“You seem distant.” Kyra remarked as they finished their training session.
Rorik sighed, “There’s been… A lot to think about lately, and no, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You should find someone to speak with.” Kyra suggested, “I’ve seen people in the AG become distant after a mission sometimes. It helps to talk with someone, trust me.”
“Whatever, when’s the next job?”
“So soon? What happened to: ‘not ending one battle and charging directly into another’?” Kyra asked.
“You remember that, huh? Most people forget everything I tell them.” Rorik muttered, “Regardless, I just want to be doing something useful.”
“And who says that you can only be useful through fighting?”
Rorik looked Kyra straight in the eye, “Why do you think I joined the AG?” he asked.
Kyra shrugged, “Sense of duty?”
“That was part of it, but not the main reason. Guess again.” Rorik said.
Kyra thought about this for awhile, “…Did your parents pressure you into applying?”
“HA! No. My parents were supportive of any career option, as long as I was happy with it.” Rorik said, “Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve parents like that… I joined the AG because wanton violence is the only thing I’ve ever been good at. I’ve tried other lines of work, but being a soldier always felt right to me.”
“What did you do when you first joined?” Kyra asked, now curious of this man’s origins.
“Guard duty, I was real good at it. That is, until I got sent off to training as a full fledged soldier… I wish that I stayed as a guard.” Rorik said, “More fun and close to home. You could go to your favourite tavern for lunch and be paid for partaking in barfights with the guise of breaking it up. There’s nothing like it, I tell you.”
“What did you do as a guard?”
“Guarded, mostly. Although…” Rorik said, “There were a few times where I was tasked with a special mission. Occasionally, a wizard would decide to start a new gang with them as a leader. When the AG caught wind of this, they usually sent me. People say that killing wizards is hard. It isn’t, you just have to be smart about it. There’s ways of drugging them, ambushing them, and trapping them that nobody even considers. Too many people think that wizards can sense your every move, when in all reality they can’t see past the brim of their hat most of the time. Heck there was one time I-”
“-Poisoned a wizard’s drink right in front of them?” Kyra finished, “Yeah, I heard.”
“How did you-?”
Kyra sighed, “Captains are given a roster of promising recruits for their crew. You attracted a ton of attention with your exploits, it’s one of the reasons you were sent off to training so early. You were considered a prodigy. Unfortunately, another captain snapped you up before I could.”
“Wait, you considered adding me to your crew?” Rorik asked, “And what’s this about ‘prodigy’? I considered myself average at best… Wait, wasn’t I serving under an admiral?”
“To answer your first two questions: Are. You. Blind!? Anyone with half a brain could see that you were special. You don’t just see people with talent for killing wizards popping out of the woodwork!” Kyra said, “To answer your third one, no, that child wasn’t an admiral. He was a rich kid with big dreams and an even bigger ego. The little bugger started calling himself an ‘admiral in the making’ and I’m sure that he called himself an admiral in front of people under him so that you’d follow orders better.”
“Well that certainly explains a lot.” Rorik muttered.
“Right, now since I explained a few things to you. How about you explain a few things to me?” Kyra asked.
“Do I have any choice?”
“Not really. First question, you were a raw recruit in the AG, but throughout my experience with you, you’ve proven to have the skills of an elite. How? Your profile didn’t mention anything about your background other than your parents being powerful wizards.” Kyra said.
“Natural skill? The same stuff that made me stand out from the other recruits? I don’t know.” Rorik sighed, “My background isn’t interesting. I was a regular schoolkid with mediocre grades. I didn’t qualify for a lot of work when I graduated, but I was good at fighting, so I enlisted in the AG.”
“That doesn’t explain anything.” Kyra remarked, “Second question-”
“No, I think we’re done for today.” Rorik said, “I’m not accustomed to talking about my past, it isn’t special nor interesting in the slightest.”
Kyra sighed, “Very well, we’ll talk later.”
Rorik stared his opponent down. Dark wizards were a fairly common occurrence in mainland, and thus, were prominent and well-paying bounties.
“We don’t have to fight.” Rorik stated calmly, “Just come quietly and you’ll keep your head.”
The dark wizard laughed, “I’ve been waiting… So long… For a challenge. These farmers just don’t cut it anymore.”
Lightning danced around Rorik’s body, “I wouldn’t suggest bringing up your crimes… I might become far less merciful if you remind me of the things you’ve done.”
“I was… Counting on that. In fact, I specifically wanted to draw you out, Oni” The wizard said, using Rorik’s nickname, “You’re popular, and once I kill you… Hehehe… I’ll be feared across all of-”
Rorik shot him square between the eyes then and there. Continued conversation was pointless, when your target was criminally insane.
“Impressive as always, Oni.” A voice said as Rorik picked up the body.
Rorik turned around to see an AG officer stepping into view. “My name is Selena.” she said, “And I have come to-”
“That’s nice, go away.” Rorik interrupted them as he started walking towards town.
“W-wait, I’ve come to offer you a job in the-”
“Oh come on! You didn’t even listen for the salary, isn’t that what you bounty hunters always want? All money and not the satisfaction of helping a good cause?” The officer asked.
Rorik chuckled, “That was quick. Usually it takes me longer to get the AG to openly tell me that they hate my guts. I’m not joining for personal reasons.”
“Personal reasons, huh? We’ve been watching you for a long time, Oni. I happen to know that my superiors would love to have your skills on hand, and they’re willing to pay a high price for them.” The officer persisted.
“What skills? I thought that I was just a bounty hunter, somebody only in it for the money and nothing else.”
The officer cleared her throat, “I am sorry for my rudeness, I did not mean to insult you. Please, at least consider my offer.”
“Well why not!? I even got all diplomatic and fancy, so why won’t you?”
Rorik looked back, “So… What? You think that the AG is the only source of good in this world? Buddy, I’ve met pirates that kept the peace more than the AG.”
“You’ve met pirates?”
“Oh don’t give me that. Who hasn’t? They’re better company than member of the AG at the very least…” Rorik said.
“And why is that?” The officer asked, irritated.
“Because they don’t demand that you join them, moreover, they don’t ask too many annoying questions. Now, go away.”
“Well Oni… Unfortunately, I have specific orders to carry out if you don’t join us…” The officer said as she drew her staff.
Rorik dropped the body of the wizard, “If you put that stick away and leave, I will forget you ever said anything. In fact, I’ll tell your superiors that I never met you. When they come looking for you after you disappear off the face of the earth. You only need to walk away.”
“I cannot do that. What lies under that mask I wonder? Perhaps you’re just self-conscious about something. I can understand, believe me. Just come with me quietly and we can get everything sorted out. You can get a high-paying job, and I can get paid for hiring you.” She promised, “Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.”
Rorik laughed, “If I showed you my face, I would have to kill you.”
“And I have to kill you if you don’t, so please, don’t fight.”
“That’s a shame.” Rorik said as he swung around and blasted her with lightning.
The officer managed to conjure a shield just in time. She then countered with a blast of fire that Rorik took head-on.
Selena was surprised when Rorik casually walked out of the smoke and ash.
“What?” he asked, “You thought some fireworks would kill me? Lady, I’m more powerful than you think.”
Rorik rushed forwards faster than the speed of sound and punched her in the face multiple times with fire-infused fists. He then flung her up into the air before slamming her back into the ground.
Selena coughed up ash and blood, “What… are you?” she asked before she lost consciousness.
“Shit, I wasn’t trying to hit you that hard.” Rorik sighed, “Oh well… I guess you’re taking a trip to the clinic.”
“Well this sure puts a damper on our plans” Kyra said after Rorik told her what happened.
“Yeah… What exactly was our plan?” Mikhail asked.
“Grow the clan while keeping off the AG’s radar.” Kyra answered, “But I didn’t consider that the AG would see us as a threat just from seeing us hunting.”
“Eh… We’ll just say that we haven’t seen the scarlet oni since he left for his last mission, that’ll throw 'em off.” Rorik remarked, “And, I can finally get rid of that nickname. A win-win.”
“I think you’re forgetting the fact that the AG is likely to try and recruit Kyra or Mikhail next.” Sasha helpfully informed them, “If only they would take no for an answer…”
“Unfortunately, the AG doesn’t like it when there are peacekeepers aside from them out and about in the seven seas. You ever wondered why the war phoenix was wanted by the AG, even though he was a great guy? Yeah, the AG doesn’t like competitors. They’re kind of like a mafia.” Ivy said.
“Regardless,” Kyra said, “We should lay low for a bit. Stop taking jobs and instead find different ways of making money. We can learn different crafts and sell them on the market.”
“I always wanted to learn tailoring…” Mikhail said.
“I uh, never had any hobbies or dreams like that.” Rorik informed everyone, “Nothing really interested me back in the day or now.”
“We need to find something for you to do.” Kyra said, “And no, you can’t just practice magic and combat all day, you have to find something that relaxes you. Try taking a walk around town, maybe you’ll find something.”
And so Rorik spent 3 hours aimlessly walking through the impossibly large city. Looking at different vendors and stalls. The sky was grey with clouds. Some would say that this was an ugly day, but Rorik liked the covered sky. It reminded him of home, as it would always rain back in the fifth sea… Of course, weather was hard to predict theses days… But still, the skies were just naturally cloudy back home…
Rorik was interrupted from his musing by a large CLANG followed by a flurry of… Creative, curses coming from a nearby stall. He walked over to find a stocky man hunched over an anvil, beating on a glowing piece of steel with a large hammer.
“Can I help ye?” The smith asked.
Rorik blinked, “Sorry, no. I just heard a loud noise and…”
“And yeh came to see what the fuss was all about, eh?” The smith asked, “Well, I could use some help if you’re up to it…”
“Sure, why not?”
“Excellent!” The smith exclaimed, “I’ll give ye some free lessons while I’m at it. The name’s Grommit, by the way”
One week later
“I tell ye lad, you’re the best student I’ve ever had.” Grommit remarked as he handed Rorik a hammer, “Here, for you. It’s better if ye learn on your own from now on. I’ll point you to a place for supplies and forging equipment.”
“Thank you… Wait, what is this hammer made of? It doesn’t look like most others that I’ve seen…” Rorik asked as he tested the weight of the hammer.
“Ah… I couldn’t help but notice that ye can use magic. Sparks tend to fly across yer hands when yer really focusing on something. I received an arcanium hammer awhile back, but I can’t use magic. So it’s better off in yer hands.” Grommit said.
“But… These things are expensive… How can I repay you?”
“Bah! If yeh feel the need to repay me, then pop by the Twisted Goose and buy me a drink!” Grommit said with a laugh.
Rorik smiled, “Thanks… For everything. I… Haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time.”
“Smithin’s a good output for yer emotions, lad. Trust me, I’d know.” Grommit said, “Now come! Lets drink to yer future successes!”