The land of Stelleiga was vast, nearly overtaken by ruffians some say, and fertile.
In one town, Lumeria, we get to meet our hero, our sweet growing hero.
Casey cranked back his arm and hit the man squarely, once again.
The quiet night was suddenly awoken with a wet snap, and the sound of fist against broken nose echoed through the hazy passageway behind the township of Lumeria's smallest pub, Opi.
With a drunken groan, the man looked up and glared at Casey. Blood dripped from his nose and lip, spilling through his beefy fingers.
"You dirty Shifter!" He screamed, enraged.
Casey flinched further away, more at the scent of his alcoholic breath than his insult then scrambled out of the stone-cobbled alley and into the road.
His fists clenched still, Casey pulled his claws back into human form.
Enough of fighting drunken bastards behind taverns, Casey thought. Skittering around a parked wagon, Casey headed towards the next tavern, sorting his thoughts into a solid piece.
The fight had started simple, Casey came into the small tavern, played a game, won said game, and the loser was quite a sore one.
Next, the looser decided on slapping the rear of the finest nearby elf lady, who happened to be standing beside Casey. After that was a blur.
Casey's been blamed for the harassment and immediately fought the loser who thought it was funny,
tumbling with him to the ground and getting a few good punches in before they were both tossed out the back door to continue their skirmishes. We know the rest.
The night was still bright, around 10 o'clock with the lanterns ablaze and glowing.
Casey knew to hurry to the next tavern or pub, for when it got past 12 the lanterns would go out, and be replaced with torches.
When the torches came out, so did the local packs of humans, witches, elves, and rarely a couple of other shifters.
Casey ran alone and planned on staying that way. Any of the clans looking for recruits wouldn't be the types Casey'd be willing to run with.
The last time didn't turn out too well, resulting in scars and emotional turmoil Casey hadn't bargained for.
He turned a corner and continued trotting towards the next tavern when a thin, pale hand shot out from the shadow behind a garbage bin, in an attempt to grab hold of a leg or shoe.
Casey easily hopped over the flailing arm and stepped out of reach.
" Don't try grabbing me again, you!" Casey yelled, irritated. This had happened before.
Tired of fighting, Casey didn't bother pulling the skinny elf girl out of the shadows and talking to her about 'self-preservation' which she didn't seem to understand.
"Please give me some silvers! Even a handful of coppers! Please!" She whined.
Casey frowned down at her in pity. "No"
She gazed up at him, her green eyes glowing and wet with unshed tears. The elf girl wiped a pale hand across her face, smearing a booger, and sobbed once before Casey huffed "Fine!"
Casey rummaged through the small satchel tied at his waist while the elf girl held her breath in anticipation.
He dropped a single silver coin into her shaking outstretched hand.
"That's all I have for now," Casey stated, "Goodnight".
"Thank you! Thank you kind one! What's your name-"
but Casey had already turned and was headed off to earn back the coin he'd just spent.
The next tavern was larger, brighter, and filled with the smoke and vapors from cigars and other burning inhalants.
Casey puffed out his chest and stepped in the swinging wooden door, immediately smacked with the intoxicating scents.
He nodded at the man behind the bar who glanced up at the creak of the heavy door.
Casey was headed towards the billboard, plastered with missing individual flyers, criminal notices, and posters of a variety.
Upon closer examination Casey found just what he had sought: a help wanted poster.
The poster was simple parchment, the ink starting to fade. Just like the simple physical aspects, the writing itself on the paper was simple as well:
Help Wanted: In Search of a messenger from Lumeria to Younktry Province. Horse provided.
Casey didn't see why the parchment poster had been left, apparently unpopular with the locals who passed by it.
Younktry was a three-day trip in all, over a slight mountain pass and, as far as Casey knew, quite easy.
Casey started to turn when the barkeep belched loudly, directly beside him.
Noticing Casey'd been reading the sheet, he stated, "It's a message for a princess in a haunted castle." and gruffly turned toward a new customer.
So that answered the question. The message was to be sent to a haunted castle.
"Ah, and the horse they 'provide' is half-feral and has a lame gait" the bartender added, pouring frothy beer into a mug.
Casey sighed and mulled over the other available ways to earn coins within the common law, scanning through every single paper on the board.
Join our Guild! No training needed, full-time housing with members-
Lost messenger pigeon-
Find new wife-
Help Wanted Cleaning 20 stall pig barn-
Urgent! Need Loan to pay off debt-
The papers continued, none catching Casey's fancy. Casey kept glancing back at the message carrier parchment.
Lifting the paper, the back read, solely, 'Frideric Angles, North Lumeria, Redbrick house 7'.
A clock chimed on the wall. 11:30.
Casey drew a small sketchbook and scribbled down the name and address.
The bartender seemed to materialize in front of Casey at the bar once again; "What to drink?"
"We ain't got any."
"Sure thing," and he spun on his heel and brought back a glass goblet of the beverage.
Casey waved smoke out of his eyes and coughed before taking a sip, and coughed once again. The wine was mild, sweet and fruity, but also tasted a bit watered down.
Watered down perhaps with pond water.
Casey gulped it down with an internal grimace and left two coppers on the counter.
Whirling on a heel, Casey nearly slammed into a pale blur of a girl.
"Sorry, m'lady- YOU!" Casey started.
The elven girl was smiling, wide-eyed, at Casey, hands crumpled over a paper that looked suspiciously similar to the one Casey had just written on.
She tucked a strand of black hair behind a pointed ear.
"ME! What an unforetold circumstance to meet you once again!" She held her hands behind her back now, her dirty green dress obscuring them.
Casey warily patted his pocket without breaking eye contact, finding it empty.
"May you return my paper m'lady?"
"What paper?" She tried, tilting her head to the side.
"The one you seem to have stolen and folded into a back pocket of your dress, m'lady"
The elven girl blinked twice then grudgingly handed it back.
"Thank you." Casey sighed then questioned, "What is your name?"
"Thought you'd never ask! 'Tis Mei! Mei Answillia! And yours?"
Casey stared numbly at the clock, the seconds ticking by.
"Casey. Just Casey"
She smiled wide, green eyes glowing through the smoke of the tavern.
"Take me with you".