The edges of Adam and Bruno’s swords clashed together as they spared. Hansen yelled out: “Stop smashing the edges of your swords against each other! If those were real, you would only chip and wear the edge down! Guard with the flat of your blade or redirect the blow!”
As he continued watching the two boys, Hansen couldn’t help grumbling to himself: ‘Why do they all believe blocking is done with the edge of the sword!?’
Adam did his best to listen to Hansen’s words while focusing on Bruno. Catherine had called the colors that Adam sees in the heads of others, Auras. One’s Aura was heavily connected to the soul and would change with their emotions. If Adam paid enough attention, he could even see small changes based on their thoughts! In this case, Adam was looking for any fluctuations in Burno’s Aura to predict when he was going to attack! This could give Adam a huge advantage in spars! Unfortunately, the fluctuations were easy to miss and Adam missed a lot of them.
Part of the reason why Adam missed them was that, if he focused solely on Bruno’s Aura, what he could see of the world around him became distorted and blurry. Not being able to see the battlefield around you could quickly kill you, and Hansen drilled that hard into Adam. He couldn’t allow himself to focus solely on one thing.
As Adam watched, he managed to catch Bruno’s thoughts! After having seen it numerous times, Adam could tell Bruno was thinking something more deceptive than just straight up attacking: ‘A feint!’
Bruno made a move to attack Adam. In response, Adam moved his sword to defend but didn’t fully commit to it. Just as he expected, Bruno changed the way he was attacking mid- strike! Adam quickly followed suit and easily blocked the attack!
The spar continued on for a while before wrapping up as they normally do; neither side winning. Hansen just wanted them to get used to moving their bodies and fighting. It wasn’t quite yet necessary for them to work on winning. After Adam and Bruno were done, Hansen rounded everyone up: “Listen up! Tomorrow, we’re going on a trip!”
Everyone was surprised at this announcement. Ignoring their shocked faces, Hansen continued: “Since you lot want to live off the sword, it’s time you’re shown what that entails! I will be taking you all to visit the Silver Saviors headquarters! We’ll see if that’s the life you really want. Dismissed!”
Hansen quickly left before anyone could ask him any questions. They could only excitedly talk among themselves about this trip that Hansen had planned. Kadara pumped her fist as she exclaimed: “Hell yes! This is exactly what I wanted!”
Franklin was a little frightened by her outburst: “Careful with your language! You know Madame’s rules about swearing!”
Kadara scoffed: “What, are you going to tattle on me?”
“No, but you yelled really loudly! I wouldn’t be surprised if half of Madame’s heard you.”
Kadara paled a little: “Point taken.”
Before moving to the baths, Adam decided to take a little breather from the spar. He rested against the brick wall that was behind the dormitory. It was at this point that Adam noticed Helen walking over to him: “Hey Adam, I have a message from Julianne.”
“What’s going on? Will she not be able to make it to the lesson?”
Helen nodded her head: “There was a last minute shift change, so she won’t be able to make it. She said to just practice on your own today.”
Adam nodded his head in understanding. Then, a random thought came to Adam: “Uh, not that I don’t mind her absence, but I haven’t seen Susan in a while. Anything happen to her?”
Alfred walked over, joining the conversation: “Didn’t you know, Susan finally turned sixteen last week! I haven’t heard anything, but she should be leaving Madame’s. There are only so many spots for adults here, after all.”
Alfred looked smug as he secretly thought: ‘The she-witch has finally left!’
Helen shook her head as she glanced at the wall beside them. Or, rather, she was glancing at the building on the other side of the wall. She said: “Well, she hasn’t left yet.”
“Eh?” Alfred noticed where Helen was looking. “Wait, don’t tell me…”
Curious at what they were looking at, Adam spread his sight past the wall. He was just close enough that he could see into one of the rooms of the building past the wall. At this distance, things started to distort. However, Adam was able to make out just enough. He could see a woman moving on top of a man, both groaning! Suddenly, the woman stopped and reached between the man’s legs, denying him his sweet release. He heard Susan’s chiding laugh. She then spoke in a husky voice: “Don’t think we’re done yet, I’m not through playing with you!”
The man moaned in both pleasure and frustration. As he began to realize what was happening, Adam quickly snapped his Spirit Sight back to himself. As his face turned beet red, Adam stuttered out in a squeaky voice: “W-w-w-what are they doing over there!?”
Helen gave Adam a shocked look: “Did you peep on her!?”
Adam fervently shook his head: “I was just trying to see what you guys were looking at!”
Alfred gave Adam an incredulous look: “Adam… can you see inside the brothel from here!?”
Adam nodded his head: “Just what is that place?”
Alfred started laughing, but then he noticed Adam wasn’t joking. He really had no clue what a brothel was! “You really don’t know?”
Adam shook his head: “I asked Helen once, and she smacked me for it!”
Alfred couldn’t help but start laughing again as Helen spoke up: “I don’t want to talk about that place, least of all to a boy! And Adam, you had better not peep at anyone again!”
With that said, Helen quickly left with turbulent emotions. Adam could see her aura constantly shifting. The others started making their way over, as they heard the commotion. Derek started out: “Is Adam peeping on someone?”
Adam defensive said: “No!”
While Alfred spoke with humor: “Yes.”
“It’s not like I meant to do it!”
Looking past them, up at the part of the brothel that stuck up above the wall behind them, Derek asked: “Can Adam see inside the brothel!?”
Adam timidly said: “Yes.”
Derek grabbed Adam by the shoulders: “Dude, you gotta tell me what you’re seeing!”
Kadara disgustedly clucked her tongue: “Boys.” And then stalked off away from them.
Alfred interrupted: “Wait, that’s not the important part here! Susan might be staying on at the brothel! She hasn’t left!”
“What, really!? I’d heard a few girls chose that route, but Susan?”
Adam piped up: “Just what is a brothel? Is it a place where people have s-s-sex!?”
Adam said the last bit with a squeak. Derek chuckled as he wrapped his arms around Adam’s shoulders: “We have a lot to talk about, my friend.”
Derek told Adam all about what a brothel was. Adam was horrified: “Do all the girls do this!?”
Derek laughed: “No, only a few do. There are quite a few greasy men willing to pay a lot of money to bed one of Madame’s girls for the first time. Most of the money actually goes to the girls and not Madame’s! It’s a way girls can get a head start on their adult lives. It’s not mandatory, so few rarely take the offer. Even fewer stay on full time at the brothel! … It’s almost sounding like Susan will be a full-timer.”
Speaking of Susan brought back images of what he had seen in that room. He shuddered as he tried to forget about it. Later in the day, Adam got a stern talking-to from his mother. If she ever heard a rumor of him peeping on someone like that again, he would be in big trouble! It was firmly set in his mind to never peek over that wall again: ‘Besides, who would want to peep at Susan?’
The next morning, everyone met like they always would for normal morning practice. This time, once they all had gathered, Hansen said: “Let’s go.”
Kadara quickly waved her hand to get his attention: “How long will our visit be? I’ll get in trouble if I just skip my work shift today!”
“I already cleared your shifts with Jannette.”
Saying only that, Hansen turned and started to walk off. Everyone quickly followed him. Despite Hansen’s apparent stern demeanor, he was fine with his trainees talking among themselves while they walked. It would be a long walk to the other side of the city to get to the Silver Saviors and even he would likely get bored on the way, let alone young kids.
By the time they finally got there, everyone had worked up a small sweat. Even if they were physically conditioned, walking still required exertion. Add to that the sun that peaked over the city walls, shining Sunlight on their backs while being surrounded by the morning rush of people, things got a little hot. They were all thankful to have finally reached their destination.
Before them was a small complex of buildings at the edge of the city. There were a few training yards each dedicated to different types of training such as archery and even horseback riding. Nearby was a barracks that looked big enough to house around one hundred people. In front of all this sat a two-story building that was most likely the administration building for the Silver Saviors. It wasn’t much larger than a house, but it served the Silver Savior’s purposes for a place where others could apply to join them or try to hire them for a job. Next to the administration building was a stable for a few horses and a couple wagons.
As they approached the administration building, a man came out to greet them: “Hello, my name is Isley. You must be Hansen and his litter of hopefuls.”
With a quirked eyebrow, Hansen glanced at Adam and the others before chuckling. They were his litter of kittens that would hopefully turn into lions, someday. Adam couldn’t quite catch the meaning of the wordplay, but Isley invited them forward before he could spend much time thinking about it.
“Follow me. I’ll show you around and talk about how we do things around here.”
As Isley showed them around, he talked about how they were looking for either skilled warriors or those willing to put forth the effort to become skilled. That included them! They had a host of jobs available from simple hunts of dangerous wildlife to bandit subjugation. Kadara was rather emphatic when it came to that latter part.
Isley did stress on one thing: “If you are looking to join a war with the Silver Saviors, forget about it! War is simply unsavory and the Silver Saviors will never take part in it!”
Bruno and Clyde were rather disappointed by this. Clyde asked: “But what about those Luxom bastards!? Are you going to just let them assault our borders as they please!?”
Isley gave a heavy sigh: “The kingdom can take care of its own borders. Besides, have you ever actually been on a battlefield and seen what goes on both during and after?”
“Then don’t talk like you know it until you do. Let’s put this matter aside for now and continue.”
Everyone showed varying degrees of interest. However, Adam seemed to have the least interest: ‘It’s great that everyone else likes the idea of joining the Silver Saviors, but… I don’t really want to make a living as a mercenary. I just want the strength to protect my family. My flute can make the money…’
Isley wasn’t sure what to make of Adam, and he didn’t have a good way of asking Hansen anything. Adam was surprisingly wearing a blindfold for some odd reason. Beyond that, he didn’t show much interest in the Silver Saviors. Isley merely shrugged: ‘This life isn’t for everyone.’
They had lunch in the barracks with the other Silver Saviors before getting in the training they had missed during the walk there. Left tired from the training, Adam and the others were more than ready to go home and rest. As they were getting ready to leave, Isley said: “The Boss had intended to meet you all before you left, but we’ve had a sudden influx of job offers he had to overlook. I’m sure you’ll be able to meet him the next time you come.”
Kadara seemed keen on this: “I’d heard he was a mountain of a man, is that true?”
Isley laughed: “Yeah, I guess it’s true.”
While they were talking, Adam curiously swept his Spirit Sight into the administration building. Up at the second floor, he saw something interesting! There was a rather large and robust man sitting at a desk. What was interesting about him was that there appeared to be thin streams of Spirit Essence cycling through his body! Suddenly, the man seemed to perk up as a dangerous gleam flared from his soul! The man turned his head to him and Adam was momentarily stricken by fear, as the man seemed to be looking right at him!
Adam quickly retracted his Spirit Sight, when a BOOM! was suddenly heard! Splintered wood fell to the ground as the large man directly jumped through the wall on the second story of the administration building! Adam scrambled backward as the large man landed right in front of him! He towered over Adam with a domineering aura. Then the man saw that Adam was merely a young boy and blinked his eyes in disbelief. “Ahhh…”
Isely stuttered out: “B-B-Boss, what are you doing!?”
“Well, I felt something watching me with Spirit Essence. I thought it was a spy or something so my instincts kicked in, but I guess that’s not it.”
Adam tried giving an apology: “I-I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to pry!”
The others were starting to recover from the shock of having the hulking man jettison himself out the side of a two-story building to land right in front of them! Derek was the first one to come to his senses. Laughing, he said: “I thought you said you weren’t going to peep at anyone again, Adam!”
“That’s not what I was doing! I was just curious about this ‘mountain of a man’…”
Adam’s cheeks were tinged with embarrassment as Alfred and the rest started laughing. Even the ‘Boss’ joined with a booming laugh. Even as they laughed, Adam’s curiosity got the better of him as he asked: “Are you a Martial Artist? I’ve never seen Spirit Essence circulate in someone like that.”
‘Boss’ nodded his head before holding out his hand to Adam: “The name’s Heinrich. And yes, I am a Martial Artist.”
Adam reached out his own hand, that looked way too small compared to Heinrich’s, and said: “I’m Adam.”
“Well, I’d talk more but I have a mess to clean up.”
Heinrich looked back at the hole he had just made in the wall of his office. He gave a simple wave to the others before heading off to finish his work and patched his wall. Isley spoke up: “Well, I guess you kind of got to meet the boss after all.”
Leaving the Silver Saviors, Adam was crowded by the others. Kadara seemed emphatic to know more about Heinrich: “What is a Martial Artist? Is that how Boss was able to jump from a two-story building?”
Kadara already considered it a given she would be joining the Silver Saviors. With how strong Heinrich appeared to be, he occupied a place of reverence in her heart. She couldn’t casually refer to him as Heinrich.
In this way, they started their walk back home.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.