Showing Some Backbone

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After knocking on the door a couple of times to no avail, Boss gives up, and he lets himself in. I follow quickly after him, and the first thing that hits me is the smell. It's like... sadness mixed with a bunch of different people's farts, booze, as well as sex. Wish I was better with words, but eh. It's accurate enough. Does a mayor actually live in a crappy place like this? Boss's Guild looks like Father's castle compared to this dump.

Broken liquor bottles are thrown around, shattered here and there, leaving sharp shards poking about every corner. Half-eaten plates of food are stacked almost to the ceiling in many different places, flies coating them all like oceans of buzzing black maggots. There's furniture somewhere beneath the filth, sure, but what little I can see of it is covered in stains of unknown, smelly origin. Just like the Guild, the mayor's house has broken walls and floors, but this place has way more.

Some of the walls are covered in posters of naked girls from just about every species imaginable, too. There's a big titty orc over there, a sexy, thick dwarf over there... even a centaur with her horse pussy on full display is hanging out for anyone to see. Course, every last damn one of the posters is also covered in more of those unknown stains... yuck. I don't want a bath after this. Being in here makes me feel like I need to sit in the tub for a whole three days just to properly get the stink off. I'm not even one of those prissy girly-girl types! It's just that bad!

If any of this bothers Boss as much as it bothers me, he sure as heck doesn't show it.

"Mayor?" He calls out, stepping forward into the ucky no-man's-land to stand near a messy desk covered in even more non-human porno mags and... oh Goddess, did that pile of mushrooms used to be socks?!

"The Sage din git me dem mana cryssals yet! I tol' ya to come next week!" A thin, scratchy-sounding voice belonging to an old man calls out from another room. When I say it's scratchy, I mean just imagining what it would take to make your voice actually sound like that hurts my throat. Like, has this old dude ever heard of water? And for that matter, this mayor is totally selling drugs by the sound of it.

What. Is. This. City!?

I look at Boss, hoping he can tell me whether or not this is normal, but he only sighs and shrugs his shoulders. "I'm not one of your customers, Abner. It's me. I'm here on Guild business."

"...The hell? That really you? Ain't seen you in years. Thought ye dun' finally screwed off fer gud. Gimme a sec..." The old-fogey emerges from a door on the right side of the room. I guess emerges is a poor word for it, as he basically just stumbles and barely avoids falling dead on his ass. He ain't just shitfaced. He looks shitbodied... if that's even a thing.

Not only that, but he's old as all heck, too. So old that he's more like a walking skeleton than anything else. His eyes are sunken in almost a mile into his skull, and his skin’s stretched so tight over his brittle old bones, making it look like low-quality leather.

This mayor, Abner or whatever, almost vomits on himself before thankfully keeping it down his throat and making his way over to the desk. From there, he goes on to look right into Boss's face. Man, the stare he's giving him is wild...

Abner is all full of himself like he's looking down on Boss from a pile of booze and porn without any self-awareness of how bad he looks. I can't imagine looking like him and somehow thinking he has any right to think he's better than anyone else, let alone my man- er, I mean, my Boss. Damn it.

Things get worse when he shifts his attention away from Boss and toward me. Abner licks his lips, somehow managing to have a creepier face than the RAEP tattoo guy while he does so. I'd almost be impressed if my skin weren't crawling...

"Ye brought a pretty lil' friend, eh? Y'wanna make a trade? Bring 'er over next week when I get some cryssals and... heh heh heh..." His scratchy voice pierces my ears, and I shudder, taking a step backward. 

Gag me.

My hand tries to reach straight for my sword's handle so I can threaten this creepy ol' perv, but Boss sees it coming and grabs my hand. Crap, I was totally about to wreck this guy. I gotta keep calm since we actually need some answers from him. He probably can't provide any if I cut him in half... plus, that would be bad, I guess...

"Don't you dare go talking about my companion here like that.” Boss growls at the mayor like an angry bear before adding unnecessarily, “She's mine."

Gah!

Kissing me in public wasn't enough for you, Boss? Now you... you gotta go and say embarrassing stuff like that in front of this old creep?! And he said it with so much authority, too... like... the fact that me being his isn't up for debate. What a smarmy piece of... Gods, you're lucky I don't pull this sword out on YOU, Boss! I'm my own person!

I guess the thought kinda makes me happy, though, or something... so I'll let it slide for now...

"Yers? Huh." Abner sizes me up and down again like he can't believe a girl like me would be with a guy like Boss. "Whatta waste..." He grumbles. "Tha fuck ye wan from me, then?"

"I have an adventurer staying in my Guild once again, and she's going to be staying with me for the long haul. Yet, even though I made sure to mark it for delivery, the quest she completed three days ago hasn't been delivered to the Association. Care to enlighten me as to why?"

The cruel old mayor chuckles, then says, "Cos ye gave uppa few years back. No use in lettin' ye turn in any new quests even if ye get your crap together, I mean, same reason I stopped sendin' ye the local quests. Jus' ain't worth nobody's time."

"You had best tell them to start turning in my damn quests, Abner. And for that matter, you should start putting the word out that the Guild is accepting local quests once more."

Oh, Gods. That last idea of his put a bad, bad taste in my mouth. The idea of running around doing favors for the 'good people' of Dewhurst and helping them sort their problems, woof. Now there's a thought... I can just see it now.

'Delivery Quest, 5,000G

Behind the burning green building is five crates of ‘medical supplies’ for my ‘poor, sick, grandmother’. Deliver them to the ‘friendly’ one-eyed dwarf in the back alley behind The Skankiest Siren, my ‘grandma’s’ favorite tavern. Do not open them.

Client- Drug Dealin’ Pete’'

Or better yet, ‘Retrieval Quest, 10,000G

Five female employees of mine have neglected to turn in their weekly quotas. Do whatever is necessary to collect my money. I promise you they can take any punishment you can dish out. They are loitering around Hooker’s Row.

Client- The Pimp King of Dewhurst’

Sure, maybe I’m a bit cynical here, but after that brisk walk of ours through the town, you can't really blame me if I don't have much positivity left...

"Ye sayin' ye wanna start helpin' people round here again? Oh man, wait'll er'one gits a load of dis!" Abner continually falls to more laughter the longer he listens to Boss's words, and the longer I listen to him, the more pissed I get. I really have to try and hold my tongue because I'm starting to get why Boss was so adamant about me keeping my cool. He must've known that this old jerk here was a piece of work. C'mon, Sam... you must've taken a billion classes on acting like a proper lady, gotta channel some of that energy right now...

"I think ye had yer chance, and ye messed it all up," Abner croaks. "Don' see much reason ta giv ya anotha one."

"Because I'm not leaving until you do. Everyone goes through ups and downs in their life, and while it's true the Guild suffered for a few years because of me, I'm going to get it back in action."

"That's right!" I add in, too proud of Boss and his determination to keep quiet. "You can either get our quests sent out from now on and send us local quests, or we can do this the hard way!"

"Th' fuck did ye just say ta me, bikini wench?" The mayor angrily looks my way, astonished that a woman dares talk to him in such a tone.

"Sam, relax." Boss sighs and squeezes my hand in his, but I can't just sit here doing nothing. I tried.

"Girly, I dunno why yer stickin' round this loser," Abner cocks his neck towards Boss. "But if I was you, I'd head on down ta Perlshaw. Ain't no good work ta be done round here, and I ain't gonna be givin' him what he wants. Ya can both fuck off now."

That's it. I'm getting mad, damn it!  I jerk my hand away from Boss and slam my fist into the desk, shouting, "Do you think I'm just gonna let you treat him like this?!" The furniture breaks clean in half under my strength, all while I clench my teeth.

Surprised, Abner falls on his ass onto a pile of cheap glass bottles. Some of them break under his almost non-existent weight, and I sure hope some of ‘em end up firmly lodged in his ass.

"Hey, hey, hey! This isn't going to help our case here!" Boss lodges a complaint and tries to take my hand, but I ain't having it. I shrug off his attempt at trying to hold me back and then point my gloved finger at the mayor.

"Why the hell does this whole town treat him like this, huh? I get that Dewhurst used to rely on all the gold that the Guild brought, but... that was ages ago! As Mayor, shouldn't you have a way to bounce back on your own?"

"W-Watch yer tongue, wench!" He screams from his pile of broken booze bottles, not helping his case at all. "I treat him how he deserves ta be treated! He went an killed his granpap when he was just a kid, sennin' Dewhurst into a downwer' spirl!"

Shit. So it's true? Boss looked pretty cagey when I accidentally implied he killed his old man, but... no, no. That's stupid. There's obviously more to it than just that. I'll get it out of him later, but I have to deal with this writhing maggot for now. How dare he treat Boss like this. I won't stand for it...!

"All he wants is to help this crappy town, like any good Guild Master! He's not some loser. This man is all about kicking ass, taking names, and screwing dames!" My eye starts twitching, and I step forward while pulling out my blade from over my shoulder and grabbing on tight with both hands. "You got that?!"

Everything goes red, and all I can feel is anger. Abner screams and pisses his pants as soon as I raise the sword, fully intending to strike the old man down.

"SAM!" Boss shouts at me, and suddenly, the anger dulls, and I get all light-headed. I drop my sword and stumble backward... what the heck was just all that crap just now? I was halfway to cutting this old bastard in half! Not like he doesn't deserve it, but... crap... crap, crap crap. I lost control of myself... this hasn't happened in a while...

I look for the right words, but all that comes out is, "Boss, I'm sorry, I..."

He shakes his head, closes his eyes, and leans in. "We'll talk about this later. For now, I'm going to use it." He whispers as calmly as he can. 

I nod my head at him, feeling like ass now that I've regained my senses. My emotions always get out of whack like this whenever it happens...

"I didn't want it to be like this, Abner. I really didn't. You should have just nodded your head and said 'ok', but you just had to make things worse for yourself, didn't you?" Boss walks over to the ruins of the desk, then puts on leg on top of it. He takes his glasses off and holds them out for me. "Keep these for a moment, my dear."

"But... your eyes... you'll hurt, won't you?"

He doesn't say anything back, so I just take the glasses for him, bend down to pick up my sword, and watch as he leans down further over the desk to grab the scrawny old man by the collar of his shirt. He looks badass holding that asshole like that, but even if Boss does work out like I think he does, Abner looks like he only weighs about twenty pounds, so it's not that impressive.

"W-Wait! I'll do it! I'll do whateva ya want! I'm sorry!" Abner begs for mercy, wiggling around like a pathetic worm in Boss's grasp.

"I know you will," Boss says, holding back the pain as his pinkish-white eyes twitch. Oh, Gods... blood starts popping out the corners of his eyes... it’s running down his cheeks, making him look like he's crying blood. Now I know why he took his glasses off... Boss looks like a demon when he does this. "Let's get something straight from now on, alright?"

The old man nods like a coward, and Boss continues on, "I'm done caring what you or anyone else thinks of me. You want to blame me for the reason this town turned out the way it did? Fine, think what you wish. I'm sure it's much easier to blame a kid who was ten years old at the time than it is to take any sort of accountability as mayor. Whatever helps you sleep at night."

"N-No, I never dun did any of-"

"Shut up." Boss shakes the old man, which I very much approve of. "Hate me for having a part in my grandfather's accident or for having cursed eyes that I didn't choose to be born with. None of that matters anymore. What matters is that I'm back in action, and I have a Guild. You can either let me help people with it, or I can start being the villain this town likes to think that I am. You've seen how strong my dear adventurer is, so I must ask. Which would you prefer, Abner? For me to help you and this town? Or for her to hurt you?"

"I'll go an git yer things sorted, I will! I promise ye!"

"Good," Boss throws the nasty old man back into his pile of filth and booze before taking out his handkerchief and wiping the bloodstreams off of his face. "However, we still have a small problem that I won't leave until we sort out."

"Please, no! Just-"

"I said shut up!" He raises his voice, which makes the mayor raise his arms defensively in front of his body. Then, Boss holds out his hand back to me. I give him back his glasses, and he slides them on all cool and professional-like.

"That quest should have been mailed three days ago. You were the cause of the delay, so it's only fair that you should reimburse me, isn't that right? Oh, and we can't have you forgetting about the twenty-five percent 'I'm a piece of human shit' fee. I'm sure you have 325G lying around here somewhere, so go and find it. Consider it your investment towards helping the Dewhurst Adventurer's Guild start up once again."

Abner scrambles away from his depressing mess and goes back over to the other room. At first, I'm afraid he's just straight-up running away, but we both hear the sounds of him rifling through drawers soon enough.

After a minute of searching, the mayor finally opens the door and tosses a small pouch of gold at Boss's feet before closing it back up. Guess he ain't even gonna say goodbye, huh? Good riddance.

Acting all proud of himself, Boss scoops up the bag and puts it into his pocket with a satisfied grin. "There. Not exactly standard Guild procedure, but I got the job done. Let's take care of shopping while we're still out and about, Sam." He says.

"Hey, as far as I'm concerned you... kicked ass," I give him an awkward thumbs-up before holding the door open for him. The clean air bursts inside of the disgusting roach factory that is the mayor's house, making me feel way, way better already. "Sorry about... uh... everything that happened back there."

"...Yeah, We'll make this a quick shopping trip. We have a lot to talk about, I think."

I was worried he would say that... welp, at least we got plenty of money to get some lube, if nothing else...

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Rise of the Guild Master