Heat red cracks and craters were scattered across the land. The overflowing dark smoke coming from the volcanic eruptions clouded the crimson sky. It was silent, there wasn a single noise to indicate signs of life. There used to be humans roaming around the area, but now there corpses on the floor.
The countless bodies of woman, children and men suffered the same fate. They showed signs of bloody eyes and ears and broken bones. They were disfigured to the point of questioning if they were even human in the first place.
The mountains of corpses made it difficult to walk anywhere, but then a straight path was formed for the blacksmith. The man hesitated, but he thought that it must be an invitation from whatever awaits him on the other side. Proceeding, as stepping on puddles of blood rings the ears, the path lead to an open view of the destruction. The man was at a loss for words, it was a horrendous sight to see. There was nothing but despair in the mans field of vision, an endless sea of flames that could rival the very waters of the ocean. There was nothing but ash in that post apocalyptic world. It resembled closely the great calamity of 150 years ago. The difference was the cause of the destruction of the kingdom, or the very world for that matter, was done by something else entirely.
[William: Did you do this?]
The blacksmith spoke to the shadow in the corner of his field of vision, but he didn receive a response. It was a dark miasma which covered the body from head to toe, hiding the identity of the thing that was inside. The blacksmith unconsciously extended his arm to touch it. The miasma grabbed the mans arm and quickly spread its cursed dark fog around his body. He was not terrified of being eaten by it. In fact, he felt like he was being warmly invited. He could hear a faint familiar voice,
[???: Welcome home child.]
The blacksmith embraced the fog as it welcomed him to a world of iridescent purple. He could only describe the world as nothing else but beautiful. He danced around to the sound of nonexistent music. His soul was filling itself with nothing else but joy. Tears overflowed from the blacksmiths eyes as he for once felt complete happiness.
He noticed there was something located where he thought was the center of this world. He rushed towards it with great curiosity. As he drew closer, he began to see what was the source of the destruction.
[William: No way… Its—!]
His eyes began to pour tears of blood. The sound of trumpets rang through his ears to the point were it felt like needles piercing his brain. His bones began to break. His body bent in ways no human body ever could.
Even so, he still kept going towards it. His body yearned for the love it had stored. He thought it was his lifes purpose. His sanity was gone, he laughed hysterically at the pain throughout his body. As he got closer, the world around him slowly faded away until it was completely gone.
The blacksmiths heart was racing. He grabbed his chest as he tried to endure the sudden pain. He didn know what was happening to the world around him. He was too engrossed in the signs of fear his body was giving. He slowly breathed to ease the pain and calm himself. He tried to focus on the sound of the singing birds and feel the soft breeze hitting his face. When he was finally brought back to his senses by the heat of the morning sun, he slowly opened his eyes as they adjusted to the light.
He stretched his arms and legs as he lay on the floor. He felt the grass caressed his body with each movement of the stretch. Thats when the man realized,
—I fell asleep outside.
He quickly sat up and saw the lake front of him. He touched around his body thinking something was done to it, but there was no sign indicating such thing. His body was completely intact.
He recalled the interaction he had with the woman last night. To William, she was an odd person to begin with and seemed out of place in the forest. He was sure the eccentric woman did something to him.
—She mustve used magic on me.
His body was completely useless at the face of her adversity, although he never got the chance to see her face. She didn permit him to see her, it was a complete black fog. When he defied her to look, he suffered the consequences.
—I hit face first on the ground because of her! I also had that dream…
The moment the man went into slumber, he found himself in a world of chaos. As he followed the path of the corpses, he found himself with the cause of the madness.
—Before I knew it, I woke up. Seriously, what a nightmare. I have goosebumps just thinking about it… was that dream her doing as well?
The man was not a religious person but at that moment he felt like praying to the divine hero or the white dragon. Although, he wasn knowledgeable enough to know which of the two to pray for in that situation.
—Ill ask Olivia about religion when I get the chance.
e finally awake. I must say, you sure took a long time to wake up, sir.] A man had approached the blacksmith and covered him from the sunlight. William was slowly able to see the figure of the person standing in front of him.
—Did he watched over me while I slept?
The blacksmith sighed, [William: I was exposed to the wild like a rookie. I have to thank you for keeping an eye on me.]
[???: There is no need for formalities. I only did it because I would like to have a word with you.]
The blacksmith stood up, [William: I see, so its like that.]
William was used to people reaching out to him for weapon request. He was impressed that this time someone went inside the forest to search for him. The blacksmith had no doubt that the man was strong. Although, it was up to him to decide if he would take the offer or not, he could at least hear him out for keeping an eye on him.
The man bowed, [???: Sir Jaeger, I would like to get straight to the point of why I am here.]
The blacksmith raised his hand at the man, [William: Hold on a minute.]
Williams brain doesn react as quickly as it used to in the morning. He used to get up easily, just as he opened his eyes so did his brain. Years have passed and hes already twenty-five years old. At this age the body starts to act differently, more slowly than it used to.
—To be asked for a request this early in the morning is dangerous. I might get into a situations I don want to be in. Especially with the determined look this guy is giving me, he seems ready to drag me into some unwanted mess.
[William: Before we continue, you should at least give me your name.]
The man bowed, [???: My apologies. My name is Sebastian. Im a butler of the Reinsfield Family.]
[William: The Reinsfield family… Aren they those nobles that practically own Aoba?]
[Sebastian: That is correct. I work at the main house.]
[William: Really? Then, why are you in such clothing?]
Being part of the staff of a main household means to wear presentable clothing to not filth the familys reputation and to let others know the position one holds. To see someone like Sebastian walking around the town wearing what he wore at that moment would make one question what kind of people are the Reinsfield family.
Sebastian twitched at Williams comment. Its not like he wanted to wear the clothing, but the little lady of the house ordered him to do so. Right as he was about to leave, she got ahold of Sebastian and dragged him to the dressing room. She grabbed camouflage clothes and told him, [???: If you
e going on an adventure you need to represent the part of being an adventurer.] Sebastian couldn refuse her after seeing her warm smile.
The butler never lost his posture, he wore those clothes with great pride, but he could only relive the moment with tears rolling down his eyes.
[Sebastian: I would like to leave that confidential.]
[William: Are you okay?!] William could only imagine what situations the butler would go through in that mansion. The blacksmith scratched his cheek, [William: Nevermind. It was my fault for intruding on someone elses business.] He extended his hand to properly greet the butler, [William: Everyone has their own skeletons in the closet.]
Sebastian looked at William rather pleased, [Sebastian: Compared to what I heard, you
e a good man.]
William looked at Sebastian confused. [William: Whos saying bad things about me?!]
[Sebastian: Its nothing Sir Jaeger, just a slip of the tongue.]
—Like hell it is…
The blacksmith sighed, [William: Please call me William. Being called sir Jaeger makes me feel old.]
Sebastian nodded, [Sebastian: Very well, Mr. Jaeger it shall be.]
[William: How is that any better? It didn change anything!]
Even though Sebastian was a butler, one could clearly tell he was not a good example for it. He knows no boundaries and likes to tease people very frequently.
[William: Now tell me, why is it that your here?]
The butlers eyes shifted to look behind the blacksmith, [Sebastian: Before that, I must deal with the third party listening to us.]
The blacksmith was confused at what the butler had said, but before he could even question it, he saw him throw three shurikens from his sleeve. It passed very close to Williams face, leaving him in shock. He heard all three of the shurikens hit a nearby tree. A scream followed soon after.
[William: I believe Ive heard that scream before.]
[Sebastian: Shall we take a look at our eavesdropper?]
The pair walked up to the tree and what they found was a young man with blond hair and emerald eyes. He was dangling from the tree kicking and screaming, demanding to be put down.
[???: Let me go! How dare you put an amazing person like myself in such a state. Show me some respect!]
The butler released an electric current from his hand towards the shurikens. All three of them flew out towards him and back in his sleeve. The young man was about to hit the ground when the butler caught him without skipping a beat.
[Sebastian: Do you perhaps know of this child who is speaking nonsense?] he said lifting the young man in the air with one hand.
[???: Nonsense?!] he retorted.
William silently looked the other way while scratching one of his cheeks. Of course he knew who this person was, it was Nicolas, but he didn want to admit it with all the ruckus he was causing.
The blacksmith sighed, [William: Thats my apprentice Nicolas.]
[Sebastian: Apprentice you say…]
The butler examined the apprentice throughly. From first glance, he didn see any outstanding characteristics from him. Although there was something inside him that the butler felt very faintly. The young man was irritated at the butler invading his personal space while being examined, [Nicolas: You better believe it four eyes!]
The butlers eyebrow twitched, [Sebastian: What did you call me?]
[Nicolas: Thats what you get for calling me a child! Ill have you know Im of drinking age.]
—Now is when you find it appropriate to say?
[Sebastian: So you say, but you haven had any alcoholic drinks.]
William was impressed of the butlers perception while Nicolas looked dumbfounded.
[William: How can you tell?]
[Sebastian: You can see it in his eyes, that pure innocence, it has not left him. For that my conclusion is he hasn had any yet.]
[Nicolas: Its not like I don want to. I just haven gotten the occasion to do it.]
A smile creeped on Sebastian face which made Nicolas and even William feel shivers down their spine, [Sebastian: Lets go grab a beer then.]
[Nicolas: Ugh.] The young man twitched at Sebastians idea.
Sebastian looked at William, which made him twitch as well. [Sebastian: That way we can continue our conversation.]
William knew there was no escaping the butler.
The blacksmith sighed, [William: Alright, lets go.]
A glass full of beer was front of the young man Nicolas. He intently inspected the liquid inside, [Nicolas: hmmm.]
The butler raised an eyebrow, [Sebastian: What is it? You said you would drink alcohol if you had the occasion for it.]
As soon as the apprentice heard the word ”occasion ”, he took no delay and sharply responded to Sebastian, [Nicolas: Exactly! Since theres no occasion for a drink. I guess it was a waste.]
He tried to stand up and leave, but, [Sebastian: What nonsense are you babbling about little boy?]
Sebastian with one hand grabbed the apprentices shoulder and sat him back on the seat.
[Nicolas: Im not a boy!] he said irritatedly.
The butler got closer to the apprentice and raised his index finger, [Sebastian: Listen here, a real man doesn need an occasion to drink. He simply does.]
[Nicolas: I still fail to see how alcohol makes you a man.]
[Sebastian: Why don you have a taste and see for yourself?]
The apprentice inspected the glass once more. He was hesitating to take the first sip.
[Sebastian: Time is ticking—]
[Nicolas: —Im doing it in my own pace!]
—Hes giving him a hard time.
The blacksmith watched the apprentice getting teased by the butler. As they both continued, William looked around the bar. It was the same one he was the previous night.
—I wonder if Lucy is around, although it is still very early.
He recalled her face throughout their conversation. Her expression indicated something was bothering her. William felt the need to check on her well being.
[???: Lucy? Oh, she usually works at night but today she is taking the day off for some family business.] The waitress said after William had asked about the young woman.
Sebastian and Nicolas stopped their banter after overhearing the blacksmith. They both looked at him curiously.
[Sebastian: Who might Lucy be, I wonder.] He rested his chin in the palm of his hand with a smirk on his face.
[Nicolas: I would like yo know too master. Who is this Lucy?]
Both men wondered what woman would make the William Jaeger ask for her in the first place.
The blacksmith on the other hand did not like them pressing to know his private matters, [William: Don call me master! And you—] William pointed at Sebastian, [William: —Aren you acting a little too familiar with me? It doesn fit your character as a butler.]
[Sebastian: My apologies, but seeing a person with such a title asking for a woman from the bar is something you don see every day.]
[William: What are you talking about? Shes just like everybody else. Besides, the noble title its not mine, its my familys.]
Nicolas spit the beer once he got a taste of it. Both the butler and the blacksmith looked at the coughing Nicolas astonished that he actually drank from the glass and then they continued with their conversation.
The apprentice cried out, [Nicolas: None of you are going to acknowledge me for finally drinking!?]
William was getting annoyed of Sebastians familiarity, [William: Listen, would you cut it with the teasing?]
[Sebastian: What are you talking about? I thought we were starting to get along.]
[William: I wonder…] he said sarcastically and drank from his glass of beer.
Sebastian takes a sip of his beer and clears his throat, [Sebastian: Very well. Then I might as well begin to talk about why Im here speaking to you, Mr. Jaeger.]
The blacksmiths eyes narrowed, [William: You already dragged me here. What is this about?]
[Sebastian: You see, I have a request.]
The blacksmiths head was clouded with many questions about the woman from the previous night. He didn have time to be working on any weapon request. He wanted to know what she meant about their conversation. The butlers sudden appearance has delayed him from getting the answers. Although, he felt like there was a connection between the two. He proceeded to test the waters, [William: Did she ordered you to keep me company?]
The butlers eyes widened. A little smirk formed on his face, [Sebastian: I suppose there was no avoiding you figuring it out.]
[William: It was suspicious of you to find me in the middle of Luciv forest so easily. Now, I see why.]
The blacksmith felt like he was being played. The woman puts him to sleep, leaving him vulnerable in the forest, and the butler watches over him as means of getting compensation for his good deed. It was a good tactic, but William easily saw through their plan.
[Sebastian: It was not in her orders, but I supposed I had to watch over you considering we need your assistance. I do say, I wasn aware that you already knew of her. It will make my job easier.]
[William: She gave a good sleep. I think its the first time Ive slept so well in months… Now tell me, what do you want from me?]
—To go through all this just for a request, it must be something great.
[Sebastian: Hm? Well, sleeping problems aside Mr. Jaeger, my master took an interest upon your family name. The Jaeger name will forever be known for generations by their magnificent work on weapons that contributed in the battles fought for our kingdom.]
—Yes, yes, Ive heard of this many times, William irritatedly thought.
[William: Lets cut to whats really important, what did your master took a liking of my family? I know for certain that it wasn just history.]
Sebastian smiled at William, [Sebastian: Oh, but it is. Specifically, the battle against the dark witch.]
The blacksmiths eyebrows furrowed, [William: What about it?]
[Sebastian: Your great grandfather, Ludas Jaeger, made a powerful sword. I believe the name was—]
[William: —Pagida Spathi…]
[Sebastian: Correct, after defeating the dark witch, they stored it deep in a temple. It was never to be seen again.]
[William: The place is called the temple of Oram.]
Once the battle against the dark witch had culminated, the sword was stored deep in a temple guarded by the kingdom knights.
[William: Its been over two hundred years since that event. What of it now?]
[Sebastian: My Master sent me to have a look at the temple, but I couldn get in. for that I—]
[William: —Need my blood… Am I mistaken?]
[Sebastian: No, you
e right on the mark.]
[William: I see, this is where I come in…]
Ludas Jaeger made a request when creating the sword. He wanted it placed on the temple and guarded by the heroes who fought against the dark witch. He asked the doors to be used with a blood recognition spell. Only the bloodlines of the great heroes and the blacksmith can open the temple, for that the reason was unknown.
[Sebastian: I suppose thats not the only time I might need of your blood.]
[William: No, the last door also needs my blood.]
[Sebastian: Well I suppose you do know where this is going.]
This was no ordinary weapon request. In fact, it was the complete oposite. Its to join the butler on his quest to reach the locked room in the temple, but there was one factor the blacksmith had yet to mention,
[Sebastian: Mr. Jaeger I need you to come with me—]
The blacksmith raised his hand at Sebastian, [William: —Slow down, whos to say that it will work with my blood? Sure, I do have my family blood but its not pure.]
The butlers eyebrows furrowed, [Sebastian: Pure? You are a descendent of the bloodline, are you not?]
[William: Yes, I am. Its just complicated to explain…]
The butler continued, [Sebastian: Listen, All I need is for you to accompany me to the entrance. If it opens, you will need to join me to the end. Don worry about safety, Ill be protecting you through our journey. If it doesn work, you can continue on with your life and I will find another way to get in.]
[William: So, you won give up even if it were to fail?]
[Sebastian: I will not. Even if I have to blow up the place, I will get that sword.]
[William: Geez, isn that going a bit too overboard?] the man scratched the back of his head, [William: Why are you looking for the sword in the first place?]
[Sebastian: I suppose it is necessary for you to know…] The butler takes a deep breath for the next words he was about to give to the blacksmith, [Sebastian: The sword holds knowledge.]
[William: What do you mean?]
[Sebastian: When the dark witch was slayed by the hero with your great grandfathers weapon, a map was forged onto the sword. It is said that it holds the location to her library of knowledge.]
The blacksmiths eyes widened, [William: It makes no sense. Why would the dark witch even do that in her final moments?]
[Sebastian: Whos to say? That is the information my master told me. I need the map to get to her library. That is why Im here telling you all of this. Ill ask again, will you take on my request?]
The blacksmith was speechless. He needed time to process his thoughts, [William: Ill… need to think about it.]
The butler nodded understandingly, [Sebastian: Very well, I will give you twenty-four hours.] he stands up and leaves money on the counter for the drinks, [Sebastian: Good day, Mr. Jaeger. Lets meet again tomorrow for your decision.] then he bowed.
Once Sebastian left, William sighed.
Suddenly his life got a bit troublesome or maybe even more than that. He looked at his reflection from the beer inside the glass. Should he take on the butlers offer?
To his right he could see Nicolas passed out on the floor. The boy couldn hold his liquor. He picked him up and headed back home.
—What did I get myself into?
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