It was the morning after the caravan had pulled into Ferrent. Inside the Crystal Wayfarer Inn, waiters and waitresses rushed about from table to table with plates of food and drinks. The inn consisted of three floors: the ground floor was the Inn’s eatery, on the second floor were rooms for travelers and families, while the third floor contained lavish suites for the rich – whether they be merchants, nobles, or just some schmuck with too much money. The second floor was where the Paltos family had roomed.
The eatery was full of hungry customers who had just recently gotten out of bed, and a few of them had instigated a yawning epidemic around the room. In a corner of the restaurant sat a couple with a child on the young mother’s lap. The three were eating breakfast.
“TROYLE!?” someone exclaimed while passing by their table.
Looking up, a man around Troyle’s age was smiling at him.
“Dalzak!! What are you doing here?!” Troyle got up in surprise.
Dalzak was someone he had known for a very long time. They had joined the mercenaries around the same time and quickly became rivals during their early years. When they started working more dangerous jobs, Troyle had found out how valuable it was to have someone he could depend on watching his back. They had quickly became friends after many jobs together saving and watching out for one another, and Dalzak became like a brother to him. It was Dalzak who had saved him when he got the injury that caused him to leave the mercenary life.
“Waiting for you. The captain got your letter, he sent us here to wait for you. When did you arrive in Ferrent?”
“Just last evening. Did the captain tell you why?”
“Not a clue. I’d just come back from a job when he told me that I was to come to Ferrent. Told me you’d be staying here at this Inn.”
“Who else is with you?”
“York’s also here. He’s probably not awake yet.” Dalzak grinned then looked at the other person watching them at table.
“It’s been a while Adalina.” he smiled at her and gave her a bow.
“It has, hasn’t it? How’s everyone and the captain?” Adalina answered while also giving Dalzak a respectable nod.
“Been swell. Captain is still the same old crazed goat who jumps at every little thing when it comes to those in his charge. He got wounded a while back, but now you won’t even notice it – although, he has put on some weight. Geral and Lilian took after you two and got married last Rinol.”
“That’s great! Are they still working as mercenaries?”
“Yea, they’re currently on a job right now. Oh right, Galivia also got married to some lumberjack over in Kerkhill, apparently the fellow saved her life while she had been lost in the forest and starving. Or so she says. Lives there with him now.”
“Really? Sister Galivia, married? I’m so happy for her. She used to say how no one was going to marry her because of her quick temper and sharp tongue. I’m so glad she found someone. What about you Dalz? Anyone special?”
“That would be a secret.” he winked and gave her a wry smile. Then he spotted something on her lap opposite him.
“What the? Who’s that little man there?” – Dalzak asked after the child on Adalina’s lap.
“Dalzak, meet Kaidus Reilt Paltos, our son.” Adalina picked up the child for Dalzak to see with a dazzling smile on her face.
“Reilt huh? A fitting title. He was so quiet I barely noticed he was there. How old is he?”
“Kaidus just turned one last Lokil.”
“Hmmm… wow… time sure has flown by. Can’t believe you guys have already been gone for two years.” leaning closer to the infant, “Hello there Kaidus, how are you?” …. two beady eyes stared back at him.
“C’mon Kaidus. Say hi to uncle Dalzak.” Adalina urged, standing Kaidus onto the unoccupied length of the wooden bench.
“U-u-u-UNCLE?! Aah… what is this emotion?!? My heart. It is crying in delight!” Dalzak cried out happily.
Troyle rolled his eye at the utterly shameless display of his friend while Adalina giggled to herself.
“That’s right Kaidus! Say Hi to me! Say HI to uncle please!” Dalzak prompted Kaidus with a grin on his face, his previously charming decorum all but gone.
Standing up on the bench, Kaidus angled his left arm behind his back, his right hand–palm open up against his chest–and made a bow.
“Good morning uncle Dalzak, it is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance.” a small soft voice traveled through the inn with crisp crystal clarity. The previous chatters and playful banters of the inn suddenly dropped a couple decibels.
Speechless at the display before him, Dalzak looked towards Adalina and then Troyle. Both just stared at him and smiled.
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance too, Kaidus.” Dalzak also gave an appropriate bow to the child. Reverting back to his respectable persona. ‘Finally?’ he wondered at that word.
Kaidus returned to Adalina’s lap and continued to eat his breakfast as if nothing happened.
Looking around, to make sure it was not just him, Dalzak spied a couple of eyes looking around the room while others were focused on the table and him.
A small voice: almost inaudible but perfectly fluent and clear, as if it were a whisper in his ears. That was what he heard. Undoubtedly he was not the only one. His earlier display may have brought some attention to him and their table, but the room had all but gone silent after that little display.
“Uh… You guys teach him that?” he asked Troyle unsure of what to make of it.
“No, that was the first time I’ve seen him do that. I don’t even know where he learned it from. Adalina?” Troyle replied shaking his head while passing the question to Adalina.
“I don’t know either.” she replied her voice puzzled, but strangely proud.
“And… you are saying he just turned one…?” Dalzak asked them again.
“Yes, just last Lokil.” Adalina replied.
“Well, he certainly is something alright. To have made this Dalzak speechless, he will undoubted grow up to be a fine man, unlike his father. HAHAHAHAH -OW!” Troyle had elbowed him.
While catching up and recalling old memories at the table with the Paltos family,
“Dalz, what’re you doing?” a deep voice called out, having just descended the stairs from the second floor.
“Well look who’s awake! York, come here!” Dalzak gestured for his companion over.
“What do you want? I’m about to grab something to fill my -… Troyle?” seeing Troyle, he lightened up. “Whoa! It’s been so long! How have you been?! Does this mean you are returning to the mercs?”
Troyle looked at York and smiled. “Glad to see you are well York. You remember Adalina, my wife.” Troyle gestured to Adalina, “and that there is my son, Kaidus Reilt Paltos.” indicating the small child on Adalina’s lap.
“Of course I remember Adalina. And a son huh? That’s great. Good to see you again Adalina” taking a small bow towards her.
“You too York.” Adalina gives a nod of respect and acknowledgement back.
“What’re you doing here Troyle? Last I heard you were living in Hilthu?”
“Circumstances came up, and I thought leaving Hilthu would be for the best.”
“Does that means you are coming back to the Drox Mercs?” a hopeful grin on his face.
“I can’t York that life is behind me now. I want to take care of my family.”
“Don’t tell me that’s why we’re here?” Dalzak cut in.
“Yes, it is… I’m sorry. The Drox mercs will always be like a family to me, but I have my own family now. I must protect them.”
“Does that mean…-” York started.
“Yes. Will you two take it back to the captain for me? I know he had left it in my care in case I ever choose to return.”
“Of course. Although I’m sure the captain will be disappointed. I know he’ll understand.”
“Thank you both. But this is not the time to discuss this, how about you both go grab something for breakfast? We can talk about this later.” Troyle suggested to the both of them.
Soon, the table was filled with four adults chatting and reminiscing about days long past. Troyle had moved to sit by Adalina’s side while York and Dalzak took the other side of the table. Kaidus remained on Adalina’s lap.
Breakfast had ended, and Troyle was out with Dalzak and York to attend to some business while Adalina and Kaidus were back in their room. Kaidus sat on the bed with one of the few books Troyle and Adalina own opened in front of him, while Adalina was keeping busy sewing him a new set of clothes.
‘So those two are York and Dalzak. Always thought they’d be bigger and more rugged.’ was the impression Kaidus had of his parents mercenary friends. He had remembered their names from stories that Adalina had told him.
Dalzak had a slender body type and curly dark brown hair down to his shoulder. He had given off an image of a flamboyant person with a cool personality at first, but then had gone off the deep end, and Kaidus saw a weird side of him.
York was stout and about a head shorter than Dalzak, with childish features. His voice though, was surprisingly deep in contrast to his features.
‘I must be careful and quickly control this, or it’ll cause problems later on.’ Reminding himself about the earlier accident when he had unconsciously infused mana into his voice. This has been one of the reasons why he had never spoken in public. Infusing mana into everything he does had become something of a norm in his previous life, not doing so was turning out to be quite difficult.
Ever since he was reborn, there has been little chance to really get used to his abilities with this new body. Attempt as he may, his control was lackluster and due to always being with Adalina, he had hardly been able to do any experiments. Like a newborn chick knowing it will one day fly, try hard as it might, it will never soar through the sky without feathers. That was his situation. His memories and mind was that of an adult, his immeasurable capacity was all too suffocating and roaring to be let out, every conceivable possibilities were in his grasp, yet his body had not grown enough to be the perfect conduit that would channel his will. ‘At least not yet’ he grudgingly acknowledged in his mind.
Attempting to read the book while lost in thoughts, Kaidus nodded off into dreamland.
He awoke to Adalina’s light touch and the removal of the book he had been drooling on, unsure how long he had been out.
“… Adalina?” he asked.
“How about using the pillow? I’ll put the book right here in case you want to read later.” – smiling, she took the book and set it onto the desk in the room.
Adalina had started teaching him how to read towards the last stretch of the journey – in order to supplement his ever growing curiosity about this new world. He had picked up the vocabularies more easily than he did with the language, and after a couple days of tutelage, had started venturing on his own without constantly having to ask her about words.
The current book was titled The Drakall Mountains of Rovtoss – Rovtoss or Rolvstoss as he once knew it – was the continent situated to the north of Darsus. Rovtoss’ geography was very much like all the other seven continents except for its three mountains dubbed: Arauns Claw. The three mountains stand out like gigantic claws that had emerged from out of the bowels of the earth to claw at the heavens. They are also the tallest mountains in the world – even during his previous life. He had been reading about how the three peaks are the prime breeding grounds for Drakalls – those in the family of flying serpents – before he had been taken by sleep. Arauns middle talon was known as the Imperial talon and where the Mighty Kargalls nested. While the other two talons were known as the Fallow Spire and Dukes Ire, hosting the vicious Farkans, Kalligors, Poringuls, and Hvarals, with a surfeit of other smaller and more diffident Drakalls. Kaidus knew about Drakalls, not by what they are called now, but it was all the same: great serpents who ruled the sky with majesty and domination. Many great mages and warriors had lost their lives hunting such creatures in his previous life.
‘Curse this incomplete body. To even lack the stamina to focus…’ he complained to himself as drowsiness took over once again.
In York and Dalzak’s room at the Crystal Wayfarer Inn, three men were resuming their talk from this morning.
“Are you sure about this Troyle? You do know that there is no going back after this. Maybe you ought to keep it just in case.” Dalzak asked to confirm, once again.
“No Dalz, that life is over. Troyle the mercenary is dead and has been for a long time. I am now Troyle the husband, the father. Even if I were to come back, what about my family? My son is too young, and Adalina… I have not been good to her, I must at least try and keep her happy if nothing else.”
“Then bring them! C’mon Troyle, we are all like family there, everyone can help look out for your wife and child. They’ll be cared for while you are away, and you know merc jobs pay way better than being posted as a city patrol or some guard.” York contested.
“We are like family York, but you both know that is no place for an infant to grow up. Even worse, what If I don’t return? What would my family do then?” Troyle replied again, this time resolute.
“That…” unable to think of anything, York remained silent.
“I had never realized it before, but it was probably because of Adalina that I left in the first place. I had always thought that it was because of my blunder and injury that caused me to remove myself from the mercenary life, but now I don’t believe that is the case. After I got that injury and you saved me, I was afraid, I was scared of not being able to see Adalina again. That was probably the real reason. I had denied the possibilities of it for far too long. Sitting in that wagon, I saw the reasons: beautiful, hardworking, sensitive, keeping the well beings of others before herself. I want to keep her smiling, I want to do whatever it takes to make up for the year I spent oblivious to her pain.”
The two saw that Troyle was serious in his decision.
“I understand. I do not know what your letter said, but if I were to guess, the captain probably saw this coming, which is why he sent me and York.” Dalzak answered Troyle with understanding.
“I, Dalzak Revarr, 9th chair of the Droxxon Mercenaries, with York Dulgos as witness, hereby relieve you, Troyle Paltos of any obligations to our cause. Your previously frozen position of 17th chair will be nulled and given to someone else. If you were to join again, your position will be that of a new recruit. Please turn in your blades and the insignia of the Droxxon mercenaries.” Dalzak spoke out, as if reading from a script.
“Thank you Dalz.” Troyle replied. Handing over this two Amberite swords that he got from the captain once he became 17th chair. In his pouch, he pulled out a tiny strip of vellum with a halberd and sword crossing against each other making an X. The longer halberd extending and elongated one leg of the X.
With the help of Dalzak, York, and some old acquaintances, Troyle managed to settle his family in a small house in Ferrent’s 3rd ward. Wards 1-9 surrounds the inner wards: 10, 11, 12, and 13. 10, 11, and 12 is where the nobility lives, while ward 13 was where the palace is located, along with the royal family. All of the districts are encompassed by a high wall made of stone, protecting it from attackers. The only way in or out was through one of the 9 gated checkpoints, and are guarded day and night. The inner wards themselves had another set of walls to isolate the nobility from the common populace–all with gates and guards.
The search for the residence had taken only two days, and within the week, they were already living in the small two story and three room house.
The first floor was where the kitchen and living room was located along with an indoor toilet and bath. The bath had a mechanism that drew water from an underground reservoir to fill up into a stone pit for bathing. The water could then be heated by another mechanism built under the bath. The lavatory was in a lowered room that connects directly to a pipe with flowing water that flows into a sanitizing facility somewhere in the 12th district.
The second floor was where the three rooms were. Currently, one was being used as a study, one belonged to Kaidus, with Troyle and Adalina in the last room.
Through the connections of York and Dalzak along with some fine negotiations, the price house came out to be 311 erns each month, or almost 7 erns a day.
And sticking to his plan, Troyle found a job as a patrolman.