The Normal Farmer

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Chapter 6

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They went to a Weapons Shop, to buy the weaponry that was on the list. When Ronald was putting two big bags full of arrows and throwing daggers, he noticed a commotion at the end of that street, with people running out of the shops and along the street, to get there. Duza came from the shop, bringing four big water canteens, that she placed next to the other four that were already inside the pushcart that Ronald brought. She saw him looking to the crowd down the street and she too wondered what that was about. Ronald picked the pushcart, and they went down the street to the shop where they could buy the blankets, the pots, pans and tableware for the next four months. Since the shop was right at the edge where the crowd started, they left the pushcart leaned to a wall with Woof tied and guarding it.

They slowly dug through the crowd, trying to see what was happening at the front. From the back, the shouts that the crowd was doing were difficult to comprehend, but as they approached the front, it became clear. They were opposing what was happening, but no one dared to intervene. Some people were tied to a pillory and the sound of the whipping was resonating in the back wall, echoing back to Ronald that dreadful sound, together with the screams of a woman and two children, a little girl and a little boy, of no more than six-year-old. They were being whipped to death by two Guards, judging by the wounds on their body and the blood on the floor. Ronald shivered and something snapped inside of him. Before Duza or Riattus could stop him, he ran straight to the Guards and grabbed the hands that were holding the two whips that were slashing in turns, the mother and the two children. Ronald squeezed both hands, and the Guards let go of the whip and they fell to their knees, with the strong grip. Ronald looked at them and asked, with so much anger in his voice that Duza trembled:

- “Why… are you whipping them?”

The crowd went silent. The only sound that could be heard was the crying of the captives and the screaming of the Guards, that were feeling their wrists being crushed. From Ronald’s left side, another Guard approached, and he pulled his sword. Ronald warned him:

- “Think very well on what you are about to do because after I break in half these two, I am going to slice your head in the middle. I asked, why are you whipping them?”

The Guard stopped with his sword half pulled from the sheath.

- “That woman attacked a Guard! My colleague fell because those two children were running, and they bumped into him! When my colleague slapped the children, the mother appeared and slapped him!”

Ronald increased the grip on the Guards’ wrists, and he shouted:

- “That was the reason? Just because you are Guards, you think you can do anything that you want?”

Ronald closed both hands and the sound of the wrists exploding, mixed with the screams of the Guards. The other Guard pulled his sword, but before he could get near Ronald, he had Duza’s sword at his neck.

- “Well, well… what do we have here? Three City Guards abusing their power and punishing three citizens without proper judgment or superior orders… So, by the authority that the Adventurer’s Guild grants me, I, Duza Sonanji, hereby apprehend these Guards, so that they can be punished for their behaviour.”

She hit the Guard’s head with the hilt of her sword, knocking him out. Ronald pulled the wrists that he was still crushing, and the Guards lost that hand, completely. He then threw those two bloody hands to the floor and cleaned his own hands on the clothes of one of the Guards, while they were still screaming from the excruciating pain. He then did what Riattus shouted to him, he opened his one-shoulder bag and took from there a flask with a very powerful Healing Potion. He dripped some drops on the body of the woman and the children and forced them to drink a little. After a few seconds, they stopped screaming because the pain stopped. Before the surprised eyes of everyone that was near, their wounds started to heal at an incredible speed. Ten seconds later, there was no proof of what happened to their skin, except for the blood on the floor and on their clothes. Ronald put the flask in his bag again and took out a big rope that he used to tie the feet and arms of the three Guards and dragged them along the floor, to the pillory. He lifted them and tied them from the arms to the top of the pillory, leaving them at two meters high, with one knocked out and two screaming their lungs out. He then went near Duza.

- “What happens now? There is no one to whom we can report what they were doing?”

Duza looked around and she chooses two men from the crowd.

- “You two, go call a Captain of the Guard! When he gets here, tell him what these guys did. We need to go buy some supplies, but we will return briefly. To everyone else, don’t let anyone take those guys from there! Or you all will be in their place when I return! Mister Ronald, shall we go, before it gets too late and the shops close?”

Ronald followed her and when they entered the shop where Woof was waiting for them, she slapped Ronald’s head.

- “What was that about, you stupid? Why do you always act before taking a sense of the situation? Fortunately, those Guards were the ones at fault because if they really had orders for doing that, you would be in trouble!”

- “Orders? What kind of person would ever order the whipping to the death of a mother and two children? What kind of country is this, to allow such a thing? And why no one in there stopped them?”

- “Because they would be in trouble if they did anything! Those guys are City Guards, they abuse their power every time they see fit and if no one opposes them, they get away with it! But on this City and in this country, Adventurers are considered a higher rank than a mere City Guard! I may be a young Adventurer, but my rank is higher than a Capitan of the Guard, just for you to know! But you are just a Farmer, you can’t go against a City Guard every time you feel like it!”

Riattus snorted.

- “You… What can I do or say to put some sense into that thick head of yours? Think before you act! When in doubt, ask me! Lucky for you, Duza was here, or else you had to flee as fast as you could, killing anyone that tried to arrest you!”

Ronald was frowning while making a fist with both hands. He was still angry with that situation.

- “I can’t… I can’t stand these situations… seeing a woman and her two children being killed is too much for me… I think that if this keeps on happening, I won’t have a chance on Gaya approving me. I am starting to think that I should just get stronger the fastest I can and kill everyone that I see doing things like that… This World is rotten… the people here are even worse… Monsters can be horrible, but the people…”

Duza was looking at him. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Ronald was so much different from his kind and gentle self. Something was terribly wrong. She didn’t know what to do, so she turned away and went to talk with the seller at the back of the shop to buy the supplies. After some moments, she arrived with him and a boy, they were all carrying the last things on the list. Duza pushed Ronald with her free hand and they all went outside to fill the pushcart with the last buys. When Ronald picked the cart again, he went in the direction of the Guild. Duza looked at his back and she went to the pillory where a Captain of the Guard was looking at the three Guards tied to it. When the Captain saw her, he stood straight and saluted her with his fist closed against his chest, and his elbow making a perfect 45 degrees.

- “Miss Duza, I am…”

Duza interrupted him with her raised palm.

- “I don’t give a damn to your name. Anyone told you what those Guards did?”

- “Yes, Miss Duza, they did, and I need to apologize…”

- “Save it. Take half their salary for the next eight months and give to that women, as compensation and apology. In eight months, I will look for you and see if you did that. If I found out that you didn’t obey, the next one to lose a hand will be you. Make sure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Guards are supposed to protect the people, not to attack them. Take that woman and the children to their house, to make sure nothing more happens to them.”

- “Yes, of course…”

Duza took one last look to the Guards, and she then faced the crowd.

- “You should all be ashamed… Today, it was that women and those two children. Tomorrow, it can be you or your family. Why didn’t you stop them or called for an Adventurer or a Captain of the Guard?”

No one answered, but many of them looked away while others had tears in their eyes. Duza went back to the Guild, feeling disgusted from all that. No wonder that Ronald was so mad. Coming from another country, thinking that things were peaceful in there and on the same day, seeing four Guards trying to attack her and then, three other whipping a mother and her two children, was more than enough to make any normal person lose their cool.

When she entered the Guild, she couldn’t find him. Not inside, not in the kitchen or at the back. One servant told her that Ronald left the pushcart and went away without saying one word. Duza went to the Inn to look for him, but he wasn’t there. She had a terrible thought. Maybe he went away… And just by thinking that, she felt tears rolling down her face. Surprised, she wiped one tear and when she was looking at her wet finger, she heard Woof barking. She followed that sound. There was a narrow passage between the Inn and the Guild and at the back of the Inn, Ronald was seated on the floor and leaned against a tree while Woof was barking at a “Jumping Rabbit” that was running around that tree. Ronald saw her approaching, and she noticed that he had been crying. She approached him and seated at his front, looking at him.

- “Are you ok? You worried me, back there.”

Ronald didn’t answer her, he just looked at the “Jumping Rabbit” that was hopping around him and the tree and spoke to Riattus.

- “Magic in this World is funny. From a Card and with Magic that everyone has, a little guy that looks alive appears. There are normal people in here, but the truly rotten ones are in a higher number.”

Riattus answered while looking at Duza:

- “Yes, I already told you that. But don’t forget that even normal people are able of disgusting and violent acts, to survive or to just live on this World. I bet your beautiful Duza here has done some things in her past that it would be better that you never found out. Or at least, not so soon, you may start to see her or treat her differently, and she doesn’t deserve that. I like her, she is a strong woman with her head and convictions in the right place.

Since Ronald seemed to be talking to himself without seeing her, Duza approached him and held his both hands.

- “Ronald… are you ok?”

Ronald looked at her and seeing those brown eyes so near with so much sadness in them, made him slowly approach his lips. She didn’t avoid it, instead, she placed one hand on the back of his neck and pulled him near. She put the tip of her tongue inside his mouth and she slowly caressed his. Ronald strongly hugged her, stopping the squeezing when she complained by pulling the hair on the back of his neck. They kissed for a while, with Duza taking the initiative and showing him with her tongue, what she liked. She then slowly moved back a little and smiled.

- “Feeling better now? You didn’t look so good when I got here.”

- “Yeah… sorry about that… That situation over there was too much for me. I almost left this City the fastest I could, but then I thought that you could be sad if I did that, so I came here and while I was thinking of you, I summoned that “Jumping Rabbit”. I think I understand why kids like that guy, he is funny. Not very good in a fight, I suppose, but he stopped my depression. And then you came, to save me from this dark hole where I was. Thanks…”

Duza leaned her head on his right shoulder and she fixed a piece of hair that was hanging in front of his eyes.

- “You’re welcome. But please try to not become so depressed around the others. I can’t kiss you like that every time you fell into another dark hole of depression.”

- “That means that I can wait for it when we are alone, right?”

Duza blew some air to move away that annoying piece of hair.

- “I think I can do that. But don’t you think that I won’t slap your head if you do something crazy again! My man must be well behaved! No one likes a violent and scary person!”

- “Wait… are you saying that I am your man? Since when? And who said to you that I want to be yours?”

Duza slapped his ear.

- “Don’t you dare to deny what you did to make me look like a seductress!”

- “Never, dear Duza. I will also be more careful with my actions from now on so that you don’t worry so much.”

- “At least talk to me before doing something rash, ok?”

Ronald smiled, and they stayed in there for a while, talking and looking at the Rabbit that was jumping all around and avoiding Woof’s teeth. When it was getting dark, Duza gave him another kiss, but this time, she even put her hand under his clothes and clenched her fingernails on his chest. When he tried to do the same to her breasts, she stopped the kiss and moved away.

- “No, no, Mister Ronald, I am a lady. Don’t you try to get too frisky with me!”

- “Hey, but you…”

Duza quickly got up and jumped away, evading him.

- “Me, it’s me, you, it’s you. You need to be more reliable and more caring towards my feelings before I let you put one little finger over me!”

Ronald frown.

- “Not fair…”

Duza put her hands on her back and she leaned forward in a cute pose.

- “Who knows, maybe one day I let you do some very fun things with me. But you need to stick around and not trying to be killed on every chance that you get, ok? Because I would be sad if you left or if you died…”

- “Ok, I won’t leave, but I can’t promise that I won’t die. There’s a dangerous voyage ahead of us, a lot of things can happen.”

Duza approached his right ear and whispered:

- “Yes, a lot of things can happen… I am counting on it…”

She then licked his earlobe and moved away before he could catch her for another kiss.

- “Time for dinner. You are going to eat with Mister Feebles, right? Do you want to go to the Guild afterwards for a late drink or tea? I can have a table ready for you, if you want.”

- “I don’t know if he wants to go there. He mentioned that he gets nervous around so many Adventurers.”

- “Well, you can tell him that my father can join you guys, to keep him safe, that should work. I must go, I need to ask Mira about her walk with Ma. Oh, I almost forgot, that Healing Potion that you used on that woman and her children, it was really impressive. It works even better than the ones that we sell at the Guild.”

- “Your father has the Blue Brittlebush leaves that I sold to him. If he prepares them right, he will make the same powerful potion.”

- “Yeah, he was reading something about that, last time I went to his office. Cool… Ok, see you later!”

Duza went back through the narrow passage to take the shortest route to the Guild. Ronald called the “Jumping Rabbit” and told him to disappear again. He then grabbed the Card and placed it in his Card Box again. He suddenly remembered, Riattus was there when he was kissing Duza! But when he looked around, Riattus wasn’t anywhere to be found.

- “Weird… maybe he left to take a look around and he left us all alone. At least he realizes when he is the third wheel…”

From his left, Riattus spoke:

- “I went to my Card Box to leave you alone, the moment she kissed you. Or you kissed her. I don’t know who started it, I just left.”

- “Yeah… But… I thought we would take more time to get to this point. Wasn’t this too fast?”

- “No, I don’t think so. Things around here progress a little faster than on our Worlds. They have to because death is on every corner and it’s so easy for a couple to get separated by it. When a man and a woman are interested in one another, they go for it, with all their body and soul.”

- “If that’s what normally happens, what about Ma Yangfa and Mira? He took a long time to actually try something.”

Riattus shrugged his shoulders.

- “I guess Mira was waiting for him, and he took so long because he is stupid. Or because he is so strong, he doesn’t worry about suddenly dying. On my time, I never wasted my time like that. When I saw a woman that I liked, I conquered her. On my glorious days, I never spent a night alone, I always had a different woman in my bed, sometimes two or three. There was only one woman that acted like Duza is doing with you, showing that she is interested but not letting you take any kind of advantage or taking her for granted. That woman became my greatest love. It was because she was killed by a traitor that I thought was my friend, that I decided to conquer this World. I almost achieved it. If I did it, for sure this World would be better by now. At least, the majority of evil people or violent ones would be sentenced to death and they would become Monsters on their next life.”

- “And by doing that, the number of Monsters would be too much for the people to handle. I bet that by now, there would only be a few Humans around.”

Riattus nodded.

- “Maybe, but the few that remained Human would be great, instead of the rotten and mischievous ones that lurk on every corner.”

- “You don’t know that… Well, time for dinner.”

- “Wait, before that, pick up the Sphere and let’s place your points on the right place before our voyage starts.”

Ronald slowly took the Sphere from his bag and placed it on the ground. He looked at the inside while Riattus was approaching.

Race - Human

Name - Ronald O’Sullivan

Age - 25

Job - World Traveller

LV - 100

ATK - 15.060

HP - 10.040

Skills - none

Physical Attributes:

Strength - 110

Quickness - 100

Body - 100

Mental Attributes:

Intelligence - 1.000

Wisdom - 1.000

Special Attributes:

Willpower - 1.000

Mana - 1.400

Xp (x2) - 40

And then the letters, saying, ”Each XP gives 5 points to spend on Attributes. You have 200 points. Choose the Attributes and the number of points to allocate“. And the Attributes appeared.

Physical Attributes:

Strength - 110

Quickness - 100

Body - 100

Mental Attributes:

Intelligence - 1.000

Wisdom - 1.000

Riattus pointed to the Sphere.

- “Well, you know what to do, right?”

Ronald nodded. After placing the Points, his status appeared again.

Race - Human

Name - Ronald O’Sullivan

Age - 25

Job - World Traveller

LV - 100

ATK - 15.060

HP - 10.040

Skills - none

Physical Attributes:

Strength - 110

Quickness - 100

Body - 100

Mental Attributes:

Intelligence - 1.100

Wisdom - 1.100

Special Attributes:

Willpower - 1.100

Mana - 1.100

Xp (x2) - “0

Riattus smiled.

- “Looking better…”

Ronald placed the Sphere inside the bag, called Woof and tied the rope to his scarfs. They went through the narrow passage, to enter the Inn from the front door. He could try knocking on the back door, but it would be too suspicious for the servants if he did that.

As soon as he entered the dining room, Mister Feebles signalled him from a table at the corner. As usual, a lot of looks followed him and Woof, but he pretended not to notice. When he seated, Feebles called a servant.

- “You came right in time, Mister Ronald, I have a very good bottle of wine for you to try out. It’s one of my newest products and it is also a huge success.”

- “I normally don’t drink wine before a meal, but if it’s one of yours, I would be honoured to try it.”

- “Oh, this one is not to drink before a meal. I just want you to try it first, to see if you like it to have at our dinner.”

The servant poured the red wine on their glasses. Feebles waited for Ronald’s reaction, and he was surprised by seeing him sniffing the wine after taking a moment to look at his colour. He was even more surprised at seeing him taking a small sip for slowly tasting it before swallowing.

- “You seem very knowledgeable about wines…”

- “Yes, I had a friend that liked wine a little too much and he taught me how to really appreciate it. He even tried to convince me one time, to start a winery. But I knew that it was only because he wanted to have wine for free.”

- “Ahahahah! Funny friend! But… you said had… What happened?”

- “Nothing drastic, he just married and moved some time ago. I came here, so, I kind of lost track of him. I hope he is well. He must be, or his wife would kill him!”

Feebles smiled and drunk a little more.

- “This wine is something else. I took the liberty of ordering some beef steaks for us, I hope you like it. It’s perfect for this type of wine.”

- “Indeed… Here is a thought. Do you have ten bottles for sale? I would like to buy some for my travel. I think my companions would love to drink it when I cooked some meat to accompany this.”

- “Yes, I do. I can sell it to you at a very good price.”

- “That would be just perfect. I bet Mister Ovaidel will appreciate this wine, he seems to like to drink, for what I saw at the Guild.”

Feebles nodded and leaned back a little, to give space for the servant to place the food over the table. When the servant left, he leaned to the front again and lowered his voice:

- “Are you really going on that dangerous voyage tomorrow? It is very long, across many countries, and if you follow Mister Taly to Zakrosia, you can get into a lot of trouble!”

- “I know, but I will also have a lot of opportunities to increase my Level. I need to impress the Guild Master if I want him to approve me.”

Feebles stopped his fork at midway.

- “Approve you? Because of what? Of you becoming an Adventurer?”

- “No… me and Duza… I kind of like her and it seems she is starting to like me. I know that she is a good fighter and quite famous around here, I can’t shame her with my low rank, can I?”

- “Well, it would be really strange if the well-known Duza Sonanji had as a partner, a mere Farmer… Yeah, I understand your reasons. Nevertheless, be careful in your journey, don’t you try to get stronger too fast, people often die because of that. I used to know some that went that path and it didn’t turn out very well for them and their families.”

Ronald placed more water on Woof’s bowl and made sure that he still had enough meat before continuing:

- “I have already promised to Duza, but I will be very careful. I don’t want her to worry about me. By the way, she asked if after dinner we would like to have a late drink or some tea at the Guild. She said that her father, the Guild Master, could join us and protect you from those ugly and nasty Adventurers in there!”

- “Ahahahah! Yeah, some of them are indeed like that. Some are very friendly, but many of them spook me to death! I won’t mind having tea with Haje Sonanji. It will be funny seeing you and Miss Duza disguising your feelings while he is there.”

Ronald shrugged his shoulders.

- “Well, he already talked with me about that, he noticed some looks between us and asked what my intentions were. I guess I was able to reassure him about my good intentions, but I am not sure. He is hard to read.”

- “Yeah, he is like that, one can never tell what he is thinking or what he is about to say and do. I guess that’s why he is a Guild Master. Maybe he became like that after so many years as an Adventurer. Did you know that he was once the most famous Adventurer in this region? Haje Sonanji, “The Dreadful”! He had a terrible reputation as a skilled assassin and killer of Monsters. He only settled down when he fell in love with his wife. She was a City Guard here, and she tried to arrest him when they first met. He fought her and escaped her claws for two hours, before getting trapped because she cheated by luring him into falling in a few Traps that she placed on an alley, to where she made him flee. Over the days that he was arrested, they were often seen talking, and she was always laughing because of his stories. Or getting angry because of some of his deeds. Eventually, he was released because his last employer came to his rescue. Haje knew some things that he couldn’t let anyone found out. But Haje didn’t leave this City by then, because of her. He was a wreck when she died, he only managed to have the strength to continue on living because of his daughters.”

- “Yeah, I can understand that… Lucky for me he was able to because that granted me the opportunity to meet him and his lovely daughters. I must also thank you again, for introducing me to him and for giving me a ride to get to this City. I like this City, what annoys me are some people that live here. I don’t know how a good person can live here, surrounded by so many mischievous persons.”

- “I guess they had to because it is like this everywhere. In some countries, it is even worse. For example, in Breidan, the people suffer from the huge amount of taxes that it is used for the army. In Thetria, the religion is so oppressive that everything you do must first be approved by the Church. If one of your neighbours accuses you of actions unworthy or not following God Seya’s teachings, you can be arrested and tortured to change your ways. In Zakrosia, there are only Monsters and in Argoheria, most people don’t even care about their neighbours. These are some that I know very well, and I was told that it’s similar in other countries. It’s the World that we have, unfortunately.”

Ronald went silent for a moment, thinking.

- “Not even once, someone tried to change things? Or the people are so used to the “status quo” that they don’t even care?”

- “Well, I have read a book about a Mage that lived four hundred years ago, which tried to change things. Riattus, “The Powerful”. The problem was that he was a tyrant and a violent man, well known for killing anyone who opposed him or doubted him. A huge army of soldiers and Mages from every country fought him and his allies, killing them all. But in the end, he used a very powerful Magic and wiped out everyone on that huge army. He died also, considering that no one ever heard of him again. Who knows how this World could be now if he achieved his goals? But I am fortunate. In my line of work and because I am always travelling, I have many opportunities to find some amazing people, despite some that don’t deserve the air they breathe. That’s why I am so worried about your travel, I would like to have more dinners with you, in the future.”

- “Don’t worry, Mister Feebles. If everything goes according to my plan, I won’t die so soon. I intend to have a lot of children, and for that, I need to survive the voyage to Argoheria.”

Feebles raised his glass.

- “Here to a future full of children, then!”

Cling!

They drank the last bit of wine and Feebles followed Ronald to the Guild, for some tea with Haje and Duza.

As soon as they entered, the same thing happened like all the other times that Ronald entered with Woof firmly tied to his rope, everyone went silent for a while. The talks and the noise resumed and Ronald saw Duza at a table, signalling him to join her, Mira, the Guild Master, Ovaidel, Reylom, and Ini. Ronald and Feebles approached with a smile and some red colour on their cheeks, because of the wine that they drank. Ronald sat next to Duza and Woof rested the head on Mira’s lap. Mister Feebles went to the empty seat next to the Guild Master and as soon as he seated, a servant came, carrying some fresh backed biscuits and tea. As soon as the servant left, the Guild Master spoke to Ronald while delivering him his Guild Card:

- “So, Duza told me that you had some trouble in the City. Or better yet, you caused it.”

Ronald took a small sip of the tea while reading his brand-new Guild Card.

- “They caused it, I just reacted accordingly, as any normal person would. It’s not my fault if the people that live in this City don’t deserve the air they breathe.”

The Guild Master was puzzled.

- “You know that we also live in this City, right?”

- “Just my point. It’s also your fault if things are like this. A City that has City Guards that can whip to the death a mother and two children, without being afraid of the consequences and thinking that they have all the right to do it, it’s not a City where good people live, for sure. And considering that Adventurers are a higher rank than a Capitan of the Guard, it’s your fault for not making sure that such kind of City Guards doesn’t exist.”

The Guild Master frowned.

- “If you weren’t a newcomer, I could feel insulted.”

- “You can feel insulted because I am in fact insulting you and every Adventurer that works or lives in this City. And I am doing it with all the reason on my side. You can all just take it in and try to improve yourselves, or when I came back from this journey, I will make sure to open those thick skulls and put some senses into it.”

Everyone was dumbfounded by Ronald’s harsh words. When Duza opened her mouth to try to excuse him, the Guild Master answered with anger in his voice:

- “You are too bold for a mere Farmer, aren’t you?”

Ronald took another sip of the tea.

- “I was going to remain like that, but after today, I changed my mind. I will be the strongest Adventurer that this World as ever seen so that Duza can be proud of me and I will make sure to clean up this City. I don’t want to settle in a City with so many rotten and evil people, for sure. It would not be safe for my future children.”

Duza turned bright red, Mira was grinning, but the Guild Master was still angry.

- “You have some great plans, but why do you think that you will be able to accomplish that? Others tried it before you, to get strong very fast, and they all failed miserably.”

Ronald made a slight smile.

- “Those people weren’t me. I am stronger than I look and up until today, I was thinking of having an easy life. But after hearing that woman and her children screaming their life out, I can’t do that anymore. Some days ago, I saw inside the forest in a Goblin Village, one man and a horse being roasted alive, a woman being raped while being eaten alive and another woman tied to a pole, watching what was going to happen to her next when they finished. That was bad, but they were Monsters, they were doing what they were meant to do. The City Guards today, despite looking Human, were acting like Goblins. And you are surprised that I am upset because Adventurers could prevent those things from happening? I always thought that Adventurers would always rush to help the innocent and correct bad deeds and doing Quests was only a means to gain some money. But it appears that it’s not like that. Adventurers in here seem to be more interested in the money they can gain from Quests than making sure that people that live around them, are safe.”

- “Or it’s because Adventurers know that it’s a futile effort. There are too many people that are rotten as you say and many others that just like to watch and not do a thing.”

Ronald took from his belt purse five gold coins and five silver coins that he placed on top of the table.

- “In that case, I want to open a Quest. This is the payment.”

The Guild Master looked at the huge amount of money right in front of him with a puzzled look.

- “What… is your Quest?”

- “Any people that acts with violence against another or cause the death of someone is to be arrested or killed after a fair trial. The deadline for the end of this Quest is eight months when I will return. If things are looking better by then, I will give the same amount to the Adventurer’s Party that fulfils this Quest. There is no limit to the number of Parties that attempt to complete the Quest, but the prize will go to the one that actually turns this City around. In eight months, I will pay to that Party this same amount, if, and only if, things are looking better on my return.”

- “But… Will you be able to pay for all that?”

- “Yes. But there’s a catch. If when I come back things are looking the same or even worse, I keep the money and I will do it myself, with the mandatory help of every Adventurer that applied to this Quest.”

The Guild Master frowned.

- “Wait a minute… You are saying that if the Quest is not fulfilled or if they fail, they will work for you, for free? I don’t think that they will like that. Sometimes a Quest is too difficult, and yours seems impossible. “

- “I don’t care if they like it or not. I am willing to pay to make this City safer. If honour or money is not a good reason, maybe having me on their back, willing to beat them up if they don’t do what I say, can be one.”

Everyone went silent. Only the noise of Ronald drinking his tea could be heard, at that table. Duza was the first to speak:

- “You know, if you force them to help you, some of them might be resentful and try something against you.”

Ronald took a dagger from a pocket, held it by his fingers on the hilt and at the sharp point and pressed with both hands. The dagger was squashed into a mess of metal and wood from the hilt. He then started to shape it into a ball form and rolled it over the table in Duza’s direction.

- “Let them try. Until now, you only saw a glimpse of what I am able to do, dear Duza, but you didn’t see everything. I have a gentle nature but if needed, I can be everyone’s worse enemy.”

Duza turned white while looking at the ball in front of her. The Guild Master spoke with a trembling voice:

- “You… Why are you just a Farmer and so willing to work as a Carrier and Cook on Duza’s Party? With your strength, you could lead your Party!”

- “That would be a nuisance. I also don’t know this region or how to act in some situations. No, I prefer to learn and be a secret weapon if needed, if we encounter an extremely dangerous situation. But I am still waiting for your response, about my Quest.”

The Guild Master nodded.

- “Very well, the Guild will accept your Quest. Mira, take care of the paperwork, ok? And put this money in the safe.”

Mira was almost getting up when she remembered one thing:

- “You know, Mister Ronald, strength can’t always help you. There are many Mages in this Guild that can get angry at you if you make them obey you, and those guys don’t need strength to defeat you.”

Ronald took another sip of his tea.

- “I am perfectly aware of that, Miss Mira. But I think I can manage myself, even if all the Mages in here attack me at the same time. You probably didn’t realize it until now, but even Woof is way stronger and more powerful than he looks. Or didn’t you notice how easily he chewed on Ma Yangfa’s arm, even with his gauntlet in the way?”

Mira looked at Woof, that had his head tilted sideways.

- “Yeah, I thought it was weird… come with me Woof, let’s put this money in the safe, ok?”

Mira took the money with her to the back office, with Woof on her tail, following her. During all the previous talk, Ini was silent. He then asked Ronald, in the ancient Elf Language:

- “It seems I was right, you are indeed full of surprises. Can I trust you for having our backs during our journey?”

- “Of course, Tracker Ini. But I must warn you, if I have to choose between saving you or Duza, I will go to her, without even thinking.

Ini nodded.

- “I understand. I will do the same thing. She is my dearest friend. I hope you can take good care of her, from now on, and be happy together.

- “Yes, I really hope to.

Duza was looking at them both, puzzled by that conversation on a strange language, with them looking at her while grinning.

- “You two are scheming something…”

Ini shrugged his shoulders.

- “Not really. I don’t think I was the only one that noticed him calling you “dear Duza” and saying that he wants to make you proud and live in this City with his children. But judging by your surprised face, you seem to either have doubts about his intentions towards you, you are not sure about your feelings, or you are more stupid than I thought. Such a fine young man saying that he wants to have children with you, and you don’t say a thing… Shame on you, stupid Duza, shame on you…”

Duza was speechless. Hearing that from Ini, right when her father was next to her and looking at Ronald with a frown, was too much. Ovaidel was the only one to interrupt the silence that followed Ini’s words:

- “Good, it was about time for our leader to find a partner! I was getting worried about her! I was starting to think that I had to do the extreme nuisance of being with her! Before Ronald appeared, she was always in a bad mood and complaining about everything. Nowadays, she smiles a lot, is very polite, friendly, and she almost glows. If I knew that she could turn like that, I would have looked for a partner for her, ages ago! Duza, “The Frightening”, as turned into Duza, the Happy Maiden!”

They all burst into laughter. All except Duza, she just turned bright red and tried to hide her face behind her hands.

---

Late that evening at the Inn, Ronald was seated on a chair and looking at all the Cards that he had, displayed on top of the bed.

- “You know, Riattus, I may need help on this. I want to get stronger as fast as I can, so, I suppose when I have more Mana, I will be able to use any of these, or all at once, right?”

- “Yes, but the ones that I have in my Card Box are the most powerful in this World. On my time, I was the only one that had enough Mana to use all of them at once, and only a handful of people was able to use three, without exhausting all their Mana. Nowadays, I don’t know. There could be somewhere in the World, a person that is even more powerful than I was. I don’t think so, but it’s a possibility.”

Ronald picked up Riattus’ Card Box and looked at the Cards inside.

- “That means I need to become even more powerful than you. I guess I am already physically stronger than you ever were, so I just need to level up to have more Mana. I hope that incursion into Zakrosia helps.”

- “It will help a bit, but for you to become more powerful than I was, you would need to wipe out completely every monster in that country.”

- “Really? You were that powerful? Ok…”

- “I never thought you would choose to become stronger just to fix this City. I was betting that you would find a quiet place to settle and live the rest of your life keeping a low profile. I still advise you to lay low, you can’t attract too much attention upon yourself. If the Breidan Royal Family or the Universal Church of Truth in Thetria get word of a powerful Mage in Loriath, they will stop at nothing until they find you. A lot of people could die if that happens, do you understand?”

- “Yes... One more good thing about this voyage. Since I will keep on moving, even if word gets out that a powerful Mage is travelling, until an army is sent to take me in, I will be long gone to another place, when they arrive.”

Riattus nodded while looking at the window.

- “I suppose you are right. So, if you indeed get more powerful and you take care of this City, what will you do next? Another City? Or the entire country? Because I already tried that, and look at me now…”

- “Last time I heard, you were a tyrant. Maybe you failed because of that, don’t you think? It’s difficult to listen to or obey someone whom we hate, right?”

- “Yeah, but I also had a lot of fun doing it… And a lot of sadness, too. I lost too many friends…”

Riattus went silent, lost on his memories while looking throughout the window. Ronald took the Cards and placed them in his several Card Boxes and threw them into the one-shoulder bag. He looked one last time to Riattus and blew on the candle.

Woof made a low snort on the carpet and closed his eyes. He was so tired! All-day walking around, making sure that no stranger got near that smiling Human that gave him those soft cloths around his neck, or near that kind woman that rubbed nonstop his ears. Woof still remembered his past life, but at that time, he used to sleep inside a closed dog hound on a wooden, cold floor. In that strange new house, he can sleep on a soft, warm carpet near that Human. The smells all around were still weird, but he was getting used to it. He couldn’t completely understand why, but the words that the Humans say are easier to understand. He can even feel that his strength improved, his speed and the amount of pressure that he can now apply with his mouth. That big Human that scared the “rubbing-ear” woman can vouch for that, for sure. Seems that tomorrow, Woof will go with that Human that is already snoring, in a big voyage. At least that was what he could understand from that talk on that big room with so many different smells. They talked about danger along the way, but Woof will protect them. And that snoring Human on the bed will help, for sure. Woof made another low snort and fell asleep.

---

Early in the morning, Ronald woke up with Woof licking his face. He opened his eyes and the light from the open window was giving him headaches. For a moment, he thought that he used a Willpower Spell Card again, but then he realized it was probably because of all the wine that he drank at dinner. Slowly, the memories of last night events came to his mind, along with the realization that he made up his mind about his future. Ronald slowly seated on the edge of the bed, with Woof resting the head on his lap. Ronald made a quick rub on Woof’s head and he then saw Riattus near the window, looking at him.

- “Good morning, sleepyhead! I was wondering when you would finally wake up. It seems that Feebles’ wine is very good for insomnias.”

- “Lower your voice, please… annoying old ghost…”

- “So, get dress, wash up your face, get down for breakfast and start working! You have a lot to do, Carrier! There’s a carriage to fill with the supplies that you bought yesterday, remember? Keep in mind, it’s better if you summon your Big Rat outside the City. You already took a huge risk yesterday, with that trick with the dagger. I told you to keep a low profile!”

Ronald made a frown, the voice was still too loud.

- “Yeah… I talked too much indeed. That wine was very good, but it made me babble nonstop. So, let’s do this, then.”

---

In the Dining Room, Feebles was at a table with Taly and Ari. They called for Ronald, as soon as he entered. Feebles pointed to a chair in front of him.

- “Good morning, Mister Ronald! Had a good night’s rest?”

Ronald frowned, the light and the loud voice of Feebles was making his head hurt again.

- “Yes, but waking up was not so good. My head feels heavy, the light and the voices give me headaches.”

Feebles offered him a cup of tea.

- “Here, drink this. It’s my secret recipe. You will feel better in no time!”

Ronald took the cup and blew a little, it was very hot. After a few more blows, he took a careful sip. Some more blows and after the second sip, his head cleared. He was so surprised that he drank a few more, before asking Feebles.

- “This… Mister Feebles, my headaches stopped miraculously! This tea is amazing! What is it made off?”

- “I knew you would like it. That’s why I have a small bag of this mixture already prepared for you, together with the wine that you asked on that bag on the floor next to you. I thought you would need this if you or your friends drink too much. And if you have some light pain, it will also work.”

Ronald was looking at the tea and wondering.

- “Is this… some sort of Healing Potion?”

- “Oh, no! Nothing that good, but it does the trick. It’s just a mix of some herbs and plants, a recipe from my family, passed from generations ago to the members of my family.”

- “You could sell this, it would be a success!”

- “I am already doing it. In fact, one of the reasons why I came to this City was to sell a huge pack of this mixture to the Guild Master. The Adventurers in there, appreciate this tea quite a lot because they can drink more than they should, giving a lot of money to the Guild, and on the next morning instead of suffering from huge headaches, they drink this tea at the Guild. Giving more money to the Guild in the process. I know, it’s a vicious circle, but no one forces them to drink so much wine!”

Ronald nodded, still looking at that strange tea. Taly smelled the teapot and smiled.

- “You may call it just a mix of herbs, but I know the smell of a Healing Potion. This one is a light Healing Potion, made with leaves of the Red Dork and White Gift plant. It may have some more things in there, for this colour and perhaps, a different taste, but it is.”

Feebles opened his eyes in a surprise.

- “Yes, it has leaves of those plants, together with some more. But how do you know it?”

Taly smiled while mixing the teapot with the long spoon.

- “Perhaps because I know this recipe. I… I mean, one of my ancestors, made it for the first time, more than 500 years ago. We are either distant cousins, Mister Feebles, or one of your ancestors learned it from one of mine. It is normally used for minor pains or headaches, but I guess it can also be used for hangovers.”

Feebles frowned.

- “I… never found someone that could identify so easily the main ingredients of this mixture… but my family is selling this for quite some time, and…”

Taly interrupted him by raising his right hand.

- “Don’t worry, Mister Feebles, your business is safe. And also, the secret of this tea. I can even tell you that if you put in the mix one gram of powder of one leaf of the Blue Brittlebush, this tea will get to the level of a medium Healing Potion, and you can sell it to heal injuries, and not only headaches.”

- “Really? Amazing… I need to find some of those, then.”

Ronald opened his bag and from a piece of wrapped white cloth, took three leaves that weren’t as good as the ones that he sold previously.

- “Can I use these, to pay for the wine and that mixture of yours?”

Feebles shook his head strongly.

- “Mister Ronald, I can’t accept this, it’s too much!”

- “Of course, you can. Consider it also as payment for getting this job for me. And an extra for one bottle of your wine, in eight months from now, a bottle that we will drink completely over our dinner in here, when I return.”

Feebles stopped to think for a while. He smiled and nodded.

- “We have a deal, Mister Ronald. And that means that you can’t die before our dinner, ok?”

- “I don’t intend to, Mister Feebles, don’t worry.”

Ari frowned.

- “Another one raising flags… This voyage will be a lot of fun, for sure, always trying to get to the end of it without dying because of so many that are attracting bad luck… Yay, so much fun indeed…”

---

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