Chapter 1 – A gathering of fools
When the incident occurred——Majic took three cans out from the carriage, he put the cans onto a plate, then added more wood to the fire. He sat down, he started hammering at the edges of the can with the can opener, this was a habit of his.
There was some text on the cans that Majic didn’t understand, he was concentrating on getting the canned meat ready to eat. He couldn’t open it, so he took a screwdriver and tried that instead, he then took a look around——many shadows of the forest were cast on the ground. The nearest road was only a few metres away from the forest, the carriage was facing the road. The fire glowed in the dark, Majic intended to enjoy his dinner.
“I hope I’m doing this right.”
“Cleo could have easily made the food——if she had the proper equipment and supplies, she wouldn’t be half bad——as for Master, he should have been back with that firewood.”
His young red face resembled a girls. He was about fourteen years old, but his hair wasn’t long like Cleo’s, it was short and blond, and looked golden whenever the sun would shine on him. He has a pair of blue eyes, this gives him the impression of a quiet and sophisticated man. Although, the black sorcerer clothing her wears isn’t appropriate for him, it gives people the impression that he is a rogue.
He finally got the can open, but it was lumpy pea soup. Majic didn’t really mind, so he slowly heated it over the fire, he waited a couple of minutes for it to heat up.
Suddenly, footsteps were here behind him, followed by a sharp cry.
Majic’s body shivered all over, he was too afraid to run away. Sure enough, a blonde girl was staring right at him, she pointed at him with an angry expression.
She acted like she didn’t hear him.
“What are you doing?! Today is my turn to cook! Do you plan on eating dinner without us?”
Even though Majic didn’t really want to eat this meal, he couldn’t think of anything to say to her.
“Ah, well, I was just——“
He lifted his hands into the air, and looked at her. She was wearing a pair of dirty jeans, her shirt was sleeveless and it had a yellow butterfly pattern on it. These clothes were obviously bought by Orphen, and it seemed he forced her to wear them.
“You were too slow, I didn’t want to wait any longer. Should I have waited?”
“Slow? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I didn’t mean anything by that……”
Cleo’s face was full of anger, she was always one to let her emotions control her, and this always gave Majic a headache. But, Orphen always tolerated her, maybe that’s because they share the same morals, Majic thought.
“Were you trying to imply that I’m slow?!”
Cleo moved closer to him, she waved her fists at him. He raised his right hand to defend himself, but that didn’t work.
When the incident occurred, Orphen was gathering firewood in the forest, he was quite a far bit away from the carriage.
Even though he went into the forest, he knew he wouldn’t be able to escape Cleo’s cooking——Orphen and Majic always found her food hard to swallow. Even before she had started cooking, they had never tasted anything worse.
That’s why Orphen choose to go into the forest.
Standing in the middle of the forest, he was wearing his usual black clothes, and a scarf tied around his head. Though, he wasn’t armed, for a black sorcerer doesn’t rely on armour or weapons, he relies on his magical capabilities. However, when his magic isn’t enough, he can use one of the twelve weapons he keeps concealed on his body.
Generally, when sorcerers were going into heavy battle, they would use different types of combat outfits, like the tan leather jacket Orphen bought. Orphen, like most sorcerers, love to wrap themselves in many different types of clothing. This gives them many hiding places to place either defensive or offensive weapons, like chains, knives etc. Even though Orphen’s skills were sometimes for hire, he never considered himself a mercenary, nor would he ever use his fighting skills purely for the acquisition of wealth.
Someone would only be able to identify what Orphen was by his pendant, the symbol of the Tower of Fang, a dragon wrapped around a sword, this proves that he is a black sorcerer.
Orphen stopped in his tracks.
“Is that so?”
A woman’s voice came from the woods, then she appeared in front of him, she was wearing a black corset.
“Are you, Orphen?”
Orphen observed the woman in front of him——her hair was black and soft, she had a very attractive body, a thin face with red lips, her mouth opened, she was wriggling her tongue at him.
“My name is Hirietta, did you receive my letter?”
Orphen pulled a letter from his pocket.
The woman——Hirietta, smiled and nodded.
“Here it is.”
“I’m guessing you’ve read it.”
“I want a straightforward answer.”
Orphen stared at her.
“What business do you want with me?”
Right after Hirietta said that——a flash of silver light flew towards Orphen, it missed him by an inch.
Orphen then saw her take out a large knife, he took a defensive posture.
Orphen’s heart beated intensely, as he avoided Hirietta’s knife attack. This was the second time her attack wasn’t successful, once again, Orphen took a defensive stance. She came at him again, this time causing something to splatter on the trees, it was blood——
Orphen’s breathing was erratic, he was thinking about why this was happening.
(Did Ostwald hire this assassin?)
Although this was only a guess, he had no time to ponder.
(I can just see the morning paper, “Orphen versus the assassin”——damn it, I won’t end up as a papers headline!)
He waved his right hand towards the woman, and shouted:
“Amber shield, from my fingertips!”
Suddenly, a wall of compressed air appeared all around him——seeing the wall forming, Hirietta jumped backwards. Usually, ordinary people don’t have special weapons to attack sorcerers, however——
(The assassin is unlike any other, she predicted my move.)
When someone has no chance of winning in a head one attack, they generally rely on underhanded tactics or traps. Once in a trap, and if you don’t have time to escape, the result is death.
(I didn’t expect to be fighting such a skilled opponent.)
Orphen knew that he didn’t stand a good chance of winning, he was thinking of a way to escape.
(No matter what trick or trap she’s sprung——I can’t fall for it.)
“Guide me, O Starling of Death!”
A humming sound could be heard……the sound started to get louder, the ground started to tremble under the noise——Hirietta struggled to stand up, she was then struck with an electric shock and sent tumbling to the ground.
She remained motionless.
……The forest was calm once again, but Orphen remained in a defensive posture, he watched the assassin lying on the ground.
“Hey, is that all you’ve got?”
Orphen remained vigilant.
“I know you aren’t knocked out, or do you think I’m stupid?”
Sure enough, after a few seconds, she slowly sat up. She wiped the blood off her mouth with her leather sleeve, then she picked up the knife.
“If my attack lasted a few more seconds, you would have fallen unconscious.”
“But even so, after such a direct hit, you shouldn’t be able to use you’re full strength.”
“Want to bet?”
Hirietta said, as she jumped towards him——Orphen was dumbfounded, he still managed to deflect her attack, but this sent him tumbling backwards.
“How is this possible——!”
(She shouldn’t have been able to attack head on, the barrier was still up. Even a horse would faint, never mind a person——)
He didn’t have time to think, the woman was readying another attack. Orphen pushed another thoughts of escape from his mind, he had to end this fight. He rushed to her side, stretched out his hand and shouted:
“I tear thee, wall of the earth!”
He created a vacuum in the air, the air surrounding him rushed in, shock waves from the resulting whirlwind struck the assassin. Such an attack would normally cut through three strong branches. However——
The shock wave bounced off and hit a nearby tree, there wasn’t even a mark on her clothes. But her head struck a nearby tree, this left her with a slight concussion, she looked dazed, her legs were shaky.
Orphen said inside himself, he then whispered something.
“Don’t blame me if you die.”
He stuck out his right hand towards her.
“Sword of Light, whom I do release!”
A torrent of white light flew from his hand, the intense heat struck Hirietta in the lower abdomen, then it exploded, flames were sent everywhere. Fire and dust filled the air, then it dispersed, but——the assassin was unharmed. The explosion made her hold down on her lower abdomen, her clothes weren’t damaged, there wasn’t even a scratch.
“Damn, I can’t believe it——”
Orphen cured under his breath.
“You’re clothes are very strange.”
“That’s correct——and your attacks can’t damage me directly.”
The assassin replied, staggering from the impact of the previous attack. She used a knife to cut a piece of her hair which was burnt by the fire, the she took a step forward.
Orphen thought he heard Majic’s voice approaching the scene.
“Even so, you’re still an ordinary assassin.”
“If can you can keep up your defence.”
Hirietta said as she held the knife towards her face, she smiled demonically.
Orphen smacked his lips and said:
“It doesn’t matter what kind of defence I put up. What you’ve got to worry about is your head, because that’s the only place not covered by that leather, you’ll be a headless corpse soon enough……”
“I’ll let you in on a little secret——”
“The man who hired me is called Ostwald. Xanadu Ostwald.”
“So, one of the infamous loan sharks in Totokanta has set his eyes on me. Answer me this, why have you told me his name?”
“No reason in particular.”
She laughed, Orphen thought that she was crazy.
Then she lowered her tone of voice.
“Well, he isn’t the only one who wants your head. There’s others……”
“……There’s more than one guy who wants to kill me?”
Hirietta kept a straight face——then suddenly she threw a knife towards Orphen.
Orphen twitched as the knife came towards him, but the knife wasn’t flying directly at him, it struck something behind him.
He looked behind himself, it was a burly middle aged man, a knife was stuck in the man’s throat. He was gasping for air as blood was poured from his throat and mouth, the small crossbow he was holding fell to the ground.
Orphen was stunned as he watched the dying man, Hirietta just shrugged her shoulders.
“Ostwald is a cautious man——that was probably another assassin he hired.”
“……Why would you kill a fellow assassin?”
“I am only a means to an end.”
She then gracefully walked past Orphen and picked up the knife, Orphen didn’t look behind himself.
“There’s something else I don’t understand…”
Orphen scratched his head.
“Why aren’t you continuing to attack me?”
“I was testing your capabilities. Anyway, if you are as good as they say you are, then you won’t have a problem defeating me.”
Hirietta said as she pulled the knife from the man’s body. Blood had stopped coming from the body by the time she was finished, but she was already covered in blood.
She turned around to him, her face covered in blood.
Orphen watched her clean the blood from her leather body suit, he then thought about the name Hirietta. That name reminded him of an assassin called Foolish Dog, if the rumours are true——
Then this assassin before him is no other than the renowned sorcerer killer.
When the incident occurred, a very peculiar event was happening close to the incident.
“May I have your attention! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Gather round and see a spectacle unlike any other! This is the first public appearance of the terrifying snake man!”
He could hear his brother shouting outside the box. The box was too small and stuffy. He didn’t know where his brother got the box from, but it smelled.
From the intense yelling, it sounded like his brother was in very high spirits. He could sense that people were gathering round, with the sound of music now in the air, he prepared to open the box.
(I can’t stand this.)
(How did I get myself into this?)
They were in a small village far from the nearest city, they were hoping to deceive some children to get some money.
He took off his thick glasses, then he began to rub them with his fur cloak.
It’s been over two years since his brother dragged him from his home, he sometimes wonders how he even made it this far. In the past two years, he brother told him that they’d be making big money, but this has only led to endless troubles.
Just when he was complaining, Vulcan’s voice outside the box got louder.
“Everyone! I present to you——a rare snake man!”
Dortin wanted to hold to box shut, but it was too late. The lid of the box was removed by Vulcan, bright sunlight shined into the box.
In the village square, there was more people than Dortin could ever imagine——it was early summer, and at this time of the day, there was only middle-aged women with their children, taking advantage of the lunch break from the church, (in this frontier region, the church is also used as a school) boys and girls ran out of the church. His brother Vulcan was eagerly awaiting the reaction of the crowd, but they didn’t expect to see two short men who looked like children, in this part of the continent it was unheard of to encounter a little person.
Dortin usually dresses the same as his brother, fur cloak and sword at his side, but this time he was wearing the head of a snake like a hat. He couldn’t stand the staring of the crowd, he was blushing as he began to stand up.
The square suddenly went quiet——
Shouts of joy rang out throughout the crowd.
Listening to the sounds of the crowd, Dortin couldn’t help but do the victory sign.
“Mom that was amazing!” These street performers are cool!”
“They are more like clown performers.”
(……Well, it seems that we’re popular……)
Vulcan didn’t mind, or simply didn’t notice, he was only concerned with one thing.
“Good people! Won’t you help pay for the surgery to turn this snake man back into a normal human being, please put whatever you can into this bag——”
As soon as he opened the bag, the crowd turned around and began to leave.
“Oh, we’ve had enough laughs for one day.”
“It’s good to get a good laugh sometimes.”
“I didn’t think they’d ask for money.”
“Wait, don’t you want to save this poor man?”
In a brief moment, the village square became deserted. Vulcan turned around to his brother with an angry look on his face, he then pulled the snake head off him and threw it to the ground.
“This is all your fault.”
Vulcan gave Dortin a wild look.
“Looks like we’ll have to settle for another show. Man gets stabbed and strangled in the street.”
“Who’s going to preform it?”
“Of course it’s going to be you……or we could go with something else involving you……”
“Why does it have to be me?”
“Because I say so!”
Vulcan beat Dortin down to the ground, Dortin wiped the blood from his nose.
Looking around the place, they only saw a church and a few scattered buildings, the village wasn’t very big.
They usually move from village to village trying to gain some form of money. They walked until they arrived at this village with a family run Inn, they stayed inside of one the villager’s houses illegally. When they were discovered, they were allowed to stay in the house only if they did chores in the local Inn for free. They stayed there for a while, in order to make a living they decided to become street performers, though they didn’t expect this to happen on their first day……
Dortin looked at the snake skin, it was very impressive. If they were to roll it out, it would be at least ten metres in length.
“……Brother, where did you get the snake skin from? Did you get it from an actual snake?”
Vulcan proudly said.
“I found it in the nearby forest, the same goes for the box.”
Dortin looked at the box for a moment, it was the length and width of a one meter cube. It looked very durable, that was apparent from the heavy lid.
However, Dortin couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong——
“You know what Dortin, you failed to learn a good lesson today. Looks like you’ll have to practice tomorrow.”
Dortin secretly looked inside the wooden box, on the bottom there was a couple of weathered red numbers, five, zero, and one. It must be the manufacturer’s serial number, maybe a date of manufacture? ——If true, that would mean it was manufactured a decade ago. He also looked for other markings, he saw a “do not turn upside down, fragile goods”, and he took down this information.
And lastly——a “danger, do not open” sign.
When the incident occurred, no one was paying attention to Kink Hall village, mostly because it was a frontier village.
When the incident occurred, no one knew how long it was going to last, especially the dead.
End of Chapter 1
Translated by Ciaran Hillock