I did not expect for this group of Hunters to be my associates for the current mission I was given by Bentley for our deal. Naturally, the moment I show my face to them, weapons were unsheathed, a staff was pointed, and shields were raised.
The moment the group did so, the others within the building did the same. I examined all of the potential threats to my life with cautious eyes. I tensed up, ready to quickly use the Dungeon Return Stone in case they decided to try and take my head, regardless of the deal and whatnot.
I could always break down the deal, go back to my dungeon and build up my forces by draining the forest dry of monsters for EXP and DP, although it would close a door to a potential friendly relationship with the city.
All of us stared at each other, waiting for someone to make the first move, that is until the guards beside me shouted and brought back order into the building.
“Lower your weapons, Hunters! This monster is no threat to any of you unless provoked!” one of the guards yelled at the top of his lungs, his voice echoing around the walls, and into the crowded streets outside. “Proceed with your hostile intentions, and you could be held countable for treason against the governing lord of Kazanpan!”
The group of Hunters went silent and still at the declaration. A few seconds later, all of them sighed and sheathed their weapons, a staff now pointing up at the ceiling instead of me, causing a sight of relief to escape my lips that was unnoticed by the Hunters and guards around me. I cleared my throat and regarded the group of Hunters I repelled from my dungeon with my gaze and continued to speak.
“I suppose you are the Hunters that are supposed to come with me on culling the monster number in the forest?” I asked, causing all Hunters in the building to stare at me in either shock, surprise, contemplation, indifference, or even staring like I was some kind of special monster.
What was so special about monsters speaking anyway? Goblins speak, albeit not in the human language. If they drink the potion I drank back in Bentley’s Mansion, they also could’ve communicated with them fairly easily.
“I didn’t think you would be our… associate in our next quest…” the man who was wounded back in the dungeon spoke to me with narrowed eyes, still alert against my presence. The others of his team continued to glare at me with not-so-subtle hate in their eyes. Their hate is justified anyway, since I almost killed them back in the dungeon, even if I knew if we continued the fight, I was sure to lose.
“Well, the same could be said for you…” I eyed the Hunters all surrounding us, observing us with their eyes and ears. Frankly, they made me uncomfortable. “Is there any place where we can talk privately?”
Seeing my gesture towards the other Hunters in the building, the Hunter team nodded in reluctant acceptance and guided me, as well as the guards, towards a private room in the building for negotiations where privacy is required.
I entered the room first, then the guards, then the Hunters. The room was empty, save for chairs and a large desk, enough to accommodate about 20 people. Me? I’m a big boi, my legs are stubby, more so than the dwarf that was glaring at me with a hatred and a little bit of fear. So, I opted to just sit on the ground while they sat on the chairs provided.
Thick silence overcame the room once the sounds of shuffling footsteps came to a halt. No one dared to move, nor speak under this tense atmosphere. Except me, of course.
“So, first off, I’m not apologizing for what me, and my fellow comrades did to you the last time we fought,” I said, my booming voice echoing through the soundproof room. This got their attention, and then they went seething with anger. I didn’t give them the time to rebut though.
“Understand where I’m coming from first,” I continued, not allowing them to dump their complaints, death threats, and pure hatred on me for almost dying. “All of you came into my home, swords and shields raised. It already happened once, and some of my comrades died because of not expecting aggression. You all think we would do the same once someone else barged in our home like that?”
“Plus, you killed more of my comrades, while you all got off with healable injuries,” I added with a silent, but menacing stare. This got them to quiet down for a minute, silence once again taking the room. Hey, I’m not lying, they did die, but I didn’t say they can’t revive. Best thing to do is to act like the victim in this scenario, rather than alpha monkey.
“…” the man who spoke out earlier was silently staring at the air, probably contemplating something I have no idea of knowing without him sharing. I observed the team of Hunters, who were looking at air, the ground, or even just straight up staring at me for reasons unknown to me.
It wasn’t until a moment after, a voice from one of them spoke up, my glance directed at him, his black skin coating his entire body, and horns proudly attached to his head, pointing straight up.
“Playing victim, eh? Well, seeing that you’re concerned with your survival and growth, and hold no hostile intentions towards us sentient beings except for when they provoke you, can’t say I don’t sympathize with ya,” the horned man said while grinning at me. My eyes widened in surprise at his statement, and his other team members looked to him for answers.
“What are you talking about, Sogtharoch?” one of the elf twins asked with raised eyebrows. In response, the black-skinned, horned human sighed and deadpanned at the elf.
“Really? Merethyl, how many times must we go about this?” the elf, now known as Merethyl tilted her head in fake confusion. Sogtharoch deadpanned even further before averting his gaze. “You know what, your games are getting boring now. Time to be chummy with my new monster pal right o’er here!”
Suddenly, Sogtharoch sprinted towards me. I reacted by bringing out the huge club out of my inventory at the sudden movement, only I wasn’t fast enough and he reached me. I prepared myself for pain, but what I felt instead was pat on the arm.
“You know, you’re one huge guy, compared to the other ones we fought,” he said with a grin. “How about we test those on some mindless monsters out in the forest, yeah?”
My eyes landed on his figure. Baffled, I put the club away, seeing that there was no threat to my life. He looked friendly, overly friendly if you asked me. I sit back down, noticing the tense atmosphere dissipating.
I glanced at the others and what I saw me laugh mentally. All of them were chuckling and deadpanning at the sight of their teammate bonding with what could be called a threat to their lives. Most importantly, they seemed to relax around me, well, except that dwarf over there sitting on his high-chair, glaring at me with obvious hate, but lessened thanks to Sogtharoch.
“… Hmm… Sounds fun,” I replied while scratching my chin. Sogtharoch visibly brightened like a teenage girl getting accepted by her crush in the most romantic way possible.
“Nice! Oi Lennon, you’re the leader, why not bring him up to speed with our current circumstances,” job done, Sogtharoch plopped right back on his seat. Lennon sighed, then glanced right back at me.
“Alright, we’ll forget about our grievances for now,” their leader, Lennon, started while glaring at his team for obedience, especially the dwarf, who silently nodded and drank some alcohol since there was no more tense atmosphere. “The quest is easy, hunt some monsters, destroy their nests, and when this machine,” Lennon held out a small, phone-like device for me to see, “sounds off, we’re finished, and we head back here to get our rewards.”
“That simple?” I asked, visibly confused about their system.
“Yes, that simple,” he replied, then smirked at me with pity for my lack of technological knowledge. Well, if there was internet, then surely there must be an online app for tracking quests, right?
“Anyway, I’ll introduce you to my teammates now.”
Thus, started this weird partnership with the Hunter Team, Last of Abandonment… Can I say one thing first? Why is their team name so cringe?
Future arc premises:
Monster surge, Start of Civil War