I continued to walk for a few more hours, when my [Smell Sense] picked up a bunch of presences. The total number was 8 I think and they were on horseback.
I hope its not bandits…either way, I better make some distance and find a good hiding spot. If they are on horseback that means they can close in on me faster than I can react.
And like that, I began to run away.
But to my dismay the 8 people continued to head towards me, and it seemed like they are moving faster than before!
Did they somehow catch on to my presence and are chasing me?!?!? This isn’t good! I need to find some safe spot and hide ASAP!
I continue to run frantically with [Sprint] and occasionally use [Charge] to close in more and more distance. I try my best to find a suitable hiding spot, but to no avail! Looking back with [Hawk Eyes] and [All-Observing-Eyes] I can already barely make out the 8 chasing after me!
At this rate they’ll catch up to me in less than a minute! And looking forward, I see no obstacle I can use to widen my distance, nor any decent place to hide! At this point, them catching me is a certainty!
If they catch me, will they enslave me again?!?! or kill me?!? I shudder at those thoughts.
There is not much I can do, at best I may be able to improve my chances by maybe 10% max!
I simply have no choice… As I run, I try to get out of line of sight and then duck to the side, afterwards I quickly climb a tree and activate [Blend Stealth] hoping for the best… At this point it is in fate’s hands…
I did not have to wait long until the 8 men surrounded the tree, as one of them pointed at me.
You have acquired a new skill [RA][Presence Sense] Level 1
Well that explains how they found me so easily! I gritted my teeth. Talk about not fair!
Looking carefully, they were all wearing a similar uniform. Were they part of the same organization or some sort of soldiers?... Could it be that soldiers were sent to hunt me down since I killed a Rank C adventurer?!?! I frantically panic due to the sudden turn of events, looking for any possible way I can make my way out of this desperate situation.
One of the men, a short chubby one with a large beard rode forward in his horse.
“Howdy there missy! No need to be afraid, we are just the local patrol” he beckons.
No way am I gonna believe anything he says! I already learned my lesson the first time! Not to mention, even if he is the patrol, that is exactly who I want to avoid at this point! I glare back in futile resistance...
“* sigh *… Look there missy, I understand ya’r worry...judging by the slave collar ya must be a runaway beastkin slave right?” he inquires to which I instinctively cover up my collar and begin to panic even more.
“* sigh *… Ron, ya handle this missy over here. She is a fellow beastkin so she’ll trust ya more right?” he added.
Like hell I am falling for that one! I see one of the middle aged men with dog like ears come forward, and his horse stands besides the bearded chubby man.
“I don’t know if that would do much good… When beastkin fall into slavery, with some exceptions, it is everyone for themselves. So it is not uncommon for there to be betrayal amongst compatriots...plus...that one there is most likely retarded...” said the dogkin.
“I AM NOT RETARDED!” I yell by reflex, then quickly cover my mouth.
“Ho...so she can talk!” exclaimed the bearded chubby man.
“...err...sorry that I offended you...That was not my intention. Just to set the record straight, we are the Avian Kingdom patrol. I do not know how much you know about our kingdom, but in the Avian kingdom, outside of criminal slaves, general slavery is banned. So if you are running away from the rest of the continent, this place is rather safe for beastkin.
The reason it is so, is because the official religion of the Avian kingdom is the Dragon God Religion. The Dragon God’s avatar supposedly looks similar to a dragonkin or lizardkin...so it would be pretty bad if those who look similar to the religious deity to be used as slaves. That of course does not mean that discrimination against beastkin does not exist in this country, unfortunately it still prevails even here. But at the very least, you do not need to be worried about being returned to slavery.
Even if you committed some sort of crime or etc, unless it is an international crime, there is nothing for you to fear.” the dogkin explains.
Hmmm...that does sound pretty lucrative...but I can’t afford to let down my guard…
“T-Then why are you here and why did you chase me?!” I question.
“We are a patrol missy, we make sure the border is secure and at same time clean up any dangerous monsters. We chased ya precisely because ya ran, finding that suspicious, we went to check what was up. We don’t mind bringin’ ya to town if ya want, but ya will have to wait until the end of our patrol, and we are required to run an [Appraisal] on ya as well.” the bearded chubby man replied.
Well their story seems fine on the surface...and they are wearing armor with a mark on it, indicating they are at least part of some upstanding organization. Frankly speaking, if they wanted to take me by force, I wouldn’t last a second. Especially against that bearded chubby guy who is even stronger than that middle aged man who enslaved me...
But lets just add a little more caution to the wind.
“I get you are a patrol, and you want to run an [Appraisal] on me, that is fine...But why bother bringing me to town and not just let me be on my way? What’s the catch?” I inquire.
“Frankly put missy, we don’t care either way. It is up to ya. As long as ya submit to an [Appraisal], that is all we really care for. Just as soldiers, it is our responsibility to insure the safety of civilians. Despite us sweepin’ these places regularly, there is still plenty of monsters around. So I figured to offer ya some respite. Whether ya take it up is up to ya.
Of course, there are some circumstances ya have to understand. We can’t just bring ya straight to town. Our main job is patrollin’ after all, so ya would have to wait till the end of the day. We also can’t lend ya a horse or carry ya on one due to regulations. Ya would have to follow us from behind to the best of ya’r abilities.
We can also only bring ya to town, despite ya’r circumstances, things like food and shelter is not in our responsibilities…
What will it be missy?” asked the bearded chubby man.
So they are not going to drop everything they are doing for my convenience and provide food and shelter free of charge without question? How I envy the heroes of literature...anyways lets not get too distracted...
What should I do? The temptations are pretty strong here, especially if I want to level my non-combat class…
Looking at it from perspective, I did accomplish my goal of confirming that I am in a new country. So at least I don’t have to worry about being pursued…I have considered the possibility that these people are fakes and just pretending to be a patrol, but in reality they hunt slaves that escape. But considering their level and classes, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
And again, considering the difference in strength between me and them is night and day, they wouldn’t even need to bother to convince me if they really wanted to take me. Not to mention, I don’t see any [Slave Collar] on the dogkin… so maybe I should at least take them up on the offer to bring me to town? From there I can decide where to go.
Last but not least, if they bring me to patrol with them… I wonder if I can get some awesome skills? Decisions...decisions...
“A-Alright...I’ll come with you..” I relent with slight hesitation in my voice.
“Okay, then. Come over here and stand by this elf here missy. He will do the [Appraisal]” said the bearded chubby man while pointing at the man who I happened to get the [Presence Sense] skill from.
Now that I think about it, I have focused mostly on their levels and classes and paid little attention to their races. The bearded chubby man is a dwarf, and the guy who tracked me is an elf ha? Well I guess that is no surprise considering there are beastkin in this world...
I slowly get down from the tree while contemplating these things and stand next to the elf.
“[Appraise: Human]” said the elf.
Then he took a piece of paper, and wrote something down, then passed it to the dwarf. The dwarf took a look at it while pondering a bit.
“I see...Well things seem to be clean on this end, so ya are free to come alon’ missy. Though ya are a pretty decent level for ya’r age aren’t ya? Ya don’t see too many 12 year olds hit level 13 already. Unfortunately, It seems like ya chose a non-combat class already, which may be a demerit” said the dwarf.
“What do you mean by demerit?” I inquire.
“It is quite simple missy. As mentioned before, discrimination still exists for beastkin even around these parts. This makes getting a job and making a living much harder. Which is why most beastkin that escape here end up joining a craftin’ guild. In doing so, they can sell their wares through a 3rd party and make a livin’.
While a class like [Blacksmith] or [Alchemist] may be a bit too difficult to get, due to needing to raise the skills for it. Something like [Herbalist] or [Builder] should be attainable. So now ya are forced to risk ya’r life in the Adventurer’s Guild to make ends meet and then save enough for a class change” explained the dwarf as me and the patrol traversed through the forest.
“So what exactly does someone get for joining a crafting guild? Is there any conditions or requirements?” I question with curiosity.
“Well...the town of Hallion has 3 craftin’ guilds. The Alchemists Guild, Builders Guild, and Blacksmithing Guild. The conditions to join is that ya must show up during the monthly selections and pass a test. The test depends on what position ya wish to apply. For something like a [Herbalist], the test is rather simple as most early positions require that you only know how to identify basic herbs and able to process them to an extent.
Positions like [Blacksmith] and [Alchemist] are a bit more complex as you are required to show off ya’r skill already.
If ya pass the tests, ya become a disciple of that guild and sign a 2 year contract. The guild provides things like basic shelter, food, trainin’ and some materials for its disciples, the amount varies depending on your achievements in the guild. In retrospect, ya must give a commission to the guild for every sale regardless of who provides the materials. Of course the amount of commission does vary depending on who provided those materials.
If ya sell outside the guild without paying ya’r dues, there are severe consequences” warned the dwarf.
That sounds rather interesting, I can level up my non-combat class while at same time provide for some necessities…Maybe for once since coming here, I’ll finally get some stability! While the guild taking commissions and the contract is not to my liking, at this point I’d take almost anything as long as I am not being used as bait, nor having to worry about being killed in my sleep.
“When is the monthly selections, and will they discriminate against beastkin?” I probe.
“Lets see… If I am not mistaken, the Blacksmithing Guild will be holdin’ selections the day after tomorrow. The Alchemists Guild will hold selections a week after and the Builders Guild will hold their selections 2 weeks after. And ya don’t have to worry about discrimination, at least as far as Hallion is concerned. The Blacksmithing and Builders Guild is run by dwarves, and the Alchemists Guild is ran by an elf, so ya don’t have to worry about being discriminated by the humans” assured the dwarf.
“Hey! Hey! What’s with all the human hate?” queried one of the humans in a teasing voice.
“Shut ya’r trap! Or I’ll cut ya down to a gnome!” yelled back the dwarf.
“Sorry about that missy, these guys are a bit insensitive, they no mean no harm” the dwarf added.
“You are the one to talk!” retorted another.
“Quiet down now! I am picking up on a presence!” interrupted the elf.
We all stop and turn towards the elf waiting for further information. Of course, I was waiting on something else entirely….
Your skill [RA][Presence Sense] has become Level 2
Yup, there it is!
“There seems to be about 10 monsters ahead, they are traveling in a group” notified the elf.
I also activate [Presence Sense] but it seems out of my range, so there are still more levels for me to gain. I then activate [Smell Sense] and pick up on their scent…
“Orcs” I mutter...did the follow me?
“What did ya say? Do ya know something?” pressed the dwarf.
“Well..uhmmm... where I was before, it was attacked by [Mountain Orcs]. Due to that I was able to escape...” I inform.
Of course I am not going to tell them the full story.
“Is that so? All right, ya stay here and we will go eliminate the Orcs. After which, we shall head back early to make a report and have it investigated” announced the dwarf.
While I am a bit hesitant to meet up with those Orcs, especially after what has happened a few days back...That said, it should be safe with this strong group...and I want to steal some skills! Of course I can’t say that, so I involuntarily nod.
With that the patrol rushed on their horses to intercept the orcs, leaving me behind.
Of course I wasn’t going to just let free skills slip away from me that easily! So once they gain some distance, I activate [Sprint] and chase after them to the best of my ability. I can always come up with some sort of excuse later, like being afraid of being alone with orcs around and etc * snicker *
...Though to be fair, I can’t say that I ain’t a bit worried to be alone with orcs around...
When I arrive at the scene, I hide behind a tree with [Blend Sense] and observe the battlefield.
And as expected, it is a complete massacre. With charging spears, the patrol easily land-slided through their formation. While the dwarf smashed them to bits with his over-sized hammer. In the meantime, the elf provided support via a bow.
Of course in that moment, the delicious skills started rolling in! I normally don’t like spam, but this kind of spam I’d take any day of the week!
You have acquired a new skill [NP][Hammer Mastery] Level 1
You have acquired a new skill [NP][Shield Mastery] Level 1
Your skill [NP][Spear Mastery] has become Level 3
Your skill [NA][Impale] has become Level 2
Your skill [NA][Penetrate] has become Level 2
Suddenly I feel a huge headache and my eyes begin to spasm out!
“Arghh!” I scream in pain.
After about a minute, the pain begins to subside and my vision begins to return to normal.
It seems like I overdid it, as there seems to be a limit to how much I can get at once...I should be more careful next time...because if this happens in actual battle, I might lose my life.
I then take a look at the battlefield and see that they have already finished up all the orcs and headed for me.
“So ya came after all missy?” questioned the dwarf.
“Uhmmm...yeah...I was worried that...”
“Don’t worry missy, it isn’t a problem if ya came or not. It was only for ya’r protection after all, so ya should be more careful next time. I can understand how traumatizing this may have been for ya, so lets leave quickly” said the dwarf.
… It seems like he thought that me collapsing in pain after seeing the battle was due to some sort of trauma...well no skin off my back, so I do not see any reason to correct him…
With that we headed towards the town of Hallion.