The Master and The Slave
"It only takes us three days to build the spike wall. It wasn't hard, but it does take time to move the tree logs. What do you think chief?" Za looks at the wall from afar while standing beside Neya.
"It looks good, but we can do better," Neya reply.
"Better?" Za ask.
"I'm thinking we could build a slope up to the wall from our side to strengthen it," Neya suggest.
"We can do that, but it will take time," Za said while his fox ears twitch a little bit.
"Later. For now, focus on the house first," Neya said.
"Okay, chief. I will join my group with Grie group and fasten the house construction," Za said.
"I'm going to check on our rations, see you later, Za," Neya said.
"See you later, chief," Za said, and he heads toward Grie while his bushy tail swing behind him.
Neya stretches her arms up in the air while letting out a long yawn; her late night has begun to catch up on her. She probably needs to spend more time sleeping rather than checking on the plan for this place. Her heads turn to the wagon in which we store our food and begin to head toward it.
While walking, people in the camp begin to greet her as she walks past them.
"Afternoon, chief!" A woman waves her hand while carrying a basket full of clean cloth.
"Afternoon," Neya reply while waving her own hand.
"Afternoon, chief!" A group of girls greets Neya while walk passes by her.
"Afternoon," Neya reply while letting out a smile at the girls.
"Chief! Thank you again for giving me some extra food." A man thanks her.
"You need it more because of your cold besides we can spare a few rations," Neya said.
"May Yana bless your kindness, chief," The man bowed his head.
"Don't bow please, I'm just doing my job," Neya raise her hand, and the man raises his head.
"I have to go, have a nice day," Neya said then continue on walking.
While walking, Neya wonders why is everyone calling her a chief. There are many other names that they can call her, but they pick 'chief' for some reason. The title doesn't bother her, but she does want to know how it started. She let out a sigh as she walks toward the wagon.
"Morning chief!" A familiar voice greets her.
Neya turn her head to the left, seeing Vizrez catching up to her, and continue walking by her side. The cyclops woman let out a long yawn while covering her mouth with a hand. From her messy hair, Neya concludes that the cyclops woman just wakes up from her sleep.
"It's early afternoon, did you just wake up?" Neya ask.
"Morning, afternoon, night, what's the difference?" Vizrez said.
Neya raises her eyebrows in perplex at Vizrez response. "For starter, morning and night are totally different."
"Come on, Chief. You know why I wake up late, who do you think stands guard in the middle of the night?" Vizrez let out a smirk showing her sharp teeth.
The elf girl rolls her eyes while a smile form with her mouth, "Yeah, yeah, and thanks for keeping us safe."
While both of them walking, a woman walks up to Vizrez and offer her some food. With a smile, Vizrez accepts the offers and took the food off the woman hands. The woman bows her head before walking away from the cyclops woman. Vizrez munch on the food with a toothy smile and let out a moan as she tastes the pleasure of delicious food simmering in her mouth.
"I see someone getting familiar with the humans," Neya comment.
"What can I say? They love a strong woman keeping them safe at night," Vizrez speak with food still in her mouth while flexing her large bicep.
"Anyway, there is a topic I wish to discuss with you," Vizrez said then she finishes up whatever food left in her hand.
"I'm all ears," Neya reply.
"It's about Nesto... I think he's slipping," Vizrez said while her smile long gone and replaced by a worried frown.
"Slipping?" Neya said confuse.
"What I mean is, he is on the verge of breaking his own mind," Vizrez said.
"What made you say that?" Neya ask.
"When you live alone in the mountain for a long time, there is bound to be some mental breakdown up there. I experience it before and I saw the signs happening again on Nesto. We rarely speak during out watch together, he barely eats anything, and I haven't seen him sleep once for the past three days," Vizrez laid out what she noticed.
"Have you speak to him yet during the past three days?" Vizrez ask.
"I have, but he seems normal to me," Neya reply.
"He must be hiding it from you," Vizrez said.
Neya pinches the bridge of her nose with her two fingers while she said, "Damn it, Nesto..."
"He's doing it again," Neya grumbled.
"Again?" Vizrez ask.
"He likes to keep secret from me because he doesn't want to worry me. We had this talk before," Neya said with a slight anger escaping her own words.
"I don't think you getting angry at him is going to solve anything," Vizrez advice.
"I know... But, he just makes me feel frustrated from time to time," Neya said as she scratches the back of her head.
"Hey, chins up, chief... I know you cherish Nesto very much, but I think this time he got a very good reason on why he did it," Vizrez said.
"That's the problem, Vizrez. He always has a very good reason, I don't know if I should feel angry or grateful at him, but I will try to talk to him in a 'non-angry' manner," Neya said.
When they finally arrive at the storage wagon, Neya notices her butler already inside the wagon and checking on the rations. Vizrez salutes her in an encouraging manner and walks toward the lake beside the wagon to give both of them some privacy. Neya climbs the back of the wagon then leans on the wall, and watch as her butler counts the rations.
"What's going on?" She said then cross her arms together.
"The usual stuff Miss Neya, checking the rations," Nesto replies while his eyes still focus on the rations in the barrel.
"Nesto... Please, Nesto... If you, in some sort of trouble, please share it with me. I could help you," Neya said.
"Vizrez told you about my inept behavior lately?" Nesto ask.
"She mentions... A lot of worrying things," Neya reply.
Nesto closes both his eyes while placing both of his hand on the edge of the barrel and lean on it; then he let out a short sigh. He opens his eyes back again and turns to look at his master. His gazes met with his master worrying expression shows on her face.
"It's about the elf girl who stabs me," Nesto admits.
"Are you worry about her coming back?" Neya ask.
"It's not that. I... I once told you that I didn't care when I end somebody else life, but recently, I know now why I couldn't care. It's because I was ignorant about the consequence of my actions," Nesto said.
"When I see those waves of anger and hatred in that girl's eyes, It reminds me of your pains, then I realized what I did," Nesto continues.
"I was putting that girl through the same pain you felt. With that full realization, how could I end somebody else life?" Nesto gloom while his grips tighten around the edge of the barrel.
There was a short silence between them both. The silence was not alone, it was accompanied by a feeling of solemn and grim. Neya feels the uneasiness, but before she could talk to lift the mood, his butler continues.
"There was one more thing, I kept thinking. If I was the source of that girl pain, the same pain you once felt. Then, what's the difference between me and that slave trader?" Nesto said.
"You're not him!" Neya raises her voice.
"Not through your eyes, but through that girl's eyes, it's the same," Nesto said.
"I promise you won't have to fight. And I found a way here! I've been thinking if I could build this place as a haven for good people, then you won't have to fight, we could live here and spent time farming," Neya said while a smile of hope form with her lips.
"Farming?" Nesto asks while feeling amuses at his master words.
"Yes! This place needs to be self-sustainable, that's why we need to grow crops, and we have the space to do so," Neya said with an intention of trying to convince him.
"You said you believe in me, so I'm just asking you to believe in me even longer. I'm sure I can turn this place to a home," Neya said.
"It isn't about me lacking faith in you, I will always have faith in you, but this is different. When you are building this place, people are going to come and harm what you build. People like the bounty hunter that your mother sent or the army of Materna when they found what happens to the slave trader or even Woodfolk that is living in this area," Nesto said.
"And when they do, I will have to fight and take their life away, so I can protect you," Nesto said.
"I know you have to fight, but you don't have to take their life if you don't want too," Neya said.
"If I don't take their life, they won't stop," Nesto said.
"Nesto, even if you kill them, many other wills took their place, so it won't make any difference. So why not you choose to let them live, isn't it better for you?" Neya said.
"It's..." Nesto was cut off.
"Please give it some thought," Neya said.
"I really do want to give it some thought, but I just can't see any other way besides killing. I'm sorry Neya, but not everything you can change," Nesto said.
Neya is stunted by her failure to change her butler, she felt guilty and useless. She wanted to make him happy because he is the only person she cared so much and grateful toward. And yet she wasn't able to, and the reason why is her.
Za climbs the back of the wagon with Grie behind him and a serious look on his face. "I'm sorry to bother you chief, but I smell something really bad coming from here," Za said while his snout twitches a bit.
"Definitely from here," Za said.
Nesto looks around in the back of the wagon and his gaze catches something off in the barrel. At the bottom of the barrel, it looks normal and yet it's not. The bottom was not supposed to be there, the size of the barrel suggests that there is still some space left for the barrel. That's mean there is a hidden compartment at the bottom of the barrel, Nesto takes out all the rations, and examines it closely.
Neya steps away when Nesto pours out all the rations onto the floor. Za and Grie back away giving the man some space.
It was true when Nesto able to open the bottom like a lid, and found the hidden space. He was shocked and terrified when he saw what lies underneath— a large number of Magic crystal connected to a crystal orb by a magic circuit.
He has seen this kind of thing before, and it isn't good news. He quickly places his arm around Neya waist, pulling her closer to him, and carry her out of the wagon.
"GET AWAY! IT'S A BOMB!!" Nesto shouts while jumping out of the wagon with Neya in his arms.
Za and Grie quickly took off into a run; away from the wagon as fast they can. Vizrez was confused, but she sees the fears on Nesto's face, so she did the same thing by jumping into the lake, and swim away as fast as she can. The people that are close to wagon also run away.
With Neya in his arms, Nesto jump, and land on his back while hugging his master tightly and cover her head with his hands. Za and Grie jump onto the ground and cover their heads. Neya was so confused about what happens, but the fears on her butler's face tell her that it is something serious. So she closes her eyes and waits for anything horrible to happens.
But nothing happens. They wait a few moments longer, and yet nothing happens.
After a long time of waiting, Nesto decides to check on the bomb and found out the bomb hasn't been activated yet. So he took the chance to defuse it by separating the orb from the circuit, and then he counts the barrels. Out of the dozen barrels, only four of them contain a bomb.
When all the bomb has been defused, Neya walks closer to Nesto and check on the situation.
"What is going on?" She asks.
"I don't know why, but four of the rations barrels contain a bomb in it," Nesto said.
"What is a bomb?" Neya ask.
"A bomb is a destructive weapon that is capable of destroying fortress wall, castle, and anything you can think of. But making just one cost a great wealth because they used tons of magic crystal," Nesto explains.
"Prana bomb - I have seen its destructive power before, back at Sanestria," Za comments while he combs his messy furs with his fingers.
"I'm wet! Can somebody explain to me what just happens?" Vizrez said aloud as she walks out from the lake with her cloth and hair drench in water.
"It seems there was a bomb inside the rations barrel. From my knowledge, I didn't know the slave trader was transporting bombs, and I doubt the slave trader even know what items he is currently transporting, judging by how his men handle the barrel in the past," Grie said as he wipes the grass leave off his shoulders.
"I don't even know what a bomb is," Vizrez said.
"What bomb do is explode and destroy anything close to it," Za explain.
"Sounds fun," Vizrez said excitedly.
Neya let out a smile and roll her eyes after hearing the cyclops woman comments. Za heads suddenly turn toward the spike wall, he raises his snout in the air and starts sniffing vigorously. Grie looks at the fox man and begins to worry when he sees the fox man eyebrows furrow.
"We are being watched," Nesto comments.
"I feel it," Vizrez said.
"Humans, a lot of them, outside the wall," Za said.
"Woodfolk, Vizrez grab your weapons. Za and Grie get everyone to safety," Nesto said and the three of them disperse except for Neya.