Author’s Note. And here’s the promised chapter, peeps. It ended up a page longer than I would had liked, but… you’ll see. Please enjoy?
Chapter 27 – Just Close your Eyes?
Tire Flats, a ghost town in the dry gulches of Boromarl. Named after Colonel James Tire, a man who helped lead one of the many Boromarl revolutions in the past. He didn’t become Prime Minister, it was his best friend. Though James Tire was one of the key figures, he didn’t want the job. All he really wanted was his own little slice of the pie and started this town as a haven for those who didn’t want anything to do with the constant revolutions. The town didn’t even exist for half of a century after he had founded it. Thirty years after the town was founded, Angry Angus, an Angus Bull half-man of dwarf parentage moved to town and found silver. Five years after, Angus died to assure the safety of his silver. And another three years later, some locals tried to re-open his mine. Thus causing Angry Angus to rise from his grave and curse the town, causing it to become a ghost town.
Right now, we have just arrived at Tire Flats. It was in the back of Zeke’s horse-drawn cart that we got there. But the journey has taken us three days to get there. And it wasn’t an easy one either. But before getting to how the journey went, let’s talk about before we set off.
Back at the Adventurer’s Guild, when we first met Kuro.
A lot of things didn’t add up. When Boss Walton told me about the commission, I was sure that the person who put in the request was a male. But right now, Guild Master Creole Williams just said it was this female priest who has just introduced herself who put it in. And… this is for her graduation? I thought Walton was supposed to hire one? Was I set up?
“The quest to exorcise Angry Angus is for my graduation.” (Kuro)
This female priest has silky long black hair with a bit of a fringe. I could tell she was human, but I’ve never seen the characteristic of having black eyes before. I will admit that she’s as far from ugly as the world is from the sun, but still? And her figure, slim with a modest bust. Definitely more of DJ’s type than mine, even if I couldn’t tell the quality of her thighs with those vestments on.
“You mean to tell me that this is for the church!?”
“Well… technically–” (Kuro)
I then started walking towards the door after interrupting her. I don’t want anything to do with the church.
Right there, I stopped. I could feel Creole’s killing intent from behind me. I turned around slowly, but tried to keep my composure.
“Is there a reason why you’re trying to leave?” (Creole)
“More than a few. For starters, no one said anything about the church being involved. Not to mention that this was originally a Triple S-ranked quest. Now you mean to tell me it’s so some nun can graduate? You want us to confront Angry Angus, one of the most fearsome things out there, just for that!? I’m only a C-rank adventurer.”
“Adventurers always strive to get stronger. Besides, are you forgetting the penalties your boss will have to face if you walk outside that door right now?” (Creole)
Really? He’s trying to use that against me? In that case…
“Sir, I have neither pride nor mettle. All I have are my principles. And doing this request goes against those same principles. So I’m going back to the office and resigning from the Walton Trading Company.”
That’s the only way to stop Walton from having to go through those penalties. If I quit, then all he has to do is send someone else. I don’t really wanna lose my job and current roof over my head, but I’ll do it if it’s the only way to get out of this.
“Are you daft!? Even if you resign, you will lose your membership to the Adventurer’s Guild.” (Creole)
“Then so be it.”
To be honest, I didn’t really need to be an adventurer. There are other professions out there. I could always start somewhere anew as a handyman or something, earning money to catch a caravan to get to the next location.
“Coy… pa might send some men after you if you quit?” (DJ)
“I don’t give a damn.”
This is a possibility that I’ve known about since I joined. I’m sure I could at least take out more than half the number sent after me if Boss Walton does that. Well… almost half. More than a quarter though.
“That reminds me, Dale left something with me yesterday in case you decided to pull this stunt.” (Creole)
In response to those two words that I keep saying unconsciously, Creole pulled something out of his desk. It was a clear spherical object.
“It’s not a Crystal Ball, it’s a Memory Orb. Rare, but they can be used to record things better than most cameras. And yes, they are reusable. That’s why I have to return it to him later.” (Creole)
He then activated it. I could see Boss Walton in the orb.
“Coy… if you are seeing this, that means I was right and you were going to bail. Look, I’m sorry if I have left out some information on the commission. However, I knew that you would even be willing to quit the Walton Company if you found out that the church was involved. And I know that you’re willing to face all the consequences for not only refusing the commission, but also those of leaving my employment. But you’re forgetting one thing you lug, all resignations have to be done in person with yours truly. That’s in all employment contracts. So I decided to take the wife and skip town for a few days. Sorry, but you cannot leave the Walton Trading company at this time. See you when you return.” (Walton)
Creole then turned off the Memory Orb. I could feel myself turn pale from Walton’s words.
“I didn’t want to have to play the orb, but you wouldn’t listen to me.” (Creole)
“Sorry boyo, but the boss left early this morning.” (Zeke)
“That’s why I was there to wake you up.” (DJ)
That does explain everything. Why Zeke was waiting for us at the guild, why DJ was there bright and early in the morning to wake me up… it made too much sense.
“ARE YOU SCREWING WITH ME!!!”
I couldn’t even hold it in, I was feeling the blood boil from within my veins. I REALLY wanted to punch something.
Right there, Creole’s killing intent made the supernova of a flame that just burst within myself extinguish. Actually, the pressure was causing Zeke and DJ to lose balance as well. I was starting to choke because I couldn’t breathe.
“You shouldn’t have done that.” (Pearl)
That little… she’s been around her father for so long that she knows to be behind him when he does that.
“Now that you’re calmed down, let’s get back to business.” (Creole)
We were then told the details of the commission. Our job was to get to the mine and protect Kuro so she could exorcise the spirit of Angry Angus. We were also her protection to and from the mine. This meant that we might run into bandits and monsters. And because of my outburst earlier, I was tied up when the trip began. I could hear some of the locals laugh as I was in the back of Zeke’s cart with Kuro and Lobo. DJ was placed at the front next to Zeke because of his perceptive abilities.
The first day of the trip, only a few Desert Boars were the closest thing we had to a threat. And Lobo took care of those before we could even react. It was the second day while riding in the cart that Kuro finally talked to me.
“Mr. Coy, I don’t mean to be rude when I ask this… but are you a heathen?” (Kuro)
All I could do was laugh before making my retort.
“It depends on your definition of the word.”
“My definition?” (Kuro)
“Yeah. I read the scriptures and fear the Deity like the next man, but…”
“But, what?” (Kuro)
“I’m against the institution that does the teachings.”
“Wait… you’re a believer of the Deity, but you’re against the church?” (Kuro)
“But why?” (Kuro)
“I have more than enough reasons. For starters, how most of the clergy act all high and mighty. They believe that because they are of the church, that the Deity’s in their favor. Next is how coldhearted they act in situations. If something good happens to someone, they say it’s the Deity’s will. If something bad happens, it was the will of the Deity that it happened. And they expect everyone to buy it.”
That’s how I see it. When my sister was taken away, I was told that it was in the Deity’s will. When I was kicked out of the orphanage on Gift Day, that’s when I noticed it. That damned priest said that it’s in the Deity’s will that blasphemers like me don’t deserve the Deity’s hospitality. Though as I stayed in that cold alleyway starving to death, I prayed to not die like a dog. That was when that man came and tried to steal my pocket watch. I refused to let him have it through the pain. And then… Boss Walton saved me. He told me that he respects those who will hold on to what’s important to them, that’s when it came to me.
“The Deity helps those who help themselves.”
“I see…” (Kuro)
I could tell that she was conflicted on replying to those seven words. That was when Lobo spoke.
“Meh, faith in one’s self is more important.” (Lobo)
Both Kuro and I looked at each other before looking to Lobo.
“By chance… are you an atheist?” (Kuro)
“A what?” (Lobo)
“She’s asking if you are a non-believer.”
“Oh… that. I have my own philosophy. Everyone knows that one’s body is a temple. Thus one should believe in one’s self as one’s own strength is more important than depending on a god’s help.” (Lobo)
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Just… how can one survive in this world if they talk like that out loud? I know my being against the church itself is one thing… but I at least still fear the Deity? What got me was that Kuro was laughing.
“You two…” (Kuro)
““What!?”” (Lobo and I)
“I’ve been waiting to actually meet two people like you guys in this world. One who’s a believer but doesn’t follow the doctrine, and one who’s not a believer and only believes in themselves.” (Kuro)
I didn’t know about Lobo, but I was confused.
“Shouldn’t you be judging us or something?”
“Not really. It’s not like there’s a bishop here or anything? Still… I wonder if all half-men think similarly to you two?” (Kuro)
“You say those two words a lot, don’t you? Anyway, I’ve met all kinds of demi-humans over the years, but the half-man race are the most interesting so far.” (Kuro)
I’ve never heard that term before in my life… that I can recall.
“Don’t worry about it.” (Kuro)
This girl… she’s just too confusing. She’s not even older than I am by her looks, so what did she even mean by ‘over the years’? All I know is that if I didn’t think of something else, then this would be on my mind the whole time.
Not long after that conversation… some bandits showed up. Just the stereotypical kind you find in Boromarl only, some wearing stetsons, some wearing sombreros, bandannas on the lower parts of their faces, some with dusters, and all with revolvers on their hips. The one with all-gray attire spoke, which showed that he was the leader as he stood out the most and was willing to speak. And he had his revolver at the ready.
“Stand and deliver!” (Lead bandit)
His all-gray attire was the hat, bandanna, duster, pants, and boots. The shirt under the open duster was white, but everything else was dirty from the environment.
I had to ask, this was too cliché.
“Yes, really. You know that you are being robbed, right?” (Lead bandit)
“And I know you’re not from around here.”
“Whatever do you mean?” (Lead bandit)
“For starters, you say you instead of ya. That pronunciation ain’t from Boromarl.”
“And you know that ain’t isn’t a word, right?” (Lead bandit)
“See, no one from Boromarl would even argue that point. Not to mention my friends driving the cart would had already killed ya if you were a threat.” (Coy)
Both Zeke and DJ nodded. That left the bandits even more confused.
“Excuse me, but how can you tell if they’re a threat or not?” (Kuro)
“Lobo, mind taking this over?”
“Sure. For starters, those guns are fake.” (Lobo)
Both Kuro and the bandits were in shock.
“How could you tell?” (Lead bandit)
“For one, you don’t smell of gun powder. Both me and Coy have very good senses of smell, and the wind was blowing from the direction you were hiding. Two… you would have cocked that gun already?” (Lobo)
It was hard to see, but the leader was turning pale himself.
“I… um… was waiting to see if you were taking us seriously or not, yeah!” (Bandit leader)
I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
“Excuse me, what did you just say?” (Bandit leader)
I then stood up and got out of the ropes binding me. Kuro seemed to be as surprised as the bandits.
“You could get out of that at anytime?” (Kuro)
“Coy’s an escape artist.” (DJ)
“Not really. I just know how to get out of ropes, chains, shackles, and even standard handcuffs.”
“But… what was the point of tying you up?” (Kuro)
“That was remind me that there’s no getting out of this request.”
I said that before fan firing my revolver after a quick-draw and shooting the lead bandit’s gun. Other than it being dropped… it broke, showing the wood it was really made from. Kuro looked on in amazement as the broken prop’s owner spoke.
“Oh dear…” (Lead bandit)
“Now… you have two choices. Either give up and explain yourselves or die right here.”
“Wait… isn’t that a little excessive?” (Kuro)
“That’s what I wanted to ask.” (Lead bandit)
“There’s no law protecting bandits in any country. Banditry is actually punishable by death in most of them. Even idiots with props pretending to be bandits are still considered bandits in the eyes of the law.”
It’s the truth. Even if the guns were fake, these morons tried to threaten us with them. Thus can be legally considered self-defense.
“All right… the jig is up. We surrender.” (Lead bandit)
All of them threw down their props and raised their hands. It was over too quickly.
“Now, explain yourselves.”
“All right then. My name is Chester, the lead actor in this troupe.” (Chester)
Wait… the lead bandit’s name is Chester? And they are a troupe? Oh Deity help me.
“We are an acting troupe from Stinwin, here in Boromarl to help teach the ignorant masses culture through our plays.” (Chester)
“You know if the locals heard you, they would find it offensive? Right?”
“Sadly… you are correct. Instead of making both a difference and a fortune… we were shunned and did not make even a piece of copper. We had sunk so low… that only the fruits thrown at us were all we had to eat.” (Chester)
They all started crying. Talk about pathetic.
“So we decided to rob people until we could afford a boat trip back home.” (Chester)
“Well… that was just stupid.”
“How so? We were sure that our superb, top notch acting skills would frighten people?” (Chester.
“For starters… you guys were using props to rob people. There’s a rule when it comes to guns, never point them at anyone unless you intend to use them. And this is Boromarl. For most of the people here, the bible they live by is their gun. If you’re gonna point something as stupid as a prop at them, they will shoot you.”
“Well… we did not know that.” (Chester)
“Not to mention, all your plays are probably popular in Stinwin, right?”
“That is correct. The tale of the Old Warrior is one of our best.” (Chester)
“That’s the thing, that story ain’t popular enough in these parts.”
“You heard me. Look, it’s not about what you guys like, it’s about what the audience likes. Try learning stories popular with the locals, then write your plays based on them.”
“By the Deity… YOU ARE A GENIUS!!!” (Chester)
“I thought that was just common sense?”
“Thank you, good sir. We will do our research and then produce some of the most popular plays that this land full of philistines has ever seen!” (Chester)
“Just be sure to not offend your audience. And to not use big words, people in Boromarl hate that.”
“Will do. Ladies and chaps, we have new plays to write!” (Chester)
They all cheered and went on their way. Everyone of us was dumbstruck.
“Mr. Coy… what just happened?” (Kuro)
“We let them go. Now Zeke, let’s get on our way.”
“Alright, boyo!” (Zeke)
We then got back to our journey. It was almost nightfall when we finally reached Tire Flats.
“Alright, time to put up camp.”
“Mr. Coy… shouldn’t we head for the mine?” (Kuro)
“Sorry sister, but that’s not a good idea.”
“But why?” (Kuro)
“The best time to fight is in the daylight. Don’t forget, there could be a ton of undead in that mine. People have been trying to get their hands on Angry Angus’ silver for the past twenty-three years, so who knows how many are in there? Not to mention, we just arrived. So our butts are soar from riding that damn cart.”
It’s all true. Zeke could had at least put some hay in the back of that damned cart before heading out?
“You have a point. But where should we camp out?” (Kuro)
“Wrong, we’re camping in.”
I said that as I pointed at the abandoned church.
“Wait… we’re camping inside of the church?” (Kuro)
“Yup. All churches are on holy ground, thus monsters such as undead won’t bother us. And the bell tower is the best place for a lookout.”
“But where will we be cooking?” (Kuro)
“Inside. Even churches should have a wood burning stove for cooking and keeping the place warm. It’s not like we’re going to set a campfire in a wooden building? Even someone like me has their limits.”
She accepted as she saw that there were no problems. After putting our things in the church, we left Kuro there to watch them as we couldn’t let her witness us searching the town for treasures and supplies. It’s not really looting if the town itself has been abandoned for two decades, okay? As the items in question were abandoned, taking them doesn’t make one a thief. And don’t forget, we coyotes are naturally scavengers.
Sadly… we didn’t find too much. Of course this town had to be picked over by other scavengers, it’s been abandoned for years. The most I found were pieces of broken furniture that could be used for firewood. Zeke knowing him… searched the saloon. He managed to find a bottle of whiskey that was hidden under a floor board. Lobo looked through some of the houses and managed to find some cookware. I took it for myself as I do plan on moving out of the dorms soon, even if I got a look from Kuro. DJ… he found a trunk from somewhere. And we all were eyeing it.
“What do ya thinks inside?” (Lobo)
“Well my very tall friend, it ain’t gold. Otherwise we would have heard some clinking.”
He’s not really my friend, but I always wanted to say something like that.
“Should we just bust it open, boyo?” (Zeke)
“I have a better idea.”
I then grabbed a bobby pin from my pocket. I always carry one because I’m good with locks. It was something I picked up from a few of my seniors under Walton’s employment. Not long after I got it, I heard a hiss, telling me that this was airtight. After opening it… most of us turned beet red.
“DJ… where did you find this?”
“The brothel.” (DJ)
That… damn halfwit! What was in that airtight trunk was harlot clothing! Other than lingerie, were skimpy dresses that were basically sleeveless high-leg leotards with a belt that was really an opened front skirt. I slammed down the lid and kicked it out of the building before going to the alter and praying for forgiveness for opening such a thing in the house of the Deity. Kuro giggled a little at my expense, causing the embarrassment to increase tenfold.
After dinner, it was time to decide the shifts for lookout. Zeke drank most of that whiskey to get himself exempt from it. I ended up with the second half while DJ got the first. Halfway into my shift… a certain female priest climbed to the top of the bell tower.
“Shouldn’t you be asleep?”
“I went to bed first remember. Besides, I wanted to talk to you.” (Kuro)
Great… just my damn luck.
“I am curious on why you really hate the church?” (Kuro)
“I explained it all on the way here.”
“Not really. What you said were basic rants. But I can tell that you have an actual reason to hate them.” (Kuro)
“Heh, you’re sharp.”
“I have more experience than you ever will. Now, mind telling me?” (Kuro)
“Ain’t the confessional booths downstairs?”
“Fine. When I was little… they took someone special away from me. It really affected me.”
“Was it someone you love?” (Kuro)
“No, not romantically anyway.” (Coy)
I said that while looking at my pocket watch.
“Oh… do tell.” (Kuro)
“It’s a story only those really close to me get to know.”
“Awe… you’re no fun.” (Kuro)
“I do have other things I can tell.”
“Like what?” (Kuro)
“I plan on going on a journey eventually. To find that person. And… there’s someone else I must find. For a different reason.”
“Wait… your tone just changed a little.” (Kuro)
I guess she’s right? I ended up telling her about the incident with Lost Justice. How I lost my mentor that day, how I realized how weak I really am. But I also explained how both journeys are different as well. And… that I didn’t plan on fighting Lost Justice before finding my sister… whom she still doesn’t know is the person that I’m looking for.
“And that’s about the gist of it all.”
“Is there anything else?” (Kuro)
“I do have a few days of my memory missing from when I was ten, but that really doesn’t bother me. Even though those could explain why I was a higher level than most first-time adventurers? Either way, I got nothing left. How about yourself?”
“Like… what?” (Kuro)
“Like why you’re a priest?”
“Well… I can’t really say everything. But for an abridged version… I had these two boys that I grew up with. We were the best of friends. However… one killed the other. I do know that I was the reason why. So I decided to become a woman of the cloth out of guilt.” (Kuro)
“Wow… that’s deep.”
“You have no idea.” (Kuro)
“It’s not your fault though.”
“As far as I’m concerned, it is.” (Kuro)
Before we could continue, it was time to wake up everyone else. We had a mine to dive into, and it was better to get an early start. Little did we know… it became a dungeon over the years. But we will get to that story later.
After Note: And that was chapter 27, peeps. Sorry that it was mostly talking, but things changed as I was writing it. Originally they were going to be attacked by actual bandits with Kuro pleading the group not to kill them. Coy would’ve then said something like “they don’t need their kneecaps to breathe” before shooting them. However, I ended up with the actors as I tried to “put it to paper” as the saying goes. It seemed more of my style as I like comedy. And don’t forget, Coy has a tendency for the expectations of “other worlders” around him to be shattered. We all know that poor Yuki’s gotten used to it already. Even if Kuro is more of a reincarnation of someone from another world than being someone of another world directly, I’m sure she expected a blood bath.
Yes, Coy’s missing days are a reference to a crossover with a certain story of an other world reincarnated person trying to avoid his sister from his previous life when she was summoned to that world directly. Even if the crossover takes place before those events.
I’ll try to get tonight’s live stream out on time. Might be impossible as two of my nieces and their brother are going to be in the house until sometime after the stream starts. Their mother and my sister are going to a wrestling event in town tonight. No, they are not either of my actual sisters’ children, their mother has been a friend of my eldest sister for a long time. However, they like to think of my mother as another grandma and my sisters as aunts, and of course me as their uncle. That explanation aside, I will try to get it started up on time. Hopefully I won’t have to kill another innocent bystander for their hat… again 😛
EDIT: I forgot to mention the song title! It’s actually the theme of former WWE wrestler Christian. He’s considered a Legend now, but this was usually his theme. Originally it was done by an indie band called Waterproof Blond, but after he left the company for a few years and came back it was covered by a band called Story of the Year. I like the original better, one I recommend listening to.