“Feast! Party! Departure!”

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The sun sets, the townsfolk of Huis gathered around to see what appeared to be dead giant boars being carried by a shirtless muscular bald-headed man who carried a bunch of exhausted and injured guardsmen.

”Hello good people!” The man exclaimed as he lowered the guards down one by one carefully. ”I require medical assistance! Can anyone help me take these men to a cleric?”

With the guards being taken to get healed Gormin went back to the boars, then at the town road.

”It’s too narrow…” he muttered in deep thought and decided to only drag the Youngling with him. ”Excuse me, pardon me. Thank you for moving aside.” He said to the gazing citizens that gathered. Who wouldn’t gather around when there is a giant dead boar at the town entrance and being carried by a muscle-bound man who also carried a squad of armored guards, it’s like something out of a fantasy!

At The Dragon’s Belly, Amanda took both jobs as the chef and waiter of the restaurant in Julius’s absence. Normally she got help from her Husband and Son along with help from his friends if one of them doesn’t cause a brawl while working. But she seemed fine, she is mostly worried about what is happening to Alex or Julius. It was that crawling and slithering worry that creeped into her despite the many times she assured herself that they are all right. Yes. They are fine and they are not hurt. Nothing bad happened to them. Right now she is serving a customer that wanted a beef stew with a loaf of bread.

The door slammed open, ”Young Amanda I bring news to you about your husband and child!” Gormin exclaimed in his usual booming voice that almost sounded urgent.

That little hint of urgency made Amanda drop everything she held, the stew spilling over the floor as she rushed to Gormin. she grabbed Gormin’s shoulders and pulled him down to face her at her height. Something that most people cannot normally do to a man as massive as Gormin. ”What happened?! Are they all right?! Did Michel die?! Is my baby unharmed?!” All her worries came out and her usual calm and relaxed cheery demeanor is now one with worried and panic, her always closed eyes open showing dull silver eyes that are in the verge of tears

”Settle down Young Amanda!” Gormin said with immediate surprise. ”They are fine. Julius is just beaten unconscious and your son broke an arm. Nothing too serious.” it’s as if he is comparing their injuries like being pushed down and being pricked by a splinter respectively.

Amanda’s jaw dropped, her jagged maw gasping as she started to hyperventilate and quickly lets go of Gormin and sat down on a chair. ”Wh-What happened to them?…”

”I will tell you what I have witnessed. Have a drink of water and listen to what I’ll say.” with a quick recap that involved exaggeration and muscular flexing. Something she filtered in her head to get the important parts of his story.

Amanda calmed down after his explanation, drinking a glass of water to calm her nerves. ”I’m proud that my boy is fine and glad he has friends to help him out. So Michel didn’t die?”

”Sadly no.”

”Some day…” She stood up from her seat to clean up the spill she made, ”Joking for his death aside, what else did you come here for?”

”Ah right, with the boars now dead I took the liberty to hand it to a chef who can make a big feast! Which is where you come in Young Amanda! Will you be the chef to make this feast? Think of it as a celebration for your son’s first hunt?”

”I was thinking of grounding him for a month for doing something stupid before I let him go to become a hunter. I’ll just ground him after the feast. Now where is that boar?”

Cutting back to the town entrance, Amanda looked at the dead boar and at the Youngling that Gormin pulled around. “Hmm. I can work with this. Mind giving me a hand and make a table for me Gormin?”

Gormin nodded, “Mh!” He grunted in affirmation and proceeded to flex his muscles and clenched his fists. He slammed on the ground as the Adult Boar’s massive corpse is lifted by a sturdy, smooth slab of earth that looked perfect as a cutting board.

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“Thank you. Now…” She raised her arm to the sky and summoned a massive, opaque and well detailed meat cleaver that looked like it’s meant to be wielded by a giant from its form. It wasn’t held by hands yet it floats and awaits command from its creator. “Let’s make a feast.” Her tone sweet yet sickening as if she were threatening someone. She dropped the cleaver on the Boar’s as it chopped through cleanly like butter. She grabbed it’s chopped head and placed it on the ground while the cleaver lifted itself up, turned and chopped the body into two with her lower cheek having a bit of its blood from beheading the Boar. She’s butchering the whole boar. It would be simpler to roast the massive thing, but her husband isn’t around to do the task of bringing the heat. Instead she’ll butcher, skin, and eviscerate the whole Boar and serve it into dishes. Using more knives with different shapes to show one is meant for skinning and cutting apart the organs, using her bare hands to dispose of the offals, her arms stained with warm swine blood yet her smile didn’t waver. She even hummed to herself a tune as Gormin looked at her, impressed at her quick butchering skills while the people watching her over were both amazed and terrified at the process of her chopping up the boar. The knives expertly skinned the Boar’s hide from its body which she placed at a separate pile from the organs and entrails as the hide can be sold off for a good price. With the entrails and organs removed she started further chopping the boar into pieces. Summoning another giant cleaver and chopping it into pieces. Boar Shoulders, ribs, legs, any part of the meat that can be roasted on an open flame and then chopping the parts into as they are too large to be cooked and be eaten by normal people.

“Another table!” She exclaimed. The knives that skinned and removed the organs disappeared, leaving the two floating massive cleavers above her.

“On it Young Amanda!” He slammed the ground and created a second one beside the first. Amanda lifted up one of the shoulders and dropped it on the new table. The cleavers started chopping it into pieces. Turning the shoulder into ground pork from how rapid and precise the two cleavers chopped.

“I’m done with the Adult… Onto the little one~…” She spoke in a song-sing cheery tone as she chopped up the meat and even made ground pork out of the adult. She initially wanted to make a whole roast out of the youngling but it’s stomach is destroyed and already burnt so she’ll have to scrap that idea and redo the same process to the youngling. She is surprisingly scary when she is excited.

The three including Michel are almost back home with Huis at their sights, with Sal and Alex carrying Julius, Lea at the brink of exhaustion, using her staff as a walking stick to help her from falling over.

“You really need to work out more.” Sal said while Alex made a grunt in agreement.

“Not… Everyone can be monsters… Like you two.” She said in between breaths. Surprised she can even catch up with their stamina.

Michel took notice of something from afar. He can see at the town entrance Amanda and Gormin. With the former butchering meat and the other is unconsciously flexing his pecs. It is a curse to have his kind of vision sometimes. Rubbing his eyes in regret he looked back at the three.

“Were almost there.” He said to the three, “Gormin is there, along with your mother Alex.” First he takes the fall for them and now he’s calling him by his real name instead of an insult like brat.

“Mom’s there? Why?” He asked with curiosity, thinking that she is waiting for him and his dad to come back because they have been gone for a while now as the sun is already setting.

“Don’t know. But she’s making mincemeat out of the Boars.”

“She’s making what?” He said in surprise and confusion to what his uncle said.

The town is within the three’s sight as Michel pointed at the entrance. There they can see two massive cleavers floating underneath a woman covered in blood. The cleavers then vanished into nothing as the three can see a pile of tusks, bones and even the heads of the boars in a pile.

“No way…” Sal said in awe. All that meat, already butchered in less than minutes the last time she saw the boars before Gormin tugged it back to town.

Lea felt a bit sick in her stomach, but that’s most likely the nausea from exhaustion. “I-I see how your parents get their meat from.” It made sense. It’s weird they are selling the meat at cheap prices while other restaurants pay more than the weapons and clothes the three wear combined.

“I’m surprised you three never noticed it.” Michel snarked. “Especially the smart one in the group.”

“Oi! You calling me an idiot you bastard uncle!?” Sal retorted.

Alex and Lea glanced at her as they both thought to themselves, “He’s actually talking about me though…”

Julius’s shifted and stiffened, he is slowly gaining consciousness. “Mhgghh…” He groaned out as if he just woken up from a bad dream.

“Ah, Dad’s waking up!” Alex said as he felt and heard him gain consciousness.

“Mhg-… What happened?…Why does everything hurt?” He said as he looked at his sides to see his son and his friend help carry him. “Alex? Sal? Right… I passed out right infront of you three. Alex your arm! Hgh!” He attempted to stand as the two stopped walking to help him up. “Thanks…”

“Don’t mention it Dad. My arm’s fine now, a bit sore and I can’t move it without saying ow. But otherwise I’m alright.” He gave his dad a thumbs up with his okay arm.

“Alex…” Julius said softly and placed his hand on his head. “You really have grown…”

Alex heard his father’s words. He did grow. He felt proud hearing that but at the same time, he felt like he didn’t deserve it from the trouble he has caused. “Thanks…” Alex smiled weakly, rubbing his shoulder. “Why the mushy stuff all of the sudden? You know I hate that stuff.” He said while his cheeks were red and his shoulder rubbing to scratching his cheek with his eyes glancing away.

“Well as your dad I thought I should do something dad-like and say something encouraging. And I wanted to be honest and say that I really think you’ve grown. You’re no longer a kid. We can’t keep you in our house forever if you don’t want to. You got good friends to look after you. So I’m trusting them to take care of you in our stead.” Julius looked at Sal and Lea, both smiled at him.

“Weeell if it ain’t for me, Sharky would’ve been stomped to death.” Sal bragged as she leaned on Lea, resting her arm on her shoulder, not putting too much of her weight to make Lea collapse, “It was awesome, it was like some last minute decision and I told Lea to blast me away and I flew like an arrow! Then I bashed that Boar with a giant rock and used all my strength to gouge out its eyes!” She gestured by smacking her fist against her palm when explaining how she saved Alex.

“A-At first I was worried I was going to break her bones when I did it, but I kept saying to myself to trust Sal and I batted her and sent her flying and she knocked the Boar down.”

“And I finished it off and did some special move like making an exploding spear and I chucked it with all I have.”

Julius crossed his arms, wincing a bit since he is still hurt. He smiled at the three showing he is quite impressed. “Wish I saw it while we were looking for you… But your uncle and I were a bit… Busy.” He looked at Michel and it turns out he wasn’t even listening and was already meters away from the group. He looked back at the three. “Let’s save the talk for later. Let’s go home…” He went ahead to try to catch up to Michel.

“Mh!” The three agree together in unison as they followed behind Julius, Lea being carried up by Sal with Lea repeatingly thanking her because she feels like she is going to die from exhaustion.

“Seriously…” Amanda had her arms crossed, her whole outfit stained and bloodied as she looked at the two Ares men. Obviously unhappy that the two decided to fight than look for Alex

“Sorry Mandy…” Julius smiled nervously, scratching the back of his head.

“Sorry? You two had a simple job. Look for Alex and his friends, and ground him. Instead, you two fought like kids and spent too long fighting that Alex already broke his arm while you and Michel were throwing fists to eachother’s faces.”

“T-To be fair Mandy. Michel started it.”

“I didn’t start s***. You’re the one who punched me.” Michel retorted while he glared at his brother.

“You’re the one who wanted to pick up a fight and I gave you what you want.” He flared up, his hands already balled into a fist, turning to look at Michel.

“And I also gave you a waste of my breath in doing idle chat with you.” Michel readied his fist and his body enveloping in flames.

Amanda immediately mediated by summoning two massive hammers, looking more like toy hammers and bonked both of them on the head, it looked like toy hammers but it was painful enough to stop both from fighting further and having a small lump at their heads. “That’s enough fighting from the both of you. If you two fight here the whole town will get caught in it.” The hammers disappeared and she wagged her finger at them.

“Yes ma’am…” The brothers said in monotonous agreement. Michel is not one to agree with most people. But the state he is in he can’t exactly fight back any longer than he should.

“Bahahah! Young Amanda you are definitely a fearsome housewife if you can even control Michel!” Gormin laughed out behind him were the three as they looked at the butchered remains of both boars and back to Amanda.

“After living my entire life with my parents. I never knew how strong they were.” Alex commented with the two nodding in agreement.

“As for you, Gormin!” She turned to the laughing muscle man.

“Hh?! M-Me?” He pointed to himself with Amanda approaching him.

“Yes, you! You were hot on Michel’s tail and decided to, what is it again? Let their PASSIONATE scuffle to reignite their YOUTH?!” She mocked him while also mocking his flexing when doing it.

“W-Well, of course, I can’t do such a thing between fellow Hunters.”

“If we were still Hunters, sure. But we retired, it was now a fight between a Hunter and a chef! And which leads me to Alex. You left the two and found Alex fighting a Megaboar alongside his friends, and just like before, you watched and let it happen! He’s not a Hunter yet! And you let him continue fighting it?! As much as you convinced me about Alex, what you did is irresponsible…” She is furious, disappointed and shading the fact that he is an Official, She won’t use this against Michel being… Michel, but Gormin is a different story.

Gormin stood still. He has come to the realization that he lets his ideals of YOUTH and PASSION go over his responsibility as an Official. A mistake that started to crawl into his indestructible core. His knees wobbled as he dropped down onto them, “Y-You’re right. I let my ideals take priority over my duties as an Official to the guild. I wasted time enjoying those who are living their lives to the fullest that I foolishly did not realize my irresponsible acts of simply standing by.” His voice was shaky and he looked at his hands which trembled like a tremor. He clenched his fists tightly and he dropped his head onto the ground. The earth quaked with some of the civilians keeping their balance before finally losing it when another came as he slammed his fists next. “PLEASE FORGIVE MY FOOLISHNESS!” He sobbed. The mighty Bartholomew Gormin has been set straight by the Former Hunter Amanda Ares. The man forced himself to not cry from his foolishness and instead attempted to hold back his shame by slowly rising up. “Th… Thank you Young Amanda, for setting me straight. As to earn your forgiveness. I shall take my leave and bring Michel with me this instant.” He declared. With Michel turning to them.

“Hold on I’m not going back yet, I’m still injured.”

“You are immediately forgiven if you do that now.”

“Hold it right there-“

“RIGHT AWAY!” He immediately stood up as Gormin stomped on the ground and immediately, Michel’s feet sunk into the ground as a path is made to Gormin which Michel is forced to follow as the earth dragged him to him. Gormin unearthed him and rested him against his shoulder. “Let us be off Michel! We must now return to our responsibilities!”

“At least let me get my damn Gun!”

“No time! I must earn Young Amanda’s forgiveness!” With that he sprinted away, heading to the other side of town to the other path that connected it’s way from Huis to The Capital.

“Take care~” She gleefully waved as she let out a sigh of sweet relief. “Now that thorn is finally plucked from my side…” she turned to Alex, with Sal and Lea immediately backing away to not get scolded.

Alex prepared himself to get a mouthful or a slap from his mother, clenching his fist, including the reconnected arm as he gritted in pain in preparation from a slap. Only to feel his head get patted by a soft, gentle hand compared to a callused, firm hand like his father’s.

Amanda opened her eyes a bit and gently smiled at her son, patting his head. “I’m glad you’re safe.” She spoke softly, a complete juxtaposition to when she scolded the three.

It was embarrassing when his dad did it. Now it’s further embarrassing when the townspeople are around, back on their feet to see this, some even made a noise of awe from his affection that it turned his cheeks redder. The townsfolk of Huis know Alex very well from the trouble he makes and the problems he fixes. So they aren’t going easy on him as they are already murmuring how cute the boy is for being embarrassed.

“D’aww…Sharky’s not getting scolded. You got two headpats today!” Sal remarked with Amanda turning her head to Sal.

“That’s because he’s grounded.”Amanda bluntly said with a simple smile as Alex’s flustered face is mixed with jaw dropping shock, same goes for Lea and Sal.

“Eh?!” Alex blurted out.

“One month.”

“Mom wai-“

“If you say anything else it’ll be a year.”

Alex grits his angular teeth shut and looked at his dad, who in turn looked away as he didn’t want to get scolded by Amanda.

“Once you’re no longer grounded you can now leave and become a Hunter.” She said with no strain or force coming out of her tone. Just like Julius, she believed him to be ready. She grabbed her son’s sore arm. Fully aware it’s broken and started dragging him.

“Hngh!” Alex was forced to not make a sound as he tried to hold himself back from repeatedly saying ow or attempting to tell his mother to let go of his arm. “Now Let’s go make a feast. Even if Gormin suggested it, it’ll be a waste of fresh meat to not hand it out to the town. Julie if you still have enough energy to cook muster that pain because you’re going to help me cook all these. And Alex honey? You can speak now and help Daddy season.” She pulled his arm which made Alex scream out in pain, even if she didn’t slap him, the pain of his relocated arm being pulled and tugged is more painful and lingering than it already should.

Night falls and most of the town helped prepare tables, drinks and even music as Sal had her table be filled and gathered with a lot of food like pork fried rice, meatballs in white sauce, pork chops, gyoza, Bone broth soup, pork stew and barbequed ribs all came from and shrunken down to consumable sizes by Amanda, cooked by Julius and seasoned by Alex. Lea is sitting beside Sal who is eating a small serving of Gyoza

“Remember everyone the food’s on the house!” Amanda said with a fresh,clean outfit. The townsfolk made cries of joy that they got free food along with Sal who’s cries were stuffed with food.

“You don’t even pay for the food in general…” Lea retorted to Sal who swallowed and gave her a cheeky grin that had bits of food near her lip and cheek.

“I know. But it’s better if it’s truly free than keeping it in a tab and paying it later.”

“You’re no better than Michel for saying that.”

“Bahh! Don’t ruin my appetite damnit! Anyways where’s Sharky?”

“Well, even though Miss Ares said he can eat with us at the feast. He wanted to go back home and rest.”

“For real? He hasn’t eaten anything since this morning, right?” Sal said with Lea nodding. Sal stood up. “Get me a cart!”

At the Ares Residence, Alex is by the broken window of his room, looking up at the night sky. He isn’t normally this down. Actually the main reason he didn’t join the feast is because he is tired of everything that happened today. He ran away from guards, fought a massive boar and broke his arm in the process. He still felt guilty for indirectly hurting the guards because of the adult Boar attacking them. He wondered if he should take responsibility for doing something like that. Was it thrilling to do it? For sure. Yet the details like the consequences will eventually catch up to him like today.

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“Oi!!” A voice called out to Alex, he looked down to see Sal dragging a cart that contained most of the foods he helped season for his dad to cook them. “What hell are you doing up there and not at town eating at the feast huh?”

“I should be saying that to you two.” Alex retorted back as he jumped down and landed near the two, struggling to keep his balance with Lea helping him keep steady.

“I got you.” Lea said as she lets go once he’s standing still. “You shouldn’t do something like that with your arm still recovering.”

“Thanks.” Alex said as he looked at the cart of food and at the two.

“Well we decided we can’t enjoy the fruit of our effort without you. So we left the feast and brought back some of the food to eat with you.” Sal smiled despite her cheeks looking freshly messy to show she snacked on the food at the way here.

“You guys… You shouldn’t have.”

“Technically we should’ve. You haven’t eaten anything this morning…” Lea said while she picked up a plate of Gyoza and handed it to him. “Here.”

Looking back he realized he really didn’t eat anything but an orange. When realizing, the scent of the dumpling hitting his nose, making his stomach grumble immediately. Alex grew embarrassed as he scratched the back of his head. “S-Sor-mpgh!” He was cut off when Lea shoved a piece into his mouth.

“Don’t apologize. Eat.” Lea said sternly as she shoved another into his mouth.

He chewed and swallowed whatever he gave her as his face immediately brightened up. “Delicious!”

“Well it’s made by your parents, course it’s delicious!” Sal retorted as she started eating too. Picking up a rib and started munching off.

“You don’t have to help feed me Lea. I still got my other hand.”

“I don’t mind helping you feed.

“Sal will finish most of the food if you do though.”

Lea looked at sal who just got another rib. “Good point. Food eating contest?”

“Food eating contest.”

“Yeah! Let’s see who can empty this cart! Last one finished has to put the dishes in the sink!”

They ate. Stuffing down their hard work into their stomachs. What made it delicious is not that they earned this, it’s that they are both here. Alive and eating the food together.

Alex lost, maybe it was because he is at a one hand disadvantage, or that Lea cheated by including the food she ate before the contest started. When he’s done he locked the door and went upstairs to his bed. Yawning a bit on the way as he opened the door.

“Ah, done already Sharky?” Sal said who is in the process of removing her gauntlets. Lea took off her boots and her hat and staff resting by the side of his bed.

“What are you guys doing on my bed?!” Alex exclaimed.

“Were about to sleep on it. We’ll save you a spot in the middle.” Lea said while she idly kicked her legs.

“Think of it as a sleepover sharky. Were too tired to go back to town and sleep in our beds. Mind if I borrow your clothes?” Sal already rummaged through his closet to pick up any clothing she can wear. “You sure got alot of jackets hanging here.”

Alex at this point wanted to retort and make a comeback how Sal is already borrowing his clothes. But he gave up. He took off his greaves and placed them near the door and walked to lay down on the middle of the bed. “Fine. You guys can sleep here tonight.”

“Thanks Alex.” Lea said softly as she laid down as well.

“I knew you can’t say no to your best friends!” Sal said, wearing one of his white shirts and a pair of shorts that were originally pants, but she cut the leg sleeves short. She hopped onto her side of the bed. “This bed surprisingly fits the three of us together.”

“Did you get a bigger bed if one of us ever sleeps here?”

“Nope. I just wanted bigger bed space. I move alot in my sleep.” He said with Honesty. Not even considering the probability of his friends coming over for a sleepover to sleep together. And he had this bedway before he met these two.

“Yeah. Maybe that’s your reason. No one in their right mind would make a harem bed when they live with their parents.” Sal joked with Lea holding back a chuckle by covering her mouth.

“This is gonna be a long night…”

“I was just making one joke before going to bed. Night Alex.” The few moments she says his name, one was to wake him up, now one is to say good night to him. Sal stretched and finally slept

“Night.” Lea said and fell asleep too.

Alex was the only one seemingly awake before letting a deep as he lets himself sleep. “Night… It’s really drafty here.”

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