Hero the Escape
Chapter 3: Relocating

Copyright© 2019 by Shaddoth

The remaining hours for the Greater Elemental were used clearing an area and filling in the rock removed pits for a garden. I hoped to grow some spices and vegetables that I didn’t see much of in the surrounding area. After it returned to the Elemental Plane, I slept until morning and then hunted; too much fish in the last four days, oily ones at that. The deer stopped in its tracks when I used a sling with a stun enchantment on the stone, hit her flank. I bled the doe out away from camp secured to a large branch overhanging the river before stripping and carrying the carcass back so not to get blood on my clothes. The organs, I scattered around a distant tree as an offering of thanks to the forest.

Later in the day I worked on smoothing the sides of the oaken trunks that were intended for the walls of my cabin. While removing the bark of the first one, I saw a few soldiers approach on the other side of the river. My initial glance confirmed a city squad in leathers, led a young female with a joke of a weapon. The squad, a mix of human men and women carried short broad swords while she carried a rapier. None had shields or even real armor just light leather and steel bracers on the off arm. City troops, good for drunks and that was about it.

I set my Woodaxe down and met the intruders across the river. The river was too wide and too fast for a safe crossing so they would have to go half a kilo upstream to the ford if they wanted to talk to me. The girl’s initial glance at the deer seemed to be worrisome. Hopefully, some local noble didn’t claim this forest as a protected personal preserve for their private use only. Looking past me, her eyes widened in shock at the state of my cabin. It probably was a bit much for one person to accomplish in a few days.

The young officer foolishly tried yelling over the noise of a river boosted by the spring runoff but I just shook my head and waited for her next move. She should have asked the forest ranger from the other day where the ford he used was at least. Unexpectedly, she cast a low grade wind spell and slowly floated across the river landing next to me. “I’m Lt. Katlyn from Ebony City.”

That’s nice.

Seeing as I didn’t intend to give a name that I no longer had, I kept silent. With her confused expression, she continued. “Did you do all of this yourself in two days?” Gesturing vaguely at the clearing where my cabin’s bare bones stood, the young officer looked disturbed.

It had been three days, “Yes. What do you want?” Question for question.

“No one helped you at all?” She asked again, disbelieving.

Not wanting to get in an argument I replied, “I am alone here, everything done so far was by my efforts alone. What do you want?” I did consider that the Elemental was here by my power and only for that reason. If she wasn’t going to be civil neither would I.

“Who are you and why are you here?”

Sheesh, what a bitch.

“Call me whatever you want. Why am I here; to rest. Will there be anything else?” I asked patiently, or at least I tried to. And failed. Marnie would have been disappointed.

“Ok Mr. Whatever, how long will you be here?”

*Sigh... “No clue. No clue.”

At my response her attitude changed, no idea why. “Do you need anything?” Her gentle question instead of the harsh tone, unsettled me.

“Nah, I will be fine by myself.” I replied halfheartedly. At my response, she nodded and did a quick chant before she slowly levitated back across the river.

... On second thought, maybe there was something they could do for me. I dove into the river and swam hard diagonally to keep my barring of where the soldiers lined up and made it across the river about the same time as she did. That stupid spell of hers was way too slow for actual locomotive, but decent for beginners, as it had a moderately low mana consumption.

Exiting the river, I slicked the water off and approached the mounted guardsmen, disregarding their leader still floating over the river bank, “I have a quest for one that accepts. I require a peddler, young and trustworthy. Upon fulfillment of quest the peddler will deliver a suitable compensation. Will one of you hear my request?” I asked formally.

Three of the guards looked at me like I was insane, two kept quiet and one on the left responded favorably. “I require goods to set up a household. From linen to pots to spices the more complete list the better. Quality is important but so is a reasonable price. Will you relay my request? Provisional; Rated D.”

“I shall.” Private Jenkins replied formally.

“Thank you.”

With that done, his acceptance of my quest saved me a trip into the local city. I dove back into the river and swam back to my new home. Stripping and wringing out my linen and letting it dry across the hammock, I entered the half completed cabin and changed into a dry outfit from my inventory.

Dismissing the city troops from my mind, I returned to my house. I knew what I wanted to build, but it was still a first for me. The oak trunks with flattened edges for better stacking, would make a good front and rear wall after I bound them together. The windows would be cut out later when I decided where to put them. Glass was needed too.

“What was that about Jenkins?” Katlyn inquired, once the squad turned around and headed back.

“Its formal adventurer speak, Lt. He asks for a favor and promises a reward for it being successful based on the rank of the mission. If it fails the one that accepts it gets a black mark weighted by the difficulty of the mission. All missions are supposed to be voluntary, refusing one is never supposed to be detrimental to the adventurer. Not sure if that is true or not.”

“What did he ask for?”

“A peddler to help supply his house, ma’am.”

“And the D rank? What was that about?”

“Missions are ranked E to A. The lower the letter the harder the mission.”

“Why isn’t an E? Getting a peddler shouldn’t be that difficult.”

“He did specify young and trustworthy. Which means I should believe that the person is both. In a city this size it should be easy. But they also have to purchase the goods and then deliver to him in the forest. Again, not too hard but the more requirements the higher the rankings and the higher rewards.”

“That makes some sense, I guess. But why didn’t he just ask me when I was talking to him?”

“Cuz you don’t look or act like an adventurer, ma’am.”

“Jenkins, what about the provisional part?”

“That? Not sure, but I think it’s if one side encounters unreasonable hardships like the Countess saying not to do it, or something like that. The difficulty can increase and the requesting person must boost the reward. You can always go into the guild and ask them ma’am.”

“Thank you, Jenkins. The rest of you double time back.”

Upon returning to the city, Lieutenant Katlyn wrote her report for the Captain, sent a Message to the Justiciar and went home. Her modest apartment had one necessary feature, secure rooftop access. Not long after dark, the trap door opened and an older woman, gracefully descended closing it behind her.

“What’s so urgent, Kate?”

“There is an intruder in the forest near the mouth of the river. A young mage with heavy martial training and a lot of emotional issues. He is a mage of at least fourth tier if not fifth. In two days, he moved at least eight large trees after trimming the branches and bark then cutting them to twenty meters in length. Again, he said he did this alone, I believed him. He also had some way of doing long distance relocation which ended in a large area thunderclap. He also possesses an Inventory. No weapons nor scars or tattoos were visible. He is not a druid, nor clergy. I didn’t feel any divine energy nor did I detect any Planer residues. Not sure how, but he must have been secluded somewhere.”

“The initial warden report claimed he slept excessively and cried for three days straight before getting scared off. The mage’s apparent age of fifteen cannot be possible, not with that level of both magic and martial proficiency. His tone was also more mature.”

“He also made a request of one of sixth squad for a quest; supply his new house with necessities which Jenkins accepted. The only stated goal of the mage was ‘to rest’.”

“Take no actions against him unless he specifically attacks you first.” With that the Justiciar left silently as she came.

Katlyn waited ten minutes before breathing in exasperation, she felt that that would not be easy. The Countess would not let him be.

After the city soldiers left, I went back to work on my house, but slower this time as I pondered the forceful response that backed off too suddenly. I didn’t think that I made such a splash in the ether to warrant such an overreaction, nor did I use any magics that could have been detected outside visual range. The Lt. was also much stronger than her position warranted as a newbie officer guardsman. She was a noble too. I didn’t put her age over twenty, so she couldn’t have been out of apprenticeship for very long.

With mana probing I felt no disturbances nearby. Getting an ill feeling, I changed my priorities. Putting aside my house for now, I laid some ward markers on the other side of the river encircling the camp. Two days’ worth of work but I felt safer. Something felt off about their passive aggressive visit.

The following three days mostly consisted of building and mortaring the walls and binding the trees together. It wasn’t hard work, just time consuming. The repeated thirty minute afternoon shower each day would be annoying until I completed the roof, which needed tons of earth to finish to my satisfaction. The fastest way, was mana intensive, but needed to be done if I wanted a dry house.

Once per hour, I summoned a low tier earth Elemental and commanded it move itself to the roof before dissipating while leaving its components behind; an easy way of using magic to move bulk earth. Ten hours later, I thought I had a thick enough foundation to start seeding. Grass was plentiful near the lake north of me and the interlocking roots made a strong enough barrier against the weather. Transporting and replanting grass was how I spent the last day before the merchant hopefully would arrive.

A strange bright bird with eye shaped colors in its tail feathers and a unique mana signature came too close this morning and offered itself as today’s meal. I plucked it when the outer ward alerted me of intruders. I set my dinner to the side, as a two horse wagon with three men approached the other side of the river. Seeing that they were my peddlers, I removed my shirt and swam across the fast moving river to greet my saviors. A fourth, their guide, probably the same warden from earlier, remained outside the ward observing us.

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