Mulling over the Chief's words, Aaron followed the man while he led the way out of the metallic room.
He and Edmond had set out early in the morning on their quest to catch the Fox, so it was only noon now even though Edmond had been sleeping for hours.
Aaron was trying to understand this concept of "betting" that the chief had just spoken about. The part that flummoxed him was how the Chief had been able to do this without receiving any confirmation or guarantee from Aaron that he would definitely pay him back. What was stopping him from benefiting from this favor, and later saying that he didn't recall anything about it?
Of course, he would never do something like that as actions like those were among the things he despised the most. Yet, the Chief couldn't possibly know that.
Viewing the broad shoulders of the man who was walking in front of him, Aaron asked, "How can you trust me like that? What if I say that I don't know you in the future?"
He was just trying his best to understand everything that he was experiencing as much as he could, so Aaron wanted to clarify each and every doubt he had right away. He wasn't planning to refuse this favor – as he knew just how valuable favors could be. There were multiple times when a few Teras who had been spared by him and Woof had ended up helping them in unexpected situations just because they remembered the deed.
Only, it wasn't all Teras which were capable of doing something like this. Through years of experimentation combined with the knowledge that Woof had gathered before he met Aaron, they knew which Teras they could trust in this way and which they couldn't.
Yet, the Chief had only met him a day ago. So, that was the main question that Aaron had.
The answer surprised him.
Turning around, the Chief sighed once again, as he was at his wit's end. Explaining stuff wasn't his forte, but he decided to put the best effort forward so that he could hopefully strike the right chord with this kid.
Finally, he found a way in which he could express himself that the kid would definitely understand.
"Instinct. After all these years of living in the forest, you must have developed an instinct about where to hide, when to fight and when to run, right?"
Aaron immediately nodded. If it weren't for that instinct that had been developed with Woof's training and help, he would have died long ago.
"Well, this is another kind of instinct that tells me that you are someone whom I can trust. I can't explain it any further. Again, like I said, you'll understand later."
Seeing Aaron nod slowly with an expression that signified that he understood, the Chief let out a breath of relief and was about to turn around, but he stopped when he heard Aaron speak in a strong tone that he would never be able to forget.
"I give you my word that I will definitely repay you. No matter when it is or where I am, I will never forget what you're doing for me."
Aaron had gotten the feeling that he wanted to say this, even though he knew that the Chief probably wasn't expecting anything like it.
Still, he wanted the Chief to know.
At this moment, his impression of the Chief grew to new heights, as the Chief's actions reminded him of the way Woof had helped him without expecting anything in return.
Of course, the Chief might be expecting something, but just like Aaron had stated, there was the risk that he would get nothing. So, Aaron still saw it in this way.
He was someone who drew a clear line between favors and grudges. Even in the forest, they would go out of their way to help a tribe of Teras if it didn't risk their lives, in cases where that specific tribe had helped them before to escape from some predator. And if there was some sly Tera that tried to take advantage of them, they would always make sure to hunt it down when they could.
Hearing this, the Chief threw back his head and let out an uproarious laugh, which made the Hamlet folk in the houses nearby peek out of their windows, wondering what had amused the Chief so much.
"Good, good. Come on. We shouldn't keep Jenny waiting any longer."
Aaron didn't understand the last part, but seeing the Chief hurry forward, he followed.
A few minutes later, the two reached the same spot where Edmond had had his very humiliating challenge. People had gathered here again, and in the ring, Jenny, the woman who had been in charge of the Orientation was standing with her hands folded behind her back.
As soon as she saw him appear, she made a gesture as if she was waving him forward, which made the confusion increase in Aaron.
The Chief finally explained.
"Today morning, while you two were out on your adventure, Skystead Hamlet was visited by an Envoy from the World Government. He assessed my Tera, and told me that it's very close to breaking through to the Rare tier. I was given a choice to step down as the Hamlet Chief, as Skystead Hamlet is supposed to be one of the easier settlements among the 10 in this area that are to be challenged by Ascenders. I've known this for a long time, and it has been very long since an Ascender last won against me. Usually, they just decide to go to a different Hamlet which is easier. I always say no, but now, because you two would benefit a lot from the resources that you would obtain if you beat a Hamlet Chief, I've decided to step down. Jenny is the new Hamlet Chief, and she is waiting for a Challenge. Don't worry, go on. Newly appointed individuals are always the easiest to beat. I've seen the power of that dog – it should have no problem beating a butterfly. Go."
Now, this was a favour!
The Path to the Stars was the main priority of Aaron's, right now. Before, he had already imagined how a fight between Woof and the Chief's Viper would be, and he had to admit that although the Viper was fat, the speed with which it shot out those poison balls made it so that avoiding it and getting close would be a chore, especially in that small area of the ring. If stepping out meant forfeiting, then Aaron wasn't sure of victory.
After finding out so many things, he was more excited than ever to get started on the Path. And if all he had to do was defeat that scared butterfly from before, Aaron felt it was a piece of cake.
So, with a confident smile, Aaron marched forth to the same spot where Edmond had stood.
Woof had already picked up on the excitement in the air, and it also barked in anticipation of a fight. The reason it knew a fight was coming was Aaron's body language – which meant that he was getting prepared for battle.
It had already seen the way in which these battles progressed, so it enthusiastically walked forward.
The reason behind it is being so excited was simple – Woof really loved a challenge. Also, it was full right now, so a little exercise would definitely do it some good.
"To make sure that no Teras get fatally injured, I'll act as the judge. Today, we have Tera Master Aaron going up against newly appointed Skystead Hamlet Chief, Jenny. I'll step in if either Tera is at risk of death. If either Tera exits the boundary of the ring, it will count as a loss. If there is no conclusive victory after 10 minutes, this match will be declared as a draw. Let the Challenge…begin!"
As the Chief's loud voice echoed across the clearing, cheers erupted from the spectators.
With a smile, Jenny stepped out of the ring and gracefully raised her hand, causing that same, large butterfly with pretty patterns on its pink wings to appear.
As for Woof, it was currently beside Aaron, who was sending it directions through his hand which was placed on its fur.
"Make it scared enough to quit, or make it exit the ring."
It looked like this was too complex a concept to send even through images, as they had never encountered a situation like this.
While he was thinking, Woof asked, "Eat, or not?"
That was all it needed to know.
Sighing with a smile, Aaron glanced at the Chief, and hoped that he would be fast enough to intervene.
"Eat, but stay in the ring."
Barking with excitement on finding out that it could have another snack and completely forgetting its thought before about how it was full, Woof leaped into the ring.
Bending on its haunches, it waited for the butterfly, which didn't look as scared as before, to attack.
Only…the Tera calmly flapped its wings and stayed at a spot 10 feet in the air, while not showing any intention of descending.
While Aaron and Woof both stared at the Tera and understood the dilemma they were in, Jenny smiled coldly on the other side of the large ring.
"You dared to scare my J, huh? Now let's see what you'll do," she mused, while ignoring the glares that the Chief was shooting in her direction.
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I'm an aspiring author who fell in love with writing the moment I wrote my first story.
Most Notable Work: World Domination System, an 800,000 word ongoing fantasy novel which can be found at https://www.webnovel.com/book/11413811606356705/World-Domination-System