Garen restrained his overflowing Bravery and returned to Su Lin with haste.
"He’s truly a Master, that Duskdune Shura, even at my current level, I still can’t beat him." He sighed, "Oh right, what were those monsters called? Werewolves?"
"They are. Have you seen them around?" Joseph answered timidly. His two companions were so intimidated by Garen’s show of power, they subconsciously took a step back.
Garen quickly scanned through the three strangers slightly warily. He was going to question them when Su Lin interrupted and introduced them.
"They were going to launch a sneak attack on the werewolves’ altar to prevent them from completing the hunting ritual. These people were innocent."
"Werewolves? They really are werewolves?" Garen’s eyebrows furrowed. Now that he knows werewolves exist, it would be a sensible opinion to conclude that vampires and other evil creatures exist as well. If vampires exist, what could be next? Holy churches like in those fantasy novels and movies on Earth?
A series of thoughts came to him almost simultaneously. Back on Earth, he has had his fair share of movies consumption.
"What? Have you met them before?" Joseph was slightly taken aback by Garen’s seeming nonchalance. He still held himself quite well against Garen compared to his other two companions.
"Nah, I’ve only heard about them. Let’s look for a place to talk, I need some answers from you guys." Garen noticed the people in black cloaks heading toward them. "Actually, maybe it’s better for me to ask them."
The black cloaked leader took off the hood, revealing a middle-aged lady with scars on her face.
"Brave fighter friends, we are of the Jiu Gu Clan1 from nearby forest. May we have the honor to invite you for a brief conversation someplace else?"
Everyone, including Su Lin, Celine, as well as Joseph and his companions turned to Garen, who raised his eyebrows out of curiosity. "Lead the way."
The leader nodded, "Please, this way."
Half an hour later, in a manor near the pine woods.
In a dimly lit room with a minibar, the scarred lady stood behind the redwood bar counter, expertly mixing cocktails with a shaker.
Garen’s group and Joseph’s group took their own spots in front of the counter, some of them standing and some sitting. Joseph and his companions sat separately from Garen, talking to a young and pretty woman.
The flames in the fireplace crackled, sending warmth to every corners of the room.
"In other words, you don’t know anything about any non-human races other than the werewolves?" Garen asked with a slight disappointment.
"Exactly that." The middle-aged woman nodded, "Call me Yarmdo, by the way. Our clan has been in a feud with the werewolves for a really long time. Most of the time clashes only happen within the Sin Gerro area. I’m not sure about other places though. Within these woods, according to our correspondence with the other gathering spots of our clan, there have only been werewolves. The other creatures probably only exist in mythology…" Yarmdo the clan leader looked at Garen with intrigue.
Garen nodded, unsure of how to respond.
He assumed vampires, dark sorcerers, or holy churches exist, like those stories he had heard on Earth. He didn’t know there were only two forces fighting against each other.
One side of that is the werewolves who hunts humans for food. The other side is the Demon Hunter clan, fated to put up resistance against the werewolves.
Both sides have been in a feud for so long, no one remembered what fuelled the initial battle that became the current racial war.
Sensing no response from Garen, Yarmdo continued.
"The Jiu Gu Clan were divided into three subclans, each fighting a werewolf tribe at different places. But the werewolves are powerful. The ones that we encountered today were only a really small
pack. They were having a hunting ritual, which is their counterpart for coming of age ceremonies, so those were mostly underage werewolves. Even so, we were having a hard time defeating them."
Yarmdo stared at Garen earnestly, and glanced toward Su Lin and the Joseph trio.
"If you would allow me, I’d like to formally invite you to join our Demon Hunters clan with my utmost sincerity."
"I’m really sorry, but we were only passersby to this country, pursuing a wanted criminal. We can’t possibly stay to help with your battles." Su Lin noticed a slight frown on Garen’s face and immediately understood his concerns. In addition, their original plan did not include stopping a god-knows-how-long feud. He stepped in to reject Yarmdo’s proposition.
"Without our means of concealment, the werewolves will hunt you down. Only by laying low in here can you get rid of the scent they track with." Yarmdo explained, "All those werewolves Mr. Garen killed had left him with their scents. If he returns to the woods now, the werewolves will be able to track it and send much stronger adult hunters after him."
She looked into Garen’s eyes directly.
"Mr. Garen, I know you are capable, but you are only one person. The werewolves are strong beyond your imagination. The have two High Elders, not the kind you met today, who are truly at the prime of their hunting years. Their strength is far beyond your standard werewolves, and they also have the Wolf King Worthman. Our clan had been oppressed for far too long because of those werewolves. Right now, they are hiding in the human society, we can’t even track them if they don’t show up during certain times. They have acclimated to the human society so well that all of them are masters in assassination."
"I’m truly sorry, we really have our own mission, so it’s really impossible for us to stay here longer than necessary." Garen shook his head.
"A mission? Do you mind telling us about it? Maybe we can help with the information you need." Yarmdo knew she wouldn’t be able to convince Garen right now, no one would offer help with nothing to gain.
"Do you know about the Golden Sword Throne?"
"Golden Sword Throne?" Yarmdo shook her head, "It’s my first time hearing about it."
"What about the Dahl Falls?" Garen asked
Yarmdo’s eyes widened. "Dahl Falls?"
"You know about the place?" Garen wasn’t expecting a reaction like that.
"Yes, um… That’s the hunting ground of the High Elder Vitar. Please wait a moment, I’ll go get a map. That place is hard to get to for normal people." Yarmdo swiftly poured out the cocktails into several shot glasses and moved them over to Garen’s trio. She left the room with vigor.
Garen and the other two took the cocktails. Su Lin took a whiff but didn’t drink, Celine on the other hand sipped it slowly.
"It was not bad." Celine commented, slightly bored.
Garen walked over to the walls, inspecting the weapons and armors hanging on the blackstone wall.
These are tools the Demon Hunters employ to fight against the werewolves.
"In the movies on Earth, demon hunters2 would normally use silverware to fight werewolves, apparently silver suppresses their ability to heal. I wonder if it’s the same here."
He recalled the little information he had while removing a black crossbow to examine.
The crossbow was black all-around and has a T-shaped body. The grip was wrapped with a yellowing white cloth, giving it a rough finish. Through the cloth Garen can feel the coolness of the crossbow wood. It was not loaded.
Garen turned it over to look at the bottom part. There was some symbols engraved on the foregrip that Garen is not able to recognize.
"That’s the Ancient Endorian language. According to hearsays, these Ancient Endorian scripts have the ability to summon mystical forces, so a lot of religious texts would make a reference to it." Su Lin explained softly.
Garen nodded and put the crossbow back on the wall.
The other weapons on the wall are mostly strongbows and firearms, there’s no sign of any silverware at all.
Garen sighed regretfully. From the looks of it, the werewolves here were not weakened by silver.
He had always been interested in these mythological creatures, but right now, his main mission was to recover the Golden Sword Throne from Duskdune Shura. When he was extended the invitation to join the Demon Hunters, he had thought about it, since Yarmdo was being nice. Considering the long history with the clan, he might even get a good treasure with Potential.
One by one, Garen started examining the items on the wall. Of all nine items, most are decorative, there was none that he can find Potential in.
"What do you think of these weapons?" Yarmdo was back with a map made of sheepskin leather.
"They were alright. They should be pretty powerful, combining firearms and ancient knowledge."
"They would be decent if they were used against humans," Yarmdo shrugged. "But they don’t seem to do a lot on werewolves. Even High Elders would be too much for us to handle, not to mention the Wolf King Worthman. Fortunately for us, they had some infighting problem and got hurt, that should set them back a few years to heal."
"Don’t werewolves heal fast?" Celine interrupted.
"Not when it’s hurt with the claws by one of their kind." Yarmdo explained.
"I was wondering if your clan collected any antiques from all these years battling the werewolves. I mean, I had some experience appraising antiques, and am interested with what you have. Is it okay if I take a look?"
Sensing Yarmdo’s confusion, Garen added, "Anything from old equipments, trinkets, to things taken from the werewolves for keepsake will do."
"Of course. Sometimes we do loot the werewolves we kill for keepsakes. Sort of like a collection. We have a lot of those." Yarmdo agreed without hesitation.
"This is a map of the areas nearby, think of it as an appreciation for helping us with the wolf pack just now," She held the map out toward Garen.
"Mr. Garen, it is my duty to warn you, even though you are stronger than any of us, you shouldn’t underestimate the capabilities of the High Elders. If there’s anything we can do to help, just come to us Jiu Gu Demon Hunters."
"Thanks." Garen knew this was an attempt to gain his favor, but he played along just to be nice. At least he’ll have the locals’ help.
Checking the map, Garen learned about the situation in the nearby Pinehill City from Yarmdo. After receiving a bagful of trinkets, Garen’s trio was eager to start chasing after Duskdune Shura to the Dahl Falls.
On the other hand, the other three, Joseph, Johnson, and Annie, built a solid connection with the charming young Demon Hunter, and were not planning to leave anytime soon, especially when they’ve just experienced a bloodshed. Without a proper ability to protect themselves, they severely lack security for their safety. Therefore they’d decided to stay the night instead, waiting to be sent home by the Demon Hunters in the morning.
Joseph stared at Garen’s silhouette in the night and pondered. "Don’t they feel just a tiny bit of fear against the werewolves? The leader killed so many of them, the werewolves must be huning for him everywhere."
"No idea, but they were much stronger than we are, maybe that was the source of their confidence. The leader probably as strong as my grandmother," The young Demon Hunter admired, "I wish I could be as strong as that someday."
"What were they thinking, leaving so late?" Annie asked, whispering, "However strong they are, they are only three people, can they even fight against so many werewolves at once?
"Who knows." Joseph shrugged. Gawking at the three leaving shadows, a curiosity grew inside him.
He shut his eyes and started to listen carefully.
In the darkness, an image of the outer world slowly emerged in his sight. He zoomed in toward the departing trio, and focused on Garen alone.
"I want… to hear his past… his thoughts…" Joseph concentrated on his intention.
A deafening toot blared as if it was right beside him. A gigantic red-eyed white mammoth appeared beside Garen, roaring loudly.
Joseph shuddered in fear, his connection with the Garen severed.