Leguna looked at the cursing youth and felt a weird feeling well up in his mind. When Kurdak was about to rough him up, he stopped him after a bit of hesitation.
He knew the boy had intended to take his life for the sake of a pouch of silver coins, and that Kurdak was someone who knew his limits, so he didn't feel any punishment would be undeserved. But he couldn't help but empathize with the boy when he saw his savage and hostile expression.
"Forget it... I'm not injured and Sis didn't lose her money," sighed he with a shake of his head.
Kurdak looked at him silently for a moment before he finally gave in.
He turned to the kid and eyed him sternly.
"Kid, pick up the coins for us and you may leave."
The boy spat some phlegm with traces of blood and kicked at the coins near him.
"You want me to pick it up for you?! No way in hell! Mark my words, if you let me go, I'll cause even more trouble for you!" yelled he, gritting his teeth.
"If you don't pick it up now, you're not going anywhere," insisted Kurdak with a shrug.
Silence ruled for a few moment before the boy finally submitted and began picking up the coins. Leguna looked at him for a while before he walked up to him and helped.
When he noticed Leguna helping him, the boy froze momentarily. When the coins were all gathered, he handed the pouch back to Leguna before preparing to leave silently.
"Wait." stopped Leguna.
"What? Do you regret your decision?" asked the boy as he turned back.
"What's your name?"
"What does it have to do with you?"
"Are you an orphan?"
"It's none of your business!"
"Talking to you is so tiring. Have you ever been to Shimmer Lake? I'll pay ten silver coins for a guide. Your job will be done the moment we arrive at the lake."
"You want to bring me into the wilderness and kill me there?" the boy snarked, "There's no need to go through all that trouble! Just kill me here. Nobody cares anyway."
Leguna didn't bother to say anything else and tossed ten silver coins from Vera's pouch to the boy. "This is for you. We leave tomorrow. Wait for us outside the inn."
The boy took the money, his eyes like small plates, before he nodded.
"Deal," murmured he.
He turned to leave. Leguna looked at his three companions snickering.
"It's alright if I get us a guide, right?"
"Of course. But..." Vera said as she walked over all smiles.
When she arrived, however, she put him into a choke hold and rammed her knuckles into his head.
"You used my money to hire a guide? Who said you could? Are you tired of living?"
After the incident at the inn, Leguna and the rest went out to restock. It was evening when they returned, so they went straight to their rooms after dinner. Since they might be wrapped up in constant combat for the next couple of days, they had to get all the rest they could.
The boy arrived the next day as agreed. By the time Kurdak and the others finished packing, they saw him waiting patiently with a worn out bag slung over his shoulder. He didn't say much when he saw his four patrons. He led the way silently when they set out.
By noon, the party had made its way into Nightsong Forest. The boy was quiet along the way and didn't bother to approach them. He stayed ten meters ahead as he led the way. The group didn't really bother with him either, especially given his behavior the day before.
When it came time for lunch, Kurdak gave the order to rest. The boy took out a piece of dirty-looking black bread and began chewing away, sat on the ground.
Leguna looked at him for a few moments before he got a piece of beef from Kurdak and headed over.
"Have this as well. There's still a day's travel left and the bread won't last that long."
The boy gave him a sidelong glance. Once he was sure Leguna was of no mind to harm him, he grabbed the meat. When the meat's smell crept up his nose, he tore into it ravenously, unconcerned with his appearance, and made his face and fingers an oily mess.
Leguna sat down and looked at him wolfing down the meat.
"I'm Leguna, and that huge man over there is Kurdak. She's called Vera and the quiet one is Cyranos," introduced he, smiling, as he pointed to each of his companions in turn.
The boy paused and struggled to swallow the last piece of the meat in his mouth.
"Where are your parents?"
"My father died hunting in the forest half a year ago. My mother abandoned us soon after."
"Us? You still have family?" asked Leguna as he handed him his gourd.
Jaehart took two big gulps before he answered.
"I have two younger sisters. I'm the eldest."
Jaehart hesitated for a few moments.
"... I'm sorry about yesterday. My sisters are still small and they made a fuss about food yesterday. I had to come out to pickpocket. Thank you for the money. They would've starved these two days otherwise."
"Come on, it's nothing. I wasn't hurt. Then again, you're savage, aren't you? Going for the kill right away... If it hit, I would've really died," said Leguna as he made a cut-throat gesture.
"I... I hated you for being rich, so I couldn't help it..." mumbled Jaehart apologetically.
"Whatever. Even though you have impetus, you can't hurt me that easily," said Leguna patting Jaehart's shoulder.
"In the future, don't act so rashly. Make sure you have a way to back out no matter what you do."
That was what Leguna came to understand after years of mingling in the slums. He left with a feeling of having taught someone a valuable lesson.
Kurdak looked at his enlightened expression and mused, "Look at who's putting on airs."
Deep in the night, Leguna observed his surroundings and continued reading after making sure nothing was amiss. Because he didn't have to contribute to the actual fight, Leguna was put in charge of most of the night watch.
A rustle sounded from the tent behind him. The sound was Kurdak emerging.
"Time to switch?" asked Leguna.
"Almost. I've had enough sleep. What are you reading?" asked Kurdak trying to peek.
"Do you remember the test you gave me? This book is what I got."
Leguna waved the book. It was the one with a dark blue cover Kurdak had him steal.
"Oh?" Kurdak said as he took the book for a closer look. He knew it was something Arikos gave him indirectly, but he had forgotten about it completely. He was suddenly curious about its contents now that Leguna had brought it up.
When he opened the cover, he couldn't help but stare. Even though he could tell the words on the pages were written in the common language, he couldn't understand what they meant no matter how hard he tried. It was as if he was reading elven.
"Can you understand this?" asked he.
"Of course. It's written in the common tongue. Why wouldn't I understand it?" shrugged Leguna.
It's probably enchanted. Perhaps nobody but Leguna can read it. Clearly, they don't want whatever's written inside to leak out, thought Kurdak.
Such an enchantment could only be the work of Moonshadow. Since they didn't want the contents leaked, he wasn't idiotic enough to ask Leguna about it either.
Leguna continued his reading fervorously. Even though it was only one centimeter thick, each page was incredibly thin, so the book actually contained quite a lot of information. Actually, rather than calling it a book, it was more of a notebook that recorded various types of knowledge and guides for different skills. He had gained interest in the notebook's contents the moment he got it and had been reading it ever since. He had gained quite a lot so far.
For example, the method to lay effective traps, training, using impetus effectively, and some combat or sneaking techniques, were all recorded.
The more he read, the more he was surprised. Amidst the rows of text, he came to know that the author was a person called Wayerliss. He respected the author a little more every time he read the notebook.
"Boss, do you know of someone called Wayerliss? He should be an assassin, right?"
Kurdak picked his memory intently for a few moments.
"Nope, never heard of him," he answered eventually, shaking his head.
"Tch, I knew you wouldn't know anything."
"Well, do you?"
"Of course I do."
Leguna patted the notebook.
"He's the author."
"What's up with him?"
"What's up? The author's definitely a super strong expert! The stuff he writes about expands my horizons every time I read! Didn't Jaehart try to go for my throat yesterday? The move I used to disarm him was something I picked up from the book. I also learned quite a bit of trap laying techniques and fighting skills. Did you think I could improve so quickly just by training with you at Starfall?"
Kurdak suddenly realized the true reason Leguna was improving so quickly. At first, he had wanted to give him some combat experience through sparring with him along with Vera. His initial performance was no different from a child's, but it took just two days for him to hold his ground against the two. It was quite the awesome feat. Even though he had an explanation for his improvement, he was still rather shocked at how good his ability to learn was.
"Why do you know how to read? Aren't you an orphan?"
Kurdak had been rather curious about this for a good while now.
"Oh, I was taught how to read by that old guy back then."
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