The three stared silently at their would be saviors. Their bodies were unflinchingly still as they maintained their bow.
“Service?” William scoffed, breaking the silence. “Hardly.”
“Let’s be honest,” Gjörn said. “We would have been in trouble if it weren’t for them.”
“Ah yes.” The silver armored man said as he got up and parted his long silver hair away from his eyes. “You must be the brave and strong leader of this group.” He then held out his hands like a beggar.
“Um, what are you doing?” Gjörn asked.
“Aren’t you going to compensate us for our heroism?” He asked. “We didsave your lives.”
“I don’t think so.” Gjörn said as he slapped his hand away. “Are you really charging us for coming to our aid?”
“I think it’s a fair trade.” The golden armored man said. His hair was also matching his armor, which William noticed and was visibly annoyed by. “Some gold for your lives.”
“Now now, Cyrus.” The silver one said. “I was merely suggesting a donation. We must uphold our honor.”
“Cyrus?” Rodrick said, the name popping up from the back of his mind, as if it was a memory of some sorts. “And what is your name?” He asked the silver one.
“I am Richter.” He said taking another bow, much to the annoyance of William.
“Richter the Silver Lion!” Rodrick screamed in excitement. “And you’re Cyrus the Golden Eagle! You two are the heroes of Varcelon!”
“Would you look at that, brother?” I see our fame has spread!” Richter said as he flashed a white smile.
“You can stop trying to charm us.” William said, his eyes sore from rolling them so much. “We’re not going to pay you.”
“Fair enough.” Richter said, dropping his smile. “Hey Cyrus! You can drop the act.”
“Oh thank the gods.” Cyrus said as he fell on his back and started panting in apparent exhaustion. “I still think you alp should pay us for our troubles.”
“And I think you should tell us who those men were, and how you conveniently were able to come to our rescue.” William said plainly.
“Don’t say a word.” Cyrus said to Richter. “This is our bounty we’re carrying out.”
“It’s alright, they have a right to know.” Richter said, as he sat down to catch his breath. “We’ve been getting reports of some wild savages running about and sacking random villages across several kingdoms. We think they are all connected.”
“So you’re saying there’s more?” Rodrick asked, nervously.
“Hundreds, thousands, hell maybe even an entire kingdoms worth of these savages.”
“So this bounty, how much is it going for?” William asked
“I’m gonna stop you right there.” Cyrus said. “We’ve been tracking them for months, and we’re not going to let you three try and steal our bounty.”
“No one is going to steal anything” William said. “Like you said, you’ve been chasing them for months and from the looks of it, you’ve gotten nowhere.” William smiled devilishly as he walked up to Richter. “If we all work together, we might have better luck, then we can split the bounty.”
“Five ways? You must be dreaming.” Cyrus scoffed.
“Done.” Richter answered.
“What?” Cyrus asked in disbelief.
“We need them brother.” Richter said. “You’ve seen them fight. If we are right about there being more wild-men, we’re going to need all the help we can get. Unless you planned on taking an entire wild-men army by your lonesome.”
Cyrus looked away in defeat and anger.
“Where are we heading next?” Gjörn asked.
William looked over at Richter. “You two know the land better than us.”
“The nearest kingdom is Agon. The bounty also originated from there.”
“Then that’s where we are headed!” William proclaimed.
“On foot?” Rodrick whined. Their horses were either killed by the ambush, or ran off in fear.
“You can try riding the dead horses.” William taunted. “We won’t wait for you.” Him and the rest of the group started walking to their next destination, while Rodrick rushed to catch up.
As they neared, a smell caught Cyrus’ nose. He began lifting his head upwards and sniffing loudly, much to William’s annoyance.
“Are you part dog or something?” William asked with his eyes rolled.
“As an archer, I have to keep all my senses sharp.” He said in between sniffs. “I smell…. Smoke.”
“Smoke?” William repeated.
“I smell it too.” Gjörn said. And he began sniffing loudly as well. “Smoke and… burning flesh?”
“Oh Gods!” Rodrick said worriedly.
“We are close to a village!” Richter yelled. “It might be in trouble!”
“So?” William said. But his voice was ignored as Richter and Cyrus rushed to the direction of the smoke.
When the trio finally caught up, they found a village in ashes. Entire houses were collapsed onto the ground. Cattle were slain and gutted and left to rot. Corpses laid in the fetal position, but they were nothing but charred outlines of humans. Along the posts were individual body parts nailed to the wood.
”By the Gods!” Rodrick said as he slowly walked through the ruined village. “Who could do such a thing?”
“It must have been those savages.” Richter said. “There were more than just the ones we fought.”
On the ground were a few dead Wild-men, a villager was lying next to them with a rake that was covered in blood.
“The poor bastard died fighting.” William said.
“We were tracking the wrong group of wild-men.” Cyrus said through gritted teeth. “This village’s blood is on our hands.”
“What about Agon?” Gjörn asked. “This village is part of their kingdom, why didn’t they have soldiers posted here?
“Agon doesn’t care about what happens outside of their walls.” Richter answered.
“They never have.” Cyrus said.
“Hello?” A hoarse voice asked in the distance, which startled the group and made everyone draw their weapons.
William followed the voice and saw a bloody man that was nailed to a wooden post by his wrists. He was shivering was barely able to lift his head up.
“Have…you…come to help?” He asked, weakly. As if he was drifting on to the next world.
“Yes we have.” Richter said with a compassionate voice. “Don’t worry, we are not going to let you die. Help me get him down Gjörn!”
They managed to get him down on the ground, and Richter held the man with his head on his lap.
“The kingdom is not too far from here. We can get him help.” Cyrus said.
So the group rushed over to Agon. They guards recognized Cyrus and Richter, so they let them all in and immediately took the man under their care.
“Is he going to make it?” Richter asked.
“He was in bad shape, but he has a strong spirit. He’ll be fine.” The captain of the guard answered
“Can we see him?” William asked, much to the surprise of both Rodrick and Gjörn.
The five followed the captain into their barracks, where the man they rescued was laying on a bed. Bandages covered his entire body, but he seemed to regain some strength.
“It was the savages that did this.” The villager said, with teary eyes. “They wanted nothing but gold and our valuables, and they torched everything else. I tried to fight them, but it was no use. They hung me up on the post and made me watch them burn the village and slaughter everyone.”
“Don’t you worry, you’re safe now.” William said, endearingly, causing Gjörn and Rodrick’s look at each other with confused faces. Richter and Cyrus were confused as well. They have only known William for a few hours, but they could already tell that he was acting out of character.
"We'll find the men who did this, and they will be brought to justice."
“What was that about?” Gjörn asked when they left the room.
“I just wanted that man to remember the face of the man who will avenge him. A King should start inspiring loyalty early on.” William answered with a confident tone.
“King?” Richter scoffed. Prompting Rodrick to pull him aside and tell him not to worry about it.
“Hey, captain!” William called, as the captain of the guard noticed him and met him.
“So, these wild men need to be bought to justice. Lucky for you, we are currently hunting them. How about we bring some back to you alive for one hundred gold each?”
The captain just looked at him in disbelief. "We've sent numerous search parties to try and catch the wild men over the years. What makes you think you'll do any better?"
"You'll be paying us one hundred gold for each." William said with a smirk.
The captain eyed the group. Mostly noticing Gjörn towering over them all.
"Alright." he said." We have a deal.