Eye of Arcana and the Orcs
Among the four newcomers were three warrior-attired people wielding longswords and dressed in chainmail. The other person wore a long, wide robe of cloth and held an intricately engraved wooden staff in his hand. He looked exactly as one would expect a magus to look.
As one of the rarest and strongest kinds of people on the continent, this magus had inherited one of their stereotypical flaws: their arrogance. He looked at the three mercenaries with a gaze of contempt, but when his eyes trailed to the leather-armor-clad woman with a sexy figure, lust flashed past his eyes for a brief moment.
Kurdak noticed his gaze and furrowed his brow. His impression of the four plummeted, but he didn't dare to react as 'irrational' didn't even begin to describe angering a magus.
"Good day, brave mercenaries. We are a party sent here by Eye of Arcana. We believe something happened here after seeing smoke, so we rushed over immediately," said the warrior after he saluted Kurdak.
"Ah, so it's a friend from the Eye. We are members of the Association," said Kurdak when he returned the salute.
"Forgive me for asking, but were you holding a funeral?"
"Yes. We were attacked by orcs. My friend, unfortunately, did not survive the encounter," said Kurdak with a hint of grief on his face.
"My condolences," the warrior said after removing his helmet in a respectful gesture, "Our party has received a request to come here and exterminate some orcs."
"A few days ago, one of our outposts near Nightsong Forest was destroyed. From what we could see, it was destroyed by orcs. We received word soon after that they were in the forest. We were sent to wipe them out. We're the scout team. There are cleanup crews on their way to do the actual killing," explained the warrior.
Word of the destroyed outpost had already spread at Starfall. Even though it wasn't anything crucial, it was apparent that the Eye wasn't one to let this kind of provocation go by given its position as one of the four largest factions on Lance, even if the offenders were non-humans. So, the high-up magi sent a party to search Nightsong Forest. Actually, the orcs only sent five parties to the forest, and Vera's group had only encountered one.
After thinking about it, the three couldn't help be afraid. Had it not been for the party sent by the Eye scouring and exterminating some of the other orcs, Kurdak's howls could've drawn a couple of them. Leguna and Vera would not have been able to deal with that.
"So that's how it is. If you had arrived a few days earlier, my comrade mightn't have died," said Kurdak with a gloomy look.
Though, he understood Cyranos's death wasn't something for which they could be blamed. After knowing the reason for the party's presence, he no longer kept his guard up as high.
"We and the other groups took care of the orcs. You should still be careful in the forest. We heard a terrible fiend howl somewhere in the forest two nights ago. It sounded like a werewolf. But since they don't have much to do with the orcs, we didn't bother to deal with them," reminded the warrior kindly.
"Oh, is that so? Hehe, thanks for your warning," Kurdak said with an embarrassed look, before he saw Vera and Leguna's odd gazes, "Might I ask if you've caught any orcs alive? I'm really curious why they showed up all of a sudden."
"We didn't, unfortunately. They are a tough bunch. They have a pretty scary love of combat as well. We weren't able to spare any effort to make sure some were captured alive, so we don't know why they came here either," replied the warrior as he shook his head.
"Ah. Either way, thank you for all you've done. We're done with our mission, so we'll return to collect our reward."
The moment Kurdak noticed the magus's lewd gaze, he knew something was bound to happen if they stayed any longer. He felt it best to leave with haste.
Even though the magus attempted to say something, he felt a chill down his spine and swallowed his words. Looking at the talking warrior, he noticed the former acted as if he hadn't noticed him.
"Alright. We plan to stay here for another two days, we might as well part now. I hope you make it home quickly."
Kurdak waved before he left with his two companions.
"Gran, aren't we going back now our mission is over? Why didn't we just tag along?" asked the magus with a slight tone of arrogance.
Even though he was a warrior, Gran didn't show any due respect when he faced the magus. In fact, he even acted rather rudely.
"Don't think I don't know what plan. I bet you have your eyes on that woman, right?"
"So what? Goods that fine are hard to find! If I can get something out of her along the way, then it'd all be worth it!"
The magus's face was a baleful red.
"Would it be worth more than your life?"
"What? It's her honor to be spoiled by a great magus! What does it have to do with my life?"
"Keep your pitiful pride to yourself. If it weren't for the fact you were incompetent, you wouldn't have been assigned to our party and sent here to carry out such chores. Magus? Hah! What a joke."
Gran was also rather bitter at the higher status enjoyed by magi.
"If you're not blind, you should know what happened two nights ago. A third stratum magus like you would know that that man had drunk. He is slightly weaker than me, but that means nothing if he has the regenerative abilities that come with what he drank. And the three of us definitely won't risk our lives for the sake of your inappropriate desires. If you really piss them off, you'll have to deal with them on your own! I'm actually rather curious whether a person as favored by the heavens as you would be strong enough to take the three of them on!"
The magus didn't bother to conceal his shame and anger. But, though his face was as red as a pig's liver, he couldn't do anything.
As Gran had said, had it not been for his lackluster abilities, he wouldn't have been assigned to the party. While low order magi were still treasured everywhere else, they were the lowest of the low in the Eye.
"Unhappy? Feel free to backstab me when I charge at the enemy. But make sure you kill me for real. Otherwise, I'll make your life so miserable you'll want to die!" barked Gran hatefully, feeling rather liberated from the rush of insulting a magus to his face.
He turned to the other warrior.
"Make sure to investigate that man's background when we get back."
While Gran wasn't the strongest person in the party, he was the most meticulous when it came to schemes and plots. He dared to insult the magus because he had some dirt on him. And now, he felt he just got another useful piece of information.
"You're saying they probably realized you took Moonsink Cycle?" asked Vera.
After making sure the ones from the Eye were not tailing them. Kurdak expressed his worries to his teammates.
"They mentioned they came over right away after seeing smoke. But why didn't they come earlier during the night when all the roaring and howling happened? That man must have mentioned the howls to see if we were involved. Unfortunately, I didn't pick up on it. I gave myself away," said Kurdak bitterly.
"So what? Apart from being a little scary once a month during the full moon, I think Boss is pretty normal," said Leguna.
"You might not care, but we can't say the same for Starfall. Do you think they can accept someone who could turn into a bloodthirsty fiend at any time living beside them?" asked Kurdak.
Leguna had no way to respond. In fact, he had also felt a little unnerved traveling with Kurdak these past two days. Even though he usually trusted him with his life, he couldn't help but fear his behavior during full moon nights.
"What was their goal?" asked Vera, worried.
Kurdak revealed a consolatory smile.
"Don't worry. I took a look at their badges, they're from the Eye. I have a decent reputation amongst Starfall's mercenaries, but not enough of one to draw attention from some bigshot from the Eye."
At that point, Kurdak shot Leguna a few glances. It went without saying that Leguna's future position in Moonshadow was still uncertain. Would the Eye threaten to reveal the truth to get Leguna to act against Moonshadow? It was hard to say.
"They must've found out about this accidentally," concluded he after much thought.
"Boss, if we have a chance, should we kill them?" asked Leguna with his dagger suddenly drawn.
After killing the four orcs, his confidence had shot up considerably. He also noticed the lustful gaze the magus had shot Vera. Coupled with the fact that the warrior might hold some dirt on Kurdak, He couldn't help but feel hostility for the Eye. He couldn't help but want the opportunity to show off his amazing skills as an awesome rogue.
Taking out four humans? Piece of cake!
The other two looked at him, shocked.
"Ley," said Vera.
"What's wrong?" asked Leguna, ignorant of their concerns.
After some thought, Kurdak looked at him seriously.
"Ley, I'm happy your worry for me. But there's no need to kill anyone over this. Your thoughts are… a little dangerous."
After being reminded, Leguna couldn't help but feel shocked at how he had just decided that the four ought to die so lightly.
"It's easy for someone to lose oneself in the midst of killing. I hope you won't be blinded by blood. I'll keep an eye on you for now," said Kurdak warmly as he stared at the youth.
"... Thank you."
"Well, it's not as serious as you think. Come on, let's go home."