In the blink of the eye three days passed. Mary and I have been going around to say farewell to our acquaintances and friends. After the bandit attack, the village youths have been getting along very well. That includes us.
When we said to them that we are going to go on travel again, I had an extra job to do. I had to ‘kindly advice’ a few friends to give up courting Mary. Of course, all of them were done behind the scene and executed splendidly.
Mary and I also greeted the village chief. We were then taken to where our wagon is. The splendid covered wagon looks impressive and polished. The cover is thick so rain can’t easily pass through it. The inside is spacious and practical.
There are seats inside which are exceptionally sturdy. We can put our stuffs below them and comfortably sit on the seats. I have seen that most of other wagons don’t have any seats. People usually have to use a box to sit on.
This wagon is much more luxurious. Mary and I tried to pay even a bit for the trouble as we only expected a normal wagon. In the end we were refused and forced to accept it.
Leaving the wagon at the village’s stable, we went around to buy food and water. Most of them can be stored inside our storage system so the wagon will not be crowded. Although with that big wagon, it will never be crowded to begin with. We decided to put in some of our supply so as to not look empty.
When we said farewell to Yuni, she immediately ran home without saying anything. We were left standing there dumbly. At the end of the day, she arrived at Harold’s house with a big bulky leather bag. She has decided to follow us. Alishia will also go with us under the urge of Harold.
On the day of departure, the four of us walk together with Harold’s family to the village’s stable. There have been a lot of villagers there waiting for us. I put our luggage on the wagon while Mary and Yuni greet the villagers.
“Yuni! You’re going as well?”
“Yes, I am going. I want to travel to the outside world.”
“Then, we should go as well!”
“Oh? Do you know where will we go to?”
“What!? The land of the witches!? You mustn’t go there!”
“Hehe. I still want to go.”
The youths immediately break into discussion. Many of them try to stop us from traveling there. Knowing that Alishia, a child, is also in our group, they try even harder. Mary smiles wryly as they are trying to stop magicians to go to their ‘safe haven’.
After a while, they stop their attempt, seeing as our group is dead set on going. They look at each other with regret on their faces. From a corner, a youth who has been silent the whole time suddenly shouts.
“Then, let me go along!”
Everyone turns their head to look at the youth. He is a skinny youth. They recognize him as one of the most speedy youth, Frank. His best friend and rival, Ken, looks over in fright.
“Frank! Don’t go. You will die over there.”
“Hahaha. Ken, I will not believe everything the bard says. My mom once told me that a long time ago, we lived alongside them just fine. I will just tag along to see if it’s true.”
“Hmm... It’s hard to believe it. It’s easier to believe that you’re going after Yuni.” Another youth from the side chips in. The others suddenly glare at Frank.
“What? No way. She is like an older sister for all of us. That includes me.”
The group stares in puzzlement. Then with an uneasy face, another youth talks.
“Then.... Are you after the child?”
“Who do you think I am!? Come on. I really want to see if how the witches are like.”
Frank glares with hateful eyes to him. The youth looks away in a hurry.
“You have to be very careful then. I hope you won’t become a pig after just one day.”
Ken pats Frank’s shoulder to divert the topic. The other youths also pat his shoulders with a smile of pity successively. Frank looks around in confusion. Yuni then chips in from the side.
“Hey, Erwin. How about it? Want to bring him along?”
I think for a while and look at the group I am in. Mary, Yuni, and Alishia. All girls. I heave a heavy sigh.
‘I don’t want to be the only guy around.’
Soon after, I decided on the matter and say.
“Why not? The more the merrier.”
“Then, Frank. Go back home and pack up. Ask for your parent’s permission as well.”
“Alright! I am going!”
Frank runs out of the crowd soon after. We watch him as he runs around the corner. I hear a sigh from behind me. Mary and I turn around.
A pair of middle aged man and woman in the middle of the villagers are looking helplessly. The other villagers also smile wryly at them. With bitter smile on the pair’s faces, they look at me. The woman talks to me.
“We will permit that kid for following you. He has always been curious about the magicians in the story.”
“I have a friend who is also a magician. I haven’t seen or heard from him for a long time. I am afraid he is already... Haa....” The man chips in from the side.
“Erm... Are you two his parents?”
“Yes. Look. He comes back.”
I turn my head to the sound of running footsteps. Frank has returned with a wry smile. He shouts.
“Dad! Mom! Can I go?”
The other youths turn around in confusion. They then see the pair who are Frank’s parents. They turn around and laugh at Frank for running while his parents are here.
“Sure. Go get your things.”
“Get your sword as well. It’s dangerous out there.”
Frank directly runs back around the corner again. Some other youths stare at their own parents in the crowd but get refusals in return. They hang their head in dejection.
We patiently wait for Frank to pack up. In the meantime, Mary and Yuni talk with his parents.
I look around to look for Alishia. I see her among the other children. They are playing around the plaza. I can see a trace of sadness hidden in Alishia’s face.
I watch the sun slowly rise. I glance at the bracelet and see that it is around eight in the morning. I look around once again. I find Roland, the guard captain, nearby. I walk towards him.
Roland is speaking with a few patrolling guards. When he sees me approaching, he waves his hand to the guards. They step back and continue patrolling. I speak out to Roland.
“Has there been a plan to subjugate the bandits?”
“Yes. I have asked the garrison nearby for help. They will send a group of knights in a few days.”
“I see. Has there been any movement from the bandits?”
“I am monitoring them right now. A few groups have separated and returned to their own bases. I have marked their base for now.”
“I see. That’s good then. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Currently there is none. I think when you go out later, some of the bandits will move so please kill them so we got easier work to do.”
“Understood. Then I will be going.”
I look towards where Frank comes from. He is carrying a bulky leather bag similar to Yuni’s. On top of it is a short sword, sheathed in a simple scabbard.
“Sure. I hope you will stay safe on your journey, warrior.”
“Thank you. May the village be safe as well.”
I turn around and walk to where our wagon is. Frank is loading his bag into the wagon. Mary calls Alishia over. It’s about time to go. Alishia reluctantly separates from her friends.
Mary helps Alishia up the wagon while Frank and Yuni go over to the driver spot. Due to Mary and I don’t have any driving skills, we have to leave the work to them. I climb up the wagon with a grunt.
Our wagon slowly moves towards the gate. The villagers follow us outside. Almost all of the villagers come to see us off. At the front are Harold and his family. They wave their hands at us. I can hear them shout to come back again in the future. A lot of children run alongside our wagon for a while.
All of us wave our hands back. Especially Alishia who vigorously waves her hand. Tears stream down her cheeks. After the villagers disappears from our sight, she dives into Mary’s bosom and cries. Mary gently pats her back.
In the forest away from village, a group of skinny people are crouching inside the bushes. They are watching the road leading to the village. Their dirty leather armors show that they don’t maintain them well. On their waist are daggers.
When they are sitting around, there are suddenly sounds of horse hooves and wagon’s wheel. They stand up and observe the road. A splendid wagon appears in the horizon.
A black haired young girl and a young man are driving the wagon slowly. The young man has a short sword hanging on his waist. They chat while keeping a lookout.
“That’s an unusual hair, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. It is also glossy and shiny. I bet she can be sold for around 3 gold pieces.”
“Idiot. She is quite a beauty. If boss goes to find his ‘friends’, we can get more than that meager amount. There is no way her value will be that low.”
“I know. I know. There aren’t many people with black hair.”
“That gloss is even rarer.”
The group talk in low voice as they watch the wagon closing in. The wagon is covered so they can’t see the inside. There is only a small opening in which they can see inside from.
When the wagon closes in, someone peeks out from within the wagon. It’s a beautiful girl with a silver hair. She talks a bit with the driving two. Then she slips back in.
“Hey. Hey. Is that girl the witch boss wants?”
“The boss said that if we discover a silver haired girl, we have to inform him. You! Go back and tell boss. We will delay them here.”
One of them quickly runs back to his horse and rides away. The rest of the group start to prepare traps to delay them. They busily gather their caltrops. It will hinder the movement of horses and wagon.
Suddenly they feel a wave of strange feeling passed through their body. They look around in confusion. After a while, the feeling is still there but there is nothing around there. They continue to prepare their traps.
When they are looking around, they don’t realize that there is a shadow that flashes pass from behind the wagon. The shadow runs through the thick forest. It quickly arrives before them in no time.
The group is shocked by it. Before they could react, the shadow unsheathes its sword and cut two of them down. Blood gushes out from their necks. Soon they fall to the ground.
“Enemy attack! Be careful!”
The shadow doesn’t stop even a moment. It quickly dashes towards the group once again.
“Damn bandits. Go to hell!”
The shadow shouts while it dashes. One of the bandits successfully blocks its sword but in the next moment, the shadow pushes its left hand out and punches his chest. A cracking sounds resound as the bandit’s rib cage breaks.
As the shadow stops for a while, the remaining bandits can now see who he is. A young man with a strange green armor stands there quietly. He clenches and unclenches the hand that he used to punch just now. He glances around.
“Three more. It will be fast.”
The young man strikes at the rest of the bandits.
After a minute or so, he steps out of the dimly lit forest. The wagon approaches him when he cleans his sword from blood. He then climbs on it as it passes.