The night passed quietly and relatively peaceful. The next morning, the group continued their journey towards the north. With barely any other distraction, they made their way to their first major city, the city of Kahn. As the group approached the city gates, the old man amongst the people from the Bastich family grew a wide smile. From the events that he had transpired throughout their journey, he never thought she would make it back alive. Seeing the gate to the city of Kahn made him grow wild with joy.
Although the city couldn’t be considered a stronghold of the Bastich family, they still had some influence and prestige there. The Bastich family were in a position of influence among most northern cities. They were a family of weapon smiths, and as such had dealings with most major families in the northern end of the Southern continent and of course the royal family.
As the group approached the city gate, a guard hastily waved them stop. He looked long and hard at Willard, Baya, and Ahmed, ignoring Lydia and her attendants. “Another group of random people!” The guard inwardly sighed. “The toll fee is ten silver pieces!” The guard said casually. At this point in the guard’s life, he had seen all types of people. To him, Willard and his group were rogue martial artists or random people who wanted to make something out of themselves in a big city. Over the course of many years standing guard at the gates, he had become immune to sights like this. The guard did not want to waste time dealing with people like that.
Seeing the expression of the guard made the old man smile even more. Within the forest, he could be considered a nobody, but out here in civilization, he considered himself someone of some noble standing. The old man dropped from his mount and gently walked towards the guard. A facade of a frown could be seen across his face as he slowly got in front of the guard. “What gives you the right to demand a toll fee from the Bastich family?” The old man asked
Inwardly, the old man was currently jubilating. He was finally getting a chance to show the prestige of the Bastich family. “You lot will finally see the world outside of your island!” he thought to himself. As the guard heard what the old man had said, he frowned a little bit. The old man moved his cape revealing the image of a yellow Scorpion, the Bastich family emblem.
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As the guard saw that, his frown deepened. He immediately felt regret for his original statement. Although in reality, the guard hadn’t done anything wrong, but when dealing with influential families like the Bastich, there is no right or wrong. He was just a guard and could not take the burden of facing the Bastich family. “My sincerest apologies my lord!” the guard immediately said. “I had no idea you were from the Bastich family.”
“Ignorance isn’t an excuse. You even demanded the young lady of the Bastich house pay a toll fee.” The old man said as his tone took a more irritated form. The guard was secretly cursing at his bad luck. To be fair, it wasn’t the guard’s fault, but the world wasn’t fair. Usually, people of noble standings usually came in carriages that had their family emblem inscribed on the carriage. The guard knew if the old man wanted to take this matter serious then that meant he was done for.
“That’s enough Anjara!” Lydia said as she walked towards the old man. “He made a mistake this time, let’s leave it at that.”
The old man facing the guard shook his head. “You are lucky my lady is kind hearted. You would have spent the rest of your life in a cellar.” The old man, Anjara, had a blissfully smug smile on his face. He slightly turned to look at Willard, who in turn paid no attention, what so ever, to what was happening. The smug smile quickly disappeared from Anjara’s face. “Still feeling like a big shot.Well, it doesn’t matter. Today you will get a taste of what a true big shot looks like.” He silently thought to himself.
Not long after they made their way into Kahn city, Willard stopped and got off his mount. He gave Baya a stare, something that Baya hadn’t seen in a while. This was a stare that meant take care of the inconvenience. Baya in turn smiled and looked the people behind him, before finally stopping at Lydia. “We will be parting ways here. Take care!”
“Thank you for all the kindness,” Lydia responded.
Anjara was shocked to see what was happening. He had thought that after seeing his performance at the gate, Willard and his group will covet some kind of reward. That wasn’t the case right now, Willard had shown a complete lack of interest in them. It was almost like Willard couldn’t wait to get rid of them. For some unknown reason, Anjara felt even angrier that he had been while he was with them. He wanted to say something to them, but controlled his anger and just kept quiet.
Baya and Ahmed quickly caught up to Willard and walked into a nearby inn. Lydia and her group proceeded to head to a mansion owned by the Bastich family. “My lady, can you believe it? We survived that ordeal.” The middle aged woman in their group said with a smile on her face. Lydia turned and looked towards the direction Willard, Baya and Ahmed had walked towards. “Yeah, we were lucky,” Lydia responded.
As they approached the gate leading to the mansion, they could see three people guarding the gate from afar. Anjara was perhaps the most elated one of them all. He quickened his steps and walked faster than usual to the gate. “Open up!” he said excitedly, gaining the attention of the three guards. A look of surprise appeared on guards as the three of them recognized the people heading towards them. Two of the guards awkwardly stared at themselves, they looked a little surprised and somewhat confused. The other guard within their midst seemed oblivious to the actions of the other guards. He opened the gate and welcomed Lydia and her group. The other group joined and welcomed them, before pathing way for them to get into the mansion.
As they got into the mansion, they saw two men seating and leisurely drinking wine. Both men were startled and one of them even spewed the wine in his mouth all over the floor. “Young Miss, Anjara,” one of them said in surprise. “Greetings. How can we be of assistance!” the man that spewed his wine coughed and quickly said. “Get us some food and prepare a bath and some change of clothes,” Anjara quickly responded. Anjara and the other attendants all were in fantastic moods. Lydia left them and made her way to one of the rooms within the mansion.
Something did not sit quite right with Lydia, but she really couldn’t put a finger on it. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind and decided to get cleaned up first and foremost. Anjara who sat at the table gobbled down food and wine like a starving dog. In reality, he couldn’t be blamed. Over the past couple of days, all he had to eat when they were lucky enough to find some, was some wild game they hunted of wild berries they found. Anjara absolutely detested that situation.
That kind of lifestyle reminded him of his childhood, which in turn brought nothing but sorrow and anger to him. He had left that kind of situation behind him when he joined the Bastich family as a servant. It had taken him over thirty years to gain his current status, and this journey brought all of that torment back to him. “Where is Oaklif?” Anjara asked as he chewed the pork in his mouth. “And why hasn’t he made his way back to greet us?” he continued.
Oaklif was a Bastich family member that was stationed the city of Kahn. He handled the affairs within the city and held the highest authority there. This was in the absence of the main family lineage of the Bastich. From Anjara’s point of view, Oaklif was a somewhat dependable person. Although he was lazy and indulge in women way too much, he still had some redeeming qualities.
“One of the guards has been tasked with informing the lord of my lady’s arrival.” One of the men responded as he stood to the side.
“That Oaklif is probably at a brothel right now.,” Anjara said as he drank some wine. He was currently feeling tipsy and decided not to ruin his mood with thoughts of Oaklif indulging himself in a brothel.
At the gate leading to the mansion, a chubby man was walking leisurely towards the mansion. Although the man seemed calm he had a frown on his face. The chubby man whispered something to one of the guards who in turn grabbed another guard and followed behind the chubby man.
As the chubby man walked into the mansion, he quickly changed from a frown to a smile. “What brings you here Anjara? Does the lord of the house have an important matter for me?” The chubby man said with a smile.
“Oaklif, nothing like that” Anjara said nodding his head.
“Oh!” Oaklif softly said as he paused. “Then why has my lady graced me with her presence?”
“That is quite a serious matter. We were ambushed by a bandit group on our way back home.” Anjara said with an obviously dejected voice. Just the mere thought of what they had experienced absolutely depressed him.
“How did you and my lady survive?”
“Fortunately, we ran into some experts who had saved four of us just in time.” Anjara paused with a reflective look on his face.
“Speaking of which, those experts are within the city, and they are with the leader of the bandits. We have to pay them a visit and teach that Bandit a lesson.” The moment Anjara mentioned the bandit leader was in the city, the look on Oaklif’s face changed to a frown.
“Indeed, we have to pay them a visit. Where are they staying?” Oaklif asked.
“I saw them walk to the Rosemary Inn. They are probably staying there for the night.”
While conversing, Lydia was getting ready to come join them. She could hear most of the conversation and wanted to chime in some praise of Willard and Baya. Before stepping out of the room she moved her gaze to the window, where she caught a glimpse of some Bastich family warriors walking hastily towards the mansion. Just behind those warriors, she noticed someone dragging the body of the guard that had opened the gate for them.
A look of panic immediately appeared on her face. She wanted to run out and inform Anjara and Oaklif, but decided not to as she realized the entire situation was strange. She quickly locked the door to her room and waited.
“By the way, when you encounter those experts, pay special attention to the youth. He is the strongest one. Do your best to recruit that one. Although I don’t know what level he is in, he shouldn’t be inferior to great warrior Bestille.” Anjara was saying to Oaklif, when the warriors came in.
“I must thank you Anjara! I have some cleaning up to do!” Oaklif said waving his hands to the Warriors.
The Warriors immediately encircled Anjara, who in turn frowned. “What are you doing? Do you..” Before finishing his sentence, one of the warriors lunged at him with a blade stabbing him. “You!” Anjara said as he coughed some blood. At this moment, everything was made clear to him. How and why they were attacked became glaringly obvious. Anjara slumped to the floor dead.
“Go search the house and kill them all,” Oaklif said in a serious tone.
“Those useless bandits couldn’t even handle such an easy task. Make sure no one survives.”
“After this is done, we will get rid of those experts as well.”