Titus approached the Imbube who was sitting on a small bench looking into the forest. She turned to Titus as he closed and smiled, “I am feeling much better.”
Titus smiled back, his weariness mostly forgotten now. “That is very good to hear. Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to explore your recovery, Savë doesn’t think we’ve got long here.” He offered his hand to help her up, not that she looked like she needed it. “Care to join us?”
She grinned at the obvious comment of extracurricular activity, “well… Savë might just have to deal with it pretty boy.” She stood,”So what is the plan, she is securing supplies so you need to secure a map?”
His smile slipped into a grin. They really needed to find a moment, she was… “Ah, yeah, something like that. Let’s go looking. You been to any of these islands before?” His chatting reflexes were kicking in as they started walking.
She nodded, “I have been to many places, this world has many things and people to offer. I met Savë on the coast of the affiliation, she required a bodyguard.” She shrugged, “I do not believe that job will ever be finished”
After asking a few hunters Titus and Asyi to end up in the presence of a Hunter named Havier, he seemed to be the one to talk about when it comes to maps. “What ho, Goodman Havier? I hear you’re the man to talk to about a map. Have any I could persuade you to part with? Primarily around the coasts.”
Hopefully he had a couple that Titus could sort through. Havier gave Titus a hard eye. He was aged past his years thanks to the jungles of the island and the hunting of the dangerous beasts that dwelled there, “you need a map for the wilds? Why would you go into the wilds?”
Asyi steped in,”he has me.”
Havier shrugged,”far enough. I have some hunting maps for the coast. I will part with them for 10 copper each, a reduced price since the caves have been hunted out there.”
Grinning at Asyi stepping in, Titus shrugged. “Works for me. I’ll take all three, I’m not sure where we’re going to start looking.”
He handed over a silver and ten coppers. About a dozen questions sprang to his mind, all he’d need to talk to Savë about. Titus received the maps and the two returned to the table in which Titus had been speaking with Savë earlier. Savë was currently still gone, securing supplies. This gave Titus time to unroll and go over the maps.
Asyi scowled at the maps. They were crud and hand drawn with landmarks that were not named or referenced, “you have been had, these are useless.”
While Titus was unhappy with the map quality to a hunter he was sure it made perfect sense, he didn’t think Havier had misrepresented himself, it was simply a matter of the maps being for hunters, not impromptu treasure seekers.
Titus’ brow creased as he looked at the three maps. “Not had, really, just another layer of interpretation, love.” He slid them around a few times until he was pretty sure they were arranged the way the coastline looked. There was a little overlap between them, which helped. He noted a few places that could be promising, but without actual landmark references it could be tricky. He looked around the room – maybe a hunter could be persuaded to explain some of the landmarks.
Savë returned to the table before Titus could find any hunters to help, “okay I secured some food and water, some climbing materials for the trip, do we have a location?”
Titus frowned as he looked at the maps on the table. Tapping one of them, he looked at Savë. “This one is right out. It’s almost the wrong side of the island.” Putting one finger on each of the other two, he looked thoughtful. “It’s probably either this spot here,” tapping a cove on the left one, “or it could be one of these two.” The right map had two spots that might have been coves, or just sloppy penmanship. “Any hints from the amulet? It really might be either.”
Savë examined the map with a furrowed brow as if trying to remember something she pulled out the amulet and placed it on the table for the three to use. Titus examined the amulet again, comparing it to the crude maps on the table. He’d looked at it before, but having a map in front of him might help.The eye in the center of the amulet was slightly misshapen upon further examination, specifically the pupil.
Savë could see the discovery on Titus’s face as he searched it, “You found something didn’t you?”
Placing the amulet on the two maps separately he is able to discern that the pupil is quite literally in the shape of one of the coves on the map. Titus sat back in his chair, grinning. “Well then, I suppose that settles it.” Getting a general idea of the area from the map again, he quickly estimated where they needed to go. As long as they were going in the generally right direction, they could fine tune it as they went. “I’m guessing these hunters don’t have much use for horses, hm? No matter, I suppose, the jungle is thick enough to make riding tricky. Shall we, ladies?” He flashed his winning smile at both Asyi and Savë.
Savë rolled her eyes but Asyi Grinned back hungrily. “Yes, let’s.” Savë said and the three packed up and headed out.
Savë gave Titus 3 rations and a water skin with enough for a week. She kept any climbing or caving gear to herself but that would be fine as far as titus was concerned.
The jungle was thick and heavy and as the sun reached its apex the humidity rose and Titus found his decision to join these women a regrettable one. Sighing, Titus pulled his now sodden shirt away from himself in a futile attempt to cool his sweaty body. This was miserable. This was a mistake. He should just… Titus looked up, seeing Asyi’s pants pulled tight across her as she walked a few steps ahead.
It wasn’t all bad.
He glanced to the side, as Savë struggled through the brush as well, her sweat soaked shirt clinging to her lithe form. Sometimes, he supposed, sacrifices were necessary. Titus cleared his throat. Did it just get a little hotter? He wasn’t sure that was really possible. The sun moving quickly down in the sky made things a little better. The trio finally broke the jungle after hours of hiking into a small water fall area that flowed into a decent sized stream.
Asyi’s hand went to Savës shoulder,”we have not slept in two days, kazi.”
Savë nodded, ” fair enough, but with Dufrees behind us we can only afford a few hours, six tops.”
The scenery was absolutely gorgeous upon reflection, something only the wild untouched lands of the islands could produce. Titus’ mind, which had been focused on his two lovely companions all day, suddenly reminded him that he himself hadn’t slept in about 2 days either. A yawn that nearly cracked his jaws escaped before he had a chance to stifle it. Truth be told, he’d been running on pure libido for the past hour or so, and he was ready to drop. Still, that was no cause to let his form slip.
Looking at himself, he really tried to appreciate the trees and… stuff. It was hard – he’d never found much fulfillment outside. Well, aside from the occasional tryst under the stars, of course. On a basic level, he understood that people really connected with nature. He’d even used it more than once in his pursuits. It just never really spoke to him personally. Like most things in his life, it was just another means to an end. Speaking of which…
“This is really deeply gorgeous – I had no idea the islands could produce such beauty as this.” When the women looked at him, he wasn’t looking at the scenery, but right at them with a tired smile. Before it got away from him, he was moving ahead.
“We should probably sleep in shifts – we wouldn’t want Dufree catching us unawares. Savë, are you good for the first watch? Asyi looks like she needs a break, and you look like you’re good for another few miles.”
He turned to the exquisite Imbube. “Asyi, do you need a hand with your shoulder? I’ve learned a few massage techniques that may help with aches.” His smile for her was touched with genuine concern, but promised a good deal more.
Savë rolled her eyes hard. Asyi smiled, “I thank you pretty boy but I am fine.”
Savë shook her head, “No he’s right, you need sleep first, I can watch.”
Asyi was a spirited lady but her fight was gone after the previous night’s action, “Alright I sleep.”
She turned to the one of the more comfortable looking small palms and eased down against it, “I will take a rain check on the massage pretty man.”
She grinned as she closed her eyes.Titus shrugged as he settled against a different tree nearby. “Suit yourself.” He smiled as well, then tried to get a little sleep.
The dreamless sleep was welcomed by the wayward aristocrat.
So was the Awakening.
Two or three hours later he was shaken awake by none other than Asyi on hands and knees over him grinning down,”save is asleep, time to put your money where your mouth is…”
Titus grinned, breathing quickly. He wasted no time, pulling her down for an intense kiss. Trying to be careful with her shoulder, he didn’t hold anything back.
The Last Tea Shop. A solo TTRPG playthrough. Written by Ash Alder and narrated by Zachariah Van Sluyters