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I had a good life I'd say.  

 

My name is Robert Baskerville, the guard dog of Banders hills. Not literally of course, though the name did have a reason and I like to think it wasn’t all due to the derogatory thoughts of my opposition.  

I was born the son of a hunter and loved the adventures that came with the position. My father was a 2nd tier archer, one of the strongest men in my village and the surrounding areas. He was a man of few words, possessing a solemn face with a closely-trimmed beard. Sharp brown eyes and eyebrows that were thin and often bent from concentration. 

My mother unfortunately passed when I had yet to reach my 5th birthday, so i did not know her well. I did remember her soft face and clear blue eyes that were always gazing at my father and me with affection. My father spent the next month with a constant frown, but eventually moved on to look after me. He threw himself into hunting and cultivation, which eventually allowed him to break through to 2nd tier when i turned 8.

I loved my father who showed me how to track and hunt whether it was through the woods or the plains. When I was 10 he took me on my first hunt, the hunt that would change my life. 

My father, his beast companion Ace and myself went to a small grove besde the mountain in search of prey. Ace was a large wolf with grey matted fur and a friendly disposition. We were seeking a herd or family of whitetail deer, a prey that barely counted as magic beasts, something that a 1st tier archer such as myself should have had no trouble dealing with.

As we were travelling along a small river we heard a thunderous roar from the nearby bush. Out of it leapt a humongous hound the size of a carriage, black fur with white vein-like patterns covering it that pulsed with each breath, white vapour pouring from its mouth.  

That was a Black-ice Hound, a tier 3 magic beast that dominated the surrounding area for over a decade. It ruled the higher peaks of the mountain and was unmatched in the surroudings in terms of physical strength. Before I could draw my bow, my father grabbed me with both hands before throwing me into the river. As my head bobbed to the surface, I crawled to the opposite bank and turned my head to watch my father and the beast fight.  

Ace charged the hound fearlessly, despite being a fifth the size, while my father shot arrow after arrow in rapid succession. Ace died first, giving his life to cripple the hounds rear right leg. he circled the hound, using his small size to his advantage, then latched onto the beasts heel. Even when he was being stomped into the earth he refused to release his grip until its achilles heel was shredded, before finally his lungs were crushed and death embraced him.  

That sacrifice allowed my father to struggle on, the hounds leaping ability was greatly reduced, causing father to kite the hound. Unfortunately the beasts hide was too thick for the arrows to cause serious damage and the ice magic flowing in its veins stopped any excessive bleeding. whenever the shot penetrated the skin a small trickle of blood would start to flow, then stop as is froze over.

In the end its stamina was simply too much for father and one grazing swing of its paw sent him flying with a broken leg. As the beast moved in to finish him father shot a final arrow through its open mouth, collapsing in front of him. Unfortunately, just as father breathed a sigh of relief, the beast rose up one last time and with a single swing to my fathers jaw, snapped his neck.  

Unable to believe it, I swam to the other side, struggling with the slow moving stream and the weight of my water soaked clothes. Exhausted, lungs burning, i stood and moved forwards. As I sat there sobbing, my father's body craddled in my arms, I heard a strange noise. Beside the body of the dead beast crawled a large pup nuzzling the body.  

It was at this point that I started to put things together. When you think about it, if that hound was in its prime my father should have never stood a chance against it. He was only at the starting stage of 2nd tier and Ace was only the peak of 1st. Although this doesn’t sound too difficult to overcome, a respective tiers would be; 

1st = strength of 2-3 men, 2nd = 10 men, 3rd =100 men 

Combat strength not the physical strength. 

1st tier has body of an average adult at the start and olympic at the peak, with the ability to focus qi in certain extremites to give additional power.

2nd the person has about twice to triple the strength and reflexes of a olympic athlete and they can project qi outside of the body. This means they can make their weapons sharper or more durable that will last a short time from leaving the body, the further you practice the tier until the peak of 2nd tier the better the enhancements.

3rd the person is as strong as 10 men and can imbue their qi with elements. The hound has ice magic so it can freeze it's wounds to prevent blood loss, and when qi covers its body it forms a freezing wind that quickly immobilizes the opponent. 

Although this isn’t exact as different fields and experiences would provide different advantages. For example my father was not just a 2nd tier archer but a tamer as well, meaning he can communicate to a certain extent with his beasts. He and Ace fighting together could overcome 3 2nd tier warriors without too much trouble if needed. However this still doens’t explain how he fought to a draw against a 3rd tier magic beast which could destroy them five times over without breaking a sweat. The arrival of this pup explains why the hound was so weak, it had recently given birth. That’s why it was in this low down grove that would normally be free of large predators. It was avoiding it's rivals and enemies that would take advantage of its weakness to strike.  

I started to make my way to the pup drawing my knife, revenge filling my eyes as much as tears. The young hound might already be as big as a goat but it had no training, experience and its teeth had yet to fully develop. As I stood over the defenceless pup I saw tears that weren’t my own fall on the dead hound. It was then realisation struck me, we were both orphans to circumstance. It was pure coincidence that its mother chose to give birth in the same area as we went hunting. Pure coincidence that both the hound and my father had their children with them to protect. If we weren’t around then either my dad or the hound would have simply run away with nothing to hold them back. Instead they both died to remove the threat to their childrens lives.  

As the tears dried I went to my fathers discarded backpack to fetch his trowel that would originally be used to dig a latrine, and started on two graves. Halfway through the pup trotted over to me and started to help, digging at the soft ground with its paws. It took the rest of the morning and the afternoon to finish the graves, especially for the pup's mother with her incredible size. As we worked together, sharing the rations left by father, we reached an understanding and the beginning of a tamers bond formed between us. I named him Brutus, after the god of chance. 

From that day onwards my life changed. By the age of 18 I had achieved my fathers strength and was the greatest hunter in town. By 22 I was stronger than the lords head knight and with Brutus we were unmatched. At 25 I married the lords second daughter, Elena, and joined his army achieving many meritorious service. At 30 I broke into the 3rd tier at the same time as Brutus, becoming the only 3rd tier warrior in the Lords territory. It should be said that 3rd tier was enough to become a hegemon in an area, the 2 of us together were almost unstoppable.

When nieghbouring lords sent their armies to ravage our lands, their generals were devoured by Brutus. When the migrating Flame Wyvern raided our livestock it fell to my bow and became a feast for the victims of its assault. For the following 10 years the lands prospered. The previous lord passed away to be taken over by his son, my brother-in-law, who I maintained good relations with. The unit I was originally tasked with became the most elite scout company in the surrounding lands. Though only a 100 strong they had half a dozen 2nd tiers with their accompanying beasts formed the core and the rest were all experienced archers, becoming the sharpest blade in the army.  

Alas all things eventually come to an end. As a 3rd rank warrior i could theoretically live till over a century at least, near 2 at most, that was unfortunately not the case for a solitary hunter such as myself. Due to long hunts in the wild, I would often receive injuries or be infected by poisons and without quick access to potions during my early days or healing techniques, I often had to rely on inferior methods that healed improperly. As I got older new wounds imposed upon old wounds and a toll was taken. By forty my heart started to fail.  

As I laid in bed with my wife to the right and Brutus to my left with many of my liutenants and soldiers waiting outside I thought that my life, though relatively short, was well spent with few regrets. The only things I wish I could have changed was enjoying my childhood more, and having children of my own. Whether it was Elena or I we both tried but failed to conceive.  

As I close my eyes to the setting of the sunset, I smile. 

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