“It’s Unfair!” Alex exclaimed as he threw a rock over the lake, making a splash as he sat down on the grassy floor. Behind him were his two friends. Who looked at each other and back at Alex.
“Alex.” Lea spoke up as she sat down beside him, setting her hat and staff aside and hugging her legs. “I expected she would’ve said no.” Lea has known Alex and his parents for a while. And that they are very strict that he shouldn’t join the Guild. They were fine with him training and fighting and beating up thieves and even causing brawls with him and Sal. But once the topic of joining the Guild is involved is where they intervene.
“Yeah. I did too.” Sal chimed in as she also sat down beside Alex, picking up a rock and throwing it almost beyond where Alex threw his. “But I kinda hope she could’ve said yes and we could already be on our way to becoming adventurers.”
“You guys can still be adventurers… Just not with me around.” Alex said bitterly as he sunk his head on his knees. “They never explained the reason… But I can take a pretty good guess why.” He knew the reason and persisted to keep bringing up that he desired to join the guild.
“It’s about Lexa, isn’t it?” Lea spoke up.
“Yeah. It’s about Lexa. I was too young to remember the details back then but after asking about it to Uncle Michel. It’s because Lexa disappeared. She took a very important Mission with a lot of people that are stronger than her and a lot of others who volunteered. And every single one of them vanished without a trace.”
“If we joined the guild earlier I would’ve checked the records to know more what this mission that Lexa took.” Lea said while looking around to find her own stone to throw at the lake. After finding one she tossed her stone and it… Didn’t reach that far.
“I managed to pester Uncle Michel further what the mission was. I didn’t want to believe it myself when he said it. But he sounded so serious about it.” Remembering back, at first he wanted to believe it as some sort of sick joke because it felt impossible even for him to believe it.
“What was the mission?” Sal passed a rock to Lea for her to try again as she picked one up for herself to throw another stone that splashed a foot beyond Alex’s spot.
“It’s a mission to go to Hell itself. Gria.” Alex said as the two between him immediately looked at him with a blank expression before progressively processing what he said with their jaws dropping from disbelief.
“You’re not pulling our legs aren’t you?” Sal dropped her rock and stood up and Lea shifted her seating to face Alex than the lake. “Gria. As in actual Hell? The other world locked by a giant massive gate?! Your sister is in there?!”
“That’s impossible…” Lea said as if she is being told something Mythical is, in fact, a reality. But it’s understandable for both their reactions. “I’ve read about Gria but all info about it is either fictional or describing it the same as the home of Demons… What if Michel is just pretending to be serious to mess with you?” All information about Gria has been vague because no one has ever ventured to the living hell known as Gria.
“It is possible. He said that in the Guild lies the oldest living member who is actually an Immortal who existed before The First Kingdom was built. He was in the Expedition group and opened up the gates to venture into Gria… He was the only one that came out with no one with him… Including Lexa.” Thinking about it. This immortal. This bastard is the reason Lexa and the ones who took this mission to hell are gone in the first place.
“How come no one ever knew about this?” Lea said as she would remember News as tragic as this or even word of the Guild running an expedition to Hell itself.
“Uncle Michel said it’s because the mission itself was classified and everyone who took the mission has been legally registered as Missing.” Alex balled his hands to a fist and stood up. “Let’s go.” He walked as the two looked at him before following behind him. Lea putting her hat back on and picking up her staff.
“A failed secret mission… Yeah, it would’ve made sense if it was a secret. The public wouldn’t like it if the first ever journey to Hell was a complete disaster.” Lea said as that would explain the lack of news or any knowledge of this mission ever being taken.
“So where are we going Alex?…” Sal said as she looked at his face. It was stern and focused as he set one thing on his mind. To fight a monster.
“Let’s go hunt some monsters.” He declared as the two looked back at each other and back at him.
“Now I wouldn’t mind that because I’ve been excited to beat up some giant monster… But we’ve never even fought one before.” Sal reasoned with Alex that she is aboard with his decision but also warned him that it’s a bit dangerous from the lack of fighting any beast.
“The ones we usually fight are crooks, thieves, rampaging herds of boars and cows that stampede out of their pens.” Lea interjected.
“And today we’ll be fighting monsters now. Let’s go steal a mission from the mission board.”
“Alex, we’ve done some stupid things together but doing this is almost illegal now.” At first, she is getting concerned about his choices. But seeing his face determined and lacking any hesitation impressed her that she flashed a grin at him. “I’m in.”
“Sal?!” Lea looked at her in disbelief. Thinking she could have at least tried to reason with him. “Alex if you do this you’ll get in trouble. What if this will affect your chances of joining the guild? It’s reckless!” As they walked, upon the horizon was Huis. Alex quickened his pacing upon seeing the town within sight.
“If I can’t become a Hunter anyway. Might as well steal a mission anyways.” Alex said sternly.
Lea and Sal caught up with him as Lea further reasoned him while Sal remained silent, showing she is already on board with Alex’s choice. “Alex! What are you trying to prove in doing this?” She can tell that his choice in doing this stupid is from his Mother’s rejection of joining the Guild.
“You already know what I’m Proving. Five years Lea. Because of that promise we made, I held you guys back on becoming adventurers and during those five years, we trained hard. And even now my parents are not letting me go.” Alex at first understood why they won’t let him go. To not end like Lexa disappearing. Which is why he trained to prove to them that he is prepared and won’t disappear like Lexa. “That’s why I’m going to steal a hunting mission, find that monster and get a piece of it as proof and show to my parents that I’m more than ready.”
He is getting ahead of himself. Lea looked at Alex as she felt conflicted by his words. She took a deep breath as she corrected him. “We.”
“We… Are going to steal a hunting mission. I’m in too. Lea corrected him as she rushed forward to face him, stopping their walk as she stared at him. “What you are doing is reckless, dangerous and even selfish. As your friend I originally wanted to reason with you to not do it…but also as your friend I want to help you out. So let’s go you two!” Lea walked ahead of the two, leaving both of them standing there for a moment before having Sal smile brightly and sprinted ahead of Lea which made her in turn race after Sal.
Alex looked at his two friends racing each other as he smiled and sprinted after them, reaching them as they raced off to town.
Meanwhile back at The Dragon’s Belly.
Gormin finished his 10th plate of steak, placing it on a stack of plates that he ate all by himself, beside the stack were also empty frothing mugs of Ale. Amanda sitting on a stool with her hands resting on her lap with her head lowered. Gormin looked at Amanda as he uncharacteristically had the same down expression she had on her face.
“Amanda my dear. Do you not think that Young Alex is ready to join the guild you and your husband was once in?” He spoke softly yet it contained the passion and booming voice of vigor that he usually had yet the volume is controlled.
Amanda clutched her apron as she looked at Gormin with a conflicted face of hesitation and worry. “He…He is Ready. He was ready for a long time. But you also understand why me and Julie don’t want him to be one. We don’t want to lose him like Lexa.”
“Preposterous! You are married to an Ares! Whose trait is determination and hope. You yourself have similar if not greater traits than your husband. Yet you doubt the strength of your own child?”
“Gormin…” She didn’t want to take the compliment. Because she doesn’t want to go back to that life of danger that made her lose her first Child. “He is strong but. He’s also young and that means he is naive and he’s nice like his sister. He might get into disasters worse than what Lexa faced or worse… I don’t even want to think further about it.”
“I understand how you feel my dear. You are not the only one to feel loss and despair. But it is not ideal to hold onto your child who has matured to make their own choices by a leash. It’ll only make them restless and irrational.” Gormin took a swig of another mug of ale and let out a deep sigh after chugging a whole mug, wiping his mouth with a tattered cloth of what remained of his shirt.
He is right. She has watched over her son as he grew up. He is a natural fighter like his parents and he prefers to train and fight than sit around doing nothing. But he also plays around and made two special friends who can keep up with him. He has been into trouble, into fights and causing mischief to bring excitement into this quiet town. She felt content to have a son that is reckless and causes trouble but takes all responsibility for his messes he and his friends caused. It’s how he made a name for himself along with his friends in this town. The first mention of Alex to the townsfolk, they don’t first think of him as the son of two retired Hunters. But as the troublemaking helper of Huis. This made Amanda involuntarily smile as she sighed in defeat. “You’re right. I shouldn’t be so strict with him. I am not blind to know he’s been training hard to become a Hunter. And he has such good friends too. Excuse me Gormin.” She stood up from her stool and walked into the kitchen.
“Take your time my dear. I’ll be sitting here digesting.” Gormin said, patting his rock hard stomach of pure muscle.
Inside the kitchen. Amanda walked to a lightly tanned man, early-middle age wearing the same Toque and apron like Amanda. He has raven black hair with streaks of gray similar to Michel’s but he lacked a stubble. He is wearing a black shirt and brown pants and is currently cooking up a meal by a hot stove. Julius Ares. Co-Head chef of The Dragon’s Belly.
“Julie.” Amanda tapped his shoulder as he turned his head to Amanda, smiling gently at her as he sets what he is cooking aside a cold stove.
“Mandy? What’s wrong? Does Gormin want a bigger steak this time?” He joked but he noticed that Amanda is not her usual cheery self.
“It’s not that. It’s about Alex.” Julius turned off the heat of the stove at the mention of his son. This’ll be a talk that requires his full attention.
“Alex huh. I heard Gormin shouting out his name and after that it became quiet. What happened?” He was busy making extra steaks for Gormin so he couldn’t leave the kitchen.
Amanda twiddled her thumbs and took a deep breath, and sighed. “I think. It’s time for him to be a Hunter.” Julius looked a bit surprised as he set his toque down.
“What made you change your mind?” He pulled two extra stools for the both of them as the couple sat down.
“Alex is eighteen now. He should’ve been a Hunter since he was thirteen. But I was selfish and held him and his friends back to become adventurers. Just so I could have him around longer than Lexa.”
“Back then. I thought what you did was the right choice. Us quitting and moving to Huis, settling down to raise Alex, from not letting him join the Guild, and til now I still think what you did was right. But Alex is getting older. He wants to have his own choices and decisions. I also don’t want him to leave us. But he is my son. You know how stubborn us Ares are…” he pulled a gentle smile as Amanda smiled back at her husband, a wide toothy grin that showed a set of razor sharp teeth similar if not sharper than Alex’s
“I know. That’s how I fell in love with you.” She stood up and looked at his brown gentle eyes. “Thank you, Honey. I know what to do now.” She leaned down to give Julius a quick peck on his forehead and walked out of the kitchen and back to Gormin. “By the way are you done ordering?” Amanda came back with a genuine and natural smile. Pulling out a notepad as she wrote down how much everything he ate and drank in total.
“Indeed! My stomach is sated and my thirst quenched! Give me the bill so I can go to retrieve Michel!” The bill has been presented and it’s. 1 platinum. “EXPENSIVE!” He exclaimed at Amanda whose face remained cheery.
“Well, I included the price of everything you ate as the meat came from exquisite beasts since it is megafauna steak. You have finished a keg’s worth of ale. You provided unneeded counseling to change my mind, a penalty fee for violating the no shirt policy and disturbing the rest of my customers with your voice.”
“But one platinum?! That is my entire savings! This is the amount of buying your own castle with maids and butlers! This is so expensive that it almost gave me a heart attack and almost made my luscious beard turn gray!” He exclaimed as he clutched the bill and accusingly pointed at Amanda
Amanda simply chuckled before writing on her notepad. “I’m just kidding Gormin. I wouldn’t want a good friend to pay that much money for a meal.” She tore the note she wrote on and handed him his bill…. 2 platinum coins.
“Now you’re just messing with me in general!”
She softly chuckled. “I’m sorry I’m sorry.” She tore apart another note and handed him a modest price of 2 silvers.
Gormin let out a sigh of sweet relief at his bill. “Now this is understandable.” Albeit cheaper since the meat is the luxurious and expensive meat to obtain due to how dangerous it is to even get a kilogram of it. But she does consider Gormin as a long time friend so she really did give him a discount. In his pocket is a large pouch that contained silver coins and plucked two coins out of the pouch and placed it in on the counter. “Thank you so much for the meal. Now I must be off!”
“Take care.” She bid him farewell as Gormin left the restaurant, with him lowering his head at the entryway since he is taller than the door frame. Not long after someone in a classical knight armor slammed the door open. It was a guard from town square. heaving and gasping for breath as he lifted the visor for fresh air.
“Excuse… Excuse me miss Amanda….” He panted out, regaining his breath as he stood up straight.
“Oh? Something wrong sir?” By now she’s almost used to meeting the guards in the restaurant not only because they are regular customers but also because they have to deal with the problems Alex makes.
“It’s your son again….” He cleared his throat as he can finally speak straight. “This time. He stole a mission from the mission board. We are still pursuing him as we speak.” He reported as he was originally part of the chase but chose to report the incident to his parents.
Amanda stood there, processing what the guard said, her eyes widened as she dropped her notepad on the ground. “E-Eh?” She stuttered.
“Something going on?” Julius came out of the kitchen as he looked at the guard and at Amanda who snapped at Julius the moment he came out.
“Julie! Alex. He just stole a mission from the mission board.”
“He WHAT?!” he looked at the guard as he lifted the counter’s door to walk to him. “Where is he now?!”
“I left the pursuit to report this to you. But wherever he will be going. It’s most likely the mission he took.”
“What’s the mission?!” Amanda followed Julius as she feared that the mission he took is something that’ll involve killing something.
“Were currently figuring it out what he took from our scribes and the mission logs to know what he took.” The guard assured them but the two remained anxious as they looked at each other.
“Mandy… You don’t think he-“
“Guard. Were there any high ranking hunting missions in the mission board?”
“The closest to a high rank mission is a B-rank Hunting mission against a young Megaboar deep in the woods.” The guard stated as not only is it his job to guard the town square but also know most of the missions that are available on the board.
“I’m going Mandy. Excuse me.” He excused himself from the Guard as Amanda followed behind him.
“Mandy you have to man the restaurant by yourself for a moment.”
“But… At least bring Michel with you!”
“I doubt he will help me. You know him. And we both know what came out of your mouth is total bull when it’s Michel were talking.”
“Julie…Please?” Now he can’t say no when she pleads him. He is very hesitant but eventually…
At Alex’s House. The broken window is still noticeable as Julius is looking at his brother who is drinking on a bottle of beer.
“So.” Michel broke the silence as he lowered the bottle on the table with a loud thud. “Your brat and his pals decided to steal a mission because he has had it with you and her clinging on him.”
“I really don’t like how you worded it Mitch… But I can’t really disagree that we were a bit… Scared to let Alex go on his own back then. That’s why I need your help Mitch.”
“This is a B-rank mission involving a young Megaboar. You are more than capable of killing one by yourself. Why come to me for something that easy to deal with?”
“It’s because I’m rusty. I have been hunting casually for years now and I want someone who can hunt Megafauna faster than me. What better than the Head Demonslayer of the Slayers division?”
“Hard pass. You deal with this yourself. This is more of a you and Amanda problem than mine.”
“Gormin is coming here soon. He’ll be picking you up by force if he wants to. If you want to stray further from responsibility you have to come with me.”
Michel stiffened. They brought him to pick him up this time? “Gormin? They sent him to pick me up?” And he just got used to settling down and leaving a good seat mark on their couch.
“Yep. And I actually passed by him… He’s running here as we speak.” With that all said Michel immediately picked up his minigun with one hand.
“Move your ass! Are we going to find your brat or what?” Michel is not gonna be drowning in more paperwork. Granted he wouldn’t be flooding with paperwork if he had done them sooner than let it pile up. But no time regretting what he should’ve done. He is already making his way out at the front door. and up on the Horizon is a large cloud of dirt. The one causing it is a musclebound giant of a man with a handsome blond beard. His eyes have a glittering shine caused by the sun’s reflecting his beautiful eyes as well as a brighter shine from his bald head. It was none other than Gormin running at full speed like a charging bull. Michel immediately retreated back into the house and looked at Julius.
“Let’s take the back door and be as quiet as possible. I’m also going light so this damn thing isn’t sticking out like a sore thumb.” He lowered his minigun back to its original spot as he pulled his brother by the arm and escaped the house through the back door to not meet up with Gormin.
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