As the train stopped at a station apparently near Silverpond, the two hopped off. The ride was long, but Sam was simply thankful that his new companion hadn't continued singing; he wouldn't have been able to endure much more of it without losing his mind.
Sam looked around and saw that the train had brought them to the countryside. It had stopped raining and now the weather had cleared up, with fewer clouds and more warm sunlight which felt good on his skin. "Do you mind telling me why we didn't just take the train all the way to the city?" Sam asked, "We'll have to walk another kilometre before getting to Silverpond."
"I have responsibilities y'know?" retorted Jasper. He could detect a hint of doubtfulness coming from Sam. "I have to meet someone, a colleague."
"So this dragon hunter business isn't a joke?"
Jasper chuckled condescendingly for a moment before he started to walk along a trail that led into the forest, followed begrudgingly by Sam. The path was decorated with leaves of fiery auburn, ambers and vermillions, which scraped along the ground, poking holes in the silence that had fallen between the two young men. Sam's eyes were no longer suspiciously settled on Jasper, not focused on anything. He wondered what would happen to him when he got to Silverpond. How he would be treated as a dragon.
The soft breeze grew stronger as they ventured deep into the forest. The day was slowly but surely descending into the evening, and the sky became darker and darker. "Can you fight?" asked Jasper, seemingly out of nowhere.
Sam was puzzled by the random question. "W-what?" he responded.
"Can. You. Fight?" Jasper repeated as he stopped walking. He turned to look at Sam,
who had yet to answer the question.
"Yeah. I guess," he said. "Why?"
"There might be bandits in this area," the dragon hunter replied, voice more serious than usual.
Sam's eyes became wide with shock as they peered into Jasper's from the side. Though he hadn't known him for very long, he noticed that Jasper looked way too focused. Perhaps the dragon hunter had heard something that he hadn't, a twig snapping or a leaf crumbling as it was stood on. It wouldn't be surprising if he'd noticed such a subtle thing.
Jasper produced a small bottle from his coat pocket and tossed it diagonally up into the air. It had a green liquid in it which didn't look natural, more like what Sam would expect to be served at lunch time in school, and the cooks would have the nerve to say was milkshake.
Oh how he loved to be away from that hell hole.
Jasper threw a knife into the airborne bottle, which forced its way through it, covering itself in the sickly green fluid. The knife then made its way into a tree, through the density of leaves which somehow were still on the branches, unlike all the other leaves.
Sam heard the knife hit flesh, and realised that the leaves were fake, and there was someone on the branches.
There was a short exclamation of pain before a woman dressed in animal hide plummeted out of the tree, along with a bow. Jasper's glare became more serious, and it became clear to Sam that he was getting ready to fight.
From out of the trees came about a dozen more bandits, their faces pugnacious and bloodthirsty. "What was that?" asked one of them in an outraged tone.
"Poison," responded Jasper carelessly, yet not quite reverting to his nonchalant self. "I didn't think that just a knife would kill her when I didn't know where each part of her body was behind all those leaves.
Sam was flabbergasted by his lack of concern. "You really are a killer, aren't you?"
"Save it," replied Jasper with a calmness that made Sam concerned.
A bandit charged at Sam with a blade, but he avoided it and managed to produce a thread of fire quickly enough to kill the man. He lit his fists and charged into three more of the attackers, burning each one of them with punches swift and stronger than iron. The flames off of Sam's hands produced patterns which Jasper found entertaining as he watched the dragon take out four more bandits.
"I see you're a killer too," muttered Jasper with a villainous grin returning to his visage.
"Smartass," retorted Sam as he turned to look at him, "Why don't you help instead of making remarks?"
It wasn't a second later that Jasper seemed to disappear and reappear between two bandits further away from Sam, and blasted each one simultaneously with merjick.
The remaining three bandits were flabbergasted. "A dragon AND a dragon hunter?"
"How does that make sense?"
Sam extended on arm ready to burn them, but was stopped by Jasper's hand on his chest.
"You've gone mad, haven't you?" the dragon hunter chuckled.
Sam turned to look at him, breathing heavily. "Sorry, never really fought like this."
"Take a breather, won't you?" Jasper retorted, "Rune's already dealt with the rest of 'em."
Before Sam could respond, Jasper gestured towards the bandits with a tilt of his head. He looked to find them unconscious, with a woman standing above them. She was about Jasper's height, with wavy hair as black as midnight, and frosty pale skin. Brown leather armour covered her blue robes, which in turn covered a white blouse.
"Do you have any idea how long I've been waiting?" she yelled, angrily pacing towards Jasper. "And you didn't even make it to the meeting place," she added with a scowl.
"Sam," announced the Iguana, " this is Rune Krullis. A dragon hunter."