"Hey," A man elbowed the man beside him.
"Do you think he'll survive?" He asked looking at the man.
"What? Are you worried about an outsider?"
"But, isn't it our problem? Even though William was a bad Magician that doesn't make him a bad person as well. Not all people are like William. The kid didn't even know a thing for it was us who dragged him into this mess."
"I think he is right." A woman said, "But can we really trust him? He is an outsider."
"Only with small treasure as compensation he's helping our village," The man replied, "He must really be a good lad."
"But..." Everybody's gaze turned towards an old with his white hair reaching the end of his neck. With a stick on his hand to support his old body and the skin of a tiger on his shoulder, he was like a barbarian.
Chief Yuan frowned at their gazes. He didn't want an innocent kid to die for the mess they had created for themselves. But he also didn't want to go against the words of villagers who didn't trust him because of him being an outsider.
"Chief, let's help him." The man said.
"Help him?" The man with muscles said, "Do you want to help an outsider again? Have you forgotten when we helped that treacherous William last time?"
"Yeah, we won't help him, if he turned out to be like that wretched William, we'll all be doomed."
Everybody's gaze was now fixed on the Chief with anticipation in their eyes. Chief, if he spoke in boy's favor, had the risk of villagers turning against him but also Chief's words were law in the village which every villager had to obey.
"Then be it, we'll go!" Chief said.
"Chief, you too want to help an outsider?"
"...Yeah, let's not do it."
"We don't know anything about him, for he could turn against us."
Many showed their views for not helping an outsider, for all they knew that could be the end of their life.
"Its because he's an outsider, we can't trust him," Chief shouted, "We must solve the problem ourselves. We can't trust him."
Chief words made a lot of sense since they cannot trust an outsider.
"Yeah, we cannot trust him. Grab a weapon for yourselves. We'll solve the problem ourselves." The muscular man said.
"Yeah we cannot trust him"
We cannot trust him!
Many emotions were mixed when they said the same sentence. Some were happy, some were sad and some were even angry. The man who wanted to help Oslo happily joined 'We can't trust him' gang. He picked an ax for his weapon.
Everybody had a weapon in their hands. From stick to kitchen knives to sickle, they carried every weapon village had to offer.
"Let's make him pay with his life and show him how powerful we really are. Let's lift the curse he has cast upon us."
Everybody shouted in unison, raising the weapons in their hands.
A loud explosion rang throughout the village when they reached the village gate.
"What was that?"
"It came from the west hill."
"Are they still battling?"
"But can't trust him, can we? Let's go everyone and bust him down."
In haste, they headed towards the west hill where the castle was located. When they were about ten meters away from the castle they saw trees that were robbed of their colors and were charred black. It was a sight of destruction for the villagers.
"My God, what happened here?"
"Look. There's Marie unconscious at the ground." One man said pointing out at Marie.
Some of the villagers immediately ran towards Marie trying to wake her up. Other kept looking at the surrounding trying to deduce what happened there.
"Wait! Isn't that the monster dog? But why is it licking the outsider like he is its master?" Everyone was dumbfounded. They knew how hostile the creature could be having experienced that first hand. Not trusting the words of the man they turned to see it for themselves.
Their jaw kissed the ground when they saw mother dog licking Oslo and other pups merrily circling around him as if they were playing.
"What did the kid do to them?," The chief frowned.
Even though Oslo's clothes had many holes and was tattered, the scene looked beautiful nonetheless.
Slowly their eyes reached the house which had a hole in its wall. They really wanted to know what had occurred but they only guess without seeing it for themselves. Was the kid really strong? They thought.
Neither fast nor slow, they walked towards Oslo when one of the villager's feet hit something in the ground. The man who wanted to help Oslo glanced down as to what had hit his feet.
It was a corpse whose upper body was burned black. Above the waist, every little area was burned. The mouth of the body was wide open and he could only guess what a painful death it had been. Even though the corpse's face was charred black, he knew to whom the body belonged before.
"He killed William as well?!" The man couldn't help but shout it out loud because of his surprise.
He now looked at Oslo doubting his own words.
'Maybe he didn't need our help at all.' He sighed in relief that Oslo wasn't hurt because of their shameless act of cowardice.
"What? William is dead?"
"Did the kid killed William as well?" Many started viewing Oslo in a different light from what they had viewed him before.
"W-Wait, does that mean..." The woman took the mask off her face and used the well forged new dagger in her hand as a mirror, and with the other hand which was shaking, she embraced her face. Tflowed out of her eyes when she saw her own face,
"H-Has been lifted!" Chief finished the sentence for her using his shaking voice.
When villagers heard the chief and realized what had happened, they burst out in tears. Throwing the mask off their faces, they used every reflecting object they could to look at the image of their faces.
-Five minutes earlier
"Let go, you bastard!" Struggling to free out of his grasp, William yelled.
"You wish." Slowly Oslo opened his mouth. With blood still gushing out of his body, he could barely hold on to William if not for the skill he had accidentally obtained from the runestone. And if not for that, William would have already struggled out.
Inside his mouth, a yellowish flame was roaring to come out.Concentrating most of his mana on that attack, he wanted to end the battle with this final move.
Greenlight gleaned from the crystal in the pendant making his chest covered in it and strengthening the last attack even further. The flame inside his mouth was raging upon every passing second as if it couldn't bear to stay in the mouth for any longer.
The tattoo in his hand also glowed. But surprisingly through the tattoo which was blacker than black was glowing with bright white light making the mana enter his body at an even faster pace.
Oslo couldn't hold it in for much longer as his body wasn't a bottomless pit. If mana exceeded the capacity that his body could hold on than he was sure that he would blast into smithereens.
Taking a deep breath and inhaling as much as air as his lungs could hold, he spat out the flame like a tornado of fire from his mouth.
The hellish fire covered the upper torso of William and burning it along with everything in its path. It wasn't as strong as when the dragon of the dungeon made use of it but it was strong nonetheless.
"Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh~" William cried in pain for he couldn't bear it anymore.
Hearing his cry Oslo could only watch it with unfathomable sadness dwelling in his heart. Even if he was a bad person as villagers claimed him to be, he didn't deserve to be burned alive... nobody deserved such painful death, but it was life... If he hadn't done it, he would have been dead.
Seeing the destruction his flame carved, he sighed. The flames didn't reach more than ten meters but everything in the vicinity that touched the raging flame was set ablaze turning charred black.
Burning trees black...Hell! some trees turned into ashes upon contact, the flame stopped and disappeared. Oslo was relieved that his attack didn't result in a wildfire that would have most likely destroyed the whole forest.
He felt he could control the flames and choose what he wanted to harm and what he didn't. But his control was pathetic as Oslo only wanted to harm the foe his hands were wrapped around but his attack ended up burning trees in the vicinity as well.
Analyzing his surroundings with his obscured vision he saw Marie who was lying unconscious. The illusion William had trapped Oslo in was broken.
Letting go of the body, Oslo tried standing in his bloodied state as there were still problems that needed to be dealt with. The berserk magic beast which he had knocked unconscious was awake and standing.
Making a fist Oslo wanted to stand up when he again found himself in the ground. The wound on his stomach hadn't healed opposite to his guess. The pain and wound were still there making him realized he couldn't even stand upright.
But suddenly William's body which was charred black started glowing in white light. Oslo who was startled upon the view bit his lips,
"Is he resurrecting himself?"
If he really was then it was all over, Oslo thought. Because of that fight, his body had only a bit, which can barely be called mana left in it. He knew if William was to open his eyes again, his breath wouldn't last a minute.
"Don't wake up...lie there...lie down there," Oslo mumbled repeatedly.
But William didn't wake up and something entirely different happened. Oslo wanted to gouge his eyes out and clean it himself using holy water upon witnessing the scene which was unreal.
The tattoos in William's back had suddenly come to life. He wanted to cough blood in such a situation... but he was already coughing.
The white crane upon emerging from his back fled around in fear. It was being chased by the purple dragon which had tainted the image of the white crane in William's back.
"What the heck is happening?"
The two creatures...or what they seemed to be were flying around continuously with a purple dragon chasing White crane with drool dripping down its mouth. It was acting like the white crane was its food which he planned to eat as lunch. But what made him speechless wasn't them but the scene unfolding before his own eyes.
A dragon emerged from his hand, and with lava flowing down his scales, Oslo had no doubt that it was the dragon from the dungeon. Oslo was dumbfounded as to how his hand contained such a snake-like fire breathing monster of destruction which was about a hundred meters in length.
The dragon covered in lava flew in the speed of light with its mouth wide open.
Munch! Munch! Munch!
The purple dragon that was chasing against the white crane with such ferocity was eaten in a single bite. The dragon showing a satisfied expression after its meal shot out a stream of smoke from its nose before shooting a last glance at the white crane and returning to Oslo's hand again.
The monster that was a hundred meters in length which had to wrap its body like spring just to fit in such small ground disappeared in Oslo's hand without a trace.
"Haha...Haha..." He didn't even know what to think anymore as it was more like a dream with a punch of reality.
The White crane circled around as if it was searching for something but upon finding what it desired, it shot itself in Oslo's chest who then stopped laughing and started crying in pain.
The wound on his already too much to bear and now the pain in his chest made him feel he was losing a life. It was like thousands of knives stabbing and ripping his heart apart all at once. The pain was simply unbearable.
But it soon came to end with a tattoo of a crane appearing on his chest which was white in color and more eye relieving to look at rather than black dragon in his hand. On his chest where the heart was located, the crane glowed in holy light making coolness spread all across his body. The wounds on his stomach were disappearing and it suddenly rung the bell.
"So it was because of this that my wound ended up healing in the midst of battle. No wonder I wasn't recovering when William died." Oslo muttered as he caressed his chest where tattoo had appeared. "But only disappointment is that it doesn't discriminate...wait a minute, I can control whom I want to heal? Does that mean that William's control over it was as pathetic as my control of the dragon breath?"
He laughed at his own thought as he wasn't the only one the battle who couldn't control his attacks.
"It glowed when William used magic as well. No wonder."
With his whole body wrapped in refreshing coolness, he was healed perfectly in no time at all. Patting his chest in merry, he blurted,
"It sure is helpful but...the crane in my chest is so ladylike."
As if understanding what was in Oslo's mind, the crane disappeared from his chest and he couldn't find it in his whole body.
"Can I control it as well?" He then ordered the tattoo to reappear and aligning much to his guess, the tattoo reappeared in his chest again.
"This sure is handy." Saying that he ordered the crane to turn invisible again.
It was like magic as to how the crane could disappear and reappear. Oslo then glanced at the tattoo of the dragon on his hand and ordered,
"You become invisible as well."
He knew it was because of the dragon, William was so furious and wanted to trample him dead. He didn't know what was the relationship between the tattoo and William's rage but he had theorized that it was related to the downfall of William's clan of which he was shouting in battle. He now knew that this tattoo of his was related to some troublesome fellas and it was the emblem used by Mystic Clan.
And to show the trouble magnet to the whole world was a big no.
In the battle with William, Oslo realized many of his shortcomings. He felt that he was simply too weak as compared to the monsters like people inhabiting this wildland...and William, Oslo somehow felt that William wasn't in his prime condition and imagining what a monster he would have been, he couldn't help but sweat cold.
He thought himself to be a bit powerful but battling against William proved it wrong. He realized that he was but a frog in a well who didn't know how vast the ocean really is and thought that there were many strong people in Magic Land.
He had seen the dragon tattoo on his hand glowing when he made his last attack and realized that the tattoo could help him strengthen his magic because of its natural affinity for mana.
With the dragon tattoo in his hand, he thought that he could also become strong as the monsters ruling the land. Aside from leading his brother to a bright future and he now had another goal to strive for.
The goal to become strong!
He needed to become strong if he didn't want his close ones to suffer. He needed to become strong if he wanted to protect the ones he cared for. He needed to become strong if he wanted to be respected in the land where only strong were given such pleasure.
And with that tattoo on his hand, he felt he too had the key to being strong and what he needed was diligent practice and skills to cover up for his shortcoming. Now, he no longer viewed the world the same easily as he had been viewing it before.
As he was right now, he couldn't help but compare himself with a falling petal. With a gust of wind, it would soar across the sky, traveling a long distance before it met with the ground. As for him, the tattoo of the dragon was the gust of wind he was waiting for it to blow and make him fly in the sky, but it was up to him for how much distance he floated.
But the dragon in his hand said otherwise. It didn't disappear when Oslo ordered it to. It seemed as if the tattoo was moody and arrogant and it didn't want to disappear. Not wanting to bother with the moody dragon anymore, he walked towards the mother dog with a fist covered in mana as his tattered clothes fluttered with a gust of wind.
Unlike before, the dog seemed tame and wasn't aggressive. It sat still and when Oslo finally arrived before the mother dog, she bowed down.
Woof! Woof! Woof!
Although Oslo wasn't a professor what had attained a degree in language of dogs, even he could tell from the dog's action that it was pleading for mercy. It didn't want its children to die because it was she who had triggered Oslo's anger.
With a domineering voice, he said,
"Are you going to go after the villagers again?"
The mother dog shook her head vigorously and then looked at Oslo with a cute puppy face, although it didn't look cute in the slightest.
"Then what are you going to do? Protect them?"
The nodded in agreement. Oslo was happy that the dog could understand what he was saying, if not he would have looked like a mad man trying to talk to stones.
"Then I guess I'll let you slide." Fighting an enemy less was a good thing but the dog agreeing to protect the Village was super good, so why harm it? he thought.
The dog then merrily licked Oslo while other pups circled around him happily.
Not that they look like pups with a body of two meters but they were pups alright.
At the current time, the whole village was lighted as if it was a festival. They were celebrating the happily for the curse that had haunted them for months had finally been lifted. With a bonfire at the center of the village, villagers were partying in the night time.
The happiest one in the village was the mother dog which met with its lost child again. With its children by its side, the dog was happily chewing on the bone it had been given.
A wooden mug hit his rib when a man happily sat beside Oslo,
"Sorry but I don't drink. I'm still underage." Oslo refused.
"That's a bummer," The man was who wanted to help Oslo when he was fighting against William. He said, " But kid, thank you. I mean it."
It was the most heard word for him on that day. Everybody thanked him for lifting their curse and eradicating their nightmare.
"Its nothing and," Oslo replied, "I mean it."
"Hahahahaha, you're a funny kid." Saying that the man stood up and joined others dancing with a smile.
Oslo who was watching them dance couldn't help but laugh, "Can that even be called dance?"
Marie who was watching him laugh waved at Oslo from afar.
With a peace sign and a toothy smile pasted on his face, he laughed looking at her.
She slowly walked towards the savior of the village or what the villagers called him. She then looked at his body and said,
"Can I ask you something?"
"What do you want to know?" Oslo asked.
"Umm... it's just that," Playing with her thumbs, she blushed upon recalling the scene, "I was wondering how did your body heal so fast. When you pushed me away, I saw you suffer from a horrible wound but now you seemed totally fine. How did it heal so fast?"
The question was eating her as she was the one responsible for the wound and if because of that he were to suffer consequences in the future, she would feel bad.
"What? You want to know?" Oslo said.
"Alright, I'll tell you. Its..."
"A Magician's Secret!"
Volume 1: Falling Petal