Chapter 1:

No Man's Land - Arra

Hearts of Stone


          "By the order of the emperor of Antrice; You are famed for murder, torture, homicide, and a list of killings around the Abel household. You are hereby sentenced to death by hanging." one of the guards said while trying to hang a struggling, innocent looking woman.
          The woman looks at me saying “Help me! I did no such thing—"
          "Shut up you damn wench!" another guardsman proceeds to beat her,
          I come towards the guardsmen with my horse...
          "Good job killing the monster," he said,
          I throw the monster's head on the ground,
          "Tough hunt eh?"
          He throws a pouch of a coin. I catch it,
          "tougher than yours. Naturally." I said,
          He spits on the ground while I proceed on my path...
          "Please! I did no such thing!" the woman said as she tries to struggle away from the guards,
          Evil is evil. Lesser or greater.
          "Futile effort!" A guardsman said,
          If it is really no good in this world. If I were to choose from evil... then... I'd rather not choose at all.
          "Do not let that wench escape! Beat her if she resists further!"
          I frustratingly move towards them,
          "Hm? Hey!" he said as I pushed him to the ground.
          I punched one of the guards that are holding her then used force magic called Sy'cry to push the other away.
          I looked at the woman "Close your eyes." I said,
          I pulled a knife. One of the guardsmen that I pushed away with magic ran straight towards me with a mace in hand. I parried his attack then stabbed him in the neck. The one who I punched tried to slash me in the back with a sword. I dodged his attack then slit his throat. 
          "..." the woman silently watch and did not look horrified.
          I move towards the guardsmen who I pushed on the ground "W-what are you doing?!" he asked,
          "Killing monsters," I replied.
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          I left with my horse. I look back... the woman is staring at me. Next to her is the guardsman who sentenced her by hanging. Thinking back... I don't know if I did the right choice or not. The guardsman is hanging by the tree with a bucket on his feet, the only thing that keeps him alive.
          Shortly after, I arrived at one of the villages namely Xirn. I stopped by the nearest inn to stock up for the next journey. I go inside... 
          "Surely you jest!"
          "Aye... lad must be drunk."
          "It's true! You've got to believe me!"
          "Shut yer trap! Come on let's drink!"
          Noisy... as an inn would be. I gave a list of things on the innkeeper, then gave him 200 nic (Coin). He nodded saying "I'll see to it right away, master W'ilm."
          W'ilm? Hm... been a while since I've heard that. Mutants like me? Well... I think I'm better off.
          "Ey... look..."
          "Hm? Ah... one of the hunters..."
          "H'ofl?"
          "Naye! H'ofl's are different; they're from the school of the hedgehog. W'ilm's are from the school of the white fox. They take contracts, especially with monsters."
          "I have heard that a W'ilm slaughtered an entire village, then dragged the ealdorman and his wife into the sea, drowning them."
          Wide-eyed, he asked, "Do you think it's him?"
          "Don't know... but best we naught to anger him."
          As usual... fear rules over them... humans always fear the alien— the odd. However, I'm interested that if they found out that one of their neighbours is non-human... how will they react? It piques my curiosity.
          "What's your name master W'ilm?" the innkeeper asked,
          "Is it important?"
          "No, it's just that... it's unsettling not knowing your name, master."
          "Audrick."
          "Audrick eh? Wait... I've heard that name before..."
          Did he know? My looks like I've grown popular over the last few months. Words are like diseases... you tell one, three will know. It grows rapidly... like an epidemic perhaps?
          "That's right! You're one of the W'ilm who abandoned the Queen of Landenberg's army! They've called you a coward."
          "Maybe... or maybe some things are more important than the war."
          "Which is?"
          "A tale for another time."
          "Okay, master. Please, enjoy your stay while I ready your needs."
          The Queen of Landenberg. Name's Anna de Charnes. A strong-willed queen who protects her subjects more than her life. Though, my leaving might come as a surprise to her considering she invited me to aid her army. Leaving without a word.
          I go outside to see all the contracts on the contracts poster. Hm... need someone to help me repair my wagon... events this coming 11th of 1st winter... need an expert at brewing concoctions... who writes these contracts? It's more of a request than a contract. A man came by and posts a contract.
          "Need a W'ilm?" I asked,
          "Hm? Ah... yes... yes I do..."
          "How can I help you?"
          "Alas, there's a fire breathing dragon nearby, terrorizing our farmlands!"
          Weird... a fire breathing one... "A fire breathing dragon? Hm... last I've heard they've already migrated years ago."
          "A dragon is a dragon. So? Will ye help?"
          "Dragon usually uses more resources... so—"
          "Aye, I've got ye. How much?"
          "245."
          "Can ye put that a bit lower? I feel like we are closer."
          "205?"
          "We have a deal!"
          "Alright... I'll see to it..."
          "Thank you, master. You can see the lands due west."
          This should be interesting. After some time, I oil my swords that are effective to dragons. I drank a bottle of time, to quickly pass the time to what time I want. It's 1 pm... time to lure the dragon. Let's see... I need a sheep, hopefully, one of the farmers can lend me one.
          I go near a house that houses sheep, I knocked on the front door...
          "Get out! We have no coin to give ye!"
          "Name's Audrick, a W'ilm..."
          "A W'ilm? Hold up just a sec..."
          He opens the door, "So? What do you need?"
          "I took a contract about a dragon nearby."
          "A dragon? Oh, that dragon... you should just give up..."
          "Hm? What— Why?"
          "There's no dragon."
          "What do you mean?"
          "Looks like someone's been fooled again. Just so you know, this village is notorious for lies. That's why I live outside the village. Recently, a pair of B'eir came by to take a contract but came back empty handed."
          "A pair? A B'eir at that... Hm, usually we hunters travel alone."
          "Anyway... there are no dragons here, begone!" he shuts the door.
          Either he's lying or the one who posted the contract is. Xirn... this is an interesting place. I go back to the village then see a non-human getting beaten up. An elf? I quickly go over him...
          "Kill him!"
          "Burn him! Cleanse his soul!"
          "What are you doing?!" I said,
          A villager slowly walks toward me, "Hm... well... he stole our crops all year round." he sounds relaxed.
          "That's it?"
          "Yeah... ain't he so damn immoral? Come on! Admit it!"
          "... yeah."
          "See? He gets it!" he said while the villagers laugh.
          "..."
          "Now," He tosses a knife to me, "Kill him!"
          "Wha—"
          "You understand right? Kill him!" 
          The villagers repeatedly shout, "Kill him! Kill him!"
          I look at everyone, bloodlust fills the air.
          Should I kill him?
          The questions linger in my mind...
          "No," I said
          "Wha—"
          I go towards the elf who's tied up, I cut the rope and said, "Go! Get out of here! Never come back!" as he ran away.
          "Why did you release him?!" one of the villagers said,
          "I only kill those who are a threat to someone."
          I look at them with anger. They all back up as if they were afraid.
          "Kill him!" one said,
          "Don't!" a blacksmith said, "He's Audrick. The butcher of Raudia. He burned down 3 villages. Left no one alive."
          Hm? Looks like someone knows me. "That's pretty good advice your blacksmith is telling you all."
          They all dropped their weapons. As I walk towards the inn they all quickly take steps back. 
          Inside the inn, the innkeeper calls for me. "Master Audrick!"
          "Hm?" I move toward him, "Are you done with the prep?"
          "Yes... and here's a letter..."
          A letter? "Who is it from?"
          "Don't know, a weird woman gave it to me wearing all-green."
          "What did she say?"
          "She said to give it to you."
          "Did she say anything else?"
          "Unfortunately, no."
          What's in this letter? Maybe I'll read it later. "Thanks."
          "My pleasure, and good luck on the path."
          I go outside holding the things that I need on the path. Suddenly I see the guy who posted the contract about the dragon talking to someone.
          "You know, that lass is a whore," he said,
          "Well, I didn't know that," I said behind him
          "Oh, you're done with the dragon?"
          "No," I said angrily
          "Then what are you doing here?"
          "Here to tell you that you're a great lier."
          "Lier? W-what do you mean?"
          He reacted nervously, "You look nervous."
          "N-no... I don't,"
          "Here's the thing, I wasted my precious time on your bullsh*t contract. Now, I demand my pay."
          "But the coin comes after the monster is killed—"
          "Shut it! If I hear one more word from your mouth I'll take you to a real dragon left you there for bait. Is that clear?"
          He nodded,
          "Now, my coin."
          He gives me the coin,
          "Pleasure doing business with you."
          After some time tending to my things, I read the letter. The letter has the crest of Shami. It reads as follows:
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          Dear Audrick,

          I am in need of your help. As the Duke of Shami, I have a very important contract for you. A monster has killed 1/3 of my men while sending trying to send reinforcements to Tafiamia. They were all killed in Shami. We are in desperate need of your help. In doing so, you will be rewarded if you kill this monster and bring its head to me. I am truly sorry for this abrupt announcement, but the fate of Shami rests on your hands. We truly hope that you come to our aid as soon as possible.

          From C'ivalr Virtas,

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          Looks like I know where I'm going next. I was going to Shami anyways, but I'm going to visit Tafiamia first before heading off toward Shami. 
          I readied my horse then set off toward Coliegna. Tafiamia's capital city.
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