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A note from Belgianfri

I created a Discord for the story! If you want to hang out and/or discuss skills and classes with me, you can do this here: https://discord.gg/58mtuVJU

"So... is it unusual for the guys to take off running like that?"

Garrett looked at me as if I had grown a second head. "Huh? What do you mean 'take off running'?"

"Well, the moment we arrived in the village you sent everyone out on tasks as if we were at war or something."

Garrett seemed to realise what I was talking about now, as an understanding look dawned on his face. "Yeah that's just standard procedure, actually. I can't even count the amount of times the party and I have gotten caught off guard in a new location because we didn't do our reconnaissance properly. The bigger towns and cities are safer, but little villages like this? You don't know what could be going on if you don't ask around. That leaves you open to an ambush. It's a good habit, kid. Get used to it."

He patted me on the shoulder, as the inn came into view. "Speaking of good habits, shut up and let me do the talking. You're about to learn where we witch hunters get our reputation from."

His face turned serious and there was a certain sharpness to his eyes that I hadn't noticed before. I guessed it was time for business and tried to emulate his attitude as best I could.

Garrett opened the front door of the inn as if it owed him money. As we entered, I could see a number of locals sitting around wooden tables and speaking in loud voices. After they noticed us, they quieted down and started speaking in hushed tones instead.

Garrett seemed to take personal offense at their attitude.

"Alright you flea bitten peasants, listen the fuck up! The witch hunters are here, so if you've got any problem with our kind, speak up now!"

The inn became dead silent, none of the villagers willing to draw Garrett's attention.

"If you've got any information for us, speak up now!"

Still no movement or sound. Garrett let his serious demeaner slip and when I looked at his face, this time I saw a huge shit-eating smile. The tension in the room seemed to relax.

"If you want free ale, speak up now!"

I heard a chorus of agreement. Clearly the prospect of free alcohol was enticing enough to risk a possible run in with a witch hunter, even though we were known to be mean sons of bitches. Garrett and I found an empty table and sat down, ordering an ale and some water for me in the process. I looked at Garrett and spoke in a hushed tone.

"Did you just do all of that to catch them off guard? Why?"

Garrett laughed uproariously. "Surprised? I never get tired of that routine! It also has the advantage of calming down the locals while making what we want known at the same time. If we had entered all quiet-like, the villagers would have been as tight lipped as an alchemist is about his recipes. When looking for information, you have to calm people down first, before you can expect an honest answer out of them."

Right after Garrett finished his explanation, the barkeep arrived with our drinks. Garrett made some jokes about the quality of the liquor to him, while he quipped back by joking about Garrett's piss-poor taste. I sat there silently, trying not to seem too out of place. Honestly, I was never any good at talking to people. My entire childhood had been spent training, all to receive this cursed blessing of a class. It was only now, as I slowly started to get to know people other than my parents, that I started to realise how much I had missed out on as a kid.

I still remembered the first time I set a goal for myself. It was right after my uncle gave me that affinity crystal. I wanted strength so badly that I started this whole journey. This despite the fact that I neither needed that power nor understood what it meant. I only knew that I wanted it. Thinking back on it, that was probably because of my dark affinity. Affinities aren't properly understood, however it's known that your behaviour affects your affinity and that your affinity in turn affects your behaviour. Maybe that's why I received a dark affinity. I mindlessly pursued a single goal, even though this goal on its own would never bring me happiness. My own personal form of insanity, oh joy! Maybe it was all pointless in the end...

Garrett, who noticed my pensive mood, spoke up. "Something on your mind, boy?"

"What... do you think..., wait, no, let me rephrase that. What if you work your hardest at something... only to realise that you didn't really want that in the first place? Was all that effort worth it? Was it even you that put in that effort?"

"I'm not following, kid. But I'll tell you something I do know. It's never too late to switch paths. If you work hard at something and produce results, only to find out you want to do something else, you could and should make a change to pursue that other thing. A guy I know had rich merchant parents and worked his entire life to follow in their footsteps. He was damn good at it too, only to realise that he actually just wanted to own a bookstore and nothing more. He changed course and lives happily because of it. So don't ask yourself 'was it worth it' or 'why did I want that'. Just ask yourself 'What do I want now?' When you can answer that question you should be able to answer those other questions yourself. "

Reassured, I had a small smile on my face. Maybe that line of thought didn't really matter in the first place. Maybe I should just focus on the future and on living a more fulfilling life. To seek strength while not abandoning others or myself in the process! That would become my goal for the future.

Garrett seemed to notice my new determination because he laughed a bit at my expression. "Tell you what, kid. Why don't you go check on the others and see how they're doing? You probably won't find Melinda, considering she's running around the forest, but the others would welcome your company, I'm sure."

I finished my drink and left the tavern, in search of a lanky old man wearing a robe. The sun was still out despite it being late in the day, so hopefully Nestor's shiny bald head would make him stand out in a crowd.

Sure enough, a few minutes later I could see a glint from a distance. Nestor was talking to a bearded farmer who was leaning on a pitchfork. "So then we heard Ann from next door yelling at him about him drinking them out of house and home after which..."

You know what, on second thought, maybe Barnold could have used my help more. Regardless, I walked up to the duo and interrupted them.

"Hi Nestor. Garrett asked me to check up on you and Barnold. Everything going okay?"

Nestor seemed relieved at my presence. "Oh yes, just fine, young man."

He turned back to the farmer. "Well, as you heard, I really must go now. Pressing business and all. Good day to you, farmer."

The farmer tipped his straw hat. "Good day, hunter."

Nestor put his hand on my elbow and dragged me twenty paces away within a few seconds.

"Thank Helios you arrived! That damn farmer has kept me busy for at least half an hour! He just wouldn't stop talking!"

I kept Nestor's own talking habits to myself as I steered the conversation into safer waters. I did kind of appreciate Nestor's talkativeness during our long journey on the road, after all.

"Well, why don't we go visit Barnold? He should still be with his herbalist friend, right? I have to admit that I'm somewhat curious about this friend of his."

"Oh yes, it's been some time since I saw Nora. She's quite a lovely lady, she'll like you, I'm sure."

 


 

Nestor whisked me away towards a little shack on the outskirts of the village. Despite the fact that the shack was completely overgrown, the garden seemed well cared for. You could say it fed into the stereotype of an herbalist's home. We walked up and knocked on the door. Within a moment, I could hear a soothing female voice coming from the other side.

"Coming! Just one second."

And indeed, a few seconds later the door swung open, revealing a lady who looked to be in her late twenties. She gestured us inside and showed us to a sitting room which was already half filled by Barnold's large form. Nora entered after we had sat down.

"O wow, more guests! What a lovely surprise. Why don't you entertain yourselves while I go and make some more tea? I'll be back in a jiffy!"

She left in a rush, reminding me little of an overexcited puppy. From Barnold's red cheeked visage, I could tell that he held this lady in high regard, so to speak. I looked at Barnold with a smirk on my face. "So that was your paramour, huh Barnold? I didn't know you were so successful with the ladies."

He tried to make himself smaller as he blushed a little more, replying only with a grunt. Nestor seemed keen on getting some of his own shots in, however.

"Oh yes, I remember this one time in Rekou. Nora had travelled along with us, on a quest you see, and when we arrived at..."

He was silenced by Barnold giving him a death glare and the sound of approaching footsteps. Nora burst through the door and served us tea at what I was convinced was the speed of sound.

"Here you go, fresh mint tea! What were you guys talking about?"

Nestor was the first to reply. "Oh, I was just recounting our journey to Rekou to young Arthur here."

"Oh, I remember that journey! I was traveling along with your party to go catch that one vampire! What an adventure, right Barnold? Maybe I should head out on an adventure again in the near future! Those were the days..."

Barnold looked ready to light a campfire with pure embarrassment by now. Clearly he wasn't used to being the centre of attention.

The conversation went on for a little while longer, before the sun started to go down. Nestor decided to politely excuse us from the conversation. "As lovely as your company has been, Nora, it's about time we head back to the inn. I figured Barnold would lodge here for the night?"

"Yes he will, won't you, Barnold?" she replied, blushing a little herself. Barnold nodded quickly.

Nestor and I left with a wave and returned to the inn, where Melinda and Garrett were waiting. Well, Garrett wasn't waiting so much as he was falling over drunk, leaving Melinda with a frustrated look on her face. The three of us eventually convinced Garrett to head to bed.

After meditating for an hour or so, I too, tucked in, ready for tomorrow. In a few days we would arrive in Reito, a city of opportunity. Hopefully everything would go well.

Name: Arthur
Titles [Dark prodigy]
Class: [Death Knight] LVL 23
Strength 89
Constitution 92
Dexterity 87
Intelligence 25
Wisdom 25
Affinity 223
Free stat points 51

Skills:

Passive: [Simple dark core](53%), [Elementary dark sight](37%), [Novice Swordsmanship](37%),

[Novice lifespan](N/A), [Perfect physique](N/A), [Flexibility](N/A)

 

Active: [Dark augment](56%), [Shadow apparition](12%), [Meditation](55%)

 

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About the author

Belgianfri

  • Your holiness

Bio: I like fries. The belgian kind.

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