The Tracks of an Artisan (2)
An assassin? Ian reeled in his mana in his hand, confused. Things would be different if it were Oliver’s blade but handling a child’s sword like this was child’s play. As expected, he was able to snatch the sword out of the child’s hands.
The youngster who had been swaying his sword in his hands hesitantly took a few steps back. Maybe he thought it was a blow in revenge, considering he took a few steps back.
“Huh.. a skilled assassin has been sent to challenge me! Of course! They have, after all, once succeeded in killing off the greatest genius in the land. You are quite skilled!”
“But I’m not..”
“Silence! An assassin is an assassin! You will die by my hands!”
The youngster’s attacks didn’t end there. He pulled out a dagger from his inner clothes and went in for a second attack. Of course, Ian didn’t feel threatened at all.
‘Where is this place?’
Ian casually avoided the stab and took in his surroundings. He had been thinking of coming to the far west of the Low Dukedom, since his destination, Piltin Territory, was on the west of the dukedom. It was late in the night when Ian had left the imperial city of Greenriver, but this place was late in the morning, and the sun was out. Considering the time difference, Ian was positive this was the Low Dukedom territory.
‘Have I been to a village like this before?’
There was a small village. Ian could spot what seemed like an entrance to a village. He certainly hadn’t been here recently, but if he could teleport here, it meant he had been here in his previous life.
“You beast! You assassin! He-yah! Ha-yah!”
Even in the midst of Ian’s confusion, this strange child wouldn’t stop attacking. Ian didn’t feel threatened at all, but he was starting to get annoyed. He decided to put a stop to him.
“Sl..” Ian started, attempting to put the Sleep Charm on the boy.
“Cleven!” A man shouted.
Some of the villagers had heard the commotion and were making their way over. Perhaps this boy’s name was Cleven.
“Won’t you stop it this instant!”
A bulky, middle-aged man ran over and got a hold on the boy. Could he be the parent? Ian’s question was soon answered.
“Chief! You’re here right on time. It’s an assassin! I’m sure of it! He was sent to kill me! He suddenly appeared in front of me!”
At the child’s words, the chief looked over at Ian. Of course, he didn’t seem to believe Ian was an assassin. After all, he had taken the dagger away and resisted the boy.
“Ouch! Ch..Chief! Why are you…” The boy protested.
“You little brat, until when are you going to go on with this about your assassin?!”
“It’s true! He IS out to get me! He stopped my blade with his bare hand! I’m sure he is a well-trained…”
“I thought things had calmed down a bit but it appears not! Who let this boy get his hands on a weapon? Eh?! Take him home immediately! And don’t let him leave the house!”
At his words, a few villagers stepped up to take Cleven by the arms and dragged him home. The boy didn’t stop yelling about Ian being an assassin, but the villagers didn’t seem to be paying attention to his words. They seemed to be used to this.
“Whew… pardon us. As you can see, that boy has some problems. He is slightly…flawed in his mind. He always makes a commotion, claiming he feels threatened. We sincerely apologize again.” The chief said, apologetically.
Ian replied back in the language of the Low Dukedom.
“That’s quite alright. And I’m not a hired assassin, just to let you know.”
“Haha, I’m sure you’re not. I’m thinking you’re not from here, so are you a traveler from afar?” The chief suggested. Judging from Ian’s accent, looks, and clothing, the chief had come to the conclusion that Ian was a traveler.
“Yes, indeed. I saw a village so I thought I’d take a look around.”
“And you happened to get Cleven’s attention.”
“I suppose so.” Ian mumbled at the chief’s questioning, but Ian figured that was good enough. Ian didn’t want to reveal his identity if possible. Strictly speaking, he was in a foreign land, a country that rarely had conflict with Greenriver. There was no reason for him to start a commotion.
“Traveling around the world at such a young age. Amazing.”
“It’s possible since I’m young.”
“That’s what youth is all about.”
The conversation went on smoothly, just like it would between any local and traveler. Of course, Ian wasn’t a normal traveler, and wanted to get out of there quickly, but he couldn’t simply walk away.
“What is the name of this village?” Ian asked. He might as well know where he was. It was a village that wasn’t in his memory, but he had succeeded in teleporting. It meant he had been here before.
“Oh, dear. I’m late introducing myself. My name is Jackson, and I’m the village chief. ‘Bordon’ is our village name, and we’re in the Piltin lands.”
“Did you just say we’re in the Piltin lands?”
“I did. Is there a problem?”
“…Nothing. I’m Lian.” Ian said, deciding to introduce himself with a different name. The wires in his brain started working at full speed. He was certain the dukedom had surrendered in the middle of the unification war. Therefore, there had been no reason for him to come this far. Even when he was busy hunting down Artifacts in his previous life, the Piltin territory had been out of the question.
Then how was he able to remember and teleport all the way here?
Ian thought carefully. Then, he was able to remember. All the old memories he had forgotten. Even the ones that he didn’t need to remember.
‘The Order of the False Dragon.’
The Piltin Territory was at the western region of the Low Dukedom. He had been in the area before.
Ian had once been in search of the Dragon cult group when he was helping to research Dragon Language. Those swindlers had been active in the western part of the dukedom. In his previous life, it was the far west of the unified Greenriver Empire, but now it was part of the Low Dukedom.
Once his memories lit up, they spread like wildfire. His past memories were revived and he remembered the reason the village was there.
When he had visited in his previous life, that is, twenty years from now, this village of Bordon had not been what it was now today.
‘It was in complete ruins back then.’
At the same time, it had been the headquarters of a dragon cult as well. Even Crude, the head of the thief guild, whom Ian had secretly met to know the whereabouts of the Dragonian, was aware of the active cult groups. Putting that to consideration, the cults were still active.
A few villagers, being aware of Ian, walked over to the chief and whispered in his ear, making sure to be steps away from Ian. There was no point in doing so, for Ian was able to make his hearing better if he wanted.
‘It’s time for morning service. What shall we do?’
‘Just go ahead with the prayers as planned.’
‘And the stranger…?’
‘He’s a prey that has come with his own two feet. See him through.’
The chief made a big false smile, completely unaware that Ian, his ‘prey’ had been listening in, and spoke.
“How rude we are to our guest. A lot of our villagers are shy with strangers, so please understand.”
“That’s completely alright.”
“Let’s see… even this encounter is meant to be, so why don’t you stay and have a meal with us? There isn’t anything for us to show off in town, but we are not that heartless to turn a blind eye to a stranger we have caused trouble to.” Jackson said, getting to work as he always did as chief.
If he was really the chief.
“Then I’ll excuse myself and receive a meal from you gladly.” Ian replied, with this suspicion in mind.
“Don’t be sorry at all. Come, right this way.”
Ian followed Chief Jackson far into the village. It was a quiet town. Ian couldn’t even hear that noisy Cleven, so he wondered where the boy had been dragged off to.
“And those people gathered over there..?” Ian pointed to a group of people gathered around a shoddy looking stone statue. They were on their knees, lifting up prayers. It seemed like the service the chief and villager had been whispering about earlier.
“Ah, our villagers gather for morning prayers every day. It’s an old tradition of the town.”
“What a unique looking statue they are praying to. Is it a lizard with wings?” Ian asked, pretending to be clueless. Anyone would be able to tell it was a dragon, but Ian acted as if he didn’t know anything.
“Not a lizard, but a dragon.”
“A dragon! Lifting prayers to dragons?”
“Unlike the gods, they answer prayers.”
At that moment, there was a commotion among the gathered villagers, and Ian couldn’t blame them. A stream of light blasted from the dragon statue, as if it were actually listening to the prayers.
“Oh, Great Dragon! Great Dragon!”
“Heal my mother!”
“Let us not go hungry again tomorrow!”
The villagers became more hyped with their prayers. It may have seemed like a miracle in the villagers’ eyes, but Ian knew better.
The statue was blasting out a perfect stream of light. A spell was being cast from the statue. It was a slight change of the Light Spell. This made Ian more suspicious.
‘That statue isn’t good enough to be made from magical engineering.’
A magical engineering device couldn’t conjure up magic on its own. There were only two things that could make miracles in the name of magic.
‘A magician and an Artifact.’
The statue was conjuring magic just like an Artifact would.
‘But it’s different.’ Ian thought to himself.
The statue was different from any other Artifact Ian had seen so far. It felt different. How was he supposed to describe this difference?
‘It seems it was made carelessly, as if someone simply wanted to test it out…’ Ian thought.
All the Artifacts Ian had seen so far, such as the Mogrian Ring, the Queen’s Amulet, Mitchell Greenriver’s robe, and the Cane of the Great Fields had a different figure. They may look simple, but none of them were shoddy like this statue. Ian would have believed it if someone were to say a skilled child had made it with mud.
‘Too shoddy to be an Artifact…’
Ian was growing more suspicious by the second.
“Come on in. Although it’s a little shabby. I’ll prepare a meal for you soon.” The chief said, breaking into his thoughts.
They had arrived at the chief’s house, which was not far from the statue. Being the chief’s house, it was different from the other houses in the village. It was the biggest and very clean inside.
“Not as shabby as I expected.”
“I did build this house with my own hands. Not comparable to the ones in the city, but I did put effort into building it.”
Soon, the meal was prepared and set on the dining table. It was actually a potato stew and a piece of crumbly bread. It was also a traditional meal of the people.
“May I eat with you?” Chief Jackson asked.
Ian nodded, and they ate in awkward silence. Ian didn’t have a problem with the meal, since he had been hungry.
“If you don’t mind me asking, may I ask where you are from? You seem to be fluent in our language, but you do have a unique accent.”
“I’m from Greenriver.”
“Oh! Isn’t it quite chaotic there nowadays?” Jackson asked. He then started bombarding Ian with questions. Only in the beginning, though. He then started to get quiet.
“…” The chief started to be busy looking Ian over and continued to steal glances.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Ian asked.
“Wha-? Ah, it’s nothing! I am simply worried the food may not be good enough for you, but you seem to be enjoying it more than I expected. Would you like another serving?”
Chief Jackson headed to the kitchen with Ian’s bowl. Once he was in the kitchen, the chief couldn’t hide his perplexed expression anymore. Ian didn’t see the confusion on his face.
‘What is going on? Why isn’t anything happening?’ he thought.
The stew Jackson had served the guest wasn’t just any kind of stew. He had mixed in sleeping pills. But the stranger hadn’t fallen asleep. Heck, he was asking for more.
‘Did I put in too little?’
Yes. That was probably it. He thought the stew would taste strange if he put in too much. Jackson simply thought of putting in more. He poured more sleeping medicine into the stew once again. A lot more than he did before.
‘This time for sure…’
However, Jackson had no idea. It wasn’t the amount of sleeping medicine that was the problem, and that he was making a big mistake right now.
Re-edited by FlawFinder
And that’s right, a big mistake. Drugs won’t work on an assassin!