Upon reaching the gates of Lightshire, it was immediately apparent that the town was silent. Too silent. Even if it was getting late, not a single soul was outside, not even children playing past their curfew, it was a ghost town.
"Strange." Kane said.
Ren looked indifferent as usual as he lowered his mask that was previously covering the lower half of his face, and sat it neatly around his neck.
Kane lifted his straw hat to scratch his head before the two of them went further into the town.
Entering the town square now, they noticed the information board, to which the (albeit lackluster government) posts information about the empire, as well as any bounties for the area, was completely destroyed.
Police were too costly for rural areas such as this town, and the empire couldn't care enough to enforce their laws, with the many wars it waged on its outer borders, a countryside town like this wasn't of much concern, thus bounty hunters, such as Ren and Kane, were paid for their services, which was cheaper than hiring soldiers to patrol.
"Yeah, that's definitely strange." Kane said again with a puzzled look.
Even Ren showed a slightly less indifferent face, Kane could tell it was worry, for the townsfolk, but didn't say anything else.
A slight laughter could be heard in the distance, and Ren and Kane immediately noticed lights and more noise coming from the town's local tavern. The two moved over to investigate.
As they approached, Kane hailed Ren to stop, and whispered silently, "Let me do the talking."
An obvious note, maybe, but this was likely said to stop Ren from rushing into combat at the first sign of danger. After all he has a tendency to antagonize others too quickly, and rush into conflict.
The tavern doors swung open as the two entered with their heads high. The laughter and talking immediately stopped as every eye in the tavern turned to them.
Many hooded figures were inside, their cloaks disguised most of their figures, but weapons could be seen both on the tables, lying on the side of their chairs, and some poking awkwardly above their waste or in their boots.
Kane lead, as Ren followed, and the two sat at the tavern's bar, and looked towards the only staff, who was currently standing in front of another patrons table. "Some Ale for me and my companion please." He said despite the daggers being stared into him. "What food are you serving tonight?"
Before the tavernkeeper could react, his shirt collar was pulled and one of the hooded figures whispered something in his ear. He then approached Ren and Kane shaking nervously.
"I'm afraid I have to ask you gentlemen to leave." He said with a shaky hand.
"Oh come on now, we've been on the road for the last four days, and haven't had anything to eat since yesterday." Kane said again as he quickly glanced around the tavern, counting. 17, 18 including the tavernkeeper.
"He said leave." A feminine voice called out, it was the hooded figure that had grabbed the tavernkeeper just earlier.
Kane sighed. "Some ale, and a meal, and we will leave, please."
One of the men in the back of the tavern stood up and started walked towards them, "Get out of here, final warning." The man said lowering his hood to reveal a smug grin on his face. An assortment of various knives on his belt, and a short-sword sheathed at his side.
Ren hovered his hand over his sword as Kane's eyes immediately dashed to Ren.
Kane began to ponder over his next action carefully. "Have it your way." He said as he gave Ren the nod he needed.
Without any hesitation Ren leaped from his seat and decapitated the man where he stood with a single sword stroke. The mans body fell with a silent thud.
It took a couple seconds for the rest of the tavern's patrons to realize what had just happened. Silence, for a moment, and then yells --battle cries if you would, sounded from every corner of the tavern, as the many hooded figures leaped from their seats to attack Ren.
Ren deflected the initial blows before locking swords with another. Quickly spinning around and slicing their abdomen wide open. He grabbed their body before it could land on the ground, and used it to deflect an arrow that had been launched at him from the other side of the tavern. Quickly throwing the body into two soldiers ready to attack him again he dashes forward to the lone archer who tosses their bow to the ground and throws two throwing knives towards Ren. Ren deflects one with the palm of his sword and dodges the other before cleanly stabbing the archer through the chest, his sword entirely piercing him.
Ren's fight continued as Kane took the chance to grab the tavernkeeper hiding in the corner under a table. "Do you think you could go into the back and make my friend and I some food, he'll take care of things here."
Dumbfounded the tavernkeeper looked at Kane with shock and disbelief.
"We really haven't ate since yesterday." He said with a smile.
Quickly the tavernkeeper ran to the tavern kitchen, away from the chaos and madness of the current ongoing fight. Kane sat down at the bar waiting for his meal as he watched Ren handle the others with little trouble.
Ren had already taken down six, and was being surrounded by four, with six more behind them.
Kane was beginning to wonder if he miscount.
One of the swordsman Lunged forwards towards Ren, leaving themselves exposed, Ren dodged under the blade before impaling them through the stomach and using the body as a shield, pushing through those surrounding him.
Now on the other side, Ren continued his attack, taking down a few others with ease, leaving a mere three standing, two in the front and one pushed against the wall behind them.
To Ren's surprise, the one in the back pushed their companions to the side and attacked Ren directly, but it was rushed and unthought-out, as Ren again, knocked the overly extended sword out of his hand before decapitating him, spraying blood all over the two companions behind him. They rushed forward but Ren had already impaled one, before turning his attention to the last.
The last assailant yelled defiantly as they rushed towards their death. Despite the mans bravery, it wasn't enough to topple the monster before him, and he too, came crashing to his knee's as Ren dodged his vertical slash, and shoved his sword directly through the side of the man.
Ren did a quick slash in the air to remove the blood on his blade, before sheathing it at his side once again.
Kane, who noticed that Ren was finished, called for the tavernkeeper who was likely still hiding in the back. "Were done out here, have you finished our meals?"
Unfortunately, Kane had in fact, not miscounted earlier, as the last hooded figure opened the kitchen door with a knife pressed against the tavernkeepers neck. "He has not." The feminine voice from earlier responded.
"I knew I didn't miscount." Kane said slamming his fist against his palm.
The woman walked towards the door to the tavern, with the tavernkeeper hostage. "I'm leaving, the two of you will not follow me." She said at last.
Kane grinned "And why wouldn't we?"
"Because I'm going to kill him if you do." She gestured towards the tavernkeeper.
"Like I care. We just met him, and have no obligation to save his life. Even if we did there's no guarantee you would let him live anyways." Kane said, much to the dismay of Ren, who looked at him with furrowed eyebrows. Kane simply winked in response.
"Oh really?" The woman said, as she pressed the dagger deeper into the tavernkeepers neck, causing blood to leak.
Kane stood up from the seat he was sitting on, annoyed that for the second time in one day, somebody called out his bluff, "Alright. Calm down, let him go, and we won't follow you, I give you my word." He gestured his hand over his heart to show his sincerity.
The woman pondered over her next action for a while, before asking, "What are your names?"
"I'm Kane. My companion is Ren, we don't have family names to speak of."
"My name is Veria Kresten, I wish we had met on better circumstances, but I'm afraid this will likely be the last time we speak."
Kane sighed, "Well then, Veria, let the man go, and we won't follow you."
Veria paused before her action again. "Unfortunately Kane, you were right, there is no guarantee I'd let him live." She said as she sliced the mans neck open, and pushing him into the two swordsman, obstructing their path, as she bolted out the door of the tavern.
Ren immediately chased after as Kane tried to assist the tavernkeeper who was moments away from bleeding out.
As Ren exited the tavern and looked around, there was nothing. Silence, and no trace of Veria.
Ren walked back into the tavern, and glanced towards the tavernkeeper as he said his final words. "Out... back... they made me do it..." He said, his words trailing off. With one final cough of blood, the man died, Kane couldn't help but feel guilty. Ren was displeased as well.
Kane and Ren got on either side of the man and lifted him, they were to bury him within the backyard of the tavern, but when they opened the door, they were horrified.
Countless bodies piled on top of each other with hundreds of bugs flying and crawling around them. The stench alone was enough to make Kane gag, and he had seen a lot of bodies before.
The two powered through it and placed his body with the rest, before heading back inside to search the bodies of the bandits, and move them to the pile outside.
Looking under the cloaks they were wearing, Kane noticed they fashioned the same outfit as the bandits from earlier that day. "Black Forest Bandits.." He said, thinking aloud.
The two spent the rest of the day scavenging the bodies, before moving them outside the back of the tavern, and finally burning the collective of flesh.
They hadn't found much on the bodies, besides a few more drawings of the girl Kane had previously found on Ido's body, and some coins. Not very much, but enough to buy food should the next town have a better fate than this one.
The two then ate, drank, and spent the rest of the night taking shifts, sleeping, and keeping watch, in one of the taverns rooms, just above the main seating area, where the fight had previously taken place.