Chapter 25 – A fateful encounter

 

“Now, Mr. Yaquinn, it’s time to pay for the humiliation you inflicted upon me earlier, don’t you think ?”

“Let the kid go, he’s got nothing to do with this.”

 

Yaquinn took a quick look around us and tried to protect me but it looked like fatty didn’t care.

 

“He was chatting with you, so it’s safe to assume he’s one of your friends, right ? I think a little beat up is required to teach you both respect. Guys, get them.”

 

The thugs drew out their weapons and approached us. As strong as Yaquinn was, there was no way he could took out 30 enemies on his own. I had to help him somehow.

 

“Leave half of them to me !”

“Wait, it’s danger-”

 

I didn’t listen to him and jumped straight into the battle, aiming to make use of the surprise element to knock down as many opponents as possible.

 

The thugs were not in the least fazed however and I found myself confronting 5 of them at once. Their fighting skills were average but their number was just too high.  I used the only sword technique I knew for this kind of situation and started spinning around at a high speed.

 

“『Steel tornado』!”

 

This was a Beginner level technique but it seemed to be effective enough to slash 2 out of the 5 thugs until I got countered by one of them. A simple parade was good enough to stop a low level skill such as this one.

 

I followed with a『Swift strike』, a skill that dealt multiple damage at once, in order to hit several enemies. I couldn’t use『Furious Slash』due to the number of enemies being too high and its cost being too expensive.

Much to my disappointment,『Swift Strike』wasn’t powerful enough to knock down anyone and I was surrounded before I could follow up on it.

 

I was attacked from all directions and could only manage to counter some of the strikes aimed at me. I suffered from direct blows and pain started covering my whole body. Soon enough, I felt my legs going numb and my vision started to fade as I fainted. The last thing I saw before going into a slumber was Yaquinn using some strange techniques again and blasting his opponents away.

 

***

 

I woke up with a strong headache, proof of my beat up. I was lucky to still be alive, I thought. I took a look around me and noticed I was in a bedroom of the inn I where I was just earlier.

 

Yaquinn was right next to me, sleeping on a chair. Despite not having known each other for longer than a few minutes, he still took care of me. I needed to make sure to thank him for that.

 

Yaquinn woke up abruptly – probably because of the sound of me moving around as I got up.

 

“Ah, you’re woken up. Are you feeling better ? You slept for two days straight after all.”

“My head hurts a bit but I’m fine. More importantly, what happened after I got knocked down ?”

“Let’s just say I took care of things.”

“Wait… did you beat all of these guys by yourself ?”

“… Yes.”

“That’s amazing ! I knew from the start you were strong but to be that powerful is just… unthinkable.”

“These were only low level thugs. A few Mages could do the same with area of effect spells, you know ? Have you heard of the man called Vlad Stalford ? This guy could blow up an entire town if given enough time.”

“But you’re no Mage, right ? You’re wearing a sword after all.”

“While that’s true, it’s also incorrect at the same time. I use an art I created myself, the art that I called Wind Dance.”

“Wind Dance ? Is that a set of sword skills ?”

“Again, true but not only. It would take too long to explain though and I need to leave this town. Sorry to have got you involved in a fight because of me.”

“Ah, no problem… I was kind of useless after all…”

 

I looked at the ground, feeling disappointed in my skills. This man had taken more than 30 enemies at once. Compared to him, I looked like a total newbie in swordsmanship.

 

“Don’t be down because of that. Should I remind you you were facing more than 5 opponents at once ? And you took out half of them. Honestly, I am impressed by your skill at such a young age. That reminds me… you told me you wanted to become my disciple, right ?”

“Yes… Too bad you cannot teach me.”

 

“Well, it’s true that I cannot teach you right now but I could in the future. If you are still interested, come to this location in two weeks time.”

 

He showed me a map with a red cross on it. It was around 6 days of walk away from Aldenaf.

 

“I need to ask my mother first but… if it’s for the purpose of training, there should be no problem. I definitely will come !”

“I see, hahaha. Well I’ll be looking forward to your arrival then.”

 

We parted from each other, going in our direction. I had been out of it for 2 days and as such Mother was probably going to start worrying. I needed to finish the task I had been assigned as fast as possible.

 

I started gathering the herbs just like I was told and soon enough, my two bags were full of them.

 

I hurried back towards the gates of the village but I was careless enough to bump into someone. This caused my bags to fall on the ground and the herbs to be spilled.

 

I looked at the man who bumped into me and noticed that he looked like he was no older than me, in fact he was even smaller.

 

“Hey watch where you’re going !”

“Ha sorry, I’m in a hurry.”

“You bumped into me so it’d be polite to at least help me gathering the herbs…”

“Ah… yes you’re right.”

 

The boy apologised to me and started helping me. He was wearing thin glasses and had messy hair. His clothes however, looked quite elegant and expensive.

 

“So, what are you in such a hurry for ?”

“It’s… a long story. I just need to head to a village called Aldenaf. It’s close by, right ?”

“Aldenaf ? What a coincidence, I also need to head back there.”

 

What could a boy that was most likely from a rich family have to do with a regular small village like Aldenaf ? Was he perhaps visiting a relative ?

 

“Are you walking ? If it’s alright with you, you could ride on my horse with me. It’s to apologise for my rudeness.”

 

What an interesting proposition. I had already wasted too much time because of the fight so being back as soon as possible was ideal. The boy in front of me was a stranger but I couldn’t feel too much power from him. He was most likely no threat for me.

 

I accepted the boy’s proposition and hopped on the back of the horse. It saved me a few hours of walking thanks to that.

 

However I noticed soon after that I was already too late. When we arrived to our destination, I was finally confronted with the harsh truth : there was no more Aldenaf.

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