Everything was simple after Leguna and Innilis's issue was dealt with.
Leguna rested for another week to recover fully. He then joined the others in earning money. The odd-jobs didn't earn much money, however, it would take them at least a year to make enough for the journey at this rate. Leguna and Kurdak decided to try their luck in the local gambling den secretly. Luckily, fortune was on their side. Leguna had lived in the slums before, he frequently saw the poor laborers gamble. He'd had nothing better to do, so he studied them. The old man and his empty wallets kept from doing it himself. Now he had finally gotten his hands on gambling, 'Leguna the Agile' of Melindor revealed his extensive set of tricks. Kurdak had had a gambling phase when he was younger. If not for Vera's strict control, he might have become a gambler instead of a mercenary. While he was huge and clumsy, his memorization and card counting abilities were spot on. The two-man team showed no mercy.
They naturally drew the attention of the local syndicates. The two were stopped by a few goons as they were leaving.
"Our boss wants a visit. Follow us!" ordered one of the goons as he toyed with the dagger in his hand skillfully.
The two glanced at each other. They had sensitive identities, so Leguna had disguised the two. Their silhouettes were still the same, but the details of their appearance were nothing like before. Leguna looked like a man in his thirties and Kurdak looked slightly younger than he usually did -- just six years older than he was, rather than the usual twelve.
The youth nodded. Since Leguna was confident, Kurdak said nothing.
Fine, we'll do it their way. If we can settle this with a few coins, it won't be an issue. I don't want any commotion.
The group soon arrived at the boss's lair. Just a cramped basement under a nondescript It was building nearby. Eight blocks of angry meat filled most of the room. Unfortunately for them, mercenaries forged in endless blood weren't so easily fazed. The two could take on 70 to 80 such mountains of meat without much trouble, especially since their opponents couldn't use impetus. The two smiled at the group lazily and sat down.
The boss's eye twitched at their calm.
Everyone shivers when they come here, why aren't they?
He didn't realize their confidence came from their abilities. Instead, he thought they were unmatched fools. He let his anger cloud his thoughts.
"So you two are regulars at establishments such as mine?" said the boss as he waved his dagger around.
"Yes," Kurdak nodded, "You don't have to be too courteous. We know why you've called us here. Name your price. We're only interested in earning some money, we have no interest in trouble."
Kurdak's reply only angered the boss even further. He suddenly thrust the dagger into his desk.
"This is not an issue of money. This is my territory. You two come into my corner of the world, take my money, and disrespect me in my own house? How much will you give me to make for this, hmm?"
"Two-tenths?" Kurdak offered, "This is what we can give you, nothing more."
"You will give me everything!" The boss suddenly jumped and glared at Kurdak. "A lesson you should have learned long ago. You can gamble again tomorrow if you want, but you will give me eighty percent of your winnings."
"You're that greedy?" Kurdak sighed. He didn't think things would go this far south. There would be blood tonight.
"Yes," the boss replied instantly, "If you want more, you will each leave a finger for each tenth. If you leave them all behind, you can keep everything."
"And how would we gamble then? Are you completely unwilling to compromise?"
"No. You will leave either your fingers or your money behind."
Kurdak glanced at Leguna again, both nodding.
"Then I apologize for what we're about to do to you."
Agonized cries broke the town's peace. Everyone outside that night saw two men chased by a bunch of hooligans. The two couldn't fight for fear or revealing their identities, or at the very least drawing unwanted attention, so they just ran.
The two zipped around town randomly, returning to the inn a few hours later. They woke up the two women and prepared to leave. Soon four figures dashed through the darkness with a second group chasing them into the wilderness.
Several hours later, with their pursuers finally shaken, the two women began their interrogation. Once they found out what had happened, the two didn't shut up for the whole night.
"And there I was wondering where you two were... You actually went and gambled?!" Vera screeched, shoving her finger into Kurdak's head repeatedly, "You finally grew a pair, huh? You dare to forget my rules?!"
"Ahahaha..." Kurdak laughed awkwardly, "No, I wouldn't dream. Ley was the one who asked me to go along. We thought it through carefully. Look, we got ten gold in one run! This way we'll be on the sea in no time!"
"Why are you lying?!" Leguna argued, "Weren't you the one who asked me to go gamble? Why are you blaming me? Sis, you have to investigate this properly! This is the first time I've touched a card in my life! I didn't even know what gambling was before tonight!"
"Don't play dumb!" Innilis screeched as well, "My brother would rather starve than gamble! Gambling is wrong! Hmph! It take two hands to clap! Uncle wouldn't have gone alone! You two are both equally guilty!"
"You're absolutely right, Innie! Uncle'll get you some candies when we get to the next town!" Kurdak found a comrade in her immediately.
"Don't pretend you're innocent!" Vera barked as she pulled the wimp's ear, "Hmph, Ley never gambled before. You've poisoned him!"
"Never my ass!" Kurdak sputtered, "Have you seen him gamble? He's an old pro! I'll take his surname if he really hasn't gambled before!"
"Hah! I don't have any parents, I don't have a surname!" Leguna chortled, "Boss, you're not persuasive at all!"
So the arguments and witch like screeches continued for the whole night. The two women screeched like dying pigs for several hours before they finally calmed down. They pulled and scratched and pinched the men all over and forced them to vow on their ancestors never to gamble again.
The two were back in the dens again a few days later. Followed by another pursuit and another session of screeching. The two valiantly opposed the witches and continued their crusade. Vera had little choice but to admit the two were pretty good. When they finally reached the forest's edge they were pulling in dozens of coins per round and had several hundred in their pockets.
In front of them was Port Lormi. Here they would board a ship and head for Chino. This was also where Leguna's exciting life had truly begun. Coming back here stirred up a potent mix of emotions.
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