In the back of the building was a small backyard that led out towards a field. Avelyn gripped the shaft with both hands; it was a heavy axe, even for her. She swung it cleaving a dummy diagonally and crushing the lower half in the ground. She let go of the axe to crack her knuckles. Something about the brutal nature of the weapon made her smile. She lifted it and rested the shaft on her shoulder and admired the destruction she caused.
“Bucktooth!” Avelyn yelled, “Fight me!”
Mandilyn stepped forward with a smirk. She held out a miniature version of her glaive, and she sent a minimal amount of magic to the rune on the weapon then it extended to its full size. “If you say so!” she intoned. With her speed, she was the first to lay a blow, unlike the scythe it complimented her attack patterns as she was now able to poke at her enemies.
Avelyn blocked the spear. The large head of the axe was held flat and closer to her body, like a shield.
The half-dwarf wiped his forehead with a piece of cloth. Vacillating he said, “I don’t know whether I should be worried or happy that someone is taking that axe off my hands.” He folded the cloth and placed it back into his pocket and continued, “I know dwarves that struggled even to lift that thing.”
Arslan smiled, “Yeah, yeah, they’re both a blessing,” he said speaking as generically as possible then asked, “So how much for everything?”
“Normally, the entire armor set was four-hundred-fifty Seros, and the axe two hundred, but since we removed a bit and I want to get rid of that axe…” He stopped talking and put a hand on his chin. “How about five-hundred for it all?”
“Trying to make my wallet feel better, mister-” Arslan realized just that he never even heard this man’s name. “I’m sorry; I didn’t catch your name.”
The half-dwarf wiped his hand on his apron and offered it. “Fari! Owner of Fari’s workshop!” he proudly exclaimed.
Arslan took his hand and shook it, “Arslan,” he stated. “Pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Fari.”
“Same to you, Arslan but, uh, if you ever decide to come back here could you leave violent ones at home. I don’t think I have it in me to stop them.”
Arslan looked at the two girls fighting. Mandilyn just dodged a downward strike from Avelyn. The ground nearly exploded from the impact of the blade. Sweat flew from both girls as they jumped from offensive to defensive tactics.
Arslan smiled and nodded. “It's only going to get worse.”
Fari sighed, “I really hoped you wouldn’t say that.”
“Oh. By the way, do you do analyses?”
“Hm. I don’t, but my brother does.”
“Great!” Arslan shouted. “Where is he?”
Fari shrugged and chuckled, “Halfway to Ebonford, probably. Be back in a day or two. Probably.”
Arslan reached in his bag and retrieved the gray stone. “When he comes back, ask him what this even is.”
Fari took the stone and examined it, “This looks like a regular rock to me.”
“Avelyn, Mandilyn!” Arslan called out to the two girls then turned back to Fari, “Trust me, it isn’t.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a stack of Seros. He counted until he was left with only one paper bill. The two girls approached tired and drenched in sweat. Mandilyn was covered in minor cuts possibly from the splintering of random objects.
“Good?” he inquired of the two.
Mandilyn was too busy trying to catch her breath to answer, so Avelyn did. “Bucktooth is starting to realize what it’s like to be a predator finally,” She laughed in between breaths.
“Anyway. Thank you, Fari.” Arslan then turned and went for the entrance of the shop. Mandilyn gave a slight bow while Avelyn ignored him entirely. Fari pulled out the rag one last time and wiped his forehead looking at the destruction the girls caused.
Several craters littered the ground at odd intervals. Some trees were still smoldering from the fires.
Defeated Fari spoke his thought aloud, “Whyat did I just get myself into.”
“This axe is seriously great!” Avelyn waved it around, and seemingly the weight wasn’t even bothering her anymore. People that were also on the sidewalk with them either went to another side or walked in the street to avoid accidentally being hit with the weapon.
“I thought you’d like it,” Arslan admitted.
“Is this a part of fighting smart?” Mandilyn asked.
He nodded and held up one finger. “If you look at Avelyn, her strengths lie in her natural protection and raw strength. A hammer or an axe would be best for her.” He then held up another, “A long sword or a spear would most likely break from how hard she might hit something, meaning anything requiring speed is her weakness.”
Mandilyn nodded. “Fascinating. This is in preparation for the bees right?”
The group approached a building with a board on the front. Tens of papers were attached to it hanging by nails.
“Yes and no,” he answered, “It’s good to know what you can specialize in, and frankly you girls are pretty easy to decide for.”
Arslan began reading the signs and tearing off sheets of the papers. “Here hold these.” He gave Mandilyn a few sheets.
She gave the pages a quick read. “Forty pieces of bee chitin and eighteen antennae?”
“Hey, I’m getting funded for the research, not keeping you girls armed.” He pushed open the set of doors to the building that had the posted hunts.
Inside was just like any other guild hall, except this place was smaller, possibly due to the lack of the need for adventurers. Industrialization was a very efficient monster subjugator.
Inside was a small two-person teller station; the place was very well cleaned almost like it was just constructed. Currently, there was only one person on duty, and she had her back to them.
Arslan rang a bell to get her attention. The receptionist had short brown hair and an oddly familiar blue vest.
“Just a second!” she sang putting down a folder that was just a little too stuffed. She turned around and instantly started to scream internally.
“Heya,” Arslan greeted. He squinted his eyes and cocked his head back a little “Wait, aren’t you the girl from Winterwell?”
“Uh... yeah,” she stammered. She got transferred here only to have to deal with the same stuff she was dealing with before.
“Wait, yeah! I remember her!” Mandilyn shouted while pushing Arslan to the side and started to laugh, “She thought I was a slave or whatever!”
Arslan couldn’t help but find the situation humorous himself and apologized, “I’m sorry, but you understand that I had to keep what I did secret right?”
She put on the best professional smile she could muster and recited what she remembered from her handbook. “In the hall, privacy is our number one policy.”
Arslan took the papers from Mandilyn and leaned on the countertop. He pushed them towards the receptionist, “So, I’d like to-”
She cut him off and yelled, “Approved!” as she stamped the papers with a pre-designed stamper.
Arslan frowned. “You’re not going to warn me about the dangers of hunting?”
She sputtered, “No, you have three members. You’ve proven to me you’re capable of hunting alone…” she paused before speaking just above a whisper, “Just don’t bring back anything more than the necessary items this time. Have a nice day!”
“Uhm, you too?” Arslan responded, but she had already disappeared somewhere in the back.
Mandilyn snickered, “I think that was even faster than the negotiations with the alchemists.”
Once they left the industrial city of Northberry, they were surrounded by vast mountains and even more caves. And luckily one of those caves was home to a giant bee colony.
The trio peeked from the shrubbery to analyze the situation. Bees flew in and out of the cave hole. Some covered in massive amounts of pollen and others just hanging about presumed to be guarding the entrance.
Avelyn stood up. “They look pathetic. They’re fat, and their bodies look too heavy for them to fly.” Mandilyn and Arslan both just stared at Avelyn with shock. Gaining her to asked them, “What?” then she looked around, twenty of the bees were already surrounding them buzzing angrily. Everything faded to black as the group was piled upon.
Arslan was overcome with the feeling of pressure accumulating in the upper portion of his head. Slowly he opened his eyes to see Mandilyn hanging from the ceiling. Wax surrounded his and her ankles. The room they were in was massive and seemingly went on for miles in a single direction. Giant fuzzy black and yellow Insects twice their size flew from giant wax cells all across the walls and floor. Honey flowed endlessly through veins in the ground. The viscous liquid itself seemed to have magical properties of its own as it produced the majority of the light.
“Oh good. You’re finally awake.”
“Huh?” Arslan said groggily as his senses slowly began to sync up with his brain.
She sneered, “So, was getting caught part of your plan?”
It took Arslan a second before he even registered what she also said to him. He looked her in the eyes and exclaimed, “Of course!”
“Wait, really?” she asked squinting her eyes at him.
“Mhm,” he hummed digging into pockets for something.
Mandilyn could hear a scratching noise beside her. She looked over to the wall next to her. A fat grub was scraping its mandibles across the cell, each time getting slightly closer to her. “Uh. Arslan,” she called out, “I think we might have a problem.”
“Hang on. I almost got it.”
The grub continued to get closer and closer. She bent her knees to give herself more room away from the approaching creature. “Arslan!” she yelled.
“Just a little more and...Got it!” He pulled out several sheets of paper from his back pocket on it, two circles intersecting, with a triangle in the middle. The other items were tiny green plants.
He crumpled the two together, added magic and tossed them. They exploded into several large clouds of gasses. Any bee unfortunate to fly into or even near the visible gas was sent into a drunken state and flew recklessly, smashing into walls or each other. The grubs, however, didn’t take too well to it and began suffocating.
“Now then,” He said, “On to part two of this plan.”