In the world of adventurers, there were a few things that were required to live through the day; sheer strength, luck and intelligence. Knowing when to stand and fight, or to run and try again another day.
Another important thing was to make sure there was a place close by that one could go to to heal any and all wounds.
Fortunately, in the town of Lagaard, they had such necessities. The Inn, where one could sleep all day and rest their weary bodies. The Sitoth Trading where medicines could be purchased. And the other was the Lagaard Hospital, a place where one could revive fallen comrades.
And because of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth just outside of town, one that drew in adventurers and explorers from far and wide, the Hospital was always very busy. But recently the hospital had been busy more than usual. Dangerous monsters in the labyrinth were one thing. But now they had to deal with a shipwreck as well.
It was no wonder that call for medics was released.
Lynus was one of a few medics in Lagaard to respond. He had just returned from a short item fetching trip in the labyrinth with his fellow guild members when Barkeep Cass called out to him, telling him about the report. What else could a medic do but answer the call for help and head straight over to the hospital?
"There, try not to move around too much," Lynus said as he tied off the bandaged around an elderly Ronin's leg. "The wound is pretty deep. I healed it as much as was possible, but you still need to rest it for a day or two."
The Ronin was silent as he stretched out his leg, a very slight wince on his face. Still, he seemed rather impress with the movement he had. Leaning heavily on his katana, he heaved himself up onto his feet, putting as little pressure on his injured leg as he could. He then turned to Lynus and bowed lowly.
"I am in your debt," he said, his voice level and somehow serene, despite his expression being stony and bleak.
Lynus shook his head. "Oh no, that's not necessary. I'm just glad that I could be of help."
Another moment of silence stretched between them, Lynus shifting uncomfortably under the ronin's powerful gaze. Then, a very small smile appeared on his lips and he bowed once more. "You have my gratitude," he spoke before turning around and slowly walking away, using his blade as a walking aid.
Lynus watched him leave, making sure that he didn't put any more strain on his body than necessary. Satisfied that the older man was being cautious with his limitations, Lynus turned his attention to his next patient. The only hospital in Lagaard was full of injured explorers and survivors of the shipwreck. All in all, it was an average and busy day.
He had been here for hours and had forgotten how many people he had already helped. The ship that wrecked on the coast line happened to be a people carry, explorers who were eager to get rich and famous from exploring the labyrinth. They weren't expecting such a welcome.
"Lynus!" a voice called out his name. Lynus turn toward the sound of the voice, immediately seeing the head doctor of Lagaard Hospital walking over to him. He had a tired but satisfied look on his face as he began to pull off the bloodied gloves on his hands.
"Thanks you so much for all your hard work!" Dr Stiles said, throwing the bloody gloves into a trash can to his side. "You're young, yet so skilled with healing. I'm very impressed. I don't know what I would have done if you weren't here to help."
Lynus gave a one shoulder shrug, not sure how to reply to such praise. He was just glad that he was useful in some manner, and that the patients weren't as badly injured as first feared.
"It's rare to find such a young medic who has experience being in the labyrinth," Dr Stiles continued to speak as he took a seat on an empty bench, taking a moment of rest before he dealt with the other less injured patients. "You've probably ventured deeper into the labyrinth than anyone here."
Lynus scratched his cheek, a little embarrassed. "I'm nothing special," he insisted. "It's my guild members who deserve the praise. It's because of them that I managed to even enter the labyrinth."
Unlike a few of the other explorers here in Lagaard, Lynus wasn't all that interested in the riches or the myth of the floating castle. He was a healer, something that had always fascinated him since he was just a small child. He's eager to explore the labyrinth just so he could develop his healer abilities.
That and his childhood best friend, Axel, also wanted to explore the labyrinth. Actually, Axel was the reason why he was even able to come. While Lynus himself wasn't strong physically, or had much fighting experience, Axel was different. He was a Landsknecht. He was able to use both a sword and an axe. His strength was amazing.
They were complete opposites, really. In skills and appearance. Axel was taller than him by at least a foot. He had red hair and blue eyes. His skin was a light bronze in colour, really making his hair stand out. He was truly an outdoors kind of guy, preferring to be doing something physical.
And Lynus? He was short, skinny with pale skin, violet eyes and light orange hair. Hair that he tried to keep out of his eyes, but no matter what, three or four strands would always fall over his face, no matter what. While he liked being outside, too, he preferred searching for rare ingredients that could be used to make medicines.
Medics were hard to come by, especially within an adventurer's guild. Front Line medics were a special and rare breed. Having the courage to go into danger and taking care of your comrades, while also keeping yourself out of harm's way as much as possible, took a special kind of person.
However, many other explorers felt that medics were a dead weight as medics weren't exactly cut out for battle.
Axel refused to enter any guild without Lynus and was kinda pissed off by how everyone was assuming that Lynus was weak because his sole talent was being a medic. That was how they met Hamza, a War Magus and leader to the guild the Guardians. Hamza looked a little imposing when Lynus first saw him. He was tall with black hair and dark skin. Across his nose was a stripe of red war paint. And on his back was probably one of the biggest swords Lynus had ever seen.
Axel was complaining about the other 'snobbish' guilds when Hamza overheard him. And he had agreed with him. Hamza felt that most of the other guilds were only interested in getting rich and famous. They were foolish in his opinion, not thinking things through clearly. In order to survive in the dangerous depths of the labyrinth, a medic was necessary.
And then he offered them both to join his guild, a guild that was only accepting novice explorers. Hamza was a talented and experienced adventurer. He had entered the labyrinth many times before, with other guilds as well. He wanted to create a guild for young and inexperienced explorers as he wanted to give them a chance to learn and grow under his watchful gaze. And, in turn, he hoped that his young charges will help anyone who was in need.
So, of course, he and Axel agreed.
"The Guardians are becoming quite famous," Dr Stiles suddenly spoke, pulling Lynus out of his musings. Lynus turned his attention back to the older doctor, whom of which was smiling up at him. "You've seemed to have gained many friends in the royal guards as well."
"Yeah, seems so," Lynus said, smiling as he recalled the utter relief in the solders they helped. "They were very relieved when we brought those supplies to them on the fourth floor."
"Your guild members may be strong, but I highly doubt they would have made it without you there to support them."
That comment caught Lynus by surprise. But as he turned to question the older man, Dr Stiles was pushing himself back to his feet. He smiled at him before turning to gaze at the patients that were still lingering and needed to be attended to. Lynus followed his example and looked around as well, noting that not all patients were victims of the shipwreck. There were patients who were sporting injuries that could only be made from the many monsters in the labyrinth.
"I know I only asked you hear for the shipwreck victims, but could you-?" Dr Stiles didn't even have to finish his question before Lynus agreed.
"Of course," Lynus said as he smiled and nodded his head. "Injured explorers wait for no one."
Dr Stiles returned the smile, placing a hand on Lynus' shoulder. "I'll make sure you and your guild receive an excellent reward."
Lynus only had time to give him a quick nod before Dr Stiles had turned away to get back to work. Lynus' thoughts turned to his guild and had to smile to himself. He thought about them, wondering if they were wondering about him. It felt as though he had been here for hours. He hoped they were still waiting for him at Stickleback Bar.
No, they would be for sure. They wouldn't enter the labyrinth without him, at least not without telling him first.
"Yo, medic!" a husky voice suddenly called out.
Blinking in surprise, Lynus turned his head in the direction he thought the voice came from and his gaze fell onto a man with black hair, some of it swept over his right eye. He was adorned in a suit of leather, a long whip tied to his side. The man was obviously a Dark Hunter.
And he was very obviously injured as well.
"Oh," Lynus said as he approached him. "Yes, sorry about the wait. There was a shipwreck just off the coast. We're being swamped."
"Well, ain't I lucky?" the Dark Hunter said as he looked Lynus up and down, a somewhat perverse smirk adorning his lips. "I got a cute one."
Lynus granted him a rather blank look. He wasn't sure if the guy was joking or was being serious. Perhaps he was mocking him. Who knows? It didn't really matter. If a person was injured and was seeking medical aide, Lynus would help him.
"Right," Lynus said dismissively as he rustled around in his medical carry bag. "Let me have a look at your injuries."
"Ooh, you're going to check me out?" the man smirked. "I'm really lucky."
Lynus chose to ignore that and focused on the tasked at hand. As Lynus began to assess his injuries, he got a strong whiff of stale ale. It seemed as though he stumbled into the bar before he came to the hospital. That would probably explain his rather flirty attitude.
So, as he concentrated on healing the weeping wound, Lynus tried his best to ignore the smell of alcohol on the guy's breath. A Cure spell should be enough to heal this injury. Thankfully his wounds weren't that deep. But, unfortunately, he had quite a few of them. Must have been a tough battle.
"So," the Dark Hunter drawled. "A healer, huh? How about you join my Guild?"
"Sorry," Lynus tried to say as politely, but sternly, as he could. "I'm already a member of a guild and I have no intention of leaving."
The pale Dark Hunter continued to simply look at him, his smile giving Lynus the impression of a shark. He suddenly snared Lynus by the wrist, making him release a noise of surprise as he nearly toppled over onto his lap. "I think it would be a good idea if you join us," the Dark Hunter told him.
And it didn't sound like a suggestion.
"I'm not interested," Lynus said as he found the strength to rip his wrist out of the Dark Hunter's grip and took a step back, busying himself with going through the supply of medicines and bandages.
"No need to be like that," the Dark Hunter said, still smiling that stupid smirk of his and lolling around on the makeshift cot. "After all, we should all be friends, right? We're all in this together."
While what he said was true, it didn't make Lynus feel any better.
"What's your name, gorgeous?"
Lynus felt himself becoming irrationally annoyed. The Dark Hunter was rather obnoxious and his tone of voice made it seem like he was mocking him somehow. As if he was intentionally trying to get under his skin.
He probably was.
Try to ignore him, Lynus told himself as he pulled out some fresh bandages. People react differently when they were in pain.
"My name is Avith. Unique, isn't it?"
"Lynus," Lynus answered his previous question, a little more tersely than he had intended as he reached forward to grab the Dark Hunter's injured arm. "Keep still. This might sting a little. These bandages are coated with a special mixture. It should speed up recovery."
"Lynus, huh?" Avith said, letting Lynus' name roll off his tongue. "Such a pretty name."
Lynus felt his eyebrow twitch as he purposely tightened the bandaged around Avith's arm. The other man didn't wince, though. No, his smile seemed to widen.
"Thanks so much for the compliment," Lynus muttered as he backed away, happy that he had addressed the Dark Hunter's wounds. "You can go now. I've taken care of your injuries."
"Not all of them," Avith said in a sing-song kind of way.
Lynus frowned and tilted his head to the side as he studied the other man, unwittingly running his gaze over his form. He soon realised what he was doing and snapped his gaze back to Avith's face, his own face burning with embarrassment by the perverted amusement on his face.
"Oh no, beautiful," Avith chuckled at him. "My injury is here." He suddenly thumped his chest, over where his heart was.
Lynus continued to frown at him, not exactly believing him. "How so?"
"My heart hurts, you see," Avith told him. Unexpectedly his expression shifted into a more sorrowful look. "I lost three party members."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," Lynus immediately said, wearing a sympathetic expression. He reached out a hand to offer him some comfort in some way, a reflex of his. But he paused when Avith looked at him again, the corners of his lips turning into a smile.
"Want to comfort me, sweetheart?"
Undeniable anger bubbled in Lynus' chest. "Don't joke about these things," he hissed at him.
"I'm not joking," Avith said, although his expression and tone wasn't all that convincing. "You don't believe me?"
"For someone who had recently lost members of his own guild, you sound way too cheerful," Lynus commented. If he had lost any members from his guild…No, he didn't want to think about it. It would be too painful.
The smirk on Avith's lips turned decidedly sadistic. "Oh, I'm mourning, alright. I'm also planning revenge."
"You're going to take on the monster that killed your friends?" Lynus questioned, a mixture of intrigue and worry washing over him. He had no idea of the Dark Hunter's strength, but he assumed that his defence wasn't all that good. Well, look at where he was right now. "Are you sure you're strong enough now?"
Avith laughed, slightly manically. "Of course, but to make sure, we need a medic."
That wasn't exactly subtle.
Lynus frowned. "I told you, I'm not interested."
"Ooh, that's a little cold, isn't it?" Avith clicked his tongue at him. "Aren't you worried about my safety?"
Lynus was. A little at least. But that was just the medic in him. Going head first into battle with a monster that had previously killed was dangerous. And completely reckless. That was something he just could not participate in. It was suicide. Any adventurer worth his salt would know to take a bit of time to train so they could be ready the next time they face a powerful monster.
"I have my own guild to look after," Lynus said as he brushed past Avith, looking for another patient to busy himself with. But before he could get very far, a hand snared him by the arm and spun him around. Lynus' eyes widened when he found himself nearly chest to chest with Avith. The mocking mirth in Avith's eyes was gone, and so was his smirk.
"I wasn't asking," Avith told him.
His voice was low and cold, it made Lynus shiver unwillingly. And the grip on his arm was strong, painfully so. There was something dangerous about Avith. Something that made Lynus uneasy. Very uneasy.
Swallowing thickly, Lynus opened his mouth in attempt to say something. But no words came out.
"Is everything all right here?"
The sound of Dr Stiles voice seemed to break whatever trance Lynus was in and he jerked back, away from Avith. Avith, too, seemed to have been surprised by Dr Stiles and lessened his grip he had on him. When Dr Stiles drew closer, he dropped his hold on Lynus completely, and he was able to finally move away from the imposing man.
"Avith," Dr Stiles said, his expression creasing into a frown of disapproval. "You're here again?"
Lynus silently moved away, rubbing his arm with his hand as Dr Stiles fearlessly stepped toward Avith as the Dark Hunter in turn glared at him. Dr Stiles' usually kind expression was replaced by a look of frustration and annoyance.
"When will you learn?" Dr Stiles shook his head, putting himself physically between Lynus and Avith. "It was three days ago that you suffered a terrible loss of your comrades. Don't be so foolish."
Avith said nothing, his glare not wavering. But neither was Dr Stiles' stare of disapproval. Finally, after a long drawn out minute, Avith backed down, a smirk reappearing on his lips. His gaze flickered over to Lynus and he bowed dramatically.
"Thanks for your help, beautiful," he said before straightening up. "We must talk again."
Then, he turned around and walked away, sashaying through the injured bodies of the patients. Lynus released the breath he hadn't realised he was holding, still subconsciously rubbing his arm where Avith had grabbed him.
"That's Avith," Dr Stiles said as he sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "A regular here, unfortunately. Him and his entire guild, actually. So reckless."
"So he was telling the truth about his guild?" Lynus muttered, unable to stop himself from feeling some sympathy for him. Still, the man unnerved him and he hoped that they wouldn't met again.
"Yes," Stiles muttered, heaving an even deeper sigh. "If only they were more careful…"
Dr Stiles didn't need to finish that sentence. Lynus knew. If only the explorers and adventures would only take some medical supplies. And not become overly confident. Then, maybe, there would be fewer casualties.
"I think that's all for today," Dr Stiles suddenly said, returning to his helpful and caring self. "Thanks once again for all your help."
"Oh, no problem," Lynus said in return. "I'll be happy to help in the future as well."
"Glad to hear it!"
After receiving yet more thanks for his hard work, Lynus was able to leave the hospital. He decided to head to Stickleback Bar to see if his guild members were still there. But it was possible that they had retired to the Inn. The sun was starting to set, so it was getting dark, and it was a good idea to get a good night's sleep if they were planning on entering the labyrinth again.
Walking through the nearly empty streets, which was rather surprising, Lynus suddenly realised that he left his medical bag back at the hospital. Groaning inwardly at his own stupidity, Lynus abruptly turned around and started to jog back to the hospital.
Suddenly, Lynus felt a presence behind him. Before he could turn around and react he felt something cool press against his cheek. Then, an arm snaked around his middle, trapping his arms against his sides and he was pulled back into something warm and alive. There was a strong smell of ale and smoke as a breath rasped against his ear.
He nearly stopped breathing when he realised that a person was holding onto him and was pressing a knife against his cheek. "What-?"
"Shh," a male voice hissed at him, literally breathing down his neck, making Lynus release a shudder of disgust. "We need a medic. And you'll do."
Lynus furrowed his brow, swallowing a sinking feeling of fear that was in his throat. The voice behind him sounded somewhat familiar. It was raspy and deep, husky even. And that smell. Whoever was holding him captive smelt and sounded like the Dark Hunter from the hospital. The one that tried to get him to join his guild.