A few minutes after leaving Eoric's smithy Zaran arrived in front of Henry's place. After a couple of knocks on the door Henry opened up with a sleepy expression on his face. He had just taken forty winks until he got rudely awakened by someone banging on his door.
"Ah! Zaran back already?" Henry asked upon seeing it was Zaran and the sleepy expression instantly changed into an elated one.
"Yeah, I've got a few questions I need answering."
"Come in then. Let's hear what you've got to say." Henry took a step back and waved with his hand towards his house, urging Zaran to quickly enter. Zaran took seat at the small wooden table and wait for Henry to take a seat as well.
"Cindarrah come out please." Zaran said once Henry had taken a seat. Cindarrah quickly crawled out of her little web sack and crawled on top of Zaran's head. Henry's eyes widened in surprise as he saw the petite Hellweaver queen on Zaran's head.
"Zaran boy... I don't know if I should congratulate you or slap you."
Zaran revealed a questioning expression and before he could even ask Henry started talking again.
"That thing on your head... How did you come across it?"
After quickly summarizing what happened and how the Hellweaver queen on his head was an altered form Henry's face changed to one of surprise for a split second but then instantly turned dark again.
"Boy, never fully trust that critter on top of your head. Hellweaver queen's are extremely crafty creatures and every generation is basically just another version of yourself. That said, for the Hellweaver population to be devastated that quickly it can only be one creature that can do it. Black devil-wasp. I'll give you the same advice as my master gave me in regard to them. If you see them, you run. They are never alone and if one attacks you, you can be damn sure a few thousand more will quickly follow. There's rumors that swarms of them have even killed dragons."
Zaran opened and closed his mouth a few times unable to say something about the devil-wasps. "Uhh... so do you know of any places nearby where the Hellweavers could build their nest anew?"
"There's a place nearby but you'll know about it soon enough" Henry said in a mysterious tone, not quite fitting his stentorian voice. "As for other places there are some but none of them are nearby. However the little queen on your head can point them out if you ever come across any."
"All right it's a start at least. There was another thing I was wondering about. Everyone has been staring at me and bothering me for the last few days because of this little one. Do you know of a way to temporarily store her or something? It's rather cumbersome that people annoy me all the time." Zaran said while gently stroking Cindarrah's back.
"You can, but YOU can't." Henry said. "You need your own place for that. Then there's a summoning and de-summoning technique along with a binding technique that you need to learn. It's a fairly simple process but you need to have your own house. You COULD use mine but it's not the best option obviously and I personally suggest not using my place. It might affect your bond with the pet if it stays around my pets."
Henry rummaged through some drawers until he finally found a small scroll that he threw towards Zaran. "Here, this scroll contains the techniques you need for summoning and de-summoning your pets along with the binding technique for where they'll go. I suggest building a cage or preferably a habitat for your beasts and bind them in there."
Zaran gratefully accepted the scroll, although his face showed a disappointed expression. He couldn't afford a house yet so he'd have to walk around with Cindarrah for the time being.
"Don't worry you'll get a house soon enough, in the meantime I would suggest training with few people around." Henry suddenly got filled with mystery as he continued "Well there's another option if you wish to take it."
"What is the other option?" Zaran asked.
"Take Kirin with you. She gained the baleful aura skill that hell hounds have so mentally weak people will naturally avoid you. As for others it doesn't have an effect on them but it should solve your current predicament. On top of that Kirin has been very restless since you left. She really wanted to go with you last time, so how about it?"
"Haahhh, if she's raring to go then I guess I will just take her with me regardless. While we're at the topic of people distracting me... there's a lot of people who will bug me regardless if i go to the training area so i was wondering if you'd happen to know a secluded training spot nearby?"
"What is it with you and people bothering you? Are you some sort of celebrity?" Henry asked unaware of Zaran's display of skill in the market a few days ago. That along with streaming caused a lot of players to harass him and ask him how he did that. While had blocked whispers he couldn't stop people from speaking to him in person. Whenever he was at the market he thus completely ignored everyone and just continued his business. He received a bit of hate from it but surprisingly there were people that stood up for him and told the others not to bug him. He'd really hope to avoid people when he was training and he thought that Henry should know a place like that nearby. Where else would he train or tame his hellbeasts if not in a secluded spot?
"There is one spot nearby, but it is owned by a peculiar fellow. He normally doesn't let people near the spot but if you take Kirin with you to his place, he should recognize your connection with me and let you stay. There is one thing that you ABSOLUTELY can not do in that place though. Under no circumstances hurt an animal. As for where the place it is northwest of the woodcutting guild near the waterfall. Oh, tell the guy he should drop by for a few beers. It has been too long since I've seen him."
"All right let me go get Kirin for you now." Henry said as he walked towards the cellar and entered it. After a couple of minutes he got back with a very excited Kirin in his arms. When she saw Zaran she immediately jumped out of Henry's arms and ran straight to him, cutely barking in the process. she immediately started rubbing her head against Zaran's leg as a sign of affection and then put her paw on her head, signaling to Zaran that he should pet her. Zaran started petting her for a while.
Suddenly a web-shot came from the top of his head and bound Kirin to the ground. Kirin growled angrily and used her dark flame skill to melt the web. Once free she roared at Zaran while releasing an horrifyingly strong baleful aura towards Cindarrah. Zaran felt Cindarrah clamp her legs stronger around Zaran's head to the point where blood started to trickle down. "Cindarrah you're hurting me! Kirin stop!" Zaran roared in pain. Immediately the two hellbeasts stopped.
"But da..." Cindarrah started, but was immediately cut off by Zaran "No buts! Now be nice to Kirin! And Kirin you be nice to Cindarrah!"
"Yes daddy" Cindarrah said while Kirin let out a low whine with her tail between her legs. Zaran started patting the two of them and then turned his gaze to Henry who was rolling on the floor while laughing at the situation.
He couldn't have possibly imagined that two female hellbeasts from a different race where jealous of each other. In his countless years as a hellbeast master he had never ever seen this happen before. Once Henry noticed Zaran frowning at him, he quickly collected himself and stood up again. "Sorry for that, the situation was simply too hilarious. In all my years as a hellbeast master I have never seen something like that."
"Did you have any more questions?"
"No, I think I'll be off now. Thanks for your time Henry!"
"Anytime son! Take good care of Kirin!"
"I will!" Zaran said as started to get up.
While he walked around the market not a single person talked to him. People glanced at him more often but no one dared to bother him just because of the baleful aura that Kirin emitted. While she was small and looked pretty cute despite the bone-like things on her fur, her aura was terrifyingly strong to the point that even the higher leveled players dreaded to go near her. This caused people to wonder who owned such a strong companion was, but none dared to ask. Zaran slowly made his way around the market until arriving at Pantheon's stall. Pantheon was surprised to see Zaran back again so soon and quickly came running over to help him. "Back so soon? I hope nothing was wrong with my wares?" Pantheon asked with a concerned expression in his eyes.
"No nothing wrong, I just have an extra addition to my party that requires meat." Zaran said while pointing to Kirin. The baleful aura wasn't affecting shopkeepers so Pantheon was able to take a good look at Kirin without being forced to turn away.
"Oh? You were a beast master?" Pantheon asked, knowing that there was only a single profession that could get a pet so early.
"Yeah. sub-profession actually. I was wondering if you were selling some sausages or other meat?"
"I certainly am selling some meat and sausages. It's 5 copper per sausage and just 4 copper for a chunk of meat."
"Give me 50 of each, that should last me a bit." Zaran said. Pantheon quickly grabbed the sausages and meat and handed them over to Zaran who stowed them away in his storage ring.
"Could I ask you something sir?" Pantheon suddenly asked as Zaran was about to leave.
"Sure, go ahead."
"Would you be willing to sign an exclusive contract with me? You'll get a discount for all the food you buy, but you can only buy at my store when I am online and I will deliver it if necessary. On top of that if there's any food items or ingredients you want to have processed I will do it free of charge."
"That's... a quite interesting proposal." Zaran said as he thought about it. He would need a massive amount of food if his party of hellbeasts kept increasing and even if he didn't have them with him they'd need food at his future home. The contract with Pantheon would solve that problem. There was just one thing Zaran needed to know.
"Why did you propose this contract?"
"Well you see, there's not a lot of customers at my stall. Since I made those horrible bread buns and onigiris people shy away from me. I have very few customers that come here again and seeing you for the third time here I just thought it'd be a good idea to put up a contract. That way you get cheaper food and I get a good customer." Pantheon explained with a pained expression.
"Sure why not then! I don't know how long I will stay in this town though." Zaran added while quickly signing the contract that Pantheon had quickly given him.
"No worries, just register me as a friend and wherever and whenever you need food I will come running. I am not a weak cook!" Pantheon said as he got closer to Zaran and whispered. "My profession... Is a secret profession, it allows me to be a cook and a fighter! So I will be leveling a lot myself. As long as the discrepancy between our levels doesn't get too big I will be able to deliver you food."
"Seems like I chose the right stall to keep buying from then!" Zaran said as a smile emerged on his face. If Pantheon really could deliver whenever and wherever it would immensely benefit him. Zaran added Pantheon as a friend and bade him farewell. He quickly crossed the market to find a stall that would buy his used longsword and greatsword. After selling the both of them he spent the received money on a simple longbow and 100 bronze arrows. While he didn't particularly like longbows, he hadn't been able to find a greatbow yet so he decided that a longbow should suffice for now.
Zaran quickly checked if he had everything he needed and decided to set off for the secluded training area.