The rays of the sun welcomed Max as he left his house to start his day. He walked towards his barn as if on instinct and began stretching to allow his body to fully wake up. He then picked up his wooden sword to begin practicing his swordsmanship. He admired his wooden sword he made as a memento to remember his trusted sword that he had used years ago. It truly brought a tear to his eyes as that sword had been through the rough with him. He felt relieved he had been taught swordsmanship at a young age as it was a valuable lesson. It had allowed him to survive in the wilderness. He swung a few times, trying to remember the moves he was taught. It flowed naturally and it was amazing that he had managed to remember all the steps. It took him a few hours before he decided to take a break and decided that it was time for lunch. He contemplated a few times on what he wanted to eat before he eventually decided to have fish for lunch. Max was leisurely walking to the river, taking his time to also enjoy the magnificent view of the forest. Regardless of how many times he had walked to the river, the sight of the forest was still breathtaking. From the luscious trees to the flawless stream of the river. The marvellous aura the forest exuded was astounding for him. It had become a simple life for him. He quite enjoyed the life of a farmer. Not relying on currency, he was free of the shackles it came with. He quite enjoyed this life, having experienced how horrible the city life was. He despised the city life that was intense, whereby it was constant competition against one another. Each trying to reach for the top, disregarding anyone that opposes them. Hence, he was thankful that he was fated to live in the forest.
As he was finding his right spot to place his stool, he saw something in the corner of his eye. He turned towards the object and was shocked to find two bodies by the bank of the river. As he got nearer, he noticed that it was two female bodies that were lying there. He also found out that they were still alive. He deliberated for a while as he had to think of the circumstances in helping these two ladies. He did not want to help as quickly as possible as it would maybe stab him in the back later. Furthermore, by helping these two, they will unfortunately form some sort of relationship and Max was sick of it. He did not want to have any form of contact with another person. He shook his head after a few minutes and started to turn around. He had decided to leave the two girls here and mind his own business. To live peacefully is to avoid any interactions with trouble and this situation was screaming danger in his head. Just as he was about to leave, he heard a soft voice behind him.
“P..Please. H..H..Help us.” The lady on the right tried to speak out. Max looked at her again to find out that she had fainted after pleading for his help.
He sighed and gripped his heart before saying, “Why can I not leave them here.”
He bit his lips and turned around. He waved his hands and proceeded to lift the two girls with his wind magic. Countless thoughts ran through his mind on his way back. Once he had reached his house, he placed the two girls on his living room floor as he did not want to separate them and that it was easier this way. They would not panic as much if they woke up next to each other. He shook his head once again and laughed to himself.
’So much for isolating myself from people. Why can I not let them be?” He sighed to himself.
He wondered how the girls had stranded in this place. The area that he had chosen was secluded and was void of any humans other than himself. That was because it was a dangerous area and he was lucky to find a small place he could call home. He looked at the two girls once again. Both of them looked serene as if nothing was bothering them. He wondered if they were looking for something as no sane person would venture this deep into the forest. He assumed everyone would know not to stray deep into the forest with the magic he placed certain to keep trespassers away. Without thinking deeper into it, he left the house to hunt for a bigger catch since there were three of them now. In order to chase the girls out, he needed to feed them so that they could depart earlier from his house.
Once he had hauled enough to feed the three of them, he quickly headed home. As he entered his house, he was pushed against the door and felt a knife on his neck. He looked towards the wielder of the knife and saw that it was one of the girls who had fainted. Her blue eyes determined to find out answers as she kept screaming her questions at him. It took him a while to gather himself from the shenanigans this lady was doing. He was bewildered and kept asking himself if this was actually how people had repaid kindness nowadays. He was not certain how to interact with the lady that had a knife on his throat. Her swift actions had totally caught him off-guard and now any wrong move would not end well for both parties. Before he had managed to utter a word, he heard a weak serene voice behind the lady.
“Let him go Lucy. That is no way to act in front of our savior.” The lady in blonde placed her hand on Lucy’s shoulder. She shook her head to her friend before facing Max.
“Thank you for saving us. My name is Sandy and my protective friend here is Lucy.” She introduced the both of them before the awkward silence intervened. It was as though she was waiting for Max to introduce himself.
“Max.” He said briefly.
Sandy looked puzzled as she expected something more other than his name. Not wanting to probe or wait any further, she continued.
“Can we know where we are Max?” she asked.
“Deep in the forest. Eat and then leave.” He beckoned them to the table without waiting for any reply. He made sure he implied it with an unwelcoming tone to hint to these two that they are not to stay.
Max wanted them to leave. He really did not want these strangers to linger in his house any longer. The more they interact, the less likely these two are going to leave. Even though it has been quite some time he had any contact with another human being, he did not mind it. He would rather live in isolation than communicating with his kind.
Lucy placed the sword by her side, still remaining unsheathed, preparing to strike the moment she noticed danger. She did not bother hiding her killing intent from him. Sandy looked at the both of them and let out a sigh. She was impressed with this rugged man in front of them. Most people would tumble or retreat a few steps the moment they first experience Lucy’s killing intent. However, Max just shrugged at them while turning away to head towards the kitchen.
“Put it away. I would have killed you while you were asleep. Putting your defenses up now would not change a single thing.” Max casually said without facing them.
Sandy looked at her friend and shook her head. It was better for them to befriend this guy or at least not get on bad terms with him. She took a glimpse around the house to understand more about the guy and his personality. Her mother had always told her that a guy’s personality can be roughly guessed through the decorations of the house. What she saw was a simple design. There were hardly any photos and the decorations were simple. There were no extravagant items in place. It only contains the necessities such as chairs and tables. The wooden house was actually quite comfortable and spacious. It was actually not a terrible house to live in. As there were not that many things to look at, her tour of the house was short. She then proceeded to head towards the kitchen. She had not eaten for days and she was famished. She was surprised by the dishes presented before her. It was as if she was back at home having luxurious meals.The dishes before them were appealing to the eyes. The aromatic smell from foods before her was enticing her to forego her manners and just gobble up the food. She could not believe her eyes and looked at Max. Lucy beside her quickly wiped her drool.. Without abandoning their mannerism, they gracefully took their seats. They looked at the marvelous sight before them, waiting for the approval of the one who had made them.
Max observed the girls’ reactions and was baffled. He got more uncomfortable the longer the girls were staring at him. Not wanting to prolong the uncomfortable feeling, he nodded towards them giving permission for them to start eating. Halfway through his nod, the girls had already dug into the food, ignoring all decorum. It seemed that they had been starving for quite some time.
“Take your time. There’s some more leftovers if you need them.” He said to them not wanting them to choke on their food. This moment had made him miss his late mom. He recalled the times when his mom had always mentioned to him that guests always come first and it was the host’s duty to ensure that the guests always remain happy. This was to ensure that no bad luck was to befall the house or the host. Reminiscing about his parents and the life he had made him shed a tear. How he had missed his parents and the people around him. Realising the company that he had, he quickly wiped the tears away.
The girls took a while before finishing the dishes before them. Sandy was surprised further by the quality of the food. It was delicious and something that was made perfectly. If she did not know that the person in front of them had prepared all this food, she would have thought that a chef from a renowned restaurant had prepared these dishes.
‘Could someone who lived in the forest for quite a bit of time be able to prepare exquisite foods only be found in the capital?’ She thought to herself. She began to lose herself in her thoughts before she was brought back to reality by Lucy who seemed to nudge her by the shoulder. SHe immediately gathered herself before turning towards Max.
“Do you live here alone,Max?” She asked Max, hoping to find out more about the person.
Max looked at her for a brief moment before nodding his head.
Not willing to give up, she tried her best to continue the conversation. Throughout their talk, she kept going regardless of Max being uncomfortable. She did not know why but she had to know more about Max. There has to be something more about this person who is willing to live in a part of the forest which was marked dangerous by most people. Everytime she thought she had made a breakthrough in their conversations, Max would shut her down and this had continued for a few hours. Eventually she grew weary and had to stop as there was no leeway in their conversations.
Lucy was curious with how adamant her friend is in finding out Max’s lifestyle. If it was up to her, she could not have been bothered and would rather leave the place as soon as possible. She tried to probe Max using her aura and was shocked to find that there seemed to be a void in him. This was the first time she had seen a voidless aura despite having done this most of her life. Max’s aura was empty, inviting anyone who probed in to be temporarily stunned. It took most of her effort to pull herself out, causing her to stumble a few steps back. She began to sweat before turning to see Max glaring at her. She gasped for air, her hands desperately cusping her throat as if trying to push away whatever that was choking her. Max eased his gaze to let her go.
“Never.. do.. that.. again. There won’t be a next time.” Max softly said, asserting each word. “Once you are done, leave.”
Sandy stared at him with eyes wide open. Fear completely took over, making her paralysed. Lucy rushed to her side and hugged her, trying to comfort her.
“Wait!” Lucy shouted, beckoning Max to stop in his tracks. “Before we leave, we need to find the artefact that was said to have wielded great power. Please!” She pleaded.
Before Max could answer her, a fire arrow landed on the table right between them. It managed to set part of the table on fire. However, it took Max a split second to extinguish the fire with a wave of his finger. His door was then kicked down and on came five figures, all covered up in black from head to toe. Max was furious at what was happening now. The peaceful life that he had was disturbed and made into a mess. From two innocent looking girls now came these five assassins all keen to disturb his life.