The deeply glowing ember from the burning wood created a peaceful and serene environment tonight. It wasn’t clear to Willard why he felt this way, but he couldn’t help but notice something about his current state was relaxing. Aorah sat staring at the stars with a longing expression. Nana quietly laid down with her eyes firmly shut. Willard was silently staring at the sky and occasionally moved his gaze to the both of them, as they seemingly embraced the night.
“This is the first time your mind has been at peace since you joined us,” Aorah said watching the stars. Willard’s expression did not change because he was already getting used to the strangeness of Aorah.
“If you let me go, my mind would always be at peace.”
“Hahaha. I suppose.” She laughed. Willard knew that letting him go wasn’t even an option at this point. Given the way Aorah had firmly proven her resolve to have him accompany her, there was no way she would let him leave.
“Why did you choose not to avenge the death of Nana’s entire village?”
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“It is not always evil versus good. There is merit in forgiveness.” Aorah responded with a saddened look on her face. “Given your rate of growth, in due time you will understand the meaning behind my words.”
“What is there to understand? You simply chose cowardice in the name of peace, just like with those bandits today. It is specifically people like you I hate the most.” Willard said before he closed his eyes to sleep. Aorah turned to look at Willard for a couple of seconds, and then turned back to continue watching the stars.
The next morning, they got up and continued their journey. The events of the day went on like they usually did. Aorah mysteriously vanished without any warning, while Nana continued navigating the way with Willard. Neither Willard nor Nana knew of her whereabouts and frankly, neither of them could be bothered to even think about. Hours into their journey, the terrain slowly started becoming recognizable to Willard. He remembered the first time he got to this point, which was a couple of months back. The route before him led to the Blue Rose village, which gave Willard a certain sense of nostalgia.
As they continued along the path, they quickly came across a lot of villagers who seemed homeless. Willard thought about the last time he came through those paths, they weren’t that many inhabitants living in the Blue Rose village. As a matter of fact, he clearly remembered that the Blue Rose village was a transit village. One that got most of its economic activities from the warriors and mages that usually stopped over on their way to bigger cities. Although this scene was strange to him, he did not bother to think much about it.
“Please spare some change for me. I haven’t eaten in three days.” A young female beggar yelled as she ran alongside the carriage. Something about this beggar seemed familiar to Willard.
“Nana, stop the carriage,” Willard said as he quickly jumped down.
Willard kept staring at the young beggar for a long time. Something about this beggar seemed familiar, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Suddenly it all came crashing into his head. He knew exactly who this beggar was. Behind her currently dirty and worn out outfit, was a short small-framed beautiful girl. How could Willard forget, this was a person he had spent a lot of time around, while he was a child in the Yellow Hew village training to be a warrior.
“Ayola, is that you?” Willard asked with a surprised expression.
“Sir, have we met before?” Ayola asked while she panted.
Willard was seriously shocked with what he was experiencing. He thought back to how long he had left the village and realized it had been just four months. Sure he had grown his hair a little longer and might have added an inch or two to his height, but it still couldn’t explain why Ayola couldn’t recognize him at first glance. Willard seriously thought about what could have caused such trauma to cause her to forget who he was. He could smell something was wrong about the whole situation. The increased number of inhabitants and now Ayola.
“I am Willard, we were both trained by the warrior Azeya. What are you doing here? Why are you like this?”
“Willard is that you? You look so different. Can you please spare some change?” Ayola asked again. Willard did not necessarily feel pity for Ayola, he mostly felt a sense of bewilderment. He couldn’t figure out what was currently happening. From his memory of Ayola, she had a loving family that provided for her.
“Nana, do you some silver or gold coins you could lend me?” Willard asked
“Why should I lend you any money?”
Willard quickly checked his sack to see if he could find anything of relative value. All his current possessions, at the moment, were the root of the fire plant that Baya had acquired for him and a blue jewel stone Sebastian had gifted him for his victory against Mailey.
“Why don’t you hold onto this blue jewel stone, return it when I pay you back,” Willard said tossing the blue jewel stone to Nana. Nana sized up the jewel for some seconds and tossed a little pouch to Willard. She had an unusual smile as she kept on staring at the blue jewel stone.
“Nana, why don’t you find us an inn, I will also pay back for the accommodation,” Willard said leading Ayola to a nearby restaurant.
“It’s you again. Get out of here before I give you another beating.” A man who stood in front of the restaurant yelled. Willard ignored the man’s statement and brought Ayola to the restaurant.
“We would like a table ,” Willard said to the man.
“Are you both deaf?” The man said as he proceeded to grab Willard to throw him out. Unfortunately for the man, Willard was never the type to take any insults. Willard willed natural energy to his palms and slammed the chest of the man. The man tumbled backward and crashed into a sitting area outside of the restaurant. The noise from the confrontation invited a host of people to come check out what was happening.
“What is the meaning of this?” A chubby man who was better dressed said as he came out of the restaurant. The man frowned his face as he approached Willard. Just now, Willard had beaten his supposed security guard and he wasn’t sure what Willard might want to do.
“We would like a table? Or are you going to try and throw us out like him over there?” Willard asked pointing to the who was laying there unconscious.
“It is not that we don’t want to serve you, it is just that we need proof that you can afford the meal first.” The man said looking towards Willard and the dirty looking Ayola.
“Is this proof enough?” Willard said tossing five silver coins to the chubby man.
“Yes, Yes. It is proof enough.”
The man instructed someone to carry the unconscious security guard away before he went to go prepare a table for Willard and Ayola. A couple of minutes later, Willard and Ayola were seated and served by someone from the restaurant. Without a moment to waste, Ayola decimated the plate that was in front of her. Willard stared in amazement, wondering what on earth could have happened to the girl in front of him. Within the span of ten minutes, Ayola had finished three rounds of food. At this point, she slowed down and proceeded to eat normally.
“What happened to you?” Willard asked as he noticed some normalcy in Ayola.
“Three weeks ago, the village was raided by some outlaws. I managed to escape with some lucky others.”