It’s Always Sunny in Dewhurst

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Hand in sweaty hand, Boss and I head out into the town together. Sucks that we have to take care of the mail problem on top of our other errands, but it is what it is.

Our trip starts off with a little walk down the dirt road leading away from the Guild. Ah, It feels really nice to be out working my legs again! Not to mention holding hands with Boss is admittedly kinda nice.

I'd definitely enjoy it a whole lot more if my stupid hands weren't so damned sweaty, though. Hmph, it's all his fault for making me nervous, this stupid Boss of mine...

Still, I hope I get used to holding his hands. It's just that I don't think I'd mind if we do it more often, but it's making my leather gloves feel all icky, sticky, and gross. It's not like I can take the gloves off, either, cause then he'd find out how sweaty I am, and I would never hear the end of it!

Yucky as it might be, I suck it up, and we make it into Dewhurst.

I still don't know how I'll ever get used to the unique 'charms' that this town has going on. Almost every street, building, and passerby put in a little something toward making the place feel like Karnalle's biggest crapfest.

As roughed-up as the Guild is, I've probably been a little harsh on it. Now that I'm paying closer attention to the levels of suck this city has to offer, I think the Guild is actually one of the better-kept buildings in Dewhurst. Yeesh.

This is totally the sheltered Princess side of me talking, but I have to ask... is any of this normal? Are there other towns as crappy as Dewhurst, or is everything I'm seeing just a special kind of fucked up which can't be found anywhere else?

I'm super curious because I've only ever been to a handful of towns, most of which are the well-off provincial capitals. Perlshaw might've been nice, but that other town I passed to Dewhurst wasn't that hot either... Cransmere, or whatever? Yeah. That place sucked too, but in a different, creepier way.

If this really is the norm for Karnalle, then... fuckin' yikes, dude. Somebody should probably get on that. I'm tempted to blame my lazy-ass King of a Father, but I think it's the Duke of Arrark's job to make sure that the cities in his province don't go tits up.

Whoever's fault it is, I don't really care. All this thinking overwhelms me to the point where I end up blurting out, "What the heck happened to this town that made it turn out so crappy, Boss...?"

My sort-of boyfriend stops in place, taking his big hand away from mine. Cupping his chin, he looks up at the gray, cloudy sky hanging overhead as he says, "That's not a very easy question for me to answer."

"Why not?" I didn't expect him to get all sulky over an innocent question, but it makes Boss a whole lot more distant.

"Because depending on who you ask, you'll get a myriad of reasons. A good portion of the townsfolk might even tell you that they blame me in particular, and I can't even blame them for thinking that."

"Uh..." I blink at him, thinking I must have misheard. That sounds way too stupid to be even remotely true. My ears must be full of gunk or something.

"What the crap are ya going on about? There's no way that could be the case. You're just one guy who barely even leaves his house!" Laughing it off, my worry starts growing when his response is even colder.

"You'd think that, but you might end up surprised." The gloomy man sighs before forcing himself to fake a smile for me.

I squint my eyes, stomp my foot, and rest my hands on my hips. "That right? Go on, then. Surprise me. Tell me the tale about how one dude totally ruined an entire town all by himself!"

"The long and short of it is that Dewhurst was a boomtown which both catered to and profited from adventurers. My Grandfather’s leadership was the only reason it lasted as long as it did, and when he died during my childhood, things started going south over the years." Adjusting his glasses, Boss starts falling into another one of his pity parties.

I ain't gonna just let him do that, and if he keeps it up, I'm gonna have to snap his mopey ass out of it with a nice, firm slap!

"Ok, so your Grandpa died. Still not seeing how the heck that's supposed to be your fault, since it's not like you killed him or anything, right?" I roll my eyes and laugh, only to feel like my gut just got punched when I look back at Boss.

He stares straight back at me with the most lifeless, defeated, and severe expression I've ever seen a man make. This raises the awkward level off the chart, and I start thinking maybe I spoke too soon about him having a pity party.

As much as I want to hear the extended version of this story, this ain't the best place for a sudden therapy session.

"Look, my point is that you should cheer up a little! No matter what happened, it's not like you can actually blame yourself for... that," I point over at a group of cruddy-looking street urchins covered in grime head to toe. Each brat slurps green soup out of chipped clay bowls using wooden spoons as they chat about the junk they stole today.

"Or that," Next, I draw attention to one of the many town whores who's sitting on a broken windowsill. The chick's face is covered in the cheapest makeup I've ever seen, and she's wearing a ratty dress. More importantly, but the big takeaway is that she's openly smoking a bunch of blue, glowing gemstones from a heated glass pipe.

The rocks look a lot like those mana crystals Zuzu kept stocked in her lab, but the ones in the pipe are way cloudier, and I've never heard of anyone smoking mana before.

Whatever’s inside, the hooker hands off the pipe to a shady guy behind her. Pretty sure it’s her pimp? Whatever he is, he takes a long hit from the pipe, both of their eyes sizzling with magic.

"And you're especially not responsible for that!" Lastly, I nod toward a nearby wooden building on fire that looks like an apothecary. No one around seems to give a crap, even though the fire is green for whatever damn reason. It stinks all the way to Supernal Skies of Serenity and then some.

Boss barely even pays these insane sights any mind. All he does is shrug his shoulders while explaining, "You're right. I’m not trying to say I'm the only reason for every last one of Dewhurst's problems. That would be ridiculous. What I am saying is that there was a gradual decline and that it would be fair to attribute some of it to bad decisions I made when I was young."

I don't say anything back to him because I just can't think of anything that could really help. I grumble a little, but Boss keeps talking.

"The city lost its main source of income once the adventurers started trickling away, leaving Dewhurst with two options. Find a new revenue stream, or open the floodgates to criminals in the hopes that the gold they'd bring in would be enough to keep the city afloat. As you can plainly see-"

"Yeah, ain't hard to guess which path the town went down... man, that's such a bummer." To try and lighten my mood, I look around the crappy horizon one last time, searching for another strange sight. It doesn't take long to find one.

"What about that Catfolk twink over there? Is that your handiwork, too?" I ask, giggling about the strange little Beastfolk boy on the corner of the street who's standing on top of a wooden box, meowing about how taxation is theft to anyone who'll listen.

"No," Boss laughs, giving a friendly wave to the feline femboy as his sour mood recovers a bit. "Milly is sort of his own thing."

The dark-skinned, pink-furred Catboy wearing fishnets and not much else waves back, making a suggestive 'nyaa' sound at Boss. That's, uh... something, alright. I thought that Boss didn't have any friends, so what kind of relationship does my man have with this... this feral tomcat, huh?

Er, wait a sec... am I actually getting jealous over this? Gods almighty, what is wrong with me today?!

Forget about the gay, stupid kitty for just a minute, Sam. It's more important to consider the stuff Boss is saying. I guess I'm gonna have to pry into whatever happened with his Grandpa since it sounds like it's the cause of a lot of the dude's hangups.

Since neither of us has really opened up about our past yet, I’m kinda nervous about asking. It’s not that I’m afraid Boss'll try and dig the truth about who I am out of me. More than that, I’m worried because I know I'm not the best at being considerate.

Whenever he gets all moody, my first thought is to give him a slap and tell him to get a grip. That worked the first time around, but it's probably the exact opposite of what he needs. Man... all I wanna do is support the damn guy. Why does that have to be so hard?

It's a good thing that Zuzu is a lot better than me at being kind and supportive. She's always been there for me, listening to my problems and doing whatever she could to help solve 'em, so there’s no doubt she could do the same for Boss, and if Zuzu doesn't show up, then... even though it makes me anxious, I can still do my best to hear Boss out myself!

We're partners. I gotta be there for the guy and keep him focused on kicking ass, taking names, and screwing dames!

...Heh, nice one, Sam. Gotta find a way to use that line later. I bet Boss would have a good laugh at it!

The sad talk dies down once Boss starts leading me around the streets of Dewhurst again.

Thank the Gods, I'm getting used to holding hands, and I'm sweating a whole lot less. I'd probably be even more chilled out if it weren't for all the weird, creepy, downright dangerous-looking townsfolk we pass by. The variety on display among them is crazy, and pretty much each and every one of 'em look like they're from the wrong walks of life.

It's not that I haven't seen peasants, lowlifes, or thugs before.

I used to love sneaking into the castle dungeons to see the newest weirdos, and whenever I saw a chance, I'd even slip away to wander the streets of Imperalis every now and then, too. While I haven't ever been to the infamous Traitor's Row, I saw just about every other ghetto the Great City has to offer.

What shocks me so much is that the unlucky bastards living in the worst shantytowns of Imperalis don't hold a candle to the hoodlums, hooligans, and hoodrats of Dewhurst. Not at all. Here, it's almost like the entire city is on the verge of stabbing you, and all it'd take to get 'em to do it is one wrong look.

For example, take that guy over there.

Hanging around a dingy bar whose 'classy' wooden sign reads 'Muff and Stuff' is a big, burly dude going completely shirtless, wearing patchy brown trousers with suspenders and black boots that go up to his knee. He's bald except for a giant brown mohawk, has a crazy-ass evil stare, and the icing on top of this cake?

The motherfucker has the letters 'R-A-E-P' tattooed in bright red across his massive, veiny forehead.

Yep.

But that’s not actually the whole truth. I was lying, y’see. The tattoo wasn't the icing, no, no, no... the icing was that I saw this guy back in Castle Lundreame's dungeon only like damn three months ago!

I’m sure it’s him because ya can’t really go forgetting a dude like this if you tried. Fuck if I know why he was in our dungeon and not one of Arrark's, but I'm pretty sure I don't wanna know.

Y'know what? Good for him. I'm glad that someone thought Raepface of all people was ready to re-enter society... gah. I can't even with the people of this town!

And then there's me, walking around wearing a damn bikini while all the creeps stare at me like an all-you-can-RAEP buffet. I know we need to start saving some gold, but... I'm gonna swallow my pride here and just go for it.

I ask, "Hey, Boss? Do ya think we could maybe look at getting me some actual armor while we're out?"

It's not that I'm afraid of all these pervs, nah. I'm sure I could put 'em in their place if they even thought of trying anything. It's just that I wouldn't mind not having to deal with 'em in the first place. 

I'm super hot, though, so even if I cover up, I doubt it'd stop them completely... but it'd still be better than nothing.

Boss is quick on the uptake, and he squeezes my hand tighter, trying to calm me. "I don't think that's possible right now. Just about all the armorers and blacksmiths in this town get their wares cleaned out by the local gangs, and prices tend to be exorbitant for whatever's left."

"Man..." Sighing, I slump my back. I was gonna try and slut it up if he said no so I could 'convince' him, but it sounds like that'd be pointless.

Lucky for me, Boss has got something else we could do instead.

"Tell you what, we can at least stop by a tailor's when we're done grocery shopping and pick you up some clothes. How does that sound?"

Agh- getting charity from him makes my heart start beating real fast, but in a good way. "T-That sounds cool, I guess..." I tell him, turning away to hide my blushing cheeks.

"Good. Walking around in that get-up doesn’t scare you, does it?" He asks me, dead serious. It feels like he's teasing, though, and I end up gripping his fist tight in reaction to the attack on my pride.

"Hah! Yeah, right! I'm stronger than all of these scrawny jerks put together!" I flex my bicep at him, showing off. Even though it's covered by my black sleeve, interest flares up behind those dark glasses of his.

What a perv.

"My brain was turned off when we were out last since I had just got rolled into town. Now that I'm fully rested, I guess the reality of Dewhurst is finally starting to sink in..."

Boss frowns, concern showing up on that cute face of his. "You should've told me you were exhausted. I wouldn't have forced you out on a quest if I'd have known."

I shrug and dismiss the thought with my hand, saying, "Chill, it was no big deal. I wanted to prove myself as quick as possible. Plus, if you forgot... a certain someone needed some alone time to cool themselves off right after we met."

"Fair enough," He sighs. For once, I pull out on top and watch as his cheeks turn red. Score! Boss hides his gaze, looking all cute and embarrassed.

"Anyhow, I doubt anyone will cause you trouble so long as you stick by my side. Most folks tend to avoid me unless I have business with them, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon."

Ugh, hearing him say this junk makes me emotional, and I don't even know why. I guess I feel bad that he feels this is his lot in life and that it's hard for him to imagine it changing?

All I gotta say about it is fuck that noise.

I clench both of his hands with my fists, staring straight into his eyes with an angry, determined glare. I don't say anything because I don't need to.

"Sorry, sorry," He smiles calmly, nodding his head. "It's not that I've forgotten that I promised to change, or any of the things you've taught me-"

"Ya better not have," I give him a different, more playful but still angry expression as I start to smirk back. "If it's not that, though, then what's actually bothering you?"

"I just think that as amazing as you are, it's going to take me a while until I'm used to being happy again." He laughs sincerely from the bottom of his heart before taking a sideways glance.

I feel myself blushing again. I know what he said just now was kinda sad, but... it also wasn't, so I guess I've got no choice but to give Boss a pass on it, huh? Especially since he implied that as hard as it is to change, he really does feel happy right now, and it's because of little ol' me.

"That right?" I take my hands away, trying to play down my growing grin. "Well, maybe you'll get used to it by the time I get used to living in Dewhurst..."

"Lucky for you, I think I know a way to help you with that." Boss takes a step forward, closing the meager distance between us and getting up in my business. The smile on his face becomes deeper, teasing, even... oh no.

He isn't gonna... oh, Gods, this bastard is totally gonna do it!

Before I can try and stop him, or even before I can think about if I WANT to stop him, Boss glides in and kisses me smack dab in the middle of the street where everyone can see. Somehow, it feels like as he presses his lips against mine, the attention of every thug in Dewhurst is stolen from their seedy activities and redirected straight at the two of us.

T-this... this... is way too much for me...

I gotta push him away already, I gotta... mn... wait, why the heck am I kissing him back?! Things have gone way, way past being a cringy public display of affection.

We've gone and turned this into a full-on makeout session, and I'm just as much to blame...! Damn it, Sam, no... stop it, you dumb, stupid... oh... oh, fuck yeah... Sam, yes...!

Boss is getting good at this...! More... just a bit longer... I... I-

And just like that, he pulls away, leaving me stunned and unable to speak a single damn word.

Frozen, I stand here awkwardly without a single thought. My jaw is slacked, goosebumps are all over my skin, and I still feel a naughty tingle on my tongue. I... I can't believe this just happened. Even though I can be a super aggressive slut during sex, kissing Boss in public like this is a whole 'nother story.

I should be proud of Boss for growing some balls and doing what he wanted, even if that meant kissing me as hard as he did, but... agh...!

Shaking off the humiliation, I take a step backward and wipe up a bit of drool leaking down my lip. "W-What the fuck was that for, you perv?" I ask, turning away from his smug, dopey, and handsome face.

"Just helping you get more used to Dewhurst, that's all." Boss teases, his voice sounding all smarmy. This bastard is getting a big head, thinking he can pull one over me just because he's cute.

I hate to tell him, but he's got another thing coming! Why I'm gonna... uh... I'm gonna... aw, who the fuck am I trying to kid? I'm totally gonna let Boss get away with it.

The best comeback I can think up is, "And how the heck is kissing me while the whole town watches supposed to help with that, huh?"

He explains, "Well, from my point of view, you don't look all too bothered about our audience anymore."

I stop in my tracks, pausing for just a sec. Looking around at the motley collection of rogues, druggies, hobos, and hoes, I realize that against all odds, the bastard is right. I could kinda care less about all of 'em watching me. Just because Boss is here with me and I'm having fun with him, it's like nothing else matters.

There's a frog in my throat making it hard to snap back at him, but eventually, I tell Boss, "You win this round, asshole..."

"Just in time, too. We're almost there." Boss extends his hand, making it known that the Mayor's office is only a couple of buildings away. "Before we go in, though, I'd like it if you could promise me something."

Confused but ready to get a move on, I ask, "Uh, sure? What's up?"

"No matter what happens during this meeting, do your best to keep calm. Don't get mad, hurt anyone, or destroy anything."

"Yeah, that's a super normal thing ya always gotta be careful of when visiting the local Mayor, right?" I shrug, checking out the building closer.

What kind of dude even lives in a shitheap like this? Garbage is littered across the property and stretching out into the city street, each one of the glass windows is broken, and a couple of stray arrows are stuck in the wooden door. This must be one doozy of a mayor.

"What the heck are ya expecting to happen in there?" I ask, starting to feel worried about the answer.

Using a grave tone of voice, the only thing Boss says back is, "I'm expecting you to get mad and want to hurt someone or destroy something."

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Rise of the Guild Master