The Town of York
York was located to the southwest of Nightsong Forest, roughly in the middle of Lance. South of it was Azurewater, a piece of fertile plainland the continent’s human population relied on for food.
Most of York’s folk were farmer-hunters. During the farming season, they would tend the fields. At other times, they would head into Nightsong a forest nearby, for a spin with their axes or bows to bring home some meat and earn a little extra. There were some who gave up farming entirely and focused solely on hunting. Some managed to earn more than the farmers. Coupled with the mercenaries that would lodge there from time to time, the folk of York were a rather tough bunch.
Tough as they were, most trained themselves to fight. But without a proper impetus training method, while there were some that managed to move their impetus, most only managed to rise up to the third or fourth level. They couldn’t progress any further for a lack of talent and a bad training environment.
For reasons unknown to them, a humongous brown bear showed up near the town and took the lives of quite a number of townsfolk. According to some, the bear was almost three meters tall even when it lay flat on the ground. Its two blue eyes were large as fists and it’s copper-brown hair absorbed most physical strikes. Its roar also struck fear into the hearts of many.
At first, many hunters didn’t believe the rumors. They thought their sickles would hurt it because they could use them to cut into wolf hide just fine. While a few brought their weapons and left confidently to rid the town of the pest, none of them were ever seen again.
As time passed, word of townsfolk being injured by the bear became more frequent. Panic rose in the hearts of the residents. After some consideration, the mayor decided to have the town guard hunt it down. Many hunters joined the expedition as well.
The confident group scoured the forest for two days and found the bear drinking near Shimmer Lake. When the group’s leader saw the bear, he immediately ordered everyone to retreat.
“That crimsonblood bear is no normal animal. It’s a fiend. It’s not something normal people can handle,” explained he.
Initially, the mayor thought the leader was trying to push the burden on someone else. But he was convinced when he saw similar looks of terror in the eyes of the others that participated in the excursion. Incidents of assault continued and winter was almost upon them. The mayor had wanted to wait for the bear to go into hibernation so it would be easier to deal with, but the assaults never stopped. Nobody knew if fiends even hibernated at all. So the desperate townsfolk finally resolved to spend their hard-earned money and post a request with the Association.
When Kurdak and company arrived at York, they were given an extremely warm welcome. The townsfolk were more than elated that their saviors had arrived to rid them of the crimsonblood bear that caused them so much fear and angst. Even though the fee was not small, it was relatively affordable, divided among the townsfolk. They still felt the need to express some form of gratitude.
The other reason was that the townsfolk were incredibly curious about how the mercenaries who confidently accepted the mission were, given that many of their own hardy hunters had returned shuddering in fear, with many more having lost their lives after encountering the bear.
When they finally met Kurdak and the rest, many of the townsfolk nodded with satisfaction and were more hopeful for the fate of their town.
Even though York had its own fair share of burly men, those with muscles as refined and apparent as Kurdak’s were few and far in between. Upon seeing the party’s gear, especially the seemingly high-quality adamantite armor the leader wore, they couldn’t help but feel the bear’s attacks wouldn’t pose much danger.
Even though the leader carries an axe and shield on his back with all his gear probably weighing around 70 kilograms, he’s still able to move about so easily! It’s like it’s nothing to him at all!
The townsfolk turned their attention to the two following him. Both carried a longbow on their backs with strings that seemed elastic and firm. In their quivers were razor-pointed arrows that almost seemed certain to pierce the darned bear’s hide.
But when they turned to the last member of the party, many thought, Oh, this party even has an attendant! Seeing his dagger and longsword as well as his eyes that darts around ever so quickly, he must be a really smart one! He’s definitely the kind that can attend to everyone’s needs without a problem! No wonder the price to hire them was so high. But being able to hire a strong team like them is more than worth the 50 gold coins!
All that resulted in Kurdak, Vera, and Cyranos being celebrated as heroes while Leguna received no attention what-so-ever. Given his youth, it was not an easy task to command any respect. But, when he heard some say something along the lines of ‘we hope you come back safe with your attendant’, Leguna knew it wasn’t a matter of respect at all. He was considered a whole league lower than the rest!
Despite that, Leguna didn’t feel any resentment.
For what would I blame them? The others looking too glamorous? Or the townsfolk that don’t really understand our actual ability? Well, I guess it all boils down to my light frame…
Along the way, Leguna kept a stern appearance. Even though he wasn’t too happy about it, he didn’t cause any trouble for the rest.
When they arrived at the inn, Kurdak booked four rooms, one for each of them. Kurdak, after all, didn’t want to share precious bed space with Leguna if there were enough rooms. Leguna, for his part, didn’t want to sniff stinky feet every morning when he woke up either.
When everything was dealt with, Kurdak was about to head upstairs with the lot. But a shoddily-dressed boy rushed over and accidentally rammed into Vera.
“Stop!” cried Leguna when he looked at the apologizing boy in a hurry to leave.
The boy had made a very slight movement other three hadn’t noticed. But something like that definitely wouldn’t escape the famed Leguna the Nimble’s eyes. He was far too acquainted with that kind of move. He had used it many times himself to swipe the money pouches of many.
I didn’t think I’d be able to meet someone from the same field on this continent.
“Hand the money pouch back,” said he with a friendly tone and his hand outstretched.
The boy seemed slightly smaller than him, and it made him recall his own troubled experiences. He couldn’t help but empathize with the little thief a little.
“Hand over the money pouch and we won’t give you any trouble,” he repeated gently.
The boy was terrified the moment he looked at the huge Kurdak standing behind Leguna. Shivering, he stretched out his left hand and took out Vera’s money pouch.
“Whoa!” Vera exclaimed before she said in an odd voice as she glared at Leguna, “Damn you little thieves… Both Ley and this fellow only ever go for my money pouch! Hmph!”
“At least I made it up to you this time, right?” complained Leguna as he stroked his head, feeling good about himself.
Just as he was about to take the money pouch, he noticed the boy’s expression turn from one of fear to savagery.
“Go to hell!”
The boy swung his right hand, holding on a dagger. He traced a path straight for Leguna’s throat, and more surprising was the fact that the dagger was infused with a trace of battleforce!
Leguna didn’t panic. He stared at the dagger gradually approaching him before he struck out at the boy’s wrist precisely. The boy cried out in pain as he lost his grip and dropped his dagger. Kurdak didn’t hesitate to dash in front of him to give the boy a kick.
Fortunately, he didn’t use much strength or any battleforce on account of the boy’s youth. Even so, the boy flew two meters before he landed on the ground heavily. The money pouch flew out of his left hand. The coins clattered all over the inn’s floor. Despite the coins being in easy reach of most of the inn’s patrons, they didn’t dare to pick them up, having just witnessed the party’s fighting prowess.
The boy struggled to stand and cursed despite his predicament, “Hmph, you’re strong, I’ll give you that! Since I can’t beat you, you better kill me here and now! Otherwise, I’ll keep on causing trouble for you! Don’t think you’ll even get a night’s rest from now on! Heck, you better watch out for yourselves tonight!”
“You dare to talk back?! Let’s see who’ll be the one that has trouble sleeping tonight!” Kurdak was about to give the boy a harsh lesson for pissing him off.
While he didn’t intend to kill him, he’d make sure the boy couldn’t rest well for the next couple of days. Just as his foot was about to connect, an outstretched hand barred Kurdak’s path.