“Well, he’s something else!” Clover exclaimed as the two of them left the store. After being pushed out, the pair walked back along the street towards the Guild, often stopping to look at the merchandise displayed by the myriad of stores.
As Clover and Sven walked along the crowded streets, they arrived in front of a three-story high tavern known as, Premier Parlor.
This tavern was an incredibly popular location as it would be full at all times of the day. And rightly so! This location was one of the few businesses that stocked and sold the immensely popular alcoholic drink, Azure Wine! Azure Wine was the most demanded export that came out of the Azir homeland of Azura.
“Let’s go have some drinks, I’m sure you’re craving some more Azure Wine!” Sven slyly said as he glanced at Clover.
“Okay, but not too much this time! Last time we drank together I ended up throwing up in the Guildhall!” Clover mumbled as he recalled his hangover from the next morning. But the worst came after his sickness where his mother, Maria, smacked him into oblivion!
“Haha! That's not my fault! I told you to drink only a little bit! You were the one who chugged five mugs of the stuff! You’re still a kid, you can’t become an alcoholic this early in life!”
Clover only shot him a glare before the duo proceeded to enter the tavern; only to be stopped by a burly Azir man.
“Premier Parlor is filled to capacity.” The brawny Azir huffed.
“What are you talking about? I see empty seats from here!” Sven complained as looked inside. What he said was true. There were a few empty seats scattered here and there. Even from where Sven and Clover stood, they could see that the balcony of the second floor was relatively empty. It was hardly noon; not many people would have begun drinking!
“No. It's packed…Unless…”
“Unless you hand me a couple of silver coins my way…” The Azir swiftly glanced around as he said this.
“Unbelievable!” Sven yelled. His face began to adopt a slight shade of red.
“Sven lets just go back to the Guild, they sell Azure Wine there as well.” Clover calmly stated as he turned away and began to walk in another direction.
“No way! I want some Azure Wine now!” Sven grumbled. After a second, a light of deviousness entered his eyes. “Clover, I know you don’t like it when I do this, but I really want some Azure Wine…”
“Sven, don’t do what I think you are about to do...” Clover warned his Elven friend but was unable to stop his capricious friend
“Mr. Azir, do you have any idea who this young lad’s father is?” Sven started, as a cold gleam entered his eye.
“No, and I wouldn’t give a horse’s shit if I did know. Now move your scrawny asses out of here before I throw you two into the harbor!” The Azir snapped as he flexed his enormous muscles.
“Oh! But you will give a damn! This young lad’s father is Bastille Rumare!” Sven bellowed, loud enough for other pedestrians to turn their heads in their direction.
“Sven…” Clover whispered as he began to blush a bright crimson. “I told you not to…”
“Bastille...Rumare?” The Azir slowly whispered, his face becoming as white as a sheet of paper before he turned towards Clover. “Young sir! I must apologize, if I had known that you were related to the highly esteemed Guildmaster I would have never of wronged you!” The Azir squealed while falling to his knees and prostrating before Clover.
“Please! I’ll do anything for you! As long as you do not report me to your father!” Now, a large crowd had surrounded them. Many of which had their mouths agape as they saw the embarrassing sight of a grown man groveling before the young teen.
“Umm...You can start by getting up. Please.” Clover squeaked while glancing around at the enlarging crowd.
“Of course! I'm sorry! It is my fault that the young master had to witness such an embarrassing scene!” The large Azir man stood back up and profusely apologized. “That's right! You wanted to enter the tavern! I’ll take you to the best seats in the house! Free of charge of course!”
“Perfect!” Sven cooly smiled.
“No, you don't have to take us there…” Clover said as he glared at this friend.
“No, no, no! I insist! As a matter of fact, I’ll gladly pay for your drinks and food! I wouldn’t want the young master to have an unpleasant stay at this fine establishment!”
Realizing that nothing Clover would say would stop the apologetic Azir, he reluctantly agreed to be treated with the V.I.P treatment, and followed the Azir into the tavern and upstairs towards the best seats in the tavern
“Clover...I'm sorry.” Sven apologized as he glanced at his friend. “You know I had to do that in order to get inside!”
“No, you didn’t have to. We could have gone somewhere else!” Clover snapped. “I told you that I would never forgive you the next time you used my dad’s name to enter a bar!” His eyes were filled with a rare hint of anger as he glared at his weasel-like friend.
The two of them had been taken up to the nearly empty third-floor balcony of the tavern. The others that occupied this prestigious spot were rich merchants and nobles. As the two teens bickered, these figures would sneak cold glances in their direction as they wondered how and why the managers of this establishment would let such ruffians in.
“Clover, don’t be like this!” Sven said. “At least look at me!”
“Here are your drinks!” A beautiful Azir girl beamed as she dropped off their drinks. She was dressed in a cerulean dress that was symbolic to Premier Parlor. The outfit was very suggestive; as it accentuated her many curves.
“Clover, how many times do I have to say I’m sorr-. Oh, hello beautiful…” Sven grinned as he noticed the young barmaid. “I almost didn’t notice you there. My name is Sven Gard, a famous minstrel that is renowned in both the Centaius and Aleesian continents!”
The Azir girl slightly blushed as Sven fluttered his long eyelashes at her while caressing her hand.
“You know, I’m staying at the Seekers Guild for the rest of the week. Why don’t you stop by at the end of your shift? We can have a romantic date at the Rosa Amore which overlooks the bay. You know the second most beautiful sight in the world is watching the waves of the bay turn gold while we eat the freshest lobster and listen to the most romantic sonnets and ballads played by the most famous violinists and cellists around...”
“Of course, the first most beautiful sight in the world is you…” Sven gallantly finished as he provocatively flashed his eyes towards the lovely Azir girl.
She could only blush a deep red as she heard this, but before she could open her mouth, Clover stood up.
“See! You didn’t mean a single word of your apology! If you actually cared you wouldn’t have begun flirting with this random bimbo!” Clover yelled out before running down the stairs and out the tavern.
“Clover!” Sven yelled, before turning back towards the Azir girl. “I’ll wait for you at the Seekers Guild tonight!” He said before chasing after his friend. Sven ran down a few steps before he glanced back at the girl.
“By the way, he didn’t mean it! You’re not actually a bimbo!” He yelled once more before his head disappeared.
The young Azir girl could only stare at the stairs, her mouth agape, as the rich merchants and nobles that were interrupted by the loud commotion angrily glared at her, placing her at fault.
“Clover…” Sven started as he caught up with his friend.
“Don’t even start…” Clover snarled before his friend had a chance to explain himself. “You know I don’t throw Bastille’s name around like some spoiled noble for a good reason!”
Bastille Rumare was a highly esteemed individual, not only in the Seekers Guild. But in the entirety of the Kingdom of Vanden. After he ascended to the mantle of Guildmaster, Bastille had begun a relentless campaign of purging corrupt officials within the Guild and throughout the city.
His authority did not solely come from his position within the Guild but from the King of Vanden! Before Bastille became the Guildmaster, he had helped the young prince, Emeric Kasper Vanden, to overthrow his father from the throne. The then King, King Kasper, was a cruel and hated individual that received the ire from his subjects. Under his rule, many nobles and officials were left free to do whatever they pleased. This included high taxes, murder, rape, and slavery!
As the crown prince, Emeric could not stand idly by and watch the Kingdom fall into ruin! Therefore he had enlisted the help of Bastille, who was already known as a powerful Seeker, and together they cleansed the nation and returned it to its former glory!
Of course, they did have some outside help. And Clover did not know the full story of what happened. All he really knew is that his father is highly revered within the Kingdom and because of that, Clover was practically a prince that was free to do as he liked!
“You know that I don’t mean to tarnish Bastille’s name...And I know that you don’t like hanging onto his coattails.But I really wanted some Azure Wine…” Although he sounded sarcastic, Clover could tell that his friend was being sincere.
“Fine! But the next time you do it I’ll make sure you get kicked out of Vanden! Forever!”
“Of course! I would only expect that!” Sven exclaimed in joy as his friend forgave him.
The duo arrived back at the Guild a little after noon. The ever-increasing crowds warmed the surroundings; while the sun’s powerful rays beat down on them. By the time they entered the Guild, many beads of sweat covered their faces and drenched their shirts.
“Ugh, summer is too hot!” Sven complained as the two of them sat down at one of the large tables within the Guildhall. Now that it was noon; the Guild Hall would become crowded, with many people entering and exiting the Guild. The Majority were Seekers that were either returning from missions or accepting new ones and preparing to head out once again.
As Clover sat down, he looked around at the many faces that were inside the grand hall. The vast majority of them were Adlans, while the second most populous being Azir with Elves followed closely behind. There was also a rare Kortanji who was going over some paperwork as he dug into a meal.
The Kortanji was a strange looking race. Their skin tone only ranged from the whitest of whites to the blackest of blacks, with shades of gray in between. Their ears were longer than that of an elf, and they were just as tall. But the most striking features of this race was the additional eye that laid on their forehead as well as the two horns that jutted from their scalps.
The Kortanji Seeker in front of Clover would look bizarre to anyone who has never laid eyes on one, but to Clover, this was a common sight. The Seeker in front of him was fairly tall and powerfully built like most Seekers. His dark gray skin resembled more like a tough hide than the soft flesh of an Adlan. His head was adorned with two horns that resembled that of a ram’s, his hair looking more like fur rather than hair. He wore a simple blue gambeson, with a silver compass medal pinned on the front.
“Ugh…” Sven continued to groan beside him. He was still sweating from the afternoon heat. His face was red, almost sunburnt.
“If you’re so hot, then have some of this!” A new voice appeared while a large cold mug of ale was placed in front of Sven, while a glass of juice appeared in front of Clover. The owner of the voice was Carla Colina. As a barmaid, she would assist Seekers as well as serve food and drinks. Many Seekers would look for any chance to talk to her, as she was a real beauty.
Carla was a caramel skinned girl with a sun-kissed face. Her long black hair reached past her pierced ears and gently draped her neck and shoulders. Her dark brown eyes were like warm pools of chocolate, capable of enticing any man or women. She wore the unique dark-blue and white barmaid attire of the Guild which accentuated her curvy body perfectly. However, what attracted most men and women was her well-developed chest.
Sven could only watch in envy, his mouth agape, as Carla hugged Clover very tightly, her large chest pressing up against his body, as she whispered. "Happy Birthday." In his ears.
Clover’s face looked as if it would blow up. Like a tomato being hit by a fireball.
Sven’s eyes were crimson as if they would start to cry blood at any moment. If this was not bad enough, she then proceeded to press her exquisite lips against Clover’s blushing cheeks, giving him a harmless and quick peck!
Sven nearly fainted at the sight of this. Now he could only view Clover as a traitor in his eyes, and he was already forming a suitable punishment in his mind.
Clover could only slowly sit down and take a sip of his cold juice before he could speak. “T-thank you...Carla” He squeaked, barely audible. His embarrassment was as clear as day, which Carla found very cute.
“That’s your birthday gift.” She said as she charmingly stuck out her red tongue. “Oh and this is from Morty.” She said while placing two plates on the table.
One plate was filled with an abundance of food. Golden scrambled eggs, crisp and succulent bacon and three large pancakes with maple syrup covered it. While the other plate had a large brioche pastry, covered in glazed strawberries and a large dollop of clotted cream. This delectable pastry made Clover’s mouth water with excitement. Remembering that he only had the pastry Heather gave him this morning, he began to dig in with fervor as he silently thanked Morty.
Morty was the head chef of the Guild. He was a large black man with short cropped black hair and dark brown eyes. His muscled arms were covered in scars, and they always seemed to be holding a large cleaver. While Morty may look like a scary ex-Seeker, he was actually quite nice. He was very quiet and would never speak unless spoken to.
Clover held a favorable impression of him, as he could remember one night of restlessness and hunger. He had entered the kitchen alone to search for a quick bite. While he had been scrounging around in the dark, a large hand had lifted him from the ground and Morty's face peered into his eyes. After noticing the food Clover was holding, he had then proceeded to make him a delicious sandwich, all of this without a single word being spoken.
As Clover ate, he couldn't help but notice that his companion was silently sipping his ale beside him, simultaneously shooting him a glare that could kill. However, Clover proceeded to ignore his friend's jealousy and kept on eating the immense meal in front of him. He was a growing boy after all; he needed all the nutrients he could get to grow up big and strong!
Halfway through his meal, Bastille walked past him in very extravagant clothing. He wore a dark blue robe trimmed with intricate white designs. The colors were the very same as that of the Seekers Guild’s flag. Over it, he wore a large black cloak with a white compass embroidered. Pinned to his chest was a blue medal in the shape of the compass.
“Where’re you going, Dad?” Clover asked as Bastille passed him, curious as to why he was wearing such formal attire.
“Ah, Clover you’re back. As you should know, today is Princess Violet's birthday. Although I'd rather not go, I cannot refuse the King's invitation...” Bastille smiled as he rubbed Clovers head, and walked towards the entrance.
"Okay, have a good time!" Clover had only met Princess Violet and the King once before. Bastille had taken him to a small event when he was eight years old, and although he was young he could vividly recall the splendor of the White Palace.
Before Bastille could leave, a Trio in their early twenties arrived and opened the doors wide. Bastille casually greeted them as he left.
After seeing Bastille off, the Trio turned their heads to survey the room. Eventually, the blonde youth in the middle noticed Clover, and the three of them made their way over.
“Clover, my man, what's going on?” The youth casually said with a confident and cheerful smile covering his handsome face.
“Jeez, did you already forget that it was his birthday today? We reminded you so many times…” This time it was the dark-skinned girl on his left that sighed as she said this, a look of annoyance shrouding her charming face.
“Maria told you that we would miss the surprise.” Turning to face Clover, she slightly bowed her head. “Sorry Clover, this bird-brain here made us come along with him.”
“Yeah, sorry about that…” The blonde youth looked crestfallen as he looked down at his shoes, as a tinge of red sneaked on to his cheeks.
“Oh well, that doesn’t matter! We're here now!” Proclaimed the third and last youth, a nonchalant expression lingering on his face.
As Clover received their apologies, he couldn't help but look at these three figures in an excited manner. He had always looked up to these three as future heroes that would be regaled across the lands, very much like the ones told in his stories and sung about in various inns and bars throughout the lands!
Of course, this was nothing but a childish expectation on the Trio. If anything, they were merely upstarts, only a couple of years into their adventuring, they were like swords that have yet to be sharpened! But it was simple to see why Clover thought this. The young Trio were all Gold ranked Seekers, an amazing feat considering they were only in their early twenties!
“Don’t worry about it!” He said, and with a hopeful glimmer in his eyes, he continued. “Did you get me anything?” The birdbrained blonde, flashed a look of pain as Clover muttered these words, reluctant to start.
The blonde youth was Michael, and he was the leader of the Trio. He was a fairly tall blonde man, only twenty years old. His hair was short on the sides and fashionably long on the top. This helped to accentuate his chiseled face that attracted the many young female Seekers that would follow him around the guild. His sky blue eyes were like pools of water that contained a look of fierce confidence; his shoulders were broad and muscled, as too were his arms. He wore what appeared to be a simple blue jacket that was commonly used by Seekers that emphasised agility over defense. Underneath it was a metal chestguard.
On Michael’s waist was a deadly looking sword, with a dignified red pommel stone. Clover could only imagine the number of enemies that had been cut down by it.
And although Michael appeared to be the ideal Seeker, his lack of common sense completely destroyed this would be masterpiece.
“Idiot, we told you multiple times that we should have got him a gift before we came back! But no! You wanted a quick bite to eat and said ‘He won't be there!’ But of course, you happened to forget that Clover lives in the Guild!” The dark skinned girl retorted, a look of displeasure adorning her pretty face.
This was Maya. She was a very charming black woman. Just like Michael, she was in her early twenties. She had dark eyes that were adorned with cool and stylish glasses, which only helped enhance the intelligence that radiated from them while also exhuming an air of righteousness that put many to ease when peered into. Her long, sleek, and luxurious black hair decorated her head magnificently as they were tied up in a ponytail. She wore a comfortable looking white robe that had a tasteful purple trim. And she wore metal bracelets on her wrist that held clear orbs filled with a purple gas.
Although she appeared dignified and professional, Clover could remember a particular night a couple of years ago where she drank a small amount of alcohol. Once the drink reached her stomach, all of her professionalism went out the window. Maya had become loud and abrasive. And according to Carla, very ‘hands-on’. Of course, everyone who was there that night had made a pact to keep it a secret as to not destroy her image. Even the usually brash, Michael didn’t dare bring it up.
“Haha! It doesn’t matter! We can always buy him something the next time we go out!” The last member of the Trio started, his goofy expression still remaining on his face. This was the last member of the Trio, as well as the youngest.
Zen was twenty years old, his birthday only a month before Clover's birthday. As far as he could remember, Zen always carried that same carefree expression everywhere he went. In fact, he had hardly ever seen Zen angry or sad!
Zen was wearing an identical jacket that Michael wore, except that it was a dark shade of green. His skin had been kissed tan by the sun’s rays. In his arms was a well-used bow, and the quiver on his back completed his look. Each deadly arrow inside was complemented with a black feather. His hair was jet black and kept long enough to pass his ears. His dark eyes complimented his hair and they carried the same reckless freedom as his smile. Although Zen was not a pretty boy like Michael, he was certainly not ugly.
“You should be ashamed of forgetting Clover’s birthday, Michael.” Sven snarled from beside him. “Honestly, you should just leave the guild. If you can’t even remember something as simple as a birthday how could you ever become a true Seeker?”
If it wasn’t obvious, Sven clearly hated Michael. While he doesn’t like to admit it, Michael is damn good with a blade and his bravery in battle was envied by many. But that’s where his admiration ends!
Sven hated the fact that all the young and beautiful Seekers would flock to Michael as soon as he entered the Guildhall. As an Elf, he prided himself on his natural beauty. But when compared to Michael, even he was lacking!
“Oh quit joking around Sven!” Michael laughed as he walked over to him and swung an arm over Sven’s shoulders and around his neck. “You’re always teasing me!” Either Michael was ignoring his taunts, or he simply couldn’t distinguish them as such.
Maya could only place her hand on her face, gazing at the pair as they continued their one-sided battle.
“Oh! I know what we can do for Clover!” Zen exclaimed. “How about we take him on a mission? There is nothing more exciting than your first adventure!”
Clovers pointed ears pricked at the mention of adventure.
“I can think of one thing…” Sven muttered as he peered at a passing female Seeker with his dirty eyes, only to look away as Maya glared at him with a glare full of disgust and malice.
“That’s a great idea!” Michael chimed in. “My first adventure was simple, but the most freeing feeling in the world!”
Hearing this only made Clover even more excited! Although he didn’t care about becoming a Seeker, this could still provide him with experience into the world heroes! Perhaps he may find some musical inspiration while he was out in the wilds? Either way, he was dead set on going.
“That is a terrible idea…” Maya began while looking at the three of them as if they were as dumb as rocks. “First of all, it is way too dangerous for a fourteen-year-old to go out on an adventure! Secondly, Maria will never let him go!” She sighed. “Besides even if Clover gets hurt, Bastille and Maria will kill us!”
“Quit being such a downer Maya!” Michael popped up, “With the three of us, Clover would be the most well-protected boy in the entire Kingdom!” “Besides we can always grab a White ranked mission that will only last until the night!”
“Come on Maya! Don’t tell me you’re going to be the one who is going to ruin Clover’s birthday?!” Zen mischievously said while putting on a teasing face.
“I don’t know…” Maya mumbled still not convinced that this was a good idea. Although she prided herself on being the smart and responsible one among the Trio, she couldn’t help but feel excited at the prospect of taking Clover on his first ever expedition.
“Please, Maya! This would be the best gift ever!” Clover’s eyes shined like twin moons, which pierced into Maya’s heart.
“Well, maybe a quick one…” She whispered, still unsure if this was the right thing to do.
“Great!” And with a smile, Zen left the group and walked over to the large display on the wall. After studying the display, he seemed to find what he was looking for. He pulled out a small rectangular device from his pocket. With the push of a button, a faint blue light trickled from it. Pressing this device onto the display on the wall, a subtle boop could be heard and a slip of paper was ejected from the machine. He then walked up to the help desk and spoke with the female receptionist before she stamped the slip of paper with the Guild’s insignia.
All of this only took less than two minutes to do. From what Clover had heard from his father’s old Seeker stories, it used to take much longer to apply for a mission and that there was much more paperwork involved. But now, it was simple and easy. Silently thanking the heavens that he lived in a more advanced time, Clover greeted Zen back.
“What did you get!” He yelped with excitement, not able to contain it in any longer.
“Shush, not here…” Let’s all meet outside in fifteen minutes so no one catches on.”
“Well, I’m not going… especially not with him!” Sven glanced at Michael as he bitterly enunciated the last part. Michael smiled towards Sven after he said this, seemingly not noticing the glare.
Still glowering, he continued, “I won't tell anyone since I don’t want to ruin your gift, so I’ll see you later.” And with that, he left.
“Well, that's one less mess to deal with.” Whispered Maya before looking at Clover. “Remember! Fifteen minutes! If you’re not outside by then, we’ll leave without you.” Zen proclaimed.
“I wouldn't miss this for the world!”
After fifteen minutes had passed, Clover snuck out of the Guild through the back entrance and met up with the Trio. The sun was still high in the sky as they proceeded their way to the main gate, stopping from time to time as other Seekers would strike up a conversation with the well-known Trio.
Clover was wearing a cloak with a hood in order to conceal his face. Although this would probably be unnecessary, he still didn't want to take the chance of a neighbor or a passing Seeker to offhandedly remark seeing him leave the city to his parents.
The streets were just as busy as ever. If anything, even more carriages have arrived from foreign lands to drop off their goods, hoping to make a tidy profit. One after another passed by, filled with furs, minerals, spices, and weapons. The most impressive carriage was made out of an ebony wood, trimmed with gold and it had what appeared to be several arcane markings written all over it. The writings would ever so often pulse with energy, giving it the illusion of being alive. Clover could only imagine what sort of resource was being stored inside and being guarded so heavily.
“Come on Clover! You’re going to have to keep up!” Maya had noticed that he had stopped and was silently staring at the strange carriage. Shaking his head clear of these thoughts, he silently kept pace with the Trio.
Eventually, the band of misfits arrived at the grand gates of Vanden. As he gazed at the immense granite walls that were covered in similar arcane letterings that were on the carriage he had seen, he could only imagine what types of powerful magic and weaponry had to be used in order to siege this city.
The gate was surrounded by many elite guards, checking in visitors and giving out directions. Before one could enter the city, they had to walk across the drawbridge that covered the deep moat below.
As Clover walked closer to the gate, his heart beat faster and harder. His forehead began to sweat with nervousness, drenching the rest of him as it started to trickle down his face and into his clothes. He knew that he shouldn’t be doing this, but his heart was full of wanderlust! He wanted to delve deep into the wilds and receive inspiration! Truly this must be the addicting Seeker’s high that is spoken of so much!
Clover stuck close to the Trio hoping they wouldn’t be stopped. While he had left the city multiple times, it had been with Bastille, and it was never anywhere dangerous. They merely visited nearby villages and towns. If anything, Clover was bored with those excursions and would always complain and ask when they would be returning.
Now, before him was a line of people. From nobles to commoners and everything in between, they all had to be checked out and inspected if you were transporting goods before one could leave. The guards worked efficiently and effectively.
“How much gold did you say you were going to give me!” One guard bellowed all of a sudden. Loud enough that anyone in a quarter mile radius stopped what they were doing and stared in his direction.
“What are you doing!” Yelled the merchant as he began to look around at the hundreds of eyes that bore into his flesh.
“I’m sorry, I suppose I wasn’t loud enough. I said, how much gold were you going to bribe me with!” He yelled once more, louder this time so that even more stares would drill into the merchant.
“Shut up!” The fat merchant wheezed, his face turning crimson from shame and embarrassment. “Fine, search my things, but be quick will you!” He said once more, only to drape his head with a cloth, trying to block out the countless glares heading his way.
It appeared that the guards did not search fast enough, according to some nobles and fat merchants, as they would try to bribe the guards so they could skip the tedious and thorough inspections. Nobles and merchants who frequently dealt in Vanden knew not to bribe these guards, but the foreign ones were not so knowledgeable. If this was fourteen years ago, then the fat merchants and nobles would have easily succeeded in their bribes, but this was no longer possible.
After the merchant received a dose of public humiliation, the line continued without any more commotions. As it was clear that any other would-be bribers had changed their minds.
Now as Clover’s group drew ever closer to the guards he couldn’t help but sweat even faster. His heart was beating so loudly that he wouldn't be surprised if someone was to nod their head along the beat of its rhythm.
After another ten minutes had passed, Clover and the Trio were in front of the guard. The guard was wearing the standard armor of the Vanden retinue, a set of full plate armor. On his side was a long and deadly looking longsword.
“Hey you three, already heading back out for more?” Said the guard, with a tired looking face, yet still filled with a certain drive and confidence.
“Of course, the grind never stops!” Zen proclaimed.
“Man, I’m jealous. I'm thinking of becoming a Seeker myself once my service is over. Every day of guard duty slowly breaks a man down, ya know?” He muttered as a look of sadness passed through his gaze. “Ah, well, I shouldn't depress y'all.”
As the guard began to pass the Trio through, he finally noticed the small cloaked figure.
“Wait a second.” He began, as he walked up to him and reached his hand over to Clover. Immediately Michael, Maya, and Zen stopped to face the guard, their eyes flashing with fear. Clover’s heart felt like it was about to burst as he was about to be exposed. Inside he was cursing himself for coming out on some foolhardy adventure with the Trio, now he would be recognized and taken back to the guild, where he would face Maria’s full wrath!
“You dropped this.” The guard said as he bent down to pick up the gold coin from the ground. Placing the coin back into Clover’s hand, the guard walked back to his post. Clover and the Trio were frozen like statues as they could only stare back in relief. Clover gripped the coin, and securely put it into his pocket. Without wasting any time the four of them quickly walked out of the Gate.
As the group exited the gate, they let out a sigh of relief at their lucky escape.
“We are never doing this ever again.” Sighed Maya.
“Haha! I don’t know why you three were worried in the first place!” Bellowed their loud, blonde friend. Obviously, Michael had already steeled his nerves once more from the sudden fright. “Now we’re home free!” He yelled, not caring who could hear, as a large grin stretched across his face.
“Hold it!” A sudden yell caused the group to turn towards the city walls. A large heavily armored man seemed to be the owner of the loud voice. His armor was a bright and shiny white, and he wore a scarlet cloak that blazed like fire when it was hit by the sun’s rays.
“Crap, It's Captain Strauss…” Michael as he recognized the large figure casting down at them. “Let’s run for it!”
And without another word, Michael bolted from the looming figure. Clover, Maya, and Zen followed suit, merely steps away from Michael.
“I said hold it!” Captain Strauss bellowed one last time before launching himself from the wall. Fire ejected out of his body like a phoenix, boosting his momentum and throwing him high into the air! Although the band of misfits had gained a considerable lead, Captain Strauss had already passed them in a single bound! He slammed into the ground, a large pillar of flame erupting in front of them, scorching the earth, and leaving black marks and ash where foliage used to be. Captain Strauss exited this pillar of fire without a single mark on him.
“I said halt!” Anger billowed across the Captain’s face as the last remnants of flame disappeared. “Michael, why did you run from me!”
Captain Gregory Strauss was famed for his diligence, strength, and courage. At a young age, he had caught the eyes of Bastille Rumare. With his help, Gregory Strauss was quickly raised to the rank of Captain of the Walls. A very prestigious title that had once belonged to one of the most corrupt officials in Vanden history. But now that official was chained deep in the dungeons below the city.
“Instinct, Sir!” Saluted Michael. His face appeared calm. Only for a single bead of sweat to trickle down his face, showing his true emotions.
“Instinct?! Why you smart-mouthed brat!” The Captain started to berate Michael only to notice the small cloaked figure hiding behind Maya.
“Now who is this?” He said, before suddenly appearing behind Maya, shocking everyone present. His speed would almost seem alien to them if they had not already seen other Seekers with similar capabilities.
The Captain removed Clover’s hood only to be stunned at the sight.
“Clover, what are you doing out here with these imbeciles!” He murmured. “Does Maria or Bastille know about this?”
Captain Strauss looked at the sorry sight in front of him and couldn’t help but sigh.“Look, I don’t want to be the bad guy here, but you know I can’t just have a child running around the wilds with this group of idiots.” He said as he glanced at the Trio.
While Captain Strauss knew the three were actually reliable, he still couldn’t bear the thought of his close friend and mentor’s son getting hurt.
“We're not idiots…” Zen said his usual cheerful expression gone from his face, only to be replaced with one of stoic determination. “We were only trying to give Clover an amazing birthday! Besides, a Seeker’s first outing is a momentous occasion! Can’t you just let him come with us? Besides, we're not going on a difficult mission.” Zen had approached the Captain and placed the mission form into his hand.
On the paper was the details relating to the mission. It was a very simple White ranked mission. The only requirements for completion were to patrol the outer edge of the Dark Forest. The mission only had the reward of three silver Wyrms and fifty bronze Imps. The area in question was very safe, and Zen had planned to take a scenic route so Clover could explore it to his heart’s content.
Captain Strauss could see the intention behind this simple mission. As he gazed back at the usually jovial youth in front of him, his heart began to waver.
He sighed one last time before gazing back at Clover. Clover had been standing silently in a single spot the entire time, staring at his feet. Looking at this, how could the Captain's heart not stir with reluctance? In fact, he himself had once yearned to be a Seeker.
As a wall guard, he had watched many Seekers leave and return form their missions, their faces covered with joy and excitement. Of course, he had seen Bastille Rumare off on many of his missions multiple times. After seeing such a great man return on countless missions, only racking up his fame and renown across the lands, how could one not envy the freedom and limitless path that lay ahead of a Seeker? Finally, he could no longer contain the emotions in his heart as he looked down at the young boy.
“Fine!” He said after what felt like hours. “Just remember that this is my gift to you!”
Clover’s face beamed like a lighthouse as he heard this. “Thank you!” He shouted as he ran off to stand beside the Trio.
“And you three!” The Trio gazed back at the Captain fearfully as he drilled into them one last time. “If anything happens to him, I'll make sure that heads will adorn my walls!” And with that, he strutted off back toward Vanden.
“Yes sir!” the three yelled back fearfully, engraving his warning into their hearts.