“Shit Tim. It says ‘Exile – None’. What did cha do to get exiled without even a trait yet?” asked the bard.
“Says ‘Human – None’ t’ me,” the loud person responded.
“Yeah, I know your Appraisal is shit, no need to mention it. That’s why you got me,” he said pushing his tongue out.
“Oh yeah, ‘s ‘at so. Wan’ me to swing ma sword again?” the loud one responded with a big smile on his face.
The bard suddenly burst out with laughter. “Oh, how did that work in Farburg, swinging your sword around I mean?”
As soon as they had turned onto each other Kent slowly scooted away. They might find him again, but he had to try. As soon as they realized why they were in the forest they would go back to looking for him.
The banter continued and the distance grew. He began feeling safe again and began to dash off into the trees.
“Ey there stop running away. Don’t worry lad. We just wanna talk,” yelled the bard.
Within moments a hand laid on his shoulder again. A repeating theme it seemed, one Kent didn’t like at all. This time it was the not-bard, Tim he thought, that had caught up to him. The bard arrived moments later.
“If you wanna keep running away you may. But you should run the other way. That way is Blueleaf… Ah, you probably haven’t heard, being an exile and such but they – well we – are currently being invaded,” the bard stopped there, no doubt for a dramatical pause that … well wasn’t effective whatsoever.
The mere presence of the two was way more intimidating than an army somewhere in the distance and he had suspected as much already.
“Listen, kid, you seem to be scared shitless,” the cadence of the words slowly shifted. Words formed into a melody, and a song. The voice that was carrying just words before now worked on a different plane of existence. It spoke of an allure of truth, begging, no, inviting Kent to tell the truth. “Tell me, why do you have that pesky ‘Exile’ status. We might end up helping you if you didn’t do too bad a thing. Sam knows we’ve gotten in trouble plenty ourselves.”
Even as the bard stopped talking he continued to hum, impressing itself on Kent’s mind. Making him feel safe and telling him to trust the bard.
“I haven’t gotten my trait yet and I ran,” Kent responded after a few moments. It wasn’t a truth spell he was under, merely a compulsion to tell the truth, and he wasn’t strictly lying, but the subversion of truth cost him. He felt the mental taxation on a deep level.
“That dun’ive you a’ exile status,” said the bard’s companion.
“For crying out loud Tim, you need to get your mind stat up,” said the bard snorting, just slightly annoyed, more likely amused.
“Tell you what. If they don’t let you into Farburg wait in the zone. Head right from Reinsteel and wait on the road. Well pick you up and take care of you till you get your trait. We should be done in Reinsteel in about a week. Maybe a bit longer if the pay is good,”
“Wha’s your ‘ame, boy?” asked Tim.
“I’m Kent, Sir.”
“Take care, and see you soon, we gotta go,” said the bard, and headed back into the underbrush. The woman nodded and followed.
Had Kent not slumped already in his escape from the duo he would have now? With nothing else to express his exhaustion and stress he simply threw a cursory glance around and laid down face first, to take a short nap.
One thing was for sure, he wouldn’t take the two up on their offer.
Waking up in the forest once again, this time by being poked through his cloak, made him sit up in shock.
The turrl clawing at his wardrobe could only barely hold on. But the short moment of shock was enough to grab for his knife and attack the barely visible turrl. Its precarious position, at the whims of his flexible cloak’s movements, was all that was needed to dispatch of the nasty creature.
*Ding – Notification pending*
He didn’t even bother checking. With time and plenty of turrls disposed of in the last three days, he knew their approximate strength. By the resistance to the stab, it had most likely been just below the border at level ten. The fact that it didn’t matter much, was another factor. What mattered though, was that it was day. Afternoon by the looks of it and he had been attacked by a turrl.
Kent still felt disgusted at stabbing things. It just didn’t feel great. His family had truly lucked out. Getting to farm, and if necessary to dispatch monsters from afar with magic was just the peak of life. A peak he would never attain.
Hunger was gnawing at him, but Kent knew better than to prepare the monster he had just slain. Without the proper skills, monsters were poisonous to deadly for consumers. Remembering the nuts, he had foraged earlier he frisked his pants and knapsack for any leftovers.
The few he found were enough to satiate him for the moment, but not enough to hold out for the entire remaining day.
Going back to the road was an option. The plentiful, over decades, planted bushes and trees would offer plenty of sustenance. Yet, it came with the same issue he had come across earlier.
The confirmation of how he appeared to appraisals was enough to make him hesitant. The threat of an army lurking nearby made it even more so.
Considerations that he in the end ignored. He was too tired, too annoyed to really care. Maybe his last encounter was to blame for that. The pair had seemed nice. And apparently, there was no outward indication that he was a traitless. As long as he looked the age he could pass as just having to wait a little longer.
Within minutes of returning to the road, he had stuffed his pockets and the remaining space in his knapsack with mostly hullm.
Now Kent stood figuratively at a crossroads. Threading the road might hold dangers, but it would be safer to travel than to stay in the forest – if only marginally. The added benefit of better awareness and faster travel times were enough to finally sway him to use the road.
Packed to the brim Kent thudded towards Farburg.
As evening approached, he was only occasionally assaulted by monsters. Once a low leveled scrambler. A level eleven Drop-Pig contested the road, but thanks to his turrl poisoned blade he prevailed without too much worry each time. The occasional turrls hampered his progress the most, the sheer count was beyond anything he had encountered. The notification was dismissed and ignored, adding no value to his life.
When he heard the crackling of kindling and the chatter of caravaneers behind a bend in the road Kent chose to hit the underbrush again.
Traversing the difficult terrain was slower as expected and – if he ignored the two-monster visit – felt almost at home. The undisturbed trees and bushes were calling him.
Yet he knew that it was just wishful thinking, he lacked the deep connection he was imagining, yet it felt good. Sadly, he didn’t share his father’s trait. He wasn’t coddled by flora the way he was.
The third turrl that approached since entering seemed different at first glance. Instead of dashing straight for Kent as he had grown used to, it circled him. Climbing further and further into the trees until Kent couldn’t discern its form from the surrounding leaves, even with the backlight of the stars.
Confusion grew and when the turrl didn’t move to attack he began moving further into the forest – maybe not the best move he realized too late. The turrl had apparently done something up in the trees as suddenly a projectile, too fast for Kent to dodge impacted his shoulder.
The projectile – a turrl – now sitting on his shoulder was gnawing at the fabric of his cloak. It seemed to be holding even against the creature's soft blue glowing fangs, just barely.
I will need to keep this one again.
His stolen dagger flew upwards, straight towards the monster's hide within moments of impact. Were Kent had previously been able to pin down turrls with a single solid strike this one dodged. The bladed weapon was still fast enough to nick the creature, but it wasn’t skewered like its predecessors.
The fight grew furious and wild quickly from then on. Had Kent not worn his cloak he would have certainly lain on the ground passed out, being chewed on. As it was, he was barely holding on. Just like the turrl, bleeding from a plethora of cut wounds all over.
Kent grew increasingly frustrated, letting out one or the other exclamation of annoyance – which were all left unanswered. The hazard of doing so was not lost on Kent, but he couldn’t care less about it at the moment.
What finally brought the victory was an unfortunate change of position for the turrl. For just moments it had lost a proper grip on Kent, just enough for him to flick it a few meters into the sky. A well-positioned knife and an upward thrust was all he needed to take care of his opponent.
New Notification Log Entries:
You have slain “Somniferous Sciurus” Level 11!
That’s not good.