Chapter 17

It had been a week since Tia had left the manor. Father had been planning with Dunick and his commanders for the war effort. I was stuck getting prepared to leave my home and travel to Saiana Village. Commander Eckhart was also to be my escort with the five Scarlet knights and fifty infantry troops assigned to our command.

During that time, I had studied more about sword arts and swordcraft history. Reading on the many forms of schools and skills there is. However, every time I had dived into the history and lore, my hands would shake ever so gently. I tried to ignore it as best I could.

Knock Knock

“Come in!”

The door opens, and Zao and Milia enter the room—a grim look on their faces.

“Sorry for interrupting your studies, but it is almost time to depart.” Zao hides his emotions behind the cold, dead eyes of the trained shadow.

“I understand. I will miss you guys. Especially you, Milia; I know it must be hard to stay behind to take care of the manor with even less staff.”

“Don’t worry about me, Master Caleb. I am glad Celia will accompany you to the Village.” Milia holds back her tears.

“Your father needs me to look after Master Dunick. So, Mei will be with you on your journey.”

“Are you sure?”

“It is your father’s wish. He believes she will learn a lot on her own; I believe so, too.”

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“I guess… I guess that’s it then.” I turn around, and Zao and Miila help me with my luggage. Spare clothes, my books, and my board games were all I needed.

Lady Regina and my siblings had left for Stonehill. Lady Yuno was responsible for carrying the heir to our house, so she was sent back home past the mountains to her residence. 

Before heading off, I hug Milia and Zao before departing. My father and brother also say their goodbyes. The heartfelt moment lingered for days on the road. Eckhart led the convoy while Celia and Mei stayed in the carriage with me.

My gloves were always on my hands; it was getting colder as the season shifted to winter, but mainly because it was a safety precaution. I took my mother’s artifact and embedded it onto the top portion of the glove where the back of my hand touches. The unique symbol was easily implanted without much trouble on my part. It allowed me to use it as a focus for the magic I could use with it.

On our travels, Eckhart showed little interest in conversation with me. Even if he was loyal and bound to me and House Aris, I was still a bastard, a Nixx. It was no secret that he was prejudiced against my blood; some of the men also felt the same way, but I didn’t mind that they did. All that mattered was that Eckhart wouldn’t abandon his duties, and so his subordinates wouldn’t do so either. 

Since winter had soon arrived on our travels, it was a much longer journey to Saiana.

A couple of months had passed, and I had turned ten years old before the distant image of the giant walls of Saiana could be seen. They were impressive; the wooden walls were reinforced with metal bars for stability and protection from any sieges. The wood was also coated in a special oil that was heavily fire-resistant.

I peeked my head out the window briefly. My hair, a little longer since leaving the manor, flowed with the cold wind. Eckhart approached the gates, and we were allowed to enter without issue. 

House Aris’s banner raised high in the center of the Village gave me a sense of familiarity. Celia and Mei aided in helping prepare my room, the largest home within Saiana. This would be my primary home and base of operations. It would be where I would make my reports and take in our supplies.

The citizens of the Village had looks of awe and wonder as they saw my silver-gray hair. But the Rose thorn crest on my shirt was enough to know that I was Valum Aris’s son and the town’s new leader.

More days have passed since our arrival and settling in. Celia had helped me change into more winter attire, prepared me for an outing, and escorted me. I gave Eckhart the simple task of allowing him to design our defenses and how he would like to station his men on the walls and their routine. Eckhart had nodded and accepted my order without much of a reply. 

“Master, allow me to show you around the Village. It is important if you meet the prominent people in town for supplies, munitions, and future events.” Celia had spent the last few days getting familiar with the town. It wasn’t a tiny Village; it held more than two thousand people if it was a maximum populace. 

Our first stop had led us to the local blacksmith. Rungar Gref was the main smith of the shop. He had four assistants aiding in his work, but most of the crafts were done by him. He stood tall with tanned skin covered in scars from serving as a foot soldier in the last Demon war. His light brown hair disguises his hundred and eighty-six years of age. He seemed like a timid man who only spoke when he needed to.

After that, we met with the local town mayor; she was a spry young dwarf woman with a heart of gold. Her dark amber hair was fitted in a nice bun, which uncovered her dark blue eyes. Guni Keiga was very welcoming and happy to see us. She was pretty nimble and slim for a ninety-three-year-old dwarf. She was in charge of listening to the concerns and ideas of the Village and would report any she deemed worthy of my attention.

Despite the looks I was getting during our outing, I kept my head held high with Celia. We approached the quartermaster, an elven individual wearing a small pair of glasses. His dirty blonde hair was tied up in a ponytail. His small and frail-looking body was only a feature of his lifestyle. Orwn Legost was just over two hundred years old. His family lived in the Village alongside him, and his wife was an excellent cook who would feed the children in her neighborhood. 

Our trip into town and introductions took quite the day as the sky slowly dimmed into the night. Celia had suggested we return and continue our visit for tomorrow. With a simple shake of the head, I exclaimed that we were fine for a couple more hours. And so, we pushed on with the last of our locations.

Saiana Village was home to a unique tavern and Inn house that was also the headquarters of the Local Guild. Like a typical fantasy, the Guild was everything expected of one of the towns. A job board listed jobs of hunts, missions, and requests of nearby smaller villages and people within the village. The guild master would also post hunts for monster materials or clearing for the village’s safety for riches and rewards. 

The guild’s receptionist was also the organizer for the tavern and Inn for the establishment. She was a cute half-elf with short brown hair and bright purple eyes. She wore a more elegant attire, befitting of her status within the guild. Her chest was definitely a favorite of the male adventures and guild members.

“Hi, you must be the new arrivals. My name is Juliana, but you can call me Julie. I run this place for the most part since guild master Nana has her hands full every day. I welcome you with the utmost respect for a noble of your status.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you; I am Caleb Aris, the overseer of the Village for now.”

“I assume you want to know about our town and came to visit?”

“Correct, Celia, you can take a load off; you have been working hard. Get something to drink.” I wave to Celia to relieve herself of her duties. She responds with a nod, sits at the bar, and orders herself a strong drink and a smile across her face.”

“Wow, you are an outstanding figure; I think we have nothing to worry about if we have you to look after us.”

“Don’t be so modest. I am just here to help. I am sure you have heard the rumors about what my family is going through.”

“I think every major figure in town knows, so we respect what you and your family are trying to accomplish.”

“Thank you. I was worried that we might have been unwelcomed.”

“I wouldn’t say that-“

As if on cue, a significant group of adventures entered the guild hall after what seemed to be a job hunt went pretty well. They carry the parts of Dire wolves and goblin ears. It is a group of seven people who are distracted with celebrating their victory.

“Seems like they had a good haul,” I chuckle.

“That is one of our strongest parties in the guild. They are called the Phantom Blades. They are pompous and uptight, but they give results. I wouldn’t stick around if they are nearby; they aren’t the ones to show respect even to nobles.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, thank you-“

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“Well, lookie here! Hey girl, we just came back from a long night hunting; I wouldn’t mind having you giving me company tonight.” A tall man with a green cloak leans next to Celia. His short blonde hair and tiny ponytail slip past his shoulder. Celia is visibly unamused.

“I am trying to enjoy my time to relax. Sorry, but find someone else. I am not interested.” Celia scoffs.

“Oh, come on baby, I can show you a good time-” He places his hand on her arm, and a sudden shift awakens within Celia as she grabs his wrists and twists it to the point of nearly snapping it. The guy yelps before being punched in the jaw, knocking him down to the ground, stunned.

“Touch me again, and you won’t be so lucky.” Celia is fired up.

“Oh no, sorry about this, Julie.” I begin to approach her.

“You bitch! Do you know who we are!”

“Don’t know, don’t care. I am here on business. Now you have ruined my mood. push any further, and it won’t be so pretty.” She clenches her fist, her red eyes light up, and the sign of her demonic blood begins to spark to life.

I touch her arm and grab it firmly. She shoots a look at me, and the moment she sees my face, she settles down, and the demonic aura surrounding her vanishes.

“Let’s get out of here. We got what we came for.” I speak firmly.

“You’re right; my apologies, Master.”

“It’s alright, let us go.”

We turn to leave and approach the exit.

“Who the hell do you think you are freak!”

I stop in my tracks.

“You-!” Celia begins to speak, but I quickly stop her.

“If I were you, I would forget you caused a scene; just enjoy your party with your friends.”

The rest of the Phantom Blades rise and back up their partner.

“I don’t listen to a f****** monster! Your kind better stay out of the Village if you know what’s good for you!”

“If that is how you feel, let me give you a lesson you shall not forget.”

“Wha-“

“Listen up! I am Caleb Aris, son of Valum Aris. I am the overseer of this Village as of recently. If you know any better, any disturbances with me or any of my men will bring full retribution upon you. If you want to continue how you live your lives in Saiana, then I suggest you behave.”

And without a single thought, I take Celia and leave the guild. I apologize to Juile as we leave the place and return to our quarters within the village.

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