127 A Moment of Res
The trek back to town was uneventful for Zoey and Max other than the occasional glance they got from the others on the road. Zoey had put her mask back on when they left the tunnel so they did not attract too much attention, but some still seemed to recognize Zoey's attire, probably from the event the previous morning in the marketplace. No doubt they were curious what the masked woman that was the talk of the town for a day was doing with a filthy, mud splattered boy by her side.
The sun was brightening the eastern horizon by the time they made it to Brumau, and everyone looked like they were about to fall asleep on their feet. Zoey on the other hand had a realization that she had no place where she could take the boy to get cleaned up, not to mention the fact that she also sorely needed a bath and a good scrubbing.
Luckily, Zoey still had her surveillance drones spread out across the town, so a quick mental query gave her the location of an inn that was not completely booked, and actually had bathing facilities available. So with Max still following behind she headed to the inn where they could get cleaned up and stay the day. The place ended up being in a rather well to do area of town with nicer brick buildings and clean streets. The people on the street were also rather well dressed with many wearing jewelry and ruffled clothing that bespoke wealth and fortune.
Zoey and Max got more than a few crooked looks due to their dirty appearance, but Zoey just ignored them. She was here to get cleaned and rested up so the approval of some random strangers on the street was hardly a concern for her. They reached the inn, known from the sign out front as The Pleasant Streams, and went inside.
The place was rather nice, with a cozy atmosphere and somewhat modern interior compared to the more medieval furnishings of other places Zoey had seen. There were comfortable looking chairs in the foyer where guests could sit and a dining area that was also nicely furnished off to one side. The lighting was well done, and Zoey was rather impressed by the scene. Whoever had designed this place knew what they were doing.
Even Max seemed to show some interest in the place, looking around as they approached the reception desk. Zoey was aware that the two of them were considerably out of place in this establishment, but even if they were filthy and a little unkempt, as long as they could pay the fee, she doubted that they would be refused service.
"Welcome to The Pleasant Streams Inn! How may I help you?"
The receptionist was a young woman in a yellow dress and a bright smile. Zoey could not spot a hint of disdain at their appearance from her, which was a welcome change from the snobs on the street.
"What rooms do you have available for a day?" asked Zoey as she stopped at the desk.
The young woman quickly replied, "We do have a room available for five silver a day. It includes two beds along with our famous baths accessible directly from the room. Would that be to your liking?"
Zoey nodded and provided the five silver to the woman who completed the registration, then called another employee to show them to their room while thanking them for their patronage. Shortly after, they were shown to their room and advised to call the attendee assigned to their wing if they had any requests.
Zoey was more and more impressed with the service they had been shown. She had expected very little service and even less commodities, but she had been proved wrong on every expectation so far. Additionally the room they were assigned was also a pleasant surprise.
The room was lit by warm magical lights hung on the walls and there were two well-made beds in the room that were loaded with comfortable looking bedding and fluffy pillows. There were places to put your gear if you had any and there was a door on the other side of the room that led into a spacious bathroom complete with a sauna, soap, and soft towels!
Zoey had to suppress the urge to immediately make use of the sauna and bath to clean herself, because there was one person that needed it more than her. Max, who had silently been following her ever since they left the Bulwark was standing in the middle of the room as if he was not sure what to do. Zoey quickly ushered him into the bathroom and instructed him to get cleaned up. His clothing was barely more than rags so Zoey had planned on making new ones for him while he got cleaned up.
Max quietly complied with Zoey's instructions, so Zoey gave him some privacy and left the bathroom to quickly fabricate some clothing for him. Nothing fancy to start with, just some reinforced cotton socks, trousers and a shirt that were slightly bigger than they needed to be would do for now. Once she made the first set she placed them inside the bathroom door for the boy.
With that settled, Zoey was able to take off her outer garments and get comfortable while she waited for her turn in the bath. She also brought out the hungry Viridi for her daily dose of blood. It still amazed Zoey that the big feline could survive with such little sustenance, but apparently her blood was extremely nutritious for the big furry cat. Once she had her fill, Viridi curled up in the center of the room between the two beds while she purred and licked her paws thoroughly, just like a cat after a meal Zoey noted with a smile.
While she waited, Zoey went through the data her drones had collected, but there wasn't much there for her to go through. By the time she finished, the door to the bathroom opened and out came a freshly cleaned Max dressed in fresh new clothes.
Zoey had to admit he looked like an entirely different person now that all the dirt had been washed away. By her judgement he looked about ten or eleven years old with a slender build, slightly long, straight black hair, and a face that was rather easy on the eyes. At the moment his hair sorely needed a brush, so Zoey sat him down and used one of hers to straighten the tangled mess out. The two of them and the big purring panther formed a rather pretty picture for a short moment in time.
After a few minutes of brushing, Zoey had fixed the mess and was about to finish when the boy just collapsed! Zoey nearly panicked for a moment as she caught Max before she realized that he had fallen peacefully asleep, breathing gently, and not in any way in distress.
Shaking her head in amusement and exasperation at the odd timing, she put him to bed and got him comfortable. Who knew what kind of stress the poor boy had been under. There would be plenty of time to ask questions tomorrow.
For now, Zoey's long awaited bath time had arrived!