A little knowledge at the expense of others
Chu stood silently in the background, hidden among the servants of these Masters. As a twelve-year-old boy it was easy to remain shrouded among these grown men.
The drunken contender was now a few feet away from the platform. He swaggered towards them with a wine bottle in his hand. In the dim lighting Chu placed him to be in the late thirties.
He was dressed in a more luxurious manner than most of the people gathered in this area, excluding the young masters. The vibe he was releasing was like a person who was flaunting a wealth he didn’t have. At least that’s inkling he gave Chu.
“Hey, you guys deaf? I s-s-said scram from on top there!”
The four young men were in the middle of their conversation having ignored him in disdain. With his movement closer one of the servants stepped out to deal with him. The consensus between these people was that he was not worth the time for these young masters to get involved.
The servant stopped and stepped back as his Master Rufang waved his hands.
“Master Gofart has just made a bet that I cannot refuse. It would be rude of me not to take free money from someone of the top three merchant clans.”
“Haha, young Master Rufang is too generous. It would be amazing if your skills can progress as quickly as your boasting.”
The drunken man stared as these people ignored him like dust. What he failed to realize was that most of the groups here were not only disregarding the ruckus he was causing but slowly drifting away.
Having successful killed a wolf, he was keen on making a name for himself among these mercenary groups. What better way than to topple a dainty noble. Unfortunately for him, he had never ventured into Frost City.
With a quick movement young master Rufang had already left the deck and was standing at the front. His servant quickly walked over and handed him his sword.
“S^%@ Haring! This is the normal military sword. Didn’t I say I wanted to flaunt the one that Captain Worthsan traded me for his wife? Imbecile!”
Chu looked on as Rufang kicked out at the half kneeling Haring, sending him toppling on the side. Rufang straightened himself and turned towards his counterparts on the deck.
“I was going to display that sword I got from the Garrison Captain of the East gate in Karst. I know you didn’t believe me when I told you about how fast I moved in that little town.”
He turned and sneered at the challenger while talking to Gofart and the others. For him it was disgraceful to talk to commoners.
“I will fight with one hand behind my back. How about that Master Gofart? One strike for the left hand as agreed.”
“Hahaha lets see some sport then.”
Rufang stepped towards the man while emitting a wave of blood lust. The drunken man stepped back and dropped his wine bottle while reaching for his sword. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He had expected these type of rich kids to hide behind their servants.
“Come you whelp.”
Rufang seemed to have been waiting for the guy to compose himself. On the shout, he executed the Military sword technique of Frost City. The man didn’t have time to even block when his screams echoed out.
The man was on his knees grasping his left stump and hollering. His sword and his left hand from the wrist was now lying on the ground. Master Rufang wiped his sword on Haring’s clothes and returned the sword.
“Well, it seems like I’ve won the bet. Remember to pay up Master Gofart.”
“Hahaha, you talk like it was a real challenge. Very well I will get my servants to check the village for a few beauties.”
“No no no. I want a prime pure slave from your Clan. Not one from the town but one destined to the cities. I want one of those from a fallen noble clan, they are the best.”
“Fine! You make it sound like I will cheat you.”
Master Gofart grumbled like a sore loser. Glancing around his eyes fell on the screaming man. He was evidently displeased that this commoner couldn’t even last one round after all his previous taunts.
“Spade, get this riffraff out of my sight. Cripple his legs and place him near the fire. Let him witness for himself when you roast that hand he lost in the fire. It seems like some people think we are pushovers.”
Young master Gofart stood up as he talked slowly eyeballing the groups close by. After tonight these commoners would know better than to use these nobles as stepping stones.
“Daffodil more wine. Prickus, I am in the mood to bed a woman tonight. Get your men to find a suitable one, younger the better. Lets be merry tonight!”
The night continued on as the young masters continued their merrymaking and drinking. During the night they had their servants enact mock battles with some taking the roles as horses.
Chu kept well away from their eyesight, he was following the old adage out of sight out of mind. Gofart spotted him once for the night and hollered for him to approach them.
“So now you have seen what a true master looks like. Who do you think is better. Me or Rufang.?”
Chu glanced at Rufang staring at the side like a venomous snake. Those bloodshot eyes displaying his drunken state wasn’t helping. He faced Gofart who had a slight sneer on the edge of his mouth. Only an idiot wouldn’t figure out the trap they were setting.
Choosing one would only incur the wrath of the other.
“M-m-master Gofart must surely be j-j-jesting. C-c-can an a-a-ant compare two Snow Bears? When you hav-ve both returned to t-t-the h-heavens this one will long continue to w-w-worship your k-k-kindness.”
“Hahaha. Seems like you know your place. Sit on the side, this young master will throw you a bone.”
Chu sat among the rest of the servants not participating in the acts at the moment. When those eyes above stopped glancing at him, he tried to always remain behind the servants who were not called. Amidst the conversations he did get some useful information.
Frost City was a place under the control of the Military and the Mage Tower. Its existence was both a boon and a curse for those of noble standing.
Under normal circumstances all well off clans and families had their own training skills. It was like Martial arts on earth, there were countless variations under those two words. Families in possession of a Martial skill scroll guarded them with their lives. These were ranked simply as Normal, Earth etc.
The Martial skills learned at the Military was one of Earth level. This sword skill was rated as one of the best in the Empire. Young master Rufang had now reached some stage called Apprentice.
Nobles and High ranking Clans and Houses are not drafted into the Military for mandatory service. However the benefits of sending those family members who have some skill is enormous.
In exchange for a couple of years service, members are taught the Martial skills of the Military. These children are sent at a young age and trained until their late twenties. They then leave the Military to become the backbone of their Clans.
If that was not enough, the enticement of having a talisman activated member would make any family spend all their savings. A person who has a Talisman activated is called a Sersen.
The larger and well-known clans send their young members to Frost City along with an entourage. Most of them have small quarters located in the city. This support group has one goal, get demon lifestones and turn their skilled youngsters into Sersen.
The curse of Frost City is that it restricts these young masters. If it wasn’t for the enticement of the Military skills and the information provided by the Mage Tower, these large clans would not have bothered to join the Military. Instead of frolicking in the capital, these young masters had to be content in Frost City.
Frost City was thus home to a relatively large number of Sersen. According to these well-informed masters, most of them are from low-level lifestones.
Chu could only imagine how that City was with all these types of characters roaming around. With these individuals coupled with the adventurers and mercenaries, that was a place where only those with a strong backing would survive.
“Hey Tochus, what is old man Fredijak planning to do. My scouts are busy in the forest and I still haven’t found anything.”
“Young master Gofart, we all know that if you found something we would be the last to know. Why? Are you now jealous of my relationship with the Commander?”
It seemed that the Commander was content waiting for the Demon wolf to take the bait. These young masters were hungry for the prize and were getting restless. Prickus was close by and overheard them. He glanced at Rufang who was at the edge encouraging a jousting between two servants.
“Hey, you guys were always slow on the uptake. Two days ago me and Rufang have been baiting that demon in the forest. Sooner or later it is going to be ours.”
Prickus was obviously drunk as he vomited out their secrets. His present state could barely whisper, helping Chu who was listening intently at the side.
“R-remember the demon headed into the forest in the n-north right? Well me and Prickus was out behind some scouts with the Team when I-I had a brilliant idea. Why not set a bait?
We got an old man from the slums, tied him up to a tree and made a cut on his leg. We left him with a small fire going so he wouldn’t ice up. According to the scouts he has already attracted some wolves. The scouts ambushed them, but those damn slum dogs are so unreliable. We had to get another yesterday because the old fool died.”
Gofart was impressed by their actions.
“Well if you and Rufang are handling the northwest, then I will take the west with Tochus. I was already planing to head out tomorrow behind some mercenaries with a Hound.”
“Fine, but if you find any leads you have to share. It is better for all of us to pool our strengths together to attack. After it is dead we can decide who takes it before the Military intervenes. The Commander has his eyes on three captains for first preference. That leaves two chances open, it is better if our clans can benefit.”
Chu couldn’t believe his ears. The term shallow waters run deep was applicable to the Military and those within. These ruthless plans made by these young masters were frightening to anyone, especially to those from the slums. Being hauled off as bait was not a delightful way to spend time.
If these people were to remain in the village for a little time longer then the slums would become empty and the gods alone knew what would happen when their eyes were turned towards the villagers.
These people had overstated their welcome. It was time for them to leave.