"Pete, Aegen" Haren looked at the chubby kid and his twin brother whose only resemblance to him was their golden hair. "Though some mishap happened, We still pulled it off. Thank you for your cooperation"
"No need, brother" Pete, the chubby kid replied as he anchored his arm in Haren's shoulders. "Someday, when I finally got the family rights, I'll take care of you guys and by then, we'd all be living in that big mansion"
Pete was one of the most unusual noble kids, though he was pampered and given all the luxuries in life, he was fond of adventures and seek to taste all the food in the world. Years ago, when Pete ventured in the wilds to harvest some jade mushrooms first hand as it was said that the juices of these mushrooms that evaporates minutes after plucking contains the taste like no other. Along with a full party of guards, he also insisted on getting the service of some street rats but not the scary and experienced ones, he wanted the the kids who begged in the streets. Needless to say, he just wanted some company of his age since the guards he hired would have been trained to applaud him no matter if he discovered something big or small. His twin brother who was younger by a few minutes by birth was timid and was diligent in studying. They were worlds apart in their interests but Pete has his way with words and always convince his brother Aegen to accompany him. Through this experience, he got to know Hegen's group and though he initially just hired them for vanity's sake, he came to be font of their company and regularly met with them. Due to their parents being away to manage the family business, the news of their actions took a bit of time before getting discovered but when it did, they were reprimanded severely and was forbidden to do so again but Pete was not some kid who'd simply take the verdict lying down so he sneaked around time after time and even drag Aegen sometimes with or without his consent.
Today's plan was actually Pete's idea, though it was flawed in many areas, Pete wanted to be a master architect in this kind of operations. Though not necessarily theft, but planning that involves delegating tasks to other people and make them work like cogs in machine. Truly a wisdom he learned from observing his parents. With some input from Aegen to do some analysis for the the probability of their success and escape routes, the plan was set.
Around an hour later after the first phase of their plan was executed, they arrived at the meeting place but Hegen was nowhere to be found. They didn't know that their friend was being chased by the butcher and got worried about what happened to Hegen and started to plan a search when he showed up. He told them the story of a guy helping him from the butcher's chase and felt guilty for being unable to provide help but they still decided to escape back to another place for fear of getting tracked.
After a while, Pete and Aegen left the others as they can't be away for too long since they might get caught leaning Jillian with Hegen as they walked back to the hide out. Though Pete knew of Hegen and the others' circumstances, he was powerless to do anything for them.
"I've finally found you" A stranger's voice echoed. They saw a man holding a rock approaching and Jillian stood up immediately and so did Hegen as he recognized the man.
They never thought that the seemingly unstable man would suddenly attack them and the last thing he saw was an incoming rock screaming a weird tone before he passed out.
"Oh, you're the first to wake up!" A cheerful voice of a man resounded as Hegen opened his eyes.
When he tried to adjust his position, he felt a sharp pain from his stomach and feebly tried to supported his body. "Urgh"
"We've had a really bad start don't you think so?" The voice continued. "Anyway, we're all good now right?"
The robed kid was trying to straighten his body but was hardly able to do so due to the severe bruise in his stomach. Meanwhile, Nero who was trying to find the words to ease the situation was blabbering non-stop.
He was the renowned adventurer that conquered the whole west. His fame were told in songs and was even known as the most terrifying berserk warrior in the battlefield but what everyone did not know was that, his affinity for fighting does not reflect his social and administrative skills.
Surely he had devoted followers and apprentices who looked up to his achievements but most of them were all achieved through his brute strength and simple tracked minded thinking. You could even say that the whole situation of how the west became united is due to extreme luck. His strength was ridiculously abnormal eliminating most of his adversaries through brute force. His companions who for some reason supported him would handle all the areas he lacked.
It was only when he got older that he managed to strategically use his skills and analyze his opponent's attacking methods.
"Y-you lunatic! Where did you brought us?!" The robed kid exclaimed interrupting the useless blabbering of Nero. He was regretting the time he felt sympathy for the man even for just a moment.
"We're in a cave just outside the city" Nero smilingly replied.
"Well, if you're gonna ask how the guards let me passed, I too didn't know. I just told them I've a sack of kids inside and they let me through while laughing" Nero kept smiling as he explained.
It was their noise that woke the other kids. Like Hegen, the others felt extreme pain as they tried to move and even one kid took Nero's comforting words as he complained earlier and spouted "Y-you told us it won't hurt", making Nero apologize to each of them in an awkward situation.
It was then that Jillian, who, while bearing the pain in his neck stood up and tried to attack Nero with a rock.
"Relax kid, I'm not your enemy" Nero skillfully dodged and countered with an elbow to the kid's crotch. "Hmm, interesting"
"You're all street rats that no one will care if you're gone or not" Nero adjusted his position and looked at the robed kid.
"Needless to say, even if you were all killed on the back streets, No on will give a fuss but I am not here to do that. Honestly, I've just arrived here and I've nowhere to go and nothing to do so-"
Jillian didn't let Nero continue his long explanation and tried to run to the cave's entrance when a continuous roaring sound attacked his ear drums.
"Can you please not interrupt my explanations kid?" Nero stood up and picked the bewildered kid and threw back to the others.
"As I was saying, I've no intention to harm you guys-"
"You already have!" Jillian retorted
"Not intentionally! I just did that because you guys won't even listen to me and by-" Nero defended himself.
"That's kidnapping and abuse of power" Jillian continued.
"I just wanted to-" Nero, with all the experience he garnered was at a loss for words due to a kid's argument.
"Enough, Jillian, you're just making the situation worse for us. That lunatic might lose it and kill us all if you push him more" Hegen said without even masking the disgust as he looked at Nero.
L-lunatic? did I lose my magical charm after being a magician? This day is just getting worse. I just want to go back to the magician hall and beat that girl's ass to feel a bit better.
"So, Mr. Lunatic, for what reason did you brought us to this shabby looking cave of yours?" Hegen ended Nero's thoughts with a disinterested question.
"Obviously, I'm the worst at talking so instead of trying to convince you through words, let's fight" Nero decided to do it his way until the end and stood up.
Hegen was aghast for words as he realized the mad man lost his wits and is trying to drag them all to hell "Y-you scum"
"I won't fight you guys unreasonably" Nero looked at Hegen and positioned himself blocking the narrow exit of the cave. "I won't move away from this spot and anyone who got out of my reach is free to go.
Jillian didn't hesitate and started to grab the rocks and threw them at Nero. the small kid was resourceful in finding new ways to attack and in Nero's eyes, he knew with the right training, the kid would bloom into a fine Technician. Only Hegen and Jillian fought with Nero and the others were timid since their usual work in the streets were begging and cleaning shoes for others.
But soon enough, the others participated in the fight by gathering the rocks and threw them at Nero. Though most of their attacks missed, some were deflected by Nero as he was not able to move from his spot.
"Now you trio finally moved. I'm amazed you guys knew what coordination is"
"Feel the common weakness of a human's body with your own" Nero strike the blind spot of Hegen as he tried to sneak an attack while Nero dodge.
"Learn and adjust"
"Good throw. straighten your hand and use the power of your waist when throwing."
"Kid, you're small but you definitely have fine agility. It'd be best if you observe and find the quickest path for a sneak attack instead of fighting forward" Nero endlessly blabbered and demonstrated a few moves as he fought with the kids.
"A good punch. Not enough!"
"Enough with your blabber. No one is listening!" Jillian was too agitated at the endless blabbering of a mad man and attacked recklessly.
"Temper and disciple is the key to a clear understanding of your opponent. Learn it"
"This will be a long night don't you think so?" Nero sat as he tried to bait the kids from rushing and true to his instincts, the kids rushed out trying to run from the gap from the sides but were pushed back by the sudden kick that came below them.
With only a single strike, their bodies curled up from the pain and the those who did not rush out stopped from throwing rocks to help them.
Time passed and the moon was shining bright above the cave and Nero used sticks to skewer the fish Hegen and the others worked hard for.
With only the camp fire lighting the cave along with the aroma of the fish that was being cooked, the kids were glaring intently.
"I'm not sadistic enough to tempt you with food. Take it once it's grilled. It's yours anyway" Nero grabbed one stick and stood up as he headed to the cave's exit. "Leave tomorrow morning. The wild won't be merciful enough to let you through"
"w-wait, you're leaving just like that?" Hegen curiously asked in surprise.
"I am. unless you've woken up to some weird fetish and wanted to get beaten again." Nero jested as he walked out of the cave. "Oh, if you ever get in trouble, come find me at the mage hall. ask for Reeden"
The kids were silent and looked at the receding figure of Nero and sat in silence for awhile. When suddenly their stomach grumbled, they were pulled back from their daze and rushed to the skewered fishes.
Nero was just outside of the cave silently hearing the fuss the kids were doing inside as he analyzes the skills of the kids.
Hegen was obviously their leader. He has a strong sense of responsibility as he helped and instructed the others in trying to combat Nero. Though they knew they didn't have a chance in winning in combat, he immediately took advantage of the fact that I am immobile in the middle. Next is Jillian, the kid is a natural tactician and uses his environment to his advantage. This kid's ability to adapt to changes is definitely a plus. Next is the trio, they were initially too afraid to act out and when I first saw them in the alley, they were all bundled in one corner. They're most probably comrades from a few years past. These kids have good coordination as proof when they first tried to escape from the alley to the time they threw rocks. Lastly would be the two female kids, though they were the weakest of the bunch, their accuracy was just below Jillian's. They even precisely waited for the moment I dodge from an attack before attacking. This just proves they have enough wits to be useful in combat. especially that blonde kid, she repeatedly tried to make me lose my balance by specifically targeting my feet.
In the face of an adversary, a person's survival instinct emerges. And for street kids, no matter how timid they might be, They've all experienced the hardships of life and would develop far faster in front of difficulty.
After assessing the kids, Nero finally let them go as he observed from a distance. Though he did not leave, he was not there to impede their escape but just to be an assurance so they'd get back inside the city safely. It'd be a real waste of time if the kids he invested time would just die from some some wild beasts attack in the wild.
As for how he can convince the group to accept him, There would definitely be a lot of opportunities to come by as these rascals won't stray far away from trouble.
In the mean time, he still has a lot to know about this present situation. He found a library earlier and would seek help from the mage hall using his identity as a fire master to get access. On a side note, grooming Ulier into a proper mage won't be too bad. The kid already has high potential in true awakening.
Now that I think about it, the security in the city gates were way too strict. I now worry about how these kids will get inside again. Well, if worse comes to worse, I'll just grab them all inside a sack and drag them back inside myself.
"Thatch, the tenth golem is eliminated but they're re-spawning everywhere, We can't cope up" A report from the blue circular plate echoed.
"Continue focusing on the golems. They're good exp anyway" Thatch laughed as he gripped on the while tear drop gem in his pendant. "Time to start today's party"
The muscular priest jumped from the wall and landed in the middle of the enemy formation. The wave of enraged monsters switched their attention to the man and started their attack but soon felt the brute strength of the priest's fist. A priest who doesn't have any skill tree in combat were handling the monsters with just bare hands.
"That nut job!" A furred armored man riding a giant eagle arrived at the scene when he saw the muscular priest ran amok among the enemy wave.
"It's good luck that Nero is still stuck in that cave if not, cleaning up the pieces of whatever is left of these stupid monsters would be a lot harder"
After complaining for awhile, he commanded the giant eagle to drop vertically to the nearest flesh golem.
Weekend is the bane of all effort in writing.
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