I was really banged up from my battle with Jack. After he passed out, I laid back and passed out right behind him.
When I woke up, it was still relatively light outside, but it was noticeably beginning to become darker as the sun began falling. After waking up, I was able to tell that I was only passed out for one or two hours since it wasn't fully nighttime yet. While still on the floor, I checked to see if Jack was still on the ground in front of me. He was. I was becoming dizzy, and my entire body was throbbing in pain. I had to get to the village before nighttime and find a doctor to help with my wounds before they got worse or infected.
I slowly reached and snatched The Chef’s buried bounty paper that was in his right pocket. I was still shaking uncontrollably from the battle that I just fought. I shoved the folded paper into my pocket and struggled immensely to get up. The forest was silent. I looked up and closed my eyes feeling the slight breeze. I had to continue on with the hunt, and I decided that having the bounty paper could prove to be useful in certain situations if I acted like I was Jack Swivel in the village (he was a real bounty hunter after all).
I looked back at Jack’s body one last time to make sure that he was still passed out, and I began walking slowly away, continuing my journey to Phoenix Village. On my way out of the area where I just battled Jack, I made sure to pull out the sharpened ladle that Jack skewered into the tree ahead of where I previously had him in a choke-hold. I figured that something like that could be useful since it was sharpened by Jack’s ability, and for some reason I didn’t think to bring any weapons with me before I began my hunt. I also grabbed my bag which I dropped earlier and placed the ladle in the bag making sure to position it so that it wouldn't slice anything up from the inside. I threw my bag around my shoulders and simply continued my journey quietly.
I walked and walked and walked. I was limping, extremely thirsty, and hurting everywhere from my last battle, and for some reason, my body still couldn’t stop shaking which bothered me greatly. After about thirty minutes of limping and moving forward, I took out one of the water bottles that I packed and chugged it, finishing it completely. I was seriously about to pass out again. I grabbed a second water bottle and poured the entire thing over my head which came down effectively connecting with most parts of my body. Blood and water drizzled on the grass. The water was lukewarm from being in my bag for too long, but it still helped to keep me awake as I continued my journey.
After walking slowly through the silent forest for what I estimated to be another couple of hours, I finally noticed a rusty metal gate to the left of where I was walking. I opened and entered through it making my way to, as suspected, a relatively small, cute, and run-down village which was far behind modern times. It can easily be perceived as something that was out-of-date. Compared to how modern everything was in Dividend City where I lived, this place seemed to have never really advanced itself.
There were many old wooden houses and taverns scattered everywhere including a decent amount of people walking around despite it being almost completely nighttime now. There were lamps scattered in the most random areas in the village beginning to turn on as they illuminated the dark roads and regions of the village. These lamps had noticeable and intricate designs on them as if they were built by artists. They were definitely ancient and perhaps can even be seen as holding a medieval sort of style. There were signs on all the taverns reading pub names and local businesses, but none of the houses were marked with addresses or anything like that. The road was made of gravel, and there were no cars or any vehicles of the sort in view. The town’s people wore ragged clothing with plain colors and shoes, and many people were walking and carrying food around this time. Perhaps it was all being done in preparation for the night's dinner or maybe even food for the next day? The town was noticeably filled with greens and crops in a very unorganized fashion completely scattered around the gravel and accompanied area. You could see the colorful berry trees next to the pubs, corn mazes near the local dentist building, and even whole miniature farm areas decorated with crops of all kinds. This town was truly not even close to caught up with modern society, but despite this evident fact, the town seemed… nice.
As I trudged along with my scrapes and bruises, I definitely looked like a zombie. The villagers looked at me like I was crazy as I walked past them, but an incredibly old man sitting by one of the lamps on a wooden box yelled at me as I passed by him.
“The sight of you is proof that the time is near! Stop your travels young boy and join me as we rejoice on the inevitable return of The Lord Cambion!”
I gave the man a confused look and ignored the crazy old fool. I just kept trudging along desperately trying to find some healthcare or someone to help me.
I luckily noticed a little wooden tavern with a tiny sign posted on the top of it reading “DOCTOR’S OFFICE." The place was almost hidden as it blended in completely with the wooden houses. I dragged myself with all my strength to the building in silence as I passed local merchants who were beginning to pack up their organic food stands and local produce picnic-style stations. I thought the picnic-style stations were really cool (they didn't have things like that in the city). The old folks and kids sitting on clothing and blankets on the gravel had humps of different sorts of produce stacked on top of each other beside them in their working stations.
I was nearing the doctor’s office door as I began to climb the three small wooden stairs that were in front of it. I opened the door and made my way inside slowly in a hunched-back fashion.
There was no desk or desk attendant or anything like that which I was originally used to from my more modernly-raised lifestyle. There was only one old man to the left of me smoking a cigar and reading what appeared to be a really old book with a torn-up cover. I looked at the old village feller and made sure to get his attention since he was glued to his book.
“Hey, old man.”
The man ignored me and continued reading his book as if he didn't hear anything at all. Maybe he was annoyed because I came in at such a late time? I repeated myself, this time in a more annoying way.
"Hello! Hello! Geezer, have your ears stopped working? I'm talking to you!"
He raised his eyes slowly without moving his head and replied, “Yes?”
I responded and asked, “Are you the doctor or something?”
He looked at me annoyed and slowly closed his book as he began to get up from his old wooden seat. The man was about my height, six feet two inches, and wore clothing similar to everyone else in this village. He had a brown ragged long-sleeved shirt on with black cotton shorts that actually looked like they could be pretty comfortable. He had white and long curly hair that was slicked back and ran down to the left side of his head. He also had a great white and grey beard that was fully grown. There was noticeable sweat that was soaked in his armpits and even tapered across his forehead, probably because there was evidently no air conditioning in the building. The old man began slowly stretching like he just got out of bed. While he was stretching, he continued his talk with me.
“Yes, I’m the doctor. What do you need.”
The man finished his little stretch and looked at me coldly. I thought it would be obvious what I needed from how banged up I was. I mean, I literally had blood, both fresh and dry, covered everywhere on my body and clothes from the fight that I was in hours ago.
“I need you to fix me up. Old man isn’t it obvio-”
He cut me off and replied, “I don’t like kids like you.”
After saying that he just glared at me coldly, and I stared back at him in a similar fashion for about an entire minute. I was matching this geezer's vibe and attitude. Why didn't he like me? Was it because I called him a geezer? His eyes were dark green and gave me the creeps, and I already didn’t like this guy.
“I don’t like people like you either, okay? But I’m going to need you to help me out or else I’m going to probably die.”
He continued staring at me coldly, and I kept staring back at him as I did earlier. The old man responded with just one number, obviously indicating the price that he wanted me to pay for his services.
Seven-hundred twenty-one dollars? Where the hell did he get that number from?
“Okay, listen old man I can tell you probably don’t know how the world works nowadays, but there’s something called ‘insurance’ that people use these days. Have you heard?”
The old man’s stare got even colder as he began wrinkling his nose like he was gazing upon the devil itself. He looked like he was holding himself back from strangling me.
“I really don’t like you, you stupid and ugly kid. I don’t take insurance here because I don’t trust the government, and no one in this village pays taxes for health insurance anyway.”
He doesn’t accept insurance? I’ve never been to a doctor that didn’t accept insurance. I began to feel a bit privileged and bad for this village, but I began disliking this old man even more for the fact that he charged the poor people of this village these outrageously random prices for his services. You can only expect something like that from a guy who decides he doesn't like you just from the way you look (or maybe I did actually piss him off by calling him a geezer).
“So you’re telling me that you charge everyone in this poor village these outrageous prices? I mean come on, that's actually ridiculous. Maybe you are as rotten as you look, you old fart.”
He responded swiftly and angrily, taking his time to speak.
“Actually, I treat the people of this village for free. I just don’t like you, so you’re going to pay me seven-hundred twenty-one dollars for my services, or else you can go out there by one of our wells and waste away until you're dead. I hate people that don't respect the elderly. I was able to tell the type of kid you were as soon as you walked through my door.”
This guy was a heartless jerk. I took a seat at one of the random chairs scattered in the room and tried to strike a deal with him because I felt like I was about to pass out. I really needed some immediate help.
“Fine, I’ll pay you your money old geezer, but it’s going to be given to you at a later time. I'm working on a bounty, specifically someone in this area named Coal Jenie, and I’m going to get a ridiculous amount of money from catching him. When I catch him, I’ll come back and pay you.”
The man began walking around me and eyed me ferociously as if he wanted to kill me rather than treat me. I noticed that he began examining my injuries with his eyes as he put his right hand up to his chin in observation. I now had trouble keeping my eyes open, and every time my eyes began to close, I forced them open trying to forcefully stay awake until I could strike a deal with this geezer. The man gave in. Maybe the man was actually a lot nicer on the inside than on the outside.
“Okay, fine. Come to the back with me. Let's get this over with. I'm only doing this because if I let you die on my chair, it's going to make the whole room smell.”
He helped carry me to the back and laid me on a long treatment chair which actually looked to be the first modern thing I’ve seen in this village.
“I’m not even going to ask how this happened to you since you said you're working on a bounty. I never liked bounty hunters…”
The man instantly took out some plastic cartridges and containers moving swiftly to prepare them for me. He had a needle in one hand which was already filled with liquid as he tested it, and he had a pill in the other. Without warning, he stabbed the needle into my chest through my now torn-up tank-top with great force, and I’m convinced he did that on purpose because he didn’t like me. I shrieked, and he ignored my cry as he continued what he was saying while treating me.
“You know, I once had a son who was a bounty hunter…”
He forced the pill that he held into my mouth before I could respond and gave me a cup of water which I used to get the pill down.
“That pill was just ibuprofen, so there’s nothing to worry about there. It’s for the pain, and the injection was a medicine-dispersing antidote which is to keep your cuts from getting infected. I could’ve just found a vein on your arm like any other doctor or nurse, but I really wanted to stab you with it since I don’t like you.”
Well, that was predictable. I responded.
“Whatever old man. Just patch me up because I need to start heading out again soon.”
The old man had me take my tank-top and shorts off, and he spent the next couple of hours soaking my wounds with alcohol and bandaging them up with long white bandages. They were extremely tight, and they coiled my entire body. The man also stitched the countless deep cuts that were dispersed throughout my body.
By the end of his treatment, I had white bandages flowing through most of my body. I looked like a half-mummy, except I didn’t have any long bandages on my head because the doctor just treated the injuries there with small patches and stitches. After he was done, he informed me that I was fine to sleep here for the night to recover and that I shouldn’t go heading out again until the morning or else the wounds would open up again. I didn't really see any other choice, so I agreed and instantly fell asleep on the long patient chair.
When I woke up, I was still in the room. I rose myself up slowly in great soreness, walked out of the room, and spotted the old man reading his coverless book once more on the same chair that he was in when I first got here.
“Hey, listen. Thanks old man. You managed to help me out despite your age. My name's Spade White, what's yours?”
The old man looked at me the same way he did the first time when I interrupted his reading and just pointed at the door signaling me to get out. As I walked out, now feeling way better than the day before, the man made sure to remind me that I owed him once more.
“Remember kid, I don’t like you. So make sure I get my money someday. Oh, and I go by the name Yuri in this town.”
I just looked at him for a couple of seconds and quickly nodded as I completely walked out of the building. As soon as I opened the door, sunlight hit my face like a punch. I was squinting as my eyes took a little time to adjust to the gleaming light. Once they did, my eyes feasted on the robustness of the morning village. Kids were running around going from house to house and tavern to tavern, couples were walking together, and the countless food stands were up and running again as one man from a beautiful colorful stand continuously yelled out “Tacos! Tacos! Come get your fresh street tacos for breakfast!”
I walked down the three stairs that were in front of the building with my bag, which I made sure not to forget, and took my sliced-up tank-top out of it (the doctor seemed to put it in there perhaps when I fell asleep). My pants were only sliced up a little from my fight with Jack, but the tank-top was really carved and ripped up. I didn’t care. I threw it on slowly over my great bandages that covered my body making sure to move my arms carefully so as to not open any of the patched wounds. I think that the messed-up tank-top actually helped me blend in with the rest of the villagers as messed up as it sounds.
Hearing the stand within the village promote that they had tacos, I realized I was starving. I reached back into my bag looking for the rest of the money that I knew I had. As I dug into my bag and dug through the countless contents, I snatched every item that felt like paper. I exited my arm from the top of the bag, now holding about five single dollar bills. I slowly trudged my way to the taco stand and bought as many tacos as possible (I was able to buy four).
I sat on the floor right by the taco stand and bit at my tacos. While eating the tacos, I was mesmerized by how happy everyone looked. It was the complete opposite of the city that I lived in. People were conversing with each other, some were laughing out loud, and the people selling the fresh produce in their picnic blanket stations were selling their produce as if all the crops were hotcakes. How is it that the first person I met in this village was that grumpy old man when there were all these happy people everywhere? I began to wonder many things at this point as I gazed upon this evidently vigorous town. How could a murderer like Coal Jenie have been found in a nice place like this? The more I thought about that question, the more I wanted to catch him so that he doesn’t end up responsible for any more tragedies. Plus, I still needed the money and was not about to return to Mr. Pappagul just for him to throw me on the streets. I could imagine Warren, my old manager who fired me, passing me by on the streets saying, “HA! I knew you were a loser! Here's some change for your cup loser!” That was not happening. I only had a couple of days left, so I had to hustle here.
Once I finished my tacos, I rose myself up and began walking. I passed several taverns which were filled with happy drunk people raising their beer glasses laughing uncontrollably. I always hated alcohol and how people abused it like that, even if it made them happy. Anyways, I continued my walk for about half an hour getting decently far from the doctor’s place until I saw the first thing that didn't fit in with the rest of the things I’ve seen in this village.
There was a man running and crying as he held what appeared to be a completely amputated left arm. As he held his armless left ligament with his right hand, he ran like a madman. He was desperately putting pressure on the wound with his right hand as he made his way in my direction screaming. I could barely make out what he was saying because he was crying so much like a little baby.
“He’s here! That guy! He cut my damn arm off!”
As the man ran, the villagers around him seemed frightened by the sight. Many villagers gasped and began running away as the man pushed his way through the small crowds with his body. His wound's blood dribbled all over the gravel he was running past, and he continued screaming.
“Out of my way, idiots! I need to get to a doctor or else I’m going to die!”
The man got through a final small crowd until he approached the extremely old man on the wooden box that I saw the night I got here. The old man was fascinated by the sight of this yelling man bleeding everywhere as his eyes widened. His mouth was open like he was watching fireworks. The old man rapidly got off his box and got in the way of the injured running man who now barely stopped in front of him. I was watching the whole thing since I wasn’t too far from them.
The old man exclaimed as the running man tried to make his way past him, “Wait! Don’t you see? Now is the time of reckoning! Don’t run! Now’s the time to give your body to our Lord and savior, The Cambion! Can't you understand? Can't you see that The Cambion loves you!”
The runner pushed the old man to the floor and ran past him now getting close to where I was standing. I noticed that the old man, on the floor now, literally began crying as he placed his hands on his head like he was losing his mind just thinking about what he said.
The running man yelled at the old man who he passed up, “SHUT UP OLD MAN SUGU! You crazy bastard! I don’t need your crazy crap right now!”
As the man got closer and closer to where I was, I yelled out at him.
“Who did that to you? Was it a guy named Coal?”
As soon as I said that name he stopped in his tracks now eyeing me in pure fear. The man was middle-aged, perhaps in his thirties or late twenties. He was a white guy who was now very pale, and he had brown messy hair with unusually big ears. He wore a bright orange shirt that had a noticeable cut through it. The shirt was still readable though as it read, “An apple a day keeps the monsters away!” That didn’t even make any sense, and this guy was actually sort of creepy. The man also wore brown slippers and black cotton shorts. It seemed that cotton shorts were a popular thing to wear in this town. The man began to back away slowly. Villagers were beginning to look in our direction curiously as people were making their way here like they were about to witness something. A crowd was beginning to form as I repeated myself, now in a different way.
“Who did that to you? The doctor’s right behind me, take yourself there!”
The man was shivering trying to get words out desperately.
“C-C-Coal J-Jen-Jenie! He did this to me! That... that brat took my arm!”
My eyes widened. This was my chance. I had to get more information out of this guy, but he was looking around like there were demons around him. He was definitely about to make a dash for it as his face just became more and more pale and desperate.
I shouted at him as he got in a stance to start running again, “Wait! Wait!”
I ripped out the bounty that I took from Jack Swivel quickly which conveyed a “Locked Bounty” on it for Coal Jenie. The man’s eyes widened even further, and he cut me off angrily before I could finish my sentence.
I tried to get out, “Was it this ma-”
“That’s the man! That’s the piece of crap who took my arm! He’s in the Forest of Offerings behind me, you idiot! Go you lousy bounty hunter and do your damn job! How could you allow something like this to happen to me! This is all your faul-"
Before the man was able to finish his sentence, the man’s eyes instantly went white as he fell to the ground and began shaking uncontrollably. It was like he was having a seizure. I gazed in pure shock. A bunch of villagers ran to him and immediately began picking him up and carrying him as he shook uncontrollably. I heard one of them say that they were going to take him to Yuri right away as they passed me quickly. I watched as they carried the man away.
When I turned around, I noticed that the crazy old man named Sugu had his eyes and mouth open greatly as if he just heard a prophet speak. He creepily didn’t turn from his gaze as he just stared in the direction of the man now being carried away while grinning. The man was very short with ragged clothing similar to what all the other villagers wore, and he had grey long hair parted to both sides of his forehead. The man's skin was white with tons of wrinkles, and he had eyes that were dark green similar to Yuri's. I ignored the fool as he was clearly crazy.
Now was my chance to take Coal Jenie down and collect my bounty. Without hesitation, I sunk the bounty paper back into my pocket and loudly asked a villager where the forest was that the armless man was talking about. The villager was a young boy who was with his little sister, so I felt bad later for startling them with my loudness. The young boy responded and pointed slowly.
“I-it’s in that direction, just go straight and you’ll eventually see it!”
The kid pointed in a specific direction, and I ran in that direction shouting back to him.
“Thanks little guy!”
I ran as fast as I could, but I made sure not to open any wounds as I mentally prepared myself for what I was hoping would be an easy man to catch and bring back for my mission.