A travelers story

The story is about the the 15 year old James and the friends he meets on his journeys. James carries a big burden and a big hate, which eventually will lead him and his friends to a battle whit the strongest of demons.

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7. Chapter 6

The next day’s went by without much happening. Emily were more curious than usual but her mood had gotten down a lot since she was reminded of her mother. James had lost his parents but could still remember them, and Charlottes story were more or less the same. They didn’t know how to comfort someone who had no idea what their parents were like. All they knew and all they probably would know about Emily were that she had lived in the forest all her life. The wolves were the only animals she had been “social” with. Charlotte had been right when she had assumed that the poor girl were lonely. Every threat to leave her alone worked on whatever she were complaining about. They were still walking towards Geart but the closer they got the bigger an atmosphere of fright, death and suffering got. It weren’t there because of the silence or dark thoughts of the party but from something else. Was it coming from the city? James had a bad feeling about this. “Emily how far are you willing to go to pay me back?” James asked. “I already know that doing things with others aren’t a way of payment and therefore I don’t want to get involved in things like those,” Emily answered. James nodded, “I think that might be difficult if you stray from us,” James said, “but Charlotte you’re also in danger in this town. I suspect that this heavy air comes from Geart and I don’t want you two to go there unless it’s highly necessary. If anything were to happen, I can’t do anything about it as the city feels corrupt. The best that can be done is that you’re forced to take off your clothes the worst is that you’ll be forced into using your bodies as items.” James said. Both Charlotte and Emily stopped were they were. “How can the city have gone this far out?” Charlotte asked. James shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said, “but I have a theory. Sometimes when a monster nest is near and soldiers don’t visit the city or travelers a lot they tend to try and ask the monsters to stop attacking the town for a period with gold coins. However, the monsters most likely attacks the city again faster than the contract. Then they demand more money for a longer period which is most likely a week. Then this continues until the city runs out of wealth and items. The monsters then either take woman and children as slaves or demand a sacrifice each week or something like that. I can’t imagine what the poor people in this town has been forced to.” James said. “Only if you want to pay your debt right now at this horrid place I’ll go there. Otherwise we go in the route we had planned in the beginning.” James said. Emily stood and were shocked. How could normal people go this far? And were it worth it to get a gold coin from something that would make her a slave for the rest of her live? “I don’t want to pay my debt in this town. The atmosphere are scary even now where we can’t even see the city. I want to repay my debt but not in this way.” Emily said. James nodded. “We’ll go to the north from here. There’s a city not many days away in the direction. You’ll repay your debt with a job there.” James said. Emily nodded. She understood that James didn’t want to force her to do anything if the danger were big enough, but he weren’t going to fully trust her before she repaid him.

After half a day of walking to the north the three of them understood how the people could have gotten in the position they were in. For miles ahead of them, there were monsters everywhere. “So many,” Charlotte said, “So that’s monsters,” Emily said. James stood frozen in fear. “I don’t want to go through here ever.” James said. “We go back towards Waterville until we are miles away from this” James said and almost ran. The girls looked at each other with confused faces. Then ran after him. James had been here once before. Little less than hundred meters from this place James first party had made their fireplace. James sang and the others made food, talked, and did what not. After they had went to sleep monsters suddenly attacked them. The only reason James had survived were because he screamed “MONSTERS!” and took a weapon near him. In a matter of minutes, everyone were dead but James. His short sword had broken and he nearest weapon were the katana the leader had. James jumped over and took it. He swung the blade with great trouble but still managed to somehow kill every monster. Being here got strong memories of death and the likes to pop into his head once again. This were why Em were so afraid for him, she feared that James someday would come back here and meet his end. James were sure that could happen but not today. Now he had a party to worry about and couldn’t risk them dying.

After a couple of hours of running, they set the course towards Saijei. Emily knew nothing of James past and Charlotte didn’t know this part. James had no reason to tell them before this. They hardly got anywhere that day and James hated it. They sat around the fireplace now and James were on guard and hold his tachi close to him at all times. “James?” Charlotte asked. James made a notice to show he heard her. “What’s wrong? I’ve never seen you like this,” she said. James breathed in deeply and sighed. “Many years ago I traveled in a party. It were bigger than the three of us are. A night we decided to sleep on our way to Geart. We were some miles away from the city as night fell. We decided to set a camp where we were. Big mistake. As we went to bed monsters suddenly attacked us. I were the only survivor and I hardly got back to Waterville. The only reason I had survived were that I had taken the dead party leaders katana. Ever since, I’ve trained and fought using that type of weapon. Now it’s a tachi but the principal is the same.” James said. As Emily had no idea of her parents, James knew practically nothing about the past of the individuals of the party. It still hurt to know that his, at the time, close friends died without him knowing who they really were. This wound hurt more than the death of his parents. He could avenge his parents but not his party. He had ever since that night felt guilty when people around him died. He could accept the death of monsters but not humans. Without any further talk that night the three of them went to sleep. However, James couldn’t sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw the face of the dead man sleeping next to him. This wound would never heal and would never fade. His worst nightmare were within him.

 

The next day’s James weren’t himself. Emily tried to get him to learn her something but she had to get Charlotte to instead. The only thing on James mind were the death of his friends. When they got a city in sight again James weren’t sure whether or not he would come with the girls. Much could happen but his mood were more down than it had been in years. “Girls you have to go to town yourself. I’m really not in the mood at the moment.” James said. The girls did what they could to get him with them but he wouldn’t budge a bit.

While walking in the city the girls were quite low-spirited. “I wish we could cheer James up” Charlotte said. “He means much to you doesn’t he?” Emily asked. “Yes he does. I’m not sure but I think I might love him,” Charlotte said. Emily smiled by this responds. She had long ago figured out that the two of them loved each other. None of them dared say it to the other one though. “Why don’t we buy him something good then? After all we aren’t much without him,” Emily suggested. Charlotte nodded and they searched the city for something to give him.

It was an honest mistake really. The girls didn’t know that James were allergic to nuts. The girls had spent most of the afternoon looking for something to buy James. What they found where a nice smelling cake with nuts on the top. However, James got a bit sad when he saw the cake. “Girls you couldn’t have known this as I haven’t said it yet but I’m allergic to nuts.” James said. The girls got depressed especially Charlotte. “But if there aren’t nuts in the cake itself just take off the nuts and I can eat it perfectly fine,” James, said. The girls didn’t really know so they tried eating a little themselves. Unfortunately, there were nuts in the cake itself, or at least that’s what Emily said but she seemed to like the cake a lot too. Charlotte were so depressed she didn’t eat anything in the evening. She just sat for herself and looked out over the horizon. James walked over and sat next to her “Are you still sad over that with the cake?” James asked. Charlotte nodded. “You’ve been so down lately and I miss the you who likes to travel and talks about a lot of stuff. I miss the happy you,” she said. James did the only thing he knew might would help her mood. He hugged her. “You had no idea I’m allergic to nuts so I don’t hold a grudge against you. And you’re right I’ve been way down in the abyss of sadness these last few days but that’s because I reminded of stuff I didn’t want to be reminded of. I’m sorry to have troubled you,” James said. Emily sat back in the camp and almost yelled “Just kiss her already” but didn’t because she knew that the two people before her eyes liked each other but since they knew so little about each other and probably because they had each of their reasons to not say it. Emily knew that the two of them would end up together some time in the future but how long before “the future” she had no idea.

The day after all three of them walked through the city. Monsters weren’t a big problem in the area and those there where were afraid of the farmers and the soldiers in town. They could go kill some just for some peace for the children, but they would hardly get paid for it and Emily needed money. “I’m still unable to pay my debt to you James,” Emily said sad. They sat outside a small café and discussed their plans for after they left the city. “There are lot of town between here and Saijei. We’re still missing roughly a hundred miles,” James, said, “you’ll pay it back once we find work.” Emily weren’t happy with that response. “But what if I wanted to pay you back now?” she asked. “Then you’d have to make a big monster problem in the city, but that’s impossible.” James said. Emily sighed. “All I want to do is get your full trust which I’ll earn the second I pay you back,” Emily, said with a frown face. So far, they hadn’t ordered anything because they had no reason to. They wanted a place to sit and converse and this were the most silent place. Travelers often did this. “I feel like a burden when I can’t even make my own money,” Emily said and her usually high lifted tail were sweeping the floor instead of being held high. “Hey we will find you some work. If anything I can teach you a song but you’ll have to sing it for yourself.” James said. “Anything but that song about the sun” Emily said. That song were the song that James knew the best and he had trouble teaching other songs, mostly because he didn’t know that many other songs full out and those he knew he always forgot the melody for. “I had totally forgotten about that. Sorry” James said. They sat and just thought their own thoughts for a while before Emily eventually talked up. However, her talking weren’t aimed at Charlotte nor James, rather towards the crowd sitting near them. Again, the boys and young men around them had begun looking at her. “The next person looking my way with that lusty face gets a fork in the hand.” She said. A few seconds later she stood up picked up a fork from a nearby table and stabbed it into the hand of a young man three tables behind her. She then left the fork in his hand and walked back to her seat. From that point on she did the same thing three times before people understood that she meant it no matter how little it were or how well hidden it were. Especially after, she stabbed the one who had been looking at her by looking into his glass. Not only did she stab him she also hit him so hard over the head with the mug he had, that she bent the metal. From that point on nobody even tried to make it look like it were something harmless. They knew she was serious.

Because they had to save money, they didn’t rent a room in an inn. They slept in the wild. So far, Emily hadn’t slept in an inn because the need for it hadn’t been there. James knew the name of the next city and knew that if anything that place had the biggest monster problems at all. A place perfect for a monster nest were right above the city in a hollow. Countless raids had been issued but never had it helped. A month later new monsters moved in. Raids were announced yearly until last year where the raid had failed. This year would be the last before the entire city would crumble under the losses. “Girls do you remember how Geart were?” James asked. The girls nodded. They could clearly remember how James had described the situation there and what might happen to them if they entered. “The city we’re going to now probably holds it last raid ever. It’s win or die for the city this time. The town is called Hollow Hills and in a hollow bigger than the city, itself there’s a monster nest. Last year the raid failed and this year the monsters there are stronger than ever. If the raid fails, the city does one of two things. Either it disappears from the map and moves miles away or it ends up like Geart. This is their last chance to turn the city around. We could probably join the raid but the salary would be low. However, Emily if you’re in for it you can pay your debt in another way than the one gold. Let’s join the raid and if you don’t die and don’t let us die I trust you fully as a member of the party. Let me down and you’ll have to pray that you die in the raid.” James said. It might sound heartless but the meaning were clear. Fail here and I lose all hope for you, fail here and you disappoint me to the point where I might choose to leave you. Emily’s face lit up. “I’m in for it. I’ll repay my debt by showing how well I am on the battlefield and how good I am at hunting. I won’t disappoint you and I won’t let any of you two die,” she said with such a convincing voice that James weren’t in any doubt that she spoke from her heart. She meant this to the extend were nothing could turn her away from it. “I surely hope you won’t” James said. Emily’s tail suddenly fluffed and scared them all. A few seconds after they all laughed at the absurdness of it.

 

It only took a few days before they got to Hollow Hills. Emily looked around for a suitable place to sleep but before she could announce that, she had found one James cut her off. “We’re not sleeping outside before we travel from the city. We’ll sleep in an inn.” Emily weren’t sure whether to react happy or sad. “Is that a good thing?” she then asked. “It means that if it’s cold it’s warmer, there’s no wind and we can have our blankets on without putting stones in all the corners.” James said. Emily chose how to react. Happy.

“Sorry to disappoint you but we can’t pay you guys anything if you join the raid. I’m not even sure there’s any space left in the raid anymore actually.” James had spoken to a soldier about him and the girls joining the raid. “I could always talk with the general but I could never guarantee that you would get a place.” James were shocked at first but quickly found a way to find places. “Tell the general to ask your weapon master about what a tachi is if he don’t know it himself. And then tell him that I’m the wielder of one such weapon.” James said. “Why not. Where can I contact you?” the soldier asked. “Depends on, do you perhaps know of an inn in the area where the three of us could sleep?” James asked. The soldier looked surprised. “All inns in the city are low on customers as a lot of travelers came at once and thus only the last hundred have been asking for a room.” The soldier said. James were surprised. “What’s the closest inn then?” James asked. The soldier thought about it for a second. “Badgers Hill must be the closest one. It’s just around the corner over there,” the soldier said and pointed towards a small building. James nodded and thanked the soldier for his help. The guard just shook his head and walked off towards the north end of the city.”

It was just as the soldier had said. The inn were hardly filled. Normally an inn in a city with one such raid as Hollow Hills the inns would be filled to the brim and some would even use the dining room as a room for the night. However the only place people were sitting were in a corner of the room. “Welcome travelers,” a sketchy man said and came around the corner. “If you’re looking for a room you have to wait for a second. I have stuff to do before I can find you a room,” he said. Emily whispered, “I don’t trust that man,” to James. “I don’t either” he responded. The three of them sat down at a nearby table and waited. After a few minutes, a loud moan emitted from a side room. A few seconds the man from before came back into the room. “I definitely don’t trust him,” James said. “How can I be of help?” the man asked with a voice about as unfriendly as a mad wolfs roar. “We’d like a room. Preferable with two beds in each side of the room. Or if you have a three bed room with a bed in one side and the others on the other side.” James said. The man grinned and walked his way. That creepy bastard has planned something, James thought. “You two need to be alert tonight. I don’t trust him. He seems too shady.” James said. “What’s with him anyways?” Charlotte asked. “I think he expects the worse of the raid. He’s probably “getting a storage up”” James said. The girls looked weirdly at him. He explained, “He might be collecting people and especially girls for if the raid fails. What happened in Geart might happen here and he’s prepared for it.” James said. The girls looked at him with horrified faces. He just nodded, that might be what the innkeeper where doing.

The innkeeper so most definitely were collecting girls. “He placed the beds like this on purpose,” James said when he saw the way the beds were positioned. Two beds near the door and the last in the far end for the corner. It were already rather late before they could go to their room and even though James were quite tired, he moved one the beds to the furthest corner. “I’m not gonna get any sleep tonight,” James said, “if he enters he will have a blade near his throat though,” he ended the sentence.

James had never noticed that the girls snored. However, no the less than five minutes after the snoring began the door silently opened. The innkeeper slowly walked towards the bed were James were. He probably thought that James were asleep but in a single smooth motion James drew his tachi swung it and stopped it right in front of the innkeepers head. As the innkeeper were taking a step, his nose hit the blade. James sat up after lying down however the blade moved no less than a millimeter. “What are you perhaps doing in here?” James asked. The innkeeper tried to seem like he weren’t there. James moved his tachi a bit longer in on the innkeepers’ nose. “Hmm perhaps I should make a real swing to find whether or not you’re really there.”  James said. “Please don’t” the innkeeper said. “Then answer me. What are you doing here?” James asked angry. The innkeeper kept silent. “Were you perhaps here because you fear that the raid will fail and the city end up like Geart? Did you want to get a good storage before the reality caught up to the fantasy in the city?” as James got no reaction from the innkeeper, he simply moved his blade towards the neck instead of the nose. This got the innkeeper to completely forget everything about being secretly. He nodded. “Did you think that those two would be easy to collect?” James asked. Again, the innkeeper nodded. “You’re sick. Get out and do your actual business. I want to talk to you in the morning though. In front of the entire city.” James said. Knowing that he had no escape the innkeeper tried to kill himself by cutting his throat on James sword. He fell but uninjured. James reflex’ were so sharp he hadn’t even been near the blade when he tried to kill himself. “Sorry but no suicide allowed.” James said. The morning after the innkeeper were found hanging in a tree. He had committed suicide.

“So he did do as you thought” Charlotte said after James had told what had happened the night before. James nodded. Emily sighed, “He got what he deserved then,” James almost slapped her for that comment. “Listen Emily for anybody to get murdered or committing suicide is the worst fate. It doesn’t matter who the person is or how evil the person is. The only person I can say it’s ok to kill is a murder who have killed more than once. Someone like Akata.” Both James and Charlotte crushed the jerky they had in their hand once they heard the name. “Akata?” Emily asked, “Who’s that?” “Akata is a sorcerer who killed both my and Charlottes families. He burned down our fields and set out house aflame. He slaughtered my parents and walked away. What exactly he did to Charlotte’s family is up to her to tell.” Charlotte began chanting something James could only see as a way to not cut down the nearby wall. “Akata took my parent a year and a few months ago. He walked into our house and with him came a demon. Akata found the room we slept in. He turned on a candle and then threw it on the ground setting the carpet aflame. I woke up after my mom screamed. Akata then took and cut her throat. He then walked over and cut my dad’s throat. He walked over towards me but just as he were about to take me and kill me he hesitated a second before beginning to chant something and then he laughed with this insane laughter. It’s because of him I’m a traveler and met you two wonderful people. However, he took my everything from me. I want revenge and I want to take his life.” Charlotte spoke quickly and clear. “Flame” Emily said before going crazy. She kept mumbling fire, heat water and began running around the room with a wild look in her eyes. It seemed like yet another bad memory had been dogged up. “Someone came to our cabin a day and did something. Next thing I know is flame and heat and someone yelling water before a red fluid hailed around the air. A crazy laughter and a dark man going again.” Emily said and for each word her breath became faster and faster. A panic attack took her and only hours later she came to herself again. “That sounded exactly like something Akata would do,” James said. Charlotte nodded in agreement. “Then he killed my mom, burned our house and left me to be alone?” Emily asked scared. With sad faces James and Charlotte nodded. Emily closed her hands into fists and then hit the wall multiple times before scratching it instead. “In that case I join your quest on revenge,” she said with a look filled to the brim with hate and death. “I’ll not just join for you but also for myself.” She said but then a messenger cut them off. “The general wants to talk with you three,” he said.

The general were middle aged and had gray hair and beard. He had a powerful jaw and clear blue eyes who were filled to the brim with experience. His voice were soft but so filled with authority that it were clear why he were called general and not captain. “So it’s you who wield a tachi?” the general asked directly at James. “Yes sir,” James responded. “Mind letting me see it?” the general then asked. James drew the sword and hold it forward. However, he made sure that he still hold the handle so that the general couldn’t just take it. “Don’t you trust me with our weapon?” the general asked. James responds were simply and easy to understand “Only a fool let a strong and weapon knowledgeable man take his only weapon.” The general laughed. “Indeed. Well since I’m not allowed to take it mind swinging it around a few time just to show me how well you handle the weapon?” James couldn’t see any problems in that. He swung the sword spun around let go of the sword just to take the end of the handle and then stab the air behind him. All the most difficult things he showed the general and he mastered them all. The general seemed pleased with what he saw. “You so most definitely would be of help for us. But I don’t think you’d come free. What is your demand?” the general asked. “For myself it’s quite cheap. If we find another stone looking similar to this,” James said and put forth the red stone, “I’ll take that as my price however for the girls it’s up to them.” James said and let the girls, who so far had been silent get the word. Charlotte asked for nothing but some of the best cake in town but Emily thought long and hard. She knew she now had the chance to really get James full trust and still pay him back what she owned him, but she also knew that she mustn’t be greedy. “The only thing I ask for is 3 gold coins,” Emily said. James already knew she would demand more than two golds. He also knew that she saw Charlotte as one she owned something to because both charlotte and James had been this nice to her. The general nodded “That’s a low price for each of your lives. You’re sure you don’t want anything else?” the general asked. All three shook their heads. “Well then I don’t suppose you’re dumb so you probably want a contract am I right?” the general asked. James thought about it for a second, “I trust you won’t be fooling us but I also want an insurance for it. Let’s make a contract,” James said and they made a contract.

According to the contract not only would Charlotte get a piece of cake but the whole cake for free. James wouldn’t just get one but all the stones similar to his own if they found any and if not he would get 5 golds, Emily would get 6 golds instead of the 3 she had said she wanted. The part that scared James the most were that it weren’t the three of them that had wanted more in salary but the general who wanted to “see them get what they deserved”. “All this just because I wield a tachi?” James asked. Emily and Charlotte didn’t know how to react. Charlotte already knew that the one giving out money would usually try to push down the price not raise it. And after Emily were told that she got as silent as the wind. She thought hard about how this made sense. If the one giving money would always try to lower the amount then why would the general raise the price this much? Suddenly she got a wide smile on her mouth her ears and tail, which had been hanging for the last 15 minutes suddenly, rose as if she were happy. “I think I know why,” Emily said, “as you already have said James then the tachi is more fitting for a noble than a farmer’s boy. When the general heard that you have a tachi and if he knew how a tachi looked then perhaps he must have thought you were son of a nobleman or had noble blood running in your veins.” James were baffled. Emily had come to a possible reason just as fast as he had. “You’re right that might be the reason but I have a hard time to see that should be the only reason.” James said. “It’s probably because of the fact that he saw me,” Charlotte said, “my family had a cottage not long from here and when Akata killed my parents and set our house aflame I ran all the way over here asking for help. Back then, he refused. I think that perhaps today he feel guilty about it. Stupid uncle” the last were said so low that not only could neither Emily nor James hear it but they also knew she didn’t want to repeat herself. “I can see why he would do this then” James said. Emily nodded but still tried to figure out what Charlotte had said in the end.

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