Someone began knocking on the door loudly just as Alex had finished doing what he could for the moment with studying the enchanted gear. ‘I wonder who that could be?’ He questioned silently. “Coming!” He yelled in the direction of the door while he quickly covered the collection of enchanted items with a nearby tablecloth. It was best not to let just anyone see such a pile of treasure sitting in the middle of the room.
When Alex opened the oak door he was surprised to see a familiar face standing on the doorstep. “Old man? What brings you here? I figured you would be too busy with the goblins to come to visit me anytime soon.” He asked with a small bit of confusion mixed with surprise, showing on his face.
Suddenly Alex’s eyes light up as he remembers something important. “Hey wait, where is my sister at!? I had forgotten in all this commotion that she was supposed to be sent here, but she never showed up!” He said, slowly raising his voice as he got angrier throughout the accusation.
Now it was the elder’s turn to be surprised and confused, as he gave a puzzled response. “Did you not receive the news from a courier? I specifically sent one over the same day we last spoke.”
“I did not, and I am sure Jeod would have told me if they came in my sleep. What happened to her!?” Alex asked, still angry and now getting quite worried. ‘Mother wouldn’t have let anything happen to her if they were together, not with her strength. But surely mother was deployed, being such a powerful and famous fighter.’
The elder regained his composure quickly and attempted to soothe Alex’s anger. “I am most sorry, Alex, and I will personally look into why the courier dared to ignore a direct order from myself.” He let a bit of anger purposely seep into his tone to help show Alex that he was sincere about the situation, before reverting back to calm and professional demeanor.
“When we attempted to have her sent here your mother was just dropping her off at the local hospital where her training was supposed to soon begin. Since your mother’s power will be desperately needed in the coming fight, she decided to leave Emily in the care of some friends there and Emily was quite happy to begin learning early and doing what she can to help the injured brought in from the skirmishes so far. The hospital is one of the few locations that retain guards and a standing defense even during a full mobilization is in effect, so there really isn’t anywhere safer to be at the moment.” He concluded succinctly.
Alex visibly calmed down, tense muscles unclenching. “Ah, that makes a lot of sense then. I am sorry I went right to the extremes, Jason, I should have known my mother would find her someplace safe before just running off.”
“Your mother’s contribution is indeed useful.” The elder continued, this time smiling brightly. “She is with one of the groups purging the scouting forces from the forests and from what I hear she is like an angel of death on the battlefield. Her long brown hair flowing around her as she darts from goblin to goblin smashing their faces in with her fearsome enchanted mace, yanking the less experienced troops from the jaws of death, and keeping the injured alive to see another day. Between the number of people she has managed to save and the number of goblins she has managed to kill, not to mention her beauty, she has become a rallying force for the men.”
Alex’s face reddened at hearing the description of his mother. ‘At least she is doing well out there.’ He thought with a positive attitude. It is at this moment that Alex notices Jeod coming up from behind him.
“Alex, I heard angry voices so I came back inside. What is going on out here?” He yelled from the back of the house with concern. As Jeod rounded the corner and came into the receiving room, he and the elder got a good look at each other.
“WHAT!” The elder yells as he quickly jumped back with force, putting a good 10 feet between him and the entrance of the house. His hands are suddenly covered in two impressive looking metal gauntlets that had been no doubt something found in the dungeon and he readies into a fighting stance.
The elder’s face was a mix of different emotions quickly flashing by. Confusion, anger, suspicion, anger again and more as he struggled what to think of the situation. Alex and Jeod were both just standing in the doorway looked confused, unsure what was going on.
“Alex! Jeod! What is this? Why are Jeod’s eyes now the same as yours, Alex?” As he studied them he could see the tapered ears on Jeod’s head as well. How could someone just change race like that? Alex had been tampered with by the System and, according to his own account the Architect itself, during his awakening, but Jeod has been a Scholar all his life!
As Alex began to open his mouth in an attempt to explain, the elder cut him off loudly. “No!” Startled, Alex stopped.
“Alex, you and I have only ever met when you came back to town, so I do not know the real you. Your mother and sister have not seen you since your return to help verify anything. Jeod, however, my old friend, I have known you for many years. I will ask you a series of questions that only the real Jeod could answer.”
“If I can determine that you two are who you say you are and not some sort of parasitic vampire trying to take over the town, then I will be quite interested in hearing how this came about. If it cannot be verified… well, that is quite obvious.” He said with steel in his voice. He would do what needed to be done despite the resemblance to Jeod.
Jeod’s face grew grim and his lips formed a flat line. “Do what you must. We should have prepared for this, but in our excitement, we did not even think of the problems that surely would have arisen from a change like this.” He stated calmly.
“Question number one.” Began the elder. “Why did I choose the class I chose?”
“Haha!” Jeod replied as he thought of the reason. “Because you could never get enough of the stories of ancient martial artists and hearing about the movies and such that used to exist. You thought they sounded super cool as a kid and started trying to emulate ancient masters all the time and it just stuck with you.”
The elder smiled. “Good. I truly do hope it is you and that my friend is not dead. Question number two. What is my true age?”
“You are 76 years old, you old fart.” Responded Jeod with a jovial smirk on his face. “I still don’t know why you keep it such a secret from everyone though.”
The elder smiled back and responded, “The older I get, the less everyone else lets me help out with the fun stuff like this upcoming battle. I am not as frail for my age as people would assume however so it suits my purposes to keep the true number hidden.” He grinned wider before continuing. “Plus it fits the whole ancient martial arts master vibe that I have kept going."
“Hahahaha!” Laughed Jeod uncontrollably, tears coming from his eyes. “That reasoning is so like you. So am I cleared, Justin? Surely an imposter could not know those things.” He said after he stopped laughing, getting serious again.
“Yes, indeed, I do believe that you are truly my old friend Jeod. I am sorry that I had to do this, but surely being as smart as you are, you saw why it was necessary. Would you two care to explain how this happened? Was it on purpose? How? What are the benefits and drawbacks? Why did you do this?” He shot out rapid fire, before stopping himself eventually. “I have so many questions about this development, excuse me.” He said as he walked back to the doorway, closing the gap he had made as he readied for a possible fight.
Jeod and Alex both stepped back inside the house while Jason follows them inside. “The answers to those questions will take a bit of explaining, and I am not entirely sure how well we can explain some of them, so let us all take a seat at the table here and I’ll get us some tea before we start,” Jeod said to the other two.
The three of them sat down at the table in the small kitchen, Jeod having served tea for the three of them, and Alex begins. “Well, it is kind of hard to explain, but-“
Alex was cut off by the sound of an incredibly loud horn being blasted in the distance. Mere moments after the first horn dozens more could be heard, along with the low, steady beat of a large number of drums.
“The goblins!” All three of them shouted at once as they all stood up, spilling the tea from shaking the table so much.
Justin looked grim as he let both Alex and Jeod know that he had to quickly leave and head to the gathering point for the council and leaders of the guards, adventurers guild, and town militia to help coordinate the defense efforts. Alex and Jeod quickly hurried out the front door with him, also ready to head to the walls, when the elder seemingly vanished.
“Wha-“ Alex began before being hit with a shockwave of air, making him stumble slightly. Where the elder had stood the ground was now a small crater, cracks spreading out from the epicenter. ‘Wow!’ Alex thought to himself. ‘He really is amazingly powerful!’
‘Indeed.’ Commented Alice from within his mild.
Alex twitched a moment, almost having forgotten about the presence of Alice with her being so quiet recently.
‘I am always here Alex, do not worry. I am simply content to watch and listen most of the time.’ She said, and he knew that he could hear the smile in her voice. He was sure she found it quite funny when he jumped at her voice. After all, the two of them shared both a body and a soul space, and it was quite easy for them to sense the emotional state of the other.
“Well, it’s not every day you see the old man get serious.” Commented Jeod dryly. “Shall we get going?” He asked while glancing at Alex.
Surprise obvious on his face, Alex asked “Are you sure you want to come? I thought your class could not cause direct harm through the use of its spells?”
Smiling devilishly Jeod said “Yes, that may be, but what kind of Scholar would I be if I gave up the chance to watch you sling spells at the goblins? You might be almost as new to this as me but I’m not the Archon here and surely there is much to learn from observing you in the heat of the moment.” He finished jovially.
On that note, the two of them headed in the direction of all the commotion and attempted to prepare themselves for the event of a lifetime.