Chapter 016 – Killing
After leaving the crafting guild, my father and I went to a small restaurant to have a small lunch. We spent the afternoon strolling in the town. I took my father to the commercial district. I searched for a while until I found a small jewelry shop. I looked a bit at what was inside. I wanted to have a good look at the jewelry available in a town. My father looked at me with a grin.
Roland: «Hoo. What is it son? Looking for something to give to a girl? Which one?»
Aenthar: «You’re right when you say I want to give something for a girl, but that’s not all.»
Roland: «I’m curious now! What does my little genius son have in mind?»
Aenthar: «I’m getting ideas to make a necklace for Mother and another for Kerrina. They will like it better if it’s something I made myself.» I said with a small smile while looking a little away.
Roland: «… You know, it’s nice, but if you give a hand-made necklace to little Kerri, some girls are going to get jealous and be more… active…»
Aenthar: «… I’ll probably make bangles for Namir, Jenna and Nana too. Maybe it’ll better if I give it to them at the same time, during New year would be good…. Let’s see what kind of materials would be good.» ”Not that I would mind them trying to get me, but the others interesting girls don’t look like the kind that would be willing to travel with me around the world for several years.”
Roland: Nodding ”… Not a bad idea, son… They will be happy for the gift and the others girls will be less jealous.”
We went to many stores, clothiers, jewelers, alchemists, smiths, and bookstores. I did see a few interestings books, but they were a little expensives so I didn’t take any. We got our evening meal at the inn then went to sleep. The next day at sunrise we left the inn and left Lazaris to go back home. We got to Carduc in the middle of the afternoon and settled at the inn. Since there was still some time before dusk, I went at the back of the inn and practiced with my staff for a while. I went back in shortly before dusk.
Shortly before falling asleep, some screams were heard in the distance. I instantly stood up. My father was startled by my sudden action and asked me what was wrong, but I was concentrating on the sounds. I heard another scream, the scream of someone terrifed and in pain. And my father heard it too. I opened the window and checked outside. There were shouts and the residents of the village were becoming very active. It was obvious to me that Carduc was under attack, but by what?
Random villager: «Alert!! It’s a bandit raid!! To arms!!»
Roland: «Gods… Son, we have to leave the village, fast!!»
Aenthar: «Father, some bandits may already be on their way here to intercept possible travelers!»
I cast one of my newly learned spell, ‘speed increase’, on both me and my father, and I poured a lot of mana in it so it would last several minutes. I took my bow and quiver and concentrated on my senses and mana sense. Ever since my stabilisation, if I concentrate well enough I can feel the mana in living beings when they are close. If they are within several meters I will notice them.
I choose to use my bow instead of my staff because we were dealing with bandits, experienced fighters and killers. It would be presumptuous of me to think little 9 years old me could handle them on close range. With my bow in my left hand, I nocked an arrow with the right hand, but still pointed it toward the ground to avoid hitting a panicking villager.
Aenthar: «Dad! I know you aren’t a fighter, and I also know that you want to protect your son, you don’t want to see me in danger, but I’m the one with teachings about battle, so for now, please listen to me. You know I’m cautious, I won’t be reckless.»
Roland: «Fine, but you stay behind me.»
Aenthar: «Of course. We should ambush the ones aiming for the inn in the hallway. They won’t be able to dodge my arrows or my magic, they can’t flank us or take our back, and it’s to narrow to attack with several people at the same time. I will strike first to destabilize them and you finish neutralizing them, legs first too.»
Roland: «A good enough plan I guess… Reminds me a little of the times when I was traveling with your mother…»
We heard people coming in the inn as we set foot in the hallway. I was behind my father, slightly raised my bow toward the stairs a few meters in front of us. I started weaving a fireball spell but didn’t activate it yet. I choose to use fire even though we are in a wooden building because I want the bandits to be distracted by the pain of the burns.
I looked calm but my heart was in turmoil. Out there were some people who could kill without remorse, and some of them may have just made their way into the inn. I don’t want to kill, I don’t think I’m prepared to kill. I have died myself, and it wasn’t a fun experience. I’m very reluctant to inflict it to other people. Thinking they are ready for the risks and that they deserve it can make me calm down a little, but it’s still horriible to think I may kill someone tonight.
Several people have entered the inn. Most of them are laughing, some things are being broken. I hear the innkeeper beg for his life before screaming in pain. He has probably been lethally slashed or stabbed. I can no longer hear the sounds clearly, except for the loud beating of my heart and the sound of my blood rushing in veins. Just now, there was a murder on the floor below.
I’m slightly aware of the presences in the stairs moving towards us, 3 of them. I couldn’t hear anything else, my gaze was fixated on the stairs at the end of the hallway. A man appeared, with an old leather armor stained with blood splatters, a bloody axe in his left hand, and on his face the expression of a predator who just found a new prey.
I released my arrow. I wasn’t aiming for a particular point like I had planned before. It struck him below the chest and made him stagger backward, stopping the 2 fellows that just came up behind him. I released my fireball. What should have been the size of a handball ball was now the size of a bowling ball. It raced toward the 3 men and struck the one at the front who recived my arrow earlier.
The fireball broke down on impact, releasing flames in the near surroundings, burning the 3 men and making them fall backwards in the stairs. Then I started to hear sounds again. The sounds of the screaming men and women. A second later, my father moved forward, and that made me snap out of my dazed state. I nocked a second arrow, but my hands were trembling.
We reached the stairs. The air arround us was hot and some parts of walls and floor were still burning. We saw the men I had attacked at the bottow of the stairs. The first one was dead. His lips were gone, revealing rotting teeth. The flesh was still burning, the fat making sizling sounds while melting. The scent of burnt meat and hairs was strong.
The others 2 men were moaning and crawling on the ground, trying to put down the small flames on their clothes. One of them had his right arm bent the wrong way. They had dropped their weapons in their fall. My father moved fast, going down the stairs and slicing their legs before they could react. It must have been the effect of the buff spell I used earlier. Besides, he may not be a fighter but seems to have the basics of how to use a sword.
He then hit them in the head, one with a kick and the other with the pommel of his sword to knock them down. I reached the bottom of the stairs a second later. There was another bandit rushing toward my father. Without thinking, with praticed movements and speed raised by magic, I raised my bow toward him, aimed at his head and released my arrow. The man fell backward, an arrow between his eyes.
I didn’t want to kill, yet during the first 10 seconds of battle I killed 2 of them…