden". "Yeah, that about matches with my findings, too", says John, sighing. "This case is going to be a doozy..." "By the way, Sir John? How long have you been here?", Melissa asks. "Me? Well... I arrived here this morning. Your old ma---, sorry, His Majesty, hired me to look into the missing people's case last night. No rest for the wicked and all that". "I see..." Melissa furrows her brow. "Something wrong, Missy?", you ask, confused. "No, nothing", Melissa shakes her head. "I was just wondering how father could have already hired someone to help you out on a mission when he hasn't even given you that mission yet". "I see". You nod, becoming worried for your father's health. Then again, you yourself pulled an all-nighter last night. "So, basically, we only know that there are people in this village who have gone missing. Nobody knows who or why. Is that it?", Finley asks. "Well that, and we know how old those who went missing are", John adds. "Still, that's not really a lot to go on". "Oh, so you're ones who came to fulfill our request?", suddenly, the bartender speaks up. "Sorry, I couldn't remain silent". "It's alright", says Melissa. "If there is anything you wish to say, then tell us". "Well, for one thing, the kids disappeared at night", says the bartender. "Each morning, someone would wake up and panic that a family member was missing". "So... we know that young adults go missing and that they disappear at night, usually", Finley summarizes. "Now the only question is: How and why do they vanish in the first place?" "Were there any traces of kidnapping?", Melissa asks. "No, not that I recall", the bartender shakes his head. "Some said it could be, but they also said the rooms of those who went missing were neat and tidy when they did. My own daughter disappeared two days ago... and her room also had no traces of someone else being there aside from her". "That certainly complicates things", says Melissa. A though occurs to you. "Could they have just run away on their own?" "One or two, maybe, but never all of them in such a short amount of time", your older sister replies. "That would be too big of a coincidence". "And my daughter would never run away!", the bartender shouts. "She was so happy working here... she wanted to inherit the business, too..." He starts crying. "I... I'm sorry", you say sincerely, handing him a handkerchief. "It's fine, it's fine", he shakes his head, tapping away the tears in his eyes. "She was such a good kid. Pretty popular with the boys, too...", he continued. "Oh, where could she be?!?" "I'm sorry, but I have to ask: did you notice anything strange when your daughter vanished?", asks Melissa as gently as she could. "A letter, an out of place object, anything?" "Now that you mention it... The door was unlocked on the day she disappeared!" The sobbing bartender calms down a little. "Do you usually lock the door?", you ask. "Yes, I always lock the door when I go to sleep after work", he answers. "But on that morning, it was unlocked. It was so strange, so I went to ask my daughter about it and..." "That's when you noticed she was gone, right?" John completed the sentence for him. "Yes, exactly". The bartender nodded. "So, basically, people vanish, doors are unlocked in the morning after they do, but they couldn't have gone away on their own AND kidnapping is also out of the question. Do I have that right?", John shakes his head in disbelief. "Man, what is UP with this mission? Here I thought it was gonna be easy, but NOPE!" "If investigating doesn't help any, then there is no choice but to take action", says Melissa. "Can we stay the night?" "O-Of course, but... what do you wish to do?", the bartender asks. "I want to see if anything happens during the night that would explain this", your older sister replies. "There is something going on here and I am planning to find out what that is". "Then please, stay as long as you wish! For free, even!" The bartender perks up. "We are all desperate to find our missing family. If this helps you find them, then please, be my guests!" "That will not do", Melissa shakes her head. "I will pay you the normal price for rooms". "I... I... Thank you, Your Highness", the bartender bows his head. Later that night, you lie awake in your bed. You are incredibly tired, but you cannot sleep. Staring at the ceiling, you wait for something to happen. Finley is sleeping in another room, while Melissa and John are patrolling the village for anything unusual. Melissa coerced you into resting, since you had just pulled an all-nighter, but here you are, still awake. Sure enough, you suddenly hear a strange noise. It almost sounds like... voices? You strain your ears and try to listen. And indeed, you can hear faint voices. Someone is having a conversation outside and it is assuredly nobody you know. You try to concentrate, but you cannot make out anything they are saying. All you know is that somebody is talking outside. What will you do?Choice 1: Investigate.Choice 2: Stay put.Choice 3: Wake up Finley.Choice 4: Look for Melissa and John. Vote for your preferred option in the poll! --- This chapter underwent like three rewrites, because I couldn't think of a way to end it. I hope you enjoyed and I'll see you in the next one! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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