Within a private study in the middle of the Gerret household, stood two youths having a cheerful conversation. These youths were Willard and Sebastian. In Sebastian’s view, Willard was the greatest stroke of luck he had ever had. Not only did he help him overcome his issues, he also helped propagate him to his current status.
“Why don’t you stay another week? By then, the construction of the statue you want should be done.” Sebastian said as he tried to persuade Willard to stay longer. Willard kept quiet almost as if he was contemplating something. Sebastian sighed and nodded his head. “Since you would not be staying for that long, why don’t you give me a couple of hours to put together a gift for you.”
“Thank you,” Willard responded with a smile.
Sebastian left the study to immediately get things ready for Willard. Although he wanted to give Willard a lot of things, he knew Willard would prefer to travel light and as such could only take a few things with him.
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Willard walked towards the house Nana was staying. As of the moment, his biggest problem was what to do with Nana. On the one hand, he cared deeply for Nana especially since she was the trigger that got him out of his coma. And on the other hand, Nana would eventually become a burden for him. As he got closer to the house, Nana stepped out of her quarter. She was surprised to see Willard but immediately broke into a smile. They both walked towards some direction as they spoke.
“Nana, what do you intend to do?” Willard asked with a serious expression.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Nana asked then smiled. Willard had a complicated expression on his face as he was about to say something before Nana cut him off.
“I’ll stay here and wait for you,” she said with the same smile on her face. Willard was shocked in response to her statement. This was in complete contrast to how Nana had behaved in the past. Willard took a long look at Nana before nodding his head. Willard was about to take another step away when Nana grabbed his hand. “Please be safe and return to Nana,” she said softly, before slowly letting his arm go. WIllard looked at her for a couple of seconds before walking away. He thought about saying something to her, but was in a complete loss for words.He couldn’t quite figure out what he was feeling, but all he knew was that he actually cared for Nana.
Later that day, Willard and Baya set out for the northern borders. Baya stared at the Marquis city, reminiscing on the first time Willard and himself had arrived at the city. They nothing more than inexperience villagers, or at least he was, who were set on taking part in the Blood challenge and then joining a school. Now, they were revered individuals who had left behind a legacy. Baya thought back to what Willard had told him with regards to their home, the Yellow Hew village, and how the village was ravaged by bandits killing and displacing over ninety percent of the villagers. Baya wasn’t too saddened by the news, because none of his family were alive, to begin with. He was orphaned at an early age and had always felt a little distant from the village as a whole, which eventually lead to his interest in leaving the village.
“How time flies.” Baya inwardly thought, as Willard and himself got on their mount and rode away. They both kept quiet for a good while as each individual thought about different things.
Along the way, neither Willard nor Baya really spoke much. They stopped in a remote village to rest for the night, and provide care for their mounts. Nothing particularly interesting occurred in that village as they left early the next morning. Their journey was mostly the same as they stopped at different villages and on rare occasions spent the night in the open forest. On the fifth day of their journey, Willard and Baya encountered a group of travelers who were heading in the same direction.
At first, the travelers seemed to have been on edge when they encountered them, but as time progressed they seemed to be fine. The travelers paid Willard and Baya no attention and kept to themselves, continuing their journey. Most people preferred to keep to themselves when they travel as no one could tell what unforeseen trouble could come your way. Baya caught a sight of a young lady who was in their midst, seating in the carriage. She had a slender body with a beautiful oval shaped face. Her hair was black and short, which added to her looks.
Later that night, Willard and Baya stopped at a remote location in the forest and decided to make camp there for the night. Baya was a skilled hunter, who easily killed some wild rabbit for their dinner. While they watched the rabbit roast in the night fire, Baya turned to look at Willard who was resting his back against a tree and had his eyes closed.
“For one to live, you must steal life itself.” Willard surprisingly said as he opened his eyes. Baya was used to hearing these kinds of things from Willard and as such kept quiet and listened.
“Then how can one claim to be on the right path when we steal the very source of our lives?” He continued as he walked towards the fire and sat closer. Baya tore a piece of the wild rabbit and gave it to him. The rabbit had a flavorful fragrance that filled their surrounding like a wild gourmet dish that had just been prepared. Willard took a bite and savored in the taste before breaking into a gentle laughter.
“There is no such thing as good or bad, righteous or evil. All that truly exist is just a path to life itself, and our journey is ultimately to find the path that leads us to life.” Willard quickly finished eating his piece of the wild rabbit and immediately started meditating. Ever since his coma, Willard spent more of his time on understanding nature around him, rather than cultivating. He had a strange feeling that once he finally understood something essential he would finally break through the restraint he had noticed after he started cultivating the red energy.
While Willard was in the nine heavens, the concept of good and evil did not exist to him, but his experience as a mortal introduced that concept to him. While he was in a coma, he got enlightened to the essence of the world. He realized that the energy of the world had some common relation, but he wasn’t certain on what that was. He knew that there was something fundamental he had been lacking in his life as Thanus, which could be summed up in two words: “Purpose and Direction.”
Purpose in this sense represented a life goal to achieve which transcended the mortal world and the nine heavens, and direction represented a path to achieve that goal. Now that he thought about it, he realized that this was much higher than the petty struggle of the various gods.
Later that night, cries were heard from within the forest. Baya got up looking towards the direction those cries were coming from. “It seems like a bandit group is attacking one of the nearby camps.” he softly said. Willard opened his eyes and looked towards where the cries were coming from. A look of absolute disinterest could be seen in his eyes. “Do whatever you want.” Willard said in response to what Baya said.
Baya sighed and moved his gaze back to the direction of the cries for some seconds before walking towards the fire. Baya added some more wood to the already burning fire and even tossed the greased up wood, which was used as a skewer for the wild rabbit, into the fire. The fire burned more vividly, followed by the scintillating aroma of the roasted wild rabbit. Baya thought about the young lady he saw earlier while they were travelling but quickly moved that thought to the back of his mind. Baya sat back down and rested behind a tree. He closed his eyes as if he was about to fall asleep. Willard looked towards Baya with a little smirk on his face. How could he not know what Baya’s intentions were? His actions with the fire were to give a sharp signal of their location, so as to attract anyone who was currently fleeing.
“Help someone help us!” an old masculine voice rang out. He was currently in the company of three other people who were all heading towards Willard and Baya’s location. Baya got back up and looked towards their direction. He noticed the young woman he had seen earlier amongst the people who were currently running towards them. As the old man approached them, he quickly sized both Baya, who was currently standing in front of him, and Willard, who was quietly resting behind a tree. The old man noticed neither Baya nor Willard had any weapons that he could see. After pausing for a few seconds, the old man began running pass Baya and Willard. In his view, those two young men would not be able to help them. Two of the three people, a middle-aged man and woman, that were with him began following the old man’s lead when all of a sudden they realized the young woman just stood there staring at Baya.
“My lady what are you doing? We have to leave this place immediately.” The old man said urging the young lady to come along with them. The other two seemed to agree with the old man and turned to urge the young lady as well. “There are bandits up ahead of us. You and your friend need to leave this place.” She said feeling a little guilty at the moment. Baya smiled in response and looked towards the direction of the bandits that were now making their way towards them. “Thanks for the warning,” Baya said as he walked forward heading towards the incoming bandit. The young woman was startled by Baya’s actions and was about to say something, but for some strange reason, she decided to just stand and watch him.
“My lady we need to leave. If we are lucky this fellow might buy some more time.” The old man among them said as he tried pulling the young lady to flee from the place. The young lady resisted and vehemently decided to watch and see what happens. She decided that if things were not going to well she would do her best to bring the young man who was still resting behind the tree.
Willard who seemed to be asleep had his palm firmly placed on the forest soil. Due to his attainment with the earth element, he was able to use the undulation of the earth’s vibration to monitor his surrounding. Although he seemed carefree, he was still paying attention to the entire situation.
As the Bandits approached their location, they noticed a young man standing, almost as if he was waiting for them. The first to arrive amongst the bandits had his reservations and decided to wait a few more seconds for the rest of his gang to get to his location. Within a few more seconds, more members of the bandit group arrived. “What do we have here brothers? A noble knight.” One of the bandit members said as he broke into a huge laughter, which caused the rest of the bandit members to laugh with him. “Brothers let’s show this brave knight what happens in our forest.” The man said as he charged towards Baya.
The man had a large blade which he immediately swung straight at Baya. Ever since Baya’s trip to the Red forest, he had been steadily improving his martial prowess. To top it all off, he had mastered the movement technique Willard had gifted him. Using the movement technique, Baya evaded the impending attack and shot past the man that wielded the large blade. Baya’s target were the other supporting bandits. The first person he shot towards was caught completely off guard. Almost without realizing it, Baya’s Dagger had sunk into his skull. Baya moved to the next closest bandit and barely exchanged two attacks with another man before slicing his neck open.
The other bandits watched in shock as they Baya swiftly killed two people. An impending sense of danger rose up in the hearts of remaining bandits. Although they had the advantage in numbers, Baya was like a plague that had just been realized. One after the other, Baya stabbed and slashed the bandits around him. Within the span of five minutes, Baya had killed over ten people. Baya was slowly losing his breath as he realized something important. These bandits were just too numerous. Although he had killed ten people it did not really affect the overall number of bandits.