CHAPTER 14: SKINRIPPER BANDITS
1007 AF SeedMonth Day 11
We have settled our classes and have informed of our teacher about why we couldn’t go to the class.
They accepted our letter and wish us good luck and urge us to be careful.
“If you found it too hard you can cancel it” some of them advise.
We are preparing our supplies.
Helia went to the Distribution tower to get our supplies, Kyle went to the stables to bring us the horses and Lisa and I began planning on how to go to the mines.
The quest describe that the bandits has taken refuge near the mines in Rodan area.
We are in the Quest Common Room.
In here all info from the Lands are collected by raven, owl and some by falcon.
There are some Senior Knight in the left corner explaining strategies to another companion, on the center is a Knight Brother examining weapons and armour.
Some seems to be screaming yelling because of a botched quest.
The other Knights didn’t even bother him. You handle your own business here.
Attendants filled the room bringing the Knights whatever they asked mostly maps, and news from the birds.
They scuttle all around going to the other rooms and bringing the letters, parchment, sealed letters.
The Keepers of Birds, they’re called.
Dark whispers and dark words, Arial mused remembering how he himself employs ravens and birds during his self-imprisonment in the Palace of Vern Empire.
The birds came from all over. Running from the stench of blood or the fire of war, Arial concluded
He would tie a parchment of letter in the bird legs, question like, “How is the situation?” and send the birds to wander sometimes weeks, sometimes months and sometimes years and sometimes he got an answer.
And when he does get news, it will be stories of slaughter of humankind, massive massacre and random killings.
Dark whispers, dark words, he muttered silently.
“We have to go across here” Lisa insisted reeling Arial back to the conversation
“That would take too long to go across the forest” I said began concentrating back on the map sprawled at the round table.
‘So? What your point?” Lisa said
“ My point it will take too long and by the time we came there they might already gone.”
The Skin Ripper Bandits.
That is their group name.
The bandits have 40 people in their group, all of them hardened criminals.
At least that is our current information of their crew. We do not know if their group is increasing or decreasing.
They are called as such because of their method of killing.
When they go raiding on unlucky villages or ambushing a trading caravan or sometimes when they are bold they would pillage cities, ( though usually they will not stay for long) they would kill the people that disobey them by ripping their skins from their body and lay it beside the corpse body.
Cruel and evil.
Helia and Kyle was trembling in fear when they hear the story, Helia was having a cold sweat because when she read about the past atrocities that these bandits do, she almost puke.
I also puke if I read that some of them even eat humans. Even the Demon Lords no matter how cruel do not eat human flesh.
“Hmm, then where could we go?” Lisa scratches her chin like she always does when she is thinking
“ Argan Bridge?” I offered then we looked again at the map.
We both shake our head.
That bridge is long and from the information we got from the bird there seems to be a flood in that area.
“Then I guess Bleeding Rock. We go to Bleeding Rock first, then we went to the Shire” I said resign to the longest route.
“They might already go to other places by then” Lisa said pointing the obvious.
“Then we chase them” I said
She nodded reluctantly.
“I guess we at least have to expect this kind of trouble for a hard difficulty quest” she said
An hour later Helia and Kyle return to the Quest Room.
“We got the supplies and Kyle has already picked the horse” Helia said her voice is slightly panting
Kyle was behind her and the moment he was in front of us he spoke non stop
“We run around the castles and towers getting permission, signing stuff, getting permission again and then signing stuff again and the cycle repeats. Then Nosy Chuck came along and—” Kyle was about to enter to another rant again but Lisa stopped him.
“Yeah we get it. You worked hard” cutting his brother complaints.
“So, where did you decide to go?” Helia said sitting in the round table.
Then we explain to them the route that we need to take.
Helia hear intently
“Wait, this mean we can stop by Danoba” Kyle said his voice show exactly what he is thinking.
Even Lisa face light up when Kyle mention Danoba. Our home. A village now a city.
To be honest, even Arial himself wanted to stop by for a while.
“No” Arial said.
“No? Am I hearing that wrong?” Kyle said his face looked annoyed
“No. We will waste so much time if we stop by”
“Don’t you miss your parents Arial?” Kyle said his voice shows a slight dissatisfaction.
“I do. And that’s why” I said
“What do you mean?” Helia said even though he didn’t know my parents but she is showing concern.
“Because I don’t think I can, or have the will to go through with our trainings. How long do you think we will have to reach the rank of Knight Brother? If I see them, I want to go back time and time again”
I said while looking at the siblings
“And I know you felt that way too. You miss your parents probably more than I do. I see your pain Kyle and I see your tears Lisa. Just because I pretend I didn’t see, doesn’t mean I don’t see or understand. You are in a strange place and we are young and still a child”
Kyle face contorted into an expression of rage
“Then why did you ask us to follow you” Kyle can no longer control his tears, his voice raised, grabbing my shirt.
It was not something that I expect
I grabbed his shirt back and said
“Because the world ain’t going to fight fair, Kyle. Because no matter how you scream, and cried, blaming the world, the world doesn’t care and I want you to understand that. Because if you understand it too late, nothing will matter at that time. That’s why”
“Let me ask you a question do you love your parents?” I asked Kyle
“I do!” he yells in the Quest Room while many of the spectators began looking at us. But no one moves from their tables.
You handle your own business here.
Lisa is sitting covering her face, undoubtedly tears streaming down from her eyes while Helia stood still not knowing what to do.
“Then learn. Be stronger. Then and only then can you fight for them. Protect them” I said yelling it to him as much as I’m yelling at myself.
I must learn. I must learn. That’s what I said to myself in my sleepless night
Helia began sensing that things might become serious and she began moving to solve this situation
Helia finally separate us and tell us to calm down
Lisa at my side, sniffling. Kyle and I just looked at each other. For a whole minute we didn’t talk or said anything.
Silence fills our table.
“I’m sorr—“ we both said it almost at the same time.
We looked at each other and a slight smile formed. Then we laugh. I know Kyle is stressed here, and I’m not mad at him.
He needs to vent and if he decides to vent a t me, I’m fine with it.
I know what I’m fighting for that’s why the stress is nothing to me. My goal, my motivation. I know what will happen if I fail. If humanity fail.
But Lisa and Kyle they just follow me, because I’m their friends. I brought them because it’s an opportunity, but they need to recognize that by themselves.
After that we resume our conversation about the quest.
We agreed to go to Bleeding Rock.Our budget given by the Academy is 10 gold. If we lose the gold or get it stolen or we spend all of it, then it’s up to us to find other means to continue the quest
“Alright, then we depart at dawn. We will regroup at the entrance.” I laid out the plan.
They all nodded.After dinner we all return to our dormitory and sleep early for tomorrow. Many of the Senior Knights offer their prayers and wish that we will succeed in our quest.
After that I went to bed. Many things happen today.Tomorrow will be a new day and a chance for me to see whether my effort works.
Let the Light guide us to the way of fortune, I pray.
THE KNIGHT LORDS MEETING ROOMS
The teachers are all there.
The Knight Lords.
Lord Morra that teaches weapons and hidden weapon, can be seen being all shady like he is, Lord Faragur who teaches barehanded fighting, Monk Aramir who teaches the Internal energy class sits down sagely in his seat while closing his eyes, Lord Borelis who teaches swordplay is playing with his knife throwing it on the air and catches it before it drop to the ground, Lady Ellen who teaches horsemanship, history and magic to those born with it is waiting for the Knight Master to preside the meeting with an anxious look.
Then the door opened.
They were about to rise from their seats only to slouch down back upon seeing his face.
“Sorry, I’m late” Agnaris said quickly taking his seat.
“He’s not here yet, right?” He said no expression of guilt from him.
Agnaris teaches stealth, strategy and dual handed weapons to the students.
Ellen just rolled her eyes. Then the door opened again.
Then the Knight Master enters. Everyone straightened up.
He sits down and the meeting begins.
They were speaking about many things and issues. Discussion and suggestion is heard, some implemented, some ignored.
The quest, the budget, the weapons and then they began talking about the new recruit.
“West Palais and Arago Asturia is talented students, cool and calm. They excel almost in everything. Arago also shows some improvements in speaking our language.” Lord Morra report about the student in his house.
“Harald Alan and Avil Corazon also shows some potential” he added.
Lady Ellen then repot about her students.
“Arell Archad, Kuvia Voltri,Adele Worbrook and Luisa Aldrey shows potential in the healing talents.They know their herb” she said proudly while Agnaris snickered in the back
Then the other Knight Lords also tell them their reports of the students’ progress each one contend that their house has the greatest students.
Then Faragur said “Arial Vermont”
The Knight Lords quieted.
“Arial Vermont and his three friends are showing a remarkable pace in their learning unseen before in the history of this academy.’
‘Arial is talented in horse riding like he has ridden them years, use swords and blade like it was an extension of his arms, his martial arts technique are weird and lethal and his internal energy is unfathomable”
Monk Aramir can be seen nodding.
The other did not deny Faragur words.
They all have once have class with that boy and they all felt that the boy seems to know more about their craft more than them.
Ellen was once mad at him and believes him to be cocky so she sent the boy to tame a horse, brought by a merchant from distant land of Ariundus, a horse that has red hair and red eyes, neighing and kicking anyone that came near, that can never be tamed by anyone.
A wild horse, a beast horse, a demon horse. In 5 minutes the horse was tamed and only can be ride by Arial.
Not even she can tame it.
Lord Morra also nodded because of his experience dealing with the boy.
He was teaching Tiger Dance when he notices that Arial can perform until the 18 stance, when he was just only teaching the class until the 10 stance.
The teachers are all awed and feel weird at the boy knowledge and mastery.
He knows things that other people do not and the way he carried himself and the way he thinks felt like he is an old person that have seen so many suffering.
He is mature, calm and collected more than any people for his age.
“Kyle and Lisa also are quite talented. Kyle Lethe is stronger than his sister but Lisa Lethe shows the ability to quickly understand and easily employs anything that is taught to her. And even though she is talented is swordsmanship, her archery talent is also not shabby. Helia on the other hand is a diligent student and because she also was teach patiently by Arial she also have potential to become a very outstanding students”
“I heard they are taking a quest?” The Knight Master asks.
“Yes. A hard one”
“You let them?” Ellen seems appalled
“ What he did is the Code” Agnaris protect his friend
“Still, they are but child” Ellen still find the decision to let them go on a quest is irresponsible.
Then from the left corner Monk Aramir spoke
“They will be alright. Arial is a strong kid” He knows that Arial has quite the internal energy.
He felt it once when he saw the kid meditating in his class.
He tries to felt the boy internal energy but he felt this raw energy, so powerful and fierce a maelstrom of energy.
“Trust me” Aramir said.
Then they resume their meetings with other issues that need to be discussed; only Agnaris seems to be affected by Aramir words
1007 AF SEEDMONTH DAY 12
The outlines of the trees are becoming clearer and even the leaves on the trees are looking more green than grey.
Dawn is here.
I breathed the smell of the fresh morning air, breathing on the freshness and it invigorates my body and refresh my mind
The horse whinnied. A wild horse, a demon horse, my horse Arial mused. He is the only one the horse will listen to.
Good horse, Arial muttered while stroking the horse head. I gave him another pat in the head when he whinnied again.
“Where are they?” I said
I was in the entrance with Kyle waiting for Lisa and Helia.
“It seems I was too early” Kyle said.
“No, they’re late” I said
We were waiting when they came with the knapsacks and the supplies.
“Sorry, we’re late. Lisa misplaced her supplies”
“Sorry” she said.
“Typical of my little sister. Always misplacing her stuff” He said rolling her eyes
Lisa is annoyed
“If only I can misplace you, my dear brother with all the annoyance you brought me over the years” she said
Kyle smiles and said “Sorry, the annoying part came as a service for you, dear sister. God look you from the Heavens and said “No, I must contain this little girl” he said dramatically
Helia laughed a little while Lisa glares at her.
“Sorry. He’s funny”
“Thank you, milady” Kyle said bowing his head slightly just to annoy her sister more.
Arial looked at the horses
There were destriers that Kyle brought for him, stallions that were used as warhorses and palfreys, bred for general-purpose riding, war and travel, for Helia and Lisa.
After that checking their supplies and double checking their bags and another little banter with the siblings deciding whether what is best to eat under the starry night ( which is a fairly interesting thing to debate on when you have the siblings arguing between meat soup or potato mash) they ride their horse and began their quest.
Some of the other recruits in Fierce Dragons wish them good luck to us last night.
There are even some that came in the morning to wish us good luck.Luli Archad was blushing when she give me her cookies. That was weird. Then she giggles with the other girls.
Not many came in the morning. Most of them is still sleeping and some of them is preparing for class.
So after all of that is settled we finally set out with excitement, a little; bit of fear and a mix of anticipation.
Our first quest begins.